|Because Heaven sounds lame anyways|
|God's own scapegoat|
|A devilish plan|
Anton Szandor LaVey (born Howard Stanton Levey)[note 1](1930–1997) was the founder of the Church of Satan and author of The Satanic Bible. We at RationalWiki abase ourselves before him and his master, and humbly request the dark blessings of Lucifer.
LaVey started his career playing the calliope in the circus, from which he graduated to playing the organ at burlesque clubs. He made something of a name for himself as a paranormal researcher in the San Francisco area and eventually formed the Order of the Trapezoid. Presently, he shaved his head and declared the founding of a new church.
Church of Satan
Contrary to what many think, LaVeyan Satanists do not actually worship Satan, or any deities at all. It's actually an atheistic, nihilist philosophy that uses the Christian character of Satan as a symbol of defiance, with a healthy dose of trolling. Think of it as a 1960s counterculture version of the Church of the SubGenius. This does not stop many Christians from flipping out whenever it's mentioned.
Nine Satanic Statements and Sins
The epitome of his creed was given as the "Nine Satanic Statements", appearing in The Satanic Bible (1969):
- Satan represents indulgence instead of abstinence!
- Satan represents vital existence instead of spiritual pipe dreams!
- Satan represents undefiled wisdom instead of hypocritical self-deceit!
- Satan represents kindness to those who deserve it instead of love wasted on ingrates!
- Satan represents vengeance instead of turning the other cheek!
- Satan represents responsibility to the responsible instead of concern for psychic vampires!
- Satan represents man as just another animal, sometimes better, more often worse than those that walk on all-fours, who, because of his “divine spiritual and intellectual development,” has become the most vicious animal of all!
- Satan represents all of the so-called sins, as they all lead to physical, mental, or emotional gratification!
- Satan has been the best friend the Church has ever had, as He has kept it in business all these years!
As an extension of Statement #8, LaVey has his own list of what he feels constitute sins. His "Nine Satanic Sins" are as follows: stupidity, pretentiousness, solipsism (defined here as projecting your own biases onto those around you), self-deceit, herd conformity, lack of perspective, forgetfulness of past orthodoxies, counterproductive pride, and lack of aesthetics (i.e. being a slob).
LaVey's Church of Satan is at some pains to explain that it is an officially atheistic association that does not endorse the practice of magic, witchcraft, or indeed any supernatural beliefs at all. "Satanism is an atheist philosophy, hence it is not congruent with any other philosophy or religion which endorses the belief in supernatural entities, whether they be considered gods or devils." "Satanists do not believe in demons or other supernatural beings, nor do we believe in spells." Notwithstanding this disclaimer, LaVey's Church of Satan uses many of the traditional trappings of the Black Mass and other traditional forms of ritual magic. The Satanic Bible invites its readers to recite gibberish derived from the Enochian keys from the Elizabethan-era magician John Dee, but to its eternal cosmic credit, does come with the disclaimer that 'Herein you will find truth — and fantasy. Each is necessary for the other to exist; but each must be recognised for what it is." Dodgy grammar aside, the disclaimer would fit as well inside most religious texts, and since LaVeyan Satanism is based on the whole aesthetic idea, the idea of babbling in gibberish that you know full well is gibberish doesn't seem too far off.
Relationship with the far right
The roots of LaVey's brand of Satanism trace themselves back to a range of radical individualist and Social Darwinist ideas, the same grounds from which many far-right racial philosophies grew from, including white supremacy and neo-Nazism. Indeed, many passages and ideas from The Satanic Bible appear to be heavily influenced by and/or stolen from Ragnar Redbeard's Might is Right. The Church's inner circle included figures from various underground far-right/neo-Nazi groups and subcultures, including Nikolas Schreck (who married LaVey's daughter Zeena before they both turned away from Satanism), Boyd Rice, and Nick Bougas, the man considered to be the author of the A. Wyatt Mann cartoons that produced the infamous "Le Happy Merchant" caricature.
LaVey, who was of part-Jewish ancestry, was well aware of the irony of his radically individualist philosophy finding traction among believers in a political system that calls for subsuming individual identity to the will of the nation and/or race. In his essay "A Plan", published as part of the posthumous compendium Satan Speaks!, he noted that, for the longest time, the Jewish people were the largest group of religious "rebels" within the Christian world, and were frequently smeared as being in league with Satan by the authorities of the time; as such, he drew intellectual and philosophical connections between Judaism and his philosophy. He envisioned Satanism as a way for modern, non-practicing young Jews (especially those from mixed Jewish/Gentile marriages), who don't fit in with the synagogue, the church, or the white supremacist movement, to claim a new, "tough" identity as an alternative to the humanism of the secular, liberal Jewish mainstream, jokingly suggesting that the Church of Satan was where a "Zionist Odinist Bolshevik Nazi Imperialist Socialist Fascism" could thrive.
One of LaVey's disciples was the actress Jayne Mansfield (1933–1967), known as a blonde bombshell in the Marilyn Monroe mold (although arguably with less acting talent). She apparently sought the assistance of LaVey with her career in the late 60s. However, she was at the time dating her attorney Sam Brody, who despite being married to someone else got jealous and told LaVey to knock it off. In response, LaVey allegedly put a hex on Brody, warning Mansfield to stay away from him. She did not, and, so the story goes, she died in a car accident alongside Brody because of it. (It is claimed she was decapitated in the accident but that's one of many picturesque but untrue details about the whole thing.) Whether Mansfield was really killed by the devil is something only you can decide: proponents of the idea include filmmakers Todd Hughes and P. David Ebersole, along with trashmeister John Waters, in their "documentary" Mansfield 66/67 ("one of the least peer-reviewed documentaries I’ve ever seen" — Jordan Hoffman, Vanity Fair). Mansfield 66/67 also includes some commentary by Kenneth Anger.
Not to be confused with…
- Davis Aurini, a neo-reactionary MRA whose personal appearance and manner of dress is very similar to LaVey's, possibly intentionally. LaVey probably wouldn't be so thrilled to have a fan who falls afoul of so many of the Satanic Sins, though.
- The Satanic Temple, in fact the Church of Satan and the Satanic Temple don't really get along. Yes, even Satanists have petty factional squabbling.
- His birth name, Howard Stanton Levey (no capital "V"), kind of lacked the edge he needed, so you can't blame him for changing it.
- Anton Lavey reprising one of his carny skills.
- Anton Szandor LaVey biography at The Church of Satan.
- LaVey, Anton. "9 Satanic Statements, 9 Satanic Sins & Eleven Satanic Rules of the Earth."
- Church of Satan FAQ, "Occultism / Crowley / Wicca / Voodoo".
- Church of Satan FAQ, "Demonic Possession, Strange Dreams, and/or Diabolical Destiny"
- Satanism and the Far Right. Detoxorcist
- Bernstein, Joseph (2015) "The Surprisingly Mainstream History Of The Internet’s Favorite Anti-Semitic Image". Buzzfeed
- LaVey, Anton. Satan Speaks! "A Plan", p. 8-9. (Plus commentary.)
- "Did the Devil Kill Jayne Mansfield?," Jordan Hoffman, Vanity Fair, October 24, 2017.
- Blanche Barton, The secret life of a Satanist: The authorized biography of Anton Szandor LaVey, 2014.
- Church of Satan vs. Satanic Temple, The Satanic Temple