Church of Satan

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For the book by Blanche Barton, see Church of Satan (Barton);
For the pdf online by Michael A. Aquino, see Church of Satan (Aquino).

The Church of Satan is an organization dedicated to the acceptance of the carnal self, as articulated in The Satanic Bible, written in 1969 by Anton Szandor LaVey.


In the 1960s Anton LaVey formed a group called the First Church of Satan, which later became known as the Church of Satan. This early group rather consistently included Ed Webber, Tony Kent, John A. Ferro, Kenneth Anger, and Randall Alfred.

In the first year of its foundation, Anton LaVey and the Church of Satan publicly performed a Satanic marriage of Judith Case and journalist John Raymond as well as the Satanic baptism of LaVey's daughter, Zeena LaVey. The church also performed a public funeral for Church of Satan member Edward Olson, at the request of his wife. LaVey appeared on several talk shows, and promoted his church at the premiere of the film Rosemary's Baby. Eventually they would curtail the 'Magic Circle' lectures initiating the organization, as well as the Black Masses designed as travesties of the rites of Christians.

The Church of Satan has been the subject of books, magazine and newspaper articles during the 1960s and 1970s. It is also the subject of a documentary, Satanis (1970). LaVey appeared in Kenneth Anger's film Invocation of my Demon Brother, acted as technical adviser on The Devil's Rain, which starred Ernest Borgnine, William Shatner, and introduced John Travolta. The Church of Satan was also featured in a segment of Luigi Scattini's film Angeli Bianchi, Angeli Neri, released in the United States as "Witchcraft '70".

In 1975 LaVey phased out the Church's "Grotto" system and eliminated people he thought were using the Church as a substitute for accomplishment in the outside world. Thereafter, conventional achievement in society would be the criterion for advancement within the Church of Satan. This led to to the departure of Michael and Lilith Aquino, and several of their associate clergy. At the same time, LaVey became more selective in granting interviews. This shift to "closed door" activities resulted in some rumors of the Church’s demise, and even rumors of LaVey’s death.

During the 1980s, the media reported concerns of criminal conspiracies involving Satanists as part of a moral panic, and Church of Satan members appeared in interviews refuting their involvement and its reality. The FBI would later issue an official report (conducted by Kenneth Lanning) refuting the criminal conspiracy theories of this time. This phenomenon became known as "The Satanic Panic". During this period, Nikolas Schreck (not a member of the CoS) and Zeena Lavey (the younger daughter of Anton Lavey) appeared on interview with televangelist Bob Larson.

In the 1980s and 1990s the Church of Satan and its members produced movies, music, films, and magazines devoted to Satanism. Most notably Adam Parfrey's Feral House publishing, the music of Boyd Rice, and the films of Nick Bougas, including his documentary Speak of the Devil: The Canon of Anton LaVey. The Church of Satan and Anton LaVey continued to be the subject of magazine and news articles.

After Anton Szandor LaVey's death, his position as head of the Church of Satan passed was passed to Blanche Barton, who remains involved in the Church. However, in 2001 she ceded her position to long-time members Peter H. Gilmore and Peggy Nadramia who are the current High Priest and High Priestess. They are also publishers of The Black Flame, the official magazine of The Church of Satan. The central office for the church has moved from its original 'Black House in San Francisco to New York City's Hell's Kitchen neighborhood, where the couple resides.

The Church of Satan does not publicly release membership information and thus it is not known how many people are card-carrying members.

On June 6, 2006 The Church of Satan held the first public ritual Satanic Mass in 40 years at the Steve Allen Theater in the Center for Inquiry in Los Angeles. The ritual, based on the rites outlined in The Satanic Bible and The Satanic Rituals, was conducted by Reverend Bryan Moore and Priestess Heather Saenz.[1]

In December 2007 the Associated Press reported on a story concerning the Church of Satan, in which a teenager had sent an e-mail to High Priest Gilmore stating he wanted to "kill in the name of our unholy lord Satan". Gilmore then reported the message to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, who informed local police who arrested the teenager.[2]


The Church of Satan has two types of members: Registered Members and Active Members. Registered Members are simply people who have been inducted as members of the Church, and there are no requirements to achieve this position. To be deemed an Active Member, a person has to be involved with the Church and local members. Active Membership is divided into five Degrees:

Active Members begin at the First Degree. One must apply and be approved for an Active Membership, and this is subject to one's answers to a lengthy series of questions. One cannot apply for higher Degrees, and the requirements for each degree are not open to the public. Promotion to a higher degree is by invitation only. Members of the Third through Fifth degrees constitute the Priesthood.

Individuals seeking membership must be legally defined as adults in their nation of residence. The only exception made is for children of members who demonstrate an understanding of the Church philosophy and practices who wish to join. Their participation is limited until they reach legal adulthood. The Church of Satan does not solicit membership. Those who wish to affiliate can become a Registered Member for a one-time registration fee of two hundred dollars ($200) in United States currency. Affiliates receive a red card declaring them as a member of the Church of Satan to other members.[3]

Memberships may be terminated at the discretion of the ruling body of the Church of Satan consisting of the High Priest, the High Priestess and the Council of Nine. Upon termination, the issuing of a refund is ultimately left up to the High Priest's ruling, though generally 50% is returned to the cast-out member (the other 50% used to cover ruling expenditures).


The Church of Satan authorizes some Active Members as Agents, qualified to represent the Church of Satan and to explain the philosophy of Satanism to the media and other interested parties.


Members of the Priesthood act as spokespersons for the philosophy of the Church of Satan. Members of the Priesthood make up the Council of Nine, which is the ruling body of the Church of Satan. The Order of the Trapezoid consists of the individuals who assist in the administration of the Church of Satan. The High Priest and Priestess act as administrative chiefs and primary public representatives, each position held by a single individual at a time.

While expected to be experts in communicating the Satanic philosophy, members of the Priesthood are not required to speak on behalf of the Church of Satan, and may even choose to keep their affiliation and rank secret in order to better serve their personal goals, as well as those of the organization. Membership in the Priesthood is by invitation only.

Past & present Church of Satan High Priesthood

  • Anton LaVey — Founder & High Priest 1966–1997
  • Diane LaVey — Co-Founder & High Priestess 1966–1984
  • Blanche Barton — Anton's Assistant, High Priestess 1997–2002, now Magistra Templi Rex
  • Peter H. Gilmore — High Priest 2001 – Present (5th Degree, Magus)
  • Peggy Nadramia — High Priestess 2002 – Present


The Church of Satan maintains that it does not worship or support a belief in the Devil or other supernatural entities.

Satanists within the Church of Satan are supposed to adhere to the doctrines of the church as guidelines on how to live. The Church of Satan instructs that Satanists generally do not view the Satanic Statements, and Rules of the Earth as things that one must go out of their way to do. Rather, it is thought that the Satanist sees these things as truisms and how they naturally live their lives.

For more about the Church of Satan's doctrines, see the Nine Satanic Statements, the Nine Satanic Sins, and the Pentagonal Revisional plan.


A Grotto is an association of Satanists in geographical proximity. The Church of Satan has decided that it no longer needs to formally recognize Grottoes for members to socialize or organize rituals, since most members use online forums for these purposes. However, should a group of Church of Satan members form a "magic circle" for purposes beyond basic social and ritual interaction, and should that circle remain healthy and active for a year and a day, the leader may apply to have it formalized as a Grotto and be chartered as Grotto Master. The Grotto is expected to remain clandestine, an underground cell that only the privileged may eventually come to know. Grotto Masters are not spokespersons for the Church of Satan, nor are Grottoes local representations of the Church of Satan. A Grotto's charter can be revoked for inactivity.[4]

See also

Further reading

Template:Further reading cleanup

Books by Anton LaVey

Books by Peter H. Gilmore

External links

Interviews with Anton LaVey

  • Interview with Anton LaVey by Michelle Carr and Elvia Lahman, originally published in the September 11, 1997 Velvet Hammer souvenir programme.

Interviews with Peter Gilmore

Interviews with Zeena Lavey



This page began as a copy of the Wikipedia page on the Church of Satan on Friday the 13th of January, 2012.