Group Snapshot: Church of Satan

Anton Szandor LaVey had to be one of the most interesting characters of the 20th century. A former circus performer, organist and showman, he was the perfect person to promote a dramatic and eccentric form of occultism. On Walpurgis Night, 1966, he formally announced the formation of the Church of Satan. The magical practices and rituals of this body were based on the traditions of Western occult belief. Such influences as the Golden Dawn, O.T.O. and Aleister Crowley are evident in LaVey’s form of occult practice.

However, there was somewhat of a twist here. While calling himself a Satanist, LaVey did not believe in a personal devil. Rather, he believed that Satan was the name of a spiritual force evident in nature and accessible to humans. The Church of Satan stood for everything that was the opposite of Christianity and traditional morality. Greed, anger, lust, selfishness, vengeance, sloth, sexual promiscuity, pride—all these are things to strive to enjoy. The two key concepts of LaVey’s brand of occult practice are materialism and hedonism. While practicing magic and sorcery, LaVey did not basically view these as supernatural practices, but as channeling the natural powers of the universe, and the power inherent in human beings.

The Church of Satan experienced several splits, the most successful splinter group being the Temple of Set. After a number of years of public worship and open events, the Church basically closed its doors as a public institution and went underground. LaVey died in 1997. However, his beliefs are still influential today, especially through his two primary works, The Satanic Bible and The Satanic Rituals.

Summary of Beliefs

God: God is a weak, ineffective being. Satan is a deity to be worshipped and admired.
Jesus: Mostly disregarded. He is an example of all that is despised in humanity.
Salvation: The goal of life is to please and serve yourself.
Human nature: Man is selfish and self-centered. We should learn to accept this and enjoy it.
Sin: What the Bible calls sins are actually behaviors we should practice and enjoy.
Afterlife: There may be an afterlife, or not.
Scripture: The Satanic Bible. The Satanic Rituals.
Truth: Relative to the individual person.

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