The Church of Satan
The Church of Satan is a religious organization dedicated to Satanism as codified in The Satanic Bible. The church does not believe in the Devil, neither a Christian nor Islamic notion of Satan. Peter H. Gilmore describes its members as “skeptical atheists”, embracing the Hebrew root of the word “Satan” as “adversary”. The church views Satan as a positive archetype who represents pride, individualism, and enlightenment, and as a symbol of defiance against the Abrahamic faiths which LaVey criticized for what he saw as the suppression of humanity’s natural instincts. The Church of Satan describes its structural basis as a cabal that is “an underground cell-system of individuals who share the basis of philosophy”.
Founder of The Church of Satan
Anton Szandor LaVey (1930—1997) was the founder of the Church of Satan, the first organized church in modern times promulgating a religious philosophy championing Satan as the symbol of personal freedom and individualism. Unlike the founders of other religions, who claimed exalted “inspiration” delivered through some supernatural entity, LaVey readily acknowledged that he used his own faculties to synthesize Satanism, based on his understanding of the human-animal and insights gained from earlier philosophers who advocated materialism and individualism. Concerning his role as founder, he said, “If he didn’t do it himself, someone else, perhaps less qualified, would have.” LaVey declared 1966 Year One, Anno Satanas—the first year of the reign of Satan.
Leader of The Satanic Church
After LaVey’s death in 1997, the leadership of the Church was turned over to his partner, Blanche Barton. In 2001, Blanche ceded her position to longtime members Peter H. Gilmore and Peggy Nadramia, the current High Priest and High Priestess and publishers of The Black Flame, the official magazine of The Church of Satan.
The Church of Satan Location
The Church of Satan was established at the Black House in San Francisco, California, on Walpurgisnacht, April 30, 1966, by Anton Szandor LaVey, who was the Church's High Priest until his death in 1997. In 2001, Peter H. Gilmore was appointed to the position of High Priest, and the church's headquarters were moved to Hell's Kitchen, Manhattan, New York City.
Symbol of The Church of Satan
The Sigil of Baphomet is the primary symbol of Satanism. It was first popularized by Anton LaVey and the Church of Satan.
“The pentagram (pentalpha) comes from the Pythagorean tradition. The goat's or ram's head within it refers to the Goat of Mendes, a symbol of the Egyptian Neter Amon, who was called “the hidden one, he who abides in all things, the soul of all phenomena” and is thus the closest Neter to the Dark Force which is seen to permeate and motivate all nature. The two concentric circles which contain the word “Leviathan” written in Hebrew (starting at the lowermost point and moving counterclockwise) stem from the traditions of the Ophite (serpent) Jews, and this is the essence of the Dragon of the Abyss, descended from Tiamat, sometimes symbolized as an ouroboros (serpent biting its own tail forming a circle).” In one sigil, They find a confluence of several cultures' approach to embodying what we call Satan.
The Church of Satan Beliefs
The Church does not espouse a belief in Satan as an entity who literally exists, and LaVey did not encourage the worship of Satan as a deity. High Priest Peter H. Gilmore has stated “My real feeling is that anybody who believes in supernatural entities on some level is insane. Whether they believe in the Devil or God, they are abdicating reason”. Gilmore defines the word “Satan” as “a model or a mode of behavior”, noting that in Hebrew the word means “adversary” or “opposer”, which can be regarded as “one who questions”. Gilmore describes Satanism as beginning with atheism and taking the view that the universe is indifferent: “There's no God, there's no Devil. No one cares!” LaVey sought to cement his belief system within the secularist world-view that derived from natural science, thus providing him with an anti-theistic basis with which to criticize Christianity and other supernaturalist beliefs. He legitimized his religion by highlighting what he claimed was its rational nature, contrasting this with what he saw as the supernaturalist irrationality of established religions.
Church members may also participate in a system of magic that LaVey defined as greater and lesser magic. Greater magic is a form of ritual practice and is meant as a psychodramatic catharsis to focus one's emotional energy for a specific purpose; lesser magic is the practice of manipulation by means of applied psychology and glamour to bend an individual or situation to one's will. The “central convictions” of the Church are formulated in the Nine Satanic Statements, Eleven Satanic Rules of the Earth, Nine Satanic Sins, and Pentagonal Revisionism, which are regularly reproduced within the Church of Satan's written material.
How to Join the Satanic Church
Membership to the Church is gained by paying $225 and filling out a registration statement, and thus initiates are bestowed with lifetime memberships and not charged annual fees. The church emphasizes that one does not have to join the organization to consider oneself a Satanist and that one only needs to recognize himself in The Satanic Bible and live according to the tenets outlined therein.