Fact or Fiction: Are They Evil?

History of the Church Part Three:

Modern Prometheus

LaVey was never expecting to be the founder of a new religion, but he saw and recognized a need for something publicly opposing the stagnation of Christianity, and he knew that if he didn’t do it, someone else, probably less qualified, would.


He noticed that there must be a new representative of justice, someone who understood the torment and torture of being human, which shared our own passions and follies, yet was somehow wiser and stronger. He began to realize that those who rebelled against “God” and the traditional Church, or at the very least, the dictates of conventional, and mainstream society had achieved most of our progress in science and philosophy. Humankind needed a representative for that revolutionary, creative, and irrepressible spirit within all of us. This single figure, and who it must be, was very clear to LaVey from an early point in his life; a deity whose rebellious, passionate nature and been described, either in awe or fear or both, from the darkest beginnings of time.

Satan, by one name or another, haunted mankind, tempting him with sweet delights and enlightening him with blinding secrets intended only for the Gods and Goddesses. Lucifer, Son of the Morning, could be petitioned and evoked for powers of retribution and who gave deserved rewards right now. Instead of creating sins to insure guilty compliance, Satan encouraged indulgence. He was the single deity who could really understand what it is like to be human and could understand us.


The Magic Circle/Order of the Trapezoid

From the early 1950’s, LaVey explored some of these ideas, eventually gaining himself notarity as a powerful black magician and San Francisco character. Those who felt aligned with his philosophy gravitated to him, gathering in his Victorian “Black House”. In line with LaVey’s researching of demonic geometry, they took to wearing odd shaped black and red medallions adorned with a bat-winged demon and formed a group called the Order of the Trapezoid, which later became the governing body of the Church of Satan.


Those who attended LaVey’s soirees always comprised an array of professions and pursuits: “the Baroness” Carin de Plessen—who grew up in the Royal Palace of Denmark, Dr. Cecil Nixon—magician and eccentric extraordinaire, underground filmmaker Kenneth Anger, as well as artists, attorneys, doctors, writers, and law enforcement officers. City Assessor Russell Wolden might share the room with Donald Werby, one of San Francisco’s most influential property owners; anthropologist Michael Harner with writer Shana Alexander. A ship’s purser might be seated next to a deep-sea diver, a dildo manufacturer next to a plastic surgeon. A famous tattoo artist, the grandson of a U.S. president, the owner of one of the world’s largest collections of Fabergé artifacts—all attended LaVey’s get-togethers. The field of fantasy and science fiction personages alone yielded the likes of Anthony Boucher, August Derleth, Robert Barbour Johnson, Reginald Bretnor, Emil Petaja, Stuart Palmer, Clark Ashton Smith, Forrest J. Ackerman, Fritz Leiber, Jr., to name a few, into LaVey’s circle of magical compatriots.

LaVey wanted to establish something new, not strict doctrines awash with attitudes of blind faith and worship, but something which would smash all concepts of anything that had come before, something to break apart the ignorance and hypocrisy fostered by the Christian churches. Something, too, that could free people to apply the black magic he and his Magic Circle were using. Anton became convinced he was learning methods to harness the dark forces which cause “a change in situations or events in accordance with one’s will which would, using normally accepted methods, be unchangeable,” as LaVey defines magic.

Anton expanded and refined his formulas for the Magic Circle rituals and began achieving precise results—professional advances, unexpected rewards, monetary gain, sexual or romantic satisfaction, the elimination of certain enemies—it was apparent to everyone involved that Anton had indeed tapped into that mysterious Dark Force in Nature.

There was the magic—and there was a workable philosophy to go along with it. It was a down-to-earth, rational, bedrock philosophy that emphasized the carnal, lustful, natural instincts of man, without imposing guilt for manufactured sins. To break apart the crust of stupidity and irrationality fostered over the past 2000 years, LaVey knew it was necessary to blast its very foundations. His ideas could not be presented as just a “philosophy”—that would be too easy to pass off or overlook. LaVey would blasphemously form a religion and, even more, he would call his new organization a church, consecrated not in the name of God but in the name of Satan. There had always been a Satanic underground, centuries old, but there had never been an organized Satanic religion, practicing openly. LaVey decided it was high time there was.


Photo Credit: Tina Parsons

Ultimate Photography SLC

Salt Lake Temple Grounds/Temple Square

Owned by LDS Church


Official Church of Satan Website

Church of Satan: A Historical Overview by Tina Parsons 2011

The Devil’s Avenger (1974) by Burton Wolfe

Secret Life of a Satanist (1990) by Blanche Barton

by Blanche Barton ©2003
(condensed from The Church of Satan and with supplemental material by Peter H. Gilmore)