LaVeyan Satanism

An atheistic movement emphasizing individualism, self-indulgence, and skepticism, founded in the 1960s.

Religion: Satanism
Founder: Anton Szandor LaVey
Founded: 1966
Location: San Francisco, California, United States

LaVeyan Satanism, also known as Modern Satanism or Rational Satanism, is a new religious movement founded in the 1960s by Anton Szandor LaVey. It’s distinguished by its atheistic philosophy, viewing Satan not as a deity but as a symbol of certain human qualities such as self-assertion, vital existence, and the pursuit of personal happiness.

Anton LaVey codified Satanism as both a religion and philosophy, incorporating his background in carnival work and his knowledge of occult and ritual magic into the Church of Satan, which he founded on Walpurgisnacht, April 30, 1966. The church’s teachings and rituals were laid out in The Satanic Bible (1969), which remains a central text for LaVeyan Satanists. This book outlines the basic principles and rituals of the movement and is divided into four books: The Book of Satan, The Book of Lucifer, The Book of Belial, and The Book of Leviathan, each focusing on different aspects of Satanist philosophy, such as philosophy, rituals, and magic. Apart from “The Satanic Bible,” LaVey authored several other works, including “The Satanic Rituals” (1972) and “The Satanic Witch” (originally published as “The Compleat Witch,” 1971).

Contrary to popular misconceptions, the Church of Satan does not promote evil or worship Satan as a being. Instead, it advocates for humanistic values, self-improvement, and skepticism towards spiritual doctrines. LaVeyan Satanism emphasizes individualism, skepticism, and the view that humans are inherently animals, subject to the same forces of nature as other living creatures.

Rituals in LaVeyan Satanism are theatrical and symbolic, used as psychodramas to release emotional energy or achieve personal goals. These rituals include ceremonies such as baptisms, weddings, and funerals, adapted to fit the Satanist philosophy.

This form of Satanism is also characterized by its use of ritual magic, known as “greater” and “lesser magic,” not for supernatural purposes but as psychodramatic ceremonies to focus emotional energy for specific goals. Greater magic refers to rituals that serve as a form of emotional release or to focus one’s will on achieving specific outcomes, while lesser magic involves the use of persuasion and psychological manipulation to influence others. Despite LaVey’s materialist and naturalist philosophy, he acknowledged the possibility of forces that could be considered paranormal, though always within a framework that rejected the supernatural in favor of psychological or material explanations.

The Church of Satan, under LaVey’s guidance, established a religion that attracted media attention and a modest following, including celebrities like Jayne Mansfield and Sammy Davis Jr., due to its provocative rituals and the aesthetic of its founder’s San Francisco home, famously painted black. Despite its countercultural veneer, the church’s philosophy is deeply individualistic, promoting a kind of elitist hedonism.

LaVeyan Satanism’s impact is seen in its foundational role in the contemporary satanic movement. However, the Church of Satan itself maintains a critical stance towards other satanic groups, asserting the purity and uniqueness of its approach to Satanism as codified by LaVey​​​​.

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