The Church of Satan was forged from a group of individuals known as the “Trapezoid Order” and was established on April 30, 1966 by Anton LeVey. The church was created contrary to what LeVey called “Christianity’s stagnation.” According to Blanche Barton, “The Church of Satan- A Short History,” “LaVey saw that there must be a new representative of justice, someone who understood the torment of being human, who shared our passions and unfortunate things anyway somehow wiser and stronger. ” Blanche goes on to say about LaVey “He began to realize that most of our advances in science and philosophy were achieved by those who rebelled against” God “and the church, or the dictates of conventional society. We needed a representative of the revolutionary, creative, irrevocable spirit within us, the only figure to fit the bill was clear to LaVey from an early stage in his life, a deity whose rebellious, passionate nature had been described, either in awe or fear or both, from the dark beginnings of time “.
The Church of Satan has received a lot of press over the years for things like public Satanic baptism (first performed in 1967 on LaVey’s daughter Zeena), Satanic funerals, and naked female altars. Even the movie “Rosemary’s Baby” (which was a loose depiction of The Church of Satan and with LaVey as the devil) received much public backlash and caused churchgoers to hand out small buttons that read “Pray for Anton LaVey” in response to the commercials buttons, which reads “Pray for Rosemary’s Baby”.
Anton LaVey died on October 29, 1997, leaving the church to be led by High Priestess Blanche Barton, LaVey’s cinema, lover and mother of his only son Satan Xerxes Carnacki LaVey. In 2001, Magistra Barton appointed longtime administrator and LaVey associate Peter H. Gilmore as high priest and in 2002 appointed Peggy Nadramia, Gilmore’s wife, to succeed her as high priestess. Magistra Barton remains chairman of the Council of Nine, editor of The Cloven Hoof and mother of LaVey’s son.
The following is an interview conducted with the head of The Church of Satan, Peter H. Gilmore, via email. The church does very limited interviews, so I am grateful to Peter for taking the time to mine. I urge the reader to keep an open mind as I read the following. As I told Peter in our email correspondence, I may not see eye to eye on all of their views, but I am grateful for the opportunity to keep the lines of communication open in a forum like this.
An interview with Magus Peter H. Gilmore, High Priest of Satan’s Church.
TIS: I would like to start by addressing the many misconceptions the public has about Satan’s church. For example, you do not worship the devil or sacrifice babies or animals. In fact, you have been quoted as saying “My real feeling is that anyone who believes in supernatural entities on some level is crazy. Whether they believe in the Devil or God, they reject reason”. Would you please elaborate on this and any other misconceptions you often hear about the church?
PHG: Since we Satanists are atheists who use reason as our means of understanding the universe around us, we consider anyone who thinks themselves in direct contact with entities beyond nature to be irrational and unreliable. We do not believe in Satan or hell, and our ritual methods are meant as a cathartic means of releasing any suspended emotions – they are not worship of historical demons. Thus, sacrifice has no place at all in Satanism. There is nothing to sacrifice!
For us, as he was to so many creative intellectuals in advance, Satan is a symbol of pride, freedom and individualism. Satan represents the refusal to kneel at the conferred authority without questioning its validity. So Satan is an externalized projection of the best in us, an inspirational symbol, not an avatar of evil.
Some spiritual people perceive us to be ‘evil’ as we reject their precious fictions, but we Satanists proclaim justice and are ethical, executive sense as a means of judging the people we meet, based on a personalized hierarchy of values . As these values come from seriously considered personal evaluations of the world around us, we are far more firmly committed to these principles than people who simply obey texts found in an old book and supported by a hierarchical priest with no other explanation than such is the will to the deity required as the author of these rules.
TIS: The Church of Satan adheres to carnal not spiritual faith. Can you explain this?
PHG: Carnally means carnal, of the earth, and therefore we reject the notion that there is any spiritual dimension in existence. Heaven, hell, any kind of non-social afterlife, all are concepts that Satanists reject as dreams of the lake. We see that these often work to comfort people who cannot apply themselves to the achievement of both personal goals and any desired social interaction in this, the only life we have. For us, there is no restart via reincarnation, no eternal reward or condemnation. Our perspective is that life is in our own hands, that success or failure is on our shoulders. No blame for others, no blame. Just total personal responsibility.
Satanists consider the human species divided into two types: the spiritual ones who believe in supernatural worlds and feel the need to be accepted by some form of deity that they serve in the hope of being loved and thus gain value; and the carnal, people who do not believe in anything supernatural, whose value is self-generated, and who act as independent individuals without the need to be embraced by fictional entities. Carnivorous people cherish their freedom and create their own values based on judging the world around them. Spiritual folk look at texts made by someone else to be their guide – they generally do not feel happy until they are part of a group and submit to some form of authority, whether religious or political. Lonely versus crew.
TIS: Can you explain the guidelines that Satanists adhere to?
PHG: Instead of repeating them here, I urge your readers to visit The Church Of Satan website to read my essay “Satanism: The Feared Religion,” which includes links to our nine satanic statements, eleven rules of the earth, and nine satanic sins, all of which were worked out by our founder, Anton Szandor LaVey. In general, our rules are meant as proposals for existing within the social contract while maintaining individual sovereignty and not submitting to the dictates of the state or other authority that may lead to unwilling self-sacrifice. Once you have explored these guidelines, you will see that there is a wide breadth of individual application of those expected to be based on the community in which you live.
Satanists are free to promote whatever political goals serve their individual needs based on their country of residence, and therefore there is no umbrella political agenda for Satanists across the globe. In the end, most Satanists try to strengthen their personal freedom, but it is up to each one to decide how it can be done.
TIS: To achieve higher status within the church, you evaluate the members based on their socio / financial status rather than their commitment and knowledge of the church. Could you explain this approach?
PHG: Both knowledge and application of our philosophy are what are evaluated for revenge in our hierarchy. Non-applied theory is considered meaningless to Satanists. After all, we are pragmatic materialists. Involvement in the organization is not required, and people who are very high-performing in their profession, showing an exquisite practical understanding of Satanism, can reach an advanced ranking without in any way publicly acknowledging their allegiance to our church and philosophy. We have educated spokesmen who have the talent to communicate our philosophy, but they are also expected to have achieved some form of success in the real world of personal endeavor outside the organization before being eligible for advanced elevation.
TIS: Numbers 4 and 11 of your eleven satanic rules of the earth state: (4) If a guest in your nap annoys you, treat them cruelly and without mercy & (11) When walking in open territory, do not bother anyone. If someone bothers you, ask them to stop. If they do not stop, destroy them. Can you elaborate on these two specifically and others you would like?
PHG: it is important that these dictates are applied within a deeper satanic concept: “Punishments must be dealt with in form and degree to the crime committed.” So, if someone is behaving badly in your home (lair), you can feel free to push him out without breaking the social contract. They committed this violation by being a creep in your home. You do not have to tolerate such boorish behavior and can return it without guilt. “Destroy” above must always be assessed contextually. If someone offends you without provocation, you may feel free to destroy him with your superior verbal skills by hiding them with better-crafted barbs. The only time physical destruction would be justified would be in the event that someone tries to do you serious physical harm or tries to kill you. You are then properly able to respond with similar or greater force to end such aggression. However, we must be aware that there may be disturbances that will be addressed by local justice systems. In such a situation, we agree with this truism of the old west: “Better to be judged by twelve than carried by six.”
TIS: It appears that many of the important activities of the church are being held at Walpurgisnacht (a traditional spring holiday election April 30 or May 1 in large parts of Central and Northern Europe associated with dance and bonfires), including the official establishment of the church by Anton LaVey in 1966, as well as Blanche Barton appointed you High Priest (2001) & Peggy Nadramia to succeed her as High Priestess (2002). What significance and significance does Walpurgisnacht have for the church?
PHG: As it is our basic anniversary, this is a day we mark as an opportunity to continue with landmarks. Initially, it was conceived as a kind of “witch-sabbath,” a night when the forces of darkness held sway, which is why Anton LaVey felt it was a good time to embrace his positive portrayal of Satanism. A holiday made as hell. However, it should be emphasized that since Satanism is an individualistic philosophy that the primary holiday of the year for each Satanist is his or her own birthday. We are each our own gods.
TIS: It seems that Satan’s church has matured since it began days of naked female quarrels, spotted slices and whiskey. What are the future plans for the church, both immediate and long-term?
PHG: To quote number 2 in the original series “The Prisoner” – “That would be telling.” However, I can say that the purpose of the organization is essentially to convey our philosophy worldwide in as many languages as possible so that like-minded people can discover that a label and guidelines exist to improve the kind of carnal people they are from birth. We no longer require sensationalism to get attention these days. Our ideas are taken seriously by intelligent journalists and scientific individuals as well as academic publications who wish to explore the coherent attitude behind the more theatrical catches we have always shown. The concept of atheists with a sense of drama that is complete misanthrope can be understood, and the false idea that we are Christian heretics worshiping their devil falls only to the ignorant or superior.
And we believe that Satanism is only a philosophy for people born with a carnal, not a spiritual character. We do not believe that a natural spiritual person can convert. Therefore, we do not prosecute. Carnivorous people are a smaller percentage of the current population, but time may change. Currently, those who “believe” and thus need to teach some fictional super-parenting authority, whether a deity or a political leader, are in the majority. Those who are skeptical, earthly people who can stand on their own, determine their own values and – as Nietzsche puts it – make their own horizons are a minority, but a creative one that is needed in this time of blind faith again shows its danger to civilized existence.
TIS: Any last thoughts or comments you would like to leave to my readers?
PHG: It’s time for childlike things like faith and belief in non-existent beings to be brought to rest so that our species can enjoy a global healthy environment for cultural and technological development. A time of enrichment and growth could become viable once the threat of wholesale murder of those trying to fulfill dictatorial doctrines cribbed from books written by mad prophets has ended.
Spiritual religions can give some people satisfaction where they consider themselves valued by mythical saviors. If this idea is used to comfort and keep people in line, it’s fine for the Satanists, but it short-cuts rational thinking and always leaves the door open to drastically destructive irrational behavior. Can we afford not to seal that portal?