“Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law” — Aleister Crowley’s infamous quote from his The Book of The Law, and one of the founding tenets of Satanism, a religion and/or philosophy founded by Anton Szandor LaVey in 1966. I admit I was scared when I first decided to write on this subject. My Sunday schooling taught me plenty about God and Satan — and Satan was not one to be messed with. After all, my eternal soul is at stake here, isn’t it?
I didn’t know much about Satanism and Satanists — no one ever told me about it, and popular media typically portrays Satanists as evil people who commit human sacrifices and other diabolical acts. At my first pass on the Internet, I saw people dressed in black capes holding swords, t-shirts emblazoned with “666,” and altars adorned with black candles and skulls. However, once you get past all of the symbols, something entirely different is unearthed.
To gain some insight into Satanism, I spoke with Rick Morgan, a Satanic priest based in Dallas, Texas and the founder of The 600 Club — an Internet community of Satanists that began in 1995. The name of his community is a play on The 700 Club — the fundamentalist Christian television show started by Pat Robertson in 1966.
“All Satanists are atheists,” Morgan said. They don’t believe in god above, or the devil below for that matter. Satanists believe that each individual is god of his or her own life. Morgan said, “It’s a religion or philosophy that was meant to free man of his built-in fears of the unknown and of god. Really teaching that the only higher power is yourself and the abilities that you possess. It means doing for yourself instead of praying for somebody else to do them for you.”
It is important to note here that there are people who do believe in the devil as their god. I will refer to them as “Devil Worshipers” to delineate them from “Satanists” — and in a future article, we will definitely delve into Devil Worship. The Satanists we’re discussing here are atheists by definition. But, does that mean there are atheists who might be Satanists and not even realize it?
“No,” Morgan said. “There’s an elitism with a Satanist. It’s for the guy that knows he’s a little smarter than everybody and kind of loathes the way most of society walks around and conducts themselves. Sort of a misanthrope.”
So why the name “Satanism”? “Satan in the Bible was known as the adversary or the opposer,” Morgan said. “The adversary here is to the contemporary thought of believing in a god, doing what you’re told, and being a sheep.”
The symbols that some Satanists choose to wear, such us an upside-down crucifix or “666,” are intended to be a blasphemous parody of Christian symbols. Some divisions of Satanists may also practice a black mass, which acts as a mockery of the Roman Catholic service. Part of the black mass may include a naked woman as the altar, the deconsecration of the bread by dipping it in bodily fluids (preferably with a stolen Eucharist from a Catholic church), and sometimes sex acts with the woman on the altar. Devout Christians may be in shock from the very idea – but that’s part of the point of Satanism.
Satanism’s founder, Anton LaVey, was born in Chicago in 1930, but his family moved to California when he was very young. LaVey dropped out of high school and took up with the carnival, where he learned about showmanship, cons, and a lot about human nature. In addition to working the acts, LaVey also played the organ and keyboards, both for the carnival and in nightclubs.
During the 1950s, LaVey worked part time as a “psychic investigator,” and local police departments would refer customers to him regularly. During this time, LaVey learned how many people seek supernatural causes for what is very often natural events or problems.
Anton LaVey took ideas for his new religion from his experiences and from many other sources, including Darwin, Aleister Crowley, Nietzsche, Ayn Rand, and even P.T. Barnum. LaVey was once quoted as saying that if he didn’t found Satanism, “someone else, perhaps less qualified, would have.” The Church of Satan was officially born on the last night of April, 1966. LaVey then declared that 1966 would be renumbered to year One, Anno Satanas — the first year of the Age of Satan.
According to Rick Morgan, the audience that is most drawn to Satanism tends to be Caucasians, 13-16 years of age. “They grew up in a Christian family, are disenfranchised, generally have a higher IQ than most people in the neighborhood — and when they find it, it just clicks for them. They’re not going to stay there long, but that’s the foundation, and then they go off and pursue other things,” Morgan said.
There have been many split-offs from the original Church of Satan during LaVey’s life, but especially after his death in 1997. Morgan gave some examples: “The Temple of Set went off on a very paranormal route — kind of drifting from the atheist standpoint and more into the traditional occult-ish magic working. They did that in 1975. There’s been a few little groups here and there — nothing of real significance. In 1998, the First Church of Satan popped up.”
The First Church of Satan was founded by Lord Egan who, according to his Web site (www.churchofsatan.org), died earlier this month. “Lord Egan actually faked his own death,” Morgan said. “He’s still alive. He’s been around since the old days when LeVay first started his Church, which is ironic, because the thing he started turns out to be the biggest joke on the Internet.”
Satanism means to embrace selfishness or “rational self-interest.” Do whatever pleases you, but understand there are consequences for your actions. Morgan explained, “There’s no such thing as a selfless act. Everything you do is for selfish reasons. Just recognizing humans for what they really are – we’re animals, we’re very selfish, and we’re very greedy — and instead of fighting that, you can embrace it.”
It seems to me that our modern society exists because of cooperation. I have time to write this column because I don’t need to be hunting or farming for my food — we all do our individual occupations to the benefit of the whole society. So could modern society exist if we were all Satanist? “I think so,” Morgan said. “You would go back to Darwinism where the strong would survive and there wouldn’t be charities to allow the weak to continue to reproduce and continue to survive and water down our race. There was a point where humans weren’t as smart, or maybe as strong, or as innovative as we are now. I think now we’re slowly starting to recess as a result of charity and everybody being equal — there has to be a benchmark that determines who is better than whom. There is no egalitarian.”
The nine Satanic statements discuss seeking your own gratification and personal fulfillment, taking vengeance when needed, and only offering your friendship to those who deserve it. To embrace these core values is to become a Satanist. The nine sins of Satanism include stupidity, conformity, self-deceit, and lack of perspective. Satanism is the opposite of most Christian teachings.
As our society continues to evolve and become more advanced, we seem to become less dependent on organized religion to explain everything to us. Combine our technological progression with a continual weakening of influence from cultural behemoths like the Catholic Church, and Satanism only has room to grow.