The old age pact with the Devil was
an idea invented by Christianity, an idea used to justify its purge of the old
Pagan religions, and more particularly to prolong its ongoing persecution of
Witches. While today many of the
old religions and traditions are being revived, belief in the Devil forms the
basis of just one tradition, Satanism. The
Satanism of today however bares little resemblance to the supposed devil
worshiping beliefs used historically against witchcraft, and despite rumours of
widespread satanic crimes, organized Satanism is extremely rare.
The beliefs and practices of Satanists are almost entirely unknown due to their diversity and secrecy, and while some may believe their activities resemble those of witches and pagans, most all neo-pagan communities and particularly witches, reject all notions of Devil worship and anything to do with evil. In the same instance, ritual Satanists uniformly reject the common association of Satanism with child abuse, animal mutilation and all other such crimes. They are not evil either, more likely they are hedonists preaching a faith of self-indulgence and elitism in order to achieve their own aims.
Fear of organized Satanism can be traced back to the wave of panics that swept through Europe from about 1450 through to the 1700s. It was inspired in part by the rise of Catholic religious bigotry in conflict with other accepted beliefs, most particularly the older more established Pagan beliefs. On the 5th of December 1484 Pope Innocent VIII issued his most infamous proclamation, a papal bull in which he gave free reign to the Inquisition and opened the floodgates for near-on three centuries of the most vicious persecution. In 1486, he ordered two monks: Jacob Sprenger and Heinrich Kramer to write: The Malleus Maleficarium.
The book described in detail the alleged activities of Witches and Satanists,
which included: flying on
broomsticks, wild sexual orgies, eating children and inducing plagues.
It also maintained that
satanic rituals were centered on a so-called black mass, a parody of the
Catholic Mass. The panic that followed led to many would be
‘heretics’ being tortured and executed by the inquisition. There are no accurate records of the number of people killed,
but some estimates range up to 13 million, a number we now know is grossly
of such reports and
confessions as are still extent, clearly show they were mostly extracted from
people under torture, and have little basis in fact.
The 1980s saw another wave of satanic panics, this time spreading through America. Allegations suggested there was a huge and active underground movement of Satanists, and rumours quickly spread that Satanists nationwide numbered in the many thousands. They were thought to be responsible for such heinous crimes as: torturing and mutilating animals, child pornography and molestation, kidnapping and ritual murder. Books soon began to appear verifying the existence of such satanic cults many based on personal experiences. Newspapers, radios and TV show’s all competed as numerous people made claims to personally witnessing the horrors of Satanism. Most of their claims however, have since been rejected, as no solid evidence indicating the presence of an organized satanic underground has ever been discovered.
Most of the allegations can be attributed and explained by the use of a flawed psychotherapy treatment called "Recovered Memory Therapy (RTM)". Popular with many therapists during that time, it was a treatment used to recover memories of abuse suffered as a child. On the assumption that most mentally troubled patients had suffered some terrible trauma at a young age, it was the job of these therapists to unlock their concealed memories in efforts to relieve their trauma. However the methods they used included hypnotism, with suggestive questioning and coercive conversation. As a result thousands of confused patients were led to believe they had ‘remembered’ being abused as children, often by their own parents, and sometimes at the hands of satanic cults.
By the 1990s, most mental health organizations had determined that RMT often produced false memories in the minds of patients, and warned against any further use of this technique. After much investigation, most of what patients had been led to ‘remember’ was proven to be unlikely, impossible or out-rightly false. Many patients later retracted their memories gained in RMT, and sued their therapists for misdiagnoses or malpractice due to the damage it had caused them.
During the last decade Satanic scares have declined, but belief in a secret satanic underground still exists. People are obsessed with a fascination about Satanism, some in fear due to the secrecy that surrounds it, some out of curiosity for the unknown. Satanism today is spread through such mediums as ‘Heavy Metal’ the cult music scene, popular books of fiction and T.V. Horror movies, all of which continue to titillate the possibility of something sinister lurking below. The important thing to remember is that most of it is merely a figment of someone’s active imagination, and shouldn’t be taken for real.
The most prominent
advocate of modern day Satanism was Anton
Szandor LaVey, a charismatic, shrewd and egotistical character
who founded the ‘Church of Satan’, the first neo-Satanic church to be
recognized in the United States. The
church laid claim to a religious philosophy that championed Satan as a symbol of
personal freedom and individuality. Unlike
founders of other religions who claimed ‘divine inspiration’, LaVey created
his form of Satanism based on his own understanding and observation of the human
character, and insights gleaned from early theologians and philosophers who
advocated materialism and individualism.
Szandor LaVey was born Howard
Stanton Levey on the 04th
November 1930 in Cook County, Illinois. His
parents were Michael and Gertrude Levey, who soon after his birth relocated to
California. They took with them ‘Cecile
Luba Primokov-Coulton’ his grandmother,
a Ukrainian who entertained LaVey with
mysterious tales and old folklore superstitions garnered from the old country.
Those tales sparked his early interest in the bizarre, and he soon became
absorbed in dark literature, reading such classics as:
Frankenstein by Mary
Shelley (1818), Dracula by
Bram Stoker (1897) and the works of Jack London.
He was also fascinated by the lives of historical figures such as: Grigory
Efimovich Rasputin and Count Alessandro
LaVey was educated at Tamalpais High School, Mill Valley CA, where his unusual interests and flashy mode of dress marked him out as an oddball. A conscious outsider he had no desire to be ‘one of the boys’, nor was he interested in team sports or other integrated activities, instead he would often cut his classes to follow his own interests. He enjoyed reading pulp fiction and watching films characterized as film noir, he also developed an early interest in music. His parents were able to give him free reign to try various instruments, and he eventually chose keyboard because of its scope and versatility. With constant practice he soon became accomplished at playing by ear without recourse to books or sheet music. After leaving school playing keyboard became his main source of income.
Such was the true early life of LaVey, as can be determine from records, friends and family. But after leaving school he started on a life of myth and legend. In 1947, LaVey supposedly ran away from home and joined the Clyde Beatty Circus where he was employed as a lion tamer. He then replaced the circus ‘calliope’ player (‘calliope’, a North American keyboard instrument resembling an organ and consisting of a series of whistles sounded by steam or compressed air), and accompanied such famous acts as the Concellos, Harold Alanza and the Cristianis.
However after his death in 1997, this notion was debunked by his second daughter ‘Zeena’ and other members of his family, who after searching through the ‘Beatty 1947 Route Books’ (held by the Circus World Museum, Baraboo, Wisconsin), found no record of a ‘Levey’ or ‘LaVey’ employed as lion tamer or musician. They also discovered that the Concellos, Alanza and Cristianis circus acts were never Beatty performers and had worked exclusively for the Ringling Brothers Circus.
LaVey made good use of his experience working within the circus and became well versed in reading the character and wiles of punters. On Saturday nights he would play music for bawdy shows in risky rundown clubs, and on Sundays played for revivalists meetings and Churches, often seeing many of the same people attending both. From this he learned a lot about the psychology that motivates people. When the carnival season ended, LaVey earned a meagre living by playing organ in Los Angeles burlesque houses, during which time he claimed to have had an affair with a then-unknown Marilyn Monroe.
Here again we approach his myth and legend: In 1948 the 18-year-old LaVey was engaged to play organ at the Mayan burlesque theatre in Los Angeles. There he met a young stripper named Marilyn Monroe, with whom he had a passionate love affair before her rise to film stardom. According to LaVey, Monroe had resorted to stripping to pay her rent. As proof of his relationship with Monroe, he later showed visitors a copy of Monroe's famous nude calendar inscribed: “Dear Tony, How many times have you seen this! Love, Marilyn”.
In reality, LaVey never knew Monroe. Monroe’s agent in 1948 was Harry Lipton and he tells a different tale. Lipton states that as her agent he paid all of Monroe's expenses, including her rent. Paul Valentine was the director of the Mayan Theatre at that time and claims that the Mayan theatre was never burlesque, he also states that neither Monroe nor LaVey ever worked for the Mayan in any capacity. Diane LaVey (his former wife) has admitted that she forged the ‘Monroe’ inscription on the calendar, also his former publicist Edward Webber claims LaVey admitted he never knew Monroe. This shows how from an early age, LaVey used his natural intelligence and shrewdness to grandiose his own lifestyle.
In the early 1950s, LaVey moved to San Francisco where he allegedly worked as a Police Department photographer, and during the Korean War enrolled at the San Francisco City College to study criminology, thus he was able to avoid the draft. His studies and occupation supposedly revealed savage insights into the criminal mind and human nature. This again turns out to be part of his myth and legend. A search through the SFPD employment records reveals no ‘Howard Levey’ or ‘Anton LaVey’ as an employee during that time period. Frank Moser, a legitimate SFPD photographer in the early 1950s, states that the Department never employed him. A further search of the City Collage records also indicates that he was never enrolled there.
In 1951 LaVey met and married fifteen-year-old Carole Lansing, who bore him his first daughter Karla Maritza in 1952. By this time they were living at 6114 California Street (later the headquarters of the Church of Satan, and known infamously as the ‘Black House’). LaVey claimed that he purchased the house after discovering it was a former brothel belonging to the notorious ‘Barbary Coast’ madam, Mammy Pleasant (the source of yet another part of his myth and legend).
It turns out however, that his parent’s owned the property and allowed LaVey and his first wife Carole to live in it. In 1971, they transferred ownership to him and his second wife Diane, by which time the house had been painted black and was honeycombed with trapdoors, secret passageways and hidden rooms. LaVey claimed these had been built by Pleasant to elude police raids, however they were constructed simply to enhance his growing reputation and eccentric celebrity.
Throughout the 1950’s LaVey built up an extensive library of alternative literature, and after studying the histories of Paganism, Witchcraft and Demonology, became quite knowledgeable about the occult. One author and occultist that particularly interested him was Aleister Crowley, he even met with some Thelemites, but was disappointed with them, they seemed to be more spiritual and less ‘wicked’ than he had supposed the followers of Crowley’s creed should have been.
While LaVey had dropped out of high school early, he was no intellectual slouch. He was a voracious reader and had started to write, formulating a series of lectures expressing his own theories on religion and society. His only income at the time (according to his wife Carole) was a meagre $29.91 a week, made by playing the Wurlitzer organ at the ‘Lost Weekend’ nightclub. To supplement his income LaVey used his knowledge of the occult to set himself up as a ‘psychic investigator’, and even opened his house on Friday nights presenting his lectures to what became known as his ‘Magic Circle’.
Through his connections at the Lost Weekend nightclub, LaVey attracted many of San Francisco notables and soon found himself becoming a local celebrity. To enhance his eccentricity, he painted his house black and filled his rooms with strange and curious paraphernalia, including such pets as a tarantula, a boa constrictor, a black leopard and a Nubian lion named Tolgare. However, despite his earlier claim to have worked as a lion trainer, he proved to be hopelessly lacking in the skills required to look after a big cat. As the lion grow larger, LaVey frequently used a cattle prod to subdue it. Later after being arrested for the lion's unruly behaviour, he donated it to San Francisco Zoo where it required extensive special care due to his mistreatment.
In 1959, LaVey met and began an affair with Diane Hegarty; this soon led to his divorce from Carole in 1960. Hegarty and LaVey married in 1962 and she bore his second daughter Zeena Galatea in 1964. In 1965, LaVey was featured on the ‘Brother Buzz Show’, a humorous television program hosted by marionettes. The focus was on LaVey’s eccentric “Adams Family” life style, making a living as a Wurlitzer organist, a hypnotist, a psychic investigator and his highly unusual pets.
While continuing to work on his lectures, a member of his Magic Circle suggested that he had the basis for a new religion, LaVey agreed and decided to found the Church of Satan as the best means for communicating his ideas. And so, on the night of May Eve in 1966 (the traditional Witches Sabbat) LaVey ritually shaved his head and announced the founding of the Church of Satan, declaring 1966 “Anno Satanas”, the first year of the Age of Satan.
With his flare for publicity it wasn’t long before LaVey caused a sensation in the national papers. On the 1st of February 1967, he presided over the satanic wedding of radical journalist John Raymond and New York socialite Judith Case. Photographer Joe Rosenthal of the San Francisco Chronicle was sent to photograph the event, which was then syndicated to the Los Angeles Times and other major newspapers. LaVey followed this with another public spectacle on the 23rd of May 1967, the satanic baptism of his three-year-old daughter Zeena, and in December 1967, he conducted a satanic funeral for naval officer (complete with chrome-helmeted honour guards from the US navy).
In 1968, LaVey released his first record album: ‘The Satanic Mass’. The album’s cover featured a graphic of a ‘Goats head’ set inside a pentagram and circled by the Hebrew word ‘Leviathan’. Called the ‘Sigil of Baphomet’, it soon became the omnipresent symbol of Satanism around the world. Side one of the album featured the rite of baptism LaVey had written for his daughter Zeena, and on side two of the album LaVey read extracts from his soon to be published book: ‘The Satanic Bible’, accompanied by the music of Beethoven, Wagner and Sousa.
In 1969, LaVey took all the lectures he had written explaining his theories and philosophies together with the rituals he had written for the Church of Satan and put them all together into his first book ‘The Satanic Bible’ (published in 1969 by Avon books). The book became an immediate best seller, and since has never gone out of print. Today it remains the main source of inspiration for the contemporary satanic movement.
The Compleat Witch followed in 1971 (re-released in 1989 as The Satanic Witch). This is a manual teaching the ways and means of manipulating people and their actions, solely toward the achievement of their own goals. This he promoted through his Friday night lectures into which he instituted a series of “Witches’ Workshops” to instruct women in the art of attaining their will through glamour, feminine wiles, and the skilful discovery and exploitation of men’s fetishes.
His next book: The Satanic Rituals (1972), was printed as a companion volume to The Satanic Bible, and contains rituals culled from satanic traditions identified by LaVey in various world cultures. By the mid-1980s his marriage to Diane Hegarty had turned sour, and they separated when she sued him for palimony, they settled out of court and divorced in 1986. His final companion was Blanche Barton, who bore his only son Satan Xerxes Carnacki LaVey on November 1, 1993. His two final books The Devil’s Notebook (1992) and Satan Speaks (1998), have been described variously as ranging from the humorous and insightful to the sordid, and complete his written canon.
Numerous news media articles throughout the world spread LaVey’s influence; popular magazines such as Look, McCalls, Newsweek and Time magazines, as well as talk shows such as Joe Pyne, Phil Donahue and Johnny Carson furthered his popularity. His musicianship is preserved on several recordings, primarily Strange Music (1994) and Satan Takes a Holiday (1995), both originally released by Amarillo Records, and now available through Reptilian Records. Two biographies have been written about LaVey: The Devil’s Avenger (1974) by Burton Wolfe and Secret Life of a Satanist (1990) by Blanche Barton.
LaVey died aged sixty-seven of a pulmonary edema on the 31st October 1997 (Halloweens Eve). True to form his death on Halloweens Eve is shrouded in controversy. A later official investigation by the city of San Francisco discovered that his actual date of death was October 29, 1997 and that the spooky Halloween date had been accidentally (and independent of either the church or his family) written on his death certificate?? After his death and according to his wishes, Blanche Barton succeeded him as the head of the Church of Satan. In 2001, Barton passed-on this position to Peter H. Gilmore, a long-time member of his original Magic Circle now called the Council of Nine. As to the black house, it remained unoccupied until the 17th October 2001, when the real estate company that owned it, had it demolished.
That LaVey was a skilled showman is beyond doubt, his life was full of encounters with fascinating people; it climaxed with his founding of the Church of Satan and led to notorious celebrity on a worldwide scale. The Church of Satan has survived his death, and continues through the medium of his writings to attract new members who see themselves reflected in the philosophy he called Satanism.
First published on the 04th November 2005, 21:25:29 © George Knowles
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Rituals contributed by Crone: Samhain / Yule / Imbolc / Ostara / Beltane / Litha / Lammas / Mabon
Tools of a Witch / The Besom (Broom) / Poppets and Dolls / Pendulums / Cauldron Magick / Mirror Gazing
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In Worship of Trees - Myths, Lore and the Celtic Tree Calendar. For descriptions and correspondences of the thirteen sacred trees of Wicca/Witchcraft see the following: Birch / Rowan / Ash / Alder / Willow / Hawthorn / Oak / Holly / Hazel / Vine / Ivy / Reed / Elder. Also see: The Willow Tree (Folk Music)
Mystical Sacred Sites - Stonehenge / Glastonbury Tor / Malta - The Hypogeum of Hal Saflieni / Avebury / Cerne Abbas - The Chalk Giant / Ireland - Newgrange /
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Stones - History, Myths and Lore
Articles contributed by Patricia Jean Martin: / Apophyllite / Amber / Amethyst / Aquamarine / Aragonite / Aventurine / Black Tourmaline / Bloodstone / Calcite / Carnelian / Celestite / Citrine / Chrysanthemum Stone / Diamond / Emerald / Fluorite / Garnet / Hematite / Herkimer Diamond / Labradorite / Lapis Lazuli / Malachite / Moonstone / Obsidian / Opal / Pyrite / Quartz (Rock Crystal) / Rose Quartz / Ruby / Selenite / Seraphinite / Silver and Gold / Smoky Quartz / Sodalite / Sunstone / Thunderegg / Tree Agate / Zebra Marble
Knowledge vs Wisdom by Ardriana Cahill / I Talk to the Trees / Awakening / The Witch in You / A Tale of the Woods
Articles and Stories about Witchcraft:
Murder by Witchcraft / The Fairy Witch of Clonmel / A Battleship, U-boat, and a Witch / The Troll-Tear (A story for Children) / Goody Hawkins - The Wise Goodwife / The Story of Jack-O-Lantern / The Murder of the Hammersmith Ghost / Josephine Gray (The Infamous Black Widow) / The Two Brothers - Light and Dark
Old Masters of Academia:
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Remembered at Samhain
Abramelin the Mage / Agrippa / Aidan A. Kelly / Albertus Magnus “Albert the Great” / Aleister Crowley “The Great Beast” / Alex Sanders "the King of the Witches” / Alison Harlow / Amber K / Anna Franklin / Anodea Judith / Anton Szandor LaVey / Arnold Crowther / Arthur Edward Waite / Austin Osman Spare / Biddy Early / Bridget Cleary / Carl Llewellyn Weschcke / Cecil Hugh Williamson / Charles Godfrey Leland / Charles Walton / Christina Oakley Harrington / Damh the Bard (Dave Smith) / Dion Fortune / Dolores Aschroft-Nowicki / Dorothy Morrison / Doreen Valiente / Edward Fitch / Eleanor Ray Bone “Matriarch of British Witchcraft” / Dr. John Dee and Edward Kelly / Dr. Leo Louis Martello / Eliphas Levi / Ernest Thompson Seton / Ernest Westlake and the Order of Woodcraft Chivalry / Fiona Horne / Friedrich von Spee / Francis Barrett / Gerald B. Gardner / Gavin and Yvonne Frost and the School and Church of Wicca / Gwydion Pendderwen / Hans Holzer / Helen Duncan / Herman Slater "Horrible Herman" / Israel Regardie / James "Cunning" Murrell / Janet Farrar & Gavin Bone / Jessie Wicker Bell “Lady Sheba” / John Belham-Payne / John George Hohman / John Gerard / John Gordon Hargrave (the White Fox) / John Michael Greer / John Score / Johannes Junius the Burgomaster of Bamberg / Joseph John Campbell / Karl von Eckartshausen / Laurie Cabot "the Official Witch of Salem" / Lewis Spence / Margaret Alice Murray / Margot Adler / Marie Laveau the " Voodoo Queen of New Orleans" / Marion Weinstein / Matthew Hopkins “The Witch-Finder General” / Max Ehrmann and the Desiderata / Monique Wilson the “Queen of the Witches” / Montague Summers / Nicholas Culpeper / Nicholas Remy / M. R. Sellers / Mrs. Grieve "A Modern Herbal" / Oberon and Morning Glory Zell-Ravenheart / Old Dorothy Clutterbuck / Old George Pickingill / Paddy Slade / Pamela Colman-Smith / Paracelsus / Patricia Crowther / Patricia Monaghan / Patricia “Trish” Telesco / Philip Emmons Isaac Bonewits / Philip Heselton / Raymond Buckland / Reginald Scot / Robert Cochrane / Robert ‘von Ranke’ Graves and "The White Goddess" /Rudolf Steiner / Rosaleen Norton “The Witch of Kings Cross” / Ross Nichols and The Order of Bards, Ovates & Druids / Sabrina - The Ink Witch / Scott Cunningham / Selena Fox / Silver Ravenwolf / Sir Francis Dashwood / Sir James George Frazer / S.L. MacGregor Mathers and the “Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn” / Starhawk / Stewart Farrar / Sybil Leek / Ted Andrews / The Mather Family - includes: Richard Mather, Increase Mather, Cotton Mather / Thomas Ady / Vera Chapman / Victor Henry Anderson / Vivianne Crowley / Walter Brown Gibson / William Butler Yeats / Zsuzsanna Budapest
Many of the above biographies are brief and far from complete. If you know about any of these individuals and can help with aditional information, please cantact me privately at my email address below. Many thanks for reading :-)
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