Called “The Black Pope” by many of his followers, Anton La Vey began the road to High Priesthood of the Church of Satan when he was only 16 years old and an organ player in a carnival:
“On Saturday night I would see men lusting after halfnaked girls dancing at the carnival, and on Sunday morning when I was playing the organ for tent-show evangelists at the other end of the carnival lot, I would see these same men sitting in the pews with their wives and children, asking God to forgive them and purge them of carnal desires. And the next Saturday night they’d be back at The carnival or some other place of indulgence.
“I knew then that the Christian Church thrives on hypocrisy, and that man’s carnal nature will out!”
From that time early in his life his path was clear. Finally, on the last night of April, 1966—Walpurgisnacht, the most important festival of the believers in witchcraft—LaVey shaved his head in the tradition of Ancient executioners and announced the formation of The Church Of Satan. He had seen the need for a church that would recapture man’s body and his carnal desires as objects of celebration. “Since worship of fleshly things produces pleasure,” he said, “there would then be a temple of glorious indulgence . . .”
One might expect The Satanic Bible at least to offer a few prancing demons or a virgin sacrifice, but if you hopped this train expecting a tour of the house of horrors, you’re on the wrong ride. Far from a manual for conquering the realms of earth, air, fire, and water, The Satanic Bible is Anton LaVey’s manifesto of a new religion separate from the “traditional” Judeo-Christian definitions of Satanism. While LaVey rails against the deceit of the Christian church and white magicians, he busily weaves his own deceptions.
The Satanic Bible claims the heritage of a horde of evil deities–Bile’, Dagon, Moloch, and Yao Tzin to name a few–but these ancient gods have no coherent connection between each other or to Satanism, except that all have been categorized by Christianity as “evil.” Calling on these ancient names like a magician shouting, “Abracadabra,” LaVey attempts to shatter the classical depiction of Satanism as a cult of black mass and child sacrifice. As the smoke clears, he leads us through a surprisingly logical argument in favor of a life focused on self-indulgence. The Satanic Bible is less bible and more philosophy (with a few rituals thrown in to keep us entertained), but this philosophy is the backbone of a religion that, until LaVey entered the scene, was merely a myth of the Christian church. It took LaVey, and The Satanic Bible, to turn this myth into a legitimate public religion. –Brian Patterson
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