Anton Szandor LaVey was a controversial figure both during life and after his death. Not only was he the founder of the notorious Church of Satan, but he authored several books that changed the way people look at Satan. But just who was LaVey really? A man with a knack for self-promotion or an evil master of the dark arts?
Who was Anton Szandor LaVey?
Anton LaVey was born on April 11, 1930, in Chicago, Illinois. Very little is known about his early life, except that his given name was Howard Stanton Levey. LaVey had a penchant for creating stories and exaggerating the truth. Some stories claim his father, Michael LaVey, was a musician, while his mother, Caroleen, was a circus performer. However, it is more likely his parents were average blue-collar workers without any connection to the mystical or strange.
From a young age, LaVey was interested in the dark side of life and the occult. He would often explore abandoned buildings and read horror stories. He once told a story that his grandmother was from Transylvania, where demons and vampires roamed the countryside.
LaVey had many talents
In his lifetime, LaVey was an artist, lion trainer, professional organist, crime photographer, hypnotist, and even claimed to be a psychic. According to family members, he was always drawn to anything related to the unknown and inexplicable.
LaVey garnered quite a reputation as a master of the dark arts. He was often seen as a controversial figure, due to his beliefs and the practices of the Church of Satan.
The Church of Satan
In San Francisco, California, Anton LaVey’s black-painted house was where the Church of Satan was founded in 1966. Despite the name, the church does not actually worship the devil. Instead, it was based on LaVey’s belief that Satan represented the best aspects of humanity, such as indulgence and rebellion. LaVey also believed that humans were not naturally good, but rather had the potential to be evil.
In 1967, the Church of Satan hosted a Satanic wedding, and LaVey’s daughter, Zeena Galatea LaVey, was baptized inside its walls. This caused quite a stir, as many people were not sure if LaVey was serious or just trying to shock the public.
Anton LeVey’s talent for self-promotion
Sometimes called the “Black Pope,” Anton LaVey was a gifted showman who knew how to capture the curiosity of the public and garner media attention. He was often described as charismatic and magnetic. LaVey knew how to use his skills to promote the Church of Satan and its beliefs. He was also a master of publicity stunts.
One of LaVey’s most famous publicity stunts was the “Witch Hunt” of 1967. LaVey and other members of the Church of Satan went to a cemetery in San Francisco and staged a mock witch trial. They pronounced two women guilty of being witches and sentenced them to death by burning at the stake.
The media coverage of the event helped to raise awareness of the Church of Satan and its beliefs. It also helped to solidify the Church of Satan’s reputation as a controversial and dangerous organization.
Charles Manson and the Church of Satan
After the murders of Sharon Tate and her friends by Charles Manson and his followers in 1969, the Church of Satan declined in membership and influence. Manson was associated with the church and claimed to be a disciple, but Anton LaVey denied any connection between the two.
Many people were disturbed by the alleged link between Manson and the Church of Satan, and this led to a negative image of the church in the public eye.
Is the Church of Satan a cult?
Since its founding, the church has been shrouded in controversy. Many people view it as a dangerous cult that encourages its members to engage in evil deeds and devil worship. Others see it as a harmless organization that allows people to explore their dark sides.
The Church of Satan has continued to grow over the years. The church is still active today and has members all over the world. However, the membership roster is secret, so there is no published number of just how many members actively participate.
The Satanic Bible
Anton LaVey’s most famous book, the Satanic Bible, was written in 1969. It lays out the beliefs and rituals of Satanism. The Satanic Bible is often seen as the holy text of the Church of Satan.
The Satanic Bible is not a religious text in the traditional sense. LaVey did not believe in a literal devil or that Satanism was a religion. Instead, he saw it as more of a philosophy or way of life. There are four sections contained within the Satanic Bible:
- The Book of Satan: This section contains LaVey’s thoughts on Satanism and its core beliefs.
- The Book of Lucifer: This section is about indulgence, pride, and self-love.
- The Book of Belial: This section is about LaVey’s belief that humans are innately evil.
- The Book of Leviathan: This section contains rituals and spells that LaVey believed would help Satanists achieve their goals.
While the Satanic Bible is not a religious text, it does contain some controversial content. LaVey’s views on Satanism and human nature are sure to provoke strong reactions in those who read it.
Other Anton LaVey books
In addition to The Satanic Bible, Anton LaVey wrote several other books that explore his beliefs and teachings in more depth.
The Satanic Rituals is a book that contains detailed descriptions of rituals that LaVey believed would help Satanists achieve their goals. The book includes rituals for weddings, funerals, and other special occasions.
The Satanic Witch is a book that explores the dark side of female sexuality. LaVey believed that women were natural sorceresses and could use their powers to control men.
The Devil’s Notebook is a collection of essays in which LaVey expounds on his thoughts on Satanism, life, and the human condition.
In Satan Speaks, LaVey argues that humans are innately evil and that Satanism is the only way to embrace one’s true nature.
These books are just a few of the many that LaVey wrote during his lifetime. His books are still popular today and continue to provoke strong reactions in those who read them.
The death of Anton Szandor LaVey
On October 29, 1997, Anton LaVey was 67 years old when he died of a heart attack at his home in San Francisco. After LaVey was cremated, a satanic funeral was held in Woodlawn Memorial Chapel. Interestingly, his death certificate lists his date of death as October 31 – Halloween.
LaVey’s death marked the end of an era for the Church of Satan. LaVey’s death was followed by a period of turmoil in the Satanism community. Many Satanists left the church, and it experienced a decline in popularity.
Anton LaVey and American Horror Story
Anton Szandor LaVey was once portrayed on the FX series American Horror Story by actor Mark Pelligrino. LaVey is depicted as a powerful and dark figure who has a strong influence on the show’s characters.
While Anton LaVey is not a main character on American Horror Story, he is one of the most important figures in the show. His presence is felt throughout the series and his influence is still felt by the characters even after his death on the show.
Today, Anton Szandor LaVey is still considered an important figure in the world of Satanism. The Black Pope and his teachings continue to influence people all over the world. Whether you see him as a man with a dark past or a devil worshipper, there is no denying that LaVey was a controversial and influential figure.