Anton Szandor LaVey
LaVey publicity photo, ca. 1992
|Title||Author of Satanic Bible, High Priest and founder of The Church of Satan|
Howard Stanton Levey
April 11, 1930
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
|Died||October 29, 1997 (aged 67)|
|Denomination||Church of Satan|
|Known for||The Satanic Bible|
Church of Satan
|Profession||Author, musician, priest|
|Profession||Author, musician, priest|
|Part of a series on|
The Sigil of Baphomet is the official symbol of LaVeyan Satanism and the Church of Satan.
|Church of Satan · (see also The Black House, Grotto, Council of Nine)|
|Anton LaVey · Blanche Barton · Peter H. Gilmore · Peggy Nadramia · Diane Hegarty · Karla LaVey|
|The Satanic Bible · The Satanic Rituals · The Satanic Witch · The Devil's Notebook · Satan Speaks! · Letters from the Devil · The Secret Life of a Satanist · The Church of Satan · The Satanic Scriptures · The Satanic Warlock|
|The Satanic Mass · Satanis: The Devil's Mass · Speak of the Devil: The Canon of Anton LaVey · Satan Takes a Holiday · Strange Music · Death Scenes · Threnody for Humanity · Sinfonie Sinistre|
|Greater and lesser magic · Satanic holidays · The Black Flame · The infernal names · Enochian Keys · Hail Satan · Sign of the horns · An Interview with Peter H. Gilmore|
|Part of a series on|
Anton Szandor LaVey (born Howard Stanton Levey; April 11, 1930 – October 29, 1997) was an American author, musician, and occultist. He was the founder of the Church of Satan and the religion of LaVeyan Satanism. He authored several books, including The Satanic Bible, The Satanic Rituals, The Satanic Witch, The Devil's Notebook, and Satan Speaks! In addition, he released three albums, including The Satanic Mass, Satan Takes a Holiday, and Strange Music. He played a minor on-screen role and served as technical advisor for the 1975 film The Devil's Rain and served as host and narrator for Nick Bougas' 1989 mondo film Death Scenes.
LaVey was the subject of numerous articles in news media throughout the world, including popular magazines such as Look, McCall's, Newsweek, and Time, and men's magazines. He also appeared on talk shows such as The Joe Pyne Show, Donahue and The Tonight Show, and in two feature-length documentaries: Satanis in 1969 and Speak of the Devil: The Canon of Anton LaVey in 1993. Two official biographies have been written on LaVey, including The Devil's Avenger by Burton H. Wolfe, published in 1974, and The Secret Life of a Satanist by Blanche Barton, published in 1990.
Historian of Satanism Gareth J. Medway described LaVey as a "born showman", with anthropologist Jean La Fontaine describing him as a "colourful figure of considerable personal magnetism". Academic scholars of Satanism Per Faxneld and Jesper Aa. Petersen described LaVey as "the most iconic figure in the Satanic milieu". LaVey was labeled many things by journalists, religious detractors, and Satanists alike, including "The Father of Satanism", the "St. Paul of Satanism",  "The Black Pope", and the "evilest man in the world".
LaVey was born Howard Stanton Levey on April 11, 1930 in Chicago, Illinois. His father, Michael Joseph Levey (1903–1992), from Chicago, Illinois, married LaVey's mother, Gertrude Augusta Levey, née Coultron, who was born to a Georgian father and Ukrainian mother, both of whom immigrated to Ohio in 1893 becoming naturalized American citizens in 1900. LaVey's family moved to California, where he spent his early life in the San Francisco Bay Area. His parents supported his musical interests, as he tried a number of instruments; his favorites were keyboards such as the pipe organ and the calliope. He did covers of instrumentals like "Harlem Nocturne" by Earle Hagen.
He attended Tamalpais High School in Mill Valley, California, until the age of 16. LaVey claimed he left high school to join a circus and later carnivals, first as a roustabout and cage boy in an act with the big cats, then as a musician playing the calliope. LaVey later claimed to have seen that many of the same men attended both the bawdy Saturday night shows and the tent revival meetings on Sunday mornings, which reinforced his increasingly cynical view of religion. In the foreword to the German language edition of The Satanic Bible, he cites this as the impetus to defy Christian religion as he knew it. He explains why church-goers employ moral double standards. However, journalist Lawrence Wright investigated LaVey's background and found no evidence LaVey ever worked in a circus either as a musician or a cage boy.
In the winter of 1948, Lavey began to work as an organist in bars, lounges, and nightclubs. His "genius" on keyboards helped him attain gigs. While playing organ in Los Angeles burlesque houses, he allegedly had a brief affair with then-unknown Marilyn Monroe, when she was a dancer at the Mayan Theater. This is challenged by those who then knew Monroe, as well as the manager of the Mayan, Paul Valentine, who said she had never been one of his dancers, nor had the theater ever been used as a burlesque house.
According to his biography, LaVey moved back to San Francisco. In 1950, LaVey met Carole Lansing. They married the following year, when Lansing was fifteen years old. Lansing gave birth to LaVey's first daughter, Karla LaVey, born in 1952. In order to avoid the Korean War draft, he studied criminology at City College of San Francisco. Lavey then attained a job as a photographer for the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD), where he worked for three years. He dabbled as a psychic investigator, looking into "800 calls" referred to him by SFPD. Later biographers questioned whether LaVey ever worked with the SFPD, as there are no records substantiating the claim.
During this period, LaVey was friends with a number of writers associated with Weird Tales magazine; a picture of him with George Haas, Robert Barbour Johnson, and Clark Ashton Smith appears in Blanche Barton's biography The Secret Life of a Satanist.
Anton and Carole divorced in 1960, after LaVey became entranced by Diane Hegarty. Hegarty and LaVey never married and lived for approximately three years in the Colonial Hills neighborhood of Worthington, Ohio. She was his companion for 24 years and mothered his second daughter, Zeena Galatea Schreck (nee LaVey), in 1963. At the end of their relationship, Hegarty sued for palimony.
Anton Lavey became a local celebrity in San Francisco through his paranormal research and live performances as an organist, including playing the Wurlitzer at the Lost Weekend cocktail lounge. He was also a publicly noticeable figure; he drove a coroner's van around town, and he walked his pet black leopard, named Zoltan. He attracted many San Francisco notables to his parties. Guests included Carin de Plessin, Michael Harner, Chester A. Arthur III, Forrest J Ackerman, Fritz Leiber, Cecil E. Nixon, and Kenneth Anger. LaVey formed a group called the Order of the Trapezoid, which later evolved into the governing body of the Church of Satan. According to Faxneld and Petersen, the Church of Satan represented "the first public, highly visible, and long-lasting organisation which propounded a coherent Satanic discourse".
LaVey began presenting Friday night lectures on the occult and rituals. A member of this circle suggested that he had the basis for a new religion. According to LaVey himself, on Walpurgisnacht, April 30, 1966, he ritualistically shaved his head, allegedly "in the tradition of ancient executioners", declared the founding of the Church of Satan and proclaimed 1966 as "the Year One", Anno Satanas-the first year of the Age of Satan (it was later demonstrated that LaVey in fact shaved his head because he lost a bet and made up the "ancient executioners" story after the fact). LaVey's image has been described as "Mephistophelian," and may have been inspired by an occult-themed episode of the television show The Wild Wild West titled "The Night of the Druid's Blood" which originally aired on March 25, 1966 and starred Don Rickles as the evil magician and Satanic cult leader Asmodeus, whose Mephistophelean persona is virtually identical to that which LaVey adopted one month later.  Media attention followed the subsequent Satanic wedding ceremony of journalist John Raymond to New York City socialite Judith Case on February 1, 1967. The Los Angeles Times and San Francisco Chronicle were among the newspapers that printed articles dubbing him "The Black Pope". LaVey performed Satanic baptisms (including the first Satanic baptism in history for his three-year-old daughter Zeena, dedicating her to Satan and the Left-Hand Path, which garnered worldwide publicity and was originally recorded on The Satanic Mass LP) and Satanic funerals (including one for naval Machinist-Repairman Third-Class Edward Olsen, complete with a chrome-helmeted honor guard), and released a record album entitled The Satanic Mass.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, LaVey melded ideological influences from Friedrich Nietzsche, Ayn Rand, H. L. Mencken, and Social Darwinism with the ideology and ritual practices of the Church of Satan. He wrote essays introduced with reworked excerpts from Ragnar Redbeard's Might Is Right and concluded with "Satanized" versions of John Dee's Enochian Keys to create books such as The Complete Witch (re-released in 1989 as The Satanic Witch), and The Satanic Rituals. The latter book also included rituals drawing on the work of H. P. Lovecraft. The Satanic Bible included excerpts from Ragnar Redbeard's Might Is Right and concluded with "Satanized" versions of John Dee's Enochian Keys. Admitting his use of Might is Right, LaVey stated that he did so in order to "immortalize a writer who had profoundly reached me".
In 1972, the public work at LaVey's Black House in San Francisco was curtailed and work was continued via sanctioned regional "grottoes". In early 1975 LaVey announced that higher degrees of initiation could be given in return for a financial contribution. In June 1975, editor of the Church's newsletter, Michael Aquino, left the Church of Satan and formed the theistic Temple of Set, claiming to take an unknown number of dissenters with him. The Church maintains this policy announcement was designed to "clean house" of members who didn't understand Satanic philosophy.
In 1980 the FBI interviewed LaVey in connection with an alleged plot to murder Ted Kennedy. LaVey told the agents that most of the church’s followers were “fanatics, cultists, and weirdos.” The agents reported that LaVey’s “interest in the Church of Satan is strictly from a monetary point of view,” and that he “spends most of his time furnishing interviews, writing material, and lately has become interested in photography.”
In July 1984, Hegarty issued a restraining order against LaVey, which he did not contest. LaVey's third and final companion was Blanche Barton. On November 1, 1993, Barton gave birth to Satan Xerxes Carnacki LaVey. Barton succeeded LaVey as the head of the Church after his death and has since stepped down from that role and handed it to Magus Peter H. Gilmore.
Anton LaVey died on October 29, 1997, in St. Mary's Medical Center in San Francisco of pulmonary edema. He was taken to St. Mary's, a Catholic hospital, because it was the closest available. A secret Satanic funeral, attended by invitation only, was held in Colma, after which LaVey's body was cremated.
Three months after his death, his estranged daughter Zeena Schreck and her husband Nikolas Schreck published a nine-page "fact sheet", in which they endorsed Wright's earlier allegations and claimed that many more of LaVey's stories about his life had been false.
LaVey included references to other esoteric and religious groups throughout his writings, claiming for instance that the Yezidis and Knight's Templar were carriers of a Satanic tradition that had been passed down to the twentieth-century. Scholar of Satanism Per Faxneld believed that these references were deliberately tongue-in-cheek and ironic, however he noted that many Satanists who had read LaVey's writings had taken them to be literal historical claims about the past. Although he regularly derided older esotericists, LaVey also relied upon their work; for instance making use of John Dee's Enochian system in The Satanic Bible. Faxneld therefore believed that there was a tension in LaVey's thought between his desire to establish prestigious Satanic predecessors and his desire to be seen as the founder of the first real Satanic society.
Dyrendel argued that LaVey partook in conspiracy culture as he grew older, for he was greatly concerned with modern society's impact on individual agency. LaVey was conservative in his attitude to law and order, and was opposed to drug use. He supported eugenics and believed that it would be a necessity in the future. LaVey hated rock and metal music, with or without "Satanic" lyrics, and often expressed his distaste for it.
Historian of Satanism Gareth J. Medway described LaVey as "A born showman", with anthropologist Jean La Fontaine describing him as "A colourful figure of considerable personal magnetism". Medway contrasted LaVey from the likes of Jim Jones, David Koresh, and Charles Manson, noting that whereas the latter were the charismatic leaders of apocalyptic communes, within the Church of Satan, "No one hung onto [LaVey's] every word, and church members [were] allowed considerable autonomy."
Academic scholars of Satanism Per Faxneld and Jesper Aa. Petersen described LaVey as "the most iconic figure in the Satanic milieu", while Asbjørn Dyrendel described him as "the founder of modern Satanism". In his 2001 examination of Satanists, the sociologist James R. Lewis noted that, to his surprise, his findings "consistently pointed to the centrality of LaVey's influence on modern Satanism". As a result he "concluded that - despite his heavy dependence on prior thinkers - LaVey was directly responsible for the genesis of Satanism as a serious religious (as opposed to a purely literary) movement".
His books The Satanic Bible and The Satanic Rituals, have been cited as having "an influence far beyond" the Church of Satan's membership. In 1995, the religious studies scholar Graham Harvey noted that although the Church had no organized presence in Britain, LaVey's writings were widely accessible in British bookshops.
Due to increasing visibility through his books, LaVey was the subject of numerous articles in the news media throughout the world, including popular magazines such as Look, McCall's, Newsweek, and Time, and men's magazines. He also appeared on talk shows such as The Joe Pyne Show, Donahue, and The Tonight Show, and in a feature-length documentary called Satanis in 1970. He would be credited for the mainstreaming of Satanism and witchcraft in the U.S. during the 1960s, 1970s, and after. LaVey claimed that he had been appointed consultant to the film Rosemary's Baby, which revolved around a group of fictional Satanists, and that he also had a cameo appearance in the film as the Devil, however critics have argued that none of this was true. In an article published in Rolling Stone magazine in 1991, the journalist Lawrence Wright revealed that through his own investigative work, he found that many of LaVey's claims about his life had been untrue. Two official biographies have been written on LaVey, including The Devil's Avenger by Burton H. Wolfe, published in 1974 and The Secret Life of a Satanist by Blanche Barton, published in 1990.
LaVey was a friend of James Madole, leader of the Fascist National Renaissance Party. Due to Madole's opposition to Christianity, he sought new religious ideas, and was attracted to an infusion of Fascism and Satanism.
| High Priest of the Church of Satan
Peter H. Gilmore after vacancy
Anton La Vey, genius of the calliope and organ entertains Sunday afternoon and evenings
Both Karla LaVey [sic] and Schreck were the product of LaVey's common-law marriage to Diane Hegarty from 1962 to 1986. One of the highlights of that unholy union was Schreck's 1967 satanic baptism at the Black House, when she was three years old.
On paper, the agreement seemed friendly enough: She got the 1967 Jaguar. He got the 1936 Cord, the 1972 Datsun 280 and the 1976 Cadillac limousine. Still to be decided were the medieval torture implements, the crystal ball, the devil bust, the bed of nails and the classic wooden coffin. But now, the whole thing has become a devil of an issue in San Francisco Superior Court, as the nation's first prince and princess of darkness square off in legal proceedings.
Anton Szandor LaVey, high priest of San Francisco's Church of Satan, lived with Diane Hegarty for 22 years. Now they are squaring off in a palimony suit over household property.
LaVey [...] said the mystic ceremony was the first such baptism in history.
Anton LaVey, who founded the Church of Satan in 1966 and wrote the "Satanic Bible" as a guide for international followers, has died at the age of 67. LaVey was cremated Tuesday after a satanic funeral at Woodlawn Memorial Chapel in Colma. Security concerns led his daughter, Church of Satan High Priestess Karla LaVey, to demand "absolute secrecy from all who knew of LaVey's death and satanic funeral," family spokesman Lee Houskeeper said. ...
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