The Largest movement of modern Satanism began in the 1960's in the United States, led by Anton Szandor LaVey, a shrewd, intelligent man with a charismatic persona and an imposing appearance. LaVey founded the church of Satan in San Francisco in 1966, the activities of which became the object of great media attention.
Born April 11, 1930, in Chicago, LaVey claimed an ancestory of Alsatian, Georgian and Romanian blood, including a gypsy grandmother from Transylvania. As a child he studied music and became interested in the occult. He learned to play the piano at age 10, and at 15 became an oboist for the San Francisco Ballet Symphony Orchestra. He dropped out of high school in his junior year and joined the Clyde Beatty Circus as a cage boy. He had a gift for working with the large cats and became assistant trainer. It was in the circus, working with lions, he later said, that he learned about inner power and magic. On the side he investigated haunted houses. At 18, he left the circus and joined a carnival as a magician's assistant and a calliope player. In 1948 he met Marilyn Monroe and played as her accompanist.
He married his first wife, Carole, in 1951; they had one daughter, Karla. He studied criminology at City College in San Francisco, and spent 3 years as a crime photographer with the San Francisco police department. Disgusted with the violence that he had seen, he quit and returned to playing the organ at local night clubs and theatres. He began holding classes on occult subjects. From these classes evolved a magic circle, which met to perform rituals LaVey had devised or re-created from historical sources on the Knights Templar , The Hellfire Club, The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and Aleister Crowley. LaVey apparently enjoyed the theatrics of the rituals; he dressed in a scarlet lined cape and kept skulls and other odd objects about. Magic-circle members included actress Jayne Mansfield and film maker Kenneth Anger.
LaVey divorced Carole in 1960 and married Dianne, a 17 year old who worked as a usherette at his friday night occult sessions. The had a daughter, Zeena. From 1960 to 1966 he developed his elitist satanic philosophy. He viewed the devil as a dark force hidden in nature, ruling earthly affairs. Mans true nature, he claimed , is one of lust, pride, hedonism and willfulness, attributes that enable the advancement of civilization. Flesh should not be denied but celebrated. Individuals who stand in the way of achieving what one wants should be cursed.
On Walpurgisnacht (April 30) in 1966, LaVey shaved his head and announced the founding of the Church of Satan. He shrewdly recognized the shock value of using the term church for worshiping the devil and recognized peoples innate for ritual, ceremony and pageantry. He performed satanic baptisms, weddings and funerals, all of which received widespread media coverage. He used a nude woman (partially covered by a leopard skin) as an alter. His wife, Dianne became high priestess of the Church. He baptized Zeena. Karla began giving lectures on Satanism at universities and colleges.
LaVey preached antiestablishmentarianism, self indulgence and all forms of gratification and vengeance. Enemies were to be hated and smashed. Sex was exalted. He opposed the use of drugs, saying they were escapist and unnecessary to achieving natural highs. He also deplored the use of black magic in criminal activity. He did not include the Black Mass in his rituals because he believed the Black Mass to be out of date.
The Church of Satan organized into grottoes. A reversed pentacle containing a goats head, called the baphomet, was chosen as the symbol. LaVey used Enochian as the magical language for rituals and espoused the Enochian keys used by Crowley.
The Church attracted an international following. Most were middle-class and included occultists, thrill seekers, the curious, racists and political right-wingers. At its peak, it was said to have about 25,000 members (years later, ex-members said the figures were exaggerated). Followers included celebrities, among them Jayne Mansfield, who became an active member.
Mansfield's involvement with LaVey deeply disturbed Sam Brody, Mansfield's attorney and lover. Brody feared word would break out to the press and that she would be damaged by negative publicity. In 1967 Brody attempted to scare off LaVey by threatening to publish stories about him that would label him a fraud. LaVey responded by putting a curse on the lawyer, who suffered a minor car accident shortly thereafter. LaVey also warned Mansfield that she should sever her relationship with Brody.
In June 1967 LaVey reportedly told Mansfield that he had a premonition that Brody would have another car accident, and if Jayne were with him, she might be injured. She dismissed the warning. On June 29 she was riding with Brody in his car when it collided with a truck. Both she and Brody were killed, Mansfield by decapitation.
Film director Roman Polanski hired LaVey for his film version of Ira Levin's Devil-worshipers, Rosemary's baby , released in 1968. LaVey portrayed Satan and advised Polanski on Satanic ritual details.
LaVey turned much of his organizational activities over to others in the church and began writing books. The Satanic Bible was published in 1969, followed by The Satanic Rituals in 1972. A third book The Compleat Witch , was published in Europe.
In 1975 the Church suffered a serious loss of members, who left to form a new Satanic organization, The Temple of Set. In the mid-1970's the Church of Satan reorganized as a secret society and dissolved into grottoes. The headquarters remain in San Francisco. LaVey is no longer active, for he passed away a little while ago. Membership began to rise again in the 1980's.
The Temple of Set also is based in San Francisco and had several hundred members as of the mid 1980's. Key founders were Michael A. Aquino, Lilith Sinclair (Aquinos wife) and Betty Ford (not the former first lady, wife of president Gerold Ford). It is an initiatory society devoted to the Egyptian God Set (also known as Seth), whom members do not consider evil but merely the prototype of Satan. According to the temple, Set has, over the millennia, altered human genetics in order to create people of superior intelligence for the next level of evolution. Three major phases have occured: the first in 1904, when Crowley recieved the book of the law ; the second in 1966 when the Church of Satan was formed; and the third in 1975, when the Temple of Set was formed.
In his witings, Aquino has prophesied an apocolypse in which only the "elect" or members of the Temple of Set, will survive. Aquino, a liutenant colonal in the U.S. army reserves, has an interest in Nazi pagan rituals practised during World War II but says he does not sympathize Nazi polotics.
A number of other Satanic groups formed in the united states in the 1970's were defunct by the 1980's. Nevertheless, Satanic activities remain widespread on both sides of the Atlantic; some experts say they were on the rise as of the 1980's. The extent of Satanism is impossible to gauge, because of the great secrecy of many orgonizations. There is evidence of small "family traditions" of Satanism, passed down from one generation to another. Some Satanists are associated with Neo-Nazi organizations or sex magic orders. Some Satanic cults are alleged to be involved in drug, prostitution and pornography trade and to have real estate holdings. Members are said to include white-collar professionals. These do not pertain to the modern day Satanists(LaVeyan)
Michelle Remembers (1980), by Michelle Smith and Lawrence Pazder, M.D., recounts the terrors Smith experienced as a child of five in Satanic rituals in Victoria, British Columbia, in 1954-55. She said her mother yielded her to devil worshipers, who used her as a living pointer in rituals. She witnessed the ritual killings of animals and infants and was shut in coffins that were put into graves and into which were thrown dead animals. She also watched the cult members attempt to bring life to a white statue of a man with horns. She said she was tricked into defacating on the cross and was asked to renounce the christian god. Smith descibes instances in which during the rituals, she witnessed the devil emerge from the fire, a man animal with a whipping, snake-like tail that struck her on the neck and seared her flesh. Fire shot from his finger tips and filled his mouth. He had clawlike hands, steaming nostrils and odd toenails. His shape constantly changed, and he appeared to be apart of the fire. Smith was able to purge her memories in psychiatric therapy at age 28.
Perhaps most dangerous of all are small cults whose members call themselves Satanists and practise ritual murder and animal mutilation. Such groups are said to kidnap runaway children and the homeless and use them as sacrificial victims, this is known as devil worship by LaVeyan followers. Ex-Satanic cult members have reported gruesome rituals in which hearts are cut out of living victims. Others report that victims are sexually abused before being killed; then their blood is drunk and their flesh is eaten. Women "breeders" produce babies for the "ultimate" and "ideal" human sacrifice. Former breeders report witnessing their babies being skinned alive, eaten, burned, poured in concrete and cut up and thrown in the ocean. Ritual tools are made from their bones.
In 1985 a ten year old boy in Bakersfield, Califonia, said that he and about two dozen other children were taken to a bad church by some 40 adults, who took off their clothes while chanting prayers to Satan. The children were forced to throw knives at a living baby, which was killed and dissmembered. The children were then forced to drink its blood. Then the boy said that the adults molested the children. Similar cases were reported throughout California, but the authorities found little evidence to support the claims. In 1987 a report issued by the Alberta Royal Canadian Mounted Police suggested that Satanism might be related to unsolved cases of missing children. Satanists where also believed to be responsable for some grave desecrations and robbings.
Satanism has been linked to certain oppresive heavy matal rock bands and teenage suicides and murders. Some troubled teens apparently turn to Satanism when they feel powerless and abandoned by thier families, the world and the christian god. They join cults that encourage, or require, them to carry out acts of violence to prove thier homage to Satan. Drug abuse is common. The ritual violence gives them a sence of power.
Author Maury Terry, in the Ultimate Evil (1987), asserts that David Berkowitz, the convicted "Son of Sam" killer who terrorized New York neighborhoodsin the late 1970's, was a member of a Satanic cult that operates in Westchester County and planned the Son of Sam murders. Terry states the cult is linked to a network of cults across the country, with a primary headquarters near Los Angeles, and that Charles Manson may have been involved with it. The cult is reportedly an offshoot of a Satanic group in England.
LaVeyan Satanists, Neo-pagan Witches and neo-pagans are wrongly blamed for devil worship activities. Several organizations carry on public relations and education programs for the media and members of the law-enforcement community to counteract such accusations
Satanic religious organizations, such as the Church of Satan and Temple of Set, DO NOT condone the violent blood sacrifices of the cults and are not associated with them in any way. According to Aquino, the Temple of Set emphasizes "rational self interest" and taking responsibility for one's own intellectual and ethical decisions.