Anton LaVey formulated a system of degrees during the early years of the Church of Satan, as such was a general practice in many prior social and esoteric organizations. However, the criteria for elevation in our Church were based not on mysticism or occultism, but on knowledge of practical subjects beyond Satanism, and even more than that, on the application of such wisdom towards measurable ends. Dr. LaVey experimented by mandating the specific colors for medallions which could be worn by each member according to degree. And, for a time, written exams were given to assess a member’s readiness for a particular level.
In the mid 1970s, it became clear that many members had become obsessed with “jockeying for position”—being overly concerned with their place in the organization rather than working towards advancement in the world “outside.” This was contrary to our carnal philosophy’s emphasis on tangible personal progress and so, after that point, the existence of the degrees was de-emphasized in Church literature, and formulaic methods for recognition were jettisoned.
Active Membership is only for members who seek more involvement with the organization and other local members.”
Today, we maintain our traditional degrees, but these should not be seen as “initiatory steps” which are expected of our members. The Church of Satan is not an initiatory organization. It is our position that, for those with awareness, by living fully you will have plenty of authentic initiatory experiences through the many avenues you explore, hence there is no need for such artificial posturing in our Church. In fact, no member is required to move beyond Registered Membership. The First Degree denoting Active Membership is only for members who seek more involvement with the organization and other local members. The remaining degrees (from the Second through the Fifth) are not open to application or to request. Our specific standards for them will not be publicly released. The administration watches the progress of qualified members, and may choose to grant recognition to outstanding individuals based on demonstrated excellence in the understanding and communication of Satanic Theory, coupled with significant potent practices in the arena of the real world which have produced superior achievements. People naturally and quite organically rise to particular levels, and we may take note at our discretion. This is meritocracy at work. So, if you are so inclined, keep us updated on your accomplishments so that your progress may be noted.
- Registered Member (no degree)
- Active Member—Satanist (First Degree)
- Witch/Warlock (Second Degree)
- Priestess/Priest (Third Degree)
- Magistra/Magister (Fourth Degree)
- Maga/Magus (Fifth Degree)
“Administrator,” “Agent,” and “Grotto Master” are descriptive titles for what people do, not levels of rank, thus they can can be held by members with different degrees. “High Priest”/“High Priestess” are the top administrative titles, and can be held only by Fourth or Fifth Degree members.
Those who hold the Third through Fifth degrees are all members of the Priesthood of Mendes and individuals with these titles may be called “Reverend.”
An important point of re-emphasis: Our protocol for member interaction is based on the paradigm of a “mutual admiration society,” and this is applied across all levels of our hierarchy. Our members may earn each other’s admiration but the behavior of general respect is our functioning basis. We do not expect all of our highly individualistic members to like each other, but we do require that they behave as ladies and gentlemen when dealing with each other in all situations and forums, whether they be online, in any printed or broadcast media and particularly in face-to-face situations. Interaction is never required, and in the case of extreme disagreement wherein civility apparently cannot be maintained, we expect involved members to cease interaction with each other. Violation of this standard is a ground for expulsion.
An individual who demonstrates a thorough grasp of the philosophy of the Church of Satan, skills in being able to communicate it, and would like to be trained as a contact for local media and other interested parties may be chosen to serve as an Agent for the Church of Satan.
When you fill out your application for further involvement, let us know if you would like to be considered to be evaluated as a qualified contact point in your area or for media representation. You should then include material which demonstrates your qualifications, such as samples of your writing and video (via DVD) of yourself in a public speaking mode. Those who are appointed as Agents must demonstrate that they have already been making well-reasoned efforts to publicly clear-up misconceptions regarding our philosophy.
Priesthood of Mendes
These are the individuals who act as spokespersons for the philosophy of the Church of Satan, which include the titles of “Priest”/“Priestess,” “Magister”/“Magistra,” “Magus”/“Maga.” Members of the Priesthood make up the Council of Nine, which is the ruling body of the organization, appointed by and responsible to the High Priest/Priestess. The Order of the Trapezoid consists of the individuals who assist in the administration of the Church of Satan. Members of our Priesthood are people of accomplishment in the real world—they have mastered skills and have won peer recognition, which is how they have attained their position—“as above, so below.” They are “movers and shakers” who are the core of our movement. While expected to be experts in communicating our philosophy, they are not required to speak on our behalf and they may even choose to keep their affiliation and rank secret, in order to better serve their personal goals, as well as those of our organization. Thus, you may (even as a member), encounter members of our Priesthood and never know it.
Membership in the Priesthood is by invitation only. The old truism “If you have to ask, you can’t afford it” is certainly highly pertinent to our Priesthood. Words to the wise: Do not ask “How do I become a Priest?”