The Anton LaVey Sigil, as we call the lightning bolt and pentagram symbol, was designed and made into a pendant (a woven platinum star with a gold lightning bolt) in early 1970 to represent the office of the High Priest of the Church of Satan and was first described in the Church of Satan’s newsletter “The Cloven Hoof,” Volume 1, Number 3, published in March of 1970. This description indicates that the symbol is rendered graphically as a white star with a red lightning bolt exclusively for the High Priest as the only “Fifth Order” church member. The lightning bolt in his pendant was inspired by the one seen in the logo for RKO Pictures, as well as other contemporary symbols denoting electrical power.
At that time the “Fourth Order” members were called “Sorcerer/Sorceress” (later this fourth degree would be called Magister/Magistra) and their insignia was a plain white inverted pentagram on a black circular background. The first three “Orders” wore Baphomet Sigils: red background with black symbol for “First Order,” white background with black symbol for “Second Order,” and white symbol on a black background for the “Third Order.”
In that same March 1970 issue, cloisonné amulets were released for sale exclusively to Church of Satan members as a means to cater to the more “occultnik” types who liked to wear many different medallions, usually at the same time. Anton LaVey was tired of seeing these members wearing many different symbols along with their Baphomets, such as ankhs, peace symbols, and so on—he thought that this mixing of contradictory symbolism was inappropriate. So amulets for Love, Knowledge, Wealth, Health, Curse, Power, Protection, Inverted Cross, and Lust were issued. The Power amulet was a tall rectangle in black with a white lightning bolt inscribed on it. None of these designs were very well rendered, having been sketched by his companion of the time, Diane Hegarty, who had minimal drawing and design skills. These were abandoned pretty quickly, and were not revived since that overly “occultnik” phase was soon over.
In the next issue of “The Cloven Hoof” for April of 1970, a crude black and white drawing of the “Fifth Order” insignia accompanied an announcement of Anton LaVey’s birthday celebrations for April 11, 1970.
Dr. LaVey’s platinum and gold pendant was given nationwide exposure as he wore it for a photograph taken to illustrate an article in LOOK magazine. This issue, also featuring another photo of LaVey on the cover, was dated August 24, 1971, and the photo showing the medallion is on page 41 in the article “Witches Are Rising.”
“The Cloven Hoof” again showed the evolution of the degree system in Volume 4, Number 3, March of 1972 when discussing insignia for the official degrees of Church of Satan members. Here it is explained that members who reach the Fifth Degree (with the official title of “Magister Satanas,” ceremonial title of “Magus,” whose form of address should be “Doctor”) would wear a plain silver pentagram without a background. Fourth Degree members (there were three sub-levels) wore a plain pentagram on a circular black background (the emblem Michael Aquino used when he quit the Church of Satan to found the Temple of Set). It is then explained that the office of High Priesthood would be indicated by superimposing a lightning bolt upon the degree symbol, and that office could be held by a Fourth or Fifth Degree member.
The Church of Satan subsequently abandoned the use of specific symbols for each degree.
This symbol was later named after Dr. LaVey since he had for a time frozen the issuing of degrees and used it as his personal insignia. During the late ’80s, Anton LaVey allowed reproductions to be made and worn as a sign of allegiance to him by individuals who were close to him and who worked for the communication of his philosophy with utmost clarity. Dr. LaVey later agreed that other replicas could be sold more generally but only through jewelry makers authorized by the Church of Satan. There have been poorly rendered knock-off versions done, and you’ll find all manner of false or revisionist explanations of the symbolism by people who are trying to appropriate this symbol for their own use.
Magus Gilmore chose to wear this particular pendant underneath his vestments and for interviews at the 6-6-6 Satanic High Mass. And of course it was proudly emblazoned on his chasuble, sharply embroidered by the same firm that did the work for the Bram Stoker’s Dracula film starring Gary Oldman.