Magus Anton Szandor LaVey

Anton Szandor LaVey: An Innovative Thinker

Today is the 90th birth anniversary of our founder, Magus Anton Szandor LaVey.

He left us with a rich legacy of his writings, his audio and video interviews, his art and music, and a thriving organization dedicated to preserving that legacy—bringing it to new generations, hungry for his philosophy of radical individualism named Satanism. For those who have grasped his perspectives, that he was always ahead of the curve comes as no surprise.

Here, in what will eventually be seen in retrospect as a “plague year,” the essential non-congregational nature of Satanism has proven to be both prescient and timely. When he wrote The Satanic Bible, published in 1969, Dr. LaVey was cognizant of empowering the emerging wave of people who would identify as Satanists with the ability to take their lives into their own hands. That included his clearly delineated concepts for both organizational structure and ritual. He saw his Church as an underground cabal—a cell-system, much as those resisting tyranny in Orwell’s 1984 employed. Satanists were instructed to create ritual chambers in their own homes, to suit their personal aesthetics, should they wish to employ that cathartic tool. There was no need to attend a church, to have a dedicated structure, to gather with a gaggle of others. Each Satanist was empowered to be a Satanist and stand alone—though if one found worthy compatriots, associating with them was an option, not a commandment. And it was made quite clear that the intimacy of ritual should only be shared with a select few, if one desired, as such emotional or meditational workings were not meant for masses. We Satanists are thus already prepared to deal with self-isolation.

As global society has been disrupted while populaces struggle to contain the spread of Covid-19, we note that a number of theists defy the suggestions of medical experts to refrain from gatherings, as those have been clearly demonstrated to promote viral contagion. We Satanists have long seen that a preponderance of spiritual religions are fundamentally “death cults,” focused on a mythical existence post mortem, rather than working towards people enhancing their existence in the here and now. Like those crazed Christian poisonous snake handlers, these “demented devout” risk spreading a pernicious disease which could lead to a most unpleasant death. If such recklessness only affected these “covidiots” alone, then who would care? Less of them would hardly be seen as an issue to those of us who embrace reason. Their faith leads them into the real possibility of deadly illness, but more importantly, that others will then have to take the responsibility for caring for such fools—risking their own lives in the process—and that is despicable. Sadly, our world seems to have far too many who do not take responsibility for their actions, and thus others must suffer the consequences of rampant disregard for upholding the social contract. Perhaps, once some balance returns, there will be less tolerance for such perilous madness?

Anton LaVey wrote “It’s too bad that stupidity isn’t painful.” Sadly, its pain is primarily foisted upon those dealing with the consequences of the willful actions of the stupid, rather than those who have chosen to behave in such a moronic manner. The time has come when more might come to adopt our view that reason, science and rational actions must be held as essential. The luxury of allowing unreason to be the guide for so many should be outmoded, at last fading into the past. I know the advent of that sort of societal maturity would be something that would make the good Doktor smile. But he wouldn’t be surprised in the least to see the herd acting as petulant lemmings as they gather in a contaminated crowd to rush off of whatever precipices might be nearest. He knew the nature of the human animal.

Here’s to Magus Anton Szandor LaVey! We shall not forget his wisdom as we make our way through this time of travail.

—Magus Peter H. Gilmore