Regarding Herbert A. Sloane and his affiliation with the Church of Satan

Regarding Herbert A. Sloane and his affiliation with the Church of Satan

by Magus Peter H. Gilmore, based on archival research by Magistra Peggy Nadramia

Herbert A. Sloane, a licensed barber, “spiritualist minister” and a mystic who read cards and tea leaves, wrote to the Church of Satan to inquire about membership in a letter dated January 6, 1968. Sloane’s inquiry letter also notes that he had read about LaVey and his Church of Satan in various clippings sent to him by friends since late 1966, as well as in an article in the September 1967 issue of FATE magazine. On the night before writing he had heard LaVey interviewed by Alan Douglas on television, and thereby obtained the Church of Satan’s mailing address. Our records show membership materials were sent on January 16, 1968 and Sloane responded with his fee; his membership was entered on January 24, 1968.

In early March of 1968, Sloane was informed that he had failed his Priesthood test…”

Sloane initially expressed great interest in being made a Priest so that he could start a local group as he knew of no other Satanists in Toledo. He was particularly interested in being put in touch with women who embraced “free love,” as he put it. Sloane’s later notes are quite concerned with the legality of the Church of Satan and he states that he is planning a move from Toledo to Chicago to perhaps teach for the Haly’s Psychic Self Improvement Foundation. He is excited at the prospect of being a legally-recognized Satanic minister and details the rather meager requirements currently on the books in that area as well as the perks, which include being tax-exempt, traveling at half-fare on public transportation and “cut rate hospitalization.” Sloane goes on to ask about the Church of Satan connecting him with people in the Chicago area and then states: “About this Lady SATANIST that I would be interested in. She MUST GO FOR ORAL SEX RELATIONS as well as intercourse, be VERY LIBERAL MINDED and UNINHIBITED to the extent that she DOES NOT MIND BEING WATCHED and ENJOYS WATCHING; for IF there is a Mrs. Sloane I’ll certainly expect her to have relations WITH OTHERS THAN MYSELF! If she is ac/dc, (BISEXUAL) that would be fine and wonderful too even though I’m limited to heterosexualism.” Apparently Sloane had been married thrice before he contacted the Church of Satan, but claims to be single on his application.

Sloane subsequently stated that heading a group of men and women would please him, but he did not wish to lead an all-male coven, regardless of whether it consisted of heterosexual men or mixed in some homosexual men, and he specifically did not want a group of exclusively homosexual men placed under his direction. Instead, he suggested he’d enjoy an all-female membership (of whatever sexuality) in his group. Dr. LaVey wrote back to him concerning this, stating that the purpose of the Church of Satan was not to be an orgiastic sex club and he affirmed the Church of Satan’s support of all forms of human sexuality between consenting adults, which is noted in this article from our archives by High Priestess Peggy Nadramia.

To bolster his ambitions toward being granted authority in the Church of Satan as a Priest, or “Covenator”—the title he preferred, Sloane stated: “SATHANAS first appeared to me, (it was a transfiguration), in a wood lot where I was playing the summer that I was three, (3), years of age.” He made claim to having formed a group, which he said was disbanded in March of 1967. A couple of “prayers” saluting Sathanas were typed into his membership questionnaire. He also included pages which he claims he typed in 1965 that are in the form of an interview stating he was the “priest of the Coven for over 35 years.” That statement suggests a circa 1930 period for his fictional organization’s founding, but in later published interviews he claimed the start to be 1948. It would seem he couldn’t keep this tale clear when he related it to others. As further testimony towards his qualifications, Sloane mentions receiving a “doctorate of cardopractic” in 1932 from Villa-Nova Interstate University, which he calls “a Mystic Arts University.” He also touts his certification, licensing him in “cardopractic and tasseography throughout the 50 states,” from Haly’s Psychic Self Improvement Foundation located in Chicago dating from December 26, 1967. Sloane mentions knowing burlesque girls Jennie Lee and Baby Lulu Wilnot as well as being the VP of The Rita Atlanta Fan Club (a stripper said to have an act which included her pet skunks). He also states that he worked with “Queen Celeste” as a reader for her traveling outdoor show. Sloane mentions “The Enchanted Doll, Miss April Belle Llodgar,” with which he “has lived since 1947”—the sort of prop typically used to fake manifestations in seances.

In early March of 1968, Sloane was informed that he had failed his Priesthood test but later that month was granted the degree of Warlock, the certificate for which was received by him on March 26. In November of that year, a local Toledo man joined the Church of Satan after having been introduced to it by Sloane. In February of 1969, that man reported to our Central Office that Sloane was presiding over full moon rituals that were not congruent with the standard rites and concepts of the Church of Satan and that these were attended by 2 or 3 people (not members of the Church of Satan) aside from himself and Sloane. Sloane then brought another man into the Church of Satan in August of 1969. Sloane may have remained a member until his death in 1975, though a slash through his file card seems to indicate that possibly his membership was terminated when Sloane decided to go his own way as a worshipper of “Sathanas.”

[Sloane attempted] to form his own sort of “Sathanas-worshipping coven” [in mid-1968]…”

While Sloane had been interviewed by The Toledo Blade and presented as “Kala” in an article published on August 6, 1967, there was no mention of Satanism of any sort whatsoever, only his fortune telling. The subsequent articles in the same paper are dated December 2, 4, and 5 of 1968. These are the first public records of Sloane stating he had any sort of connection with Satanism and in them we find no mention of his then-current membership in the Church of Satan. Instead, he promotes his “Our Lady of Endor Coven,” supposedly a part of the “Ophite Cultus Sathanas.” Never was there any evidence in any published reports of there being more than a few attendees to his rites and certainly no evidence of any other “covens” in a larger organization.

Examining the available data, it’s reasonable to conclude that, as he’d failed to attain the Priesthood of the Church of Satan in March of 1968 and wasn’t going to be sent members to be in a group under his direction, Sloane then began to attempt to form his own sort of “Sathanas-worshipping coven” by reaching out to journalists to publicize it—first to Richard Cavendish in mid-1968, then to the local newspaper in late November/early December of 1968 and to other writers, such as Hans Holzer, Leo Martello, and Brad Steiger in the early 70s. By late 1968, he had a handful of followers in what was most probably his first and only version of his “Our Lady of Endor Coven.” Sloane was of an ecumenical bent and was happy to associate with Wiccans and members of the Church of Satan along with his few disciples. Thus, the lifespan of Sloane’s group was less than six years, dating at the earliest from late 1968 until his death in June of 1975.

To reiterate, the published data establishes that Sloane was originally a spiritualist and occultist but not a Satanist nor a worshipper of Sathanas until he was inspired by the activity of the Church of Satan—which he observed from late 1966 in various media—to join it in January of 1968. Then, when he failed to attain his deeply desired-goal of the Priesthood in March, he began to try and assemble his own brand of “satanic” group by reaching out to then current media, which saw fruition in publications beginning in December of 1968. As Gardner had done when he invented a modern form of Witchcraft as a religion back in the 1950s, Sloane had invented a historic pedigree for his new group, claiming it went back decades to try and one-up the younger LaVey. However, there is no corroboration of the claim that Sloane was involved in Satanism of any sort prior to his joining the Church of Satan in January of 1968 and the articles published in December of that year wherein he claims he heads his own organization and fails to mention his affiliation with the Church of Satan.

[Sloane] made his living by fleecing rubes through spiritualist seances and fortune telling.”

When examining Sloane’s life practices, aside from being a licensed barber and part of a stripper’s fan club, he made his living by fleecing rubes through spiritualist seances and fortune telling. It seems rather likely that when he noted the success of the Church of Satan via its regular coverage in the media—a group begun by a man three decades younger—Sloane wanted to be in on the ground floor of that up-and-coming organization. He was smart enough to see the possible benefits of being included as a representative. Failing to achieve that goal, emulating the Church of Satan seemed a worthwhile alternative as LaVey’s success was something Sloane apparently admired, envied and wished to imitate.

In summation, it is quite clear that, despite Sloane’s story about having a group that he started decades before his contact with the Church of Satan, there is no record or evidence to support such a claim. The facts demonstrate that his own actual “coven” was formed in later 1968, after his joining the Church of Satan and failing to be granted custodianship of a local group of Church of Satan members. All reports indicate that his “coven” was quite small (about 3-5 people) and Sloane produced only a few pages of literature that were shown to people beginning in 1968. “Our Lady of Endor Coven” was thus short-lived and did not propagate beyond Sloane in Toledo nor did it survive his demise in 1975.

But that old devil Sloane was clearly an adept showman to some extent and did succeed in finding credulous journalists to buy into his fiction about helming a group for decades—which shouldn’t be surprising as he’d long been honing his skills in taking in the gullible as a teller of fortunes and producer of seances. So, let’s grant Sloane some applause for his canny carny-esque nature, which was likely why Doktor LaVey found him intriguing—that and their other common interest in the carnal ladies of burlesque.

—Magus Peter H. Gilmore

Shuttleworth Funded Logo