Wicked Walpurgisnacht! from the Church of Satan


Tonight, during hours of darkness traditionally noted for legendary excesses of diabolism, we celebrate the 58th anniversary of the founding of the Church of Satan. Magus Anton Sandor LaVey’s well-wrought philosophy continues to inspire our global cabal of discerning individuals. They craft fulfillment as self-realization, via myriad means, fueled by the world’s premiere carnal religion.

While we properly fête our accomplishments over the decades, we note that the Church of Satan is given meaning and reality through the accomplishments of its members. With solemnity, we take this night to mark the recent passing of two of our most esteemed comrades, epicurean individualists, who partook of the great indulgence, draining the nectar from the chalice of ecstasy to its last, delectable drops: Magister Henry (“Uncle Hank”) Manning, and Magister Neil Bernard Smith.

Magister Manning’s humor, love of fine cuisine, and his delight in eroticism, are legendary amongst those who came in contact with him, who found his ongoing stream of incisive observations and pulchritudinous images to bring all manner of stimulation. He was also a splendid cartoonist and illustrator, and was with us from the very start of THE BLACK FLAME. His “Prints of Darkness” products advertised in its pages—t-shirts, sweatshirts, and banners—were some of the very first such items ever sold, handcrafted by him via the silkscreen process, emblazoned with our official Sigil of Baphomet. His occult shop, Papa Legba’s, was for many years a valued source of books, jewelry, and magical artifacts, which included a subterranean ritual chamber wherein eclectic rites were conducted for seekers fortunate enough to be invited. Those who knew him personally will miss his welcoming bearhugs, as he was always one to enthusiastically greet and cherish the uniqueness of those he came to know.

Magister Smith joined our organization back in 1972, and was a steadfast practitioner and representative for decades, having been given his Priesthood by Anton LaVey, himself. As one of our LGTBQ+ elders, he had many pointed observations regarding how Satanism served him as the proper tool to be authentically himself, regardless of the often glacial evolution of social mores during his life. A veteran of the U.S. Army, he served as a translator of Chinese for their intelligence division during the closing years of the Vietnam War. Neil was adept with languages, and, beyond English and Spanish (he appreciated Cervantes’ works as they were originally written), he also could make his way through Latin, French, German, and he even studied other more obscure tongues and now lost languages. His humor ‘zine, THE RAVEN, delighted our members, and we are planning an omnibus edition so that the fun might continue for those who missed that party.

Neil was always noted to be a perfect gentleman—poised, well-dressed, an epitome of decorum, gentility, and civility, who could engage with anyone on any topic—he was extremely well read, offering his thoughts while also grasping the positions of others, even if they were not in agreement. Once, while toasting with friends on the balcony of his apartment, a passer-by below heard the enthusiastic shouts of “Hail Satan!” but misheard them as “Train Station!” and loudly commented on what they thought was an unusual salute. Thus, when the local cognoscenti in Poughkeepsie might want to keep a properly circumspect aspect to their public celebrations in mixed company, Neil minted the use of that as a covert substitute that could be employed enthusiastically, and in a deliciously obfuscating way, to boisterously signify our Infernal allegiance, without alerting the hoi polloi as to we Satanists who were in their midst. So now you know.

As part of the second event of our 50th Anniversary Celebratory Conclaves, Magister Smith spoke during our salon presentations on the afternoon of 4/30/16, and his speech was recorded on video. We offer this to you, as his words are even more pertinent, and poignant, than when he offered them to the gathered members.

Here’s to both Magisters, men who are exemplars of Satanism fully embraced and wisely wielded. May their exuberant ways stand as inspirations for our current adherents, and also for the many who are to come in the future. Here were two strikingly unique individuals—their lives the very definition of Satanism in action. May our memories of their engaging personas, of their profound thoughts and devilish deeds, burn brightly for us all as we captain our own lives according to our indomitable wills. They showed us how they did it, and proved such fierce existence was, and still is, an attainable goal. May you all learn, and perhaps also become, in time, part of the roster of Satanic Adepts, who bring reality to the ongoing glory of “our thing,” the Church of Satan!

Hail Magister Henry Manning! Hail Magister Neil Bernard Smith!

Hail Anton Szandor LaVey! Hail the extraordinary individuals, the members of the Church of Satan!

And, of course, as we make bold to say, Shemhamforash! HAIL SATAN!

Or…was that “Train Station!“?

So it is done!

—Magus Peter H. Gilmore