LaVey, Anton Szandor (1930-1997), Cult Leader

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LaVey, Anton Szandor
(1930-1997), cult leader.

Born Howard Stanton Levey, Anton Szandor LaVey was founder and high priest of the Church of Satan. As a teenager he became fascinated with occult powers, and in the late 1950s he began giving lectures at his home on vampires, cannibalism, and lycanthropy (werewolves). On April 30, 1966—the occult holiday of Walpurgis Night—he shaved his head, donned a black robe, and announced the formation of the Church of Satan with members of his weekly group. The news media readily accepted this eccentric character into the pantheon of counterculture figures in San Francisco. In the first year LaVey performed a satanic wedding, a satanic funeral, and a satanic baptism of his own daughter, Zeena. In 1969 LaVey published The Satanic Bible (which has sold nearly a million copies), in which he postulated "no difference" between "white" and "black" magic, asserting that all practitioners seek the attainment of self-aggrandizement. The book contained "Nine Satanic Statements," a diabolical equivalent of the Ten Commandments. The eighth statement succinctly summarized the church's philosophy: "Satan represents all of the socalled sins, as they all lead to physical, mental, or emotional gratification." LaVey wrote two other books, The Compleat Witch (1970) and The Satanic Rituals (1972). He was also an occult adviser/consultant to the movie industry. Interest in the Church of Satan declined in the late 1970s, and by the time LaVey died in 1997, he was facing bankruptcy proceedings. The legacy of LaVey's church exceeds any measurable impact in terms of the numbers of its adherents. Even at its peak, membership was never more than five hundred.

See alsoCult; Devils, Demons, and Spirits; Magic; Occult, the; Satanic Bible; Satanists.


Alfred, Randall H. "The Church of Satan." In The New Religious Consciousness, edited by Charles Y. Glock and Robert N. Bellah. 1976.

Richardson, James T., Joel Best, and David G. Bromley, eds. The Satanism Scare. 1991.

Victor, Jeffrey. Satanic Panic: The Creation of a Contemporary Legend. 1993.

Stuart A. Wright

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LaVey, Anton Szandor (1930-1997), Cult Leader

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