To really comprehend the psyche of sixties pop icon, Anton LaVey, one must ask members of his immediate family and close friends that knew him intimately. People such as publicist Ed Webber, who gave LaVey the idea to start a Church of Satan, his daughters Zeena and Karla, Grand Secretary Dr. Michael Aquino, these people will most likely tell you that LaVey began his church with the belief in a literal Devil, a real Satan. It was absolutely basic and fundamental to all communications and interactions with him. Then, as he got older, Anton LaVey began to believe that Satan was less a supernatural force and more a manifestation of his own psyche. I believe this to be a natural progression and evolution.
When gathering evidence, you don't have to rely on second-hand explanations. Let's look at what Anton LaVey had to say in his own words:
"I'm in league with the Devil as much as any mortal can possibly be." - A. S. LaVey, Satanis, 1970 Documentary film
"The Devil was much more than that [an anthropomorphic deity]. Satan represented a dark, hidden force in nature that was responsible for the workings of earthly affairs for which science and religion had no explanation and no control." - Satanic Bible, pages 16-17 [note: "much more than that" literally means, that and much more!]
"In speaking directly to Satan himself, you may discover what is in your subconscious that you can't quite bring to the surface. Express appreciation for the direction you have received from the Dark Lord and ask that he continue to guide you to further increase your Earthly power -- you might want to write out part of your Dedication ahead of time, to spur your thoughts once you're in the chamber. Ask that He (sic) bestow ever-increasing wisdom and perspective so that you can carry out your Dark Will on the Earth. Instruct the demons you name to manifest themselves to you by increasing your earthly pleasures." - Church of Satan by Barton, quoting LaVey on page 109
Originally Posted by Anton LaVey is this startling insight:
"I don't feel that raising the devil in an anthropomorphic sense is quite as feasible as theologians or metaphysicians would like to think. I have felt His presence but only as an exteriorized extension of my own potential, as an alter-ego or evolved concept that I have been able to exteriorize. With a full awareness, I can communicate with this semblance, this creature, this demon, this personification that I see in the eyes of the symbol of Satan - the goat of Mendes - as I commune with it before the altar. None of these is anything more than a mirror image of that potential I perceive in myself. I have this awareness that the objectification is in accord with my own ego. I'm not deluding myself that I'm calling something that is disassociated from myself the godhead. Satan is ,therefore, an extension of one's psyche or volitional essence, so that the extension can sometimes converse and give directions in a way that thinking of the self as a single unit cannot. In this way it does help to depict in an externalized way the Devil per se. The purpose is to have something of an idolatrous, objective nature to commune with. However, man has connection, contact, control. This notion of an exteriorized God-Satan is not new."
Anton LaVey said one thing in public and then something quite different in private concerning his beliefs. Here is an excerpt from LaVey's Grotto Master's Handbook that was circulated exclusively to members of his Priesthood back in 1990 while he was still alive. The last edition of the Handbook mysteriously excluded this passage to avoid embarassment:
"Satanists are strange creatures. We know that the idea of an omniscient, all-powerful god who watches over each of us and listens to each of our prayers is an irrationality and a deep offense to any advanced mind. We see no evidence of justice or answered prayers in the world around us. If the Judeo-Christian "God" is all- powerful, all-knowing, he's damned churlish and incompetent.
But the Satanist is also faced with his subjective experience of what we choose to characterize as "Satan" in our lives. Satan is a very personal Companion. We admire Satan and wish to gain his respect, therefore we act as he would - in defiance of anything or anyone who would demand our worship. It would be an insult to offer him unthinking worship. But this is fact: Unlike the promises of the Christians, Satan does develop an intensely intimate relationship with each of his followers. You may not perceive it until you train yourself to sense it, but since you have achieved the position of Grotto Master, You have probably already been touched by it. He will remain with you until your breath leaves your body."
LaVey could be "theist" or "non-theist," depending on his audience and the social climate. The truth of the matter is, he didn't care what Satanists believed, as long as they were free and independent thinkers! To repeat what Anton LaVey wrote, "Unthinking worship" of anyone or anything outside yourself is out of the question.
God and Satan come from the same place: the "god factory" inside your head. Because we "think" them, they are real. If you want to believe that God is loving and Satan is the bad guy, then that will become your personal reality, and it will affect your every day life.
Friedrich Nietzsche criticized religion saying, "The Christian resolution to see the world as ugly and bad has made the world ugly and bad." In other words, we create our own reality and when we do, we impact one another's reality which affects the world around us.
Atheists, sad to say, take a black and white approach. You either believe in the existence of a deity, be it Jehovah, Allah, Vishnu or Ganesha, in which case you're delusional or, you believe in the existence of scientific things you can't see with the naked eye, like photons, atoms and molecules, in which case you are considered sane. Just because a person believes in the existence of a form or deity does not necessarily mean the relationship with said form or deity is delusional, fraudulent, deceptive or useless.
As the God of your own personal universe called your "mind," you are entitled to think or believe or fantasize whatever you want. If you envision Satan as an idea, force or form or intelligence, that is your decision. Your perceptions are your own. I cannot make that decision for you, nor can anyone else for that matter.
Satanism has nothing to do with dogma or belief systems fighting against one another. It has to do with you and your beliefs are the ones that count!
So, to answer your question, "Did Anton LaVey worship the Devil?" The answer would be, "No." But did he believe in a very real entity, given birth to by our collective thoughts and ideas, lurking around inside our subconscious, representing our shadow side? I'll leave the answer to that question with you.
Yours On Wings of Leather,
John D. Allee
Allee Shadow Tradition