LaVeyan Satanism and the Church of Satan

An Introduction for Beginners

Anton LaVey in costume in front of satanism symbol holding knife over face.
Church of Satan Founder Anton LaVey. Bettmann Archive / Getty Images

LaVeyan Satanism is one of the several distinct religions identifying itself as Satanic. Followers are atheists who stress dependence on the self rather than reliance on any outside power. It encourages individualism, hedonism, materialism, ego, personal initiative, self-worth, and self-determinism.

An Exultation of Self

To the LaVeyan Satanist, Satan is a myth, just like God and other deities. Satan is also, however, incredibly symbolic. It represents all of those things within our natures that outsiders might tell us is dirty and unacceptable.

The chant of “Hail Satan!” is really saying “Hail me!” It exalts the self and rejects the self-denying lessons of society.

Finally, Satan represents rebellion, just as Satan rebelled against God in Christianity. Identifying oneself as a Satanist is to go against expectations, cultural norms, and religious creeds.

Origin of LaVeyan Satanism

Anton LaVey officially formed the church of Satan on the night of April 30-May 1, 1966. He published the Satanic Bible in 1969.

The Church of Satan admits that early rituals were mostly mockeries of Christian ritual and reenactments of Christian folklore concerning the supposed behavior of Satanists. For example, upside down crosses, reading the Lord’s Prayer backward, using a nude woman as an altar, etc.

However, as the Church of Satan evolved it solidified its own specific messages and tailored its rituals around those messages.

Basic Beliefs

The Church of Satan promotes individuality and following your desires. At the core of the religion are three sets of principles which outline these beliefs.

Holidays and Celebrations

Satanism celebrates the self, so one’s own birthday is held as the most important holiday.

Satanists also sometimes celebrate the nights of Walpurgisnacht (April 30-May 1) and Halloween (October 31-November 1). These days have been traditionally associated with Satanists through witchcraft lore.

Misconceptions of Satanism

Satanism has been routinely accused of numerous onerous practices, generally without evidence. There is a common mistaken belief that because Satanists believe in serving themselves first, they become antisocial or even psychopathic. In truth, responsibility is a major tenet of Satanism. 

Humans have the right to do as they choose and should feel free to pursue their own happiness. However, this does not render them immune from consequences. Taking control of one’s life includes being responsible regarding one's actions.

Among the things LaVey explicitly condemned:

Satanic Panic

In the 1980s, rumors and accusations abounded about supposedly Satanic individuals ritually abusing children. Many of those suspected worked as teachers or daycare workers.

After lengthy investigations, it was concluded that not only were the accused innocent but that the abuses never even happened. In addition, the suspects were not even associated with a Satanic practice.

The Satanic Panic is a modern-day example of the power of mass hysteria.

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Beyer, Catherine. "LaVeyan Satanism and the Church of Satan." Learn Religions, Feb. 16, 2021, Beyer, Catherine. (2021, February 16). LaVeyan Satanism and the Church of Satan. Retrieved from Beyer, Catherine. "LaVeyan Satanism and the Church of Satan." Learn Religions. (accessed June 9, 2023).