During the Occult-boom of the 1960s, in America, two individuals stood out amongst the rest: Sybil Leek of the Horsa Covenant and Anton LaVey of the Church of Satan. (1)
Unless you were heavily involved already in the Occult community, no one read or cared who Gerald Gardner was, nor who Ray Buckland was at the time in America because most Wiccans were more obscure in American culture, whereas Sybil Leek and Anton LaVey became household names appearing on national television, Time Magazine and many other national syndicated journals. Both of these individuals appeared to be the face of Occultism for the everyday American.
Gerald Gardner’s books were never best-sellers of any means, but Lavey’s book and Leek’s many published books were. No other out-in-the-open Witch to this day has ever come close to selling as many copies of books worldwide as Sybil did. She was accepted in the mainstream and was read by millions, including her syndicated and national columns. Anton LaVey had a similar story, and his book “The Satanic Bible” is still selling well wherever fine books are sold.
Both of these celebrity occultists also hobnobbed with other major celebrities, including politicians of many stripes.
Even though they were both in the limelight, Sybil Leek strongly disapproved of Satanism and frequently spoke out against it. Anton LaVey was against Sybil Leek’s idea of white witchcraft as well. In LaVey’s Book, The Satanic Witch (2), LaVey writes, “Whenever a girl becomes a “white witch,” you know she is either kidding herself or has much to learn.”
The Church of Satan was born in San Fransisco on May Eve (April 30, 1966) and I think we can safely say that *almost* all the modern Satanic groups either split-off of their church or at least received a great of inspiration from them. I think we can safely say they were the pioneers of modern day American Satanism.
One such Satanic group that separated from the Church of Satan was “The Temple Of Set” (3) in 1975 which was an Occult-initiatory focused form Satanism than LaVey’s model which some might describe at the time as based on lust, materialism and indulgence. The group is still in existence as well to this day.
One Satanic group that was set apart and is said by some to have came about before Anton LaVey’s, and attracted less attention, was a group in Cleveland/Toledo, Ohio that called themselves “Our Lady of Endor Coven,” formed in 1948, (or maybe late 60s?) and was also known as “Ophite Cultus Sathanas.” It was started by Herbert Sloane, and he and the coven gained attention among the Occult communities in the 1960s through the interviews that appeared in books by Dr. Hans Holzer, Susan Roberts and many others that were all the rage in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Our Lady of Endor Coven considered themselves Satanists, Witches and Luciferian in many ways and centered on a Gnostic story of Eve and the Apple in the Garden of Eden, but they were very different from LaVey’s version of philosophical Satanism and the the Temple of Set’s occult-Satanism, as they were by belief system more “Gnostic” in ideals than they were Satanist. For example, there was a book that was a favorite of Sloane’s that was very special to their coven and they used for inspiration called “The Gnostic Religion” by Hans Jonas. (4) They called themselves witches, satanic and Gnostic all at the same time.
Now back to the disputes in Occult outlook between Sybil Leek and Anton LaVey….
Anton LaVey and Sybil Leek would often throw insults at each other. Sybil had once said on the popular radio program from Los Angeles called “Assessment” (5) that LaVey was a “jolly little man and if he stuck to playing the organ he’d do far better.” She also said on another program that she wasn’t anti-religious, she was anti-hypocrisy: “if you are a Catholic, be a very good Roman Catholic. If you are a protestant, be a very good Protestant. If you are a witch, be a good witch, and if you are church of Satan, CHANGE!” This latter statement was made on national television program called “The Amazing World of Kreskin” and you can see this episode uploaded on youtube. (6)
Anton LaVey’s famous insults back to Sybil can be summed up in a fascinating interview (7) by John J. Fritscher, Ph.D, in which Anyon LaVey says to the interviewer, “I don’t know whether Sybil Leek is as big a fool as she sometimes seems, or whether she’s laughing up her sleeve. Sybil is a good businesswoman. I don’t want to judge her–if she is a good businesswoman she knows on which side her bread is buttered!” (7) LaVey also goes on to more more harshly criticize Gerald Gardner and Alex Sanders. (The author did an excellent job detailing and preserving this great interview and it is worth the read!)
From his many books, LaVey believed that there was no such thing as white witchcraft or it was at least a term used to fool people. His descriptions in his book, The Satanic Witch (originally titled “The Compleat Witch”), might have a lot in common with the Judeo-Christian version of what a witch is: the seductress or temptress and person of a rebel spirit. I’ve heard over the years a few Christians say that “Rebellion is as of the sin of witchcraft” making the concept of any form of “rebellion” and “witchcraft” the same thing.
As the role of rebellious temptress, LaVey’s book “The Compleat Witch” was a guide of manipulation to seduce men to do what you want. For example, the Prologue of the book says, “The truly “liberated” female is the Compleat Witch, who knows both how to use and enjoy men.” (2) LaVey also provides a small section on cursing people with dolls.
Men, were called Warlocks, and did the opposite, seduce women through the opposite manipulation. Just in the last few years, a Satanic book was released to help the men do the same thing to women as the LaVey’s book taught. This book is called “The Satanic Warlock” and was written by Magister Dr. Robert Johnson and the introduction written by the current High Priest of the Church of Satan, Magus Peter H. Gilmore. One piece of “Warlock Wisdom” that Johnson shares with us in his book is that, “He (The Satanic Warlock) denies political correctness, trends and flaccid societal rules, living by his own code.” (8)
The Church of Satan’s variety of Satanism did not deny indulgence and did not recommend turning the other cheek. If someone hits you, you hit them back. In LaVey’s book “The Satanic Bible”(9) you will find what is called “The Nine Satanic Statements” which serves as a list of tenets to the Church. The Church also practices ritual magic too – instead of calling the space a magical circle, the place they meet for ritual is considered the “intellectual decompression chamber” in The Satanic Bible. That part is an actual clever way to describe it, as that is the same as a Wiccan circle should be for us as Wiccans.
During the Satanic Rituals, or Black Mass, there are three types of magical workings that may be done such as lust, compassion and destruction of enemies.
There are three invocations in the Satanic Bible for these:
1. The Conjuration of Lust
2. The Conjuration of Destruction
3. The Conjuration of Compassion
You may wonder reading this why someone like Sybil Leek was so against the idea of Satanism? Well, the reason you see this is because in Satanism, one aim when it comes to ritual magic and political action is to take the ideas of someone else’s religion or belief and degrade them, reverse them, call them out and/or make fun of them. The idea of a “Black Mass” with a nude female altar mimics some of the symbolism found in the Christian Mass and does so in a sensational way.
On the other hand, in Witchcraft; the rituals & workings of Witchcraft are not used to protest or degrade anyone else’s religion. Our Seasonal Rituals celebrated four times a year and our magical spells and incantations are not taken from someone else’s religion to reverse, used for political action of any kind, or to make fun of.
Inherently, the virtues, statements and tenets of Satanism are not evil – however, most of them are opposite in many ways with what Sybil Leek described as the “Tenets of Witchcraft” which are utilized in the covens that descend from Sybil’s Horsa Coven in order to progress the soul in a progressive, evolutionary way. In Horsa & Sacred Pentagraph in particular, these tenets are something in which we strive for in order after many lifetimes, through the process of reincarnation, our souls can reach perfection.
While Sybil Leek’s Tenets that we follow in the traditions of Wicca that came out of Horsa, which has a strong Theosophical background, we have a strong focus on the ideals of tolerance, leading a balanced life, Reincarnation/progression of the soul and achieving a harmonious existence with all things around us in nature and finding our place in this world. This sometimes means compromise and negotiation to achieve our goals in an harmonious way. LaVey’s Satanic Statements were concerned with indulgence, lack of compromise, not turning the other cheek and emphasizing the animal nature found in man.
Today, one of the newest groups under the heading of Satanism that has gained popularity is called “The Satanic Temple” (10) and has gained notoriety through the enactment of demonstrations of a political nature. They also adopted the idea of having tenets (11) of their beliefs too which reminds me of Sybil Leek’s Tenets of Witchcraft.
Reading over The Satanic Temple’s Tenets, I can’t help but state that they seem perfectly reasonable!
From a great deal of interviews I have watched online given by membership in the Satanic Temple, it seems that many adherents might even describe themselves as Atheists, but they use the symbolism of Satan to represent opposition to the religious majority and to encourage support for suppressed groups. I don’t believe they are selfish or evil in any way, and in fact, many of the folks that have come out of their movement seem to be good people and fighting for political ideas that most of us would agree with. I know that I first heard about The Satanic Temple on the news because they were protesting local government bodies who were placing the 10 Commandments Statues from the Bible in front of local courthouses and/or other government buildings. They demonstrated and protested this, and even a couple times, placed an effigy of the statue of Baphomet beside the 10 Commandments! As a Wiccan, I fully support the US Constitution that guarantees the separation of church and State. As a citizen, this is not a political issue but a right guaranteed by the US Constitution. It is not a political issue at all, but some churches like to blur the line of what they deem to be “God’s Law” and “Man’s Law.” The Satanic Temple’s demonstrations seem to mainly be performed in order to call out the hypocrisy of the actions of religious folks that wanted to blur the line between church and state.
It is not just religious liberties, but the TST seem to have an interest in calling out other actions from groups that have marginalized people of color, people of the LGBTQ and other communities. What could be so terrible about that? Once again, it seems reasonable.
So as you can see, the idea of Satanism has changed over the years. Some groups may have a strong Occult practice, some groups may decide to focus on carnal desires, and some base their work on fighting injustices. I’m sure there is also a bit of cross-over in folks that are interested in multiple ideas. Like us in Wicca, Satanists also have a strong sense of independence when it comes to personal beliefs and can range anywhere from being an atheist, to an occultist, to religious.
As far as I am aware, the Witch/Satanist of the Herbert Sloan/Our Lady of Endor Coven no longer exist today – but the Church of Satan does and I think it still doing quite well. The newly formed Satanic Temple, which seems to be doing quite well, sounds to have now thousands of members and is found worldwide. Other groups like The Temple of Set are also still in operation. There are probably many other independent Satanic groups as well around just like we have in our religion, Wicca, with groups that are independent and only loosely connected to other Wiccans.
Some of these Satanic groups are far more organized than we are as Wiccans, and I bet many folks who are Wiccan would be able to find some common ground with them even though our paths do have some big differences. There may not have been as healthy of respect for each other at one time, Witch and Satanist, in the 1970s, but today I think there can be some good and healthy respect for each other.
I do not believe any of the modern Satanic groups are evil or bad in any way – just a different approach to religion, as none of them are connected with any kind of law-breaking or evil as far as I have seen.
There can be found good philosophy in what many folks in the Satanic Temple have discussed. Though their approach is different than mine, I understand it, and have nothing bad to say about any of these groups. In the past, the delineation was a bit more rough, but today, personally, if I ever met anyone from the Church of Satan or the Satanic Temple or another Satanic group, I bet I would be able to engage well and have an intelligent conversation with them and probably find some common ground even though the approach is different. I’m sure there would be a great deal of mutual agreement amongst many topics.
There was a Satanic group affiliated at one time with The Church of Satan located here in my state of Pennsylvania, but I don’t believe it is in existence anymore. That particular group was run by Rev. Yaj Nomolos in Whitehall, PA. The ritual ideas and sorcery listed in one of his books, “Satanic Rites and Ceremonies,” (13) seem to have a little more in common with my own religion of Wicca since it had some similar practices such as a rite of initiation and rituals for the Sabbat festivals. Nomolos also wrote some other booklets for the Occult communities back in the 1980s that were popular in the Occult Shops because they were published by Original Publications called “The Witches Broomstick Manual” and also “The Magic Circle: It’s Successful Organization and Leadership.”
At the end of the day, there are many different kinds of modern day Satanism to choose from. I hope this article shows you how myself, as a Wiccan, has been able to open up my mind and thinking process enough to find some common group, even though at one point in our history, many of those who came before us that faced different times and circumstances may not have been able to.
Works Cited & Bibliography:
(1) churchofsatan.com – the Church is still in existence today and it’s current High Priest is Peter Gilmore who has authored a number of books.
(2) LaVey, Anton Stanford, The Satanic Witch. Feral House, 1970. Print.
(3) xeper.org – The Temple of Set
(4) Jonas, Hans, The Gnostic Religion. 1958.
(5) https://archive.org/details/pacifica_radio_archives-BB4485.02 Assessment, Episode 2 – “The Witch”
(6) https://youtu.be/ahBA3uqLwdg “Kreskin meets Witch Dame Sybil Leek”
(7) http://www.jackfritscher.com/Non-Fiction/Witchcraft/Straight%20Witches%20Mouth.html “Straight from the Witch’s Mouth,” by JOHN FRITSCHER, Ph.D. The author also offers a PDF download of this excellent interview as well.
(8) Johnson, Magister Dr. Robert, The Satanic Warlock. Aperient Press, 2016.
(9) LaVey, Anton, The Satanic Bible. Avon Books, 1969.
(10) https://thesatanictemple.com, The Satanic Temple. At the time of the writing of this article, advertisements of an upcoming documentary film have been advertised called “Hail Satan?”
(11) https://thesatanictemple.com/pages/tenets – Listing of Tenets by The Satanic Temple.
(12) https://youtu.be/27RtJp-rhHk – trailer to the documentary “Hail Satan?”
(13) Nomolos, S.P., Rev. Yaj, Satanic Rites and Ceremonies. Privately published, 1992.