Aquino on the Failure of the Church of Satan

“By 1975 Anton LaVey, having presided over nine years of mercurial individuals and Grottos, reluctantly concluded that, while the philosophy of Satanism had lost none of its popular appeal, the Church of Satan itself was largely a failure. A small, stable nucleus of serious and sincere devotees had indeed developed, but for the most part the Church had served to attract merely fad-followers, egomaniacs, and assorted oddballs whose primary interest in becoming ‘Satanists’ lay in being able to flash their membership cards for cocktail-party notoriety. Anton decided that the Church might as well be converted to a vehicle for his personal financial benefit, hence in May of 1975 he announced a decision to sell the Satanic Priesthood and all higher degrees for funds or objects of value.
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Upon founding the Church, Anton had claimed for himself the titles of High Priest of Satan and Magus of the Age of Satan. By 1969 he had begun to ordain others to the Satanic Priesthood (the Priesthood of Mendes), and in 1970 he formalized an initiatory structure of five degrees: Satanist (I), Witch or Warlock (II), Priest or Priestess of Mendes (III), Magister (IV), and Magus (V). Advancement to the [second degree] was based upon a fairly elementary examination concerning the contents of the Satanic Bible, but Anton was extremely strict concerning ordination to the Priesthood. Perhaps twenty individuals attained the [third degree] between 1966 and 1975, while during the same period Anton conferred only four [fourth degrees] – one of which was upon myself.
Anton’s 1975 decision to sell the degrees confounded the nucleus of sincere Satanists, myself included, who saw in it a critical corruption of the very institution whose incorruptibility and condemnation of hypocrisy had made it so refreshing and exhilarating.”
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That was an excerpt from the introductory chapter of Black Magic by Michael Aquino, an insightful and intriguing text. Someone who wants to learn the history of the Church of Satan should pick up both volumes of Aquino’s book(s) Church of Satan. The book The Secret Life of a Satanist by Blanche Barton, which LaVey has been accused of ghostwriting by Aquino, is a preposterous and deceptive fuck-up which should not be read (let alone purchased) under any circumstances. The only significant portion of that text was its assertion that LaVey had self-identified as a misogynist. A Satanist with an interest in LaVey should also read the following article (which was written by the late Reverend Allee): http://www.churchofsatan.org/aslv.html
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When an author has taken up a pseudonym, it is senseless and daft to refer to them by their birth names out of spite. Referring to an individual by their preferred name is not an act of deference, it is merely a mild mannerism of politeness, comparable to not cutting one’s toenails at the dinner table.
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Until 1975, it was clear from letters to Aquino reproduced in Church of Satan that LaVey did believe in and speak with a spirit named Satan whom he considered to be a potent, conscious, sentient, and authoritative entity. It was in or around 1975 that he finally concluded that the Devil with which he conversed was a manifestation of his own subconscious mind, a conclusion which his undaughter Zeena Schreck described as “asinine” in a letter to Aquino. (Schreck calls LaVey her “unfather” because she disowned him long ago.)
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In more recent times an individual by the name of Diabolus Rex abandoned his position as a third-degree priest in the Church of Satan, explaining in an open letter that he could no longer accept the supposition that the force he was interacting with in the ritual chamber was not a conscious and independent deity.
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Satan and his demons have often been more than willing to teach and aid even magickians who do not even believe they exist, for example witches who think that the Goetic demons are really parts of the human brain. This speaks volumes about how invested in mankind’s evolution they are. It also demonstrates their willingness to overlook misconceptions about their identities. Diane Vera and Geiffod ap Pwyll have concluded that the Devil overlooks errant suppositions about his identity out of respect for independent thought.
This is comparable to the Tantric goddess Tara, who gives auspices to yogis no matter whether they consider her to be a Boddhisattva, a Mahavidya, a metaphorical personification of Buddhist virtues, or some other contrived conception. The priority of magick is and always will be the attainment of the Lapis Philosophorum [Philosopher’s Stone]– matters such as discerning whether Baelzebuth and Satanas are one and the same entity are secondary in importance. The validity of such associations can be ascertained by the alchemist once she is immortal.
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It is best, for the sake of practicality, not to refer to Satan as Set or some other dubious association even if one believes they are the same entity if it is Satan that one intends to call. If a witch is correct in equating Sathanas and Set then the use of both names in one ritual is superfluous. While some Norse-inclined Satanists equate Satan with Odin, others equate Satan with Loki. In the Sumerian pantheon, different groups of Satanists have argued for years whether Satanas is Enki, Tiamat, or Marduk. If the Satanist merely refers to Satan as Satan, then she can avoid erecting countless barriers between herself and fellow Satanists, and the rituals that she publishes can be used by any Satanists of all stripes (no matter which foreign deities they consider the Devil to be).
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-V.K. Jehannum

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