Anton LaVey, Michael Aquino & Kenneth Anger
"LaVey had examined the writings of Aleister Crowley, so in 1951 he decided to meet some of the Berkeley Thelemites."
-'Opening the Adamantine Gates: An Introduction to the Satanic Bible' by Peter H. Gilmore
"As early as 1951, Anton's attitudes had been formulated enough to try to seek out a group of "official" devil worshippers. He visited a chapter of the Order of Thelema in Berkeley; followers of Aleister Crowley, who prided himself on being "The Wickedest Man in the World", and supposedly in touch with the darker elements. Anton was to find the Berkeley bunch mystically - minded card readers who emphasized the study of Eastern philosophy, Oriental languages, stars and contemplation to reach the spiritual Nirvana of Oneness. A few years earlier, Anton had ordered Crowley's books from Jack Parsons in Pasadena."
- 'The Secret Life of a Satanist' by Blanche Barton
"He (LaVey) seemed to have mixed feelings about Crowley, whose delight in the outrageous and the debauchery of women must have been a major influence. Moreover, he was disapointed with Crowleyism, or at least with its adherents...They were both from different worlds and generations."
- 'The Life and Beliefs of the Black Pope' by James Finbarr
Michael Aquino left the Church of Satan over LaVey's selling of Priesthoods, and turned to Crowley for inspiration in forming the Temple of Set. On 21st June 1975, Aquino invoked the Prince of Darkness. The result was 'The Book of Coming Forth by Night' - a work of automatic writing mystically dictated - according to Aquino - by the ancient Egyptian god Set, in true Crowleyan fashion "Reconsecrate my Temple and my Order in the true name of Set." Aquino sees himself as "The Second Beast".
A friend of LaVey and an early member of his Magic Circle, who helped found the Church of Satan, was Kenneth Anger, the Californian pop guru, Crowleyan sorcerer and respected avant - garde film maker. Anger was often keen to publicly disassociate from the label 'Satanist' and to prove his devotion to Crowley, referring to his personal Prince of Darkness as Lucifer, rather than Satan. He later declared, however, that his Lucifer had always been the 'cosmic villain', the Miltonic Satan.
Some are still inclined to identify Aiwass - the entity Crowley saw as his patron and guide - with Satan, or His Egyptian predecessor, Set. Crowley himself wrote that Aiwass was the counterpart of the "solar - phallic - hermetic Lucifer; the Devil, Satan...This serpent, Satan, is not the enemy of Man, but He who made Gods of our race, knowing Good and Evil; he bade "Know Thyself!" and taught Initiation."
Any thoughts on the differences and similarities between Thelema and Satanism?
Lucifer has long been known as "the fallen angel." He also gets assigned the job description: "Light Bringer." In the wild west of yersterday, wooden matches were called "Lucifers." The initiate (sooner or later) finds out that he or she, in their "higher" nature is none other than that grand archetype, Lucifer. We are all fallen angels.
Most Thelemites rather quickly get around the concept of the D-evil, whether named Lucifer or Satan or Shaitan, by simply accepting Crowley's statement, "There is no Devil." The initiate will indeed find that Crowley was wrong. There is a devil; but then some grace allows one to see that this whole centralized demonic personification is nothing more than the dark reflection of one's very own ego (it's called the Dweller or the Shadow in some schools of thought). This insight results in the disappearance of the devil and the realization that Crowley was correct after all.
These other folks, Anton the scary, Anger and those insipid spaced-out Berkeleyites - so they were interested in Crowley? (Because he had such a great reputation). Or interest in Thelema? Either way, if they ended up proclaiming Satan or Lucifer of Set, representing him as an external (or even internal) concept of worship or fear, or as any kind of a separate entity, then they were/are just pushing the devil's applecart around in the marketplace. I think they should be burned at the stake for not telling people to just drop all this crap and get down to handling their ego and its dark reflection as they face the Clear Light.
And when you're finished doing that ...
Bring in the dog and put out the cat.
Thanks for your insight.
LaVey didn't apparently believe in a real entity called Satan and wrote "The only god is between your ears!", while Aquino did actually believe in an entity called Set.(The bible describes Satan as "the god of this world" at one point). LaVey may have been interested in Crowley and Thelema initially, but later was none too complimentary, describing the Great Beast as an "effeminate, drug-addled, poseur", probably because he was jealous and could not comprehend Crowley and his teachings. It has been pointed out that LaVey's 'Satanic Bible' is based in part on a much earlier work titled 'Might is Right or Survival of the Fittest' by Ragnar Redbeard (thought to be the pseudonym of Arthur Desmond or Jack London), while Crowley's works are regarded as unique.
except for the material that Crowley plagiarized.
From here: http://www.takver.com/history/desmonda.htm
"Ragnar Redbeard was the pseudonym of Arthur Desmond, the author of 'Might Is Right', an ultra-individualistic screed of the 1890s. A bizarre mixture of Stirner's anarcho-individualism, Nietzsche's "Triumph of the Will" and Darwin's evolutionary ideologies, "Might Is Right" was seized upon by leftists of the time and published in numerous countries. Today the book is enjoying a revival amongst the American marginal crowd as well as with pseudo satanists (industrial band Non have recorded an aural version) and right wing libertarians (Loompanics Books have reprinted it). Unfortunately many of those now enjoying the book have a tendency (as with the SCUM manifesto) to take it at face value ignoring its satirical content and interpreting its ranting as authentic radicalism."
There follows a piece about Desmond originally published in 1921 (including the false claim that he died in Palestine in 1918). Apparently it was claimed that 'Redbeards' text had been a direct cause of The Great War - sounds familiar.
This extract, "In this book and wilderness of Steel and Stone I raised up my voice that you may hear....To the East and West I beckon, to the North and South I show a sign, Proclaiming Death to the Weakling, Wealth to the Strong....I break away from all conventions. Alone, untrammelled I raise up my voice in stern invasion. The Standard of the Strong. No hoary falsehood shall be a truth to me. No cult, no dogma shall encramp my pen. Man is under no obligation to obey anything or anybody." and others suggest (to me) that AC might have read it too.
I think the idea that Jack London might have been 'Redbeard' originated with LaVey......pinch of salt?
According to his biographers, his last wife Blanche Barton, James Finbarr and Gavin Baddeley; LaVey who was a mixture of French, Alsatian, German, Russian, Rumanian, Gypsy and Jewish stock, who promoted a 'Satanic-Fascist-Nazi-Jewish-Odinist-Zionist-Bolshevik' line, presumably to keep various factions (such as Boyd Rice/NON, and Michael Moynihan from the 'Right' and Marc Almond from the 'Left'), within COS onside. Strange as this may seem LaVey pointed out that Zionist groups collaborated with the Nazis to from a new Jewish homeland, and that there was the Nazi-Soviet Pact of 1939-1940.
Greetings all, new to the forum but very interested in it and this discussion.
I find the idea of La Vey dismissing Crowley in that manner rather laughable. Compare his literary output alone to that of Crowley and you may have a clue as to what motivated the dislike: common or garden envy. Compare the content of La Vey's books - which in my view do have some merit - with Crowley's and they are dwarfed by the Great Beast's vision, knowledge and sheer profundity of mind and soul.
LaVey and the CoS have always been an interest to me, in the same way of pop-art/film/music which convey occult themes. Entertaining, but nothing more
Wikipedia states “In 1951 LaVey sought out a branch of the 'Order of Thelema' (i.e. Ordo Templi Orientis) in Berkeley. He was reportedly disappointed to find them so mystically-minded. A few years earlier he had ordered most of Aleister Crowley's books from his American follower John Whiteside Parsons. When John Symond's biography of Crowley, The Great Beast came out in 1952, LaVey concluded that the Thelemites founder was a druggy poseur whose greatest achievements were as a poet and a mountain-climber.”
It might have been interesting to see if Germer would have accepted him at the time or if he had work with Jack Parsons on the Babalon Working.
The Satanic Bible states “As far as Satanism is concerned, the closest outward signs of this were the neo-Pagan rites conducted by MacGregor Mathers' Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, and Aleister Crowley's later Order of the Silver Star (A... A... - Argentinum Astrum) and Order of Oriental Templars (O.T.O.)*, which paranoiacally denied any association with Satanism, despite Crowley's self-imposed image of the beast of revelation. Aside from some rather charming poetry and a smattering of magical bric-a-brac, when not climbing mountains Crowley spent most of his time as a poseur par excellence and worked overtime to be wicked. Like his contemporary, Rev.(?) Mantague Summers, Crowley obviously spent a large part of his life with his tongue jammed firmly into his cheek, but his followers, today, are somehow able to read esoteric meaning into his every word.”
It is true the public and occultists associated with “white” magic over the century have viewed the AA and OTO under Crowley as Satanic. Crowley proclaiming he was the Beast 666 of Revelations didn’t help him with positive image of “Light”.
In Satanic Rituals Lavey states “L'Air Epais is impossible to perform without an indiscreet degree of blasphemy toward the Christian ethic, hence its exclusion from Masonic ritual, thereby halting any further progression beyond the Thirty-third degree Scottish Rite and Tenth grade York Rite level. The Order of the Rosy Cross of Aleister Crowley's magic curriculum provided an interesting comparison in its Seventh degree (Adeptus Exemptus). In that rite, the alternative to taking the Left-Hand Path was to become a Babe of the Abyss, which is not as contradictory and confusing as it sounds, if one considers Crowley's ofttimes Machiavellian modus operandi. Crowley, nobody's fool, simply set up a magical maze so that students whose consciences would only allow them to tread the Right-Hand Path would nevertheless wind up on the Left. Fortunately, precious few of Crowley's disciples progressed as far as the grade of Adeptus Exemptus, thus neatly preventing problems that might have arisen from such rude spiritual awakenings.”
He is referring to this passage from One Star in Sight “Adeptus (Exemptus). —Completes in perfection all these matters. He then either (a) becomes a Brother of the Left Hand Path or, (b) is stripped of all his attainments and of himself as well, even of his Holy Guardian Angel, and becomes a babe of the Abyss, who, having transcended the Reason, does nothing but grow in the womb of its mother.”
LaVey may have a point look at Frater Archad. Perhaps, LaVey was smart enough to be his own star rather than a follower of someone’s writings. The idea of a Brother of the Left Hand Path and the Right Hand Path can sound like a Christian concept of Good and Evil. While LaVey borrowed from many sources and his scholarship may not be accurate and poor, he was able to synthesize and capitalized on what he used.
His Satanic Rituals introduces rituals. He states “ Satanic Ritual is a blend of Gnostic, Cabbalistic, Hermetic, and Masonic elements, incorporating nomenclature and vibratory words of power from virtually every mythos.”
Satanic Rituals includes “L'Air Epais The Ceremony of Stifling Air. Lavey insinuates “The fraternal attainment conferred by L'Air Epais would correspond to the thirty-fourth degree of Freemasonry, if such a grade existed.” This book incorporates Lovecraft work into rituals, I wonder if he was ahead of Grant, mentions electrical German magic, the Yezidis, and other types of ‘evil’ rituals.
And the material that La Vey plagiarized from Crowley or John Dee.
LaVey is best in his own element, just being what he always intended to be, a carny huckster with a flair for the dramatic. If you watch the wonderful old documentary on the Church of Satan (on Youtube) "Satanis" you can see the early Black House folks for what they were, nearly wholesome, bourgeois , and quite charming fringe intelligentsia and party people looking for an expression of something else outside the mainstream of the 1960s. By that point the "subculture" was already being co-opted by the mainstream and digested into a commercial product. LaVeyan Satanism seemed to provide a unique haven for people who were looking for something outside the perimeter of so-called "normal society." The COS seemed to be (at least for a short while) relatively immune to being absorbed into the status quo the way the beat culture and hippie movement has been. The COS actively relished the fact it represented the drives and ambitions of mainstream culture while being outwardly shunned by it.
Even when celebrities were joining the ranks, the Church by its nature still stood in two circles with one foot in the realm of the western boogeyman and one planted firmly in the center of the aesthetics and techniques of media culture.
When LaVey tries to play occultist he falls short. Aquino seems to do well with this role. I have not read nearly enough TOS material to judge him fairly though.
Essentially I think its missing the point to take LaVey as an occult scholar. In Secret Life of a Satanist LaVey says he believes you can extend your life by controlling every aspect of it - by fashioning your surroundings to be exactly as you want them from the style of dress down to the music you hear and the people you interact with. The Satanic bible seemed a means to an end and the real poetry and power of LaVeyan Satanism was in the insular world he created around himself and his group for those magical years. The man had a vision and he manifested it and lived in it for what seems to have been a very lucrative and comfortable life...
Pages 155-272 of LaVey's 'Satanic Bible' is a 'Satanized' version of John Dee's Enochian Keys. Also, LaVey wrote that "Aleister Crowley's Order of the Silver Star and Ordo Templi Orientis founded in 1902, practised some of the principles set forth in this volume."
LaVey may have had some ideas of interest, but I don't think he will ever be on a par with the Master Therion as an occultist, magickian and philosopher.
Thelema for one is not a religion: it is a mode of Theurgy. The message is, and should remain, that etched in Chapters 113-117 of Liber Aleph. Satan then, as such, is but a mere creation of the Judeo-Christian religious brainwashing team and really has no existence whatsoever for anyone in their right mind to even consider unless they are a part of that, or a rebellious renegade offshoot thereafter.
The Wikipedia entry for LaVey states that the section in his book 'The Satanic Rituals' dealing with Lovecraftian rites, were actually written by Aquino.
In John Symonds' Introduction to 'Confessions' he writes that,
"In point of fact, he (Crowley) never attended sabbaths...and the Masses that he performed were not, technically speaking, Black Masses, but that kind of thing was expected of him by the public at large. They were so-called Gnostic Masses, such as his 'Mass of the Phoenix' and his 'Gnostic Catholic Mass'. Because of their sexual component, they might be considered Gray, but not Black, Masses."
Crowley was paid to do some "Black Masses" at one point, right? Francis King says something to that effect in his bio of Crowley "Megatherion".
Ah the old argument again. Did not The Master Therion say--
"We place no reliance on Virgin or Pidgeon,
Our method is Science, our aim is Religion."
Are you suggesting that you have bad aim? I can hit Religion six shots out of six with a Colt 1864 Navy black powder .45 revolver at 25 yards. And 13 out of 13 with a Sig Sauer .40 ... it's hard to miss a target as big as Religion, and Crowley says it's our aim-- and I always aim for the bull's eye-- that's what *real* gun control is about-- being able to hit your target on the first shot. 😉
I mean, WTF is The Gnostic Mass if it's not religion? The Priests of the EGC have Apostolic Succession and perform the "miracle of transubstantiation" in their own fashion. That pretty much puts the "religion" stamp on it in the minds of popular opinion, and in many places, our Priests and Bishops and Archbishop are recognized by both Legal and Religious Entities and Authorities as Clergy with a gage of amnity. Several Bishops have privately stated to EGC Clergy that if the Catholic Church and various of the Orthodox Churches recognize their own claim to Apostolic Succession, then they must recognize ours, as many of their lines come from the same sort of Wandering Bishops as the EGC. The Abyssinian Coptic Priest here in Houston embraces me like a brother when he sees me, because I recognized what he was when he came in here one day wearing his robes, and I said to him, "You're Abbysinnian Coptic?" And was gobsmacked that a rapidly aging White Boy knew about Axxum, and the Ark of the Covenant, the overthrow of King Hallie Sellasie. and the Book of Enoch, etc.
I don't think its "transubstantiation" going on in the Mass. It's "transmutation".
Though I agree with you on this assessment (Well, actually Motta, since this is a direct quote from him) and I have stated as such before here, I think you will find that there are many who would disagree! This is indeed a can of worms, which has been opened many times here before! A lot of the discussion is quite interesting if you care to search it out.
By definition Theurgy requires the presence of theos or theoi to operate. Even if it/they do not have to be worshipped there is nothing to state that they cannot be by any specific theurgist. So 'Religion' and 'Theurgy' are not at all mutually exclusive.
My own view has always been that Thelema (as promulgated by AC) is a philosopho-magickal system that is susceptible to both theist and atheist approaches depending on the Will of the individual in question. There is no wrong or right answer.
Of course I also have no problem holding both positions simultaneously which some seem to find too much of a mental stretch.... 😉
Actually, it can be either of these in practice, as well as other very helpful things, depending entirely upon the requirements of the individual in question. This does not mean that Thelema means any damn thing we wish it to mean, of course, but, in individual practice, it can be one of several helpful things, or a combination of things.
I don't think its "transubstantiation" going on in the Mass. It's "transmutation".
From the Gnostic Creed:
"For in as much as meat and drink are daily transmuted in us daily into spiritual substance, I believe in the miracle of the mass."
You're right: That's transmutation, not transubstantiation. I stand corrected.
Thank you for that kind and direct correction. I was thinking of the Mass's relation to the practices of the Ebionites and Borborites (among others), which was, in their tradition, transubstantiation, I was writing some research on this the other day.
"I possessed a theology of my own which was, to all intents and purposes, Christianity. My satanism did not interfere with it at all: I was trying to take the view that the Christianity of hypocrisy and cruelty was not true Christianity. I did not hate God or Christ, but merely the God and Christ of the people whom I hated. It was only when the development of my logical faculties supplied the demonstration that the Scriptures support the theology and practice of professing Christians, that I was compelled to set myself in opposition to the Bible itself. It does not matter that the literature is sometimes magnificent and that in isolated passages the philosophy and ethics are admirable. The sum of the matter is that Judaism is a savage, and Christianity a fiendish superstition...The Christianity in his home was entirely pleasant to him, and yet his sympathies were with the opponents of heaven...The Elders and the harps seemed tame. He preferred the Dragon, the False Prophet, the Beast and the Scarlet Woman, as being more exciting...This is evidence of the satanic pride of the race...Even in these early days, my real need was spiritual satisfaction; and I was a satanist or a worldly (as the case may be) in the spirit of St Francis of Assisi...The army of Satan had, unfortunately, failed to keep discipline in face of the enemy. The anti-Christians were in fact prone to split up into sects as the non-conformists themselves."
- 'Confessions' (Crowley)
Crowley and LaVey both had an opposition to abortion in common. LaVey did not condone animal sacrifice and Crowley was said to have sacrificed a goat at Cefalu. Crowley wrote,
"In particular, I am uniformly kind to animals; no question of cruelty or sadism arises in the incident which I am about to narrate." (ie. the killing of a cat). "I realised that all the time I was genuinely sorry for the animal; I simply forced myself to carry out the experiment, in the interest of pure science."
Crowley's life's work was an attempt to synthesise the diverse teachings of the world's religions by extracting the essential kernel of truth shared by them, and developing a system of attainment suitable to modern man's search for God - realization. He called his new 'religion' Thelema (Greek: Will) and his system Scientific Illuminism and coined the phrase "The method of Science, the aim of Religion" to indicate that, freed from all historical and cultural bias, the nature of truth is one.
Actually, my Houngan assures me that Satan, "The Devil" as a Lwa, is real. His Father in Haiti pointed Satan out to him. Horns, Tail, Pitchfork, the works. I think that the collective belief in him by Voudoueinne through the influence of the Catholic Church and popular media has caused this Lwa to become manifest. The Voudon I know don't work with him. But they see him.
That may be an unfair assessment of LaVey. He stressed that he (and Satanism) was a sceptical atheist and any recourse to mysticism was purely symbolic. In fact this consistent scepticism even outdoes Crowley who seemed to sporadically assert newagey statements in his writings.