Anton Szandor Lavey
- Category : Author
- Type : GE
- Profile : 1/3 - Investigating / Martyr
- Definition : Split - Small (12,36,48)
- Incarnation Cross : RAX Maya 1
Anton Szandor LaVey (born Howard Stanton Levey; April 11, 1930 – October 29, 1997) was an American author, occultist, and musician. He was the founder of the Church of Satan as well as the author of The Satanic Bible and the founder of LaVeyan Satanism, a synthesized system of his understanding of human nature and the insights of philosophers who advocated materialism and individualism, for which he claimed no supernatural or theistic inspiration.
Ancestry and early life
LaVey was born as Howard Stanton Levey in Chicago, Illinois. His father, Michael Joseph Lavey (1903-1992), from Chicago, Illinois married Lavey's mother, the former Gertrude Augusta Coultron who was born to a Russian father and Ukrainian mother who had emmigrated to Ohio in 1893; both became naturalized American citizens in 1900. According to his biography, however, his ancestry includes French, Georgian, Russian, Ukrainian, Alsatian, German, and Romanian.
LaVey's family moved to California, where he spent his early life in the San Francisco Bay Area and in Globe, Arizona. His parents supported his musical interests, as he tried a number of instruments; his favorites were keyboards such as the pipe organ and the calliope. He did covers of instrumentals like Harlem Nocturne by Earle Hagen.
He attended Tamalpais High School in Mill Valley, California, until the age of 16. According to his biography, he left high school to join a circus and later carnivals, first as a roustabout and cage boy in an act with the big cats, then as a musician playing the calliope. LaVey later claimed to have seen that many of the same men attended both the bawdy Saturday night shows and the tent revival meetings on Sunday mornings, which reinforced his increasingly cynical view of religion. He would later work as an organist in bars, lounges and nightclubs. In the foreword to the German version of The Satanic Bible, he cites this as the impetus to defy Christian religion as he knew it. He accused church-goers of employing double moral standards. While playing organ in Los Angeles burlesque houses, he allegedly had a brief affair with then-unknown Marilyn Monroe when she was a dancer at the Mayan Theater. This is challenged by those who then knew Monroe, as well as the manager of the Mayan, Paul Valentine, who said she had never been one of his dancers, nor had the theater ever been used as a burlesque house.
According to his biography, LaVey moved back to San Francisco, where he worked for three years as a photographer for the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD). He dabbled as a psychic investigator, looking into "800 calls" referred to him by the police department. Later biographers questioned whether LaVey ever worked with the SFPD, as there are no records substantiating the claim. During this period, LaVey was friends with a number of writers associated with Weird Tales magazine; a picture of him with George Haas, Robert Barbour Johnson (whom he had met in the circus as an animal trainer and painter of carnival scenes) and Clark Ashton Smith appears in Blanche Barton's biography The Secret Life of a Satanist.
In 1950, LaVey met Carole Lansing and they married the following year. Lansing gave birth to LaVey's first daughter, Karla LaVey, born in 1952. They divorced in 1960 after LaVey became entranced by Diane Hegarty. Hegarty and LaVey never married; however, she was his companion for many years and mothered his second daughter, Zeena Galatea LaVey, in 1963. At the end of their relationship, Hegarty sued for palimony.
Beginnings as a Satanist
Becoming a local celebrity through his paranormal research and live performances as an organist, including playing the Wurlitzer at the Lost Weekend cocktail lounge, he attracted many San Francisco notables to his parties. Guests included Carin de Plessin, Michael Harner, Chester A. Arthur III, Forrest J. Ackerman, Fritz Leiber, Dr. Cecil E. Nixon and Kenneth Anger.
Church of Satan
LaVey began presenting Friday night lectures on the occult and rituals. A member of this circle suggested that he had the basis for a new religion. On Walpurgisnacht, April 30, 1966, he ritualistically shaved his head, allegedly "in the tradition of ancient executioners", declared the founding of the Church of Satan and proclaimed 1966 as "the year one", Anno Satanas—the first year of the Age of Satan. Media attention followed the subsequent Satanic wedding ceremony of Radical journalist John Raymond to New York City socialite Judith Case on February 1, 1967. The Los Angeles Times and San Francisco Chronicle were among the newspapers that printed articles dubbing him "The Black Pope". LaVey performed Satanic baptisms (including the first Satanic baptism in history for Zeena, which garnered world-wide publicity and was originally recorded on The Satanic Mass LP) and Satanic funerals (including one for naval machinist-repairman third-class Edward Olsen, complete with a chrome-helmeted honor guard), and released a record album entitled The Satanic Mass.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, LaVey melded ideological influences from Friedrich Nietzsche, Ayn Rand, H.L. Mencken, and Jack London with the ideology and ritual practices of the Church of Satan. He wrote essays introduced with reworked excerpts from Ragnar Redbeard’s Might is Right and concluded with “Satanized” versions of John Dee’s Enochian Keys to create books such as The Complete Witch (re-released in 1989 as The Satanic Witch), and The Satanic Rituals. The latter book also included rituals drawing on the work of H.P. Lovecraft which were actually penned by Michael A. Aquino who would later found the Temple of Set.
Due to increasing visibility through his books, LaVey was the subject of numerous articles in the news media throughout the world, including popular magazines such as Look, McCall's, Newsweek, and TIME, and men’s magazines. He also appeared on talk shows such as Joe Pyne, Phil Donahue, and Johnny Carson, and in a feature length documentary called Satanis: The Devil's Mass in 1970. He would be credited for the mainstreaming of Satanism and Witchcraft in the U.S. during the 1960s and after.
LaVey’s third and final companion was Blanche Barton. Barton and LaVey are the parents of Satan Xerxes Carnacki LaVey, born November 1, 1993. Barton succeeded him as the head of the Church after his death, and has since stepped down from that role and handed it to Magus Peter H. Gilmore.
Anton LaVey died on October 29, 1997, in St. Mary's Medical Center in San Francisco of pulmonary edema. He was taken to St. Mary's, a Catholic hospital, because it was the closest available. For reasons open to speculation, the time and date of his death was incorrect (by two days) listed as the morning of Halloween on his death certificate. A secret Satanic funeral, attended by invitation only, was held in Colma after which LaVey's body was cremated.