The Satanic Bible and Ayn Rand

Anton LaVey was a carnie, a brilliant musician, a photographer of crime scenes, lover of Marilyn Monroe when she was a stripper, and the lover of Jayne Mansfield when she was a star. These were all claims he was to make throughout his life, though none of them were the reason for the larger world knowing his name. His infamy began in the 1960s, a time of upheaval and spiritual unease, as the lord of a new church, a founder of an american satanism and a creator of its bible.

LaVey is a fascinating american character, a man almost entirely a self-creation, his life story a tapestry of deceptions and lies. Lawrence Wright’s “Sympathy for the Devil” is most likely the definitive account, one that is detailed, sympathetic, and skeptical. LaVey says he was born in Chicago, 1930; but there is no one by that name in Cook County records, only a Howard Stanton Levey. He has claimed his musical gifts were great enough that he played oboe in the San Francisco ballet orchestra; no such orchestra existed at the time, the ballet employed the local symphony, and the symphony had no players by the name of LaVey or Levey. He then ran off to the circus, the Clyde Beatty circus, where he played calliope; the route books of the Beatty circus, available at the Circus World Museum at Baraboo, Wisconsin list no musician by the name of Lavey or Levey. He went on to play at a strip club where Monroe was dancing, and the two had a brief two week affair. After, he studied criminology at San Francisco City College, and joined the police force as a photographer, where the gory carwrecks and manslaughters caused him to lose all faith in a benevolent god. These are his claims: Wright finds no record that LaVey / Levey enrolled at the college, the police department has no record of his employment, and the strip club owner is certain Monroe never worked for him, and neither did LaVey1.

It is only after this that LaVey has his actual achievement, whatever the truth of what came before. He was spending time in Frisco sometimes driving around in a coroner’s van as a psychic investigator, sometimes walking with Zoltan, his black panther, always holding meetings every Friday night for discussions of the occult. These meetings would develop into his church, with LaVey shaving off all his hair on April 30th, 1966, the most holy day of the devil’s calendar, and declaring the onset of the age of satan. He gained much press attention and many followers, performing weddings and other rituals, wearing black clothes and horns2. At the height of the church’s notoriety, LaVey published The Satanic Bible (available here in pdf, though whether with permisson of the copyright holders, I am uncertain), the impetus for this post.

The satanism presented in this bible is not anarchism, or a devotion to violence for its own sake. It is a practical manual on how to approach life, and its perspective is simple: that there are weak and strong in this world, the weak should not be allowed to leech off the strong, and that the weak should rightly be dominated by the strong. There is a simple primal order, and it should not be interfered with. Though a large chunk of the book is devoted to occult ritual, what is notable, and especially topical at this point in the election, is that the intellectual spine of this infamous book is derived from the writings of Ayn Rand, the very writings cited as an influence by congressman Paul Ryan.

The connection between objectivism, Rand’s philosophy, and the satanic bible is not an accusation made by critics against LaVey or Rand; it is freely admitted by LaVey and his followers. The only question is whether LaVey gave sufficient credit to Rand, with some arguing that he plagiarised her work, while others state that he always gave her due credit. The underlying ideas of the work, however, has never been in doubt.

Before going to the links between Rand’s objectivism and this infernal book, I would like to emphasize again that much of it is devoted to the occult. What follows is a small example of this, one of the many “Enochian Keys” in this bible, appeals to the satanic power written in Enochian, a synthetic language created by the mystic John Dee.


The Third Enochian Key establishes the leadership of the earth upon the hands of those great Satanic magicians who throughout the successive ages have held dominion over the peoples of the world.


Micama! goho Pe-IAD! zodir com-selahe azodien biabe os-lon-dohe. Norezodacahisa otahila Gigipahe; vaunid-el-cahisa ta-pu-ime qo-mos-pelehe telocahe; qui-i-inu toltoregi cahisa i cahisaji em ozodien; dasata beregida od torezodul! Ili e-Ol balazodareji, od aala tahilanu-os netaabe: daluga vaomesareji elonusa cape-mi-ali varoesa cala homila; cocasabe fafenu izodizodope, od miinoagi de ginetaabe: vaunu na-na-e-el: panupire malapireji caosaji. Pilada noanu vaunalahe balata od-vaoan. Do-o-i-ape mada: goholore, gohus, amiranu! Micama! Yehusozod ca-ca-com, od do-o-a-inu noari micaolazoda a-ai-om. Casarameji gohia: Zodacare! Vaunigilaji! od im-ua-mar pugo pelapeli Ananael Qo-a-an.


Behold!, saith Satan, I am a circle on whose hands stand the Twelve Kingdoms. Six are the seats of living breath, the rest are as sharp as sickles, or the Horns of Death. Therein the creatures of Earth are and are not, except in mine own hands which sleep and shall rise!
In the first I made ye stewards and placed ye in the Twelve seats of government, giving unto every one of you power successively over the Nine true ages of time, so that from the highest vessels and the corners of your governments you might work my power, pouring down the fires of life and increase continually on the Earth. Thus you are become the skirts of justice and truth. In Satan’s name, rise up! Show yourselves! Behold!, his mercies flourish, and his name is become mighty among us. In whom we say: Move!, Ascend!, and apply yourselves unto us as the partakers of His secret wisdom in your creation!

So, as said earlier, that this book has its source in Rand’s writings is not obscure or contested, but openly admitted by LaVey, as can be read in Raising The Devil: Satanism, New Religions, and The Media, by Bill Ellis. The mention on Rand’s influence is in a section on the Manson murders and various lunatics bringing unwanted infamy to LaVey’s sect (my bolds give the emphasis):

Exasperated by this unwanted notoriety, Anton LaVey held an interview with a Los Angeles Times reporter, who described the head of the Church of Satan as being “as American as crabapple pie.” The cases of the past year were “damned sickening,” LaVey said, and called Manson a “mad-dog killer” who should be drawn and quartered on Pershing Square. He continued:

I’d like to set the record straight…if someone waltzes up to our front door and says “Lucifer told me to come,” he gets the bum’s rush, you’d better believe it. This is really an elitist movement and we’re very fussy who is coming in and whom we traffic with. We have to guard ourselves against the creeps, and we’ve screened out a lot of people who turned out to be bad apples. Mostly they turned out to be people who were disappointed when they didn’t get the orgies and all the nefarious activities they’d been looking forward to.

In fact, LaVey called his operation mainly “showmanship…nine parts outrage and one part respectability” that allowed participants to channel their demons into “a ritualized hatred that finally absorbs the hate itself, rather than turning it loose in such meaningless, antisocial outbursts as the Tate massacre.” As for his “religion,” he called it “just Ayn Rand’s philosophy, with ceremony and ritual added,” and he actually looked forward to the arrival of a “benign police state.”

Here is a piece, Satanism and Objectivism, from the Church of Satan itself outlining similarities and differences in the two. Differences include satanism’s emphasis on carnal pleasure, the satanic creed’s greater emphasis on doubt, and the creed’s encouragement of a divine within oneself; the similarities between the two, however, the writer believes to be overwhelming.

Objectivism, the philosophy of Ayn Rand, is an acknowledged source for some of the Satanic philosophy as outlined in The Satanic Bible by Anton LaVey. Ayn Rand was a brilliant and insightful author and philosopher and her best-selling novels Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead continue to attract deserved attention for a new generation of readers. I am a strong admirer of Ayn Rand but I am an even stronger admirer of Anton LaVey for the vital differences between the philosophies of Objectivism and Satanism.

Let me conclude this brief overview by adding that Satanism has far more in common with Objectivism than with any other religion or philosophy. Objectivists endorse reason, selfishness, greed and atheism. Objectivism sees Christianity, Islam and Judaism as anti-human and evil. The writings of Ayn Rand are inspiring and powerful. If the reader has not yet experienced her power, try her novelette Anthem for a taste. You will almost certainly come back for more.

“Satanism and Objectivism” can also be found in the appendices of the satanic bible describing its sources. A second essay establishing the link between objectivism and satanism, also among the appendices, is “The Hidden Source of the Satanic Philosophy” by George C. Smith:

Reading through past issues of the Scroll of Set [a Satanism newsletter], I came across a statement by Susan Wylie (March/April XVI: “The Devil’s Game”): “One should remember that, prior to I AES [F. Fred Palakon: I’m unsure – I guess an international satanic organization of some kind], there had never been any organization or belief structure similar to the Church of Satan.” Although this was written several years ago, I must reach across the years and address this serious error. The implications for those of us in the Temple today are no less severe.

I know that I am challenging the cultural tradition of two and a half thousand years.The speaker was not Anton LaVey. The speaker was a novelist, playwright, and philosopher, Ayn Rand. From the springboard of her famous, bestselling novels (The Fountainhead in 1943 and Atlas Shrugged in 1957) was created the philosophy of Objectivism, which attracted thousands of persons – myself included – who were more than “openly honest regarding what they believed” but studied, wrote, taught, and practiced what they held to be the highest expression of living.

Although like others I now have some obvious points of philosophical disagreement with Objectivism, the legacy of this enormous Satanic break with the past remains a fact of history that is of prime importance to Setians everywhere. To imply or state that the Church of Satan was the first to clearly state the Satanic ethic is to ignore the continuing impact of Ayn Rand and individualists influenced by her work such as Nathaniel Branden [The Psychology of SelfEsteem and Honoring the Self] and Harry Browne [How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World]. It would instead benefit us to enrich our understanding of what the Gift of Set has meant and does mean to others who preceded I AES.

What follows is an an analysis by Smith of the links between the satanic bible’s “Nine Satanic Statements”, which serve as the spine of the work, and points in John Galt’s speech at the end of Atlas Shrugged. It is this very speech that vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan cited when he spoke at the Atlas Society (my bolds):

It’s so important that we go back to our roots to look at Ayn Rand’s vision, her writings, to see what our girding, under-grounding [sic] principles are. I always go back to, you know, Francisco d’Anconia’s speech (at Bill Taggart’s wedding) on money when I think about monetary policy. And then I go to the 64-page John Galt speech, you know, on the radio at the end, and go back to a lot of other things that she did, to try and make sure that I can check my premises so that I know that what I’m believing and doing and advancing are square with the key principles of individualism…

So, here is Smith’s in-depth exegesis. Again, this is not made by a critic of satanism, or a critic of objectivism trying to link the philosophy to satanism, it is an examination by a satanist, pointing to the roots of a philosophy he passionately espouses (my bolds):

To illustrate this historical precedent, let us examine the Nine Satanic Statements in view of the Rand work Atlas Shrugged. In Galt’s speech (pages #936-993) is the written source of most of the philosophical ideas expressed in the Satanic Bible. Here are the first clear, contemporary statements which led to the glorification of man’s pride and the denouncing of the life-killing concept called altruism. Here also is a vindication of rationality and the inevitable cause of the failure of the Church of Satan to encompass the needs of intelligent and curious minds.

Note that the sequential order of these Atlas Shrugged quotations parallels the order of the Nine Satanic Statements.

1. LaVey: Satan represents indulgence instead of abstinence.
Rand: A doctrine that gives you, as an ideal, the role of a sacrificial animal seeking slaughter on the altars of others, is giving you death as your standard. By the grace of reality and the nature of life, man – every man – is an end in himself. He exists for his own sake, and the achievement of his own happiness is his highest moral purpose. (page 940)

2. LaVey: Satan represents vital existence instead of spiritual pipe dreams.
Rand: My morality, the morality of reason, is contained in a single axiom: existence exists – and in a single choice: to live. The rest proceeds from these. (page 944)

3. LaVey: Satan represents undefiled wisdom instead of hypocritical self-deceit.
Rand: Honesty is not a social duty, not a sacrifice for the sake of others, but the most profoundly selfish virtue man can practice: his refusal to sacrifice the reality of his own existence to the deluded consciousness of others. (page 945)

4. LaVey: Satan represents kindness to those who deserve it instead of love wasted on ingrates.
Rand: To withhold your contempt from men’s vices is an act of moral counterfeiting, and to withhold your admiration from their virtues is an act of moral embezzlement. (page 946)

5. LaVey: Satan represents vengeance instead of turning the other cheek.
Rand: When a man attempts to deal with me by force, I answer him by force. (page 950)

6. LaVey: Satan represents responsibility to the responsible instead of concern for psychic vampires.
Rand: You have been using fear as your weapon, and have been bringing death to man as his punishment for rejecting your morality. We offer him life as his reward for accepting ours. (page 950)

7. LaVey: Satan represents man as just another animal – sometimes better, more often worse than those that walk on all-fours – who, because of his “divine spiritual and intellectual development”, has become the most vicious animal of all.
Rand: Damnation is the start of your morality; destruction is its purpose, means, and end. Your code begins by damning man as evil, then demands that he practice a good which it defines as impossible for him to practice. It demands, as his first proof of virtue, that he accept his own depravity without proof. It demands that he start not with a standard of value but with a standard of evil, which is himself, by means of which he is then to define the good; the good is that which he is not. (page 951)

8. LaVey: Satan represents all of the so-called sins, as they all lead to physical, mental, or emotional gratification.
Rand: What is the nature of the guilt that your teachers call his Original Sin? What are the evils man acquired when he fell from a state they consider perfection? Their myth declares that he ate the fruit of the tree of knowledge – he acquired a mind and became a rational being. It was the knowledge of good and evil; he became a moral being. He was sentenced to earn his bread by his labor; he became a productive being. He was sentenced to experience desire; he acquired the capacity of sexual enjoyment. The evils for which they damn him are reason, morality, creativeness, joy – all the cardinal values of his existence. (page 951)

9. LaVey: Satan has been the best friend the church has ever had, as he has kept it in business all these years.
Rand: And as he now crawls through the wreckage, groping blindly for a way to live, your teachers offer him the help of a morality that proclaims that he’ll find no solution and must seek no fulfillment on Earth. Real existence, they tell him, is that which he cannot perceive, true consciousness is the faculty of perceiving the non-existent – and if he is unable to understand it, that is the proof that his existence is evil and his consciousness impotent. (page 952)

I think that most careful examinations of the Satanic Bible will show how the Nine Satanic Statements acted as an outline for the “Book of Lucifer” essays.

Anton LaVey is the Magus of the Age of Satan, and did Utter a Word and cause a magical restructuring of the universe. As the instrument of the creation of that Age, he is immortalized. At the same time, credit for the source of the philosophy which he espoused must be given to Ayn Rand.

Please understand that I was an Objectivist prior to joining the Church of Satan. It was the intellectual rigor demanded by Objectivism which enabled me to appreciate the full meaning of the Satanic Bible. At the same time I first completed reading it, I said that here I had found Objectivism with an open mind concerning paranormal phenomena.

This leaves us in an uncanny situation, for it is usually the enemies of secular liberalism who have happily indicted us as allies of lucifer. Yet here is the man on the republican presidential ticket, a man looked on with pride and admiration by the party as their best and brightest, who has been formed by the very principles of the superior maker versus his leeching inferiors, that form the bedrock of this baphometian testament. The calm, rational analysis is that the very principles espoused by this ticket, absent their patriotic finery, are indistinguishable from the self-serving ones of the luciferean cult.

Another possibility I entertain, which I give no credence to, but which makes for a more exciting plot, is that we are seeing the Mephisophelean candidate, a presidential ticket with the backing of the fallen one, just as the nominee of the Manchurian Candidate had the backing of the red china leadership. Here is a ticket, the top of which received initial funding for his business, Bain Capital, from families behind the killing of noble catholic archbishop Oscar Romero3, and whose pick for vice president gets foreign policy advice from the same man who covered up that same killing4, as well as the massacre in El Mozote. These men champion an economic plan, formed by the same ideas which serve as the foundation of american satanism, which will cut to the bone those in poverty and want, children, the elderly, the sick, and those veterans seeking safe haven after surviving hell overseas, so that a fortunate fraction may have more horse stables and cadillacs. They seek a cheap pile of votes by demanding that some men and women be starved into submission until they leave the country, while urging on wars with Iran and North Korea that their own families will never serve in. Were one to approach this mosaic with the same imagination as Tim LaHaye or Glenn Beck, would one not see here a presidential ticket backed by the prince of the lake of fire? Mitt Romney, who appears happy to welcome discussion on whether the president was born in the United States, and on the loyalty of Huma Abedin, will no doubt welcome discussion on this as well.

But I don’t seriously consider this possibility, except as one of exciting dramatic potential. I only note the irony that those brave warriors of the christian right who have always so happily fought satan as a force outside themselves and their party, have now satanism within. They appear possessed, and they are happily indifferent to it.

(On August 26th, the link to a pdf version of The Satanic Bible was updated, as the previous link was broken.)

1 Wright, the author of the essential The Looming Tower and “Lives of the Saints”, a great overview of Mormon history, catches all these lies, but misses two small ones: Jayne Mansfield’s intimate relationship with LaVey goes unquestioned, and there is LaVey’s ridiculous suggestion that when cutting something in his scrapbook, the scissors accidentally cut into a Mansfield photo, triggering her decapitation. Ridiculous in and of itself, but more so since Mansfield wasn’t decapitated.

2 An article covering the first wedding administered by LaVey, Associated Press, February 1st, 1967:

Rites “Conceived in Hell”

Asking the blessings of Satan, a couple was married last night in San Francisco by a lion-tamer-turned-sorceror who pronounced the match “conceived in hell.”

Through the dark rite, a 500-pound lion on the back porch grumbled throatily and bashed the bars of his cage with his paws.

The bride was black-gowned Judith Case, 26, graduate of Goucher College and daughter of Edward Haile Case, former member of the New York Power Authority. The bridegroom was John Raymond, 35, who described himself as “a member of society.”

Anton Szandor LaVey wore devil horns while performing his first wedding in the Victorian living room of his black-walled Satanist Church. About 30 disciples of the self-styled priest of the Prince of Darkness witnessed the wedding, plus an equal number of reporters.

3 From Mitt Romney Started Bain Capital With Money From Families Tied To Death Squads by Cole Stangler and Ryan Grim:

“I owe a great deal to Americans of Latin American descent,” [Mitt Romney] said at a dinner in Miami in 2007. “When I was starting my business, I came to Miami to find partners that would believe in me and that would finance my enterprise. My partners were Ricardo Poma, Miguel Dueñas, Pancho Soler, Frank Kardonski, and Diego Ribadeneira.”

Romney could also have thanked investors from two other wealthy and powerful Central American clans — the de Sola and Salaverria families, who the Los Angeles Times and Boston Globe have reported were founding investors in Bain Capital.

The Salaverria family, whose fortune came from producing cotton and coffee, had deep connections to the right-wing Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA), a political party that death-squad leader Roberto D’Aubuisson founded in the fall of 1981. The year before, El Salvador’s government had pushed through land reforms and nationalized the coffee trade, moves that threatened a ruling class whose financial and political dominance was built in large part on growing coffee. ARENA controlled and directed death squads during its early years.

On March 24, 1980, Oscar Romero, the archbishop of San Salvador and an advocate of the poor, was celebrating Mass at a chapel in a small hospital when he was assassinated on D’Aubuisson’s orders, according to a person involved in the murder who later came forward.

The day before, Romero, an immensely popular figure, had called on the country’s soldiers to refuse the government’s orders to attack fellow Salvadorans.

“Before another killing order is given,” he advised in his sermon, “the law of God must prevail: Thou shalt not kill.”

4 From The Daily Beast:

In recent months, Ryan has been receiving briefings from Elliott Abrams, George W. Bush’s former Middle East director at the National Security Council, and Fred Kagan, one of the architects of the military surges in Iraq and Afghanistan, as first reported by Weekly Standard reporter Stephen Hayes on Twitter.

From “Scandal? What Scandal” by Terry J. Allen, at FAIR, among many of those involved in Iran-Contra, including Abrams:

News reporting on Elliott Abrams has been so sparse and pallid as to give hope to war criminals everywhere. Like Negroponte, Abrams maintains ignorance when not boasting that his policy was a “fabulous achievement” (Washington Post, 3/21/93).

A few outlets have written strong editorials, particularly the Philadelphia Inquirer’s scorched-earth description (7/11/01) of Abrams as a “deceitful, scheming coddler of Latin American tyrants,” and “uncontrite peddler of lies.”

Most news stories, however, have simply noted the appointment and mentioned Abrams convictions for withholding evidence from Congress–as if he were a minor player haunted by sins of omission. They’ve ignored his cover-ups of the Salvadoran army’s massacre at El Mozote and assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero. Except for reporting in The Nation (7/2/01) and a piece by this reporter in In These Times (8/6/01), few publications have reprised Abrams’ role in Iran-Contra.

On February 8, 1982, Abrams told a Senate committee that the reports of hundreds of deaths at El Mozote “were not credible,” and that “it appears to be an incident that is at least being significantly misused, at the very best, by the guerrillas.”

It’s not as if hard evidence and gruesome details of Abrams’ knowledge and culpability are difficult to find. The man was convicted in open hearings and remains brazenly unrepentant. He called his prosecutors “filthy bastards,” the proceedings against him “Kafkaesque” and members of the Senate Intelligence Committee “pious clowns,” according to an article in Legal Times (5/30/94). Raymond Bonner broke the story of the El Mozote massacre in the New York Times (1/27/82). The story also ran in the Washington Post (3/5/82). Post reporters Guy Gugliotta and Douglas Farah (3/21/93) further documented Abrams’ role in El Salvador in a 1993 story.

Both links come via the always valuable Charles Pierce.

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