By Catherine Beyer
LaVeyan Satanism is one of several distinct religions identifying itself as Satanic. Followers are atheists who stress dependence on the self rather than reliance on any outside power. It encourages individualism, hedonism, materialism, ego, personal initiative, self-worth and self-determinism.
To the LaVeyan Satanist, Satan is a myth, just like God and other deities. Satan is also, however, incredibly symbolic, representing all of those things within our natures that outsiders might tell us is dirty and unacceptable. The chant of “Hail Satan!” is really saying “Hail me!” It exults the self and rejects the self-denying lessons of society. Finally, Satan represents rebellion, just as Satan rebelled against God in Christianity. Identifying oneself as a Satanist is to go against expectations, cultural norms, and religious creeds.
Anton LaVey officially formed the church of Satan on the night of April 30-May 1, 1966 and published the Satanic Bible in 1969. The Church of Satan admits that early rituals were mostly mockeries of Christian ritual and reenactments of Christian folklore concerning the supposed behavior of Satanists: upside down crosses, reading the Lord’s Prayer backward, using a nude woman as an altar, etc. However, as the Church of Satan evolved it solidified its own specific messages and tailored its rituals around those messages.
Because Satanism celebrates the self, one’s own birthday in held as the most important holiday. Satanists also sometimes celebrate the nights of Walpurgisnacht (April 30-May 1) and Halloween (October 31-November 1), because these days have been traditionally associated with Satanists through witchcraft lore.