I was going through my archives some time ago and found a handwritten letter from Boyd Rice to me. It’s from the early 90’s when I still considered myself a satanist. I was in my late teens. In the letter he replied to some of my questions regarding his appearance in Bob Larson’s radio show, made some notes about Music, martinis and misanthrophy CD, the Abraxas Foundation (he kindly sent me its newsletter WAKE! ), etc. Ahead of the time, years before the internet became a commonplace, Boyd also used a smiley in the letter, much like it is used commonly nowadays. I remember it amused me. Days after digging this letter from my archives I learned that a lenghty documentary about Boyd had finally came out. Iconoclast looks like something definitely worth seeing if you are even cursorily interested in all the stuff that Boyd has done over the years. Few days after learning of the documentary, I learned that Boyd had declared himself a high priest of the Church of Satan recently and interestingly enough, he also declared that the Church of Satan didn’t exist as an organization anymore.
I moved away from satanism to other ways to contextualise and experience myself and the universe few years after receiving that letter from Boyd. Around the time I made this paradigm shift I thought that not only I was not a satanist, but I also came to the conclusion that the Church of Satan was dead. It seemed to me that the Church of Satan had lost the certain genuinely fresh and dynamic substance it once had. I thought that even if one was a satanist, not just one playing one, one should have seen that as an organization the Church of Satan was gone. Even if you were a satanist you should have come up with something new carrying the genuine spark that made the Church of Satan what it once was. The organization was attracting all too much certain kind of pompous airheads and (post) teen-angst filled guys who made it look like that the whole LaVeyan satanism had become more a certain kind of aesthetic and attitude promoting subculture and lifestyle than a practical philosophy that could be taken seriously. Just looking how these guys were repeating LaVey’s words year after year word by word instead of developing the basic philosophy and its implications and making individually something really out of it in the world all spoke (and still speak) for itself to me. It didn’t (and still doesn’t) look very much like satanic individualism at its best to me. It all looks like Anton LaVey fan club with its members, and as such not essentially very different from other kinds of fan clubs.
There are of course exceptions, not all who associate themselves in one way or another with LaVeyan satanism are such airheads. But such persons seem to be rather rare. Boyd Rice has always appeared to me as one of those exceptions. He is smart, creative, complex, and in his own way he has seemed to truly practise satanism in his own individual way. No matter that my worldview is quite different from his, his works have continued to interest me because he has not been parroting LaVey but he has being doing his own thing. It has been thought provoking and fun to see what he has been doing. The declaration that Boyd made recently affirmed that again.
I haven’t seen or heard an official comment from the Church of Satan to Boyd’s declaration yet. It might be that they have a difficult time thinking how to formulate a good answer to it. Among other things Boyd’s declaration includes this note: “True LaVeyan Satanism only exists insofar as it is manifested in deeds – in life and living. Never in mere words”. If the current “high priest” of the Church of Satan, Peter H. Gilmore, works or has been working in a not very high position at Wal-Mart while being a high priest of an organization that likes to give an impression that its higher degree members are in positions of power in the world, it might be difficult for him to reply to that note from Boyd. One academic scholar has indeed made that claim about Gilmore and Wal-Mart, I’ve heard, but I am not sure if it is true or not. Interestingly enough, there is not much information around how Gilmore makes his living. I think there is nothing wrong or laughable about working at Wal-Mart per se, except if you happen to be a high priest of an organization that is all about might is right and exemplifying that in the world. But well, maybe Gilmore is indeed in some position of power that matches with the nature of being a high priest of Satan, an entity emphatically of power in this material world. In any case, Gilmore gives an impression of having common sense and sense of humor in his interviews. He doesn’t seem like an airhead. It will be interesting to see what he will eventually reply to Boyd’s declaration.
When it comes to Boyd’s view of the world it is quite a bit more nihilistic and misanthropic than mine. I don’t share too much with Boyd’s view of the world, except that most of the people are idiots. The difference between me and Boyd seems to lie mostly in that I have more empathy towards people, idiots, but it might be that’s because I find an idiot pretty much from everybody. Myself included. I also do write a blog which is something Boyd would apparently never do. Nevertheless, I am not a mere blogger, I have done and do stuff out there in the world in my own small way, as some of you know. Anyway, words on screen are out of total living context. It might be that talking about all and everything with Boyd over a pint there could surface more common ground between me and Boyd than mere words on screen would indicate. I’d like to see if this is so. So, Boyd, if you happen to be around Finland sometime, I invite you to have few beers with me. I’d offer. I agree with you about the main message of your declaration and would like to interview you about it.
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To whom it may concern,
As it is widely known, Anton Szandor LaVey repeatedly expressed his sincere desire to me that his mantle as leader of the Church of Satan pass to me upon his death. In his estimation, I was the sole person qualified to carry his tradition into a new era. At the time I demurred, explaining that I was a loner and not a team player or a people person.
Now I have changed my mind. After thirteen years of introspection, I have decided to step up to the plate and humbly accept the role bestowed upon me by my close friend and mentor. Why? Because remaining loyal to LaVey’s spirit and memory has come at the cost of distancing myself from the organization perpetuating itself in his name.
At one time, the sycophants and functionaries at the forefront of the CoS may have been called apparatchiks or pencil pushers. Today they are bloggers, whose sole arena of combat is the internet. When they employ “satanic” ideals, it’s in endless squabbles in cyberspace – rarely in real life or the real world. The LaVey I knew abhorred such types, and frequently told me as much.
I am told that many in the Church of Satan were offended by my book NO, and particularly by my essay on individuality; which they perceived as a potshot taken at them. How very perceptive – it was exactly that! If Anton were alive to read the text, he’d agree wholeheartedly; and laugh his ass off. He often lamented to me that his ideas vis-à-vis individualism were misguided and that he’d in effect “given birth to a monster”; or that such ideas applied to a few rare souls and not to everyone with the price of admission.
Consequently, my first official act as new leader and only truly ordained High Priest of the Church of Satan is to declare that the organization no longer exists. True LaVeyan Satanism only exists insofar as it is manifested in deeds – in life and living. Never in mere words. Elitism is self-defining, it is not a commodity that can be bought or sold for a few hundred dollars, or whatever the going rate is for a little, red membership card.
In the future, LaVey’s ideas can only survive in so much as they constitute a living reality, and never as mere platitudes on the printed page or computer screen; and in the future, such ideas must be taken to the next level. They must be recognized as purely foundational. Not an end point, but a starting point. LaVey expressed as much to me when he appointed me Grand Master of The Order of the Trapezoid. Satanism is an initiation into the wisdom of materiality, and the trapezoid represents the mastering of materiality – the pyramid sans its keystone. It is a foundation and a beginning.
In closing, I know my words will find resonance only amongst a rare few. That’s as it should be. I am not trying to “take over” the internet orthodoxy currently known as the Church of Satan, nor would I want to. I wouldn’t touch it with a bargepole.
I am simply telling you I am Anton LaVey’s handpicked replacement as High Priest. Do with that what you will. I will not ask you for money. I will not send you newsletters or post blogs. But I will never steer you wrong, nor ever disgrace the memory of my dear friend and mentor, Anton Szandor LaVey. He lives within each soul that manifests his ideas and worldview. He will remain forever dead to those who are content to pay mere lip service to them. For the former, a new era awaits; for the latter, an old error remains in play. Let the dead bury the dead – life is for the living.
High Priest, Church of Satan
Grand Master, Order of the Trapezoid