Truth Behind Religion Series Ep. 2: Inside the Church of Satan (Interview With Magus Peter H. Gilmore)

peter gilmore church of satan anton lavay cut2thetruth olan thomas

In my research I come across a lot of Alex Jones type reporting where Satanists are running wild and chopping kids to bits; then eating them. When presented with this kind of information you have two options: believe it at face value or research the claim. I’m not the type of person to take any claim at face value, especially when they come from sensationalists like Alex Jones and fear mongers of his ilk.

So, I decided to research the claim; and what better way to come by information than going straight to the source?

After watching hours of videos on Youtube of past interviews and television specials on The Church of Satan I was seeing a much different picture of what it was about compared to what neo-con fear mongers were trying to sell me, and so I contacted the church directly to get the questions I had answered.

Not only did the administration of the church get back to me right away, but they were polite as hell and willing to honestly answer and publish any question I was pondering.

As for my own beliefs, my readers can easily guess I am as close to an atheist as they come. I was raised in a non-religious home, though I’m fascinated by the subject and have studied it in detail for years. I don’t know if there is a god and I certainly don’t believe any person or book has proven or could prove their is. I live my life based on reason and scoff at any superstitious lines of thought; and I must admit that going into this interview I thought that was the line of thinking of the Satanic Church, but I was wrong and it isn’t, at least not technically, in the sense that any belief system of any member is welcomed so long as the basic philosophy, which you will learn in depth soon, is agreed upon.

Magus Peter H, Gilmore

Magus Peter H. Gilmore

The man I conversed with was a well spoken intellectual who seems to share my position on the matter of god and the supernatural in many ways; though naturally we differ on many as well — first and foremost being I prescribe to no organized philosophy and am not so firm in my position of there not being a god or afterlife of some sort, as I believe we’re all yet to find out, but I do hold both the former and latter as unlikely as anything could be. His name is Magus Peter Gilmore, a native New Yorker, composer, author, and the administrator for the Church of Satan. Before getting into our in depth interview, first a quick bio on Satanism.

Now, you’re free to believe what you want, but the Church of Satan doesn’t worship the Devil, as they, like anyone who has researched the subject in depth, don’t believe such supernatural things exist. The church’s founder, Anton LaVey, was a philosopher who used the term Satan in it’s Hebrew translation: The Opposer, not in the Christian sense of the term, which is a real entity, to Christians, who is constantly up to no good — although it appears, to me at least, that LaVey believed in many sorts of unexplainable phenomena to some degree, but I suppose that is up for debate.

Anton LaVay

Anton LaVey

After penning his philosophy down in the early sixties in a book called The Satanic Bible, LaVey, who eerily shares my birthday, gathered a following in California, officially opening his own church — the Church of Satan — in San Francisco on April 30th, 1966, where he sat as High Priest until his death in 1997.

After a falling out and renunciation of Anton’s daughter, Zeena LaVey, Peter Gilmore became the High Priest of the church — which is fittingly now located in Hell’s Kitchen, Manhattan — in 2001 and remains in that position to this day.

Do they rule the world; worship the devil; cast evil spells; and eat children for breakfast, lunch, a quick snack, and then dinner? Are they the Illuminati; the dreaded New World Order? Are they anything for you to fear at all?

Decide for yourself…

peter gilmore church of satan anton lavay cut2thetruth olan thomas3

Olan Thomas (Cut2TheTruth): To get some of the rumors and, most likely, misconceptions about Satanists, such as child sacrifice, Devil worship, sexual abuse, demonic spells, world domination, and so forth out of the way, could you give an explanation of what the fundamental philosophy of what the Church of Satan is?

Peter H. Gilmore (Church of Satan): Satanism is an atheist philosophy that employs Satan as a symbol of pride, liberty and individualism. We are pragmatic, skeptical and materialist. We do not embrace faith nor are we spiritual in any sense. Our founder, Anton Szandor LaVey, termed this the world’s first carnal religion which accepts man as an animal, just like all the rest, who as a species is sometimes better but can often behave worse than others. Satanism challenges its adherents to form their own personal hierarchy of values and to be responsible for their lives, both the successes and failures, which tends to be an off-putting aspect of our perspective for most people who would rather blame someone or something else for the condition of their lives.

OT: How many members does the church currently claim?

PHG: We have never given specific membership figures but we do have thousands of adherents, primarily in the U.S., Europe, and Australia, and also in other nations in Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

OT: Are there actual church buildings your followers mass at?

PHG: No. Mass meetings are not part of Satanism. Satanists tend to only spend time with others with whom they have common interests beyond the philosophy of Satanism. If Satanists employ the tool of ritual, they do so in home spaces customized to personal aesthetics.

OT: Is there a fee to join? If so why and how much?

PHG: There is a $200 lifetime membership fee. We are not altruists, so if folks want our attention they must join. However, people can consider themselves Satanists if they find their natures and beliefs reflected in our literature. It should be noted that most churches claiming altruism as their philosophy often tithe their members based on their income and those monies usually amount to more than $200.

OT: In the sense that Satan is a character made out of Christian lore, is your church a response strictly to Christianity, and if not, why use a Christian figure, defined only by  Christianity, as your namesake and base of philosophy?

PHG: In Hebrew mythology Satan means adversary, opposer, one who questions. We Satanists find inspiration in those character elements. This name is clearly identifiable in today’s culture which is greatly influenced by Judeo-Christian symbols. But even that image of Satan is derived from earlier mythological figures. We do not limit ourselves to only Satan as an inspirational symbol. The Satanic Bible includes a roster of diabolical characters from many world mythologies and we also feel free to use more recent fictional creations such as Cthulhu and Godzilla if they provide emotional resonance.

OT: To expand on this, what books and writings in particular does your church study and do any predate Christianity or Christian thought?

PHG: We are a loose association of individualists, not a collective, so the members of our church study whatever topics they find to be of personal interest. History, anthropology, archaeology, psychology, philosophy, religion, hard sciences, art, sexology, literature, music, architecture, cuisine, health and quite literally anything that might be be fascinating covering all cultures throughout history. LaVey himself included an extended bibliography in his book The Satanic Witch which showed some of the many books which assisted him in forming the philosophy of Satanism, and indeed materials predating Christianity were consulted, but his interests skew strongly towards studies of human behavior.

OT: What is the church’s view on other religions, like Islam, Judaism, and eastern religions, such as Hinduism and Buddhism?

PHG: Our members are free to evaluate other religions and philosophies according to their own personal standards. Our commonly held principle is one of “live and let live” with society being governed in a strictly secular manner. Satanists generally propose that religions may be tolerated so long as they satisfy their members but do not promote or initiate aggression against those who do not share their beliefs. We also tend to think that religions should refrain from proselytizing and forcing conversion of those who have no interest in participation. Most Satanists thus consider that it would be a positive step to revoke currently existing legislation based solely on values fostered by religious belief leading to social inequity, such as those laws opposing same-sex marriage.

OT: In the same respect as other recognized religions, are their guidelines or tenets one must follow and believe to be recognized as a member of your church, and if so, what are they?

PHG: To reach our first degree level of membership is to be recognized by us as having embraced and applied our philosophy, but defining our philosophy has taken books worth of writing and so cannot be summarized in one or two paragraphs. These two essays of mine should help people to grasp some basics:

OT: Is anybody free to join, in the sense that any race, age, sex, culture, or social standing is accepted?

PHG: Membership is limited to people who are legally of adult age in their nation of residence, or 18 years of age, whichever is older. They must be able to afford the membership fee. Membership in the Church of Satan is held in strict confidence. Because of bigotry in our society, many of our members whose careers depend upon acceptance by the general populace remain “closeted” about their affiliation, though at times they might choose to offer “signs” to those who can see them.

OT: Does your church promote violence, promote peace, or is it indifferent on the matter?

PHG: We promote having an equitable social contract meant as a means for offering personal freedom with as limited a governmental apparatus as might be practical so that society will provide a stable, rationally determined structure that would permit a pursuit of one’s desires. Thus we advocate law and order, and can certainly understand the need for a responsible police force as well as a militia, should military action be needed when dealing with any who might be aggressive towards our nations of residence. Peace and prosperity are generally favored by Satanists since our primary purpose is to enjoy the one life we have without harming others. We don’t care if we offend people, since a consequence of a diverse society is that there will be pursuits that might not be to everyone’s tastes, but since we have no intention of forcing others to do as we do, we expect reciprocal courtesy.

Personal specific politics and activism are determined each member’s values, since each must decide what local or national political doings would suit their lives best.

OT: Does the church believe in good and evil, and if so, can you define them in the church’s terms?

PHG: “Good” and “Evil” are subjective human values. For Satanists, the good is that which benefits or brings pleasure to each Satanist and the people or things that he/she cherishes. Evil would be whatever hinders or brings harm to the Satanist and cherished people and things.

OT: According to your website, “Anton Szandor LaVey never expected to be the founder of a new religion, but he saw a need for something publicly opposing the stagnation of Christianity, and knew that if he didn’t do it, someone else, probably less qualified, would.” This paints a picture, to me at least, that LaVey believed the Christian story put forth in the Bible to be a true story, but saw the movement as having peaked its highest level of power and dominance and was not going anywhere; in what way was he qualified to diagnose this condition, oppose Christianity, and start his own dogma?

PHG: LaVey, coming from a secularized Jewish background, had nothing but contempt for Christianity so he never found any “truth” to that belief system. He saw it as a successful means for keeping herd-minded people under control, and saw it as equivalent to other doctrines with the same purpose, such as those resulting in totalitarian governments. But such systems are never healthy for individualist points of view. In Satanism we value productivity, so the results of LaVey’s thinking, his research (both observational as well as studying literature) and his organizing and recording his thoughts through to the success of founding a philosophy that has appeal to people of a certain unique nature regardless of their culture of origin has determined his qualifications as far as we are concerned. “The proof of the pudding…”

OT: Does your church promote the fact that magic and spells are real, exist, and can be manipulated? If so, in the sense that gravity or the laws of motion can be proven to everybody conclusively no matter what their belief on the matter is, can your church experimentally prove the claim magic and spells exist, even to the nonbeliever?

PHG: No, we do not promote that magic and spells are real in the commonly accepted definition of those terms. Satanists use science and reason to understand the universe in which we exist, but we do not consider that everything is already fully understood. A number of our members are physicists and some actively explore the theoretical aspects of that field. We champion research into any demonstrable phenomena that might increase our grasp of Nature. Magic to us is a form of applied psychology. Lesser Magic is the day to day act of charming people to do what you’d like them to do. Greater Magic is a form of psychodrama during which one uses a ritual framework to release emotions that might be hindering one’s enjoyment of daily life. These are the fundamental definitions used by our members.

LaVey thought that the possibility exists that the focused outpouring of emotions during the framework of ritual might possibly communicate feelings or images to other people, but he never required anyone to believe this idea. He suggested that if anyone enjoyed using ritual that they could decide for themselves—based on their own standards for evidence—whether there were any causal results afterwards. LaVey felt that if results did in fact occur and could be documented, that they would surely be the result of some as yet unexplored aspect of how our minds/bodies function and thus be a part of nature since Satanism rejects the idea of the supernatural, entirely.

Theorists like Ingo Swann have conducted thought transference exercises with mixed results and biologist Rupert Sheldrake has compiled fascinating evidence for phenomena such as animals knowing when their owners are approaching from distances beyond their normal sensory input data. He also explored the ability of some people to know when they are being stared-at by others who are unseen to them and people who make others feel noticeably uncomfortable when they consciously stare at them from an unseen vantage point. Such “meta-mind” experiences might be talents that only occur in some individuals, like mathematical, musical or athletic abilities, or they might be latent and only rarely manifest. Or there might be nothing to these ideas whatsoever, but Satanists generally keep open—but skeptical—minds when considering such topics. No Satanist is required to use ritual nor are they required to accept anything on faith. We expect our adherents to test the premises of Satanism and only accept them based upon satisfactory evidence. If they decide that aspects of Satanism are not suitable for their evolving understanding of our species and the world we inhabit, they are free to depart and follow whatever course offers them the most satisfactory answers.

OT: To follow up, the Church of Satan website also states: “LaVey wanted to establish something new, not strict doctrines awash with attitudes of blind faith and worship,” but the same article states a bit before that: “From the early 1950’s, Anton LaVey explored some of these ideas, eventually gaining a reputation as a powerful black magician.” Since belief in magic requires nothing but faith for lack of tangible, documented, surmounted, testable evidence, how does one claim to be a magician while at the same time professing faith itself a tool for the blind? Do the two statements not contradict one another? If not, why?

PHG: LaVey himself eschewed the term “black magic,” considering magic to be as I defined it above, the psychological manipulation of oneself or others in either ritual (Greater) or non—ritual (Lesser) forms. Members of the press of course were eager to label him a “black magician” as well as call him “The Black Pope” and they often misapprehend his philosophy as devil worship, when in essence it promotes self-deification. So, in the accounts of observers, this charismatic, dramatic, man with Infernal aesthetics was depicted in a way that general readers could readily comprehend, even if it was a distortion of the facts. LaVey himself, having come from a background of performing in carnivals and circuses, felt that such publicity got him attention and that the right people would look beyond such surface ballyhoo to learn that his philosophy was built on atheism and individualism, including aspects gleaned from Nietzsche, Hobbes, Rand, Epicurus, Stirner, and many other prior secularist realist freethinkers.

OT: Anton LaVey stated “Satan isn’t an anthropomorphic entity,” in interviews. His next words in one such interview were, “Satan demands study, not worship.” If Satan isn’t a real thing, in the sense that he or it doesn’t tangibly exist, as the words “anthropomorphic entity” indicate, what is Satan; where does Satan exist; what is there to be studied; and from what source do the lessons come from?

PHG: Satan is simply a symbol and the Nine Satanic Statements from LaVey’s The Satanic Bible enumerate aspects of what that symbol means for Satanists. LaVey states in that same book in the essay THE GOD YOU SAVE MAY BE YOURSELF that humans have invented all deities with their carnal brains and points out that the spiritual realms have no existence whatsoever. Spiritually inclined people thus have to work overtime to convince themselves of their religious fictions, since reality offers no evidence to support such delusions.

LaVey’s writings are never claimed to be ideas or concepts received from supernatural sources as are the texts of most religions. His works are presented as his own creations, and they are offered up not as truths that people must accept, but simply as his personal perspective on existence which others are free to adopt if they find it to be of value.

The study mentioned is that of the human animal in all aspects so that a clear picture of the nature of our species can be gained. LaVey termed this “undefiled wisdom” as it should not be clouded by idealist overlays. Satanists may chose what particular fields they wish to examine. Not accepting anything on faith, rather—fueled by skepticism—investigating topics of interest so that one can come to one’s own conclusions is a methodology that is part of the perspective offered by Satanism.

OT: To follow up, Anton LaVey also states the church “does not grovel, we do not worship Satan, we do not implore Satan give us what we wish. We feel that anyone who is going to be blessed by any god of his choice he is going to have to show that god he is capable of his blessing.” In this respect, if Satan isn’t a real entity with human characteristics, such as approval, how does one earn Satan’s, or any other god’s, blessing?

PHG: LaVey is speaking metaphorically, addressing an issue of human psychology. Satanism moves beyond being a philosophy to being a religion since it considers that the trappings and experience of ritual—its use of symbols and metaphor—are elements that address emotional needs found in many people. Knowing that all deities are fictions invented by humans, he considered that deities could function as externalized, personalized mental projections encompassing one’s goals and values. If one decides that a particular deity has symbolic aspects that are inspirational, such as the strength of Thor or the productivity of Hephaestus, then that model is one that supplies paradigms for how one might live. Living up to those valued paradigms brings oneself self respect which would thus be the equivalent of the “blessing” of the externalized god symbol which provided the stimulation to successfully pursue such goals. It is all productive “sleight of mind,” which can be observed in human behavior throughout history.

OT: With respect to magic, in the description of the early history of the Church of Satan your website states: “Anton expanded and refined his formulas for the Magic Circle rituals and began achieving precise results—professional advances, unexpected rewards, monetary gain, sexual or romantic satisfaction, the elimination of certain enemies—it was apparent to everyone involved that Anton had indeed tapped into that mysterious Dark Force in Nature.” Is this a commonly held belief within your church that LaVey received these benefits in life purely through practicing magic; and if so, is it not possible that practicing rituals as LaVey did had absolutely nothing to do with his social circumstances? (to follow up) Could anybody achieve these results; and are there those who have tried just as hard as LaVey with different or no results?

PHG: LaVey himself did not mandate that people must credit his rituals as a source for his successes, and so our organization also does not. For LaVey, he found that he often got results after he ritualized about them, but he also pointed out that ritual can be a means for removing psychological barriers towards attaining goals, for example assisting in surmounting a fear of performing in public, so whether the rites he performed did anything beyond simply freeing him up psychologically to effectively pursue his goals is something that observers must decide for themselves. In his later years he did not do many formal rituals as he felt he had achieved the sort of intellectual and emotional focus needed to reach his goals that did not require such stylized experiences.

It should be noted that formal ritual is an optional tool. Many in the Church of Satan have their own means for priming their creative pumps and find it superfluous. But others have found that it can offer a form of energizing self-therapy that leads to more effective results. It is a matter of personal taste and so it is something that can be employed if and when desired or not at all.

OT: As far as I understand, your church’s philosophy states that nature dictates survival of the fittest and has throughout evolution in every species on earth, even those which existed before what is alive today, which is a reasonable observation in my opinion. Because of this observation, as your representatives have stated many times, you feel the “strong” among humans should dominate and the “weak” should basically die; keeping in accord with nature’s law. In the same respect, no other animal uses bathrooms, or ever has, they all eat their food completely raw, live outdoors, speak no language, never seek medical assistance, and have maintained these attributes throughout known history. Which leads me to the question: Why only adopt the most vicious trait of animal behavior and ignore the rest?

PHG: The model of “survival of the fittest” requires no advocacy as it is an accurate theory describing the way in which nature functions. It is always in operation. Some humans are quick to misinterpret who holds the position of “strength” in the ongoing evolutionary process, but that which survives and prospers via reproduction is how nature exhibits what is best suited. So simple attributions of physical strength or weakness are naive when observing the dynamics that actually lead a species to prosperity and dominance.

Satanists do not separate humans from other animals, so all of our behaviors are understood as “animal” traits, though often differing in degree from fellow organisms. There are some behaviors unique to our species, our creativity and our savagery are unparalleled amongst the rest of Earth’s denizens. Man is a unique beast.

OT: And to follow up on the last question, do you not agree with the fact that the reason we as humans do use bathrooms, cook and prepare our food, live in comfortable dwellings (if we are fortunate enough to be born where they are generally available to us), heal our wounds and infections with expert assistance, communicate by sophisticated auditory dialogue, and help our fellow man when they are less fortunate than ourselves, is because we possess mental faculties which wild animals haven’t evolved towards, even though their species could benefit in many ways from them?

PHG: Humans certainly have mental abilities that lead to behaviors which are currently beyond other earth species. That is one characteristic of the human animal. We have not yet learned to communicate with Earth species that may have other sorts of intelligence such as dolphins and whales, but we have taught sign language to some other primates. We’ve yet to encounter alien species of similar achievements, but with the vast number of worlds that science now points out as having conditions that are similar to ours we might readily conjecture that there are, have been or will be other species that might be similar to us. Satanists consider that because mankind has the ability to effect other species as well as the climate of our globe, that we should be aware and responsible caretakers assisting to protect and maintain the world’s environment to the benefit of Earth’s denizens. In time our technology may assist us towards preventing the decimation of our planet by asteroid strikes or solar eruptions, and I think that would be a proper role for our species.

OT: Your members in interviews have said, many times, that it’s the belief of the Church of Satan that “the world died many years ago.” Scientifically speaking, we are both alive and sustained on planet Earth right now, and at the same time, when compared to many documented points in history, the world today is much better for the average person, which leads to the question: In what sense does your church use the terms “the world is dead” or “the world died many years ago”?

PHG: I am not familiar with such terminology being used “many times” by members or representatives of the Church of Satan. Such ideas are not part of our philosophy nor do they figure in our literature. I personally enjoy the vitality and richness of our contemporary society and the technology that leads to comfortable standards of living as well as having easy access to such vast amounts of data. Of course one needs to filter out the crap, which is copious, but that is always par for the course when dealing with human endeavors. The planet itself is delightfully verdant, and in fact I advocate that humans understand that it is not a toy to abuse nor a resource to squander, but it provides an ecosystem that is fragile enough that if sufficiently distorted could lead to the extinction of our and other currently existing species so that other life forms might arise to inhabit it.

OT: To follow up, by basically stating and promoting the idea of “the strong shall dominate the weak,” and taking into consideration that for most of human history societies have been run by totalitarian rulers using that same philosophy to justify their own tyranny, thus leading to the state of the world today, which your church members deem as a “dead” or a “cesspool”, how do you reconcile between resenting the state of the world while at the same time promoting the type of mindset which produces it?

PHG: Satanism does not promote totalitarianism nor do we say that the world is “dead” or a “cesspool.” As students of history, we do see how easily such governments can arise because of the commonplace sheep-like behavior of many people. We don’t advocate such forms of society, rather we seek the equitable social contract that I described above.

I suspect that you are basing this and other similar questions on statements made by ex-members Zeena and “Nikolas Schreck.” Zeena is the daughter of Anton LaVey and “Schreck” became her husband. At the time they were members, I and other influential Church of Satan members approached Anton LaVey and criticized their representation of the philosophy, particularly statements by “Schreck,” and it became clear that they were trying to force Anton LaVey to retire so that they could promote their own vision of Satanism that was essentially theist and collectivist. Their interviews present a distorted concept of Satanism that is not congruent with the writings of Anton LaVey and those of us who currently belong to and run the organization.

As students of history, we note that totalitarianism is the most common form of human self-regulation. However, most Satanists treasure the idea of having as much freedom as possible and so we are pleased with the current situation which offers great access to information and much mobility both socially and otherwise to pursue one’s interests. Members who are my personal friends have made it their mission to promote access to data that might be forbidden by various regimes. One enters theocratic countries in the Middle East (at high personal risk) to assist people to obtain access to The Internet so that they can properly evaluate the limited information their governments permit. Another has spearheaded a global effort to gather data about aspects of the Earth and its climate so that scientists and anyone interested can be aware of changes being wrought in the environment either naturally or due to human interference.

OT: It’s been said the Manson murder news footage was shown by LaVey to the early followers of the church and that they were encouraged to cheer when the stabbing murder of Sharon Tate, a young pregnant woman, was reported. Is this at all true; and if so, what exactly was being celebrated about this whole episode?

PHG: That is an incorrect account. On August 8, 1988, Zeena, “Schreck,” and their then current cronies did a public performance intended to shock people at a San Francisco theatre which included the showing of a film by “John Aes-Nihil” titled MANSON FAMILY MOVIES ( That movie is shot in an intentionally amateurish style meant to be viewed as if the murderers filmed their own crimes. Some audience members of that sparsely-attended event applauded the scene of the killings, but we have no idea what motivated such a response nor who were the few who responded in that manner. I enjoy Sharon Tate’s film performances and consider it horrific that she and her unborn child were murdered. Satanists agree that murderers should be punished to the full extent of the law, not celebrated.

OT: LaVey defined Satanism as such: “The Church of Satan is an organization which is comprised of Satanists, who because of their abilities and lifestyles reflect a higher than average human potential.” With respect to this description, by whose gauge are these potentials measured by and against; and what statistics does the church hold onto to prove this claim? And to expand, what “human potentials” exactly was LaVey referring to (ie. mathematical, physical, scientific, social, spiritual, etc.)?

PHG: Over the years we’ve noted that many who join the Church of Satan are people who cultivate their creative abilities to the best extent they can achieve. Satanism values both creativity and productivity as general human behaviors worthy of cultivation, but in such endeavors we expect people to evaluate themselves based on their individual capacities. We do not attempt to establish strict criteria, since that would be meaningless and not supportive of individualism. So long as each Satanist self-judges their efforts to develop whatever potentials they possess, then that is encouraged by our philosophy. They then judge the works of others based on their own standards. Judge and be prepared to be judged is a Satanic perspective, but each individual’s personal standards are the measure.

Satanism embraces the development of positive individual human capacities, though from your list above we do not think there are spiritual realms, so if you mean being contemplative, reflective, and thoughtful, we’d certainly endorse that as a worthwhile pursuit. In our observation of people around us, many philosophies do not seem to offer our encouragement for self-development and often they promote acquiescence to the authority of their belief system, rather than self-expression or self-realization.

OT: Members of your church seem to constantly use the word “illuminated” in interviews to describe their knowledge of nature, the inner workings of society, and so on, much like the gnostics of the early first and second centuries used the word. Lately the most popular theme in conspiracy theorists’ circles, which are larger now than they have ever been, and in social media, is the idea of the “New World Order,” otherwise called the Illuminati, who is generally depicted as a “Satanic” organization involved in child abuse, mass manipulation, and basically running the world by tyrannical means stemming from a deep belief in occult philosophy. It must be asked if your church believes the Illuminati to be a real entity or a myth today; and if you believe it to be a real functioning entity, are you, by which I mean your official church, connected with it in any way?

PHG: I don’t know where you’ve seen the word “illuminated” used “constantly” amongst our members or representatives. In the very many interviews that both Anton LaVey and I have done it has occurred infrequently. The Church of Satan is not a part of the Illuminati. Historical records show that there was an occult society founded in 1776 in Germany called the Bavarian Illuminati. It was modeled after Freemasonry and its members considered themselves freethinkers. It was not a part of Satanism, which did not exist as a codified philosophy then, and it is long gone, having lasted about a decade. Current legends about some global conspiratorial organization we consider to be alarmist fantasy.

OT: Who are some past celebrities and public figures belonging to your church and who are some present public figures?

PHG: We do not “out” members, celebrities or otherwise. Those who have been open to the public about their affiliation have included performers Jayne Mansfield, Sammy Davis, Jr., King Diamond, Marc Almond, and Marilyn Manson. Public figures who are members, especially those holding elected office, often keep their affiliation private as general misunderstanding of our philosophy would hinder their pursuits.

OT: On your website there is a page dedicated to the Pentagram which describes a book from the First Century known as the Testament of Solomon, about which you say:  “This text…relates that Solomon had a ring inscribed with that symbol which gave to him the ability to call forth demons and to have them work his will.” This is stated pretty matter of fact. So, first of all, given the fact that this book was written, according to your website, around 500-1000 years after Solomon’s biblically recorded death, do you have any historical evidence you could reference to show a man such as Solomon actually existed; and the second part to that question would be: What do you mean when you say, “call forth demons…to have them work his will”?

PHG: Paraphrased quoting from a text claiming that a mythologized version of a quasi-historical figure could perform sorcery does not mean that we endorse such beliefs, just as referencing a passage from Hitler’s Mein Kampf would not automatically suggest that one condones such points of view. LaVey states in The Satanic Bible that grimoires such as this are “esoteric gibberish.” As said before, we are an atheist philosophy and we thus do not believe in gods, devils, angels or demons. To us those are childish fairy-tales believed only by the gullible.

OT: What is the story behind Anton LaVey’s daughter leaving and denouncing the church?

PHG: As mentioned above, LaVey’s daughter Zeena and her husband, “Nikolas Schreck” were attempting to force Anton LaVey into retirement so that they could take over the organization. They failed and thus moved to Europe to first create an unsuccessful fascism-flavored “Werewolf Order.” They then joined Michael Aquino’s Temple of Set, which is a theist religion believing that an ancient Egyptian deity actually exists and is in communication with its followers. Zeena eventually became the High Priestess of that group before departing to then create a more “orthodox Sethian” organization. Apparently that too expired and currently I think she is claiming to be some sort of Buddhist. It is important to note that Zeena considered her own birth to have been “magically destined” and this, along with her theism, are ideas utterly incompatible with the Satanism founded by her father. Thus her departure due to philosophical differences was assured. Her husband’s dwelling on the Third Reich and his obsession with Charles Manson were not supported by Anton LaVey, who despised being linked with Hitler (a collectivist totalitarian) and Manson (a life long loser and common criminal).

The presentations by Zeena and “Schreck” do not accurately communicate the philosophy of the Church of Satan, neither then nor now.

OT: What is the overall aim of your church?

PHG: Our specific goal is to accurately present our philosophy to any who are interested in it. Our web site and our literature serve this purpose. The published translations of Anton LaVey’s books and my own book and the numerous interviews and presentations of our representatives further that effort. Additionally, the creative endeavors of our members continue to embody the richness of Satanism as a means for a positive life before our global audience.

OT: What are some ways people can learn more about the Church of Satan?

PHG: They can begin by thoroughly reading, which has a great deal of information available for free. If their interest is stimulated, then next read Anton LaVey’s The Satanic Bible and my own The Satanic Scriptures before then going on to the rest of LaVey’s writings as well as the efforts of our other representatives which are listed on our Sources page (

OT: Thank you very much for your time. It is much appreciated.

—Olan Thomas

PHG: Thank you for the opportunity to clarify a number of issues.

—Magus Peter H. Gilmore

By Olan Thomas of

Special thanks to Peter Gilmore for taking the time to speak with us; it was and is much appreciated.

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11 thoughts on “Truth Behind Religion Series Ep. 2: Inside the Church of Satan (Interview With Magus Peter H. Gilmore)

  1. I can’t help but to notice the constant “LaVay” typo throughout the page. Also, maybe it’s just me, but a lot of the later questions seem to come off as loaded and rather desperate “gotcha!” kind of questions in the form of “How can you believe in X if you also say Y?”. Thankfully, Gimore does a great job here thoroughly debunking those sorts of arguments and misconceptions, as well as answering the predictable Satanism questions (theism, ritual, etc.) that the COS has been already been answering in just about every interview over the past 50 years. Over all, great interview!

  2. I, too, feel like certain questions were designed as an attempt to make The Church of Satan appear as a hypocritical organization. Magus Gilmore, however, aptly answered the questions with perfect logic and came off as a very intelligent individual.

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