The birth of the Age of Fire

Reverend Ray shares the history of the often misunderstood Church of Satan, and how its founder went

Anton Szandor LaVey founded The Church Of Satan on April 30th (Walpurgisnacht) 1966. He had neither planned or even expected to be the founder of a new religion but he had, since the beginning of the 1950s, been an iconoclastic explorer of the left-hand path and having worked (amongst other things) as a police scenes of crime photographer, circus lion tamer and paranormal investigator LaVey became somewhat of a character on the San Francisco social scene. He began holding “Witches Workshops” at his infamous Black House on California Street. These soirées became events that attracted a number of notables of the time, including Baroness Carin de Plessen, Dr. Cecil Nixon and underground filmmaker Kenneth Anger. These gatherings threw together business tycoons, writers, artists and even the grandson of a U.S President and formed what became known as The Magic Circle. Symbolising the Circle’s investigations into the psychological effects of demonic geometry, the group evolved into what became known as The Order Of The Trapezoid, which endures to this day as the governing body within The Church Of Satan.

It may come as a surprise for most to discover that prior to the founding of The Church Of Satan in 1966, Satanism as a codified and established religion did not exist. In the middle ages there had indeed been Christian heretics who, rebelling against the powerful authoritarianism wielded by the churches of the time, held black masses as a means of denouncing their faith. But outside of Hollywood studios and the active imaginations of horror genre writers we, The Church Of Satan, are the first above ground organisation openly dedicated to the acceptance of man’s true nature – that of a carnal beast living in a world that offers a plenitude of delights for those of us who denounce the hogwash of spiritual, faith based religions that have made it their avowed aim to permeate civilisation with repressive morals and ethics, serving only to thwart and denigrate the fountainhead of creativity that flows naturally and purely within the human animal.

In Blanche Barton's book The Church Of Satan, Anton LaVey espouses how he saw that there needed to be a new representative of justice. Not some ethereal, mystic, white bearded deity shrouded in divinity but a true human advocate who would stand as a proud archetype symbolising the God-hood of man. In 1969 LaVey solidified and presented the fundamental bedrock of Satanism in The Satanic Bible - still widely available today, it remains the cornerstone and primary text of Satanism. Additionally, LaVey authored a companion to his bible entitled The Satanic Rituals, two books of essays - The Devil's Notebook and Satan Speaks - and his notorious The Satanic Witch.

Anton LaVey died on 29th October 1997, leaving The Church Of Satan under the auspices of his long time partner and then High Priestess, Blanche Barton and the many individuals appointed to the Priesthood Of Mendes. On Walpurgisnacht 2001 Blanche Barton appointed a new High Priest – a long time member of the priesthood and personal comrade of Anton LaVey, Peter H. Gilmore. The following year Blanche appointed Peter Gilmore’s wife, Peggy Nadramia as High Priestess so that she herself could remain in an administrative capacity within the church but also devote more time to raising her son (by Anton LaVey) Satan Xerxes Carnacki LaVey.

Now in our 42nd year and with our epicurean members all around the world, we continue to forward the tenets and philosophies established by Anton LaVey. Having said that, you will neither see nor hear any pulpit harangues from any of us. We do not preach. Rather, we lead by example through the examples we set. The chances are you have already run into our members and not even known it! The Church Of Satan is indeed a threat to the established (and often pious) mores that govern society. But the threat does not come in the shape or form they expect. The iconoclastic individuals who make up our ranks include members of the police force, those serving in the military, professional sportsmen and even government officials. In addition, a great number of Satanists work in the arts as writers, film directors, painters and musicians and over the course of our history some people of note who are, or who have at some point, been affiliated with us include the Hollywood actress Jayne Mansfield, Sammy Davis Jnr, Marilyn Manson and Marc Almond.

True to our maxim that “you can’t nail custard to a wall”, we remain a loosely knit cabal of individuals often staying out of sight and pulling the strings from the shadows.

Umberto Ray is predominantly known as a poet and his work has appeared in magazines and anthologies around the world. His first book, The Blood In My Veins, was published in 2005. He has been a CoS member for several years and was ordained into its priesthood on Walpurgisnacht, 2007.
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I was wrong about Help to Buy - but I'm still glad it's gone

As a mortgage journalist in 2013, I was deeply sceptical of the guarantee scheme. 

If you just read the headlines about Help to Buy, you could be under the impression that Theresa May has just axed an important scheme for first-time buyers. If you're on the left, you might conclude that she is on a mission to make life worse for ordinary working people. If you just enjoy blue-on-blue action, it's a swipe at the Chancellor she sacked, George Osborne.

Except it's none of those things. Help to Buy mortgage guarantee scheme is a policy that actually worked pretty well - despite the concerns of financial journalists including me - and has served its purpose.

When Osborne first announced Help to Buy in 2013, it was controversial. Mortgage journalists, such as I was at the time, were still mopping up news from the financial crisis. We were still writing up reports about the toxic loan books that had brought the banks crashing down. The idea of the Government promising to bail out mortgage borrowers seemed the height of recklessness.

But the Government always intended Help to Buy mortgage guarantee to act as a stimulus, not a long-term solution. From the beginning, it had an end date - 31 December 2016. The idea was to encourage big banks to start lending again.

So far, the record of Help to Buy has been pretty good. A first-time buyer in 2013 with a 5 per cent deposit had 56 mortgage products to choose from - not much when you consider some of those products would have been ridiculously expensive or would come with many strings attached. By 2016, according to Moneyfacts, first-time buyers had 271 products to choose from, nearly a five-fold increase

Over the same period, financial regulators have introduced much tougher mortgage affordability rules. First-time buyers can be expected to be interrogated about their income, their little luxuries and how they would cope if interest rates rose (contrary to our expectations in 2013, the Bank of England base rate has actually fallen). 

A criticism that still rings true, however, is that the mortgage guarantee scheme only helps boost demand for properties, while doing nothing about the lack of housing supply. Unlike its sister scheme, the Help to Buy equity loan scheme, there is no incentive for property companies to build more homes. According to FullFact, there were just 112,000 homes being built in England and Wales in 2010. By 2015, that had increased, but only to a mere 149,000.

This lack of supply helps to prop up house prices - one of the factors making it so difficult to get on the housing ladder in the first place. In July, the average house price in England was £233,000. This means a first-time buyer with a 5 per cent deposit of £11,650 would still need to be earning nearly £50,000 to meet most mortgage affordability criteria. In other words, the Help to Buy mortgage guarantee is targeted squarely at the middle class.

The Government plans to maintain the Help to Buy equity loan scheme, which is restricted to new builds, and the Help to Buy ISA, which rewards savers at a time of low interest rates. As for Help to Buy mortgage guarantee, the scheme may be dead, but so long as high street banks are offering 95 per cent mortgages, its effects are still with us.