The following was first published in 1975
c.e. in response to a number of vitriolic attacks against me
by various Satanists. In 1992, I was once again the target of
a Satanic poison pen campaign, caused by the publishing of my
essay The Enemies of Our Enemies (which
should be read in conjunction with this). In 1996, I decided
to update this essay and to make it available once again to the
Neopagan community. Now, its 2001, were on the Net,
and I continue to get nasty mail from Satanists/Setanists, only
now its obscene email!
By the way, for those who never caught
the reference, this essays title was a take-off on a famous
essay by Israel Regardie, called My
In the city of Berkeley, California, there
is a large T-shaped intersection at the main southern entrance
to the campus of the University of California, where I enrolled
as a sophomore in the fall of 1967, at the tender age of 17.
Here, where Telegraph Avenue runs north into the east-west Bancroft
Avenue, there is a large expanse of brick sidewalk between the
traffic on Bancroft and the short cement pillars that mark the
entry into the plaza between Sproul Hall (the administration
building) and the Student Union. It was on those bricks that
I spent many leisure hours heckling the preachers who held court
there in the late 1960s.
On a small soapbox (yes, a real, genuine soapbox),
Holy Hubert Lindsey, gap-toothed, flaming-haired
and loud mouthed, would hold forth to the multitudes about how
sinful they all were. Mr. and Mrs. Tieman, a middle aged couple,
would hold up large white posters covered with alternating lines
of red and black magic marker, that told us how sinful and evil
we were, while they sang hymns over a small loudspeaker. Off
to one corner, the Krishna Consciousness devotees would bang
away at their drums and chant on and on and on. Various Jesus
Freaks would wander around accosting students and subjecting
them to impromptu sermons (all carefully memorized). Scientologists
would hand out tracts and Marxists passed out picket signs. It
was all marvelously exciting.
Naturally, the favorite sport of many Berkeley
students was Lets heckle the religion nuts!
As a new transfer student with an already strongly developed
interest in magic and religion, I jumped right in with my fellows
(almost all male) and started bugging the preachers. However,
I noticed after a few months that our heckling had very little
effect except our own diminishing amusement. The evangelists
were immune to all the standard methods of heckling the
catcalls and philosophical paradoxes rolled off them like water
off a ducks back. The evangelical, gospel-spouting
approach seemed impervious to all logic and reason. It was in
my third quarter at Cal that inspiration hit me.
On a beautiful Spring afternoon in March 1968,
I arrived at the corner of Bancroft and Telegraph with a small
platform, painted black, a small loudspeaker, also painted black
and a piece of black posterboard with alternating lines of red
and white lettering. The top line on my sign said The Devils
Advocate. It is impossible to adequately describe the horror
and dismay of the preachers as I stood up on my platform, dressed
all in black, and began a loud, long, sonorous sermon in my best
southern accent on behalf of the Christian Devil.
What I was preaching that afternoon was what
I have since come to call Liberal Heterodox Satanism.
I preached the Devil as Lucifer, the Light Bearer,
champion of the intellect against repressive tyrannies on the
one hand, and the original party animal on the other
sort of a combination of Prometheus, Bacchus and Pan.
I had a Hell of a good time flaying my audiences
for not being sinful enough, and for listening to the preachers.
Inside of five minutes there was an audience around my platform
larger than any of the evangelists had every raised. Some of
them pretended to heckle me (and a few Jesus People
actually did), but all their arguments were swept aside by classic
That day, and for many days thereafter, I
practiced the art of improvisational street theater, using all
the standard evangelical lines and parables to ridicule and confuse
the preachers. I had been at my platform less than a week when
a young woman came up to me and said, in a deliberately erotic
voice, Hi. Im a Witch. Would you like to join
the Church of Satan? You sound like youd be perfect.
Since she was rather pretty I quickly replied,
Hi. Whats the Church of Satan?
Its the famous Satanic
Church run by Anton LaVey in San Francisco, she explained.
Never heard of him, I replied
Well, youll like him. Hes
into just the same things you are. Why dont you
go see him? she said, handing me a card with his address
and giving me a smoldering look that promised much.
So I went to see him. His hokey black house
with the gothic furnishings has been described so many times
by reporters that I wont bother. Suffice it to say
that I met the man and liked him very much. He was friendly,
smooth talking, played the organ beautifully, and promised me
much assistance in my endeavors to torment the campus evangelists.
I was invited to join the Church, membership fees were waived,
and I was invited to attend his lecture series for free! (The
waiving of those fees, as well as those for the weekly meetings,
I learned later was almost unheard of.) He handed me a bunch
of literature from his Church to hand out and I went back to
Berkeley bemused and intrigued by what I was getting into.
Well, three months went by. One of the members
of the Church made me a more powerful loudspeaker and thousands
of LaVeys tracts were printed up and handed out.
I eventually built a large black throne on wheels, with a tape
recorder, microphone and umbrella holder to keep the sun off
my head. I called this my Sinmobile, and wheeled
it across campus every day to the evangelical corner, so that
I could preach in comfort. In short, I really had a lot of fun
During this time, I became a regular at the
Church of Satan. I attended LaVeys lectures, went
to his Friday night rituals, and quickly became one of his regular
altar boys and a Satanic Minister. Ill
never forget the evening when I decided to ad lib some fake Enochian
invocations during one of the ceremonies. I dramatically intoned
a lot of gibberish, using the same guttural tones that Anton
always used, and everyone in the ritual acted very impressed.
Afterwards, I asked Anton, Howd you like my
Enochian? and he gave me a look that would have melted
sheetrock. He did not, however, warn me of the dangers of mucking
with this ceremonial language, as any real Enochian magician
would have done out of sheer self-preservation (since they all
believe that it is a terribly powerful magical tongue), nor did
he complain that I had ruined his magical intent, as he would
have done if he had actually been doing any magic. It was at
that point that I realized two important things about Anton:
he really didnt know very much about Enochian and
he wasnt actually trying to do magic in his supposedly
magical rites. I began to wonder if he even knew how.
But I continued to hang out at the Church,
discussing magic, philosophy and Satanic theology with Anton
and the other members and trying (unsuccessfully) to seduce some
of the rare young women in the Church. Occasionally I would even
flirt with Antons teenaged daughter which
really flipped him out, despite the fact that she wouldnt
give me the time of day. I never was able to figure out whether
he was jealous, worried about protecting her virtue, or concerned
that my commie attitudes might be contagious.
At one point that spring, some friends of
Antons showed up with cameras and started filming
bits and pieces of faked-up rituals. Since I was still an enthusiastic
ritualist, I was drafted to play various silly parts in these.
I climbed into a coffin with a naked woman while wearing a bishops
costume, stabbed a poppet with a knife, asked the high priest
(Anton, in his Red Devil costume) for Satanic blessings, etc.
I cant remember any of the dialog at this point,
but I do recall Anton telling us that what we said didnt
matter much, since everything was going to be translated into
European languages for the documentaries the men
Well, he was telling some of the truth for
once. Parts of these films did indeed wind up in documentaries,
such as The Occult Experience, but those parts were
in English. These are the films that people in the Neopagan community
see every couple of years or so, and which shock them so much
apparently they cant see that Im
only seventeen in them, so they write me letters full of concern
or denouncing me for my betrayal of Paganism. The
foreign translations, however, were done for the bits that were
spliced into pornographic movies sold in Europe. His so-called
documentary film producers were actually pornographers, though
the films I acted in were pretty tame. I dont know
about the acting other Church members might have
done then or since, though Im told that LaVey later
earned his living for a few years in the European pornography
To me it was all just another part of the
adventure. I continued to listen admiringly to Antons
tales, though I was somewhat shocked when he claimed that his
huge library of occult books had been swindled from rich widows.
I was more shocked when I realized that he had read only a tiny
fraction of them, and that at seventeen I had read far more books
on parapsychology, comparative religion and the occult than he
had, despite his twenty years head start.
These events and insights did not take place
in isolation, though. Like many other Berkeley students, I was
gradually becoming a long-haired radical. This caused increasing
friction between the rest of the Church and myself. My politics
then were basically left wing/anarchist with a mild dash of Nietzsche.
Antons politics, and those of most of the central
members, seemed to be quite a bit more conservative. Theyd
quote Nietzsche or Hitler or Rand and tell me what it supposedly
meant. Then Id give them what I thought of as a
more humanistic and intellectual interpretation. The overlap
between our opinions became increasingly smaller and I became
increasingly uneasy about my fellow Church members.
Some were bringing authentic Ku Klux Klan
robes and Nazi uniforms for the ceremonies. I was assured that
the clothes were merely for Satanic shock value to
jar people from their usual staid patterns of thinking.
Then I would talk to the men wearing these clothes and realize
that they were not pretending anything. I noticed that there
were no black members of the Church and only one Asian, and began
to ask why.
Then I went away for the summer, living with
my eldest brother in southern California and converting him to
my brand of Satanism. Since he was an intellectual humanist,
this wasnt hard (he became Wiccan a couple of years
later). We had an enjoyable summer, I made a few public appearances
on behalf of the Church, then it was time to return to Berkeley.
Upon my return, I found that several of the
members of the Church were coming to me for magical advice, instead
of to their Glorious Leader. This was apparently the final straw
for Anton. It was early in October, shortly after my 18th birthday,
that I was called aside for a talk by one of the Inner
Circle members (one of the pornographers), about my obnoxious
and deviationist tendencies. I had previously been told
about odd accidents and arrests that had occurred
to others who were purged from the Church, so I tried to be as
conciliatory as possible. But crewcut right wingers never have
brought out the best in me, so I probably wasnt
very convincing. A week later, after the services, I was ordered
to go downstairs to the orgy room.
When I arrived in the sanctum unsanctorium,
I found thirteen people in black hooded robes sitting around
a coffin-table. I was told to stand with my heels against the
side of a mattress that was on the floor, with my head directly
under a strong light. They then began to berate me for my deviationist
thinking. The whole inquisition would have been a lot more impressive
except for two factors: firstly, I recognized most of the voices
as being those of the same flakes, weirdos and losers I had been
meeting all along as members of the headquarters crew. Secondly,
I had just finished reading a book on brainwashing techniques
the same methods that were now being used on me to force
a confession and retraction of my erroneous
ways. My immediate impulse to laugh was stifled, however,
by the fact that I was surrounded and out-numbered by several
large men, whose voices were getting increasingly loud and fanatic,
and my memories of the supposed Mafia and police connections
The smart thing to do was convince them that
I was small fry and not worth arranging a fatal accident for.
I proceeded to faint back on the mattress. Ignoring the fact
that I had repeatedly informed them of my activities as a drama
club member in high school, they all laughed and hauled me upstairs.
Five minutes later I revived and left in a very subdued
A couple of weeks later I sent Anton a suitably
wimpy resignation letter, offering to refrain from all public
comment about the Church and to return the public address system
to the man who had provided it to me (something that never happened,
though I waited two years, because members had been forbidden
to communicate with me although several later did).
I went back to my previous ways, continuing
for two more years the fascinating game of evangelist-baiting.
Several other religious and magical groups recruited me and then
kicked me out for heresy. Gradually, I became used to the idea
that there were damned few groups around who wanted independent
thinkers, and that most of the organizations I infiltrated or
joined (from even before I came to Berkeley) were likely to kick
me out the second I started deviating from their party line.
Fortunately, I discovered the Reformed Druids
of North America shortly after being purged from LaVeys
Church, and those tree-hugging Zen anarchists were just what
the Goddess ordered. Ive been a Druid and a Pagan
Im still amused more than angered
by the cyclical attacks against me in the Pagan press and now
on the Net. Im not sure that my foolishness as a
teenager is particularly relevant to my present character, opinions
and activities, any more than the foolishness of many other famous
Pagans during their adolescence. Shall we all investigate what
Starhawk, Selena Fox, Ray Buckland, Oberon and Morning Glory
Zell were doing when they were seventeen? For that matter, what
were LaVey, Aquino, and Flowers/Thorsson doing during their
teenaged years? (Pagan computer hackers take note, this could
be an entertaining research project.)
Im perfectly happy now, as I
was then, to admit that I was stupid to get involved with LaVey
and his Church, and even more stupid to reveal my precocious
knowledge of the occult and to advise members of the group behind
the gurus back.
Yet any magically- or mystically-oriented
person must be willing to accept that if they experiment or engage
in adventures, they are liable to be made a fool of, be ripped-off
or have their reputation smeared by those who belong to or sympathize
with the Power Elite. I was curious about LaVey and his group
and let them recruit me. I find it difficult to be sorry, although
LaVey expected me to be, that no new members were brought into
the ranks by my efforts after all, my chief aim had been
to torment and fight evangelists and fascists, not to help them.
I said back in 1974 that people desperate
to smear me would inevitably bring up those months with LaVey,
for lack of anything better to use, and that prophesy has come
true several times. The (re-)publishing of The
Enemies of our Enemies, however, brings them out of the woodwork
every time. Michael Aquino, the neo-nazi head of the Temple of
Set, has been especially active in spreading carefully crafted
lies (hes a career military intelligence officer,
after all) about my time with LaVey. His professionally written
disinformation is precisely targeted to make feminists, civil
libertarians and Neopagans disgusted with me, especially if they
are unfamiliar with propaganda techniques. Various other Satanic
crackpots, some of whom were denouncing me many years ago, join
in with equally ludicrous accusations and sophomoric insults.
The primary claim these folks are making (other
than the traditional one most my critics use: Isaac is
a terrible person, dont listen to him) is
that every one of my opinions about past and current Satanism
has supposedly been warped by my bitter experience
with the Church of Satan when I was seventeen. To this very day,
I am supposed to be horribly ashamed of having been purged by
them, and using any excuse to attack these innocent philosophers.
All of which ignores some glaringly obvious facts.
(1) Ive been kicked out of lots
of occult groups over the years. I havent spent
much of my time denouncing entire theological movements related
to them, because most of them werent very representative.
Anton, however, along with Montague Summers and Adolph Hitler,
was a seminal figure in the modern Satanic movement, as even
his enemies and competitors (such as Aquino) cheerfully admit.
So LaVey provides one excellent example of just how shallow,
patriarchal and fraudulent Satanism is.
(2) As Ive said before, you cant
be in the occult community for six months, let alone thirty years,
without meeting a wide spectrum of Satanists, Setians, Luciferians,
Gnostic Dualists, Chthulians, and other proud upholders of the
so-called Left Hand Path. Ive met scores
of Satanists, black magicians and other idiots trying
hard to impress me with how philosophical, evil, and/or dangerous
they were. After a while, the shallowness of their thinking and
the repetitiveness of their dysfunctional personalities becomes
stunning in its cliche-ridden banality.
(3) Im a professional occultist
and a scholar of minority belief systems. Ive read
plenty of Satanic/Setian literature and found none of it plausible.
Ive studied the historical record of how the Roman
Catholic Church invented modern Satanism. Ive read
the work of genuine authorities and found their academic analyses
far more convincing than the self-serving clap-trap produced
by folks trying to make big bucks out of conning the rubes.
My knowledge of Setanists and Setanism is
observational, historical, philosophical, and extensive. Thus,
my comments in The Enemies of Our Enemies that Satanists
and their ilk tend to be fascists, jerks and/or psychopaths
who dont care a fig for anyones civil
liberties except their own, is accurate, historically sound,
and rather mild.
Anyone who bothers to read the trash that
LaVey writes (or rather that he puts his name on he bragged
to me about how he had gotten various members of the Church to
write the different chapters of his first two books for him)
will notice certain familiar attitudes permeating the contents.
His version of Satanism, like the Christian mythology it is a
part of, is racist and sexist. His right wing nonsense is part
and parcel of the patriarchal worldview that Goddess worshippers
and Neopagans abhor. If Adolf Hitler had decided to publicize
his occult beliefs, they would have wound up sounding much like
LaVeys (or Michael Aquinos) writings
though with dashes of libertarianism thrown in to make
it sound oriented towards individuals.
The philosophy of Satanism is
deliberately designed to appeal to the KKK or American Nazi Party
type of mind: all those ignorant embittered failures who are
convinced that theres a conspiracy to
keep them from their rightful places as rulers of the world.
Even the Satanists who consider themselves pre-Christian
Gnostic Dualists still accept the same patriarchal worldview
that lies(!) behind Christianity, dividing the universe into
warring armies of Good and Evil.
Members of the Neopagan community have some
fairly simple choices about how to react to disinformation campaigns
against me: (1) They can read my writings on the topics of Satanism/Setianism,
Neopaganism and civil liberties, and analyze my arguments to
see if they make sense regardless of any biases I might or might
not have. (2) They can decide that a man who has spent his entire
adult life as a priest of the Earth Mother may be a more reliable
source of information than people who glorify the Christian Father
of Lies, and reject poison pen letters/newsgroup posts
as self-serving Setanic propaganda. (3) They can decide to believe
the worst possible stories about me because Im a
pompous, cantankerous grouch and they would like to see me taken
down a peg, regardless of whether the tales are true. (4) They
can choose to ignore the whole controversy as requiring too much
mental effort to bother with.
These last two choices may or may not lead
to (5) cozying up to the Setanists, joining with them in legal
and public relations work, helping to improve their public image
and confirming mainstream fears that Satanists and Pagans really
are the same after all thus playing directly into the
hands of the people who would like to imprison and/or kill us.
No matter what decisions the members of the
community may make, I hope that they will respond in writing
to the various Neopagan publications, newsgroups, and chatrooms
in which the Setanists usually dominate this discussion. Defending
or attacking Isaac Bonewits isnt anywhere near as
important as creating a consensus among Pagans as to what relations
if any we should have with Satanists and other
fundamentalist Christians. That requires strong Pagan positions
to be articulated, Pagan arguments to be carefully scrutinized
in the light of Pagan polytheology, and Pagan hearts to be looked
We dont let Pat Robertson or
Jerry Falwell dominate our internal community debates. We shouldnt
let other Christian outsiders do so either.