Satanism conjures up imagery of shady, otherworldly folk meeting in dark basements performing bizarre rituals. However, a surprising amount of people believe in its ideological beliefs as an alternative religious choice and you may be surprised to hear that some well-loved celebrities (as well as some more notorious names) have dabbled in the practice.
10. Sammy Davis Jr
photo: Allan warren / wikicommons
American entertainer, actor, and musician Sammy Davis Jr became an overnight sensation following a performance in the West Hollywood nightclub Ciro’s after the 1951 Academy Awards. Davis Jr became a large financial supporter of the Civil Rights Movement, despite a somewhat complex relationship with the African-American community, and at one point he was an honorary member of the Church of Satan – although he later converted to Judaism.
9. King Diamond
photo: Cecil / wikicommons
Kim Bendix Petersen, AKA King Diamond, is a Danish heavy-metal musician who is known for his wide vocal range. On stage he uses a microphone handle consisting of a tibia and femur bone in the shape of a cross. Diamond has been outspoken about following the Church of Satan, but sees it more as a philosophy than a religion, stating he cannot reason as to why any religion has caused so much death and destruction.
8. Charles Manson
Charles Manson led the eponymous Manson Family during the late 60s; a quasi-commune who committed a string of crimes including the murder of actress Sharon Tate (and several others). Borrowing heavily from the Process Church – whose members believed that Satan would become reconciled with Christ – Manson preached of an impending race war and believed the murders would help precipitate that war. Currently serving life imprisonment, he has been denied parole twelve times. He will not be considered for parole again until 2027, at the age of 92.
Grigori Rasputin was born the son of a well-to-do peasant in Russia in 1869. He quickly became a religious wanderer, returning only to help his family with the harvest. With an interest in the occult, mysticism and faith healing, Rasputin became a trusted friend of the Tsar’s family. Many of his critics remarked that he had “satanic eyes” and that his powers came from an association with the dark lord. Although there is debate over how much influence he actually had over the Royal Family, it is agreed he played a significant role in their demise. Seen by political parties as the reason for Russia’s despair, a murder plot was hatched. He was poisoned, shot, stabbed, clubbed and finally drowned.
6. Aleister Crowley
English occultist, magician, poet and painter Aleister Crowley founded the religion of Thelema. He declared himself the prophet who was entrusted with guiding humanity into the Æon of Horus. During his honeymoon in Egypt in 1904, Crowley states he was contacted by the entity known as Aiwass, who granted him ‘The Book of the Law’ which his religion is founded on. Although dubbed a Satanic worshiper by the media, Crowley often argued against this, stating he did not believe in the Christian view which allows Satan to exist. A high controversial figure, he was voted the 73rd Greatest Briton who ever lived.
photo: Allan warren / wikicommons
Valentino Liberace was an American pianist who started out as a child prodigy. The height of his fame came in the late 1970s when he became the highest paid entertainer in the world. Throughout his career he won two Emmy’s, had six gold albums and two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. By the time of his death, he was worth in excess of $100 million. He was best remembered for his flamboyant life both on and off his stage, but few know about his interest in the Church of Satan. He became one of its first members and remained certified until his death in 1987.
4. Richard Ramirez
Better known as ‘The Night Stalker’, Richard Ramirez terrorised the residents of Los Angeles and San Francisco between 1984 and 1985. The serial killer used a variety of weapons (including a machete, hammer, tire-iron, knife and a handgun) to kill his victims when he invaded their homes in the early hours of the night. Throughout his teens Ramirez took an interest in LSD and Satan. During his assaults, he would make his victims swear to Satan that they were not hiding anything else of value in their homes. At his first court appearance, he stood up with a pentagram crudely drawn on his hand and shouted ‘Hail Satan’. He was sentenced to death, remaining on death row for 23 years, before dying of complications due to lymphoma.
3. Jayne Mansfield
American actress Jayne Mansfield took Hollywood by storm and became a sex symbol during the 1950s and 60s. In 1966, she visited the Church of Satan with her then-boyfriend Sam Brody. After being introduced to the Church’s founder, Anton LaVey, Mansfield was awarded the title of High Priestess and she displayed the framed membership certification in her bedroom. The media became fascinated, branding her a Satanist and identified her as having a romantic relationship with LaVey. After her death and despite having a Methodist funeral, LaVey would later claim that Mansfield was indeed a practicing Satanist.
2. Marilyn Manson
photo: Rockman / wikicommons
Brian Hugh Warner, better known as Marilyn Manson, is an American musician and songwriter, who came to fame in the 1990s with the release of his albums ‘Mechanical Animals’ and ‘Antichrist Superstar’. Manson is perhaps best known for his controversial image, with many conservatives dubbing him a negative influence on generations of children. He became a member of the Church of Satan early on in his career and was even ordained as an honorary priest.
1. Anton LaVey
American author, occultist and musician Anton LaVey founded the Church of Satan in 1966 and authored the book ‘The Satanic Bible’. He ritualistically shaved his head in the tradition of ancient executioners and performed Satanic baptisms and funerals. As his Church gathered more traction, he became the subject of numerous articles, books and television shows, being interviewed by the likes of Joe Pyne and Johnny Carson. He died in 1997 due to a pulmonary edema and a secret funeral was held, attended by invitation only. The church lived on after his death with Peter H. Gilmore taking over his role of High Priest.