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The DEVIL NEXT DOOR
Church of Satan headquarters in Poughkeepsie
BY ALYSSA KOGON • ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED 10/26/16
The very address of the international Church of Satan sounds ominous…Post Office Box 666. The only thing is, their mail is delivered right here to Poughkeepsie! Yes, The Queen City is indeed the official headquarters to the Church of Satan.
Located in the “Black House” just off of Route 44 in the City of Poughkeepsie, the structure is so beautiful it could listed on the register of historic homes. Until recently, it served as both a meth lab and crack house before being restored to its Painted Lady grandeur by the current owners.
The Church of Satan was founded in 1966 by a former carnival worker named Anton LaVey. Originally based in San Francisco, LaVey held the high seat in the organization until his death in 1997. Magnus Peter H. Gilmore, High Priest of Church of Satan, then took the reins in 2001 and moved the Church of Satan to New York City, where he resided. Finally, an Addams Family-style Victorian home attracted the devilish power couple, Gilmore and his wife High Priestess (Peggy) Nadramia, to Poughkeepsie, where they now preside over The Netherworld.
The foundation of the Church of Satan is not nearly as demonic as it sounds. The story goes that Anton Szandor LeVay (1930-1997) created the largest church in the world centered around Satan in 1966. He additionally authored “The Satanic Bible,” which has sold over one million copies worldwide. Contrary to popular belief, LeVayan followers do not believe in the Devil or Satan but have a rather surprisingly pragmatic and atheistic belief system based around what they feel is man’s real nature of self-indulgence and self-interest. In keeping with this school of egoism, the highest holiday in the church is each member’s own birthday. Believers are their own gods.
Darkly theatrical, members of the Church of Satan take part in religious rites in The Ritual Room, formerly the parlor of the Black House. According to sources, a human skull and tibia bone are prominently displayed, as is the copyrighted church logo of the Sigil of Baphomet; a goat pentagram. Spells are cast as a way to acquire something that they want (like a person or object) or to place a hex on someone. Chanting is often frenzied and the words may seem meaningless to an outsider. There is even a satanic version of The Lord’s Prayer.
This year was the 50th anniversary of the Church of Satan. While most theological organizations openly recruit new members, that is not exactly the case here. There are no chapters of the church or even buildings associated with the group. Members often construct a ritualistic chamber in their own home according to their personal needs and tastes. There is no data available on congregation size, but celebrities from Marilyn Manson to the late Sammy Davis, Jr. are rumored to have been associated with the denomination.
For those who want to become official members, there is a one-time fee of $200. An embossed crimson-colored card will be sent to you so that you may recognize other members. To join, you must be legally of adult age or have a parent or guardian who is already a member. There is a strict “no tell” rule that you may not “out” another associate who has decided to remain underground. Those who do not adhere to this rule face permanent expulsion.
The webpage at churchofsatan.com has all the latest information on the society that you would ever want to know. There are also opportunities to purchase music and literature, including selections from LaVey himself.
Candles, fashion and other devilish artifacts are prominently displayed for sale. And, in case the upcoming Halloween holiday has put you in a demonic mood, there is a handy Donate Now button.
Magnus Peter H. Gilmore