The below article was originally posted in San Francisco newsgroups for Halloween by Jeff Farris, who shares first-hand impressions of Zeena in early life. Farris and Zeena attended the same schools yet have never met. Many thanks to Mr. Farris for allowing us to reprint his article here! An afterword from Zeena follows his article:
Lucifer's Daughter in the Richmond District by Jeff Farris
In San Francisco on California Street, between 23rd and 24th Avenues in the Richmond District, there once was a house that was painted pure black long before it was fashionable or cool to do so. The home was rumored to have a real live roaring lion as well as human occupants, we were warned, who were devotees to the Prince of Darkness himself. Other than the austere and gloomy color, it was an unassuming little home just a few blocks down the road from where I grew up.
A typical San Francisco A-framed, 3 story Victorian, The Black House, as it was known for many years, was the official First Church of Satan and the home of Anton LeVay, aka, The Black Pope and Lucifer’s Great High Priest and author of the Satanic Bible, as well as his family, including 2 young children and his companion, the self professed sorceress and High Priestess, Diane Hegarty. An ex-carnival worker and notable chronic liar, Anton established the Church of Satan in 1966 where it had a run for about 35 years until it was eventually torn down in 2001, only to be replaced, unceremoniously, by a cheap, 4 unit apartment complex commonly known among locals as a Richmond Special. The son of Russian and Ukrainian immigrants who had arrived in the United States sometime near the turn of the 20th Century, Mr. LaVey had finally made a name for himself in the late 1960’s with his audacious ambition to create the first church of Satan ever, anywhere.
San Francisco, at the time, was ripe for such a plan and Anton soon found himself at the center of controversy along with much welcomed attention from the ranks of luminaries such as Hollywood elites, avant-garde artists, and rock superstars of the time. One of his first and most celebrated religious ceremonies held at The Black House was the “Baptism” of his youngest daughter, Zeena, in 1967, when she was just 3 years old.
You may have some familiarity with Anton LaVey, but it’s his daughter, Zeena, that I am most curious about today. Anton, who died in 1997, seemed more like an opportunist and a showman than that of a bonafide Satanist, but not Zeena. She was destined for a much more televised profile than her father, becoming the official spokesperson for the Church of Satan in the mid-1980’s during the days of what is now called the “Satanic Panic” wherein born-again, Christian fundamentalists and the U.S. media sensationalized what they said was rampant Satanic Ritual Abuse all across America, especially towards children. In actuality, there was really none happening at all.
Some say that it was a modern day witch-hunt fueled by rumors and hearsay, but it was not without serious repercussions when innocent citizens, mostly teachers and staff from 19 daycare centers and pre-schools, were convicted and some even imprisoned based upon the fabricated testimony of toddlers and therapists who said they had uncovered memories of ritual abuse after hypnotizing previous students. Basically, Christians giving false testimony and acting more like Satan, than, well... Satan.
Zeena was invaluable during this time, advising police departments throughout the country with a general understanding of Satanic practices which helped quell, at least some, of the satanic ritual abuse allegations. I guess that one could say that the first person to have ever been publicly christened, if I can even use that term, for dedication to Lucifer, could have no other destiny in store for her other than to set the record straight regarding the activities of Beelzebub and his followers.
Zeena was one year younger than I, born in 1963, and we went to the same middle school, Presidio Jr. High, on 30th Avenue in between Geary and Clement. I remember her as a very attractive young girl with sensuous lips and an almost ever present furrowed brow. I didn’t know her personally, but being that her father was a somewhat famous, or better yet, infamous San Franciscan, everyone knew who she was, even I. She got pregnant in the 8th grade, at the age of 13, which didn’t help her reputation at all. Vicious rumors went around school stating that it was her father who had impregnated her. Kids can be so mean but, to my knowledge, not one of them had the guts to ever confront Zeena personally. We were all afraid of her clan and no one was brave enough to start trouble with Lucifer’s very own baptized child.
Anyhow, as the years have transpired, I have kept my eye on the life and times of Zeena LaVey, or Zeena Schreck, which is her current last name. I wouldn’t say that I am a stalker, but I have always felt for her as one would feel towards any misunderstood outsider. I felt bad for her, actually, not that she needs my sympathy and she could probably care less of what I think, for that matter. But I’ve always believed that she was a good soul under extraordinary pressure from circumstances beyond her control. She was a San Francisco kid, caught up in those crazy times, no different than I, but definitely more complicated and dark.
As you can imagine, Zeena and her family weren’t very welcome in our working class, multicultural, mostly Catholic, and Asian, and Russian Orthodox neighborhood. In a 2012 interview with Vice Australia, she explains that she had to transcribe for the SFPD death threats left for her on her father’s answering machine wherein she was to be raped and killed. She was 11 years old at the time. She also states that her father may have haphazardly fallen into the role of The Black Pope by sheer accident and that the Church of Satan was created after a local publicist described Anton as a neighborhood eccentric and “the first priest of Satan.” Anton then seized the idea and transformed it into a religion and that it all took off from there.
To be clear, Anton’s belief system did not include an actual deity or entity that one would call Satan or Lucifer, the Angel of Light. He believed that there wasn’t a devil at all. It was an ego driven theology. Each person is a God, in essence, and the tenets of the religion are almost all selfishly motivated and self aggrandizing. It’s also important to note that the Church of Satan, for the most part, was ultimately a failed venture leaving Anton destitute by the time he died. He sold his soul for nothing more than a limited and fleeting run at popularity, poor thing.
By 1990, Zeena had renounced her father’s church and belief structure, and likewise the Church of Satan vehemently denounced Zeena, commencing a campaign to discredit her name. I don’t think she ever had contact with Anton after that. She claimed that her father was basically a charlatan and a con artist and that he never had the depth of knowledge to be a true Satanist and that it was all for show and celebrity.
Whether or not I believe her completely is predicated upon the publication of the Satanic Bible, which is still the definitive go to resource for anything Satanic. It is clear that he gave that book some thought. Nonetheless, Zeena then applied her spiritual endeavors towards the Temple of Set, which could best be described as a pre-christian, Egyptian mystery religion, but highly influenced by other ex-members of the Church of Satan and the writings of Aleister Crowley. But even here, Zeena failed to find an environment that was to her liking and she resigned from her post as High Priestess in 2002. She then formed the Sethian Liberation Movement, donned with a title that could only be conjured up by an ex-San Francisco kid who survived the citywide pandemonium that the Symbionese Liberation Army caused when they kidnapped Patty Hearst in the early 70’s.
Currently, Zeena is a self avowed Tibetan Tantric Buddhist and she offers counseling services and specifically ministers to victims of extreme circumstances, the socially stigmatized, outcasts, and those otherwise subject to prejudice. By use of yogic, meditative and shamanic exercises, she offers short-range treatment, she says, without having to become an initiate of any particular spiritual path. Like the Phoenix, she claims that she can help you rise from the ashes of difficult experiences, find your own inner mystical resources, and have a spiritual awakening towards a foundation of inner strength.
Personally, I believe in her and I want her to succeed. If anyone has experience of overcoming difficulties, Zeena is among those who have. It seems poetic to me that a young girl from San Francisco, without any act of her own volition, was baptized at the tender age of 3 into the milieu of post-modern sensationalized Satanism, only to come out the other side finding peace and stability from the teachings of someone as self effacing and modest as the Buddha. I sincerely hope that she ultimately finds the peace that surpasses all understanding. As a fellow San Franciscan, I am rooting for her. How about you?
– Jeff Farris
San Francisco, Halloween 2014
Afterword by Zeena:
Thank you Jeff, wherever you are! Though it's true we never met, nor shared any words in those years, I never forget a face and knew it was you, because you still look the same, some 40 years later. You are correct that most people didn't have the guts to speak to me then in school, unless antagonistically. The same character traits usually remain on into adulthood. People who refuse to educate themselves about what they're frightened of, find comfort in remaining ignorant. So thank you for your curiosity to educate yourself, and for your candid recollections.
And, as you alluded to, I have found peace and contentment. When we have peace within ourselves and develop intrinsic happiness and relinquish hope for extrinsic sources of happiness, we have peace and joy wherever, and in whatever, situations we find ourselves.
Wishing you [all] a fantastically Happy Halloween.
REVIEW of U.S. TV show Penny Dreadful cites Demons of the Flesh in reference to a character who appears to be based on Maria de Naglowska, the French magician who led The Brotherhood of the Golden Arrow, known by her followers as "the Sophia of Montparnasse" :
"Evelyn Poole might be based on Maria de Naglowska. Born in Russia, de Naglowska headed to France to lead The Brotherhood of the Golden Arrow, which worshiped the devil with sex magic. Naglowska had followers too, "adequately trained woman" who called her "the Sophia of Montparnasse." According to the book Demons of the Flesh by Zeena and Nikolas Schreck, De Naglowska’s “female acolytes were also known as Sophiales, presented as the vanguard of a ‘new matriarchy’… As in the traditional Vama Marga (the belief that that the awakening of kundalini is possible through sex), the female is the deified priestess in the Naglowska cult. She sexually communicates a potentially dangerous esoteric power to the male, a power that cannot be confronted and sustained by anything less than a heroic disposition.”
"The Berlin-based interdisciplinary artist, who goes by the single name Zeena, is a practicing Tibetan Buddhist yogini in the Drikung, Karma Kagyu and Nyingma lineages. She practiced and taught magic and meditation for over 30 years. Zeena is the Hemet-neter Tepi Seth of the Sethian Liberation Movement. Biographical info about Zeena can be found at Daily Offbeat."
Vedic left-hand path Tantrikas place great emphasis on the vaginal
secretions of the female, ingesting them as the pure distillation of feminine
energy in rites venerating the shakti's vulva. This fluid, called amrita, or "elixir
of immortality" is sometimes believed to be vitalized with magical properties
transformative of human consciousness, an agent quickening the process of
Kundalini, the awakening of the Feminine Daemonic in the male. The female
amrita consumed in left-hand path sexual rites is considered most powerful in
shakti at the time of menstruation, a fact which has sometimes been compared
to the elusive "ruby elixir" referred to in Western alchemical texts as a
medicine for the soul. Erotic statuary in India's celebrated Khajuraho Temple
depicts scenes of ritual cunnilingus that indicate a strong left-hand path
influence. In the Chinese sex-magical tradition, the orgasmic flow of the
female partner's Bartholin's gland fluid was also thought to be a substance rich
with yin, the feminine life-force potable in a physical libation granting
In both the Taoist and Tantric traditions, great emphasis is placed on
the necessity of absorbing the sexual secretion only from consorts
demonstrating obvious physical health and vitality. Illness is said to nullify or
even poison the effects of the amrita upon the adept.
Even within the sometimes austere constrictions of the Islamic world,
home to an ancient magical heritage, decidedly left-hand path sex-magical
traditions continue to be practiced by Muslim magicians. Often these involve
the use of sexual secretions and menstrual blood as sorcerous agents, as in the
societally disreputable but fairly common utilization of sihr sufli, which has
sometimes been described as a form of Arabic black magic. Such rites require
that the sorcerer performs a prolonged act of copulation with a female – as is
often the case in the Tantric Vama Marga, the sorcerer's consort must not be
married to him. It is also considered preferable if the woman is menstruating, a
condition every bit as much of a taboo within Islam as it is in Hindu culture.
At the completion of the act, the mingled semen, feminine secretions, and
blood are carefully permeated into an absorbent piece of fabric. The erotically
charged fabric is then ritually burnt, whilst the sorcerer calls upon one of the
djinn – the demons of Arabic sorcery – to act in his stead in the daemonic
realm. This rite, which draws on the veiled, repressed power of the Feminine
Daemonic surging beneath the outwardly male-oriented surface of Arab life,
is of course considered a defilement by orthodox Islam. As with all left-hand
path procedures, it is the taboo-breaking nature of the activity that endows
this kind of sexual sorcery with its force.
The Aghori's preferred initiatrix in sexual congress is a menstruating
woman of the "untouchable" lower caste, whose menstrual blood mingled
with his own semen is sometimes consumed at the conclusion of the rite.
This Aghori practice has a secular analogue in a modern Western "sect"
dedicated to taboo-transgression; a well-known rite of initiation for the Hell's
Angels motorcycle club decrees that the Angel must "earn his wings" by
performing cunnilingus on a menstruating woman.
When I look at a Loise Nevelson sculpture I think about the way she described eating raisins. She would not eat raisins by the bunch but singly and selectively. 'When I put a raisin in my mouth I know what I'm doing'. This single statement expresses a mindfulness about living in the world that I see reflected in her work.
These thoughts about Nevelson were brought about by reading an interview with her.
“Eliza Swann interviewed me for Arthur magazine in 2011. I loved the conversation that resulted from the meeting of our minds. Inspired by these results, I wanted to document many of the ideas that have been shaped through conversations with close friends of mine.”
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Church Of Satan
Death & Impermanence
Demons Of The Flesh
Dream & Sleep Yogas
Erotic Mystical Practices
Frances Bean Cobain
Photo Gallery (Performance)
Photo Gallery (Radio Werewolf)
Photo Gallery (Zeena)
Photos Of Zeena
Rites & Ceremonies
Solstices And Equinoxes
Sympathy For The Devil
The Rolling Stones
The Zurich Experiment
Zeena As Muse In Art