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Guest Article

Guest Article, The Satanic Temple

May 9, 2024

“The Satanic Temple: The Lasting Influence of the Abraxas Circle” by Spencer Sunshine

This is excerpted from Spencer Sunshine’s book Neo-Nazi Terrorism and Countercultural Fascism: The Origins and Afterlife of James Mason’s Siege. It documents how Siege—the “bible” of aspiring neo-Nazi terrorists like the Atomwaffen Division—was created and disseminated. In particular, the second half deals with the role played by four 1980s and ‘90s countercultural figures: Boyd Rice, Adam Parfrey, Michael Moynihan, and Nikolas Schreck, who in turn collected a group of collaborators which Sunshine calls the “Abraxas Circle.” The end of the book includes a section about the influence of the Abraxas Circle on TST—especially the infamous 2003 “Might is Right” show.

After its launch in 2013, The Satanic Temple (TST) quickly expanded into a national organization and became the most important Satanist organization of its day. It created a radical transformation in Satanism by carving out a significant space that was feminist and left of center. But despite this, and just as with Satanist groups before it, TST would be dogged by associations with the Far Right—a number of which were directly tied to the Abraxas Circle.

The fact that these connections remain the object of discussion many years later shows the influence of the reactionary counterculture the Abraxas Clique helped launch. Part of this is because circles would go on to function in the absence of direct participation by Michael Moynihan, Boyd Rice, or James Mason. Even the cult of Manson wasn’t necessary. But they continued to knit together a milieu that didn’t just wallow in extremes but was inclusive of open White Supremacists.

A New Kind of Satanism

TST gained significant media coverage when, in an attempt to enforce Church/State separation, it challenged U.S. local and state governments that promoted Christianity. For example, this included suing over a monument depicting the Ten Commandments in the Arkansas state capitol, to either force their hand to remove it or allow a Satanist statue to be placed there as well. But what was probably the most popular appeal among the TST base was their challenge to state-level restrictions on abortion by claiming religious exemptions. (TST fell on the atheist side of Satanism while still claiming legal rights as a religious organization.) Alongside this were standard Satanic events such as black masses. The organization quickly gained a very left-leaning following, including many feminists—although the leadership’s ideology was politically liberal and not leftist.

TST drew in a range of people from different backgrounds: Satanists disaffected with the Church of Satan, participants in other non-monotheistic religious milieus, atheists, leftists, feminists, various counterculturalists (especially goths), connoisseur of agit-prop theater, and a large LGBTQ+ contingent. This new approach to Satanism showed that it could be playful but politically involved and repudiated the past associations of Satanism with the Far Right. But soon after TST’s founding, the truth of that repudiation was challenged from inside the organization itself.

According to Joseph Laycock’s account of the group, the foundational essay laying out the future TST was completed in December 2012. The inaugural event, in January 2013, was not the launch of a new organization, however, but rather a filmed publicity stunt. After several other events that garnered sympathetic media coverage, the first TST chapter was formed in the summer of 2014 and was quickly followed by others.1

TST and the Far Right

However, there was an internal rebellion after it became known that TST’s leader, Lucien Greaves (né Doug Misicko and also known as Doug Mesner), had a less-than-liberal past. The flashpoint was the TST’s use of a lawyer with connections to the Alt Right, but other things came to light as well. Coming in the middle of the Trump administration, this unsurprisingly angered many in the group’s LGBTQ+ and feminist base.

Lawyer Marc Randazza was representing TST in a legal complaint; he was known for defending numerous Far Right clients, including Alt Right neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin, editor of the Daily Stormer. The TST leadership justified the choice of representation because Randazza was working pro bono; furthermore, as a First Amendment lawyer, Randazza had clients with different political perspectives. But it was public knowledge that he had done more than that, including attending Far Right political events and making personal political statements reflecting those politics—as well as previously being fined for unethical professional behavior.2

In the best of cases, it was not a good look for an organization committed to reproductive and LGBTQ+ rights. In the summer of 2018, TST chapters started to split or leave the organization. For example, in their statement upon withdrawing from the organization, the former Los Angeles chapter said Randazza was “not a neutral actor” but rather “an ally to Nazis and to alt-right provocateurs.”3

At that point, Greaves’s past came under much more scrutiny.

Is Might Right?

As disenchant spread, members started to dig up details of Greaves’s past associations with the Far Right. The most damning was a 2003 episode of Shane Bugbee’s internet radio show which Greaves had co-hosted. (Bugbee would be involved in the founding of TST but soon after had a falling out.)

Bugbee was a transgressive artist and publisher who was a Church of Satan priest as well as part of the extended Abraxas Circle. Bugbee had a particular interest in serial killers but also had ties to White Supremacists. Although he was not part of that movement, Bugbee, like others in the Church of Satan, was willing to work with those who were. (However, neither he nor Greaves had contact with Mason.4)

Around 1995, Bugbee had been hired by George Hawthorne to promote the White Supremacist band RAHOWA as they tried to break into the mainstream music industry. Among other things, Bugbee accepted a RAHOWA ad for the magazine of the Milwaukee Metal Fest, which he helped organize, and included the band on two associated compilations.5

Bugbee was also an energetic promoter of White Supremacist, antisemitic and misogynistic book Might is Right, which he first saw when Hawthorne sent him a copy. Already familiar with its arguments because of The Satanic Bible, Bugbee was so taken by Ragnar Redbeard’s book that he reprinted it several times, including editions with a foreword that he had personally solicited from Anton LaVey. Hawthorne also wrote the afterward to Bugbee’s editions and introduced him to Katja Lane, the wife of imprisoned The Order member David Lane and a prominent White Supremacist publisher in her own right. She contributed an editor’s note to Bugbee’s printings.6 (Later editions also included an afterword by the Church of Satan’s Peter Gilmore.)

After the release of the 1997 edition, which included LaVey’s contribution, Bugbee went to San Francisco and met him; according to Bugbee, he was the last priest christened directly by LaVey, and he did his last interview (via fax) in order to promote the release of Might is Right.7 Bugbee also was an associate of EXIT and Seconds editor George Petros, who included a profile of him in the Art That Kills anthology. And Bugbee also worked with Jim Goad, reprinting ANSWER ME! #4 while Goad was in prison; after his release, Bugbee also included him on the Angry White Male Tour in 2001.8

Antisemitism on the Air

That same year, Bugbee met Greaves (then still going by Mesner) when Greaves was looking for a copy of Might is Right. They remained close for years, and Greaves provided art for Bugbee’s 2003 edition of the book.9 But it was a September 11, 2003, episode of Bugbee’s internet radio show of the same name, which celebrated the release of the new edition, which would dog both of them for years. The guests on the 24-hour special, which Greaves co-hosted, included White Supremacist leader Tom Metzger, the Church of Satan’s Peter Gilmore, and Hawthorne (who by then had changed his name to Burdi after leaving RAHOWA). There was no shortage of bigotry from the hosts. Like others in the Abraxas Circle, Bugbee and Greaves’s comments appeared to be a mix of a tongue-in cheek approach and extremism for its own sake—but it also appeared to represent views they held, sometimes exaggerated (as Nikolas Schreck described his own) and sometimes not. None of it, however, came across as things they were actively opposed to.

Bugbee threatened to “get six big niggers” to rape the “fucking fag”
Thomas Thorn of the Electric Hellfire Club, while Greaves referred to “nigger sodomites” and declared himself “an Aryan king.” He also waxed on about the necessity of eugenics, bemoaning the fact that the Nazis had delegitimized the field, and he and Bugbee discussed which Jews should be the object of hatred. When one guest espoused Holocaust denial, Bugbee interjected that, “I hate the Jews” (although he later made exemptions for LaVey and the Three Stooges) and declared Hitler “a great man.”10

After Bugbee played racist speeches given by Burdi while he was still in the White Supremacist movement, Greaves interviewed him. Burdi specified that he no longer held those politics, although he denounced antifascists and said his departure was not because he thought his ideas were wrong but because he “was out of energy” and felt that taking part in the movement resulted in a “loss of individuality.”

In Greaves’s interview with Metzger, they again discussed how to define Jews and then argued about supposed intelligence differences between black and white people. Metzger unsurprisingly held that black people had lower intelligence. Greaves built off this assumption by trying to convince him that there was no need “to enact racial laws, you just have to enact intelligence laws” because a “good segment of the population would have to drop off, you could still do it on an equal level around the board.” Similarly, when Greaves interviewed Gilmore later in the show, they also spoke about their shared interest in eugenics.11 In regard to implementing a eugenics program, Gilmore said, “I think that that is definitely something that that needs to be done… it’s the only way to actually evolve our species.”

2011 Emails and Salem Art Show

But Greaves’s interest in these ideas was apparently not just an artifact of the early ’00s. Internal emails which Bugbee introduced into a court case involving TST show that he and Greaves talked about making a new version of Might is Right in 2011. Greaves said it could incorporate “current science regarding altruism, collectivism, and general behavior”—but then use it to show how others can be manipulated into violence. “A manual for coercion and manipulation. More evil than the first book by orders of magnitude.”12

Similar was an email exchange posted on a website critical of TST. Dated June 2013—after TST was already off and running—it referred to the earlier discussion about updating Might is Right. Although now the selling points of coercion and manipulation were absent, both Greaves and Bugbee downplayed the book’s antisemitic elements (according to Greaves, it merely talked about “Jews in an ambiguous fashion that I took to mean religious practitioners”) while arguing for a “TST version of this book.” (Almost a decade later, Greaves said the new version was intended to be a repudiation of the arguments in the original.)13

Another link to the Abraxas Clique was an October 2015 art show, which was the first event at the TST headquarters in Salem, Massachusetts. (However, it had not formally opened yet.) The event celebrated a new Feral House release about William Mortensen, a photographer who influenced LaVey. The book itself was co-edited by Siege editor and publisher Michael Moynihan, and the show was curated by Adam Parfrey, who spoke at the opening.14 While Moynihan didn’t attend, former American Front leader James Porrazzo did. Parfrey made sure to openly brag on the Feral House website about the presence of both the former Nazi skinhead leader and his wife, with whom he posed for photographs.15

Greaves had previously met Parfrey and provided some assistance with a Feral House book on the Process Church, a 1960s religious group. Greaves also said he was at the Salem show either before or after Parfrey’s talk, although he was not present for it. After Parfrey’s death in 2018, Greaves tweeted that he was “Honored to have known him.” Later, he said that at the time he was unfamiliar with Parfrey’s more racist statements.16

Anti-Antifa, But Free Speech for Fascists

Greaves had always positioned himself and TST as supporters of free speech. But after the new revelations, his comments on the Alt Right and antifascists took on a new light, especially since they matched Far Right talking points about free speech for themselves, while simultaneously attacking antifascists.

Even before the Randazza scandal, Greaves’s conduct regarding the 2016 Left Hand Path Consortium had already made antifascists distrustful. Bowing to community pressure, the fascist Augustus Invictus was removed from the event’s speaker list. (Invictus had previously acted as a lawyer for arrested American Front members who were in the anti-Porrazzo faction. At the time of the Consortium, Invictus was scheduled to speak at a National Socialist Movement event, and the next year he was also slated to speak at the Charlottesville rally.) In turn, Greaves, who was also booked for the event, publicly withdrew because of what he described as “a harmful message in support of censorship.” He further argued that fascism was a legitimate subject of debate because of its ongoing presence in Satanist and related circles—although he held that this was a way to counter it.17

In June 2017, just two months before Charlottesville, Greaves condemned what he described as a “screaming mob of mindless fascistic ‘anti-fascists’” who were “ignorant little assholes.” Conversely, he defended the “free speech” of Milo Yiannopoulos—a key figure in popularizing the White Supremacist wing of the Alt Right and bringing it into an alliance with mainstream Trumpism—without any such negative language. He even went so far as to dismiss the content of Yiannopoulos’s views entirely (“I still don’t give a shit about what he’s saying”) rather than challenging them, as he had previously advocated.18

Although he later admitted his information was incorrect, in June 2019 Greaves repeated the false claim that Far Right disinformation peddler Andy Ngo was the victim of a concrete milkshake thrown at him at a demonstration; Greaves used it as yet another opportunity to take a swipe at antifascists. Again, he did not say negative things about the Far Right actor in question. Later, Greaves said that the reason for attacking the antifascist Left for violating free speech was because his audience was left-leaning; he also said he defended the free speech of leftists and antifascists.19


Both Greaves and Bugbee have since publicly apologized for their words and actions in the ’00s and specifically for the 2003 radio show. Bugbee said he was particularly taken aback when Alt Right members contacted him to tell him how Might is Right inspired them. He has also admitted that working with Hawthorne was a mistake and made clear that he is neither a White Supremacist nor adjacent to those politics anymore.20

Greaves has apologized for the broadcast and renounced the views he had expressed on the 2003 show. Calling his younger self “an ignorant kid with a lot of outrage and a big idiot mouth,” he said TST itself was a “refutation” of those views and the organization “will always be for anybody, of any background, who identifies with the values we espouse.” A comprehensive critique of eugenics was also put on the TST website.21

Nonetheless, alongside continuing accusations against TST for its internal structure, financial dealings, and lawsuits against its critics, Greaves’s appearance on the Might is Right show has continued to be brought up by critics. This shows very clearly how the toxic hangover of the Abraxas Circle has not yet subsided.22

While TST caused a sea change in modern Satanism, one of the ironies of the fights within the organization is that it also helped propel an explicitly left-wing and antifascist Satanism among the breakaway factions. They, in turn, have helped push forward a critical examination of Nazi-Satanism. This has not just included struggling with Satanism’s past, but also identifying individuals, especially in the Church of Satan, linked to those politics in the present. This has included Moynihan’s friend David E. Williams as well as Jack Donovan, an important figure during the early period of the Alt Right.23

And so the battle over the politics of modern Satanism rages on.


1 Joseph P. Laycock, Speak of the Devil: How the Satanic Temple Is Changing the Way We Talk About Religion (New York: Oxford University Press, 2020), ebook, chapter 2.

2 Luke O’Brien, “Alex Jones’ Lawyer Violated Legal Ethics By Soliciting Porn Bribes. Just How Dirty Is Marc Randazza?,” HuffPost, December 27, 2018, www.huffpost.com/entry/alex-jones-lawyer-marc-randazza_n_5c1c283ae4b08aaf7a86b9e4.

3 Anna Merlan, “The Satanic Temple Is Engulfed in a Civil War Over a Decision to Hire an Attorney With a Stable of Alt-Right Clients,” Jezebel, August 7, 2018, https://jezebel.com/the-satanic-temple-is-engulfed-in-a-civil-war-over-a-de-1828130997; Joe Mullin, “Bribery, Gay Porn, and Copyright Trolls: The Rise and Fall of Lawyer Marc Randazza: Arbiter Says Randazza ‘Negotiated’ a Bribe, Lied to Employer, and Must Pay $600k,” Ars Technica, November 5, 2015, https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2015/11/how-copyright-lawyer-marc-randazza-got-famous-lost-friends-and-went-broke.

4 Shane Bugbee, phone interview with author, September 13, 2021; Lucien Greaves, phone interview with author, January 24, 2022.

5 Bugbee interview with author; RAHOWA, “The Snow Fell” on the Milwaukee Metal Music Mania 1995 and “Might is Right,” Milwaukee’s Metal Music Mania #3 (Mike Hunt Music, n.d.). www.discogs.com/release/8179798-Various-Milwaukee-Metal-Music-Mania-1995, www.discogs.com/release/14177279-Various-Milwaukees-Metal-Music-Mania-3.

6 Bugbee interview with author; Redbeard, Might is Right (Chicago: M.H.P. & Co., 1996/1997).

7 Bugbee interview with author; Shane & Amy Bugbee, “The Doctor Is in…” (interview with LaVey), Church of Satan, www.churchofsatan.com/interview-mf-magazine (originally in MF Magazine #3 [1997]).

8 Art That Kills, pp. 206–65; Bugbee interview with author. The tour also included performers who did not have these political ties; Amy Benfer, “I Offend, Therefore I Am,” Salon, June 14, 2001, www.salon.com/2001/06/14/angry_males.

9 Anna Merlan, “Trolling Hell: Is the Satanic Temple a Prank, the Start of a New Religious Movement—or Both?,” Village Voice, www.villagevoice.com/2014/07/22/
; Shane Bugbee, “Unmasking Lucien Greaves, Leader of the Satanic Temple,” Vice, July 30, 2013, www.vice.com/en/article/4w7adn/unmasking-lucien-greaves-aka-doug-mesner-leader-of-the-satanic-temple.

10 For all quotes from the show, see “Might Is Right 24-Hour Radio Special,” https://

11 Greaves became interested in eugenics around 2001. His URL for his blog Dysgenics was registered in 2001 and was updated through 2018, although its content was not centrally based on the title. Greaves interview with author; Whois Domain Lookup, www.whois.com/whois/dysgenics.com; Dysgenics.com on Internet Archive, https://web.archive.org/web/20080130090812/http://www.goldstem.com/dysgenics/cgi-bin/blosxom.cgi, https://web.archive.org/web/20181020192351/http://www.dysgenics.com

12 Doug Mesner to Shane Bugbee, email, November 9, 2011, reproduced in “Cave v. Thurston Exhibit 2 – Declaration of Shane Bugbee — Document #188, Attachment #2, District Court, E.D. Arkansas Docket Number: 4:18-cv-00342 Date Filed: November 16th, 2021, Uploaded: November 19th, 2021,” Exhibit F, p.32 in PDF,

13 Douglas Mesner to Cevin Soling and Shane Bugbee, email, June 13, 2013; reproduced at “The Satanic Temple’s Lucien Greaves: ‘I’m an Aryan king!’,” Evergreen Memes for Queer Satanic Fiends, October 25, 2021, https://queersatanic.tumblr.com/post/666056014876098560/the-satanic-temple-crowdsources-effort-to; Greaves, phone interview with author.

14 Greaves interview with author; Larry Lytle, and Moynihan, eds., American Grotesque: The Life and Art of William Mortensen (Port Townsend, Washington: Feral House, 2014); “Salem Art Gallery Presents William Mortensen and Ritual America,” Facebook Event, Sunday, October 11, 2015, www.facebook.com/events/1485820981747402.
Moynihan also contributed to a related Feral House book published the same year; William Mortensen, and George Dunham, The Command to Look: A Master Photographer’s Method for Controlling the Human Gaze.

15 Parfrey, “Against the Modern World,” Feral House, October 16, 2015, https://web.archive.org/web/20190815063657, https://feralhouse.com/against-the-modern-world. The photos were posted October 12, 2015 in the New Resistance closed Facebook group; screenshots in possession of author.

16 The Tweet’s thread includes an argument with the author. @LucienGreaves, Twitter, May 11, 2018, https://twitter.com/LucienGreaves/status/9948558613
; Greaves interview with author.

17 “Fascist Lawyer Augustus Invictus Dropped from International Left Hand Path Consortium Event in Atlanta,” Atlanta Antifascists, March 14, 2016, https://atlantaantifa.org/2016/03/14/fascist-lawyer-augustus-invictus-dropped-from-international-left-hand-path-consortium-event-in-atlanta; @lucien.greaves (Lucien Greaves), Facebook, March 14, 2016, www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=1175397379161206&id=865376096830004, https://web.archive.org/web/20190924005737/https://www.facebook.com/lucien.greaves/posts/i-regret-to-announce-that-i-have-withdrawn-from-my-role-as-a-scheduled-speaker-a/1175397379161206.

18 Keegan Hankes, “Whose Alt-Right Is It Anyway?,” SPLC, August 25, 2016, www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2016/08/25/whose-alt-right-it-anyway; “Never Let Your Activism Be Artless: An Interview With Lucien Greaves of The Satanic Temple,” Haute Macabre, June 28, 2017, https://web.archive.org/web/20171001061537,

19 @LucienGreaves, June 30, 2019, Twitter, https://twitter.com/LucienGreaves/status/1145416498049093632; Greaves interview with author.

20 Bugbee interview with author.

21 Cited in Stephen Bradford Long, “Why I Haven’t Left the Satanic Temple,” May 21, 2020, https://stephenbradfordlong.com/2020/05/21/why-i-havent-left-the-satanic-temple; “Church of Satan vs Satanic Temple,” The Satanic Temple,

22 See, for example, posts at Evergreen Memes for Queer Satanic Fiends, https://queersatanic.tumblr.com.

23 “Meet a Church of Satan Nazi,” five part series, Trident Antifascism, https://tridentantifascism.blackblogs.org; “Into the Devil’s Den: Carl Abrahamsson and the whitewashing of the Church of Satan,” Aleph’s Heretical Domain, December 17, 2019, https://mythoughtsbornfromfire.wordpress.com/2019/12/17/into-the-devils-den-by-carl-abrahamssonand-the-whitewashing-of-the-church-of-satan

Neo-Nazi Terrorism and Countercultural Fascism by Spencer Sunshine
Available at Routledge.com

"Neo-Nazi Terrorism and Countercultural Fascism: The Origins and Afterlife of James Mason's Siege" by Spencer Sunshine
ISBN 9780367190606
484 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
Published May 7, 2024 by Routledge

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