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Satanism – Wikipedia

Satanism is a group of ideological and philosophical beliefs based on Satan.[1] Contemporary religious practice of Satanism began with the founding of the Church of Satan in 1966, although a few historical precedents exist. Prior to the public practice, Satanism existed primarily as an accusation by various Christian groups toward perceived ideological opponents, rather than a self-identity. Satanism, and the concept of Satan, has also been used by artists and entertainers for symbolic expression.

Accusations that various groups have been practicing Satanism have been made throughout much of Christian history. During the Middle Ages, the Inquisition attached to the Roman Catholic Church alleged that various heretical Christian sects and groups, such as the Knights Templar and the Cathars, performed secret Satanic rituals. In the subsequent Early Modern period, belief in a widespread Satanic conspiracy of witches resulted in mass trials of alleged witches across Europe and the North American colonies. Accusations that Satanic conspiracies were active, and behind events such as Protestantism (and conversely, the Protestant claim that the Pope was the Antichrist) and the French Revolution continued to be made in Christendom during the eighteenth to the twentieth century. The idea of a vast Satanic conspiracy reached new heights with the influential Taxil hoax of France in the 1890s, which claimed that Freemasonry worshiped Satan, Lucifer, and Baphomet in their rituals. In the 1980s and 1990s, the Satanic ritual abuse hysteria spread through the United States and United Kingdom, amid fears that groups of Satanists were regularly sexually abusing and murdering children in their rites. In most of these cases, there is no corroborating evidence that any of those accused of Satanism were actually practitioners of a Satanic religion or guilty of the allegations leveled at them.

Since the 19th century, various small religious groups have emerged that identify as Satanists or use Satanic iconography. Satanist groups that appeared after the 1960s are widely diverse, but two major trends are theistic Satanism and atheistic Satanism. Theistic Satanists venerate Satan as a supernatural deity, viewing him not as omnipotent but rather as a patriarch. In contrast, atheistic Satanists regard Satan as merely a symbol of certain human traits.[2]

Contemporary religious Satanism is predominantly an American phenomenon, the ideas spreading elsewhere with the effects of globalization and the Internet.[3] The Internet spreads awareness of other Satanists, and is also the main battleground for Satanist disputes.[3] Satanism started to reach Central and Eastern Europe in the 1990s, in time with the fall of the Soviet Union, and most noticeably in Poland and Lithuania, predominantly Roman Catholic countries.[4][5]

In their study of Satanism, the religious studies scholars Asbjrn Dyrendal, James R. Lewis, and Jesper Aa. Petersen stated that the term Satanism “has a history of being a designation made by people against those whom they dislike; it is a term used for ‘othering'”. The concept of Satanism is an invention of Christianity, for it relies upon the figure of Satan, a character deriving from Christian mythology.

Elsewhere, Petersen noted that “Satanism as something others do is very different from Satanism as a self-designation”.Eugene Gallagher noted that, as commonly used, Satanism was usually “a polemical, not a descriptive term”.

The word “Satan” was not originally a proper name but rather an ordinary noun meaning “the adversary”; in this context it appears at several points in the Old Testament. For instance, in the Book of Samuel, David is presented as the satan (“adversary”) of the Philistines, while in the Book of Numbers the term appears as a verb, when God sent an angel to satan (“to oppose”) Balaam. Prior to the composition of the New Testament, the idea developed within Jewish communities that Satan was the name of an angel who had rebelled against God and had been cast out of Heaven along with his followers; this account would be incorporated into contemporary texts like the Book of Enoch. This Satan was then featured in parts of the New Testament, where he was presented as a figure who tempted humans to commit sin; in the Book of Matthew and the Book of Luke, he attempted to tempt Jesus of Nazareth as the latter fasted in the wilderness.

The word “Satanism” was adopted into English from the French satanisme. The terms “Satanism” and “Satanist” are first recorded as appearing in the English and French languages during the sixteenth century, when they were used by Christian groups to attack other, rival Christian groups. In a Roman Catholic tract of 1565, the author condemns the “heresies, blasphemies, and sathanismes [sic]” of the Protestants. In an Anglican work of 1559, Anabaptists and other Protestant sects are condemned as “swarmes of Satanistes [sic]”. As used in this manner, the term “Satanism” was not used to claim that people literally worshipped Satan, but rather presented the view that through deviating from what the speaker or writer regarded as the true variant of Christianity, they were regarded as being essentially in league with the Devil. During the nineteenth century, the term “Satanism” began to be used to describe those considered to lead a broadly immoral lifestyle, and it was only in the late nineteenth century that it came to be applied in English to individuals who were believed to consciously and deliberately venerate Satan. This latter meaning had appeared earlier in the Swedish language; the Lutheran Bishop Laurentius Paulinus Gothus had described devil-worshipping sorcerers as Sathanister in his Ethica Christiana, produced between 1615 and 1630.

Historical and anthropological research suggests that nearly all societies have developed the idea of a sinister and anti-human force that can hide itself within society. This commonly involves a belief in witches, a group of individuals who invert the norms of their society and seek to harm their community, for instance by engaging in incest, murder, and cannibalism. Allegations of witchcraft may have different causes and serve different functions within a society. For instance, they may serve to uphold social norms, to heighten the tension in existing conflicts between individuals, or to scapegoat certain individuals for various social problems.

Another contributing factor to the idea of Satanism is the concept that there is an agent of misfortune and evil who operates on a cosmic scale, something usually associated with a strong form of ethical dualism that divides the world clearly into forces of good and forces of evil. The earliest such entity known is Angra Mainyu, a figure that appears in the Persian religion of Zoroastrianism. This concept was also embraced by Judaism and early Christianity, and although it was soon marginalised within Jewish thought, it gained increasing importance within early Christian understandings of the cosmos. While the early Christian idea of the Devil was not well developed, it gradually adapted and expanded through the creation of folklore, art, theological treatises, and morality tales, thus providing the character with a range of extra-Biblical associations.

As Christianity expanded throughout the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe, it came into contact with a variety of other religions, which it regarded as “pagan”. Christian theologians claimed that the gods and goddesses venerated by these “pagans” were not genuine divinities, but were actually demons. However, they did not believe that “pagans” were deliberately devil-worshippers, instead claiming that they were simply misguided. In Christian iconography, the Devil and demons were given the physical traits of figures from Classical mythology such as the god Pan, fauns, and satyrs.

Those Christian groups regarded as heretics by the Roman Catholic Church were treated differently, with theologians arguing that they were deliberately worshipping the Devil. This was accompanied by claims that such individuals engaged in incestuous sexual orgies, murdered infants, and committed acts of cannibalism, all stock accusations that had previously been leveled at Christians themselves in the Roman Empire.The first recorded example of such an accusation being made within Western Christianity took place in Toulouse in 1022, when two clerics were tried for allegedly venerating a demon. Throughout the middle ages, this accusation would be applied to a wide range of Christian heretical groups, including the Paulicians, Bogomils, Cathars, Waldensians, and the Hussites. The Knights Templar were accused of worshipping an idol known as Baphomet, with Lucifer having appeared at their meetings in the form of a cat. As well as these Christian groups, these claims were also made about Europe’s Jewish community. In the thirteenth century, there were also references made to a group of “Luciferians” led by a woman named Lucardis which hoped to see Satan rule in Heaven. References to this group continued into the fourteenth century, although historians studying the allegations concur that these Luciferians were likely a fictitious invention.

Within Christian thought, the idea developed that certain individuals could make a pact with Satan. This may have emerged after observing that pacts with gods and goddesses played a role in various pre-Christian belief systems, or that such pacts were also made as part of the Christian cult of saints. Another possibility is that it derives from a misunderstanding of Augustine of Hippo’s condemnation of augury in his On the Christian Doctrine, written in the late fourth century. Here, he stated that people who consulted augurs were entering “quasi pacts” (covenants) with demons. The idea of the diabolical pact made with demons was popularised across Europe in the story of Faust, likely based in part on the real life Johann Georg Faust.

As the late medieval gave way to the early modern period, European Christendom experienced a schism between the established Roman Catholic Church and the breakaway Protestant movement. In the ensuing Reformation and Counter-Reformation, both Catholics and Protestants accused each other of deliberately being in league with Satan. It was in this context that the terms “Satanist” and “Satanism” emerged.

The early modern period also saw fear of Satanists reach its “historical apogee” in the form of the witch trials of the fifteenth to the eighteenth centuries. This came about as the accusations which had been leveled at medieval heretics, among them that of devil-worship, were applied to the pre-existing idea of the witch, or practitioner of malevolent magic. The idea of a conspiracy of Satanic witches was developed by educated elites, although the concept of malevolent witchcraft was a widespread part of popular belief and folkloric ideas about the night witch, the wild hunt, and the dance of the fairies were incorporated into it. The earliest trials took place in Northern Italy and France, before spreading it out to other areas of Europe and to Britain’s North American colonies, being carried out by the legal authorities in both Catholic and Protestant regions.Between 30,000 and 50,000 individuals were executed as accused Satanic witches.Most historians agree that the majority of those persecuted in these witch trials were innocent of any involvement in Devil worship. However, in their summary of the evidence for the trials, the historians Geoffrey Scarre and John Callow thought it “without doubt” that some of those accused in the trials had been guilty of employing magic in an attempt to harm their enemies, and were thus genuinely guilty of witchcraft.

In seventeenth-century Sweden, a number of highway robbers and other outlaws living in the forests informed judges that they venerated Satan because he provided more practical assistance than God.The historian of religion Massimo Introvigne regarded these practices as “folkloric Satanism”.

During the eighteenth century, gentleman’s social clubs became increasingly prominent in Britain and Ireland, among the most secretive of which were the Hellfire Clubs, which were first reported in the 1720s. The most famous of these groups was the Order of the Knights of Saints Francis, which was founded circa 1750 by the aristocrat Sir Francis Dashwood and which assembled first at his estate at West Wycombe and later in Medmenham Abbey. A number of contemporary press sources portrayed these as gatherings of atheist rakes where Christianity was mocked and toasts were made to the Devil. Beyond these sensationalist accounts, which may not be accurate portrayals of actual events, little is known about the activities of the Hellfire Clubs. Introvigne suggested that they may have engaged in a form of “playful Satanism” in which Satan was invoked “to show a daring contempt for conventional morality” by individuals who neither believed in his literal existence nor wanted to pay homage to him.

The French Revolution of 1789 dealt a blow to the hegemony of the Roman Catholic Church in parts of Europe, and soon a number of Catholic authors began making claims that it had been masterminded by a conspiratorial group of Satanists. Among the first to do so was French Catholic priest Jean-Baptiste Fiard, who publicly claimed that a wide range of individuals, from the Jacobins to tarot card readers, were part of a Satanic conspiracy. Fiard’s ideas were furthered by Alexis-Vincent-Charles Berbiguier, who devoted a lengthy book to this conspiracy theory; he claimed that Satanists had supernatural powers allowing them to curse people and to shapeshift into both cats and fleas. Although most of his contemporaries regarded Berbiguier as mad, his ideas gained credence among many occultists, including Stanislas de Guaita, a Cabalist who used them for the basis of his book, The Temple of Satan.

In the early 20th century, the British novelist Dennis Wheatley produced a range of influential novels in which his protagonists battled Satanic groups. At the same time, non-fiction authors like Montague Summers and Rollo Ahmed published books claiming that Satanic groups practicing black magic were still active across the world, although they provided no evidence that this was the case. During the 1950s, various British tabloid newspapers repeated such claims, largely basing their accounts on the allegations of one woman, Sarah Jackson, who claimed to have been a member of such a group. In 1973, the British Christian Doreen Irvine published From Witchcraft to Christ, in which she claimed to have been a member of a Satanic group that gave her supernatural powers, such as the ability to levitate, before she escaped and embraced Christianity.In the United States during the 1960s and 1970s, various Christian preachersthe most famous being Mike Warnke in his 1972 book The Satan-Sellerclaimed that they had been members of Satanic groups who carried out sex rituals and animal sacrifices before discovering Christianity. According to Gareth Medway in his historical examination of Satanism, these stories were “a series of inventions by insecure people and hack writers, each one based on a previous story, exaggerated a little more each time”.

Other publications made allegations of Satanism against historical figures. The 1970s saw the publication of the Romanian Protestant preacher Richard Wurmbrand’s book in which he arguedwithout corroborating evidencethat the socio-political theorist Karl Marx had been a Satanist.

At the end of the twentieth century, a moral panic developed around claims regarding a Devil-worshipping cult that made use of sexual abuse, murder, and cannibalism in its rituals, with children being among its victims. Initially, the alleged perpetrators of such crimes were labelled “witches”, although the term “Satanist” was soon adopted as a favoured alternative, and the phenomenon itself came to be called “the Satanism Scare”. Promoters of the claims alleged that there was a conspiracy of organised Satanists who occupied prominent positions throughout society, from the police to politicians, and that they had been powerful enough to cover up their crimes.

Sociologist of religion Massimo Introvigne, 2016

One of the primary sources for the scare was Michelle Remembers, a 1980 book by the Canadian psychiatrist Lawrence Pazder in which he detailed what he claimed were the repressed memories of his patient (and wife) Michelle Smith. Smith had claimed that as a child she had been abused by her family in Satanic rituals in which babies were sacrificed and Satan himself appeared. In 1983, allegations were made that the McMartin familyowners of a preschool in Californiawere guilty of sexually abusing the children in their care during Satanic rituals. The allegations resulted in a lengthy and expensive trial, in which all of the accused would eventually be cleared. The publicity generated by the case resulted in similar allegations being made in various other parts of the United States.

A prominent aspect of the Satanic Scare was the claim by those in the developing “anti-Satanism” movement that any child’s claim about Satanic ritual abuse must be true, because children would not lie. Although some involved in the anti-Satanism movement were from Jewish and secular backgrounds, a central part was played by fundamentalist and evangelical forms of Christianity, in particular Pentecostalism, with Christian groups holding conferences and producing books and videotapes to promote belief in the conspiracy. Various figures in law enforcement also came to be promoters of the conspiracy theory, with such “cult cops” holding various conferences to promote it. The scare was later imported to the United Kingdom through visiting evangelicals and became popular among some of the country’s social workers, resulting in a range of accusations and trials across Britain.

The Satanic ritual abuse hysteria died down between 1990 and 1994. In the late 1980s, the Satanic Scare had lost its impetus following increasing scepticism about such allegations, and a number of those who had been convicted of perpetrating Satanic ritual abuse saw their convictions overturned.In 1990, an agent of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, Ken Lanning, revealed that he had investigated 300 allegations of Satanic ritual abuse and found no evidence for Satanism or ritualistic activity in any of them. In the UK, the Department of Health commissioned the anthropologist Jean La Fontaine to examine the allegations of SRA. She noted that while approximately half did reveal evidence of genuine sexual abuse of children, none revealed any evidence that Satanist groups had been involved or that any murders had taken place. She noted three examples in which lone individuals engaged in child molestation had created a ritual performance to facilitate their sexual acts, with the intent of frightening their victims and justifying their actions, but that none of these child molestors were involved in wider Satanist groups. By the 21st century, hysteria about Satanism has waned in most Western countries, although allegations of Satanic ritual abuse continued to surface in parts of continental Europe and Latin America.

From the late seventeenth through to the nineteenth century, the character of Satan was increasingly rendered unimportant in Western philosophy and ignored in Christian theology, while in folklore he came to be seen as a foolish rather than a menacing figure. The development of new values in the Age of Enlightenmentin particular those of reason and individualismcontributed to a shift in how many Europeans viewed Satan. In this context, a number of individuals took Satan out of the traditional Christian narrative and reread and reinterpreted him in light of their own time and their own interests, in turn generating new and different portraits of Satan.

The shifting view of Satan owes many of its origins to John Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost (1667), in which Satan features as the protagonist. Milton was a Puritan and had never intended for his depiction of Satan to be a sympathetic one. However, in portraying Satan as a victim of his own pride who rebelled against God he humanized him and also allowed him to be interpreted as a rebel against tyranny. This was how Milton’s Satan was understood by later readers like the publisher Joseph Johnson, and the anarchist philosopher William Godwin, who reflected it in his 1793 book Enquiry Concerning Political Justice. Paradise Lost gained a wide readership in the eighteenth century, both in Britain and in continental Europe, where it had been translated into French by Voltaire. Milton thus became “a central character in rewriting Satanism” and would be viewed by many later religious Satanists as a “de facto Satanist”.

The nineteenth century saw the emergence of what has been termed “literary Satanism” or “romantic Satanism”. According to Van Luijk, this cannot be seen as a “coherent movement with a single voice, but rather as a post factum identified group of sometimes widely divergent authors among whom a similar theme is found”. For the literary Satanists, Satan was depicted as a benevolent and sometimes heroic figure, with these more sympathetic portrayals proliferating in the art and poetry of many romanticist and decadent figures. For these individuals, Satanism was not a religious belief or ritual activity, but rather a “strategic use of a symbol and a character as part of artistic and political expression”.

Among the romanticist poets to adopt this view of Satan was the English poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, who had been influenced by Milton. In his poem Laon and Cythna, Shelley praised the “Serpent”, a reference to Satan, as a force for good in the universe.Another was Shelley’s fellow British poet Lord Byron, who included Satanic themes in his 1821 play Cain, which was a dramatization of the Biblical story of Cain and Abel. These more positive portrayals also developed in France; one example was the 1823 work Eloa by Alfred de Vigny. Satan was also adopted by the French poet Victor Hugo, who made the character’s fall from Heaven a central aspect of his La Fin de Satan, in which he outlined his own cosmogony.Although the likes of Shelley and Byron promoted a positive image of Satan in their work, there is no evidence that any of them performed religious rites to venerate him, and thus it is problematic to regard them as religious Satanists.

Radical left-wing political ideas had been spread by the American Revolution of 176583 and the French Revolution of 178999, and the figure of Satan, who was interpreted as having rebelled against the tyranny imposed by God, was an appealing one for many of the radical leftists of the period. For them, Satan was “a symbol for the struggle against tyranny, injustice, and oppression… a mythical figure of rebellion for an age of revolutions, a larger-than-life individual for an age of individualism, a free thinker in an age struggling for free thought”. The French anarchist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, who was a staunch critic of Christianity, embraced Satan as a symbol of liberty in several of his writings. Another prominent 19th century anarchist, the Russian Mikhail Bakunin, similarly described the figure of Satan as “the eternal rebel, the first freethinker and the emancipator of worlds” in his book God and the State. These ideas likely inspired the American feminist activist Moses Harman to name his anarchist periodical Lucifer the Lightbearer. The idea of this “Leftist Satan” declined during the twentieth century, although it was used on occasion by authorities within the Soviet Union, who portrayed Satan as a symbol of freedom and equality.

During the 1960s and 1970s, several rock bandsnamely the American Coven and the British Black Widowemployed the imagery of Satanism and witchcraft in their work. References to Satan also appeared in the work of those rock bands which were pioneering the heavy metal genre in Britain during the 1970s. Black Sabbath for instance made mention of Satan in their lyrics, although several of the band’s members were practicing Christians and other lyrics affirmed the power of the Christian God over Satan. In the 1980s, greater use of Satanic imagery was made by heavy metal bands like Slayer, Kreator, Sodom, and Destruction. Bands active in the subgenre of death metalamong them Deicide, Morbid Angel, and Entombedalso adopted Satanic imagery, combining it with other morbid and dark imagery, such as that of zombies and serial killers.

Satanism would come to be more closely associated with the subgenre of black metal, in which it was foregrounded over the other themes that had been used in death metal. A number of black metal performers incorporated self-injury into their act, framing this as a manifestation of Satanic devotion. The first black metal band, Venom, proclaimed themselves to be Satanists, although this was more an act of provocation than an expression of genuine devotion to the Devil. Satanic themes were also used by the black metal bands Bathory and Hellhammer. However, the first black metal act to more seriously adopt Satanism was Mercyful Fate, whose vocalist, King Diamond, joined the Church of Satan. More often than not musicians associating themselves with black metal say they do not believe in legitimate Satanic ideology and often profess to being atheists, agnostics, or religious skeptics.[110]

In contrast to King Diamond, various black metal Satanists sought to distance themselves from LaVeyan Satanism, for instance by referring to their beliefs as “devil worship”. These individuals regarded Satan as a literal entity, and in contrast to LaVey’s views, they associated Satanism with criminality, suicide, and terror. For them, Christianity was regarded as a plague which required eradication. Many of these individualssuch as Varg Vikernes and Euronymouswere Norwegian, and influenced by the strong anti-Christian views of this milieu, between 1992 and 1996 around fifty Norwegian churches were destroyed in arson attacks. Within the black metal scene, a number of musicians later replaced Satanic themes with those deriving from Heathenry, a form of modern Paganism.

Rather than being one single form of religious Satanism, there are instead multiple different religious Satanisms, each with different ideas about what being a Satanist entails. The historian of religion Ruben van Luijk used a “working definition” in which Satanism was regarded as “the intentional, religiously motivated veneration of Satan”.

Dyrendal, Lewis, and Petersen believed that it was not a single movement, but rather a milieu. They and others have nevertheless referred to it as a new religious movement. They believed that there was a family resemblance that united all of the varying groups in this milieu, and that most of them were self religions. They argued that there were a set of features that were common to the groups in this Satanic milieu: these were the positive use of the term “Satanist” as a designation, an emphasis on individualism, a genealogy that connects them to other Satanic groups, a transgressive and antinomian stance, a self-perception as an elite, and an embrace of values such as pride, self-reliance, and productive non-conformity.

Dyrendal, Lewis, and Petersen argued that the groups within the Satanic milieu could be divided into three groups: reactive Satanists, rationalist Satanists, and esoteric Satanists. They saw reactive Satanism as encompassing “popular Satanism, inverted Christianity, and symbolic rebellion” and noted that it situates itself in opposition to society while at the same time conforming to society’s perspective of evil. Rationalist Satanism is used to describe the trend in the Satanic milieu which is atheistic, sceptical, materialistic, and epicurean. Esoteric Satanism instead applied to those forms which are theistic and draw upon ideas from other forms of Western esotericism, Modern Paganism, Buddhism, and Hinduism.

The first person to promote a Satanic philosophy was the Pole Stanislaw Przybyszewski, who promoted a Social Darwinian ideology.

The use of the term “Lucifer” was also taken up by the French ceremonial magician Eliphas Levi, who has been described as a “Romantic Satanist”. During his younger days, Levi used “Lucifer” in much the same manner as the literary romantics. As he moved toward a more politically conservative outlook in later life, he retained the use of the term, but instead applied it as to what he believed was a morally neutral facet of the Absolute. In his book Dogma and Ritual of High Magic, published in two volumes between 1854 and 1856, Levi offered the symbol of Baphomet. He claimed that this was a figure who had been worshipped by the Knights Templar.According to Introvigne, this image gave “the Satanists their most popular symbol ever”.

Levi was not the only occultist who wanted to use the term “Lucifer” without adopting the term “Satan” in a similar way. The early Theosophical Society held to the view that “Lucifer” was a force that aided humanity’s awakening to its own spiritual nature. In keeping with this view, the Society began production of a journal titled Lucifer.

“Satan” was also used within the esoteric system propounded by the Danish occultist Carl William Hansen, who used the pen name “Ben Kadosh”. Hansen was involved in a variety of esoteric groups, including Martinism, Freemasonry, and the Ordo Templi Orientis, drawing on ideas from various groups to establish his own philosophy. In one pamphlet, he provided a “Luciferian” interpretation of Freemasonry. Kadosh’s work left little influence outside of Denmark.

Both during his life and after it, the British occultist Aleister Crowley has been widely described as a Satanist, usually by detractors. Crowley stated he did not consider himself a Satanist, nor did he worship Satan, as he did not accept the Christian world view in which Satan was believed to exist. He nevertheless used imagery considered satanic, for instance by describing himself as “the Beast 666” and referring to the Whore of Babylon in his work, while in later life he sent “Antichristmas cards” to his friends. Dyrendel, Lewis, and Petersen noted that despite the fact that Crowley was not a Satanist, he “in many ways embodies the pre-Satanist esoteric discourse on Satan and Satanism through his lifestyle and his philosophy”, with his “image and thought” becoming an “important influence” on the later development of religious Satanism.

In 1928 the Fraternitas Saturni (FS) was established in Germany; its founder, Eugen Grosche, published Satanische Magie (“Satanic Magic”) that same year. The group connected Satan to Saturn, claiming that the planet related to the Sun in the same manner that Lucifer relates to the human world.

In 1932 an esoteric group known as the Brotherhood of the Golden Arrow was established in Paris, France by Maria de Naglowska, a Russian occultist who had fled to France following the Russian Revolution. She promoted a theology centred on what she called the Third Term of the Trinity consisting of Father, Son, and Sex, the latter of which she deemed to be most important. Her early disciples, who underwent what she called “Satanic Initiations”, included models and art students recruited from bohemian circles. The Golden Arrow disbanded after Naglowska abandoned it in 1936. According to Introvigne, hers was “a quite complicated Satanism, built on a complex philosophical vision of the world, of which little would survive its initiator”.

In 1969 a Satanic group based in Toledo, Ohio, part of the United States, came to public attention. Called the Our Lady of Endor Coven, it was led by a man named Herbert Sloane, who described his Satanic tradition as the Ophite Cultus Sathanas and alleged that it had been established in the 1940s. The group offered a Gnostic interpretation of the world in which the creator God was regarded as evil and the Biblical Serpent presented as a force for good who had delivered salvation to humanity in the Garden of Eden. Sloane’s claims that his group had a 1940s origin remain unproven; it may be that he falsely claimed older origins for his group to make it appear older than Anton LaVey’s Church of Satan, which had been established in 1966.

None of these groups had any real impact on the emergence of the later Satanic milieu in the 1960s.

Anton LaVey, who has been referred to as “The Father of Satanism”,[143] synthesized his religion through the establishment of the Church of Satan in 1966 and the publication of The Satanic Bible in 1969. LaVey’s teachings promoted “indulgence”, “vital existence”, “undefiled wisdom”, “kindness to those who deserve it”, “responsibility to the responsible” and an “eye for an eye” code of ethics, while shunning “abstinence” based on guilt, “spirituality”, “unconditional love”, “pacifism”, “equality”, “herd mentality” and “scapegoating”. In LaVey’s view, the Satanist is a carnal, physical and pragmatic beingand enjoyment of physical existence and an undiluted view of this-worldly truth are promoted as the core values of Satanism, propagating a naturalistic worldview that sees mankind as animals existing in an amoral universe.

LaVey believed that the ideal Satanist should be individualistic and non-conformist, rejecting what he called the “colorless existence” that mainstream society sought to impose on those living within it. He praised the human ego for encouraging an individual’s pride, self-respect, and self-realization and accordingly believed in satisfying the ego’s desires. He expressed the view that self-indulgence was a desirable trait, and that hate and aggression were not wrong or undesirable emotions but that they were necessary and advantageous for survival. Accordingly, he praised the seven deadly sins as virtues which were beneficial for the individual. The anthropologist Jean La Fontaine highlighted an article that appeared in The Black Flame, in which one writer described “a true Satanic society” as one in which the population consists of “free-spirited, well-armed, fully-conscious, self-disciplined individuals, who will neither need nor tolerate any external entity ‘protecting’ them or telling them what they can and cannot do.”

The sociologist James R. Lewis noted that “LaVey was directly responsible for the genesis of Satanism as a serious religious (as opposed to a purely literary) movement”. Scholars agree that there is no reliably documented case of Satanic continuity prior to the founding of the Church of Satan. It was the first organized church in modern times to be devoted to the figure of Satan, and according to Faxneld and Petersen, the Church represented “the first public, highly visible, and long-lasting organization which propounded a coherent satanic discourse”. LaVey’s book, The Satanic Bible, has been described as the most important document to influence contemporary Satanism. The book contains the core principles of Satanism, and is considered the foundation of its philosophy and dogma. Petersen noted that it is “in many ways the central text of the Satanic milieu”, with Lap similarly testifying to its dominant position within the wider Satanic movement. David G. Bromley calls it “iconoclastic” and “the best-known and most influential statement of Satanic theology.” Eugene V. Gallagher says that Satanists use LaVey’s writings “as lenses through which they view themselves, their group, and the cosmos.” He also states: “With a clear-eyed appreciation of true human nature, a love of ritual and pageantry, and a flair for mockery, LaVey’s Satanic Bible promulgated a gospel of self-indulgence that, he argued, anyone who dispassionately considered the facts would embrace.”

A number of religious studies scholars have described LaVey’s Satanism as a form of “self-religion” or “self-spirituality”, with religious studies scholar Amina Olander Lap arguing that it should be seen as being both part of the “prosperity wing” of the self-spirituality New Age movement and a form of the Human Potential Movement. The anthropologist Jean La Fontaine described it as having “both elitist and anarchist elements”, also citing one occult bookshop owner who referred to the Church’s approach as “anarchistic hedonism”. In The Invention of Satanism, Dyrendal and Petersen theorized that LaVey viewed his religion as “an antinomian self-religion for productive misfits, with a cynically carnivalesque take on life, and no supernaturalism”. The sociologist of religion James R. Lewis even described LaVeyan Satanism as “a blend of Epicureanism and Ayn Rand’s philosophy, flavored with a pinch of ritual magic.” The historian of religion Mattias Gardell described LaVey’s as “a rational ideology of egoistic hedonism and self-preservation”, while Nevill Drury characterised LaVeyan Satanism as “a religion of self-indulgence”. It has also been described as an “institutionalism of Machiavellian self-interest”.

Prominent Church leader Blanche Barton described Satanism as “an alignment, a lifestyle”. LaVey and the Church espoused the view that “Satanists are born, not made”; that they are outsiders by their nature, living as they see fit, who are self-realized in a religion which appeals to the would-be Satanist’s nature, leading them to realize they are Satanists through finding a belief system that is in line with their own perspective and lifestyle. Adherents to the philosophy have described Satanism as a non-spiritual religion of the flesh, or “…the world’s first carnal religion”. LaVey used Christianity as a negative mirror for his new faith, with LaVeyan Satanism rejecting the basic principles and theology of Christian belief. It views Christianity alongside other major religions, and philosophies such as humanism and liberal democracy as a largely negative force on humanity; LaVeyan Satanists perceive Christianity as a lie which promotes idealism, self-denigration, herd behavior, and irrationality. LaVeyans view their religion as a force for redressing this balance by encouraging materialism, egoism, stratification, carnality, atheism, and social Darwinism. LaVey’s Satanism was particularly critical of what it understands as Christianity’s denial of humanity’s animal nature, and it instead calls for the celebration of, and indulgence in, these desires. In doing so, it places an emphasis on the carnal rather than the spiritual.

Practitioners do not believe that Satan literally exists and do not worship him. Instead, Satan is viewed as a positive archetype embracing the Hebrew root of the word “Satan” as “adversary”, who represents pride, carnality, and enlightenment, and of a cosmos which Satanists perceive to be motivated by a “dark evolutionary force of entropy that permeates all of nature and provides the drive for survival and propagation inherent in all living things”. The Devil is embraced as a symbol of defiance against the Abrahamic faiths which LaVey criticized for what he saw as the suppression of humanity’s natural instincts. Moreover, Satan also serves as a metaphorical external projection of the individual’s godhood. LaVey espoused the view that “god” is a creation of man, rather than man being a creation of “god”. In his book, The Satanic Bible, the Satanist’s view of god is described as the Satanist’s true “self”a projection of his or her own personalitynot an external deity. Satan is used as a representation of personal liberty and individualism.

LaVey explained that the gods worshiped by other religions are also projections of man’s true self. He argues that man’s unwillingness to accept his own ego has caused him to externalize these gods so as to avoid the feeling of narcissism that would accompany self-worship. The current High Priest of the Church of Satan, Peter H. Gilmore, further expounds that “…Satan is a symbol of Man living as his prideful, carnal nature dictates […] Satan is not a conscious entity to be worshiped, rather a reservoir of power inside each human to be tapped at will.[180] The Church of Satan has chosen Satan as its primary symbol because in Hebrew it means adversary, opposer, one to accuse or question. We see ourselves as being these Satans; the adversaries, opposers and accusers of all spiritual belief systems that would try to hamper enjoyment of our life as a human being.”[181] The term “Theistic Satanism” has been described as “oxymoronic” by the church and its High Priest.[182] The Church of Satan rejects the legitimacy of any other organizations who claim to be Satanists, dubbing them reverse-Christians, pseudo-Satanists or Devil worshipers, atheistic or otherwise,[183] and maintains a purist approach to Satanism as expounded by LaVey.

After LaVey’s death in 1997, the Church of Satan was taken over by a new administration and its headquarters were moved to New York. LaVey’s daughter, the High Priestess Karla LaVey, felt this to be a disservice to her father’s legacy. The First Satanic Church was re-founded on October 31, 1999 by Karla LaVey to carry on the legacy of her father. She continues to run it out of San Francisco, California.

The Satanic Temple is an American religious and political activist organization based in Salem, Massachusetts. The organization actively participates in public affairs that have manifested in several public political actions[184][185] and efforts at lobbying,[186] with a focus on the separation of church and state and using satire against Christian groups that it believes interfere with personal freedom.[186] According to Dyrendal, Lewis, and Petersen, the group were “rationalist, political pranksters”. Their pranks are designed to highlight religious hypocrisy and advance the cause of secularism. In one of their actions, they performed a “Pink Mass” over the grave of the mother of the evangelical Christian and prominent anti-LGBT preacher Fred Phelps; the Temple claimed that the mass converted the spirit of Phelps’ mother into a lesbian.

The Satanic Temple does not believe in a supernatural Satan, as they believe that this encourages superstition that would keep them from being “malleable to the best current scientific understandings of the material world”. The Temple uses the literary Satan as metaphor to construct a cultural narrative which promotes pragmatic skepticism, rational reciprocity, personal autonomy, and curiosity.[189] Satan is thus used as a symbol representing “the eternal rebel” against arbitrary authority and social norms.[190][191]

Theistic Satanism (also known as traditional Satanism, Spiritual Satanism or Devil worship) is a form of Satanism with the primary belief that Satan is an actual deity or force to revere or worship.[192] Other characteristics of theistic Satanism may include a belief in magic, which is manipulated through ritual, although that is not a defining criterion, and theistic Satanists may focus solely on devotion.

Luciferianism can be understood best as a belief system or intellectual creed that venerates the essential and inherent characteristics that are affixed and commonly given to Lucifer. Luciferianism is often identified as an auxiliary creed or movement of Satanism, due to the common identification of Lucifer with Satan. Some Luciferians accept this identification and/or consider Lucifer as the “light bearer” and illuminated aspect of Satan, giving them the name of Satanists and the right to bear the title. Others reject it, giving the argument that Lucifer is a more positive and easy-going ideal than Satan. They are inspired by the ancient myths of Egypt, Rome and Greece, Gnosticism and traditional Western occultism.

According to the group’s own claims, the Order of Nine Angles was established in Shropshire, Western England during the late 1960s, when a Grand Mistress united a number of ancient pagan groups active in the area.This account states that when the Order’s Grand Mistress migrated to Australia, a man known as “Anton Long” took over as the new Grand Master. From 1976 onward he authored an array of texts for the tradition, codifying and extending its teachings, mythos, and structure.Various academics have argued that Long is the pseudonym of British neo-Nazi activist David Myatt, an allegation that Myatt has denied.The ONA arose to public attention in the early 1980s, spreading its message through magazine articles over the following two decades. In 2000, it established a presence on the internet, later adopting social media to promote its message.

The ONA is a secretive organization, and lacks any central administration, instead operating as a network of allied Satanic practitioners, which it terms the “kollective”. It consists largely of autonomous cells known as “nexions”. The majority of these are located in Britain, Ireland, and Germany, although others are located elsewhere in Europe, and in Russia, Egypt, South Africa, Brazil, Australia, and the United States.

The ONA describe their occultism as “Traditional Satanism”. The ONA’s writings encourage human sacrifice, referring to their victims as opfers. According to the Order’s teachings, such opfers must demonstrate character faults that mark them out as being worthy of death, and accordingly the ONA insists that children must never be victims. No ONA cell have admitted to carrying out a sacrifice in a ritualised manner, but rather Order members have joined the police and military in order to carry out such killings. Faxneld described the Order as “a dangerous and extreme form of Satanism”, while religious studies scholar Graham Harvey claimed that the ONA fit the stereotype of the Satanist “better than other groups” by embracing “deeply shocking” and illegal acts.

The Temple of Set is an initiatory occult society claiming to be the world’s leading left-hand path religious organization. It was established in 1975 by Michael A. Aquino and certain members of the priesthood of the Church of Satan,[210] who left because of administrative and philosophical disagreements. ToS deliberately self-differentiates from CoS in several ways, most significantly in theology and sociology.[211] The philosophy of the Temple of Set may be summed up as “enlightened individualism”enhancement and improvement of oneself by personal education, experiment and initiation. This process is necessarily different and distinctive for each individual. The members do not agree on whether Set is “real” or not, and they’re not expected to.[211]

The Temple presents the view that the name Satan was originally a corruption of the name Set. The Temple teaches that Set is a real entity, the only real god in existence, with all others created by the human imagination. Set is described as having given humanitythrough the means of non-natural evolutionthe “Black Flame” or the “Gift of Set”, a questioning intellect which sets the species apart from other animals. While Setians are expected to revere Set, they do not worship him. Central to Setian philosophy is the human individual, with self-deification presented as the ultimate goal.

In 2005 Petersen noted that academic estimates for the Temple’s membership varied from between 300 and 500, and Granholm suggested that in 2007 the Temple contained circa 200 members.

Dyrendal, Lewis, and Petersen used the term “reactive Satanism” to describe one form of modern religious Satanism. They described this as an adolescent and anti-social means of rebelling in a Christian society, by which an individual transgresses cultural boundaries. They believed that there were two tendencies within reactive Satanism: one, “Satanic tourism”, was characterised by the brief period of time in which an individual was involved, while the other, the “Satanic quest”, was typified by a longer and deeper involvement.

The researcher Gareth Medway noted that in 1995 he encountered a British woman who stated that she had been a practicing Satanist during her teenage years. She had grown up in a small mining village, and had come to believe that she had psychic powers. After hearing about Satanism in some library books, she declared herself a Satanist and formulated a belief that Satan was the true god. After her teenage years she abandoned Satanism and became a chaos magickian.

Some reactive Satanists are teenagers or mentally disturbed individuals who have engaged in criminal activities. During the 1980s and 1990s, several groups of teenagers were apprehended after sacrificing animals and vandalising both churches and graveyards with Satanic imagery. Introvigne expressed the view that these incidents were “more a product of juvenile deviance and marginalization than Satanism”. In a few cases the crimes of these reactive Satanists have included murder. In 1970, two separate groups of teenagersone led by Stanley Baker in Big Sur and the other by Steven Hurd in Los Angeleskilled a total of three people and consumed parts of their corpses in what they later claimed were sacrifices devoted to Satan. In 1984, a U.S. group called the Knights of the Black Circle killed one of its own members, Gary Lauwers, over a disagreement regarding the group’s illegal drug dealing; group members later related that Lauwers’ death was a sacrifice to Satan.The American serial killer Richard Ramirez for instance claimed that he was a Satanist; during his 1980s killing spree he left an inverted pentagram at the scene of each murder and at his trial called out “Hail Satan!”

Dyrendal, Lewis, and Petersen observed that from surveys of Satanists conducted in the early 21st century, it was clear that the Satanic milieu was “heavily dominated by young males”. They nevertheless noted that census data from New Zealand suggested that there may be a growing proportion of women becoming Satanists. In comprising more men than women, Satanism differs from most other religious communities, including most new religious communities. Most Satanists came to their religion through reading, either online or books, rather than through being introduced to it through personal contacts. Many practitioners do not claim that they converted to Satanism, but rather state that they were born that way, and only later in life confirmed that Satanism served as an appropriate label for their pre-existing worldviews. Others have stated that they had experiences with supernatural phenomena that led them to embracing Satanism. A number reported feelings of anger at the hypocrisy of many practicing Christians and expressed the view that the monotheistic Gods of Christianity and other religions are unethical, citing issues such as the problem of evil. For some practitioners, Satanism gave a sense of hope, including for those who had been physically and sexually abused.

The surveys revealed that atheistic Satanists appeared to be in the majority, although the numbers of theistic Satanists appeared to grow over time. Beliefs in the afterlife varied, although the most popular afterlife views were reincarnation and the idea that consciousness survives bodily death. The surveys also demonstrated that most recorded Satanists practiced magic, although there were differing opinions as to whether magical acts operated according to etheric laws or whether the effect of magic was purely psychological. A number described performing cursing, in most cases as a form of vigilante justice.Most practitioners conduct their religious observances in a solitary manner, and never or rarely meet fellow Satanists for rituals. Rather, the primary interaction that takes place between Satanists is online, on websites or via email.From their survey data, Dyrendal, Lewis, and Petersen noted that the average length of involvement in the Satanic milieu was seven years. A Satanist’s involvement in the movement tends to peak in the early twenties and drops off sharply in their thirties. A small proportion retain their allegiance to the religion into their elder years. When asked about their political views, the largest proportion of Satanists identified as apolitical or non-aligned, while only a small percentage identified as conservative despite the conservative views of prominent Satanists like LaVey and Marilyn Manson. A small minority of Satanists expressed support for the far right; conversely, over two-thirds expressed negative or extremely negative views about Nazism and neo-Nazism.

In 2004 it was claimed that Satanism was allowed in the Royal Navy of the British Armed Forces, despite opposition from Christians.[243][244][245] In 2016, under a Freedom of Information request, the Navy Command Headquarters stated that “we do not recognise satanism as a formal religion, and will not grant facilities or make specific time available for individual ‘worship’.”[246]

In 2005, the Supreme Court of the United States debated in the case of Cutter v. Wilkinson over protecting minority religious rights of prison inmates after a lawsuit challenging the issue was filed to them.[247][248] The court ruled that facilities that accept federal funds cannot deny prisoners accommodations that are necessary to engage in activities for the practice of their own religious beliefs.[249][250]

Excerpt from:

Satanism – Wikipedia

We are using witchcraft, Satanism and magic confesses …

some Prophets are stopped from having sex with their wives, they have sex with a snake

Coming in the wake of self-acclaimed Prophet Shepherd Bushiris stunts that he has called miracles, Malawian Prophet Trevor Kautsire made a rare confession on modern day Prophecy.

Prophet Kautsire (right) with host Brian Banda

In an interview on one Malawian television talkshow that was followed by Malawi24, Prophet Kautsire made the chilling claims that modern day Prophets are not using the power of the Holy Spirit to perform their so-called miracles.

I was in South Africa and I met the who-is-who of the gospel, what they told me is heart-breaking, said Kautsire.

He disclosed that when he was in South Africa he was told of rituals that he had to perform if he were to become a renowned Prophet. Kautsire disclosed that the ritual involved sacrifices that included the killing of family members or church members.

I am speaking this from experience, some Prophets have had to sacrifice their church members to gain fame. You have heard of people dying in places of worship, it is because they are using the people as sacrifices, said Kautsire, a comment which commentators said was referring to the Nigerian teleprophet TB Joshua at whose church over a hundred people died.

Kautsire further said that it was easy to decipher fake Prophets because they do miracles for no important reason.

A miracle is supposed to meet a need, however when a Prophet does a miracle that does not meet any need there is no reason to believe that Prophet, he said. Commentators have thought that he was apparently referring to Bushiri who has been in the news for the walk-in-the air stunt which does nothing to glorify the name of the Lord.

He said that Prophets are using magic, witchcraft and Satanism to perform miracles.

There are some who are told to keep a worm and keep feeding it, the worm grows into a snake and when it comes to that stage where it is a snake, it brings them money. The catch is that one should never sleep with their wife but the snake, said Kautsire disclosing the secrets in the dark world of Prophecy.

See the article here:

We are using witchcraft, Satanism and magic confesses …

Satanism – Wikipedia

Satanism is a group of ideological and philosophical beliefs based on Satan.[1] Contemporary religious practice of Satanism began with the founding of the Church of Satan in 1966, although a few historical precedents exist. Prior to the public practice, Satanism existed primarily as an accusation by various Christian groups toward perceived ideological opponents, rather than a self-identity. Satanism, and the concept of Satan, has also been used by artists and entertainers for symbolic expression.

Accusations that various groups have been practicing Satanism have been made throughout much of Christian history. During the Middle Ages, the Inquisition attached to the Roman Catholic Church alleged that various heretical Christian sects and groups, such as the Knights Templar and the Cathars, performed secret Satanic rituals. In the subsequent Early Modern period, belief in a widespread Satanic conspiracy of witches resulted in mass trials of alleged witches across Europe and the North American colonies. Accusations that Satanic conspiracies were active, and behind events such as Protestantism (and conversely, the Protestant claim that the Pope was the Antichrist) and the French Revolution continued to be made in Christendom during the eighteenth to the twentieth century. The idea of a vast Satanic conspiracy reached new heights with the influential Taxil hoax of France in the 1890s, which claimed that Freemasonry worshiped Satan, Lucifer, and Baphomet in their rituals. In the 1980s and 1990s, the Satanic ritual abuse hysteria spread through the United States and United Kingdom, amid fears that groups of Satanists were regularly sexually abusing and murdering children in their rites. In most of these cases, there is no corroborating evidence that any of those accused of Satanism were actually practitioners of a Satanic religion or guilty of the allegations leveled at them.

Since the 19th century, various small religious groups have emerged that identify as Satanists or use Satanic iconography. Satanist groups that appeared after the 1960s are widely diverse, but two major trends are theistic Satanism and atheistic Satanism. Theistic Satanists venerate Satan as a supernatural deity, viewing him not as omnipotent but rather as a patriarch. In contrast, atheistic Satanists regard Satan as merely a symbol of certain human traits.[2]

Contemporary religious Satanism is predominantly an American phenomenon, the ideas spreading elsewhere with the effects of globalization and the Internet.[3] The Internet spreads awareness of other Satanists, and is also the main battleground for Satanist disputes.[3] Satanism started to reach Central and Eastern Europe in the 1990s, in time with the fall of the Soviet Union, and most noticeably in Poland and Lithuania, predominantly Roman Catholic countries.[4][5]

In their study of Satanism, the religious studies scholars Asbjrn Dyrendal, James R. Lewis, and Jesper Aa. Petersen stated that the term Satanism “has a history of being a designation made by people against those whom they dislike; it is a term used for ‘othering'”. The concept of Satanism is an invention of Christianity, for it relies upon the figure of Satan, a character deriving from Christian mythology.

Elsewhere, Petersen noted that “Satanism as something others do is very different from Satanism as a self-designation”.Eugene Gallagher noted that, as commonly used, Satanism was usually “a polemical, not a descriptive term”.

The word “Satan” was not originally a proper name but rather an ordinary noun meaning “the adversary”; in this context it appears at several points in the Old Testament. For instance, in the Book of Samuel, David is presented as the satan (“adversary”) of the Philistines, while in the Book of Numbers the term appears as a verb, when God sent an angel to satan (“to oppose”) Balaam. Prior to the composition of the New Testament, the idea developed within Jewish communities that Satan was the name of an angel who had rebelled against God and had been cast out of Heaven along with his followers; this account would be incorporated into contemporary texts like the Book of Enoch. This Satan was then featured in parts of the New Testament, where he was presented as a figure who tempted humans to commit sin; in the Book of Matthew and the Book of Luke, he attempted to tempt Jesus of Nazareth as the latter fasted in the wilderness.

The word “Satanism” was adopted into English from the French satanisme. The terms “Satanism” and “Satanist” are first recorded as appearing in the English and French languages during the sixteenth century, when they were used by Christian groups to attack other, rival Christian groups. In a Roman Catholic tract of 1565, the author condemns the “heresies, blasphemies, and sathanismes [sic]” of the Protestants. In an Anglican work of 1559, Anabaptists and other Protestant sects are condemned as “swarmes of Satanistes [sic]”. As used in this manner, the term “Satanism” was not used to claim that people literally worshipped Satan, but rather presented the view that through deviating from what the speaker or writer regarded as the true variant of Christianity, they were regarded as being essentially in league with the Devil. During the nineteenth century, the term “Satanism” began to be used to describe those considered to lead a broadly immoral lifestyle, and it was only in the late nineteenth century that it came to be applied in English to individuals who were believed to consciously and deliberately venerate Satan. This latter meaning had appeared earlier in the Swedish language; the Lutheran Bishop Laurentius Paulinus Gothus had described devil-worshipping sorcerers as Sathanister in his Ethica Christiana, produced between 1615 and 1630.

Historical and anthropological research suggests that nearly all societies have developed the idea of a sinister and anti-human force that can hide itself within society. This commonly involves a belief in witches, a group of individuals who invert the norms of their society and seek to harm their community, for instance by engaging in incest, murder, and cannibalism. Allegations of witchcraft may have different causes and serve different functions within a society. For instance, they may serve to uphold social norms, to heighten the tension in existing conflicts between individuals, or to scapegoat certain individuals for various social problems.

Another contributing factor to the idea of Satanism is the concept that there is an agent of misfortune and evil who operates on a cosmic scale, something usually associated with a strong form of ethical dualism that divides the world clearly into forces of good and forces of evil. The earliest such entity known is Angra Mainyu, a figure that appears in the Persian religion of Zoroastrianism. This concept was also embraced by Judaism and early Christianity, and although it was soon marginalised within Jewish thought, it gained increasing importance within early Christian understandings of the cosmos. While the early Christian idea of the Devil was not well developed, it gradually adapted and expanded through the creation of folklore, art, theological treatises, and morality tales, thus providing the character with a range of extra-Biblical associations.

As Christianity expanded throughout the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe, it came into contact with a variety of other religions, which it regarded as “pagan”. Christian theologians claimed that the gods and goddesses venerated by these “pagans” were not genuine divinities, but were actually demons. However, they did not believe that “pagans” were deliberately devil-worshippers, instead claiming that they were simply misguided. In Christian iconography, the Devil and demons were given the physical traits of figures from Classical mythology such as the god Pan, fauns, and satyrs.

Those Christian groups regarded as heretics by the Roman Catholic Church were treated differently, with theologians arguing that they were deliberately worshipping the Devil. This was accompanied by claims that such individuals engaged in incestuous sexual orgies, murdered infants, and committed acts of cannibalism, all stock accusations that had previously been leveled at Christians themselves in the Roman Empire.The first recorded example of such an accusation being made within Western Christianity took place in Toulouse in 1022, when two clerics were tried for allegedly venerating a demon. Throughout the middle ages, this accusation would be applied to a wide range of Christian heretical groups, including the Paulicians, Bogomils, Cathars, Waldensians, and the Hussites. The Knights Templar were accused of worshipping an idol known as Baphomet, with Lucifer having appeared at their meetings in the form of a cat. As well as these Christian groups, these claims were also made about Europe’s Jewish community. In the thirteenth century, there were also references made to a group of “Luciferians” led by a woman named Lucardis which hoped to see Satan rule in Heaven. References to this group continued into the fourteenth century, although historians studying the allegations concur that these Luciferians were likely a fictitious invention.

Within Christian thought, the idea developed that certain individuals could make a pact with Satan. This may have emerged after observing that pacts with gods and goddesses played a role in various pre-Christian belief systems, or that such pacts were also made as part of the Christian cult of saints. Another possibility is that it derives from a misunderstanding of Augustine of Hippo’s condemnation of augury in his On the Christian Doctrine, written in the late fourth century. Here, he stated that people who consulted augurs were entering “quasi pacts” (covenants) with demons. The idea of the diabolical pact made with demons was popularised across Europe in the story of Faust, likely based in part on the real life Johann Georg Faust.

As the late medieval gave way to the early modern period, European Christendom experienced a schism between the established Roman Catholic Church and the breakaway Protestant movement. In the ensuing Reformation and Counter-Reformation, both Catholics and Protestants accused each other of deliberately being in league with Satan. It was in this context that the terms “Satanist” and “Satanism” emerged.

The early modern period also saw fear of Satanists reach its “historical apogee” in the form of the witch trials of the fifteenth to the eighteenth centuries. This came about as the accusations which had been leveled at medieval heretics, among them that of devil-worship, were applied to the pre-existing idea of the witch, or practitioner of malevolent magic. The idea of a conspiracy of Satanic witches was developed by educated elites, although the concept of malevolent witchcraft was a widespread part of popular belief and folkloric ideas about the night witch, the wild hunt, and the dance of the fairies were incorporated into it. The earliest trials took place in Northern Italy and France, before spreading it out to other areas of Europe and to Britain’s North American colonies, being carried out by the legal authorities in both Catholic and Protestant regions.Between 30,000 and 50,000 individuals were executed as accused Satanic witches.Most historians agree that the majority of those persecuted in these witch trials were innocent of any involvement in Devil worship. However, in their summary of the evidence for the trials, the historians Geoffrey Scarre and John Callow thought it “without doubt” that some of those accused in the trials had been guilty of employing magic in an attempt to harm their enemies, and were thus genuinely guilty of witchcraft.

In seventeenth-century Sweden, a number of highway robbers and other outlaws living in the forests informed judges that they venerated Satan because he provided more practical assistance than God.The historian of religion Massimo Introvigne regarded these practices as “folkloric Satanism”.

During the eighteenth century, gentleman’s social clubs became increasingly prominent in Britain and Ireland, among the most secretive of which were the Hellfire Clubs, which were first reported in the 1720s. The most famous of these groups was the Order of the Knights of Saints Francis, which was founded circa 1750 by the aristocrat Sir Francis Dashwood and which assembled first at his estate at West Wycombe and later in Medmenham Abbey. A number of contemporary press sources portrayed these as gatherings of atheist rakes where Christianity was mocked and toasts were made to the Devil. Beyond these sensationalist accounts, which may not be accurate portrayals of actual events, little is known about the activities of the Hellfire Clubs. Introvigne suggested that they may have engaged in a form of “playful Satanism” in which Satan was invoked “to show a daring contempt for conventional morality” by individuals who neither believed in his literal existence nor wanted to pay homage to him.

The French Revolution of 1789 dealt a blow to the hegemony of the Roman Catholic Church in parts of Europe, and soon a number of Catholic authors began making claims that it had been masterminded by a conspiratorial group of Satanists. Among the first to do so was French Catholic priest Jean-Baptiste Fiard, who publicly claimed that a wide range of individuals, from the Jacobins to tarot card readers, were part of a Satanic conspiracy. Fiard’s ideas were furthered by Alexis-Vincent-Charles Berbiguier, who devoted a lengthy book to this conspiracy theory; he claimed that Satanists had supernatural powers allowing them to curse people and to shapeshift into both cats and fleas. Although most of his contemporaries regarded Berbiguier as mad, his ideas gained credence among many occultists, including Stanislas de Guaita, a Cabalist who used them for the basis of his book, The Temple of Satan.

In the early 20th century, the British novelist Dennis Wheatley produced a range of influential novels in which his protagonists battled Satanic groups. At the same time, non-fiction authors like Montague Summers and Rollo Ahmed published books claiming that Satanic groups practicing black magic were still active across the world, although they provided no evidence that this was the case. During the 1950s, various British tabloid newspapers repeated such claims, largely basing their accounts on the allegations of one woman, Sarah Jackson, who claimed to have been a member of such a group. In 1973, the British Christian Doreen Irvine published From Witchcraft to Christ, in which she claimed to have been a member of a Satanic group that gave her supernatural powers, such as the ability to levitate, before she escaped and embraced Christianity.In the United States during the 1960s and 1970s, various Christian preachersthe most famous being Mike Warnke in his 1972 book The Satan-Sellerclaimed that they had been members of Satanic groups who carried out sex rituals and animal sacrifices before discovering Christianity. According to Gareth Medway in his historical examination of Satanism, these stories were “a series of inventions by insecure people and hack writers, each one based on a previous story, exaggerated a little more each time”.

Other publications made allegations of Satanism against historical figures. The 1970s saw the publication of the Romanian Protestant preacher Richard Wurmbrand’s book in which he arguedwithout corroborating evidencethat the socio-political theorist Karl Marx had been a Satanist.

At the end of the twentieth century, a moral panic developed around claims regarding a Devil-worshipping cult that made use of sexual abuse, murder, and cannibalism in its rituals, with children being among its victims. Initially, the alleged perpetrators of such crimes were labelled “witches”, although the term “Satanist” was soon adopted as a favoured alternative, and the phenomenon itself came to be called “the Satanism Scare”. Promoters of the claims alleged that there was a conspiracy of organised Satanists who occupied prominent positions throughout society, from the police to politicians, and that they had been powerful enough to cover up their crimes.

Sociologist of religion Massimo Introvigne, 2016

One of the primary sources for the scare was Michelle Remembers, a 1980 book by the Canadian psychiatrist Lawrence Pazder in which he detailed what he claimed were the repressed memories of his patient (and wife) Michelle Smith. Smith had claimed that as a child she had been abused by her family in Satanic rituals in which babies were sacrificed and Satan himself appeared. In 1983, allegations were made that the McMartin familyowners of a preschool in Californiawere guilty of sexually abusing the children in their care during Satanic rituals. The allegations resulted in a lengthy and expensive trial, in which all of the accused would eventually be cleared. The publicity generated by the case resulted in similar allegations being made in various other parts of the United States.

A prominent aspect of the Satanic Scare was the claim by those in the developing “anti-Satanism” movement that any child’s claim about Satanic ritual abuse must be true, because children would not lie. Although some involved in the anti-Satanism movement were from Jewish and secular backgrounds, a central part was played by fundamentalist and evangelical forms of Christianity, in particular Pentecostalism, with Christian groups holding conferences and producing books and videotapes to promote belief in the conspiracy. Various figures in law enforcement also came to be promoters of the conspiracy theory, with such “cult cops” holding various conferences to promote it. The scare was later imported to the United Kingdom through visiting evangelicals and became popular among some of the country’s social workers, resulting in a range of accusations and trials across Britain.

The Satanic ritual abuse hysteria died down between 1990 and 1994. In the late 1980s, the Satanic Scare had lost its impetus following increasing scepticism about such allegations, and a number of those who had been convicted of perpetrating Satanic ritual abuse saw their convictions overturned.In 1990, an agent of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, Ken Lanning, revealed that he had investigated 300 allegations of Satanic ritual abuse and found no evidence for Satanism or ritualistic activity in any of them. In the UK, the Department of Health commissioned the anthropologist Jean La Fontaine to examine the allegations of SRA. She noted that while approximately half did reveal evidence of genuine sexual abuse of children, none revealed any evidence that Satanist groups had been involved or that any murders had taken place. She noted three examples in which lone individuals engaged in child molestation had created a ritual performance to facilitate their sexual acts, with the intent of frightening their victims and justifying their actions, but that none of these child molestors were involved in wider Satanist groups. By the 21st century, hysteria about Satanism has waned in most Western countries, although allegations of Satanic ritual abuse continued to surface in parts of continental Europe and Latin America.

From the late seventeenth through to the nineteenth century, the character of Satan was increasingly rendered unimportant in Western philosophy and ignored in Christian theology, while in folklore he came to be seen as a foolish rather than a menacing figure. The development of new values in the Age of Enlightenmentin particular those of reason and individualismcontributed to a shift in how many Europeans viewed Satan. In this context, a number of individuals took Satan out of the traditional Christian narrative and reread and reinterpreted him in light of their own time and their own interests, in turn generating new and different portraits of Satan.

The shifting view of Satan owes many of its origins to John Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost (1667), in which Satan features as the protagonist. Milton was a Puritan and had never intended for his depiction of Satan to be a sympathetic one. However, in portraying Satan as a victim of his own pride who rebelled against God he humanized him and also allowed him to be interpreted as a rebel against tyranny. This was how Milton’s Satan was understood by later readers like the publisher Joseph Johnson, and the anarchist philosopher William Godwin, who reflected it in his 1793 book Enquiry Concerning Political Justice. Paradise Lost gained a wide readership in the eighteenth century, both in Britain and in continental Europe, where it had been translated into French by Voltaire. Milton thus became “a central character in rewriting Satanism” and would be viewed by many later religious Satanists as a “de facto Satanist”.

The nineteenth century saw the emergence of what has been termed “literary Satanism” or “romantic Satanism”. According to Van Luijk, this cannot be seen as a “coherent movement with a single voice, but rather as a post factum identified group of sometimes widely divergent authors among whom a similar theme is found”. For the literary Satanists, Satan was depicted as a benevolent and sometimes heroic figure, with these more sympathetic portrayals proliferating in the art and poetry of many romanticist and decadent figures. For these individuals, Satanism was not a religious belief or ritual activity, but rather a “strategic use of a symbol and a character as part of artistic and political expression”.

Among the romanticist poets to adopt this view of Satan was the English poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, who had been influenced by Milton. In his poem Laon and Cythna, Shelley praised the “Serpent”, a reference to Satan, as a force for good in the universe.Another was Shelley’s fellow British poet Lord Byron, who included Satanic themes in his 1821 play Cain, which was a dramatization of the Biblical story of Cain and Abel. These more positive portrayals also developed in France; one example was the 1823 work Eloa by Alfred de Vigny. Satan was also adopted by the French poet Victor Hugo, who made the character’s fall from Heaven a central aspect of his La Fin de Satan, in which he outlined his own cosmogony.Although the likes of Shelley and Byron promoted a positive image of Satan in their work, there is no evidence that any of them performed religious rites to venerate him, and thus it is problematic to regard them as religious Satanists.

Radical left-wing political ideas had been spread by the American Revolution of 176583 and the French Revolution of 178999, and the figure of Satan, who was interpreted as having rebelled against the tyranny imposed by God, was an appealing one for many of the radical leftists of the period. For them, Satan was “a symbol for the struggle against tyranny, injustice, and oppression… a mythical figure of rebellion for an age of revolutions, a larger-than-life individual for an age of individualism, a free thinker in an age struggling for free thought”. The French anarchist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, who was a staunch critic of Christianity, embraced Satan as a symbol of liberty in several of his writings. Another prominent 19th century anarchist, the Russian Mikhail Bakunin, similarly described the figure of Satan as “the eternal rebel, the first freethinker and the emancipator of worlds” in his book God and the State. These ideas likely inspired the American feminist activist Moses Harman to name his anarchist periodical Lucifer the Lightbearer. The idea of this “Leftist Satan” declined during the twentieth century, although it was used on occasion by authorities within the Soviet Union, who portrayed Satan as a symbol of freedom and equality.

During the 1960s and 1970s, several rock bandsnamely the American Coven and the British Black Widowemployed the imagery of Satanism and witchcraft in their work. References to Satan also appeared in the work of those rock bands which were pioneering the heavy metal genre in Britain during the 1970s. Black Sabbath for instance made mention of Satan in their lyrics, although several of the band’s members were practicing Christians and other lyrics affirmed the power of the Christian God over Satan. In the 1980s, greater use of Satanic imagery was made by heavy metal bands like Slayer, Kreator, Sodom, and Destruction. Bands active in the subgenre of death metalamong them Deicide, Morbid Angel, and Entombedalso adopted Satanic imagery, combining it with other morbid and dark imagery, such as that of zombies and serial killers.

Satanism would come to be more closely associated with the subgenre of black metal, in which it was foregrounded over the other themes that had been used in death metal. A number of black metal performers incorporated self-injury into their act, framing this as a manifestation of Satanic devotion. The first black metal band, Venom, proclaimed themselves to be Satanists, although this was more an act of provocation than an expression of genuine devotion to the Devil. Satanic themes were also used by the black metal bands Bathory and Hellhammer. However, the first black metal act to more seriously adopt Satanism was Mercyful Fate, whose vocalist, King Diamond, joined the Church of Satan. More often than not musicians associating themselves with black metal say they do not believe in legitimate Satanic ideology and often profess to being atheists, agnostics, or religious skeptics.[110]

In contrast to King Diamond, various black metal Satanists sought to distance themselves from LaVeyan Satanism, for instance by referring to their beliefs as “devil worship”. These individuals regarded Satan as a literal entity, and in contrast to LaVey’s views, they associated Satanism with criminality, suicide, and terror. For them, Christianity was regarded as a plague which required eradication. Many of these individualssuch as Varg Vikernes and Euronymouswere Norwegian, and influenced by the strong anti-Christian views of this milieu, between 1992 and 1996 around fifty Norwegian churches were destroyed in arson attacks. Within the black metal scene, a number of musicians later replaced Satanic themes with those deriving from Heathenry, a form of modern Paganism.

Rather than being one single form of religious Satanism, there are instead multiple different religious Satanisms, each with different ideas about what being a Satanist entails. The historian of religion Ruben van Luijk used a “working definition” in which Satanism was regarded as “the intentional, religiously motivated veneration of Satan”.

Dyrendal, Lewis, and Petersen believed that it was not a single movement, but rather a milieu. They and others have nevertheless referred to it as a new religious movement. They believed that there was a family resemblance that united all of the varying groups in this milieu, and that most of them were self religions. They argued that there were a set of features that were common to the groups in this Satanic milieu: these were the positive use of the term “Satanist” as a designation, an emphasis on individualism, a genealogy that connects them to other Satanic groups, a transgressive and antinomian stance, a self-perception as an elite, and an embrace of values such as pride, self-reliance, and productive non-conformity.

Dyrendal, Lewis, and Petersen argued that the groups within the Satanic milieu could be divided into three groups: reactive Satanists, rationalist Satanists, and esoteric Satanists. They saw reactive Satanism as encompassing “popular Satanism, inverted Christianity, and symbolic rebellion” and noted that it situates itself in opposition to society while at the same time conforming to society’s perspective of evil. Rationalist Satanism is used to describe the trend in the Satanic milieu which is atheistic, sceptical, materialistic, and epicurean. Esoteric Satanism instead applied to those forms which are theistic and draw upon ideas from other forms of Western esotericism, Modern Paganism, Buddhism, and Hinduism.

The first person to promote a Satanic philosophy was the Pole Stanislaw Przybyszewski, who promoted a Social Darwinian ideology.

The use of the term “Lucifer” was also taken up by the French ceremonial magician Eliphas Levi, who has been described as a “Romantic Satanist”. During his younger days, Levi used “Lucifer” in much the same manner as the literary romantics. As he moved toward a more politically conservative outlook in later life, he retained the use of the term, but instead applied it as to what he believed was a morally neutral facet of the Absolute. In his book Dogma and Ritual of High Magic, published in two volumes between 1854 and 1856, Levi offered the symbol of Baphomet. He claimed that this was a figure who had been worshipped by the Knights Templar.According to Introvigne, this image gave “the Satanists their most popular symbol ever”.

Levi was not the only occultist who wanted to use the term “Lucifer” without adopting the term “Satan” in a similar way. The early Theosophical Society held to the view that “Lucifer” was a force that aided humanity’s awakening to its own spiritual nature. In keeping with this view, the Society began production of a journal titled Lucifer.

“Satan” was also used within the esoteric system propounded by the Danish occultist Carl William Hansen, who used the pen name “Ben Kadosh”. Hansen was involved in a variety of esoteric groups, including Martinism, Freemasonry, and the Ordo Templi Orientis, drawing on ideas from various groups to establish his own philosophy. In one pamphlet, he provided a “Luciferian” interpretation of Freemasonry. Kadosh’s work left little influence outside of Denmark.

Both during his life and after it, the British occultist Aleister Crowley has been widely described as a Satanist, usually by detractors. Crowley stated he did not consider himself a Satanist, nor did he worship Satan, as he did not accept the Christian world view in which Satan was believed to exist. He nevertheless used imagery considered satanic, for instance by describing himself as “the Beast 666” and referring to the Whore of Babylon in his work, while in later life he sent “Antichristmas cards” to his friends. Dyrendel, Lewis, and Petersen noted that despite the fact that Crowley was not a Satanist, he “in many ways embodies the pre-Satanist esoteric discourse on Satan and Satanism through his lifestyle and his philosophy”, with his “image and thought” becoming an “important influence” on the later development of religious Satanism.

In 1928 the Fraternitas Saturni (FS) was established in Germany; its founder, Eugen Grosche, published Satanische Magie (“Satanic Magic”) that same year. The group connected Satan to Saturn, claiming that the planet related to the Sun in the same manner that Lucifer relates to the human world.

In 1932 an esoteric group known as the Brotherhood of the Golden Arrow was established in Paris, France by Maria de Naglowska, a Russian occultist who had fled to France following the Russian Revolution. She promoted a theology centred on what she called the Third Term of the Trinity consisting of Father, Son, and Sex, the latter of which she deemed to be most important. Her early disciples, who underwent what she called “Satanic Initiations”, included models and art students recruited from bohemian circles. The Golden Arrow disbanded after Naglowska abandoned it in 1936. According to Introvigne, hers was “a quite complicated Satanism, built on a complex philosophical vision of the world, of which little would survive its initiator”.

In 1969 a Satanic group based in Toledo, Ohio, part of the United States, came to public attention. Called the Our Lady of Endor Coven, it was led by a man named Herbert Sloane, who described his Satanic tradition as the Ophite Cultus Sathanas and alleged that it had been established in the 1940s. The group offered a Gnostic interpretation of the world in which the creator God was regarded as evil and the Biblical Serpent presented as a force for good who had delivered salvation to humanity in the Garden of Eden. Sloane’s claims that his group had a 1940s origin remain unproven; it may be that he falsely claimed older origins for his group to make it appear older than Anton LaVey’s Church of Satan, which had been established in 1966.

None of these groups had any real impact on the emergence of the later Satanic milieu in the 1960s.

Anton LaVey, who has been referred to as “The Father of Satanism”,[143] synthesized his religion through the establishment of the Church of Satan in 1966 and the publication of The Satanic Bible in 1969. LaVey’s teachings promoted “indulgence”, “vital existence”, “undefiled wisdom”, “kindness to those who deserve it”, “responsibility to the responsible” and an “eye for an eye” code of ethics, while shunning “abstinence” based on guilt, “spirituality”, “unconditional love”, “pacifism”, “equality”, “herd mentality” and “scapegoating”. In LaVey’s view, the Satanist is a carnal, physical and pragmatic beingand enjoyment of physical existence and an undiluted view of this-worldly truth are promoted as the core values of Satanism, propagating a naturalistic worldview that sees mankind as animals existing in an amoral universe.

LaVey believed that the ideal Satanist should be individualistic and non-conformist, rejecting what he called the “colorless existence” that mainstream society sought to impose on those living within it. He praised the human ego for encouraging an individual’s pride, self-respect, and self-realization and accordingly believed in satisfying the ego’s desires. He expressed the view that self-indulgence was a desirable trait, and that hate and aggression were not wrong or undesirable emotions but that they were necessary and advantageous for survival. Accordingly, he praised the seven deadly sins as virtues which were beneficial for the individual. The anthropologist Jean La Fontaine highlighted an article that appeared in The Black Flame, in which one writer described “a true Satanic society” as one in which the population consists of “free-spirited, well-armed, fully-conscious, self-disciplined individuals, who will neither need nor tolerate any external entity ‘protecting’ them or telling them what they can and cannot do.”

The sociologist James R. Lewis noted that “LaVey was directly responsible for the genesis of Satanism as a serious religious (as opposed to a purely literary) movement”. Scholars agree that there is no reliably documented case of Satanic continuity prior to the founding of the Church of Satan. It was the first organized church in modern times to be devoted to the figure of Satan, and according to Faxneld and Petersen, the Church represented “the first public, highly visible, and long-lasting organization which propounded a coherent satanic discourse”. LaVey’s book, The Satanic Bible, has been described as the most important document to influence contemporary Satanism. The book contains the core principles of Satanism, and is considered the foundation of its philosophy and dogma. Petersen noted that it is “in many ways the central text of the Satanic milieu”, with Lap similarly testifying to its dominant position within the wider Satanic movement. David G. Bromley calls it “iconoclastic” and “the best-known and most influential statement of Satanic theology.” Eugene V. Gallagher says that Satanists use LaVey’s writings “as lenses through which they view themselves, their group, and the cosmos.” He also states: “With a clear-eyed appreciation of true human nature, a love of ritual and pageantry, and a flair for mockery, LaVey’s Satanic Bible promulgated a gospel of self-indulgence that, he argued, anyone who dispassionately considered the facts would embrace.”

A number of religious studies scholars have described LaVey’s Satanism as a form of “self-religion” or “self-spirituality”, with religious studies scholar Amina Olander Lap arguing that it should be seen as being both part of the “prosperity wing” of the self-spirituality New Age movement and a form of the Human Potential Movement. The anthropologist Jean La Fontaine described it as having “both elitist and anarchist elements”, also citing one occult bookshop owner who referred to the Church’s approach as “anarchistic hedonism”. In The Invention of Satanism, Dyrendal and Petersen theorized that LaVey viewed his religion as “an antinomian self-religion for productive misfits, with a cynically carnivalesque take on life, and no supernaturalism”. The sociologist of religion James R. Lewis even described LaVeyan Satanism as “a blend of Epicureanism and Ayn Rand’s philosophy, flavored with a pinch of ritual magic.” The historian of religion Mattias Gardell described LaVey’s as “a rational ideology of egoistic hedonism and self-preservation”, while Nevill Drury characterised LaVeyan Satanism as “a religion of self-indulgence”. It has also been described as an “institutionalism of Machiavellian self-interest”.

Prominent Church leader Blanche Barton described Satanism as “an alignment, a lifestyle”. LaVey and the Church espoused the view that “Satanists are born, not made”; that they are outsiders by their nature, living as they see fit, who are self-realized in a religion which appeals to the would-be Satanist’s nature, leading them to realize they are Satanists through finding a belief system that is in line with their own perspective and lifestyle. Adherents to the philosophy have described Satanism as a non-spiritual religion of the flesh, or “…the world’s first carnal religion”. LaVey used Christianity as a negative mirror for his new faith, with LaVeyan Satanism rejecting the basic principles and theology of Christian belief. It views Christianity alongside other major religions, and philosophies such as humanism and liberal democracy as a largely negative force on humanity; LaVeyan Satanists perceive Christianity as a lie which promotes idealism, self-denigration, herd behavior, and irrationality. LaVeyans view their religion as a force for redressing this balance by encouraging materialism, egoism, stratification, carnality, atheism, and social Darwinism. LaVey’s Satanism was particularly critical of what it understands as Christianity’s denial of humanity’s animal nature, and it instead calls for the celebration of, and indulgence in, these desires. In doing so, it places an emphasis on the carnal rather than the spiritual.

Practitioners do not believe that Satan literally exists and do not worship him. Instead, Satan is viewed as a positive archetype embracing the Hebrew root of the word “Satan” as “adversary”, who represents pride, carnality, and enlightenment, and of a cosmos which Satanists perceive to be motivated by a “dark evolutionary force of entropy that permeates all of nature and provides the drive for survival and propagation inherent in all living things”. The Devil is embraced as a symbol of defiance against the Abrahamic faiths which LaVey criticized for what he saw as the suppression of humanity’s natural instincts. Moreover, Satan also serves as a metaphorical external projection of the individual’s godhood. LaVey espoused the view that “god” is a creation of man, rather than man being a creation of “god”. In his book, The Satanic Bible, the Satanist’s view of god is described as the Satanist’s true “self”a projection of his or her own personalitynot an external deity. Satan is used as a representation of personal liberty and individualism.

LaVey explained that the gods worshiped by other religions are also projections of man’s true self. He argues that man’s unwillingness to accept his own ego has caused him to externalize these gods so as to avoid the feeling of narcissism that would accompany self-worship. The current High Priest of the Church of Satan, Peter H. Gilmore, further expounds that “…Satan is a symbol of Man living as his prideful, carnal nature dictates […] Satan is not a conscious entity to be worshiped, rather a reservoir of power inside each human to be tapped at will.[180] The Church of Satan has chosen Satan as its primary symbol because in Hebrew it means adversary, opposer, one to accuse or question. We see ourselves as being these Satans; the adversaries, opposers and accusers of all spiritual belief systems that would try to hamper enjoyment of our life as a human being.”[181] The term “Theistic Satanism” has been described as “oxymoronic” by the church and its High Priest.[182] The Church of Satan rejects the legitimacy of any other organizations who claim to be Satanists, dubbing them reverse-Christians, pseudo-Satanists or Devil worshipers, atheistic or otherwise,[183] and maintains a purist approach to Satanism as expounded by LaVey.

After LaVey’s death in 1997, the Church of Satan was taken over by a new administration and its headquarters were moved to New York. LaVey’s daughter, the High Priestess Karla LaVey, felt this to be a disservice to her father’s legacy. The First Satanic Church was re-founded on October 31, 1999 by Karla LaVey to carry on the legacy of her father. She continues to run it out of San Francisco, California.

The Satanic Temple is an American religious and political activist organization based in Salem, Massachusetts. The organization actively participates in public affairs that have manifested in several public political actions[184][185] and efforts at lobbying,[186] with a focus on the separation of church and state and using satire against Christian groups that it believes interfere with personal freedom.[186] According to Dyrendal, Lewis, and Petersen, the group were “rationalist, political pranksters”. Their pranks are designed to highlight religious hypocrisy and advance the cause of secularism. In one of their actions, they performed a “Pink Mass” over the grave of the mother of the evangelical Christian and prominent anti-LGBT preacher Fred Phelps; the Temple claimed that the mass converted the spirit of Phelps’ mother into a lesbian.

The Satanic Temple does not believe in a supernatural Satan, as they believe that this encourages superstition that would keep them from being “malleable to the best current scientific understandings of the material world”. The Temple uses the literary Satan as metaphor to construct a cultural narrative which promotes pragmatic skepticism, rational reciprocity, personal autonomy, and curiosity.[189] Satan is thus used as a symbol representing “the eternal rebel” against arbitrary authority and social norms.[190][191]

Theistic Satanism (also known as traditional Satanism, Spiritual Satanism or Devil worship) is a form of Satanism with the primary belief that Satan is an actual deity or force to revere or worship.[192] Other characteristics of theistic Satanism may include a belief in magic, which is manipulated through ritual, although that is not a defining criterion, and theistic Satanists may focus solely on devotion.

Luciferianism can be understood best as a belief system or intellectual creed that venerates the essential and inherent characteristics that are affixed and commonly given to Lucifer. Luciferianism is often identified as an auxiliary creed or movement of Satanism, due to the common identification of Lucifer with Satan. Some Luciferians accept this identification and/or consider Lucifer as the “light bearer” and illuminated aspect of Satan, giving them the name of Satanists and the right to bear the title. Others reject it, giving the argument that Lucifer is a more positive and easy-going ideal than Satan. They are inspired by the ancient myths of Egypt, Rome and Greece, Gnosticism and traditional Western occultism.

According to the group’s own claims, the Order of Nine Angles was established in Shropshire, Western England during the late 1960s, when a Grand Mistress united a number of ancient pagan groups active in the area.This account states that when the Order’s Grand Mistress migrated to Australia, a man known as “Anton Long” took over as the new Grand Master. From 1976 onward he authored an array of texts for the tradition, codifying and extending its teachings, mythos, and structure.Various academics have argued that Long is the pseudonym of British neo-Nazi activist David Myatt, an allegation that Myatt has denied.The ONA arose to public attention in the early 1980s, spreading its message through magazine articles over the following two decades. In 2000, it established a presence on the internet, later adopting social media to promote its message.

The ONA is a secretive organization, and lacks any central administration, instead operating as a network of allied Satanic practitioners, which it terms the “kollective”. It consists largely of autonomous cells known as “nexions”. The majority of these are located in Britain, Ireland, and Germany, although others are located elsewhere in Europe, and in Russia, Egypt, South Africa, Brazil, Australia, and the United States.

The ONA describe their occultism as “Traditional Satanism”. The ONA’s writings encourage human sacrifice, referring to their victims as opfers. According to the Order’s teachings, such opfers must demonstrate character faults that mark them out as being worthy of death, and accordingly the ONA insists that children must never be victims. No ONA cell have admitted to carrying out a sacrifice in a ritualised manner, but rather Order members have joined the police and military in order to carry out such killings. Faxneld described the Order as “a dangerous and extreme form of Satanism”, while religious studies scholar Graham Harvey claimed that the ONA fit the stereotype of the Satanist “better than other groups” by embracing “deeply shocking” and illegal acts.

The Temple of Set is an initiatory occult society claiming to be the world’s leading left-hand path religious organization. It was established in 1975 by Michael A. Aquino and certain members of the priesthood of the Church of Satan,[210] who left because of administrative and philosophical disagreements. ToS deliberately self-differentiates from CoS in several ways, most significantly in theology and sociology.[211] The philosophy of the Temple of Set may be summed up as “enlightened individualism”enhancement and improvement of oneself by personal education, experiment and initiation. This process is necessarily different and distinctive for each individual. The members do not agree on whether Set is “real” or not, and they’re not expected to.[211]

The Temple presents the view that the name Satan was originally a corruption of the name Set. The Temple teaches that Set is a real entity, the only real god in existence, with all others created by the human imagination. Set is described as having given humanitythrough the means of non-natural evolutionthe “Black Flame” or the “Gift of Set”, a questioning intellect which sets the species apart from other animals. While Setians are expected to revere Set, they do not worship him. Central to Setian philosophy is the human individual, with self-deification presented as the ultimate goal.

In 2005 Petersen noted that academic estimates for the Temple’s membership varied from between 300 and 500, and Granholm suggested that in 2007 the Temple contained circa 200 members.

Dyrendal, Lewis, and Petersen used the term “reactive Satanism” to describe one form of modern religious Satanism. They described this as an adolescent and anti-social means of rebelling in a Christian society, by which an individual transgresses cultural boundaries. They believed that there were two tendencies within reactive Satanism: one, “Satanic tourism”, was characterised by the brief period of time in which an individual was involved, while the other, the “Satanic quest”, was typified by a longer and deeper involvement.

The researcher Gareth Medway noted that in 1995 he encountered a British woman who stated that she had been a practicing Satanist during her teenage years. She had grown up in a small mining village, and had come to believe that she had psychic powers. After hearing about Satanism in some library books, she declared herself a Satanist and formulated a belief that Satan was the true god. After her teenage years she abandoned Satanism and became a chaos magickian.

Some reactive Satanists are teenagers or mentally disturbed individuals who have engaged in criminal activities. During the 1980s and 1990s, several groups of teenagers were apprehended after sacrificing animals and vandalising both churches and graveyards with Satanic imagery. Introvigne expressed the view that these incidents were “more a product of juvenile deviance and marginalization than Satanism”. In a few cases the crimes of these reactive Satanists have included murder. In 1970, two separate groups of teenagersone led by Stanley Baker in Big Sur and the other by Steven Hurd in Los Angeleskilled a total of three people and consumed parts of their corpses in what they later claimed were sacrifices devoted to Satan. In 1984, a U.S. group called the Knights of the Black Circle killed one of its own members, Gary Lauwers, over a disagreement regarding the group’s illegal drug dealing; group members later related that Lauwers’ death was a sacrifice to Satan.The American serial killer Richard Ramirez for instance claimed that he was a Satanist; during his 1980s killing spree he left an inverted pentagram at the scene of each murder and at his trial called out “Hail Satan!”

Dyrendal, Lewis, and Petersen observed that from surveys of Satanists conducted in the early 21st century, it was clear that the Satanic milieu was “heavily dominated by young males”. They nevertheless noted that census data from New Zealand suggested that there may be a growing proportion of women becoming Satanists. In comprising more men than women, Satanism differs from most other religious communities, including most new religious communities. Most Satanists came to their religion through reading, either online or books, rather than through being introduced to it through personal contacts. Many practitioners do not claim that they converted to Satanism, but rather state that they were born that way, and only later in life confirmed that Satanism served as an appropriate label for their pre-existing worldviews. Others have stated that they had experiences with supernatural phenomena that led them to embracing Satanism. A number reported feelings of anger at the hypocrisy of many practicing Christians and expressed the view that the monotheistic Gods of Christianity and other religions are unethical, citing issues such as the problem of evil. For some practitioners, Satanism gave a sense of hope, including for those who had been physically and sexually abused.

The surveys revealed that atheistic Satanists appeared to be in the majority, although the numbers of theistic Satanists appeared to grow over time. Beliefs in the afterlife varied, although the most popular afterlife views were reincarnation and the idea that consciousness survives bodily death. The surveys also demonstrated that most recorded Satanists practiced magic, although there were differing opinions as to whether magical acts operated according to etheric laws or whether the effect of magic was purely psychological. A number described performing cursing, in most cases as a form of vigilante justice.Most practitioners conduct their religious observances in a solitary manner, and never or rarely meet fellow Satanists for rituals. Rather, the primary interaction that takes place between Satanists is online, on websites or via email.From their survey data, Dyrendal, Lewis, and Petersen noted that the average length of involvement in the Satanic milieu was seven years. A Satanist’s involvement in the movement tends to peak in the early twenties and drops off sharply in their thirties. A small proportion retain their allegiance to the religion into their elder years. When asked about their political views, the largest proportion of Satanists identified as apolitical or non-aligned, while only a small percentage identified as conservative despite the conservative views of prominent Satanists like LaVey and Marilyn Manson. A small minority of Satanists expressed support for the far right; conversely, over two-thirds expressed negative or extremely negative views about Nazism and neo-Nazism.

In 2004 it was claimed that Satanism was allowed in the Royal Navy of the British Armed Forces, despite opposition from Christians.[243][244][245] In 2016, under a Freedom of Information request, the Navy Command Headquarters stated that “we do not recognise satanism as a formal religion, and will not grant facilities or make specific time available for individual ‘worship’.”[246]

In 2005, the Supreme Court of the United States debated in the case of Cutter v. Wilkinson over protecting minority religious rights of prison inmates after a lawsuit challenging the issue was filed to them.[247][248] The court ruled that facilities that accept federal funds cannot deny prisoners accommodations that are necessary to engage in activities for the practice of their own religious beliefs.[249][250]

Originally posted here:

Satanism – Wikipedia

Modern Paganism – Wikipedia

Modern Paganism, also known as Contemporary Paganism and Neopaganism, is a collective term for new religious movements influenced by or claiming to be derived from the various historical pagan beliefs of pre-modern Europe, North Africa and the Near East. Although they do share similarities, contemporary Pagan religious movements are diverse, and no single set of beliefs, practices or texts are shared by them all. Most academics studying the phenomenon have treated it as a movement of different religions, whereas a minority instead characterise it as a single religion into which different Pagan faiths fit as denominations. Not all members of faiths or beliefs regarded as Neopagan self-identify as “Pagan”.

Adherents rely on pre-Christian, folkloric and ethnographic sources to a variety of degrees; many follow a spirituality which they accept as being entirely modern, while others attempt to reconstruct or revive indigenous, ethnic religions as found in historical and folkloric sources as accurately as possible.[4] Academic research has placed the Pagan movement along a spectrum, with Eclecticism on one end and Polytheistic Reconstructionism on the other. Polytheism, animism and pantheism are common features in Pagan theology. Rituals take place in both public and in private domestic settings.

The Pagan relationship with Christianity is often strained. Contemporary Paganism has sometimes been associated with the New Age movement, with scholars highlighting both similarities and differences. From the 1990s onwards, scholars studying the modern Pagan movement have established the academic field of Pagan studies.

There is “considerable disagreement as to the precise definition and proper usage” of the term “modern Paganism”.Even within the academic field of Pagan studies, there is no consensus regarding how contemporary Paganism can best be defined. Most scholars describe modern Paganism as a broad array of different religions rather than a singular religion in itself. The category of modern Paganism could be compared to the categories of Abrahamic religion and Dharmic religion in its structure. A second, less common definition found within Pagan studies where it has been promoted by the religious studies scholars Michael F. Strmiska and Graham Harvey characterises modern Paganism as a singular religion, into which groups like Wicca, Druidry, and Heathenry fit as denominations. This perspective has been critiqued, given the lack of core commonalities in issues such as theology, cosmology, ethics, afterlife, holy days, or ritual practices within the Pagan movement.

Contemporary Paganism has been defined as “a collection of modern religious, spiritual, and magical traditions that are self-consciously inspired by the pre-Judaic, pre-Christian, and pre-Islamic belief systems of Europe, North Africa, and the Near East.” Thus, the view has been expressed that although “a highly diverse phenomenon”, there is nevertheless “an identifiable common element” running through the Pagan movement. Strmiska similarly described Paganism as a movement “dedicated to reviving the polytheistic, nature-worshipping pagan religions of pre-Christian Europe and adapting them for the use of people in modern societies.” The religious studies scholar Wouter Hanegraaff charactised Paganism as encompassing “all those modern movements which are, first, based on the conviction that what Christianity has traditionally denounced as idolatry and superstition actually represents/represented a profound and meaningful religious worldview and, secondly, that a religious practice based on this worldview can and should be revitalized in our modern world.”

Discussing the relationship between the different Pagan religions, religious studies scholars Kaarina Aitamurto and Scott Simpson stated that they were “like siblings who have taken different paths in life but still retain many visible similarities”.However, while viewing different forms of Paganism as distinct religions in their own right, there has been much “cross-fertilization” between these different faiths. Accordingly, many groups have exerted an influence on, and in turn have been influenced by, other Pagan religions, thus making clear-cut distinctions between them more difficult for religious studies scholars to make.The various Pagan religions have been academically classified as new religious movements, with the anthropologist Kathryn Rountree describing Paganism as a whole as a “new religious phenomenon”.A number of academics, particularly in North America, have considered modern Paganism to be a form of nature religion.

Some practitioners eschew the term “Pagan” altogether, choosing not to define themselves as such, but rather under the more specific name of their religion, like Heathen or Wiccan. This is because the term “Pagan” has its origins in Christian terminology, which the Pagans wish to avoid. Some favor the term “ethnic religion” over “Paganism” for instance the World Pagan Congress, founded in 1998, soon renamed itself the European Congress of Ethnic Religions enjoying that term’s association with the Greek ethnos and the academic field of ethnology. Within linguistically Slavic areas of Europe, the term “Native Faith” is often favored as a synonym for Paganism, being rendered as Ridnovirstvo in Ukrainian, Rodnoverie in Russian, and Rodzimowierstwo in Polish. Alternately, many practitioners within these regions view “Native Faith” as a category that exists within modern Paganism but which does not encompass all Pagan religions. Other terms sometimes favored by Pagans are “traditional religion”, “indigenous religion”, “nativist religion”, and “reconstructionism”.

Various Pagans including those like Michael York and Prudence Jones who are active in Pagan studies have argued that, due to similarities in their respective spiritual world-views, the modern Pagan movement can be treated as part of the same global phenomenon as both pre-Christian religion, living indigenous religions, and world religions like Hinduism, Shinto, and Afro-American religions. Further, they have suggested that all of these could be defined under the banner of “paganism” or “Paganism”. This approach has been received critically by many specialists in religious studies. Critics have pointing out that such claims would cause problems for analytic scholarship by categorising together belief systems with very significant differences, further noting that the term would instead serve modern Pagan interests by giving the movement the appearance of being far larger on the world stage.Doyle White stated that those modern religions which drew upon the pre-Christian belief systems of other parts of the world, such as Sub-Saharan Africa or the Americas, could not be seen as part of the contemporary Pagan movement, which was “fundamentally Eurocentric” in its focus. Similarly, Strmiska stressed that modern Paganism should not be conflated with the belief systems of the world’s indigenous peoples because the latter lived within the context of colonialism and its legacy, and that while some Pagan worldviews bore similarities to those of indigenous communities, they each stemmed from “different cultural, linguistic, and historical backgrounds.”

Many scholars have favored the use of “Neopaganism” to describe this phenomenon, with the prefix “neo-” serving to clearly distinguish the modern religions from their ancient, pre-Christian counterparts. Some Pagan practitioners also prefer “Neopaganism”, believing that the prefix conveys the reformed nature of the religion, including for instance its rejection of superstition and animal sacrifice. Conversely, most Pagans do not use the word “Neopagan”, with some expressing disapproval of it, arguing that the term “neo” offensively disconnects them from what they perceive as their pre-Christian forebears. Accordingly, to avoid causing offense many scholars in the English-speaking world have begun using the prefixes “modern” or “contemporary” rather than “neo”. Several academics operating in Pagan studies, such as Ronald Hutton and Sabina Magliocco, have emphasized the use of the upper-case “Paganism” to distinguish the modern movement from the lower-case “paganism”, a term which is commonly used for pre-Christian belief systems. In 2015, Rountree stated that this lower case/upper case division was “now [the] convention” in Pagan studies.

The term “neo-pagan” was coined in the 19th century in reference to Renaissance and Romanticist Hellenophile classical revivalism.[] By the mid-1930s the term “Neopagan” was being applied to new religious movements like Jakob Wilhelm Hauer’s German Faith Movement and Jan Stachniuk’s Polish Zadruga, usually by outsiders and often in a pejorative sense.Pagan as a self-designation appeared in 1964 and 1965, in the publications of the Witchcraft Research Association; at that time, the term was in use by revivalist Witches in the United States and the United Kingdom, but unconnected to the broader, counter-culture Pagan movement. The modern popularisation of the terms pagan and neopagan, as they are currently understood, is largely traced to Oberon Zell-Ravenheart, co-founder of the 1st Neo-Pagan Church of All Worlds who, beginning in 1967 with the early issues of Green Egg, used both terms for the growing movement. This usage has been common since the pagan revival in the 1970s.

According to Strmiska, the reappropriation of the term “pagan” by modern Pagans served as “a deliberate act of defiance” against “traditional, Christian-dominated society”, allowing them to use it as a source of “pride and power”. In this, he compared it to the gay liberation movement’s reappropriation of the term “queer”, which had formerly been used only as a term of homophobic abuse. He suggested that part of the term’s appeal resided in the fact that a large proportion of Pagan converts were raised in Christian families, and that by embracing the term “pagan” a word long used in reference to that which was “rejected and reviled by Christian authorities” these converts are summarizing “in a single word his or her definitive break” from Christianity. He further suggested that the term “pagan” had been made appealing through its depiction in romanticist and European nationalist literature from the 19th century, where it had been imbued with “a certain mystery and allure”. A third point raised by Strmiska was that by embracing the word “pagan”, modern Pagans are defying past religious intolerance in order to honor the pre-Christian peoples of Europe and emphasize these societies’ cultural and artistic achievements.

For some Pagan groups, ethnicity is central to their religion, and they often restrict membership to those who are of the same ethnic group as themselves. Critics of this position have described this exclusionary approach as a form of racism. Alternately, other Pagan groups allow individuals of any ethnicity to join them, expressing the view that the gods and goddesses of a particular region can call anyone to their worship. Sometimes such individuals express the view that they feel a particular affinity for the pre-Christian belief systems of a particular region with which they have no ethnic link because they themselves are the reincarnation of an individual from that society.There is a greater focus on ethnicity within the Pagan movements of continental Europe in contrast to those in North America and the British Isles. Such ethnic Paganisms have varyingly been seen as responses to concerns regarding foreign colonizing ideologies, globalization, cosmopolitanism, and anxieties about cultural erosion.Ethnically restricted groups will face challenges to their attitudes as Eastern and Northern Europe become increasingly ethnically diverse through migration and inter-marriage.

Although acknowledging that it was “a highly simplified model”, Aitamurto and Simpson commented that there was “some truth” to the claim that leftist-oriented forms of Paganism were prevalent in North America and the British Isles, whereas rightist-oriented forms of Paganism were prevalent in Central and Eastern Europe. They noted that in these latter regions, Pagan groups placed an emphasis on “the centrality of the nation, the ethnic group, or the tribe”.Rountree stated that it was wrong to assume that “expressions of Paganism can be categorized straight-forwardly according to region”, although acknowledged that some regional trends were visible, such as the impact of Catholicism on Paganism in Southern Europe.

“We might say that Reconstructionist Pagans romanticize the past, while Eclectic Pagans idealize the future. In the first case, there is a deeply felt need to connect with the past as a source of spiritual strength and wisdom; in the second case, there is the idealistic hope that a spirituality of nature can be gleaned from ancient sources and shared with all humanity.”

Religious studies scholar Michael Strmiska

Another division within modern Paganism rests on differing attitudes to the source material surrounding pre-Christian belief systems. Strmiska notes that Pagan groups can be “divided along a continuum: at one end are those that aim to reconstruct the ancient religious traditions of a particular ethnic group or a linguistic or geographic area to the highest degree possible; at the other end are those that freely blend traditions of different areas, peoples, and time periods.”Strmiska argues that these two poles could be termed reconstructionism and eclecticism, respectively. Reconstructionists do not altogether reject innovation in their interpretation and adaptation of the source material, however they do believe that the source material conveys greater authenticity and thus should be emphasized. They often follow scholarly debates about the nature of such pre-Christian religions, and some reconstructionists are themselves scholars. Eclectic Pagans, conversely, seek general inspiration from the pre-Christian past, and do not attempt to recreate past rites or traditions with specific attention to detail.

On the reconstructionist side can be placed those movements which often favour the designation “Native Faith”, including Romuva, Heathenry, and Hellenism. On the eclectic side has been placed Wicca, Thelema, Adonism, Druidry, the Goddess Movement, Discordianism, the cult of Antinous and the Radical Faeries.Strmiska also suggests that this division could be seen as being based on “discourses of identity”, with reconstructionists emphasizing a deep-rooted sense of place and people, and eclectics embracing a universality and openness toward humanity and the Earth.

Strmiska nevertheless notes that this reconstructionist-eclectic division is “neither as absolute nor as straightforward as it might appear”. He cites the example of Dievturba, a form of reconstructionist Paganism that seeks to revive the pre-Christian religion of the Latvian people, by noting that it exhibits eclectic tendencies by adopting a monotheistic focus and ceremonial structure from Lutheranism. Similarly, while examining neo-shamanism among the Sami people of Northern Scandinavia, Siv Ellen Kraft highlights that despite the religion being reconstructionist in intent, it is highly eclectic in the manner in which it has adopted elements from shamanic traditions in other parts of the world.In discussing Asatro a form of Heathenry based in Denmark Matthew Amster notes that it did not fit clearly within such a framework, because while seeking a reconstructionist form of historical accuracy, Asatro nevertheless strongly eschewed the emphasis on ethnicity that is common to other reconstructionist groups. While Wicca is identified as an eclectic form of Paganism, Strmiska also notes that some Wiccans have moved in a more reconstructionist direction by focusing on a particular ethnic and cultural link, thus developing such variants as Norse Wicca and Celtic Wicca.Concern has also been expressed regarding the utility of the term “reconstructionism” when dealing with Paganisms in Central and Eastern Europe, because in many of the languages of these regions, equivalents of the term “reconstructionism” such as the Czech Historick rekonstrukce and Lithuanian Istorin rekonstrukcija are already used to define the secular hobby of historical re-enactment.

Some Pagans distinguish their beliefs and practices as a form of religious naturalism, embracing a naturalistic worldview.[51] This grouping includes Humanistic Pagans and Atheopagans. Many of these naturalistic Pagans aim for an explicitly nature-centered or ecocentric practice.[52]

“Modern Pagans are reviving, reconstructing, and reimagining religious traditions of the past that were suppressed for a very long time, even to the point of being almost totally obliterated… Thus, with only a few possible exceptions, today’s Pagans cannot claim to be continuing religious traditions handed down in an unbroken line from ancient times to the present. They are modern people with a great reverence for the spirituality of the past, making a new religion a modern Paganism from the remnants of the past, which they interpret, adapt, and modify according to modern ways of thinking.”

Religious studies scholar Michael Strmiska

Although inspired by the pre-Christian belief systems of the past, modern Paganism is not the same phenomenon as these lost traditions and in many respects differs from them considerably. Strmiska stresses that modern Paganism is a “new”, “modern” religious movement, even if some of its “content” derive from ancient sources. Contemporary Paganism as practiced in the United States in the 1990s has been described as “a synthesis of historical inspiration and present-day creativity”.[54]

Eclectic Paganism takes an undogmatic religious stance, and therefore potentially see no one as having authority to deem a source apocryphal. Contemporary paganism has therefore been prone to fakelore, especially in recent years as information and misinformation alike have been spread on the Internet and in print media. A number of Wiccan, pagan and even some Traditionalist or Tribalist groups have a history of Grandmother Stories typically involving initiation by a Grandmother, Grandfather, or other elderly relative who is said to have instructed them in the secret, millennia-old traditions of their ancestors. As this secret wisdom can almost always be traced to recent sources, tellers of these stories have often later admitted they made them up.[56] Strmiska asserts that contemporary paganism could be viewed as a part of the “much larger phenomenon” of efforts to revive “traditional, indigenous, or native religions” that were occurring across the globe.[]

Beliefs and practices vary widely among different Pagan groups; however, there are a series of core principles common to most, if not all, forms of modern paganism. The English academic Graham Harvey noted that Pagans “rarely indulge in theology”.

One principle of the Pagan movement is polytheism, the belief in and veneration of multiple gods and/or goddesses.Within the Pagan movement, there can be found many deities, both male and female, who have various associations and embody forces of nature, aspects of culture, and facets of human psychology. These deities are typically depicted in human form, and are viewed as having human faults. They are therefore not seen as perfect, but rather are venerated as being wise and powerful. Pagans feel that this understanding of the gods reflected the dynamics of life on Earth, allowing for the expression of humour.

One view in the Pagan community is that these polytheistic deities are not viewed as literal entities, but as Jungian archetypes or other psychological constructs that exist in the human psyche. Others adopt the belief that the deities have both a psychological and external existence. Many Pagans believe adoption of a polytheistic world-view would be beneficial for western society replacing the dominant monotheism they see as innately repressive. In fact, many American neopagans first came to their adopted faiths because it allowed a greater freedom, diversity, and tolerance of worship among the community. This pluralistic perspective has helped the varied factions of modern Paganism exist in relative harmony. Most Pagans adopt an ethos of “unity in diversity” regarding their religious beliefs.

It is its inclusion of female deity which distinguishes Pagan religions from their Abrahamic counterparts.In Wicca, male and female deities are typically balanced out in a form of duotheism.Many East Asian philosophies equate weakness with femininity and strength with masculinity; this is not the prevailing attitude in paganism and Wicca. Among many Pagans, there is a strong desire to incorporate the female aspects of the divine in their worship and within their lives, which can partially explain the attitude which sometimes manifests as the veneration of women.[]

There are exceptions to polytheism in Paganism, as seen for instance in the form of Ukrainian Paganism promoted by Lev Sylenko, which is devoted to a monotheistic veneration of the god Dazhbog. As noted above, Pagans with naturalistic worldviews may not believe in or work with deities at all.

Pagan religions commonly exhibit a metaphysical concept of an underlying order that pervades the universe, such as the concept of harmonia embraced by Hellenists and that of Wyrd found in Heathenry.

A key part of most Pagan worldviews is the holistic concept of a universe that is interconnected. This is connected with a belief in either pantheism or panentheism. In both beliefs divinity and the material and/or spiritual universe are one. For pagans, pantheism means that “divinity is inseparable from nature and that deity is immanent in nature”.

Dennis D. Carpenter noted that the belief in a pantheistic or panentheistic deity has led to the idea of interconnectedness playing a key part in pagans’ worldviews. The prominent Reclaiming priestess Starhawk related that a core part of goddess-centred pagan witchcraft was “the understanding that all being is interrelated, that we are all linked with the cosmos as parts of one living organism. What affects one of us affects us all.”

Another pivotal belief in the contemporary Pagan movement is that of animism. This has been interpreted in two distinct ways among the Pagan community. First, it can refer to a belief that everything in the universe is imbued with a life force or spiritual energy.[] In contrast, some contemporary Pagans believe that there are specific spirits that inhabit various features in the natural world, and that these can be actively communicated with. Some Pagans have reported experiencing communication with spirits dwelling in rocks, plants, trees and animals, as well as power animals or animal spirits who can act as spiritual helpers or guides.

Animism was also a concept common to many pre-Christian European religions, and in adopting it, contemporary Pagans are attempting to “reenter the primeval worldview” and participate in a view of cosmology “that is not possible for most Westerners after childhood”.

Such views have also led many pagans to revere the planet Earth as Mother Earth, who is often referred to as Gaia after the ancient Greek goddess of the Earth.

Pagan ritual can take place in both a public and private setting.Contemporary Pagan ritual is typically geared towards “facilitating altered states of awareness or shifting mind-sets”. In order to induce such altered states of consciousness, pagans utilize such elements as drumming, visualization, chanting, singing, dancing, and meditation. American folklorist Sabina Magliocco came to the conclusion, based upon her ethnographic fieldwork in California that certain Pagan beliefs “arise from what they experience during religious ecstasy”.

Sociologist Margot Adler highlighted how several Pagan groups, like the Reformed Druids of North America and the Erisian movement incorporate a great deal of play in their rituals rather than having them be completely serious and somber. She noted that there are those who would argue that “the Pagan community is one of the only spiritual communities that is exploring humor, joy, abandonment, even silliness and outrageousness as valid parts of spiritual experience”.

Domestic worship typically takes place in the home and is carried out by either an individual or family group. It typically involves offerings including bread, cake, flowers, fruit, milk, beer, or wine being given to images of deities, often accompanied with prayers and songs and the lighting of candles and incense.Common Pagan devotional practices have thus been compared to similar practices in Hinduism, Buddhism, Shinto, Roman Catholicism, and Orthodox Christianity, but contrasted with that in Protestantism, Judaism, and Islam.Although animal sacrifice was a common part of pre-Christian ritual in Europe, it is rarely practiced in contemporary Paganism.

Paganism’s public rituals are generally calendrical, although the pre-Christian festivals that Pagans use as a basis varied across Europe. Nevertheless, common to almost all Pagan religions is an emphasis on an agricultural cycle and respect for the dead. Common Pagan festivals include those marking the summer solstice and winter solstice as well as the start of spring and the harvest. In Wicca, a Wheel of the Year has been developed which typically involves eight seasonal festivals.

The belief in magical rituals and spells is held by a “significant number” of contemporary Pagans. Among those who believe in magic, there are a variety of different views as to what magic is. Many Neopagans adhere to the definition provided by Aleister Crowley, founder of Thelema, who defined magick[sic] as “the Science and Art of causing change to occur in conformity with Will”. Also accepted by many is the related definition purported by ceremonial magician Dion Fortune, who declared “magic is the art and science of changing consciousness according to the Will”.

Among those who practice magic are Wiccans, those who identify as Neopagan Witches, and practitioners of some forms of revivalist Neo-druidism, the rituals of whom are at least partially based upon those of ceremonial magic and freemasonry.

Great God! I’d rather beA Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;Or hear old Triton blow his wreathd horn.

William Wordsworth, “The World Is Too Much with Us”, lines 9-14

The origins of modern Paganism lie in the romanticist and national liberation movements that developed in Europe during the 18th and 19th centuries. The publications of studies into European folk customs and culture by scholars like Johann Gottfried Herder and Jacob Grimm resulted in a wider interest in these subjects and a growth in cultural self-consciousness. At the time, it was commonly believed that almost all such folk customs were survivals from the pre-Christian period.These attitudes would also be exported to North America by European immigrants in these centuries.

The Romantic movement of the 18th century led to the re-discovery of Old Gaelic and Old Norse literature and poetry. The 19th century saw a surge of interest in Germanic paganism with the Viking revival in Victorian Britain[] and Scandinavia. In Germany the Vlkisch movement was in full swing. These pagan currents coincided with Romanticist interest in folklore and occultism, the widespread emergence of pagan themes in popular literature, and the rise of nationalism.

Religious studies scholar Michael Strmiska

The rise of modern Paganism was aided by the decline in Christianity throughout many parts of Europe and North America, as well as by the concomitant decline in enforced religious conformity and greater freedom of religion that developed, allowing people to explore a wider range of spiritual options and form religious organisations that could operate free from legal persecution.

Historian Ronald Hutton has argued that many of the motifs of 20th century neo-Paganism may be traced back to utopian, mystical counter-cultures of the late-Victorian and Edwardian periods, via the works of amateur folklorists, popular authors, poets, political radicals and alternative lifestylers.

Prior to the spread of the 20th-century neopagan movement, a notable instance of self-identified paganism was in Sioux writer Zitkala-sa’s essay “Why I Am A Pagan”. Published in the Atlantic Monthly in 1902, the Native American activist and writer outlined her rejection of Christianity (referred to as “the new superstition”) in favor of a harmony with nature embodied by the Great Spirit. She further recounted her mother’s abandonment of Sioux religion and the unsuccessful attempts of a “native preacher” to get her to attend the village church.[87]

In the 1920s Margaret Murray theorized that a Witchcraft religion existed underground and in secret, and had survived through the witchcraft prosecutions that had been enacted by the ecclesiastical and secular courts. Most historians now reject Murray’s theory, as she based it partially upon the similarities of the accounts given by those accused of witchcraft; such similarity is now thought to actually derive from there having been a standard set of questions laid out in the witch-hunting manuals used by interrogators.

The 1960s and 1970s saw a resurgence in Neodruidism as well as the rise of Germanic neopaganism and satr in the United States and in Iceland. In the 1970s, Wicca was notably influenced by feminism, leading to the creation of an eclectic, Goddess-worshipping movement known as Dianic Wicca. The 1979 publication of Margot Adler’s Drawing Down the Moon and Starhawk’s The Spiral Dance opened a new chapter in public awareness of paganism.With the growth and spread of large, pagan gatherings and festivals in the 1980s, public varieties of Wicca continued to further diversify into additional, eclectic sub-denominations, often heavily influenced by the New Age and counter-culture movements. These open, unstructured or loosely structured traditions contrast with British Traditional Wicca, which emphasizes secrecy and initiatory lineage.

The 1980s and 1990s also saw an increasing interest in serious academic research and reconstructionist pagan traditions. The establishment and growth of the Internet in the 1990s brought rapid growth to these, and other pagan movements. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, freedom of religion was legally established across Russia and Eastern Europe, allowing for the growth in both Christian and non-Christian religions, among them Paganism.

Goddess Spirituality, which is also known as the Goddess movement, is a Pagan religion in which a singular, monotheistic Goddess is given predominance. Designed primarily for women, Goddess Spirituality revolves around the sacredness of the female form, and of aspects of women’s lives that have been traditionally neglected in western society, such as menstruation, sexuality and maternity.

Adherents of the Goddess Spirituality movement typically envision a history of the world that is different from traditional narratives about the past, emphasising the role of women rather than that of men. According to this view, human society was formerly a matriarchy, with communities being egalitarian, pacifistic and focused on the worship of the Goddess, and was subsequently overthrown by violent patriarchal hordes – usually Indo-European pastoralists, who worshipped male sky gods and who continued to rule through the form of Abrahamic Religions, specifically Christianity in the West. Adherents look for elements of this mythological history in “theological, anthropological, archaeological, historical, folkloric and hagiographic writings”.

Heathenism, also known as Germanic Neopaganism, refers to a series of contemporary Pagan traditions that are based upon the historical religions, culture and literature of Germanic-speaking Europe. Heathenry is spread out across north-western Europe, and also North America and Australasia, where the descendants of historic Germanic-speaking people now live.

Many Heathen groups adopt variants of Norse mythology as a basis to their beliefs, conceiving of the Earth as being situated on a great world tree called Yggdrasil. Heathens believe in multiple polytheistic deities, all adopted from historical Germanic mythologies. The majority of Heathens are polytheistic realists, believing that the deities are real entities, while others view them as Jungian archetypes.

Neo-Druidism forms the second largest pagan religion after Wicca, and like Wicca in turn shows significant heterogeneity.[citation needed] It draws several beliefs and inspirations from the Druids, the priest caste of the ancient pagan Celts. With the first Druid Order founded as early as 1717, the history of Neo-Druidism reaches back to the earliest origins of modern paganism. The Ancient Order of Druids founded in 1781 had many aspects of freemasonry, and have practiced rituals at Stonehenge since 1905. The Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids was established in 1964 by Ross Nichols. In the United States, the Ancient Order of Druids in America (AODA) was founded in 1912,[97] the Reformed Druids of North America (RDNA) was established in 1963 and r nDraocht Fin (ADF) in 1983 by Isaac Bonewits.

Since the 1960s and 70s, paganism and the then emergent counter-culture, New Age, and hippie movements experienced a degree of cross pollination. Reconstructionism rose to prominence in the 1980s and 1990s. The majority of pagans are not committed to a single defined tradition, but understand paganism as encompassing a wide range of non-institutionalized spirituality, as promoted by the Church of All Worlds, the Feri Tradition and other movements. Notably, Wicca in the United States since the 1970s has largely moved away from its Gardnerian roots and diversified into eclectic variants.

Paganism generally emphasizes the sanctity of the Earth and Nature. Pagans often feel a duty to protect the Earth through activism, and support causes such as rainforest protection, organic farming, permaculture, animal rights and so on. Some pagans are influenced by Animist traditions of the indigenous Native Americans and Africans and other indigenous or shamanic traditions.

Eco-paganism and Eco-magic, which are offshoots of direct action environmental groups, have a strong emphasis on fairy imagery and a belief in the possibility of intercession by the fae (fairies, pixies, gnomes, elves, and other spirits of nature and the Otherworlds).[]

Some Unitarian Universalists are eclectic pagans. Unitarian Universalists look for spiritual inspiration in a wide variety of religious beliefs. The Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans, or CUUPs, encourages their member chapters to “use practices familiar to members who attend for worship services but not to follow only one tradition of paganism”.[99]

In 1925, the Czech esotericist Franz Sttler founded a pagan religion known as Adonism, devoted to the ancient Greek god Adonis, whom Sttler equated with the Christian Satan, and which purported that the end of the world would come in the year 2000. Adonism largely died out in the 1930s, but remained an influence on the German occult scene.

In the western world, distinct forms of paganism have been developed by and for members of the LGBT community. This is often considered necessary, as many neopagan beliefs ascribe to heterosexual, binarist fundamentals, such as “masculine” and “feminine” energy and venerating fertility. While this foundation is prominent among many varieties of neopagan belief, there are some indications that the neopagan community is changing to a more LGBTQ-inclusive environment over time.[101]

Many variants of Wicca have attracted LGBTQ people, for instance, the theologian Jone Salomonsen noted that there was an unusually high number of LGBTQ, and particularly bisexual individuals, within the Reclaiming tradition of San Francisco when she was doing her fieldwork there in the 1980s and 1990s. Margot Adler noted how there were many pagan groups whose practices revolved around the inclusion and celebration of male homosexuality, such as the Minoan Brotherhood, a Wiccan group that combines the iconography from ancient Minoan religion with a Wiccan theology and an emphasis on men-loving-men, the faith of Antinous, and the eclectic pagan group known as the Radical Faeries. When Adler asked one gay pagan what the pagan community offered members of the LGBT community, the reply was “A place to belong. Community. Acceptance. And a way to connect with all kinds of people, gay, bi, straight, celibate, transgender, in a way that is hard to do in the greater society.”

Many neopagan beliefs have LGBTQ controversy related to them, especially transgender controversy. One such variant is Dianic Wicca. A feminist, female-only variant of Wicca, some individuals, such a cisgender lesbians thrive in Dianic covens. However, Dianic belief only regards assigned gender and excludes transgender women. This has been denounced as transphobia and trans-exclusionary radical feminism.[104][105] Trans exclusion can be found in Alexandrian Wicca as well, whose founder paints trans individuals as melancholy people who should seek other beliefs due to the Alexandrian focus on reproduction.[106]

In contrast to the eclectic traditions, Polytheistic Reconstructionists practice culturally specific, ethnic traditions, basing their practices on the surviving folklore, traditional songs and prayers, as well as reconstructions from the historical record. Thus, Hellenic, Roman, Kemetic, Celtic, Germanic, Guanche, Baltic and Slavic Reconstructionists aim for the preservation and revival of historical practices and beliefs of Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, Ancient Egypt, the Celts, the Germanic peoples, the Guanche people, the Balts and the Slavs, respectively.[][][]

Wicca is the largest form of modern Paganism, as well as the best known form, and the most extensively studied by academics.

The scholar of religious studies Graham Harvey noted that a poem known as the Charge of the Goddess remains central to the liturgy of most Wiccan groups. Originally written by Wiccan High Priestess Doreen Valiente in the mid-1950s, Harvey noted that the recitation of the Charge in the midst of ritual allows Wiccans to gain wisdom and experience deity in “the ordinary things in life”.

The historian Ronald Hutton identified a wide variety of different sources that influenced the development of Wicca. These included ceremonial magic, folk magic, Romanticist literature, Freemasonry, and the historical theories of the English archaeologist Margaret Murray. The figure at the forefront of the burgeoning Wiccan movement was the English esotericist Gerald Gardner, who claimed to have been initiated by the New Forest coven in 1939. Gardner claimed that the religion that he discovered was a modern survival of the old Witch-Cult described in the works of Murray, which had originated in the pre-Christian paganism of Europe. He claimed it was revealed to him by a coven of witches in the New Forest area of southern England. Various forms of Wicca have since evolved or been adapted from Gardner’s British Traditional Wicca or Gardnerian Wicca such as Alexandrian Wicca. Other forms loosely based on Gardner’s teachings are Faery Wicca, Kemetic Wicca, Judeo-Paganism or jewitchery, Dianic Wicca or feminist Wicca which emphasizes the divine feminine, often creating women-only or lesbian-only groups.[] In the academic community wicca has also been interpreted as having close affinities with process philosophy.[110]

In the 1990s, Wiccan beliefs and practices were used as a partial basis for a number of U.S. films and television series, such as The Craft, Charmed and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, leading to a dramatic upsurge in teenagers and young adults becoming interested and involved in the religion.

Beit Asherah (the house of the Goddess Asherah) was one of the first Neopagan synagogues, founded in the early 1990s by Stephanie Fox, Steven Posch, and Magenta Griffiths (Lady Magenta). Magenta Griffiths is High Priestess of the Beit Asherah coven, and a former board member of the Covenant of the Goddess.[]

The Chuvash people, a Turkic ethnic group, native to an area stretching from the Volga Region to Siberia, have experienced a Pagan revival since the fall of the Soviet Union, under the name Vattisen Yaly (Chuvash: , Tradition of the Old).[114]

Vattisen Yaly could be categorised as a peculiar form of Tengrism, a related revivalist movement of Central Asian traditional religion, however it differs significantly from it: the Chuvash being a heavily Fennicised and Slavified ethnicity (they were also never fully Islamised, contrarywise to most of other Turks), and having had exchanges also with other Indo-European ethnicities,[115] their religion shows many similarities with Finnic and Slavic Paganisms; moreover, the revival of “Vattisen Yaly” in recent decades has occurred following Neopagan patterns.[116] Thus it should be more carefully categorised as a Neopagan religion. Today the followers of the Chuvash Traditional Religion are called “the true Chuvash”.[114] Their main god is Tura, a deity comparable to the Estonian Taara, the Germanic Thunraz and the pan-Turkic Tengri.[115]

Establishing precise figures on Paganism is difficult. Due to the secrecy and fear of persecution still prevalent among Pagans, limited numbers are willing to openly be counted. The decentralised nature of Paganism and sheer number of solitary practitioners further complicates matters. Nevertheless, there is a slow growing body of data on the subject. Combined statistics from Western nations put Pagans well over one million worldwide.

A study by Ronald Hutton compared a number of different sources (including membership lists of major UK organizations, attendance at major events, subscriptions to magazines, etc.) and used standard models for extrapolating likely numbers. This estimate accounted for multiple membership overlaps as well as the number of adherents represented by each attendee of a pagan gathering. Hutton estimated that there are 250,000 neopagan adherents in the United Kingdom, roughly equivalent to the national Hindu community.

A smaller number is suggested by the results of the 2001 Census, in which a question about religious affiliation was asked for the first time. Respondents were able to write in an affiliation not covered by the checklist of common religions, and a total of 42,262 people from England, Scotland and Wales declared themselves to be Pagans by this method. These figures were not released as a matter of course by the Office for National Statistics, but were released after an application by the Pagan Federation of Scotland.[] This is more than many well known traditions such as Rastafarian, Bah’ and Zoroastrian groups, but fewer than the big six of Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism, Judaism and Buddhism. It is also fewer than the adherents of Jediism, whose campaign made them the fourth largest religion after Christianity, Islam and Hinduism.[]

The 2001 UK Census figures did not allow an accurate breakdown of traditions within the Pagan heading, as a campaign by the Pagan Federation before the census encouraged Wiccans, Heathens, Druids and others all to use the same write-in term ‘Pagan’ in order to maximise the numbers reported. The 2011 census however made it possible to describe oneself as Pagan-Wiccan, Pagan-Druid and so on. The figures for England and Wales showed 80,153 describing themselves as Pagan (or some subgroup thereof.) The largest subgroup was Wicca, with 11,766 adherents.[] The overall numbers of people self-reporting as Pagan rose between 2001 and 2011. In 2001 about seven people per 10,000 UK respondents were pagan; in 2011 the number (based on the England and Wales population) was 14.3 people per 10,000 respondents.

Census figures in Ireland do not provide a breakdown of religions outside of the major Christian denominations and other major world religions. A total of 22,497 people stated Other Religion in the 2006 census; and a rough estimate is that there were 2,0003,000 practicing pagans in Ireland in 2009. Numerous pagan groups primarily Wiccan and Druidic exist in Ireland though none is officially recognised by the Government. Irish Paganism is often strongly concerned with issues of place and language.[]

Canada does not provide extremely detailed records of religious adherence. Its statistics service only collects limited religious information each decade. At the 2001 census, there were a recorded 21080 Pagans in Canada.[][][bettersourceneeded]

The United States government does not directly collect religious information. As a result such information is provided by religious institutions and other third-party statistical organisations.[] Based on the most recent survey by the Pew Forum on religion, there are over one million Pagans estimated to be living in the United States. Up to 0.4% of respondents answered “Pagan” or “Wiccan” when polled.

According to Helen A. Berger’s 1995 survey, “The Pagan Census”, most American Pagans are middle class, educated, and live in urban/suburban areas on East and West coasts.

In the 2011 Australian census, 32083 respondents identified as Pagan. Out of 21507717 recorded Australians,[] they compose approximately 0.15% of the population. The Australian Bureau of Statistics classifies Paganism as an affiliation under which several sub-classifications may optionally be specified. This includes animism, nature religion, Druidism, pantheism, and Witchcraft. As a result, fairly detailed breakdowns of Pagan respondents are available.[]

In 2006, there were at least 6804 (1.64) Pagans among New Zealand’s population of approximately 4 million. Respondents were given the option to select one or more religious affiliations.

Based upon her study of the pagan community in the United States, the sociologist Margot Adler noted that it is rare for Pagan groups to proselytize in order to gain new converts to their faiths. Instead, she argued that “in most cases”, converts first become interested in the movement through “word of mouth, a discussion between friends, a lecture, a book, an article or a Web site”. She went on to put forward the idea that this typically confirmed “some original, private experience, so that the most common experience of those who have named themselves pagan is something like ‘I finally found a group that has the same religious perceptions I always had'”. A practicing Wiccan herself, Adler used her own conversion to paganism as a case study, remarking that as a child she had taken a great interest in the gods and goddesses of ancient Greece, and had performed her own devised rituals in dedication to them. When she eventually came across the Wiccan religion many years later, she then found that it confirmed her earlier childhood experiences, and that “I never converted in the accepted sense. I simply accepted, reaffirmed, and extended a very old experience.”

Folklorist Sabina Magliocco supported this idea, noting that a great many of those Californian Pagans whom she interviewed claimed that they had been greatly interested in mythology and folklore as children, imagining a world of “enchanted nature and magical transformations, filled with lords and ladies, witches and wizards, and humble but often wise peasants”. Magliocco noted that it was this world that pagans “strive to re-create in some measure”. Further support for Adler’s idea came from American Wiccan priestess Judy Harrow, who noted that among her comrades, there was a feeling that “you don’t become pagan, you discover that you always were”. They have also been supported by Pagan studies scholar Graham Harvey.

Many pagans in North America encounter the movement through their involvement in other hobbies; particularly popular with U.S. Pagans are “golden age”-type pastimes such as the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA), Star Trek fandom, Doctor Who fandom and comic book fandom. Other manners in which many North American pagans have got involved with the movement are through political and/or ecological activism, such as “vegetarian groups, health food stores” or feminist university courses.

Adler went on to note that from those she interviewed and surveyed in the U.S., she could identify a number of common factors that led to people getting involved in Paganism: the beauty, vision and imagination that was found within their beliefs and rituals, a sense of intellectual satisfaction and personal growth that they imparted, their support for environmentalism and/or feminism, and a sense of freedom.

Based upon her work in the United States, Adler found that the pagan movement was “very diverse” in its class and ethnic background. She went on to remark that she had encountered pagans in jobs that ranged from “fireman to PhD chemist” but that the one thing that she thought made them into an “elite” was as avid readers, something that she found to be very common within the pagan community despite the fact that avid readers constituted less than 20% of the general population of the United States at the time. Magliocco came to a somewhat different conclusion based upon her ethnographic research of pagans in California, remarking that the majority were “white, middle-class, well-educated urbanites” but that they were united in finding “artistic inspiration” within “folk and indigenous spiritual traditions”.

The sociologist Regina Oboler examined the role of gender in the U.S. Pagan community, arguing that although the movement had been constant in its support for the equality of men and women ever since its foundation, there was still an essentialist view of gender engrained within it, with female deities being accorded traditional western feminine traits and male deities being similarly accorded what western society saw as masculine traits.

“Neopagan practices highlight the centrality of the relationship between humans and nature and reinvent religions of the past, while New Agers are more interested in transforming individual consciousness and shaping the future.”

Religious studies scholar Sarah Pike.

An issue of academic debate has been regarding the connection between the New Age movement and contemporary Paganism, or Neo-Paganism. Religious studies scholar Sarah Pike asserted that there was a “significant overlap” between the two religious movements, while Aidan A. Kelly stated that Paganism “parallels the New Age movement in some ways, differs sharply from it in others, and overlaps it in some minor ways”. Ethan Doyle White stated that while the Pagan and New Age movements “do share commonalities and overlap”, they were nevertheless “largely distinct phenomena.”Hanegraaff suggested that whereas various forms of contemporary Paganism were not part of the New Age movement particularly those who pre-dated the movement other Pagan religions and practices could be identified as New Age. Various differences between the two movements have been highlighted; the New Age movement focuses on an improved future, whereas the focus of Paganism is on the pre-Christian past. Similarly, the New Age movement typically propounds a universalist message which sees all religions as fundamentally the same, whereas Paganism stresses the difference between monotheistic religions and those embracing a polytheistic or animistic theology. Further, the New Age movement shows little interest in magic and witchcraft, which are conversely core interests of many Pagan religions, such as Wicca.

Many Pagans have sought to distance themselves from the New Age movement, even using “New Age” as an insult within their community, while conversely many involved in the New Age have expressed criticism of Paganism for emphasizing the material world over the spiritual.Many Pagans have expressed criticism of the high fees charged by New Age teachers, something not typically present in the Pagan movement.

In Modern Paganism in World Cultures: Comparative Perspectives Michael F. Strmiska writes that “in Pagan magazines, websites, and Internet discussion venues, Christianity is frequently denounced as an antinatural, antifemale, sexually and culturally repressive, guilt-ridden, and authoritarian religion that has fostered intolerance, hypocrisy, and persecution throughout the world.” Further, there is a deep belief that Christianity and Paganism are fundamentally opposing belief systems. This animosity is flamed by the ancient Christian oppression of pre-Christian religion as well as the ongoing Christian oppression of Pagans. Many Pagans have expressed frustration that Christian authorities have never apologized for the cultural genocide and religious persecution of Europe’s pre-Christian belief systems, particularly following the Roman Catholic Church’s apology for past anti-semitism in its A Reflection on the Shoah. They also express disapproval of Christianity’s continued missionary efforts around the globe at the expense of indigenous and other polytheistic faiths.

Some Christian theologians view modern Paganism as a movement that cannot be tolerated but must be fought and defeated. Various Christian authors have published books attacking modern Paganism.Such Christian critics have regularly equated Paganism with Satanism, something which has been furthered by the portrayal of the former in some mainstream media. In areas such as the U.S. Bible Belt where conservative Christian dominance is strong, Pagans have faced continued religious persecution. For instance, Strmiska highlighted instances in both the U.S. and U.K. in which school teachers were fired when their employers discovered that they were Pagan.

Accordingly, many Pagans keep their religious adherence a secret, seeking to avoid such discrimination.

The earliest academic studies of contemporary Paganism were published in the late 1970s and 1980s by scholars like Margot Adler, Marcello Truzzi and Tanya Luhrmann, although it would not be until the 1990s that the actual multidisciplinary academic field of Pagan studies properly developed, pioneered by academics such as Graham Harvey and Chas S. Clifton. Increasing academic interest in Paganism has been attributed to the new religious movement’s increasing public visibility, as it began interacting with the interfaith movement and holding large public celebrations at sites like Stonehenge.

The first international academic conference on the subject of Pagan studies was held at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, North-East England in 1993. It was organised by two British religious studies scholars, Graham Harvey and Charlotte Hardman. In April 1996 a larger conference dealing with contemporary Paganism took place at Ambleside in the Lake District. Organised by the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Lancaster, North-West England, it was entitled “Nature Religion Today: Western Paganism, Shamanism and Esotericism in the 1990s”, and led to the publication of an academic anthology, entitled Nature Religion Today: Paganism in the Modern World. In 2004, the first peer-reviewed, academic journal devoted to Pagan studies began publication. The Pomegranate: The International Journal of Pagan Studies was edited by Clifton, while the academic publishers AltaMira Press began release of the Pagan Studies Series.[] From 2008 onward, conferences have been held bringing together scholars specialising in the study of Paganism in Central and Eastern Europe.

The relationship between Pagan studies scholars and some practising Pagans has at times been strained. The Australian academic and practising Pagan Caroline Jane Tully argues that many Pagans can react negatively to new scholarship regarding historical pre-Christian societies, believing that it is a threat to the structure of their beliefs and to their “sense of identity”. She furthermore argues that some of those dissatisfied Pagans lashed out against academics as a result, particularly on the Internet.

Read more from the original source:

Modern Paganism – Wikipedia

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Posted: September 12th, 2018 | Author: baeldraca | Filed under: Heretical Texts, Howard Stanton Levey, Inner ONA, Labyrinthos Mythologicus, O9A, Order of Nine Angles, Order of the Nine Angles, Satanic Heresy, The Sinister Tradition, The Sinisterly Numinous Tradition | Tags: Anti-O9A Propaganda, Anton LaVey, Anton Long, Inner O9A, Labyrinthos Mythologicus, Left Hand Path, Magian, Occultism, Order of Nine Angles, Satanism, Seven Fold Way, The Sinister Tradition, The Sinisterly-Numinous Tradition | Comments Off on Anti-O9A Propaganda Exposed

Anti-O9A Propaganda Exposed (pdf)

Since the Order of Nine Angles (O9A, ONA) publicly and controversially emerged on the Occult scene in the 1980s with its affirmation that human sacrifice was part of traditional Satanism, and with its Mass Of Heresy in praise of Hitler many self-professed modern satanists (who follow the modern materialistic, law-abiding, satanism developed by Howard Stanton Levey, aka Anton LaVey) and many self-professed followers of the modern, kabbalah indebted, Left Hand Path invented by the likes of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and Aquinos Temple of Set, have spread propaganda and lies about the O9A.

For the fact is that the O9A presented a dangerous and extreme form of Satanism {1} and directly challenged both the modern materialistic satanism developed by Levey and the modern, kabbalah indebted, Left Hand Path with its Hebrew Otz Chim.

Thus it is not surprising that the anti-O9A crowd, following or indebted to or inspired by Levey-type satanism or following or indebted to or inspired by a kabbalah indebted Left Hand Path would spread such propaganda and lies about the O9A.

For O9A folk were in all but name modern Occult heretics, given their promotion of National Socialism, given their holocaust denial, given their affirmation of the necessity of human sacrifice; given their tough physical challenges such as spending at least three months living alone in the wilderness; and given their practical Insight Roles lasting around a year whose sinister-numinous options included being an assassin or a burglar or a monk or a medic or a police officer.

O9A folk were also heretical in terms of their Occult philosophy, promoting a septenary system in place of the accepted Hebrew Otz Chim with its ten-fold sephera (a Hebrew system used by all non-o9a modern Occultists) and claiming that their septenary system represented the genuine Western Occult tradition and pre-dated the Hebrew Otz Chim by centuries.

We present here a few of the most popular propaganda statements made, and lies spread, about the O9A by the anti-O9A crowd, together with the heretical reality which debunks each of those propaganda statements and lies.

Traditional And Modern: The Two Types Of Satanism

There are basically two types of Satanism: (i) the modern American type manufactured and propagated by Howard Stanton Levey better known under his aliases of Anton LaVey and Anton Szandor LaVey and (ii) the traditional Satanism as manifest in the Occult philosophy and the praxis of the Order of Nine Angles (O9A, ONA) as developed and expounded by the pseudonymous Anton Long which is widely believed to be {1}{2} a pseudonym used by the neo-nazi extremist, and theoretician of terror {3}, David Myatt.

The Satanism Of Levey

The modern Satanism of Levey is based on the premise that Satan is a symbol of the carnal, the selfish, the egoistic, nature of human beings, with satanism understood as manifesting the raison dtres of might is right, of lex talionis, and of the individualistic ideas expressed in Ayn Rands Objectivism {4}.

This type of Satanism promotes the total satisfaction of the ego {5} and obeying the law of the land {6}.

The Satanism Of Anton Long

The traditional Satanism of Anton Long is based on the scholarly premise that as described in the O9A text The Geryne of Satan {7} (i) hasatan the satan refers (in the Septuagint) to the chief adversary (of the so-called chosen ones) and to the chief schemer against those who regard themselves as the chosen people of God/Jehovah, and (ii) a satan historically (in the Septuagint) refers to someone who is an adversary of and who thus is pejoratively regarded (by those so opposed) as scheming, as plotting against those who regard themselves as the chosen people of God/Jehovah.

Thus, for the O9A, a satanist is someone who is heretically opposed to those who believe they are the chosen people of God/Jehovah, with O9A satanism understood as an antinomian amoral, heretical means to such exeatic personal experiences as shape and evolve an individuals character and understanding. {8}{9}.

The contrast between the Satanism manufactured and propagated by Howard Stanton Levey and the Satanism developed and expounded by Anton Long is perhaps best illustrated by comparing their respective lives and their respective writings, for one would expect their respective types of Satanism to be reflected in their own lives and in their writings.

A Contrast Of Lives

The life of Howard Stanton Levey consisted of conducting carnivalesque and sometimes fetishistic satanic rituals while dressed like Mephistopheles in some amateur production of Marlowes Faust; selling membership in his showmanry Church of Satan while telling members to obey the law; pontificating and giving lectures about his type of satanism; giving interviews to journalists; hosting parties for hedonists and Hollywood-types, and boasting about his past.

Levey, for instance, boasted that as a seventeen year old he worked in the Beatty circus and handled lions and tigers, although circus records from that time showed that no one named Levey or LaVey worked for them. He boasted that he had worked as a photographer for the San Francisco police department although they had no record of anyone called Levey or LaVey working for them.

Levey boasted that he had an affair with Marilyn Monroe, and yet again there is no documentary evidence to substantiate his claim. He boasted that he worked in a burlesque theatre called Mayan and met Marilyn Monroe there whom he claimed worked as a striptease artiste although the owner of the theatre at the time Paul Valentine denied it was a burlesque theatre, stated Levey never worked there, with there also being no documentary evidence that Monroe worked there as a striptease artiste.

Levey boasted that he enrolled on a criminology course at the City College in San Francisco although the college had no record of his enrolment under his real name, Levey, or under the La Vey alias he often used.

Thus the life of Howard Stanton Levey does indeed exemplify his type of Satanism: hedonistic, egoistic, boastful, materialistic, and showmanry. In common parlance: all mouth and trousers.

In contrast to Levey, Anton Long aka David Myatt is a principal proponent of contemporary neo-Nazi ideology and theoretician of revolution {10}, was the mentor who drove someone to kill three people {11}, who before and after 9/11 publicly praised bin Laden and al Qaeda, called the 9/11 attacks acts of heroism and urged the killing of Jews {12}, who preached race war and terrorism {13}, who wrote a detailed step-by-step guide for terrorist insurrection with advice on assassination targets, rationale for bombing and sabotage campaigns, and rules of engagement {14}, who travelled and spoke in several Arab countries about Jihad {15}, who was a bodyguard of Englands principle neo-nazi activist, Colin Jordan {16}, who took over the leadership of the violent neo-nazi group Combat 18 when its previous leader was jailed for murder {17}, who is an example of the axis between right-wing extremists and Islamists {17}, who is a Martial Arts expert {18}, who was imprisoned twice for violent offences in connection with his neo-nazi activism {17}, and who in 1998 was arrested for conspiracy to murder and for other offences {14}{19}.

The life of Myatt does indeed exemplify O9A Satanism: actually or potentially harmful, destructive, pernicious, baleful, misleading, deadly; bad in moral character; malevolent, offensive, sly; and hard and difficult. In common parlance: extremist, violent, and terrorist.

A Contrast Of Writings

The sources used by Howard Levey evident in his much-vaunted satanic bible and in his letters are populist interpretations of the likes of Nietzsche and Ayn Rand, populist books about psychology, with the anonymous polemic titled Might Is Right much plagiarized. Since Levey could not read Ancient Greek, Latin, and Arabic, when writing about Satan, Iblis (Shaitan) and the medieval grimoire tradition of magic(k) that derived from such earlier Arabic works as Ghayat al-akim and also from some medieval Latin esoteric texts such as those of Marsilio Ficino Levey had no knowledge of such primary sources and had to rely on populist books and the interpretations and interpolations of others. Thus in his understanding of the Biblical Satan he had to rely on translations, unable as he was to read the Greek of the Septuagint.

Such sources and populist interpretations are also much in evidence in texts written by Aquino, who according to his own account {20} aided and contributed to the production of Leveys satanic bible and his satanic rituals books. Like Levey, Aquino could not read Ancient Greek, Latin, and Arabic, and also used populist summaries of philosophies and weltanschauungen, ancient and modern. Thus, in his The Crystal Tablet of Set, populist summaries of philosophies and weltanschauungen, ancient and modern, precede a quite minimalist and vague presentation of satanist and/or of Temple of Set ideas. Thus, a chapter on ethics consists of 12 pages of populist summaries of the likes of Plato, Hegel, Marx, et al, followed by a meagre few paragraphs concerning good and evil in an occult context, and which paragraphs merely present rather cliched personal opinions, such as that there is thus no easy answer to the question of whether a given magical act is good or evil and that it is up to the magician to determine what judgments by which judges will be important. As befits such pseudo-intellectualism, the references in such texts are often to populist works (such as The Social Contract by Robert Ardrey) just as quotations from such people as Plato are invariably in translations, not by Aquino, but by someone else.

Thus the writings of Howard Stanton Levey and those of Aquino, his helper do indeed exemplify the type of Satanism found in The Church Of Satan: populist, plagiaristic, reliant on the interpretations and interpolations of others, and unoriginal. In common parlance: plebeian, mundane.

In complete contrast, Myatt has fluency in the classical languages (Greek and Latin), as well as Arabic and possibly Persian, [and is] possessed of a gifted intellect and apparently a polymath, {21} and thus can read primary esoteric, classical, and alchemical sources, and the Greek texts of the Septuagint (the Old Testament) and the New Testament, in their original language. Thus when Anton Long writes in the O9A text The Geryne of Satan about Satan he does so based on a scholarly knowledge of the Greek text of the Old Testament.

In addition, when Myatt in contrast to both Levey and Aquino writes of ethics and about good and evil in, for example, chapter IV Questions of Good, Evil, Honour, and God of his 2013 book Religion, Empathy, and Pathei-Mathos, he provides passages in Hebrew, Greek, and Arabic, along with his own translations. Similarly, when discussing ethics in his recent book Classical Paganism And The Christian Ethos, Myatt provides the relevant Greek texts (such as from the Gospel of John) and his own translations.

Thus the O9A writings of Anton Long do indeed exemplify O9A Satanism: intellectually and historically based {22}, scholarly, original. In common parlance: a cut above the rest.

Conclusion

The contrast between the life and writings of Howard Levey and Anton Long could not be more stark.

Levey was a showman, a dilettante, a plagiarist, a charlatan, and a mundane.

Anton Long, however, was a practical a hands-on extremist and Faustian man as well as an intellectual, a scholar, a martial arts expert {18}, emblematic of the modern syncretism of radical ideologies {23}, and well-described as an extremely violent, intelligent, dark, and complex individual {24} who undertook a global odyssey which took him on extended stays in the Middle East and East Asia, accompanied by studies of religions ranging from Christianity to Islam in the Western tradition and Taoism and Buddhism in the Eastern path. In the course of this Siddhartha-like search for truth, Myatt sampled the life of the monastery in both its Christian and Buddhist forms. {25}.

Which global odyssey formed only part of his fifty year quest his personal hermetic anados () {26} along the Seven Fold (Sinisterly-Numinous) Way of the O9A culminating in his discovery of Lapis Philosophicus {27} and thence the living of the life of a reclusive Mage, and thus a modern example of the ancient Rounwytha tradition, whose perceiveration is of the nameless, wordless, unity beyond our mortal, abstract, ideations of sinister and numinous, of Left Hand Path and Right Hand Path, and also and importantly of time. For it is our ideation of time with its assumption of a possible temporal progression, via various temporary causal forms, toward something better or more advanced or more perfect (in personal or supra-personal terms) that underlies the magian/patriarchal/masculous approach that has dominated, and still dominates, Western occultism and esotericism in general, fundamental to which is a hubriatic egoism: the illusion that is the individual will. {28}

Such is the modern heresy of the O9A which esoterically and exoterically contradicts the modern Satanism of Levey based as the Satanism of Levey is on the premise that Satan is a symbol for plebeians, and thus of the carnal, the selfish, the egoistic, the mundane, nature of human beings.

In stark contrast, the Satanism of the O9A is of a Faustian, a Promethean, and life-long endeavor to defy all ideations, all causal forms, and reach out to personally and in practical ways experience and learn from both the sinister and the numinous and to thus discover Lapis Philosophicus.

T.W.S. NexionJuly 2018 ev

This is a revised and enlarged extract from an article first published in May 2018 ev.

{1} Goodrick-Clarke, Nicholas (2003). Black Sun: Aryan Cults, Esoteric Nazism, and the Politics of Identity. New York University Press.

{2} Senholt, Jacob C. (2013). Secret Identities in the Sinister Tradition: Political Esotericism and the Convergence of Radical Islam, Satanism, and National Socialism in the Order of Nine Angles. The Devils Party: Satanism in Modernity. Per Faxneld and Jesper Aagaard Petersen (editors). Oxford University Press. pp. 250274.

{3} Theoretician of Terror, Searchlight, July 2000.

{4} According to Levey, his satanism is Ayn Rand with trappings, qv. K. Klein, The Washington Post, May 10, 1970: The Witches Are Back and So Are Satanists.

{5} Categorizing Modern Satanism, in The Devils Party: Satanism in Modernity, Oxford University Press, 2012, p.92.

{6} The Black Pope and the Church of Satan, in The Devils Party: Satanism in Modernity, Oxford University Press, 2012, p.80.

{7} The text The Geryne of Satan is available from https://omega9alpha.wordpress.com/geryne-of-satan/

{8} The Place Of Satanism in the Order of Nine Angles, in The Joy Of The Sinister: The Traditional Satanism Of The Order Of Nine Angles. e-text, 2015. Available at https://regardingdavidmyatt.files.wordpress.com/2018/05/joy-of-the-sinister.pdf

{9} Pathei-Mathos and The Initiatory Occult Quest, in The Esoteric Hermeticism Of The Order Of Nine Angles. e-text, 2016. Available at https://omega9alpha.wordpress.com/2016/03/30/the-esoteric-hermeticism-of-the-order-of-nine-angles/

{10} Michael, George. The New Media and the Rise of Exhortatory Terrorism. Strategic Studies Quarterly (United States Air Force), Volume 7 Issue 1, Spring 2013.

{11} Sunday Mercury, July 9, 2000.

{12} Simon Wiesenthal Center: Response, Summer 2003, Vol 24, #2.

{13} Searchlight, July 2000.

{14} Whine, Michael. Cyberspace: A New Medium for Communication, Command and Control by Extremists, Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, Volume 22, Issue 3. Taylor & Francis. 1999.

{15} Mark Weitzmann, Anti-Semitism and Terrorism, in Dienel, Hans-Liudger (editor), Terrorism and the Internet: Threats, Target Groups, Deradicalisation Strategies. NATO Science for Peace and Security Series, vol. 67. IOS Press, 2010. pp.16-17.

{16} Goodrick-Clarke, Nicholas. Hitlers Priestess: Savitri Devi, the Hindu-Aryan Myth and Neo-Nazism, NYU Press, 2000, p.215

{17} Michael, George. (2006) The Enemy of My Enemy: The Alarming Convergence of Militant Islam and the Extreme Right. University Press of Kansas, p. 142ff.

{18} Right here, right now, The Observer newspaper, February 9, 2003.

{19} Vacca, John R. Computer Forensics: Computer Crime Scene Investigation, Charles River Media, 2005, p.420.

{20} See, for example, his two volume book The Church Of Satan, published in 2013, which documents the history of Leveys Church of Satan.

{21} Monette, Connell. Mysticism in the 21st Century, Sirius Academic Press, 2013. pp. 85-122.

{22} qv. (i) The Esoteric Hermeticism Of The Order Of Nine Angles. e-text, 2016. Available at https://omega9alpha.wordpress.com/2016/03/30/the-esoteric-hermeticism-of-the-order-of-nine-angles/ and (ii) https://wyrdsister.wordpress.com/2017/11/20/western-paganism-and-hermeticism/

{23} Perdue, Jon B. The War of All the People: The Nexus of Latin American Radicalism and Middle Eastern Terrorism. Potomac Books, 2012. p.70-71.

{24} Raine, Susan. The Devils Party (Book review). Religion, Volume 44, Issue 3, July 2014, pp. 529-533.

{25} Kaplan, Jeffrey. Encyclopedia of white power: a sourcebook on the radical racist right. Rowman & Littlefield, 2000. p. 216ff; p.512f

{26} In regard to the hermetic anados, qv. Myatts translation of and commentary on the Poemandres tractate of the ancient Corpus Hermeticum, included in Myatt, David, Corpus Hermeticum: Eight Tractates, 2017, ISBN 978-1976452369.

{27} qv. https://omega9alpha.wordpress.com/the-enigmatic-truth/

{28} https://omega9alpha.wordpress.com/the-rounwytha-way/

Related:

A Modern MysteriumThe Enigma of David Myatt And Anton Long(pdf)

Republished here are some items concerning the nine angles and/or which place the term nine angles into the correct esoteric perspective.

The first item whose full title is Notes Concerning The Term Nine Angles As Used By The Occult Group The Order of Nine Angles is in four parts and was issued in 2013 ev. Part One is an extract from a September 2013 ev debate on an Occult internet forum. Part Two contains three screen-shots from a 2011 ev debate between Aquino, of the Temple of Set, and a person associated with the Order of Nine Angles. Part Three is an extract from Myatts commentary on the Greek text of the Divine Pymander, a text dating from the second/third century CE . Part Four is an extract from A Glossary of ONA Terms, v.3.07.

The second item More Notes On The Nine Angles is the most recent (2018 ev) and places the screenshots of Part Two of the first item into context, containing as it does further extracts from that 2011 ev thread on an Occult forum.

The third and the fourth items are parts one and two of Concerning The Meaning of The Nine Angles: A Collection of Texts, issued in 120 yf and 121 yf respectively, that is in 2009 ev and 2010 ev. Part One consists of a polemic text (Ingrowing Angles, or How Not to Name Thee Nine Angles Thingy, written in 2009 ev) and two esoteric texts, The Order of Nine Angles in Historical, and Esoteric, Context, and The Nine Angles Just One More Causal Symbology. Part Two consists of one esoteric text, The Nine Angles Beyond The Causal Continuum, issued in 121 yf, and concerns the angles as causal-acausal dimensions, which differ from causal dimensions in that they are alchemical and thus presence or can presence Life.

The fifth item, The Five-Dimensional Sorcery of the Seventh Way, written in 116 yf (2005 ev) concerns the nine angles in the context of sorcery.

The sixth item, Debunking The Chaos: Sorcery and the Esoteric Nature of The Acausal, written in 122 yf, concerns sorcery as a living alchemy, and is a companion to the fifth item.

The seventh item, The Star Game: Further Notes Regarding The Esoteric Form, written in 121 yf, provides some practical notes regarding constructing and playing The Star Game.

The items thus reveal how the nine angles can be understood both exoterically and esoterically, as well as how they can be understood both in terms of practical sorcery (such as The Star Game, or the various forms of the Rite Of Nine Angles) and in terms of the esoteric philosophy of the O9A.

However, as noted in many of the texts, in the simplest sense the nine angles of the O9A are the nine combinations of the three fundamental alchemical elements Sulphur, Mercury, and Salt, whose transformations over the seven boards of the O9A Star Game represent the septenary Tree of Wyrd and thus the nexion which is our psyche.

Notes Concerning The Term Nine Angles

More Notes On The Nine Angles

Nine Angles: A Collection of Texts, Part One

Nine Angles: A Collection of Texts, Part Two

The Five-Dimensional Sorcery of the Seventh Way

Debunking The Chaos

The Star Game: Further Notes

Related:

Star Game Overview

Here is the original post:

o 9 a

Satanism – Wikipedia

Satanism is a group of ideological and philosophical beliefs based on Satan.[1] Contemporary religious practice of Satanism began with the founding of the Church of Satan in 1966, although a few historical precedents exist. Prior to the public practice, Satanism existed primarily as an accusation by various Christian groups toward perceived ideological opponents, rather than a self-identity. Satanism, and the concept of Satan, has also been used by artists and entertainers for symbolic expression.

Accusations that various groups have been practicing Satanism have been made throughout much of Christian history. During the Middle Ages, the Inquisition attached to the Roman Catholic Church alleged that various heretical Christian sects and groups, such as the Knights Templar and the Cathars, performed secret Satanic rituals. In the subsequent Early Modern period, belief in a widespread Satanic conspiracy of witches resulted in mass trials of alleged witches across Europe and the North American colonies. Accusations that Satanic conspiracies were active, and behind events such as Protestantism (and conversely, the Protestant claim that the Pope was the Antichrist) and the French Revolution continued to be made in Christendom during the eighteenth to the twentieth century. The idea of a vast Satanic conspiracy reached new heights with the influential Taxil hoax of France in the 1890s, which claimed that Freemasonry worshiped Satan, Lucifer, and Baphomet in their rituals. In the 1980s and 1990s, the Satanic ritual abuse hysteria spread through the United States and United Kingdom, amid fears that groups of Satanists were regularly sexually abusing and murdering children in their rites. In most of these cases, there is no corroborating evidence that any of those accused of Satanism were actually practitioners of a Satanic religion or guilty of the allegations leveled at them.

Since the 19th century, various small religious groups have emerged that identify as Satanists or use Satanic iconography. Satanist groups that appeared after the 1960s are widely diverse, but two major trends are theistic Satanism and atheistic Satanism. Theistic Satanists venerate Satan as a supernatural deity, viewing him not as omnipotent but rather as a patriarch. In contrast, atheistic Satanists regard Satan as merely a symbol of certain human traits.[2]

Contemporary religious Satanism is predominantly an American phenomenon, the ideas spreading elsewhere with the effects of globalization and the Internet.[3] The Internet spreads awareness of other Satanists, and is also the main battleground for Satanist disputes.[3] Satanism started to reach Central and Eastern Europe in the 1990s, in time with the fall of the Soviet Union, and most noticeably in Poland and Lithuania, predominantly Roman Catholic countries.[4][5]

In their study of Satanism, the religious studies scholars Asbjrn Dyrendal, James R. Lewis, and Jesper Aa. Petersen stated that the term Satanism “has a history of being a designation made by people against those whom they dislike; it is a term used for ‘othering'”. The concept of Satanism is an invention of Christianity, for it relies upon the figure of Satan, a character deriving from Christian mythology.

Elsewhere, Petersen noted that “Satanism as something others do is very different from Satanism as a self-designation”.Eugene Gallagher noted that, as commonly used, Satanism was usually “a polemical, not a descriptive term”.

The word “Satan” was not originally a proper name but rather an ordinary noun meaning “the adversary”; in this context it appears at several points in the Old Testament. For instance, in the Book of Samuel, David is presented as the satan (“adversary”) of the Philistines, while in the Book of Numbers the term appears as a verb, when God sent an angel to satan (“to oppose”) Balaam. Prior to the composition of the New Testament, the idea developed within Jewish communities that Satan was the name of an angel who had rebelled against God and had been cast out of Heaven along with his followers; this account would be incorporated into contemporary texts like the Book of Enoch. This Satan was then featured in parts of the New Testament, where he was presented as a figure who tempted humans to commit sin; in the Book of Matthew and the Book of Luke, he attempted to tempt Jesus of Nazareth as the latter fasted in the wilderness.

The word “Satanism” was adopted into English from the French satanisme. The terms “Satanism” and “Satanist” are first recorded as appearing in the English and French languages during the sixteenth century, when they were used by Christian groups to attack other, rival Christian groups. In a Roman Catholic tract of 1565, the author condemns the “heresies, blasphemies, and sathanismes [sic]” of the Protestants. In an Anglican work of 1559, Anabaptists and other Protestant sects are condemned as “swarmes of Satanistes [sic]”. As used in this manner, the term “Satanism” was not used to claim that people literally worshipped Satan, but rather presented the view that through deviating from what the speaker or writer regarded as the true variant of Christianity, they were regarded as being essentially in league with the Devil. During the nineteenth century, the term “Satanism” began to be used to describe those considered to lead a broadly immoral lifestyle, and it was only in the late nineteenth century that it came to be applied in English to individuals who were believed to consciously and deliberately venerate Satan. This latter meaning had appeared earlier in the Swedish language; the Lutheran Bishop Laurentius Paulinus Gothus had described devil-worshipping sorcerers as Sathanister in his Ethica Christiana, produced between 1615 and 1630.

Historical and anthropological research suggests that nearly all societies have developed the idea of a sinister and anti-human force that can hide itself within society. This commonly involves a belief in witches, a group of individuals who invert the norms of their society and seek to harm their community, for instance by engaging in incest, murder, and cannibalism. Allegations of witchcraft may have different causes and serve different functions within a society. For instance, they may serve to uphold social norms, to heighten the tension in existing conflicts between individuals, or to scapegoat certain individuals for various social problems.

Another contributing factor to the idea of Satanism is the concept that there is an agent of misfortune and evil who operates on a cosmic scale, something usually associated with a strong form of ethical dualism that divides the world clearly into forces of good and forces of evil. The earliest such entity known is Angra Mainyu, a figure that appears in the Persian religion of Zoroastrianism. This concept was also embraced by Judaism and early Christianity, and although it was soon marginalised within Jewish thought, it gained increasing importance within early Christian understandings of the cosmos. While the early Christian idea of the Devil was not well developed, it gradually adapted and expanded through the creation of folklore, art, theological treatises, and morality tales, thus providing the character with a range of extra-Biblical associations.

As Christianity expanded throughout the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe, it came into contact with a variety of other religions, which it regarded as “pagan”. Christian theologians claimed that the gods and goddesses venerated by these “pagans” were not genuine divinities, but were actually demons. However, they did not believe that “pagans” were deliberately devil-worshippers, instead claiming that they were simply misguided. In Christian iconography, the Devil and demons were given the physical traits of figures from Classical mythology such as the god Pan, fauns, and satyrs.

Those Christian groups regarded as heretics by the Roman Catholic Church were treated differently, with theologians arguing that they were deliberately worshipping the Devil. This was accompanied by claims that such individuals engaged in incestuous sexual orgies, murdered infants, and committed acts of cannibalism, all stock accusations that had previously been leveled at Christians themselves in the Roman Empire.The first recorded example of such an accusation being made within Western Christianity took place in Toulouse in 1022, when two clerics were tried for allegedly venerating a demon. Throughout the middle ages, this accusation would be applied to a wide range of Christian heretical groups, including the Paulicians, Bogomils, Cathars, Waldensians, and the Hussites. The Knights Templar were accused of worshipping an idol known as Baphomet, with Lucifer having appeared at their meetings in the form of a cat. As well as these Christian groups, these claims were also made about Europe’s Jewish community. In the thirteenth century, there were also references made to a group of “Luciferians” led by a woman named Lucardis which hoped to see Satan rule in Heaven. References to this group continued into the fourteenth century, although historians studying the allegations concur that these Luciferians were likely a fictitious invention.

Within Christian thought, the idea developed that certain individuals could make a pact with Satan. This may have emerged after observing that pacts with gods and goddesses played a role in various pre-Christian belief systems, or that such pacts were also made as part of the Christian cult of saints. Another possibility is that it derives from a misunderstanding of Augustine of Hippo’s condemnation of augury in his On the Christian Doctrine, written in the late fourth century. Here, he stated that people who consulted augurs were entering “quasi pacts” (covenants) with demons. The idea of the diabolical pact made with demons was popularised across Europe in the story of Faust, likely based in part on the real life Johann Georg Faust.

As the late medieval gave way to the early modern period, European Christendom experienced a schism between the established Roman Catholic Church and the breakaway Protestant movement. In the ensuing Reformation and Counter-Reformation, both Catholics and Protestants accused each other of deliberately being in league with Satan. It was in this context that the terms “Satanist” and “Satanism” emerged.

The early modern period also saw fear of Satanists reach its “historical apogee” in the form of the witch trials of the fifteenth to the eighteenth centuries. This came about as the accusations which had been leveled at medieval heretics, among them that of devil-worship, were applied to the pre-existing idea of the witch, or practitioner of malevolent magic. The idea of a conspiracy of Satanic witches was developed by educated elites, although the concept of malevolent witchcraft was a widespread part of popular belief and folkloric ideas about the night witch, the wild hunt, and the dance of the fairies were incorporated into it. The earliest trials took place in Northern Italy and France, before spreading it out to other areas of Europe and to Britain’s North American colonies, being carried out by the legal authorities in both Catholic and Protestant regions.Between 30,000 and 50,000 individuals were executed as accused Satanic witches.Most historians agree that the majority of those persecuted in these witch trials were innocent of any involvement in Devil worship. However, in their summary of the evidence for the trials, the historians Geoffrey Scarre and John Callow thought it “without doubt” that some of those accused in the trials had been guilty of employing magic in an attempt to harm their enemies, and were thus genuinely guilty of witchcraft.

In seventeenth-century Sweden, a number of highway robbers and other outlaws living in the forests informed judges that they venerated Satan because he provided more practical assistance than God.The historian of religion Massimo Introvigne regarded these practices as “folkloric Satanism”.

During the eighteenth century, gentleman’s social clubs became increasingly prominent in Britain and Ireland, among the most secretive of which were the Hellfire Clubs, which were first reported in the 1720s. The most famous of these groups was the Order of the Knights of Saints Francis, which was founded circa 1750 by the aristocrat Sir Francis Dashwood and which assembled first at his estate at West Wycombe and later in Medmenham Abbey. A number of contemporary press sources portrayed these as gatherings of atheist rakes where Christianity was mocked and toasts were made to the Devil. Beyond these sensationalist accounts, which may not be accurate portrayals of actual events, little is known about the activities of the Hellfire Clubs. Introvigne suggested that they may have engaged in a form of “playful Satanism” in which Satan was invoked “to show a daring contempt for conventional morality” by individuals who neither believed in his literal existence nor wanted to pay homage to him.

The French Revolution of 1789 dealt a blow to the hegemony of the Roman Catholic Church in parts of Europe, and soon a number of Catholic authors began making claims that it had been masterminded by a conspiratorial group of Satanists. Among the first to do so was French Catholic priest Jean-Baptiste Fiard, who publicly claimed that a wide range of individuals, from the Jacobins to tarot card readers, were part of a Satanic conspiracy. Fiard’s ideas were furthered by Alexis-Vincent-Charles Berbiguier, who devoted a lengthy book to this conspiracy theory; he claimed that Satanists had supernatural powers allowing them to curse people and to shapeshift into both cats and fleas. Although most of his contemporaries regarded Berbiguier as mad, his ideas gained credence among many occultists, including Stanislas de Guaita, a Cabalist who used them for the basis of his book, The Temple of Satan.

In the early 20th century, the British novelist Dennis Wheatley produced a range of influential novels in which his protagonists battled Satanic groups. At the same time, non-fiction authors like Montague Summers and Rollo Ahmed published books claiming that Satanic groups practicing black magic were still active across the world, although they provided no evidence that this was the case. During the 1950s, various British tabloid newspapers repeated such claims, largely basing their accounts on the allegations of one woman, Sarah Jackson, who claimed to have been a member of such a group. In 1973, the British Christian Doreen Irvine published From Witchcraft to Christ, in which she claimed to have been a member of a Satanic group that gave her supernatural powers, such as the ability to levitate, before she escaped and embraced Christianity.In the United States during the 1960s and 1970s, various Christian preachersthe most famous being Mike Warnke in his 1972 book The Satan-Sellerclaimed that they had been members of Satanic groups who carried out sex rituals and animal sacrifices before discovering Christianity. According to Gareth Medway in his historical examination of Satanism, these stories were “a series of inventions by insecure people and hack writers, each one based on a previous story, exaggerated a little more each time”.

Other publications made allegations of Satanism against historical figures. The 1970s saw the publication of the Romanian Protestant preacher Richard Wurmbrand’s book in which he arguedwithout corroborating evidencethat the socio-political theorist Karl Marx had been a Satanist.

At the end of the twentieth century, a moral panic developed around claims regarding a Devil-worshipping cult that made use of sexual abuse, murder, and cannibalism in its rituals, with children being among its victims. Initially, the alleged perpetrators of such crimes were labelled “witches”, although the term “Satanist” was soon adopted as a favoured alternative, and the phenomenon itself came to be called “the Satanism Scare”. Promoters of the claims alleged that there was a conspiracy of organised Satanists who occupied prominent positions throughout society, from the police to politicians, and that they had been powerful enough to cover up their crimes.

Sociologist of religion Massimo Introvigne, 2016

One of the primary sources for the scare was Michelle Remembers, a 1980 book by the Canadian psychiatrist Lawrence Pazder in which he detailed what he claimed were the repressed memories of his patient (and wife) Michelle Smith. Smith had claimed that as a child she had been abused by her family in Satanic rituals in which babies were sacrificed and Satan himself appeared. In 1983, allegations were made that the McMartin familyowners of a preschool in Californiawere guilty of sexually abusing the children in their care during Satanic rituals. The allegations resulted in a lengthy and expensive trial, in which all of the accused would eventually be cleared. The publicity generated by the case resulted in similar allegations being made in various other parts of the United States.

A prominent aspect of the Satanic Scare was the claim by those in the developing “anti-Satanism” movement that any child’s claim about Satanic ritual abuse must be true, because children would not lie. Although some involved in the anti-Satanism movement were from Jewish and secular backgrounds, a central part was played by fundamentalist and evangelical forms of Christianity, in particular Pentecostalism, with Christian groups holding conferences and producing books and videotapes to promote belief in the conspiracy. Various figures in law enforcement also came to be promoters of the conspiracy theory, with such “cult cops” holding various conferences to promote it. The scare was later imported to the United Kingdom through visiting evangelicals and became popular among some of the country’s social workers, resulting in a range of accusations and trials across Britain.

The Satanic ritual abuse hysteria died down between 1990 and 1994. In the late 1980s, the Satanic Scare had lost its impetus following increasing scepticism about such allegations, and a number of those who had been convicted of perpetrating Satanic ritual abuse saw their convictions overturned.In 1990, an agent of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, Ken Lanning, revealed that he had investigated 300 allegations of Satanic ritual abuse and found no evidence for Satanism or ritualistic activity in any of them. In the UK, the Department of Health commissioned the anthropologist Jean La Fontaine to examine the allegations of SRA. She noted that while approximately half did reveal evidence of genuine sexual abuse of children, none revealed any evidence that Satanist groups had been involved or that any murders had taken place. She noted three examples in which lone individuals engaged in child molestation had created a ritual performance to facilitate their sexual acts, with the intent of frightening their victims and justifying their actions, but that none of these child molestors were involved in wider Satanist groups. By the 21st century, hysteria about Satanism has waned in most Western countries, although allegations of Satanic ritual abuse continued to surface in parts of continental Europe and Latin America.

From the late seventeenth through to the nineteenth century, the character of Satan was increasingly rendered unimportant in Western philosophy and ignored in Christian theology, while in folklore he came to be seen as a foolish rather than a menacing figure. The development of new values in the Age of Enlightenmentin particular those of reason and individualismcontributed to a shift in how many Europeans viewed Satan. In this context, a number of individuals took Satan out of the traditional Christian narrative and reread and reinterpreted him in light of their own time and their own interests, in turn generating new and different portraits of Satan.

The shifting view of Satan owes many of its origins to John Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost (1667), in which Satan features as the protagonist. Milton was a Puritan and had never intended for his depiction of Satan to be a sympathetic one. However, in portraying Satan as a victim of his own pride who rebelled against God he humanized him and also allowed him to be interpreted as a rebel against tyranny. This was how Milton’s Satan was understood by later readers like the publisher Joseph Johnson, and the anarchist philosopher William Godwin, who reflected it in his 1793 book Enquiry Concerning Political Justice. Paradise Lost gained a wide readership in the eighteenth century, both in Britain and in continental Europe, where it had been translated into French by Voltaire. Milton thus became “a central character in rewriting Satanism” and would be viewed by many later religious Satanists as a “de facto Satanist”.

The nineteenth century saw the emergence of what has been termed “literary Satanism” or “romantic Satanism”. According to Van Luijk, this cannot be seen as a “coherent movement with a single voice, but rather as a post factum identified group of sometimes widely divergent authors among whom a similar theme is found”. For the literary Satanists, Satan was depicted as a benevolent and sometimes heroic figure, with these more sympathetic portrayals proliferating in the art and poetry of many romanticist and decadent figures. For these individuals, Satanism was not a religious belief or ritual activity, but rather a “strategic use of a symbol and a character as part of artistic and political expression”.

Among the romanticist poets to adopt this view of Satan was the English poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, who had been influenced by Milton. In his poem Laon and Cythna, Shelley praised the “Serpent”, a reference to Satan, as a force for good in the universe.Another was Shelley’s fellow British poet Lord Byron, who included Satanic themes in his 1821 play Cain, which was a dramatization of the Biblical story of Cain and Abel. These more positive portrayals also developed in France; one example was the 1823 work Eloa by Alfred de Vigny. Satan was also adopted by the French poet Victor Hugo, who made the character’s fall from Heaven a central aspect of his La Fin de Satan, in which he outlined his own cosmogony.Although the likes of Shelley and Byron promoted a positive image of Satan in their work, there is no evidence that any of them performed religious rites to venerate him, and thus it is problematic to regard them as religious Satanists.

Radical left-wing political ideas had been spread by the American Revolution of 176583 and the French Revolution of 178999, and the figure of Satan, who was interpreted as having rebelled against the tyranny imposed by God, was an appealing one for many of the radical leftists of the period. For them, Satan was “a symbol for the struggle against tyranny, injustice, and oppression… a mythical figure of rebellion for an age of revolutions, a larger-than-life individual for an age of individualism, a free thinker in an age struggling for free thought”. The French anarchist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, who was a staunch critic of Christianity, embraced Satan as a symbol of liberty in several of his writings. Another prominent 19th century anarchist, the Russian Mikhail Bakunin, similarly described the figure of Satan as “the eternal rebel, the first freethinker and the emancipator of worlds” in his book God and the State. These ideas likely inspired the American feminist activist Moses Harman to name his anarchist periodical Lucifer the Lightbearer. The idea of this “Leftist Satan” declined during the twentieth century, although it was used on occasion by authorities within the Soviet Union, who portrayed Satan as a symbol of freedom and equality.

During the 1960s and 1970s, several rock bandsnamely the American Coven and the British Black Widowemployed the imagery of Satanism and witchcraft in their work. References to Satan also appeared in the work of those rock bands which were pioneering the heavy metal genre in Britain during the 1970s. Black Sabbath for instance made mention of Satan in their lyrics, although several of the band’s members were practicing Christians and other lyrics affirmed the power of the Christian God over Satan. In the 1980s, greater use of Satanic imagery was made by heavy metal bands like Slayer, Kreator, Sodom, and Destruction. Bands active in the subgenre of death metalamong them Deicide, Morbid Angel, and Entombedalso adopted Satanic imagery, combining it with other morbid and dark imagery, such as that of zombies and serial killers.

Satanism would come to be more closely associated with the subgenre of black metal, in which it was foregrounded over the other themes that had been used in death metal. A number of black metal performers incorporated self-injury into their act, framing this as a manifestation of Satanic devotion. The first black metal band, Venom, proclaimed themselves to be Satanists, although this was more an act of provocation than an expression of genuine devotion to the Devil. Satanic themes were also used by the black metal bands Bathory and Hellhammer. However, the first black metal act to more seriously adopt Satanism was Mercyful Fate, whose vocalist, King Diamond, joined the Church of Satan. More often than not musicians associating themselves with black metal say they do not believe in legitimate Satanic ideology and often profess to being atheists, agnostics, or religious skeptics.[110]

In contrast to King Diamond, various black metal Satanists sought to distance themselves from LaVeyan Satanism, for instance by referring to their beliefs as “devil worship”. These individuals regarded Satan as a literal entity, and in contrast to LaVey’s views, they associated Satanism with criminality, suicide, and terror. For them, Christianity was regarded as a plague which required eradication. Many of these individualssuch as Varg Vikernes and Euronymouswere Norwegian, and influenced by the strong anti-Christian views of this milieu, between 1992 and 1996 around fifty Norwegian churches were destroyed in arson attacks. Within the black metal scene, a number of musicians later replaced Satanic themes with those deriving from Heathenry, a form of modern Paganism.

Rather than being one single form of religious Satanism, there are instead multiple different religious Satanisms, each with different ideas about what being a Satanist entails. The historian of religion Ruben van Luijk used a “working definition” in which Satanism was regarded as “the intentional, religiously motivated veneration of Satan”.

Dyrendal, Lewis, and Petersen believed that it was not a single movement, but rather a milieu. They and others have nevertheless referred to it as a new religious movement. They believed that there was a family resemblance that united all of the varying groups in this milieu, and that most of them were self religions. They argued that there were a set of features that were common to the groups in this Satanic milieu: these were the positive use of the term “Satanist” as a designation, an emphasis on individualism, a genealogy that connects them to other Satanic groups, a transgressive and antinomian stance, a self-perception as an elite, and an embrace of values such as pride, self-reliance, and productive non-conformity.

Dyrendal, Lewis, and Petersen argued that the groups within the Satanic milieu could be divided into three groups: reactive Satanists, rationalist Satanists, and esoteric Satanists. They saw reactive Satanism as encompassing “popular Satanism, inverted Christianity, and symbolic rebellion” and noted that it situates itself in opposition to society while at the same time conforming to society’s perspective of evil. Rationalist Satanism is used to describe the trend in the Satanic milieu which is atheistic, sceptical, materialistic, and epicurean. Esoteric Satanism instead applied to those forms which are theistic and draw upon ideas from other forms of Western esotericism, Modern Paganism, Buddhism, and Hinduism.

The first person to promote a Satanic philosophy was the Pole Stanislaw Przybyszewski, who promoted a Social Darwinian ideology.

The use of the term “Lucifer” was also taken up by the French ceremonial magician Eliphas Levi, who has been described as a “Romantic Satanist”. During his younger days, Levi used “Lucifer” in much the same manner as the literary romantics. As he moved toward a more politically conservative outlook in later life, he retained the use of the term, but instead applied it as to what he believed was a morally neutral facet of the Absolute. In his book Dogma and Ritual of High Magic, published in two volumes between 1854 and 1856, Levi offered the symbol of Baphomet. He claimed that this was a figure who had been worshipped by the Knights Templar.According to Introvigne, this image gave “the Satanists their most popular symbol ever”.

Levi was not the only occultist who wanted to use the term “Lucifer” without adopting the term “Satan” in a similar way. The early Theosophical Society held to the view that “Lucifer” was a force that aided humanity’s awakening to its own spiritual nature. In keeping with this view, the Society began production of a journal titled Lucifer.

“Satan” was also used within the esoteric system propounded by the Danish occultist Carl William Hansen, who used the pen name “Ben Kadosh”. Hansen was involved in a variety of esoteric groups, including Martinism, Freemasonry, and the Ordo Templi Orientis, drawing on ideas from various groups to establish his own philosophy. In one pamphlet, he provided a “Luciferian” interpretation of Freemasonry. Kadosh’s work left little influence outside of Denmark.

Both during his life and after it, the British occultist Aleister Crowley has been widely described as a Satanist, usually by detractors. Crowley stated he did not consider himself a Satanist, nor did he worship Satan, as he did not accept the Christian world view in which Satan was believed to exist. He nevertheless used imagery considered satanic, for instance by describing himself as “the Beast 666” and referring to the Whore of Babylon in his work, while in later life he sent “Antichristmas cards” to his friends. Dyrendel, Lewis, and Petersen noted that despite the fact that Crowley was not a Satanist, he “in many ways embodies the pre-Satanist esoteric discourse on Satan and Satanism through his lifestyle and his philosophy”, with his “image and thought” becoming an “important influence” on the later development of religious Satanism.

In 1928 the Fraternitas Saturni (FS) was established in Germany; its founder, Eugen Grosche, published Satanische Magie (“Satanic Magic”) that same year. The group connected Satan to Saturn, claiming that the planet related to the Sun in the same manner that Lucifer relates to the human world.

In 1932 an esoteric group known as the Brotherhood of the Golden Arrow was established in Paris, France by Maria de Naglowska, a Russian occultist who had fled to France following the Russian Revolution. She promoted a theology centred on what she called the Third Term of the Trinity consisting of Father, Son, and Sex, the latter of which she deemed to be most important. Her early disciples, who underwent what she called “Satanic Initiations”, included models and art students recruited from bohemian circles. The Golden Arrow disbanded after Naglowska abandoned it in 1936. According to Introvigne, hers was “a quite complicated Satanism, built on a complex philosophical vision of the world, of which little would survive its initiator”.

In 1969 a Satanic group based in Toledo, Ohio, part of the United States, came to public attention. Called the Our Lady of Endor Coven, it was led by a man named Herbert Sloane, who described his Satanic tradition as the Ophite Cultus Sathanas and alleged that it had been established in the 1940s. The group offered a Gnostic interpretation of the world in which the creator God was regarded as evil and the Biblical Serpent presented as a force for good who had delivered salvation to humanity in the Garden of Eden. Sloane’s claims that his group had a 1940s origin remain unproven; it may be that he falsely claimed older origins for his group to make it appear older than Anton LaVey’s Church of Satan, which had been established in 1966.

None of these groups had any real impact on the emergence of the later Satanic milieu in the 1960s.

Anton LaVey, who has been referred to as “The Father of Satanism”,[143] synthesized his religion through the establishment of the Church of Satan in 1966 and the publication of The Satanic Bible in 1969. LaVey’s teachings promoted “indulgence”, “vital existence”, “undefiled wisdom”, “kindness to those who deserve it”, “responsibility to the responsible” and an “eye for an eye” code of ethics, while shunning “abstinence” based on guilt, “spirituality”, “unconditional love”, “pacifism”, “equality”, “herd mentality” and “scapegoating”. In LaVey’s view, the Satanist is a carnal, physical and pragmatic beingand enjoyment of physical existence and an undiluted view of this-worldly truth are promoted as the core values of Satanism, propagating a naturalistic worldview that sees mankind as animals existing in an amoral universe.

LaVey believed that the ideal Satanist should be individualistic and non-conformist, rejecting what he called the “colorless existence” that mainstream society sought to impose on those living within it. He praised the human ego for encouraging an individual’s pride, self-respect, and self-realization and accordingly believed in satisfying the ego’s desires. He expressed the view that self-indulgence was a desirable trait, and that hate and aggression were not wrong or undesirable emotions but that they were necessary and advantageous for survival. Accordingly, he praised the seven deadly sins as virtues which were beneficial for the individual. The anthropologist Jean La Fontaine highlighted an article that appeared in The Black Flame, in which one writer described “a true Satanic society” as one in which the population consists of “free-spirited, well-armed, fully-conscious, self-disciplined individuals, who will neither need nor tolerate any external entity ‘protecting’ them or telling them what they can and cannot do.”

The sociologist James R. Lewis noted that “LaVey was directly responsible for the genesis of Satanism as a serious religious (as opposed to a purely literary) movement”. Scholars agree that there is no reliably documented case of Satanic continuity prior to the founding of the Church of Satan. It was the first organized church in modern times to be devoted to the figure of Satan, and according to Faxneld and Petersen, the Church represented “the first public, highly visible, and long-lasting organization which propounded a coherent satanic discourse”. LaVey’s book, The Satanic Bible, has been described as the most important document to influence contemporary Satanism. The book contains the core principles of Satanism, and is considered the foundation of its philosophy and dogma. Petersen noted that it is “in many ways the central text of the Satanic milieu”, with Lap similarly testifying to its dominant position within the wider Satanic movement. David G. Bromley calls it “iconoclastic” and “the best-known and most influential statement of Satanic theology.” Eugene V. Gallagher says that Satanists use LaVey’s writings “as lenses through which they view themselves, their group, and the cosmos.” He also states: “With a clear-eyed appreciation of true human nature, a love of ritual and pageantry, and a flair for mockery, LaVey’s Satanic Bible promulgated a gospel of self-indulgence that, he argued, anyone who dispassionately considered the facts would embrace.”

A number of religious studies scholars have described LaVey’s Satanism as a form of “self-religion” or “self-spirituality”, with religious studies scholar Amina Olander Lap arguing that it should be seen as being both part of the “prosperity wing” of the self-spirituality New Age movement and a form of the Human Potential Movement. The anthropologist Jean La Fontaine described it as having “both elitist and anarchist elements”, also citing one occult bookshop owner who referred to the Church’s approach as “anarchistic hedonism”. In The Invention of Satanism, Dyrendal and Petersen theorized that LaVey viewed his religion as “an antinomian self-religion for productive misfits, with a cynically carnivalesque take on life, and no supernaturalism”. The sociologist of religion James R. Lewis even described LaVeyan Satanism as “a blend of Epicureanism and Ayn Rand’s philosophy, flavored with a pinch of ritual magic.” The historian of religion Mattias Gardell described LaVey’s as “a rational ideology of egoistic hedonism and self-preservation”, while Nevill Drury characterised LaVeyan Satanism as “a religion of self-indulgence”. It has also been described as an “institutionalism of Machiavellian self-interest”.

Prominent Church leader Blanche Barton described Satanism as “an alignment, a lifestyle”. LaVey and the Church espoused the view that “Satanists are born, not made”; that they are outsiders by their nature, living as they see fit, who are self-realized in a religion which appeals to the would-be Satanist’s nature, leading them to realize they are Satanists through finding a belief system that is in line with their own perspective and lifestyle. Adherents to the philosophy have described Satanism as a non-spiritual religion of the flesh, or “…the world’s first carnal religion”. LaVey used Christianity as a negative mirror for his new faith, with LaVeyan Satanism rejecting the basic principles and theology of Christian belief. It views Christianity alongside other major religions, and philosophies such as humanism and liberal democracy as a largely negative force on humanity; LaVeyan Satanists perceive Christianity as a lie which promotes idealism, self-denigration, herd behavior, and irrationality. LaVeyans view their religion as a force for redressing this balance by encouraging materialism, egoism, stratification, carnality, atheism, and social Darwinism. LaVey’s Satanism was particularly critical of what it understands as Christianity’s denial of humanity’s animal nature, and it instead calls for the celebration of, and indulgence in, these desires. In doing so, it places an emphasis on the carnal rather than the spiritual.

Practitioners do not believe that Satan literally exists and do not worship him. Instead, Satan is viewed as a positive archetype embracing the Hebrew root of the word “Satan” as “adversary”, who represents pride, carnality, and enlightenment, and of a cosmos which Satanists perceive to be motivated by a “dark evolutionary force of entropy that permeates all of nature and provides the drive for survival and propagation inherent in all living things”. The Devil is embraced as a symbol of defiance against the Abrahamic faiths which LaVey criticized for what he saw as the suppression of humanity’s natural instincts. Moreover, Satan also serves as a metaphorical external projection of the individual’s godhood. LaVey espoused the view that “god” is a creation of man, rather than man being a creation of “god”. In his book, The Satanic Bible, the Satanist’s view of god is described as the Satanist’s true “self”a projection of his or her own personalitynot an external deity. Satan is used as a representation of personal liberty and individualism.

LaVey explained that the gods worshiped by other religions are also projections of man’s true self. He argues that man’s unwillingness to accept his own ego has caused him to externalize these gods so as to avoid the feeling of narcissism that would accompany self-worship. The current High Priest of the Church of Satan, Peter H. Gilmore, further expounds that “…Satan is a symbol of Man living as his prideful, carnal nature dictates […] Satan is not a conscious entity to be worshiped, rather a reservoir of power inside each human to be tapped at will.[180] The Church of Satan has chosen Satan as its primary symbol because in Hebrew it means adversary, opposer, one to accuse or question. We see ourselves as being these Satans; the adversaries, opposers and accusers of all spiritual belief systems that would try to hamper enjoyment of our life as a human being.”[181] The term “Theistic Satanism” has been described as “oxymoronic” by the church and its High Priest.[182] The Church of Satan rejects the legitimacy of any other organizations who claim to be Satanists, dubbing them reverse-Christians, pseudo-Satanists or Devil worshipers, atheistic or otherwise,[183] and maintains a purist approach to Satanism as expounded by LaVey.

After LaVey’s death in 1997, the Church of Satan was taken over by a new administration and its headquarters were moved to New York. LaVey’s daughter, the High Priestess Karla LaVey, felt this to be a disservice to her father’s legacy. The First Satanic Church was re-founded on October 31, 1999 by Karla LaVey to carry on the legacy of her father. She continues to run it out of San Francisco, California.

The Satanic Temple is an American religious and political activist organization based in Salem, Massachusetts. The organization actively participates in public affairs that have manifested in several public political actions[184][185] and efforts at lobbying,[186] with a focus on the separation of church and state and using satire against Christian groups that it believes interfere with personal freedom.[186] According to Dyrendal, Lewis, and Petersen, the group were “rationalist, political pranksters”. Their pranks are designed to highlight religious hypocrisy and advance the cause of secularism. In one of their actions, they performed a “Pink Mass” over the grave of the mother of the evangelical Christian and prominent anti-LGBT preacher Fred Phelps; the Temple claimed that the mass converted the spirit of Phelps’ mother into a lesbian.

The Satanic Temple does not believe in a supernatural Satan, as they believe that this encourages superstition that would keep them from being “malleable to the best current scientific understandings of the material world”. The Temple uses the literary Satan as metaphor to construct a cultural narrative which promotes pragmatic skepticism, rational reciprocity, personal autonomy, and curiosity.[189] Satan is thus used as a symbol representing “the eternal rebel” against arbitrary authority and social norms.[190][191]

Theistic Satanism (also known as traditional Satanism, Spiritual Satanism or Devil worship) is a form of Satanism with the primary belief that Satan is an actual deity or force to revere or worship.[192] Other characteristics of theistic Satanism may include a belief in magic, which is manipulated through ritual, although that is not a defining criterion, and theistic Satanists may focus solely on devotion.

Luciferianism can be understood best as a belief system or intellectual creed that venerates the essential and inherent characteristics that are affixed and commonly given to Lucifer. Luciferianism is often identified as an auxiliary creed or movement of Satanism, due to the common identification of Lucifer with Satan. Some Luciferians accept this identification and/or consider Lucifer as the “light bearer” and illuminated aspect of Satan, giving them the name of Satanists and the right to bear the title. Others reject it, giving the argument that Lucifer is a more positive and easy-going ideal than Satan. They are inspired by the ancient myths of Egypt, Rome and Greece, Gnosticism and traditional Western occultism.

According to the group’s own claims, the Order of Nine Angles was established in Shropshire, Western England during the late 1960s, when a Grand Mistress united a number of ancient pagan groups active in the area.This account states that when the Order’s Grand Mistress migrated to Australia, a man known as “Anton Long” took over as the new Grand Master. From 1976 onward he authored an array of texts for the tradition, codifying and extending its teachings, mythos, and structure.Various academics have argued that Long is the pseudonym of British neo-Nazi activist David Myatt, an allegation that Myatt has denied.The ONA arose to public attention in the early 1980s, spreading its message through magazine articles over the following two decades. In 2000, it established a presence on the internet, later adopting social media to promote its message.

The ONA is a secretive organization, and lacks any central administration, instead operating as a network of allied Satanic practitioners, which it terms the “kollective”. It consists largely of autonomous cells known as “nexions”. The majority of these are located in Britain, Ireland, and Germany, although others are located elsewhere in Europe, and in Russia, Egypt, South Africa, Brazil, Australia, and the United States.

The ONA describe their occultism as “Traditional Satanism”. The ONA’s writings encourage human sacrifice, referring to their victims as opfers. According to the Order’s teachings, such opfers must demonstrate character faults that mark them out as being worthy of death, and accordingly the ONA insists that children must never be victims. No ONA cell have admitted to carrying out a sacrifice in a ritualised manner, but rather Order members have joined the police and military in order to carry out such killings. Faxneld described the Order as “a dangerous and extreme form of Satanism”, while religious studies scholar Graham Harvey claimed that the ONA fit the stereotype of the Satanist “better than other groups” by embracing “deeply shocking” and illegal acts.

The Temple of Set is an initiatory occult society claiming to be the world’s leading left-hand path religious organization. It was established in 1975 by Michael A. Aquino and certain members of the priesthood of the Church of Satan,[210] who left because of administrative and philosophical disagreements. ToS deliberately self-differentiates from CoS in several ways, most significantly in theology and sociology.[211] The philosophy of the Temple of Set may be summed up as “enlightened individualism”enhancement and improvement of oneself by personal education, experiment and initiation. This process is necessarily different and distinctive for each individual. The members do not agree on whether Set is “real” or not, and they’re not expected to.[211]

The Temple presents the view that the name Satan was originally a corruption of the name Set. The Temple teaches that Set is a real entity, the only real god in existence, with all others created by the human imagination. Set is described as having given humanitythrough the means of non-natural evolutionthe “Black Flame” or the “Gift of Set”, a questioning intellect which sets the species apart from other animals. While Setians are expected to revere Set, they do not worship him. Central to Setian philosophy is the human individual, with self-deification presented as the ultimate goal.

In 2005 Petersen noted that academic estimates for the Temple’s membership varied from between 300 and 500, and Granholm suggested that in 2007 the Temple contained circa 200 members.

Dyrendal, Lewis, and Petersen used the term “reactive Satanism” to describe one form of modern religious Satanism. They described this as an adolescent and anti-social means of rebelling in a Christian society, by which an individual transgresses cultural boundaries. They believed that there were two tendencies within reactive Satanism: one, “Satanic tourism”, was characterised by the brief period of time in which an individual was involved, while the other, the “Satanic quest”, was typified by a longer and deeper involvement.

The researcher Gareth Medway noted that in 1995 he encountered a British woman who stated that she had been a practicing Satanist during her teenage years. She had grown up in a small mining village, and had come to believe that she had psychic powers. After hearing about Satanism in some library books, she declared herself a Satanist and formulated a belief that Satan was the true god. After her teenage years she abandoned Satanism and became a chaos magickian.

Some reactive Satanists are teenagers or mentally disturbed individuals who have engaged in criminal activities. During the 1980s and 1990s, several groups of teenagers were apprehended after sacrificing animals and vandalising both churches and graveyards with Satanic imagery. Introvigne expressed the view that these incidents were “more a product of juvenile deviance and marginalization than Satanism”. In a few cases the crimes of these reactive Satanists have included murder. In 1970, two separate groups of teenagersone led by Stanley Baker in Big Sur and the other by Steven Hurd in Los Angeleskilled a total of three people and consumed parts of their corpses in what they later claimed were sacrifices devoted to Satan. In 1984, a U.S. group called the Knights of the Black Circle killed one of its own members, Gary Lauwers, over a disagreement regarding the group’s illegal drug dealing; group members later related that Lauwers’ death was a sacrifice to Satan.The American serial killer Richard Ramirez for instance claimed that he was a Satanist; during his 1980s killing spree he left an inverted pentagram at the scene of each murder and at his trial called out “Hail Satan!”

Dyrendal, Lewis, and Petersen observed that from surveys of Satanists conducted in the early 21st century, it was clear that the Satanic milieu was “heavily dominated by young males”. They nevertheless noted that census data from New Zealand suggested that there may be a growing proportion of women becoming Satanists. In comprising more men than women, Satanism differs from most other religious communities, including most new religious communities. Most Satanists came to their religion through reading, either online or books, rather than through being introduced to it through personal contacts. Many practitioners do not claim that they converted to Satanism, but rather state that they were born that way, and only later in life confirmed that Satanism served as an appropriate label for their pre-existing worldviews. Others have stated that they had experiences with supernatural phenomena that led them to embracing Satanism. A number reported feelings of anger at the hypocrisy of many practicing Christians and expressed the view that the monotheistic Gods of Christianity and other religions are unethical, citing issues such as the problem of evil. For some practitioners, Satanism gave a sense of hope, including for those who had been physically and sexually abused.

The surveys revealed that atheistic Satanists appeared to be in the majority, although the numbers of theistic Satanists appeared to grow over time. Beliefs in the afterlife varied, although the most popular afterlife views were reincarnation and the idea that consciousness survives bodily death. The surveys also demonstrated that most recorded Satanists practiced magic, although there were differing opinions as to whether magical acts operated according to etheric laws or whether the effect of magic was purely psychological. A number described performing cursing, in most cases as a form of vigilante justice.Most practitioners conduct their religious observances in a solitary manner, and never or rarely meet fellow Satanists for rituals. Rather, the primary interaction that takes place between Satanists is online, on websites or via email.From their survey data, Dyrendal, Lewis, and Petersen noted that the average length of involvement in the Satanic milieu was seven years. A Satanist’s involvement in the movement tends to peak in the early twenties and drops off sharply in their thirties. A small proportion retain their allegiance to the religion into their elder years. When asked about their political views, the largest proportion of Satanists identified as apolitical or non-aligned, while only a small percentage identified as conservative despite the conservative views of prominent Satanists like LaVey and Marilyn Manson. A small minority of Satanists expressed support for the far right; conversely, over two-thirds expressed negative or extremely negative views about Nazism and neo-Nazism.

In 2004 it was claimed that Satanism was allowed in the Royal Navy of the British Armed Forces, despite opposition from Christians.[243][244][245] In 2016, under a Freedom of Information request, the Navy Command Headquarters stated that “we do not recognise satanism as a formal religion, and will not grant facilities or make specific time available for individual ‘worship’.”[246]

In 2005, the Supreme Court of the United States debated in the case of Cutter v. Wilkinson over protecting minority religious rights of prison inmates after a lawsuit challenging the issue was filed to them.[247][248] The court ruled that facilities that accept federal funds cannot deny prisoners accommodations that are necessary to engage in activities for the practice of their own religious beliefs.[249][250]

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Satanism – Wikipedia

We are using witchcraft, Satanism and magic confesses …

some Prophets are stopped from having sex with their wives, they have sex with a snake

Coming in the wake of self-acclaimed Prophet Shepherd Bushiris stunts that he has called miracles, Malawian Prophet Trevor Kautsire made a rare confession on modern day Prophecy.

Prophet Kautsire (right) with host Brian Banda

In an interview on one Malawian television talkshow that was followed by Malawi24, Prophet Kautsire made the chilling claims that modern day Prophets are not using the power of the Holy Spirit to perform their so-called miracles.

I was in South Africa and I met the who-is-who of the gospel, what they told me is heart-breaking, said Kautsire.

He disclosed that when he was in South Africa he was told of rituals that he had to perform if he were to become a renowned Prophet. Kautsire disclosed that the ritual involved sacrifices that included the killing of family members or church members.

I am speaking this from experience, some Prophets have had to sacrifice their church members to gain fame. You have heard of people dying in places of worship, it is because they are using the people as sacrifices, said Kautsire, a comment which commentators said was referring to the Nigerian teleprophet TB Joshua at whose church over a hundred people died.

Kautsire further said that it was easy to decipher fake Prophets because they do miracles for no important reason.

A miracle is supposed to meet a need, however when a Prophet does a miracle that does not meet any need there is no reason to believe that Prophet, he said. Commentators have thought that he was apparently referring to Bushiri who has been in the news for the walk-in-the air stunt which does nothing to glorify the name of the Lord.

He said that Prophets are using magic, witchcraft and Satanism to perform miracles.

There are some who are told to keep a worm and keep feeding it, the worm grows into a snake and when it comes to that stage where it is a snake, it brings them money. The catch is that one should never sleep with their wife but the snake, said Kautsire disclosing the secrets in the dark world of Prophecy.

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We are using witchcraft, Satanism and magic confesses …

Satanism – Wikipedia

Satanism is a group of ideological and philosophical beliefs based on Satan.[1] Contemporary religious practice of Satanism began with the founding of the Church of Satan in 1966, although a few historical precedents exist. Prior to the public practice, Satanism existed primarily as an accusation by various Christian groups toward perceived ideological opponents, rather than a self-identity. Satanism, and the concept of Satan, has also been used by artists and entertainers for symbolic expression.

Accusations that various groups have been practicing Satanism have been made throughout much of Christian history. During the Middle Ages, the Inquisition attached to the Roman Catholic Church alleged that various heretical Christian sects and groups, such as the Knights Templar and the Cathars, performed secret Satanic rituals. In the subsequent Early Modern period, belief in a widespread Satanic conspiracy of witches resulted in mass trials of alleged witches across Europe and the North American colonies. Accusations that Satanic conspiracies were active, and behind events such as Protestantism (and conversely, the Protestant claim that the Pope was the Antichrist) and the French Revolution continued to be made in Christendom during the eighteenth to the twentieth century. The idea of a vast Satanic conspiracy reached new heights with the influential Taxil hoax of France in the 1890s, which claimed that Freemasonry worshiped Satan, Lucifer, and Baphomet in their rituals. In the 1980s and 1990s, the Satanic ritual abuse hysteria spread through the United States and United Kingdom, amid fears that groups of Satanists were regularly sexually abusing and murdering children in their rites. In most of these cases, there is no corroborating evidence that any of those accused of Satanism were actually practitioners of a Satanic religion or guilty of the allegations leveled at them.

Since the 19th century, various small religious groups have emerged that identify as Satanists or use Satanic iconography. Satanist groups that appeared after the 1960s are widely diverse, but two major trends are theistic Satanism and atheistic Satanism. Theistic Satanists venerate Satan as a supernatural deity, viewing him not as omnipotent but rather as a patriarch. In contrast, atheistic Satanists regard Satan as merely a symbol of certain human traits.[2]

Contemporary religious Satanism is predominantly an American phenomenon, the ideas spreading elsewhere with the effects of globalization and the Internet.[3] The Internet spreads awareness of other Satanists, and is also the main battleground for Satanist disputes.[3] Satanism started to reach Central and Eastern Europe in the 1990s, in time with the fall of the Soviet Union, and most noticeably in Poland and Lithuania, predominantly Roman Catholic countries.[4][5]

In their study of Satanism, the religious studies scholars Asbjrn Dyrendal, James R. Lewis, and Jesper Aa. Petersen stated that the term Satanism “has a history of being a designation made by people against those whom they dislike; it is a term used for ‘othering'”. The concept of Satanism is an invention of Christianity, for it relies upon the figure of Satan, a character deriving from Christian mythology.

Elsewhere, Petersen noted that “Satanism as something others do is very different from Satanism as a self-designation”.Eugene Gallagher noted that, as commonly used, Satanism was usually “a polemical, not a descriptive term”.

The word “Satan” was not originally a proper name but rather an ordinary noun meaning “the adversary”; in this context it appears at several points in the Old Testament. For instance, in the Book of Samuel, David is presented as the satan (“adversary”) of the Philistines, while in the Book of Numbers the term appears as a verb, when God sent an angel to satan (“to oppose”) Balaam. Prior to the composition of the New Testament, the idea developed within Jewish communities that Satan was the name of an angel who had rebelled against God and had been cast out of Heaven along with his followers; this account would be incorporated into contemporary texts like the Book of Enoch. This Satan was then featured in parts of the New Testament, where he was presented as a figure who tempted humans to commit sin; in the Book of Matthew and the Book of Luke, he attempted to tempt Jesus of Nazareth as the latter fasted in the wilderness.

The word “Satanism” was adopted into English from the French satanisme. The terms “Satanism” and “Satanist” are first recorded as appearing in the English and French languages during the sixteenth century, when they were used by Christian groups to attack other, rival Christian groups. In a Roman Catholic tract of 1565, the author condemns the “heresies, blasphemies, and sathanismes [sic]” of the Protestants. In an Anglican work of 1559, Anabaptists and other Protestant sects are condemned as “swarmes of Satanistes [sic]”. As used in this manner, the term “Satanism” was not used to claim that people literally worshipped Satan, but rather presented the view that through deviating from what the speaker or writer regarded as the true variant of Christianity, they were regarded as being essentially in league with the Devil. During the nineteenth century, the term “Satanism” began to be used to describe those considered to lead a broadly immoral lifestyle, and it was only in the late nineteenth century that it came to be applied in English to individuals who were believed to consciously and deliberately venerate Satan. This latter meaning had appeared earlier in the Swedish language; the Lutheran Bishop Laurentius Paulinus Gothus had described devil-worshipping sorcerers as Sathanister in his Ethica Christiana, produced between 1615 and 1630.

Historical and anthropological research suggests that nearly all societies have developed the idea of a sinister and anti-human force that can hide itself within society. This commonly involves a belief in witches, a group of individuals who invert the norms of their society and seek to harm their community, for instance by engaging in incest, murder, and cannibalism. Allegations of witchcraft may have different causes and serve different functions within a society. For instance, they may serve to uphold social norms, to heighten the tension in existing conflicts between individuals, or to scapegoat certain individuals for various social problems.

Another contributing factor to the idea of Satanism is the concept that there is an agent of misfortune and evil who operates on a cosmic scale, something usually associated with a strong form of ethical dualism that divides the world clearly into forces of good and forces of evil. The earliest such entity known is Angra Mainyu, a figure that appears in the Persian religion of Zoroastrianism. This concept was also embraced by Judaism and early Christianity, and although it was soon marginalised within Jewish thought, it gained increasing importance within early Christian understandings of the cosmos. While the early Christian idea of the Devil was not well developed, it gradually adapted and expanded through the creation of folklore, art, theological treatises, and morality tales, thus providing the character with a range of extra-Biblical associations.

As Christianity expanded throughout the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe, it came into contact with a variety of other religions, which it regarded as “pagan”. Christian theologians claimed that the gods and goddesses venerated by these “pagans” were not genuine divinities, but were actually demons. However, they did not believe that “pagans” were deliberately devil-worshippers, instead claiming that they were simply misguided. In Christian iconography, the Devil and demons were given the physical traits of figures from Classical mythology such as the god Pan, fauns, and satyrs.

Those Christian groups regarded as heretics by the Roman Catholic Church were treated differently, with theologians arguing that they were deliberately worshipping the Devil. This was accompanied by claims that such individuals engaged in incestuous sexual orgies, murdered infants, and committed acts of cannibalism, all stock accusations that had previously been leveled at Christians themselves in the Roman Empire.The first recorded example of such an accusation being made within Western Christianity took place in Toulouse in 1022, when two clerics were tried for allegedly venerating a demon. Throughout the middle ages, this accusation would be applied to a wide range of Christian heretical groups, including the Paulicians, Bogomils, Cathars, Waldensians, and the Hussites. The Knights Templar were accused of worshipping an idol known as Baphomet, with Lucifer having appeared at their meetings in the form of a cat. As well as these Christian groups, these claims were also made about Europe’s Jewish community. In the thirteenth century, there were also references made to a group of “Luciferians” led by a woman named Lucardis which hoped to see Satan rule in Heaven. References to this group continued into the fourteenth century, although historians studying the allegations concur that these Luciferians were likely a fictitious invention.

Within Christian thought, the idea developed that certain individuals could make a pact with Satan. This may have emerged after observing that pacts with gods and goddesses played a role in various pre-Christian belief systems, or that such pacts were also made as part of the Christian cult of saints. Another possibility is that it derives from a misunderstanding of Augustine of Hippo’s condemnation of augury in his On the Christian Doctrine, written in the late fourth century. Here, he stated that people who consulted augurs were entering “quasi pacts” (covenants) with demons. The idea of the diabolical pact made with demons was popularised across Europe in the story of Faust, likely based in part on the real life Johann Georg Faust.

As the late medieval gave way to the early modern period, European Christendom experienced a schism between the established Roman Catholic Church and the breakaway Protestant movement. In the ensuing Reformation and Counter-Reformation, both Catholics and Protestants accused each other of deliberately being in league with Satan. It was in this context that the terms “Satanist” and “Satanism” emerged.

The early modern period also saw fear of Satanists reach its “historical apogee” in the form of the witch trials of the fifteenth to the eighteenth centuries. This came about as the accusations which had been leveled at medieval heretics, among them that of devil-worship, were applied to the pre-existing idea of the witch, or practitioner of malevolent magic. The idea of a conspiracy of Satanic witches was developed by educated elites, although the concept of malevolent witchcraft was a widespread part of popular belief and folkloric ideas about the night witch, the wild hunt, and the dance of the fairies were incorporated into it. The earliest trials took place in Northern Italy and France, before spreading it out to other areas of Europe and to Britain’s North American colonies, being carried out by the legal authorities in both Catholic and Protestant regions.Between 30,000 and 50,000 individuals were executed as accused Satanic witches.Most historians agree that the majority of those persecuted in these witch trials were innocent of any involvement in Devil worship. However, in their summary of the evidence for the trials, the historians Geoffrey Scarre and John Callow thought it “without doubt” that some of those accused in the trials had been guilty of employing magic in an attempt to harm their enemies, and were thus genuinely guilty of witchcraft.

In seventeenth-century Sweden, a number of highway robbers and other outlaws living in the forests informed judges that they venerated Satan because he provided more practical assistance than God.The historian of religion Massimo Introvigne regarded these practices as “folkloric Satanism”.

During the eighteenth century, gentleman’s social clubs became increasingly prominent in Britain and Ireland, among the most secretive of which were the Hellfire Clubs, which were first reported in the 1720s. The most famous of these groups was the Order of the Knights of Saints Francis, which was founded circa 1750 by the aristocrat Sir Francis Dashwood and which assembled first at his estate at West Wycombe and later in Medmenham Abbey. A number of contemporary press sources portrayed these as gatherings of atheist rakes where Christianity was mocked and toasts were made to the Devil. Beyond these sensationalist accounts, which may not be accurate portrayals of actual events, little is known about the activities of the Hellfire Clubs. Introvigne suggested that they may have engaged in a form of “playful Satanism” in which Satan was invoked “to show a daring contempt for conventional morality” by individuals who neither believed in his literal existence nor wanted to pay homage to him.

The French Revolution of 1789 dealt a blow to the hegemony of the Roman Catholic Church in parts of Europe, and soon a number of Catholic authors began making claims that it had been masterminded by a conspiratorial group of Satanists. Among the first to do so was French Catholic priest Jean-Baptiste Fiard, who publicly claimed that a wide range of individuals, from the Jacobins to tarot card readers, were part of a Satanic conspiracy. Fiard’s ideas were furthered by Alexis-Vincent-Charles Berbiguier, who devoted a lengthy book to this conspiracy theory; he claimed that Satanists had supernatural powers allowing them to curse people and to shapeshift into both cats and fleas. Although most of his contemporaries regarded Berbiguier as mad, his ideas gained credence among many occultists, including Stanislas de Guaita, a Cabalist who used them for the basis of his book, The Temple of Satan.

In the early 20th century, the British novelist Dennis Wheatley produced a range of influential novels in which his protagonists battled Satanic groups. At the same time, non-fiction authors like Montague Summers and Rollo Ahmed published books claiming that Satanic groups practicing black magic were still active across the world, although they provided no evidence that this was the case. During the 1950s, various British tabloid newspapers repeated such claims, largely basing their accounts on the allegations of one woman, Sarah Jackson, who claimed to have been a member of such a group. In 1973, the British Christian Doreen Irvine published From Witchcraft to Christ, in which she claimed to have been a member of a Satanic group that gave her supernatural powers, such as the ability to levitate, before she escaped and embraced Christianity.In the United States during the 1960s and 1970s, various Christian preachersthe most famous being Mike Warnke in his 1972 book The Satan-Sellerclaimed that they had been members of Satanic groups who carried out sex rituals and animal sacrifices before discovering Christianity. According to Gareth Medway in his historical examination of Satanism, these stories were “a series of inventions by insecure people and hack writers, each one based on a previous story, exaggerated a little more each time”.

Other publications made allegations of Satanism against historical figures. The 1970s saw the publication of the Romanian Protestant preacher Richard Wurmbrand’s book in which he arguedwithout corroborating evidencethat the socio-political theorist Karl Marx had been a Satanist.

At the end of the twentieth century, a moral panic developed around claims regarding a Devil-worshipping cult that made use of sexual abuse, murder, and cannibalism in its rituals, with children being among its victims. Initially, the alleged perpetrators of such crimes were labelled “witches”, although the term “Satanist” was soon adopted as a favoured alternative, and the phenomenon itself came to be called “the Satanism Scare”. Promoters of the claims alleged that there was a conspiracy of organised Satanists who occupied prominent positions throughout society, from the police to politicians, and that they had been powerful enough to cover up their crimes.

Sociologist of religion Massimo Introvigne, 2016

One of the primary sources for the scare was Michelle Remembers, a 1980 book by the Canadian psychiatrist Lawrence Pazder in which he detailed what he claimed were the repressed memories of his patient (and wife) Michelle Smith. Smith had claimed that as a child she had been abused by her family in Satanic rituals in which babies were sacrificed and Satan himself appeared. In 1983, allegations were made that the McMartin familyowners of a preschool in Californiawere guilty of sexually abusing the children in their care during Satanic rituals. The allegations resulted in a lengthy and expensive trial, in which all of the accused would eventually be cleared. The publicity generated by the case resulted in similar allegations being made in various other parts of the United States.

A prominent aspect of the Satanic Scare was the claim by those in the developing “anti-Satanism” movement that any child’s claim about Satanic ritual abuse must be true, because children would not lie. Although some involved in the anti-Satanism movement were from Jewish and secular backgrounds, a central part was played by fundamentalist and evangelical forms of Christianity, in particular Pentecostalism, with Christian groups holding conferences and producing books and videotapes to promote belief in the conspiracy. Various figures in law enforcement also came to be promoters of the conspiracy theory, with such “cult cops” holding various conferences to promote it. The scare was later imported to the United Kingdom through visiting evangelicals and became popular among some of the country’s social workers, resulting in a range of accusations and trials across Britain.

The Satanic ritual abuse hysteria died down between 1990 and 1994. In the late 1980s, the Satanic Scare had lost its impetus following increasing scepticism about such allegations, and a number of those who had been convicted of perpetrating Satanic ritual abuse saw their convictions overturned.In 1990, an agent of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, Ken Lanning, revealed that he had investigated 300 allegations of Satanic ritual abuse and found no evidence for Satanism or ritualistic activity in any of them. In the UK, the Department of Health commissioned the anthropologist Jean La Fontaine to examine the allegations of SRA. She noted that while approximately half did reveal evidence of genuine sexual abuse of children, none revealed any evidence that Satanist groups had been involved or that any murders had taken place. She noted three examples in which lone individuals engaged in child molestation had created a ritual performance to facilitate their sexual acts, with the intent of frightening their victims and justifying their actions, but that none of these child molestors were involved in wider Satanist groups. By the 21st century, hysteria about Satanism has waned in most Western countries, although allegations of Satanic ritual abuse continued to surface in parts of continental Europe and Latin America.

From the late seventeenth through to the nineteenth century, the character of Satan was increasingly rendered unimportant in Western philosophy and ignored in Christian theology, while in folklore he came to be seen as a foolish rather than a menacing figure. The development of new values in the Age of Enlightenmentin particular those of reason and individualismcontributed to a shift in how many Europeans viewed Satan. In this context, a number of individuals took Satan out of the traditional Christian narrative and reread and reinterpreted him in light of their own time and their own interests, in turn generating new and different portraits of Satan.

The shifting view of Satan owes many of its origins to John Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost (1667), in which Satan features as the protagonist. Milton was a Puritan and had never intended for his depiction of Satan to be a sympathetic one. However, in portraying Satan as a victim of his own pride who rebelled against God he humanized him and also allowed him to be interpreted as a rebel against tyranny. This was how Milton’s Satan was understood by later readers like the publisher Joseph Johnson, and the anarchist philosopher William Godwin, who reflected it in his 1793 book Enquiry Concerning Political Justice. Paradise Lost gained a wide readership in the eighteenth century, both in Britain and in continental Europe, where it had been translated into French by Voltaire. Milton thus became “a central character in rewriting Satanism” and would be viewed by many later religious Satanists as a “de facto Satanist”.

The nineteenth century saw the emergence of what has been termed “literary Satanism” or “romantic Satanism”. According to Van Luijk, this cannot be seen as a “coherent movement with a single voice, but rather as a post factum identified group of sometimes widely divergent authors among whom a similar theme is found”. For the literary Satanists, Satan was depicted as a benevolent and sometimes heroic figure, with these more sympathetic portrayals proliferating in the art and poetry of many romanticist and decadent figures. For these individuals, Satanism was not a religious belief or ritual activity, but rather a “strategic use of a symbol and a character as part of artistic and political expression”.

Among the romanticist poets to adopt this view of Satan was the English poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, who had been influenced by Milton. In his poem Laon and Cythna, Shelley praised the “Serpent”, a reference to Satan, as a force for good in the universe.Another was Shelley’s fellow British poet Lord Byron, who included Satanic themes in his 1821 play Cain, which was a dramatization of the Biblical story of Cain and Abel. These more positive portrayals also developed in France; one example was the 1823 work Eloa by Alfred de Vigny. Satan was also adopted by the French poet Victor Hugo, who made the character’s fall from Heaven a central aspect of his La Fin de Satan, in which he outlined his own cosmogony.Although the likes of Shelley and Byron promoted a positive image of Satan in their work, there is no evidence that any of them performed religious rites to venerate him, and thus it is problematic to regard them as religious Satanists.

Radical left-wing political ideas had been spread by the American Revolution of 176583 and the French Revolution of 178999, and the figure of Satan, who was interpreted as having rebelled against the tyranny imposed by God, was an appealing one for many of the radical leftists of the period. For them, Satan was “a symbol for the struggle against tyranny, injustice, and oppression… a mythical figure of rebellion for an age of revolutions, a larger-than-life individual for an age of individualism, a free thinker in an age struggling for free thought”. The French anarchist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, who was a staunch critic of Christianity, embraced Satan as a symbol of liberty in several of his writings. Another prominent 19th century anarchist, the Russian Mikhail Bakunin, similarly described the figure of Satan as “the eternal rebel, the first freethinker and the emancipator of worlds” in his book God and the State. These ideas likely inspired the American feminist activist Moses Harman to name his anarchist periodical Lucifer the Lightbearer. The idea of this “Leftist Satan” declined during the twentieth century, although it was used on occasion by authorities within the Soviet Union, who portrayed Satan as a symbol of freedom and equality.

During the 1960s and 1970s, several rock bandsnamely the American Coven and the British Black Widowemployed the imagery of Satanism and witchcraft in their work. References to Satan also appeared in the work of those rock bands which were pioneering the heavy metal genre in Britain during the 1970s. Black Sabbath for instance made mention of Satan in their lyrics, although several of the band’s members were practicing Christians and other lyrics affirmed the power of the Christian God over Satan. In the 1980s, greater use of Satanic imagery was made by heavy metal bands like Slayer, Kreator, Sodom, and Destruction. Bands active in the subgenre of death metalamong them Deicide, Morbid Angel, and Entombedalso adopted Satanic imagery, combining it with other morbid and dark imagery, such as that of zombies and serial killers.

Satanism would come to be more closely associated with the subgenre of black metal, in which it was foregrounded over the other themes that had been used in death metal. A number of black metal performers incorporated self-injury into their act, framing this as a manifestation of Satanic devotion. The first black metal band, Venom, proclaimed themselves to be Satanists, although this was more an act of provocation than an expression of genuine devotion to the Devil. Satanic themes were also used by the black metal bands Bathory and Hellhammer. However, the first black metal act to more seriously adopt Satanism was Mercyful Fate, whose vocalist, King Diamond, joined the Church of Satan. More often than not musicians associating themselves with black metal say they do not believe in legitimate Satanic ideology and often profess to being atheists, agnostics, or religious skeptics.[110]

In contrast to King Diamond, various black metal Satanists sought to distance themselves from LaVeyan Satanism, for instance by referring to their beliefs as “devil worship”. These individuals regarded Satan as a literal entity, and in contrast to LaVey’s views, they associated Satanism with criminality, suicide, and terror. For them, Christianity was regarded as a plague which required eradication. Many of these individualssuch as Varg Vikernes and Euronymouswere Norwegian, and influenced by the strong anti-Christian views of this milieu, between 1992 and 1996 around fifty Norwegian churches were destroyed in arson attacks. Within the black metal scene, a number of musicians later replaced Satanic themes with those deriving from Heathenry, a form of modern Paganism.

Rather than being one single form of religious Satanism, there are instead multiple different religious Satanisms, each with different ideas about what being a Satanist entails. The historian of religion Ruben van Luijk used a “working definition” in which Satanism was regarded as “the intentional, religiously motivated veneration of Satan”.

Dyrendal, Lewis, and Petersen believed that it was not a single movement, but rather a milieu. They and others have nevertheless referred to it as a new religious movement. They believed that there was a family resemblance that united all of the varying groups in this milieu, and that most of them were self religions. They argued that there were a set of features that were common to the groups in this Satanic milieu: these were the positive use of the term “Satanist” as a designation, an emphasis on individualism, a genealogy that connects them to other Satanic groups, a transgressive and antinomian stance, a self-perception as an elite, and an embrace of values such as pride, self-reliance, and productive non-conformity.

Dyrendal, Lewis, and Petersen argued that the groups within the Satanic milieu could be divided into three groups: reactive Satanists, rationalist Satanists, and esoteric Satanists. They saw reactive Satanism as encompassing “popular Satanism, inverted Christianity, and symbolic rebellion” and noted that it situates itself in opposition to society while at the same time conforming to society’s perspective of evil. Rationalist Satanism is used to describe the trend in the Satanic milieu which is atheistic, sceptical, materialistic, and epicurean. Esoteric Satanism instead applied to those forms which are theistic and draw upon ideas from other forms of Western esotericism, Modern Paganism, Buddhism, and Hinduism.

The first person to promote a Satanic philosophy was the Pole Stanislaw Przybyszewski, who promoted a Social Darwinian ideology.

The use of the term “Lucifer” was also taken up by the French ceremonial magician Eliphas Levi, who has been described as a “Romantic Satanist”. During his younger days, Levi used “Lucifer” in much the same manner as the literary romantics. As he moved toward a more politically conservative outlook in later life, he retained the use of the term, but instead applied it as to what he believed was a morally neutral facet of the Absolute. In his book Dogma and Ritual of High Magic, published in two volumes between 1854 and 1856, Levi offered the symbol of Baphomet. He claimed that this was a figure who had been worshipped by the Knights Templar.According to Introvigne, this image gave “the Satanists their most popular symbol ever”.

Levi was not the only occultist who wanted to use the term “Lucifer” without adopting the term “Satan” in a similar way. The early Theosophical Society held to the view that “Lucifer” was a force that aided humanity’s awakening to its own spiritual nature. In keeping with this view, the Society began production of a journal titled Lucifer.

“Satan” was also used within the esoteric system propounded by the Danish occultist Carl William Hansen, who used the pen name “Ben Kadosh”. Hansen was involved in a variety of esoteric groups, including Martinism, Freemasonry, and the Ordo Templi Orientis, drawing on ideas from various groups to establish his own philosophy. In one pamphlet, he provided a “Luciferian” interpretation of Freemasonry. Kadosh’s work left little influence outside of Denmark.

Both during his life and after it, the British occultist Aleister Crowley has been widely described as a Satanist, usually by detractors. Crowley stated he did not consider himself a Satanist, nor did he worship Satan, as he did not accept the Christian world view in which Satan was believed to exist. He nevertheless used imagery considered satanic, for instance by describing himself as “the Beast 666” and referring to the Whore of Babylon in his work, while in later life he sent “Antichristmas cards” to his friends. Dyrendel, Lewis, and Petersen noted that despite the fact that Crowley was not a Satanist, he “in many ways embodies the pre-Satanist esoteric discourse on Satan and Satanism through his lifestyle and his philosophy”, with his “image and thought” becoming an “important influence” on the later development of religious Satanism.

In 1928 the Fraternitas Saturni (FS) was established in Germany; its founder, Eugen Grosche, published Satanische Magie (“Satanic Magic”) that same year. The group connected Satan to Saturn, claiming that the planet related to the Sun in the same manner that Lucifer relates to the human world.

In 1932 an esoteric group known as the Brotherhood of the Golden Arrow was established in Paris, France by Maria de Naglowska, a Russian occultist who had fled to France following the Russian Revolution. She promoted a theology centred on what she called the Third Term of the Trinity consisting of Father, Son, and Sex, the latter of which she deemed to be most important. Her early disciples, who underwent what she called “Satanic Initiations”, included models and art students recruited from bohemian circles. The Golden Arrow disbanded after Naglowska abandoned it in 1936. According to Introvigne, hers was “a quite complicated Satanism, built on a complex philosophical vision of the world, of which little would survive its initiator”.

In 1969 a Satanic group based in Toledo, Ohio, part of the United States, came to public attention. Called the Our Lady of Endor Coven, it was led by a man named Herbert Sloane, who described his Satanic tradition as the Ophite Cultus Sathanas and alleged that it had been established in the 1940s. The group offered a Gnostic interpretation of the world in which the creator God was regarded as evil and the Biblical Serpent presented as a force for good who had delivered salvation to humanity in the Garden of Eden. Sloane’s claims that his group had a 1940s origin remain unproven; it may be that he falsely claimed older origins for his group to make it appear older than Anton LaVey’s Church of Satan, which had been established in 1966.

None of these groups had any real impact on the emergence of the later Satanic milieu in the 1960s.

Anton LaVey, who has been referred to as “The Father of Satanism”,[143] synthesized his religion through the establishment of the Church of Satan in 1966 and the publication of The Satanic Bible in 1969. LaVey’s teachings promoted “indulgence”, “vital existence”, “undefiled wisdom”, “kindness to those who deserve it”, “responsibility to the responsible” and an “eye for an eye” code of ethics, while shunning “abstinence” based on guilt, “spirituality”, “unconditional love”, “pacifism”, “equality”, “herd mentality” and “scapegoating”. In LaVey’s view, the Satanist is a carnal, physical and pragmatic beingand enjoyment of physical existence and an undiluted view of this-worldly truth are promoted as the core values of Satanism, propagating a naturalistic worldview that sees mankind as animals existing in an amoral universe.

LaVey believed that the ideal Satanist should be individualistic and non-conformist, rejecting what he called the “colorless existence” that mainstream society sought to impose on those living within it. He praised the human ego for encouraging an individual’s pride, self-respect, and self-realization and accordingly believed in satisfying the ego’s desires. He expressed the view that self-indulgence was a desirable trait, and that hate and aggression were not wrong or undesirable emotions but that they were necessary and advantageous for survival. Accordingly, he praised the seven deadly sins as virtues which were beneficial for the individual. The anthropologist Jean La Fontaine highlighted an article that appeared in The Black Flame, in which one writer described “a true Satanic society” as one in which the population consists of “free-spirited, well-armed, fully-conscious, self-disciplined individuals, who will neither need nor tolerate any external entity ‘protecting’ them or telling them what they can and cannot do.”

The sociologist James R. Lewis noted that “LaVey was directly responsible for the genesis of Satanism as a serious religious (as opposed to a purely literary) movement”. Scholars agree that there is no reliably documented case of Satanic continuity prior to the founding of the Church of Satan. It was the first organized church in modern times to be devoted to the figure of Satan, and according to Faxneld and Petersen, the Church represented “the first public, highly visible, and long-lasting organization which propounded a coherent satanic discourse”. LaVey’s book, The Satanic Bible, has been described as the most important document to influence contemporary Satanism. The book contains the core principles of Satanism, and is considered the foundation of its philosophy and dogma. Petersen noted that it is “in many ways the central text of the Satanic milieu”, with Lap similarly testifying to its dominant position within the wider Satanic movement. David G. Bromley calls it “iconoclastic” and “the best-known and most influential statement of Satanic theology.” Eugene V. Gallagher says that Satanists use LaVey’s writings “as lenses through which they view themselves, their group, and the cosmos.” He also states: “With a clear-eyed appreciation of true human nature, a love of ritual and pageantry, and a flair for mockery, LaVey’s Satanic Bible promulgated a gospel of self-indulgence that, he argued, anyone who dispassionately considered the facts would embrace.”

A number of religious studies scholars have described LaVey’s Satanism as a form of “self-religion” or “self-spirituality”, with religious studies scholar Amina Olander Lap arguing that it should be seen as being both part of the “prosperity wing” of the self-spirituality New Age movement and a form of the Human Potential Movement. The anthropologist Jean La Fontaine described it as having “both elitist and anarchist elements”, also citing one occult bookshop owner who referred to the Church’s approach as “anarchistic hedonism”. In The Invention of Satanism, Dyrendal and Petersen theorized that LaVey viewed his religion as “an antinomian self-religion for productive misfits, with a cynically carnivalesque take on life, and no supernaturalism”. The sociologist of religion James R. Lewis even described LaVeyan Satanism as “a blend of Epicureanism and Ayn Rand’s philosophy, flavored with a pinch of ritual magic.” The historian of religion Mattias Gardell described LaVey’s as “a rational ideology of egoistic hedonism and self-preservation”, while Nevill Drury characterised LaVeyan Satanism as “a religion of self-indulgence”. It has also been described as an “institutionalism of Machiavellian self-interest”.

Prominent Church leader Blanche Barton described Satanism as “an alignment, a lifestyle”. LaVey and the Church espoused the view that “Satanists are born, not made”; that they are outsiders by their nature, living as they see fit, who are self-realized in a religion which appeals to the would-be Satanist’s nature, leading them to realize they are Satanists through finding a belief system that is in line with their own perspective and lifestyle. Adherents to the philosophy have described Satanism as a non-spiritual religion of the flesh, or “…the world’s first carnal religion”. LaVey used Christianity as a negative mirror for his new faith, with LaVeyan Satanism rejecting the basic principles and theology of Christian belief. It views Christianity alongside other major religions, and philosophies such as humanism and liberal democracy as a largely negative force on humanity; LaVeyan Satanists perceive Christianity as a lie which promotes idealism, self-denigration, herd behavior, and irrationality. LaVeyans view their religion as a force for redressing this balance by encouraging materialism, egoism, stratification, carnality, atheism, and social Darwinism. LaVey’s Satanism was particularly critical of what it understands as Christianity’s denial of humanity’s animal nature, and it instead calls for the celebration of, and indulgence in, these desires. In doing so, it places an emphasis on the carnal rather than the spiritual.

Practitioners do not believe that Satan literally exists and do not worship him. Instead, Satan is viewed as a positive archetype embracing the Hebrew root of the word “Satan” as “adversary”, who represents pride, carnality, and enlightenment, and of a cosmos which Satanists perceive to be motivated by a “dark evolutionary force of entropy that permeates all of nature and provides the drive for survival and propagation inherent in all living things”. The Devil is embraced as a symbol of defiance against the Abrahamic faiths which LaVey criticized for what he saw as the suppression of humanity’s natural instincts. Moreover, Satan also serves as a metaphorical external projection of the individual’s godhood. LaVey espoused the view that “god” is a creation of man, rather than man being a creation of “god”. In his book, The Satanic Bible, the Satanist’s view of god is described as the Satanist’s true “self”a projection of his or her own personalitynot an external deity. Satan is used as a representation of personal liberty and individualism.

LaVey explained that the gods worshiped by other religions are also projections of man’s true self. He argues that man’s unwillingness to accept his own ego has caused him to externalize these gods so as to avoid the feeling of narcissism that would accompany self-worship. The current High Priest of the Church of Satan, Peter H. Gilmore, further expounds that “…Satan is a symbol of Man living as his prideful, carnal nature dictates […] Satan is not a conscious entity to be worshiped, rather a reservoir of power inside each human to be tapped at will.[180] The Church of Satan has chosen Satan as its primary symbol because in Hebrew it means adversary, opposer, one to accuse or question. We see ourselves as being these Satans; the adversaries, opposers and accusers of all spiritual belief systems that would try to hamper enjoyment of our life as a human being.”[181] The term “Theistic Satanism” has been described as “oxymoronic” by the church and its High Priest.[182] The Church of Satan rejects the legitimacy of any other organizations who claim to be Satanists, dubbing them reverse-Christians, pseudo-Satanists or Devil worshipers, atheistic or otherwise,[183] and maintains a purist approach to Satanism as expounded by LaVey.

After LaVey’s death in 1997, the Church of Satan was taken over by a new administration and its headquarters were moved to New York. LaVey’s daughter, the High Priestess Karla LaVey, felt this to be a disservice to her father’s legacy. The First Satanic Church was re-founded on October 31, 1999 by Karla LaVey to carry on the legacy of her father. She continues to run it out of San Francisco, California.

The Satanic Temple is an American religious and political activist organization based in Salem, Massachusetts. The organization actively participates in public affairs that have manifested in several public political actions[184][185] and efforts at lobbying,[186] with a focus on the separation of church and state and using satire against Christian groups that it believes interfere with personal freedom.[186] According to Dyrendal, Lewis, and Petersen, the group were “rationalist, political pranksters”. Their pranks are designed to highlight religious hypocrisy and advance the cause of secularism. In one of their actions, they performed a “Pink Mass” over the grave of the mother of the evangelical Christian and prominent anti-LGBT preacher Fred Phelps; the Temple claimed that the mass converted the spirit of Phelps’ mother into a lesbian.

The Satanic Temple does not believe in a supernatural Satan, as they believe that this encourages superstition that would keep them from being “malleable to the best current scientific understandings of the material world”. The Temple uses the literary Satan as metaphor to construct a cultural narrative which promotes pragmatic skepticism, rational reciprocity, personal autonomy, and curiosity.[189] Satan is thus used as a symbol representing “the eternal rebel” against arbitrary authority and social norms.[190][191]

Theistic Satanism (also known as traditional Satanism, Spiritual Satanism or Devil worship) is a form of Satanism with the primary belief that Satan is an actual deity or force to revere or worship.[192] Other characteristics of theistic Satanism may include a belief in magic, which is manipulated through ritual, although that is not a defining criterion, and theistic Satanists may focus solely on devotion.

Luciferianism can be understood best as a belief system or intellectual creed that venerates the essential and inherent characteristics that are affixed and commonly given to Lucifer. Luciferianism is often identified as an auxiliary creed or movement of Satanism, due to the common identification of Lucifer with Satan. Some Luciferians accept this identification and/or consider Lucifer as the “light bearer” and illuminated aspect of Satan, giving them the name of Satanists and the right to bear the title. Others reject it, giving the argument that Lucifer is a more positive and easy-going ideal than Satan. They are inspired by the ancient myths of Egypt, Rome and Greece, Gnosticism and traditional Western occultism.

According to the group’s own claims, the Order of Nine Angles was established in Shropshire, Western England during the late 1960s, when a Grand Mistress united a number of ancient pagan groups active in the area.This account states that when the Order’s Grand Mistress migrated to Australia, a man known as “Anton Long” took over as the new Grand Master. From 1976 onward he authored an array of texts for the tradition, codifying and extending its teachings, mythos, and structure.Various academics have argued that Long is the pseudonym of British neo-Nazi activist David Myatt, an allegation that Myatt has denied.The ONA arose to public attention in the early 1980s, spreading its message through magazine articles over the following two decades. In 2000, it established a presence on the internet, later adopting social media to promote its message.

The ONA is a secretive organization, and lacks any central administration, instead operating as a network of allied Satanic practitioners, which it terms the “kollective”. It consists largely of autonomous cells known as “nexions”. The majority of these are located in Britain, Ireland, and Germany, although others are located elsewhere in Europe, and in Russia, Egypt, South Africa, Brazil, Australia, and the United States.

The ONA describe their occultism as “Traditional Satanism”. The ONA’s writings encourage human sacrifice, referring to their victims as opfers. According to the Order’s teachings, such opfers must demonstrate character faults that mark them out as being worthy of death, and accordingly the ONA insists that children must never be victims. No ONA cell have admitted to carrying out a sacrifice in a ritualised manner, but rather Order members have joined the police and military in order to carry out such killings. Faxneld described the Order as “a dangerous and extreme form of Satanism”, while religious studies scholar Graham Harvey claimed that the ONA fit the stereotype of the Satanist “better than other groups” by embracing “deeply shocking” and illegal acts.

The Temple of Set is an initiatory occult society claiming to be the world’s leading left-hand path religious organization. It was established in 1975 by Michael A. Aquino and certain members of the priesthood of the Church of Satan,[210] who left because of administrative and philosophical disagreements. ToS deliberately self-differentiates from CoS in several ways, most significantly in theology and sociology.[211] The philosophy of the Temple of Set may be summed up as “enlightened individualism”enhancement and improvement of oneself by personal education, experiment and initiation. This process is necessarily different and distinctive for each individual. The members do not agree on whether Set is “real” or not, and they’re not expected to.[211]

The Temple presents the view that the name Satan was originally a corruption of the name Set. The Temple teaches that Set is a real entity, the only real god in existence, with all others created by the human imagination. Set is described as having given humanitythrough the means of non-natural evolutionthe “Black Flame” or the “Gift of Set”, a questioning intellect which sets the species apart from other animals. While Setians are expected to revere Set, they do not worship him. Central to Setian philosophy is the human individual, with self-deification presented as the ultimate goal.

In 2005 Petersen noted that academic estimates for the Temple’s membership varied from between 300 and 500, and Granholm suggested that in 2007 the Temple contained circa 200 members.

Dyrendal, Lewis, and Petersen used the term “reactive Satanism” to describe one form of modern religious Satanism. They described this as an adolescent and anti-social means of rebelling in a Christian society, by which an individual transgresses cultural boundaries. They believed that there were two tendencies within reactive Satanism: one, “Satanic tourism”, was characterised by the brief period of time in which an individual was involved, while the other, the “Satanic quest”, was typified by a longer and deeper involvement.

The researcher Gareth Medway noted that in 1995 he encountered a British woman who stated that she had been a practicing Satanist during her teenage years. She had grown up in a small mining village, and had come to believe that she had psychic powers. After hearing about Satanism in some library books, she declared herself a Satanist and formulated a belief that Satan was the true god. After her teenage years she abandoned Satanism and became a chaos magickian.

Some reactive Satanists are teenagers or mentally disturbed individuals who have engaged in criminal activities. During the 1980s and 1990s, several groups of teenagers were apprehended after sacrificing animals and vandalising both churches and graveyards with Satanic imagery. Introvigne expressed the view that these incidents were “more a product of juvenile deviance and marginalization than Satanism”. In a few cases the crimes of these reactive Satanists have included murder. In 1970, two separate groups of teenagersone led by Stanley Baker in Big Sur and the other by Steven Hurd in Los Angeleskilled a total of three people and consumed parts of their corpses in what they later claimed were sacrifices devoted to Satan. In 1984, a U.S. group called the Knights of the Black Circle killed one of its own members, Gary Lauwers, over a disagreement regarding the group’s illegal drug dealing; group members later related that Lauwers’ death was a sacrifice to Satan.The American serial killer Richard Ramirez for instance claimed that he was a Satanist; during his 1980s killing spree he left an inverted pentagram at the scene of each murder and at his trial called out “Hail Satan!”

Dyrendal, Lewis, and Petersen observed that from surveys of Satanists conducted in the early 21st century, it was clear that the Satanic milieu was “heavily dominated by young males”. They nevertheless noted that census data from New Zealand suggested that there may be a growing proportion of women becoming Satanists. In comprising more men than women, Satanism differs from most other religious communities, including most new religious communities. Most Satanists came to their religion through reading, either online or books, rather than through being introduced to it through personal contacts. Many practitioners do not claim that they converted to Satanism, but rather state that they were born that way, and only later in life confirmed that Satanism served as an appropriate label for their pre-existing worldviews. Others have stated that they had experiences with supernatural phenomena that led them to embracing Satanism. A number reported feelings of anger at the hypocrisy of many practicing Christians and expressed the view that the monotheistic Gods of Christianity and other religions are unethical, citing issues such as the problem of evil. For some practitioners, Satanism gave a sense of hope, including for those who had been physically and sexually abused.

The surveys revealed that atheistic Satanists appeared to be in the majority, although the numbers of theistic Satanists appeared to grow over time. Beliefs in the afterlife varied, although the most popular afterlife views were reincarnation and the idea that consciousness survives bodily death. The surveys also demonstrated that most recorded Satanists practiced magic, although there were differing opinions as to whether magical acts operated according to etheric laws or whether the effect of magic was purely psychological. A number described performing cursing, in most cases as a form of vigilante justice.Most practitioners conduct their religious observances in a solitary manner, and never or rarely meet fellow Satanists for rituals. Rather, the primary interaction that takes place between Satanists is online, on websites or via email.From their survey data, Dyrendal, Lewis, and Petersen noted that the average length of involvement in the Satanic milieu was seven years. A Satanist’s involvement in the movement tends to peak in the early twenties and drops off sharply in their thirties. A small proportion retain their allegiance to the religion into their elder years. When asked about their political views, the largest proportion of Satanists identified as apolitical or non-aligned, while only a small percentage identified as conservative despite the conservative views of prominent Satanists like LaVey and Marilyn Manson. A small minority of Satanists expressed support for the far right; conversely, over two-thirds expressed negative or extremely negative views about Nazism and neo-Nazism.

In 2004 it was claimed that Satanism was allowed in the Royal Navy of the British Armed Forces, despite opposition from Christians.[243][244][245] In 2016, under a Freedom of Information request, the Navy Command Headquarters stated that “we do not recognise satanism as a formal religion, and will not grant facilities or make specific time available for individual ‘worship’.”[246]

In 2005, the Supreme Court of the United States debated in the case of Cutter v. Wilkinson over protecting minority religious rights of prison inmates after a lawsuit challenging the issue was filed to them.[247][248] The court ruled that facilities that accept federal funds cannot deny prisoners accommodations that are necessary to engage in activities for the practice of their own religious beliefs.[249][250]

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Satanism – Wikipedia

We are using witchcraft, Satanism and magic confesses …

some Prophets are stopped from having sex with their wives, they have sex with a snake

Coming in the wake of self-acclaimed Prophet Shepherd Bushiris stunts that he has called miracles, Malawian Prophet Trevor Kautsire made a rare confession on modern day Prophecy.

Prophet Kautsire (right) with host Brian Banda

In an interview on one Malawian television talkshow that was followed by Malawi24, Prophet Kautsire made the chilling claims that modern day Prophets are not using the power of the Holy Spirit to perform their so-called miracles.

I was in South Africa and I met the who-is-who of the gospel, what they told me is heart-breaking, said Kautsire.

He disclosed that when he was in South Africa he was told of rituals that he had to perform if he were to become a renowned Prophet. Kautsire disclosed that the ritual involved sacrifices that included the killing of family members or church members.

I am speaking this from experience, some Prophets have had to sacrifice their church members to gain fame. You have heard of people dying in places of worship, it is because they are using the people as sacrifices, said Kautsire, a comment which commentators said was referring to the Nigerian teleprophet TB Joshua at whose church over a hundred people died.

Kautsire further said that it was easy to decipher fake Prophets because they do miracles for no important reason.

A miracle is supposed to meet a need, however when a Prophet does a miracle that does not meet any need there is no reason to believe that Prophet, he said. Commentators have thought that he was apparently referring to Bushiri who has been in the news for the walk-in-the air stunt which does nothing to glorify the name of the Lord.

He said that Prophets are using magic, witchcraft and Satanism to perform miracles.

There are some who are told to keep a worm and keep feeding it, the worm grows into a snake and when it comes to that stage where it is a snake, it brings them money. The catch is that one should never sleep with their wife but the snake, said Kautsire disclosing the secrets in the dark world of Prophecy.

See the rest here:

We are using witchcraft, Satanism and magic confesses …

Satanism – Wikipedia

Satanism is a group of ideological and philosophical beliefs based on Satan.[1] Contemporary religious practice of Satanism began with the founding of the Church of Satan in 1966, although a few historical precedents exist. Prior to the public practice, Satanism existed primarily as an accusation by various Christian groups toward perceived ideological opponents, rather than a self-identity. Satanism, and the concept of Satan, has also been used by artists and entertainers for symbolic expression.

Accusations that various groups have been practicing Satanism have been made throughout much of Christian history. During the Middle Ages, the Inquisition attached to the Roman Catholic Church alleged that various heretical Christian sects and groups, such as the Knights Templar and the Cathars, performed secret Satanic rituals. In the subsequent Early Modern period, belief in a widespread Satanic conspiracy of witches resulted in mass trials of alleged witches across Europe and the North American colonies. Accusations that Satanic conspiracies were active, and behind events such as Protestantism (and conversely, the Protestant claim that the Pope was the Antichrist) and the French Revolution continued to be made in Christendom during the eighteenth to the twentieth century. The idea of a vast Satanic conspiracy reached new heights with the influential Taxil hoax of France in the 1890s, which claimed that Freemasonry worshiped Satan, Lucifer, and Baphomet in their rituals. In the 1980s and 1990s, the Satanic ritual abuse hysteria spread through the United States and United Kingdom, amid fears that groups of Satanists were regularly sexually abusing and murdering children in their rites. In most of these cases, there is no corroborating evidence that any of those accused of Satanism were actually practitioners of a Satanic religion or guilty of the allegations leveled at them.

Since the 19th century, various small religious groups have emerged that identify as Satanists or use Satanic iconography. Satanist groups that appeared after the 1960s are widely diverse, but two major trends are theistic Satanism and atheistic Satanism. Theistic Satanists venerate Satan as a supernatural deity, viewing him not as omnipotent but rather as a patriarch. In contrast, atheistic Satanists regard Satan as merely a symbol of certain human traits.[2]

Contemporary religious Satanism is predominantly an American phenomenon, the ideas spreading elsewhere with the effects of globalization and the Internet.[3] The Internet spreads awareness of other Satanists, and is also the main battleground for Satanist disputes.[3] Satanism started to reach Central and Eastern Europe in the 1990s, in time with the fall of the Soviet Union, and most noticeably in Poland and Lithuania, predominantly Roman Catholic countries.[4][5]

In their study of Satanism, the religious studies scholars Asbjrn Dyrendal, James R. Lewis, and Jesper Aa. Petersen stated that the term Satanism “has a history of being a designation made by people against those whom they dislike; it is a term used for ‘othering'”. The concept of Satanism is an invention of Christianity, for it relies upon the figure of Satan, a character deriving from Christian mythology.

Elsewhere, Petersen noted that “Satanism as something others do is very different from Satanism as a self-designation”.Eugene Gallagher noted that, as commonly used, Satanism was usually “a polemical, not a descriptive term”.

The word “Satan” was not originally a proper name but rather an ordinary noun meaning “the adversary”; in this context it appears at several points in the Old Testament. For instance, in the Book of Samuel, David is presented as the satan (“adversary”) of the Philistines, while in the Book of Numbers the term appears as a verb, when God sent an angel to satan (“to oppose”) Balaam. Prior to the composition of the New Testament, the idea developed within Jewish communities that Satan was the name of an angel who had rebelled against God and had been cast out of Heaven along with his followers; this account would be incorporated into contemporary texts like the Book of Enoch. This Satan was then featured in parts of the New Testament, where he was presented as a figure who tempted humans to commit sin; in the Book of Matthew and the Book of Luke, he attempted to tempt Jesus of Nazareth as the latter fasted in the wilderness.

The word “Satanism” was adopted into English from the French satanisme. The terms “Satanism” and “Satanist” are first recorded as appearing in the English and French languages during the sixteenth century, when they were used by Christian groups to attack other, rival Christian groups. In a Roman Catholic tract of 1565, the author condemns the “heresies, blasphemies, and sathanismes [sic]” of the Protestants. In an Anglican work of 1559, Anabaptists and other Protestant sects are condemned as “swarmes of Satanistes [sic]”. As used in this manner, the term “Satanism” was not used to claim that people literally worshipped Satan, but rather presented the view that through deviating from what the speaker or writer regarded as the true variant of Christianity, they were regarded as being essentially in league with the Devil. During the nineteenth century, the term “Satanism” began to be used to describe those considered to lead a broadly immoral lifestyle, and it was only in the late nineteenth century that it came to be applied in English to individuals who were believed to consciously and deliberately venerate Satan. This latter meaning had appeared earlier in the Swedish language; the Lutheran Bishop Laurentius Paulinus Gothus had described devil-worshipping sorcerers as Sathanister in his Ethica Christiana, produced between 1615 and 1630.

Historical and anthropological research suggests that nearly all societies have developed the idea of a sinister and anti-human force that can hide itself within society. This commonly involves a belief in witches, a group of individuals who invert the norms of their society and seek to harm their community, for instance by engaging in incest, murder, and cannibalism. Allegations of witchcraft may have different causes and serve different functions within a society. For instance, they may serve to uphold social norms, to heighten the tension in existing conflicts between individuals, or to scapegoat certain individuals for various social problems.

Another contributing factor to the idea of Satanism is the concept that there is an agent of misfortune and evil who operates on a cosmic scale, something usually associated with a strong form of ethical dualism that divides the world clearly into forces of good and forces of evil. The earliest such entity known is Angra Mainyu, a figure that appears in the Persian religion of Zoroastrianism. This concept was also embraced by Judaism and early Christianity, and although it was soon marginalised within Jewish thought, it gained increasing importance within early Christian understandings of the cosmos. While the early Christian idea of the Devil was not well developed, it gradually adapted and expanded through the creation of folklore, art, theological treatises, and morality tales, thus providing the character with a range of extra-Biblical associations.

As Christianity expanded throughout the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe, it came into contact with a variety of other religions, which it regarded as “pagan”. Christian theologians claimed that the gods and goddesses venerated by these “pagans” were not genuine divinities, but were actually demons. However, they did not believe that “pagans” were deliberately devil-worshippers, instead claiming that they were simply misguided. In Christian iconography, the Devil and demons were given the physical traits of figures from Classical mythology such as the god Pan, fauns, and satyrs.

Those Christian groups regarded as heretics by the Roman Catholic Church were treated differently, with theologians arguing that they were deliberately worshipping the Devil. This was accompanied by claims that such individuals engaged in incestuous sexual orgies, murdered infants, and committed acts of cannibalism, all stock accusations that had previously been leveled at Christians themselves in the Roman Empire.The first recorded example of such an accusation being made within Western Christianity took place in Toulouse in 1022, when two clerics were tried for allegedly venerating a demon. Throughout the middle ages, this accusation would be applied to a wide range of Christian heretical groups, including the Paulicians, Bogomils, Cathars, Waldensians, and the Hussites. The Knights Templar were accused of worshipping an idol known as Baphomet, with Lucifer having appeared at their meetings in the form of a cat. As well as these Christian groups, these claims were also made about Europe’s Jewish community. In the thirteenth century, there were also references made to a group of “Luciferians” led by a woman named Lucardis which hoped to see Satan rule in Heaven. References to this group continued into the fourteenth century, although historians studying the allegations concur that these Luciferians were likely a fictitious invention.

Within Christian thought, the idea developed that certain individuals could make a pact with Satan. This may have emerged after observing that pacts with gods and goddesses played a role in various pre-Christian belief systems, or that such pacts were also made as part of the Christian cult of saints. Another possibility is that it derives from a misunderstanding of Augustine of Hippo’s condemnation of augury in his On the Christian Doctrine, written in the late fourth century. Here, he stated that people who consulted augurs were entering “quasi pacts” (covenants) with demons. The idea of the diabolical pact made with demons was popularised across Europe in the story of Faust, likely based in part on the real life Johann Georg Faust.

As the late medieval gave way to the early modern period, European Christendom experienced a schism between the established Roman Catholic Church and the breakaway Protestant movement. In the ensuing Reformation and Counter-Reformation, both Catholics and Protestants accused each other of deliberately being in league with Satan. It was in this context that the terms “Satanist” and “Satanism” emerged.

The early modern period also saw fear of Satanists reach its “historical apogee” in the form of the witch trials of the fifteenth to the eighteenth centuries. This came about as the accusations which had been leveled at medieval heretics, among them that of devil-worship, were applied to the pre-existing idea of the witch, or practitioner of malevolent magic. The idea of a conspiracy of Satanic witches was developed by educated elites, although the concept of malevolent witchcraft was a widespread part of popular belief and folkloric ideas about the night witch, the wild hunt, and the dance of the fairies were incorporated into it. The earliest trials took place in Northern Italy and France, before spreading it out to other areas of Europe and to Britain’s North American colonies, being carried out by the legal authorities in both Catholic and Protestant regions.Between 30,000 and 50,000 individuals were executed as accused Satanic witches.Most historians agree that the majority of those persecuted in these witch trials were innocent of any involvement in Devil worship. However, in their summary of the evidence for the trials, the historians Geoffrey Scarre and John Callow thought it “without doubt” that some of those accused in the trials had been guilty of employing magic in an attempt to harm their enemies, and were thus genuinely guilty of witchcraft.

In seventeenth-century Sweden, a number of highway robbers and other outlaws living in the forests informed judges that they venerated Satan because he provided more practical assistance than God.The historian of religion Massimo Introvigne regarded these practices as “folkloric Satanism”.

During the eighteenth century, gentleman’s social clubs became increasingly prominent in Britain and Ireland, among the most secretive of which were the Hellfire Clubs, which were first reported in the 1720s. The most famous of these groups was the Order of the Knights of Saints Francis, which was founded circa 1750 by the aristocrat Sir Francis Dashwood and which assembled first at his estate at West Wycombe and later in Medmenham Abbey. A number of contemporary press sources portrayed these as gatherings of atheist rakes where Christianity was mocked and toasts were made to the Devil. Beyond these sensationalist accounts, which may not be accurate portrayals of actual events, little is known about the activities of the Hellfire Clubs. Introvigne suggested that they may have engaged in a form of “playful Satanism” in which Satan was invoked “to show a daring contempt for conventional morality” by individuals who neither believed in his literal existence nor wanted to pay homage to him.

The French Revolution of 1789 dealt a blow to the hegemony of the Roman Catholic Church in parts of Europe, and soon a number of Catholic authors began making claims that it had been masterminded by a conspiratorial group of Satanists. Among the first to do so was French Catholic priest Jean-Baptiste Fiard, who publicly claimed that a wide range of individuals, from the Jacobins to tarot card readers, were part of a Satanic conspiracy. Fiard’s ideas were furthered by Alexis-Vincent-Charles Berbiguier, who devoted a lengthy book to this conspiracy theory; he claimed that Satanists had supernatural powers allowing them to curse people and to shapeshift into both cats and fleas. Although most of his contemporaries regarded Berbiguier as mad, his ideas gained credence among many occultists, including Stanislas de Guaita, a Cabalist who used them for the basis of his book, The Temple of Satan.

In the early 20th century, the British novelist Dennis Wheatley produced a range of influential novels in which his protagonists battled Satanic groups. At the same time, non-fiction authors like Montague Summers and Rollo Ahmed published books claiming that Satanic groups practicing black magic were still active across the world, although they provided no evidence that this was the case. During the 1950s, various British tabloid newspapers repeated such claims, largely basing their accounts on the allegations of one woman, Sarah Jackson, who claimed to have been a member of such a group. In 1973, the British Christian Doreen Irvine published From Witchcraft to Christ, in which she claimed to have been a member of a Satanic group that gave her supernatural powers, such as the ability to levitate, before she escaped and embraced Christianity.In the United States during the 1960s and 1970s, various Christian preachersthe most famous being Mike Warnke in his 1972 book The Satan-Sellerclaimed that they had been members of Satanic groups who carried out sex rituals and animal sacrifices before discovering Christianity. According to Gareth Medway in his historical examination of Satanism, these stories were “a series of inventions by insecure people and hack writers, each one based on a previous story, exaggerated a little more each time”.

Other publications made allegations of Satanism against historical figures. The 1970s saw the publication of the Romanian Protestant preacher Richard Wurmbrand’s book in which he arguedwithout corroborating evidencethat the socio-political theorist Karl Marx had been a Satanist.

At the end of the twentieth century, a moral panic developed around claims regarding a Devil-worshipping cult that made use of sexual abuse, murder, and cannibalism in its rituals, with children being among its victims. Initially, the alleged perpetrators of such crimes were labelled “witches”, although the term “Satanist” was soon adopted as a favoured alternative, and the phenomenon itself came to be called “the Satanism Scare”. Promoters of the claims alleged that there was a conspiracy of organised Satanists who occupied prominent positions throughout society, from the police to politicians, and that they had been powerful enough to cover up their crimes.

Sociologist of religion Massimo Introvigne, 2016

One of the primary sources for the scare was Michelle Remembers, a 1980 book by the Canadian psychiatrist Lawrence Pazder in which he detailed what he claimed were the repressed memories of his patient (and wife) Michelle Smith. Smith had claimed that as a child she had been abused by her family in Satanic rituals in which babies were sacrificed and Satan himself appeared. In 1983, allegations were made that the McMartin familyowners of a preschool in Californiawere guilty of sexually abusing the children in their care during Satanic rituals. The allegations resulted in a lengthy and expensive trial, in which all of the accused would eventually be cleared. The publicity generated by the case resulted in similar allegations being made in various other parts of the United States.

A prominent aspect of the Satanic Scare was the claim by those in the developing “anti-Satanism” movement that any child’s claim about Satanic ritual abuse must be true, because children would not lie. Although some involved in the anti-Satanism movement were from Jewish and secular backgrounds, a central part was played by fundamentalist and evangelical forms of Christianity, in particular Pentecostalism, with Christian groups holding conferences and producing books and videotapes to promote belief in the conspiracy. Various figures in law enforcement also came to be promoters of the conspiracy theory, with such “cult cops” holding various conferences to promote it. The scare was later imported to the United Kingdom through visiting evangelicals and became popular among some of the country’s social workers, resulting in a range of accusations and trials across Britain.

The Satanic ritual abuse hysteria died down between 1990 and 1994. In the late 1980s, the Satanic Scare had lost its impetus following increasing scepticism about such allegations, and a number of those who had been convicted of perpetrating Satanic ritual abuse saw their convictions overturned.In 1990, an agent of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, Ken Lanning, revealed that he had investigated 300 allegations of Satanic ritual abuse and found no evidence for Satanism or ritualistic activity in any of them. In the UK, the Department of Health commissioned the anthropologist Jean La Fontaine to examine the allegations of SRA. She noted that while approximately half did reveal evidence of genuine sexual abuse of children, none revealed any evidence that Satanist groups had been involved or that any murders had taken place. She noted three examples in which lone individuals engaged in child molestation had created a ritual performance to facilitate their sexual acts, with the intent of frightening their victims and justifying their actions, but that none of these child molestors were involved in wider Satanist groups. By the 21st century, hysteria about Satanism has waned in most Western countries, although allegations of Satanic ritual abuse continued to surface in parts of continental Europe and Latin America.

From the late seventeenth through to the nineteenth century, the character of Satan was increasingly rendered unimportant in Western philosophy and ignored in Christian theology, while in folklore he came to be seen as a foolish rather than a menacing figure. The development of new values in the Age of Enlightenmentin particular those of reason and individualismcontributed to a shift in how many Europeans viewed Satan. In this context, a number of individuals took Satan out of the traditional Christian narrative and reread and reinterpreted him in light of their own time and their own interests, in turn generating new and different portraits of Satan.

The shifting view of Satan owes many of its origins to John Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost (1667), in which Satan features as the protagonist. Milton was a Puritan and had never intended for his depiction of Satan to be a sympathetic one. However, in portraying Satan as a victim of his own pride who rebelled against God he humanized him and also allowed him to be interpreted as a rebel against tyranny. This was how Milton’s Satan was understood by later readers like the publisher Joseph Johnson, and the anarchist philosopher William Godwin, who reflected it in his 1793 book Enquiry Concerning Political Justice. Paradise Lost gained a wide readership in the eighteenth century, both in Britain and in continental Europe, where it had been translated into French by Voltaire. Milton thus became “a central character in rewriting Satanism” and would be viewed by many later religious Satanists as a “de facto Satanist”.

The nineteenth century saw the emergence of what has been termed “literary Satanism” or “romantic Satanism”. According to Van Luijk, this cannot be seen as a “coherent movement with a single voice, but rather as a post factum identified group of sometimes widely divergent authors among whom a similar theme is found”. For the literary Satanists, Satan was depicted as a benevolent and sometimes heroic figure, with these more sympathetic portrayals proliferating in the art and poetry of many romanticist and decadent figures. For these individuals, Satanism was not a religious belief or ritual activity, but rather a “strategic use of a symbol and a character as part of artistic and political expression”.

Among the romanticist poets to adopt this view of Satan was the English poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, who had been influenced by Milton. In his poem Laon and Cythna, Shelley praised the “Serpent”, a reference to Satan, as a force for good in the universe.Another was Shelley’s fellow British poet Lord Byron, who included Satanic themes in his 1821 play Cain, which was a dramatization of the Biblical story of Cain and Abel. These more positive portrayals also developed in France; one example was the 1823 work Eloa by Alfred de Vigny. Satan was also adopted by the French poet Victor Hugo, who made the character’s fall from Heaven a central aspect of his La Fin de Satan, in which he outlined his own cosmogony.Although the likes of Shelley and Byron promoted a positive image of Satan in their work, there is no evidence that any of them performed religious rites to venerate him, and thus it is problematic to regard them as religious Satanists.

Radical left-wing political ideas had been spread by the American Revolution of 176583 and the French Revolution of 178999, and the figure of Satan, who was interpreted as having rebelled against the tyranny imposed by God, was an appealing one for many of the radical leftists of the period. For them, Satan was “a symbol for the struggle against tyranny, injustice, and oppression… a mythical figure of rebellion for an age of revolutions, a larger-than-life individual for an age of individualism, a free thinker in an age struggling for free thought”. The French anarchist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, who was a staunch critic of Christianity, embraced Satan as a symbol of liberty in several of his writings. Another prominent 19th century anarchist, the Russian Mikhail Bakunin, similarly described the figure of Satan as “the eternal rebel, the first freethinker and the emancipator of worlds” in his book God and the State. These ideas likely inspired the American feminist activist Moses Harman to name his anarchist periodical Lucifer the Lightbearer. The idea of this “Leftist Satan” declined during the twentieth century, although it was used on occasion by authorities within the Soviet Union, who portrayed Satan as a symbol of freedom and equality.

During the 1960s and 1970s, several rock bandsnamely the American Coven and the British Black Widowemployed the imagery of Satanism and witchcraft in their work. References to Satan also appeared in the work of those rock bands which were pioneering the heavy metal genre in Britain during the 1970s. Black Sabbath for instance made mention of Satan in their lyrics, although several of the band’s members were practicing Christians and other lyrics affirmed the power of the Christian God over Satan. In the 1980s, greater use of Satanic imagery was made by heavy metal bands like Slayer, Kreator, Sodom, and Destruction. Bands active in the subgenre of death metalamong them Deicide, Morbid Angel, and Entombedalso adopted Satanic imagery, combining it with other morbid and dark imagery, such as that of zombies and serial killers.

Satanism would come to be more closely associated with the subgenre of black metal, in which it was foregrounded over the other themes that had been used in death metal. A number of black metal performers incorporated self-injury into their act, framing this as a manifestation of Satanic devotion. The first black metal band, Venom, proclaimed themselves to be Satanists, although this was more an act of provocation than an expression of genuine devotion to the Devil. Satanic themes were also used by the black metal bands Bathory and Hellhammer. However, the first black metal act to more seriously adopt Satanism was Mercyful Fate, whose vocalist, King Diamond, joined the Church of Satan. More often than not musicians associating themselves with black metal say they do not believe in legitimate Satanic ideology and often profess to being atheists, agnostics, or religious skeptics.[110]

In contrast to King Diamond, various black metal Satanists sought to distance themselves from LaVeyan Satanism, for instance by referring to their beliefs as “devil worship”. These individuals regarded Satan as a literal entity, and in contrast to LaVey’s views, they associated Satanism with criminality, suicide, and terror. For them, Christianity was regarded as a plague which required eradication. Many of these individualssuch as Varg Vikernes and Euronymouswere Norwegian, and influenced by the strong anti-Christian views of this milieu, between 1992 and 1996 around fifty Norwegian churches were destroyed in arson attacks. Within the black metal scene, a number of musicians later replaced Satanic themes with those deriving from Heathenry, a form of modern Paganism.

Rather than being one single form of religious Satanism, there are instead multiple different religious Satanisms, each with different ideas about what being a Satanist entails. The historian of religion Ruben van Luijk used a “working definition” in which Satanism was regarded as “the intentional, religiously motivated veneration of Satan”.

Dyrendal, Lewis, and Petersen believed that it was not a single movement, but rather a milieu. They and others have nevertheless referred to it as a new religious movement. They believed that there was a family resemblance that united all of the varying groups in this milieu, and that most of them were self religions. They argued that there were a set of features that were common to the groups in this Satanic milieu: these were the positive use of the term “Satanist” as a designation, an emphasis on individualism, a genealogy that connects them to other Satanic groups, a transgressive and antinomian stance, a self-perception as an elite, and an embrace of values such as pride, self-reliance, and productive non-conformity.

Dyrendal, Lewis, and Petersen argued that the groups within the Satanic milieu could be divided into three groups: reactive Satanists, rationalist Satanists, and esoteric Satanists. They saw reactive Satanism as encompassing “popular Satanism, inverted Christianity, and symbolic rebellion” and noted that it situates itself in opposition to society while at the same time conforming to society’s perspective of evil. Rationalist Satanism is used to describe the trend in the Satanic milieu which is atheistic, sceptical, materialistic, and epicurean. Esoteric Satanism instead applied to those forms which are theistic and draw upon ideas from other forms of Western esotericism, Modern Paganism, Buddhism, and Hinduism.

The first person to promote a Satanic philosophy was the Pole Stanislaw Przybyszewski, who promoted a Social Darwinian ideology.

The use of the term “Lucifer” was also taken up by the French ceremonial magician Eliphas Levi, who has been described as a “Romantic Satanist”. During his younger days, Levi used “Lucifer” in much the same manner as the literary romantics. As he moved toward a more politically conservative outlook in later life, he retained the use of the term, but instead applied it as to what he believed was a morally neutral facet of the Absolute. In his book Dogma and Ritual of High Magic, published in two volumes between 1854 and 1856, Levi offered the symbol of Baphomet. He claimed that this was a figure who had been worshipped by the Knights Templar.According to Introvigne, this image gave “the Satanists their most popular symbol ever”.

Levi was not the only occultist who wanted to use the term “Lucifer” without adopting the term “Satan” in a similar way. The early Theosophical Society held to the view that “Lucifer” was a force that aided humanity’s awakening to its own spiritual nature. In keeping with this view, the Society began production of a journal titled Lucifer.

“Satan” was also used within the esoteric system propounded by the Danish occultist Carl William Hansen, who used the pen name “Ben Kadosh”. Hansen was involved in a variety of esoteric groups, including Martinism, Freemasonry, and the Ordo Templi Orientis, drawing on ideas from various groups to establish his own philosophy. In one pamphlet, he provided a “Luciferian” interpretation of Freemasonry. Kadosh’s work left little influence outside of Denmark.

Both during his life and after it, the British occultist Aleister Crowley has been widely described as a Satanist, usually by detractors. Crowley stated he did not consider himself a Satanist, nor did he worship Satan, as he did not accept the Christian world view in which Satan was believed to exist. He nevertheless used imagery considered satanic, for instance by describing himself as “the Beast 666” and referring to the Whore of Babylon in his work, while in later life he sent “Antichristmas cards” to his friends. Dyrendel, Lewis, and Petersen noted that despite the fact that Crowley was not a Satanist, he “in many ways embodies the pre-Satanist esoteric discourse on Satan and Satanism through his lifestyle and his philosophy”, with his “image and thought” becoming an “important influence” on the later development of religious Satanism.

In 1928 the Fraternitas Saturni (FS) was established in Germany; its founder, Eugen Grosche, published Satanische Magie (“Satanic Magic”) that same year. The group connected Satan to Saturn, claiming that the planet related to the Sun in the same manner that Lucifer relates to the human world.

In 1932 an esoteric group known as the Brotherhood of the Golden Arrow was established in Paris, France by Maria de Naglowska, a Russian occultist who had fled to France following the Russian Revolution. She promoted a theology centred on what she called the Third Term of the Trinity consisting of Father, Son, and Sex, the latter of which she deemed to be most important. Her early disciples, who underwent what she called “Satanic Initiations”, included models and art students recruited from bohemian circles. The Golden Arrow disbanded after Naglowska abandoned it in 1936. According to Introvigne, hers was “a quite complicated Satanism, built on a complex philosophical vision of the world, of which little would survive its initiator”.

In 1969 a Satanic group based in Toledo, Ohio, part of the United States, came to public attention. Called the Our Lady of Endor Coven, it was led by a man named Herbert Sloane, who described his Satanic tradition as the Ophite Cultus Sathanas and alleged that it had been established in the 1940s. The group offered a Gnostic interpretation of the world in which the creator God was regarded as evil and the Biblical Serpent presented as a force for good who had delivered salvation to humanity in the Garden of Eden. Sloane’s claims that his group had a 1940s origin remain unproven; it may be that he falsely claimed older origins for his group to make it appear older than Anton LaVey’s Church of Satan, which had been established in 1966.

None of these groups had any real impact on the emergence of the later Satanic milieu in the 1960s.

Anton LaVey, who has been referred to as “The Father of Satanism”,[143] synthesized his religion through the establishment of the Church of Satan in 1966 and the publication of The Satanic Bible in 1969. LaVey’s teachings promoted “indulgence”, “vital existence”, “undefiled wisdom”, “kindness to those who deserve it”, “responsibility to the responsible” and an “eye for an eye” code of ethics, while shunning “abstinence” based on guilt, “spirituality”, “unconditional love”, “pacifism”, “equality”, “herd mentality” and “scapegoating”. In LaVey’s view, the Satanist is a carnal, physical and pragmatic beingand enjoyment of physical existence and an undiluted view of this-worldly truth are promoted as the core values of Satanism, propagating a naturalistic worldview that sees mankind as animals existing in an amoral universe.

LaVey believed that the ideal Satanist should be individualistic and non-conformist, rejecting what he called the “colorless existence” that mainstream society sought to impose on those living within it. He praised the human ego for encouraging an individual’s pride, self-respect, and self-realization and accordingly believed in satisfying the ego’s desires. He expressed the view that self-indulgence was a desirable trait, and that hate and aggression were not wrong or undesirable emotions but that they were necessary and advantageous for survival. Accordingly, he praised the seven deadly sins as virtues which were beneficial for the individual. The anthropologist Jean La Fontaine highlighted an article that appeared in The Black Flame, in which one writer described “a true Satanic society” as one in which the population consists of “free-spirited, well-armed, fully-conscious, self-disciplined individuals, who will neither need nor tolerate any external entity ‘protecting’ them or telling them what they can and cannot do.”

The sociologist James R. Lewis noted that “LaVey was directly responsible for the genesis of Satanism as a serious religious (as opposed to a purely literary) movement”. Scholars agree that there is no reliably documented case of Satanic continuity prior to the founding of the Church of Satan. It was the first organized church in modern times to be devoted to the figure of Satan, and according to Faxneld and Petersen, the Church represented “the first public, highly visible, and long-lasting organization which propounded a coherent satanic discourse”. LaVey’s book, The Satanic Bible, has been described as the most important document to influence contemporary Satanism. The book contains the core principles of Satanism, and is considered the foundation of its philosophy and dogma. Petersen noted that it is “in many ways the central text of the Satanic milieu”, with Lap similarly testifying to its dominant position within the wider Satanic movement. David G. Bromley calls it “iconoclastic” and “the best-known and most influential statement of Satanic theology.” Eugene V. Gallagher says that Satanists use LaVey’s writings “as lenses through which they view themselves, their group, and the cosmos.” He also states: “With a clear-eyed appreciation of true human nature, a love of ritual and pageantry, and a flair for mockery, LaVey’s Satanic Bible promulgated a gospel of self-indulgence that, he argued, anyone who dispassionately considered the facts would embrace.”

A number of religious studies scholars have described LaVey’s Satanism as a form of “self-religion” or “self-spirituality”, with religious studies scholar Amina Olander Lap arguing that it should be seen as being both part of the “prosperity wing” of the self-spirituality New Age movement and a form of the Human Potential Movement. The anthropologist Jean La Fontaine described it as having “both elitist and anarchist elements”, also citing one occult bookshop owner who referred to the Church’s approach as “anarchistic hedonism”. In The Invention of Satanism, Dyrendal and Petersen theorized that LaVey viewed his religion as “an antinomian self-religion for productive misfits, with a cynically carnivalesque take on life, and no supernaturalism”. The sociologist of religion James R. Lewis even described LaVeyan Satanism as “a blend of Epicureanism and Ayn Rand’s philosophy, flavored with a pinch of ritual magic.” The historian of religion Mattias Gardell described LaVey’s as “a rational ideology of egoistic hedonism and self-preservation”, while Nevill Drury characterised LaVeyan Satanism as “a religion of self-indulgence”. It has also been described as an “institutionalism of Machiavellian self-interest”.

Prominent Church leader Blanche Barton described Satanism as “an alignment, a lifestyle”. LaVey and the Church espoused the view that “Satanists are born, not made”; that they are outsiders by their nature, living as they see fit, who are self-realized in a religion which appeals to the would-be Satanist’s nature, leading them to realize they are Satanists through finding a belief system that is in line with their own perspective and lifestyle. Adherents to the philosophy have described Satanism as a non-spiritual religion of the flesh, or “…the world’s first carnal religion”. LaVey used Christianity as a negative mirror for his new faith, with LaVeyan Satanism rejecting the basic principles and theology of Christian belief. It views Christianity alongside other major religions, and philosophies such as humanism and liberal democracy as a largely negative force on humanity; LaVeyan Satanists perceive Christianity as a lie which promotes idealism, self-denigration, herd behavior, and irrationality. LaVeyans view their religion as a force for redressing this balance by encouraging materialism, egoism, stratification, carnality, atheism, and social Darwinism. LaVey’s Satanism was particularly critical of what it understands as Christianity’s denial of humanity’s animal nature, and it instead calls for the celebration of, and indulgence in, these desires. In doing so, it places an emphasis on the carnal rather than the spiritual.

Practitioners do not believe that Satan literally exists and do not worship him. Instead, Satan is viewed as a positive archetype embracing the Hebrew root of the word “Satan” as “adversary”, who represents pride, carnality, and enlightenment, and of a cosmos which Satanists perceive to be motivated by a “dark evolutionary force of entropy that permeates all of nature and provides the drive for survival and propagation inherent in all living things”. The Devil is embraced as a symbol of defiance against the Abrahamic faiths which LaVey criticized for what he saw as the suppression of humanity’s natural instincts. Moreover, Satan also serves as a metaphorical external projection of the individual’s godhood. LaVey espoused the view that “god” is a creation of man, rather than man being a creation of “god”. In his book, The Satanic Bible, the Satanist’s view of god is described as the Satanist’s true “self”a projection of his or her own personalitynot an external deity. Satan is used as a representation of personal liberty and individualism.

LaVey explained that the gods worshiped by other religions are also projections of man’s true self. He argues that man’s unwillingness to accept his own ego has caused him to externalize these gods so as to avoid the feeling of narcissism that would accompany self-worship. The current High Priest of the Church of Satan, Peter H. Gilmore, further expounds that “…Satan is a symbol of Man living as his prideful, carnal nature dictates […] Satan is not a conscious entity to be worshiped, rather a reservoir of power inside each human to be tapped at will.[180] The Church of Satan has chosen Satan as its primary symbol because in Hebrew it means adversary, opposer, one to accuse or question. We see ourselves as being these Satans; the adversaries, opposers and accusers of all spiritual belief systems that would try to hamper enjoyment of our life as a human being.”[181] The term “Theistic Satanism” has been described as “oxymoronic” by the church and its High Priest.[182] The Church of Satan rejects the legitimacy of any other organizations who claim to be Satanists, dubbing them reverse-Christians, pseudo-Satanists or Devil worshipers, atheistic or otherwise,[183] and maintains a purist approach to Satanism as expounded by LaVey.

After LaVey’s death in 1997, the Church of Satan was taken over by a new administration and its headquarters were moved to New York. LaVey’s daughter, the High Priestess Karla LaVey, felt this to be a disservice to her father’s legacy. The First Satanic Church was re-founded on October 31, 1999 by Karla LaVey to carry on the legacy of her father. She continues to run it out of San Francisco, California.

The Satanic Temple is an American religious and political activist organization based in Salem, Massachusetts. The organization actively participates in public affairs that have manifested in several public political actions[184][185] and efforts at lobbying,[186] with a focus on the separation of church and state and using satire against Christian groups that it believes interfere with personal freedom.[186] According to Dyrendal, Lewis, and Petersen, the group were “rationalist, political pranksters”. Their pranks are designed to highlight religious hypocrisy and advance the cause of secularism. In one of their actions, they performed a “Pink Mass” over the grave of the mother of the evangelical Christian and prominent anti-LGBT preacher Fred Phelps; the Temple claimed that the mass converted the spirit of Phelps’ mother into a lesbian.

The Satanic Temple does not believe in a supernatural Satan, as they believe that this encourages superstition that would keep them from being “malleable to the best current scientific understandings of the material world”. The Temple uses the literary Satan as metaphor to construct a cultural narrative which promotes pragmatic skepticism, rational reciprocity, personal autonomy, and curiosity.[189] Satan is thus used as a symbol representing “the eternal rebel” against arbitrary authority and social norms.[190][191]

Theistic Satanism (also known as traditional Satanism, Spiritual Satanism or Devil worship) is a form of Satanism with the primary belief that Satan is an actual deity or force to revere or worship.[192] Other characteristics of theistic Satanism may include a belief in magic, which is manipulated through ritual, although that is not a defining criterion, and theistic Satanists may focus solely on devotion.

Luciferianism can be understood best as a belief system or intellectual creed that venerates the essential and inherent characteristics that are affixed and commonly given to Lucifer. Luciferianism is often identified as an auxiliary creed or movement of Satanism, due to the common identification of Lucifer with Satan. Some Luciferians accept this identification and/or consider Lucifer as the “light bearer” and illuminated aspect of Satan, giving them the name of Satanists and the right to bear the title. Others reject it, giving the argument that Lucifer is a more positive and easy-going ideal than Satan. They are inspired by the ancient myths of Egypt, Rome and Greece, Gnosticism and traditional Western occultism.

According to the group’s own claims, the Order of Nine Angles was established in Shropshire, Western England during the late 1960s, when a Grand Mistress united a number of ancient pagan groups active in the area.This account states that when the Order’s Grand Mistress migrated to Australia, a man known as “Anton Long” took over as the new Grand Master. From 1976 onward he authored an array of texts for the tradition, codifying and extending its teachings, mythos, and structure.Various academics have argued that Long is the pseudonym of British neo-Nazi activist David Myatt, an allegation that Myatt has denied.The ONA arose to public attention in the early 1980s, spreading its message through magazine articles over the following two decades. In 2000, it established a presence on the internet, later adopting social media to promote its message.

The ONA is a secretive organization, and lacks any central administration, instead operating as a network of allied Satanic practitioners, which it terms the “kollective”. It consists largely of autonomous cells known as “nexions”. The majority of these are located in Britain, Ireland, and Germany, although others are located elsewhere in Europe, and in Russia, Egypt, South Africa, Brazil, Australia, and the United States.

The ONA describe their occultism as “Traditional Satanism”. The ONA’s writings encourage human sacrifice, referring to their victims as opfers. According to the Order’s teachings, such opfers must demonstrate character faults that mark them out as being worthy of death, and accordingly the ONA insists that children must never be victims. No ONA cell have admitted to carrying out a sacrifice in a ritualised manner, but rather Order members have joined the police and military in order to carry out such killings. Faxneld described the Order as “a dangerous and extreme form of Satanism”, while religious studies scholar Graham Harvey claimed that the ONA fit the stereotype of the Satanist “better than other groups” by embracing “deeply shocking” and illegal acts.

The Temple of Set is an initiatory occult society claiming to be the world’s leading left-hand path religious organization. It was established in 1975 by Michael A. Aquino and certain members of the priesthood of the Church of Satan,[210] who left because of administrative and philosophical disagreements. ToS deliberately self-differentiates from CoS in several ways, most significantly in theology and sociology.[211] The philosophy of the Temple of Set may be summed up as “enlightened individualism”enhancement and improvement of oneself by personal education, experiment and initiation. This process is necessarily different and distinctive for each individual. The members do not agree on whether Set is “real” or not, and they’re not expected to.[211]

The Temple presents the view that the name Satan was originally a corruption of the name Set. The Temple teaches that Set is a real entity, the only real god in existence, with all others created by the human imagination. Set is described as having given humanitythrough the means of non-natural evolutionthe “Black Flame” or the “Gift of Set”, a questioning intellect which sets the species apart from other animals. While Setians are expected to revere Set, they do not worship him. Central to Setian philosophy is the human individual, with self-deification presented as the ultimate goal.

In 2005 Petersen noted that academic estimates for the Temple’s membership varied from between 300 and 500, and Granholm suggested that in 2007 the Temple contained circa 200 members.

Dyrendal, Lewis, and Petersen used the term “reactive Satanism” to describe one form of modern religious Satanism. They described this as an adolescent and anti-social means of rebelling in a Christian society, by which an individual transgresses cultural boundaries. They believed that there were two tendencies within reactive Satanism: one, “Satanic tourism”, was characterised by the brief period of time in which an individual was involved, while the other, the “Satanic quest”, was typified by a longer and deeper involvement.

The researcher Gareth Medway noted that in 1995 he encountered a British woman who stated that she had been a practicing Satanist during her teenage years. She had grown up in a small mining village, and had come to believe that she had psychic powers. After hearing about Satanism in some library books, she declared herself a Satanist and formulated a belief that Satan was the true god. After her teenage years she abandoned Satanism and became a chaos magickian.

Some reactive Satanists are teenagers or mentally disturbed individuals who have engaged in criminal activities. During the 1980s and 1990s, several groups of teenagers were apprehended after sacrificing animals and vandalising both churches and graveyards with Satanic imagery. Introvigne expressed the view that these incidents were “more a product of juvenile deviance and marginalization than Satanism”. In a few cases the crimes of these reactive Satanists have included murder. In 1970, two separate groups of teenagersone led by Stanley Baker in Big Sur and the other by Steven Hurd in Los Angeleskilled a total of three people and consumed parts of their corpses in what they later claimed were sacrifices devoted to Satan. In 1984, a U.S. group called the Knights of the Black Circle killed one of its own members, Gary Lauwers, over a disagreement regarding the group’s illegal drug dealing; group members later related that Lauwers’ death was a sacrifice to Satan.The American serial killer Richard Ramirez for instance claimed that he was a Satanist; during his 1980s killing spree he left an inverted pentagram at the scene of each murder and at his trial called out “Hail Satan!”

Dyrendal, Lewis, and Petersen observed that from surveys of Satanists conducted in the early 21st century, it was clear that the Satanic milieu was “heavily dominated by young males”. They nevertheless noted that census data from New Zealand suggested that there may be a growing proportion of women becoming Satanists. In comprising more men than women, Satanism differs from most other religious communities, including most new religious communities. Most Satanists came to their religion through reading, either online or books, rather than through being introduced to it through personal contacts. Many practitioners do not claim that they converted to Satanism, but rather state that they were born that way, and only later in life confirmed that Satanism served as an appropriate label for their pre-existing worldviews. Others have stated that they had experiences with supernatural phenomena that led them to embracing Satanism. A number reported feelings of anger at the hypocrisy of many practicing Christians and expressed the view that the monotheistic Gods of Christianity and other religions are unethical, citing issues such as the problem of evil. For some practitioners, Satanism gave a sense of hope, including for those who had been physically and sexually abused.

The surveys revealed that atheistic Satanists appeared to be in the majority, although the numbers of theistic Satanists appeared to grow over time. Beliefs in the afterlife varied, although the most popular afterlife views were reincarnation and the idea that consciousness survives bodily death. The surveys also demonstrated that most recorded Satanists practiced magic, although there were differing opinions as to whether magical acts operated according to etheric laws or whether the effect of magic was purely psychological. A number described performing cursing, in most cases as a form of vigilante justice.Most practitioners conduct their religious observances in a solitary manner, and never or rarely meet fellow Satanists for rituals. Rather, the primary interaction that takes place between Satanists is online, on websites or via email.From their survey data, Dyrendal, Lewis, and Petersen noted that the average length of involvement in the Satanic milieu was seven years. A Satanist’s involvement in the movement tends to peak in the early twenties and drops off sharply in their thirties. A small proportion retain their allegiance to the religion into their elder years. When asked about their political views, the largest proportion of Satanists identified as apolitical or non-aligned, while only a small percentage identified as conservative despite the conservative views of prominent Satanists like LaVey and Marilyn Manson. A small minority of Satanists expressed support for the far right; conversely, over two-thirds expressed negative or extremely negative views about Nazism and neo-Nazism.

In 2004 it was claimed that Satanism was allowed in the Royal Navy of the British Armed Forces, despite opposition from Christians.[243][244][245] In 2016, under a Freedom of Information request, the Navy Command Headquarters stated that “we do not recognise satanism as a formal religion, and will not grant facilities or make specific time available for individual ‘worship’.”[246]

In 2005, the Supreme Court of the United States debated in the case of Cutter v. Wilkinson over protecting minority religious rights of prison inmates after a lawsuit challenging the issue was filed to them.[247][248] The court ruled that facilities that accept federal funds cannot deny prisoners accommodations that are necessary to engage in activities for the practice of their own religious beliefs.[249][250]

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Satanism – Wikipedia

Modern Satanism: Anatomy of a Radical Subculture: Chris …

Modern Satanism: Anatomy of a Radical Subculture [Chris Mathews] on Amazon.com. *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. In 1966, Anton LaVey introduced to the world the Church of Satan, an atheistic religion devoted to the philosophy of individualism and pitilessness often associated with Satan. Modern Satanism offers a comprehensive survey and analysis of the church that LaVey built.

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Modern Satanism: Anatomy of a Radical Subculture: Chris …

Satanism – Wikipedia

Satanism is a group of ideological and philosophical beliefs based on Satan.[1] Contemporary religious practice of Satanism began with the founding of the Church of Satan in 1966, although a few historical precedents exist. Prior to the public practice, Satanism existed primarily as an accusation by various Christian groups toward perceived ideological opponents, rather than a self-identity. Satanism, and the concept of Satan, has also been used by artists and entertainers for symbolic expression.

Accusations that various groups have been practicing Satanism have been made throughout much of Christian history. During the Middle Ages, the Inquisition attached to the Roman Catholic Church alleged that various heretical Christian sects and groups, such as the Knights Templar and the Cathars, performed secret Satanic rituals. In the subsequent Early Modern period, belief in a widespread Satanic conspiracy of witches resulted in mass trials of alleged witches across Europe and the North American colonies. Accusations that Satanic conspiracies were active, and behind events such as Protestantism (and conversely, the Protestant claim that the Pope was the Antichrist) and the French Revolution continued to be made in Christendom during the eighteenth to the twentieth century. The idea of a vast Satanic conspiracy reached new heights with the influential Taxil hoax of France in the 1890s, which claimed that Freemasonry worshiped Satan, Lucifer, and Baphomet in their rituals. In the 1980s and 1990s, the Satanic ritual abuse hysteria spread through the United States and United Kingdom, amid fears that groups of Satanists were regularly sexually abusing and murdering children in their rites. In most of these cases, there is no corroborating evidence that any of those accused of Satanism were actually practitioners of a Satanic religion or guilty of the allegations leveled at them.

Since the 19th century, various small religious groups have emerged that identify as Satanists or use Satanic iconography. Satanist groups that appeared after the 1960s are widely diverse, but two major trends are theistic Satanism and atheistic Satanism. Theistic Satanists venerate Satan as a supernatural deity, viewing him not as omnipotent but rather as a patriarch. In contrast, atheistic Satanists regard Satan as merely a symbol of certain human traits.[2]

Contemporary religious Satanism is predominantly an American phenomenon, the ideas spreading elsewhere with the effects of globalization and the Internet.[3] The Internet spreads awareness of other Satanists, and is also the main battleground for Satanist disputes.[3] Satanism started to reach Central and Eastern Europe in the 1990s, in time with the fall of the Soviet Union, and most noticeably in Poland and Lithuania, predominantly Roman Catholic countries.[4][5]

In their study of Satanism, the religious studies scholars Asbjrn Dyrendal, James R. Lewis, and Jesper Aa. Petersen stated that the term Satanism “has a history of being a designation made by people against those whom they dislike; it is a term used for ‘othering'”. The concept of Satanism is an invention of Christianity, for it relies upon the figure of Satan, a character deriving from Christian mythology.

Elsewhere, Petersen noted that “Satanism as something others do is very different from Satanism as a self-designation”.Eugene Gallagher noted that, as commonly used, Satanism was usually “a polemical, not a descriptive term”.

The word “Satan” was not originally a proper name but rather an ordinary noun meaning “the adversary”; in this context it appears at several points in the Old Testament. For instance, in the Book of Samuel, David is presented as the satan (“adversary”) of the Philistines, while in the Book of Numbers the term appears as a verb, when God sent an angel to satan (“to oppose”) Balaam. Prior to the composition of the New Testament, the idea developed within Jewish communities that Satan was the name of an angel who had rebelled against God and had been cast out of Heaven along with his followers; this account would be incorporated into contemporary texts like the Book of Enoch. This Satan was then featured in parts of the New Testament, where he was presented as a figure who tempted humans to commit sin; in the Book of Matthew and the Book of Luke, he attempted to tempt Jesus of Nazareth as the latter fasted in the wilderness.

The word “Satanism” was adopted into English from the French satanisme. The terms “Satanism” and “Satanist” are first recorded as appearing in the English and French languages during the sixteenth century, when they were used by Christian groups to attack other, rival Christian groups. In a Roman Catholic tract of 1565, the author condemns the “heresies, blasphemies, and sathanismes [sic]” of the Protestants. In an Anglican work of 1559, Anabaptists and other Protestant sects are condemned as “swarmes of Satanistes [sic]”. As used in this manner, the term “Satanism” was not used to claim that people literally worshipped Satan, but rather presented the view that through deviating from what the speaker or writer regarded as the true variant of Christianity, they were regarded as being essentially in league with the Devil. During the nineteenth century, the term “Satanism” began to be used to describe those considered to lead a broadly immoral lifestyle, and it was only in the late nineteenth century that it came to be applied in English to individuals who were believed to consciously and deliberately venerate Satan. This latter meaning had appeared earlier in the Swedish language; the Lutheran Bishop Laurentius Paulinus Gothus had described devil-worshipping sorcerers as Sathanister in his Ethica Christiana, produced between 1615 and 1630.

Historical and anthropological research suggests that nearly all societies have developed the idea of a sinister and anti-human force that can hide itself within society. This commonly involves a belief in witches, a group of individuals who invert the norms of their society and seek to harm their community, for instance by engaging in incest, murder, and cannibalism. Allegations of witchcraft may have different causes and serve different functions within a society. For instance, they may serve to uphold social norms, to heighten the tension in existing conflicts between individuals, or to scapegoat certain individuals for various social problems.

Another contributing factor to the idea of Satanism is the concept that there is an agent of misfortune and evil who operates on a cosmic scale, something usually associated with a strong form of ethical dualism that divides the world clearly into forces of good and forces of evil. The earliest such entity known is Angra Mainyu, a figure that appears in the Persian religion of Zoroastrianism. This concept was also embraced by Judaism and early Christianity, and although it was soon marginalised within Jewish thought, it gained increasing importance within early Christian understandings of the cosmos. While the early Christian idea of the Devil was not well developed, it gradually adapted and expanded through the creation of folklore, art, theological treatises, and morality tales, thus providing the character with a range of extra-Biblical associations.

As Christianity expanded throughout the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe, it came into contact with a variety of other religions, which it regarded as “pagan”. Christian theologians claimed that the gods and goddesses venerated by these “pagans” were not genuine divinities, but were actually demons. However, they did not believe that “pagans” were deliberately devil-worshippers, instead claiming that they were simply misguided. In Christian iconography, the Devil and demons were given the physical traits of figures from Classical mythology such as the god Pan, fauns, and satyrs.

Those Christian groups regarded as heretics by the Roman Catholic Church were treated differently, with theologians arguing that they were deliberately worshipping the Devil. This was accompanied by claims that such individuals engaged in incestuous sexual orgies, murdered infants, and committed acts of cannibalism, all stock accusations that had previously been leveled at Christians themselves in the Roman Empire.The first recorded example of such an accusation being made within Western Christianity took place in Toulouse in 1022, when two clerics were tried for allegedly venerating a demon. Throughout the middle ages, this accusation would be applied to a wide range of Christian heretical groups, including the Paulicians, Bogomils, Cathars, Waldensians, and the Hussites. The Knights Templar were accused of worshipping an idol known as Baphomet, with Lucifer having appeared at their meetings in the form of a cat. As well as these Christian groups, these claims were also made about Europe’s Jewish community. In the thirteenth century, there were also references made to a group of “Luciferians” led by a woman named Lucardis which hoped to see Satan rule in Heaven. References to this group continued into the fourteenth century, although historians studying the allegations concur that these Luciferians were likely a fictitious invention.

Within Christian thought, the idea developed that certain individuals could make a pact with Satan. This may have emerged after observing that pacts with gods and goddesses played a role in various pre-Christian belief systems, or that such pacts were also made as part of the Christian cult of saints. Another possibility is that it derives from a misunderstanding of Augustine of Hippo’s condemnation of augury in his On the Christian Doctrine, written in the late fourth century. Here, he stated that people who consulted augurs were entering “quasi pacts” (covenants) with demons. The idea of the diabolical pact made with demons was popularised across Europe in the story of Faust, likely based in part on the real life Johann Georg Faust.

As the late medieval gave way to the early modern period, European Christendom experienced a schism between the established Roman Catholic Church and the breakaway Protestant movement. In the ensuing Reformation and Counter-Reformation, both Catholics and Protestants accused each other of deliberately being in league with Satan. It was in this context that the terms “Satanist” and “Satanism” emerged.

The early modern period also saw fear of Satanists reach its “historical apogee” in the form of the witch trials of the fifteenth to the eighteenth centuries. This came about as the accusations which had been leveled at medieval heretics, among them that of devil-worship, were applied to the pre-existing idea of the witch, or practitioner of malevolent magic. The idea of a conspiracy of Satanic witches was developed by educated elites, although the concept of malevolent witchcraft was a widespread part of popular belief and folkloric ideas about the night witch, the wild hunt, and the dance of the fairies were incorporated into it. The earliest trials took place in Northern Italy and France, before spreading it out to other areas of Europe and to Britain’s North American colonies, being carried out by the legal authorities in both Catholic and Protestant regions.Between 30,000 and 50,000 individuals were executed as accused Satanic witches.Most historians agree that the majority of those persecuted in these witch trials were innocent of any involvement in Devil worship. However, in their summary of the evidence for the trials, the historians Geoffrey Scarre and John Callow thought it “without doubt” that some of those accused in the trials had been guilty of employing magic in an attempt to harm their enemies, and were thus genuinely guilty of witchcraft.

In seventeenth-century Sweden, a number of highway robbers and other outlaws living in the forests informed judges that they venerated Satan because he provided more practical assistance than God.The historian of religion Massimo Introvigne regarded these practices as “folkloric Satanism”.

During the eighteenth century, gentleman’s social clubs became increasingly prominent in Britain and Ireland, among the most secretive of which were the Hellfire Clubs, which were first reported in the 1720s. The most famous of these groups was the Order of the Knights of Saints Francis, which was founded circa 1750 by the aristocrat Sir Francis Dashwood and which assembled first at his estate at West Wycombe and later in Medmenham Abbey. A number of contemporary press sources portrayed these as gatherings of atheist rakes where Christianity was mocked and toasts were made to the Devil. Beyond these sensationalist accounts, which may not be accurate portrayals of actual events, little is known about the activities of the Hellfire Clubs. Introvigne suggested that they may have engaged in a form of “playful Satanism” in which Satan was invoked “to show a daring contempt for conventional morality” by individuals who neither believed in his literal existence nor wanted to pay homage to him.

The French Revolution of 1789 dealt a blow to the hegemony of the Roman Catholic Church in parts of Europe, and soon a number of Catholic authors began making claims that it had been masterminded by a conspiratorial group of Satanists. Among the first to do so was French Catholic priest Jean-Baptiste Fiard, who publicly claimed that a wide range of individuals, from the Jacobins to tarot card readers, were part of a Satanic conspiracy. Fiard’s ideas were furthered by Alexis-Vincent-Charles Berbiguier, who devoted a lengthy book to this conspiracy theory; he claimed that Satanists had supernatural powers allowing them to curse people and to shapeshift into both cats and fleas. Although most of his contemporaries regarded Berbiguier as mad, his ideas gained credence among many occultists, including Stanislas de Guaita, a Cabalist who used them for the basis of his book, The Temple of Satan.

In the early 20th century, the British novelist Dennis Wheatley produced a range of influential novels in which his protagonists battled Satanic groups. At the same time, non-fiction authors like Montague Summers and Rollo Ahmed published books claiming that Satanic groups practicing black magic were still active across the world, although they provided no evidence that this was the case. During the 1950s, various British tabloid newspapers repeated such claims, largely basing their accounts on the allegations of one woman, Sarah Jackson, who claimed to have been a member of such a group. In 1973, the British Christian Doreen Irvine published From Witchcraft to Christ, in which she claimed to have been a member of a Satanic group that gave her supernatural powers, such as the ability to levitate, before she escaped and embraced Christianity.In the United States during the 1960s and 1970s, various Christian preachersthe most famous being Mike Warnke in his 1972 book The Satan-Sellerclaimed that they had been members of Satanic groups who carried out sex rituals and animal sacrifices before discovering Christianity. According to Gareth Medway in his historical examination of Satanism, these stories were “a series of inventions by insecure people and hack writers, each one based on a previous story, exaggerated a little more each time”.

Other publications made allegations of Satanism against historical figures. The 1970s saw the publication of the Romanian Protestant preacher Richard Wurmbrand’s book in which he arguedwithout corroborating evidencethat the socio-political theorist Karl Marx had been a Satanist.

At the end of the twentieth century, a moral panic developed around claims regarding a Devil-worshipping cult that made use of sexual abuse, murder, and cannibalism in its rituals, with children being among its victims. Initially, the alleged perpetrators of such crimes were labelled “witches”, although the term “Satanist” was soon adopted as a favoured alternative, and the phenomenon itself came to be called “the Satanism Scare”. Promoters of the claims alleged that there was a conspiracy of organised Satanists who occupied prominent positions throughout society, from the police to politicians, and that they had been powerful enough to cover up their crimes.

Sociologist of religion Massimo Introvigne, 2016

One of the primary sources for the scare was Michelle Remembers, a 1980 book by the Canadian psychiatrist Lawrence Pazder in which he detailed what he claimed were the repressed memories of his patient (and wife) Michelle Smith. Smith had claimed that as a child she had been abused by her family in Satanic rituals in which babies were sacrificed and Satan himself appeared. In 1983, allegations were made that the McMartin familyowners of a preschool in Californiawere guilty of sexually abusing the children in their care during Satanic rituals. The allegations resulted in a lengthy and expensive trial, in which all of the accused would eventually be cleared. The publicity generated by the case resulted in similar allegations being made in various other parts of the United States.

A prominent aspect of the Satanic Scare was the claim by those in the developing “anti-Satanism” movement that any child’s claim about Satanic ritual abuse must be true, because children would not lie. Although some involved in the anti-Satanism movement were from Jewish and secular backgrounds, a central part was played by fundamentalist and evangelical forms of Christianity, in particular Pentecostalism, with Christian groups holding conferences and producing books and videotapes to promote belief in the conspiracy. Various figures in law enforcement also came to be promoters of the conspiracy theory, with such “cult cops” holding various conferences to promote it. The scare was later imported to the United Kingdom through visiting evangelicals and became popular among some of the country’s social workers, resulting in a range of accusations and trials across Britain.

The Satanic ritual abuse hysteria died down between 1990 and 1994. In the late 1980s, the Satanic Scare had lost its impetus following increasing scepticism about such allegations, and a number of those who had been convicted of perpetrating Satanic ritual abuse saw their convictions overturned.In 1990, an agent of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, Ken Lanning, revealed that he had investigated 300 allegations of Satanic ritual abuse and found no evidence for Satanism or ritualistic activity in any of them. In the UK, the Department of Health commissioned the anthropologist Jean La Fontaine to examine the allegations of SRA. She noted that while approximately half did reveal evidence of genuine sexual abuse of children, none revealed any evidence that Satanist groups had been involved or that any murders had taken place. She noted three examples in which lone individuals engaged in child molestation had created a ritual performance to facilitate their sexual acts, with the intent of frightening their victims and justifying their actions, but that none of these child molestors were involved in wider Satanist groups. By the 21st century, hysteria about Satanism has waned in most Western countries, although allegations of Satanic ritual abuse continued to surface in parts of continental Europe and Latin America.

From the late seventeenth through to the nineteenth century, the character of Satan was increasingly rendered unimportant in Western philosophy and ignored in Christian theology, while in folklore he came to be seen as a foolish rather than a menacing figure. The development of new values in the Age of Enlightenmentin particular those of reason and individualismcontributed to a shift in how many Europeans viewed Satan. In this context, a number of individuals took Satan out of the traditional Christian narrative and reread and reinterpreted him in light of their own time and their own interests, in turn generating new and different portraits of Satan.

The shifting view of Satan owes many of its origins to John Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost (1667), in which Satan features as the protagonist. Milton was a Puritan and had never intended for his depiction of Satan to be a sympathetic one. However, in portraying Satan as a victim of his own pride who rebelled against God he humanized him and also allowed him to be interpreted as a rebel against tyranny. This was how Milton’s Satan was understood by later readers like the publisher Joseph Johnson, and the anarchist philosopher William Godwin, who reflected it in his 1793 book Enquiry Concerning Political Justice. Paradise Lost gained a wide readership in the eighteenth century, both in Britain and in continental Europe, where it had been translated into French by Voltaire. Milton thus became “a central character in rewriting Satanism” and would be viewed by many later religious Satanists as a “de facto Satanist”.

The nineteenth century saw the emergence of what has been termed “literary Satanism” or “romantic Satanism”. According to Van Luijk, this cannot be seen as a “coherent movement with a single voice, but rather as a post factum identified group of sometimes widely divergent authors among whom a similar theme is found”. For the literary Satanists, Satan was depicted as a benevolent and sometimes heroic figure, with these more sympathetic portrayals proliferating in the art and poetry of many romanticist and decadent figures. For these individuals, Satanism was not a religious belief or ritual activity, but rather a “strategic use of a symbol and a character as part of artistic and political expression”.

Among the romanticist poets to adopt this view of Satan was the English poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, who had been influenced by Milton. In his poem Laon and Cythna, Shelley praised the “Serpent”, a reference to Satan, as a force for good in the universe.Another was Shelley’s fellow British poet Lord Byron, who included Satanic themes in his 1821 play Cain, which was a dramatization of the Biblical story of Cain and Abel. These more positive portrayals also developed in France; one example was the 1823 work Eloa by Alfred de Vigny. Satan was also adopted by the French poet Victor Hugo, who made the character’s fall from Heaven a central aspect of his La Fin de Satan, in which he outlined his own cosmogony.Although the likes of Shelley and Byron promoted a positive image of Satan in their work, there is no evidence that any of them performed religious rites to venerate him, and thus it is problematic to regard them as religious Satanists.

Radical left-wing political ideas had been spread by the American Revolution of 176583 and the French Revolution of 178999, and the figure of Satan, who was interpreted as having rebelled against the tyranny imposed by God, was an appealing one for many of the radical leftists of the period. For them, Satan was “a symbol for the struggle against tyranny, injustice, and oppression… a mythical figure of rebellion for an age of revolutions, a larger-than-life individual for an age of individualism, a free thinker in an age struggling for free thought”. The French anarchist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, who was a staunch critic of Christianity, embraced Satan as a symbol of liberty in several of his writings. Another prominent 19th century anarchist, the Russian Mikhail Bakunin, similarly described the figure of Satan as “the eternal rebel, the first freethinker and the emancipator of worlds” in his book God and the State. These ideas likely inspired the American feminist activist Moses Harman to name his anarchist periodical Lucifer the Lightbearer. The idea of this “Leftist Satan” declined during the twentieth century, although it was used on occasion by authorities within the Soviet Union, who portrayed Satan as a symbol of freedom and equality.

During the 1960s and 1970s, several rock bandsnamely the American Coven and the British Black Widowemployed the imagery of Satanism and witchcraft in their work. References to Satan also appeared in the work of those rock bands which were pioneering the heavy metal genre in Britain during the 1970s. Black Sabbath for instance made mention of Satan in their lyrics, although several of the band’s members were practicing Christians and other lyrics affirmed the power of the Christian God over Satan. In the 1980s, greater use of Satanic imagery was made by heavy metal bands like Slayer, Kreator, Sodom, and Destruction. Bands active in the subgenre of death metalamong them Deicide, Morbid Angel, and Entombedalso adopted Satanic imagery, combining it with other morbid and dark imagery, such as that of zombies and serial killers.

Satanism would come to be more closely associated with the subgenre of black metal, in which it was foregrounded over the other themes that had been used in death metal. A number of black metal performers incorporated self-injury into their act, framing this as a manifestation of Satanic devotion. The first black metal band, Venom, proclaimed themselves to be Satanists, although this was more an act of provocation than an expression of genuine devotion to the Devil. Satanic themes were also used by the black metal bands Bathory and Hellhammer. However, the first black metal act to more seriously adopt Satanism was Mercyful Fate, whose vocalist, King Diamond, joined the Church of Satan. More often than not musicians associating themselves with black metal say they do not believe in legitimate Satanic ideology and often profess to being atheists, agnostics, or religious skeptics.[110]

In contrast to King Diamond, various black metal Satanists sought to distance themselves from LaVeyan Satanism, for instance by referring to their beliefs as “devil worship”. These individuals regarded Satan as a literal entity, and in contrast to LaVey’s views, they associated Satanism with criminality, suicide, and terror. For them, Christianity was regarded as a plague which required eradication. Many of these individualssuch as Varg Vikernes and Euronymouswere Norwegian, and influenced by the strong anti-Christian views of this milieu, between 1992 and 1996 around fifty Norwegian churches were destroyed in arson attacks. Within the black metal scene, a number of musicians later replaced Satanic themes with those deriving from Heathenry, a form of modern Paganism.

Rather than being one single form of religious Satanism, there are instead multiple different religious Satanisms, each with different ideas about what being a Satanist entails. The historian of religion Ruben van Luijk used a “working definition” in which Satanism was regarded as “the intentional, religiously motivated veneration of Satan”.

Dyrendal, Lewis, and Petersen believed that it was not a single movement, but rather a milieu. They and others have nevertheless referred to it as a new religious movement. They believed that there was a family resemblance that united all of the varying groups in this milieu, and that most of them were self religions. They argued that there were a set of features that were common to the groups in this Satanic milieu: these were the positive use of the term “Satanist” as a designation, an emphasis on individualism, a genealogy that connects them to other Satanic groups, a transgressive and antinomian stance, a self-perception as an elite, and an embrace of values such as pride, self-reliance, and productive non-conformity.

Dyrendal, Lewis, and Petersen argued that the groups within the Satanic milieu could be divided into three groups: reactive Satanists, rationalist Satanists, and esoteric Satanists. They saw reactive Satanism as encompassing “popular Satanism, inverted Christianity, and symbolic rebellion” and noted that it situates itself in opposition to society while at the same time conforming to society’s perspective of evil. Rationalist Satanism is used to describe the trend in the Satanic milieu which is atheistic, sceptical, materialistic, and epicurean. Esoteric Satanism instead applied to those forms which are theistic and draw upon ideas from other forms of Western esotericism, Modern Paganism, Buddhism, and Hinduism.

The first person to promote a Satanic philosophy was the Pole Stanislaw Przybyszewski, who promoted a Social Darwinian ideology.

The use of the term “Lucifer” was also taken up by the French ceremonial magician Eliphas Levi, who has been described as a “Romantic Satanist”. During his younger days, Levi used “Lucifer” in much the same manner as the literary romantics. As he moved toward a more politically conservative outlook in later life, he retained the use of the term, but instead applied it as to what he believed was a morally neutral facet of the Absolute. In his book Dogma and Ritual of High Magic, published in two volumes between 1854 and 1856, Levi offered the symbol of Baphomet. He claimed that this was a figure who had been worshipped by the Knights Templar.According to Introvigne, this image gave “the Satanists their most popular symbol ever”.

Levi was not the only occultist who wanted to use the term “Lucifer” without adopting the term “Satan” in a similar way. The early Theosophical Society held to the view that “Lucifer” was a force that aided humanity’s awakening to its own spiritual nature. In keeping with this view, the Society began production of a journal titled Lucifer.

“Satan” was also used within the esoteric system propounded by the Danish occultist Carl William Hansen, who used the pen name “Ben Kadosh”. Hansen was involved in a variety of esoteric groups, including Martinism, Freemasonry, and the Ordo Templi Orientis, drawing on ideas from various groups to establish his own philosophy. In one pamphlet, he provided a “Luciferian” interpretation of Freemasonry. Kadosh’s work left little influence outside of Denmark.

Both during his life and after it, the British occultist Aleister Crowley has been widely described as a Satanist, usually by detractors. Crowley stated he did not consider himself a Satanist, nor did he worship Satan, as he did not accept the Christian world view in which Satan was believed to exist. He nevertheless used imagery considered satanic, for instance by describing himself as “the Beast 666” and referring to the Whore of Babylon in his work, while in later life he sent “Antichristmas cards” to his friends. Dyrendel, Lewis, and Petersen noted that despite the fact that Crowley was not a Satanist, he “in many ways embodies the pre-Satanist esoteric discourse on Satan and Satanism through his lifestyle and his philosophy”, with his “image and thought” becoming an “important influence” on the later development of religious Satanism.

In 1928 the Fraternitas Saturni (FS) was established in Germany; its founder, Eugen Grosche, published Satanische Magie (“Satanic Magic”) that same year. The group connected Satan to Saturn, claiming that the planet related to the Sun in the same manner that Lucifer relates to the human world.

In 1932 an esoteric group known as the Brotherhood of the Golden Arrow was established in Paris, France by Maria de Naglowska, a Russian occultist who had fled to France following the Russian Revolution. She promoted a theology centred on what she called the Third Term of the Trinity consisting of Father, Son, and Sex, the latter of which she deemed to be most important. Her early disciples, who underwent what she called “Satanic Initiations”, included models and art students recruited from bohemian circles. The Golden Arrow disbanded after Naglowska abandoned it in 1936. According to Introvigne, hers was “a quite complicated Satanism, built on a complex philosophical vision of the world, of which little would survive its initiator”.

In 1969 a Satanic group based in Toledo, Ohio, part of the United States, came to public attention. Called the Our Lady of Endor Coven, it was led by a man named Herbert Sloane, who described his Satanic tradition as the Ophite Cultus Sathanas and alleged that it had been established in the 1940s. The group offered a Gnostic interpretation of the world in which the creator God was regarded as evil and the Biblical Serpent presented as a force for good who had delivered salvation to humanity in the Garden of Eden. Sloane’s claims that his group had a 1940s origin remain unproven; it may be that he falsely claimed older origins for his group to make it appear older than Anton LaVey’s Church of Satan, which had been established in 1966.

None of these groups had any real impact on the emergence of the later Satanic milieu in the 1960s.

Anton LaVey, who has been referred to as “The Father of Satanism”,[143] synthesized his religion through the establishment of the Church of Satan in 1966 and the publication of The Satanic Bible in 1969. LaVey’s teachings promoted “indulgence”, “vital existence”, “undefiled wisdom”, “kindness to those who deserve it”, “responsibility to the responsible” and an “eye for an eye” code of ethics, while shunning “abstinence” based on guilt, “spirituality”, “unconditional love”, “pacifism”, “equality”, “herd mentality” and “scapegoating”. In LaVey’s view, the Satanist is a carnal, physical and pragmatic beingand enjoyment of physical existence and an undiluted view of this-worldly truth are promoted as the core values of Satanism, propagating a naturalistic worldview that sees mankind as animals existing in an amoral universe.

LaVey believed that the ideal Satanist should be individualistic and non-conformist, rejecting what he called the “colorless existence” that mainstream society sought to impose on those living within it. He praised the human ego for encouraging an individual’s pride, self-respect, and self-realization and accordingly believed in satisfying the ego’s desires. He expressed the view that self-indulgence was a desirable trait, and that hate and aggression were not wrong or undesirable emotions but that they were necessary and advantageous for survival. Accordingly, he praised the seven deadly sins as virtues which were beneficial for the individual. The anthropologist Jean La Fontaine highlighted an article that appeared in The Black Flame, in which one writer described “a true Satanic society” as one in which the population consists of “free-spirited, well-armed, fully-conscious, self-disciplined individuals, who will neither need nor tolerate any external entity ‘protecting’ them or telling them what they can and cannot do.”

The sociologist James R. Lewis noted that “LaVey was directly responsible for the genesis of Satanism as a serious religious (as opposed to a purely literary) movement”. Scholars agree that there is no reliably documented case of Satanic continuity prior to the founding of the Church of Satan. It was the first organized church in modern times to be devoted to the figure of Satan, and according to Faxneld and Petersen, the Church represented “the first public, highly visible, and long-lasting organization which propounded a coherent satanic discourse”. LaVey’s book, The Satanic Bible, has been described as the most important document to influence contemporary Satanism. The book contains the core principles of Satanism, and is considered the foundation of its philosophy and dogma. Petersen noted that it is “in many ways the central text of the Satanic milieu”, with Lap similarly testifying to its dominant position within the wider Satanic movement. David G. Bromley calls it “iconoclastic” and “the best-known and most influential statement of Satanic theology.” Eugene V. Gallagher says that Satanists use LaVey’s writings “as lenses through which they view themselves, their group, and the cosmos.” He also states: “With a clear-eyed appreciation of true human nature, a love of ritual and pageantry, and a flair for mockery, LaVey’s Satanic Bible promulgated a gospel of self-indulgence that, he argued, anyone who dispassionately considered the facts would embrace.”

A number of religious studies scholars have described LaVey’s Satanism as a form of “self-religion” or “self-spirituality”, with religious studies scholar Amina Olander Lap arguing that it should be seen as being both part of the “prosperity wing” of the self-spirituality New Age movement and a form of the Human Potential Movement. The anthropologist Jean La Fontaine described it as having “both elitist and anarchist elements”, also citing one occult bookshop owner who referred to the Church’s approach as “anarchistic hedonism”. In The Invention of Satanism, Dyrendal and Petersen theorized that LaVey viewed his religion as “an antinomian self-religion for productive misfits, with a cynically carnivalesque take on life, and no supernaturalism”. The sociologist of religion James R. Lewis even described LaVeyan Satanism as “a blend of Epicureanism and Ayn Rand’s philosophy, flavored with a pinch of ritual magic.” The historian of religion Mattias Gardell described LaVey’s as “a rational ideology of egoistic hedonism and self-preservation”, while Nevill Drury characterised LaVeyan Satanism as “a religion of self-indulgence”. It has also been described as an “institutionalism of Machiavellian self-interest”.

Prominent Church leader Blanche Barton described Satanism as “an alignment, a lifestyle”. LaVey and the Church espoused the view that “Satanists are born, not made”; that they are outsiders by their nature, living as they see fit, who are self-realized in a religion which appeals to the would-be Satanist’s nature, leading them to realize they are Satanists through finding a belief system that is in line with their own perspective and lifestyle. Adherents to the philosophy have described Satanism as a non-spiritual religion of the flesh, or “…the world’s first carnal religion”. LaVey used Christianity as a negative mirror for his new faith, with LaVeyan Satanism rejecting the basic principles and theology of Christian belief. It views Christianity alongside other major religions, and philosophies such as humanism and liberal democracy as a largely negative force on humanity; LaVeyan Satanists perceive Christianity as a lie which promotes idealism, self-denigration, herd behavior, and irrationality. LaVeyans view their religion as a force for redressing this balance by encouraging materialism, egoism, stratification, carnality, atheism, and social Darwinism. LaVey’s Satanism was particularly critical of what it understands as Christianity’s denial of humanity’s animal nature, and it instead calls for the celebration of, and indulgence in, these desires. In doing so, it places an emphasis on the carnal rather than the spiritual.

Practitioners do not believe that Satan literally exists and do not worship him. Instead, Satan is viewed as a positive archetype embracing the Hebrew root of the word “Satan” as “adversary”, who represents pride, carnality, and enlightenment, and of a cosmos which Satanists perceive to be motivated by a “dark evolutionary force of entropy that permeates all of nature and provides the drive for survival and propagation inherent in all living things”. The Devil is embraced as a symbol of defiance against the Abrahamic faiths which LaVey criticized for what he saw as the suppression of humanity’s natural instincts. Moreover, Satan also serves as a metaphorical external projection of the individual’s godhood. LaVey espoused the view that “god” is a creation of man, rather than man being a creation of “god”. In his book, The Satanic Bible, the Satanist’s view of god is described as the Satanist’s true “self”a projection of his or her own personalitynot an external deity. Satan is used as a representation of personal liberty and individualism.

LaVey explained that the gods worshiped by other religions are also projections of man’s true self. He argues that man’s unwillingness to accept his own ego has caused him to externalize these gods so as to avoid the feeling of narcissism that would accompany self-worship. The current High Priest of the Church of Satan, Peter H. Gilmore, further expounds that “…Satan is a symbol of Man living as his prideful, carnal nature dictates […] Satan is not a conscious entity to be worshiped, rather a reservoir of power inside each human to be tapped at will.[180] The Church of Satan has chosen Satan as its primary symbol because in Hebrew it means adversary, opposer, one to accuse or question. We see ourselves as being these Satans; the adversaries, opposers and accusers of all spiritual belief systems that would try to hamper enjoyment of our life as a human being.”[181] The term “Theistic Satanism” has been described as “oxymoronic” by the church and its High Priest.[182] The Church of Satan rejects the legitimacy of any other organizations who claim to be Satanists, dubbing them reverse-Christians, pseudo-Satanists or Devil worshipers, atheistic or otherwise,[183] and maintains a purist approach to Satanism as expounded by LaVey.

After LaVey’s death in 1997, the Church of Satan was taken over by a new administration and its headquarters were moved to New York. LaVey’s daughter, the High Priestess Karla LaVey, felt this to be a disservice to her father’s legacy. The First Satanic Church was re-founded on October 31, 1999 by Karla LaVey to carry on the legacy of her father. She continues to run it out of San Francisco, California.

The Satanic Temple is an American religious and political activist organization based in Salem, Massachusetts. The organization actively participates in public affairs that have manifested in several public political actions[184][185] and efforts at lobbying,[186] with a focus on the separation of church and state and using satire against Christian groups that it believes interfere with personal freedom.[186] According to Dyrendal, Lewis, and Petersen, the group were “rationalist, political pranksters”. Their pranks are designed to highlight religious hypocrisy and advance the cause of secularism. In one of their actions, they performed a “Pink Mass” over the grave of the mother of the evangelical Christian and prominent anti-LGBT preacher Fred Phelps; the Temple claimed that the mass converted the spirit of Phelps’ mother into a lesbian.

The Satanic Temple does not believe in a supernatural Satan, as they believe that this encourages superstition that would keep them from being “malleable to the best current scientific understandings of the material world”. The Temple uses the literary Satan as metaphor to construct a cultural narrative which promotes pragmatic skepticism, rational reciprocity, personal autonomy, and curiosity.[189] Satan is thus used as a symbol representing “the eternal rebel” against arbitrary authority and social norms.[190][191]

Theistic Satanism (also known as traditional Satanism, Spiritual Satanism or Devil worship) is a form of Satanism with the primary belief that Satan is an actual deity or force to revere or worship.[192] Other characteristics of theistic Satanism may include a belief in magic, which is manipulated through ritual, although that is not a defining criterion, and theistic Satanists may focus solely on devotion.

Luciferianism can be understood best as a belief system or intellectual creed that venerates the essential and inherent characteristics that are affixed and commonly given to Lucifer. Luciferianism is often identified as an auxiliary creed or movement of Satanism, due to the common identification of Lucifer with Satan. Some Luciferians accept this identification and/or consider Lucifer as the “light bearer” and illuminated aspect of Satan, giving them the name of Satanists and the right to bear the title. Others reject it, giving the argument that Lucifer is a more positive and easy-going ideal than Satan. They are inspired by the ancient myths of Egypt, Rome and Greece, Gnosticism and traditional Western occultism.

According to the group’s own claims, the Order of Nine Angles was established in Shropshire, Western England during the late 1960s, when a Grand Mistress united a number of ancient pagan groups active in the area.This account states that when the Order’s Grand Mistress migrated to Australia, a man known as “Anton Long” took over as the new Grand Master. From 1976 onward he authored an array of texts for the tradition, codifying and extending its teachings, mythos, and structure.Various academics have argued that Long is the pseudonym of British neo-Nazi activist David Myatt, an allegation that Myatt has denied.The ONA arose to public attention in the early 1980s, spreading its message through magazine articles over the following two decades. In 2000, it established a presence on the internet, later adopting social media to promote its message.

The ONA is a secretive organization, and lacks any central administration, instead operating as a network of allied Satanic practitioners, which it terms the “kollective”. It consists largely of autonomous cells known as “nexions”. The majority of these are located in Britain, Ireland, and Germany, although others are located elsewhere in Europe, and in Russia, Egypt, South Africa, Brazil, Australia, and the United States.

The ONA describe their occultism as “Traditional Satanism”. The ONA’s writings encourage human sacrifice, referring to their victims as opfers. According to the Order’s teachings, such opfers must demonstrate character faults that mark them out as being worthy of death, and accordingly the ONA insists that children must never be victims. No ONA cell have admitted to carrying out a sacrifice in a ritualised manner, but rather Order members have joined the police and military in order to carry out such killings. Faxneld described the Order as “a dangerous and extreme form of Satanism”, while religious studies scholar Graham Harvey claimed that the ONA fit the stereotype of the Satanist “better than other groups” by embracing “deeply shocking” and illegal acts.

The Temple of Set is an initiatory occult society claiming to be the world’s leading left-hand path religious organization. It was established in 1975 by Michael A. Aquino and certain members of the priesthood of the Church of Satan,[210] who left because of administrative and philosophical disagreements. ToS deliberately self-differentiates from CoS in several ways, most significantly in theology and sociology.[211] The philosophy of the Temple of Set may be summed up as “enlightened individualism”enhancement and improvement of oneself by personal education, experiment and initiation. This process is necessarily different and distinctive for each individual. The members do not agree on whether Set is “real” or not, and they’re not expected to.[211]

The Temple presents the view that the name Satan was originally a corruption of the name Set. The Temple teaches that Set is a real entity, the only real god in existence, with all others created by the human imagination. Set is described as having given humanitythrough the means of non-natural evolutionthe “Black Flame” or the “Gift of Set”, a questioning intellect which sets the species apart from other animals. While Setians are expected to revere Set, they do not worship him. Central to Setian philosophy is the human individual, with self-deification presented as the ultimate goal.

In 2005 Petersen noted that academic estimates for the Temple’s membership varied from between 300 and 500, and Granholm suggested that in 2007 the Temple contained circa 200 members.

Dyrendal, Lewis, and Petersen used the term “reactive Satanism” to describe one form of modern religious Satanism. They described this as an adolescent and anti-social means of rebelling in a Christian society, by which an individual transgresses cultural boundaries. They believed that there were two tendencies within reactive Satanism: one, “Satanic tourism”, was characterised by the brief period of time in which an individual was involved, while the other, the “Satanic quest”, was typified by a longer and deeper involvement.

The researcher Gareth Medway noted that in 1995 he encountered a British woman who stated that she had been a practicing Satanist during her teenage years. She had grown up in a small mining village, and had come to believe that she had psychic powers. After hearing about Satanism in some library books, she declared herself a Satanist and formulated a belief that Satan was the true god. After her teenage years she abandoned Satanism and became a chaos magickian.

Some reactive Satanists are teenagers or mentally disturbed individuals who have engaged in criminal activities. During the 1980s and 1990s, several groups of teenagers were apprehended after sacrificing animals and vandalising both churches and graveyards with Satanic imagery. Introvigne expressed the view that these incidents were “more a product of juvenile deviance and marginalization than Satanism”. In a few cases the crimes of these reactive Satanists have included murder. In 1970, two separate groups of teenagersone led by Stanley Baker in Big Sur and the other by Steven Hurd in Los Angeleskilled a total of three people and consumed parts of their corpses in what they later claimed were sacrifices devoted to Satan. In 1984, a U.S. group called the Knights of the Black Circle killed one of its own members, Gary Lauwers, over a disagreement regarding the group’s illegal drug dealing; group members later related that Lauwers’ death was a sacrifice to Satan.The American serial killer Richard Ramirez for instance claimed that he was a Satanist; during his 1980s killing spree he left an inverted pentagram at the scene of each murder and at his trial called out “Hail Satan!”

Dyrendal, Lewis, and Petersen observed that from surveys of Satanists conducted in the early 21st century, it was clear that the Satanic milieu was “heavily dominated by young males”. They nevertheless noted that census data from New Zealand suggested that there may be a growing proportion of women becoming Satanists. In comprising more men than women, Satanism differs from most other religious communities, including most new religious communities. Most Satanists came to their religion through reading, either online or books, rather than through being introduced to it through personal contacts. Many practitioners do not claim that they converted to Satanism, but rather state that they were born that way, and only later in life confirmed that Satanism served as an appropriate label for their pre-existing worldviews. Others have stated that they had experiences with supernatural phenomena that led them to embracing Satanism. A number reported feelings of anger at the hypocrisy of many practicing Christians and expressed the view that the monotheistic Gods of Christianity and other religions are unethical, citing issues such as the problem of evil. For some practitioners, Satanism gave a sense of hope, including for those who had been physically and sexually abused.

The surveys revealed that atheistic Satanists appeared to be in the majority, although the numbers of theistic Satanists appeared to grow over time. Beliefs in the afterlife varied, although the most popular afterlife views were reincarnation and the idea that consciousness survives bodily death. The surveys also demonstrated that most recorded Satanists practiced magic, although there were differing opinions as to whether magical acts operated according to etheric laws or whether the effect of magic was purely psychological. A number described performing cursing, in most cases as a form of vigilante justice.Most practitioners conduct their religious observances in a solitary manner, and never or rarely meet fellow Satanists for rituals. Rather, the primary interaction that takes place between Satanists is online, on websites or via email.From their survey data, Dyrendal, Lewis, and Petersen noted that the average length of involvement in the Satanic milieu was seven years. A Satanist’s involvement in the movement tends to peak in the early twenties and drops off sharply in their thirties. A small proportion retain their allegiance to the religion into their elder years. When asked about their political views, the largest proportion of Satanists identified as apolitical or non-aligned, while only a small percentage identified as conservative despite the conservative views of prominent Satanists like LaVey and Marilyn Manson. A small minority of Satanists expressed support for the far right; conversely, over two-thirds expressed negative or extremely negative views about Nazism and neo-Nazism.

In 2004 it was claimed that Satanism was allowed in the Royal Navy of the British Armed Forces, despite opposition from Christians.[243][244][245] In 2016, under a Freedom of Information request, the Navy Command Headquarters stated that “we do not recognise satanism as a formal religion, and will not grant facilities or make specific time available for individual ‘worship’.”[246]

In 2005, the Supreme Court of the United States debated in the case of Cutter v. Wilkinson over protecting minority religious rights of prison inmates after a lawsuit challenging the issue was filed to them.[247][248] The court ruled that facilities that accept federal funds cannot deny prisoners accommodations that are necessary to engage in activities for the practice of their own religious beliefs.[249][250]

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Satanism – Wikipedia

We are using witchcraft, Satanism and magic confesses …

some Prophets are stopped from having sex with their wives, they have sex with a snake

Coming in the wake of self-acclaimed Prophet Shepherd Bushiris stunts that he has called miracles, Malawian Prophet Trevor Kautsire made a rare confession on modern day Prophecy.

Prophet Kautsire (right) with host Brian Banda

In an interview on one Malawian television talkshow that was followed by Malawi24, Prophet Kautsire made the chilling claims that modern day Prophets are not using the power of the Holy Spirit to perform their so-called miracles.

I was in South Africa and I met the who-is-who of the gospel, what they told me is heart-breaking, said Kautsire.

He disclosed that when he was in South Africa he was told of rituals that he had to perform if he were to become a renowned Prophet. Kautsire disclosed that the ritual involved sacrifices that included the killing of family members or church members.

I am speaking this from experience, some Prophets have had to sacrifice their church members to gain fame. You have heard of people dying in places of worship, it is because they are using the people as sacrifices, said Kautsire, a comment which commentators said was referring to the Nigerian teleprophet TB Joshua at whose church over a hundred people died.

Kautsire further said that it was easy to decipher fake Prophets because they do miracles for no important reason.

A miracle is supposed to meet a need, however when a Prophet does a miracle that does not meet any need there is no reason to believe that Prophet, he said. Commentators have thought that he was apparently referring to Bushiri who has been in the news for the walk-in-the air stunt which does nothing to glorify the name of the Lord.

He said that Prophets are using magic, witchcraft and Satanism to perform miracles.

There are some who are told to keep a worm and keep feeding it, the worm grows into a snake and when it comes to that stage where it is a snake, it brings them money. The catch is that one should never sleep with their wife but the snake, said Kautsire disclosing the secrets in the dark world of Prophecy.

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We are using witchcraft, Satanism and magic confesses …

We are using witchcraft, Satanism and magic confesses …

some Prophets are stopped from having sex with their wives, they have sex with a snake

Coming in the wake of self-acclaimed Prophet Shepherd Bushiris stunts that he has called miracles, Malawian Prophet Trevor Kautsire made a rare confession on modern day Prophecy.

Prophet Kautsire (right) with host Brian Banda

In an interview on one Malawian television talkshow that was followed by Malawi24, Prophet Kautsire made the chilling claims that modern day Prophets are not using the power of the Holy Spirit to perform their so-called miracles.

I was in South Africa and I met the who-is-who of the gospel, what they told me is heart-breaking, said Kautsire.

He disclosed that when he was in South Africa he was told of rituals that he had to perform if he were to become a renowned Prophet. Kautsire disclosed that the ritual involved sacrifices that included the killing of family members or church members.

I am speaking this from experience, some Prophets have had to sacrifice their church members to gain fame. You have heard of people dying in places of worship, it is because they are using the people as sacrifices, said Kautsire, a comment which commentators said was referring to the Nigerian teleprophet TB Joshua at whose church over a hundred people died.

Kautsire further said that it was easy to decipher fake Prophets because they do miracles for no important reason.

A miracle is supposed to meet a need, however when a Prophet does a miracle that does not meet any need there is no reason to believe that Prophet, he said. Commentators have thought that he was apparently referring to Bushiri who has been in the news for the walk-in-the air stunt which does nothing to glorify the name of the Lord.

He said that Prophets are using magic, witchcraft and Satanism to perform miracles.

There are some who are told to keep a worm and keep feeding it, the worm grows into a snake and when it comes to that stage where it is a snake, it brings them money. The catch is that one should never sleep with their wife but the snake, said Kautsire disclosing the secrets in the dark world of Prophecy.

See the rest here:

We are using witchcraft, Satanism and magic confesses …

Satanism – Wikipedia

Satanism is a group of new religious movements based on the character of Satan.[1] Contemporary religious practice of Satanism began with the founding of the Church of Satan in 1966, although a few historical precedents exist. Prior to the public practice, Satanism existed primarily as an accusation by various Christian groups toward perceived ideological opponents, rather than a self-identity. Satanism, and the concept of Satan, has also been used by artists and entertainers for symbolic expression.

Accusations that various groups have been practicing Satanism have been made throughout much of Christian history. During the Middle Ages, the Inquisition attached to the Roman Catholic Church alleged that various heretical Christian sects and groups, such as the Knights Templar and the Cathars, performed secret Satanic rituals. In the subsequent Early Modern period, belief in a widespread Satanic conspiracy of witches resulted in mass trials of alleged witches across Europe and the North American colonies. Accusations that Satanic conspiracies were active, and behind events such as Protestantism (and conversely, the Protestant claim that the Pope was the Antichrist) and the French Revolution continued to be made in Christendom during the eighteenth to the twentieth century. The idea of a vast Satanic conspiracy reached new heights with the influential Taxil hoax of France in the 1890s, which claimed that Freemasonry worshiped Satan, Lucifer, and Baphomet in their rituals. In the 1980s and 1990s, the Satanic ritual abuse hysteria spread through the United States and United Kingdom, amid fears that groups of Satanists were regularly sexually abusing and murdering children in their rites. In most of these cases, there is no corroborating evidence that any of those accused of Satanism were actually practitioners of a Satanic religion or guilty of the allegations leveled at them.

Since the 19th century, various small religious groups have emerged that identify as Satanists or use Satanic iconography. Satanist groups that appeared after the 1960s are widely diverse, but two major trends are theistic Satanism and atheistic Satanism. Theistic Satanists venerate Satan as a supernatural deity, viewing him not as omnipotent but rather as a patriarch. In contrast, atheistic Satanists regard Satan as merely a symbol of certain human traits.[2]

Contemporary religious Satanism is predominantly an American phenomenon, the ideas spreading elsewhere with the effects of globalization and the Internet.[3] The Internet spreads awareness of other Satanists, and is also the main battleground for Satanist disputes.[3] Satanism started to reach Central and Eastern Europe in the 1990s, in time with the fall of the Soviet Union, and most noticeably in Poland and Lithuania, predominantly Roman Catholic countries.[4][5]

In their study of Satanism, the religious studies scholars Asbjrn Dyrendal, James R. Lewis, and Jesper Aa. Petersen stated that the term Satanism “has a history of being a designation made by people against those whom they dislike; it is a term used for ‘othering'”. The concept of Satanism is an invention of Christianity, for it relies upon the figure of Satan, a character deriving from Christian mythology.

Elsewhere, Petersen noted that “Satanism as something others do is very different from Satanism as a self-designation”.Eugene Gallagher noted that, as commonly used, Satanism was usually “a polemical, not a descriptive term”.

The word “Satan” was not originally a proper name but rather an ordinary noun meaning “the adversary”; in this context it appears at several points in the Old Testament. For instance, in the Book of Samuel, David is presented as the satan (“adversary”) of the Philistines, while in the Book of Numbers the term appears as a verb, when God sent an angel to satan (“to oppose”) Balaam. Prior to the composition of the New Testament, the idea developed within Jewish communities that Satan was the name of an angel who had rebelled against God and had been cast out of Heaven along with his followers; this account would be incorporated into contemporary texts like the Book of Enoch. This Satan was then featured in parts of the New Testament, where he was presented as a figure who tempted humans to commit sin; in the Book of Matthew and the Book of Luke, he attempted to tempt Jesus of Nazareth as the latter fasted in the wilderness.

The word “Satanism” was adopted into English from the French satanisme. The terms “Satanism” and “Satanist” are first recorded as appearing in the English and French languages during the sixteenth century, when they were used by Christian groups to attack other, rival Christian groups. In a Roman Catholic tract of 1565, the author condemns the “heresies, blasphemies, and sathanismes [sic]” of the Protestants. In an Anglican work of 1559, Anabaptists and other Protestant sects are condemned as “swarmes of Satanistes [sic]”. As used in this manner, the term “Satanism” was not used to claim that people literally worshipped Satan, but rather presented the view that through deviating from what the speaker or writer regarded as the true variant of Christianity, they were regarded as being essentially in league with the Devil. During the nineteenth century, the term “Satanism” began to be used to describe those considered to lead a broadly immoral lifestyle, and it was only in the late nineteenth century that it came to be applied in English to individuals who were believed to consciously and deliberately venerate Satan. This latter meaning had appeared earlier in the Swedish language; the Lutheran Bishop Laurentius Paulinus Gothus had described devil-worshipping sorcerers as Sathanister in his Ethica Christiana, produced between 1615 and 1630.

Historical and anthropological research suggests that nearly all societies have developed the idea of a sinister and anti-human force that can hide itself within society. This commonly involves a belief in witches, a group of individuals who invert the norms of their society and seek to harm their community, for instance by engaging in incest, murder, and cannibalism. Allegations of witchcraft may have different causes and serve different functions within a society. For instance, they may serve to uphold social norms, to heighten the tension in existing conflicts between individuals, or to scapegoat certain individuals for various social problems.

Another contributing factor to the idea of Satanism is the concept that there is an agent of misfortune and evil who operates on a cosmic scale, something usually associated with a strong form of ethical dualism that divides the world clearly into forces of good and forces of evil. The earliest such entity known is Angra Mainyu, a figure that appears in the Persian religion of Zoroastrianism. This concept was also embraced by Judaism and early Christianity, and although it was soon marginalised within Jewish thought, it gained increasing importance within early Christian understandings of the cosmos. While the early Christian idea of the Devil was not well developed, it gradually adapted and expanded through the creation of folklore, art, theological treatises, and morality tales, thus providing the character with a range of extra-Biblical associations.

As Christianity expanded throughout the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe, it came into contact with a variety of other religions, which it regarded as “pagan”. Christian theologians claimed that the gods and goddesses venerated by these “pagans” were not genuine divinities, but were actually demons. However, they did not believe that “pagans” were deliberately devil-worshippers, instead claiming that they were simply misguided. In Christian iconography, the Devil and demons were given the physical traits of figures from Classical mythology such as the god Pan, fauns, and satyrs.

Those Christian groups regarded as heretics by the Roman Catholic Church were treated differently, with theologians arguing that they were deliberately worshipping the Devil. This was accompanied by claims that such individuals engaged in incestuous sexual orgies, murdered infants, and committed acts of cannibalism, all stock accusations that had previously been leveled at Christians themselves in the Roman Empire.The first recorded example of such an accusation being made within Western Christianity took place in Toulouse in 1022, when two clerics were tried for allegedly venerating a demon. Throughout the middle ages, this accusation would be applied to a wide range of Christian heretical groups, including the Paulicians, Bogomils, Cathars, Waldensians, and the Hussites. The Knights Templar were accused of worshipping an idol known as Baphomet, with Lucifer having appeared at their meetings in the form of a cat. As well as these Christian groups, these claims were also made about Europe’s Jewish community. In the thirteenth century, there were also references made to a group of “Luciferians” led by a woman named Lucardis which hoped to see Satan rule in Heaven. References to this group continued into the fourteenth century, although historians studying the allegations concur that these Luciferians were likely a fictitious invention.

Within Christian thought, the idea developed that certain individuals could make a pact with Satan. This may have emerged after observing that pacts with gods and goddesses played a role in various pre-Christian belief systems, or that such pacts were also made as part of the Christian cult of saints. Another possibility is that it derives from a misunderstanding of Augustine of Hippo’s condemnation of augury in his On the Christian Doctrine, written in the late fourth century. Here, he stated that people who consulted augurs were entering “quasi pacts” (covenants) with demons. The idea of the diabolical pact made with demons was popularised across Europe in the story of Faust, likely based in part on the real life Johann Georg Faust.

As the late medieval gave way to the early modern period, European Christendom experienced a schism between the established Roman Catholic Church and the breakaway Protestant movement. In the ensuing Reformation and Counter-Reformation, both Catholics and Protestants accused each other of deliberately being in league with Satan. It was in this context that the terms “Satanist” and “Satanism” emerged.

The early modern period also saw fear of Satanists reach its “historical apogee” in the form of the witch trials of the fifteenth to the eighteenth centuries. This came about as the accusations which had been leveled at medieval heretics, among them that of devil-worship, were applied to the pre-existing idea of the witch, or practitioner of malevolent magic. The idea of a conspiracy of Satanic witches was developed by educated elites, although the concept of malevolent witchcraft was a widespread part of popular belief and folkloric ideas about the night witch, the wild hunt, and the dance of the fairies were incorporated into it. The earliest trials took place in Northern Italy and France, before spreading it out to other areas of Europe and to Britain’s North American colonies, being carried out by the legal authorities in both Catholic and Protestant regions.Between 30,000 and 50,000 individuals were executed as accused Satanic witches.Most historians agree that the majority of those persecuted in these witch trials were innocent of any involvement in Devil worship. However, in their summary of the evidence for the trials, the historians Geoffrey Scarre and John Callow thought it “without doubt” that some of those accused in the trials had been guilty of employing magic in an attempt to harm their enemies, and were thus genuinely guilty of witchcraft.

In seventeenth-century Sweden, a number of highway robbers and other outlaws living in the forests informed judges that they venerated Satan because he provided more practical assistance than God.The historian of religion Massimo Introvigne regarded these practices as “folkloric Satanism”.

During the eighteenth century, gentleman’s social clubs became increasingly prominent in Britain and Ireland, among the most secretive of which were the Hellfire Clubs, which were first reported in the 1720s. The most famous of these groups was the Order of the Knights of Saints Francis, which was founded circa 1750 by the aristocrat Sir Francis Dashwood and which assembled first at his estate at West Wycombe and later in Medmenham Abbey. A number of contemporary press sources portrayed these as gatherings of atheist rakes where Christianity was mocked and toasts were made to the Devil. Beyond these sensationalist accounts, which may not be accurate portrayals of actual events, little is known about the activities of the Hellfire Clubs. Introvigne suggested that they may have engaged in a form of “playful Satanism” in which Satan was invoked “to show a daring contempt for conventional morality” by individuals who neither believed in his literal existence nor wanted to pay homage to him.

The French Revolution of 1789 dealt a blow to the hegemony of the Roman Catholic Church in parts of Europe, and soon a number of Catholic authors began making claims that it had been masterminded by a conspiratorial group of Satanists. Among the first to do so was French Catholic priest Jean-Baptiste Fiard, who publicly claimed that a wide range of individuals, from the Jacobins to tarot card readers, were part of a Satanic conspiracy. Fiard’s ideas were furthered by Alexis-Vincent-Charles Berbiguier, who devoted a lengthy book to this conspiracy theory; he claimed that Satanists had supernatural powers allowing them to curse people and to shapeshift into both cats and fleas. Although most of his contemporaries regarded Berbiguier as mad, his ideas gained credence among many occultists, including Stanislas de Guaita, a Cabalist who used them for the basis of his book, The Temple of Satan.

In the early 20th century, the British novelist Dennis Wheatley produced a range of influential novels in which his protagonists battled Satanic groups. At the same time, non-fiction authors like Montague Summers and Rollo Ahmed published books claiming that Satanic groups practicing black magic were still active across the world, although they provided no evidence that this was the case. During the 1950s, various British tabloid newspapers repeated such claims, largely basing their accounts on the allegations of one woman, Sarah Jackson, who claimed to have been a member of such a group. In 1973, the British Christian Doreen Irvine published From Witchcraft to Christ, in which she claimed to have been a member of a Satanic group that gave her supernatural powers, such as the ability to levitate, before she escaped and embraced Christianity.In the United States during the 1960s and 1970s, various Christian preachersthe most famous being Mike Warnke in his 1972 book The Satan-Sellerclaimed that they had been members of Satanic groups who carried out sex rituals and animal sacrifices before discovering Christianity. According to Gareth Medway in his historical examination of Satanism, these stories were “a series of inventions by insecure people and hack writers, each one based on a previous story, exaggerated a little more each time”.

Other publications made allegations of Satanism against historical figures. The 1970s saw the publication of the Romanian Protestant preacher Richard Wurmbrand’s book in which he arguedwithout corroborating evidencethat the socio-political theorist Karl Marx had been a Satanist.

At the end of the twentieth century, a moral panic developed around claims regarding a Devil-worshipping cult that made use of sexual abuse, murder, and cannibalism in its rituals, with children being among its victims. Initially, the alleged perpetrators of such crimes were labelled “witches”, although the term “Satanist” was soon adopted as a favoured alternative, and the phenomenon itself came to be called “the Satanism Scare”. Promoters of the claims alleged that there was a conspiracy of organised Satanists who occupied prominent positions throughout society, from the police to politicians, and that they had been powerful enough to cover up their crimes.

Sociologist of religion Massimo Introvigne, 2016

One of the primary sources for the scare was Michelle Remembers, a 1980 book by the Canadian psychiatrist Lawrence Pazder in which he detailed what he claimed were the repressed memories of his patient (and wife) Michelle Smith. Smith had claimed that as a child she had been abused by her family in Satanic rituals in which babies were sacrificed and Satan himself appeared. In 1983, allegations were made that the McMartin familyowners of a preschool in Californiawere guilty of sexually abusing the children in their care during Satanic rituals. The allegations resulted in a lengthy and expensive trial, in which all of the accused would eventually be cleared. The publicity generated by the case resulted in similar allegations being made in various other parts of the United States.

A prominent aspect of the Satanic Scare was the claim by those in the developing “anti-Satanism” movement that any child’s claim about Satanic ritual abuse must be true, because children would not lie. Although some involved in the anti-Satanism movement were from Jewish and secular backgrounds, a central part was played by fundamentalist and evangelical forms of Christianity, in particular Pentecostalism, with Christian groups holding conferences and producing books and videotapes to promote belief in the conspiracy. Various figures in law enforcement also came to be promoters of the conspiracy theory, with such “cult cops” holding various conferences to promote it. The scare was later imported to the United Kingdom through visiting evangelicals and became popular among some of the country’s social workers, resulting in a range of accusations and trials across Britain.

The Satanic ritual abuse hysteria died down between 1990 and 1994. In the late 1980s, the Satanic Scare had lost its impetus following increasing scepticism about such allegations, and a number of those who had been convicted of perpetrating Satanic ritual abuse saw their convictions overturned.In 1990, an agent of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, Ken Lanning, revealed that he had investigated 300 allegations of Satanic ritual abuse and found no evidence for Satanism or ritualistic activity in any of them. In the UK, the Department of Health commissioned the anthropologist Jean La Fontaine to examine the allegations of SRA. She noted that while approximately half did reveal evidence of genuine sexual abuse of children, none revealed any evidence that Satanist groups had been involved or that any murders had taken place. She noted three examples in which lone individuals engaged in child molestation had created a ritual performance to facilitate their sexual acts, with the intent of frightening their victims and justifying their actions, but that none of these child molestors were involved in wider Satanist groups. By the 21st century, hysteria about Satanism has waned in most Western countries, although allegations of Satanic ritual abuse continued to surface in parts of continental Europe and Latin America.

From the late seventeenth through to the nineteenth century, the character of Satan was increasingly rendered unimportant in Western philosophy and ignored in Christian theology, while in folklore he came to be seen as a foolish rather than a menacing figure. The development of new values in the Age of Enlightenmentin particular those of reason and individualismcontributed to a shift in how many Europeans viewed Satan. In this context, a number of individuals took Satan out of the traditional Christian narrative and reread and reinterpreted him in light of their own time and their own interests, in turn generating new and different portraits of Satan.

The shifting view of Satan owes many of its origins to John Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost (1667), in which Satan features as the protagonist. Milton was a Puritan and had never intended for his depiction of Satan to be a sympathetic one. However, in portraying Satan as a victim of his own pride who rebelled against God he humanized him and also allowed him to be interpreted as a rebel against tyranny. This was how Milton’s Satan was understood by later readers like the publisher Joseph Johnson, and the anarchist philosopher William Godwin, who reflected it in his 1793 book Enquiry Concerning Political Justice. Paradise Lost gained a wide readership in the eighteenth century, both in Britain and in continental Europe, where it had been translated into French by Voltaire. Milton thus became “a central character in rewriting Satanism” and would be viewed by many later religious Satanists as a “de facto Satanist”.

The nineteenth century saw the emergence of what has been termed “literary Satanism” or “romantic Satanism”. According to Van Luijk, this cannot be seen as a “coherent movement with a single voice, but rather as a post factum identified group of sometimes widely divergent authors among whom a similar theme is found”. For the literary Satanists, Satan was depicted as a benevolent and sometimes heroic figure, with these more sympathetic portrayals proliferating in the art and poetry of many romanticist and decadent figures. For these individuals, Satanism was not a religious belief or ritual activity, but rather a “strategic use of a symbol and a character as part of artistic and political expression”.

Among the romanticist poets to adopt this view of Satan was the English poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, who had been influenced by Milton. In his poem Laon and Cythna, Shelley praised the “Serpent”, a reference to Satan, as a force for good in the universe.Another was Shelley’s fellow British poet Lord Byron, who included Satanic themes in his 1821 play Cain, which was a dramatization of the Biblical story of Cain and Abel. These more positive portrayals also developed in France; one example was the 1823 work Eloa by Alfred de Vigny. Satan was also adopted by the French poet Victor Hugo, who made the character’s fall from Heaven a central aspect of his La Fin de Satan, in which he outlined his own cosmogony.Although the likes of Shelley and Byron promoted a positive image of Satan in their work, there is no evidence that any of them performed religious rites to venerate him, and thus it is problematic to regard them as religious Satanists.

Radical left-wing political ideas had been spread by the American Revolution of 176583 and the French Revolution of 178999, and the figure of Satan, who was interpreted as having rebelled against the tyranny imposed by God, was an appealing one for many of the radical leftists of the period. For them, Satan was “a symbol for the struggle against tyranny, injustice, and oppression… a mythical figure of rebellion for an age of revolutions, a larger-than-life individual for an age of individualism, a free thinker in an age struggling for free thought”. The French anarchist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, who was a staunch critic of Christianity, embraced Satan as a symbol of liberty in several of his writings. Another prominent 19th century anarchist, the Russian Mikhail Bakunin, similarly described the figure of Satan as “the eternal rebel, the first freethinker and the emancipator of worlds” in his book God and the State. These ideas likely inspired the American feminist activist Moses Harman to name his anarchist periodical Lucifer the Lightbearer. The idea of this “Leftist Satan” declined during the twentieth century, although it was used on occasion by authorities within the Soviet Union, who portrayed Satan as a symbol of freedom and equality.

During the 1960s and 1970s, several rock bandsnamely the American Coven and the British Black Widowemployed the imagery of Satanism and witchcraft in their work. References to Satan also appeared in the work of those rock bands which were pioneering the heavy metal genre in Britain during the 1970s. Black Sabbath for instance made mention of Satan in their lyrics, although several of the band’s members were practicing Christians and other lyrics affirmed the power of the Christian God over Satan. In the 1980s, greater use of Satanic imagery was made by heavy metal bands like Slayer, Kreator, Sodom, and Destruction. Bands active in the subgenre of death metalamong them Deicide, Morbid Angel, and Entombedalso adopted Satanic imagery, combining it with other morbid and dark imagery, such as that of zombies and serial killers.

Satanism would come to be more closely associated with the subgenre of black metal, in which it was foregrounded over the other themes that had been used in death metal. A number of black metal performers incorporated self-injury into their act, framing this as a manifestation of Satanic devotion. The first black metal band, Venom, proclaimed themselves to be Satanists, although this was more an act of provocation than an expression of genuine devotion to the Devil. Satanic themes were also used by the black metal bands Bathory and Hellhammer. However, the first black metal act to more seriously adopt Satanism was Mercyful Fate, whose vocalist, King Diamond, joined the Church of Satan. More often than not musicians associating themselves with black metal say they do not believe in legitimate Satanic ideology and often profess to being atheists, agnostics, or religious skeptics.[110]

In contrast to King Diamond, various black metal Satanists sought to distance themselves from LaVeyan Satanism, for instance by referring to their beliefs as “devil worship”. These individuals regarded Satan as a literal entity, and in contrast to LaVey’s views, they associated Satanism with criminality, suicide, and terror. For them, Christianity was regarded as a plague which required eradication. Many of these individualssuch as Varg Vikernes and Euronymouswere Norwegian, and influenced by the strong anti-Christian views of this milieu, between 1992 and 1996 around fifty Norwegian churches were destroyed in arson attacks. Within the black metal scene, a number of musicians later replaced Satanic themes with those deriving from Heathenry, a form of modern Paganism.

Rather than being one single form of religious Satanism, there are instead multiple different religious Satanisms, each with different ideas about what being a Satanist entails. The historian of religion Ruben van Luijk used a “working definition” in which Satanism was regarded as “the intentional, religiously motivated veneration of Satan”.

Dyrendal, Lewis, and Petersen believed that it was not a single movement, but rather a milieu. They and others have nevertheless referred to it as a new religious movement. They believed that there was a family resemblance that united all of the varying groups in this milieu, and that most of them were self religions. They argued that there were a set of features that were common to the groups in this Satanic milieu: these were the positive use of the term “Satanist” as a designation, an emphasis on individualism, a genealogy that connects them to other Satanic groups, a transgressive and antinomian stance, a self-perception as an elite, and an embrace of values such as pride, self-reliance, and productive non-conformity.

Dyrendal, Lewis, and Petersen argued that the groups within the Satanic milieu could be divided into three groups: reactive Satanists, rationalist Satanists, and esoteric Satanists. They saw reactive Satanism as encompassing “popular Satanism, inverted Christianity, and symbolic rebellion” and noted that it situates itself in opposition to society while at the same time conforming to society’s perspective of evil. Rationalist Satanism is used to describe the trend in the Satanic milieu which is atheistic, sceptical, materialistic, and epicurean. Esoteric Satanism instead applied to those forms which are theistic and draw upon ideas from other forms of Western esotericism, Modern Paganism, Buddhism, and Hinduism.

The first person to promote a Satanic philosophy was the Pole Stanislaw Przybyszewski, who promoted a Social Darwinian ideology.

The use of the term “Lucifer” was also taken up by the French ceremonial magician Eliphas Levi, who has been described as a “Romantic Satanist”. During his younger days, Levi used “Lucifer” in much the same manner as the literary romantics. As he moved toward a more politically conservative outlook in later life, he retained the use of the term, but instead applied it as to what he believed was a morally neutral facet of the Absolute. In his book Dogma and Ritual of High Magic, published in two volumes between 1854 and 1856, Levi offered the symbol of Baphomet. He claimed that this was a figure who had been worshipped by the Knights Templar.According to Introvigne, this image gave “the Satanists their most popular symbol ever”.

Levi was not the only occultist who wanted to use the term “Lucifer” without adopting the term “Satan” in a similar way. The early Theosophical Society held to the view that “Lucifer” was a force that aided humanity’s awakening to its own spiritual nature. In keeping with this view, the Society began production of a journal titled Lucifer.

“Satan” was also used within the esoteric system propounded by the Danish occultist Carl William Hansen, who used the pen name “Ben Kadosh”. Hansen was involved in a variety of esoteric groups, including Martinism, Freemasonry, and the Ordo Templi Orientis, drawing on ideas from various groups to establish his own philosophy. In one pamphlet, he provided a “Luciferian” interpretation of Freemasonry. Kadosh’s work left little influence outside of Denmark.

Both during his life and after it, the British occultist Aleister Crowley has been widely described as a Satanist, usually by detractors. Crowley stated he did not consider himself a Satanist, nor did he worship Satan, as he did not accept the Christian world view in which Satan was believed to exist. He nevertheless used imagery considered satanic, for instance by describing himself as “the Beast 666” and referring to the Whore of Babylon in his work, while in later life he sent “Antichristmas cards” to his friends. Dyrendel, Lewis, and Petersen noted that despite the fact that Crowley was not a Satanist, he “in many ways embodies the pre-Satanist esoteric discourse on Satan and Satanism through his lifestyle and his philosophy”, with his “image and thought” becoming an “important influence” on the later development of religious Satanism.

In 1928 the Fraternitas Saturni (FS) was established in Germany; its founder, Eugen Grosche, published Satanische Magie (“Satanic Magic”) that same year. The group connected Satan to Saturn, claiming that the planet related to the Sun in the same manner that Lucifer relates to the human world.

In 1932 an esoteric group known as the Brotherhood of the Golden Arrow was established in Paris, France by Maria de Naglowska, a Russian occultist who had fled to France following the Russian Revolution. She promoted a theology centred on what she called the Third Term of the Trinity consisting of Father, Son, and Sex, the latter of which she deemed to be most important. Her early disciples, who underwent what she called “Satanic Initiations”, included models and art students recruited from bohemian circles. The Golden Arrow disbanded after Naglowska abandoned it in 1936. According to Introvigne, hers was “a quite complicated Satanism, built on a complex philosophical vision of the world, of which little would survive its initiator”.

In 1969 a Satanic group based in Toledo, Ohio, part of the United States, came to public attention. Called the Our Lady of Endor Coven, it was led by a man named Herbert Sloane, who described his Satanic tradition as the Ophite Cultus Sathanas and alleged that it had been established in the 1940s. The group offered a Gnostic interpretation of the world in which the creator God was regarded as evil and the Biblical Serpent presented as a force for good who had delivered salvation to humanity in the Garden of Eden. Sloane’s claims that his group had a 1940s origin remain unproven; it may be that he falsely claimed older origins for his group to make it appear older than Anton LaVey’s Church of Satan, which had been established in 1966.

None of these groups had any real impact on the emergence of the later Satanic milieu in the 1960s.

Anton LaVey, who has been referred to as “The Father of Satanism”,[143] synthesized his religion through the establishment of the Church of Satan in 1966 and the publication of The Satanic Bible in 1969. LaVey’s teachings promoted “indulgence”, “vital existence”, “undefiled wisdom”, “kindness to those who deserve it”, “responsibility to the responsible” and an “eye for an eye” code of ethics, while shunning “abstinence” based on guilt, “spirituality”, “unconditional love”, “pacifism”, “equality”, “herd mentality” and “scapegoating”. In LaVey’s view, the Satanist is a carnal, physical and pragmatic beingand enjoyment of physical existence and an undiluted view of this-worldly truth are promoted as the core values of Satanism, propagating a naturalistic worldview that sees mankind as animals existing in an amoral universe.

LaVey believed that the ideal Satanist should be individualistic and non-conformist, rejecting what he called the “colorless existence” that mainstream society sought to impose on those living within it. He praised the human ego for encouraging an individual’s pride, self-respect, and self-realization and accordingly believed in satisfying the ego’s desires. He expressed the view that self-indulgence was a desirable trait, and that hate and aggression were not wrong or undesirable emotions but that they were necessary and advantageous for survival. Accordingly, he praised the seven deadly sins as virtues which were beneficial for the individual. The anthropologist Jean La Fontaine highlighted an article that appeared in The Black Flame, in which one writer described “a true Satanic society” as one in which the population consists of “free-spirited, well-armed, fully-conscious, self-disciplined individuals, who will neither need nor tolerate any external entity ‘protecting’ them or telling them what they can and cannot do.”

The sociologist James R. Lewis noted that “LaVey was directly responsible for the genesis of Satanism as a serious religious (as opposed to a purely literary) movement”. Scholars agree that there is no reliably documented case of Satanic continuity prior to the founding of the Church of Satan. It was the first organized church in modern times to be devoted to the figure of Satan, and according to Faxneld and Petersen, the Church represented “the first public, highly visible, and long-lasting organization which propounded a coherent satanic discourse”. LaVey’s book, The Satanic Bible, has been described as the most important document to influence contemporary Satanism. The book contains the core principles of Satanism, and is considered the foundation of its philosophy and dogma. Petersen noted that it is “in many ways the central text of the Satanic milieu”, with Lap similarly testifying to its dominant position within the wider Satanic movement. David G. Bromley calls it “iconoclastic” and “the best-known and most influential statement of Satanic theology.” Eugene V. Gallagher says that Satanists use LaVey’s writings “as lenses through which they view themselves, their group, and the cosmos.” He also states: “With a clear-eyed appreciation of true human nature, a love of ritual and pageantry, and a flair for mockery, LaVey’s Satanic Bible promulgated a gospel of self-indulgence that, he argued, anyone who dispassionately considered the facts would embrace.”

A number of religious studies scholars have described LaVey’s Satanism as a form of “self-religion” or “self-spirituality”, with religious studies scholar Amina Olander Lap arguing that it should be seen as being both part of the “prosperity wing” of the self-spirituality New Age movement and a form of the Human Potential Movement. The anthropologist Jean La Fontaine described it as having “both elitist and anarchist elements”, also citing one occult bookshop owner who referred to the Church’s approach as “anarchistic hedonism”. In The Invention of Satanism, Dyrendal and Petersen theorized that LaVey viewed his religion as “an antinomian self-religion for productive misfits, with a cynically carnivalesque take on life, and no supernaturalism”. The sociologist of religion James R. Lewis even described LaVeyan Satanism as “a blend of Epicureanism and Ayn Rand’s philosophy, flavored with a pinch of ritual magic.” The historian of religion Mattias Gardell described LaVey’s as “a rational ideology of egoistic hedonism and self-preservation”, while Nevill Drury characterised LaVeyan Satanism as “a religion of self-indulgence”. It has also been described as an “institutionalism of Machiavellian self-interest”.

Prominent Church leader Blanche Barton described Satanism as “an alignment, a lifestyle”. LaVey and the Church espoused the view that “Satanists are born, not made”; that they are outsiders by their nature, living as they see fit, who are self-realized in a religion which appeals to the would-be Satanist’s nature, leading them to realize they are Satanists through finding a belief system that is in line with their own perspective and lifestyle. Adherents to the philosophy have described Satanism as a non-spiritual religion of the flesh, or “…the world’s first carnal religion”. LaVey used Christianity as a negative mirror for his new faith, with LaVeyan Satanism rejecting the basic principles and theology of Christian belief. It views Christianity alongside other major religions, and philosophies such as humanism and liberal democracy as a largely negative force on humanity; LaVeyan Satanists perceive Christianity as a lie which promotes idealism, self-denigration, herd behavior, and irrationality. LaVeyans view their religion as a force for redressing this balance by encouraging materialism, egoism, stratification, carnality, atheism, and social Darwinism. LaVey’s Satanism was particularly critical of what it understands as Christianity’s denial of humanity’s animal nature, and it instead calls for the celebration of, and indulgence in, these desires. In doing so, it places an emphasis on the carnal rather than the spiritual.

Practitioners do not believe that Satan literally exists and do not worship him. Instead, Satan is viewed as a positive archetype embracing the Hebrew root of the word “Satan” as “adversary”, who represents pride, carnality, and enlightenment, and of a cosmos which Satanists perceive to be motivated by a “dark evolutionary force of entropy that permeates all of nature and provides the drive for survival and propagation inherent in all living things”. The Devil is embraced as a symbol of defiance against the Abrahamic faiths which LaVey criticized for what he saw as the suppression of humanity’s natural instincts. Moreover, Satan also serves as a metaphorical external projection of the individual’s godhood. LaVey espoused the view that “god” is a creation of man, rather than man being a creation of “god”. In his book, The Satanic Bible, the Satanist’s view of god is described as the Satanist’s true “self”a projection of his or her own personalitynot an external deity. Satan is used as a representation of personal liberty and individualism.

LaVey explained that the gods worshiped by other religions are also projections of man’s true self. He argues that man’s unwillingness to accept his own ego has caused him to externalize these gods so as to avoid the feeling of narcissism that would accompany self-worship. The current High Priest of the Church of Satan, Peter H. Gilmore, further expounds that “…Satan is a symbol of Man living as his prideful, carnal nature dictates […] Satan is not a conscious entity to be worshiped, rather a reservoir of power inside each human to be tapped at will.[180] The Church of Satan has chosen Satan as its primary symbol because in Hebrew it means adversary, opposer, one to accuse or question. We see ourselves as being these Satans; the adversaries, opposers and accusers of all spiritual belief systems that would try to hamper enjoyment of our life as a human being.”[181] The term “Theistic Satanism” has been described as “oxymoronic” by the church and its High Priest.[182] The Church of Satan rejects the legitimacy of any other organizations who claim to be Satanists, dubbing them reverse-Christians, pseudo-Satanists or Devil worshipers, atheistic or otherwise,[183] and maintains a purist approach to Satanism as expounded by LaVey.

After LaVey’s death in 1997, the Church of Satan was taken over by a new administration and its headquarters were moved to New York. LaVey’s daughter, the High Priestess Karla LaVey, felt this to be a disservice to her father’s legacy. The First Satanic Church was re-founded on October 31, 1999 by Karla LaVey to carry on the legacy of her father. She continues to run it out of San Francisco, California.

The Satanic Temple is an American religious and political activist organization based in Salem, Massachusetts. The organization actively participates in public affairs that have manifested in several public political actions[184][185] and efforts at lobbying,[186] with a focus on the separation of church and state and using satire against Christian groups that it believes interfere with personal freedom.[186] According to Dyrendal, Lewis, and Petersen, the group were “rationalist, political pranksters”. Their pranks are designed to highlight religious hypocrisy and advance the cause of secularism. In one of their actions, they performed a “Pink Mass” over the grave of the mother of the evangelical Christian and prominent anti-LGBT preacher Fred Phelps; the Temple claimed that the mass converted the spirit of Phelps’ mother into a lesbian.

The Satanic Temple does not believe in a supernatural Satan, as they believe that this encourages superstition that would keep them from being “malleable to the best current scientific understandings of the material world”. The Temple uses the literary Satan as metaphor to construct a cultural narrative which promotes pragmatic skepticism, rational reciprocity, personal autonomy, and curiosity.[189] Satan is thus used as a symbol representing “the eternal rebel” against arbitrary authority and social norms.[190][191]

Theistic Satanism (also known as traditional Satanism, Spiritual Satanism or Devil worship) is a form of Satanism with the primary belief that Satan is an actual deity or force to revere or worship.[192] Other characteristics of theistic Satanism may include a belief in magic, which is manipulated through ritual, although that is not a defining criterion, and theistic Satanists may focus solely on devotion.

Luciferianism can be understood best as a belief system or intellectual creed that venerates the essential and inherent characteristics that are affixed and commonly given to Lucifer. Luciferianism is often identified as an auxiliary creed or movement of Satanism, due to the common identification of Lucifer with Satan. Some Luciferians accept this identification and/or consider Lucifer as the “light bearer” and illuminated aspect of Satan, giving them the name of Satanists and the right to bear the title. Others reject it, giving the argument that Lucifer is a more positive and easy-going ideal than Satan. They are inspired by the ancient myths of Egypt, Rome and Greece, Gnosticism and traditional Western occultism.

According to the group’s own claims, the Order of Nine Angles was established in Shropshire, Western England during the late 1960s, when a Grand Mistress united a number of ancient pagan groups active in the area.This account states that when the Order’s Grand Mistress migrated to Australia, a man known as “Anton Long” took over as the new Grand Master. From 1976 onward he authored an array of texts for the tradition, codifying and extending its teachings, mythos, and structure.Various academics have argued that Long is the pseudonym of British neo-Nazi activist David Myatt, an allegation that Myatt has denied.The ONA arose to public attention in the early 1980s, spreading its message through magazine articles over the following two decades. In 2000, it established a presence on the internet, later adopting social media to promote its message.

The ONA is a secretive organization, and lacks any central administration, instead operating as a network of allied Satanic practitioners, which it terms the “kollective”. It consists largely of autonomous cells known as “nexions”. The majority of these are located in Britain, Ireland, and Germany, although others are located elsewhere in Europe, and in Russia, Egypt, South Africa, Brazil, Australia, and the United States.

The ONA describe their occultism as “Traditional Satanism”. The ONA’s writings encourage human sacrifice, referring to their victims as opfers. According to the Order’s teachings, such opfers must demonstrate character faults that mark them out as being worthy of death, and accordingly the ONA insists that children must never be victims. No ONA cell have admitted to carrying out a sacrifice in a ritualised manner, but rather Order members have joined the police and military in order to carry out such killings. Faxneld described the Order as “a dangerous and extreme form of Satanism”, while religious studies scholar Graham Harvey claimed that the ONA fit the stereotype of the Satanist “better than other groups” by embracing “deeply shocking” and illegal acts.

The Temple of Set is an initiatory occult society claiming to be the world’s leading left-hand path religious organization. It was established in 1975 by Michael A. Aquino and certain members of the priesthood of the Church of Satan,[210] who left because of administrative and philosophical disagreements. ToS deliberately self-differentiates from CoS in several ways, most significantly in theology and sociology.[211] The philosophy of the Temple of Set may be summed up as “enlightened individualism”enhancement and improvement of oneself by personal education, experiment and initiation. This process is necessarily different and distinctive for each individual. The members do not agree on whether Set is “real” or not, and they’re not expected to.[211]

The Temple presents the view that the name Satan was originally a corruption of the name Set. The Temple teaches that Set is a real entity, the only real god in existence, with all others created by the human imagination. Set is described as having given humanitythrough the means of non-natural evolutionthe “Black Flame” or the “Gift of Set”, a questioning intellect which sets the species apart from other animals. While Setians are expected to revere Set, they do not worship him. Central to Setian philosophy is the human individual, with self-deification presented as the ultimate goal.

In 2005 Petersen noted that academic estimates for the Temple’s membership varied from between 300 and 500, and Granholm suggested that in 2007 the Temple contained circa 200 members.

Dyrendal, Lewis, and Petersen used the term “reactive Satanism” to describe one form of modern religious Satanism. They described this as an adolescent and anti-social means of rebelling in a Christian society, by which an individual transgresses cultural boundaries. They believed that there were two tendencies within reactive Satanism: one, “Satanic tourism”, was characterised by the brief period of time in which an individual was involved, while the other, the “Satanic quest”, was typified by a longer and deeper involvement.

The researcher Gareth Medway noted that in 1995 he encountered a British woman who stated that she had been a practicing Satanist during her teenage years. She had grown up in a small mining village, and had come to believe that she had psychic powers. After hearing about Satanism in some library books, she declared herself a Satanist and formulated a belief that Satan was the true god. After her teenage years she abandoned Satanism and became a chaos magickian.

Some reactive Satanists are teenagers or mentally disturbed individuals who have engaged in criminal activities. During the 1980s and 1990s, several groups of teenagers were apprehended after sacrificing animals and vandalising both churches and graveyards with Satanic imagery. Introvigne expressed the view that these incidents were “more a product of juvenile deviance and marginalization than Satanism”. In a few cases the crimes of these reactive Satanists have included murder. In 1970, two separate groups of teenagersone led by Stanley Baker in Big Sur and the other by Steven Hurd in Los Angeleskilled a total of three people and consumed parts of their corpses in what they later claimed were sacrifices devoted to Satan. In 1984, a U.S. group called the Knights of the Black Circle killed one of its own members, Gary Lauwers, over a disagreement regarding the group’s illegal drug dealing; group members later related that Lauwers’ death was a sacrifice to Satan.The American serial killer Richard Ramirez for instance claimed that he was a Satanist; during his 1980s killing spree he left an inverted pentagram at the scene of each murder and at his trial called out “Hail Satan!”

Dyrendal, Lewis, and Petersen observed that from surveys of Satanists conducted in the early 21st century, it was clear that the Satanic milieu was “heavily dominated by young males”. They nevertheless noted that census data from New Zealand suggested that there may be a growing proportion of women becoming Satanists. In comprising more men than women, Satanism differs from most other religious communities, including most new religious communities. Most Satanists came to their religion through reading, either online or books, rather than through being introduced to it through personal contacts. Many practitioners do not claim that they converted to Satanism, but rather state that they were born that way, and only later in life confirmed that Satanism served as an appropriate label for their pre-existing worldviews. Others have stated that they had experiences with supernatural phenomena that led them to embracing Satanism. A number reported feelings of anger at the hypocrisy of many practicing Christians and expressed the view that the monotheistic Gods of Christianity and other religions are unethical, citing issues such as the problem of evil. For some practitioners, Satanism gave a sense of hope, including for those who had been physically and sexually abused.

The surveys revealed that atheistic Satanists appeared to be in the majority, although the numbers of theistic Satanists appeared to grow over time. Beliefs in the afterlife varied, although the most popular afterlife views were reincarnation and the idea that consciousness survives bodily death. The surveys also demonstrated that most recorded Satanists practiced magic, although there were differing opinions as to whether magical acts operated according to etheric laws or whether the effect of magic was purely psychological. A number described performing cursing, in most cases as a form of vigilante justice.Most practitioners conduct their religious observances in a solitary manner, and never or rarely meet fellow Satanists for rituals. Rather, the primary interaction that takes place between Satanists is online, on websites or via email.From their survey data, Dyrendal, Lewis, and Petersen noted that the average length of involvement in the Satanic milieu was seven years. A Satanist’s involvement in the movement tends to peak in the early twenties and drops off sharply in their thirties. A small proportion retain their allegiance to the religion into their elder years. When asked about their political views, the largest proportion of Satanists identified as apolitical or non-aligned, while only a small percentage identified as conservative despite the conservative views of prominent Satanists like LaVey and Marilyn Manson. A small minority of Satanists expressed support for the far right; conversely, over two-thirds expressed negative or extremely negative views about Nazism and neo-Nazism.

In 2004 it was claimed that Satanism was allowed in the Royal Navy of the British Armed Forces, despite opposition from Christians.[243][244][245] In 2016, under a Freedom of Information request, the Navy Command Headquarters stated that “we do not recognise satanism as a formal religion, and will not grant facilities or make specific time available for individual ‘worship’.”[246]

In 2005, the Supreme Court of the United States debated in the case of Cutter v. Wilkinson over protecting minority religious rights of prison inmates after a lawsuit challenging the issue was filed to them.[247][248] The court ruled that facilities that accept federal funds cannot deny prisoners accommodations that are necessary to engage in activities for the practice of their own religious beliefs.[249][250]

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Satanism – Wikipedia

We are using witchcraft, Satanism and magic confesses …

some Prophets are stopped from having sex with their wives, they have sex with a snake

Coming in the wake of self-acclaimed Prophet Shepherd Bushiris stunts that he has called miracles, Malawian Prophet Trevor Kautsire made a rare confession on modern day Prophecy.

Prophet Kautsire (right) with host Brian Banda

In an interview on one Malawian television talkshow that was followed by Malawi24, Prophet Kautsire made the chilling claims that modern day Prophets are not using the power of the Holy Spirit to perform their so-called miracles.

I was in South Africa and I met the who-is-who of the gospel, what they told me is heart-breaking, said Kautsire.

He disclosed that when he was in South Africa he was told of rituals that he had to perform if he were to become a renowned Prophet. Kautsire disclosed that the ritual involved sacrifices that included the killing of family members or church members.

I am speaking this from experience, some Prophets have had to sacrifice their church members to gain fame. You have heard of people dying in places of worship, it is because they are using the people as sacrifices, said Kautsire, a comment which commentators said was referring to the Nigerian teleprophet TB Joshua at whose church over a hundred people died.

Kautsire further said that it was easy to decipher fake Prophets because they do miracles for no important reason.

A miracle is supposed to meet a need, however when a Prophet does a miracle that does not meet any need there is no reason to believe that Prophet, he said. Commentators have thought that he was apparently referring to Bushiri who has been in the news for the walk-in-the air stunt which does nothing to glorify the name of the Lord.

He said that Prophets are using magic, witchcraft and Satanism to perform miracles.

There are some who are told to keep a worm and keep feeding it, the worm grows into a snake and when it comes to that stage where it is a snake, it brings them money. The catch is that one should never sleep with their wife but the snake, said Kautsire disclosing the secrets in the dark world of Prophecy.

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We are using witchcraft, Satanism and magic confesses …

Satanism – Wikipedia

Satanism is a group of ideological and philosophical beliefs based on Satan.[1] Contemporary religious practice of Satanism began with the founding of the Church of Satan in 1966, although a few historical precedents exist.[citation needed] Prior to the public practice, Satanism existed primarily as an accusation by various Christian groups toward perceived ideological opponents, rather than a self-identity. Satanism, and the concept of Satan, has also been used by artists and entertainers for symbolic expression.

Accusations that various groups have been practicing Satanism have been made throughout much of Christian history. During the Middle Ages, the Inquisition attached to the Roman Catholic Church alleged that various heretical Christian sects and groups, such as the Knights Templar and the Cathars, performed secret Satanic rituals. In the subsequent Early Modern period, belief in a widespread Satanic conspiracy of witches resulted in mass trials of alleged witches across Europe and the North American colonies. Accusations that Satanic conspiracies were active, and behind events such as Protestantism (and conversely, the Protestant claim that the Pope was the Antichrist) and the French Revolution continued to be made in Christendom during the eighteenth to the twentieth century. The idea of a vast Satanic conspiracy reached new heights with the influential Taxil hoax of France in the 1890s, which claimed that Freemasonry worshiped Satan, Lucifer, and Baphomet in their rituals. In the 1980s and 1990s, the Satanic ritual abuse hysteria spread through the United States and United Kingdom, amid fears that groups of Satanists were regularly sexually abusing and murdering children in their rites. In most of these cases, there is no corroborating evidence that any of those accused of Satanism were actually practitioners of a Satanic religion or guilty of the allegations leveled at them.

Since the 19th century, various small religious groups have emerged that identify as Satanists or use Satanic iconography. Satanist groups that appeared after the 1960s are widely diverse, but two major trends are theistic Satanism and atheistic Satanism. Theistic Satanists venerate Satan as a supernatural deity, viewing him not as omnipotent but rather as a patriarch. In contrast, atheistic Satanists regard Satan as merely a symbol of certain human traits.[2]

Contemporary religious Satanism is predominantly an American phenomenon, the ideas spreading elsewhere with the effects of globalization and the Internet.[3] The Internet spreads awareness of other Satanists, and is also the main battleground for Satanist disputes.[3] Satanism started to reach Central and Eastern Europe in the 1990s, in time with the fall of the Soviet Union, and most noticeably in Poland and Lithuania, predominantly Roman Catholic countries.[4][5]

In their study of Satanism, the religious studies scholars Asbjrn Dyrendal, James R. Lewis, and Jesper Aa. Petersen stated that the term Satanism “has a history of being a designation made by people against those whom they dislike; it is a term used for othering.” The concept of Satanism is an invention of Christianity, for it relies upon the figure of Satan, a character deriving from Christian mythology.

Elsewhere, Petersen noted that “Satanism as something others do is very different from Satanism as a self-designation.”Eugene Gallagher noted that, as commonly used, Satanism was usually “a polemical, not a descriptive term.”

The word “Satan” was not originally a proper name but rather an ordinary noun meaning “the adversary”; in this context it appears at several points in the Old Testament. For instance, in the Book of Samuel, David is presented as the satan (“adversary”) of the Philistines, while in the Book of Numbers the term appears as a verb, when God sent an angel to satan (“to oppose”) Balaam. Prior to the composition of the New Testament, the idea developed within Jewish communities that Satan was the name of an angel who had rebelled against God and had been cast out of Heaven along with his followers; this account would be incorporated into contemporary texts like the Book of Enoch. This Satan was then featured in parts of the New Testament, where he was presented as a figure who tempted humans to commit sin; in the Book of Matthew and the Book of Luke, he attempted to tempt Jesus of Nazareth as the latter fasted in the wilderness.

The word “Satanism” was adopted into English from the French satanisme. The terms “Satanism” and “Satanist” are first recorded as appearing in the English and French languages during the sixteenth century, when they were used by Christian groups to attack other, rival Christian groups. In a Roman Catholic tract of 1565, the author condemns the “heresies, blasphemies, and sathanismes [sic]” of the Protestants. In an Anglican work of 1559, Anabaptists and other Protestant sects are condemned as “swarmes of Satanistes [sic].” As used in this manner, the term “Satanism” was not used to claim that people literally worshipped Satan, but rather presented the view that through deviating from what the speaker or writer regarded as the true variant of Christianity, they were regarded as being essentially in league with the Devil. During the nineteenth century, the term “Satanism” began to be used to describe those considered to lead a broadly immoral lifestyle, and it was only in the late nineteenth century that it came to be applied in English to individuals who were believed to consciously and deliberately venerate Satan. This latter meaning had appeared earlier in the Swedish language; the Lutheran Bishop Laurentius Paulinus Gothus had described devil-worshipping sorcerers as Sathanister in his Ethica Christiana, produced between 1615 and 1630.

Historical and anthropological research suggests that nearly all societies have developed the idea of a sinister and anti-human force that can hide itself within society. This commonly involves a belief in witches, a group of individuals who invert the norms of their society and seek to harm their community, for instance by engaging in incest, murder, and cannibalism. Allegations of witchcraft may have different causes and serve different functions within a society. For instance, they may serve to uphold social norms, to heighten the tension in existing conflicts between individuals, or to scapegoat certain individuals for various social problems.

Another contributing factor to the idea of Satanism is the concept that there is an agent of misfortune and evil who operates on a cosmic scale, something usually associated with a strong form of ethical dualism that divides the world clearly into forces of good and forces of evil. The earliest such entity known is Angra Mainyu, a figure that appears in the Persian religion of Zoroastrianism. This concept was also embraced by Judaism and early Christianity, and although it was soon marginalised within Jewish thought, it gained increasing importance within early Christian understandings of the cosmos. While the early Christian idea of the Devil was not well developed, it gradually adapted and expanded through the creation of folklore, art, theological treatises, and morality tales, thus providing the character with a range of extra-Biblical associations.

As Christianity expanded throughout the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe, it came into contact with a variety of other religions, which it regarded as “pagan.” Christian theologians claimed that the gods and goddesses venerated by these “pagans” were not genuine divinities, but were actually demons. However, they did not believe that “pagans” were deliberately devil-worshippers, instead claiming that they were simply misguided. In Christian iconography, the Devil and demons were given the physical traits of figures from Classical mythology such as the god Pan, fauns, and satyrs.

Those Christian groups regarded as heretics by the Roman Catholic Church were treated differently, with theologians arguing that they were deliberately worshipping the Devil. This was accompanied by claims that such individuals engaged in incestuous sexual orgies, murdered infants, and committed acts of cannibalism, all stock accusations that had previously been levelled at Christians themselves in the Roman Empire.The first recorded example of such an accusation being made within Western Christianity took place in Toulouse in 1022, when two clerics were tried for allegedly venerating a demon. Throughout the middle ages, this accusation would be applied to a wide range of Christian heretical groups, including the Paulicians, Bogomils, Cathars, Waldensians, and the Hussites. The Knights Templar were accused of worshipping an idol known as Baphomet, with Lucifer having appeared at their meetings in the form of a cat. As well as these Christian groups, these claims were also made about Europe’s Jewish community. In the thirteenth century, there were also references made to a group of “Luciferians” led by a woman named Lucardis which hoped to see Satan rule in Heaven. References to this group continued into the fourteenth century, although historians studying the allegations concur that these Luciferians were likely a fictitious invention.

Within Christian thought, the idea developed that certain individuals could make a pact with Satan. This may have emerged after observing that pacts with gods and goddesses played a role in various pre-Christian belief systems, or that such pacts were also made as part of the Christian cult of saints. Another possibility is that it derives from a misunderstanding of Augustine of Hippo’s condemnation of augury in his On the Christian Doctrine, written in the late fourth century. Here, he stated that people who consulted augurs were entering “quasi pacts” (covenants) with demons. The idea of the diabolical pact made with demons was popularised across Europe in the story of Faust, likely based in part on the real life Johann Georg Faust.

As the late medieval gave way to the early modern period, European Christendom experienced a schism between the established Roman Catholic Church and the breakaway Protestant movement. In the ensuing Reformation and Counter-Reformation, both Catholics and Protestants accused each other of deliberately being in league with Satan. It was in this context that the terms “Satanist” and “Satanism” emerged.

The early modern period also saw fear of Satanists reach its “historical apogee” in the form of the witch trials of the fifteenth to the eighteenth centuries. This came about as the accusations which had been levelled at medieval heretics, among them that of devil-worship, were applied to the pre-existing idea of the witch, or practitioner of malevolent magic. The idea of a conspiracy of Satanic witches was developed by educated elites, although the concept of malevolent witchcraft was a widespread part of popular belief and folkloric ideas about the night witch, the wild hunt, and the dance of the fairies were incorporated into it. The earliest trials took place in Northern Italy and France, before spreading it out to other areas of Europe and to Britain’s North American colonies, being carried out by the legal authorities in both Catholic and Protestant regions.Between 30,000 and 50,000 individuals were executed as accused Satanic witches.Most historians agree that the majority of those persecuted in these witch trials were innocent of any involvement in Devil worship. However, in their summary of the evidence for the trials, the historians Geoffrey Scarre and John Callow thought it “without doubt” that some of those accused in the trials had been guilty of employing magic in an attempt to harm their enemies, and were thus genuinely guilty of witchcraft.

In seventeenth-century Sweden, a number of highway robbers and other outlaws living in the forests informed judges that they venerated Satan because he provided more practical assistance than God.The historian of religion Massimo Introvigne regarded these practices as folkloric Satanism.

During the eighteenth century, gentleman’s social clubs became increasingly prominent in Britain and Ireland, among the most secretive of which were the Hellfire Clubs, which were first reported in the 1720s. The most famous of these groups was the Order of the Knights of Saints Francis, which was founded circa 1750 by the aristocrat Sir Francis Dashwood and which assembled first at his estate at West Wycombe and later in Medmenham Abbey. A number of contemporary press sources portrayed these as gatherings of atheist rakes where Christianity was mocked and toasts were made to the Devil. Beyond these sensationalist accounts, which may not be accurate portrayals of actual events, little is known about the activities of the Hellfire Clubs. Introvigne suggested that they may have engaged in a form of “playful Satanism” in which Satan was invoked “to show a daring contempt for conventional morality” by individuals who neither believed in his literal existence nor wanted to pay homage to him.

The French Revolution of 1789 dealt a blow to the hegemony of the Roman Catholic Church in parts of Europe, and soon a number of Catholic authors began making claims that it had been masterminded by a conspiratorial group of Satanists. Among the first to do so was French Catholic priest Jean-Baptiste Fiard, who publicly claimed that a wide range of individuals, from the Jacobins to tarot card readers, were part of a Satanic conspiracy. Fiard’s ideas were furthered by Alexis-Vincent-Charles Berbiguier, who devoted a lengthy book to this conspiracy theory; he claimed that Satanists had supernatural powers allowing them to curse people and to shapeshift into both cats and fleas. Although most of his contemporaries regarded Berbiguier as mad, his ideas gained credence among many occultists, including Stanislas de Guaita, a Cabalist who used them for the basis of his book, The Temple of Satan.

In the early 20th century, the British novelist Dennis Wheatley produced a range of influential novels in which his protagonists battled Satanic groups. At the same time, non-fiction authors like Montague Summers and Rollo Ahmed published books claiming that Satanic groups practicing black magic were still active across the world, although they provided no evidence that this was the case. During the 1950s, various British tabloid newspapers repeated such claims, largely basing their accounts on the allegations of one woman, Sarah Jackson, who claimed to have been a member of such a group. In 1973, the British Christian Doreen Irvine published From Witchcraft to Christ, in which she claimed to have been a member of a Satanic group that gave her supernatural powers, such as the ability to levitate, before she escaped and embraced Christianity.In the United States during the 1960s and 1970s, various Christian preachersthe most famous being Mike Warnke in his 1972 book The Satan-Sellerclaimed that they had been members of Satanic groups who carried out sex rituals and animal sacrifices before discovering Christianity. According to Gareth Medway in his historical examination of Satanism, these stories were “a series of inventions by insecure people and hack writers, each one based on a previous story, exaggerated a little more each time.”

Other publications made allegations of Satanism against historical figures. The 1970s saw the publication of the Romanian Protestant preacher Richard Wurmbrand’s book in which he arguedwithout corroborating evidencethat the socio-political theorist Karl Marx had been a Satanist.

At the end of the twentieth century, a moral panic developed around claims regarding a Devil-worshipping cult that made use of sexual abuse, murder, and cannibalism in its rituals, with children being among its victims. Initially, the alleged perpetrators of such crimes were labelled witches, though the term Satanist was soon favoured, and the phenomenon itself came to be called “the Satanism Scare. Promoters of the claims alleged that there was a conspiracy of organised Satanists who occupied prominent positions throughout society, from the police to politicians, and that they had been powerful enough to cover up their crimes.

Sociologist of religion Massimo Introvigne, 2016

One of the primary sources for the scare was Michelle Remembers, a 1980 book by the Canadian psychiatrist Lawrence Pazder in which he detailed what he claimed were the repressed memories of his patient (and wife) Michelle Smith. Smith had claimed that as a child she had been abused by her family in Satanic rituals in which babies were sacrificed and Satan himself appeared. In 1983, allegations were made that the McMartin familyowners of a preschool in Californiawere guilty of sexually abusing the children in their care during Satanic rituals. The allegations resulted in a lengthy and expensive trial, in which all of the accused would eventually be cleared. The publicity generated by the case resulted in similar allegations being made in various other parts of the United States.

A prominent aspect of the Satanic Scare was the claim by those in the developing “anti-Satanism” movement that any child’s claim about Satanic ritual abuse must be true, because children would not lie. Although some involved in the anti-Satanism movement were from Jewish and secular backgrounds, a central part was played by fundamentalist and evangelical forms of Christianity, in particular Pentecostalism, with Christian groups holding conferences and producing books and videotapes to promote belief in the conspiracy. Various figures in law enforcement also came to be promoters of the conspiracy theory, with such “cult cops” holding various conferences to promote it. The scare was later imported to the United Kingdom through visiting evangelicals and became popular among some of the country’s social workers, resulting in a range of accusations and trials across Britain.

The Satanic ritual abuse hysteria died down between 1990 and 1994. In the late 1980s, the Satanic Scare had lost its impetus following increasing scepticism about such allegations, and a number of those who had been convicted of perpetrating Satanic ritual abuse saw their convictions overturned.In 1990, an agent of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, Ken Lanning, revealed that he had investigated 300 allegations of Satanic ritual abuse and found no evidence for Satanism or ritualistic activity in any of them. In the UK, the Department of Health commissioned the anthropologist Jean La Fontaine to examine the allegations of SRA. She noted that while approximately half did reveal evidence of genuine sexual abuse of children, none revealed any evidence that Satanist groups had been involved or that any murders had taken place. She noted three examples in which lone individuals engaged in child molestation had created a ritual performance to facilitate their sexual acts, with the intent of frightening their victims and justifying their actions, but that none of these child molestors were involved in wider Satanist groups. By the 21st century, hysteria about Satanism has waned in most Western countries, although allegations of Satanic ritual abuse continued to surface in parts of continental Europe and Latin America.

From the late seventeenth through to the nineteenth century, the character of Satan was increasingly rendered unimportant in Western philosophy, and ignored in Christian theologywhile, folklore portrayed him as a foolish rather than menacing figure. The development of new values in the Age of Enlightenmentin particular those of reason and individualismcontributed to a shift in how many Europeans viewed Satan. In this context, a number of individuals took Satan out of the traditional Christian narrative and reread and reinterpreted him in light of their own time and their own interests, in turn generating new and different portraits of Satan.

The shifting view of Satan owes many of its origins to John Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost (1667), in which Satan features as the protagonist. Milton was a Puritan, and never intended for his depiction of Satan to be sympathetic. However, in portraying Satan as a victim of his own pride who rebelled against God, he humanized him and helped people interpret him as a rebel against tyranny. This was how Milton’s Satan was understood by later readers like the publisher Joseph Johnson, and the anarchist philosopher William Godwin, who reflected it in his 1793 book Enquiry Concerning Political Justice. Paradise Lost gained a wide readership in the eighteenth century, both in Britain and in continental Europe, where it had been translated into French by Voltaire. Milton thus became “a central character in rewriting Satanism” and would be viewed by many later religious Satanists as a “de facto Satanist.”

The nineteenth century saw the emergence of what has been termed literary Satanism or romantic Satanism. According to Van Luijk, this cannot be seen as a “coherent movement with a single voice, but rather as a post factum identified group of sometimes widely divergent authors among whom a similar theme is found.” For the literary Satanists, Satan was depicted as a benevolent and sometimes heroic figure, with these more sympathetic portrayals proliferating in the art and poetry of many romanticist and decadent figures. For these individuals, Satanism was not a religious belief or ritual activity, but rather a “strategic use of a symbol and a character as part of artistic and political expression.”

Among the romanticist poets to adopt this view of Satan was the English poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, who had been influenced by Milton. In his poem Laon and Cythna, Shelley praised the “Serpent,” a reference to Satan, as a force for good in the universe.Another was Shelley’s fellow British poet Lord Byron, who included Satanic themes in his 1821 play Cain, which was a dramatization of the Biblical story of Cain and Abel. These more positive portrayals also developed in France; one example was the 1823 work Eloa by Alfred de Vigny. Satan was also adopted by the French poet Victor Hugo, who made the character’s fall from Heaven a central aspect of his La Fin de Satan, in which he outlined his own cosmogony.Although the likes of Shelley and Byron promoted a positive image of Satan in their work, there is no evidence that any of them performed religious rites to venerate him, and thus it is problematic to regard them as religious Satanists.

Radical left-wing political ideas had been spread by the American Revolution of 176583 and the French Revolution of 178999, and the figure of Satan, who was interpreted as having rebelled against the tyranny imposed by God, was an appealing one for many of the radical leftists of the period. For them, Satan was “a symbol for the struggle against tyranny, injustice, and oppression… a mythical figure of rebellion for an age of revolutions, a larger-than-life individual for an age of individualism, a free thinker in an age struggling for free thought.” The French anarchist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, who was a staunch critic of Christianity, embraced Satan as a symbol of liberty in several of his writings. Another prominent 19th century anarchist, the Russian Mikhail Bakunin, similarly described the figure of Satan as “the eternal rebel, the first freethinker and the emancipator of worlds” in his book God and the State. These ideas likely inspired the American feminist activist Moses Harman to name his anarchist periodical Lucifer the Lightbearer. The idea of this “Leftist Satan” declined during the twentieth century, although it was used on occasion by authorities within the Soviet Union, who portrayed Satan as a symbol of freedom and equality.

During the 1960s and 1970s, several rock bandsnamely the American Coven and the British Black Widowemployed the imagery of Satanism and witchcraft in their work. References to Satan also appeared in the work of those rock bands which were pioneering the heavy metal genre in Britain during the 1970s. Black Sabbath for instance made mention of Satan in their lyrics, although several of the band’s members were practicing Christians and other lyrics affirmed the power of the Christian God over Satan. In the 1980s, greater use of Satanic imagery was made by heavy metal bands like Slayer, Kreator, Sodom, and Destruction. Bands active in the subgenre of death metalamong them Deicide, Morbid Angel, and Entombedalso adopted Satanic imagery, combining it with other morbid and dark imagery, such as that of zombies and serial killers.

Satanism beacme more closely associated with the subgenre of black metal, in which it was foregrounded over the other themes that had been used in death metal. A number of black metal performers incorporated self-injury into their act, framing this as a manifestation of Satanic devotion. The first black metal band, Venom, proclaimed themselves Satanists, although this was more an act of provocation than an expression of genuine devotion to the Devil. Satanic themes were also used by the black metal bands Bathory and Hellhammer. However, the first black metal act to more seriously adopt Satanism was Mercyful Fate, whose vocalist, King Diamond, joined the Church of Satan.More often than not musicians associating themselves with black metal say they do not believe in legitimate Satanic ideology and often profess to being atheists, agnostics, or religious skeptics.[110]

In contrast to King Diamond, various black metal Satanists sought to distance themselves from LaVeyan Satanism, for instance by referring to their beliefs as devil worship. These individuals regarded Satan as a literal entity, and in contrast to LaVey’s views, they associated Satanism with criminality, suicide, and terror. For them, Christianity was regarded as a plague which required eradication. Many of these individualssuch as Varg Vikernes and Euronymouswere Norwegian, and influenced by the strong anti-Christian views of this milieu, between 1992 and 1996 around fifty Norwegian churches were destroyed in arson attacks. Within the black metal scene, a number of musicians later replaced Satanic themes with those deriving from Heathenry, a form of modern Paganism.

Rather than being one single form of religious Satanism, there are instead multiple different religious Satanisms, each with different ideas about what being a Satanist entails. The historian of religion Ruben van Luijk used a “working definition” in which Satanism was regarded as “the intentional, religiously motivated veneration of Satan.”

Dyrendal, Lewis, and Petersen believed that it was not a single movement, but rather a milieu. They and others have nevertheless referred to it as a new religious movement. They believed that there was a family resemblance that united all of the varying groups in this milieu, and that most of them were self religions. They argued that there were a set of features that were common to the groups in this Satanic milieu: these were the positive use of the term “Satanist” as a designation, an emphasis on individualism, a genealogy that connects them to other Satanic groups, a transgressive and antinomian stance, a self-perception as an elite, and an embrace of values such as pride, self-reliance, and productive non-conformity.

Dyrendal, Lewis, and Petersen argued that the groups within the Satanic milieu could be divided into three groups: reactive Satanists, rationalist Satanists, and esoteric Satanists. They saw reactive Satanism as encompassing “popular Satanism, inverted Christianity, and symbolic rebellion” and noted that it situates itself in opposition to society while at the same time conforming to society’s perspective of evil. Rationalist Satanism is used to describe the trend in the Satanic milieu which is atheistic, sceptical, materialistic, and epicurean. Esoteric Satanism instead applied to those forms which are theistic and draw upon ideas from other forms of Western esotericism, Modern Paganism, Buddhism, and Hinduism.

The first person to promote a Satanic philosophy was the Pole Stanislaw Przybyszewski, who promoted a Social Darwinian ideology.

The use of the term “Lucifer” was also taken up by the French ceremonial magician Eliphas Levi, who has been described as a Romantic Satanist. During his younger days, Levi used “Lucifer” in much the same manner as the literary romantics. As he moved toward a more politically conservative outlook in later life, he retained the use of the term, but instead applied it as to what he believed was a morally neutral facet of the Absolute. In his book Dogma and Ritual of High Magic, published in two volumes between 1854 and 1856, Levi offered the symbol of Baphomet. He claimed that this was a figure who had been worshipped by the Knights Templar.According to Introvigne, this image gave “the Satanists their most popular symbol ever.”

Levi was not the only occultist who wanted to use the term “Lucifer” without adopting the term “Satan” in a similar way. The early Theosophical Society held to the view that “Lucifer” was a force that aided humanity’s awakening to its own spiritual nature. In keeping with this view, the Society began production of a journal titled Lucifer.

“Satan” was also used within the esoteric system propounded by Danish occultist Carl William Hansen, who used the pen name Ben Kadosh. Hansen was involved in a variety of esoteric groups, including Martinism, Freemasonry, and the Ordo Templi Orientis, drawing on ideas from various groups to establish his own philosophy. In one pamphlet, he provided a “Luciferian” interpretation of Freemasonry. Kadosh’s work left little influence outside of Denmark.

Both during his life and after it, the British occultist Aleister Crowley has been widely described as a Satanist, usually by detractors. Crowley stated he did not consider himself a Satanist, nor did he worship Satan, as he did not accept the Christian world view in which Satan was believed to exist. He nevertheless used Satanic imagery, for instance by describing himself as “the Beast 666” and referring to the Whore of Babylon in his work, while in later life he sent “Antichristmas cards” to his friends. Dyrendel, Lewis, and Petersen noted that despite the fact that Crowley was not a Satanist, he “in many ways embodies the pre-Satanist esoteric discourse on Satan and Satanism through his lifestyle and his philosophy,” with his “image and thought” becoming an “important influence” on the later development of religious Satanism.

In 1928 the Fraternitas Saturni (FS) was established in Germany; its founder, Eugen Grosche, published Satanische Magie (“Satanic Magic”) that same year. The group connected Satan to Saturn, claiming that the planet related to the Sun in the same manner that Lucifer relates to the human world.

In 1932 an esoteric group known as the Brotherhood of the Golden Arrow was established in Paris, France by Maria de Naglowska, a Russian occultist who had fled to France following the Russian Revolution. She promoted a theology centred on what she called the Third Term of the Trinity consisting of Father, Son, and Sexdeeming the last the most important. Her early disciples, who underwent what she called “Satanic Initiations,” included models and art students recruited from bohemian circles. The Golden Arrow disbanded after Naglowska abandoned it in 1936. According to Introvigne, hers was “a quite complicated Satanism, built on a complex philosophical vision of the world, of which little would survive its initiator.”

In 1969 a Satanic group based in Toledo, Ohio, part of the United States, came to public attention. Called the Our Lady of Endor Coven, it was led by a man named Herbert Sloane, who described his Satanic tradition as the Ophite Cultus Sathanas and alleged that it had been established in the 1940s. The group offered a Gnostic interpretation of the world in which the creator God was regarded as evil and the Biblical Serpent presented as a force for good who had delivered salvation to humanity in the Garden of Eden. Sloane’s claims that his group had a 1940s origin remain unproven; it may be that he falsely claimed older origins for his group to make it appear older than Anton LaVey’s Church of Satan which had been established in 1966.

None of these groups had any real impact on the emergence of the later Satanic milieu in the 1960s.

Anton LaVey, who has been referred to as “The Father of Satanism”,[143] synthesized his religion through the establishment of the Church of Satan in 1966 and the publication of The Satanic Bible in 1969. LaVey’s teachings promoted indulgence, vital existence, undefiled wisdom, kindness to those who deserve it, responsibility to the responsible and an eye for an eye code of ethics, while shunning abstinence based on guilt, spirituality, unconditional love, pacifism, equality, herd mentality and scapegoating. In LaVey’s view, the Satanist is a carnal, physical, and pragmatic beingand enjoyment of physical existence and an undiluted view of this-worldly truth are promoted as the core values of Satanism, propagating a naturalistic worldview that sees mankind as animals existing in an amoral universe.

LaVey believed that the ideal Satanist should be individualistic and non-conformist, rejecting what he called the “colorless existence” that mainstream society sought to impose on those living within it. He praised the human ego for encouraging an individual’s pride, self-respect, and self-realization and accordingly believed in satisfying the ego’s desires. He expressed the view that self-indulgence was a desirable trait, and that hate and aggression were not wrong or undesirable emotions but that they were necessary and advantageous for survival. Accordingly, he praised the seven deadly sins as virtues which were beneficial for the individual. The anthropologist Jean La Fontaine highlighted an article that appeared in The Black Flame, in which one writer described “a true Satanic society” as one in which the population consists of “free-spirited, well-armed, fully-conscious, self-disciplined individuals, who will neither need nor tolerate any external entity ‘protecting’ them or telling them what they can and cannot do.”

Sociologist James R. Lewis noted that, “LaVey was directly responsible for the genesis of Satanism as a serious religious (as opposed to a purely literary) movement.” Scholars agree that there is no reliably documented case of Satanic continuity prior to the founding of the Church of Satan. It was the first organized church in modern times that was devoted to the figure of Satan, and according to Faxneld and Petersen, the Church represented “the first public, highly visible, and long-lasting organization which propounded a coherent satanic discourse.” LaVey’s book, The Satanic Bible, has been described as the most important document to influence contemporary Satanism. The book contains the core principles of Satanism, and is considered the foundation of its philosophy and dogma. Petersen noted that it is “in many ways the central text of the Satanic milieu,” with Lap similarly testifying to its dominant position within the wider Satanic movement. David G. Bromley calls it “iconoclastic” and “the best-known and most influential statement of Satanic theology.” Eugene V. Gallagher says that Satanists use LaVey’s writings “as lenses through which they view themselves, their group, and the cosmos.” He also states: “With a clear-eyed appreciation of true human nature, a love of ritual and pageantry, and a flair for mockery, LaVey’s Satanic Bible promulgated a gospel of self-indulgence that, he argued, anyone who dispassionately considered the facts would embrace.”

A number of religious studies scholars have described LaVey’s Satanism as a form of “self-religion” or “self-spirituality,” with religious studies scholar Amina Olander Lap arguing that it should be seen as being both part of the “prosperity wing” of the self-spirituality New Age movement and a form of the Human Potential Movement. The anthropologist Jean La Fontaine described it as having “both elitist and anarchist elements,” also citing one occult bookshop owner who referred to the Church’s approach as “anarchistic hedonism.” In The Invention of Satanism, Dyrendal and Petersen theorized that LaVey viewed his religion as “an antinomian self-religion for productive misfits, with a cynically carnivalesque take on life, and no supernaturalism.” The sociologist of religion James R. Lewis even described LaVeyan Satanism as “a blend of Epicureanism and Ayn Rand’s philosophy, flavored with a pinch of ritual magic.” The historian of religion Mattias Gardell described LaVey’s as “a rational ideology of egoistic hedonism and self-preservation,” while Nevill Drury characterised LaVeyan Satanism as “a religion of self-indulgence.” It has also been described as an “institutionalism of Machiavellian self-interest.”

Prominent Church leader Blanche Barton described Satanism as “an alignment, a lifestyle.” LaVey and the Church espoused the view that “Satanists are born, not made”; that they are outsiders by their nature, living as they see fit, who are self-realized in a religion which appeals to the would-be Satanist’s nature, leading them to realize they are Satanists through finding a belief system that is in line with their own perspective and lifestyle. Adherents to the philosophy have described Satanism as a non-spiritual religion of the flesh, or “…the world’s first carnal religion.” LaVey used Christianity as a negative mirror for his new faith, with LaVeyan Satanism rejecting the basic principles and theology of Christian belief. It views Christianity alongside other major religions, and philosophies such as humanism and liberal democracy as a largely negative force on humanity; LaVeyan Satanists perceive Christianity as a lie which promotes idealism, self-denigration, herd behavior, and irrationality. LaVeyans view their religion as a force for redressing this balance by encouraging materialism, egoism, stratification, carnality, atheism, and social Darwinism. LaVey’s Satanism was particularly critical of what it understands as Christianity’s denial of humanity’s animal nature, and it instead calls for the celebration of, and indulgence in, these desires. In doing so, it places an emphasis on the carnal rather than the spiritual.

Practitioners do not believe that Satan literally exists and do not worship him. Instead, they view Satan as a positive archetype, embracing the Hebrew root of the word “Satan” as the “adversary” who represents pride, carnality, and enlightenment, and of a cosmos which Satanists perceive is motivated by a “dark evolutionary force of entropy that permeates all of nature and provides the drive for survival and propagation inherent in all living things.” The Devil is embraced as a symbol of defiance against the Abrahamic faiths which LaVey criticized for what he saw as the suppression of humanity’s natural instincts. Moreover, Satan also serves as a metaphorical external projection of the individual’s godhood. LaVey espoused the view that god is a creation of man, rather than man being a creation of god. In his book, The Satanic Bible, he describes the Satanist’s view of god as the Satanist’s true “self”a projection of their own personalitynot an external deity. Satan is used as a representation of personal liberty and individualism. LaVey explained that the gods worshiped by other religions are also projections of man’s true self. He argues that man’s unwillingness to accept his own ego has caused him to externalize these gods so as to avoid the feeling of narcissism that would accompany self-worship. The current High Priest of the Church of Satan, Peter H. Gilmore, further expounds that “…Satan is a symbol of Man living as his prideful, carnal nature dictates […] Satan is not a conscious entity to be worshiped, rather a reservoir of power inside each human to be tapped at will.[180] The Church of Satan has chosen Satan as its primary symbol because in Hebrew it means adversary, opposer, one to accuse or question. We see ourselves as being these Satans; the adversaries, opposers and accusers of all spiritual belief systems that would try to hamper enjoyment of our life as a human being.”[181] The term “Theistic Satanism” has been described as “oxymoronic” by the church and its High Priest.[182] The Church of Satan rejects the legitimacy of any other organizations who claim to be Satanists, dubbing them reverse-Christians, pseudo-Satanists or Devil worshipers, atheistic or otherwise,[183] and maintains a purist approach to Satanism as expounded by LaVey.

After LaVey’s death in 1997, the Church of Satan was taken over by a new administration and its headquarters were moved to New York. LaVey’s daughter, the High Priestess Karla LaVey, felt this was a disservice to her father’s legacy. The First Satanic Church was re-founded on October 31, 1999 by Karla LaVey to carry on the legacy of her father. She continues to run it out of San Francisco, California.

The Satanic Temple is an American religious and political activist organization based in Salem, Massachusetts. The organization actively participates in public affairs that have manifested in several public political actions[184][185] and efforts at lobbying,[186] with a focus on the separation of church and state and using satire against Christian groups that it believes interfere with personal freedom.[186] According to Dyrendal, Lewis, and Petersen, the group were “rationalist, political pranksters.” Their pranks are designed to highlight religious hypocrisy and advance the cause of secularism. In one of their actions, they performed a “Pink Mass” over the grave of the mother of the evangelical Christian and prominent anti-LGBT preacher Fred Phelps; the Temple claimed that the mass converted the spirit of Phelps’ mother into a lesbian.

The Satanic Temple does not believe in a supernatural Satan, as they believe that this encourages superstition that would keep them from being “malleable to the best current scientific understandings of the material world.” The Temple uses the literary Satan as metaphor to construct a cultural narrative which promotes pragmatic skepticism, rational reciprocity, personal autonomy, and curiosity.[189] Satan is thus used as a symbol representing “the eternal rebel” against arbitrary authority and social norms.[190][191]

Theistic Satanism (also known as traditional Satanism, Spiritual Satanism or Devil worship) is a form of Satanism with the primary belief that Satan is an actual deity or force to revere or worship.[192] Other characteristics of theistic Satanism may include a belief in magic, which is manipulated through ritual, although that is not a defining criterion, and theistic Satanists may focus solely on devotion.

Luciferianism can be understood best as a belief system or intellectual creed that venerates the essential and inherent characteristics that are affixed and commonly given to Lucifer. Luciferianism is often identified as an auxiliary creed or movement of Satanism, due to the common identification of Lucifer with Satan. Some Luciferians accept this identification and/or consider Lucifer as the “light bearer” and illuminated aspect of Satan, giving them the name of Satanists and the right to bear the title. Others reject it, giving the argument that Lucifer is a more positive and easy-going ideal than Satan. They are inspired by the ancient myths of Egypt, Rome and Greece, Gnosticism and traditional Western occultism.

According to the group’s own claims, the Order of Nine Angles was established in Shropshire, Western England during the late 1960s, when a Grand Mistress united a number of ancient pagan groups active in the area.This account states that when the Order’s Grand Mistress migrated to Australia, a man known as “Anton Long” took over as the new Grand Master. From 1976 onward he authored an array of texts for the tradition, codifying and extending its teachings, mythos, and structure.Various academics have argued that Long is the pseudonym of British Neo-Nazi activist David Myatt, an allegation that Myatt has denied.The ONA arose to public attention in the early 1980s, spreading its message through magazine articles over the following two decades. In 2000, it established a presence on the internet, later adopting social media to promote its message.

The ONA is a secretive organization, and lacks any central administration, instead operating as a network of allied Satanic practitioners, which it terms the kollective. It consists largely of autonomous cells known as nexions. The majority of these are located in Britain, Ireland, and Germany, although others are located elsewhere in Europe, and in Russia, Egypt, South Africa, Brazil, Australia, and the United States.

The ONA describe their occultism as Traditional Satanism. The ONA’s writings encourage human sacrifice, referring to their victims as opfers. According to the Order’s teachings, such opfers must demonstrate character faults that mark them out as being worthy of death, and accordingly the ONA insists that children must never be victims. No ONA cell have admitted to carrying out a sacrifice in a ritualised manner, but rather Order members have joined the police and military in order to carry out such killings. Faxneld described the Order as “a dangerous and extreme form of Satanism,” while religious studies scholar Graham Harvey claimed that the ONA fit the stereotype of the Satanist “better than other groups” by embracing “deeply shocking” and illegal acts.

The Temple of Set is an initiatory occult society that claims it is the world’s leading left-hand path religious organization. It was established in 1975 by Michael A. Aquino and certain members of the priesthood of the Church of Satan,[210] who left because of administrative and philosophical disagreements. ToS deliberately self-differentiates from CoS in several ways, most significantly in theology and sociology.[211] The philosophy of the Temple of Set may be summed up as “enlightened individualism”enhancement and improvement of oneself by personal education, experiment and initiation. This process is necessarily different and distinctive for each individual. The members do not agree on whether Set is “real” or not, and they’re not expected to.[211]

The Temple presents the view that the name Satan was originally a corruption of the name Set. The Temple teaches that Set is a real entity, the only real god in existence, with all others created by the human imagination. Set is described as having given humanitythrough the means of non-natural evolutionthe Black Flame or the Gift of Set, a questioning intellect which sets the species apart from other animals. While Setians are expected to revere Set, they do not worship him. Central to Setian philosophy is the human individual, with self-deification presented as the ultimate goal.

In 2005 Petersen noted that academic estimates for the Temple’s membership varied from between 300 and 500, and Granholm suggested that in 2007 the Temple contained circa 200 members.

Dyrendal, Lewis, and Petersen used the term “reactive Satanism” to describe one form of modern religious Satanism. They described this as an adolescent and anti-social means of rebelling in a Christian society, by which an individual transgresses cultural boundaries. They believed that there were two tendencies within reactive Satanism: “Satanic tourism”characterised by an individual’s brief involvement, and “Satanic quest”typified by a longer and deeper involvement.

The researcher Gareth Medway noted that in 1995 he encountered a British woman who stated that she had been a practicing Satanist in her teenage years. She had grown up in a small mining village, and had come to believe that she had psychic powers. After hearing about Satanism in some library books, she declared herself a Satanist and formulated a belief that Satan was the true god. After her teen years she abandoned Satanism and became a chaos magickian.

Some reactive Satanist are teenagers or mentally disturbed individuals who have engaged in criminal activities. During the 1980s and 1990s, several groups of teenagers were apprehended after sacrificing animals and vandalising both churches and graveyards with Satanic imagery. Introvigne expressed the view that these incidents were “more a product of juvenile deviance and marginalization than Satanism.” In a few cases the crimes of these reactive Satanists have included murder. In 1970, two separate groups of teenagersone led by Stanley Baker in Big Sur and the other by Steven Hurd in Los Angeleskilled a total of three people and consumed parts of their corpses in what they later claimed were sacrifices devoted to Satan. In 1984, a U.S. group called the Knights of the Black Circle killed one of its own members, Gary Lauwers, over a disagreement regarding the group’s illegal drug dealing; group members later related that Lauwers’ death was a sacrifice to Satan.The American serial killer Richard Ramirez for instance claimed that he was a Satanist; during his 1980s killing spree he left an inverted pentagram at the scene of each murder and at his trial called out “Hail Satan!”

Dyrendal, Lewis, and Petersen observed that from surveys of Satanists conducted in the early 21st century, it was clear that the Satanic milieu was “heavily dominated by young males.” They nevertheless noted that census data from New Zealand suggested that there may be a growing proportion of women becoming Satanists. In comprising more men than women, Satanism differs from most other religious communities, including most new religious communities. Most Satanists came to their religion through reading, either online or books, rather than through being introduced to it through personal contacts. Many practitioners do not claim that they converted to Satanism, but rather state that they were born that way, and only later in life confirmed that Satanism served as an appropriate label for their pre-existing worldviews. Others have stated that they had experiences with supernatural phenomena that led them to embracing Satanism. A number reported feelings of anger at the hypocrisy of many practicing Christians and expressed the view that the monotheistic Gods of Christianity and other religions are unethical, citing issues such as the problem of evil. For some practitioners, Satanism gave a sense of hope, including for those who had been physically and sexually abused.

The surveys revealed that atheistic Satanists appeared to be in the majority, though the numbers of theistic Satanists appeared to grow over time. Beliefs in the afterlife varied, although the most popular afterlife views were reincarnation and the idea that consciousness survives bodily death. The surveys also demonstrated that most recorded Satanists practiced magic, although there were differing opinions as to whether magical acts operated according to etheric laws or whether the effect of magic was purely psychological. A number described performing cursing, in most cases as a form of vigilante justice.Most practitioners conduct their religious observances in a solitary manner, and never or rarely meet fellow Satanists for rituals. Rather, the primary interaction that takes place between Satanists is online, on websites or via email.From their survey data, Dyrendal, Lewis, and Petersen noted that the average length of involvement in the Satanic milieu was seven years. A Satanist’s involvement in the movement tends to peak in the early twenties and drops off sharply in their thirties. A small proportion retain their allegiance to the religion into their elder years. When asked about their political views, the largest proportion of Satanists identified as apolitical or non-aligned, while only a small percentage identified as conservative despite the conservative views of prominent Satanists like LaVey and Marilyn Manson. A small minority of Satanists expressed support for the far right; conversely, over two-thirds expressed negative or extremely negative views about Nazism and neo-Nazism.

In 2004 it was claimed that Satanism was allowed in the Royal Navy of the British Armed Forces, despite opposition from Christians.[243][244][245] In 2016, under a Freedom of Information request, the Navy Command Headquarters stated that “we do not recognise satanism as a formal religion, and will not grant facilities or make specific time available for individual worship.”[246]

In 2005, the Supreme Court of the United States debated in the case of Cutter v. Wilkinson over protecting minority religious rights of prison inmates after a lawsuit challenging the issue was filed to them.[247][248] The court ruled that facilities that accept federal funds cannot deny prisoners accommodations that are necessary to engage in activities for the practice of their own religious beliefs.[249][250]

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Satanism – Wikipedia

Satanism – Wikipedia

Satanism is a group of ideological and philosophical beliefs based on Satan.[1] Contemporary religious practice of Satanism began with the founding of the Church of Satan in 1966, although a few historical precedents exist.[citation needed] Prior to the public practice, Satanism existed primarily as an accusation by various Christian groups toward perceived ideological opponents, rather than a self-identity. Satanism, and the concept of Satan, has also been used by artists and entertainers for symbolic expression.

Accusations that various groups have been practicing Satanism have been made throughout much of Christian history. During the Middle Ages, the Inquisition attached to the Roman Catholic Church alleged that various heretical Christian sects and groups, such as the Knights Templar and the Cathars, performed secret Satanic rituals. In the subsequent Early Modern period, belief in a widespread Satanic conspiracy of witches resulted in mass trials of alleged witches across Europe and the North American colonies. Accusations that Satanic conspiracies were active and that they were behind events such as Protestantism (and conversely, the Protestant claim that the Pope was the Antichrist) and the French Revolution continued to be made in Christendom during the eighteenth to the twentieth century. The idea of a vast Satanic conspiracy reached new heights with the influential Taxil hoax of France in the 1890s, which claimed that Freemasonry worshiped Satan, Lucifer, and Baphomet in their rituals. In the 1980s and 1990s, the Satanic ritual abuse hysteria spread through the United States and United Kingdom, amid fears that groups of Satanists were regularly sexually abusing and murdering children in their rites. In most of these cases, there is no corroborating evidence that any of those accused of Satanism were actually practitioners of a Satanic religion or guilty of the allegations levelled at them.

Since the 19th century, various small religious groups have emerged that identify as Satanists or use Satanic iconography. Satanist groups that appeared after the 1960s are widely diverse, but two major trends are theistic Satanism and atheistic Satanism. Theistic Satanists venerate Satan as a supernatural deity, viewing him not as omnipotent but rather as a patriarch. In contrast, atheistic Satanists regard Satan as merely a symbol of certain human traits.[2]

Contemporary religious Satanism is predominantly an American phenomenon, the ideas spreading elsewhere with the effects of globalization and the Internet.[3] The Internet spreads awareness of other Satanists, and is also the main battleground for Satanist disputes.[3] Satanism started to reach Central and Eastern Europe in the 1990s, in time with the fall of the Soviet Union, and most noticeably in Poland and Lithuania, predominantly Roman Catholic countries.[4][5]

In their study of Satanism, the religious studies scholars Asbjrn Dyrendal, James R. Lewis, and Jesper Aa. Petersen stated that the term Satanism “has a history of being a designation made by people against those whom they dislike; it is a term used for ‘othering'”. The concept of Satanism is an invention of Christianity, for it relies upon the figure of Satan, a character deriving from Christian mythology.

Elsewhere, Petersen noted that “Satanism as something others do is very different from Satanism as a self-designation”.Eugene Gallagher noted that, as commonly used, Satanism was usually “a polemical, not a descriptive term”.

The word “Satan” was not originally a proper name but rather an ordinary noun meaning “the adversary”; in this context it appears at several points in the Old Testament. For instance, in the Book of Samuel, David is presented as the satan (“adversary”) of the Philistines, while in the Book of Numbers the term appears as a verb, when God sent an angel to satan (“to oppose”) Balaam. Prior to the composition of the New Testament, the idea developed within Jewish communities that Satan was the name of an angel who had rebelled against God and had been cast out of Heaven along with his followers; this account would be incorporated into contemporary texts like the Book of Enoch. This Satan was then featured in parts of the New Testament, where he was presented as a figure who tempted humans to commit sin; in the Book of Matthew and the Book of Luke, he attempted to tempt Jesus of Nazareth as the latter fasted in the wilderness.

The word “Satanism” was adopted into English from the French satanisme. The terms “Satanism” and “Satanist” are first recorded as appearing in the English and French languages during the sixteenth century, when they were used by Christian groups to attack other, rival Christian groups. In a Roman Catholic tract of 1565, the author condemns the “heresies, blasphemies, and sathanismes [sic]” of the Protestants. In an Anglican work of 1559, Anabaptists and other Protestant sects are condemned as “swarmes of Satanistes [sic]”. As used in this manner, the term “Satanism” was not used to claim that people literally worshipped Satan, but rather presented the view that through deviating from what the speaker or writer regarded as the true variant of Christianity, they were regarded as being essentially in league with the Devil. During the nineteenth century, the term “Satanism” began to be used to describe those considered to lead a broadly immoral lifestyle, and it was only in the late nineteenth century that it came to be applied in English to individuals who were believed to consciously and deliberately venerate Satan. This latter meaning had appeared earlier in the Swedish language; the Lutheran Bishop Laurentius Paulinus Gothus had described devil-worshipping sorcerers as Sathanister in his Ethica Christiana, produced between 1615 and 1630.

Historical and anthropological research suggests that nearly all societies have developed the idea of a sinister and anti-human force that can hide itself within society. This commonly involves a belief in witches, a group of individuals who invert the norms of their society and seek to harm their community, for instance by engaging in incest, murder, and cannibalism. Allegations of witchcraft may have different causes and serve different functions within a society. For instance, they may serve to uphold social norms, to heighten the tension in existing conflicts between individuals, or to scapegoat certain individuals for various social problems.

Another contributing factor to the idea of Satanism is the concept that there is an agent of misfortune and evil who operates on a cosmic scale, something usually associated with a strong form of ethical dualism that divides the world clearly into forces of good and forces of evil. The earliest such entity known is Angra Mainyu, a figure that appears in the Persian religion of Zoroastrianism. This concept was also embraced by Judaism and early Christianity, and although it was soon marginalised within Jewish thought, it gained increasing importance within early Christian understandings of the cosmos. While the early Christian idea of the Devil was not well developed, it gradually adapted and expanded through the creation of folklore, art, theological treatises, and morality tales, thus providing the character with a range of extra-Biblical associations.

As Christianity expanded throughout the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe, it came into contact with a variety of other religions, which it regarded as “pagan”. Christian theologians claimed that the gods and goddesses venerated by these “pagans” were not genuine divinities, but were actually demons. However, they did not believe that “pagans” were deliberately devil-worshippers, instead claiming that they were simply misguided. In Christian iconography, the Devil and demons were given the physical traits of figures from Classical mythology such as the god Pan, fauns, and satyrs.

Those Christian groups regarded as heretics by the Roman Catholic Church were treated differently, with theologians arguing that they were deliberately worshipping the Devil. This was accompanied by claims that such individuals engaged in incestuous sexual orgies, murdered infants, and committed acts of cannibalism, all stock accusations that had previously been levelled at Christians themselves in the Roman Empire.The first recorded example of such an accusation being made within Western Christianity took place in Toulouse in 1022, when two clerics were tried for allegedly venerating a demon. Throughout the middle ages, this accusation would be applied to a wide range of Christian heretical groups, including the Paulicians, Bogomils, Cathars, Waldensians, and the Hussites. The Knights Templar were accused of worshipping an idol known as Baphomet, with Lucifer having appeared at their meetings in the form of a cat. As well as these Christian groups, these claims were also made about Europe’s Jewish community. In the thirteenth century, there were also references made to a group of “Luciferians” led by a woman named Lucardis which hoped to see Satan rule in Heaven. References to this group continued into the fourteenth century, although historians studying the allegations concur that these Luciferians were likely a fictitious invention.

Within Christian thought, the idea developed that certain individuals could make a pact with Satan. This may have emerged after observing that pacts with gods and goddesses played a role in various pre-Christian belief systems, or that such pacts were also made as part of the Christian cult of saints. Another possibility is that it derives from a misunderstanding of Augustine of Hippo’s condemnation of augury in his On the Christian Doctrine, written in the late fourth century. Here, he stated that people who consulted augurs were entering “quasi pacts” (covenants) with demons. The idea of the diabolical pact made with demons was popularised across Europe in the story of Faust, likely based in part on the real life Johann Georg Faust.

As the late medieval gave way to the early modern period, European Christendom experienced a schism between the established Roman Catholic Church and the breakaway Protestant movement. In the ensuing Reformation and Counter-Reformation, both Catholics and Protestants accused each other of deliberately being in league with Satan. It was in this context that the terms “Satanist” and “Satanism” emerged.

The early modern period also saw fear of Satanists reach its “historical apogee” in the form of the witch trials of the fifteenth to the eighteenth centuries. This came about as the accusations which had been levelled at medieval heretics, among them that of devil-worship, were applied to the pre-existing idea of the witch, or practitioner of malevolent magic. The idea of a conspiracy of Satanic witches was developed by educated elites, although the concept of malevolent witchcraft was a widespread part of popular belief and folkloric ideas about the night witch, the wild hunt, and the dance of the fairies were incorporated into it. The earliest trials took place in Northern Italy and France, before spreading it out to other areas of Europe and to Britain’s North American colonies, being carried out by the legal authorities in both Catholic and Protestant regions.Between 30,000 and 50,000 individuals were executed as accused Satanic witches.Most historians agree that the majority of those persecuted in these witch trials were innocent of any involvement in Devil worship. However, in their summary of the evidence for the trials, the historians Geoffrey Scarre and John Callow thought it “without doubt” that some of those accused in the trials had been guilty of employing magic in an attempt to harm their enemies, and were thus genuinely guilty of witchcraft.

In seventeenth-century Sweden, a number of highway robbers and other outlaws living in the forests informed judges that they venerated Satan because he provided more practical assistance than God.The historian of religion Massimo Introvigne regarded these practices as “folkloric Satanism”.

During the eighteenth century, gentleman’s social clubs became increasingly prominent in Britain and Ireland, among the most secretive of which were the Hellfire Clubs, which were first reported in the 1720s. The most famous of these groups was the Order of the Knights of Saints Francis, which was founded circa 1750 by the aristocrat Sir Francis Dashwood and which assembled first at his estate at West Wycombe and later in Medmenham Abbey. A number of contemporary press sources portrayed these as gatherings of atheist rakes where Christianity was mocked and toasts were made to the Devil. Beyond these sensationalist accounts, which may not be accurate portrayals of actual events, little is known about the activities of the Hellfire Clubs. Introvigne suggested that they may have engaged in a form of “playful Satanism” in which Satan was invoked “to show a daring contempt for conventional morality” by individuals who neither believed in his literal existence nor wanted to pay homage to him.

The French Revolution of 1789 dealt a blow to the hegemony of the Roman Catholic Church in parts of Europe, and soon a number of Catholic authors began making claims that it had been masterminded by a conspiratorial group of Satanists. Among the first to do so was French Catholic priest Jean-Baptiste Fiard, who publicly claimed that a wide range of individuals, from the Jacobins to tarot card readers, were part of a Satanic conspiracy. Fiard’s ideas were furthered by Alexis-Vincent-Charles Berbiguier, who devoted a lengthy book to this conspiracy theory; he claimed that Satanists had supernatural powers allowing them to curse people and to shapeshift into both cats and fleas. Although most of his contemporaries regarded Berbiguier as mad, his ideas gained credence among many occultists, including Stanislas de Guaita, a Cabalist who used them for the basis of his book, The Temple of Satan.

In the early 20th century, the British novelist Dennis Wheatley produced a range of influential novels in which his protagonists battled Satanic groups. At the same time, non-fiction authors like Montague Summers and Rollo Ahmed published books claiming that Satanic groups practicing black magic were still active across the world, although they provided no evidence that this was the case. During the 1950s, various British tabloid newspapers repeated such claims, largely basing their accounts on the allegations of one woman, Sarah Jackson, who claimed to have been a member of such a group. In 1973, the British Christian Doreen Irvine published From Witchcraft to Christ, in which she claimed to have been a member of a Satanic group that gave her supernatural powers, such as the ability to levitate, before she escaped and embraced Christianity.In the United States during the 1960s and 1970s, various Christian preachersthe most famous being Mike Warnke in his 1972 book The Satan-Sellerclaimed that they had been members of Satanic groups who carried out sex rituals and animal sacrifices before discovering Christianity. According to Gareth Medway in his historical examination of Satanism, these stories were “a series of inventions by insecure people and hack writers, each one based on a previous story, exaggerated a little more each time”.

Other publications made allegations of Satanism against historical figures. The 1970s saw the publication of the Romanian Protestant preacher Richard Wurmbrand’s book in which he arguedwithout corroborating evidencethat the socio-political theorist Karl Marx had been a Satanist.

At the end of the twentieth century, a moral panic developed around claims regarding a Devil-worshipping cult that made use of sexual abuse, murder, and cannibalism in its rituals, with children being among its victims. Initially, the alleged perpetrators of such crimes were labelled “witches”, although the term “Satanist” was soon adopted as a favoured alternative, and the phenomenon itself came to be called “the Satanism Scare”. Promoters of the claims alleged that there was a conspiracy of organised Satanists who occupied prominent positions throughout society, from the police to politicians, and that they had been powerful enough to cover up their crimes.

Sociologist of religion Massimo Introvigne, 2016

One of the primary sources for the scare was Michelle Remembers, a 1980 book by the Canadian psychiatrist Lawrence Pazder in which he detailed what he claimed were the repressed memories of his patient (and wife) Michelle Smith. Smith had claimed that as a child she had been abused by her family in Satanic rituals in which babies were sacrificed and Satan himself appeared. In 1983, allegations were made that the McMartin familyowners of a preschool in Californiawere guilty of sexually abusing the children in their care during Satanic rituals. The allegations resulted in a lengthy and expensive trial, in which all of the accused would eventually be cleared. The publicity generated by the case resulted in similar allegations being made in various other parts of the United States.

A prominent aspect of the Satanic Scare was the claim by those in the developing “anti-Satanism” movement that any child’s claim about Satanic ritual abuse must be true, because children would not lie. Although some involved in the anti-Satanism movement were from Jewish and secular backgrounds, a central part was played by fundamentalist and evangelical forms of Christianity, in particular Pentecostalism, with Christian groups holding conferences and producing books and videotapes to promote belief in the conspiracy. Various figures in law enforcement also came to be promoters of the conspiracy theory, with such “cult cops” holding various conferences to promote it. The scare was later imported to the United Kingdom through visiting evangelicals and became popular among some of the country’s social workers, resulting in a range of accusations and trials across Britain.

The Satanic ritual abuse hysteria died down between 1990 and 1994. In the late 1980s, the Satanic Scare had lost its impetus following increasing scepticism about such allegations, and a number of those who had been convicted of perpetrating Satanic ritual abuse saw their convictions overturned.In 1990, an agent of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, Ken Lanning, revealed that he had investigated 300 allegations of Satanic ritual abuse and found no evidence for Satanism or ritualistic activity in any of them. In the UK, the Department of Health commissioned the anthropologist Jean La Fontaine to examine the allegations of SRA. She noted that while approximately half did reveal evidence of genuine sexual abuse of children, none revealed any evidence that Satanist groups had been involved or that any murders had taken place. She noted three examples in which lone individuals engaged in child molestation had created a ritual performance to facilitate their sexual acts, with the intent of frightening their victims and justifying their actions, but that none of these child molestors were involved in wider Satanist groups. By the 21st century, hysteria about Satanism has waned in most Western countries, although allegations of Satanic ritual abuse continued to surface in parts of continental Europe and Latin America.

From the late seventeenth through to the nineteenth century, the character of Satan was increasingly rendered unimportant in Western philosophy and ignored in Christian theology, while in folklore he came to be seen as a foolish rather than a menacing figure. The development of new values in the Age of Enlightenmentin particular those of reason and individualismcontributed to a shift in how many Europeans viewed Satan. In this context, a number of individuals took Satan out of the traditional Christian narrative and “reread and reinterpreted” him “in light of their own time and their own interests”, in turn generating “new and different portraits of Satan”.

The shifting view of Satan owes many of its origins to John Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost (1667), in which Satan features as the protagonist. Milton was a Puritan and had never intended for his depiction of Satan to be a sympathetic one. However, in portraying Satan as a victim of his own pride who rebelled against God he humanized him and also allowed him to be interpreted as a rebel against tyranny. This was how Milton’s Satan was understood by later readers like the publisher Joseph Johnson, and the anarchist philosopher William Godwin, who reflected it in his 1793 book Enquiry Concerning Political Justice. Paradise Lost gained a wide readership in the eighteenth century, both in Britain and in continental Europe, where it had been translated into French by Voltaire. Milton thus became “a central character in rewriting Satanism” and would be viewed by many later religious Satanists as a “de facto Satanist”.

The nineteenth century saw the emergence of what has been termed “literary Satanism” or “romantic Satanism”. According to Van Luijk, this cannot be seen as a “coherent movement with a single voice, but rather as a post factum identified group of sometimes widely divergent authors among whom a similar theme is found”. For the literary Satanists, Satan was depicted as a benevolent and sometimes heroic figure, with these more sympathetic portrayals proliferating in the art and poetry of many romanticist and decadent figures. For these individuals, Satanism was not a religious belief or ritual activity, but rather a “strategic use of a symbol and a character as part of artistic and political expression”.

Among the romanticist poets to adopt this view of Satan was the English poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, who had been influenced by Milton. In his poem Laon and Cythna, Shelley praised the “Serpent”, a reference to Satan, as a force for good in the universe.Another was Shelley’s fellow British poet Lord Byron, who included Satanic themes in his 1821 play Cain, which was a dramatization of the Biblical story of Cain and Abel. These more positive portrayals also developed in France; one example was the 1823 work Eloa by Alfred de Vigny. Satan was also adopted by the French poet Victor Hugo, who made the character’s fall from Heaven a central aspect of his La Fin de Satan, in which he outlined his own cosmogony.Although the likes of Shelley and Byron promoted a positive image of Satan in their work, there is no evidence that any of them performed religious rites to venerate him, and thus it is problematic to regard them as religious Satanists.

Radical left-wing political ideas had been spread by the American Revolution of 176583 and the French Revolution of 178999, and the figure of Satan, who was interpreted as having rebelled against the tyranny imposed by God, was an appealing one for many of the radical leftists of the period. For them, Satan was “a symbol for the struggle against tyranny, injustice, and oppression… a mythical figure of rebellion for an age of revolutions, a larger-than-life individual for an age of individualism, a free thinker in an age struggling for free thought”. The French anarchist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, who was a staunch critic of Christianity, embraced Satan as a symbol of liberty in several of his writings. Another prominent 19th century anarchist, the Russian Mikhail Bakunin, similarly described the figure of Satan as “the eternal rebel, the first freethinker and the emancipator of worlds” in his book God and the State. These ideas likely inspired the American feminist activist Moses Harman to name his anarchist periodical Lucifer the Lightbearer. The idea of this “Leftist Satan” declined during the twentieth century, although it was used on occasion by authorities within the Soviet Union, who portrayed Satan as a symbol of freedom and equality.

During the 1960s and 1970s, several rock bandsnamely the American Coven and the British Black Widowemployed the imagery of Satanism and witchcraft in their work. References to Satan also appeared in the work of those rock bands which were pioneering the heavy metal genre in Britain during the 1970s. Black Sabbath for instance made mention of Satan in their lyrics, although several of the band’s members were practicing Christians and other lyrics affirmed the power of the Christian God over Satan. In the 1980s, greater use of Satanic imagery was made by heavy metal bands like Slayer, Kreator, Sodom, and Destruction. Bands active in the subgenre of death metalamong them Deicide, Morbid Angel, and Entombedalso adopted Satanic imagery, combining it with other morbid and dark imagery, such as that of zombies and serial killers.

Satanism would come to be more closely associated with the subgenre of black metal, in which it was foregrounded over the other themes that had been used in death metal. A number of black metal performers incorporated self-injury into their act, framing this as a manifestation of Satanic devotion. The first black metal band, Venom, proclaimed themselves to be Satanists, although this was more an act of provocation than an expression of genuine devotion to the Devil. Satanic themes were also used by the black metal bands Bathory and Hellhammer. However, the first black metal act to more seriously adopt Satanism was Mercyful Fate, whose vocalist, King Diamond, joined the Church of Satan.More often than not musicians associating themselves with black metal say they do not believe in legitimate Satanic ideology and often profess to being atheists, agnostics, or religious skeptics.[110]

In contrast to King Diamond, various black metal Satanists sought to distance themselves from LaVeyan Satanism, for instance by referring to their beliefs as “devil worship”. These individuals regarded Satan as a literal entity, and in contrast to LaVey’s views, they associated Satanism with criminality, suicide, and terror. For them, Christianity was regarded as a plague which required eradication. Many of these individualssuch as Varg Vikernes and Euronymouswere Norwegian, and influenced by the strong anti-Christian views of this milieu, between 1992 and 1996 around fifty Norwegian churches were destroyed in arson attacks. Within the black metal scene, a number of musicians later replaced Satanic themes with those deriving from Heathenry, a form of modern Paganism.

Rather than being one single form of religious Satanism, there are instead multiple different religious Satanisms, each with different ideas about what being a Satanist entails. The historian of religion Ruben van Luijk used a “working definition” in which Satanism was regarded as “the intentional, religiously motivated veneration of Satan”.

Dyrendal, Lewis, and Petersen believed that it was not a single movement, but rather a milieu. They and others have nevertheless referred to it as a new religious movement. They believed that there was a family resemblance that united all of the varying groups in this milieu, and that most of them were self religions. They argued that there were a set of features that were common to the groups in this Satanic milieu: these were the positive use of the term “Satanist” as a designation, an emphasis on individualism, a genealogy that connects them to other Satanic groups, a transgressive and antinomian stance, a self-perception as an elite, and an embrace of values such as pride, self-reliance, and productive non-conformity.

Dyrendal, Lewis, and Petersen argued that the groups within the Satanic milieu could be divided into three groups: reactive Satanists, rationalist Satanists, and esoteric Satanists. They saw reactive Satanism as encompassing “popular Satanism, inverted Christianity, and symbolic rebellion” and noted that it situates itself in opposition to society while at the same time conforming to society’s perspective of evil. Rationalist Satanism is used to describe the trend in the Satanic milieu which is atheistic, sceptical, materialistic, and epicurean. Esoteric Satanism instead applied to those forms which are theistic and draw upon ideas from other forms of Western esotericism, Modern Paganism, Buddhism, and Hinduism.

The first person to promote a Satanic philosophy was the Pole Stanislaw Przybyszewski, who promoted a Social Darwinian ideology.

The use of the term “Lucifer” was also taken up by the French ceremonial magician Eliphas Levi, who has been described as a “Romantic Satanist”. During his younger days, Levi used “Lucifer” in much the same manner as the literary romantics. As he moved toward a more politically conservative outlook in later life, he retained the use of the term, but instead applied it as to what he believed was a morally neutral facet of the Absolute. In his book Dogma and Ritual of High Magic, published in two volumes between 1854 and 1856, Levi offered the symbol of Baphomet. He claimed that this was a figure who had been worshipped by the Knights Templar.According to Introvigne, this image gave “the Satanists their most popular symbol ever”.

Levi was not the only occultist who wanted to use the term “Lucifer” without adopting the term “Satan” in a similar way. The early Theosophical Society held to the view that “Lucifer” was a force that aided humanity’s awakening to its own spiritual nature. In keeping with this view, the Society began production of a journal titled Lucifer.

“Satan” was also used within the esoteric system propounded by Danish occultist Carl William Hansen, who used the pen name “Ben Kadosh”. Hansen was involved in a variety of esoteric groups, including Martinism, Freemasonry, and the Ordo Templi Orientis, drawing on ideas from various groups to establish his own philosophy. In one pamphlet, he provided a “Luciferian” interpretation of Freemasonry. Kadosh’s work left little influence outside of Denmark.

Both during his life and after it, the British occultist Aleister Crowley has been widely described as a Satanist, usually by detractors. Crowley stated he did not consider himself a Satanist, nor did he worship Satan, as he did not accept the Christian world view in which Satan was believed to exist. He nevertheless used Satanic imagery, for instance by describing himself as “the Beast 666” and referring to the Whore of Babylon in his work, while in later life he sent “Antichristmas cards” to his friends. Dyrendel, Lewis, and Petersen noted that despite the fact that Crowley was not a Satanist, he “in many ways embodies the pre-Satanist esoteric discourse on Satan and Satanism through his lifestyle and his philosophy”, with his “image and thought” becoming an “important influence” on the later development of religious Satanism.

In 1928 the Fraternitas Saturni (FS) was established in Germany; its founder, Eugen Grosche, published Satanische Magie (“Satanic Magic”) that same year. The group connected Satan to Saturn, claiming that the planet related to the Sun in the same manner that Lucifer relates to the human world.

In 1932 an esoteric group known as the Brotherhood of the Golden Arrow was established in Paris, France by Maria de Naglowska, a Russian occultist who had fled to France following the Russian Revolution. She promoted a theology centred on what she called the Third Term of the Trinity consisting of Father, Son, and Sex, the latter of which she deemed to be most important. Her early disciples, who underwent what she called “Satanic Initiations”, included models and art students recruited from bohemian circles. The Golden Arrow disbanded after Naglowska abandoned it in 1936. According to Introvigne, hers was “a quite complicated Satanism, built on a complex philosophical vision of the world, of which little would survive its initiator”.

In 1969 a Satanic group based in Toledo, Ohio, part of the United States, came to public attention. Called the Our Lady of Endor Coven, it was led by a man named Herbert Sloane, who described his Satanic tradition as the Ophite Cultus Sathanas and alleged that it had been established in the 1940s. The group offered a Gnostic interpretation of the world in which the creator God was regarded as evil and the Biblical Serpent presented as a force for good who had delivered salvation to humanity in the Garden of Eden. Sloane’s claims that his group had a 1940s origin remain unproven; it may be that he falsely claimed older origins for his group to make it appear older than Anton LaVey’s Church of Satan which had been established in 1966.

None of these groups had any real impact on the emergence of the later Satanic milieu in the 1960s.

Anton LaVey, who has been referred to as “The Father of Satanism”,[143] synthesized his religion through the establishment of the Church of Satan in 1966 and the publication of The Satanic Bible in 1969. LaVey’s teachings promoted “indulgence”, “vital existence”, “undefiled wisdom”, “kindness to those who deserve it”, “responsibility to the responsible” and an “eye for an eye” code of ethics, while shunning “abstinence” based on guilt, “spirituality”, “unconditional love”, “pacifism”, “equality”, “herd mentality” and “scapegoating”. In LaVey’s view, the Satanist is a carnal, physical and pragmatic being, where enjoyment of physical existence and an undiluted view of this-worldly truth are promoted as the core values of Satanism, propagating a naturalistic worldview that sees mankind as animals existing in an amoral universe.

LaVey believed that the ideal Satanist should be individualistic and non-conformist, rejecting what he called the “colorless existence” that mainstream society sought to impose on those living within it. He praised the human ego for encouraging an individual’s pride, self-respect, and self-realization and accordingly believed in satisfying the ego’s desires. He expressed the view that self-indulgence was a desirable trait, and that hate and aggression were not wrong or undesirable emotions but that they were necessary and advantageous for survival. Accordingly, he praised the seven deadly sins as virtues which were beneficial for the individual. The anthropologist Jean La Fontaine highlighted an article that appeared in The Black Flame, in which one writer described “a true Satanic society” as one in which the population consists of “free-spirited, well-armed, fully-conscious, self-disciplined individuals, who will neither need nor tolerate any external entity ‘protecting’ them or telling them what they can and cannot do.”

Sociologist James R. Lewis noted that “LaVey was directly responsible for the genesis of Satanism as a serious religious (as opposed to a purely literary) movement”. Scholars agree that there is no reliably documented case of Satanic continuity prior to the founding of the Church of Satan. It was the first organized church in modern times to be devoted to the figure of Satan, and according to Faxneld and Petersen, the Church represented “the first public, highly visible, and long-lasting organization which propounded a coherent satanic discourse”. LaVey’s book, The Satanic Bible, has been described as the most important document to influence contemporary Satanism. The book contains the core principles of Satanism, and is considered the foundation of its philosophy and dogma. Petersen noted that it is “in many ways the central text of the Satanic milieu”, with Lap similarly testifying to its dominant position within the wider Satanic movement. David G. Bromley calls it “iconoclastic” and “the best-known and most influential statement of Satanic theology.” Eugene V. Gallagher says that Satanists use LaVey’s writings “as lenses through which they view themselves, their group, and the cosmos.” He also states: “With a clear-eyed appreciation of true human nature, a love of ritual and pageantry, and a flair for mockery, LaVey’s Satanic Bible promulgated a gospel of self-indulgence that, he argued, anyone who dispassionately considered the facts would embrace.”

A number of religious studies scholars have described LaVey’s Satanism as a form of “self-religion” or “self-spirituality”, with religious studies scholar Amina Olander Lap arguing that it should be seen as being both part of the “prosperity wing” of the self-spirituality New Age movement and a form of the Human Potential Movement. The anthropologist Jean La Fontaine described it as having “both elitist and anarchist elements”, also citing one occult bookshop owner who referred to the Church’s approach as “anarchistic hedonism”. In The Invention of Satanism, Dyrendal and Petersen theorized that LaVey viewed his religion as “an antinomian self-religion for productive misfits, with a cynically carnivalesque take on life, and no supernaturalism”. The sociologist of religion James R. Lewis even described LaVeyan Satanism as “a blend of Epicureanism and Ayn Rand’s philosophy, flavored with a pinch of ritual magic.” The historian of religion Mattias Gardell described LaVey’s as “a rational ideology of egoistic hedonism and self-preservation”, while Nevill Drury characterised LaVeyan Satanism as “a religion of self-indulgence”. It has also been described as an “institutionalism of Machiavellian self-interest”.

Prominent Church leader Blanche Barton described Satanism as “an alignment, a lifestyle”. LaVey and the Church espoused the view that “Satanists are born, not made”; that they are outsiders by their nature, living as they see fit, who are self-realized in a religion which appeals to the would-be Satanist’s nature, leading them to realize they are Satanists through finding a belief system that is in line with their own perspective and lifestyle. Adherents to the philosophy have described Satanism as a non-spiritual religion of the flesh, or “…the world’s first carnal religion”. LaVey used Christianity as a negative mirror for his new faith, with LaVeyan Satanism rejecting the basic principles and theology of Christian belief. It views Christianity alongside other major religions, and philosophies such as humanism and liberal democracy as a largely negative force on humanity; LaVeyan Satanists perceive Christianity as a lie which promotes idealism, self-denigration, herd behavior, and irrationality. LaVeyans view their religion as a force for redressing this balance by encouraging materialism, egoism, stratification, carnality, atheism, and social Darwinism. LaVey’s Satanism was particularly critical of what it understands as Christianity’s denial of humanity’s animal nature, and it instead calls for the celebration of, and indulgence in, these desires. In doing so, it places an emphasis on the carnal rather than the spiritual.

Practitioners do not believe that Satan literally exists and do not worship him. Instead, Satan is viewed as a positive archetype embracing the Hebrew root of the word “Satan” as “adversary”, who represents pride, carnality, and enlightenment, and of a cosmos which Satanists perceive to be motivated by a “dark evolutionary force of entropy that permeates all of nature and provides the drive for survival and propagation inherent in all living things”. The Devil is embraced as a symbol of defiance against the Abrahamic faiths which LaVey criticized for what he saw as the suppression of humanity’s natural instincts. Moreover, Satan also serves as a metaphorical external projection of the individual’s godhood. LaVey espoused the view that “god” is a creation of man, rather than man being a creation of “god”. In his book, The Satanic Bible, the Satanist’s view of god is described as the Satanist’s true “self”a projection of his or her own personalitynot an external deity. Satan is used as a representation of personal liberty and individualism. LaVey explained that the gods worshiped by other religions are also projections of man’s true self. He argues that man’s unwillingness to accept his own ego has caused him to externalize these gods so as to avoid the feeling of narcissism that would accompany self-worship. The current High Priest of the Church of Satan, Peter H. Gilmore, further expounds that “…Satan is a symbol of Man living as his prideful, carnal nature dictates […] Satan is not a conscious entity to be worshiped, rather a reservoir of power inside each human to be tapped at will.[180] The Church of Satan has chosen Satan as its primary symbol because in Hebrew it means adversary, opposer, one to accuse or question. We see ourselves as being these Satans; the adversaries, opposers and accusers of all spiritual belief systems that would try to hamper enjoyment of our life as a human being.”[181] The term “Theistic Satanism” has been described as “oxymoronic” by the church and its High Priest.[182] The Church of Satan rejects the legitimacy of any other organizations who claim to be Satanists, dubbing them reverse-Christians, pseudo-Satanists or Devil worshipers, atheistic or otherwise,[183] and maintains a purist approach to Satanism as expounded by LaVey.

After LaVey’s death in 1997, the Church of Satan was taken over by a new administration and its headquarters were moved to New York. LaVey’s daughter, the High Priestess Karla LaVey, felt this to be a disservice to her father’s legacy. The First Satanic Church was re-founded on October 31, 1999 by Karla LaVey to carry on the legacy of her father. She continues to run it out of San Francisco, California.

The Satanic Temple is an American religious and political activist organization based in Salem, Massachusetts. The organization actively participates in public affairs that have manifested in several public political actions[184][185] and efforts at lobbying,[186] with a focus on the separation of church and state and using satire against Christian groups that it believes interfere with personal freedom.[186] According to Dyrendal, Lewis, and Petersen, the group were “rationalist, political pranksters”. Their pranks are designed to highlight religious hypocrisy and advance the cause of secularism. In one of their actions, they performed a “Pink Mass” over the grave of the mother of the evangelical Christian and prominent anti-LGBT preacher Fred Phelps; the Temple claimed that the mass converted the spirit of Phelps’ mother into a lesbian.

The Satanic Temple does not believe in a supernatural Satan, as they believe that this encourages superstition that will keep them from being “malleable to the best current scientific understandings of the material world”. The Temple uses the literary Satan as metaphor to construct a cultural narrative which promotes pragmatic skepticism, rational reciprocity, personal autonomy, and curiosity.[189] Satan is thus used as a symbol representing “the eternal rebel” against arbitrary authority and social norms.[190][191]

Theistic Satanism (also known as traditional Satanism, Spiritual Satanism or Devil worship) is a form of Satanism with the primary belief that Satan is an actual deity or force to revere or worship.[192] Other characteristics of theistic Satanism may include a belief in magic, which is manipulated through ritual, although that is not a defining criterion, and theistic Satanists may focus solely on devotion.

Luciferianism can be understood best as a belief system or intellectual creed that venerates the essential and inherent characteristics that are affixed and commonly given to Lucifer. Luciferianism is often identified as an auxiliary creed or movement of Satanism, due to the common identification of Lucifer with Satan. Some Luciferians accept this identification and/or consider Lucifer as the “light bearer” and illuminated aspect of Satan, giving them the name of Satanists and the right to bear the title. Others reject it, giving the argument that Lucifer is a more positive and easy-going ideal than Satan. They are inspired by the ancient myths of Egypt, Rome and Greece, Gnosticism and traditional Western occultism.

According to the group’s own claims, the Order of Nine Angles was established in Shropshire, Western England during the late 1960s, when a Grand Mistress united a number of ancient pagan groups active in the area.This account states that when the Order’s Grand Mistress migrated to Australia, a man known as “Anton Long” took over as the new Grand Master. From 1976 onward he authored an array of texts for the tradition, codifying and extending its teachings, mythos, and structure.Various academics have argued that Long is the pseudonym of British Neo-Nazi activist David Myatt, an allegation that Myatt has denied.The ONA arose to public attention in the early 1980s, spreading its message through magazine articles over the following two decades. In 2000, it established a presence on the internet, later adopting social media to promote its message.

The ONA is a secretive organization, and lacks any central administration, instead operating as a network of allied Satanic practitioners, which it terms the “kollective”. It consists largely of autonomous cells known as “nexions”. The majority of these are located in Britain, Ireland, and Germany, although others are located elsewhere in Europe, and in Russia, Egypt, South Africa, Brazil, Australia, and the United States.

The ONA describe their occultism as “Traditional Satanism”. The ONA’s writings encourage human sacrifice, referring to their victims as opfers. According to the Order’s teachings, such opfers must demonstrate character faults that mark them out as being worthy of death, and accordingly the ONA insists that children must never be victims. No ONA cell have admitted to carrying out a sacrifice in a ritualised manner, but rather Order members have joined the police and military in order to carry out such killings. Faxneld described the Order as “a dangerous and extreme form of Satanism”, while religious studies scholar Graham Harvey claimed that the ONA fit the stereotype of the Satanist “better than other groups” by embracing “deeply shocking” and illegal acts.

The Temple of Set is an initiatory occult society claiming to be the world’s leading left-hand path religious organization. It was established in 1975 by Michael A. Aquino and certain members of the priesthood of the Church of Satan,[210] who left because of administrative and philosophical disagreements. ToS deliberately self-differentiates from CoS in several ways, most significantly in theology and sociology.[211] The philosophy of the Temple of Set may be summed up as “enlightened individualism”enhancement and improvement of oneself by personal education, experiment and initiation. This process is necessarily different and distinctive for each individual. The members do not agree on whether Set is “real” or not, and they’re not expected to.[211]

The Temple presents the view that the name Satan was originally a corruption of the name Set. The Temple teaches that Set is a real entity, the only real god in existence, with all others created by the human imagination. Set is described as having given humanitythrough the means of non-natural evolutionthe “Black Flame” or the “Gift of Set”, a questioning intellect which sets the species apart from other animals. While Setians are expected to revere Set, they do not worship him. Central to Setian philosophy is the human individual, with self-deification presented as the ultimate goal.

In 2005 Petersen noted that academic estimates for the Temple’s membership varied from between 300 and 500, and Granholm suggested that in 2007 the Temple contained circa 200 members.

Dyrendal, Lewis, and Petersen used the term “reactive Satanism” to describe one form of modern religious Satanism. They described this as an adolescent and anti-social means of rebelling in a Christian society, by which an individual transgresses cultural boundaries. They believed that there was two tendencies within reactive Satanism: one, “Satanic tourism”, was characterised by the brief period of time in which an individual was involved, while the other, the “Satanic quest”, was typified by a longer and deeper involvement.

The researcher Gareth Medway noted that in 1995 he encountered a British woman who stated that she had been a practicing Satanist during her teenage years. She had grown up in a small mining village, and had come to believe that she had psychic powers. After hearing about Satanism in some library books, she declared herself a Satanist and formulated a belief that Satan was the true god. After her teenage years she abandoned Satanism and became a chaos magickian.

Some reactive Satanist are teenagers or mentally disturbed individuals who have engaged in criminal activities. During the 1980s and 1990s, several groups of teenagers were apprehended after sacrificing animals and vandalising both churches and graveyards with Satanic imagery. Introvigne expressed the view that these incidents were “more a product of juvenile deviance and marginalization than Satanism”. In a few cases the crimes of these reactive Satanists have included murder. In 1970, two separate groups of teenagersone led by Stanley Baker in Big Sur and the other by Steven Hurd in Los Angeleskilled a total of three people and consumed parts of their corpses in what they later claimed were sacrifices devoted to Satan. In 1984, a U.S. group called the Knights of the Black Circle killed one of its own members, Gary Lauwers, over a disagreement regarding the group’s illegal drug dealing; group members later related that Lauwers’ death was a sacrifice to Satan.The American serial killer Richard Ramirez for instance claimed that he was a Satanist; during his 1980s killing spree he left an inverted pentagram at the scene of each murder and at his trial called out “Hail Satan!”.

Dyrendal, Lewis, and Petersen observed that from surveys of Satanists conducted in the early 21st century, it was clear that the Satanic milieu was “heavily dominated by young males”. They nevertheless noted that census data from New Zealand suggested that there may be a growing proportion of women becoming Satanists. In comprising more men than women, Satanism differs from most other religious communities, including most new religious communities. Most Satanists came to their religion through reading, either online or books, rather than through being introduced to it through personal contacts. Many practitioners do not claim that they converted to Satanism, but rather state that they were born that way, and only later in life confirmed that Satanism served as an appropriate label for their pre-existing worldviews. Others have stated that they had experiences with supernatural phenomena that led them to embracing Satanism. A number reported feelings of anger at the hypocrisy of many practicing Christians and expressed the view that the monotheistic Gods of Christianity and other religions are unethical, citing issues such as the problem of evil. For some practitioners, Satanism gave a sense of hope, including for those who had been physically and sexually abused.

The surveys revealed that atheistic Satanists appeared to be in the majority, although the numbers of theistic Satanists appeared to grow over time. Beliefs in the afterlife varied, although the most popular afterlife views were reincarnation and the idea that consciousness survives bodily death. The surveys also demonstrated that most recorded Satanists practiced magic, although there were differing opinions as to whether magical acts operated according to etheric laws or whether the effect of magic was purely psychological. A number described performing cursing, in most cases as a form of vigilante justice.Most practitioners conduct their religious observances in a solitary manner, and never or rarely meet fellow Satanists for rituals. Rather, the primary interaction that takes place between Satanists is online, on websites or via email.From their survey data, Dyrendal, Lewis, and Petersen noted that the average length of involvement in the Satanic milieu was seven years. A Satanist’s involvement in the movement tends to peak in the early twenties and drops off sharply in their thirties. A small proportion retain their allegiance to the religion into their elder years. When asked about their political views, the largest proportion of Satanists identified as apolitical or non-aligned, while only a small percentage identified as conservative despite the conservative views of prominent Satanists like LaVey and Marilyn Manson. A small minority of Satanists expressed support for the far right; conversely, over two-thirds expressed negative or extremely negative views about Nazism and neo-Nazism.

In 2004 it was claimed that Satanism was allowed in the Royal Navy of the British Armed Forces, despite opposition from Christians.[243][244][245] In 2016, under a Freedom of Information request, the Navy Command Headquarters stated that “we do not recognise satanism as a formal religion, and will not grant facilities or make specific time available for individual worship”.[246]

In 2005, the Supreme Court of the United States debated in the case of Cutter v. Wilkinson over protecting minority religious rights of prison inmates after a lawsuit challenging the issue was filed to them.[247][248] The court ruled that facilities that accept federal funds cannot deny prisoners accommodations that are necessary to engage in activities for the practice of their own religious beliefs.[249][250]

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Satanism – Wikipedia

Satanism – Wikipedia

Satanism is a group of ideological and philosophical beliefs based on Satan.[1] Contemporary religious practice of Satanism began with the founding of the Church of Satan in 1966, although a few historical precedents exist.[citation needed] Prior to the public practice, Satanism existed primarily as an accusation by various Christian groups toward perceived ideological opponents, rather than a self-identity. Satanism, and the concept of Satan, has also been used by artists and entertainers for symbolic expression.

Accusations that various groups have been practicing Satanism have been made throughout much of Christian history. During the Middle Ages, the Inquisition attached to the Roman Catholic Church alleged that various heretical Christian sects and groups, such as the Knights Templar and the Cathars, performed secret Satanic rituals. In the subsequent Early Modern period, belief in a widespread Satanic conspiracy of witches resulted in mass trials of alleged witches across Europe and the North American colonies. Accusations that Satanic conspiracies were active and that they were behind events such as Protestantism (and conversely, the Protestant claim that the Pope was the Antichrist) and the French Revolution continued to be made in Christendom during the eighteenth to the twentieth century. The idea of a vast Satanic conspiracy reached new heights with the influential Taxil hoax of France in the 1890s, which claimed that Freemasonry worshiped Satan, Lucifer, and Baphomet in their rituals. In the 1980s and 1990s, the Satanic ritual abuse hysteria spread through the United States and United Kingdom, amid fears that groups of Satanists were regularly sexually abusing and murdering children in their rites. In most of these cases, there is no corroborating evidence that any of those accused of Satanism were actually practitioners of a Satanic religion or guilty of the allegations levelled at them.

Since the 19th century, various small religious groups have emerged that identify as Satanists or use Satanic iconography. Satanist groups that appeared after the 1960s are widely diverse, but two major trends are theistic Satanism and atheistic Satanism. Theistic Satanists venerate Satan as a supernatural deity, viewing him not as omnipotent but rather as a patriarch. In contrast, atheistic Satanists regard Satan as merely a symbol of certain human traits.[2]

Contemporary religious Satanism is predominantly an American phenomenon, the ideas spreading elsewhere with the effects of globalization and the Internet.[3] The Internet spreads awareness of other Satanists, and is also the main battleground for Satanist disputes.[3] Satanism started to reach Central and Eastern Europe in the 1990s, in time with the fall of the Soviet Union, and most noticeably in Poland and Lithuania, predominantly Roman Catholic countries.[4][5]

In their study of Satanism, the religious studies scholars Asbjrn Dyrendal, James R. Lewis, and Jesper Aa. Petersen stated that the term Satanism “has a history of being a designation made by people against those whom they dislike; it is a term used for ‘othering'”. The concept of Satanism is an invention of Christianity, for it relies upon the figure of Satan, a character deriving from Christian mythology.

Elsewhere, Petersen noted that “Satanism as something others do is very different from Satanism as a self-designation”.Eugene Gallagher noted that, as commonly used, Satanism was usually “a polemical, not a descriptive term”.

The word “Satan” was not originally a proper name but rather an ordinary noun meaning “the adversary”; in this context it appears at several points in the Old Testament. For instance, in the Book of Samuel, David is presented as the satan (“adversary”) of the Philistines, while in the Book of Numbers the term appears as a verb, when God sent an angel to satan (“to oppose”) Balaam. Prior to the composition of the New Testament, the idea developed within Jewish communities that Satan was the name of an angel who had rebelled against God and had been cast out of Heaven along with his followers; this account would be incorporated into contemporary texts like the Book of Enoch. This Satan was then featured in parts of the New Testament, where he was presented as a figure who tempted humans to commit sin; in the Book of Matthew and the Book of Luke, he attempted to tempt Jesus of Nazareth as the latter fasted in the wilderness.

The word “Satanism” was adopted into English from the French satanisme. The terms “Satanism” and “Satanist” are first recorded as appearing in the English and French languages during the sixteenth century, when they were used by Christian groups to attack other, rival Christian groups. In a Roman Catholic tract of 1565, the author condemns the “heresies, blasphemies, and sathanismes [sic]” of the Protestants. In an Anglican work of 1559, Anabaptists and other Protestant sects are condemned as “swarmes of Satanistes [sic]”. As used in this manner, the term “Satanism” was not used to claim that people literally worshipped Satan, but rather presented the view that through deviating from what the speaker or writer regarded as the true variant of Christianity, they were regarded as being essentially in league with the Devil. During the nineteenth century, the term “Satanism” began to be used to describe those considered to lead a broadly immoral lifestyle, and it was only in the late nineteenth century that it came to be applied in English to individuals who were believed to consciously and deliberately venerate Satan. This latter meaning had appeared earlier in the Swedish language; the Lutheran Bishop Laurentius Paulinus Gothus had described devil-worshipping sorcerers as Sathanister in his Ethica Christiana, produced between 1615 and 1630.

Historical and anthropological research suggests that nearly all societies have developed the idea of a sinister and anti-human force that can hide itself within society. This commonly involves a belief in witches, a group of individuals who invert the norms of their society and seek to harm their community, for instance by engaging in incest, murder, and cannibalism. Allegations of witchcraft may have different causes and serve different functions within a society. For instance, they may serve to uphold social norms, to heighten the tension in existing conflicts between individuals, or to scapegoat certain individuals for various social problems.

Another contributing factor to the idea of Satanism is the concept that there is an agent of misfortune and evil who operates on a cosmic scale, something usually associated with a strong form of ethical dualism that divides the world clearly into forces of good and forces of evil. The earliest such entity known is Angra Mainyu, a figure that appears in the Persian religion of Zoroastrianism. This concept was also embraced by Judaism and early Christianity, and although it was soon marginalised within Jewish thought, it gained increasing importance within early Christian understandings of the cosmos. While the early Christian idea of the Devil was not well developed, it gradually adapted and expanded through the creation of folklore, art, theological treatises, and morality tales, thus providing the character with a range of extra-Biblical associations.

As Christianity expanded throughout the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe, it came into contact with a variety of other religions, which it regarded as “pagan”. Christian theologians claimed that the gods and goddesses venerated by these “pagans” were not genuine divinities, but were actually demons. However, they did not believe that “pagans” were deliberately devil-worshippers, instead claiming that they were simply misguided. In Christian iconography, the Devil and demons were given the physical traits of figures from Classical mythology such as the god Pan, fauns, and satyrs.

Those Christian groups regarded as heretics by the Roman Catholic Church were treated differently, with theologians arguing that they were deliberately worshipping the Devil. This was accompanied by claims that such individuals engaged in incestuous sexual orgies, murdered infants, and committed acts of cannibalism, all stock accusations that had previously been levelled at Christians themselves in the Roman Empire.The first recorded example of such an accusation being made within Western Christianity took place in Toulouse in 1022, when two clerics were tried for allegedly venerating a demon. Throughout the middle ages, this accusation would be applied to a wide range of Christian heretical groups, including the Paulicians, Bogomils, Cathars, Waldensians, and the Hussites. The Knights Templar were accused of worshipping an idol known as Baphomet, with Lucifer having appeared at their meetings in the form of a cat. As well as these Christian groups, these claims were also made about Europe’s Jewish community. In the thirteenth century, there were also references made to a group of “Luciferians” led by a woman named Lucardis which hoped to see Satan rule in Heaven. References to this group continued into the fourteenth century, although historians studying the allegations concur that these Luciferians were likely a fictitious invention.

Within Christian thought, the idea developed that certain individuals could make a pact with Satan. This may have emerged after observing that pacts with gods and goddesses played a role in various pre-Christian belief systems, or that such pacts were also made as part of the Christian cult of saints. Another possibility is that it derives from a misunderstanding of Augustine of Hippo’s condemnation of augury in his On the Christian Doctrine, written in the late fourth century. Here, he stated that people who consulted augurs were entering “quasi pacts” (covenants) with demons. The idea of the diabolical pact made with demons was popularised across Europe in the story of Faust, likely based in part on the real life Johann Georg Faust.

As the late medieval gave way to the early modern period, European Christendom experienced a schism between the established Roman Catholic Church and the breakaway Protestant movement. In the ensuing Reformation and Counter-Reformation, both Catholics and Protestants accused each other of deliberately being in league with Satan. It was in this context that the terms “Satanist” and “Satanism” emerged.

The early modern period also saw fear of Satanists reach its “historical apogee” in the form of the witch trials of the fifteenth to the eighteenth centuries. This came about as the accusations which had been levelled at medieval heretics, among them that of devil-worship, were applied to the pre-existing idea of the witch, or practitioner of malevolent magic. The idea of a conspiracy of Satanic witches was developed by educated elites, although the concept of malevolent witchcraft was a widespread part of popular belief and folkloric ideas about the night witch, the wild hunt, and the dance of the fairies were incorporated into it. The earliest trials took place in Northern Italy and France, before spreading it out to other areas of Europe and to Britain’s North American colonies, being carried out by the legal authorities in both Catholic and Protestant regions.Between 30,000 and 50,000 individuals were executed as accused Satanic witches.Most historians agree that the majority of those persecuted in these witch trials were innocent of any involvement in Devil worship. However, in their summary of the evidence for the trials, the historians Geoffrey Scarre and John Callow thought it “without doubt” that some of those accused in the trials had been guilty of employing magic in an attempt to harm their enemies, and were thus genuinely guilty of witchcraft.

In seventeenth-century Sweden, a number of highway robbers and other outlaws living in the forests informed judges that they venerated Satan because he provided more practical assistance than God.The historian of religion Massimo Introvigne regarded these practices as “folkloric Satanism”.

During the eighteenth century, gentleman’s social clubs became increasingly prominent in Britain and Ireland, among the most secretive of which were the Hellfire Clubs, which were first reported in the 1720s. The most famous of these groups was the Order of the Knights of Saints Francis, which was founded circa 1750 by the aristocrat Sir Francis Dashwood and which assembled first at his estate at West Wycombe and later in Medmenham Abbey. A number of contemporary press sources portrayed these as gatherings of atheist rakes where Christianity was mocked and toasts were made to the Devil. Beyond these sensationalist accounts, which may not be accurate portrayals of actual events, little is known about the activities of the Hellfire Clubs. Introvigne suggested that they may have engaged in a form of “playful Satanism” in which Satan was invoked “to show a daring contempt for conventional morality” by individuals who neither believed in his literal existence nor wanted to pay homage to him.

The French Revolution of 1789 dealt a blow to the hegemony of the Roman Catholic Church in parts of Europe, and soon a number of Catholic authors began making claims that it had been masterminded by a conspiratorial group of Satanists. Among the first to do so was French Catholic priest Jean-Baptiste Fiard, who publicly claimed that a wide range of individuals, from the Jacobins to tarot card readers, were part of a Satanic conspiracy. Fiard’s ideas were furthered by Alexis-Vincent-Charles Berbiguier, who devoted a lengthy book to this conspiracy theory; he claimed that Satanists had supernatural powers allowing them to curse people and to shapeshift into both cats and fleas. Although most of his contemporaries regarded Berbiguier as mad, his ideas gained credence among many occultists, including Stanislas de Guaita, a Cabalist who used them for the basis of his book, The Temple of Satan.

In the early 20th century, the British novelist Dennis Wheatley produced a range of influential novels in which his protagonists battled Satanic groups. At the same time, non-fiction authors like Montague Summers and Rollo Ahmed published books claiming that Satanic groups practicing black magic were still active across the world, although they provided no evidence that this was the case. During the 1950s, various British tabloid newspapers repeated such claims, largely basing their accounts on the allegations of one woman, Sarah Jackson, who claimed to have been a member of such a group. In 1973, the British Christian Doreen Irvine published From Witchcraft to Christ, in which she claimed to have been a member of a Satanic group that gave her supernatural powers, such as the ability to levitate, before she escaped and embraced Christianity.In the United States during the 1960s and 1970s, various Christian preachersthe most famous being Mike Warnke in his 1972 book The Satan-Sellerclaimed that they had been members of Satanic groups who carried out sex rituals and animal sacrifices before discovering Christianity. According to Gareth Medway in his historical examination of Satanism, these stories were “a series of inventions by insecure people and hack writers, each one based on a previous story, exaggerated a little more each time”.

Other publications made allegations of Satanism against historical figures. The 1970s saw the publication of the Romanian Protestant preacher Richard Wurmbrand’s book in which he arguedwithout corroborating evidencethat the socio-political theorist Karl Marx had been a Satanist.

At the end of the twentieth century, a moral panic developed around claims regarding a Devil-worshipping cult that made use of sexual abuse, murder, and cannibalism in its rituals, with children being among its victims. Initially, the alleged perpetrators of such crimes were labelled “witches”, although the term “Satanist” was soon adopted as a favoured alternative, and the phenomenon itself came to be called “the Satanism Scare”. Promoters of the claims alleged that there was a conspiracy of organised Satanists who occupied prominent positions throughout society, from the police to politicians, and that they had been powerful enough to cover up their crimes.

Sociologist of religion Massimo Introvigne, 2016

One of the primary sources for the scare was Michelle Remembers, a 1980 book by the Canadian psychiatrist Lawrence Pazder in which he detailed what he claimed were the repressed memories of his patient (and wife) Michelle Smith. Smith had claimed that as a child she had been abused by her family in Satanic rituals in which babies were sacrificed and Satan himself appeared. In 1983, allegations were made that the McMartin familyowners of a preschool in Californiawere guilty of sexually abusing the children in their care during Satanic rituals. The allegations resulted in a lengthy and expensive trial, in which all of the accused would eventually be cleared. The publicity generated by the case resulted in similar allegations being made in various other parts of the United States.

A prominent aspect of the Satanic Scare was the claim by those in the developing “anti-Satanism” movement that any child’s claim about Satanic ritual abuse must be true, because children would not lie. Although some involved in the anti-Satanism movement were from Jewish and secular backgrounds, a central part was played by fundamentalist and evangelical forms of Christianity, in particular Pentecostalism, with Christian groups holding conferences and producing books and videotapes to promote belief in the conspiracy. Various figures in law enforcement also came to be promoters of the conspiracy theory, with such “cult cops” holding various conferences to promote it. The scare was later imported to the United Kingdom through visiting evangelicals and became popular among some of the country’s social workers, resulting in a range of accusations and trials across Britain.

The Satanic ritual abuse hysteria died down between 1990 and 1994. In the late 1980s, the Satanic Scare had lost its impetus following increasing scepticism about such allegations, and a number of those who had been convicted of perpetrating Satanic ritual abuse saw their convictions overturned.In 1990, an agent of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, Ken Lanning, revealed that he had investigated 300 allegations of Satanic ritual abuse and found no evidence for Satanism or ritualistic activity in any of them. In the UK, the Department of Health commissioned the anthropologist Jean La Fontaine to examine the allegations of SRA. She noted that while approximately half did reveal evidence of genuine sexual abuse of children, none revealed any evidence that Satanist groups had been involved or that any murders had taken place. She noted three examples in which lone individuals engaged in child molestation had created a ritual performance to facilitate their sexual acts, with the intent of frightening their victims and justifying their actions, but that none of these child molestors were involved in wider Satanist groups. By the 21st century, hysteria about Satanism has waned in most Western countries, although allegations of Satanic ritual abuse continued to surface in parts of continental Europe and Latin America.

From the late seventeenth through to the nineteenth century, the character of Satan was increasingly rendered unimportant in Western philosophy and ignored in Christian theology, while in folklore he came to be seen as a foolish rather than a menacing figure. The development of new values in the Age of Enlightenmentin particular those of reason and individualismcontributed to a shift in how many Europeans viewed Satan. In this context, a number of individuals took Satan out of the traditional Christian narrative and “reread and reinterpreted” him “in light of their own time and their own interests”, in turn generating “new and different portraits of Satan”.

The shifting view of Satan owes many of its origins to John Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost (1667), in which Satan features as the protagonist. Milton was a Puritan and had never intended for his depiction of Satan to be a sympathetic one. However, in portraying Satan as a victim of his own pride who rebelled against God he humanized him and also allowed him to be interpreted as a rebel against tyranny. This was how Milton’s Satan was understood by later readers like the publisher Joseph Johnson, and the anarchist philosopher William Godwin, who reflected it in his 1793 book Enquiry Concerning Political Justice. Paradise Lost gained a wide readership in the eighteenth century, both in Britain and in continental Europe, where it had been translated into French by Voltaire. Milton thus became “a central character in rewriting Satanism” and would be viewed by many later religious Satanists as a “de facto Satanist”.

The nineteenth century saw the emergence of what has been termed “literary Satanism” or “romantic Satanism”. According to Van Luijk, this cannot be seen as a “coherent movement with a single voice, but rather as a post factum identified group of sometimes widely divergent authors among whom a similar theme is found”. For the literary Satanists, Satan was depicted as benevolent and sometimes heroic figure, with these more sympathetic portrayals proliferating in the art and poetry of many romanticist and decadent figures. For these individuals, Satanism was not a religious belief or ritual activity, but rather a “strategic use of a symbol and a character as part of artistic and political expression”.

Among the romanticist poets to adopt this view of Satan was the English poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, who had been influenced by Milton. In his poem Laon and Cythna, Shelley praised the “Serpent”, a reference to Satan, as a force for good in the universe.Another was Shelley’s fellow British poet Lord Byron, who included Satanic themes in his 1821 play Cain, which was a dramatization of the Biblical story of Cain and Abel. These more positive portrayals also developed in France; one example was the 1823 work Eloa by Alfred de Vigny. Satan was also adopted by the French poet Victor Hugo, who made the character’s fall from Heaven a central aspect of his La Fin de Satan, in which he outlined his own cosmogony.Although the likes of Shelley and Byron promoted a positive image of Satan in their work, there is no evidence that any of them performed religious rites to venerate him, and thus it is problematic to regard them as religious Satanists.

Radical left-wing political ideas had been spread by the American Revolution of 176583 and the French Revolution of 178999, and the figure of Satan, who was interpreted as having rebelled against the tyranny imposed by God, was an appealing one for many of the radical leftists of the period. For them, Satan was “a symbol for the struggle against tyranny, injustice, and oppression… a mythical figure of rebellion for an age of revolutions, a larger-than-life individual for an age of individualism, a free thinker in an age struggling for free thought”. The French anarchist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, who was a staunch critic of Christianity, embraced Satan as a symbol of liberty in several of his writings. Another prominent 19th century anarchist, the Russian Mikhail Bakunin, similarly described the figure of Satan as “the eternal rebel, the first freethinker and the emancipator of worlds” in his book God and the State. These ideas likely inspired the American feminist activist Moses Harman to name his anarchist periodical Lucifer the Lightbearer. The idea of this “Leftist Satan” declined during the twentieth century, although it was used on occasion by authorities within the Soviet Union, who portrayed Satan as a symbol of freedom and equality.

During the 1960s and 1970s, several rock bandsnamely the American Coven and the British Black Widowemployed the imagery of Satanism and witchcraft in their work. References to Satan also appeared in the work of those rock bands which were pioneering the heavy metal genre in Britain during the 1970s. Black Sabbath for instance made mention of Satan in their lyrics, although several of the band’s members were practicing Christians and other lyrics affirmed the power of the Christian God over Satan. In the 1980s, greater use of Satanic imagery was made by heavy metal bands like Slayer, Kreator, Sodom, and Destruction. Bands active in the subgenre of death metalamong them Deicide, Morbid Angel, and Entombedalso adopted Satanic imagery, combining it with other morbid and dark imagery, such as that of zombies and serial killers.

Satanism would come to be more closely associated with the subgenre of black metal, in which it was foregrounded over the other themes that had been used in death metal. A number of black metal performers incorporated self-injury into their act, framing this as a manifestation of Satanic devotion. The first black metal band, Venom, proclaimed themselves to be Satanists, although this was more an act of provocation than an expression of genuine devotion to the Devil. Satanic themes were also used by the black metal bands Bathory and Hellhammer. However, the first black metal act to more seriously adopt Satanism was Mercyful Fate, whose vocalist, King Diamond, joined the Church of Satan.More often than not musicians associating themselves with black metal say they do not believe in legitimate Satanic ideology and often profess to being atheists, agnostics, or religious skeptics.[110]

In contrast to King Diamond, various black metal Satanists sought to distance themselves from LaVeyan Satanism, for instance by referring to their beliefs as “devil worship”. These individuals regarded Satan as a literal entity, and in contrast to LaVey’s views, they associated Satanism with criminality, suicide, and terror. For them, Christianity was regarded as a plague which required eradication. Many of these individualssuch as Varg Vikernes and Euronymouswere Norwegian, and influenced by the strong anti-Christian views of this milieu, between 1992 and 1996 around fifty Norwegian churches were destroyed in arson attacks. Within the black metal scene, a number of musicians later replaced Satanic themes with those deriving from Heathenry, a form of modern Paganism.

Rather than being one single form of religious Satanism, there are instead multiple different religious Satanisms, each with different ideas about what being a Satanist entails. The historian of religion Ruben van Luijk used a “working definition” in which Satanism was regarded as “the intentional, religiously motivated veneration of Satan”.

Dyrendal, Lewis, and Petersen believed that it was not a single movement, but rather a milieu. They and others have nevertheless referred to it as a new religious movement. They believed that there was a family resemblance that united all of the varying groups in this milieu, and that most of them were self religions. They argued that there were a set of features that were common to the groups in this Satanic milieu: these were the positive use of the term “Satanist” as a designation, an emphasis on individualism, a genealogy that connects them to other Satanic groups, a transgressive and antinomian stance, a self-perception as an elite, and an embrace of values such as pride, self-reliance, and productive non-conformity.

Dyrendal, Lewis, and Petersen argued that the groups within the Satanic milieu could be divided into three groups: reactive Satanists, rationalist Satanists, and esoteric Satanists. They saw reactive Satanism as encompassing “popular Satanism, inverted Christianity, and symbolic rebellion” and noted that it situates itself in opposition to society while at the same time conforming to society’s perspective of evil. Rationalist Satanism is used to describe the trend in the Satanic milieu which is atheistic, sceptical, materialistic, and epicurean. Esoteric Satanism instead applied to those forms which are theistic and draw upon ideas from other forms of Western esotericism, Modern Paganism, Buddhism, and Hinduism.

The first person to promote a Satanic philosophy was the Pole Stanislaw Przybyszewski, who promoted a Social Darwinian ideology.

The use of the term “Lucifer” was also taken up by the French ceremonial magician Eliphas Levi, who has been described as a “Romantic Satanist”. During his younger days, Levi used “Lucifer” in much the same manner as the literary romantics. As he moved toward a more politically conservative outlook in later life, he retained the use of the term, but instead applied it as to what he believed was a morally neutral facet of the Absolute. In his book Dogma and Ritual of High Magic, published in two volumes between 1854 and 1856, Levi offered the symbol of Baphomet. He claimed that this was a figure who had been worshipped by the Knights Templar.According to Introvigne, this image gave “the Satanists their most popular symbol ever”.

Levi was not the only occultist who wanted to use the term “Lucifer” without adopting the term “Satan” in a similar way. The early Theosophical Society held to the view that “Lucifer” was a force that aided humanity’s awakening to its own spiritual nature. In keeping with this view, the Society began production of a journal titled Lucifer.

“Satan” was also used within the esoteric system propounded by Danish occultist Carl William Hansen, who used the pen name “Ben Kadosh”. Hansen was involved in a variety of esoteric groups, including Martinism, Freemasonry, and the Ordo Templi Orientis, drawing on ideas from various groups to establish his own philosophy. In one pamphlet, he provided a “Luciferian” interpretation of Freemasonry. Kadosh’s work left little influence outside of Denmark.

Both during his life and after it, the British occultist Aleister Crowley has been widely described as a Satanist, usually by detractors. Crowley stated he did not consider himself a Satanist, nor did he worship Satan, as he did not accept the Christian world view in which Satan was believed to exist. He nevertheless described himself as “the Beast 666” and referring to the Whore of Babylon in his work, while in later life he sent “Antichristmas cards” to his friends. Dyrendel, Lewis, and Petersen noted that despite the fact that Crowley was not a Satanist, he “in many ways embodies the pre-Satanist esoteric discourse on Satan and Satanism through his lifestyle and his philosophy”, with his “image and thought” becoming an “important influence” on the later development of religious Satanism.

In 1928 the Fraternitas Saturni (FS) was established in Germany; its founder, Eugen Grosche, published Satanische Magie (“Satanic Magic”) that same year. The group connected Satan to Saturn, claiming that the planet related to the Sun in the same manner that Lucifer relates to the human world.

In 1932 an esoteric group known as the Brotherhood of the Golden Arrow was established in Paris, France by Maria de Naglowska, a Russian occultist who had fled to France following the Russian Revolution. She promoted a theology centred on what she called the Third Term of the Trinity consisting of Father, Son, and Sex, the latter of which she deemed to be most important. Her early disciples, who underwent what she called “Satanic Initiations”, included models and art students recruited from bohemian circles. The Golden Arrow disbanded after Naglowska abandoned it in 1936. According to Introvigne, hers was “a quite complicated Satanism, built on a complex philosophical vision of the world, of which little would survive its initiator”.

In 1969 a Satanic group based in Toledo, Ohio, part of the United States, came to public attention. Called the Our Lady of Endor Coven, it was led by a man named Herbert Sloane, who described his Satanic tradition as the Ophite Cultus Sathanas and alleged that it had been established in the 1940s. The group offered a Gnostic interpretation of the world in which the creator God was regarded as evil and the Biblical Serpent presented as a force for good who had delivered salvation to humanity in the Garden of Eden. Sloane’s claims that his group had a 1940s origin remain unproven; it may be that he falsely claimed older origins for his group to make it appear older than Anton LaVey’s Church of Satan which had been established in 1966.

None of these groups had any real impact on the emergence of the later Satanic milieu in the 1960s.

Anton LaVey, who has been referred to as “The Father of Satanism”,[143] synthesized his religion through the establishment of the Church of Satan in 1966 and the publication of The Satanic Bible in 1969. LaVey’s teachings promoted “indulgence”, “vital existence”, “undefiled wisdom”, “kindness to those who deserve it”, “responsibility to the responsible” and an “eye for an eye” code of ethics, while shunning “abstinence” based on guilt, “spirituality”, “unconditional love”, “pacifism”, “equality”, “herd mentality” and “scapegoating”. In LaVey’s view, the Satanist is a carnal, physical and pragmatic being, where enjoyment of physical existence and an undiluted view of this-worldly truth are promoted as the core values of Satanism, propagating a naturalistic worldview that sees mankind as animals existing in an amoral universe.

LaVey believed that the ideal Satanist should be individualistic and non-conformist, rejecting what he called the “colorless existence” that mainstream society sought to impose on those living within it. He praised the human ego for encouraging an individual’s pride, self-respect, and self-realization and accordingly believed in satisfying the ego’s desires. He expressed the view that self-indulgence was a desirable trait, and that hate and aggression were not wrong or undesirable emotions but that they were necessary and advantageous for survival. Accordingly, he praised the seven deadly sins as virtues which were beneficial for the individual. The anthropologist Jean La Fontaine highlighted an article that appeared in The Black Flame, in which one writer described “a true Satanic society” as one in which the population consists of “free-spirited, well-armed, fully-conscious, self-disciplined individuals, who will neither need nor tolerate any external entity ‘protecting’ them or telling them what they can and cannot do.”

Sociologist James R. Lewis noted that “LaVey was directly responsible for the genesis of Satanism as a serious religious (as opposed to a purely literary) movement”. Scholars agree that there is no reliably documented case of Satanic continuity prior to the founding of the Church of Satan. It was the first organized church in modern times to be devoted to the figure of Satan, and according to Faxneld and Petersen, the Church represented “the first public, highly visible, and long-lasting organization which propounded a coherent satanic discourse”. LaVey’s book, The Satanic Bible, has been described as the most important document to influence contemporary Satanism. The book contains the core principles of Satanism, and is considered the foundation of its philosophy and dogma. Petersen noted that it is “in many ways the central text of the Satanic milieu”, with Lap similarly testifying to its dominant position within the wider Satanic movement. David G. Bromley calls it “iconoclastic” and “the best-known and most influential statement of Satanic theology.” Eugene V. Gallagher says that Satanists use LaVey’s writings “as lenses through which they view themselves, their group, and the cosmos.” He also states: “With a clear-eyed appreciation of true human nature, a love of ritual and pageantry, and a flair for mockery, LaVey’s Satanic Bible promulgated a gospel of self-indulgence that, he argued, anyone who dispassionately considered the facts would embrace.”

A number of religious studies scholars have described LaVey’s Satanism as a form of “self-religion” or “self-spirituality”, with religious studies scholar Amina Olander Lap arguing that it should be seen as being both part of the “prosperity wing” of the self-spirituality New Age movement and a form of the Human Potential Movement. The anthropologist Jean La Fontaine described it as having “both elitist and anarchist elements”, also citing one occult bookshop owner who referred to the Church’s approach as “anarchistic hedonism”. In The Invention of Satanism, Dyrendal and Petersen theorized that LaVey viewed his religion as “an antinomian self-religion for productive misfits, with a cynically carnivalesque take on life, and no supernaturalism”. The sociologist of religion James R. Lewis even described LaVeyan Satanism as “a blend of Epicureanism and Ayn Rand’s philosophy, flavored with a pinch of ritual magic.” The historian of religion Mattias Gardell described LaVey’s as “a rational ideology of egoistic hedonism and self-preservation”, while Nevill Drury characterised LaVeyan Satanism as “a religion of self-indulgence”. It has also been described as an “institutionalism of Machiavellian self-interest”.

Prominent Church leader Blanche Barton described Satanism as “an alignment, a lifestyle”. LaVey and the Church espoused the view that “Satanists are born, not made”; that they are outsiders by their nature, living as they see fit, who are self-realized in a religion which appeals to the would-be Satanist’s nature, leading them to realize they are Satanists through finding a belief system that is in line with their own perspective and lifestyle. Adherents to the philosophy have described Satanism as a non-spiritual religion of the flesh, or “…the world’s first carnal religion”. LaVey used Christianity as a negative mirror for his new faith, with LaVeyan Satanism rejecting the basic principles and theology of Christian belief. It views Christianity alongside other major religions, and philosophies such as humanism and liberal democracy as a largely negative force on humanity; LaVeyan Satanists perceive Christianity as a lie which promotes idealism, self-denigration, herd behavior, and irrationality. LaVeyans view their religion as a force for redressing this balance by encouraging materialism, egoism, stratification, carnality, atheism, and social Darwinism. LaVey’s Satanism was particularly critical of what it understands as Christianity’s denial of humanity’s animal nature, and it instead calls for the celebration of, and indulgence in, these desires. In doing so, it places an emphasis on the carnal rather than the spiritual.

Practitioners do not believe that Satan literally exists and do not worship him. Instead, Satan is viewed as a positive archetype embracing the Hebrew root of the word “Satan” as “adversary”, who represents pride, carnality, and enlightenment, and of a cosmos which Satanists perceive to be motivated by a “dark evolutionary force of entropy that permeates all of nature and provides the drive for survival and propagation inherent in all living things”. The Devil is embraced as a symbol of defiance against the Abrahamic faiths which LaVey criticized for what he saw as the suppression of humanity’s natural instincts. Moreover, Satan also serves as a metaphorical external projection of the individual’s godhood. LaVey espoused the view that “god” is a creation of man, rather than man being a creation of “god”. In his book, The Satanic Bible, the Satanist’s view of god is described as the Satanist’s true “self”a projection of his or her own personalitynot an external deity. Satan is used as a representation of personal liberty and individualism. LaVey explained that the gods worshiped by other religions are also projections of man’s true self. He argues that man’s unwillingness to accept his own ego has caused him to externalize these gods so as to avoid the feeling of narcissism that would accompany self-worship. The current High Priest of the Church of Satan, Peter H. Gilmore, further expounds that “…Satan is a symbol of Man living as his prideful, carnal nature dictates […] Satan is not a conscious entity to be worshiped, rather a reservoir of power inside each human to be tapped at will.[180] The Church of Satan has chosen Satan as its primary symbol because in Hebrew it means adversary, opposer, one to accuse or question. We see ourselves as being these Satans; the adversaries, opposers and accusers of all spiritual belief systems that would try to hamper enjoyment of our life as a human being.”[181] The term “Theistic Satanism” has been described as “oxymoronic” by the church and its High Priest.[182] The Church of Satan rejects the legitimacy of any other organizations who claim to be Satanists, dubbing them reverse-Christians, pseudo-Satanists or Devil worshipers, atheistic or otherwise,[183] and maintains a purist approach to Satanism as expounded by LaVey.

After LaVey’s death in 1997, the Church of Satan was taken over by a new administration and its headquarters were moved to New York. LaVey’s daughter, the High Priestess Karla LaVey, felt this to be a disservice to her father’s legacy. The First Satanic Church was re-founded on October 31, 1999 by Karla LaVey to carry on the legacy of her father. She continues to run it out of San Francisco, California.

The Satanic Temple is an American religious and political activist organization based in Salem, Massachusetts. The organization actively participates in public affairs that have manifested in several public political actions[184][185] and efforts at lobbying,[186] with a focus on the separation of church and state and using satire against Christian groups that it believes interfere with personal freedom.[186] According to Dyrendal, Lewis, and Petersen, the group were “rationalist, political pranksters”. Their pranks are designed to highlight religious hypocrisy and advance the cause of secularism. In one of their actions, they performed a “Pink Mass” over the grave of the mother of the evangelical Christian and prominent anti-LGBT preacher Fred Phelps; the Temple claimed that the mass converted the spirit of Phelps’ mother into a lesbian.

The Satanic Temple does not believe in a supernatural Satan, as they believe that this encourages superstition that will keep them from being “malleable to the best current scientific understandings of the material world”. The Temple uses the literary Satan as metaphor to construct a cultural narrative which promotes pragmatic skepticism, rational reciprocity, personal autonomy, and curiosity.[189] Satan is thus used as a symbol representing “the eternal rebel” against arbitrary authority and social norms.[190][191]

Theistic Satanism (also known as traditional Satanism, Spiritual Satanism or Devil worship) is a form of Satanism with the primary belief that Satan is an actual deity or force to revere or worship.[192] Other characteristics of theistic Satanism may include a belief in magic, which is manipulated through ritual, although that is not a defining criterion, and theistic Satanists may focus solely on devotion.

Luciferianism can be understood best as a belief system or intellectual creed that venerates the essential and inherent characteristics that are affixed and commonly given to Lucifer. Luciferianism is often identified as an auxiliary creed or movement of Satanism, due to the common identification of Lucifer with Satan. Some Luciferians accept this identification and/or consider Lucifer as the “light bearer” and illuminated aspect of Satan, giving them the name of Satanists and the right to bear the title. Others reject it, giving the argument that Lucifer is a more positive and easy-going ideal than Satan. They are inspired by the ancient myths of Egypt, Rome and Greece, Gnosticism and traditional Western occultism.

According to the group’s own claims, the Order of Nine Angles was established in Shropshire, Western England during the late 1960s, when a Grand Mistress united a number of ancient pagan groups active in the area.This account states that when the Order’s Grand Mistress migrated to Australia, a man known as “Anton Long” took over as the new Grand Master. From 1976 onward he authored an array of texts for the tradition, codifying and extending its teachings, mythos, and structure.Various academics have argued that Long is the pseudonym of British Neo-Nazi activist David Myatt, an allegation that Myatt has denied.The ONA arose to public attention in the early 1980s, spreading its message through magazine articles over the following two decades. In 2000, it established a presence on the internet, later adopting social media to promote its message.

The ONA is a secretive organization, and lacks any central administration, instead operating as a network of allied Satanic practitioners, which it terms the “kollective”. It consists largely of autonomous cells known as “nexions”. The majority of these are located in Britain, Ireland, and Germany, although others are located elsewhere in Europe, and in Russia, Egypt, South Africa, Brazil, Australia, and the United States.

The ONA describe their occultism as “Traditional Satanism”. The ONA’s writings encourage human sacrifice, referring to their victims as opfers. According to the Order’s teachings, such opfers must demonstrate character faults that mark them out as being worthy of death, and accordingly the ONA insists that children must never be victims. No ONA cell have admitted to carrying out a sacrifice in a ritualised manner, but rather Order members have joined the police and military in order to carry out such killings. Faxneld described the Order as “a dangerous and extreme form of Satanism”, while religious studies scholar Graham Harvey claimed that the ONA fit the stereotype of the Satanist “better than other groups” by embracing “deeply shocking” and illegal acts.

The Temple of Set is an initiatory occult society claiming to be the world’s leading left-hand path religious organization. It was established in 1975 by Michael A. Aquino and certain members of the priesthood of the Church of Satan,[210] who left because of administrative and philosophical disagreements. ToS deliberately self-differentiates from CoS in several ways, most significantly in theology and sociology.[211] The philosophy of the Temple of Set may be summed up as “enlightened individualism”enhancement and improvement of oneself by personal education, experiment and initiation. This process is necessarily different and distinctive for each individual. The members do not agree on whether Set is “real” or not, and they’re not expected to.[211]

The Temple presents the view that the name Satan was originally a corruption of the name Set. The Temple teaches that Set is a real entity, the only real god in existence, with all others created by the human imagination. Set is described as having given humanitythrough the means of non-natural evolutionthe “Black Flame” or the “Gift of Set”, a questioning intellect which sets the species apart from other animals. While Setians are expected to revere Set, they do not worship him. Central to Setian philosophy is the human individual, with self-deification presented as the ultimate goal.

In 2005 Petersen noted that academic estimates for the Temple’s membership varied from between 300 and 500, and Granholm suggested that in 2007 the Temple contained circa 200 members.

Dyrendal, Lewis, and Petersen used the term “reactive Satanism” to describe one form of modern religious Satanism. They described this as an adolescent and anti-social means of rebelling in a Christian society, by which an individual transgresses cultural boundaries. They believed that there was two tendencies within reactive Satanism: one, “Satanic tourism”, was characterised by the brief period of time in which an individual was involved, while the other, the “Satanic quest”, was typified by a longer and deeper involvement.

The researcher Gareth Medway noted that in 1995 he encountered a British woman who stated that she had been a practicing Satanist during her teenage years. She had grown up in a small mining village, and had come to believe that she had psychic powers. After hearing about Satanism in some library books, she declared herself a Satanist and formulated a belief that Satan was the true god. After her teenage years she abandoned Satanism and became a chaos magickian.

Some reactive Satanist are teenagers or mentally disturbed individuals who have engaged in criminal activities. During the 1980s and 1990s, several groups of teenagers were apprehended after sacrificing animals and vandalising both churches and graveyards with Satanic imagery. Introvigne expressed the view that these incidents were “more a product of juvenile deviance and marginalization than Satanism”. In a few cases the crimes of these reactive Satanists have included murder. In 1970, two separate groups of teenagersone led by Stanley Baker in Big Sur and the other by Steven Hurd in Los Angeleskilled a total of three people and consumed parts of their corpses in what they later claimed were sacrifices devoted to Satan. In 1984, a U.S. group called the Knights of the Black Circle killed one of its own members, Gary Lauwers, over a disagreement regarding the group’s illegal drug dealing; group members later related that Lauwers’ death was a sacrifice to Satan.The American serial killer Richard Ramirez for instance claimed that he was a Satanist; during his 1980s killing spree he left an inverted pentagram at the scene of each murder and at his trial called out “Hail Satan!”.

Dyrendal, Lewis, and Petersen observed that from surveys of Satanists conducted in the early 21st century, it was clear that the Satanic milieu was “heavily dominated by young males”. They nevertheless noted that census data from New Zealand suggested that there may be a growing proportion of women becoming Satanists. In comprising more men than women, Satanism differs from most other religious communities, including most new religious communities. Most Satanists came to their religion through reading, either online or books, rather than through being introduced to it through personal contacts. Many practitioners do not claim that they converted to Satanism, but rather state that they were born that way, and only later in life confirmed that Satanism served as an appropriate label for their pre-existing worldviews. Others have stated that they had experiences with supernatural phenomena that led them to embracing Satanism. A number reported feelings of anger at the hypocrisy of many practicing Christians and expressed the view that the monotheistic Gods of Christianity and other religions are unethical, citing issues such as the problem of evil. For some practitioners, Satanism gave a sense of hope, including for those who had been physically and sexually abused.

The surveys revealed that atheistic Satanists appeared to be in the majority, although the numbers of theistic Satanists appeared to grow over time. Beliefs in the afterlife varied, although the most popular afterlife views were reincarnation and the idea that consciousness survives bodily death. The surveys also demonstrated that most recorded Satanists practiced magic, although there were differing opinions as to whether magical acts operated according to etheric laws or whether the effect of magic was purely psychological. A number described performing cursing, in most cases as a form of vigilante justice.Most practitioners conduct their religious observances in a solitary manner, and never or rarely meet fellow Satanists for rituals. Rather, the primary interaction that takes place between Satanists is online, on websites or via email.From their survey data, Dyrendal, Lewis, and Petersen noted that the average length of involvement in the Satanic milieu was seven years. A Satanist’s involvement in the movement tends to peak in the early twenties and drops off sharply in their thirties. A small proportion retain their allegiance to the religion into their elder years. When asked about their political views, the largest proportion of Satanists identified as apolitical or non-aligned, while only a small percentage identified as conservative despite the conservative views of prominent Satanists like LaVey and Marilyn Manson. A small minority of Satanists expressed support for the far right; conversely, over two-thirds expressed negative or extremely negative views about Nazism and neo-Nazism.

In 2004 it was claimed that Satanism was allowed in the Royal Navy of the British Armed Forces, despite opposition from Christians.[243][244][245] In 2016, under a Freedom of Information request, the Navy Command Headquarters stated that “we do not recognise satanism as a formal religion, and will not grant facilities or make specific time available for individual worship”.[246]

In 2005, the Supreme Court of the United States debated in the case of Cutter v. Wilkinson over protecting minority religious rights of prison inmates after a lawsuit challenging the issue was filed to them.[247][248] The court ruled that facilities that accept federal funds cannot deny prisoners accommodations that are necessary to engage in activities for the practice of their own religious beliefs.[249][250]

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Satanism – Wikipedia

We are using witchcraft, Satanism and magic confesses …

some Prophets are stopped from having sex with their wives, they have sex with a snake

Coming in the wake of self-acclaimed Prophet Shepherd Bushiris stunts that he has called miracles, Malawian Prophet Trevor Kautsire made a rare confession on modern day Prophecy.

Prophet Kautsire (right) with host Brian Banda

In an interview on one Malawian television talkshow that was followed by Malawi24, Prophet Kautsire made the chilling claims that modern day Prophets are not using the power of the Holy Spirit to perform their so-called miracles.

I was in South Africa and I met the who-is-who of the gospel, what they told me is heart-breaking, said Kautsire.

He disclosed that when he was in South Africa he was told of rituals that he had to perform if he were to become a renowned Prophet. Kautsire disclosed that the ritual involved sacrifices that included the killing of family members or church members.

I am speaking this from experience, some Prophets have had to sacrifice their church members to gain fame. You have heard of people dying in places of worship, it is because they are using the people as sacrifices, said Kautsire, a comment which commentators said was referring to the Nigerian teleprophet TB Joshua at whose church over a hundred people died.

Kautsire further said that it was easy to decipher fake Prophets because they do miracles for no important reason.

A miracle is supposed to meet a need, however when a Prophet does a miracle that does not meet any need there is no reason to believe that Prophet, he said. Commentators have thought that he was apparently referring to Bushiri who has been in the news for the walk-in-the air stunt which does nothing to glorify the name of the Lord.

He said that Prophets are using magic, witchcraft and Satanism to perform miracles.

There are some who are told to keep a worm and keep feeding it, the worm grows into a snake and when it comes to that stage where it is a snake, it brings them money. The catch is that one should never sleep with their wife but the snake, said Kautsire disclosing the secrets in the dark world of Prophecy.

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We are using witchcraft, Satanism and magic confesses …


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