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And who created Satan? It was God. Satan is the opposite of God, and, as one of His aspects, he contains a holy spark.
Satanism is a loose term which has been used in a number of different ways and covers several distinct concepts, not all of which involve bowing to our Dark Lord.
The idea of devil worship is centuries old, although the usage of the term "Satanism" to describe a specific belief system appears to date from the nineteenth century. Stories of devil-worshippers existed in the middle ages and later but were largely folkloric and did not describe genuine religious practices. However, there have been a few branches of religious belief which involve the worship of Satan.
In Sweden, where the process of Christianization lasted into the second millenium AD, there is evidence that Satan received a degree of popular worship into the early modern era as an ambivalent or even benign spirit of nature, possibly the result of the Judeo-Christian figure blending with traces of local pagan deities. For example, in 1739 a Swedish fisherman named Mickel Kalkstrm remarked that he prayed to the Devil for help in his pursuit, believing that God had little or no power over fish. Testimonies from the trials of alleged sorcerers in seventeenth-century Sweden, meanwhile, equate Satan with various traditional nature spirits. Historian Mikael Hll points out that many of these people were outlaws living in the woods, and speculates that they may have adopted Satan as a sort of patron spirit. He concludes that, while it is unlikely that there was an organised cult of devil-worship in Sweden at the time, there were people who could be termed Satanists.
Like most religions, there are a variety of beliefs, but a few precepts are generally observed by most Satanists. This belief system is often referred to by Satanists and other Western esoterics as the "Left-Hand Path", in contrast to the "Right-Hand Path" of the Abrahamic religions and the moral systems derived from them, both religious and secular. The term "Left-Hand Path" was first coined by Helena Blavatsky, who in turn derived the idea from the Hindu concept of vamachara, "left-handed philosophy", which described heterodox spiritual practices that violated the status quo. While Blavatsky and other early occultists viewed the Left-Hand Path as harmful and equated it with black magic, instead identifying with the Right-Hand Path, Satanists readily adopted the Left-Hand Path as a philosophy to live one's life by.
In terms of theology, Satanists today can be divided into two main groups:
Atheistic Satanism does not believe that "Satan" actually exists, as such; they do not worship Satan. They believe every person is their own god and that everyone should worship themselves. To them, "Satan" is a symbol of rebellion rather than a literal figure; they do not worship Satan any more than Buddhists worship Buddha.
Theistic Satanism believes that "Satan" is an actual independently existing being, which serves as a God-analogue. While atheistic Satanists categorically deny that any gods or higher powers exist, theistic Satanists vary in their opinions:
A prominent example of theistic Satanism is the Temple of Set.
Luciferianism is an offshoot of theistic Satanism that follows most of the same precepts, with the main point of contention between the two groups being one of philosophical hair-splitting: Luciferians tend to look down upon Satanism as being too preoccupied with the carnal and with anti-Christian rebellion, whereas they, on the other hand, seek to rise above their status as base animals.
LaVeyan Satanism is an atheistic religion whose chief organization, the Church of Satan, was founded by Anton LaVey in 1960s San Francisco. They all but admit that they chose to call their belief system "Satanism" to annoy Christians. While anti-religious, it also rejects many of the ethical tenets of secular humanism, feeling them to be too close to Christian morality (which they feel represses the individual) and instead following a combination of pseudo-Nietzschean ideas and Ayn Rand worship that it identifies with the Left-Hand Path. For the record, they officially frown on child and animal sacrifices, saying that we should all strive to be like children or animals.
Similar to LaVeyan Satanism, the Satanic Temple is an atheistic organization, and does not believe in a literal Satan, though some of its members are theistic Satanists. Unlike LaVeyans, however, the Satanic Temple rejects the supernatural entirely. This has been brought up in the assessment of whether or not they actually are a religion, and they have responded by stating that this belief is outdated and ignorant, saying that to define religion as supernatural is to give the enemy free license to label as they please. They also differ from LaVeyans in that they reject the "might makes right" philosophy of the Church of Satan, and have a set of tenets founded on secular humanism rather than social Darwinism.
The Satanic Temple is best known in the media for its publicity stunts done in the interest of protecting church-state separation, in a manner similar to Pastafarianism. They're responsible for a number of the antics described above in the "First Amendment and religious freedom" section, such as attempts to have a statue of Baphomet displayed wherever Christian symbols are shown on government property. As a result, they have become quite popular with the atheist community. Their spokesperson, Lucien Greaves (real name Doug Mesner) has appeared on shows like The Friendly Atheist podcast and others.
In early 2016, the Satanic Temple wanted to give an invocation at the city council of Phoenix, Arizona. Some councillors wanted only a rota of council-approved clergy to give invocations. The Freedom From Religion Foundation planned legal action if the First Amendment was breached. Phoenix chose a moment of silence instead, but legal action was threatened from Christians who wanted explicitly Christian prayer in government.
The Satanic Temple is launching Satanic after school clubs.
Its important that children be given an opportunity to realize that the evangelical materials now creeping into their schools are representative of but one religious opinion amongst many. While the Good News Clubs focus on indoctrination, instilling them with a fear of Hell and Gods wrath, After School Satan Clubs will focus on free inquiry and rationalism, the scientific basis for which we know what we know about the world around us. We prefer to give children an appreciation of the natural wonders surrounding them, not a fear of everlasting other-worldly horrors.
Satan clubs will only be in areas and schools where there are already after school Bible study groups. Schools cannot discriminate by banning Satan clubs while allowing Bible study, or they will risk legal action over the First Amendment. A legal expert for Liberty Counsel said Satan Clubs have a First Amendment right to exist, but later threatened to sue. The Satanic Temple, by contrast, maintains that, without studying the curriculum of the Satan Clubs, the Liberty Counsel's actions are premature. According to Hemant Mehta, the Liberty Counsel has misrepresented the Satan clubs. The Satan clubs are looking for donations. Legal action is considered in one Georgian district because the authorities have ignored repeated requests to start a Satan Club. Future developments could be interesting. A district in Washington state decided they have to allow the Satan clubs. The first After School Satan Club has opened in Portland, Oregon in mid November 2016 with Christian protesters outside.
Groups such as the Church of Satan fall into the category of Organized Satanism: publicly known Satanic groups which oppose criminal activity and have well-developed theologies which they often publish electronically or in printed form. Outside of organized Satanism, we find marginal groups which can be divided along more sociological terms.
Dabblers are people, usually teenagers, who turn to Satanism as a form of rebellion against authority. Generally, they lack a well-developed theology, taking most of their beliefs from stuff gleaned off the internet and various books, from pop culture depictions of Satanism, and even from Christian tracts about Satanic evil (all the better to shock their parents, teachers, and pastors with), combined with an unhealthy dose of teen angst. They are often involved in petty crimes such as vandalism (churches are a popular and obvious target), although occasionally, they have been linked to more serious criminal activity, including property theft, assault, and the murder of animals, including pets. Most of them grow out of their Satanism by the time they reach their twenties, although some will develop into another form of Satanism over time.
"Sicko" Satanists are criminals and psychopathic individuals who use Satanism as a justification for murder, rape, kidnapping, child abuse, and similar activities. They are most commonly loners or occasionally small groups, and like dabblers, they generally lack a developed theology. In some cases, the trappings of Satanism are used to try to scare victims (especially children) and prevent them from reporting the crimes, while in other cases, Satanism is used to get media attention instead (the classic "Satan made me do it" explanation). Some of the more notorious examples of "sicko" Satanism include:
A controversial issue is the alleged existence of large scale, conspiratorial groups which practice human sacrifice, child molestation, etc., many of whose members allegedly occupy positions of power, authority or respect in their communities (such as doctors, lawyers, politicians, police officers, schoolteachers, etc.) Some believe in the existence of this form of Satanism; however, there is no evidence for its actual existence, so it seems to most likely be a form of urban legend or mass hysteria.
If you're looking for an article on that kind of Satanism, see Satanic Panic.
Satanists typically eschew mainstream politics, for what should be obvious reasons. With the majority of the American population at least nominally Christian, not only would an avowed Satanist never stand a chance running for any elected office, but a candidate merely receiving endorsements and/or donations from Satanists would have to explain him or herself to voters as though he or she had been endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan.
However, when asked to describe what they believe, many Satanists voice political views that are in line with some form of heterodox libertarianism. This is roughly in keeping with both the theology and culture of Satanism it emerged from the same '60s counterculture that the modern libertarian movement did, it is at best begrudgingly tolerant of Christianity, and it is very supportive of libertarian beliefs in personal freedom, while its heavy emphasis on individualism often leads to dismissal of ideologies that are seen as promoting collective or hierarchical authority. In this, Anton LaVey's influence on modern Satanism is evident he cited both Ayn Rand and the book Might is Right among his inspirations and is known to have (at the very least) drawn heavily from them while writing the Satanic Bible, while the Church of Satan that he founded speaks approvingly of Objectivism as an antecedent to Satanism, albeit not without criticism of some of its finer points. However, the principle of non-aggression and non-coercion, frequently found in libertarian writings, seems to have little counterpart in Satanism.
Libertarian politics are not universal. Other Satanists are more supportive of left-wing views, particularly the tactics of various civil rights or social justice movements, on the grounds that, as an unpopular minority religion, hanging together in mutual support is better than hanging separately with no one to have their back when confronted by people who hate them. The idea of a social safety net and economic protection is also justified from the perspective that, even though Satanists should strive to improve themselves, actually believing in one's own perfection is the height of hubris, and besides, a society with higher mobility and lower economic inequality is one where it is easier for individuals to thrive and improve themselves. Leftism in this sense is interpreted through the lens of Satanic theology, of course; one left-wing Satanist cites Saul Alinsky and other New Left "street fighters" as inspirations, due to their willingness to take drastic action to better themselves and support what they believed in rather than worrying about the ends justifying the means.
And finally, there also exists a small but quite vocal minority of Satanists who believe in neo-fascism. These people are described in more detail further down this page.
As of late, with a number of Supreme Court rulings granting unprecedented power to Christian groups in the name of religious freedom, some Satanic groups have decided to test the limits of these rulings by asserting that, as religious organizations, they too have the right to, say, hold Black Masses in civic centers, pass out literature detailing Satanic rituals at public schools, and put up a monument of Baphomet in front of the Oklahoma Supreme Court.
The Satanic Temple, described in more detail further up this page, is one of the leading groups behind many of these moves. While their are often little more than publicity stunts, they (especially the reactions of Christian leaders) do wonders at showcasing the hypocrisy of the religious right when they try to claim that they just support religious freedom as opposed to theocracy.
A sizable number of people on the fringes of both Satanism and the neo-fascist and neo-Nazi movements have taken to blending the two, producing a distinct brand of Satanism that combines the Left-Hand Path with the far right.
"But," you may say, "how can a religion so preoccupied with individualism support a movement that is about subsuming one's identity to the will of the nation or race?" The common ground is wider than you'd think. In some cases, the flirtations with fascism come from historical fascist movements' fixations on the aesthetics of power, which would appeal to those in a religion that, in many of its formulations, spurns egalitarianism and the Golden Rule in favor of calling for the "great" to dominate their enemies. (In short, they see themselves as the future Fhrers and SS legionaries, not the ones starving in concentration camps.) Simple shock value also plays into it; in this sense, Satanism and fascism are viewed as kindred spirits, both "misunderstood" and treated with scorn by the sheeple.
Going in the other direction, just as some Satanists have gravitated to fascism out of an admiration of its "badass" imagery and perceived philosophical common ground, so have some neo-Nazis latched onto Satanism out of hostility to Christianity. They see Christianity as a Jewish-derived, Middle Eastern faith that was foisted upon Europe by the elites of the classical and medieval eras and has corrupted its values and "purity", its pacifism and message of "all faithful are equal before God" leaving it spiritually and philosophically defenseless against the non-white hordes. Attempts to racialize the faith, such as Positive Christianity, Christian Identity, and the WASP supremacy of the old Ku Klux Klan, are seen as half-measures at best and Jewish-crafted deceptions at worst that lead nowhere. Therefore, worshiping or otherwise paying tribute to the adversary of the Christian God becomes a necessary component of "stopping white genocide". Parallels can be drawn to the more racist versions of Asatru and some other neo-pagan faiths, as well as the alt-right's lukewarm-at-best relationship with Christianity, albeit with Satan replaced with either the restoration of pre-Christian pantheons, the literal worship of the Aryan race, some form of "natural law", or other inspirations.
The former mindset was visible in the writings of Anton LaVey, who used Nazi symbolism habitually despite being of part-Jewish ancestry himself, and was aware of the irony. In his essay "A Plan", published as part of the posthumous compendium Satan Speaks!, he noted that, for the longest time, the Jewish people were the largest group of religious "rebels" within the Christian world, and were frequently smeared as being in league with Satan by the authorities of the time; as such, he drew intellectual and philosophical connections between Judaism and his philosophy. He envisioned Satanism as a way for modern, non-practicing young Jews (especially those from mixed Jewish/Gentile marriages), who don't fit in with the synagogue, the church, or the white supremacist movement, to claim a new, "tough" identity as an alternative to the humanism of the secular, liberal Jewish mainstream, jokingly suggesting that the Church of Satan was where a "Zionist Odinist Bolshevik Nazi Imperialist Socialist Fascism" could thrive.
LaVey's daughter Zeena later married Nikolas Schreck, an '80s goth-rocker in the underground band Radio Werewolf whose affinity for Nazism went at least somewhat beyond mere stylistic choices in their name, concerts, and album covers, though just how far is hard to say. Regardless, the two of them later abandoned both the Church of Satan and their Nazi flirtations in 1990, eventually converting to the Temple of Set and later Tantric Buddhism, with Zeena denouncing her father as a charlatan and a plagiarist and cutting all ties to him. Underground musician and artist Boyd Rice, another high-profile member who LaVey reportedly asked to succeed him as leader of the Church of Satan (Rice turned down the offer), is also not particularly shy about expressing his sympathy for fascism, though he has denied being a racist or a Nazi and claims he's just a misanthrope.
The Order of Nine Angles (O9A or ONA), an occultist secret society founded in England in the late '60s but claiming descent from older groups (as such organizations are wont to do), is probably the most notorious fascist Satanist group. The O9A enjoyed its greatest boom years in the '70s under one "Anton Long", whose exact identity has never been confirmed but who many researchers believe to be David Myatt, a British neo-Nazi who played a pivotal role in far-right groups like the British Movement, Combat 18, and the National Socialist Movement. (Myatt later converted to Islam in 1998 and espoused a radical Islamist platform, including overt praise for al-Qaeda after 9/11, before renouncing extremism entirely and adopting his own non-racialized brand of mysticism.)
For the O9A, fascism is seen as a means to an end rather than an end in and of itself, part of a "sinister dialectic" that is key to the "Aeonic evolution" of human civilization into a higher form. However, the "Magian/Nazarene distortion" (i.e. the Christians and the Jews) is holding back Western civilization from reaching its final stage, and must be overthrown if humanity is to "advance". They also explicitly endorse human sacrifice as a means of "culling the weak", and proclaim other Satanist groups to be posers due to their rejection of such.
Another fascist Satanist group of note (mainly due to its outsize presence on the internet) is the Joy of Satan (JoS). The JoS was founded by one "Maxine Dietrich" real name Andrea Herrington, the wife of Clifford Herrington, the former head of the National Socialist Movement (the American group; no relation to the aforementioned British group) who was subsequently expelled from the organization after his wife's Satanism came to light.
The JoS promotes a form of inverted Christianity that proclaims Satan to be humanity's "True Father and Creator God", and the Abrahamic God, Jesus, and the prophets to be illusory falsehoods cobbled together from other myths and legends, created by the New World Order in order to destroy the "spiritual heritage" (i.e. devil-worship) of the masses and cut them off from the occult power they get through Satan. Since Judaism was the first of the Abrahamic religions, they naturally identify the Jews as the leaders of this conspiracy, proclaiming that they created Christianity in order to enslave the Gentiles of the Roman Empire by getting them to direct their spiritual energy towards a "dead Jew on a stick" and follow a bastardized version of the Jewish religion. A virtually identical conspiracy theory is thrown at Islam, claiming that the Prophet Muhammad never existed, that the creation of Islam was a Jewish ploy to enslave the Arabs just as they had done the Europeans with Christianity, and that Iblis (the Arabic term for Satan) was their true god. They cover the nastiest neo-Nazi rhetoric with a thin veneer so as not to scare off curious new followers; on the surface, their main website contains mostly bog-standard rituals, anti-Christian screeds, and other material that you'd expect to find on a Satanist website, with only vague mention of the "New World Order" as the guiding force behind Christianity, but once you check the "Links" section, you'll find sites that openly bash the Jews and extol the Nazis as a glorious attempt to restore the "true Satanic religion" of the Gentiles.
They're also fond of trying to find negative mention of their group online and deleting any evidence if it's on a wiki. So much for their supposed support of free speech, eh?
As if to demonstrate why most sane Satanists don't touch politics with a ten-foot pole, there is the case of Augustus Sol Invictus, an attorney and Libertarian Party candidate for the 2016 US Senate race in where else? Florida. His birth name is unknown Austin Gillespie; he changed it in 2013 to a Latin phrase meaning "majestic unconquered sun" (also "majestic sun god") after renouncing his past law firm, his college degrees, and the Catholic Church. While he's currently a practitioner of Thelema, he had previously been involved in a Satanic group, but had been expelled for his politics. Said politics? While he denies being a white supremacist, pointing to his four Hispanic children, he does admit to being a fascist and receiving support from white supremacists, and he calls for a second Civil War and uses fascist symbolism on his website. Proving that even libertarians have their limits, the only civil war he started was within the Libertarian Party of Florida itself, partly because of the open fascism and the fact that he recruited neo-Nazis into the party in order to support his candidacy, but also because of the fact that he boasted about ritualistically sacrificing a goat (though he denies having "sadistically dismembered" it).
With the entire state Libertarian Party outside his own fanbase standing against him, he wound up losing the party's Senate primary by 48 points to one Paul Stanton, a computer programmer who barely even ran a proper campaign and entered the race at the last minute in May simply to stop him, winning the party's support solely on the basis of being "not Augustus Sol Invictus". His reaction was to rant on Facebook about how he'd been suppressed by the party's leadership, quoting William Ernest Henley and Francis Parker Yockey and asserting that the only reason people didn't like him was because of a smear campaign. He's currently in the process of trying to recast himself as an alt-right revolutionary, calling on "all right-wing intellectuals, martial artists, weapons experts, militia groups, survivalists & preppers, filmographers, writers, and artists" to join him for something called the "Invictus War Room".
The press, for its part, treated his candidacy as the latest in a long line of wacky "Florida Man" news stories.
Many musicians and other artists have used the trappings of Satanism for artistic or "rebel cred" purposes. In some cases, the artist is an actual adherent of organized Satanism and sees his or her art as a vehicle for spreading Satanic ideas. In most cases, however, Satanism is not adopted as a belief system, but rather chosen to be shocking or outrageous, or due to an artistic preference for "dark" imagery.
One of the best-known examples of Satanic imagery being employed in pop culture comes from the heavy metal scene. Pretty much every pioneering metal band in the 1970s and '80s traded heavily in shout-outs at the devil, while the "devil horns" (sticking one's hand in the sky with the index and pinkie fingers raised) are a famous symbol of all things rock and metal. Of course, most of the time this Satanism was just for show, done in order to win fans and make cool music, with the members of such bands often being Christians or irreligious in their private lives. For instance, Black Sabbath (together with Paul McCartney) wrote "After Forever", a song whose lyrics could easily be mistaken for Christian rock if one didn't know otherwise, while in many of their other songs Satan was portrayed as a clearly evil and menacing figure and not something that should be worshiped or idealized. Alice Cooper (birth name Vincent Furnier, but legally changed to Alice Cooper so he didn't have to pay his former band members), meanwhile, is a lifelong born-again Christian. And the "devil horns"? While their exact origin is a mystery, one of the more popular theories claims that Ronnie James Dio adapted it from a hand gesture that his Italian grandmother taught him a gesture that's meant to ward off the "evil eye".
However, many people often found it difficult to tell the difference. Heavy metal was the subject of a massive moral panic in the 1980s that was linked to the broader Satanic Panic of that era. On one hand, Christian groups led boycotts and censorship attempts, and whipped up a manufactroversy over backward masking, while on the other, the bands attracted misaimed fandoms from teenage dabblers who heard their parents and pastors talking about that eeeeeevil music and saw an easy way to rebel.
By the 1990s, the association of heavy metal with Satanism had produced bands that very much were serious about the religious aspects of it. A particularly serious form of "black metal", a subgenre of heavy metal known for its militantly anti-Christian and misanthropic lyrics, emerged in Scandinavia (especially Norway) during this time and spread throughout Europe, taking the Satanic imagery of '80s thrash/black metal bands like Venom, Celtic Frost, Bathory, and Slayer to the next level. The brand of Satanism practiced by many Scandinavian black metal musicians often took on airs of national mysticism, drawing as much inspiration from old Norse legends and myths as it did from "orthodox" Satanism. Whether Satanist or pagan, black metal musicians and fans viewed Christianity as a foreign import from the sunny Mediterranean that was alien to the frigid Nordic lands and people and had oppressed the native pagan faiths, with their attacks on Christianity often being framed as a holy war of national liberation from Christendom. These attitudes often went well beyond just writing songs about hating Christianity and its followers; the movement was associated with over fifty arson attacks against Norwegian churches between 1992 and 1996, a number of which were carried out by the musicians themselves.
Not all of the Scandinavian black metal scene was committed to this particular brand of Satanism. One non-thrash black metal band from Denmark, Mercyful Fate, developed parallel with (and independent of) the four aforementioned bands, and was also genuinely Satanic in that the band's leader, singer, and lyricist, King Diamond, was a declared follower of Anton LaVey's Satanic Bible. Mercyful Fate influenced a great many of the Norwegian bands, even though their Satanic philosophies sharply diverged from that of LaVey and King Diamond.
Because so many have asked: the '90s shock rockers Marilyn Manson, arguably the best-known "modern" Satanic rock band, frequently straddled the line between "serious" and "theatrical" in their image. While Manson himself (real name Brian Warner) had been made an honorary reverend in the Church of Satan by Anton LaVey, the band's music and themes were more generally concerned with anti-Christian shock value than anything specifically Satanic, and included a good deal of self-parody right from the start.
Apart from the black metal scene, most serious Satanic musicians tend to be fairly underground and obscure. However, this hasn't stopped some conspiracy theorists from updating the old hysteria about heavy metal to claim that Satanists are in control of the entire entertainment industry, forcing aspiring artists to literally sell their souls to Satan in exchange for fame, inserting Satanic messages into hit songs to lure impressionable young people to the Dark Side, and carrying out rituals in the guise of music videos and concerts. A simple YouTube search for " satanism" will turn up an ocean of videos from people with way too much time on their hands, dissecting every frame and lyric for anything that could be tenuously connected to some Satanic/Freemason/Illuminati symbol. Vigilant Citizen, Mark Dice, and Jesus Is Savior are among the more famous promoters of this idea.
Such theories often show up surrounding the death of Tupac Shakur, claiming that the Illuminati had him assassinated after he found out about Their plans and tried to expose them to the public. (Tupac's murder is still unsolved, but while there are several credible theories as to what actually happened, all of them involve his personal feuds and/or gang rivalries, not secret societies hunting him down down because he got too close to "the truth".) The irony here, of course, is that Tupac not only didn't believe in the Illuminati, but criticized those who did, saying that conspiracy theories about the Illuminati were distracting people from real problems of racism, inequality, and injustice. He would roll over in his grave if he saw how the "Satanists control pop and hip-hop" crowd turned him into their Vince Foster.
In 2016, this conspiracy theory spawned a meme when several people noticed that Zeena Schreck, the daughter of Anton LaVey, bore a striking resemblance to the pop star Taylor Swift when she was younger, with some of the usual suspects claiming shenanigans namely, that Swift was a clone of Zeena, raised to spread the word of Satan to millions of unsuspecting youth. Given that Zeena, as noted above, left the Church of Satan on fairly bad terms, it's likely that she would've been the first to spill the beans about any secret plot to take over the world with obnoxious teen pop in order to embarrass her father. That said, it's well-known that Taylor Swift is a snake[citationNOT needed], so this does hold water.
Satanism - RationalWiki