Our Lady of Endor Coven
Our Lady of Endor Coven, also known as Ophite Cultus Satanas (originally spelled "Sathanas"), was a Satanic cult claimed to have been founded in 1948 by Herbert Arthur Sloane (born September 3, 1905, died June 16, 1975) in Toledo, Ohio. The group was heavily influenced by gnosticism (especially that found in the contemporary book by Hans Jonas, The Gnostic Religion), and worshipped Satanas, their name for Satan (Cultus Satanas is a Latin version of Cult of Satan). Satanas (or Satan), was defined in gnostic terms, as the Serpent in the Garden of Eden who revealed the knowledge of the true God to Eve. That it called itself "Ophite" is a reference to the ancient gnostic sect of the Ophites, who were said to worship the serpent. The "Lady of Endor" is a reference to the Witch of Endor. There is no substantial evidence provided showing Our Lady of Endor Coven existing prior to 1966.
Herbert Arthur Sloane was the first person known to have organized and led a specifically Satanic religious group. Its name was the Ophite Cultus Sathanas. Sloane -- a World War II U. S. Army veteran, barber, Spiritualist minister, numerologist, card and tea leaf reader, hypnotist, and evidentiary medium -- formed the group in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1948, and also headed his own local branch of the organization, Our Lady of Endor Coven. As Sloane changed location, the headquarters of the Ophite Cultus Sathanas relocated with him, first to Mishawaka and South Bend, Indiana in the 1950s, and then to Toledo, Ohio in the 1960s, where it remained until Sloane's death in 1975. It is estimated that membership in his group numbered fewer than a dozen people at any given time; according to one contemporary account there were five local members.
Sloane refers in his 1968 letter to his group as "Our Lady of Endor Coven, The Ophitic Cultus Sathanas" and clarifies that it was Sathanas in the form of the Serpent who brought the knowledge (gnosis) of the true God to Eve when she ate of the Tree of Knowledge. This true God is above the creator god of this world. He writes that Cain was the first Satanic priest and performed the first Satanic Mass (which explains Cain being punished by the creator god). According to Sloane, True Satanists then, are following the way of the Serpent and of Cain, as the early ophitic gnostics were. This terminology is summed up in Hans Jonas' book within a few pages, titled "Eve and the Serpent", and "Cain and the Creator":
...it is the serpent that persuades Adam and Eve to taste of the fruit of knowledge and thereby to disobey their Creator...Indeed, more than one gnostic sect derived its name from the cult of the serpent ("Ophites" from the Gk. ophis; "Naassenes" from the Heb. nahas--the group as a whole being termed "ophitic")
This general Serpent is also the wise Word of Eve. This is the mystery of Eden: this is the river that flows out of Eden. This is also the mark that was set on Cain, whose sacrifice the god of this world [the creator god] did not accept whereas he accepted the bloody sacrifice of Abel: for the lord of this world delights in blood.
Sloane believed in a horned god, which he said was revealed to him in the woods when he was a child. This horned god, according to him, was the original and most ancient god ever worshipped by humans (he explains that anthropology has proven this). After seeing Margaret Murray's book The God of the Witches, he said he realized that the horned god was Satan (Sathanas). Sloane also corresponded with his contemporary Gerald Gardner, and implied that his views of Satan and the horned god were not necessarily in conflict with Gardner's approach. However, he did believe that, while "gnosis" referred to knowledge, and "wicca" referred to wisdom, modern witches had fallen away from the true knowledge, and instead had begun worshipping a fertility god, a reflection of the creator god. He wrote that "the largest existing body of witches who are true Satanists would be the Yezedees". When the Church of Satan appeared in the 1960s, Sloane began corresponding with Anton LaVey, with an interest in finding more Satanists to participate in his own organization. Sloane highly recommended the book The Gnostic Religion, and selections from it were sometimes read at ceremonies.
- Contemporary Esotericism, by By Egil Asprem, Kennet Granholm, 2014, p. 75.
- Herbert Arthur Sloane, by Catherine Yronwode, 2012. Full article.
- The Gnostic Religion, by Hans Jonas, 1958, p. 93.
- The Gnostic Religion, by Hans Jonas, 1958, p. 95.
- From the Church of Satan Archives, by Peggy Nadramia, 2016. Full article.
- Black Magic, Satanism, Voodoo, by Dr. Leo L. Martello, 1972 (Interview with Sloane on pp. 31-34, Our Lord Sathanas)
- James R. Lewis, Satanism Today: An Encyclopedia of Religion, Folklore, and Popular Culture, 2001.
- Dr. Leo L. Martello, Black Magic, Satanism, Voodoo, 1972 (Our Lord Sathanas, pp. 31–34)
- Hans Holzer, The New Pagans: An Inside Report On the Mystery Cults of Today, 1972.
- Hans Jonas ,The Gnostic Religion: The Message of the Alien God & the Beginnings of Christianity, Boston: Beacon Press, 1958.