Our Lady of Endor Coven

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Our Lady of Endor Coven, also known as Ophite Cultus Sathanas, was a Satanic cult claimed to have been founded in 1948[1] by Herbert Arthur Sloane (born September 3, 1905, died June 16, 1975) in Cleveland, Ohio, though some argue that it was not conceived of until 1968, after Sloane's contact with the Church of Satan[2]. The group was heavily influenced by gnosticism (especially that found in the contemporary book by Hans Jonas, The Gnostic Religion), and worshipped Sathanas, their name for Satan (Cultus Sathanas is a Latin version of Cult of Satan). Sathanas (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. Sloane's Coven was first publicly documented in the middle of 1968, when British occult writer Richard Cavendish said that he had received a letter from a Satanist "lodge" in Toledo, Ohio[3] and a 1967 interview with Sloane with a Toledo newspaper about his occult & fortune telling business made no mention of it [4]. While current scholars of Satanism point out that there is no substantial evidence showing Our Lady of Endor Coven existing prior to 1966[5], some also point out that it is likely that his group did have roots prior to that time:

It seems probable the group was in existence before 1966, although I have not found any traces of it in literature prior to that date. Sloane himself suggested that he was already operating in the 1940s, but given the many parallels with Wicca the group displayed, it is more likely its date of origin must be located sometime after 1953, the year Gerald Gardner's neopagan cult of witchcraft came into the open.[6]

Beliefs[edit]

Sloane refers in his June 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")[7]

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.[8]

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 had become very active in the Spiritualist Church movement, being a minister in a Spiritualist Church since the 1930s, and traveling to various locations in Ohio to perform services. He describes his coven of Sathanas as developing out of his occupation with Spiritualism. Sloane also corresponded with his contemporary Gerald Gardner (the founder of the Wicca movement, who died in 1964), concerning Sloane's interest in portraying true witches as worshiping Satan, or "Sathanas", a view which Gardner himself fought against in his writings.[9]. However, Sloane 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"[10]. 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.[11] Sloane highly recommended the book The Gnostic Religion, and selections from it were sometimes read at ceremonies.[12]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Herbert Arthur Sloane, by Catherine Yronwode, 2012. Full article.
  2. ^ "Regarding Herbert A. Sloane and his affiliation with the Church of Satan", by Magus Peter H. Gilmore, based on archival research by Magistra Peggy Nadramia, 2018.
  3. ^ Witches reported active in Toledo, Toledo Blade, 3 Dec 1968, p2
  4. ^ Toledo's Crystal Ball Business, by Tom Gearhart Toledo Blade, 6 Aug 1967, p11
  5. ^ Contemporary Esotericism, by Egil Asprem, Kennet Granholm, 2014, p. 75.
  6. ^ Ruben van Luijk, Children of Lucifer: The Origins of Modern Religious Satanism, Oxford Studies in Western Esotericism, Oxford University Press, 2016, p. 303.
  7. ^ The Gnostic Religion, by Hans Jonas, 1958, p. 93.
  8. ^ The Gnostic Religion, by Hans Jonas, 1958, p. 95.
  9. ^ Black Magic, Satanism, Voodoo, by Dr. Leo L. Martello, 1972 (Interview with Sloane on pp. 31-34, Our Lord Sathanas)
  10. ^ This remark indicates Sloane's superficial knowledge of the ancient Yezedee religion of the Middle East. While their Muslim detractors accuse the Yezedees of being Satan-worshippers, the Yezedees themselves hotly deny being such.
  11. ^ From the Church of Satan Archives, by Peggy Nadramia, 2016. Full article.
  12. ^ Black Magic, Satanism, Voodoo, by Dr. Leo L. Martello, 1972 (Interview with Sloane on pp. 31-34, Our Lord Sathanas)

Historical References[edit]

Church of Satan articles discussing Sloane's connections with the Church of Satan[edit]

General[edit]