Satanism is a group of ideological and philosophical beliefs based on the character of Satan. 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.
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.
Contemporary religious Satanism is predominantly an American phenomenon, the ideas spreading elsewhere with the effects of globalization and the Internet. The Internet spreads awareness of other Satanists, and is also the main battleground for Satanist disputes. Satanism started to reach 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. It was estimated that there were 50,000 Satanists in 1990. There may now be as many as 100,000 Satanists in the world.
- 1 Definition
- 2 Accusations of Satanism
- 3 Artistic Satanism
- 4 Religious Satanism
- 5 Controversies
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 External links
In their study of Satanism, the religious studies scholars Asbjorn 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'."
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".
Accusations of Satanism
Historically, some people or groups have been specifically described as worshiping Satan or the Devil, or of being devoted to the work of Satan. The widespread preponderance of these groups in European cultures is in part connected with the importance and meaning of Satan within Christianity.
- Pagans celebrating Pan, Odin, Perkūnas, or other pagan deities were often claimed by the Catholic Church to be worshiping the Devil and his crones and minions. Examples of this can be found in the medieval Canon Episcopi, for example, where witches are described as serving Satan along with the goddess Diana. At least from the onset of the Renaissance, however, the Catholic Church came to regard Ancient Rome, including the lessons from Pagan Roman mythology, in a more positive light
- Many gnostic groups have been regarded as Satanic, with its prominent details implying Lucifer, or the serpent, as being a true god or prophet that liberated Adam and Eve while the god of the Old Testament is regarded as a demiurge. Hegemonius accused Mani, founder of Manicheanism, of being Satanic when Mani said that Jehovah is "the devil god which created the world" and that "he who spoke with Moses, the Jews, and the priests, is the [Prince] of Darkness, not the god of truth."
- The witch trials in early modern Europe, in particular, the notion that witches congregated at a Witches' Sabbath in order to serve the Devil.
- Gilles de Rais (15th century, France) was a French nobleman who was tried and executed for the murders of hundreds of children in quasi-Satanic rituals.
- Johann Georg Faust (16th century, Germany). Many instructions, in German and in Latin, for making a pact with the Devil were attributed to him. These were collected and published in Germany in a few of the volumes of Das Kloster (1845–1849).
- Urbain Grandier (17th century, France). Although set up by the Catholic Church, a very famous document, in Latin, of a pact with the Devil he allegedly wrote has been preserved.
- People involved in the Poison Affair, such as Catherine Deshayes and Étienne Guibourg (17th century, France). The documentation from their trial is the principal Early Modern source for information on the Black Mass.
- The Marquis de Sade (18th century, France), described by Iwan Bloch as being a fanatic Satanist. His works graphically described blasphemy against the Catholic Church, such as an orgy resembling a Black Mass conducted by Pope Pius VI in the Vatican (in his novel Juliette).
- In 1865, the anti-Vatican Italian poet Giosuè Carducci published his poem Inno a Satana ("Hymn to Satan"), praising Satan as the god of reason and expressing religious hatred towards Christianity.
- Many adherents of the Decadent movement, such as the Polish author Stanisław Przybyszewski, the Belgian artist Félicien Rops, and the French poet Charles Baudelaire (who published Les Litanies de Satan in 1857) either called themselves Satanists, or created overtly Satanist artwork and literature.
- Some French movements widely described as being Satanist by French writers of the time (late 19th to early 20th centuries). The most well-known description available in English is the 1891 novel Là-bas by Joris-Karl Huysmans. However, there were numerous other well-known personalities in France that were related to the circles Huysmans describes, such as Joseph-Antoine Boullan, Stanislas de Guaita, Henri Antoine Jules-Bois, and Joséphin Péladan, who either wrote about Satanism in France, or were accused of being Satanists themselves.
- Freemasonry was described as being Satanist in the completely discredited Taxil hoax.
- Palladists are a Satanist society or member of that society. Its actual existence is a matter of dispute.
- In Germany, from about 1910 to 1925, Hanns Heinz Ewers, who was becoming a popular German horror writer (including for film scripts), was giving lectures on Die Religion des Satan (The Religion of Satan), inspired by Stanisław Przybyszewski's 1897 German work Die Synagoge des Satan (The Synagogue of Satan). In 1926, Eugen Grosche founded the Fraternitas Saturni, which dealt with both Lucifer and Satan, and published the book Satanische Magie (Satanic Magic) the same year.
- At least two Satanic (or "Luciferian") sects existed in France in the 1930s. One was led by Maria de Naglowska, and had rituals dedicated to Satan and Lucifer. Another, led by a former Catholic priest, celebrated an inversion of the Latin Mass (a "Luciferian Mass"), which included the phrase "In nomine Domini Dei nostri Satanae Luciferi Excelsi" (a phrase that re-appeared 30 years later in Anton LaVey's Satanic Bible).
The Yazidis, a minority religion of the Middle East who worship Melek Taus, are often referred to as Satan worshippers by some Muslims. Due to this, they have been targeted for conversion and extermination by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
Satanic ritual abuse hysteria
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 many different professions, from the police to politicians, and that they had been powerful enough to cover up their crimes.
A key source behind the promotion of the conspiracy theory was fundamentalist and evangelical forms of Christianity, and in particular Pentecostalism. Evangelical Christian groups were involved in promoting belief in the Satanic conspiracy, holding conferences, and producing books and videotapes that promoted belief. Despite the strong impact of evangelical Christian groups, there were also those from Jewish and secular backgrounds promoting this idea too. Many of those involved in this anti-Satanism movement insisted that children making such allegations were telling the truth, with "believe the children" being a widely repeated mantra in it.
The anthropologist Jean La Fontaine examined the allegations of SRA in Britain, noting 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 individuals were involved in wider Satanist groups.
European Enlightenment, some works, such as Paradise Lost, were taken up by Romantics like Byron and described as presenting the biblical figure of Satan as an allegory representing a crisis of faith, individualism, free will, wisdom and enlightenment. Those works actually featuring Satan as a heroic character are fewer in number but do exist. George Bernard Shaw and Mark Twain (cf. Letters from the Earth) included such characterizations in their works long before religious Satanists took up the pen. From then on, Satan and Satanism started to gain a new meaning outside of Christianity.
Black metal has often been connected with Satanism, in part for the lyrical content of several bands and their frequent use of imagery often tied to left hand path beliefs (such as the inverted pentagram). 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. In some instances, followers of right hand path religions use Satanic references for entertainment purposes and shock value. Most of black metal's "first wave" bands only used Satanism for shock value; one of the few exceptions is Mercyful Fate singer King Diamond, who follows LaVeyan Satanism and whom Michael Moynihan calls "one of the only performers of the '80s Satanic Metal who was more than just a poseur using a devilish image for shock value". One early precursor to Satanic metal was the 1969 rock album Witchcraft Destroys Minds & Reaps Souls, which contained numerous references to Satanism that reappeared in later Satanic rock music.
Glen Benton, vocalist and bassist of the band Deicide, once openly claimed to be a practitioner of theistic Satanism, and has spoken publicly to profess staunch anti-Christian sentiment. The controversial Dissection frontman Jon Nödtveidt openly spoke about his "chaos-gnostic" satanic beliefs, being a member of the Misanthropic Luciferian Order, and called his band "the sonic propaganda unit of the MLO". Norwegian black metal artists such as Euronymous from Mayhem and Infernus from Gorgoroth have also identified themselves as Satanists and actively promoted their beliefs. Numerous church burnings that covered parts of Norway in the early 1990s were also attributed to youths involved in the black metal movement, which included people promoting theistic Satanic beliefs and strong anti-LaVeyan attitudes. However, the legitimacy of such actions as Satanic endeavors, rather than simply rebellious actions done for publicity, is something that has been doubted by even some of those who contribute to the genre.
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. Dyrendal, Lewis, and Petersen believed that it was not a single movement, but rather a milieu. 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.
LaVeyan Satanism was founded in 1966 by Anton LaVey through the establishment of the Church of Satan. Its central text, The Satanic Bible, was published in 1969. The fundamentals of the religion's creed are synthesized in The Nine Satanic Statements, The Nine Satanic Sins, and The Eleven Satanic Rules of the Earth. Contrary to popular belief, LaVeyan Satanism does not involve the worship of deities. It is an atheistic philosophy that asserts the individual as their own god. Adherents instead see the character of Satan as an archetype of pride, carnality and enlightenment. Adherents to the philosophy have described Satanism as a non-spiritual religion of the flesh, or "...the world's first carnal religion".
The Church of Satan
The Church of Satan was established at the Black House in San Francisco, California, on Walpurgisnacht, April 30, 1966, by Anton Szandor LaVey, who was the church's High Priest until his death in 1997. In 2001, Peter H. Gilmore was appointed to the position of high priest, and the church's headquarters were moved to Hell's Kitchen, Manhattan, New York City. The Church is dedicated to the religion of LaVeyan Satanism as codified in The Satanic Bible. The church rejects the legitimacy of any other organizations who claim to be Satanists.
First Satanic Church
After LaVey's death in 1997, the Church of Satan was taken over by a new administration and its headquarters was 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
The Satanic Temple is an American religious and political activist organization based in New York. The organization actively participates in public affairs that have manifested in several public political actions and efforts at lobbying, with a focus on the separation of church and state and using satire against Christian groups that it believes interfere with personal freedom.
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. Satan is thus used as a symbol representing "the eternal rebel" against arbitrary authority and social norms.
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. 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.
Third Term of the Trinity
Our Lady of Endor Coven
Our Lady of Endor Coven, also known as Ophite Cultus Satanas (originally spelled "Sathanas"), was a satanic cult founded in 1948 by Herbert Arthur Sloane in Toledo, Ohio. The group was heavily influenced by gnosticism (especially that found in the contemporary book by Hans Jonas, The Gnostic Religion), and worshiped 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.
Order of Nine Angles
The authors Per Faxneld and Jesper Petersen write that the Order of Nine Angles (ONA, O9A) "represent a dangerous and extreme form of Satanism". The ONA first attracted public attention during the 1980s and 1990s after being mentioned in books detailing fascist Satanism. They were initially formed in the United Kingdom and are presently organized around clandestine cells (which it calls traditional nexions) and around what it calls sinister tribes.
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.
Temple of Set
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, who left because of administrative and philosophical disagreements. ToS deliberately self-differentiates from CoS in several ways, most significantly in theology and sociology. 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.
Setianism, in theory, is similar to theistic Satanism. The principle deity of Setianism is the ancient Egyptian god Set, or Seth, the god of adversary. Set supposedly is the Dark Lord behind the Hebrew entity Satan. Set, as the first principle of consciousness, is emulated by Setians, who symbolize the concept of individual, subjective intelligence distinct from the natural order as the "Black Flame". (Some people who are not members of the Temple of Set find spiritual inspiration in the Egyptian god Set, and may share some beliefs with the organization. The belief system in general is referred to as Setianism.)
In 2004 it was claimed that Satanism was allowed in the Royal Navy of the British Armed Forces, despite opposition from Christians. 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".
Supreme Court Ruling
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- INTERVIEW FOR THE FANS BY THE FANS. - Final Interview with Jon Nödtveidt -.
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- Ihsahn Interview
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- Dyrendal, Lewis & Petersen 2016, p. 4.
- Dyrendal, Lewis & Petersen 2016, pp. 7–9.
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- Dyrendal, Lewis & Petersen 2016, p. 6.
- Who's? Right: Mankind, Religions & The End Times & Warman-Stallings 2012, p. 35.
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- Senholt, Jacob. Secret Identities in The Sinister Tradition: Political Esotericism and the Convergence of Radical Islam, Satanism and National Socialism in the Order of Nine Angles, in Per Faxneld & Jesper Petersen (eds), The Devil's Party: Satanism in Modernity. Oxford University Press, 2012. ISBN 9780199779246
- FAQ About ONA
- Angular Momentum: from Traditional to Progressive Satanism in the Order of Nine Angles
- Sinister Tribes Of The ONA
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- Royal Navy to allow devil worship CNN
- Carter, Helen. The devil and the deep blue sea: Navy gives blessing to sailor Satanist. The Guardian
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- Ministry of Defence Request for Information. Navy Command FOI Section, 7 January 2016.
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- Baddeley, Gavin (2010). Lucifer Rising: Sin, Devil Worship & Rock n' Roll (third ed.). London: Plexus. ISBN 978-0-85965-455-5.
- Dyrendal, Asbjørn (2012). "Satan and the Beast: The Influence of Aleister Crowley on Modern Satanism". In Henrik Bogdan and Martin P. Starr (eds.). Aleister Crowley and Western Esotericism. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 369–394. ISBN 978-0-19-986309-9.
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