For other uses, see Satanism (disambiguation).
The downward-pointing pentacle is often used to represent Satanism.

Satanism is a group of ideological and philosophical beliefs 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. In the 1980s and 1990s, the Satanic ritual abuse hysteria spread through the United States and United Kingdom, amid unfounded fears that groups of Satanists were regularly sexually abusing and murdering children in their rites. In virtually all 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.

Eliphas Levi's Sabbatic Goat (known as The Goat of Mendes or Baphomet) has become one of the most common symbols of Satanism.

Since the 19th century, various small religious groups have emerged that self-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 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 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'."[6]

Elsewhere, Petersen noted that "Satanism as something others do is very different from Satanism as a self-designation".[7] Eugene Gallagher noted that, as commonly used, Satanism was usually "a polemical, not a descriptive term".[8]


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.[9] For instance, in the Book of Samuel, David is presented as the satan ("adversary") of the Phillistines, while in the Book of Numbers it appears as a verb, when God sends an angel to satan ("to oppose") Balaam.[9] 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.[10] This figure of 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.[11]

The terms "Satanism" and "Satanist" are first recorded in the sixteenth century, when they were used by Christian groups to attack other, rival Christian groups.[12] In a Roman Catholic tract of 1565, the author condemns the "heresies, blasphemies, and sathanismes [sic]" of the Protestants.[13] In an Anglican work of 1559, Anabaptists and other Protestant sects are condemned as "swarmes of Satanistes [sic]".[13] The word "Satanism" was adopted into English from the French satanisme.[13]

Antagonism towards 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.


Saint Wolfgang and the Devil, by Michael Pacher.
Title illustration of Johannes Praetorius (writer) Blocksbergs Verrichtung (1668) showing many traditional features of the medieval Witches' Sabbath

The Inquisition claimed that the Cathars, a Christian sect which rejected Catholic doctrine, had conducted nocturnal orgies in which they had kissed the Devil's anus.[14] 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.[15]

Within Christian thought, the idea developed that certain individuals could make a pact with Satan.[16] This may have emerged after observing that pacts with gods and goddesses played a role in various pre-Christian, "pagan" belief systems, or that such pacts were also made as part of the Christian cult of saints.[17] Another possibility is that 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.[18] 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.[19]

The accusations that had been levelled at heretics in the Late Middle Ages came to be applied to witches in the ensuing Early Modern period.[20] Most historians agree that the majority of those persecuted in these witch trials were innocent of any involvement in Devil worship.[21] 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.[22]

In the early 20th century, the British novelist Dennis Wheatley produced a range of influential novels in which his protagonists battled Satanic groups.[23] At the same time, non-fiction 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.[24] 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.[25] 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.[26] In the United States during the 1960s and 1970s, various Christian preachers—the most famous being Mike Warnke in his 1972 book The Satan-Seller—claimed that they had been members of Satanic groups who carried out sex rituals and animal sacrifices before discovering Christianity.[27] 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".[28]

Other publications made allegations of Satanism against historical figures. The 1970s saw the publication of the Christian Richard Wurmbrand's book in which he argued—without corroborating evidence—that the socio-political theorist Karl Marx had been a Satanist.[29]


The Yazidis, a minority religion of the Middle East who worship Melek Taus, are often referred to as Satan worshippers by some Muslims.[42] Due to this, they have been targeted for conversion and extermination by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.[43]

Satanic ritual abuse hysteria

Main article: Satanic ritual abuse

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.[44] Initially, the alleged perpetrators of such crimes were labelled "witches", although the term "Satanist" was soon adopted as a favoured alternative,[44] and the phenomenon itself came to be called "the Satanism Scare".[45] 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.[44]

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.[46] In 1983, allegations were made that the McMartin family—owners of a preschool in California—were 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.[47] The publicity generated by the case resulted in similar allegations being made in various other parts of the United States.[48] 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.[49] Although some involved in the anti-Satanism movement were from Jewish and secular backgrounds,[50] 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.[45] Various figures in law enforcement also came to be promoters of the conspiracy theory, with such "cult cops" holding various conferences to promote it.[51] The scare was later imported to the United Kingdom through visiting evangelicals and became popular among some of the country's social workers,[52] resulting in a range of accusations and trials across Britain.[53]

In the late 1980s, the Satanic Scare had lost its impetus following increasing scepticism about such allegations,[54] and a number of those who had been convicted of perpetrating Satanic ritual abuse saw their convictions overturned.[55] 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.[55] In the UK, the Department of Health commissioned the anthropologist Jean La Fontaine to examine the allegations of SRA.[56] 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.[57] 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.[58]

Artistic Satanism

Literary Satanism

Satan in Paradise Lost, as illustrated by Gustave Doré

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.[3]

In music

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.[59] In some instances, followers of right hand path religions use Satanic references for entertainment purposes and shock value.[60] 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[61] 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".[62] One early precursor to Satanic metal was the 1969 rock album Witchcraft Destroys Minds & Reaps Souls, which contained numerous references to Satanism (including Hail Satan) 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".[63] Norwegian black metal artists such as Euronymous from Mayhem and Infernus from Gorgoroth have also identified themselves as Satanists and actively promoted their beliefs.[64] 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.[65] 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.[66]

Religious Satanism

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.[67] Dyrendal, Lewis, and Petersen believed that it was not a single movement, but rather a milieu.[68] They nevertheless referred to it as a new religious movement.[67] They believed that there was a family resemblance that united all of the varying groups in this milieu,[6] and that most of them were self religions.[68] 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.[69]

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.[70] 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.[70] Rationalist Satanism is used to describe the trend in the Satanic milieu which is atheistic, sceptical, materialistic, and epicurean.[71] 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.[71]

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.[72] He nevertheless utilised 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.[73]

Reactive Satanism

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.[70] 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.[71]

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.[74]

LaVeyan Satanism and The Church of Satan

The Sigil of Baphomet, the official insignia of the Church of Satan and LaVeyan Satanism.

Anton LaVey, who has been referred to as "The Father of Satanism",[75] 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.[76] 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.[77] He expressed the view that self-indulgence was a desirable trait,[78] and that hate and aggression were not wrong or undesirable emotions but that they were necessary and advantageous for survival.[79] Accordingly, he praised the Seven Deadly Sins as virtues which were beneficial for the individual.[80] 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."[81]

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".[82] Scholars agree that there is no reliably documented case of Satanic continuity prior to the founding of the Church of Satan.[83] It was the first organized church in modern times to be devoted to the figure of Satan,[84] and according to Faxneld and Petersen, the Church represented "the first public, highly visible, and long-lasting organization which propounded a coherent satanic discourse".[85] LaVey's book, The Satanic Bible, has been described as the most important document to influence contemporary Satanism.[86] The book contains the core principles of Satanism, and is considered the foundation of its philosophy and dogma.[87] Petersen noted that it is "in many ways the central text of the Satanic milieu",[88] with Lap similarly testifying to its dominant position within the wider Satanic movement.[89] David G. Bromley calls it "iconoclastic" and "the best-known and most influential statement of Satanic theology."[90] 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."[91]

A number of religious studies scholar have described LaVey's Satanism as a form of "self-religion" or "self-spirituality",[92] 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.[93] 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".[94] 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".[95] 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."[96] The historian of religion Mattias Gardell described LaVey's as "a rational ideology of egoistic hedonism and self-preservation",[97] while Nevill Drury characterised LaVeyan Satanism as "a religion of self-indulgence".[98] It has also been described as an "institutionalism of Machiavellian self-interest".[99]

Anton Szandor LaVey

Prominent Church leader Blanche Barton described Satanism as "an alignment, a lifestyle".[100] LaVey and the Church espoused the view that "Satanists are born, not made";[101] that they are outsiders by their nature, living as they see fit,[102] 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.[103] Adherents to the philosophy have described Satanism as a non-spiritual religion of the flesh, or "...the world's first carnal religion".[104] LaVey used Christianity as a negative mirror for his new faith,[105] with LaVeyan Satanism rejecting the basic principles and theology of Christian belief.[94] 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.[106] LaVeyans view their religion as a force for redressing this balance by encouraging materialism, egoism, stratification, carnality, atheism, and social Darwinism.[106] 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.[94] In doing so, it places an emphasis on the carnal rather than the spiritual.[107]

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".[108] 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 personality—not an external deity.[109] Satan is used as a representation of personal liberty and individualism.[110] 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.[111] 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.[112] 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"[113] The term "Theistic Satanism" has been described as "oxymoronic" by the church and its High Priest.[114] 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, [115] and maintains a purist approach to Satanism as expounded by LaVey,[84]

Theistic Satanism

Main article: Theistic Satanism

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.[116][117] 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.


A version of the symbol of Lucifer, used by some modern Satanists
Main article: Luciferianism

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.

Order of Nine Angles

Main article: Order of Nine Angles
One of the principal symbols of the ONA

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.[118] 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.[118] From 1976 onward he authored an array of texts for the tradition, codifying and extending its teachings, mythos, and structure.[119] Various academics have argued that Long is the pseudonym of British Neo-Nazi activist David Myatt,[120] an allegation that Myatt has denied.[121] The ONA arose to public attention in the early 1980s,[122] spreading its message through magazine articles over the following two decades.[123] In 2000, it established a presence on the internet,[123] later adopting social media to promote its message.[124]

The ONA is a secretive organization,[125] and lacks any central administration, instead operating as a network of allied Satanic practitioners, which it terms the "kollective".[126] It consists largely of autonomous cells known as "nexions".[126] 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.[126]

The ONA describe their occultism as "Traditional Satanism".[127] The ONA's writings encourage human sacrifice,[128] referring to their victims as opfers.[129] According to the Order's teachings, such opfers must demonstrate character faults that mark them out as being worthy of death,[130] and accordingly the ONA insists that children must never be victims.[131] 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.[132] Faxneld described the Order as "a dangerous and extreme form of Satanism",[133] while Harvey claimed that the ONA fit the stereotype of the Satanist "better than other groups" by embracing "deeply shocking" and illegal acts.[134]

Temple of Set

Main article: 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,[135] who left because of administrative and philosophical disagreements. ToS deliberately self-differentiates from CoS in several ways, most significantly in theology and sociology.[136] 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.[136]

The Temple presents the view that the name Satan was originally a corruption of the name Set.[137] The Temple teaches that Set is a real entity,[138] the only real god in existence, with all others created by the human imagination.[139] Set is described as having given humanity — through the means of non-natural evolution — the "Black Flame" or the "Gift of Set", a questioning intellect which sets the species apart from other animals.[140] While Setians are expected to revere Set, they do not worship him.[141] Central to Setian philosophy is the human individual,[105] with self-deification presented as the ultimate goal.[142]

In 2005 Petersen noted that academic estimates for the Temple's membership varied from between 300 and 500,[143] and Granholm suggested that in 2007 the Temple contained circa 200 members.[144]

First Satanic Church

Main article: First Satanic Church

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.

Third Term of the Trinity

In 1935 the Temple of the Third Term, an esoteric group that included Satanic rhetoric and elements, was established in a room in Paris, France by Maria de Naglowska, a Russian occultist who had fled to France following the Russian Revolution.[145] 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.[145] Her early disciplines, who underwent what she called "Satanic Initiations", included models and art students recruited from bohemian circles.[145]

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.[146]

The Satanic Temple

Main article: 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[147][148] and efforts at lobbying,[149] 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.[150] Satan is thus used as a symbol representing "the eternal rebel" against arbitrary authority and social norms.[151][152]

Disallowed by Royal Navy

In 2004 it was claimed that Satanism was allowed in the Royal Navy of the British Armed Forces, despite opposition from Christians.[153][154][155] 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".[156]

Supreme Court Ruling

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.[157][158] 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.[159][160]

See also


  1. B.A. Robinson (March 2006). "Religious Satanism, 16th-century Satanism, Satanic Dabbling, etc". Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance. Retrieved March 24, 2013.
  2. Gilmore, Peter. "Science and Satanism". Point of Inquiry Interview. Retrieved 9 December 2013.
  3. 1 2 3 Jesper Aagaard Petersen (2009). "Introduction: Embracing Satan". Contemporary Religious Satanism: A Critical Anthology. Ashgate Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7546-5286-1.
  4. Alisauskiene, Milda (2009). "The Peculiarities of Lithuanian Satanism". In Jesper Aagaard Petersen. Contemporary Religious Satanism: A Critical Anthology. Ashgate Publishing. ISBN 0-7546-5286-6.
  5. "Satanism stalks Poland". BBC News. 2000-06-05.
  6. 1 2 Dyrendal, Lewis & Petersen 2016, p. 7.
  7. Petersen 2012, p. 92.
  8. Gallagher 2006, p. 151.
  9. 1 2 Medway 2001, p. 51.
  10. Medway 2001, p. 52.
  11. Medway 2001, p. 53.
  12. Medway 2001, p. 257.
  13. 1 2 3 Medway 2001, p. 9.
  14. Medway 2001, p. 124.
  15. Medway 2001, p. 126.
  16. Medway 2001, p. 57.
  17. Medway 2001, p. 58.
  18. Medway 2001, pp. 57–58.
  19. Medway 2001, pp. 60–63.
  20. Medway 2001, p. 133.
  21. Medway 2001, p. 70.
  22. Scarre & Callow 2001, p. 2.
  23. Medway 2001, pp. 266–267.
  24. Medway 2001, pp. 141–142.
  25. Medway 2001, pp. 143–149.
  26. Medway 2001, pp. 159–161.
  27. Medway 2001, pp. 164–170.
  28. Medway 2001, p. 161.
  29. Medway 2001, pp. 262–263.
  30. 1 2 3 Robbins, Rossell Hope, The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft and Demonology, 1959.
  31. Manichaeism by Alan G. Hefner in The Mystica, undated
  32. Acta Archelai of Hegemonius, Chapter XII, c. AD 350, quoted in Translated Texts of Manicheism, compiled by Prods Oktor Skjærvø, page 68. History of the Acta Archelai explained in the Introduction, page 11
  33. Extensively described in: Zacharias, Gerhard, Der dunkle Gott: Satanskult und Schwarze Messe, München (1964).
  34. Original sources: Ravaisson, François Archives de la Bastille (Paris, 1866-1884, volumes IV, V, VI, VII)
  35. Dr. Iwan Bloch, Marquis de Sade: His Life and Work, 1899: "The Marquis de Sade gave evidence in his novels of being a fanatic Satanist."
  36. Jullian, Philippe, Esthétes et Magiciens, 1969; Dreamers of Decadence, 1971.
  37. Bois, Jules, Le Satanisme et la Magie - avec une étude de J.-K. Huysmans, Paris, 1895.
  38. Huysmans, J.-K., Là-Bas, 1891
  39. Waite, A.E., Devil Worship in France, London: George Redway 1896.
  40. Per Faxneld, Witches, Anarchism, and Evolutionism, in The Devil's Party, Chapter 3, Oxford University Press, 2013: ...from the 1910s and onwards (until at least 1925), horror author and poet Hanns Heinz Ewers (1871-1943) held wildly popular lectures with the title "Die Religion des Satan", based almost verbatim on "Die Synagoge des Satan". In the 1920s, the satanic content in the teachings of the German esoteric order Fraternitas Saturni was greatly inspired by Przybyszewski's ideas.
  41. Messe Luciférienne, in Pierre Geyraud, Les Petites Églises de Paris, 1937 (Source here: Messe Luciférienne).
  42. "The Devil Worshipers of the Middle East : Their Beliefs & Sacred Books" Holmes Pub Group LLC (December 1993) ISBN 1-55818-231-4 ISBN 978-1-55818-231-8
  43. O'Loughlin, Ed (16 August 2014). "Devil in the detail as Yazidis look to Kurds in withstanding Islamic radicals' advance". The Irish Times. Retrieved 16 August 2014.
  44. 1 2 3 La Fontaine 2016, p. 13.
  45. 1 2 La Fontaine 2016, p. 15.
  46. Medway 2001, pp. 175–177.
  47. Medway 2001, pp. 178–183.
  48. Medway 2001, p. 183.
  49. La Fontaine 2016, p. 16.
  50. Medway 2001, p. 369; La Fontaine 2016, p. 15.
  51. Medway 2001, pp. 191–195.
  52. Medway 2001, pp. 220–221.
  53. Medway 2001, pp. 234–248.
  54. Medway 2001, pp. 210–211.
  55. 1 2 Medway 2001, p. 213.
  56. Medway 2001, p. 249.
  57. La Fontaine 2016, pp. 13–14.
  58. Medway 2001, p. 118; La Fontaine 2016, p. 14.
  59. "Death to False Satanism | NOISEY". NOISEY. Retrieved 2016-03-08.
  60. Baddeley, Gavin (1993). Raising Hell!: The Book of Satan and Rock 'n' Roll.
  61. Götz Kühnemund: A History of Horror. In: Rock Hard, no. 282, November 2010, pp. 20-27.
  62. Michael Moynihan, Didrik Søderlind: Lords of Chaos: The Bloody Rise of the Satanic Metal Underground, Feral House 1998, pp. 15f.
  63. INTERVIEW FOR THE FANS BY THE FANS. - Final Interview with Jon Nödtveidt -.
  64. Garry Sharpe-Young (2007). Metal: The Definitive Guide.
  65. Grude, Torstein (Director) (January 1, 1998). Satan rir media (motion picture). Norway: Grude, Torstein.
  66. Ihsahn Interview
  67. 1 2 Dyrendal, Lewis & Petersen 2016, p. 3.
  68. 1 2 Dyrendal, Lewis & Petersen 2016, p. 4.
  69. Dyrendal, Lewis & Petersen 2016, pp. 79.
  70. 1 2 3 Dyrendal, Lewis & Petersen 2016, p. 5.
  71. 1 2 3 Dyrendal, Lewis & Petersen 2016, p. 6.
  72. Hutton 1999, p. 175; Dyrendal 2012, pp. 369–370.
  73. Hutton 1999, p. 175.
  74. Medway 2001, pp. 362–365.
  75. "Contemporary Religious Satanism".
  76. Dyrendal 2013, p. 129.
  77. Lap 2013, p. 92.
  78. Maxwell-Stuart 2011, p. 198.
  79. Lap 2013, p. 94.
  80. Gardell 2003, p. 288; Schipper 2010, p. 107.
  81. La Fontaine 1999, p. 97.
  82. Lewis 2001, p. 5.
  83. Contemporary Esotericism, Asprem & Granholm 2014, p. 75.
  84. 1 2 Lewis 2002, p. 5.
  85. Faxneld & Petersen 2013, p. 81.
  86. Lewis 2003, p. 116.
  87. Lewis 2003, p. 105.
  88. Petersen 2013, p. 232.
  89. Lap 2013, p. 85.
  90. Bromley 2005, pp. 8127–8128.
  91. Gallagher 2005, p. 6530.
  92. Harvey 1995, p. 290; Partridge 2004, p. 82; Petersen 2009, pp. 224225; Schipper 2010, p. 108; Faxneld & Petersen 2013, p. 79.
  93. Lap 2013, p. 84.
  94. 1 2 3 La Fontaine 1999, p. 96.
  95. The Invention of Satanism & Asbjorn Dyrendal, Jesper Aa. Petersen, James R. Lewis 2016, p. 70.
  96. Lewis 2002, p. 2.
  97. Gardell 2003, p. 288.
  98. Drury 2003, p. 188.
  99. Taub & Nelson 1993, p. 528.
  100. La Fontaine 1999, p. 99.
  101. Contemporary Religious Satanism: A Critical Anthology & Petersen 2009, p. 9.
  102. The Devil's Party: Satanism in Modernity & Faxneld, Petersen 2013, p. 129.
  103. Satanism Today & Lewis 2001, p. 330.
  104. Who's? Right: Mankind, Religions & The End Times & Warman-Stallings 2012, p. 35.
  105. 1 2 Schipper 2010, p. 109.
  106. 1 2 Faxneld & Petersen 2013, p. 80.
  107. Lewis 2001b, p. 50.
  108. Controversial New Religions, Lewis & Petersen 2014, p. 408.
  109. Wright 1993, p. 143.
  110. Cavaglion & Sela-Shayovitz 2005, p. 255.
  111. LaVey 2005, pp. 44–45.
  112. High Priest, Magus Peter H. Gilmore. "Satanism: The Feared Religion".
  113. The Church of Satan [History Channel]. YouTube. 12 January 2012.
  114. High Priest, Magus Peter H. Gilmore. "F.A.Q. Fundamental Beliefs".
  115. Ohlheiser, Abby (7 November 2014). "The Church of Satan wants you to stop calling these 'devil worshiping' alleged murderers Satanists". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2015-11-19.
  116. Partridge, Christopher Hugh (2004). The Re-enchantment of the West. p. 82. Retrieved 2008-05-12.
  117. "Prayers to Satan".
  118. 1 2 Goodrick-Clarke 2003, p. 218; Senholt 2013, p. 256.
  119. Goodrick-Clarke 2003, p. 218; Senholt 2013, p. 256; Monette 2013, p. 87.
  120. Goodrick-Clarke 2003, p. 216; Senholt 2013, p. 268; Faxneld 2013a, p. 207.
  121. Ryan 2003, p. 53; Senholt 2013, p. 267.
  122. Gardell 2003, p. 293.
  123. 1 2 Senholt 2013, p. 256.
  124. Monette 2013, p. 107.
  125. Kaplan 2000, p. 236.
  126. 1 2 3 Monette 2013, p. 88.
  127. Faxneld 2013a, p. 207; Faxneld 2013b, p. 88; Senholt 2013, p. 250; Sieg 2013, p. 252.
  128. Goodrick-Clarke 2003, pp. 218219; Baddeley 2010, p. 155.
  129. Goodrick-Clarke 2003, p. 219.
  130. Kaplan 2000, p. 237; Ryan 2003, p. 54.
  131. Harvey 1995, p. 292; Kaplan 2000, p. 237.
  132. Monette 2013, p. 114.
  133. Faxneld 2013a, p. 207.
  134. Harvey 1995, p. 292.
  135. Aquino, Michael (2002). Church of Satan (PDF). San Francisco: Temple of Set.
  136. 1 2 Harvey, Graham (2009). "Satanism: Performing Alterity and Othering". In Jesper Aagaard Petersen. Contemporary Religious Satanism: A Critical Anthology. Ashgate Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7546-5286-1.
  137. Gardell 2003, p. 390.
  138. Petersen 2005, p. 436; Harvey 2009, p. 32.
  139. Granholm 2009, pp. 93–94; Granholm 2013, p. 218.
  140. La Fontaine 1999, p. 102; Gardell 2003, p. 291; Petersen 2005, p. 436.
  141. Granholm 2009, p. 94.
  142. Faxneld & Petersen 2013, p. 7.
  143. Petersen 2005, p. 435.
  144. Granholm 2009, p. 93; Granholm 2013, p. 223.
  145. 1 2 3 Medway 2001, p. 18.
  146. Lewis, James R. (2002). The Encyclopedia of Cults, Sects, and New Religions. Prometheus Books. p. 553. ISBN 1573922226.
  147. Massoud Hayoun (2013-12-08). "Group aims to put 'Satanist' monument near Oklahoma capitol | Al Jazeera America". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 2014-03-25.
  148. "Satanists petition to build monument on Oklahoma state capitol grounds | Washington Times Communities". The Washington Times. 2013-12-09. Retrieved 2014-03-25.
  149. Bugbee, Shane (2013-07-30). "Unmasking Lucien Greaves, Leader of the Satanic Temple | VICE United States". Retrieved 2014-03-25.
  150. Oppenheimer, Mark (July 10, 2015). "A Mischievous Thorn in the Side of Conservative Christianity". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2015-07-11.
  151. "FAQ". The Satanic Temple. Retrieved 2015-12-02.
  152. "What does Satan mean to the Satanic Temple? - CNN". CNN. Retrieved 2015-12-02.
  153. Royal Navy to allow devil worship CNN
  154. Carter, Helen. The devil and the deep blue sea: Navy gives blessing to sailor Satanist. The Guardian
  155. Navy approves first ever Satanist BBC News
  156. Ministry of Defence Request for Information. Navy Command FOI Section, 7 January 2016.
  157. Linda Greenhouse (March 22, 2005). "Inmates Who Follow Satanism and Wicca Find Unlikely Ally". The New York Times.
  158. "Before high court: law that allows for religious rights". The Christian Science Monitor.
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