Satanism is a group of religions that is composed of a diverse number of ideological and philosophical beliefs and social phenomena. Their shared feature include symbolic association with, admiration for the character of, and even veneration of Satan or similar rebellious, promethean, and liberating figures. Generally, those Satanists who believe in the Judeo-Christian concept of Satan are linked into the belief system of today's Judeo-Christian religion, as they believe in the same theology presented in the Hebrew Bible.

Satan, also called Lucifer by many Christians, first appears in the Books of Chronicles provoking David to take a census of Israel. In the Book of Job he is called "the Satan" (meaning "the accuser") and acted as the prosecutor in God's court. A character named "Satan" was described as the tempter of Jesus in many of the Gospels of early Christians. Christianity and Islam typically regard Satan as the adversary or enemy, but extensive popular redactions and recompositions of biblical tales have inserted his presence and influence into every aspect of adversarial role back to the Creation and Fall. By Christians and Muslims especially, the figure of Satan was treated variously as a rebellious or jealous competitor to human beings, to Jesus, and characterized as a fallen angel or demon ruling the penitential Underworld, chained in a deep pit, wandering the planet vying for souls or providing the impetus for all worldly travesty.

At points during the development of the Christian religion, Satan became its outspoken enemy[citation needed], and this served the interests of all those who would use this to their advantage, inclusive of those who fashioned or recomposed the mythos of Satanism. Particularly after the European Enlightenment, some works, such as Paradise Lost, were taken up by Romantics and described as presenting the biblical 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, William Blake, and Mark Twain (Letters from the Earth) included such characterizations in their works long before religious Satanists took up the pen.

File:Peter's Cross.svg

Although the public practice of Satanism began in 1966 with the founding of the Church of Satan, some historical precedents exist: a group called the Ophite Cultus Satanas was founded in Ohio by Herbert Arthur Sloane in 1948. Inspired by Gnosticism and Gerald Gardner's Wicca, the coven venerated Satan as both a horned god and ophite messiah.

A particular antique Norwegian grimoire,[1] in contrast to other Christian-oriented magical texts which describe Satan as an inferior spirit to be enslaved, contains a spell wherein the magician is instructed to renounce God and the Holy Spirit, and "completely swear to Lucifer, ruler of the Dark Abyss". The text itself claims to be originally from a manuscript in Wittenberg, similar to the many occult chapbooks pseudonymously ascribed to Doctor Faustus.

There was also a late 17th century French moral panic against alleged satanism during the Poison Affair (1675–1682), which occurred during the reign of Louis XIV and dealt with accusations of widespread poisonings, infanticide and forgery, presided over by an alleged satanic social network, which had no actual substance but reflected the aforementioned pre-Enlightenment popular religious anxieties.[2]

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. In contrast, Atheistic Satanists[3] consider themselves atheists, agnostics, or apatheists and regard Satan as merely symbolic of certain human traits. This categorization of Satanism (which could be categorized in other ways, for example "Traditional" versus "Modern"), is not necessarily adopted by Satanists themselves, who usually would not specify which type of Satanism they adhere to. Some Satanists believe in God in the sense of a Prime Mover but, like Atheistic Satanists, still worship themselves, due to the deist belief that God plays no part in mortal lives.

Despite heavy criticism from other religious groups, there are signs that Satanistic beliefs have become more socially tolerated. Satanism is now allowed in the Royal Navy of the British Armed Forces, despite much opposition from Christians,[4][5] [6] and, in 2005, the Supreme Court of the United States debated over protecting the religious rights of prison inmates after a lawsuit challenging the issue was filed to them.[7][8] The number of practitioners of Satanism has also been found to be on the rise in Poland [9] during recent years, despite Poland's long reputation as Europe's most devoutly Catholic country.[10]

Theistic SatanismEdit

File:Sigil of Lucifer.svg
Main article: Theistic Satanism

Theistic Satanism (also known as Spiritual or Traditional Satanism) is the worship or reverence of Satan as a deity. It comprises several viewpoints, and typically includes a belief in magic, which is manipulated through various rituals. It may also include the usage of meditation and self expansion. Traditional Satanists often find inspiration from older sources, such the 1862 book Satanism and Witchcraft.


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.


Main article: Palladists

Palladists are an alleged Theistic Satanist society or member of that society. The name Palladian comes from Pallas and refers to wisdom and learning. It is of no relation to the palladian style of Andrea Palladio.

Our Lady of Endor CovenEdit

Main article: 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.

Atheistic/Deistic SatanismEdit

Atheistic or Deistic Satanism is generally the same as Ethical egoism, in that the highest good is acting in one's own interest. Satanism has essentially been called "Egoism with ritual".

LaVeyan SatanismEdit

Main article: LaVeyan Satanism

LaVeyan Satanism is a religion founded in 1966 by Anton Szandor LaVey. Its teachings are based on individualism, self-indulgence, and "eye for an eye" morality. Unlike Theistic Satanists, LaVeyan Satanists are atheists, agnostics and apatheists who regard Satan as a symbol of man's inherent nature.[11] According to, LaVeyan Satanism is a "small religious group that is unrelated to any other faith, and whose members feel free to satisfy their urges responsibly, exhibit kindness to their friends, and attack their enemies".[12] Its beliefs were first detailed in The Satanic Bible and it is overseen by the Church of Satan.

Symbolic SatanismEdit

Symbolic Satanism[13][14] is the observance and practice of Satanic philosophies, customs and rituals.[15] In this interpretation of Satanism, the Satanist does not worship Satan in the theistic sense, but is an adversary to all spiritual creeds and religions.


Casual or adolescent satanismEdit

Adolescents use satanic symbols like the inverted pentagram, the trappings of the black mass, or demonic imagery to provide the impression of satanism.[16] This is a liminal experience, reserved primarily for shock value, and does not necessarily imply actual interest, or even belief, in the rites, symbolism, and philosophies of the various forms of Satanist religious practice cited above.[17]

Legitimacy debateEdit

The claims of religious legitimacy between theistic and LaVeyan Satanism have the two of them labeling each other as false, Theistic on the grounds of history and LaVeyan on the grounds of complete rejection of Christianity.[clarification needed]


The Church of SatanEdit

Main article: Church of Satan

The Church of Satan is an organization dedicated to the acceptance of the carnal self, as articulated in The Satanic Bible, written in 1969 by Anton Szandor LaVey.

First Satanic ChurchEdit

Main article: First Satanic Church

On Walpurgisnacht, April 30, 1966, Anton LaVey founded the "The Satanic Church" (which he would later rename "Church of Satan"). After his 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.

Temple of SetEdit

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,[18] who left because of administrative and philosophical disagreements. 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.

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.

Order of Nine AnglesEdit

Main article: Order of Nine Angles

The Order of Nine Angles (ONA) is a purported secretive Satanist organization mentioned in books that detail fascist Satanism. They were initially formed in the United Kingdom and rose to public note during the 1980s and 1990s. Presently, the ONA is organized around clandestine cells (which it calls traditional nexions)[19] and around what it calls sinister tribes.[20][21]

Before modern SatanismEdit

Historically, primarily in Christian European civilization over the centuries, but also in Muslim countries (for example, the Yezidis), 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. When viewing the historical development of the phenomenon of Satanism in the list below, it becomes evident that, while the earlier Christian examples may reflect the goals of the Catholic Church to overcome pagans and heretics (or to dispose of opponents, as was the case with Urbain Grandier), the later examples (at least from the time of the Marquis de Sade onwards) clearly express an open hatred, to the point of sacrilege and blasphemy in some cases, towards Christianity, and the Roman Catholic Church in particular.

Some of the main personalities and groups that have stood out over the centuries, are:

In the Middle EastEdit

The Yezidis, a minority religion of the Middle East who worship the Melek Taus, are often referred to as Satan worshipers by some Islamic sectors.[22]

In Christian culturesEdit

Relationship to popular musicEdit

Black metal music has often been connected with Satanism, in part to 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, such musicians 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.[33]

Glen Benton, vocalist and bassist of the band Deicide, once openly claimed to be a practitioner of Theistic Satanism, and has spoken publicly on numerous occasions to profess staunch anti-Christian sentiment. Mercyful Fate singer King Diamond has also openly admitted to practicing Satanism, which is widely and explicitly present in the album Don't Break The Oath. The late and controversial Dissection frontman Jon Nödtveidt, spoke about his "chaos-gnostic" satanic beliefs, being a member of the Misanthropic Luciferian Order, and claimed his band and music being sonic (satanic) propaganda devices. Norwegian black metal artists such as Euronymous from Mayhem and Infernus from Gorgoroth have also identified themselves as Satanists and actively promoted their beliefs.[34] 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 claiming to have theistic Satanic beliefs and strong "anti-LaVeyan" attitudes.[35] 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 those who contribute to the genre.[36]

See alsoEdit


  1. Anne Somerset: Black Books of Elverum: Galde Press, Inc: 1999
  2. Anne Somerset: The Affair of the Poisons: Murder, Infanticide and Satanism at the Court of Louis XIV: New York: St Martins Press: 2003 :
  3. Flowers, Stephen (1997). Lords of the Left-hand Path. Runa-Raven Press. ISBN 1-885972-08-3. 
  4. Royal Navy to allow devil worship CNN
  5. Carter, Helen. The devil and the deep blue sea: Navy gives blessing to sailor Satanist. The Guardian
  6. Navy approves first ever Satanist BBC News
  7. Linda Greenhouse. "Inmates Who Follow Satanism and Wicca Find Unlikely Ally". New York Times. 
  8. "Before high court: law that allows for religious rights". Christian Science Monitor. 
  9. Petersen, Jesper Aagaard, Contemporary religious Satanism: a critical anthology', Ashgate Publishing 2009, page 121.
  10. Satanism stalks Poland BBC News
  11. LaVey, Anton (1969). The Satanic Bible. Avon. p. 40. : "It is a common misconception that the Satanist does not believe in God...To the Satanist, "God" - by whatever name he is called, or by no name at all - is seen as a balancing factor..."
  12. Satanism
  13. Darkside Collective Ministry International
  14. Modern Satanism
  15. A'al, Jashan. Satanic Denominations - Modern Satanism
  16. Bob and Gretchen Passantino: Satanism: Grand Rapids: Zondervan: 1995
  17. Anthony Moriarty: The Psychology of Adolescent Satanism: New York: Praeger: 1992
  18. Aquino, Michael (2002) (PDF). Church of Satan. San Francisco: Temple of Set. 
  19. FAQ About ONA
  20. Angular Momentum: from Traditional to Progressive Satanism in the Order of Nine Angles
  21. Sinister Tribes Of The ONA
  22. “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
  23. 23.0 23.1 23.2 23.3 23.4 Robbins, Rossell Hope, The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft and Demonology, 1959.
  24. Extensively described in: Zacharias, Gerhard, Der dunkle Gott: Satanskult und Schwarze Messe, München (1964).
  25. Original sources: Ravaisson, François Archives de la Bastille (Paris, 1866-1884, volumes IV, V, VI, VII)
  26. 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."
  27. Jullian, Philippe, Esthétes et Magiciens, 1969; Dreamers of Decadence, 1971.
  28. Bois, Jules, Le Satanisme et la Magie - avec une étude de J.-K. Huysmans, Paris, 1895.
  29. Huysmans, J.-K., Là-Bas, 1891
  30. Waite, A.E., Devil Worship in France, 1896.
  31. Medway, Gareth, Lure of the Sinister: The Unnatural History of Satanism, 2001, page 18.
  32. Messe Luciférienne, in Pierre Geyraud, Les Petites Églises de Paris, 1937.
  33. Baddeley, Gavin. Raising Hell!: The Book of Satan and Rock 'n' Roll
  34. Garry Sharpe-Young (2007). Metal: The Definitive Guide. 
  35. Grude, Torstein (Director). (January 1, 1998). Satan rir Media. [motion picture]. Norway: Grude, Torstein. 
  36. Ihsahn Interview

Further reading Edit

  • Michelet, Jules (1862). Satanism and Witchcraft: The Classic Study of Medieval Superstition. ISBN 978-0806500591.  Considered the first modern work to discuss Satanism.
  • Cavendish, Richard (1967). The Black Arts: An Absorbing Account of Witchcraft, Demonology, Astrology, and Other Mystical Practices Throughout the Ages. ISBN 978-0399500350.  Summary of the history of Witchcraft, Satanism, and Devil Worship in the last part of the book.
  • Passantino, Bob and Gretchen: Satanism: Grand Rapids: Zondervan: 1995.
  • Zacharias, Gerhard (1980). The Satanic Cult. ISBN 978-0041330083.  Translated from the 1964 German edition by Christine Trollope.
  • Chornyisyn, Mykhailo (2009). Hail Satan. ISBN 978-0557064892. 
  • Wlodek, Nikodem (2004). Satans Raw. 
  • Medway, Gareth (2001). Lure of the Sinister: The Unnatural History of Satanism. ISBN 978-0814756454. 
  • Noctulius, Emperor (2007). The Path to Satan. ISBN 978-1434820556. 
  • Massimo Introvigne, I satanisti. Storia, riti e miti del satanismo, Sugarco, 2010

External linksEdit


ar:شيطانية frp:Satanismo az:Satanizm bn:স্যাটানিজম bar:Satanismus bg:Сатанизъм ca:Satanisme cs:Satanismus cy:Sataniaeth da:Satanisme de:Satanismus et:Satanism el:Σατανισμός es:Satanismo eo:Satanismo fa:شیطان‌پرستی fr:Satanisme (théiste) ko:사탄주의 hi:शैतानी धर्म hr:Sotonizam io:Satanismo id:Setanisme it:Satanismo he:כת השטן la:Satanismus lv:Sātanisms lt:Satanizmas hu:Sátánizmus mk:Сатанизам mt:Sataniżmu nl:Satanisme ja:サタニズム nap:Satanismo no:Satanisme pl:Satanizm pt:Satanismo ro:Satanism ru:Сатанизм sq:Satanizmi si:Satanism simple:Satanism sk:Satanizmus sl:Satanizem so:Shaydaanimo ckb:شەیتانپەرستی sr:Сатанизам sh:Satanizam fi:Satanismi sv:Satanism tr:Satanizm uk:Сатанізм wuu:撒旦教 zh:撒旦教