Beliefs and practices of Religious Satanists:
There is one main Satanic denomination, many smaller traditions, and many solitary practitioners
who are unaffiliated with any Satanic organization. They total perhaps ten
to twenty thousand adult
followers in North America. They differ somewhat in beliefs. The following
list is valid for most religious Satanic groups:
||Satan in his original pre-Christian Pagan forms is respected, as a principle rather than a deity. Satanists do not worship Satan just as most Buddhists do not
worship Buddha." As Vexen Crabtree has written:
"Satanism is Satanism not due to our worship of any deity, but for
the philosophy that we stand for. We recognize ourselves as gods, and we
hold our own perspective on life as holy and revere our own experiences
as the only truth we can ever know. "
"Satanism is the utter rejection of the spiritual way of theistic
religions, and the honest admittence [sic] that we are just animals who
evolve as any other complex system." 1
||Major emphasis is placed on the power and authority of
the individual Satanist, rather than on a God or Goddess.
They believe that "no redeemer liveth" - that each person is their own
redeemer, fully responsible for their own life.
"Satanism respects and exalts life. Children and animals are the
purest expressions of that life force, and as such are held sacred and
precious..." 2 Children and animals are not
abused or killed.
||Those Satanists who believe in Satan or Set as a living entity do not worship or
demonstrate their faith in him (as, for example, Christians worship and pray
to their God).
They believe that one should live out their lusts and desires, and
enthusiastically explore the "seven
deadly sins" with other consenting adults.
||They follow many beliefs, practices and rules of behavior which are in conflict with traditional
Christianity, and essentially all other religions.
||Uniqueness and creativity are encouraged.
Many Satanists use as their main symbol the
Sigil of Baphomet.
It is a goat's head, drawn within an inverted pentacle
(5-pointed star with one point downward and two up, enclosed by a circle).
Although elements within the Sigil have been in use since the
19th century, the version as shown has been a registered
trademark of the Church of Satan since 1983.
A second Satanic symbol appears above the Nine Satanic Statements
in LaVey's book: The Satanic Bible, page 25. It is an infinity sign (a figure 8 on its side). A
shortened Lorraine Cross is
placed on top. [A Lorraine cross is a Roman '†'
cross, with a second, longer cross piece added below the main cross
piece.] This is an ancient symbol which alchemists -- many of whom were
Satanists -- used
to represent brimstone. 2 Brimstone is the element sulfur, and was long
associated with Satan by the Christian church. LaVey might have adopted a
brimstone symbol as a humorous gesture to poke fun at Christianity.
Religious Satanism - its supposed origin:
Modern Satanism is generally (though mistakenly) regarded as a creation of Aleister
Crowley (1875-1947). Aleister was in fact a very prominent ceremonial magician who
based his rituals partly upon Judeo-Christian principles. He was raised in a Plymouth
Brethren family, but developed an early dislike of organized conservative Christianity. After
university, he joined the Order of the Golden Dawn, which practiced ceremonial
magic based on:
||the Kaballah (a.k.a. Cabbalah, Cabala), a Jewish mystical tradition,
||Rosicrucianism (a mystical blend of alchemy, Judaism, etc.),
||Freemasonry (a men's fraternal organization), and
||Theosophy (a Gnostic tradition believing in a common thread that links all religions).
He resigned from the Golden Dawn and later was appointed chief of the British section
of the Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO), which blended ceremonial magic, sex
Freemasonry. He remained the Outer Head of the Order from 1922 to 1947. He
created a religion, called Thelema. Crowley's story was picked up by two tabloid
newspapers, which called him the Wickedest Man in the World and the Great Beast
666 of Revelation. It is mainly from these "yellow press" articles that opponents of
Crowley have assembled his present-day reputation. He is alleged to have committed at
least one animal sacrifice, experimented with many illegal drugs and engaged in some
sexual orgies. It is not known how much of this actually happened, and how much is
imaginary -- created to satisfy his insatiable desire for publicity. Nor is it known how
much of the time he was serious, and when he was behaving with tongue-in-cheek.
Crowley has been accused of many criminal activities; however, he was never arrested,
charged, tried or convicted of any crime. His prime aim was to contact his Holy Guardian
Angel Aiwaz. The religion The Law of Thelema is largely
derived from his work. He is known to have practiced a great deal of consensual sex magic
with a single partner in private. His goal was to recapture the ancient pagan and Gnostic
Christian mysteries of the Middle and Near East, which, he believed, incorporated sexual activity as part
of their religious rituals. He was a prolific writer on Magick, a term
that he created. (The term refers to ceremonial magic, and is used to
differentiate that form of magick from performances by professional
magicians.) Although Crowley did not consider himself a Satanist, many
Satanists have incorporated elements from his writings into their own
rituals. Many authors and TV personalities have stated that Crowley was
the first Satanist, even though evidence points to the contrary. He passed
through a Satanic phase, and did identify his guardian angel with Satan.
But a number of 19th century literary greats such as
Baudelaire, Byron, Shelley, etc. should more properly be regarded as the
Religious Satanism - its actual Origin:
Religious Satanists existed in the 1950's, both in the United States and the UK. But
they were little known to the public. There are many beliefs about the origin of
It is said to have burst into mass consciousness on Walpurgisnacht,
1966-APR-30, (I Anno Satanas) when Anton Szandor LaVey (1930-1997). created the Church of Satan.
Actually, he founded the relation later in that year.
||Anton is said to have drawn on his
previous experience as a lion tamer and sideshow barker, and on his readings into
psychology, Magic etc. There does not seem to be any information confirming that
he actually held these jobs.
Anton is said to have been the technical adviser for the movie Rosemary's
Baby in 1968. Again, there is no confirmation of this.
LaVey did write a series of books which are essentially the only readily available books on
Satanism available in most bookstores. There have been enormous
numbers of books about Satanism written by Fundamentalist or other Evangelical Christians.
They are readily available through conservative Christian bookstores. However, they are
usually unrelated to religious Satanism. They often contain misinformation that is traceable back to the Witch burning times in
Europe (circa 1450-1792 CE) rather than to any present or past reality. Another source
for their misinformation was the novel called "Michelle Remembers."
This was allegedly a documentary about the sexual and physical abuse of a girl by an
underground Satanic group. In reality, the book was a work of fiction. However, it
triggered a Satanic Panic in 1980, and helped convince millions of people that Satanic Ritual Abuse (SRA) was a clear and present danger. It wasn't
real then and it is not today. By the mid-1990's, belief in SRA had died down,
largely because of the absence of hard evidence that any such crimes had
ever been committed.
A number of Satanic periodicals exist. Many other
Satanic traditions exist in addition to the Church of Satan. These are mainly found in North America and Europe.
Religious Satanism - today:
Local groups of Satanists may be called grottos,
or by a similar name. They correspond to Christian congregations and Wiccan covens.
Many Satanists feel that Wiccans are hypocrites, because the latter
restrict their work to positive, healing activities. Many Satanists use Magic and other
rituals to benefit themselves and their friends, but also use these same rituals to harm
their enemies. Some have incorporated some anti-Wiccan elements in their rituals.
However, other Satanists practice their religion free of rituals; they simply
live their lives in accordance with Satanic beliefs, statements and rules.
Satanists have been accused of conducting rituals that are specifically aimed at
attacking Christian beliefs and practices. Many authors, almost all conservative
Christians, have described alleged Satanic rituals in which religious Satanists recite the
Lord's Prayer backwards, or desecrate and use the host and wine that they have stolen from
a cathedral. This fiction can be traced back to books written during the late
Middle Ages and Renaissance periods.
Satanists tend to be highly critical of all other faiths. They are particularly opposed
Christianity, because of its paramount position in Western society and the historical
persecution of Satanists and other religious minorities by Christians.
In 2014-OCT, Sebastian Alexander, the Director of the
Satanic Temple of San Antonio in Texas gave a brief overview of his group's vision of Satanism. He said:
"I would say that most people have a misconception of what Satanism is, especially what our form of Satanism is, because we endorse things like compassion and empathy, and generally speaking people think Satanists are full of hate and worshiping the devil. ... We use the symbol of Satan as archetypal imagery. It represents a symbol of mankind. The indomitable spirit of mankind. And it represents the symbol of all man from oppression,
He said that they actively promote human rights issues, such as women's health and same-sex marriage. 4
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks were active on 2014-OCT, but are not necessarily still active today.
Vexen Crabtree, "Who is Satan? Introduction," at:
The alchemical sign for brimstone comes from from The Book of Signs (1930)
by Rudolf Koch.
The Church of Satan has an official home page at: http://www.churchofsatan.com
They list web sites of Church of Satan Grottos, Satanic artists, musicians,
members and publishers.
Jeremy Baker, "People have 'misconception' of Satanists, S.A. group's leader says," KENS5 - San Antonio, 2014-OCT-16, at: http://www.kens5.com/
Copyright © 1997 to 2014 by Ontario Consultants on
Latest update: 2014-OCT-17
Author: B.A. Robinson
Links checked: 2002-NOV-27