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:
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 Magic and 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 first Satanists,
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 modern Satanism:
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 turn of the century, 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, pylons, temples, 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 to Christianity, because of its paramount position in Western society and the historical persecution of Satanists and other religious minorities by Christians.
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