This form of Satanism was invented by the Roman Catholic Church in the 15th century
CE, just prior to the time of the Witch
burnings. It was heavily promoted by both Catholic and Protestant churches
through the 16the century and beyond. The belief offered the neatest solution to the dilemma of
theodicy -- the theological conflict caused by the
presence of evil in the universe that was created by an all-loving, moral God.
The Church theorized that Satan worship existed, was widespread, and was a
massive threat to the established order. These beliefs gave the legal and moral justification for
the Witch burnings (sometimes called the burning times or the
Many Christians today (particularly from the conservative wing of
Protestantism) still believe that Satanism exists. However, it is an imaginary religion that
either does not exist in reality, or is extremely rarely practiced. Law
enforcement organizations have been searching for some scrap of evidence of its
existence since the "Satanic Panics" of the 1980s to the mid
1990s, without success.
16th century Satanism - origins:
Two Dominican priests, Heinrich Kramer and James Sprenger wrote a book circa 1486CE
called: The Malleus
Maleficarum (The Witches' Hammer). It became the main reference text for the
genocide. They wrote that Satanists:
Are mostly women because they considered gender is more impressionable, more perfidious, more carnal,
more vengeful, and (intellectually) more like children than are men. God, being male, has
mostly preserved men from heresy;
Kill, bewitch and induce plagues in animals;
Stop cows from giving milk;
Cause impotence, sterility, abortions and miscarriages;
Ride at night on broomsticks to meet in the forest to engage in sexual orgies;
Drink the blood of unbaptized infants. Devour infants' bodies, or
convert them into soup, or bake them in an oven, or convert their bones into ritual instruments;
Offer their own children to demons;
Kill or place curses on people by simply looking at them, saying a phrase, causing
lightning to strike them, blowing in their face, pushing pins into a wax doll made in
the image of the victim, etc.;
Beat, break, stab or step on a crucifix whenever they can. 1
A second reference text was Francesco Maria Guazzo's Compendium Maleficarum, which was written
about 1620 CE. He described how Satan worshipers:
Ride through the air on the back of a goat or a staff;
Anoint themselves with magical oil and fly on their own;
Anoint themselves with a cream or make a certain sign, and
Appear to change shape from human to animal and back;
Change people and animals from male to female and back;
Swear homage and obedience to Satan
Received a Satanic brand on their bodies;
Rejoice, dance, eat and drink in the presence of Satan who appeared at
in the form of a hideous and deformed black goat;
Suffocated, pierced and killed their own infants, cut off their extremities, and cooked
the remains. 2
The inquisitors tortured suspects until they were willing to confess to anything in
order to end the pain. This produced abundant testimony for the court
records as "evidence" of the existence of Satan worshipers. However, it is essentially all worthless.
Near the end of the "Burning Times", the concept of the Black Mass was added
to the church's belief system about Satanists. This was allegedly a parody on the Roman Catholic
Mass. Urine and dirty water were substituted for wine; moldy bread or turnips
replaced for the host. The Mass was said in the local language -- opposite to the
Church's use of Latin at the time. Texts were read backwards. The cross would be
spat upon and broken underfoot. Infants would be sacrificed.
The last European victim of the "Burning Times" was burned at the stake in
1792 in Poland. In South America, the Church continued to exterminate heretics by burning
them alive, as late as the 1830's.
Public beliefs about Satanism coalesced into an imaginary religion
that was the opposite to Christianity in every detail. These elements continue to surface
today in conservative Christian anti-Satanic and anti-Wiccan
16th century Satanism - Today:
Five centuries years later, many people believe that profoundly evil Satanists remain a great threat. In
the State of Utah, a newspaper poll during the 1990's showed that about 90% of adults believe in the existence
of Satanic groups who abuse and kill infants. Satanists are no longer believed to fly
through the air on broomsticks or instantaneously vanish. But beliefs that
Satanists engage in baby killing, selling
one's soul to Satan, rituals involving a goat, breaking a cross or crucifix, even shape
shifting between animal and human has been described by modern Fundamentalist or other
Evangelical Christian authors. Many writers and seminar speakers may be completely unaware
that most of their source material can be traced back to the texts used by the Renaissance
Witch hunters. Outrageous claims have been made of as many as 60,000 ritual
killings a year in North America, and of baby breeding prisons where young women are
kept continually pregnant so that their infants can be taken and sacrificed. The concept
of Satanism as being thoroughly anti-Christian has remained intact for centuries.
No criminal investigation in the past 300 years is known to have found hard evidence of
Satanic Ritual Abuse (with the possible exception of a case in Greece during 1995).
However, during the 1980s and early 1990s, many Americans and Europeans believe that a highly organized, secret,
internationally controlled network of Satanists exists. Tens of millions of
Americans believed that it is a major social threat, even though no physical evidence of
its existence was ever found. Countless law officers have searched for this form of
abuse for decades without success. The public's belief in Satanic Ritual Abuse
supported by thousands or tens of thousands of adults who have recovered what are believed
to be false memories of abuse as a result of Recovered Memory
A second support for the belief occurred in the 1980's and early 1990's when many court
cases were fought over what was believed to be ritual abuse of students in day care centers,
pre-schools, baby-sitting services, church Sunday schools, etc. Young children disclosed
stories of horrendous physical and sexual abuse. Much of it was ritual in nature. Hundreds
of adults were convicted as perpetrators of MVMO (Multi-Victim,
Multi-Offender) child abuse, and given long jail sentences. Research has since shown that
the children's memories were probably of events that never happened. They arose as a
result of repetitive and direct questioning. Such techniques have since been
shown to generate false accusations. In almost all cases, the adults convicted of ritual abuse have had their cases
reviewed and have been released from prison. An exception is the Massachusetts, where
obviously innocent inmates continues to rot in
jail -- for crimes that never happened -- until the mid 2000s.
There are many indicators that abusive Satanism either does not exist
or is extremely rare:
Most of the beliefs and practices attributed to Satanism today can be traced to
Kramer and Sprenger's book, the Witches Hammer.
Many recent books which are allegedly written by ex-Satanists have been shown to be frauds.
No book by an abusive Satanist describing their beliefs and rites,
etc. has ever been written.
Baby breeding camps could not be successfully hidden for decades.
Various government studies and many hundreds of police investigations have failed to
come up with hard evidence of human sacrifices or other Satanic ritual crimes.
In those rare instances where stories of ritual murders have emerged in the press, the root
motivation of the crime has turned out to be a psychotic mental illness.
A very small number of individuals have drawn on the vast amount of anti-Satanic
literature written by Christian authors. They have created their own version of Satanism that does include an inverted Christian cross symbol, black masses, reciting
Christian prayers backwards, etc. However, they seem to be isolated followers without any
central organization. They do not engage in infant abuse, baby killing or any other criminal
activities. Theirs is a religion that was inspired by and grew out of Christian
Montague Summers, "The Malleus
Maleficarum of Kramer and Sprenger," Dover Publ. (Reprinted 1988).
Francesco Maria Guazzo, "Compendium Maleficarum," Dover Publ.