High resolution scan of engraving by Gustave D...

High resolution scan of engraving by Gustave Doré illustrating Canto XXXIV of Divine Comedy, Inferno, by Dante Alighieri: Lucifer, King of Hell


“Satan represents the spirit of progress, the inspirer of all great movements that contribute to the development of civilization and the advancement of mankind. He is the spirit of revolt that leads to freedom, the embodiment of all heresies that liberate.”

  – Anton Szandor LaVey [The Satanic Bible] A.S. III (1969)

There are probably dozens of different religious belief systems and practices that have been called “Satanism.”  Depending upon the precise meaning given to the word, the total number of Satanists in the world can be anything from a few thousand to four billion individuals. Dialog on the topic is almost impossible because there is such variability in the meaning of “Satanism” and “Satanist.”

Satanism is a broad term referring to a group of Western religions comprising diverse ideological and philosophical beliefs. Their shared features include symbolic association with, or admiration for the character of, Satan, or similar rebellious, promethean, and, in their view, liberating figures

Although the public practice of Satanism began in 1966 with the founding of the atheistic 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.

Gustave Doré, Depiction of Satan, the antagoni...

Gustave Doré, Depiction of Satan, the antagonist of John Milton’s Paradise Lost 1866

Satanism is a broad term referring to a group of Western religionscomprising diverse ideological and philosophical beliefs. Their shared features include symbolic association with, or admiration for the character of, Satan, or similar rebellious, promethean, and, in their view, liberating figures.For many, the term "Satanism" brings to mind many unpleasant thoughts and images. Urban legends are full of supposedlySatanic deeds, but how much is truth and how much is runaway fiction and fear? Satan appears within multiple belief systems. Unfortunately, there is a common presumption that all of these Satanic figures  must indeed be the same being, despite the fact that each religion has its own very unique perspective and description of him.In addition, some people equate Satan with different figures in still more religions Satan appears within multiple belief systems. Unfortunately, there is a common presumption that all of these Satanic figures must indeed be the same being, despite the fact that each religion has its own very unique perspective and description of him. Christians see him as evil, Jews see him as merely a tempter, while Satanists often see him as a representation of earthly pleasures.


In Hebrew, satan means adversary. The satan of the Old Testament is a description, not a proper name (and thus why I do not capitalize it here). This is a figure that works with God's full permission, tempting believers to doubt their faith, separating the true believers from those who just pay lip service.


The Christian view of Satan is a very tangled web. The name only appears in the New Testament a handful of times. The most well known is the scene in Matthew where he tempts Jesus to turn away from God and worship him instead. While one
could certainly read this as Satan setting himself up as a rival to God (as Christians commonly understand him to be doing), it is just as easy to read this as Satan carrying out his Old Testament role of tempter and tester of faith.

Despite his brief Biblical appearances, Satan evolved into a truly malevolent and evil creature in the minds of Christians, a former

angel rebelling against God who tortures the souls of everyone not saved through Jesus. He is twisted, corrupted, sadistic, sinful and

corporeal, the complete opposite of spirituality and goodness. Part of the Christian perception of Satan comes from equating a number of other Biblical figures with Satan, including Lucifer, the dragon, the serpent, Beelzebub, and Leviathan, as well as the prince of the air and the prince of this world.

Devil Worshippers

This is the common name given by Satanists to those who worship the Christian version of Satan, viewing him as a lord of evil and wanton destruction. Devil worshippers generally fall into two categories: teens who embrace Satan as a form of rebellion and sociopaths who end up in prison after committing crimes in the name of Satan.

Very few such people actually exist, although Christian-influenced communities periodically suffer hysterias in which members

become convinced that large numbers of Devil Worshippers are organizing against them.


Muslims have two terms for their Satanic figure. The first is Iblis, which is his proper name (just as Christians use Satan or Lucifer). The second is shaitan, which is a noun or an adjective, describing any being that rebels against God. Ergo, there is one Iblis, and he is a shaitan, but there are other shaitans as well.

In Islam, God created three intelligent races: the angels, jinn, and humans. The angels had no free will, always following God,  but the other two did. When God commanded the angels and jinn to bow down before Adam, the jinn Iblis alone refused.

The Baha’i Faith

For Baha'is, Satan represents humanity's own lower nature and demanding ego, which distracts us from knowing God. 
He is not an independent being at all.

LaVeyan Satanism (The Church of Satan)

LaVeyan Satanists do not believe in a literal Satanic being but instead use the name as a metaphor for humanity's true nature, which should be embraced, and what they call the Dark Force. Satan is not evil, but he does represent a variety of things branded as evil by the traditional religions and societies (particularly those influenced by traditional Christianity), including sexuality, pleasure, lust, cultural taboos, fertility, ego, pride, accomplishment, success, materialism, and hedonism.
Cover of "The Satanic Bible"

Cover of The Satanic Bible

Joy of Satan Ministries

Joy of Satan Ministries is one of many theistic Satanic groups. Like many theistic Satanists, JoS followers are generally polytheists, viewing Satan as one of many deities. Satan is the bringer of knowledge, and his desire is for his creations, humanity, to elevate itself through knowledge and understanding. He also represents such notions as strength, power, justice and freedom.

While Satan is considered a deity within the JoS, the deities themselves are understood to be highly evolved, unaging, humanoid

extra-terrestrials who created humanity as slave labor. Some of these aliens, called Nephilim, sired children with humans and struggled against the tyrannical regime.

Raelian Movement

According to the Raelians, Satan is one of the Elohim, the race of aliens that created humanity. While most of the Elohim want humanity to develop and grow, Satan considers them a threat, is against the genetic experiments that created them, and believes they should be destroyed. He is blamed for some of the catastrophes that the Bible blames on God 
such as the Great Flood that destroys everyone save Noah and his family.

The Raelian Satan is not necessarily evil. While he works toward the destruction of humanity, he does so with the belief  that only evil can ultimately come from humanity.

Heaven’s Gate

According to members of Heaven's Gate, Satan is a being that has partially gone through the process of reaching the Next Level, which is the goal of believers. However, before fully completing this transformation and gaining acceptance into the Kingdom of Heaven, Satan and other "fallen angels" decided to re-embrace material existence and encouraged others to do so. As elevated beings, they can possess human bodies just as the aliens of the Kingdom of Heaven can.
St Michael and the Devil

St Michael and the Devil

Although the public practice of Satanism began in 1966 with the founding of the atheistic 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 suggested definition:

Such definitions create great confusion, and stir up religious animosity against followers of benign faith traditions. They have been known to trigger genocidal proposals, lynching, attempted mass murder, fire bombings, shootings, common assaults, etc.

We strongly recommend that the terms “Satanist” and “Satanism” be used only with a qualifier to refer to religions that have some direct involvement with Satan in some form. Thus a “Satanist” is one who either:

  1. Theistic Satanist: One who worships the Christian devil. Although the Christian Churches taught during the Renaissance that devil worshipers were very common, such individuals were in fact quite rare, and remain so.
  2. Religious Satanist: One who accepts Satan as a pre-Christian life-principle worth emulating. They follow a number of religious traditions, of which the largest by far is the Church of Satan.

Beliefs and practices of Religious Satanists:

There is one main Satanic denominations, 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:

bullet 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

bullet Major emphasis is placed on the power and authority of the individual Satanist, rather than on a God or Goddess.
bullet They believe that “no redeemer liveth” – that each person is their own redeemer, fully responsible for their own life.
bullet “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.
bullet 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).
bullet They believe that one should live out their lusts and desires, and enthusiastically explore the “seven deadly sins” with other consenting adults.
bullet They follow many beliefs, practices and rules of behavior which are in conflict with traditional Christianity, and essentially all other religions.
bullet Uniqueness and creativity are encouraged.
bullet  Satanists use as their main symbol the Sigil of Baphomet. It is a goat’s  head, drawn within an invertedpentacle (5-pointed star with one point downward and two up, enclosed by a circle). Although elements within theSigil have been in use since the 19th century, the version as shown has been a registered trademark of the Church of Satan since 1983.
bullet 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.

horizontal rule

 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 Brethrenfamily, 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:

bullet the Kaballah (a.k.a. Cabbalah, Cabala), a Jewish mystical tradition,
bullet Rosicrucianism (a mystical blend of alchemy, Judaism, etc.),
bullet Freemasonry (a men’s fraternal organization), and
bullet Theosophy (a Gnostic tradition believing in a common thread that links all religions).

Satanism has been far less common throughout history than many would believe. The Inquisitors and witch hunters of earlier centuries tried to persuade the populace that devil worshipers were everywhere and posed a serious threat to their well being. For about 250 years, from the mid-15th century to the early 18th century, the height of the witch hunts, that argument worked. It is possible that some devil worship may have actually existed in those times, as an act of defiance among those who opposed the authority of the christian church.

Satanism as an organized activity did not exist much before the 17th century. As early as the 17th century, however, the catholic church was condemning priests who subverted the magical powers of the holy mass for evil purposes. The Grimoire of Honorious, a magical textbook first printed in the 17th century (but perhaps older), gave instructions for saying masses to conjour demons. In the 17th century, satanic activities were conducted by christians who indulged in the magical/sexual rites of the black mass, presided over by defrocked or unscrupulous priests. The most notorious of these escapades took place in France during the reign of Louis XIV, engineered by the kings mistress, Madamme de Montespan, and led by an occultist named La Voisin and a 67 year old libertine priest, the Abbé Guiborg.

Perhaps the most famous Satanist in the 19th century was the Abbé Boullan of France, who became the head of an offshoot of the church of Carmel and allegedly practiced black magic and infant sacrifice. The church of Carmel was formed by Eugene Vintras, the foreman of a cardboard box factory Tillysur-Seulles. In 1839 Vintras said he received a letter from the archangel Michael, followed by visions, of the archangel, the holy ghost, St.Joseph and the virgin Mary. He was informed that he was the reincarnated prophet Elijah, and he was to found a new religious order and proclaim the coming of the age of the holy ghost. The true king of France, he was told, was one Charles Naundorf.

Vintras went about the countryside preaching this news and acquiring followers, including priests. Masses were celebrated that included visions of empty chalices filled with blood stains on the Eucharist. By 1848 the church of Carmel, as the movement was known, was condemned by the pope. In 1851 Vintras was accused by a former disciple of conducting black masses in the nude, homosexuality and masturbating while praying at the alter.

Shortly before his death in 1875, Vintras befriended Boullan, who formed a splinter group of the church of Carmel upon Vintras death. He ran the group for 18 years, until his death, outwardly maintaining pious practices but secretly conducting satanic rituals.

Boullan seems to have been obsessed with Satanism and evel since the age of 29, when he took a nun named Adele Chevalier as his mistress. Chevalier left her convent, bore two bastard children and founded with Boullan The Society for the Reparation of Souls. Boullan specialized in exorcising demons by unconventional means, such as feeding possessed victims a mixture of human excrement and the Eucharist. He also performed black masses. On January 8, 1860, he had Chevalier reportedly conducted a black mass in which they sacrificed one of their children.

By the time Boullan met Vintras, Boullan was claiming to be the reincarnated St.John the Baptist. He taught his followers sexual
techniques and said the original sin of Adam and Eve could be redeemed by sex with incubi and succubi. he and his followers were said to copulate with the spirits of the dead, including Anthony the great.

Boullan’s group was infiltrated by two Rosicrucians, Oswald Wirth and Stanislasde Guaita, who wrote an exposé, The Temple of Satan. Boullan and de Guaita supposedly engaged in magical warfare. Boullan and his friend, the novelist J.K. Huysmans, claimed to be attacked by demons.

In his novel, La-bas, Huysmans included a black mass, which he said was based on his observations of one conducted by a satanic group in Paris, operating in the late 19th century. He said the mass was recited backwards, the crucifix was upside down, the Eucharist was defiled and the rite ended in a sexual orgy.

By the early 20th century, Aleister Crowley (known as the black pope) was linked to Satanism. Although he called himself “the beast”, used the words “life” “love” and “light” to describe Satan and once baptized and crucified a toad as Jesus, he was not a Satanist but a magician and occultist.

The Sigil of Baphomet: emblem of the Church of...

The Sigil of Baphomet: emblem of the Church of Satan

A Shanepedia Compilation

Along with thanks and compliments to the sources for the shared data

Copyright© Shanepedia 2012


3 responses »

  1. junkeys says:

    Sell your soul to Satan..
    Then Satan will provide you with everything,,


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