The term satanism (not to be confused with devil worship) is relatively new. It has been shown to have been used explicitly for the first time by Robert Southey, who tried to discredit his opponent Lord Byron in this way. His drama "Cain" from 1821 is today considered the first explicitly satanistic work in world literature. Already in 1667 John Milton had published a poetic work under the English original title "Paradise Lost", in which for the first time in the history of literature a Satan is described who makes people aware of his potential to attain knowledge and divinity.
Under the term "Satanism" many different spiritual currents have been and are summarized, which often do not have a compelling connection. As a rule, the criterion here is that the figure of Satan is more or less the focus.
The first person to have publicly codified Satanism as an independent (i.e., Christian) and coherent religious system is Anton Szandor LaVey. LaVey's Satanism is a synthesis of principles and teachings from various people who, in his opinion, have made a significant contribution to the culture of the "Satanic". Well-known sources of inspiration from LaVey include Cagliostro, Rasputin, Friedrich Nietzsche, Fritz Lang, William Mortensen, Carl Gustav Jung, Wilhelm Reich, Mark Twain and Ayn Rand.
Contrary to popular belief, the British magician Aleister Crowley can neither be classified as a Satanist nor as a mastermind of Satanism. Crowley's maxim "Do what you want!" (represented by the word "Thelema") corresponds to satanic ideas only when viewed superficially. Indeed, Crowley calls for the human individual to attune to his "true will" - a concept that has a strong mystical orientation. Such a universalism is incompatible with Satanism, which raises the individual ego to the standard of things. However, the thelemitic declaration of human rights by Crowley ("Liber OZ") in its demystified form has found widespread use especially among Satanists who do not want to refer to Anton Szandor LaVey's "Nine Satanic Statements" as an ethical basis. The connection between Satanism and Thelema was coined by the British writer Dennis Wheatley.
At the present time there is no evidence whatsoever for a really existing Satanism in the Middle Ages against the background of the numerous witch burnings of this epoch.
1 On the etymological relevance of the figure of Satan
The term Satanism relates etymologically to the cultural area of the monotheistic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam), because only in these religions are the ideas of an adversary of the only God who bears the name Satan. However, the idea of a dualistic world in which a battle between good and evil is fought goes back to older religions such as Zoroastrianism and its founder, Zarathustra. This belief was taken up in Gnostic currents and widespread both outside and within Christianity, and in some cases increased to extremes.
In Judaism, Satan is the one who takes the side of the indictment at the judgment seat of God. This traditional view lives on in the person of the advocatus diaboli, who performs this function in negotiations at the chair of Peter. In the book of Job, Satan was even referred to as one of the sons of God, who was high enough in the hierarchy of angels to have access to God's court. At no point in Judaism was there any doubt that God is above Satan. A polarizing interpretation of the world as a struggle of good against evil only mixed itself later from other religious currents (Persian and Babylonian religions) into the culture of the Jews and was initially not very significant or visible.
Satan was described in later Jewish mythologies (Apocryphal book of Enoch) as a fallen angel who, together with his followers, rebelled against God's will and was banished to earth as a punishment.
Only in the New Testament was the devil identified with the universal temptations against God. This ultimately also included the broadcast or even identification with the snake in paradise. In Christianity the devil is seen as an opponent and adversary (Hebrew: Satan) of the Christian God. In Gnostic currents, Satan was later equated with the Roman god Lucifer, the "lightbringer". While in the course of the centuries all non-Christian ("pagan") religions in Europe were ousted by the Christians, the devil received a multitude of surnames and new faces because the old deities were declared enemies of God: one of the more well-known representations is the of the goat-legged shepherd god Pan.
From the perspective of Christianity, Satanism is an ideology that is neither compatible with the Christian faith, nor can it be built on it. As a criticism of the Christian faith, Satanism stops halfway, in that not all dogmas are rejected, but reference is made to Satan in a positive way. The Satanists' turning away from Christian dogmas, seen as an essential antithesis of Christian faith, appears, in contrast to atheism, to be strangely inconsistent.
The idea that Shaytan is an opponent of God or a kind of counter-pole of forces is alien to Islam. The principle of good versus evil as opposing forces is not applicable here. Because only Allah is the absolutely mighty, Shaytan is only a tempter of people, for whom Allah has set a time limit. Shaitan is not all-powerful - but dangerous for people as long as they shake and do not completely surrender to Allah. As a result, there are usually no sects or beliefs in Islam that deal in any way with the glorification of the devil.
2 Satanism in Literature
Originally one meant by Satanism a spiritual movement in literature, mainly in England, which dealt with evil. The founder was John Milton ("Paradise Lost", in which the sentence "Better to reign in hell than to serve in heaven" appears). The most famous authors of this movement were Marquis Donatien Alfonse Francois de Sade ("Les 120 jeunes de Sodome"), whose cruel works glorifying violence and rape are world-famous ("Sadism" is named after him), and Lord Byron ("The Corsair "," Childe Harolds Pilgerfart "), who saw himself as the incarnation of Satan.
3 Satanism as Philosophy and Religion
An atheistic point of view in itself is not yet a religion of its own, but only the definition of a single, albeit far-reaching, question.
Furthermore, the term religion is very complex. In this way, religious aspects can also be viewed with professing atheists. For example, the Stalin cult in the Soviet Union, or the youth consecration, which is intended as a substitute ritual, but creates its own cult activities.
Taoism, viewed in the West as both a philosophy and a religion, negates the existence of a deity.
3.1 Satanist ideologies
In most satanic ideologies, the worship or invocation of the devil, Satan, Lucifer, or demons is actually not in the foreground. Satan is seen as a symbol of resistance to the dogmas of religions. Instead, the focus is generally on the claim to one's own divinity, which is often expressed in living out one's sexuality (e.g. ritual sexual magic). Man becomes the measure of all things and is his own legislator, which is often expressed in ideological social Darwinism. The individuality is in the foreground and occultism and Satanism can be separated in most cases. Satanism has nothing to do with magical acts, but with acting out the self.
While religions / philosophies such as Christianity, Islam or Hinduism are assigned to the path of the right hand, satanist groups describe themselves as belonging to the path to the left hand. To simplify matters, this is a distinction between beliefs in which (path of the right hand) the extinction of the self (reconciliation of the self with creation by obeying the commandments of a creator god; merging, becoming one, dissolution of the self in one as illusory considered nirvana, entry into heaven etc.) is in focus, and between such schools and teachings (path to the left hand) that consider the awareness of individual existence as a special gift and opportunity, as a triggering agent for a development of human potential. With regard to the position of the individual self in relation to a whole, the left-handed path is about splitting off from this (if any) whole; a conscious separation or the so-called "self-deification".
3.2 Satanist Organizations
3.2.1 The Church of Satan
The Church of Satan (CoS) was officially opened on April 30th. Founded in 1966 by Anton Szandor LaVey in San Francisco. This international organization is officially recognized as a church in the USA, but waives the tax exemption it is legally entitled to. The CoS represents that Satanism as it was codified in 1969 by LaVey's "Satanic Bible". It is now based in New York City.
The CoS is organized centrally. Its leadership (the "Order of the Trapezoid") consists of the two high priests (one man and one woman each) and the decision-making body of the "Council of Nine". Memberships in the CoS can be either passive or active. Active members can either get involved as media representatives (so-called "agents") or join a "grotto".
The so-called "Grottos" are local CoS interest groups. Some grottos appear in public and even have their own homepages, others prefer to operate in secret. The head of a grotto is only publicly authorized to express himself in the name of his grotto, but not in the name of the CoS. The individual grottos have no compelling connection other than the common commitment to Satanism, as it was codified by LaVey.
The CoS takes an atheist point of view; the figure of Satan is interpreted as an archetype with which the individual Satanist can identify. A schism has already taken place within the CoS since it was founded: in 1975, under the leadership of CoS Magister Dr. Michael Aquino passed some members of the CoS to found their own organization, the Temple of Set (ToS).
Prominent members of the CoS include Sammy Davis Jr., Kenneth Anger, Boyd Rice, Jayne Mansfield, Marc Almond from Soft Cell and Brian Warner from Marilyn Manson.
3.2.2 The Order In Nomine Satanas
On the Walpurgis Night of April 30, 1996, the order "In Nomine Satanas" (I.N.S.) was ritually founded in the ruins of the St. Michael monastery on the Heiligenberg in Heidelberg.
Written sources on which the philosophy of the I.N.S. orientated, are above all Gnostic traditions of antiquity (Ophites, Naassener, Peraten). Accordingly, the order describes its orientation as "Gnostic Satanism". This reference to the Gnosis is connected with a Thelema term, which refers to the writing "Gargantua" by François Rabelais (a humanistic work from the year 1534 about a liberal "Abbey Thelema", in which one does not feel "from the sound of a Bell ", but" guided by the prescriptions of insight ").
The most important ritual of the I.N.S. represents the "Missa Sinistra". The Missa Sinistra (Latin: "the ominous mass", as well as "the left-sided mass" in connection with the "occultism of the left-handed path") aims to overcome the tradition of anti-Christian "black masses" . The I.N.S. strives with his Satanism a complete independence from Christianity (as well as all other religions) "in contrast to the numerous Satanists who develop their religiosity more or less as anti-Christianity".
Organizationally, the I.N.S. an open system of four different priesthoods, into which one can ritually be introduced if there is personal interest and the consent of the order.
3.2.3 The Order of Nine Angles
The "Order of the Nine Angles" from Great Britain is one of the most colorful currents within the satanic subculture. According to ONA member Christos Beest, the Order of Nine Angles only consists of about 10 people (see Gavin Baddeley), but has attracted attention in the scene due to his controversial views. As a result, the order has meanwhile also been able to gain members in the USA and Germany. The history of the ONA dates back to before the Church of Satan, which dominates the scene.
The social Darwinist-oriented ONA deals intellectually with human sacrifice and National Socialism, although like other Satanists it attributes itself to the path to the left hand. Regardless of this, the written and artistic (the ONA has its own tarot, the "Sinister Tarot" published) outputs of the ONA are on a comparatively high level, as even its opponents attest.
The ONA is rejected by many Satanists, especially those who are ideologically close to the CoS. He does not have an official homepage. However, ONA writings such as "The Black Book of Satan" are widely scattered on the Internet.
4 Satanism in Subcultures
It is said that many subcultures would indulge in Satanism in their scene-goers, whereby this is mostly unknowingly imagined as youth Satanism. However, in the vast majority of cases this is completely wrong.
The Gothic subculture is most likely to be confronted with this prejudice. Many Goths are superficially familiar with the terms of ideological Satanism, but very few of them come up with the idea of sacrificing chickens to the devil at night in the cemetery. Here too, at best, protest satanism is widespread in youth culture.
The heavy metal subculture also uses satanic symbols in places. The frequency and severity with which it is played depends very much on the heavy metal sub-scene you are in. In most sub-scenes, contrary to all prejudices, satanic symbols are actually only very rarely used, and corresponding ideas are not present at all. In the Death Metal sub-scene, an anti-Christian to satanic symbolism can be found sporadically, but this is primarily done with the aim of provocation. Satanic symbolism is more strongly represented in the Black Metal scene, but Nordic-pagan currents can also be seen there more often.