I grew up in a really devout family of Christians. It probably wouldn’t shock you to know that when I was growing up, I’d been told that there were few religions out there that were worse than Satanism. After all, Satan is the bad guy in the Christian religion, and his defeat is a foregone conclusion, so it stands to reason that Satanism is the natural enemy of Christianity. I was told stories about how Satanists hated good morals, sacrificed things to the lord of Hell, and were just generally not so great people. I believed that for awhile until I made a friend that turned out to be sympathetic to the Satanist mindset. He was an avowed atheist who was disillusioned with the whole idea of Christianity and religion at large. The idea was really foreign to me at first until I heard what he had to say.
Satanists get a really bad reputation, which is actually really unfortunate considering their belief system. Real Satanists don’t sacrifice things or even promote bad behavior. A lot of them don’t even worship the devil or practice witchcraft or anything like that. Rather, the average Satanist wants to live in peace and wants those around them to be empowered to do what they want. While some people who claim to be Satanists have done terrible things in the name of their beliefs, the same can be said for any other religion, and Christianity is no exception. You might not feel like Satanism has anything to offer you like I did, but it’s still important to learn about other religions so you can learn about the perspectives of others. Here are 15 things that you probably didn’t know about Satanism.
15. Meet Anton LaVey, The Founder Of Satanism
Anton LaVey was an American author and musician who was born in 1930, and he has the distinction of being the founder of the church of Satan. He’s also the guy who LaVeyan Satanism is named after. He wrote a ton of books about the subject, including The Satanic Bible, The Satanic Rituals, The Satanic Witch, and Satan Speaks!, which sounds kind of like the strangest podcast ever. He’s also released a few albums on the subject of Satanism, including the hilariously named Satan Takes A Holiday. Honestly, that sounds like the strangest, but most awesome Christmas story no one has ever heard. There’s been a lot of fascination around LaVey, not just because of his extensive body of work on the subject of Satan, but because of who he was as a person. Satanist historian Gareth J. Medway said that LaVey was “a born showman,” while anthropologist Jean La Fontaine said he was “a colorful figure of considerable personal magnetism.” He was known as the Father of Satanism and The Black Pope, which is an admittedly awesome title.
14. Satanists Don’t Sacrifice Anything
You might think that the picture above shows Satanists partaking in an act of human sacrifice. After all, that’s something that Satanists are known for doing. However, you would be very wrong. This is actually a picture of ancient Christians partaking in the act of human sacrifice, which is a thing, oddly enough. That aside, many religions have taken part in acts of sacrificing other living beings. Christians, Muslims, and Jews have all had a history of weird animal sacrifice rituals, some of which are actually still in use today. Satanists don’t do that. See, Satanists, at their core, are people who are trying to defy expectations and do things differently from the religions that have come before them. In order for them to do that, Satanists would have to outright condemn and reject the whole idea of animal sacrifice, which is what they have done. According to the rules of Satanism, the only reason to kill an animal is if the person killing it is going to use it for food or materials or to dispatch an imminent threat. Any other reason is barbaric for them.
13. The Different Types Of Satanist
If you’re not a person who grew up as a Christian, you might not know that there are a ton of different denominations of Christianity. Those denominations can determine a lot of things, like when you get baptized, when you take Communion or Confirmation or even if you take part in those rituals at all. Christianity isn’t some huge monolith, and neither are other religions. This includes Satanism. There are a few different denominations of the religion that are worth talking about, but the three that we’re going to focus on are LeVeyan Satanism, Theistic Satanism, and Luciferians.
LaVeyans are the most well known, and these are the guys who follow the teachings of Anton LaVey and his Satanic Bible. This type of Satanism is very atheistic, preaching that God and Satan aren’t actually real and the only god of importance is the Satanist himself. Theistic Satanism recognizes the existence of other spiritual beings, but they don’t worship the Christian Satan. Luciferians do, but they see Satan as more of a symbolic concept than as a real being. For them, he’s not a symbol of evil, but of enlightenment.
12. Who’s Most Likely To Be A Satanist?
While many Satanists aren’t all that public about things because of the stigma that comes with being a Satanist in a very Judeo-Christian world, there are a lot more of them than you’d think. Some Satanists are teenagers or young adults looking to find themselves and what they believe in with a religion that is decidedly not their parents’. Some people, regardless of age, are into Satanism for more recreational reasons. Some people even dabble in Satanism to enhance their experiences with fantasy role-playing games, or to draw inspiration from their music or art. That being said, there are people who get into this for reasons that are decidedly less recreational. Many people who are into Satanism are older and are using it for practicing occult rituals. Some of the groups for this religion are public, and some aren’t. Regardless, many people are Satanists, and more importantly, anyone can be one.
11. Crimes In The Name Of Satan
While the majority of Satanists are in it for the spiritual growth (and maybe the fun of roleplay), there are some people who have committed crimes in the name of Satan. There are a few high-profile cases of people claiming to be Satanists committing crimes. For example, we have the story of Sean Sellers, who shot a convenience store clerk to death back in 1985. He claimed that the reason he did it was because he was possessed by a demon named Ezurate while he was reading the Satanic bible “hundreds of times.” He was executed in 1999.
Another famous case of Satanists committing crimes was the story of the Beasts of Satan. Andrea Volpe, Nicola Sapone, and Mario Maccione, the beasts in question, got drunk one night in January 1998 and murdered Chiara Marino, 19, and Fabio Tollis, 16, in a sacrificial ceremony. Six years later, Volpe buried his girlfriend alive because she knew too much about those murders. Unfortunately for the Beasts of Satan, they were kind of dumb: they got caught because they got high off of heroin and cocaine while they were disposing of the girlfriend’s car and ended up crashing it and getting arrested. There are a lot of other stories like this, and they’re all pretty interesting, but they’re definitely not the status quo for all Satanists.
10. Weird Pacts With Satan
You might think that deals with the devil are kind of out there and silly, but there are a lot of stories of real people throwing their lots in with the devil. Throughout history, many people have made deals with the devil for a variety of reasons. One of those people was the famous and influential Italian composer Giuseppe Tartini (1692-1770). He was exceptionally talented but had a major inferiority complex and one hell of a temper. He fell into a major depression when he heard a violinist playing better than him, and became consumed with despair and the need to outdo that person. According to history, the devil came to Tartini in a dream while he was spending time as a recluse, and made him a deal: he’d be the greatest violinist the world would ever know, and it would only cost him his soul. He then played the most beautiful sonata Tartini had ever heard. When Tartini woke up, he could hear the sonata still playing and wrote it down. To this day, his most famous composition is “The Devil’s Sonata.” Unfortunately, when he played the sonata, it was “so inferior to what I had heard, that if I could have subsisted on other means, I would have broken my violin and abandoned music forever.”
9. Satan And The Middle Ages
The Middle Ages was a dark time for everyone, and it was a time where people really took refuge in their spirituality. Satanists were no exception. Devil worship dates back historically to far beyond the Middle Ages, and it was actually a lot more common than Christianity, at least until Christianity started spreading. The common people of the Middle Ages were actually all about devil worship, and the reason why might actually resonate with you. According to the basic rules of the Church at the time, Christians were strongly urged not to have sex, even if they were married. If you were married, you only had a couple of months out of the year to have sex at all, and if you conceived a child outside of those months, you wouldn’t get to have sex for years. Needless to say, this was a society that was punishing people for having sex while being obsessed with the act at the same time, and that tends to breed all kinds of craziness. People who weren’t about all these rules and wanted to have sex on their terms were considered “satanic.” If you lived in the Middle Ages and wanted to have sex with your wife on your schedule, history might have remembered you as a Satanist, regardless of what you actually believe.
8. Satan’s Deadly Sins
It might seem crazy, but even Satan has standards. Satanists have deadly sins as much as other religions do. The kicker here is that Satanists have different values and would consider different things to be a sin. There are nine deadly sins according to the Church of Satan: stupidity (the worst one), pretentiousness (it’s annoying), solipsism (projecting your feelings onto others), lying to yourself, conforming, not having perspective, forgetting your history, needless pride, and a lack of aesthetics.
You might find that you hold these values yourself, to be honest. No one likes a dumb person or a person who loves posturing. Nobody likes to be a sheep among others doing the same thing everyone else is for no reason, either. There’s also something to be said about not lying to yourself either. The one things these things tend to have in common is that all of these things encourage people to be themselves and live their best lives.
7. All About The Satanic Bible
The Satanic Bible is a big deal because it’s the text that most Satanists follow, so it stands to reason that we should talk about this. The Satanic Bible is a collection of essays and thoughts by the Church of Satan’s follower, Anton LaVey. It’s not sacred scripture per se and not every Satanist follows it. LeVeyan Satanists consider it an authoritative text, but a lot of other types of Satanists don’t. There have been thirty printings of this book since its publication in 1969, and it’s sold something like a million copies since then. It consists of four books: The Book of Satan, The Book of Lucifer, The Book of Belial, and The Book of Leviathan. The Book of Satan challenges the ten commandments and the Golden Rule and puts forth its own ideas to replace it. The Book of Lucifer has all the philosophy and gets into how Satanists should live their lives. The Book of Belial is all about different rituals and magic. Finally, The Book of Leviathan gets into the four invocations for Satan, lust, compassion and destruction, and lists the nineteen Enochian Keys.
6. Satanists VS. The Law
Satanists have used their religion to shed light on terrible situations. For example, Satanists made the news back in 2014, when they used the infamous Hobby Lobby decision to further their own agenda. If you haven’t heard of the Hobby Lobby Supreme Court case, it basically allowed corporations to dictate policies according to the religious beliefs of the corporation’s owners. The Satanic religion decided to fire back by saying that they wanted their believers to be exempt from the “informed consent” and “right to know” laws that force women who want abortions to hear other options that they don’t want to hear and read the pro-life material. The Satanic Church has the belief that “regarding personal health…on the best scientific understanding of the world, regardless of the religious or political beliefs of others,” so according to that, being forced to take in state-mandated information that doesn’t have any scientific leg to stand on is literally against their religion. They even provided forms for all women to use so they can be exempt from it, too. This probably wasn’t what Hobby Lobby was thinking of when they wanted “religious freedom.”
5. Satanists And Magic
The Satanic religion does involve magic, but not to the extent that a lot of people think. While the whole magic thing is a big deal, the Satanic religion’s focus on science is infinitely more important. Some Satanists believe in magic that’s more supernatural, but the vast majority of magic practiced by Satanists is more psychological than anything else. Anton LaVey wrote two books on the subject of magic, The Compleat Witch, and The Satanic Rituals, but those books aren’t really hard and fast rules. LaVey didn’t even really have an opinion on whether they were mandatory. He wasn’t the kind of guy who wanted hard and fast rules for his followers, so he never gave them any. He didn’t even practice magic in the most traditional way, either. According to one writer who shared his story with the Church of Satan website: “He preferred solitary workings at his bank of synthesizers in that chilly kitchen, and his latter-day “group rituals” would involve having a select few spend time with him in the Den of Iniquity, listening to forgotten tunes while conversation about arcane topics provided the litanies of Satan.” Needless to say, the way you practice magic is totally personal, and he wasn’t the kind of guy who would try and dictate that for another person.
4. Famous Satanists
There are a lot of famous people who claim Satanism as their religion. However, since Satanism gets a bad rap, it makes sense that these celebrities are either really quiet about it or are treated like novelties. Either way, it’s important to know who they are. Among the Satanic religion’s most famous practitioners is Marylin Manson, who became a member in the mid-90s and is credited on the EP Smells Like Children as a reverend. Jayne Mansfield was also a member, and she might have even had a relationship with Anton LaVey, the church’s founder. Liberace is counted as one of the earliest members of the Church, and Sammy Davis Jr was a Warlock II member of the church. He even made a rare album called Satan Swings, Baby!
3. The Basic Beliefs Of Satanism
The fundamental beliefs of Satanism are pretty straightforward. It’s not really about worshipping an evil aligned deity, it’s about making yourself the most important person in your universe. This doesn’t mean that you yourself are the most important person in the world, though, it just means that you’re putting yourself first in your own life. Satanists have pretty strict rules about consent, too: you won’t find anything about being sold to your rapist in this religion’s sacred texts. People who actually worship Satan aren’t actually Satanists, they’re simply devil worshippers. In Satanism, putting yourself first means that there really isn’t any room for a person to worship some other entity.
2. Satan And Atheists
All of this emphasis on not worshipping any sort of gods, let alone Satan himself, might make you wonder what kind of philosophy really works with this. After all, if it’s a religion, there has to be some mention of a god, even if it’s just to say that no god really exists. Satanism actually does that by acknowledging that it’s not actually about worshipping anything, and that true Satanism is atheistic in nature. Satanists don’t just avoid sacrifices because they think it’s barbaric, they avoid them because they don’t believe in any sort of being that would require sacrifices to be made to it, so they simply don’t do it. They don’t even believe in Satan as a being or even as a concept. The whole point of Satanism, like we’ve touched on before, is to focus on the experiences of the individual person.
1. Satan And Paranoia
Now that we know that Satanism is a lot more benign than we’ve come to think that it was, the paranoia surrounding the religion seems a lot more ridiculous. Some rumors about Satanism, apart from the sacrificing thing that we’ve spent some time debunking just now, include the rumor that Satanism supports abuse against kids and abuse in general, especially of the sexual variety. People who say things like this clearly don’t know a thing about Satanism, because none of that is true. Satanism actually has rules against any kind of sexual activity that isn’t consensual, and if you break those rules, you get excommunicated without any hope of being reinstated. This is a far cry from the Old Testament, where rape victims were sold to their rapists by their fathers and you could pay dearly for wearing a garment made of mixed fabrics. You might not think Satanism is for you, and that’s fine. However, it’s important to be educated about different religions so you know what you’re talking about when the subject comes up.