Aviva Directory » Faith & Spirituality » World Religions » Esoteric Religions » Satanism

The contemporary practice of Satanism began with the founding of the Church of Satan in 1966, but there have been a multitude of Satanisms and several versions of what it means to be a Satanist.

Nevertheless, most scholars consider Satanism to be a modern religious movement. While it is true that Christians have applied the label of Satanist on their opponents throughout the history of Christianity, there is little evidence of any organized, self-declared Satanic group in ancient times. It appears that ancient traditions of demonizing heretical groups or other adversaries, including imaginary ones, as Satanists are just that.

There were examples of non-Christians discussing Satanism as an identity, but there is no reason to believe that they ever progressed to an actual practice of Satanism until the modern era.

Since the 1800s, a variety of small religious groups came into being that identified as Satanists or used Satanic symbology, but they were neither large nor long-lasting.

Realistically, it is best to view Satanism as a contemporary of the 1960s counterculture, New Age religion, the human potential movement, the sexual revolution, and the revolution in mass higher education, and all of these played a part in the development of Satanism as an organized religion.

While it may borrow from various older traditions, modern Satanism has its roots in a man named Aleister Crowley, an English occultist, poet, and novelist, who lived from 1875 to 1947. He founded the religion of Thelema and had a hand in several other esoteric religions, such as the Rosicrucians, Golden Dawn, and Freemasonry. He was also acquainted with L. Ron Hubbard, who later founded Scientology. Although Crowley never claimed to be a Satanist, his philosophies greatly influenced 20th-century Satanism.

Satanism is not a single movement with a single doctrinal voice. What they have in common has more to do with their self-identification as Satanic than in any doctrinal commonalities.

Some groups hold that Satan exists and that he is a powerful force who, if worshipped, will reward those who are aligned with him. Those who fall within this group are more likely to be secretive and to practice rites which would be considered evil, and are sometimes illegal.

Another group includes those who don't actually believe in the existence of Satan as an individual. They may view themselves as atheists, and their organization as a philosophy rather than a religion.

One thing that these groups have in common is a hatred for Christianity.

Another grouping consists of solitary Satanists, outlaw cults, and neo-Satanic churches.

Solitary Satanists are those who operate without a group, and generally practice a self-styled form of Satanism. In some cases, this has included small groups of people, generally youth, who embrace Satanism as a means of rebellion.

Outlaw cults tend to be secretive and involved in illegal activities. They usually revolve around a strong personality who heads the group.

Neo-Satanic churches are usually atheistic in nature, viewing Satan as a symbol of evil, or as a symbol of good when they consider Christianity to be evil.

The Church of Satan was founded by Anton Szandor LaVey in 1966. In his Satanic Bible, LaVey states that Satan represents indulgence rather than abstinence, vital existence rather than pipe dreams, and vengeance in lieu of turning the other cheek. Practitioners of the Church of Satan do not believe that Satan actually exists, and they do not worship him.

The Temple of Set was established by Michael Aquino in 1975. Aquino separated from the Church of Satan because he believed that LaVey was making a mockery of Satanism. The Temple of Set holds that Satan is an actual supernatural entity, named for the Egyptian deity Set, which Aquino claimed was the model for the Satan of Christianity.

Other Satanic groups include the First Satanic Church, founded by LaVey's daughter, the High Priestess Karla LaVey in 1999, and the Satanic Temple, whose members do not believe in a supernatural Satan.

The Order of Nine Angels, established in England in the late 1960s, is a more secretive organization without a central administration.

Those mentioned here and any other religion or religious movement that identifies as Satanic are appropriate for this category, even if they deny that they are a religion. Websites whose focus is on providing information relating to Satanism may also be submitted to this category, whether their purpose is to educate on the subject or to speak against the practice.


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