Satanism is one of the most controversial religions in the world today, in whatever expression it takes. Satan, who not all satanic groups acknowledge or recognize, is presented in the Hebrew and Christian Bible as the chief enemy of God and the most evil being in the universe. As a result, many people both fear, and are intrigued by, certain versions of this Satanism, especially expressions that incorporate things such as satanic worship and satanic symbols.
Many people want to know: What are the different expressions of Satanism today? Are there really people who worship the biblical figure, Satan? What is the Satanic Bible? What is the truth behind Satanic rituals? Who are the leaders of these groups and what are their followers like? What are their values and their ethics? What are their objectives, plans, and goals? (Note: Scroll down for an index to in-depth articles.)
Below you will find a brief description on the differences between modern expressions of Satanism as well as an index table that directs you to in-depth articles on subjects like The Church of Satan and Satanic Symbols.
The different approaches of Satanism
Terms like “Satanism,” "satanic," and even the name "Satan," encompass a variety of ideological, philosophical, and spiritual beliefs today. "Satanic" groups can be quite different from one another, but use the same terminology. There are different ways to classify satanic groups according to how each group believes and behaves. Not every group performs satanic rituals, participates in satanic worship, reads theThe Satanic Bible, uses traditional Satanic symbols, or attends "the Church of Satan." (Note: These links also appear in the index below.)
First, not every form of Satanism professes a belief in gods or spirits. While some forms of Satanism believe in spiritual entities, others have a materialistic worldview, and in relation to faith and religion, they are atheists or agnostics. Satanic spiritualists on the other hand, contend that Satan is a god or a chief evil spirit and they pursue interaction with him and other evil spirits. In contrast, those Satanists who are professed atheists and agnostics see Satanism as a philosophical worldview manifesting in a particular lifestyle often characterized by questioning authority. The spiritualitsts are more likely to perform satanic rituals, while the non-spiritualists don't.
Second, satanic groups include a wide range of adherents. Some Satanists are teenagers who are dabbling in self-proclaimed diabolical groups and covens These young people practice Satanism recreationally and their activities often include fantasy role-playing games, heavy metal music with satanic lyrics, and drug use. Other Satanists belong to groups whose purpose is less recreational. This type of satanic order is often esoteric and regularly practices occult rituals. It's also populated by adults, not teenagers.
Third, satanic organizations have different purposes. Some are public, while others are private. Public groups are sometimes incorporated as non-profit religious organizations and can even have tax-exempt status in the United States. This subset of Satanism produces the most literature and is even recognized by the United States military. There are, however, private groups as well, which largely operate in secret.
The different expressions of Satanism
The following chart provides a starting point for understanding different satanic groups.
Spiritualists or Materialists
|Known for||Public or Private||Literature|
|Beasts of Satan||Mid-1990's in Italy||spiritualists||committing ritual murders from 1998-2004 in Italy||private||none|
|Church of Satan||1966 by Anton Szandor LaVey
in San Francisco, California
|materialists||The Satanic Bible||public||The Satanic Bible (1969, Avon Books)|
|Dragon Rouge||1989 in Sweden||spiritualists||practicing occult arts and black magic||private||none|
|First Satanic Church||1999 by Karla LaVey in San Francisco, California||materialists||started by the daughter of Anton LeVay||public||none|
|Luciferianism||13th century||spiritualists||conflicted with Pope Gregory IX||private||none surviving|
|The Ophites||circa 100 A.D.||spiritualists||worshipped the serpent of Genesis||private||made esoteric diagrams|
|Order of Nine Angles||1960's in England||spiritualists||affirmation of human sacrifice||private||Hysteron Proteron by Anton Long|
|Order of the Temple||Late 1800's, early 1900's in Europe||varies||Aleister Crawley||private||Some Masonic writings|
|Our Lady of Endor||1948 by Herbert Arthur Sloane in Toledo, Ohio||spiritualists||Sloane believed Satan appeared to him as a horned-god when he was a child||private||Heavily influenced by The Gnostic Religion by Hans Jonas|
|Palladists||1737 In Paris, France||spiritualists||called a "Masonic Diabolical Order" in Lewis Spence's Encyclopedia of the Occult||private||none surviving|
|Temple of Set||1975 by Michael A. Aquino after a disagreement with the Church of Satan||spiritualists||Aquino was a Lt. Colonel in the U.S. Army||public||Jewelled Tablets of Set, The Crystal Tablet of Set|
|Typhonian Order||late 19th century in the U.K.||spiritualists||Aleister Crowley led the group for a time||public||The Typhonian Trilogies by Kenneth Grant|
|The Yezidi||antiquity, Central Asia||spiritualists||bird worship||private||unknown|