Posts Tagged ‘underworld’

What is Satanism?


Satanism comprises a number of related beliefs and social phenomena. They share the feature of symbolism, veneration or admiration of Satan (or similar figures). Satan first appeared in the Hebrew Bible and was an Angel who challenged the religious faith of humans. In the Book of Job he is called “the Satan” (meaning “the accuser”) and acted as the prosecutor in God’s court. A character named “Satan” was described as the cosmic enemy of the Lord and temptor of Jesus within many of the Gospels of early Christians. It was further developed in scope and power as the bringer of Armageddon and Apocalypse as featured within the Book of Revelation. Religions inspired by these texts (Jews, Christians and Muslims) typically regarded Satan as an adversary or enemy, but extensive popular redactions and recompositions of biblical tales inserted its presence and influence into every aspect of adversarial role back to the Creation and Fall. By Christians and Muslims especially, the figure of Satan was treated variously as a rebellious or jealous competitor to human beings, to Jesus, or to the Lord, and characterized as a fallen angel or demon ruling the penitential Underworld, chained in a deep pit, wandering the planet vying for souls or providing the impetus for all worldly travesty. At points during the development of the Christian religion, Satan became its outspoken enemy, and this served the interests of all those who would use this to their advantage, inclusive of those who fashioned or recomposed the mythos of Satanism. Additionally, particularly after the European Enlightenment, some works, such as Paradise Lost, were taken up by Romantics and described as presenting the Biblical Satan as an allegory representing a crisis of faith, individualism, free will, wisdom and enlightenment. Those works actually featuring Satan as a heroic character are fewer in number but do exist: George Bernard Shaw and Mark Twain being two authors whose works include this prior to the pen being taken up by religious Satanists.

Anti-witchcraft laws such as the British Witchcraft Act 1735 (not repealed until 1951), reflected strong public sentiment against witchcraft and Satanism. Religious Satanism began in 1966 with the founding of the Church of Satan.

Modern Satanist groups (those which appeared after the 1960s) are widely diverse, but two major trends which can be seen are Theistic Satanism and Atheistic Satanism. Theistic Satanists venerate Satan as a supernatural deity. In contrast, Atheistic Satanists consider themselves atheists and regard Satan as merely symbolic of certain human traits. This categorization of Satanism (which could be categorized in other ways, for example “Traditional” versus “Modern”), is not necessarily adopted by Satanists themselves, who usually would not specify which type of Satanism they adhere to. Some Satanists believe in God in the sense of a Prime Mover but, like Atheistic Satanists, still worship themselves, due to the Deist belief that God plays no part in mortal lives.

Each “type” of Satanist will usually refer to themselves only as a “Satanist”.