What is Satanism? Is it full of Devil-worshiping maniacs who sacrifice children? Not exactly. True, there have been several Satanic cults that have performed terrible deeds, but like any other religion, Satanism can be divided into several different branches and sects.
The most famous form of Satanism is Anton LaVey’s Church of Satan in San Francisco. They are not literal believers, and Satan simply represents “the adversary” to traditional Christian values, e.g. indulgence vs. abstinence or revenge vs. turning the other cheek.
However, there are many other forms of Satanism that haven’t quite achieved the same fame as the Church of Satan. Some of them are atheistic like LaVey’s version, while others do see the Devil as a literal being. Some of them have received some mainstream attention, but others have remained extremely obscure. Regardless, followers of the Left-Hand Path have devised many ways to express their own version of Satanism. Here are just a few.
The Satanic Temple
The Satanic Temple is an organization that probably wouldn’t fit most people’s idea of what a Satanist is. After all, their goals are to “encourage benevolence and empathy” and “embrace practical common sense and justice.” Much like Anton LaVey’s version of Satanism, the Satanic Temple doesn’t actually believe in or worship Satan. They see him as a symbol—a rebellious figure against tyranny and authority.
Regardless of their lack of belief, the Satanic Temple considers itself to be a religion and believes that religion should be based on science and critical thinking rather than supernatural or superstitious claims. To them, Satanism provides them with everything that a religion should provide—a sense of identity, symbolic practices, and a community of those with similar beliefs.
The Satanic Temple has gained notoriety by pushing the boundaries of free speech and having a go at fundamentalist Christians. The group is most famous for trying to erect a statue of Baphomet in Detroit because the city had approved a statue of the Ten Commandments. The logic was that if Christians were allowed to publicly profess their religion, then they should, as well.
After the Hobby Lobby decision, which allows religious organizations to opt out of providing birth control, the Satanic Temple decided to use their own status as a religion to challenge US laws. They claimed that “informed consent” laws, which require doctors to share state-approved information to a woman before she has an abortion, violate their religious beliefs because some of the shared information has been deemed unscientific by the members.
The Satanic Temple also held a “Pink Mass” in 2013 at the grave site of Fred Phelps’s mother. Phelps is the head of the Westboro Baptist Church, an extremist Christian group that is notorious for their opposition to homosexuality. The Pink Mass involved gay couples kissing in order to make Phelps’s mother “gay in the afterlife.”
Luciferians are rather similar to LaVeyan Satanists. Most of them are nonreligious and simply treat Lucifer as a symbol. The 11 Luciferian Points of Power, provided by the Greater Church of Lucifer, illustrate how Lucifer represents values like self-determination and liberation from “slave mentality.” In this regard, Luciferianism falls closer to a philosophy rather than an actual religion. The Neo-Luciferian Church states that Luciferianism’s core goal is to help people “take responsibility for [their] own life and act as an individual moral agent, using the full potential of [their] own genius and thereby optimizing [their] own possibilities.”
Luciferians also see Lucifer as being a completely different entity than Satan. The Greater Church of Lucifer states that the word “Lucifer” (meaning “Light Bearer” or “Morning Star”) existed far before Christianity and that translations and interpretations have changed over time to equate Lucifer and Satan as one being.
Perhaps the greatest difference between Luciferians and LaVeyan Satanists is that Lucifer (the Light Bearer) is a symbol of knowledge, while Satan (the Adversary) represents carnality and opposition. The Greater Church of Lucifer compares the story of Adam and Eve to the Hellenistic story of Prometheus.
In this story, Prometheus brings forbidden fire to humanity and teaches them how to harness it for their own good. For this, Prometheus is punished by Zeus. This is not unlike the Biblical story of how the snake tempts Adam and Eve into eating from the forbidden Tree of Life.
The ultimate goal of Luciferianism is to help each individual ignite their inner Black Flame and become self-aware. Luciferianists are called to question everything, overcome their own ignorance, and balance their carnal desires with their intellect.
Christian-based Duotheism is a very small fragment of theistic Satanism, according to polytheistic Satanist Diane Vera. This form of Satanism accepts that Christian theology is true and that there is an ongoing war between God and Satan. The main difference is that these Satanists are cheering on the Devil rather than God. They believe that God and Satan are the two most powerful beings in the universe and that Satan has enough power to eventually overpower God and win the war.
Vera claims that the idea of duotheism and warring gods comes from ancient Zoroastrian beliefs about the eternal war between Ahura Mazda, the God of Light, and Ahriman, the God of Darkness. Some of these Satanists see the Devil as being “the good guy” rather than “the bad guy,” as he is the one who has given humans knowledge and freedom while God wants to keep humans as slaves. In this sense, Christian-based Duotheism is an inverted form of Christianity. Satan is the hero, liberating humanity from an evil and tyrannical God.
Anti-Cosmic Satanism, also called Chaos-Gnosticism, believes that the cosmic order created by God is nothing more than a grand fabrication, and behind that illusion is an endless and formless chaos. One practitioner of this form of Satanism is an occultist author who goes by the name of Vexior 218. In an interview, Vexior explained that he did believe in an all-powerful god called the Demiurge, who has been interpreted as Odin in Norse religion and God in Christianity. He created restrictions—time, space, and flesh—to bound our otherwise free spirits. This is where figures like Loki and Satan come in. They are rebels against the Demiurge’s tyrannical rule and aim to destroy his control. Other anti-cosmic gods might include Tiamat, Baal, Asmodeus, Lilith, and more.
This form of Satanism, much like its other non-LaVeyan variants, is very obscure and unfortunately hard to find much information on. It’s most well-known member was Jon Nodtveidt of the black metal band Dissection which we’ve mentioned before. He was a member of the Temple of Black Light, once called the Misanthropic Luciferian Order, an organization with the goal of destroying the order of the Demiurge and bringing the universe back to the chaos that was originally there. The Temple used many invocations to various deities and beings, especially Lilith.
Transcendental Satanism is a very unique form of Satanism created by a man named Matt “The Lord” Zane. As he documented in the first few pages of his book Transcendental Satanism, he took LSD and had a vision of Satan being cast from Heaven, followed by another vision of a man making a pact with Satan before the man was even born. The man would avoid Hell by doing Satan’s bidding but would have no knowledge of making such a deal throughout his lifetime. Instead, he would help lead others to Hell while being under the delusion that he was actually doing God’s work. Zane said:
Satan wanted him to experience everything the world had to offer and to create his own beliefs rather than accepting the beliefs of God. The man’s journeys would lead to a plethora of experience, which would inspire others to act in a way that would be in opposition to the will of God and cause them to create a separation. I see this separation as the Hell that people were being led to. The story wasn’t a warning about eternal damnation but one of spiritual evolution.
Transcendental Satanism is exactly that—a form of spiritual evolution with the end goal of the individual reuniting with what is called a Satanic Aspect. The Satanic Aspect is a hidden part of the self separated from consciousness. It influences us by helping to cultivate our consciousness. The paths to each individual’s Satanic Aspect are many, and nobody is required to go down the path that is laid out to them.
Demonolatry quite literally means “the worship of demons,” though modern demonolators do not actually worship demons. Instead, they “work with” demons, as each demon is seen as a force or energy that can be called upon to aid in rituals or magic. Traditional demonolators actually do worship demons that personify their own attributes.
It’s important to note that not all demonolators are necessarily Satanists, though they certainly can be. Each demonolator chooses their own patron deity, and they are certainly free to choose Satan, who represents the element of fire. However, there are many demons of different religions to choose from.
Demonolators have three different possible interpretations of demons. The first is that they are like the ones in Christianity—evil sinners and tempters. The second is what traditional demonolators believe—that demons are personified forces of energy. The third interpretation is that demons are “gods in their own right as Demon means divine power.” Regardless, demonolators believe that their practice will not result in any sort of perdition or divine punishment, as these are “merely perpetuated myths handed down from a religion long past its prime.”