Pseudo-Satanism and Satanic baby-killers

Since this morning’s flashback post featured an excerpt from Jeffrey S. Victor’s important and helpful book, Satanic Panic: The Creation of a Contemporary Urban Legend, I thought we’d look at another passage from Victor that sheds light on another recent story in the news.

This is from Victor’s chapter on the supposed links between “Satanism and Teenage Crime,” from the sub-section discussing “Juvenile Delinquents Involved in Pseudo-Satanism”:

When people justify murder in terms of their personal Christian beliefs, we don’t attribute the cause to the Christian religion. Instead, we seek the causes of their aggression in their particular personality dispositions and group influences.

We must do the same when we learn about some vicious act of  aggression committed by a teenager who justifies what he or she has done by referring to some self-taught Satanist beliefs. It is misleading to focus too much attention on the excuse of Satanist beliefs, no matter how repulsive we may find them.

The ritual acts and group beliefs of these delinquents does not constitute a religion any more than do the ritual acts and group beliefs of teenage gang members, or than those of the Ku Klux Klan. Almost all teenagers who even profess to be Satanists lack any elaborate belief system focused upon Devil worship. Instead, they have fabricated a deviant ideology in order to: justify their underlying personality dispositions to express aggressive hostility; or justify rebellion from adult social restrictions; or obtain public notoriety. This is what I mean when I refer to teenagers as “pseudo-Satanist” delinquents rather than as “teenage Satanists.”

… The practice of Satanic black magic rituals doesn’t cause teenagers to engage in vandalism and animal mutilation. Instead, such activity is drawn from the same package of subjective meanings. Makeshift black magic rituals offer the excitement of getting away with socially tabooed, deviant behavior, assaulting the moral order of conventional society, and bonding adolescents together in a secret, forbidden activity. … If disapproving adults also take the magic rituals seriously, in either fear or anger, rather than ridicule them, those adults inadvertently reinforce the teenagers’ attraction to black magic.

… It is easy for a teenager to put together a concoction of “Satanic beliefs” from newspaper articles, from popular folklore, from horror movies, and even from what is learned in church about the Devil.

The story in the news that this relates to doesn’t involve juvenile delinquents, but rather it involves delinquent adults who preyed on juveniles — specifically the late, once-beloved BBC television personality and DJ Jimmy Savile. (Content note: That link, the article below, and the rest of this post include some upsetting discussion of the horrific allegations against Savile.)

Following Savile’s death in 2011, reports began to surface of Savile’s history of sexual abuse and the rape of children dating all the way back to 1955. More than 400 people have come forward saying they were abused by Savile.

In recent months, the tabloid press has also published a string of stories suggesting that Savile belonged to some kind of Satanic cult. This example — “Satanic Jimmy Savile Wore Devil Robes at Scarborough Sex Club” — is typical of the rest in its thin sourcing and the salacious tone suggesting that the paper hopes this is all true:

Paedophile DJ Jimmy Savile danced naked during Satanic sex rituals held in a creepy underground chamber, according to reports.

Disgraced Savile regularly visited a secret club in Whitby, Scarborough, to join in sex-based rituals around a flogging post, it was claimed.

The BBC star belonged to a convent of northern public figures, now deceased, who gathered in a venue called The Chamber — which had signs of the devil on the walls.

This is precisely the sort of thing Jeffrey Victor describes as “pseudo-Satanism” — a pose being struck in order to appear, and to feel, transgressive and rebellious. All of the stories of Savile’s purported “Satanism” describe just such a pose — the sort of stuff a lazy production designer might come up with for a “Satanic cult” film, a hodge-podge of pop-culture symbolism concocted from the news, from folklore, from the movies, and from religious instruction unwittingly based on all of the above.

It’s understandable that many people would want to believe that Savile was involved in some kind of a Satanic cult. Here was a man who was widely admired and respected, yet decades later the public learns that he was the worst sort of predator. If the allegations against Savile are true, then the evil that he did was real, vast, and enduring, but also senseless. It’s natural to want to make sense of senseless evil — to categorize it, classify it, and to come to terms with it in some way by attributing it directly to Satan and his minions.

So even though Jimmy Savile was a pseudo-Satanist and not really a member of some shadowy cult of devil-worshipers, I can understand why some people might prefer to think that he was. When we encounter inexplicable horrors, we want to be able to tell a story that can explain them.

But what I still find mystifying is why many, many people also seem attracted to stories that invent inexplicable horrors where none exist. That’s what happened in the Satanic Panic of the 1980s and in the culture-war politics it left in its wake. The British tabloid press is applying urban legends about Satanism in an attempt to come to grips with the very real evil perpetrated by a very real monster. But the Satanic Panic and its culture-war politics embrace those same legends in order to provide imaginary evils and imaginary monsters for them to engage in imaginary battles.


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  • histrogeek

    Whenever these types of discussion roll around, I always wonder what “real” Satanism even is. The aboveground Satanist churches like LaVey all sound pretty similar to this, playing at transgressive, shocking behavior (though as far as I’ve ever heard they don’t cross lines the way Saville did). It’s just hard to distinguish what would be a “real” Satanist. Someone who does these things out of inner spiritual conviction despite personal queasiness? Someone who actually talks to demons, yet isn’t insane? Someone who joined the Satanist movement (whatever that is) but doesn’t show any signs of the social pathologies that are associated with it? Which leads to the obvious, does any such person exist?
    On some level I wonder how much it matters, outside of the taxonomic exercise. It’s like teens playing at Nazis. Some are genuinely racist and antisemitic. Some will grow out of it. Some just want to piss people off. Some just want an excuse to beat up people. In the end though, the rest of us only care about the difference if we need to control them.

  • Charles Scott

    Were I Satan* and I had people who wanted to do my will in opposition to the god of the people who are focused on fighting me, I’d have my followers go to schools and… learn.  I’d have them become doctors focused on fighting disease.  I’d have them become lawyers focusing on expanding civil rights.  The job of the evil day would be making this world objectively better suited to the goals of a long, happy, healthy, and fulfilled life for everybody.

    Why?  For the people so focused on opposing me, the evils of this world aren’t their kryptonite.  The goods of this world are.  I’ve been asked by many of this stripe of Christianist what I, as an atheist have faith in.  I have faith in the capacity of mankind to do good (that is good as I see it and not necessarily a faith in the choice to do so).  The response has been to bring up Hitler, Pol Pot, and other examples of human evil.

    Really, doing evil through doing good would be so much more effective.  Acts of evil as a means of defeating my opposition would be like unto battling Popeye by throwing massive amounts of spinach at him.

    Remember, for those who find claims of widespread satanic cults, it’s not just about making the world make sense, it’s about making the world make comically easy sense, both functionally and morally.

    *If that’s up for Democratic vote, then let it be said “Charles Scott for Satan.  Isn’t it time we had some good ideas for evil?”

  • FangsFirst

    Weird. I thought surely someone might already have covered this.

    As the answer seems to be no:

    It’s just hard to distinguish what would be a “real” Satanist. Someone who does these things out of inner spiritual conviction despite personal queasiness?

    This is going to be rough, I haven’t spoken to the guy in…well, probably about five years.

    Anyway, I knew a Satanist when I was in high school–he wasn’t, he was a kiwi and ten years older than me, but hung around the same locale on the internet. Though he and his “ilk” liked me (they all invited me in to a mild ‘reunion’ at that time five years ago), they had no tolerance for my fellow “bratty” internet denizens, as they were all more interested in, if still trivial, largely “serious” conversation.

    He admitted his religion, but did not like discussing it because of all of the assumptions/stupid questions/etc. I got glimpses, and he liked me well enough¹ that he did talk to me for a time.

    There are rituals involved in his sect, but not in the sense we’d be most likely to think of them RE: “Satanism”. More like the kind you’d find in any religion. His was also a more religious than philosophical (cf. LaVey) bent, though that we didn’t talk much about. It was a spiritually-infused variant on the kind of might-as-largely-right philosophies (to oversimplify) that underlie the LaVey Church, but not based entirely on the same (ahem, stolen) writings.

    I didn’t gather a lot more than that, other than it was eye-roll inducing to get into most of the time, and he did actually take it very seriously.

    Which isn’t the greatest help in the world toward clarifying–except that the great majority of them haven’t got any more reason (Church of Satan, his sect, the close relatives he mentioned, etc) to feel “personal queasiness” than anyone religious does, in terms of the rituals/traditions involved.

    I wish I still had my ancient ICQ logs where we had these conversations…apparently I finally lost those though.

    ¹I’m going to be honest here and say, this is more a reflection of my shock than an attempt to force the issue. I have no idea why anyone likes me, with a very, very few exceptions, so I feel it’s important to note, somehow.

  • chris the cynic

    I always wonder what “real” Satanism even is.

    Best guess, something like Yazidis but far less syncretic, instead sticking very close to a single religion (Christianity) but with the shift that Satan is presented as the good guy.
    Whether or not such a belief system has ever existed, I know not.

  • Dragoness Eclectic

     It has. It was called “Gnosticism”.

  • Patrick McGraw

    The Yazidi religion being compared to Satanism is an old libel. The central figure of their religion is a wholly benevolent angel named Melek Taus.
    Best guess, something like Yazidis but far
    less syncretic, instead sticking very close to a single religion
    (Christianity) but with the shift that Satan is presented as the good
    guy. – See more at:

  • chris the cynic

    This is very true, but the reason that I say that Satanism would probably look something like that (though far less syncretic) is that Melek Taus shares a story with the Islamic equivalent of Satan, it’s just that the story is cast in a very different light.

    Instead of refusing to bow before man being defiance of God it is instead seen as an act of respect towards God (“I will bow only toward God,” instead of, “WTF?  You want me to bow to a talking monkey?”).

    If there were actual Satanism, which as far as I know there is not, I would expect it to do similar things.  Take the framework that Christianity provided, but interpret it differently.

    “If Satan is lord of Hell and God created Hell then clearly Satan is working for God and is so loyal that he was willing to give up a life of ease in Heaven to do it.”


    “If God does all of these things than clearly God is evil and the Rebellion against him, though failed, was an honorable one of freedom fighters trying to save all of us.  Our Lord may have failed the first time, but next time he’ll be ready and deliver us all from the evil that is damnation imposed by an autocratic God.”

    That is, same story, different interpretation.

    Melek Taus shares a story with a Satan figure but, by virtue of a very different interpretation of that story, is able to be the kind of benevolent figure people would actually follow.

    If Satanism were to exist as an actual religion instead of, “We do this because it’s shocking and transgressive,” I would presume a similar difference of interpretation, but unlike the Yazidi the religion in question would have to stick much closer to a single other religion (specifically Christianity).

    Dragoness Eclectic’s bringing up of Gnosticism is definitely worthy of consideration here because, while I can’t off the top of my head think of a thing that made Satan into the good guy, the Secret Gospel of John (a Gnostic text) casts the God that Jews, Christians, and now Muslims worship (amoung others) as its Satan figure.  A different name is used, but if you look at what the bad guy is doing he’s the one who breaths life into Adam, he’s the one who does the Flood, so on.  He’s the one taking on the stories generally ascribed to God.  So you get same story, different interpretation, and under the interpretation of the Secret Gospel of John all Jews, Christians, and Muslims (amoung others) alive today are basically Satanists without realizing it.

    There may be another Gnostic text which instead of making God (or at least the one everyone thought of as God) into the bad guy made Satan into the good guy.

    If you want an example of what Satanism might look like, another thing to do would be to consider my story Where Antichrists Come From in which a combination of taking Left Behind God and Jesus as accurate portrayals of the two and a bit of, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend,” combine to place Lucifer in a heroic role.

  • chris the cynic

    I’m actually rather busy at the moment and have not had a chance to read SororAyin’s comments.  Which is why the post I’m responding to (disqus let me edit it to fix a couple of typos but now refuses to let me edit) does not take what has been said by SororAyin into account at all.

  • SororAyin

     You may be intrigued to know that I have encountered a few Satanists who felt that Lucifer and Jesus were just two different manifestations of the same deity.

  • chris the cynic

    Intrigued, yes.  Surprised, no.  Which is somewhat surprising in itself since earlier this very day I was saying that I didn’t think actual satanists existed in the real world.

    I actually met someone (a Jewish Mormon, the product of a mixed marriage and, apparently, the belief that those two religions fit together just fine) who explained to me that the snake in the Garden of Eden was the good guy because if humanity had never left the Garden it could never reach its true potential.  I don’t remember if he equated the snake with Jesus though.

    Personally all of the translations I’ve read (I can’t read Hebrew, biblical or otherwise) have left me with the impression that the serpent was just your ordinary standard variety talking snake.  They’ve also left me with the impression that the snake got shafted, and left me with a deep desire to know what his explanation would have been if he, like Adam and Eve before him, had been given a chance to explain himself.

    I want to know the talking snake’s motivation, damn it!  Genesis writer, you leave out all the good stuff.

  • Baby_Raptor

    Re: inventing horrors

    I think it’s the same drive that pushes them to scream persecution whenever someone looks at them funny. They’ve been warned their entire lives that the world has evil in it, and they have to be wary and be ready to stand against it. “You are the salt of the earth,” and all similar verses.

    But the planet really isn’t as bad as they would have believed it is. So when they manage to find something that could be a threat, they blow it out of proportion to justify their beliefs. See this example here, or how abortion becomes the murder of a fully human creature, or how gay marriage will bring about the downfall of America…Everyone here can think up plenty of examples. 

    Personally, I’m kind of shocked at some of the things they come up with. If you can detach from all the damage and bad it does and just look at them and the crap they come up with…That’s some impressive imagination. It makes one wonder what they could do with it if they were to try and write books, or make movies or whatever. 

    Edit: Someone needs to plan a sacrifice to the Disqus god. He is clearly upset. First he wants to turn all my text blue because I tried to quote Fred, and then he ate my spacing.

  • FearlessSon

    “You are the salt of the earth,” and all similar verses.

    Something always bugged me about the salt-of-the-earth metaphor.  I thought that salting the earth was something that you do to reduce the fertility of the ground so that nothing could grow there?  To imply someone is salt-of-the-earth would therefor imply that they are obstructing growth and bringing down the environment around them.  

    That’s some impressive imagination. It makes one wonder what they could do with it if they were to try and write books, or make movies or whatever.

    Oh no, we have seen the results of that here every Friday.  How much worse do you think it would be if that were an entire industry?  

  • AnonaMiss

    I beliiieve the ‘earth’ part of the phrase isn’t intended to be metaphorical. “You are to the earth as salt is to food” is I think the intended meaning.

    But I could be wrong.
    always bugged me about the salt-of-the-earth metaphor.  I thought that
    salting the earth was something that you do to reduce the fertility of
    the ground so that nothing could grow there?  To imply someone is
    salt-of-the-earth would therefor imply that they are obstructing growth
    and bringing down the environment around them. – See more at:
    always bugged me about the salt-of-the-earth metaphor.  I thought that
    salting the earth was something that you do to reduce the fertility of
    the ground so that nothing could grow there?  To imply someone is
    salt-of-the-earth would therefor imply that they are obstructing growth
    and bringing down the environment around them. – See more at:<

  • Dave

     I’ve always understood “salt of the earth” to refer to something of value simply because salt, which sometimes comes from mines,  was a singularly valuable commodity for much of human history. It could just as easily have been “gold of the earth” or “diamonds of the earth.”

    (“Worth their salt” is another expression in the same vein*, as is the word “salary.”)

    * You see what I did there.

  • Robyrt

    You’re right – “salt of the earth” is referring to table salt, not only because it was useful and valuable, but because its effects are obvious. If the salt loses its taste, Jesus says, it is good for nothing; you are the salt of the earth.

  • Jurgan

    “Earth” here doesn’t refer to the ground, but the world of people we see.  Maybe “salt of the earth” could be better expressed as “the salt of humanity.”  The point is that salt is a seasoning that brings out the best flavors, and therefore the church is to bring out the best in the rest of humanity.

  • Guest

    Eugene Peterson’s “The Message” implies that the salt-of-the-earth metaphor is exactly like the light-of-the-world metaphor.  Salt brings out the flavor in food. 

  • christopher_y

    On the Disqus issue, if you’re using Windows, whenever you want to copy/paste text from inside a comment thread, it’s advisable to right click and select “Paste as plain text”. 99% of the time this prevents the Disqus god from playing his unforeseeable tricks.

    On Savile I have nothing. Living in Britain, we’ve been force fed a diet of this stuff for months, and I’m just sick and depressed.  

  • Baby_Raptor

    Thanks for the heads-up. I’ll go that route next time. 

  • Jenny Islander

    But the salt of the earth reference isn’t about standing against evil.  It’s about watching our own behavior to make sure that we are setting a good example.  Do fundamentalists quote it as if it’s about looking for outsiders to point at?

  • Foreigner

    Widely admired and respected? I can’t think many people were surprised when stories of Savile’s behaviour came out. The fact that they only came out after he died is possibly yet another indictment of our appalling libel laws.

  • John Alexander Harman

    The mystery writer Val McDermid has said that Jacko Vance, a BBC presenter and serial rapist and murderer of adolescent girls, who features as the principal antagonist three of her novels, was inspired by Jimmy Savile — not because she had any direct knowledge of his crimes, but because she had once interviewed him and been creeped out so badly that she found it very easy to imagine him as the vicious sexual deviant that, as it turns out, he actually was.

  • Timothy (TRiG)

    In fact, the h2g2 discussion on the subject was labelled “Jimmy Saville are you surprised?, which does reflect the fact that it seems many weren’t.

  • LL

    It’s almost as if “Satan” is an easy scapegoat for all the evil people do, so that religion never need acknowledge its negative influence (in the case of religious adherents who do terrible things) or negligible positive influence (ie, its inability to dissuade anybody else from doing terrible things). 

  • mcc

    The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he existed

  • Narcissus

    This is rather generous of you…
    The British tabloid press is applying urban legends about Satanism in an attempt to come to grips with the very real evil perpetrated by a very real monster.

    The more likely reason is that the tabloid wants to sell copies. Sensational satanic stories sell. Sure, the staff and writers of said tabloids may not want a world where important decisions on global matters are made by people who believe these things but there it is. Like everyone else, they are less concerned with what kind of world they are creating for the next lot as much as succeeding in whatever endeavor lays smack dab in front of them.

  • Jurgan

    Yes, but why do the stories sell copies?  Why do people want to buy magazines that claim Satanic inspiration for pedophilia?  Your question shifts the cause from the suppliers to the demanders, but I think the answer is the same.

  • Narcissus

    Hey Jurgan. I don’t know what your experience is but mine is that no one I know reads these magazines or watches their TV equivalent. No one. Yet, these outlets are profitable and would, I’m sure, argue that they can prove their numbers go up when they run these kind of stories. Nothing profound here. 

    So the viewer must be watching with a detached sense of self. Like a fetish disavowal even. Zizek might say, ‘they do not know what they are doing but they are doing it!’

    Like Santa. They don’t believe in him but they keep up the charade for someone else, namely the children. I don’t believe this crap but someone else out there does and this allows me to enjoy the show, read the magazine but pretend its not effecting me

    But if every one acknowledges Santa isn’t real, how does modern Christmas manifest itself every year? The same way these mags fly off the shelf and the shows pull in the numbers, through the belief that I myself am not fooled. I only read it to see what the lesser humans, somewhere, out there, are fooled by. 

    The horror is that there is no other. The “they” out there is really just all of us. It is me. Until I just stop. 

    The only word I can think of to describe this scenario is ‘demonic’. ; )

  • Makabit

    “But the planet really isn’t as bad as they would have believed it is. ”
    I’d say it’s much worse…just not for them.

  • Baby_Raptor

    This is indeed true, but it’s a result of the behavior we’re talking about here, at least in my opinion. 

    It’s a Catch 22–They think the planet is horrible and evil, and they end up doing horrible, evil things to try and stop their perceptions. 

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    It’s a
    Catch 22–They think the planet is horrible and evil, and they end up
    doing horrible, evil things to try and stop their perceptions.  – See
    more at:

    “When a person goes to war against the Devil his enemy may not exist, the General giving him orders may not exist, but the casualties he creates will be real. ” — Hellboy @ Slacktivist
    (I hope this works.  Disqus is b0rked today…)

  • Mrs Grimble

    These latest “Savile was a Satanist” claims all come from a well-known UK therapist named  Valerie Sinason, who specialises in recovered memory therapy and  has been pushing these type of stories for over 20 years.  She never misses a chance of publicity.
    What’s more worrying is the unchallenged assumption in all reports  that Savile was raping and molesting every child and young woman he came into contact with (so mush so that hundreds of alleged victims are preparing to sue his estate and the BBC).  There’s no doubt that he wasn’t “trouser-safe” (as a friend of mine rather memorably described another celebrity sex pest she had dealings with) but at least one woman has described how, when he started to grope her, she said a loud “No!” and he immediately backed off and apologised. And it seems rather surprising that he never appeared to father a child anywhere, at any time, despite his alleged rampant sexual proclivities. 
    In that way, he does seem to have come to personify Evil, at least in the British psyche.

  • Launcifer

    Also, there’s the fact that it’s in the Daily Express, wellspring of pretty much every ludicrous theory concerning the death of the late Diana, Princess of Wales. There’s no reason Fred would know that but, being English, that alone alone just sent my bullshit detector into overdrive.

  • Lliira

    one woman has described how, when he started to grope her, she said a loud “No!” and he immediately backed off and apologized

    That is not how it works. You do NOT grope someone who has not previously and clearly given you permission to grope her. The basic state of consent is in the OFF position, not the ON position (and it can be flipped back to off at absolutely any time, and that’s not a great metaphor anyway, because permission for groping does not mean permission for other things). That he started to grope someone without having her absolutely clear consent first shows that he is a complete and utter scumbag.
    at least
    one woman has described how, when he started to grope her, she said a
    loud “No!” and he immediately backed off and apologised – See more at:
    at least
    one woman has described how, when he started to grope her, she said a
    loud “No!” and he immediately backed off and apologised – See more at:
    at least
    one woman has described how, when he started to grope her, she said a
    loud “No!” and he immediately backed off and apologised – See more at:
    at least
    one woman has described how, when he started to grope her, she said a
    loud “No!” and he immediately backed off and apologised – See more at:</i

  • PepperjackCandy

    My other thought was that it was a loud “no” that made him stop. 

    What happened to those who lacked the confidence to assert themselves like that and instead said, “please don’t do this,” or just shut down completely in terror?

  • Cathy W

    My thought when I heard the anecdote was that wow, someone popped his bubble for a second. Given that it didn’t seem to stop him for more than that moment… it’s good to know he’d take an assertive no for an answer, but that’s kind of a low bar.

  • Damanoid

    For a second there I was seriously confused by that tabloid’s front page.

     “Oh, come on now!  Even with the lurid nature of these Satanic pedophile crimes, surely no one would be crass enough to distribute snake-oil in the form of a meter that claims to detect–  oh wait, they mean the walking distance measuring device.  Never mind.”

    … That IS what they mean, right?

  • Invisible Neutrino

    Alternatively, paste text into Notepad first, then select all, copy, paste into Disqus box.

    Re: Savile and inventing horrors

    “Cavorting about naked” seems to have been ripped from some boilerplate fantasy book about what the author thinks Satanism is.

    I have no doubt that Savile did bad things. What I do doubt is the sensationalism surrounding the reports of said bad things.

  • P J Evans

     I think some of those go back at least to Victorian pr()n. (I’ve seen some. It was mostly, AFAICT, involved with deflowering virgins; otherwise it seemed to be about sinister monks doing things with young ladies.)

  • The_L1985

     Hey now, there’s nothing wrong with cavorting about naked.  It makes days home alone more fun.

  • JustoneK

    It depends on how comfortable you are with your body, and your curtain choices.

  • Jurgan

    “So even though Jimmy Savile was a pseudo-Satanist and not really a member of some shadowy cult of devil-worshipers”

    Wait, he was a “pseudo-Satanist?”  So are you saying he really did participate in these bizarre Wicker Man style rituals?  Because even that, to me, stretches credibility.

  • Gabe Nichols

    For a look at how satanism specifically became such a focus for moral panic I highly recommend Bill Ellis’ work in “Raising the Devil: Satanism, New Religions, and the Media” and “Lucifer Ascending: the Occult in Folklore and Popular Culture”  Ellis tracks how concerns with explicit devil worship came out of the Pentecostalist revival movements and were tailor made for media exploitation which then reinforced the community of true believers and provided openings for con artists.  He also looks at how legitimate folk traditions were appropriated for “satanic cults” to serve as proof of the enemies both the media and the Pentecostals needed to be real.

  • Stone_Monkey

    As per the comment from a fellow Brit above; this is the Express, who are the tabloid equivalent of the Daily Mail’s even more unapologetically hateful sibling. The Satanic Panic stuff is simply a way for them to make the the, already horrifying, Savile story appear even more lurid and horrible to their audience of lower-middle class xenophobes, Diana-idolaters and nimbyites… Like the “Hate Mail”, they only care about the eye-catching nature of the allegations and not about the real harm that was caused.

  • SororAyin

    Hello, everyone.  I know I haven’t been a part of this community for long, but I trust that my presence here is well enough established that none of you will think that I am a troll.  I also wish it known that I am nervous about posting this comment because I rarely speak so openly about my beliefs.  Nevertheless, I feel this is a “truth-to-power” moment, the power in this case being that of the majority opinion.  I ask you all for your patience.  Here goes.

    I am Soror Ayin.  And, I am a Satanist.

    I’ve noticed that when people want to know Satanism really is, they rarely ask a Satanist.  Well, we *can* be hard to find sometimes.   In any case if anyone is curious, I am here.

    Please note, I’ll be away from my computer for the rest of today and Thursday as well.  If anyone as anything they’d like to ask me, I’ll get back to you Friday.

  • JustoneK

    LaVeyan type?  I’d read that was the more modern type these days.

    And just from what Wikipedia says (and generally christian upbringing) the impression I get is it’s not terribly sustainable.

    The only Satanists I’ve never talked to personally were the fluffbunny angry teenager types in high school.

  • Dave


  • Invisible Neutrino


    It will be wonderful if you stay around for a while. The more diverse perspectives we get, the better. :)

    No questions now, but I am sure that questions I didn’t even know I had will be answered over the course of your discussions of Satanism. :)

  • Baby_Raptor

    Hello, person I have not seen before! 

    I have no questions, but have a welcome hug and a cookie! 

  • Hexep

    Ahhh… I remember finding Anton LaVey tremendously liberating when I first read his works. Are you part of his group, the Church of Satan?

  • Isabel C.

    Hey, welcome, and good to see you!

    As above, I’ve only really encountered LaVey’s books (and a lot of Hot Topic kids, which, whatever) and I’d be very interested in hearing about any differences in the sort you practice, or any bits of the books I interpreted wrong.

  • Isabel C.

    What FangsFirst says.

    From what I know of actually-believing-Satanism, it’s largely about personal power and questioning what society says is good. I find it morally very suspect, and would probably be wary of anyone who practiced it, but that’s less to do with Satan and more because a great deal of it syncs up creepily with Ayn Rand. There are a couple useful bits in LaVey, and I can even see pointing out that some degree of selfishness is necessary in most human lives, but it goes way too far into the realm of get-yours-and-fuck-everyone-else.

    Also, LaVey’s views on women were Kind Of Unfortunate, if I recall correctly. I don’t know if other Satanist philosophies are similar. I do wish they’d stop using harmless and cute boa constrictors in an attempt to look sinister–and probably naming them “Wormwood” or something similarly doofy–but that’s a taste thing.

  • Lliira

    I feel the same way you do about Satanism. “Do as you will” being the whole of the law is gross, but in practice, Satanists don’t seem statistically to hurt people any more than people of most other religions. And I have a certain amount of respect for the lack of hypocrisy, though none for the belief system itself. Like Ayn Rand, they seem to have decided if Christianity is bad, then we must believe exactly the opposite of everything Christianity teaches. Which I find both immature and far too attached to Christianity — like a teenager rebelling against the only thing they’ve ever known, rather than striking out and creating something new.

  • Makabit

    Boa constrictors? Not the first animal I would associate with the Devil. Too third-grader animal report-like.

  • The_L1985

    “The boa never discussed its religious beliefs or lack thereof with me.”

    I’m not sure why this is such a great sentence. It just is.

  • Madhabmatics

     We have a very complicated animal goodness to evilness rating depending on whether they tried to A) set Abraham on fire or B) put out the fire

    spoiler: frogs are baller as heck

  • Lliira

    But what I still find mystifying is why many, many people also seem attracted to stories that invent inexplicable horrors where none exist.

    Because they aren’t allowed to imagine things. Imo, there is a straight line between that and becoming completely deluded. Human beings have to imagine things. If told we’re not allowed to, we will anyway, and pretend to ourselves that it’s all true.

  • MaryKaye

    I will defer to Soror Ayin on first-hand knowledge, but I have known and respected a Satanist whose philosophy could be summed up as “Satan is the Jungian Shadow of religion.  You can’t become a full person until you have dealt with your shadow, and that is what I am doing.”

    He also gave me a quote which has influenced me greatly, namely:  [Pagans say that] “All the goddesses are one Goddess, including Eve, Mary, and Lilith; and all the gods are one God–except Jesus, Jehovah, and Satan.”  He felt this indicated spiritual blindness in (some) Pagans and I am inclined to agree.

    I have done ritual directed to the Devil of the Tarot.  We had set out to do every card in the Major Arcana, and there he was.  It was an alarming set of rituals but I learned a lot, both from embodying someone else’s Devil and from talking to my own. –This causes occasional awkwardness in Pagan circles when someone says “Of COURSE Pagans NEVER worship the devil or deal with him in ritual” and I have to say, well, um, I disagree.

  • Fie

    That (“all the gods are one God–except Jesus, Jehovah, and Satan”) honestly smells more like a political cover-your-ass statement than an earnest religious assertion. I hear that and hear, “Yeah, we’re not going to get into a slapfight with Christians over this. Better things to do. Move on.”

    Eve, Mary and Lilith are a lot safer, in that sense, because no Christian would admit to actual direct worship without being open-minded about the whole thing in the first place.

    That all said, I have no useful or relevant experience with paganism.

  • Isabel C.

    I can totally see that.

    I’ve had some discussion with friends about “left hand” paths and the power of transgression, which interests me, and I’ve had the Tarot devil be a not-entirely-negative figure in readings: the interpretation I take of the card generally is “bondage to fear and desire,” but it can also mean taking the darker/less approved of route, and also sometimes bonds can be useful.That sort of thing. 

  • Ruby_Tea

    But what I still find mystifying is why many, many people also seem attracted to stories that invent inexplicable horrors where none exist. 
    You’ve explained it before, Fred.  Because it’s more exciting that way.

    There are people out there who would rather believe in evil, supernatural forces than not.  In the specific context of the Satanic Panic, people who would rather believe that their little tots were victims of evil rituals by black-berobed Nicolae Carpathias, than have to come to terms with the fact that they and their kids live normal, non-epic lives…just like the vast majority of humanity.

  • FangsFirst

    I should clarify that the guy I knew/know was distinctly unimpressed (let’s be honest: antipathic) toward LaVeyan Satanism and similar schools of “Let’s Be Shocking”–at least, in his perception of them, that’s what they were.

    I don’t recall him being overtly Randian (or similar), though he and the other ‘elders’ of our little community, as I said, didn’t deign to grace our ridiculous, absurd, and often spammy presences (eventually, the admin gave them their own board–the “Network Convalescents”, it was called, as it was for the purposes of avoiding the rambunctious ‘children’ that the rest of us were). ¹

    Anyway, he emphasized the sheer variety of (all largely small) sects he was aware of, and I tended to defer to him on the subject, as he also had that ‘external’ knowledge of other, differing groups. I’d say, obviously, Soror can cover this.

    Glad to know there’s an actual Satanist here. I never felt like I could do the subject proper justice, but saw no one else was acknowledging actual ones, and felt someone ought.

    ¹Actually just found him googling around. That was stupendously un-difficult…

  • ShifterCat

    If disapproving adults also take the magic rituals seriously, in either fear or anger, rather than ridicule them, those adults inadvertently reinforce the teenagers’ attraction to black magic.

    So, if your kid tries to shock you with faux-devil-worship, the best thing to do is show them this:

  • stardreamer42

    I don’t find someone like Savile hard to explain at all. This is entitlement and greed run completely out of control, with a side of “other people only exist for my personal benefit and gratification”. In fact, very much like the attitudes of the people currently running the Republican Party, but on a personal rather than a financial level.  Why go digging for some vast Satanic conspiracy to explain what is sufficiently explained by human venality?

  • Hilary

    I vageuly remember, several years ago when I massively lurked on Beliefnet, a guy who proudly called himself a Satanist, in that Satan was the great bringer of knowledge, the ultimate questioner and antagonist to Yahweh.  He seemed proud and resolute, with a well thought out moral position that wasn’t about sacrificing kittens but challenging every thing of a god that sought to mindlessly control humans.  As long as he donated to the local food shelf and didn’t molest anybody, that didn’t bother me.  From what I got out of his talking about Satanism was basically a deep respect for human independance and responsibility.

    So SorerAyin, welcome and feel free to comment around.

    As for Savile, perhaps he wasn’t a devil so much as an angel wh0 sauntered vaugely downward?  Is anybody else on this thread a fan of ‘Good Omens?’


  • AnonymousSam

    For the most part, the above covers what I’ve seen of Satanism — in general, “pursue that which pleasures you so long as it’s not at the expense of a person who hasn’t given consent to be treated in said manner,” with more vague aspects encapsulating the darker, less pleasant aspects of the Abrahamic religions as being detestable and therefore the opposite of how one’s spirituality ought to be. I’ve seen a few Satanists say that the serpent in the Garden was the hero of the story, bringing knowledge and awareness to creatures who were denied true sapience by a liar deity.

    I have little opinion of it, not having met enough people who were not either extremely immature or serial killers who said they worshiped Satan to know what a reasonably-minded adult goes about said worship.

    (Amusingly, though– there is a fellow out there in the world who has my name, first and last, which is kind of an accomplishment when my name is based on a Hebrew word that Jewish parents are rather unlikely to give to their child. He also claims to be a Satanist. My running joke [which, unfortunately, I have never gotten to share with him] is that he’s my evil twin.)

  • Lliira

     The “so long as it’s not at expense of a person who hasn’t given consent to be treated in said manner” is not something I’ve ever seen in Satanism — that sounds more like Wicca, actually. Satanism is “do as thou wilt shall be the whole of the law” (Crowley),  whereas Wicca is “an it harm none, do what ye will.”

    Perhaps Satanism has changed drastically in the last hundred years. And perhaps my first boyfriend, who considered himself a Satanist philosophically, and every other Satanist I’ve ever talked to, are aberrations. Luckily, neither my first boyfriend nor anyone else I’ve talked to who is a Satanist was physically violent. However, they were all jerks (though my boyfriend was incredibly good at pretending otherwise, which is why he was my boyfriend. He was manipulative as hell and he fooled me enough that I only realized everything he did to me in the last few years.)

    I’ve never known any Satanist who actually worships the devil. Because Satanism is about not worshiping anything. Right-wing Christians are more devil-worshipy; first, in that they think Satan is an actual entity that actually physically exists; second, in that their idea of this entity is at the center of their worship.

  • AnonymousSam

    I’ve heard variations. Most of the “I’ll do whatever I please” sort belonged to the group I am discounting as too immature to take seriously. Crowley considered himself Satan, so I’m not sure about taking him as representative of Satanism either (although the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn is interesting, and has equally interesting words to say about Samael).

  • Madhabmatics

     nah it hasn’t changed, it’s still objectivism

  • Hexep

    I share your feeling. I have the same name as a fictional character on a television show that was very popular 10 years ago; if you Google my name, all you get is sites about the show.

  • Parhelion

    I’ve always thought that claiming Satanism (or Godless Communism, or homosexual conspiracy, or name your hated group of choice) as the explanation for deeply evil acts serves two purposes.

    First, it distances us from part of our own humanity, the awfulness some of us are capable of and the way bad choices by normal people shelters the awful acts of others.

    Second, it lets us ignore how mundane the struggle against evil usually is.  I’ve found trying to be good, even in dramatic circumstances, was much more like trying to exercise or balance my checkbook than anything out of most movies or fantasy novels.

    If fighting evil would mean battling some extraordinary group, then I’m free to feel heroic for standing still and pointing at someone else, rather than asking myself yet again what small mistake with big consequences I might be making and then having to fix that mistake.

  • Ross Thompson

    I hung out with a couple of “satanists” in my youth, and came to the conclusion that satanists are all really middle-class Catholic teenagers who want to piss of their parents.

  • SororAyin

    Oh boy.  I can see that I will *never* be able to give an adequate reply to everyone who has responded to me.  For that I apologize.  Let me just post a few basic clarifications here.  For anything else anyone may want to know, please contact me via my blog (just click on my screen name).  Please note, I’ll be without computer access until the 11th, but I’ll respond as soon as I’m able.

    First, let me say thank you to all those kind souls that extended such warm greeting to me.  Truly, I am touched.

    JustoneK, MaryKaye, Dave, Invisible Neutrino, Baby-Raptor, Hexep, and anyone else I may have missed:  Thanks for making me feel so welcome here.  And Baby-Raptor, thanks for the cookie and hug.  Mmm peanut butter, my favorite!

    I am not a member of the Church of Satan (or any other formal organization) and am not fond of their particular brand of symbolic Satanism.  I read the Satanic Bible years ago and was not overly impressed.  I was occasionally amused, but that’s about all the effect it had on me.  I’m also not fond of the tendency some  LaVeyans have of insisting that they–and only they–are real Satanists.  There’s more to Satanism than the Church of Satan whether the LaVeyans like it or not. 

    My particular form of Satanism is of the Theistic variety.  That is to say, I see Satan as a literal deity.  Probably the best intro to Theistic Satanism is Diane Vera’s website:  (Please excuse the lack of formatting.  I don’t know how to do hyperlinks in Disqus.)  I find Vera’s proposed Church of Azazel very interesting.  I am also fascinated by the Temple of Set.  I’ve found the Temple approved book “Uncle Setnakt’s Essential Guide to the Left Hand Path” very inspirational. 

    I study as much as I can about other religions, too.  During my teen years, I was involved in Wicca and Golden Dawn-style ceremonial magic.  I still have a fondness for the Pagan Gods and do rites which focus on Isis occasionally.  I spend quite a bit of time on Slacktivist in an effort to better understand Evangelical Christianity.  My only direct experience of Christianity comes from Catholicism.

    I certainly believe in standing up for myself and working to strengthen myself, but I’ll have no truck with that “might is right” crap.  My political leaning have nothing to do with Ayn Rand.  I am a Liberal and proud of it.

  • ShifterCat

    Please excuse the lack of formatting.  I don’t know how to do hyperlinks in Disqus.

    Disqus doesn’t do hyperlinks.  Or, to put it more accurately, “Among the things that Disqus won’t do properly are hyperlinks.”

  • AnonymousSam

    Intriguing thought: God writes the rules. God creates Hell. God’s rules condemn innocent people to Hell for sins they cannot possibly prevent themselves from committing at least once.

    Jesus absolves all sins and severs the connection between mankind and Hell.

    In a religion in which God is an antagonist, Jesus is the hero of the story. Despite being the son of God, he subverts his father’s orders and creates a means by which humanity can avoid God’s eternal wrath.

    Kinda sounds like something that’d make its way into my story, but my plan for the Messiah is rather different.

  • vsm

    I doubt he was the first person to come up with it, but that’s pretty much what Nick Cave believes.

  • AnonymousSam

    I could definitely see it. It’s the kind of thing I could have come up with if I’d kept on the same path.

    Back when I was a raging teenager who was feeling grievously hurt by Christianity, I started identifying as a Satanist. My interpretation was pretty simple though and formed in response to how I felt. God remained the only deity, but God had proven himself to be evil in my eyes. Scripture seemed to cheerfully confirm this. Therefore, I decided, the only true Satan was humanity itself. We were the populace residing beneath a tyrannical and evil overlord. It was our duty to ask questions, think for ourselves and consider no act unclean or unholy by fiat.

    Oddly enough, what shook me out of that phase was being informed by a curious friend that my name happens to coincide with one of the names associated with Satan. That hit a little too close to home and suddenly I was a lot less interested in calling myself a Satanist.

  • EllieMurasaki


  • AnonymousSam

    … Huh. No, but googling that name gave me another one of those nasty twinges. Turns out the translation of the name (“he sees the name”) references a story wherein Satan knew the explicit name of God and spoke it to a mortal to prove he was an angel, earning God’s wrath. My twinge comes from having used “by the Name” as an oath from time to time.

    I don’t know why I was happy to call myself a Satanist but not with the implication that I was named after Satan. There’s where my Otherkin background comes in, since that same friend kept digging and uncovering little correlations between things I said or wrote and scripture relating to fallen angels who were all considered to be alternate names and mythologies related to Satan. It was never a thing I liked, but after awhile I just resigned myself to it. “Yes, fine, I could possibly be some sort of reincarnation of a fallen angel who may or may not be the basis for Satan. Pass me a ramen packet.”

    By this point, I don’t really think of it much anymore. Truth or fiction, it hasn’t had any relevance to my adult life beyond being a darkly amusing story I can tell every once and awhile.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Wait, what? I thought it was more like ‘infamous rebellion’, paralleling ‘Azazel’, ‘rebellion against God’.

    I am writing a thing where the etymologies of those names are important. I need to have them right.

  • AnonymousSam

    Apparently “he sees the name” is an epithet and “infamous rebellion” is the translation of his name.

    The name ‘Shemyaza[z]’ means ‘infamous rebellion’, the combination of ‘shem’ [meaning ‘name’ or ‘fame’ {whether positive or negative}] + ‘azaz’ [which means ‘rebellion’ or ‘arrogance’ as a negative particle]. Michael Knibb lists him as “the (or my) name has seen” or “he sees the name”.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Oh, okay, that makes sense. Thanks!

  • chris the cynic

     That’s sort of, but not really, what the Secret Gospel of John I mentioned earlier says.

    Note the qualifiers “sort of” and “but not really”, even so there is similarity there.

  • ShifterCat

    I’ve long been of the opinion that the Serpent of Eden should be recognized as a positive force.  It’s what inspired an old painting of mine.

    (High-school level skill, here: )

  • chris the cynic

     Is anyone else getting a thing where disqus occasionally shows replies as coming before the things to which they are replies?

  • AnonymousSam

    Yup, every now and then.

    Continuity: Just one more thing at which Disqus fails.

  • Invisible Neutrino

    Or, more brilliantly, Disqus has discovered how to reverse cause and effect. :P

  • chris the cynic

    I am reminded of Mystery Science Theater 3000, don’t remember the episode or enough of the exact phrasing to look it up so this will be an approximate quote at best.

    Robot 1: It would appear that we have.
    Robot 2: Do you think we’ve escaped the time vortex yet?
    Robot 1: Damn it!

  • Nominal.E

    Just came across a video related to Beyonce’s Superbowl appearance and Satanism/demon possession through a friend of a friend posting on Facebook. Found the website with that and more related videos.

  • Nominal.e

    Not recommended just found it creepy and very off.