Satanism. The cult of Satan, or Satan worship, is in part a survival of the ancient worship of demons and in part a revolt against Christianity or the church. It rose about the 12th cent. in Europe and reached its culmination in the blasphemous ritual of the Black Mass, a desecration of the Christian rite. The history of early Satanism is obscure.
Satanism comprises a number of related beliefs and social phenomena. They share the feature of symbolism, veneration or admiration of Satan (or similar figures). Generally, those Satanists who believe in the Judeo-Christian concept of Satan are linked into the belief system of today's Judeo-Christian religion, as they believe in the same theology presented in the Hebrew bible. Satan, also called Lucifer in many Christian religions, first appeared in the Hebrew Bible and was an Angel who challenged the religious faith of humans and the rule of Yahweh. 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.
Cults associated with satanism have been documented, however sketchily, back to the 17th century. Their central feature is the black mass, a corrupted and inverted rendition of the Christian Eucharist. Practices are said to include animal sacrifice and deviant sexual activity. Worship is motivated by the belief that Satan is more powerful than the forces of good, and so is more capable of bringing about the results sought by his adherents.
It was revived in the reign of Louis XIV in France and is still practiced by various groups throughout the world, particularly in the United States. One of the largest and most influential Satanic groups is the Church of Satan (1966), founded by Anton LaVey in San Francisco. A splinter group, the Temple of Set (1975), was organized by Michael Aquino. Many Satanic groups, including the ones mentioned, attest that such worship does not necessarily imply evil intentions, but rather an alternative to the repressive morality of many other religious groups. Such groups see no harm in their indulgence in "worldly pleasures" that other religions forbid.
Other, more severe brands of Satanism likely exist, although much of the activity pegged as "Satanic" has less to do with the religion than with various forms of sociopathy. Indeed, reliable research has found no evidence indicating the existence of alarming, large-scale Satanic phenomena. An unfortunate mistake is the unfounded-yet common-linkage of minority religious traditions, such as the African-derived voodoo and Santeri'a, with Satanism.
Satanism had plainly declined by the end of the 1970s; however, in the mid 1980s reports that it had merely gone underground began to surface. Claims of the existence of a massive Satanic underground emerged around a set of reports concerning ritual child abuse. Amid the heightened concern for child abuse generated during the era, children began to tell horrendous stories of having been abused as part of forced participation in Satanic rituals, both in homes and in day care centers. These stories were soon joined by an increasing number of stories of women, and a few men, mostly in their thirties, who told stories of having been abused as children and youth, and then having suppressed the memories until they were recalled twenty years later in sessions with counselors.
Books You Might Enjoy:
Sepharial - A Manual Of Occultism
Arlo Bates - The Pagans
Michael Majerus - Atalanta Fugiens
Nathaniel Harris - Liber Satangelica