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History of Satanism

To: alt.satanism,alt.magick.tyagi,talk.religion.misc,alt.pagan
From: Underground Panther & Pwccaman 
Subject: Re: (Z) History of Satanism (1; LONG) (was Church of Satan FAQ)
Date: Tue, 05 May 1998 16:11:04 -0400

Pwccaman, here.

I have read Baskin's "Satanism: A Guide to the Awesome Power of
Satan," (Formerly published in 1972 as Dictionary of Satanism) and I
am a Satanist (for those of you from other newsgroups who may not be
familiar with me).  I find NocTifer's notes on this work and the
Church of Satan FAQ to be interesting, as usual, and
thought-provoking, as expected.

At the end of this post I list several books that I find useful
regarding the history of Satanism or modern understandings.

I think that there are various answers to the questions NocTifer
raises, regarding who is or is not mentioned in a particular FAQ,
book, or article, and why.  As for Baskin, I love his book for little
tidbits of information about various devils and personages and groups,
but I find the descriptions of various devils/demons/gods/cults to be
of more value than the information about people and groups accused of
or rumored to be Satanic in some way.

Few books really deal with Satanism that well at all, and this one is
remarkable in that it collects an awful lot of information in one
place.  That is why it was first titled a Dictionary of Satanism.  It
collects lore, legends, facts, and fancy in one place, as a reference
for further study, or to understand a reference made by someone else,
in order to determine the meaning implied by its usage.

Noc pointed out the problem of accepting accusations, rumor, slander,
scapegoating tactics, propaganda, and hype as historical truth.  I
think this is one of the best reasons to take many of the people and
groups mentioned by Baskin to be legendary and obscure.  If the
information was less legendary and less obscure, it would be more
reliable as history.  This is not anything against legends and lore,
it is simply a part of how they are best used.  Instead of viewing it
as history, such things are best viewed as part of the particular
history of urban or rural legend, literature, myth, lore, folk belief,
rumor, and speculation or slander about various personages.

As for LaVey, I personally don't think LaVey's "fun and games"
description of Dashwood's activities to be necessarily a put down, but
it does indicate that the purpose of Dashwood's group is on the fun
and games side.  The facts do support such a view.

I highly recommend Kieckhefer's books: "Magic in the Middle Ages" and
"Forbidden Rites" which describe what was often labelled "Satanic" or
"Black Magic/Necromancy/Nigromancy" by inquisitors, mobs,
intellectuals, theologians, etc. in the late Middle ages and the
Reniassance (Forbidden Rites goes more into the Renaissance aspect). 
These books are published by Cambridge University Press (the first is
part of the Cambridge Medieval Textbooks series), and Kieckhefer is a
professor of the Hisotry and Literature of Religions at Northwestern
University -- so the information is scholarly, not new age pop crap.

In Kieckhefer's work (especially the Forbidden Rites book, which is
commentary on the Munich Manuscript -- a necromancer's handbook from
the late middle ages -- containing the original latin and much
translated examples) you can see on one hand how a real inquisitive
mind could experiment and throw in holy words to "throw inquisitors
off track" in the horrible event of the wrong people finding the
notes.  Simply removing the holy words and refusing to invoke god to
control and constrain/torture the forces summoned would often make the
spells pretty damned Satanic, given the worldview of the time.  This
would be my first impression.

But after reading further and more deeply, it is clear that this
historian is of the impression that the typical writer of such a
handbook or grimoire, or at least the typical practitioner, actually
probably had a conscious contradictory attitude towards the magic that
we today would consider somewhat sanctimonious, at best.  He believes
that the evidence indicates that most necromancers, nigromancers,
black magicians, were heretics in that they called the forces of god
to get protection and control, if not the power to threaten the
demons, and that simply using the magic was a way of making the demons
or devils serve man, as they were bound, by God's will, and prayer to
god to control a demon to curse an enemy was part of what god

If this is just a simple reflection upon the actual wording of the
grimoires, then perhaps my first reaction was accurate -- perhaps
there is something deeper he is missing, but Kieckhefer dealves deeply
into the psychology of the heresies and religion of the time, as well
as the popular beliefs, so I do not feel convinced enough by contrary
speculation to say he is wrong.

In that case, consider many whom Baskin cited in his book -- most are
probably not exactly Satanists, not necessarily defacto's.  If you are
to sort out who is genuine, you will need more inside info than is
currently available, but if such people were excluded from his book,
then his work would have been less complete as a dictionary or
reference.  You must sort through hints and suggestions.  Rarely will
you find a diary that is useful and able to corroborate the actual
person's opinion of magic or theology.

Consider Black and Hyatt's _Pacts with the Devil_ in light of this. 
When you look at the grimoires they include, you can take out the
holier-than-thou attitude that crops up, and sometimes it looks like
it might be a convenience to avoid the worst type of persecution from
either their conscience or their enemies, in case their notes or books
were found.  You can try to separate those elements of the rites that
are too reflective of attitude you consider, within a modern
framework, to be unnecessary, false, or influenced by Christianity. 
You can rewrite the works to your own needs, finding them
contradictory to both Christianity AND Satanism, except as they fit
into the inquisitor's nightmares, in which case they fit into
Christianity's need for such practices.  But the truth is that the
elements that invoke the holy names may not really be to throw anyone
off track, except for their own guilt-ridden concience!!  (in which
case, they are heretic Christians, or possible Dualists)

One can make use of these rituals if they are stripped of servility,
invocation of the holy names, an attitude of torturing the 'bad'
spirits out of a temper tantrum by using the power of the 'good' god,
and the power of one's own emotions, desires, body (orgasm or one's
own blood) is used, instead of a superstitious insistance that
animals, being evil, must be destroyed periodically to propitiate GOD
or as a substitute for becoming more like an animal, oneself, by
observing animals and keeping them ALIVE to incarnate an inspired
understanding of the flesh and respect of carnal power.  

_The Satanic Bible_ (LaVey) presents a very down to earth
understanding of the power of the flesh and earth, in which living
animals are Satanic guides, and no animal sacrifice is necessary or
advisable because of this, one's own desire and body fluid being
preferable if one is a sufficiently powerful animal oneself!  Same
thing with little children.  In Anton LaVey's philosophy, which is
modern Satanism, life is affirmed and the power of one's own flesh and
life in this world is glorified, thereby making fearful placating of a
god or demon useless, and sacrifice only meaningful in as much as what
is sacrificed is a loathesome enemy, by proxy, in a curse.  Animals
and young children are not our enemies, but our allies, as they
naturally don't fit in well at church blindly accepting adult b.s..  

But as far as the past of alleged Satanism is concerned, Baskin is
useful in collecting rumors and legends and some cultural facts, but
you must sort out who really did what and why, even among some of the
supposed Satanists mentioned by Baskin.  He is reporting rumors, 
various church documents, legend, and the like, alongside well
documented historical facts and descriptions.  That is part of finding
out the history and sorting out the lore.  Without a collection of
rumors and tidbits, we would be much less able to understand popular
understandings of Satanism in the past, or the possible reasons for
certain slanders or certain rebellious actions.

So the historical sources are really too obscure to come up with
anything very convincing about earlier Satanism by way of pointing out
a solid history.  If you want to look at the hodgepodge of information
available, Baskin can lead you to other sources that might elucidate
some of the truth.  We are left with looking at hints and at
interesting rumors, perceptions, and lore.  Many of the people
mentioned as defacto or practicing Satanists are at least inspirations
to modern Satanists, and not just the inspiration of idiots who want
to do what the inquisition said some group did for Satan's power.

Baskin's work is great for studying Satan lore and the lore of
Satanism, but that is not the same as revealing the history of what
actual Satanists did.  Baskin is collecting nuggets and tidbits which
are entertaining, sometimes enlightening, and on the whole very
interesting, but very reflective of the myths of inquisitors.  In
other words, Baskin's work is not a historical book, but a dictionary
of information to be sorted by others.

My own approach to the history of Satanism is more practical and
philosophical than historical, for many of the above reasons. 
Consider how much knowledge we have of the history of Christianity,
and yet xtians argue about who really was a real Christian from the
past, and which group was genuine.

The following are fine sources to get a better picture at how real
Satanists might have lived in past cultures, and how many people were
labelled Satanic but were at best confused or simply slandered.  Most
of pre-20th century "Satanism" and "Devil Worship" is just
misunderstood reflections from followers of the right-hand path, but
there are hints as what the rebels may have believed and done.  It is
a question of figuring out which rebels were the Satanic rebels.

Most scholarly: 

Kieckhefer, Richard.  _Magic in the Middle Ages_ (Cambridge University
Press, 1989)

Kieckhefer, Richard. _Forbidden Rites: A necromancer's Manual of the
Fifteenth Century_ (Pennsylvania State University Press, 1997)

Pagels, Elaine.  _The Origin of Satan_ (Random House, 1995)

Turner, Alice K. _The History of Hell_ (Harcourt Brace & Co., 1993)

Particularly Satan-loving:

LaVey, Anton Szandor.  _The Satanic Bible_ (Avon Books, 1969)

Morgan, Genevieve and Tom.  _The Devil:  A Visual Guide to the
Demonic, Evil, Scurrilous, and Bad_ (Chronicle Books,1996)

Michelet, Jules. _Satanism and Witchcraft: A Study in Medieval
Superstition_ (Citadel Press 1939)

Baskin, Wade.  _Satanism: A Guide to the Awesome Power of Satan_
(Carol Publishing Group -- Citadel Press, 1972)

Black, S. Jason and Hyatt, Christopher S., Ph.D. _Pacts with the
Devil: a Chronicle of Sex, Blasphemy & Liberation_

Afraid of the Dark, but scholarly:

Russel, Jeffrey B. .... Various works about the evolution of the Devil
from pre-Christian to modern times.

Carus projects his own attitude on primitive men, moralistic, but
nonetheless a useful study of varying cultures and their taboos and
'evil' entities.  Not useful for anthropological accuracy as much as
interesting for gathering different myths and cultural phenomena:

Carus, Paul.  _The History of the Devil and the Idea of Evil_
(Gramercy Books, 1996 re-publishing of a much older work, probably
from the early part of this century.)

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