“It would be difficult for me not to conclude that the most perfect type of masculine beauty is Satan, as portrayed by Milton.” – Charles Baudelaire
This study, published in the Marburg Journal of Religion in June of 2001 and conducted by James R. Lewis of the Dept. of Philosophy and Religious Studies at the University of Wisconsin, is an attempt to gather meaningful statistical data on the demographics involved in Satanism. Below are his findings.
“The average Satanist is 26 years old (ranging from 14 to 56) who has been a Satanist for eight years (ranging from less than a year to 44 years for an individual who claimed to have been raised in a Satanist household). This means that the average Satanist became involved at age 18. The youthfulness of this average is not surprising, but the length of involvement is. Even when the respondents who claimed to have been Satanists all their lives are excluded, the average age only drops to 25 and the length of involvement to seven years. This means the average age at which someone becomes involved is still 18.
Most Satanists are male. One hundred and one survey respondents were male, thirty six were female, and two marked the item “not applicable.” The heavy predominance of males sets Satanism apart from the active memberships of most other religious bodies, old or new.
Most Satanists are Single. Ninety-six respondents–a full two-thirds of the sample–were single (though a few noted they were in long term relationships and a few others that they were engaged), thirty two were married; and twelve divorced or separated. Thirty one had children (eleven with one child, twelve with two children, seven with three children, and one with four children). This is not an unsurprising pattern, given the relative youth of Satanists.
Most Satanists are Caucasian. Two respondents were Asian-American, three Black, nine Hispanic, and Eleven noted that at least one of their ancestors was Native American. Two other respondents indicated that they were “multi-racial,” one was Turkish, and one was Indian (South Asian). Everyone else was “pure” Caucasian. This is also not surprising. Demographic studies of other alternative religions have found the predominance of participants to be White.
Satanists are employed in diverse occupations. Eighteen respondents were involved with computers and/or the internet. Forty were students. And eleven were writers or artists (fourteen if web writers are included). Otherwise, they ran the gamut from stripper to clinical psychologist, and from salesman to engineer.
Satanists are politically diverse. Fourteen respondents were Democrats, nine Republicans, sixty three non-political, and forty one Independent or Third Party. The significant number of Independent/Third Party respondents markedly sets Satanists apart from the larger population. This finding is congruent with what one might anticipate from people following an individualistic philosophy.
The traditions in which Satanists are raised reflect the general pattern of the larger society. Two respondents were raised as secular Jews, twenty eight were raised Catholic, seventy seven raised Protestant (sixteen explicitly mentioned Baptist and nine Lutheran), and twenty three nothing or no response. Many respondents indicated that their Christian upbringing was nominal, though several were the children of ministers. The only unusual responses were two respondents who were raised Neopagan and two raised as Satanists.
People become involved in Satanism in diverse ways, though more often through reading and personal study: Sixty four said they became involved through personal study/books (thirty explicitly mentioned the Satanic Bible), twenty four through other people, seventeen through the internet, and two through music (one specifically mentioned Marilyn Manson). Other responses were harder to classify: One respondent, for instance, said he became interested in Satanism as the result of a Geraldo Rivera program; another, that he became interested as a result of taking a religious studies class. If the seventeen internet responses are added to the sixty-four personal study/book responses, we can assert that the majority of Satanists become involved through reading.
Most Satanists have been involved in other religions, usually Neopaganism or some other magical group: Forty-five respondents (slightly less than a third of the sample) indicated that, beyond the religion in which they were raised, they had not been involved in any other form of spirituality before coming to Satanism. Forty eight mentioned Neopaganism, twenty two some other “left-hand path” (LHP–e.g., Thelemic Magic; Chaos Magic), twenty one an Eastern religion (fifteen Buddhism), and fourteen some form of Christianity (not counting the religion in which they were raised). These add up to more than the total number of respondents because twenty-two people had been involved in more than one other religion.
Most Satanists are humanistic (atheistic/agnostic) Satanists, reflecting the dominant influence of Anton LaVey’s thought. Sixty percent of respondents (84) said that Satan was a symbol, an archetype, myself, nature, or some other anti-theistic understanding of Satan. Twenty five indicated that Satan was an impersonal force. (Though not regarded as “supernatural,” this force is something not adequately understood by current science.) Nineteen were theistic Satanists, although even most of these respondents did not have what one would call a traditional view of Satan/god/demons. Twelve respondents did not answer this item.
Satanists believe in the efficacy of magic. Only fourteen respondents stated that they did not believe in magic. Fifteen others did not respond to this item. The balance did answer this question, though they often noted that magic was not “supernatural.” This again reflects the influence of LaVey on this issue. Eight-five respondents never meet with other co-religionists for religious/ritual purposes, thirty one rarely, and everyone else ran the gamut from one or two times a year to every week. In other words, more than eighty percent of all respondents rarely or never meet with co-religionists for religious/ritual purposes.
Finally, the Satanist community is an internet community. While more than half of all Satanists do not meet with their coreligionists face-to-face, Fifty-eight communicate with others in talk rooms or via e-mail on a daily basis and another thirty one communicate frequently. This finding is congruent with the scattered geographical distribution of Satanists.”
– James R. Lewis, Who Serves Satan -A Demographic and Ideological Profile
“When the late Pope John Paul II decided to place the woman so strangely known as “Mother” Teresa on the fast track for beatification, and thus to qualify her for eventual sainthood, the Vatican felt obliged to solicit my testimony and I thus spent several hours in a closed hearing room with a priest, a deacon, and a monsignor, no doubt making their day as I told off, as from a rosary, the frightful faults and crimes of the departed fanatic. In the course of this, I discovered that the pope during his tenure had surreptitiously abolished the famous office of “Devil’s Advocate,” in order to fast‐track still more of his many candidates for canonization. I can thus claim to be the only living person to have represented the Devil pro bono.”
― Christopher Hitchens, Hitch-22: A Memoir
“I requite the descendants of Adam, and reward them with various rewards that I alone know. More- over, power and dominion over all that is on earth, both that which is above and that which is beneath, are in my hand. I do not allow friendly association with other people, nor do I deprive them that are my own and that obey me of anything that is good for them. I place my affairs in the hands of those whom I have tried and who are in accord with my desires. I appear in divers manners to those who are faithful and under my command. I give and take away; I enrich and impoverish; I cause both happiness and misery. I do all this in keeping with the characteristics of each epoch. And none has a right to interfere with my management of affairs. Those who oppose me I afflict with disease; but my own shall not die like the sons of Adam that are without. None shall live in this world longer than the time set by me; and if I so desire, I send a person a second or a third time into this world or into some other by the transmigration of souls.”
– Al-Jilwah (The Revelation)
““What is that “essence of Satan” mentioned by those Kurdish devil-worshippers encountered by my friend?”
The answer is suggested by certain texts of the school of “the greatest shaykh”, Ibn ‘Arabi, especially Aziz ad-Din Nasafi’s treatise on The Perfect Man:
‘God delegated his vicegerent to represent him in this microcosm, this divine vicegerent being the “intellect”. When the “intellect” had taken up the vicegerency in this microcosm, all the angels of the microcosm prostrated before it, except “imagination”, which did not, refusing to bow, just as when Adam assumed the vicegerency in the macrocosm, all the angels prostrated to him, except Eblis, who did not.
. . .
Six persons emerged from the third heaven: Adam, Eve, Satan, Eblis, the Peacock, and the Snake.
Adam is the spirit, Eve the body, Satan nature, Eblis imagination, the Peacock lust, and the Snake wrath. When Adam approached the tree of intellect, he left the third heaven and entered the fourth. All the angels prostrated before Adam, except Eblis, who refused. That is to say, all the powers, spiritual and physical, became obcisant and obedient to the spirit, except imagination, which refrained from doing so.’
The word used here for imagination is wahm, which might be translated as “fancy,” in distinction to khyyal, or imagination as the “imaginal faculty.” But in the School of lbn ‘Arabi the terms are sometimes used interchangeably, for in truth imagination (like the Beloved’s tresses) both dissipates and concentrates the faculty of rememberance, and seduces both to “sin and rebellion” and to the vision of the divine-in-things. According to lbn ‘Arabi himself, without images there can be no spiritual realization at all, for the undifferentiated oneness of the Real can be experienced only through its manifestation as (or in) the multiplicity of creation.
Satan is the guardian of a threshold, as Ayn al-Qozat explained, and a doorway is an isthmus, a space-between-worlds, an ambiguous and liminal no-place-place, a land of the imagination. In the West only William Blake recognized the Devil as the imagination; in Sufism this identity has been clear since at least the tenth century. The Sufis who defended Satan were not defending or excusing evil, but rather telling a secret: “evil” has only a relative existence, and it is “merely human.” It is the “shaitan” in each of us which we must “convert to Islam,” as the Prophet said. But the very means by which we carry out this self-alchemy is presided over by that very same force, the power of our imagination, lit by paradoxical moonbeams of Black Light — Iblis himself.”
– Peter Lamborn Wilson, Iblis, The Black Light: Satanism in Islam
“The parochial snobbery of these people was partly responsible for their failure to convert the Indians. Probably they also preferred to take land from heathens rather than from fellow Christians. At any rate, very few Indians were converted, and the Salem folk believed that the virgin forest was the Devil’s last preserve, his home base and the citadel of his final stand. To the best of their knowledge the American forest was the last place on earth that was not paying homage to God.”
– Arthur Miller, The Crucible (I. paragraph 10)