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Did You Know?
The LaVeyan branch of Satanism takes its name from the name of its founder, Anton Szandor LaVey. However, this name is not mentioned anywhere in the texts and records of this sect of Satanism.

Talk about the Devil or Satan, and automatically, an image of someone or something that is bad or evil is conjured up in the minds of most people. Since ancient times, Satan has always been seen as the figure of evil, and is always portrayed in a bad light. The Bible presents Satan as God's enemy, and the most evil figure in the entire Universe, which is why Satanism is often associated with evil practices.

Though the concept of devil worshiping is practically ancient, the concept of contemporary Satanism actually was born sometime in the late twentieth century. When the religious perception of Satan and the ideology of Satanism are mixed, there is no doubt that it results in immense confusion and misinterpretation. Satanists have a different view of Satanism altogether, as you will find out through the next sections of this article.

Meaning
Satanism is actually a term used to describe different social movements that were led by ideologies and philosophies different from the ones already established by various religions. It is considered as a religion in itself, with its followers sharing mutual respect and admiration for Satan and his ideologies.

Satanists, of whichever type, do not perceive Satan and the concept of Satan (or Lucifer, as he is also known) to be an evil figure striving to bring about human pain and suffering. For them, Satan is just a representation or a symbol of breaking free from the established norms and dogmas, as well as of rebellion.

Though Satanism is of various types, there are some characteristics or philosophies that are followed by most of them. Most forms focus on the power of the self, and not on submission of the self to any higher powers or God. While certain types do worship Satan as an actual being, the reverence is more of respect than fear or mastery of any higher power on anything.

Types

LaVeyan

Founded or introduced in California in 1966, this is a form of atheistic Satanism, and is believed to be the most popular type of Satanism that exists in the world today. This sect takes its name from Anton Szandor LaVey, who not only founded the Church of Satan, but also authored the Satanic Bible, which happens to be one of the most widely read books on Satanism.

The LaVeyan followers do not actually worship or revere Satan (The Devil, or Lucifer) as an actual deity. To them, Satan is merely a symbol of all the qualities that they find desirable. To them, it is not about worshiping the Devil, but more about worshiping oneself, by making oneself the center of one's own universe.

This group encourages individuality, and stresses on the importance of self-worth. It also encourages ego, materialism, and vengeance where necessary, and personal initiative. LaVeyan Satanists are identified as those who rebel against the established cultural norms and expectations as well as those things that are considered 'dirty' by society. It, however, does not encourage human or animal sacrifice, any harm to children, rape, theft, etc.

Since LaVeyan Satanism encourages the celebration of the self, one's birthday is considered to be the biggest occasion to celebrate and rejoice. Additionally, some may choose to celebrate Halloween, as it has traditionally been associated with Satan and his activities.

Theistic/Traditional/Spiritual

Unlike LaVeyan Satanism, this group believes that Satan is an actual being or force who is to be revered and worshiped. This branch actually focuses on being devoted to the Devil. However, it does not associate their deity with the Devil mentioned in the Bible.

The deity worshiped by Traditional Satanists is supposed to be very different from what the Bible perceives it to be and is very unlike the Christian figure of evil. He does not, they believe, promote or strive for pain and suffering. Instead, he is their leader/guiding force who encourages freedom of self, rebellion, pleasure, creativity, success, etc.

Theistic Satanism does not promote or encourage evil, murder, rape, sacrifice, etc., and it does not have any one central figure of authority. There are quite a few sub-categories in this sect that work independently according to their own philosophies and ideologies. The common belief that they share remains that Satan is a higher power, a force, an actual being who they respect, admire, and worship. While some deny the existence of God, others believe that God exists but is weaker than Satan.

Temple of Set

The Temple of Set, or Setians, as its followers are identified, may or may not be considered Satanists. While experts argue that many of its philosophies match the ideologies of Satanism, others beg to differ. Founded by Michael A. Aquino in 1975 in California, this group believes that the name of the Dark Lord or the Prince of the Darkness was actually Set, before he became known as Satan in Christianity.

It is said that Michael Aquino was initially a priest in the LaVeyan Church of Satan, who left following a disagreement with Anton Szandor LaVey about the very existence of Satan. Setians believe in a concept known as Xeper, an Egyptian word that means "I have come into being". It is considered to be symbolic of Set's (Satan) power of enabling followers to act on self-made decisions. In context, Xeper is believed to loosely mean something on the lines of "I am what I think I am".

Though considering the Temple of Set as a branch of Satanism is a topic of debate, Setians do refer to Set as the Prince of the Darkness, and consider the Satanic pentagram (a star pointing downwards, two points up so as to resemble a goat's head) as their sacred symbol. Also, though they are not atheists, Setians do not worship Set like the Traditional Satanists. Set, to them, is more of an associate or a partner than a God, who helps them increase their own powers.

Luciferianism

Again, including Luciferianism in the types of Satanism is a much debated issue as many Luciferians see themselves as separate and very different from Satanists. Luciferianism perceives Lucifer to be a spiritual, enlightened being, and while it agrees that life is to be lived enjoyably, it advocates the achievement of higher, more spiritual goals. The Devil revered by Luciferianism is completely unlike what Christianity portrays.

Luciferianism too rejects dogmas and rigid traditions as well as evil actions, and promotes freedom, creativity, individuality, and success. It strictly believes that a true Luciferian does not promote/indulge in evil actions, or worship anything that is related to evil.

Dabbling

Dabbling or Dabbler Satanism is actually a confused, misinterpreted group of Satanists who are largely teenagers looking to rebel against the established norms of the society. Usually, this group does not have a well-documented set of ideologies and philosophies that can be followed, instead they have an assortment of misinterpreted beliefs taken from books, movies, or the internet.

Satanic Dabblers tend to indulge in petty crimes such as vandalism and theft, or bigger crimes such as murder or assault. The majority of teenagers participating in these practices do so to rebel against the beliefs of their parents, teachers, or relatives. Many have been observed to outgrow the idea as they grow up.

Diabolatry

Diabolatry, also known as Devil Worshiping, is actually the religious worshiping of the Devil, Satan, or Lucifer. The followers, called Diabolators, do not think of the Devil as a completely evil figure. According to them, he is a God of knowledge and enlightenment, who is known to throw obstacles in his followers' path to test their mind and spirit.

Diabolatry does not encourage human or animal sacrifice, and neither does it promote any evil act. It encourages expanding awareness of the self and the world.

Some Other Types
Sicko

It has psychopaths, murderers, rapists, and other criminals who use Satanism as a justification for their crimes.

Fascist

It is based on the mixed ideologies of Satanism and Fascism as well as neo-Nazism. An example of this group is the Joy of Satan (or the JoS), which is said to be very anti-Semitic.

For most followers, Satanism is not just a religion, but also a means of achieving freedom and inspiration. Contrary to Christian beliefs, Satan for them is not an evil entity but a liberating figure who frees them from the bonds of the society.

Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only. The author neither promotes nor criticizes any religion, its sections, and beliefs.