Our New Satanic Moment

A seemingly paradoxical trend of "enlightenment" and brutality

By William M Briggs Published on August 21, 2016

These once United States have had Satanic moments before. Considering only the last half century, in 1966, Anton Szandor LaVey, a.k.a. Howard (‘Howie’?) Stanton Levey, founded the Church of Satan, borrowing ideas from Aleister Crowley’s Thelema “Do what thou wilt” religion and, judging by its effects, from comic books.

Howie’s was a theatrical Satanism. He painted his San Francisco house black, he sleazed his way into Hollywood orgies where according to all reports he was made welcome, he sported horns in public.

The book and movie Rosemary’s Baby in 1968 showed us that even the Antichrist needs a mother’s love. The film was directed by Roman Polanski, who drugged and rape-raped a thirteen-year-old child (the phrase “rape-rape” is courtesy Whoopi Goldberg).

Polanski’s wife was actress Sharon Tate, a woman who was ritually murdered by Charles Manson’s “family”. As one source reports:

One of the killers, Susan Atkins, had danced as a topless vampire in a LaVey show called the Witches’ Sabbath before joining the Manson family.

Another of the victims of that bloody night was celebrity hairdresser, Jay Sebring, who had attended LaVey’s church around the same time as Davis. The sad aftermath of the murders left the church looking pathetic rather than dangerous. While LaVey continued his work and publicity efforts, expansion slowed, and the free-wheeling Sixties attitudes that had tolerated and even welcomed satanism seemed to vanish.

Howie died in 1997 and his bleak house was torn down in 2001.

Scary Satanism

The next Satanic moment was a reversal of the Sixties’ libertinism. In 1973, The Exorcist terrified the nation, the very effect hoped for by the book’s faithful Catholic author William Peter Blatty. In the movie, certain dialog from a demon was spoken backwards, a haunting effect revealed when a recording of the speech was played in reverse.

That, and the use of intentional backward masking (or backmasking) by a well-known British Invasion musical group (reminder: invasions are meant to be resisted, not welcomed), led to the fear that Satanic messages were being routinely embedded in popular music. Some were convinced, for instance, that Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust” played backwards revealed the message “It’s fun to smoke marijuana.” Perhaps the song received extended play in Colorado.

So frightened did some become that in 1983 in California a bill was introduced, and another in Arkansas, to curtail the use of backmasking. The Arkansas law mandated albums with backmasked lyrics had to be sold with the sticker, “Warning: This record contains backward masking which may be perceptible at a subliminal level when the record is played forward.” Naturally, sales of such albums increased.

The next phase began in the 1980s and swelled to panic levels in the 1990s, when it was believed systematic, widespread abuse of children (and some women) was being carried out by Satanic cultists. The most gruesome fantastical crimes were reported, many plainly rumors but others conjured from “recovered memories” of Satanic Ritual Abuse (SRA) “survivors.” Law enforcement, politicians, and religious leaders responded to the panic, but evidence for direct Satanic ties to crimes was lacking. Eventually, the work of such people as psychologist Elizabeth Loftus showed how easy it was to “invent” false memories, especially in children, and the SRA moment faded. But not without consequence. There were false imprisonments, families torn apart, fear, much grief.

There has always been a “background level” of Satanism, taken more or less seriously, in popular culture. What’s notable is that in the 1960s, Satanism was hip and sexy, at least among trend setters, until it became serious. With backmasking Satanism became a joke, such that belief in Satan was seen as something only for hicks and zealots. Then with the Satanic Panic, belief in Satan was perceived as actively harmful.

Alternative-Lifestyle Satanism?

Our new Satanic moment is Janus-faced. Facing right, we have the Satanic Temple, which is using freedom of religion legal arguments to insinuate itself into public life. They have been allowed to give convocations at City Council meetings in Pensacola, Phoenix, and several others. They had a “black mass” at a public venue in Oklahoma City. They have the After School Satan program to encourage kiddies in the way of Lucifer (which is advertised with a video with backward masking). And they are running Temple member Steve Hill for California State Senate.

Most Temple members affect spooky-sounding names (like Lucien Greaves) and look like they’ve spent too much time indoors playing video games. They claim their brand of Satanism is symbolic, insisting Satan is not a real person but an idea. They despise “superstition” and speak of “science” and “critical thinking”; they reject “all tyrannical impositions.”

Facing left is the eerie increase in foul “entertainment.” Movies like Walk Among Tombstones (focusing on “snuff films” and sadistic child murderers), The Witch (ask your Satanic goat if witchcraft is right for you); TV shows like True Detectives (revolving around Satanic ritual killing), Lucifer (the ultimate anti-hero); web content like “Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared” (mind control, gore, and worse). Some of these “products” are clear in their Satanic content (films Starry Eyes, Eyes Wide Shut) and some opaque (films American Ultra, Lucy). These examples can be multiplied with depressing ease.

In 2015, the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was teased because he admitted believing in the Devil. Yet the same media outlet that teased him, praised in glowing terms Satanic Temple Jex Blackmore’s live blogging of killing her child (the child hadn’t yet escaped the womb, so this was legal), a process Blackmore called “unmothering.” Apt name, that.

What are we to make of this new Satanic moment? The previous moments have discouraged belief in a real Satan. The new moment wants us to share the skepticism that Satan is an evil personage. Instead, our new Satan is an enlightened humanist, a good guy, he’s there but not there, an entity more in line with a Masonic Lucifer, a symbolic bringer of light.

Simultaneously, grotesque imagery assures us that human life is cheap and subject to whim, so embrace pleasure when you can. We are told attractive powerful occult forces control (some) events, that if you go along you’ll probably be fine, that anyway you can’t do much about it. There is a distinct ‘them’ and ‘us’ feel in these cultural artifacts, a notion that dreadful changes are coming.

We’re at the nascent stage of this new moment. Will it amplify? Are people going to explore modern Satanism as an “alternative lifestyle”? Perhaps we’ll see a lighthearted, comic-relief Satanist character on TV sitcom showing how harmless, fun, and ultimately rewarding “real” Satanism can be, and how stultifying and hateful Christianity is.

What do you think?

Print Friendly
Comments ()
The Stream encourages comments, whether in agreement with the article or not. However, comments that violate our commenting rules or terms of use will be removed. Any commenter who repeatedly violates these rules and terms of use will be blocked from commenting. Comments on The Stream are hosted by Disqus, with logins available through Disqus, Facebook, Twitter or G+ accounts. You must log in to comment. Please flag any comments you see breaking the rules. More detail is available here.
  • SeriouslyChristian

    “Satan is an enlightened humanist, a good guy…” sounds very like how the Bible describes him, or at least the Antichrist. He will come bringing peace as an “angel of light” and everybody will love him for it…supremely tolerant of all human sin, totally non-judgemental. The only people he will hate are those who cause division by calling certain behaviours sinful. Once he has established his power base then the people groups he hates will become more extensive until it finally becomes clear that he actually hates all people.

    • kurdt cobane

      I sometimes wonder if symbolically it will be a collective of humans that are Satan and not just an individual. Just as “Christ consciousness” has been referred to as the second coming of Christ in the form of a collective of God’s people. Some people believe the anti-Christ would be literally a person as Satan incarnate and that also Jesus would be literally returning as a human form. But I think with both it is collectives of people. The New Jerusalem will be a shift in consciousness to Higher vibrations.

      • Dean Bruckner

        Your theory sounds like another incarnation of Gnosticism with its endless progression of non-material beings, as well as the eastern cult world views of the 1960s and 1970s. The truth is that Jesus–one of only three distinct persons in the Godhead–took on real flesh and real blood until he gave it up for us on the cross. But he reached out and took that broken body and clothed himself with it again when he rose from the dead. He himself, in that body of flesh and blood, will return one day to earth and to us. Your eyes will see him. The only question is whether that will be an occasion of joy or terror.

        If you repent of your sins, cry out to him to save you from them and the punishment you (like all of us) richly deserve, and place your trust in him alone for eternal life, you will be saved. And his personal, visible, bodily return will be a time of joy. That is what I pray for you today.

  • Elan Durham

    You may or may not know how common Satanism is due to Scientologists, who also (somehow) incorporate parts of this practice, and the rise of cultism in the America, also due to Masonic influences … In Hollywood, Satanic influences are almost de riguer, and Congress, due to buckling under the influence of harassment from the so-called Church of Scientology and granting them tax-free status, has simply thrown America under the train. It is so much a part of American life as to be indistinguishable from ‘the game’, and imo, has ruined generations to come with its greasy gratuitous presence in governments.

  • HudsonLink

    I am a clinical psychologist. The same arguments made by people like Elizabeth Loftus against the existence of survivors of ritual abuse were also made against the existence of survivors of child sexual abuse and incest. The only difference was that with weekly stories about police arresting child sexual abusers, applying the false memory theory to child sexual abuse became totally unbelievable.

    Since ritual abuse, by its nature, is far more deadly and illegal, and far more dangerous to reveal, public disclosure and newspaper stories were few and far between. And the few who do disclose, quickly learn to stop. So people still bring out the false memory theory to explain them.

    Try reading the historical records of the Catholic Church on the subject. Satanism and the ritual abuse of children has existed for centuries.

    Are you really trying to argue that Hollywood is full of satanically inclined people, but they would never actually do anything to children? That there are Satanists, but no satanism?

    And by the way, should anyone wish to state that there is no such thing as “repressed memories” they are right. The correct term for it is “dissociative amnesia” and you can find it listed in the DSM-V.

  • Jim Walker

    I don’t know about you but anything other than the salvation from Jesus our Lord are satanic.

    • Boris

      The Rotary, “Service Above Self” is Satanic. Baseball is Satanic. Sure. Your Lord and Satan do not exist.

      • Jim Walker

        We are talking about religion. If Baseball is your religion, then its satanic.

        • Boris

          Oh. I don’t have a religion or any fixed beliefs. I don’t believe in Satan either.

          • Jim Walker

            Hope and pray you will one day find the truth.
            I was exactly like you 25 years ago.

          • Boris

            No, you were not like me. You don’t know what I know.

          • Jim Walker

            I mean my disbelief.

          • Boris

            My disbelief is just a default position. The natural position to take on any subject is unbelief until something has been proved. The existence of God has not been proved. It hasn’t been disproved but I think the existence of the Christian God has been disproved. Just based on the fact that the Old Testament has nothing to do with Jesus Christ and the New Testament is a collection of frauds and fakes all done by the Church itself.

          • Dean Bruckner

            But does Satan believe in you?

          • Boris

            Satan does not exist.

  • Gail Finke

    I think you’ve got it with “a notion that dreadful changes are coming.” Most of the public “Satanists” these days are frauds, which is NOT to say that Satan doesn’t exist. They are reveling in the simultaneous ideas that it’s cool and edgy to be bad, but that there is also no “bad” — which all of human life shows us there clearly IS. The cool and edgy part, in the popular imagination, is the idea of flirting with that unnamed evil that just might give you some kind of power rather than destroy you (or turn out to be fake). Movies and TV shows about the subject show the clear idea that bad things are out there and should not be messed with, but also that we don’t know what they are and they aren’t “here” yet, are and so we can mock them without consequence. Probably. Most of the time. But WATCH OUT for when it wont’ be okay anymore! The reason this brand of restless, is-there-or-isnt’t-there-a-real-bad type stuff has taken off is the vague notion people have that there SURE IS bad, and that it’s coming whether we like it or not.

  • Laura Pauls

    On the one hand we have school punishing kids for ‘finger pistols’, then gov. wants to allow satanism in after school programs! Just how ‘screwed up’ are we going to allow them to make our kids? Our Country is suppose to be “of the people, by the people, for the people’ and yet it seems less and less is ‘by’ & more & more is ‘mandated’ by gov. I say enough is enough & we need to ‘take our power back’! Satanism is a contradiction! We have ‘good or bad’ so how do you justify that ‘bad is now good’?

  • kurdt cobane

    you are trying to make the “new satanism” sound like it’s all light and airy and fun. it is not. once they get in, it’s everyone psychic attacking each other and some to the point of suicide. like a game they play. what they also do is force each others through psychic coercion to do horrible things to animals, children and all ages of humans. It is a hidden socio-pathological, child molesting, serial killing evil and wicked and unrighteous lifestyle. The rise in missing children and people over the decades are because these satanists are going at an invisible war against humanity. they drink blood, eat flesh, make snuff films, are involved in human trafficking, gangs, drug dealing, etc. They are in essence the problem in the world. Most people do not give pause and stop to think about what exactly is satanism? it’s a evil, secretive society and it is what all holy books and spiritual texts are going on about. It’s the good of this world at battle with the evil. and it is real. So when you see how trendy and “cool” and “alternative lifestyle” it is being sold to you as, you better see it for what it really is. All of those signing up for it and selling their souls for it have been deceived. There is no afterlife for them. They go to a place of non-existence called Sheol because when a soul is sold into this Satan destroys their souls, thereby destroying their infinite selves. What is left is a consciousness and ego that can only go to the pit called Sheol, which is a finite lower astral realm.

    • Ray Este

      Very good, thoughtful post…thank you ! I just found this article and your comment. Very concise and thoughtful and aware. Greetings, Ommm 😉

  • Charlie Primero

    Life is cheap. So stock up while it’s on sale.

  • Alder Strauss

    “What do you think?”
    I think you need to actually read up on what Satanism is instead of trying to do a juvenile, fly-by write-up.
    “…borrowing ideas from Aleister Crowley’s Thelema “Do what thou wilt” religion and, judging by its effects, from comic books.”
    Satanism isn’t a “Do what thou wilt” religion. This right here shows that you know nothing of the sort.
    Want to know how LaVey came to create the religion Satanism? Read the introduction to TSB (and probably the rest of it) and Blanche Barton’s Secret Life of a Satanist instead of merely headlines or comments from clueless creeps.
    This would be your first step to responsible journalism.

Is Your Heart Heavy? God Knew It Would Be
Charles Spurgeon
More from The Stream
Connect with Us