In this month’s Unorthodoxy with Witch Zaftig segment we examine the question of origins of religious Satanism from a scholarly perspective, and ask whether or not LaVey was truly an innovator. The goal is to objectively investigate the claims of precursors to LaVey’s Satanic ideas. As all religions, philosophies, and conceptual works are responding to inherited historical threads as well as emerging from their modern context, every ingenuity reinterprets, reexamines, and re-presents previous notions. This segment focuses on these “Satanic” precursors by discussing how understandings of the devil informed LaVey and modern religious Satanism. As always, you can listen to the stand-alone segment, or the entire jam-packed 9sense podcast.
The primary source for this segment comes from the book The Devil’s Party: Satanism in Modernity, edited by Per Faxneld and Jesper Aagaard Petersen (2012). (Due to Oxford Scholarship Online, most of the articles can be read for free.)
The section of most interest to us is contained in the first three chapters, which discuss precursors to Satanic discourse, that is, how people framed and conceived of the devil prior to the modern era.
“It Is Better to Believe in the Devil: Conceptions of Satanists and Sympathies for the Devil in Early Modern Sweden,” by Mikael Häll.
“Sex, Science, and Liberty: The Resurrection of Satan in Nineteenth-Century (Counter) Culture,” by Ruben van Luijk.
“Witches, Anarchism, and Evolutionism: Stanislaw Przybyszewski’s fin-de-siècle Satanism and the Demonic Feminine,” by Per Faxneld.
And finally, we mention an article about LaVey’s magical innovations, namely the concepts of Total Environments and Erotic Crystallization Inertia (found in LaVey’s later works) by Carl Abrahamsson, in The Fenris Wolf, Issue no. 7, titled, “Anton LaVey, Magical Innovator.” Abrahamsson’s interest lies less in our question of Satanic precursors (i.e. Satanic discourse), and more with how LaVey’s ideas inform and contribute to magical practice and thought (i.e. magical discourse).