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This page Satanism is part of the Satan in popular culture series. Illustration: detail from Michael Pacher's panel painting The Devil Presenting St Augustine With The Book Of Vices

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
the devil in fiction
  1. Worship of the Devil.
  2. Any religion seen as both non-Christian and anti-Christian.

Satanism is a term that refers to a number of different religious activities, values, and belief systems depending on the person and context. Their commonality is that they all feature the symbolism of Satan, the Devil, or the like, which originated as a challenging role within Judaism (in The Book of Job), and developed within Christian mythology into a cosmological adversary.


Accusations of Satanism

Historically, some people or groups have been specifically described as worshiping Satan or the Devil, or of being devoted to the work of Satan. The widespread preponderance of these groups in European cultures is in part connected with the importance and meaning of Satan within Christianity.


  • Pagans celebrating Pan, Athena, Odin, Perkunas or other pagan deities were often claimed by the Catholic Church to be worshiping the Devil and his minions.
  • The Witch trials in Early Modern Europe.
  • Gilles de Rais (15th century, France) was a French nobleman who was tried and executed for the murders of hundreds of children in quasi-Satanic rituals.
  • Johann Georg Faust. (16th century, Germany) Many instructions, in German and in Latin, for making a pact with the Devil were attributed to him. These were collected and published in Germany in a few of the volumes of Das Kloster (1845–1849).
  • Urbain Grandier (17th century, France). Although set up by the Catholic Church, a very famous document, in Latin, of a pact with the Devil he allegedly wrote has been preserved.
  • People involved in the Poison affair, such as Catherine Deshayes and Etienne Guibourg (17th century, France). The documentation from their trial is the principal Medieval source for information on the Black Mass.
  • The Marquis de Sade (18th century, France), described by Iwan Bloch as being a fanatic Satanist. His works graphically described blasphemy against the Catholic Church, such as an orgy resembling a Black Mass conducted by Pope Pius VI in the Vatican (in his novel Juliette).
  • In 1865, the anti-Vatican Italian poet Giosuè Carducci, published his poem Inno a Satana ("Hymn to Satan"), praising Satan as the god of reason and expressing hatred towards Christianity.
  • Many adherents of the Decadent movement, such as the Polish author Stanisław Przybyszewski, the Belgian artist Félicien Rops, and the French poet Charles Baudelaire either called themselves Satanists, or created overtly Satanist artwork and literature.
  • Some French movements widely described as being Satanist by French writers of the time (Late 19th to early 20th centuries). The most well-known description available in English is the 1891 novel Là-Bas by Joris-Karl Huysmans. However, there were numerous other well-known personalities in France that were related to the circles Huysmans describes, such as Joseph-Antoine Boullan, Stanislas de Guaita, Henri Antoine Jules-Bois, and Joséphin Péladan, who either wrote about Satanism in France, or were accused of being Satanists themselves.
  • Freemasonry was described as being Satanist in the completely discredited Taxil hoax
  • At least two Satanic (or "Luciferian") sects existed in France in the 1930s. One was led by Maria de Naglowska, and had rituals dedicated to Satan and Lucifer. Another, led by a former Catholic priest, celebrated an inversion of the Latin Mass (a "Luciferian Mass"), which included the phrase "In nomine Domini Dei nostri Satanae Luciferi Excelsi" (a phrase that re-appeared 30 years later in Anton LaVey's Satanic Bible).


The Yazidis, a minority religion of the Middle East who worship Melek Taus, are often referred to as Satan worshipers by some Islamic sectors.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Satanism" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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