Satanist typologies

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What follows is a brief list of classifications of Satanism, both religious and folkloric, in chronological order, providing a glimpse at the variety and spin available for how Satanists have been and are portrayed, typed, evaluated, or taxonomized by those with an interest.

Arthur Lyons 1988

1) Solitary Satanists
"Solitary Satanists belong to no cult and employ their own made-up brand, which they usually procure from books on the subject. For the most part, these Satanists are alienated teenagers who have a difficult time socializing, and the rituals they perform usually involve some sort of wish fulfillment, such as the acquisition of of money, popularity, romance, or sex."

2) 'Outlaw' Cults'
"'Outlaw' groups worship Satan as the Evil One of the New Testament, and their practices reflect that orientation. Historically, such groups were primarily made up of sadomasochists and other sexual deviants, and their *raison d'etre* was orgiastic, a la the old British Hellfire Club. Since the emergence of the counterculture in the late 1960s, however, and the easing of sexual taboos by society, the focus of such groups has tended to be more on drugs, music, and vandalism than sex."

3) Neo-Satanic Churches
"{Neo-Satanic churches, constituting} the overwhelming bulk of the current Satanic membership -- strictly prohibit the ritualistic harming of any living thing, and enjoin members from participating in illegal activities. These cults have adopted an unorthodox theological reconstruction of the Devil quite different from that of Christianity. Satan is perceived not as evil, but as a Miltonian symbol of man's carnality and rationality. They advocate egotism, indulgence, and the acquisition and use of personal and political power, have well-defined theologies and authority structures, and recruit members openly -- to the point where two such groups, the Church of Satan and the Temple of Set, maintain listings in the San Francisco yellow pages under the heading 'Churches -- Satanic.'"

From Satan Wants You: The Cult of Devil Worship in America, by Arthur Lyons, Mysterious Press, 1988; pp. 9-14.

Kenneth Lanning (1992, Sandy Gallant Typology)

"The following typology is adapted from the investigative experience of Officer Sandi Gallant of the San Francisco Police Department, who began to study the criminal aspects of occult activity long before it became popular. No typology is perfect, but I use this typology because it is simple and offers investigative insights. Most practitioners fall into one of three categories, any of which can be practiced alone or in groups:

Most teenagers involved in fantasy role-playing games, heavy metal music, or satanism and the occult are going through a stage of adolescent development and commit no significant crimes. The teenagers who have more serious problems are usually those from dysfunctional families or those who have poor communication within their families. ...

For these practitioners there is little or no spiritual motivation. They may mix satanism, witchcraft, paganism, and any aspects of the occult to suit their purposes.

These are the so-called true believers. They are often wary of outsiders. ... In addition, instead of being self-perpetuating master crime conspirators, 'true believers' probably have a similar problem with their teenagers rebelling against their belief system. To some extent even these Traditional satanists are self-stylized. They practice what they have come to believe is 'satanism'. There is little or no evidence of the much-discussed multigenerational satanists whose beliefs and practices have supposedly been passed down through the centuries. Many admitted adult satanists were in fact raised in conservative Christian homes."

From the Kenneth Lanning Feport of the FBI during the Satanic Panic, now reproduced in many places, and obtained September 20, 2011 from

Ontario Consultants for Religious Tolerance (1999)

"The following are recommended terms and descriptions for four essentially unrelated religions that have been called Satanism:

"1. Religious Satanism
This faith includes the recognition of Satan, either as a deity or as a principle. Followers are usually serious adults, although a few are teenagers. Three main traditions exist: the Church of Satan, the Temple of Set and the Church of Satanic Liberation. Other short-lived Satanic groups currently exist and have existed in the recent past. ..."

"2. Gothic Satanism
It is a largely imaginary, profoundly evil religion that was invented during the late Middle Ages. Concepts included ritual killing of children, selling their soul to the devil, breaking crucifixes, conducting black masses, etc. It has never existed in the past on any organized level, and does not exist today, except in the imagination of the public. ..."

"3. Satanic Dabblers
A syncretistic religion which blend of elements taken from Religious Satanism, Gothic Satanism, ceremonial Magick, and any other useful sources of ritual that they can find. It is typically practiced by rebellious teenagers or young adults- typically for a short interval. ..."

Obtained from in 1999.

alt.satanism newsgroup FAQ 1999

"There are several divisions one could make as to the belief systems of various "Satanic" groups. This (arbitrary) division was included to point out various currents or influences in modern day satanism rather than an attempt at categorization.

"1. Dabblers: adopt Satanic trappings for a brief period of time, usually for entertainment rather than serious purposes. Many modern youths fall into this category....

"2. Churches of Satan: are patterned after the teachings of Anton LaVey. These groups believe in individualism, gratification of the ego, self-reliance and the ideal of the Nietzchean Superman. These groups use Magick as a tool for earthly power. They see Satan as the driving force behind achievement in mankind. ...

"3. Gnostics: can be divided into two major categories
"3a. Promethean Gnostics: Believe in a literal "Satan", but believe that the creator of the world (Jehovah) is the evil deity. Satan is seen as the "bringer of light"; a beneficent god. ...
"3b. Dark Gnostics: Worship the dark force in nature. These groups follow the whims of a capricious god, which most westerners would see as being "evil." ...

"4. Secondary Satanists: follow a faith outside the Christian mainstream. Most would not consider themselves as being "Satanic" and strictly speaking should not be defined as Satanists (as per se with some of the Gnostic groups), but the ignorant often categorize them as Satanists. Voodoo and Santeria could be grouped here, as could medieval witchcraft (if it actually existed). Certain forms of Tantric Buddhism could also be placed in this category.

"5. Hellfire Clubs: Were a phenomenon of the 18th century, mentioned because of historical relevance to modern Satanisms. ...

"6. Romantic/Promethean Satanists: Literary/historical "Satanists" -William Blake, Charles Baudelaire, Maupertin, Carducci, Lautremont and Gabriele D'Annunzio. Artists and romantics with "sympathy for the devil" have a long tradition; Satan being a great patron of the arts.

"7. Left-Hand Path Pagans: There are several European groups, most of them consisting of small "covens" of several people, that are or could be considered Satanists. Two of the larger of these groups are The Fraternity of Baelder and the Order of Nine Angles (ONA)."

The editor was 'Lupo Le Boucher' a.k.a. Scott Locklin. Find a copy of that FAQ here:

Jashan A'al 2000

Eclectic Satanists
"Eclectic Satanism.... ...draws from diverse sources and combine{s} ideas into a type of 'personal religion'."

Modern Satanists
"...Modernists do not worship Satan as a god or deity; theistically, they are atheists. They believe in neither a god nor a devil, nor spirits and 'supernatural beings.' ... There are, as I see it, primarily three 'flavors' of Modern Satanism: Naturalist, Psychologic, and Symbolic. They are not necessarily mutually exclusive:
"{1.}...Naturalists view Satan as the natural force of the universe, the 'underlying current' of nature. "{2.} ...Satan as ...the primordial side of the human psyche which the majority of humanity seeks to control and eliminate, instead of accepting and utilizing. ...
"{3.} The Symbolists view Satan as a mental/mythic archetype {"much like Peter Pan, Uncle Sam, Zeus, or King Midas.'}, as the 'Adversary' or the 'Light-bringer.'"

Traditional Satanists
"Traditional Satanists are those Satanists who believe in Satan as a literal [extant] being, whether human, spirit, alien, or god. ...the commonality that Satan is a definable (if vaguely) external force which has an existence and usually consciousness in and of itself."

From Writings of Jashan A'al at

Robert M. Bowman, Jr. 2000

"Types of Satanists
"1. Materialistic Satanists — the majority; those like LaVey, for whom Satan is not real and all rituals are simply for fun

"2. Mystical Satanists — those who think an impersonal spiritual power can be tapped for their personal benefit; sometimes these Satanists believe in two powers, one positive and one negative, and they seek the negative power.

"3. Mad Satanists — those who believe in God and Satan, profess to follow Satan despite the eternal consequences, and who are often mentally unstable; such Satanists are generally isolated individuals, not part of a larger Satanic group"

This data was retrieved September 20, 2011 from the Wayback Machine at

Dawn Perlmutter 2001 (Skandalon)

"...after reviewing proposed typologies from a variety of sources, I have been able to detect four general categories, although they may be referred to by different names or only for purposes of condemnation. These categories are: religious / organized Satanists, traditional / intergenerational Satanists, self-styled Satanists, and youth subculture Satanists. These classifications are broad and not mutually exclusive. In addition to the four major categories of Satanic groups, another classification is sometimes used to differentiate Satanists: Satanic groups can be characterized as either atheistic or theistic. Theistic Satanists glorify what they imagine Satan represents; they worship Satan or other deities as incarnations of an evil being. Finally, there are many other occult organizations that, although not specifically Satanic, have similar practices and rituals, such as many vampire religions, Goth, and the fetish scene. Some of these groups are described in detail in my previous Anthropoetics article, "The Sacrificial Aesthetic: Blood Rituals from Art to Murder" ( ).

Religious / Organized Satanists
"Religious Satanism consists of organized groups and churches with diverse varieties of Satanic beliefs. ..."

Traditional / Intergenerational Satanists
"Traditional Satanists are considered a highly organized international secret cult network actively engaged in a variety of criminal activities, including arson, ritual abuse, sexual abuse, incest, kidnapping, child pornography, and ritual murder involving mutilation, dismemberment, and sometimes cannibalism. Similar to religious Satanists, traditional Satanists are also known as "true believers"; they are exceptionally devoted to their beliefs, which comprise an extreme fundamentalist version of Satanic religion. They are also referred to as generational or intergenerational Satanists. Many members contend that they were raised in this belief system, going back as far as several generations. Ideologically, traditional Satanists worship Satan as the evil deity described in the New Testament; their religious practices include blood rituals, animal and human sacrifice, and a variety of sadistic sexual rites for the glorification of Satan."

Self-Styled Satanists
"Self-styled Satanists are either individually involved with Satanism or belong to small, loosely organized groups. Self-styled Satanists are sub-classified either as "dabblers," people who are intermittently and experientially involved in occult activities, or as "true criminals" who use the occult as an excuse to justify or rationalize their criminal behavior."

Youth Subculture Satanists
"Youth subculture Satanists are similar to self-styled Satanists; however, their interest in Satanism is usually transitory and may not evolve into criminal activities. Youth subculture Satanists are sub-categorized as dabblers; they are teenagers and young adults who are usually introduced to Satanism via music, film, the Internet, and other media."

Obtained on September 20, 2011 from

First Church of Satan 2003

"There are three schools of thought in Satanism.

1. Gnostic Satanism ...

2. Traditional Satanism ...

3. Generational Satanism ..."

This was excerpted from First Church of Satan (Daemon Egan, a.k.a. Lord Egan, a.k.a. John Allee); found here:

Diane Vera (2003, 2006)

"...{a} 'Satanist' is anyone whose worldview features a favorable interpretation of Satan. A theistic Satanist is anyone who reveres Satan as a deity, regardless of who or what one believes that Satan is."

"A theistic Satanist, also known as a 'traditional Satanist,' 'spiritual Satanist,' or 'Devil Worshiper,' is one who does believe in and worship Satan as a deity, or who at least is strongly inclined in that direction."

"...symbolic Satanists, who don't believe in Satan as an actual being, but see Him only as a symbol of individuality, nonconformity, etc. The best-known form of symbolic Satanism is LaVeyan Satanism...."

From pages like or

Sociologists of Religion 2009
(After Schmidt 1992, Dyrendal 2004, Petersen 2005)

"Three broad categories or ideal types can be discerned within the satanic milieu... As they are analytical constructs, they are fuzzy as well; individuals and groups move from one to the other as the satanic milieu mutates and grows."

1 Rationalist
"... an atheistic, skeptical, epicurean materialism as formulated by Anton Szandor LaVey in The Satanic Bible and other writings, and then expounded upon by a host of spokespersons in the following years. Typical examples are The Church of Satan {by Blanche Barton, largely interviewing LaVey} and the Danish Satanic Forum.[!] They consider Satan to be a symbol of rebellion, individuality, carnality and empowerment, and Satanism the material philosophy best suited for the 'alien elite'; catchwords are indulgence, vital existence and rational self-interest. Although ritual practices are described an an ambiguous diabolical anthropomorphism or mystical deism is present from time to time, both are interpreted as metaphorical and pragmatic instruments of self-realization.

{Petersen's note: "The texts by Vexen Crabtree {Reflections on Satanism 2002, 2005, 2006 online}, Nate Wardinski {The Satanic Politic [2004? Obsidian Enlightenment]} and Ole Wolf {The Culture Cult 2003, from Satanisk Bulletin 10:7-13.} ...are examples of this type. In addition see Alfred 1976, Baddeley 2000, Barton 1990, 1992, Gilmore 2007, LaVey 1969, 1972, 1989 {1971}, 1992, 1998, Nemo 2007, Paradise 2007 and Shankbone 2007, as well as the websites and publications of rationalist groups."}

2 Esoteric
"... more explicitly theistically oriented and uses the esoteric traditions of Paganism, Western Esotericism, Buddhism and Hinduism, among others, to forumulate a religion of self-actualization. Examples include the Temple of Set and the Dark Doctrines of the Satanic Reds.[!!] The understanding of Satan is usually clothed in platonic or mystical terms; although often spoken of as a literal entity, it is not a god to be worshiped, but rather a being or principle to be emulated or understood. Satanism is therefore a path to enlightenment in a Left-Hand Path sense of non-union with the universe or true individuality. The ritual practices and organization of this type of Satanism often corresponds to other intitiation-oriented groups within Western Esotericism, althought this may vary considerably."

{Petersen's note: "The texts by Stephen Flowers {Lords of the Left-Hand Path (excerpt)} and Tani Jantsang {Dark Doctrines: Two Examples} ... are examples of this type. In addition, see Aquino 1985 {1975}, 2002 {1975}, 2005, 2006, Flowers 1997, Scar 1998, Schreck 2001...202, as well as websites and publications of esoteric groups."}

3 Reactive Paradigmatically Conform Satanism
"... reactive in the sense that it is in opposition to society, but in a way that reiterates central Christian concepts of evil, making it paradigmatically conform to a Christian context. Satan is the Christian Devil, and Satanism the adolescent or anti-social behaviour of transgressing boundaries and 'living out' a mythical frame."

"The categories should be conceived as points in a triangle, where Rationalist and Esoteric Satanism occupy the bi-polar manifestation of organized, stable and systematic discourses, with Reactive paradigmatic conform Satanism as a catch-all cateogry of popular Satanism, inverted Christianity and symbolic rebellion."

"...the main traits in a minimum definition of the satanic discourse of organized Satanism within the satanic milieu [are] self-religion, antinomianism, the use of certain 'S'-words and a formulated ideological genealogy, often in the form of some relation to Anton Szandor LaVey...."

This data was composited from text within Contemporary Religious Satanism: A Critical Anthology, edited by Jesper A. Petersen, Ashgate, 2009; pgs. 6-7. Cf.

Typologies and Legitimation

Some of the delegitimized varieties of Satanism, whether as part of the run-up by Christians in evaluation of subversion ideologies prior to, during the Satanic Panic, or as part of the interest by Satanists and others to stratify Satanism for their own purposes are the following:

  • criminal (or 'outlaw') Satanism (typically conspiracy-mongering)
  • teen Satanism (downplayed by all as reactionary and temporary)
  • self-styled Satanism (linked to serial killers, madmen)
  • dabbler Satanism (downplayed as uninformed and temporary)
  • reactive Satanism (locked into Christian paradigms)

Anton Long, and others of the ONA and related groups have advocated criminal or at least objectionable Satanism as a form of self-development. The Joy of Satan has taken up a legitimizing of the second. I have personally launched a 'self-styled' campaign (labelled as such) in support of self-empowerment and individualism as primary characteristics of Satanism and have seen others doing likewise. 'Dabbler' and 'Reactive' remain the unsalvaged and diminuated left-overs.