Cult and Ritual Mind Control Tactics in Satanism

By Vexen Crabtree 2002

#cults #satanism

This page... is not about mind control in general, but about the coercive psychological systems of religion and ritual and the existence of such systems in Satanism. I am not qualified in this field, but here are my opinions nonetheless. I highlight familiar and popular tactics of indoctrination, well aware that many of them have become part of religious ritual.

I believe that knowing about the tactics used in rituals you can become immune to them. The methods on this page are nearly all ritual-based, as I go on to talk about the relevance and use of some of these tactics within Satanic Rituals.

1. Methods of Indoctrination

Terminology: Building the Exit Cost
A cult or religion will build up the "exit cost" of leaving the group. Building up an exit cost is one of the greatest defining features of a cult. The harder it is to leave, the more dangerous the cult. The exit cost can be comprised of many elements: Imagined, real, social, psychological or practical.

Power To Command
There is a branch of New Age science called Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). Techniques developed by Richard Bandler and Dr. John Grinder that enable reading of eye movements and other visual cues during conversation or counselling to program a neophytes behavior. By giving feedback, support at the right times, a person can be unconsciously led down the precise thought processes that the executor wishes them to realize.

In Satanism and the Left Hand Path similar tricks exist, I call them a Power to Command, and it is not limited to body language, but to all aspects of a person's communication. I do not believe you can teach someone the skill of Power to Command; I think people need to be natural at this skill, rather than taught it.

  • Internet links on NLP:,

    A person the Power To Command is overwhelming when the time is right, they are quiet, sensitive, persuasive at the right times, and can possess much charm and intelligence. Sometimes certain personality types are immune to this. I know people who are immune to it, I think I can spot them quite quickly, and I normally respect them more than most! I think different people interact in different ways, and can lever Power to Command against different personality types.

    The "The Satanic Witch" by Anton LaVey (1970)1 contains some similar charts, matching personality types, I think Power To Command as a concept is similar, but more universal. The Satanic Witch is becoming out dated (although it was _excellent_ at its time), and the tactics of control in it are not usable by many.

    Hugs and love bombing
    People have a basic physiological need for plain affection. Love-bombing may include a session where all members hold hands, hug each other or perform other light hearted and affectionate bonding. The actual "bonding" that occurs to the other people is very small, most the bonding comes from a general feel good factor resulting from this primal need being satisfied in a safe and consenting atmosphere.

    Love bombing appeals to our basic humanity. Associating this with a particular place, teacher, location or concept promotes that concept and makes it homely, acceptable, "normal". If you experience love bombing mixed with intellectual teachings or the preaching of a leader then their teachings will be associated with this brotherly and good feeling of being soothed and accepted.

    When encountering criticism of the cult leaders' teachings, the victim himself feels rejected, angry, hurt. It ties a person down to the group and ideas being preached very effectively and does it without them knowing. It increases the social exit cost, and the longer you associate with the group the harder it is to leave it behind.

    The opposite of love-bombing is unconditional love. Love-bombing is highly conditional. This means the love is directly tied down to membership and participation in the group.

    When it is clear that a neophyte will not join the group or voices doubts or leaves the group, all love ceases; the technical name for those is shunning. It can be hurtful and painful for the leaving member and is something which they suspect will happen if they leave the group.

    Love bombing occurs in many traditional, secretive cults and also in many successful organized religions.

    Complacency Tactic
    This cult-like activity is especially prevalent in fundamentalist and extreme churches and groups. The preacher will teach what the congregation expect to hear and continually stroke their egos, pride and self esteem, simply reassuring them that they are correct in what they believe; and this is also what the group believes.

    This pseudo-social behavior is similar to love bombing, but appeals to people's laziness and intellectual complacency... they do not wish to be challenged, they simply wish to live. The exit cost is built up in that the victim will not receive this support in the real world; they experience the opposite of it when people attack their beliefs and association with the religion or group. In this case, external criticism can increase the imagined exit cost and make them need the complacency of the group's mutual reassurance.

    Compliments, complimentary tactics
    Making a person want to listen to you, feeding their ego and simply being nice to them. Members are given constant encouragement and praised in front of the group.

    Children's games employ this (to an extent). For the cult control tactic to work effectively, you must ensure there are no "losers", that the game is completely and utterly trivial, but also with a "fake" element of struggle, so that people must bind together.

    These include "trust games", such as blindfolding one member of the group and having another direct him around the room, in order to complete a task. Linking the tasks in the game, for example... you'd have the guy aiming for a basket containing "happiness", represented by chocolate, or something and the person issuing the calm commands would represent some force or idea of good in the ideology the cult is promoting.

    Used in hypnotism, intense one on one sessions between an acolyte and neophyte, and associated with deep internal thought, candles have an almost magical ability to confine the practitioners/victims to the area.

    Used in many rituals and meditation, candles' dancing flames and vague heat have an effect on us. It easy to theorize that they catch our attention and open our minds; but I am not sure how!

    Singing/chanting/loss of breath
    The loss of breath and growing euphoria that comes with strong repetitive exhalation serves to tie the atmosphere (such as singing in Church) down to the theology and preaching during the "come back" phase.

    "Alpha phase" is the relaxation after the singing/chanting is over, and should remain quiet. After alpha phase is a phase of susceptibility and suggestibility, a person is in a more docile state, their minds are fired up with oxygen and they will be slightly light headed. Perfect timing for some indoctrination!

    Good cop/bad cop
    I will not describe this at great length, anyone who has seen cop films will know the stereotypical good cop/bad cop method of controlling a person, and making them reveal themselves and feel accepted or understood by the good cop.

    Perhaps an element of all dualistic religion, this approach sets up 2 contrasting characters. One of them is hateful and angry and hard to deal with emotionally. The other is compassionate and appears to be much more intelligent. It is a frequent debating method, where you place antagonists in the crowd or group to argue with you using stupid, ignorant and angry comments, allowing you to show yourself as rational, calm, patient and good natured.

    Them and us
    Increased psychological pressure and social pressure, causing anxiety and stress when the individual faces the outside world. For example... building a "them and us" mentality. E.g., a Church that maintains *it* is true, and all others are false. A religion that claims it is the only true religion and that other religions contain no worth is using this tactic. When you begin to consider elements of the ritual and teachings as the only or authoritive source of knowledge on subjects like morality or cause and effect, then you are becoming a cultist. In rituals this can appear as symbolic stories or plays as part of the ritual (when you are more suggestible), portraying the followers of the group as being better than everyone else.

    This is ability to appear good natured, good hearted and a spiritual person. It fosters an amount of trust and respect in those around you.

    Post-Trauma gullibility
    After an intense "session" of something, such as an intense visual display, physical exertion or during mental fatigue you are more suggestible. Hunger will make you more irritable, but also more suggestible and weak minded.

    Confusion and the voice of reason
    Put the congregation through a confusing experience, such as a parable that makes no obvious sense, then their minds will be unconsciously and automatically trying to figure it out. It's such an automatic instinct, and is used to get people's attention and subconsciously make them rely on your subsequent reasoning. This is the "voice of reason".

    Even if they are not happy with the justification and explanation of the parable, you will implanted your "moral" into their minds during a time when their minds were very willing to learn.

    Sensory deprivation:

    Full sensory deprivation is a situation where we sit in extreme silence, darkness and extreme quiet for extended periods of time. It very rapidly becomes highly uncomfortable and results in all kinds of hallucinations and strange experiences. Our brains are simply not wired to cope with low levels of external input. Psychological experiments on sensory deprivation chambers show shocking and dramatic results. Ten days in such a chamber (the same as with sleep deprivation) results in serious and permanent psychological damage. But on less severe experiments, the chambers were modified so that the analyst could speak, at times, to the subject. The suggestibility of the subject was akin to hypnotism, only much more effective, with the subject being aware of and remembering everything that is said, but also finding themselves uncontrollably agreeing after only a day in the sensory deprivation chamber. The same effects can be achieved with less complete setups, with periods of mild sensory deprivation being a facilitator of self-induced religious experiences.2,3

    "Hallucinations, Sensory Deprivation and Fasting: The Physiological Causes of Religious and Mystical Experiences: 4. Fasting, Sensory Deprivation and Religion" by Vexen Crabtree (2015)

    Other forms of this, leading to suggestibility, are:

    1. Hunger; where food is given along with a "teaching". (Pavlov style!)
    2. Chinese water torture (also results in hallucination and insanity)
    3. A cold atmosphere and uncomfortable seats
    4. Long periods without human communication

    The Sensory Deprivation Chambers of the 40s and 50s are now considered a form of torture.

    Flotation Tanks
    Flotation tanks are not what I am talking about. In a flotation tank you are induced into sleep very rapidly (you are in a laying down position, not a standing position), and it is frequently used by newagers and as a relaxation tool.

    2. Examples of Use

    Religious ritual (multiple elements)
    A cold environment with uncomfortable chairs, candles and a speaker addressing the congregation. Periodical singing serving to cause euphoria and suggestibility (combined with religious lyrics, too). Some moments of group "togetherness". Confusing parables or stories followed by a voice of reason serve as an indoctrination tactic. The speaker is powerful and claims inspiration or authority from a "higher power", etc.

    Elements of good-cop, bad-cop exist in most religions, where an "enemy" and his attacks are easily countered by the preacher's ideology and beliefs. Exit costs can be high, especially in more popular religions, as a person's entire social life can be based around the Church, creating a high exit cost of combined

    Black Metal Music (confusion and the voice of reason)
    I am a big fan of black metal music, and have recognized the following pattern. The music is very wall-of-sound, with multiple layers of noise, patterns and very fast and confusing sequences. The lead vocalist is mostly inaudibly unclear, grunting and shouting.

    At times, there will be a "voice of reason" in the song. This is when a secondary singer, in a slow and deep voice (frequently in a speaking role) recites some text or lyrics. These lyrics are always the most compelling, as they are the "voice of reason" in the confusion. Your mind is trying to keep up with the multiple layers, speed and untraditional patterns (and low production quality in many albums), your mind is "open" for suggestibility at that time of confusion, and the voice of reason becomes the sole rational input during the song.

    Religious environments (a form of sensory deprivation and voice of reason)
    A retreat or location where the members remain mostly in silence, with little communication, or alone is an ideal place to force a person's mind. Other elements must be involved though, for example placing a person in isolation with a carefully set reading pattern can heavily influence and indoctrinate them.

    This is hard, however, as it is not "subtle", the person will know they are being forced into reading. A way round this is to provide a vast quantity (scientology...) of material, which is all very similar but which gives the illusion of choice. Material read under circumstances of reduced stimulation will have a greater affect on you.

    3. Indoctrination tactics and Satanism

    Book CoverA Satanist should not allow himself to be programmed by others. He should fight tooth and nail against it, for that is the greatest enemy to his freedom of spirit. It is the very denial of life itself, which was given to him for a wondrous, unique experience - not for imitation of the colorless existence of others.

    "The Devil's Notebook" by Anton LaVey (1992)4

    Part of the reason for writing this text is because knowing these tactics is the absolute best way to avoid their affect on you. In the most extreme cases (such as deprivation chambers), there is however little you can do.

    Mind control elements
    The chanting of the Infernal Names is probably the closest thing to "togetherness" that a Satanic Ritual has. It does not, however, have the same quality that causes lack of breath or euphoria. Satanic Ritual does have an element of Confusion; with multiple things happening at once, or lots of imagery that you might not understand unless you're used to it or study it.

    So; the Confusion and Disorientation do serve to put you in a slightly more suggestible frame of mind; but only if you don't know what's going on. And very few group Satanic Rituals are performed with true neophytes; Anton LaVey and most Grotto Masters will only allow people into a Ritual if they do know what's going on.

    Part of the reason for this is that consent is essential in Satanic Rituals. You can't consent to something that you don't understand, or know about. Study is required. Some group rituals such as Anton LaVey's Black Masses were for public consumption; most are not.

    Intellectual Decompression Chamber
    The most consistent part of Satanic Rituals are the opening and closing elements, the clearing of the air and chanting of the Infernal Names and calling of the Infernal Princes.

    I believe it is very important to have a clear and concise start and end to a ritual. You know that everything in between those 2 events are part of the ritual; that intellectualism will work against you during that time. Rituals are the time of emotion and this is the case for both group and private rituals.

    The Intellectual Decompression Chamber

    With these emotions comes susceptibility, which is why I always advise you to check up on the details of the Ritual leader. Preferably you should know members of the group already, and have them explain to you what the rituals normally entail, then look up and research the elements in the ritual.