The Symbolism of Satanism

By Vexen Crabtree 2010 Oct 24

What are the symbols of Satanism? Why do so many of the imagery, words, symbols and phrases seem intentionally disturbing? Satanism uses such symbols to alienate itself from most people.


1. The Symbols of Satanism

Click on the titles for pages on each of these areas of symbolism:

1.1. The Sigil of the Baphomet is the principal symbol of Satanism and is frequently used in Satanic artwork. It combines the inverted pentacle, the goat and the word Leviathan in Hebrew. Click the title for a history of both the spiritual point-up pentacle, and the materialistic point-down presentation. The Sigil represents Satan, the dark force of both nature and man. > > Full page.

1.2. The Inverted Pentacle is the most basic symbol of Satanism, almost ubiquitiously used. Click the title for a history of both the spiritual point-up pentacle, and the materialistic point-down presentation.. > > Full page.

1.3. Satan as Represented by the Goat. The goat embodies self-reliance and toughness, and Satan is indulgence, happiness, clarity, stark honesty, death, power, strength, success, critical thinking, doubt and all efforts to destroy religion and other sources of falsehood and delusion. > > Full page.

1.4. Hell: Although Satanists do not believe in Hell, or afterlife, there is still much symbolic usage of associated imagery. Click for details of hells from various religions and cultures. > > Full page.

2. Shock Factor

2.1. Let's Put Off as Many Sheeple as We Can

Some of the imagery, words, symbols and phrases within Satanism are intentionally disturbing and are often design to be misunderstood by laypeople. Satanism uses such symbols to alienate itself from most people.


Rev. Steven Johnson Leyba
Controversial and dark performances of art.

Sheep are frequently considered a bit mindless, uncurious and unintelligent because they follow the herd, without thinking and take for granted that that's the way it should be. No questions. No answers. When you have a symbol that is routinely misinterpreted by popular belief then you immediately filter out the masses who are unwilling to question their own assumptions. The Fifth Satanic Sin is herd conformity. In Satanism the individual thinks for hirself and all the assumptions of society are questioned. Therefore, those who are unable to question society's assumptions cannot become Satanists in part because they never look past the evil veneer. When they try to engage with Satanists it is immediately apparent that they're not worth the time.

2.2. Think! Transcending Culture

Things which make people think and abandon cultural superstitions are good. Anton LaVey utilized shock and imagery to make people pay attention, to confuse them and hopefully stimulate them to think!. Understood in the light of the advantages of making people think, the shock factor is just one weapon that can be used to get someone's attention before explaining to them how things really are. Different people require different methods to awaken the demon within, and plain-out shock is sometimes the right method.

Satanists pick up the advantages of shock factor subconsciously without really being able to explain why or how it works. There is a general background, frequently subconscious desire to ensure that neophytes to Satanism must study in order to understand, and cannot understand by judging Satanism by its name. This obfuscationist desire surfaces in almost all Satanic imagery and text especially in music and art.

2.3. The Disadvantages

Employing shocking imagery and symbols has downsides:

  1. Many intelligent and powerful people who would make good Satanists are put off because they do not suspect Satanism contains worthwhile philosophy. No-one has time to research everything and unfortunately we cannot all go around looking into the beliefs of all the crazy-sounding people that we hear of. So some good people are filtered out. But that's ok - those good people will continue to lead good, powerful, sensible lives, so there is no harm actually done to the world by their dismissal of Satanism.

  2. Attracting psychos. Satanism genuinely does attract a class of person who, however hedonistic, energetic, demoniacal and powerful, are still at their hearts idiotic, forcefully holding on to lots of ignorant and crazy ideas. That's right, Satanism attracts psychos. Thankfully, the Church of Satan does a very good job of filtering them out when they try to join. But plenty of whackos sound-off in the name of Satanism and thankfully they merely add to the negative stereotypes of us, whereas those in-the-know (and the police!) can quite quickly recognize loners talking rubbish.

3. Lesser Symbols Used in Satanism (contd.)

3.5. The Sabbatic Goat - the Goat of Mendes

This symbol sources from Christian fear and confusion: Eliphas Levi the half-crazy Christian occultist drew this famous image of the androgynous goat adorned with other evil and carnal symbols. As such, it has been found worthy of use by many occult groups and Satanists.


3.6. The Four Crown Princes of Hell

The Four Crown Princes of Hell are Satan, Leviathan, Lucifer and Belial. They represent Satan divided into four elements and each represents different aspects of Human nature. > > Full page.


3.7. Fascist Imagery

Book CoverIn an interview in "Lords of Chaos" by Moynihan & Soderlind (1998) Anton LaVey, the founder of the Church of Satan, is asked "Many fear a strong connection between Satanism and some forms of Fascism. Is there any truth to this?". He replies that aspects of Fascism appeal to Satanists - "the drama, the lightning, the choreography with which they moved millions of people". Blanche Barton also replies with the same sentiment: "Aesthetics more than anything else are the common ground between Satanism and fascism. The aesthetics of National Socialism and Satanism dovetail". The themes of theatre, indulgence, shock and power are natural to both Fascists and Satanists going about the task of creating visuals.

"What is the Relationship Between Satanism and Fascism?" by Vexen Crabtree (2005)


3.8. The Inverted Cross

The inverted cross was the cross that St. Peter was crucified on because he didn't feel worthy to be crucified on the same form of cross as Jesus Christ. It was a symbol for unworthiness and deep respect of one's superiors: representing folly, hardship, failure and reverence for Christ. That's what it used to mean - a very Christian symbol indeed. Since the advent of the B-Movie and limited public intelligence the inverted cross became a reversed Christian symbol - a symbol of Anti-Christian sentiment. Because in modern times it has come to represent anti-Christianity, some Satanists display this symbol.


3.9. The Moon

Stemming from primitive sun worship, many religions have recognized the moon as a symbol of literal and figurative darkness, and blood. In classical monotheistic theology the Lunar sphere is the domain of Satan, Jinn and Demons. The Solar sphere is the source of life, goodness and God, which is why saints have halos in Christianity. The Moon has always perturbed Humanity. But this fear, in modern Satanism, is faced and accepted full on without the barriers that other religions erect.

Occultists, pseudo-scientists, crazy people and the superstitious, all enjoy making mountains out of mole hills, and volumes has been written by Christian demonologists and the like on 'lunar influences'. Mystical alchemists tried for a long time to create potions that would turn impure lunar souls into golden solar ones1.

Another thing given dramatic status by religionists is that the monthly cycle coincides in length with the female menstrual cycle, more-or-less. The moon even appears red on the horizon from time to time, so it came to be considered female itself. Some of the mythical stories explaining menstruation are as fascinating as they are odd. In classical monotheism this is obviously all because women are more susceptible to diabolical influences.

4. Individual Choice: The Symbols of Rebellion, Counterculture, Halloween and Others

Satanism means "the opposition" and epitomizes all symbols of nonconformity.

"The Devil's Notebook"
Anton LaVey (1992)2

Satanic imagery can be diverse, subtle and out-of-place. Our ideals allow us to use whatever symbols are appropriate, and more importantly, whichever ones the individual happens to like. So you might see symbols of counterculture and anarchy such as the anarchist's symbol, anti-establishment symbols such as medieval weaponry, anti-herd symbolism involving sheep, and every kind of artefact ever associated with halloween, the dark, and the fun side of the dark. Much of these are employed in jest, for entertainment of others and of the Satanist hirself. Very little is used in a straightforward way and almost never to represent merely what you'd think. In nearly all cases you need to ask the individual Satanist about hir use of a particular symbol. They may give lucid and intellectual answers steeped in historical knowledge and clever anti-theology. Or they may just like them. Other Satanists will no doubt disagree that the use of particular symbols is useful. There is much dissention in the ranks! There is an aesthetic at work that cannot fully be rendered into words; and after all, let us forget that symbols and the like are highly personal and subjective in nature. Bertrand Russell the philosopher reminds us that, in particular when it comes to religion, "the belief in either pessimism or optimism is a matter of temperament, not of reason"3.

Links:

5. Conclusions

In the name of making people think and smashing stereotypes and assumptions. In the name of fun and entertainment! In the name of Satan, you shall think!! And if you cannot break free from the superstitious and paranoid things that society tells you about religious symbols, you will hate Satanism!

Read / Write Comments

By Vexen Crabtree 2010 Oct 24
Second edition 2002 Nov 06
Originally published 1999/2000
Last Updated: 2011 Dec 20
http://www.dpjs.co.uk/symbols.html

Links:

References: (What's this?)

Book Cover

Book Cover

LaVey, Anton. (1930-1997)
The Devil's Notebook (1992). Published by Feral House, CA, USA.
The Satanic Bible (1969). Published by Avon Books Inc, New York, USA. Anton LaVey founded the Church of Satan in 1966.

Moynihan & Soderlind
Lords of Chaos (1998). Published by Feral House, Los Angeles, USA.

Russell, Bertrand. (1872-1970)
History of Western Philosophy (1946). Quotes from 2000 edition published by Routledge, London, UK.

Shepherd, Rowan & Rupert
1000 Symbols (2002). Published by Thames and Hudson Ltd.

Footnotes

  1. Shepherd, Rowan & Rupert (2002) entry on the moon.^
  2. LaVey (1992) Introduction.^
  3. Russell (1946) p727.^

© 2013 Vexen Crabtree. All rights reserved.

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