1893 Satanists were counted in the UK's National Census of 2011 despite "extensive coverage in the media"1 which make some suspect that numbers are higher. The number of Satanists is notoriously difficult to estimate. Most Satanic groups are informal, temporary and ad-hoc (so 'congregation' numbers cannot be counted), and the mainstream Church of Satan does not publish membership numbers. Also, many Satanists are not members of the Church of Satan. Hence, estimates of numbers of Satanists have varied wildly according to authors' imaginations and paranoias. In 2001 and 2002 I enquired at London Satanists meetings and found that only half identified themselves as a Satanist on the census. Others put "atheist" or even Christian denominations as their religion. This is a significant under-representation. As 1525 were counted in the 2001 Census, an estimate of 3050 seems sensible. Now in 2011, with slight growth in terms of percent of the population since 2001, an estimate of 3850 seems sensible2.
For more detail and analysis, see: How many Satanists are there in the UK?.
The LondonSatanists group was founded by myself, Vexen Crabtree, in 2000 August and I ministered it until closing it in 2010. It was open to all, from neophytes to more learnéd Satanists. Part of the original description read: "You are advised to join at the very least so that we always have an opportunity of contacting each other. There are no commitments, requirements or questions you have to answer to join. One of the main functional purposes of this list is to announce meetings and social events in London". The list grew to have hundreds of members, but most of them were inactive. The volume of posts to the email list was only a few per day at its height in 2002-3.
Meetings were generally held every other month from 2000 to 2003, and only sporadically after that. In 2003 I accepted a position at my work in Germany for four years, and after that accepted yet another position, in Dorset and Wiltshire, therefore I myself could only attend meetings sometimes; as a result the main impetus behind the London Satanists group had been lost, and only a few meetings were held in my absence, although I still managed to hold a few per year from 2003 to 2010.
I decided to close the list simply because in the age of the Internet because many years after I had left London I was still enjoying life elsewhere and resigned myself to not returning permanently for quite a while yet: the need for such organisation had passed into history, therefore I closed the list - with a hint of sadness, I might add!
Here are four photos from the London Satanists meet of 2002 Sep 22, featuring some of the dozen or so people who turned up during the course of the day.
Left to right: Travis, Miko. On the right: Terry, Weasel.
The meeting was scheduled from 2pm until late, and it continued until past 10pm. I met some prominent people in the First Church of Satan UK community, and other members of the Church of Satan proper.
It was amazing to talk with such people, of all the little gatherings I attend the LS group are by far the most fascinating, intelligent and interesting. It feels like all of us specialize in different areas. One member very educated in demonology, others shared their knowledge of classical Latin and Greek, politics, sociology and middle eastern history.
Right: Vexen Crabtree hosts the meetings
It was good to see the regulars. Some neophytes were there. They came across as intelligent, sensible and fun loving. And yet they were concerned about whether they were ready to accept the label of 'Satanist'!
Aside from demonology we also talked about magic, ritual, willpower and inter-denominational politics. We talked about each other, and a few people discussed how they got into Satanism in the first place.
I get the feeling that all of us are particularly productive, happy, intelligent and scholarly in our lives. Could it actually be that Satanism isn't attracting people quite as insane, or young, as I thought it would? Not in the UK, it seems.
An (ir)reverend in the Church of Satan3. Baddeley's books are intensely interesting to read, going in to depth on all the occult and esoteric aspects of the subject and including an encyclopaedia-like wealth of references and related information. For example, whether you are interested in Marilyn Manson or not the book about him is worth reading just for the chapters on Crowley, the Occult, Magic, Manson's meeting with LaVey, etc. An eminently wise, sensible, approachable and well-adjusted man. He is a journalist and freelance writer, and makes notable contributions to Metal Hammer and The Observer broadsheet newspaper. "He is the occult authority for the BBC and Channel 4, has addressed Cambridge University, and has been profiled in The Independent and The London Evening Standard"Wikipedia.
Dissecting Marilyn Manson
The force behind the successful band Soft Cell, his autobiography Tainted Life contains information of his initialisation in to the Infernal Empire by Magister Boyd Rice. Marc Almond has had a notable solo career since Soft Cell.
Aleister Crowley was an infamous occultist and magician, and has lent a large portion of his techniques and general character to magical practice and psychology, as well as chunks of philosophy and teachings on magic and life in general. See: "Historical Satanism: 5. Magical Influences" by Vexen Crabtree (2004)
“The Satanism-for-fun-and-games fad next appeared in England in the middle 18th Century in the form of Sir Francis Dashwood's Order of the Medmanham Franciscans, popularly called The Hell-Fire Club. [...] Sir Francis managed to conduct rituals replete with good dirty fun, and certainly provided a colorful and harmless form of psychodrama for many of the leading lights of the period. An interesting sideline of Sir Francis, which lends a clue to the climate of the Hell-Fire Club, was a group called the Dilettanti Club, of which he was the founder.”
John Dee and Kelly (17th Century) created the Enochian system of speech used for emoting ('sonic tarot') and pronounciation in any way the user sees fit. LaVey adopted the Enochian Keys for rituals and includes his translation of them in The Satanic Bible6. See: "Satanic Ritual and Satanic Magic: 6.2. The Enochian Keys and Enochian Language" by Vexen Crabtree (2002)