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9 Readings to Better Understand The Satanic Temple

Atticus is a senior in college and has been a Satanist for four years. He plans on attending law school and specializing in public policy.

Satan, as drawn by Gustave Dore, in John Milton's "Paradise Lost."

Satan, as drawn by Gustave Dore, in John Milton's "Paradise Lost."

Understanding the 7 Tenets of The Satanic Temple

There are many misconceptions when it comes to Satanism, and in part, that's due to the diverse kinds of Satanism. My focus for this article is on the Satanism of The Satanic Temple, also known as 7-Tenet Satanism or Compassionate Satanism.

The Satanic Temple's website provides a broad overview of the organization and its beliefs for those that are unfamiliar. Their mission statement is as follows:

"The Mission Of The Satanic Temple Is To Encourage Benevolence And Empathy, Reject Tyrannical Authority, Advocate Practical Common Sense, Oppose Injustice, And Undertake Noble Pursuits."

They also note how they use advocacy to promote their beliefs. They have publically confronted hate groups, applied for equal representation when religious statues and monuments were placed in public spaces, advocated for reproductive autonomy, and attempted to expose pseudo-scientific practitioners in the mental health field.

Read to Learn More

I've decided to list nine different "Satanic" readings that will help curious individuals better understand the underpinning philosophies behind The Satanic Temple, and important events that reflect upon the impact Satanism has had. These readings will dive deep into what it means to be a Satanist today, its history, the literary basis of Satanism, and some other fun readings. This list is presented in no particular order; I believe they all serve a different purpose in truly understanding Satanism.

Satan Exulting over Eve as depicted by William Blake

Satan Exulting over Eve as depicted by William Blake

1. Compassionate Satanism: An Introduction to Modern Satanic Practice by Lilith Starr

This wonderful book dives into the benefits of nontheistic Satanism and it serves as a guide to understanding the practice of modern Satanism. It effectively demystifies Satanism based on compassion, reason, and justice, and it provides a clear road map for building your practice. After reading this book, you will get a better grasp on the benefits of religion without superstition, the narrative of Satan as a revolutionary hero, the Seven Tenets, the origin and meaning of Satanic symbols, developing self-compassion and self-empowerment, and taking action against tyranny and injustice.

2. The Devil’s Tome: A Book of Modern Satanic Ritual by Shiva Honey

This book gives you a direct insight into the kinds of rituals that Satanists perform for purposes of healing, empowerment, and community building. For those looking to peek behind the curtain of rituals Satanists perform, this book will give you guides and insights into how they are performed. You could also use this book to learn how to perform or even create your own Satanic ritual practice. Inside the book is a collection of rituals for solo practitioners, group rituals, photographs, scripts, and backgrounds on the rituals performed by The Satanic Temple of Salem.

3. The Better Angels Of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined by Steven Pinker

This is a well-written book by Dr. Pinker that surveys the human condition and demonstrates the phenomenon of declining violence. It is not a directly Satanic book, but it gets core to the intellectual roots of The Satanic Temple. It analyzes why violence has declined and it refutes crass calls to Police State policies and misinterpretations of Darwinism. A notable quote from the book that best exemplifies how it aligns with the values of The Satanic Temple is, “The doctrine of the sacredness of the soul sounds vaguely uplifting, but in fact, it is highly malignant. It discounts life on earth as just a temporary phase that people pass through, indeed, an infinitesimal fraction of their existence. Death becomes a mere rite of passage, like puberty or a midlife crisis.”

4. The Revolt of the Angels by Anatole France

The Revolt of the Angels (1914) is an incredibly important novel to The Satanic Temple’s idea of a symbolic Satan. This novel retells the story of the war in heaven between angels led by Michael and the others led by Satan. This story can be interpreted as a commentary on the corruption of power. Anatole France uses the metaphor of Satan as a force favoring free inquiry in the face of tyranny.

5. Romantic Satanism: Myth And The Historical Moment In Blake, Shelley, and Byron by Peter A. Schock

This book gives a holistic view into the literary phenomenon of Romantic Satanism. Peter A. Schock contextualizes the works of Blake, Shelley, and Byron, and he demonstrates how Satanism enabled Romantic writers to interpret the era they lived in. Schock contends that Satanism provided these romantic authors a medium for articulating their hopes and fears and predicting change. This book is a helpful and fun read that takes a unique angle at the Romantic movement.

6. Paradise Lost by John Milton

Satan described in Paradise Lost (1667) best exemplifies how The Satanic Temple views Satan as a symbolic figure. Paradise Lost is easily one of the greatest epic poems in the English language—the first edition featured over ten thousand lines of verse—and it is a must-read. You’ll get a closer look into what exactly the inspiration behind viewing Satan as a symbolic figure was.

7. The Invention of Satanism by Asbjorn Dyrendal, James R. Lewis, and Jesper AA. Petersen

This is an excellent piece that gives you an insight into the history of satanism. Satanism has been labeled many things since its inception, such as being the source of evil, an immature form of rebellion or protest, a misapplication of beliefs and practices, or a philosophy that serves as a form of personal and collective identity. This book explores Satanism as a contemporary movement that sparks dialogue and something that provides a foundation for new religious movements to grow.

8. The Satanism Scare by James T. Richardson, Joel Best, David G. Bromley

This book covers a very important historical time period that is relevant to the beliefs and advocacy of The Satanic Temple. This book serves as a collection of academic articles that broadly cover the contemporary aspects of Satanism from the vantage point studies in folklore, cults, religion, deviance, rock music, rumor, and mass media. It gives a holistic point of view of what exactly occurred during the Satanic Panic and what the consequences of the satanic panic in years to come.

9. Speak Of The Devil: How The Satanic Temple Is Changing The Way We Talk About Religion by Joseph P. Laycock

This novel discusses the impact of The Satanic Temple on modern-day society, specifically how the temple is changing the way that we think about religion. The conversation about religious freedom involving the Satanic Temple took off in 2013 when The Satanic Temple erected a statue of Baphomet on the Oklahoma capital grounds as a response to the erection of a statue of the Ten Commandments. Since this demonstration, the book analyzes and discusses the different movements and political campaigns in the temple that have been active. This book attempts to redefine religion, the nature of religious pluralism, and what “religious freedom” means in America.