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  Satanism (from Hebrew shaitan, ‘adversary’) was a development, in Judaic and Christian areas, from straightforward demonism. The monotheists of early Judaism characterized all non-God gods and spirits as evil, as adversaries of good, and postulated the existence of a single, chief Adversary, all-evil in the way that God was all-good. (This was a characteristic view of many ancient religions: Zoroastrianism, for example, saw existence as a permanent battle between the powers of Light and Dark, with the universe as its battleground.) Christians developed this idea into a complex myth about the Serpent, Fallen Angel, Son of the Morning: its best-known exposition in English is Milton\'s Paradise Lost. Satanism itself soon followed: the worship of Satan, of the Prince of Darkness. Initially the cult was a reaction against Christianity, and its practices were mirror images of Christian practices: the Mass said backwards, for example. On to it, partly as a result of European Christian persecution of pre-Christian beliefs and practices, were grafted a whole set of ideas from animism, druidism and witchcraft—and they in turn, though often perfectly innocent, were tainted by association and became part of the ‘dark side’ of the human psyche which Satanism was supposed to explore. When Tutankhamun\'s tomb was opened in the 1920s, and garbled accounts of Egyptian ideas of the afterlife filled the popular press, a whole set of ideas from Egyptian myth was added. Satanism, in short, seems to the ordinary person to be an eclectic mishmash of perverted supernatural beliefs and orgiastic practices, and its modern adherents react by trying to ‘purify’ it, to go back to the innocent forms of demonism from which it sprang. KMcL  



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