La Carmina, author of “The Little Book of Satanism”, talks about “Satanic Panic”, QAnon, Japanese Satanism, and more.

For most of its existence, religious Satanism was considered either unfit for polite conversation or fodder for sensationalist tabloids. In the 1990s, Anton La Vey complains,

“Every time I was on TV or the radio, I was given a few seconds to say why they desperately needed me. Someone else who had lost 240 pounds of ugly fat got 20 minutes of time off A woman who saw Jesus on a tortilla had even more time to recount her experience. If Satanism was so hot, why couldn’t I talk about it?

Likewise, religious studies are guilty of secretly relegating Satanism to a “second tier” of religions, far below Christianity and other “world religions”. In fact, talking about Satanism has made some religious studies scholars uncomfortable precisely because its existence challenges the “paradigm of world religions” and exposes the barriers erected to maintain this category.

But now a more robust conversation is unfolding about what Satanism really is and what Satanists actually believe and do. Among those leading the charge is author and journalist La Carmina, whose latest book, titled The Little Book of Satanismcovers both the history of Satanism and the contemporary landscape.

RD recently spoke with La Carmina about the connection between QAnon and Satanic Panic, Satanists’ support for LGBTQ rights, and the devil’s ever-deeper imprint on pop culture.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Satanism seems to be having a moment right now, not only in terms of religion, but also in pop culture and politics. Why do you think this is?

I would point to the rise of social media and the internet, which have made it easier to spread ideas and allowed Satanists around the world to connect and organize. The establishment of the Satanic Temple in 2013 has also helped spur a new politically and socially engaged Satanism movement and shape conversations about Satanism as a religion. I think the pop culture factor is a continuation of the devil’s deepening imprint on music, movies and literature from the 1960s onwards (I discuss Rosemary’s baby and other works in my book). To me, all of this suggests that Satanism will continue to grow in influence over the coming decades.

One of the fascinating episodes covered in your book which will be unfamiliar to most American readers is the so-called “Affair of the Poisons” in 17e France of the century. Can you briefly explain what it was about and if you think it was real Satanism?

At the end of the 17e century, dozens of women working on the fringes of Parisian society as fortune tellers, soothsayers and abortionists were accused of engaging in Satanism. King Louis XIV set up a special tribunal to try them in what became known as the Affaire des poisons, as they were accused of selling deadly elixirs, sacrificing babies and performing black masses!

It’s hard to separate fact from fiction in age-old accounts, but from my research there appears to be evidence that the defendant engaged in “sex magick and necromancy rituals that veered from side of demonism”, as I said in my book.

I think the most interesting aspect of the Case is that – like the European and American witch trials – those who were put to death for “practicing Satanism” were women who were relegated to the margins. of society (some were LGBTQ, while others performed secret abortions). Looking at the history of Satanism, it makes sense that many Satanists today advocate for reproductive, LGBTQ, and minority rights.

Can you talk about the role of movies like Rosemary’s baby and The Exorcist by shaping the satanic panic which peaked in the 1980s?

These horror novels and films were hugely popular and sparked the idea that devil worshipers were hiding in your neighborhood and plotting to steal your children. This chilling conceptualization of Satanists captured the popular imagination and was accompanied by growing social unease over the breakdown of the nuclear family. These factors (along with others, such as the publication of Michelle remembers) escalated into the Satanic Panic of the 1980s and 1990s. A wave of hysteria arose over Satanists allegedly infiltrating preschools and engaging in horrific acts like blood sacrifice and ritual abuse. As far-fetched as these claims may seem today, they have had real and tragic consequences: people have been unjustly accused and imprisoned for committing crimes in the name of Satan.

Shows like stranger things suggest that Satanic Panic was just a 1980s phenomenon, like slap bracelets or shoulder pads. But you connect contemporary phenomena like QAnon to Satanic Panic. How is QAnon different from what we saw in the 1980s? And do you think conspiracy theories like this will ever die out?

Although daytime TV shows about devil-worshipping teenagers died out after the 1990s, the Satanic Panic certainly did not end. Today, we see these ideas take on new life with QAnon’s lies that link Satanism to political conspiracies such as Pizzagate (Democrats engaging in satanic ritual abuse at a DC pizzeria) and Adrenochrome harvesting. Of course, social media and the internet have amplified these contemporary conspiracy theories. When I see the effects of fake news on people I know – coupled with an ever-increasing lack of critical thinking – I am pessimistic about the end of this rhetoric.

[Editor’s note: For more on this connection read David Frankfurter’s 2020 piece, What Does Satanism Have to do With QAnon?]

Religious studies often describe religious Satanism as beginning in 1966 with Anton LaVey and the Church of Satan. But your book mentions several important groups and personalities that predate LaVey. Can you talk about some of these groups and whether or not they should be considered Satanists?

Indeed, most scholars consider the Church of Satan (founded in 1966) to be the first modern Satanic religion. However, there were some delay 19e and early 20e religious groups of the century who perceived Satan as a positive figure (i.e. a bringer of light of knowledge and rationality) and incorporated him into their spiritual ideas. These include the Theosophical Society, Fraternitas Saturni, and a few figures who identified as Satanists, such as Polish writer Stanisław Przybyszewski. I would consider these precursors important to the development of modern Satanism, as they mark “the earliest examples of individuals calling themselves Satanists and holding Satanic religious values ​​supported by some degree of organization.”

The rivalry between the Church of Satan and the Satanic Temple can present an obstacle for researchers. What do you think are the most important differences between these groups?

The fundamental basis is quite different, as The Satanic Temple is inspired by romantic Satanism (the early to mid-19th century literary movement that redefined the devil as a courageous rebel against arbitrary authority), and the novel The revolt of the angels (which says a violent overthrow of God is not the answer, because that only installs a new tyrant).

[Church of Satan founder] by Anton LaVey The Satanic Bible has significant influences from the objectivism of Ayn Rand (with the goals of happiness and sanity) and the philosophies of Friedrich Nietzsche on self-realization, as well as Ragnar Redbeard strength is right. His writings emphasize pursuing self-interest and staying out of politics, which contrasts with TST’s humanistic values ​​of compassion and socio-political engagement.

My book describes in more detail the central beliefs, development, and main roles of the two organizations in modern Satanism.

Your past projects have included a cookbook and a Tokyo themed restaurant book. How did you first become interested in Satanism?

I was an early adopter of blogging, having started my La Carmina Blog in 2007. My readers particularly enjoyed my first-hand reports on quirky Japanese culture, which resulted in my first books Cute yummy time and Crazy and wacky themed restaurants: Tokyo. During those early days of blogging, I spent a lot of time in Japan and was introduced to Japanese Satanists and their fascinating practices. I loved getting to know the small but vibrant satanic communities in Tokyo, Osaka and Kobe.

Over the years I have continued to investigate and write about Satanism around the world for my site and various publications such as Fodor’s (satanic leader profile), The Daily Beast (satanic travel destinations) and ink stick (Satanic Temple Reproductive Rights Campaigns) – which led to a book deal for The Little Book of Satanism.

I am not aware of any scholarship on Satanism in Japan other than what is discussed in your book. Have you noticed Satanism during your travels in Japan? Why would a country that has never known Christian hegemony find Satanism interesting?

I have long participated and reported on Japanese Satanism. Religion has a small but serious following in Japan, and it takes on a different expression due to the cultural background. Only about one percent of Japanese people identify as Christians, so locals don’t grow up with the fundamentalist influences or biblical narratives that are pervasive in countries like the United States.

However, Japanese society is notoriously conservative and conformist. In this context, Satanists find meaning and motivation in the idea of ​​Lucifer as a rebel questioning authority. Wearing an inverted cross or 666 will not raise eyebrows in Japan (as these are not considered blasphemous symbols by most residents). But pursuing the fullest self-expression is a radical idea in a collectively minded country.

What is your next project? Where are you going after that?

I just came back from Japanit was my first time back in three years and I’m relieved that the country is once again open to tourism without restrictions. Next, I’m heading to Medellin, Colombia, for a food and travel journalism project. For now, I’m concentrating on releasing The Little Book of Satanism: A Guide to Satanic History, Culture, and Wisdom. I hope my little guide can help people understand the roots of religious Satanism and put an end to the many misconceptions about Satanists and their practices. As always, I’ll be sharing updates from my satanic escapades around the world on my social media @LaCarmina and my website

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