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Journal of Religion in Europe 3 (2010) 103–124

Journal of Religion in Europe
brill.nl/jre

From Milton to Modern Satanism: The History of the Devil and the Dynamics between Religion and Literature*
Bernd U. Schipper
Department of Theology University of Oldenburg 26129 Oldenburg, Germany presently at the Harvard Divinity School 45 Francis Avenue 02138 Cambridge, MA, USA bschipper@hds.harvard.edu

Abstract The article explores the dynamics between literature and religion with the examples of Lucifer and modern Satanism. With John Milton’s poem Paradise Lost (1667), the originally Christian myth of Lucifer evolved in a positive direction. Having been adopted by so-called ‘literary Satanism,’ this character became the basis for a new non-Christian religion, the ‘Temple of Set’ (founded by Michael Aquino in 1975). The article also argues for a remodelling of the conception of the dynamics between religion and other systems of meaning in the ‘European history of religion’: not only do religious traditions affect the medium of literature; literature can also affect the religious tradition. Keywords literature, Lucifer, Europe, religion, devil, John Milton, Temple of Set, Church of Satan, Dante Alighieri, Satanism

Alongside the move of the study of religion into the domain of cultural studies came a shift in the subjects of research. Scholars no longer focused solely on the so-called ‘world religions’ but also on the interplay between religion and culture in a broader sense. In an article on the paradigm of ‘European
*) I would like to express my gratitude to Jesper Aagaard Petersen for some advice and to Michael Lesley and D. Andrew Teeter for correcting the English version of this article.
© Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2010 DOI 10.1163/187489210X12597396698744

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B.U. Schipper / Journal of Religion in Europe 3 (2010) 103–124

history of religion’ from 1993, Burkhard Gladigow called this a “vertical transfer.”1 By using this category, Gladigow addresses the exchange between different systems of meaning (“Sinnsystemen”) such as literature, science or technology. This approach is based on the assumption that religion appears not only in the well-known classical sense but in different cultural systems of meaning, each having its own hermeneutic pattern.2 In the last fifteen years, the academic discipline of the study of religion has shown the sustainability of such an approach. In the history of religion in Europe ‘religion’ could be located not only in an institutionalized, mainly Christian religion, but in other systems of meanings and media as well.3 Moreover, if the paradigm of a European history of religion is combined with a discursive determination,4 which addresses ‘religion’ as the result of a discursive process of negotiation, the religious historical development appears in a quite different light. The focus is no longer on a development in the sense of a reception in light of the uses of motifs rooted in Christian religion, but on the reinvention of religion through the use of traditional semantics and topoi.5 Taking this as the starting point, the present article will examine this process with a prominent example: modern Satanism. As I hope to demonstrate, the history of the devil can illustrate a ‘parallel alternative,’ typical of the history of religion in Europe, in which a different tradition was founded,6 that was not based on classical (Christian) religion, but on an alternative system of meaning—in this case modern literature. In the interplay between

1) See Burkhard Gladigow, “Europäische Religionsgeschichte”, in: Brigitte Luchesi & Hans G. Kippenberg (eds.), Lokale Religionsgeschichte (Marburg: Diagonal, 1995), 19–42, at p. 21. 2) Gladigow, “Europäische Religionsgeschichte,” 24–26. 3) See Hans G. Kippenberg & Kocku von Stuckrad, Einführung in die Religionswissenschaft. Gegenstände und Begriffe (München: Beck, 2003), 126–135. 4) For the term and its meaning Hans G. Kippenberg, “Diskursive Religionswissenschaft: Gedanken zu einer Religionswissenschaft, die weder auf einer allgemein gültigen Definition von Religion noch auf einer Überlegenheit von Wissenschaft basiert,” in: Burkhard Gladigow & Hans G. Kippenberg (eds.), Neue Ansätze in der Religionswissenschaft (München: Kösel, 1983), 9–28, at pp. 10–13 and Kippenberg & von Stuckrad, Einführung, 14. 5) On strategies for the legitimation of new religions, see James R. Lewis, Legitimating New Religions (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2003), 13f. 6) On Satanism as an important part of the “cultic milieu” of Western Culture and a “cultural underground of society,” see Colin Campbell, “The Cult, the Cultic Milieu and Secularization,” A Sociological Yearbook of Religion in Britain, 5 (1972), 119–136, at p. 122 and Jesper Aagaard Petersen, Contemporary Religious Satanism. A Critical Anthology (Farnham & Burlington: Ashgate, 2009), 4f.

How Religion Divide (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. in a later time. was on familiar terms with celebrities like Jayne Mansfield There is still a lack of detailed research on the Temple of Set in the study of religions. The second part places the doctrine of the Temple of Set in the history of Satanism and draws attention to the piece of world literature which stands at the heart of the paradigm shift mentioned above: the poem Paradise Lost (1667) by John Milton. entirely non-Christian religion. Lewis & Sarah M. 283–296. 218–247. The Secret Life of a Satanist. at pp. 7) .” Journal of Contemporary Religion 10 (1995). the founder and leading figure of the Church of Satan. Asbjørn Dyrendal.B. a highly prominent Satanic group that became popular because of its connections with Hollywood. see Graham Harvey. The Authorized Biography of Anton LaVey (Los Angeles: Feral House. 1. Through the use of other ancient patterns of meaning. 234–239. 73–83.8 Anton Szandor LaVey. The third part offers some general observations on the interplay between literature and religion. Schipper / Journal of Religion in Europe 3 (2010) 103–124 105 literature and religion. It was founded in 1975 by Michael A. formed the basis of a new. “Satanists and Nuts.” Din 2–3 (2004). Aquino. at p. 53–68. Both Lucifer and the concept of Satan as a personal entity developed through the literature of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. “Satanism: Performing Alterity and Othering. The Role of Schisms in Modern Satanism. 1990) which is. “Et satans mannfolk: den autoriserte Anton LaVey. the originally Christian myth of Satan evolved in a positive direction which led to a form of religion that saw Satan as an ideal. and led to an alternative to the traditional Christian Satan which. however.“ Syzygy 11 (2002). idem. The following article is divided into three parts. among others things. The Temple of Set and Modern Satanism The Temple of Set is a relatively young satanic organisation. The first part is a brief introduction to a form of modern Satanism that will serve as the focus of this article: the Satanic group of the Temple of Set. “Satanism in Britain Today.U. Aquino had been a member of the Church of Satan. a former US-army officer who.” in: James R. had worked in counter-intelligence. 31–34 and the recent published article by Jesper Aagaard Petersen. a religion developed that was entirely disconnected from Christianity.7 Since the late sixties. For a first approach. cf.). 8) See the official LaVey biography by Blanche Barton. 2009). Sacred Schisms. partly fictional. Lewis (eds.

108f. The Brill Dictionary of Religion. Lucifer (as ruler of the air). 2000). 177. Gilmore. Belial (as ruler of the earth) and Leviathan (as ruler of the water). ibid. the book of Satan and the book of Lucifer. 96f with LaVey and Sammy Davis. 2002). 180–202. can be seen as a kind of demythologization 9) See the pictures in Arthur Lyons. however. at p.” 430. 2007).106 B.U.. John Travolta.” 224. the “Satanic Bible” (1969). Charles Manson.11 Central to the doctrine of the Church of Satan is the notion of Satan as an autonomous power inside man. Jr. Schipper / Journal of Religion in Europe 3 (2010) 103–124 and Sammy Davis.14 The first two books describe LaVey’s Satanism as a positive religion. 1976). see Michael Aquino. vol.” Syzygy 11 (2002). Glock & Robert N. 6th edn [Internet] (San Francisco: Temple of Set. the doctrine of the Church of Satan is developed in four chapters (“books”) according to four figures of the devil: Satan (as ruler of the fire). Petersen. but a reservoir of power inside each human to be tapped at will. For the events of 1969 see Ellis.). Jesper Aagaard Petersen. “The Church of Satan. . Raising the Devil. The Church of Satan. “Modern Satanism: Dark Doctrines and Black Fames. when one of its members. 15) Joachim Schmidt. 1679 and Petersen.” in: Charles Y. Gilmore. 12) On the Church of Satan. 11) This topic was popular in US-media in the Summer of 2009. “Satanism”. For the Satanic milieu as a mirror of a larger cultic milieu cf. Petersen.12 Peter H. 2006). Bellah (eds. Satan Wants You: The Cult of Devil Worship in America (New York: Mysterious Press. the 30ths anniversary of the crime. Raising the Devil. Cf. “The Emperor’s New Religion.). 14) On the special meaning of the names. Tom Skerritt and for Jayne Mansfield. see the contribution by Randall Alfred.9 and had became well-known to the general public with his role as the devil in Roman Polanski’s movie Rosemary’s Baby. The first two books. 423–457. 4 (Leiden & Boston: Brill. Jr. “Modern Satanism. New Religions. 169. 257–310.. The New Religious Consciousness (Berkeley: University of California Press. “Satanists. Contemporary Religious Satanism. and in recent systematic overviews scholars of the study of religion have labeled it “autarkic a-Christian Satanism” or “rational Satanism. 2005).).”15 The last two books describe rituals and magical practises.”13 This central concept was developed more elaborately in LaVey’s main work. 430–434 and Ole Wolf. In this book. high-priest of the Church of Satan. 31. 54. Lewis & Jesper Aagaard Petersen (eds. Satanism. put it as follows: “Satan is not a conscious entity to be worshipped. 4–6. 1988). 10) Bill Ellis. killed Polanski’s spouse Sharon Tate in 1969. The Satanic Scriptures (Baltimore: Scapegoat. 13) Peter H. at pp. 1677–1680.” in: James R.10 The public’s fascination with the Church of Satan took on a sinister character. Controversial New Religions (New York: Oxford University Press. in: Kocku von Stuckrad (ed. and the Media (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky.

when we become angry enough to protect ourselves from further attack?”19 LaVey develops a doctrine in which man’s nature is not profoundly bad. Mammon: greed. statement 7 “Satan represents man as just another animal. 158–159.” which dates back to Medieval Times. see Isabel Grübel. 1991).” . These sentences illustrate the focus of LaVey’s doctrine: he characterizes man as an animal ruled by the instinct for self-preservation and by sexual drive. and to be desirous of obtaining similar things for oneself. Satanism advocates indulging in each of these ‘sins’ as they all lead to physical. 17) The concept of the seven deadly sins goes back to Gregor the Great.. envy. Satan appears as an archetype of the dark. or emotional gratification. The Satanic Bible (New York: Avon Books. and sloth. A Satanist knows there is nothing wrong with being greedy. Envy and greed are the motivating forces of ambition—and without ambition. mental. animalistic side of human existence: “The strongest instinct in every living thing is self-preservation. 192. pride. as it only means that he wants more than he already has. Asmodeus: lust. 1969). gluttony. see also p. Mythos und Wirklichkeit (Marburg: Diagonal 2003). Satan: anger. Satan is not a transcendent or personal entity but merely a synonym for man and his natural vitality. Envy means to look with favour upon the possessions of others.B. For LaVey. inasmuch as man’s natural vitality is manifested in those acts which are viewed in the Christian tradition as condemnable. Abaddon: lassitude.16 Implied in LaVey’s conception is the idea of Satanism as a counter-principle to Christian-Jewish tradition. The lollardic tract “Lanterne of Liszt” from 1410 links these “vices” with different devils: Lucifer: pride. very little of any importance would be accomplished. LaVey uses the popular doctrine of the “seven deadly sins. 46–47 (“Some Evidence of a New Satanic Age”). Satanismus. Schipper / Journal of Religion in Europe 3 (2010) 103–124 107 of Satan as a metaphysical power. 47. 18) Anton Szandor LaVey. 19) LaVey. Die Hierarchie der Teufel. ibid. Beelzebub: envy. Belphegor: gluttony. De Sade’s philosophical system is also based on the assumption of evil as 16) Joachim Schmidt. Is it not our instinct for self-preservation that is aroused when someone harms us.U. 178. similar to the philosophy of the Marquis de Sade (1740–1814).17 to offer a positive characterization of man: 18 The seven deadly sins of the Christian Church are: greed. anger. Satanic Bible. Studien zum christlichen Teufelsbild und zur Allegorisierung des Bösen in Theologie. 25. Literatur und Kunst zwischen Frühmittelalter und Gegenreformation (München: tuduv. which brings us to the last of the seven deadly sins—anger. see Grübel. lust.

).27 Michael Aquino. but autonomous vitality in man.21 but it also started a line that led through the first decades of the 20th century and Aleister Crowley. 286. created a Cf. 1982–1987).” 314–315 and for this type of rational Satanism with Satan as a symbol of rebellion.” in: Jesper Aagaard Petersen (ed. This implies the antithesis of a Christian worldview and Christian morality. Satanism as a Self-Religion. Hanegraaff (ed. 76–77.). Asbjørn Dyrendal.22 This can be seen in two main statements from his book Liber AL vel Legis (“Book of the Law”). 22) For a new examination of Crowley’s ‘Magick religion’ as part of the history of religion in the 20th century see Kocku von Stuckrad. Ideengeschichtliche Untersuchungen zur Herkunft der komplexen Gestalt Luzifer/Satan/Teufel. something already present in the writings of de Sade. 131. Anton La Vey. Satan und die Satanisten. 146–147. 2. however. 2005). Satan (vol. 2009).” first published in 1791. modelled primarily on the history of the Church of Satan (1966–1975). I. Frick.” 224.. as Marilyn Manson points out in his foreword to “Satan Speaks” from 1998. p. “Darkness Within.). at p. 1998). Petersen. ihrer weiblichen Entsprechungen und ihrer Anhängerschaft (3 vol. Religion in Cultural Discourse (Religionsgeschichtliche Versuche und Vorarbeiten 52.. Satan has no specific role. and Frick. 307–324. Thelema und die Religionsgeschichte des zwanzigsten Jahrhunderts. 1 (Leiden & Boston: Brill. Graz: Akademische Druckund Verlagsanstalt. the Temple of Set 20) . “Aleister Crowley. a number of differences can be seen.26 Turning to the Temple of Set and its doctrine. the founder of the organisation. Aleister. 40) and “Every man and every woman is a star. especially p. 59. Goethe. Contemporary Religious Satanism: A Critical Anthology (Farnham & Burlington: Ashgate. “Crowley. Strictly speaking. but he postulated that dark energy existed in him and in all living things.20 According to him. XII. 134–135. Schmidt. Crowley was not a Satanist himself. “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law” (AL. which made it popular.24 this form of Satanism is often labelled ‘Self-Religion. Satanismus. 2004). 1986). I. 59–74. ou les malheurs de la vertu. “Satanists.H. Machiavelli and the Romantic and Decadent poets. 139 and Jeffrey Burton Russell. Karl R. De Sade’s Satanism is mainly linked with sexual obsession. Satan Speaks! With a foreword by Marilyn Manson (Feral House. 64–65. Berlin & New York: Walter de Gruyter. 24) LaVey.108 B. Vol. and located himself in a tradition going back to John Milton. vol.’25 Evil is a not a metaphysical entity. Dictionary of Gnosis and Western Esotericism.U.” in: Wouter J. Mephistopheles: The Devil in the Modern World (Ithaca: Cornell University Press. though evil as a self-contained principle does. 26) On Crowley see von Stuckrad. 25) Cf. 23) Marco Pasi. Petersen distinguishes three distinct phases. Satan und die Satanisten. “Crowley. 281–287. Schipper / Journal of Religion in Europe 3 (2010) 103–124 an autonomous vital force. 27) In his presentation of modern Satanism. distanced himself from Aleister Crowley. 21) See his work “Justine.” (AL. 3). On de Sade see Frick. 2).23 Since LaVey places man in the middle of his system.” in: Brigitte Luchesi & Kocku von Stuckrad (eds.

see von Stuckrad. “Modern Satanism. where ‘temple’ refers not to a building. 32) See Dyrendal.htm (accessed 29 August 2009). Temple of Set. “Darkness Within.’29 He had already revealed himself to the Ancient Egyptians. “Satanism.” 311. says: The Temple of Set is a Left Hand Path organization.”30 Based on this etiology he named the new organization the ‘temple’ of the god Set. As the high priest of the organization.” http://www. We see the possibilities for our self-development arising out of Gift from the Prince of Darkness. and are encoded in Xeper. but to man himself as a vessel for the personal conception of Satan. the self-portrayal by Michael Aquino.” 285–290. Its philosophy and practice are a Remanifestation of the ancient Priesthood of Set. 666 at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. . It reveres the psyche. but while the priesthood of the god Osiris knew a ‘Book of the Dead’ he wanted to reveal a “Book of Life. and is the root of our metaphysics.31 The connections with the Church of Satan are considerable.” This word refers to the Realization of potentials within the Self. but there are also differences. Satan. 28) Cf. 29) Aquino. [Internet] (San Francisco: Temple of Set.” 66f. 31) “On Life and it’s Sanctity. for the events of 1904 in Cairo. at midsummer in 1975 (the 21st of July) the “prince of darkness” appeared to him as the deity Set. empowerment. 126–127 and in addition Harvey.32 but the (1975–mid 1990s) and changes in the movement since the introduction of the Internet and the death of LaVey in 1997.U. The Temple of Set. Lyons.org/pub/org/xp_FS_ord. Petersen. both in the world of Becoming and in the afterlife. and Pasi. 14–15. 2009). and our reciprocal responsibility is to become a suitable companion for Him. Don o Webb V . 30) According to Aquino it was Set who appeared to Aleister Crowley when he saw the stela No.B. 7th ed. and seeks its unification.” 282. and isolation from the Cosmos. Like the Church of Satan man is in the centre. a trans-personal principle that is best translated into English as “I Have Come Into Being. possesses the only ontology Recognized by the Temple of Set.” 427–429. “Crowley. Schipper / Journal of Religion in Europe 3 (2010) 103–124 109 complex religious system which views Satan differently than LaVey. “Crowley. which had been replaced as man had come to know him as ‘Satan’ and ‘Lucifer.28 According to Michael Aquino. and which—and this seems to me to be the crucial point—does not need Christianity as a negative mirror: Both of these can be seen in the foundation myth of the Temple of Set.xeper. Set. He announced he wanted to be worshipped under his original name.

” in: Petersen (ed. On the one hand one can see how a new religion is created through the use of topoi from non-Christian religions.34 The Temple of Set sees itself as a kind of forum which makes the development of such intelligence possible: The means by which Setians seek to Xeper are many. As a matter of principle the Temple declines to standardize its approach to Initiates. 34) For this and the following quotes see the website: http://www.” in: Jesper Aagaard Petersen (ed. The ideas mentioned in this quote are interesting in a number of ways. 239–246. “Embracing Others than Satan. The text refers to a ‘meta-physic’ and ontology of its own. “Excerpt from Lords of the Left-Hand Path: A History of Spiritual Dissident.33 The introductory information on the website states: The second premise of the Temple is that the psychecentric consciousness can evolve towards its own divinity through deliberate exercise of the intelligence and Will.). “Modern Satanism. The Temple seeks merely to be a forum for Setians to communicate and cooperate with one another constructively and courteously. a process of becoming or coming into being whose roots may be found in the dialectic method expounded by Plato and the conscious exaltation of the Will proposed by Nietzsche. These terms underline what the Temple of Set claims to be: an intellectual religion which views Satan as a personal entity. Many ideas and philosophies are discussed within it.org/pub/lib/xp_ FS_lib. who had revealed himself to the Egyptians and was known under the names Satan and Lucifer before wanting to be worshipped again by his Based on this Petersen. A Critical Anthology (Farnham & Burlington: Ashgate. but such discussion does not constitute the dictation of dogma.” which is part of Western esotericism.xeper. 239–242 and Kennet Granholm.U. As a rather young religion. the temple of Set attempts to establish the dignity of its doctrine by making a connection with an older system of reference: here it is Ancient Egypt and the god Set. 84–101.” A second aspect which cannot be addressed in this article is the tradition of the “Left Hand Path. Schipper / Journal of Religion in Europe 3 (2010) 103–124 liberation of the psyche is linked with a supernatural principle. at pp.110 B. 2009). Contemporary religious Satanism. Contemporary religious Satanism. See Stephen E. 33) . The Multiple Princes of Darkness in the Left-Hand Path Milieu.htm (accessed 29 August 2009).” 435 labels the Temple of Set “an intellectual wing of esoteric Satanism. Each may pursue topics of greatest personal interest with whatever emphasis and at whatever rate desired.). Flowers.

in which selfunderstanding was given as the core of the teaching of the Temple of Set. Real Initiation doesn’t come from texts. the Temple of Set should be seen as another example of new religions referring mainly to traditions outside Christianity—be it on GraecoRoman antiquity. who conducted a survey of Setians. it passes from Mouth to Ear. texts are supplemental. originating in mankind’s first apprehension that there is ‘something different’ about the human race.U.” 288. It is noteworthy that on the page of ‘useful literature’ recommended by the author is a standard scholarly book on ritual. the recourse to Ancient Egypt opens up the possibility of constructing a form of religion without Christian associations. 41) Ibid.B. This can be seen in the website’s information on participation in the community of Setians: The Gateway to your own Initiation is in your Heart. 19–26. see Lewis. p.xeper. Vizedom & Gabrielle L. or Asian religious traditions. 1960).37 A second aspect of interest in the philosophical-theological system of the Temple of Set is the development of the individual. 36) Cf. chapter 3. 37) See Kippenberg & von Stuckrad. but often Hidden there by circumstance and habit.”41 35) This is a strategy of traditional legitimation linked with the element of Theophany. the detailed chapter on Egypt in Aquino.38 The Temple of Set does not prescribe a rigid system of rituals.” At the same time. Caffee (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. but a framework within which one can develop individually. 38) See Harvey.36 Thus it says on the website: “While the Temple of Set as an organization was formally incorporated in 1975 CE.39 The text focuses on the individual person and religious experience.htm (accessed 29 August 2009). Pylons are one such gateway. http://www. “Satanism.40 with the remark that it is “a good guide for setting up one’s rites of passage. on the theoretical framework. Einführung. o 39) See the tract “The Pylon System” by Don Webb V . Temple of Set. Accordingly. Legitimating. . its magical and philosophical roots are prehistoric. Arnold van Gennep’s The Rites of Passage. Ancient Egypt. Most of the rites of passage you need in your life you will have to create yourself.org/ pub/org/ xp_FS_ord. 46–47. 8–9 and 14. 40) Translated by Monika B.35 The new religion appears to be an ancient one and—more importantly—a religion that antedates Judaism and Christianity. External Gateways are Symbols you can use in making your rites of passage. Schipper / Journal of Religion in Europe 3 (2010) 103–124 111 original name.

512. five years before the foundation of his own Satanic organisation. In the Temple of Set this is combined with the development of personal rituals which enables the individual to create his own individual religious praxis with its own particular rituals. The History of the Devil and John Milton’s Paradise Lost The reference to Lucifer on the Temple of Set website already hints at the specific meaning for Aquino of this particular figure from the history of the devil. In 1970. by J. “Rationalistic Satanism: The Individual as a Member of a Countercultural Tribe. and was apparently composed during Aquino’s time in the military during the Vietnam War. See Aquino.45 The tract entitled “Diabolicon” Petersen. Lucifer. 43) 42) . 94–96. 69–104. Leiden & Boston: Brill. Michael Aquino published a tractate which marks the transition from the doctrines of the Church of Satan to those of the Temple of Set.U. 44) Both the recourse to Egyptian religion and the focus on individual development would warrant a more detailed study. Roeder.44 With its concept of the devil as an autonomous and positive principle. The specific meaning of Ancient Egyptian Religion in recent religions is the topic of an article by the author which is going to be published in the “Handbook of Egyptian Religion” (ed. p.” Syzygy 11 (2002). at pp.” 435. the concept of a framework for personal development to be filled by the individual seems typical of recent religions. See also Merja Hermonen.43 This kind of inner development is linked with the belief in a higher principle: the devil in the form of the god Set. which offer the individual room to create a personalized religious experience. 45) The text gives Lai Che/Ben Cat. forthcoming). “Satanism. South Vietnam as the place of composition. the work of John Milton. Assmann & H. Church of Satan. based on the old Egyptian word ḫpr (“becoming.42 From a more systematic point of view.112 B. Schipper / Journal of Religion in Europe 3 (2010) 103–124 The approach based on the individual person is connected to a framework for personal development called Xeper. Appendix 15. A poem by Aquino shows the centrality of Lucifer in the development of the Temple of Set-doctrine. the doctrine of the Temple of Set should be seen as part of a tradition dating back to the time of the Counter-Reformation. and the history of the fallen angel. coming into being”). 2.

46 As with LaVey the focus is on man. and who have taken the name Satan ArchDaimon. A dualistic concept of Satan is developed which. It begins with the words: Hail. 166. Schmidt. man. The devil.”48 In what follows. Schipper / Journal of Religion in Europe 3 (2010) 103–124 113 develops a complex teaching about the creation of the world. Azazel. For as the Universe itself be infinite.47 Know.U. he is proud and noble. so art thou a true creature of infinity incarnate and the ascension of man shall herald the final triumph of immortal Will. but learn first the history of thy conception and creation amidst the eternal Cosmos. 172. Lord of Light. […] And yet the force was not full master of the Cosmos.B. A direct connection to man and his development is then asserted: “But of all creatures it was man whom we determined to infuse with pure intelligence and Will. then. for I who am Satan was conceived to complement the craft of God. Man! The mysteries that are thy heritage shall now be proclaimed. thou and I shall achieve our eternal glory in the fulfilment of our Will. […] The Earth of man was infused with this divine order. for I am in truth the great enemy of all that is God. Schmidt. stands in stark contrast to LaVey’s monism. and we called our race angel. do bear this title with pride. Satanismus. Lucifer is described as possessing various attributes. The passage is followed by the speeches of Belzebul. He is the rebel who revolts against god. god and man. whose nature was determined in eons long past by that singular consciousness of all order which Is now called by name God. Lucifer. Satanismus. for we were the embodied powers of God. Church of Satan. “Then I who had brought the first great spark of enlightenment was known as Lucifer. . and he has free will. Astaroth and Belial. and all that was on Earth came under the force of the order. that throughout the great Cosmos there exists a sublime order.” The speech of Lucifer ends: “I who am Lucifer. appears as a positive 46) 47) 48) 49) All quotes from the edition of Diabolicon in Aquino. with its antithesis between Lucifer and God. but this is connected with a narrative reminiscent of Christian tradition. Together.” These few quotes from his elaborate tract49 show the specific importance of Lucifer in Aquino’s teaching.

“a place of utter darkness. fitliest call’d Chaos”. The Two Poets of Paradise Lost (Baton Rouge & London: Louisiana State University Press. chap. The work presents in twelve chants a sort of new narrative of the story of paradise and the fall of mankind as described in chapter 3 of the Book of Genesis. 92–127. 52) Milton.114 B.U. 2: “Satan and the Bard. while in the latter he falls into self doubt at the prospect of Eden. Book III. 1966]). Book I. When they realise they will lose in their conflict with God they turn against God’s creature.” which cannot be covered in this article. The former characterises Satan as heroic.50 Satan and his legions of lower devils. 54) There is also a detailed discussion on the portrayal of the Satan in Robert McMahon. 2003). Schipper / Journal of Religion in Europe 3 (2010) 103–124 principle that brings insight.”51 intend to win heaven back. 50) . 1998). man. but his face Deep scars of thunder had intrenched.53 so in light of the topic of this article.54 Milton’s poem marks a paradigm shift in the history of the devil as Milton provided him with human features and allowed him to appear as an individual. with further literature. and the anthology edited by J.]. This is especially clear in two passages from Books I and IV. Twentieth-Century Perspectives (5 volumes. Milton. named “according to the Idols known afterwards in Canaan and the Countries adjoining. beguiling Eve into the fall. The text begins with a scene in which Satan and his angels fall into hell. 51) Ibid. respectively. as Milton puts it. Martin Evans: John Milton. Above them all th’ Arch-Angel.]. It is impossible to consider all the various aspects of Milton’s poem here. New York: Routledge. a place not in the middle of the earth but. God sees Satan flying towards the world and shows him to his son sitting on his right. Preface (Bush [ed. and care Sat on his faded cheek. and considerate pride Milton. Preface (Douglas Bush [ed. Adam and Eve are banished from Paradise. In the end. 53) For a broader discussion see Russell. Milton). Here Aquino’s concept is tied into an element of the tradition by means of bringing a specific piece of literature to bear: Paradise Lost by John Milton (1608–1674). Mephistopheles. we will restrict the analysis to his characterisation of the devil. but under brows Of dauntless courage. Poetical Works [London: Oxford University Press. Milton’s epic poem is one of the classics of world literature.52 When he sees the garden of Eden Satan begins to doubt himself. but finally finishes his work.

132. of a colour like a little red squirrel. parts of Book IV were composed several years before Milton decided to write Paradise Lost. 41–52.” (Book I. gave him a face. 2005). Poets. and was hairy and shaggy. 67–68. In the Middle Ages the devil was described as a monstrous entity without any of the selfreflexion Milton gave to him two hundred years later. half beast. 227. but took on a form all his own. Milton. Cruel his exe. 59) McMahon. the devil who was no longer only frightening and repulsive. 61) Russell. 58) Hans Biedermann. (Book IV 114–119):56 In the period before Milton these words would have been nearly unthinkable. envy.55 Thus while he spake. John Milton’s Paradise Lost. A popular book from the 15th century states that the devil appeared “in form as tall as a man. but also with cruelty. with animalistic attributes like a tail and the feet of a he-goat. with his grotesque face. 67–69. and betrayed Him counterfeit. A Sourcebook (London & New York: Routledge. each passion dimmed his face Thrice changed with pale. For the early critical reception see the overview at Margaret Kean (ed.). see McMahon. 600–605). Milton’s is no longer the monstrous devil of the Middle Ages. 56) 55) . Milton. half man. Lexikon der magischen Künste (Wiesbaden: VMA. if any eye beheld. Milton’s Satan offered a combination of the concept of the personalised evil with a focus on the individual. 1998).57 Classically. 57) Interestingly. Poets. Finally. and the ‘beautiful devil’ emerged. a central Bush (ed.B. Bush (ed. McMahon. Poets.). 97. Which marred his borrowed visage. with courage and pride. and despair. The devil appears more human. 60) This can be seen in the controversy following Milton’s book.”58 In contrast. Poets.60 Satan was no longer simply the personification of evil.U.59 Milton made the devil attractive.). Schipper / Journal of Religion in Europe 3 (2010) 103–124 115 Waiting revenge. the devil was described in the way he is ubiquitously depicted in present times: as a grotesque being. but cast Signs of remorse and passion to behold. with a tail curled over his head. 61. He became an individual with feelings and sorrows and thereby a figure in his own right61 who could be emulated: the devil became an ideal. Mephistopheles. ire. 277. See also McMahon. but also charming. a being with feelings. 73.

Ikonographisch. vol.). that ancient serpent. Schipper / Journal of Religion in Europe 3 (2010) 103–124 concern of enlightenment thought. In chapter twelve of the book of Revelation.65 but also shaped by ideas regarding the hierarchy among different devils and their specific significance. particularly p. 151–171. and his angels were thrown down with him.” This verse marks the natal hour. 141–147. 155–160. 63) A very interesting explanation was given by William G. the last book of the Christian Bible. “Hinabgeworfen wurde der Ankläger unserer Brüder. John Milton. the battle in heaven between Michael the archangel and the Devil is described (12:9): “The great dragon was thrown down. 62) . 132–135. 165–166. The devil was not only determined by standard iconography. 19. the so-called church fathers of the third See Ernst Osterkamp. Poets. This is the devil who fights against the divine powers. and who has his own entourage. Paradise Lost and the Romantic Reader (Oxford: Clarendon. (Offb 12. “Teufel VIII. Theologische Realenzyklopädie. he is noble too.” in: Gerhard Müller (ed. who wants to deceive the world. Lucifer.” 65) Otto Böcher.). “The Poet and Satan in Paradise Lost. Martin Evans (ed. see also McMahon. His figure is like an awesome angel of noble beauty. 4: Paradise Lost (New York & London: Routledge. 33 (Berlin & New York: Walter de Gruyter.64 This paradigm shift becomes more evident if we consider the notion of the devil in the time before Milton. at pp. 1993). who paralleled the narrator of Paradise Lost with Satan. 66) See Frick. Grübel. Stationen eines Motivs (Komparatistische Studien 9. Christian Nanz. 1979).62 His Satan is not just evil. Theologie als Vision: Studien zur Johannesoffenbarung (Stuttgart: Katholisches Bibelwerk. 2003). Berlin & New York: Walter de Gruyter.).” in: Backhaus.U.” in: J. 2001). see Lucy Newlyn. of the devil in his classical form. 64) This can be seen in the reception of Milton.116 B. 127. Das Motiv vom Satanssturz in der Johannes-Offenbarung.63 He appears as a kind of archetype for the revolution against cosmic oppression and Christian religion. The devil becomes a humanlike being. are of great interest. so to speak. 303–326. Hierarchie. vol. Twentieth-Century Perspectives. At the end of the seventeenth century John Milton depicted a man aware of his skills. 303–304.10). and for an exegesis of the New Testament passage. who is called the Devil and Satan. the deceiver of the whole world – he was thrown down to the earth. at pp. but also of pain and passion. Two biblical texts from the book of Revelation. Satan 2. Riggs. proud and noble. who speaks of a “Milton Cult.66 Against the backdrop of texts such as Isaiah 14 from the Hebrew Bible and Luke 10 from the New Testament. the demons. His uncontrollable pride and his envy against the son of God drive him to wage war against God’s majesty. Knut (ed. 38f. 2002). 8.

His admirers later called the work “the Divine Comedy”. 1154.73 He also incorporated Thomas Aquinas who. the Devil in the Middle Ages (Ithaca: Cornell University Press. from 1321. Lucifer. 72) Dante wrote his Comedy in the last fifteen years of his life. see Frick.B. Theologische Realenzyklopädie.67 Originally a positive deity in Roman religion. 70) As Richard Bauckmann has pointed out. The concept of the devil in the netherworld was rooted in medieval tradition. 8 for a broader discussion of the issue. a notion typical of the Middle Ages. Russell. Satan 2. Schipper / Journal of Religion in Europe 3 (2010) 103–124 117 century CE combined the devil and Lucifer. 60. 1997). who is the Devil and Satan.”74 The poem. On this basis. at p. He seized the dragon. 1984). “Teufel V. during the first Christian centuries the devil was not of great importance. vol. 85.U. completely revised edition. Luzifer. Hierarchie. 69) See Jeffrey Burton Russell. Kirchengeschichtlich. describes the journey of young Dante into Satan’s empire. 216. holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. 6 (Freiburg & Basel: Herder. 73) Grübel. 164–167 and Karl Hoheisel. 128. 2002).” in: Walter Kasper et al. vol.). (eds.72 Dante’s magnum opus is based on the notion of many devils with different duties.” The concept of various devils and the notion of hell are also graphically illustrated in another piece of literature: the Divina Commedia. hell. Lucifer. 33 (Berlin & New York: Walter de Gruyter. 71) On Peter Lombard see Grübel. and bound him for a thousand years. 15. developed the notion of a hierarchy among the devils. Satan 2. 68) On the origin and the name of Lucifer see Frick. with some of them in the hell. “Luzifer.71 The connection with the already existing concept of Lucifer was created by Revelation 20:1–2: “Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven. Satan. Hierarchie. one of the central theologians of the twelfth century. which are filled with historical personages atoning for their This myth could be found for the first time in Origenes. developed the idea of Lucifer as created by God as the highest and most perfect angel. Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche. 74) See Frick. the “light-bearer”68 became the leader of all devils. On the content of the Christian myth. Peter Lombard. 124–134.69 This concept was further elaborated during the Middle Ages. 3rd. Dante labels Lucifer “the highest of any creature. and on the aspect of demonic hierarchy. see Henry Ansgar Kelly. 14.70 According to his doctrine these devils sojourn in a stratum of air beyond the earth and travel daily into hell to punish men. see Osterkamp. 247.” in: Gerhard Müller (ed.). On his trip Dante and his companion Virgil travel through the pits of hell. that ancient serpent. in his Summa Theologica. 67) . by Dante Alighieri (1265–1321).

the tomb of Christ. Dantes Luzifer. Caton XXXIV. 73–74. how amazed I was when I looked up and saw a head—one head wearing three faces! one was in front. 329. Rudolf Palgen. and so he kept three souls in constant pain.U.77 All of them are traitors: the first two betrayed Caesar. among them Cleopatra. If once he was a fair as now he’s foul And dared to raise his brows against his Maker. Brutus and Judas Iscariot. cf. 1969). Vol 1 Inferno (Bloomington & Indianapolis: Indiana University Press. 78) This motif is also rooted in a tradition that goes back to the Titans of Graeco-Roman religion and the giant children of the angelic Watcher’s in apocalyptic literature. 26 mentioned that Lucifer’s tomb. it is fitting that all grief should spring from him. 216. Inferno. as described by Dante. Russell. my height is closer to the height of giants than theirs is to the length of his great arms. (37) Oh. 1996). Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy. This concept is founded on Ptolemaic and Neoplatonic philosophy. There they see Lucifer. 77) Russell. Schipper / Journal of Religion in Europe 3 (2010) 103–124 sins. 128 historical characters are distributed throughout the nine pits of hell. Grundzüge einer Entstehungsgeschichte der Komödie Dantes (Munich: Hueber. Lucifer. stuck in ice.76 Dante and Virgil climb deeper and deeper until they reach the lowest part of hell. Lucifer.118 B. 79) Mark Musa. crushing with his three mouths the heads of three historical characters: Cassius. is a parody of Holy Sepulchre. Lucifer.79 For a summary. see Russell. (Divine Comedy. you see how big all of him had to be that body in proportion to his arms.75 All in all. Lucifer is described as a giant devil:78 (28) The king of the vast kingdom of all grief stuck out with half his chest above the ice. and at the crown all three were joined in one: […] (55) In each of his three mouths he crushed a sinner with teeth like those that rake the hemp and flax. Achilles. 217. and that was a bright red. the other two attached themselves to this one at a point above the middle of each shoulder. n. the latter Jesus Christ. the emperor Barbarossa and Pope Anastasius II. 28–57). 227. 76) 75) .

53–54. but expands it to include Lucifer’s fall into the deepest hell where his lower body is stuck in ice. Milton did not sketch the devil as a monster. establishing a tradition which leads finally to the romantic concept of Satan in the 18th and 19th century. the paradigm shift brought on by John Milton becomes clearer. those who had been avaricious.’ ” 81) 80) . Lucifer. 101–102. Europe’s Inner Demons (London: Paladin. for Dante. the fallen angel.83 Against the backdrop of the concept of the devil in the Middle Ages as represented in Dante’s Divine Comedy.” 60: “Milton knew exactly to what extent he was ‘of the Devil’s party.” see Grübel.U. 86) Russell. and at liberty when of Devils and Hell. Each pit of hell presents different sinners according to the seven deadly sins: those who had been arrogant. is because he was a true poet and of the Devils party without knowing it. 76–77. 60–61.80 the notion of the devil as souleater and the notion of the demonic hierarchy.84 On the one hand Milton ties in the ancient myth of Lucifer. during the Romantic period Milton becomes a keyfigure in the transfiguration of the image of Lucifer.B. 82) Palgen. How much of this was intended by Milton is still debated. Osterkamp. 58. 202. In a Corpus Christi drama from 1480 (the “Egerer Fronleichnamspiel ”) we have a detailed On the iconography of the devil see Grübel.85 Milton seizes on Thomas Aquinas’ and Gregor’s notion that after Satan’s sin a war broke out in heaven where the angels. 61. Hierarchie. William Blake famously stated that “The reason Milton wrote in fetters when he wrote of Angels and God. Lucifer. the unlike older attempts to characterize Lucifer as a positive entity. and Grübel. drove out the Devil and the other apostate angels. 83) See Russell. but on the other he liberates this figure from the medieval image of the devil and from the attributes given it by Dante. “Poet. Lucifer. 1975). Riggs. 85) This is.86 Moreover. with Lucifer at its head. Hierarchie. Hierarchie. 87) See Schmidt. Interestingly. Satanismus. most fearsome devil is combined with the doctrine of the seven deadly sins. 133. For the “soul-eater. 84) Cf. in my view. Dantes Luzifer. under the leadership of Michael the Archangel. Schipper / Journal of Religion in Europe 3 (2010) 103–124 119 The passage presents a combination of different motifs linked with the devil: his red colour and monstrous face. and so on.”87 Be that as it may. see Norman Cohn. some features of Milton’s portrait of Lucifer were already found earlier.81 Dante ties in the tradition of the battle in heaven and the fallen angel from Revelations 12. 224–225.82 This concept of Lucifer as the highest and. and for a contrary position.

120 B. 90) See Osterkamp. Legacy. who pointed out the influence of Milton on Klopstock.88 However. 89) 88) . An individual with sense and sentiment appears who emancipates the human from the assumption of man as sinner and from Martin Luther’s popular image of the human soul like a horse ridden (and ruled) by God or the devil.94 I would like to propose that this other tradition of the devil which can be found for the first time in John Milton and which was followed by the literary Satanism of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries through the See Grübel. whereupon the other devils try to console their patron. Russell pointed out. Lucifer.92 The psychologizing of evil is in this chain of development as well. Schipper / Journal of Religion in Europe 3 (2010) 103–124 self-description of Lucifer. George Gordon Byron and John Keats. 138–139. 93) This is also found in the tradition as early as the Renaissance. 95. Osterkamp. 179–212.91 we see the theological doctrines of Satan augmented with a new one. 2009) and Osterkamp. and Lord Byron present the concept of evil as an entity of its own and not simply in opposition to Christian religion.”89 One hundred years later this romanticized figure of Satan with his steeliness. Mephistopheles. Klopstock. 94) Osterkamp. If we look at this line of development.93 Milton. see Jonathon Shears. The text includes a lamentation of Lucifer after his fall. The Romantic Legacy of Paradise Lost: Reading against the Grain (Farnham & Burlington: Ashgate. 211. 52. Samuel Taylor Coleridge. the doctrine of a self-confident Lucifer who rebels against a Christian concept of god. 91) For the “romantic legacy” of Milton in authors like William Blake. Russell. enriched in the 18th and 19th century through the reception of Milton’s Paradise Lost. 92) For Luther’s concept of the devil see Russell. 91. As Jeffrey B. and for Byron see Shears. Hierarchie. Lucifer. it was John Milton who transformed “the traditional story of the fall of angels and humanity into a scenario so coherent and compelling that it became the standard account for all succeeding generations. Luzifer. the specific mode of self-reflexion found in Paradise Lost was a new element and it was this that was of central importance for the literary Satanism of the decades that followed. William Wordsworth. In this way Lucifer becomes an ideal for a human liberated from the Christian worldview and beliefs through his own free will. Lucifer. Mephistopheles.U. 130–138. his beauty and his noble rebellion was embellished by Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock (1724–1803) in his epochal work “The Messiah. his pride. 38–39.”90 In this epic poem Satan appears as a figure lacking all demonic qualities searching for salvation.

highly characteristic interplay between religion and literature. is modified and passed down over the centuries through the medium of literature and finally affects the development of a new religious tradition. This religion. at p. Here a narrative. that literary motifs can also serve as a “basis for religious cult” and that the differences between religious and non-religious narrative depend only on the function “assigned to them by social resp.g.”96 The example of Satanism developed in the present article gives additional support to this conclusion. In a recent article in this journal Bettina Gruber demonstrated. “Literarisierung von Religion. Recent scholarship. by means of the Perceval/Parsifal material. theological authority. the use of the apocalyptic pattern—has shown that these transformations could hardly be explained through a paradigm based solely on the reception of religious patterns in a secular medium. 2009).’ the myth of Lucifer became the basis for a new religion. as far as I am concerned.B. originally rooted in Christian tradition. With John Milton and the adoption of Milton’s Paradise Lost by socalled ‘literary Satanism. narratives or novels engaging with religious semantics—and has led to new insights on the interplay between religion and literature. Jörg Rüpke & Kocku von Stuckrad (eds. scholarship has focused more and more on literature—epic poems. 21–36. at p. for instance. Schipper / Journal of Religion in Europe 3 (2010) 103–124 121 Temple of Set was essentially conveyed by the medium of ‘literature. 811.). Instead they require an analysis of the specific function such patterns play in modern texts. Schipper. Europäische Religionsgeschichte (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. In recent years. the Temple of Set. 21. is constructed without Christian 95) See Bernd U.’ This medium was the crucible in which a new tradition was created by adopting an ancient myth of the devil—in order to employ it against a Christian view of Satan—and combining it with the concept of the self-aware individual.” Journal of Religion in Europe 2 (2009). Fiktionale Literatur und Apokalyptik.95 Recent research on narrative—e. . shows both the aestheticization of religious topoi and the functionalization of religious narratives. Kippenberg. 811–839.” in: Hans G.. The Dynamics between Religion and Literature The paradigm of the ‘European history of religion’ mentioned in the introduction can be analysed in different media. It provides an interesting and.U. “Literature and Religion: Features of a Systematic Comparison. 96) Bettina Gruber. 3.

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