Date: 16 Feb 1998
Kenneth Lanning, the FBI's foremost expert on Satanic Ritual Abuse, points out that one of the greatest problems with the writings of Satanism "experts" is that they never define "Satanism." Any group that they dislike, that seems strange or weird to them, can be labelled "Satanic." Lanning says he's heard all of the following called Satanism: Wicca, Thelema (Aleister Crowley's philosophy and magick), Neo-Paganism, Santeria, Voodoo, Rosicrucianism, Freemasonry, heavy metal music, the Ku Klux Klan, Nazism, Scientology, the Unification Church, Hare Krishna, New Age philosophy, astrology, channeling, trancendental meditation, holistic medicine, Buddhism, Hinduism, Mormonism, Islam, Orthodox Christianity, and Roman Catholicism.
The second essay in _Out of Darkness_ is "Satanic Beliefs and Practices" by David Sakheim (one of the editors of this book) and Martin Katchen (the man who wrote the first essay on "The History of Satanic Religion.") It's a good demonstration of the problem Special Agent Lanning noted.
The second article begins by affirming that most Satanic cults grew out of Paganism and have nothing to do with Christianity. "The most widely documented satanic traditions in the United States trace their historical roots to a Scottish or Irish (Druid) tradition." After this, the authors spend several pages explaining how some groups believe that power resides in blood, and they offer a dozen or so scattered, unconnected examples of "anti-social religion" and "organized crime" (like the Mafia or the Yakuza of Japan). I guess the point of this is to show that there have been maleficent religions and criminal conspiracies, so the idea of a Satanic conspiracy isn't completely far-fetched.
After this, however, the authors turn their attention to Wicca. Wicca and Satanism are different, the authors assure us. But Satanism and Wicca are very, very similar -- because we both developed out of the same Pagan faiths. Therefore the best way to understand what Satanists think is to study what Wiccans believe. Most of the books Sakheim and Katchen used to write their chapter on "Satanic" beliefs are in fact Neo-Pagan. Their list includes Margot Adler's _Drawing Down the Moon_, D.J. Conway's _Celtic Magic_, Janet and Stewart Farar's various books, Gerald Gardner's books, Sybil Leek's _Diary of a Witch_, and Doreen Valiente's _An ABC of Witchcraft Past and Present_.
The core of this article -- entitled "Satanic Beliefs and Practices" -- is a description of Wiccan beliefs and practices. Did you know that Satanists celebrated the Wheel of the Year, worship at night and time their rituals by the phase of the moon, work in circles, wear pentagrams and black-colored clothes, keep "Books of Shadows", and write in funny scripts like runes, Theban, or Enochian? The authors periodically repeat that not everyone who does these things is a Satanist. But these warnings do little to counter the over-all tone of the piece, which is that Samhain, Books of Shadows, etc., are Satanic. Wicca and Satanism aren't two completely different religions. Wiccans are just Satanists who don't happen to sacrifice animals and babies.
Sakheim and Katchen use modern Wiccan practices to "prove" that the memories of Satanic Ritual Abuse survivors are accurate descriptions of Satanic beliefs. For instance, SRA survivors often say that Satanists torture people before they sacrifice them, to increase the amount of "life force" in the victim. As "evidence" of this, they point out that Gardnerian "white" Witches do the same thing, but just don't kill the "victim". ("White" Witch is their term, not mine.)
The most shocking part of this article is how little it says about Satanism. If thousands of SRA survivors have all fled from this religion, you'd think you'd be able to piece together it's beliefs from their reports. Apparently, you can't. Sakheim and Katchen basically describe Wicca, and then say that "black" Witches add sacrifice and torture to these rites. Their "Satanists" are indeed "black" Witches: Witches like us, who supposedly commit crimes.