I got a letter from a fan who asked, 'Could you explain satanism to me?'.. Well, Satanism is complex, and because of this, I offered a very brief overview along with some useful links to various sources on Satanism.
Satanism as a social movement started in the late 60's with the creation of the Church of Satan by Anton LaVey, and it has developed into many other forms of Satanism since then. It is complex because it is so diverse, so I doubt that any one letter or post could possibly cover all the information that you need to understand it. Because of this, I am posting some links for you, where you can explore these concepts for yourself.
To understand Satanism, it is important to see the difference between the christian subversion ideologies that have been used by the church for centuries, versus the social movement of Satanism that has only existed in society for the past 40 years.
Taking this into account, you can pretty much dismiss the many stories created by Christians that portray satanism to include anything from folks who are christian but are not from the same sect, to other groups and peoples who are not christian, yet they were labeled as 'satanic' by the church, all the way up to the many people who have died under christian accusations of satanism (including the witch trials and inquisitions, for example).
The Satanism Bibliography
There is a great bibliography on Satanism that you can find at the satanservice.org site. This bibliography includes many different sources on Satanism, arranged by subject. It includes some documents that can be viewed online. While you are there at the satanservice site, take some time to visit the 'Real Satanist' Page, to read about notable public figures in Satanism.
The Real Satanists Page (nocTifer)
The Satanism Bibliography (nocTifer)
The Satanic Bible
The Satanic Bible is a good starting point for understanding LaVeyan or philosophical Satanism, wherein Satan is recognized as a symbol for 'the dark forces of nature'. This book is generally regarded as a resource for members of the Church of Satan. The secondary book, "The Satanic Rituals" contains information on LaVeyan Satanic ritual. You can find a copy online at these sites:
The Satanic Bible, Underground Edition (pdf, Anton LaVey)
The Satanic Rituals (pdf, Anton LaVey)
Spiritual and Theistic Satanism
In spiritual or Theistic satanism, Satan is recognized as a force or entity that Satanists relate to in a favorable way. According to Diane Vera [of theisticsatanism.com], 'A theistic Satanist, also known as a 'traditional Satanist', 'Spiritual Satanist', or 'Devil Worshiper', is one who does believe in and worship Satan as a deity, or who at least is strongly inclined in that direction".
Some satanists of this variety (like me) are Independent and work alone without belonging to any groups or organizations, and others enjoy being in different Satanic Organizations where they can share common beliefs and practices. Overall, the beliefs of Satanists vary according to what interests them in the occult.
Here are some reliable resources on spiritual and theistic Satanism:
Diane Vera, theisticsatanism.com
My website, SpiritualSatanist.com
Satanism is the focus on Satan through philosophical, spiritual or religious practices. What Satanists choose to believe in and associate with are varied and unique. Some of the common values that Satanists share is the need to be independent, free-thinkers, and a healthy promotion of the Ego.