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How Satanism Works | Stuff You Should Know Podcast (Transcript)

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How Satanism Works | Stuff You Should Know Podcast (Transcript)
Length: 56 mins

Josh Clark: Hey everybody it us, Josh and Chuck, and we just wanted to say that if you have very strong religious beliefs, I don’t know, you may want to skip this one.

Charles W. Chuck Bryant: Yeah, you know, we talk about Satanism in this episode in what seems like glorying terms, but, uh, for my part at least, I was just trying to have a little fun with it. Uh, so I hope that comes across.

JC: Yeah, we have an intellectual conversation about Satanism. How about that?

CB: All right, agreed.

JC: All right. Well, onto the show, Chuck.

Welcome to Stuff You Should Know, from howstuffworks.com.

JC: Hey and welcome to the podcast. I’m Josh Clark. Seated directly across of me is one Charles W. Wayne Charles Chuckers Chuck Bryant. That’s pretty good.

CB: Ole Beelzebub himself.

JC: Yeah. And there is, um, Old Scratch to my right… Matt. Matt, do you let people know that your last name? Oh, yeah, you’re a personality. Matt Frederick

CB: [Laughs]

JC: I don’t want him to get kidnapped.

CB: Guest producer, Matt Frederick, of the old days, uh, co-host of Stuff They Don’t Want You to Know, and now supervising producer for podcasts.

JC: Whoa. Matt, we don’t let our producers talk on our episodes.

CB: [Laughs]

JC: So we’re gonna have to beep that out.

CB: Uh…

JC: Matt says that was a huge announcement you just said.

CB: Yeah.

JC: Nice. Well, congrats, Matt.

CB: And Matt has been working here forever just like us.

JC: Nice.

CB: Lovely wife.

JC: Yeah.

CB: Lovely child.

JC: Yes.

CB: Great family.

JC: Loves Indian food.

CB: I didn’t know that.

JC: Oh, yeah.

CB: Yeah.

JC: It’s his bread and butter as it were. It’s his ghee and naan.

CB: Right, and now he’s afraid to talk, which he should be

JC: That’s good.

CB: [Laughs]

JC: Um…

CB: So Matt’s here.

JC: Yeah. So thank you, Matt, and hail Satan.

CB: I was gonna say, “Hail Satan.”

JC: Hail Satan, Chuck.

CB: Hail Satan, Josh.

[Laughs]

CB: It’s funny, I went from, uh, in, in reading this to thinking Satanists are just Libertarians.

JC: Yeah.

CB: To “No, Satanists are kind of Republicans.”

JC: [Laughs]

CB: And I don’t mean that, you’ll see what I mean.

JC: Okay.

CB: Philosophically, in some ways, I don’t mean, you know. And then, I thought, “Well, I’m a Satanist!”

JC: Okay.

CB: [Laughs]

JC: Did you, did you have a, a, an awakening.

CB: Yeah. I mean I read some of the stuff in the, their FAQ on their website and some of their fundamentals and their, their, their 11 Rules of Earth and their 9 Satanic Statements, we’ll read all that stuff but…

JC: Yeah.

CB: I thought, “Well, Jeez, I agree with a lot of this stuff.”

JC: There are 13 things to avoid getting gouged at the grocery store.

CB: What Satanists are not almost assuredly, are not, uh, evil people who meet in dark, uh, churches to perform ritual blood sacrifice and eat hearts.

JC: And…

CB: And draw pentagrams on the… Well, they may draw pentagrams on…

JC: [Laughs] Yeah, that, that part is actually true.

CB: But, uh, there’s, there’s more things that Satanists are not. I think, if you’re coming to this blind, um, without knowing anything, you’ll probably be surprised about just how kind of groovy they are, and this is the Church of Satan.

JC: Yeah.

CB: That I’m talking about mainly.

JC: Uh, no, I think you can, you can apply what you just said to all Satanists.

CB: Yeah, true.

JC: Because if you’re a Satanist, you would take umbrage at the idea that somebody who actually believes in the supernatural entity Satan.

CB: Mm-hmm.

JC: Is not a Satanist.

CB: Right.

JC: Because Satanism, by definition, at least modern Satanism by definition, is an atheistic philosophy. So there’s no supernatural entities of any kind to Satanists, so somebody who worships Satan would be a Devil worshiper.

CB: Right.

JC: Which is a completely different kind of thing

CB: Yeah, and the, I didn’t even finish. The last thing that I thought.

JC: I’m sorry. [Laughs]

CB: Well, no, I mean I got off track. The last thing I thought when I was reading about the Temple of Satan is that these are just liberal hippies.

JC: The Temple of Satan, uh…

CB: It’s such a range.

JC: The Satanic Temple?

CB: Yeah, Satanic Temple.

JC: They are, they are, um, I saw them compared to or analogized as a dark Yes Men. Remember, you know the Yes Men?

CB: No.

JC: Oh, you’ve got to check out the Yes Men. There, there’s a couple Yes Men documentaries and they basically do this, but it’s not satanically associated.

CB: Okay. And I wonder why it was satanically associated. I’m like, “It sounds like you’re a bunch of liberal hippie scientists to me.”

JC: Well, we’ll get to all that.

CB: Okay.

JC: Okay? So we’re talking Satanists and Satanism, if you couldn’t tell; because we have been saying Satan a lot. Um, and if, like Chuck said, um, you’re coming into this blind, let us illuminate for you.

CB: [Laughs]

JC: Let us bring the light to your eye.

CB: Yes. And we both, uh, grew goatees for this episode.

JC: Yeah, exactly.

CB: Specifically, and shaved our heads.

JC: And horns.

CB: John Stricklin actually could do a…

JC: Oh, man.

CB: Sort of an amateur, uh, Anton LaVey if you want it to.

CB: He could. I’m sure he does that home, if you know what I mean.

CB: [Laughs] All right, so let’s go back, and this is a Grabster article, so you know it’s got the goods, um, and talk a little bit about the origin story of Satan, which, um, we will lead up to sort of what the modern version of that is, but if you’re thinking red guy with a pitchfork and pointy hooves.

JC: Right.

CB: that’s, uh, tries to lure, uh, people away from God to do bad things, that kind of came around later, so we need to go back further to the Hebrew Bible, which, uh, the Christian Old Testament is derived from.

JC: Right.

CB: And there’s a lot of uncertainty on what Satan actually meant, depending on how you want to translate the Hebrew term.

JC: Right, and the reason there’s uncertainty is because Satan wasn’t a figure in early Judaism, because, uh, the early Jews believed that all… God was all things. God was good, God was evil, God was responsible for everything in the universe. There wasn’t what we understand now, or anybody who thinks of the Judeo-Christian ethic now.

CB: Mm-hmm.

JC: Um, it, it, there wasn’t dualism, which is there is good and the bad, there’s light and the dark, and they, they, they equal each other out. In early Judaism, this didn’t exist. It was all in one, so there was no need for Satan, right? But as this concept of an all-benevolent loving God spread, this question arose, which was, “Well, wait a minute. If God is just so benevolent and, and loving, why does he, why does he or she, um, let bad things happen?” And so the, the need for the concept of Satan, emerged later on. And because of, of the, um, early Judaism’s proximity to, uh, Persia, which was ruling the, the, the land at the time at about, like, the 6th to 3rd centuries BCE, um, Persia had Zoroastrianism, which had dualism. So they kind of introduced, uh, the Hebrew faith to dualism and hence Satan was originally born.

CB: Yeah, so there’s no, like, consensus when you look at these old texts, what these translations mean. Uh, sometimes it is an adversary or an opponent to God, sometimes it’s not. Sometimes it’s, uh, he’s like the, the, uh, an attorney in the heaven’s legal system.

JC: [Chuckles] Right.

CB: Throwing the book at people.

JC: Like, um, Al Pacino.

CB: [Laughs]

JC: Oh, yeah, quite literally. What, didn’t he play the devil?

JC: Uh-hmm.

CB: Or did he?

JC: As a lawyer.

CB: Right, what was it?

JC: Devil’s Advocate.

CB: Right.

JC: With Keanu. I don’t think I ever saw that.

JC: I didn’t either.

CB: Oh, okay.

JC: But I mean we were both alive at the time, so we know.

CB: [Laughs] Yeah. Uh, there, uh, you know, you look at all these different forms of what the word meant back then before it became the modern version we all know, and the one kind of common thread to all of them, though, is that Satan was an outsider who was sort of, uh, against the man and these established values that everyone else seemed to believe it.

JC: Right. Or established rules, or just even the establishment in general.

CB: Yes.

JC: He’s the antithesis of that.

CB: Correct. Uh, you get into the Christian New Testament, and it starts to clear up a bit, um, where there is a single being called Satan, who was supernatural in its, uh, in direct opposition to God and is usually used as a, as a tool God uses as a, in the Bible, as a test. Like, “Go down there and test these humans.”

JC: “Go get that guy.”

CB: To see if, uh, see, see which way their allegiance, uh laid.

JC: Right. Um, that Satan’s called the scriptural Satan or Satan of the scriptures, right?

CB: Yeah.

JC: Um, he also kind of comes out of nowhere in the New Testament to tempt Jesus in the desert, I believe. Um, and I mean, you know all this right, right?

CB: Yeah.

JC: Am I right? It was in the desert?

CB: Well, yeah and I think, uh, by the way, just to back up to that last episode, when the stuttering, when I didn’t hear the story about Moses in the Bible with the coal in his mouth or whatever.

JC: Uh-huh.

CB: Everyone wrote in and was like, “It’s not in the Bible, don’t feel bad.”

JC: Oh, good.

CB: It was from something else.

JC: Right. It was from the Disney movie.

CB: Yeah. [Laughs]

JC: So, um, uh, but in one of the gospels in the New Testament, um, and no need to write in to let us know, but it’s in one of the gospels in the New Testament that, uh, Satan appears to Jesus to try to tempt him and he’s kind of brought in almost like he’s a character that everybody should know, but if you’re just reading the New Testament from beginning to end, you’re like “What, who’s this guy?”

CB: Yeah.

JC: But they, apparently, another gospel makes mention that Satan was the serpent in the Garden of Eden. So he’s a big tempter, he’s, he’s bent on corrupting men.

CB: Yeah.

JC: And getting man to stray from God’s flock, basically.

CB: Yeah. And there are these… Uh, there’s certain demons that are named properly in the Bible, um, like Beelzebub and Belial. Um, and again, it’s just sort of conjecture on our part whether or not that’s referring to Satan or whether it’s a generic evil. Um, it’s just sort of difficult to… What it wasn’t, was the devil with the horns and the pitchfork that we all think about.

JC: No, and those earliest names for the devil, like Beelzebub, are actually corruptions or alterations of competing religions’ Gods, right?

CB: Yeah.

JC: So, uh, early Christianity and, um, I guess middle Judaism had this kind of tendency to take other religions’ Gods and make them the evil characters in their religions.

CB: Because they wanted Christianity to flourish.

JC: Right, exactly. They wanted to make the competition look bad, is a way to do it. It was a smear tactic and a campaign to get converts, right?

CB: Right.

JC: So Beelzebub is actually a corruption of, uh, Ba’al Zəvûv, which is… Or, no, I’m sorry, Ba’al Zəvûl, Ba’al the, or Ba’al the exalted.

CB: I think if you say that one more time, he will appear.

JC: [Laughs] Yeah, right. Um, and Ba’al, B-A-‘-A-L, was the main deity of the Canaanites and the Phoenicians.

CB: Mm-hmm.

JC: Who were competing with the early Christians at the time and, um, if you say Ba’al Zəvûv, that means lord of the flies; not lord the exalted.

CB: [Laughs]

JC: So it’s like a, it was a slam on their, the main, their competition’s main God and that’s where Beelzebub came from. And that’s actually, that will become a common play in the Christian playbook of smearing the other guys’ Gods by making them, um, evil figures.

CB: Yeah.

JC: In Christian, um, mythology. Beelzebub.

CB: [Laughs]

JC: Remember, there was a Dead Milkmen album called Beelzebubba?

CB: Yes.

JC: It had, like, that guy in a tractor on the cover.

CB: That was Beelzebubba.

JC: Yeah.

CB: [Laughs] Um, well the same with Lucifer and, uh, when we finally got the English language King James Bible in 1611, Lucifer was really a Latin term for Morning Star, but in that version of the Bible, they say, “No, what that really is is the name of Satan.”

JC: Right and he was the light bringer, the one who would reveal the truth to people, that they were actually being held down by God.

CB: Yeah.

JC: Which is not the Christian way.

CB: Right. So what you’re saying by co-opting all these… or not co-opting, but, well, kind of co-opting these bad religions — not the band.

JC: [Chuckles] Right. Um, that’s actually a real band name.

CB: Yeah, correct.

JC: Yeah.

CB: Uh, these bad religions and saying, “Those are the bad ones,” they would… That’s how the, like, the devil that we know today, the Satan, sorry, that we know today has taken shape, uh, because they, uh, like, the Greek god Pan have the cloven hooves and the horns.

JC: Yeah.

CB: Uh, Bacchus, the Roman god, is where you get this insatiable, um, bacchanalian decadence, um, which, as we’ll see with the Church of Satan, um, isn’t too far off. They, they certainly love their orgies.

JC: Sure.

CB: And their trays of fine meats and roasted meats and cheeses.

JC: Jugs of wine.

CB: [Laughs] Um, so in the Middle Ages, in the Renaissance then, this, this mythology, Christian mythology, is expanded. You get a couple of books that were very key into shaping who we think of today as Satan.

JC: Right.

CB: One was, uh, John Milton’s epic poem, Paradise Lost, then, of course, Dante’s Divine Comedy. Um, this is where we got the idea that, uh, Satan was an angel expelled from heaven because of his pride, uh, who then said, “And I will defeat the lord. Whohahaha!”

JC: [Laughs] Right.

CB: These are actually from two books written by dudes.

JC: Yeah. A lot of the mythology about Satan that Christians understand as Satan or that just people in the culture generally understand as Satan don’t show up anywhere in the actual Bible.

CB: Right.

JC: Old Testament or New Testament. All that stuff came afterwards. So Chuck, the, the enlightenment was another turning point then.

CB: Big time.

JC: For the conception of Satan. And this is his evolution as, like, a, a scary, supernatural, other-worldly figure, um, takes a different turn, because the enlightenment was based on rational thought.

CB: Yeah.

JC: Secular humanism finds its roots in the enlightenment. And, um, they started to come to see Satan as a kind of a creative force, almost.

CB: Yeah.

JC: A, a foil to the establishment. This idea that Satan is, um, the opposite of the established norms and customs and, and moral goods.

CB: Yeah.

JC: Um, and that, that he’s kind of, like, a handy archetype for that. So he stops, he loses some of its supernatural, um…

CB: [inaudible 00:15:35]?

JC: Yes, and is replaced by metaphorical [inaudible 00:15:40].

CB: Yeah, I think that’s, that seems to be the one that the Church of Satan sort of identified with a little more, was that Satan was just a, just a free-thinking dude.

JC: Yeah, apparently that’s where they got, that’s where it finds it roots.

CB: Yeah.

JC: Was the enlightenment.

CB: Very interesting.

JC: Which makes sense, because most Satanists would be probably humanists.

CB: Yeah.

JC: Secular humanists. Um, although they’re individualists, but you could make a case that that’s a individual humanism.

CB: Yeah.

JC: Um, and that’s, you know, that comes out of the enlightenment as well. So, um, you want to take a break and then keep going, or you want to keep going.

CB: No, let’s take a break and then we’ll talk a little bit about, uh, witches, right after this.

CB: So, I promised to talk of witches. Um, we did it in, jeez, that was a long time ago, we did an episode on witchcraft.

JC: Yeah.

CB: Um, many, many years ago.

JC: Yeah.

CB: And if you are a witch or a Western esoteric, you were probably one of two groups of people to be accused of worshipping Satan in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Um, basically anything, anything in opposition to organized Christianity was Satan worship.

JC: Right, and that’s the same thing as, as saying, “Your God, your creator deity.”

CB: Yeah.

JC: “Is, is, like, Satan in our religion.” It’s the same thing. Anything that’s in opposition…

CB: Yeah.

JC: To Christian thought is automatically heretic, heretical. And they kind of almost, like, the lazy shorthand way of describing it is, it’s Satanic.

CB: Yeah.

JC: “You know Satan; he’s scary and evil, right?”

CB: Uh-huh.

JC: “Well, what these people think is Satanic.”

CB: Yeah, and if you listen to the episode on witchcraft, um, and we have it, I know Stuff You Missed in History Class did a good episode on, uh, what really happened in Salem, which we’ll probably cover that at some point, I imagine, but I think everyone pretty much knows, at this point, uh, about 60,000 people, mainly women, were put to death in the American colonies and Europe and, um, under the guise of being Satan worshippers and witches and practicing witchery and by, all accounts, they generally were, you know… “That… I don’t like the way that lady looked at me in the town today” or, “You know what? She, uh, I think she stole milk from my cow.”

JC: Or “I want her land.”

CB: Or “I want her land.” Or, um, “My wife is jealous of her.”

JC: Right.

CB: Um, so they’re all witches, let’s burn them, let’s throw them in lakes and see if they float, um, and let’s burn them because if they don’t float, then they’re not witches, if they drown.

JC: And, and, uh, early physicians had more than just a small hand in this as well. They, um, and accusing, especially, like, folk healers and midwives.

CB: Yeah.

JC: Of being witches. Again, to basically forced the competition out.

CB: Yeah. What, when did we talk about that one? That seems more recent.

JC: Mm.

CB: Can’t remember.

JC: Maybe grave robbing?

CB: I think so.

JC: Did we talk about that in grave robbing?

CB: It feels like.

JC: It does.

CB: There were also things called esoteric orders, uh, which were, I don’t even know what you would call that today, basically kind of any group that didn’t subscribe to the mainstream Christianity.

JC: So, like, the Masons or the Illuminati, say?

CB: Yeah.

JC: And, like, they were Christian at base.

CB: Gnostics.

JC: But then they had, like, yeah, they had this other occult ideas in addition to it, right? So, like, the Caythers or Cathers are a good example of that. They were in, I think, like that, the 12th or 14th century France? And they were, like, Christian plus, right?

CB: Right.

JC: They were, the Cathers means, like, the pure ones.

CB: Uh-huh.

JC: Um, they were so Christian that they felt like just being a normal, pious Christian wasn’t enough and you actually had to be baptized again with basically, like, a born-again Christian process.

CB: Yeah.

JC: But in, again, like, 12th, 13th century France, they were considered heretics and they were persecuted. You could call them an esoteric order because it didn’t follow prescribed Christianity, Orthodox, establishment Christianity to a T. It either was lacking some or had extra, and then you’re, you’re a heretic and hence Satanist. An esoteric order believed in Dan Brown books, basically.

CB: [Laughs] Yeah.

JC: That, that, that all that stuff is true.

CB: Yeah.

JC: All of the stuff he writes about is about, like, esoteric orders.

CB: Well, here’s the thing, though, they were all labeled as Satanist, but, but there’s no evidence whatsoever that any of them were Satanic and, like, in truth.

JC: Yeah.

CB: You know?

JC: Well, I was reading about one, the Luciferians.

CB: They may have been.

JC: They actually, they may have been, although their concept of Satan wasn’t that he was evil; their concept was that he was the one true deity, and that he had been tricked into being kicked out of heaven unfairly by a treacherous Jehovah.

CB: Oh, interesting.

JC: And that, um, it was actually Lucifer who was supposed to be in charge and that Jehovah was oppressing everybody. So if that’s true, then, yes, as far as the church goes, that is as Satanic as you can possibly get in your beliefs.

CB: Yeah.

JC: Because they were in total opposition to the church in their beliefs as well. But that’s, I mean, for the most part, most of these other groups were not in any way, shape, or form Satanic as, as you would think of it today.

CB: Yeah, and Ed even points out in here, the Grabster, that by, that, that there’s, there’s no evidence in world history that there’s ever been any long-term organized group of people that worship Satan as some evil entity.

JC: Right. That’s a huge one because that’s, that’s one of the ways that Christianity was able to smear its rivals by, by suggesting that they were part of a huge massive cult, Satanic cult.

CB: Yeah.

JC: And I mean, like, if, if there’s a supernatural entity that’s bent on getting you and making your life terrible and there’s actually people on earth who are following this person, it’s gonna make you stay to the straight narrow of your prescribed religion even more.

CB: Oh, yeah. Yeah.

JC: Right?

CB: Fire and brimstone and whatnot?

JC: Yes.

CB: I grew up with that, you know.

JC: Yeah.

CB: I was, I can’t remember which show, I think it was during Satanic Panic, we talked about the devil worship house in Stone Mountain, that it was the scariest place I’d ever driven past on the way to Steak and Ale.

JC: [Laughs] Right. Man, I miss Steak and Ale.

CB: Are they done? They’re surely they’re around, right?

JC: There’s probably, like, one in Vegas and one in Hong Kong or something weird like that.

CB: [Laughs] That’d be funny if the one in Hong Kong was like this retro, like, themed American thing, you know? [Laughs]

JC: Yeah.

CB: It’s like “America in the 80s!”

JC: Right.

CB: Um, all right. Well, let’s talk about Anton LaVey then.

JC: Let’s.

CB: Time has come.

JC: Oh, wait. I wanted, I wanted to say one more thing.

CB: Okay.

JC: Um, so in the, I think, the 14th century, the Knights Templar, another esoteric order.

CB: Yeah, yeah.

JC: But a military order, were accused of worshipping Baphomet.

CB: Oh, yeah. That’s another name.

JC: And Baphomet is Satan at with, like, the goat’s head and horns.

CB: Yeah.

JC: Um…

CB: That’s the great looking statue they tried to put up in Oklahoma.

JC: Right. Well, Baphomet is most likely an alteration or a mistranslation or something of Mohammed.

CB: Mm-hmm.

JC: And that it was used to basically include Muhammad.

CB: Right.

JC: As, uh, Satan in the Christian ethos when the Christians first encountered Muslims during the Crusades.

CB: Yeah.

JC: So it was like the same thing, but 1000 years after they did it to Beelzebub, they did it to Muhammed.

CB: And we should do, like, a 10-parter on the Crusades.

JC: Yeah, we should. Starting now.

CB: [Laughs] Just tried to think of, like, I would be up for that.

JC: Yeah, I don’t know.

CB: I don’t think so. Um, all right, can we invite Anton LaVey in?

JC: Yes, now he can come in.

CB: The ghost of Anton LaVey? It is Jonathan Stricklin.

JC: [Laughs] Right.

CB: Uh, so this dude, he was born, he was the founder of the Church of Satan, if you did not know that. Um, look up a picture of him, you’ve probably seen it before, bald head, goatee.

JC: you’re like, “Oh, that guy.”

CB: Uh, you know what does bug me about all Satanists is, if you just look up photos of prominent ones at meetings, they’re always doing these faces.

JC: Yeah.

CB: Like, you never see, I mean actually, ironically, the only one I’ve ever seen smile on a picture is the current high priestess, uh, whose name is Peggy, which I think is adorable.

JC: Sure.

CB: [Laughs] she’s just this cute old lady.

JC: Yeah.

CB: And not even that old but…

JC: Yeah. She’s, like, “Oh, really? Old lady, huh?”

CB: Yeah. “Oh, no!” [Laughs]. Uh, she smiles in photos, but every other picture are, like, you know, their eyes are big and they’re f