Satanism and Occult-Ritual Activity

Adapted from Satanism and Occult-Related Violence: What You Should Know, by Michael D. Langone, Ph.D. and Linda Osborne Blood, © 1990, AFF)

Satanism and Occult-Ritual Activity: Questions and Answers

How Prevalent are Satanism and other Occult-Related Activities?

No reliable scientific data can tell us how many people are involved, but a most disturbing trend has been the apparent increased interest among the young.

What are the Different Levels of Involvement?

  1. "Dabblers," usually teenagers who become attracted to Satanism on a relatively superficial level through easily-available books, heavy-metal music, fantasy role-playing games and the like;

  2. "self-styled" or "psychopathic" Satanists, usually loners attracted to the more violent forms of satanism which are then grafted onto their pre-existing pathology;

  3. "religious" Satanists involved in well-organized, publicly-acknowledged groups such as the Church of Satan or Temple of Set, and

  4. "satanic cults," the sophisticated, clandestine groups which may be engaged in criminal activities. These categories overlap.

Who Gets Involved and Why?

Dabblers are often alienated, troubled teens with low self-esteem who exhibit problems with aggressive behavior and/or suicidal tendencies, both of which can be aggravated by involvement in satanism.

Youngsters often come from dysfunctional families.

Many are bright, creative, and intellectually curious but are usually underachievers and loners who do poorly in school and/or have learning disabilities. They may be bored and rebellious, but they also feel the need to belong and may be vulnerable to influence by strong, charismatic personalities.

Teenagers often become involved with satanic cults because the rituals appear to confer magical power, provide an outlet for their religious needs, and justify the free expression of aggressive and sexual drives.

What are Some Possible Signs of Involvement?

[Please note: Many of these signs in and of themselves, have nothing to do with satanism and may be associated with other types of problems. Look at the whole picture and remember that destructive satanic involvement will often be associated with, if not in fact result from, more traditional psychological problems such as low self-esteem, depression, or alienation.]

  • Diminished intellectual ability, falling grades

  • Drug and/or alcohol abuse

  • Accumulating satanic paraphernalia, such as books about Satan, witchcraft, and the occult; knives and other weapons; whips; black or red candles and robes; bones; posters depicting sex, violence, or occult images . Use of satanic signs and symbols in jewelry, sewn on clothing, or drawn on papers, books, or walls.

  • Developing an obsession with movies, videos, and heavy-metal music with themes of occultism and

  • demonism, violence, rape, mutilation, suicide, and

  • death; obsession with fantasy role-playing games;

  • obsession with ouija boards and/or tarot cards and means of predicting the future

  • Displaying signs of ritualistic mutilation such as unexplained cuts on the left arm or chest area;

  • Maintaining a notebook in which

rituals and other activities are recorded;

  • Preoccupation with suicide and death

  • Participation in antisocial, violent, and/or criminal acts

  • Deterioration in physical health

  • Alienation from family and old friends;

secretiveness about new friends and activities.

What Can Families Do?

Don’t panic, and be patient. Assess the situation thoroughly. Educate yourself. Communicate effectively. Set a hierarchy of goals. Exercise authority when appropriate. Know when—and where—to seek professional help.

What Can Educators and Mental-Health Professionals Do?

Educate yourself. Learn to spot possible signs of involvement and to assess the extent and seriousness of the involvement. Find out where to go for further information and expert assistance.