Book Review - The New Satanists

This article is an electronic version of an article originally published in Cultic Studies Journal, 1995, Volume 12, Number 1, pages 117-119. Please keep in mind that the pagination of this electronic reprint differs from that of the bound volume. This fact could affect how you enter bibliographic information in papers that you may write.

Book Review - The New Satanists. 

Linda Blood. Warner Books, New York, NY, 1994, 244 pages.

Death and the sun! Who can outstare them?

--Duc de la Rochefoucauld, Maxims.

To those who, like this reader, bring unprejudiced minds to the subject of Satanism, having no personal experience of it, Linda Blood's excellent new book comes as a revelation. She has woven her own unhappy history of involvement with the Temple of Set and its charismatic occultist leader into a larger tapestry, from the Middle Ages to today's news, of a phenomenon so unrelievedly ugly that it is easier to ignore or belittle than to try to comprehend it.

From history, she cites the case of Baron Gilles de Rais, Joan of Arc's heroic champion, in his later years unmasked as a sadistic pedophile obsessed with alchemy and its associated black arts that required the sacrifice of young children's flesh and blood, crimes for which he was hanged and burned. In the reign of Louis XIV, two centuries later, the Paris police uncovered a large network of sorcerers, midwives, and abortionists trafficking in Black Masses and poisons (some meant as “love potions") in the service of France's highest nobility and aristocracy, including the king's chief mistress, Madame de Montespan. One of the most thorough investigations in French history produced volumes of evidence so explosive that, while the worst of the monsters were executed, exiled, or imprisoned for life, their Parisian society clients went free, with the notebooks locked up and forgotten until the late 19th century.

The notorious black magician, Aleister Crowley, was this century's guru to many occultists, including Satanists. L. Ron Hubbard, years before he founded Scientology as a religion, was one of Crowley's followers. His estranged son, Ron DeWolf, claimed that his father was "secretly immersed in black magic from his teenage years," and "thought of himself as the Beast 666 incarnate ... the Antichrist." Two former Scientologists formed the Process Church in 1964, and taught "the rather gnostic-sounding belief that Christ and Satan had put aside their enmity and would soon join forces to bring about the end of the world." The group produced "slick, glossy magazines filled with images of death, Nazi symbolism, and exhortations ... 'to release the fiend that lies dormant in you,' to rape, kill and destroy."

According to Blood, Anton LaVey, often dismissed by the media as "a harmless con artist," cleverly built friendly relationships with San Francisco police as well as many professionals in law, medicine, education, and business, while selling worldwide his Satanic Bible, which she says "every teenage 'dabbler' in the country appears to have devoured," and that _police sources report that it is almost invariably found among the personal effects of youthful 'experimenters' in satanic crime."

These crimes are in many cases very nearly beyond belief. And in three chapters on Satanic Ritual Child Abuse, Adult Survivors of Ritual Abuse, and The Presidio Child Molestations, Blood confronts perhaps the most controversial of all situations. As a former insider in the Temple of Set, she knows the leading characters in the Presidio day care center case, in which "Setians" were deeply involved. Blood also has sources within organized crime intelligence and professionals in child abuse treatment. She is well aware that "skepticism is a normal reaction to anything too horrifyingly bizarre to be easily believed, and there is no denying that it has been somewhat offset by the hysterical reactions of uninformed individuals who see a satanic child abuser under every bush. However, the fact that a crime is 'weird' does not exempt us from our obligation to seek justice for the victims. If even a fraction of the allegations of child victims and adult survivors are true, we are looking at a social evil so insidious and so ominous that we have no choice but to work to eradicate it as we would any other form of criminal activity."

In her chapter on Satanism and Nazism, Blood shows many examples of Across-fertilization between the two," with a growing international network of white supremacists, skinheads, right-wing pagans, and occultists, including the Temple of Set, who admire Nazi ideology--particularly its claim to transcendence over good and evil and its "dream of attaining the supreme cosmic power of gods." She describes links between these groups and the Holocaust denial movement that seeks Ato discredit the genocide of European Jews by the Nazis," and appears alarmingly to be gaining credibility with the American public.

There is much, much more in this extraordinary book than any review could hope to encompass. Linda Blood deserves our gratitude that, having survived a great injury, she has been willing to face it squarely and try to warn the rest of us not to turn our backs.

Eleanor S. Clark

Weston, Massachusetts

Cultic Studies Journal, Vol. 12, No. 1, 1995