Satanism - The Sinister Tradition
by Grant Williams

Diabolical rites, virgin sacrifices, drug crazed orgies, and ritual abuse? This is what the entertainment industry and various religious crusaders would have you believe. The realities are far different.

Modern Satanism has been "popularised" and somewhat distorted by American influences, most notably Anton Szandor LaVey who founded The Church of Satan in 1966. In 1969 LaVey published what was to become the most accessible and perhaps most infamous book on Satanism, The Satanic Bible. This is probably the most accessible Satanic work ever written, costing only a few dollars (in America) and being sold in all major bookstores. Stories abound of The Satanic Bible outselling the Christian Bible on American University Campuses during the 1970s.

The first "book" of The Satanic Bible, "The Book of Satan" is often considered by many Satanists (and even many non-Satanists who agree with many of LaVey's sentiments) to be the best part of the book. It however often comes as a surprise that LaVey is NOT the author of this section. It is in fact an extract from Might is Right, which was first published in 1896, and has been described as "a vitriolic, racist hymn to the doctrine of force". It's author used the pseudonym of Ragnar Redbeard and while there is no certainty of his real identity the favourite and most likely candidate is a New Zealander by the name of Arthur Desmond.

So what of the diabolical rites and virgin sacrifices, drug crazed orgies and ritual abuse? During the late 1980s and the early 1990s there was a "Satanic Panic", given force mainly by religious fundamentalists and questionable therapists. Catchwords such as "ritual abuse" and "recovered memories" were the order of the day, and hundreds of "survivors" of "satanic cults" appeared on Talk-back shows and tabloid newspaper articles. One of the most famous "survivors" was Michelle Smith (now married to her therapist, Dr. Lawrence Pazder) whose book Michelle Remembers details her alleged ritual abuse as a child, needless to say Smith turned out to be a fraud. Books, articles and reports by police, and FBI agents helped to dispel the myths and lies created by the "survivors" and fundamentalists. Most notable of reports debunking organised ritual abuse was by Kenneth Lanning of the F.B.I.

So how do Satanists themselves define their traditions? LaVey and The Church of Satan do not practice or promote sacrifice of any type, whether animal or human. Drugs are also frowned upon, and only the orgies approved of (LaVey's version of Satanism revolves heavily around the "carnal doctrine" and indulgence in the so-called sins which LaVey believes lead to mental, physical, and emotional gratification). And diabolical rites? Well, diabolical is a subjective word, but yes, Satanists practice rituals and ceremonies which outsiders, and those of many religious belief systems would consider diabolic.

There are however groups outside of LaVeyan teachings, some who claim to have been around for a lot longer. One such group is the British Order of Nine Angles (ONA), who are considered by many to be the most extreme Satanic group in existence. Their tradition is a dark pagan one (the opposite of LaVey's "Churches are businesses" Capitalist approach) which does not place the same restrictions on its adherents as The Church of Satan. In stark contrast to most modern Satanic groups the ONA advocate human sacrifice, falling into two categories. The first is the sacrifice of a willing candidate (a Temple member), the second is the sacrifice of "human dross". Guidelines are given in various ONA documents for the selection of human sacrifices, and the candidate is given a "sporting chance" in the form of three "tests" to judge their character. If they fail the tests they are deemed suitable, and their death is likened to a "natural selection", weeding out of the weak willed and undesirable elements of humanity. The best source of ONA documents is the Internet. One site featuring most of the electronically available ONA literature is:

European Satanism in general differs greatly from American Satanism (LaVey's Church of Satan, and its spin-offs such as the Temple of Set). European Satanism generally takes a more "pagan" form, that is an Earth based approach somewhat akin to the modern Wicca beliefs, and tends to be more feminine. This seems more logical, as Satanism is considered a "Left Hand Path" tradition, and historically Sinister groups (in Europe at least) have been run by females, with a large proportion of members also being female. In contrast American Satanism seems to have distorted this with most of the vocal proponents being male, and the philosophies and doctrines being vehemently masculine.

Satanism in New Zealand?

So are there Satanic groups in New Zealand? Yes. The most well known group is The Order of the Deorc Fyre (ODF), based in Wellington. The group was formed in 1990 by Faustus Scorpius as "The Order of the Left Hand Path" who stepped down as Grand Master of the Order in 1995 and passed on leadership to Thorsten Moar. Over the years The ODF have been in the media several times, including an interview on Nightline. Under the leadership of Moar the Order has slowly started to shift from a group with a high public profile, to an underground group with very little known about it's current membership or activities. Recently the Order has virtually disappeared (not long after several members were suspects in a police investigation) with rumours of it having been disbanded.

The ODF has (or at least had) close links with the Order of Nine Angles, The Fraternitas Loki, and The Black Order (another group founded in New Zealand).

The ODF has a web page on the Internet with several documents outlining their philosophy, along with a short fictional story about the sacrifice of child-abusing Priest by a Sinister Temple. The address for the ODF homepage is:

Several ODF members also frequented the Undernet IRC channel #Sinister, including at one stage Thorsten Moar.

There are undoubtedly more Satanic groups in New Zealand but few if any ever have a public role, preferring to practice their ways in secret. Over the years I have heard several rumours of a "Satanic Church" in Dunedin, but no one knows anything of substance about it.