Here Caroline Tully offers a detailed review of Satanic Feminism: Lucifer as the Liberator of Women in Nineteenth-Century Culture by Per Faxneld.
This is more a literary than a religious Satanism, although any story of Satan has its religious underpinnings:
Although they attributed positive qualities to the figure of Satan, the subjects examined in this book were not satanists as commonly imagined; that is, they were not believers in a supernatural being called Satan and did not perform rituals dedicated to him. Rather, as Faxneld explains, they were satanists sensu lato (in the broad sense); they used Satan as a symbol to critique Christianity, its accompanying conservative social mores, and patriarchy. Theistic and ritualizing satanism, on the other hand, is termed here sensu stricto (in the strict sense). Thus, the book is not about satanism as a religious practice but as a “discursive strategy”
There is a chapter on “Satanic” witchcraft:
One of the most prominent examples of the negative association between women and Satan was the figure of the witch. In chapter 6, Faxneld investigates works such as Jules Michelet’s La Sorcière (E. Dentu Libraire-Editeur, 1862), arguably “the single most influential text presenting a sort of feminist version of witches” (198). Relevant to new religious movements today, Michelet’s ideas about witches influenced authors who in turn were used as sources in the construction of modern pagan witchcraft. Feminist Matilda Joslyn Gage interpreted witches as satanic rebels against the injustices of patriarchy; and amateur folklorist Charles Godfrey Leland’s work Aradia; or, the Gospel of the Witches (1899), which presented witches as proto-feminist rebels against social oppression, continues to hold an authoritative position within the contemporary pagan witchcraft movement.
This review and many others can be found at Reading Religion, an ongoing collection of book reviews provided by the American Academy of Religion. You do not have to be an AAR member to read them, although a member login is required to comment on reviews.
2 thoughts on “Lucifer, Women, Witches, Freedom”
One of the first books added to my little teen-ager library of the mythological. the magical, and the highly strange was Michlet’s Satanism and Witchcraft (La Sorciere in English translation). I bought it on an excursion to City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco.
Michelet’s outlook on witches certainly helped give shape to my own emerging notions of Paganism and Craft. I has not thought about the figure of Satan influencing feminists and feminism during the 19th Century. But Satanism in the broad sense certainly would have.
I probably turned to discursive Satanism as critical of dominant Christian culture to some extent myself. LaVey’s Church of Satan was big talk of the town during that time. Satan numbered in the counter-culture.
Satan is probably the “ultimate rebel”.
Comments are closed.