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An Overview of Satanic Symbols

To: alt.magick.tyagi,alt.satanism
From: (mordred)
Subject: An Overview of Satanic Symbols (LONG)
Date: 23 Dec 1994 17:19:07 GMT

[To be added to the FAQ, if acceptable, in full or in part.  Suggestions
 for additions to this overview would be welcome via email or posted. - tn]

An Overview of Satanic Symbols

	By tyagi nagasiva (


A. Geometric Figures
 1. 'Inverted' Cross
 2. Pentacle 
 3. Svastika/Swastika/Fylfot/etc.
 4. 666/The Number of the Beast
 5. Double-cross over Lemniscate
 6. Runes

B. Objects and Hand-Gestures
 1. Skull
 2. Hand-gesture: 'Horns' 
 3. Hand-gesture: 'Fuck you'

C. Animals and Legendary Figures
 1. Goats
 2. Serpents 
 3. Bats/Vampires
 4. Devils/Demons/Gods


The following symbols are associated popularly with Satanism.  More 
obvious fallacies are bypassed for those traditional and valuable 
associations of myth, legend and psychology.

A. Geometric Figures

1. 'Inverted' Cross


Notice how this looks like a sword.  The 'inverted cross' has been associated
with Satanism for as long as it has been known as 'Satanism'.  One of the 
principles behind it is that inverting a symbol of a religion allows one to 
use it as a weapon against the religion itself.  Inasmuch as some Satanists 
see the cross as representative of a religious tradition they despise and 
would oppose, so does the inversion of the symbol of Christianity become a 
very important part of their path.

The general significance of the inverted cross aside from the above may be 
found in tarot and perhaps in Qabalah.  The mystery of its inversion can be
traced to Key XII, The Hanged Man.  Crowley associates the cross with the
Aeon of Osiris, pre-eminently characterized by sacrifice, esp. that of self.
The Satanist typically rejects this concept, preferring the perhaps more
phallic symbol of the sword as a call to overthrow the oppressor rather
than as a traditional icon of submission and execution.

2. Pentacle (Point-up and Point-down)

		[I have yet to find an ascii version of a pentacle 
		 (point-down or point-up) and would welcome any 
		 assistance in this regard -- tn]

There is a very rich history behind the pentacle which stems back before
the beginning of the popular Gardnerian usage at least to Gnostics and Masons.  
The association of the point-down pentacle with 'evil' was at first the 
development of Christians and later became the symbol associated with  
organized Satanists (the Church of Satan uses a pentacle infused with a 
goat's head; see below under 'Goats').

Usually the pentacle is a five-pointed star surrounded by a circle which
intersects the star along its circumference.  Sometimes the points extend
beyond the circle.

The point-up pentacle is, in modern times, associated with witchcraft,
both Gardnerian and unaffiliated traditional lines.  Some witches also
use the point-down pentacle, yet this is less common.  It is also used
by the ceremonial tradition, from which the Wiccan use derived, and its
significance there is somewhat varied.  Often it is seen as a kind of
matrix upon which the pentads of existence are marked out (e.g. 'earth,
air, fire, water and Spirit'; or the five senses).  Drawn upon the temple
floor, it is a tool to protect oneself from, or to bind, a malevolent 
energy (demon/devil, see below), sometimes within ceremonies designed to 
summon or invoke such beings.

Within Satanism the traditional ceremonial meanings are retained and
emphasized.  The focus within the Christian-influenced Hermetic systems
is placed upon the point-up pentacle, representative of the rulership
of the Spirit over the individual elements.  This is typically contrasted
with the point-down, in which the Spirit is said to be ruled by the gross 
physical body or realm.  

Satanists popularly see the point-down pentacle in one or more of three
ways -- as an external graphic for a goat's head, symbolic of Satan (see
below under 'Goats'); as an anthropomorphism emphasizing the phallus; or
as an indication of the priority of matter and physical existence, in
many senses directly contrasting the Spirit-elements model as it 
represents a fractionating and anti-carnal experience.

The pentacle is historically also associated with what is called the
Devil's footprint, especially in relation to witchcraft in Medieval Europe
during the Inquisition, though this may derive from a tortured Christian

3. Svastika/Swastika/Fylfot/etc.
                   |          ||
                   |          ||
                   |          ||
                              ||           |
                              ||           |
                              ||           | 

The whirling cross or svastika (skt. 'it is well') is an ancient and oft-
reverred symbol, typically of beneficial tidings or positive charm.  As
it is found in many cultures it appears to have obtained a dual-signifi-
cance, depending solely upon the direction of its apparent 'movement'.
As rendered above ('anti-clockwise'), it is typically associated with
the feminine, destructive and lunar energies (as are many Satanic icons).

Satanists have sometimes taken up this symbol, often as it relates to the
National Socialist political party in WWII ('nazism') and likely due to the
emotional charge surrounding that event and the bias levelled against any
who may be associated with such things.  Some attach a magical importance
to both Hitler's regime and the swastika symbol itself, though the type
and extent of this occult association is hotly debated.

4. 666/The Number of the Beast

                      |         |         |
                      |         |         |
                      |         |         |
                      |________ |________ |_________
                      |        ||        ||         |
                      |        ||        ||         |

The number 666 is a reference to the Book of Revelations in the New
Testament of _The Holy Bible_.  One translation of this mystical book,
gives to us this paragraph: "Whoever is intelligent can figure out the
meaning of the number of the beast, because the number stands for a
man's name.  It's number is 666." (_The Blue Denim Bible_, p. 609.).

Scholars associate this number with both malevolent and benevolent
agents, from the Angel of the Diadem to the Antichrist.  It is not only
a Biblical reference but may also be found in the Qabalah, wherein the
Number of the Sun/Son (the sum of the magick square of the Sun, usually 
associated with Tiphareth and Christ) is 666.    

Satanists often find the number valuable as it appears to reflect an
energy directly counter to the Christian establishment, and some notable
figures of the occult world (such as Aleister Crowley) have discovered an
identification with the number to be quite valuable, perhaps citing the
triple-phallic significance of the numeral.

5. Double-cross Over Lemniscate
                          . - - - .  ||  . - - - .
                         (         ~ %% ~         )
                          ^ - - - ^~    ~^ - - - ^

An obviously phallic symbol, this was provided within _The Satanic Bible_
accompanying the 'Nine Satanic Statements'.  As such it appears to be quite
specific to Anton LaVey and the Church of Satan, though its composite
parts are of ancient origin, the lemniscate typically associated with
the mathematical infinity and, esp. in the tarot, the perfection of
consciousness.  Perhaps the double-cross here is meant as a kind of
Satanic pun implying the Father of Lies. :>

6. Runes

            ||    ||    %|     \\   //          
            ||    || %  ||      \\ //             //    //
            ||    %%    ||       \X/             //    //
            ||  % ||    ||       /X\            //    //      
            |%    ||    ||      // \\          //    // 
                                \\ //         //=== //=== 
                                 \X/             //    //
                                 /X\            //    //
                                // \\          //    //
                               //   \\        //    // 

As was mentioned above (under 'Swastika'), many Satanists appear to place
great value in the geographical and cultural region of Germany, sometimes
in association with pre-Christian symbols, such as these Germanic runes.
The figure on the far right ('SS') was used by the Third Reich as insignia 
for their 'Stormtroopers', or special police, for example.  

B. Objects and Hand-Gestures

1. Skull

The skull is the ultimate symbol of death and the philosophies surrounding
this transition-point.  It has an ancient origin in many cultures and in 
the modern world is associated with danger (with femurs crossed, 'poison') 
and power or freedom (in the East, often worn by deities in necklaces).  

Satanists who find value in the symbol of the skull (often integrated
with other symbols such as wings) are focussing upon the oft-overlooked
energies of destruction and disintegration, honoring that aspect of
nature and of themselves.  Death is seen for the mystery that it is and
the skull is kept as a meditative reminder of that mystery.

2. Hand-gesture: 'Horns' (See 'Goats' below).

3. Hand-gesture: 'Fuck you'

The middle finger, alone or sometimes accompanied by thumb and pinky, is
at least within American culture considered an insult (often 'Fuck you').
While not especially common among Satanists, this very phallic gesture is
used by some to indicate their rebellion and command of 'curse words'.

The very word 'fuck' implies sexuality, though often of a type either
violating or indulgent, and some Satanists have taken up this word and its
associated symbology as part of their spiritual tradition.

C. Animals and Legendary Figures

1. Goats

The goat is a very old and powerful symbol, often of virility and/or
vitality.  Sacrificed by many religious traditions, the goat is the focus
of the Christian 'scapegoat', selected to bear the sins of the Israelites 
by Aaron.  The Greeks chiefly associated the goat with Pan, and it was
this deity, it seems, whose goat-features of horns, hooves, beard and tail
were assimilated into the Christian popular tradition in the creation of
'Satan' or 'the Devil'.  

Goats are also known for their rebelliousness, their 'butting', and this
blatant disrespect is likely one of the qualities which pleases Satanists
about the symbol, in addition to the various popular features mentioned

The goat-head is also an integral element of a deity worshipped and/or
reverred by occultists and Satanists alike -- Baphomet.  The origins of
this being are rather hazy, though popular tradition has it that the
origins of Baphomet stem back as far as the Knights Templar.  

The modern popular form of Baphomet was rendered by Eliphas Levi and is
a composite of human male and female (eyes, torso, arms and legs), goat
(horns, head and hooves), and bird or bat (wings), punctuated by a flaming
torch stemming from the top of hir head, a pentagram inscribed upon hir
forehead, and a caduceus emanating modestly from cloaked loins.  Levi also
included two crescent moons -- one white, waxing; one black, waning -- 
near to the outstretched arms above (right) and below (left), the first in
a mudra of benediction, the second indicating the duality of materialism.
The Church of Satan uses as its banner of focus a pentacle which its members
call 'the Baphomet'.  Within the point-down pentacle is a goat-head, and 
within the double-circle surrounding the five-pointed figure are enscribed 
Hebrew letters, apparently providing the five letters which represent the 
Biblical Leviathan.

One hand-gesture is also linked with goats and thereafter with Satan --
'the Horns'.  This hand symbol, created by placing the thumb upon the two
middle fingers and extending forefinger and pinky, is sometimes also called
a 'Satanic Salute', and has its origins as a Medieval gesture, warding off
the 'evil eye'.

2. Serpents 

The serpent is a universal and multifaceted symbol, given both positive
and negative associations the world over.  In modern occultism and in
Satanism the serpent is seen as an important magical symbol, since it
sheds its skin (rejuvenation or reincarnation).  The Biblical stories
of the Garden of Eden and the Fall have by and large pit the snake against
the Christian tradition, making it a perfect symbol for those Satanists
who favor the opposition to that religious tradition.
Typically the serpent is associated directly with Satan, but sometimes in
the familiar guise of the Dragon, another universal symbol composed of a
many different animals, usually including the serpentine.  The Dragon is
a powerful manifestation of earth energies, and the snake is the deep and
most cthonic of the Dragon's facets.

3. Bats/Vampires

Bats are usually connected with the nocturnal darkness and all that this
may signify for the culture in question.  Sometimes their form is seen
as a kind of oddity, and often in Western culture the bat is associated
directly with Satan, the Prince of Darkness and/or the Witches' Sabbat.

Satanists sometimes carry over the traditional association and exalt the
bat as the supreme mammal of the night, the very essence of Darkness
and all that this means to them.  While most bats do not in fact feed
upon blood, those which do (either in legend or fact) are given greater
symbolic significance, sometimes demonstrated graphically by bloody fangs.
As with the Dragon, with whom he is related, the Prince of Darkness in 
the form of Dracula is also directly associated with bats.  The caricature
of the vampire is very popular among some elements of the gothic, occult
and Satanic worlds, and there appears to be a predominance of focus about
the feminine 'vamp' in this regard.

4. Devils/Demons/Gods

Supernatural (in the sense of cthonic and therefore perfectly natural)
beings of magical ability are often opposed by popular Christian culture.
These beings were given the labels of 'devil' ('slanderer'/'accuser') or
'demon' (gk. 'daemon' or 'daimon'; 'spirit') and thereafter warned against
as being contrary to the rule of Jehovah.  

When represented graphically these beings are very often shown with horns, 
tail, wings and other brutish qualities.  Jewish writers and then Dante 
fabricated an entire hierarchy of such beings who were sometimes ruled
by Satan or the Prince of Darkness, and this has fascinating parallels
to the various Underworld Kings and Queens (e.g. Hades and Faerie Queen).

These are actually reflected by other cultures also, such as the Indian
asuras, or the Chinese denizens of countless lower worlds, and this is
likely an indication of a developing or expressed human antagonism toward
the 'untamed wilderness'.

The Satanist sometimes operates within the Hermetic occult system (most
popularly known through such grimoires as _The Lesser Key of Solomon_,
with their demons and diagrams for summoning them), and this may lead to
interaction with the various officials of the Underworld, including Satan.

As it happens, Satan was compiled within popular Christian tradition,
fabricated through reference to Biblical scraps, pagan gods, fictional
characters, and a vivid imagination.  This 'archdemon' (formerly an
archangel before his rebellion) is the ruler of the Underworld (or, in
some versions, the Earth entire), and is usually depicted in much the
same way as are other demons, incorporating various Dantean imagery,
such as pitchforks and barbs.  He is sometimes given the ultimate title
'the Devil', indicating his primacy.

To the Satanist, the Devil represents many things, including and perhaps
especially rebellion and opposition to illegitimate or unwanted authority,
oppression or coersion.  He is also quite often associated with 
materiality, carnality, indulgence and sensate pleasure -- experiences
which have at various times drawn the scorn of the Christian puritanical

Among some Satanists, the form of 'Satan' (or 'Shaitan', Adversary,
as developed by the Jews) is of little or great consequence.  To some, the
qualities drawing popular Christian condemnation are ideal representatives 
in themselves, while others feel that the 'anti-deity' found within the 
Christian tradition is but one manifestation of an important entity/energy, 
called different names by various cultures in varied times.

Thus some others gods and their graphic representations are associated
with Satanism as well, such as the Egyptian god Set, the Indian goddess
Kali, and other wrathful, angry antagonists.


Sources used to create this document:

_The American Heritage Dictionary_, Second College Ed., 1982.
'The Black Flame', ed. Peter Gilmore and Peggy Nadramia, Vols. 4/5, 1994.
_The Blue Denim Bible_, transl. (draft) Dr. Robert G. Bratcher, 1966.
_The Book of Thoth_, by The Master Therion, 1981.
_The Dictionary of Satanism_, by Wade Baskin, 1972.
_An Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Traditional Symbols_, by J.C. Cooper, 1990.
'Witchcraft, Satanism and Occult Crime: Who's Who and What's What', ed. 
  Otter G'Zell, 4th Edition, 1991. :>


This document is Copyright (c) 1994, tyagi nagasiva.

All rights reserved.  Permission to distribute this document is
hereby granted providing that distribution is electronic, no money
is involved, reasonable attempts are made to use the latest version
and all credits and this copyright notice are maintained.

Other requests for distribution should be directed to the author.


[usage for the alt.satanismFAQ is of course unrestricted - tn :>]

nagasiva, (The Order of Kaos Under Satan)

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