Contemporary Religious Satanism

Contemporary Religious Satanism: A Critical Anthology is an academic anthology published by Ashgate in 2009 and edited by the Norwegian religious studies scholar Jesper Aa. Petersen. Containing eight separate papers produced by various scholars working in the field of Satanism studies, the book examines different forms of Satanism as practiced in Europe and North America. Contemporary Religious Satanism was a part of Ashgate's series of books on "Controversial New Religions" alongside tomes devoted to religious movements like Wicca and the Order of the Solar Temple.

Contemporary Religious Studies: A Critical Anthology
Contemporary Religious Satanism.jpg
EditorJesper Aa. Petersen
CountryUnited States
SubjectsReligious studies
Satanism studies
Publication date
Media typePrint (Hardcover)

Edited by Petersen, then a lecturer at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, the book was divided into three sections.

Academic reviews were mixed, being printed in peer reviewed journals such as Nova Religio, Aries and Magic, Ritual, and Witchcraft. It was recognised as a pioneering publication in the field of Satanism studies.


The volume was reviewed by French anthropologist Jean La Fontaine for the Nova Religio journal.

Erik Davis of Rice University reviewed the anthology for the Magic, Ritual, and Witchcraft journal, noting that the book was primarily sociological in basis but that it opened up "an underresearched and underreported topic". Describing Petersen's "thorough introduction", he then discusses the various papers within the anthology. He opines that Lowney had "beautifully" described her encounters, but that it was "unfortunate" that she spent so much of the text reflecting on her logistical challenges, subsequently describing Søderlind and Dyrendal's contribution as "one of the most lively and entertaining" parts of the volume. He remarks positively of Granholm's criticism of the term "Satanism", describing his chapter as a "crucial contribution", and believing that he has made a "good case" for the term "Left Hand Path". Moving on to review the inclusion of primary documents at the end of the volume, he believes that the works presented appear "minor in context", and that it is unfortunate that texts from LaVey and Aquino were not included. As such, he believes that Contemporary Religious Satanism is not "the perfect reader." Wishing that philosophical and symbolic analyses of Satanism had been included alongside the sociological studies, he also felt that "much more can be made" regarding the differences between LaVeyan-influenced secular Satanists and the mystical Left-Hand Path followers. He believed that the volume would be of great interest to scholars of magic, contemporary Paganism and new religious movements.[1]




Academic sources
Academic reviews
  • Fontaine, J.L. (2010). "Review of Contemporary Religious Satanism". Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions. 14 (2). University of California Press. pp. 129–131. JSTOR 10.1525/nr.2010.14.2.129?uid=3738032&uid=2&uid=4&sid=21101694284981.
  • Davis, Erik (2011). "Review of Contemporary Religious Satanism". Magic, Ritual, and Witchcraft. 6 (1). pp. 109–113.