Is Satanism a real religion? What do satanical cults actually believe? Do they believe in an afterlife? Do they worship the devil, or take part in ritual sacrifices? I will attempt to answer these questions, although it's not all that easy to do, given that if anyone was found to be a Satanists through history, they were burned at the stake.
OK, so here's the controversial question: what do Satanists really believe? Contrary to popular belief, there isn't a Satanic bible that was written long ago. As far as I can work out, The Satanic Bible was written in 1969 by Anton LaVey.
You can read more about it on the Wikipedia page, but the followers of LaVeyan Satanism are mostly atheists, and it just encourages them to follow their own instincts and urges without too much restriction.
For example, it encourages the seven deadly sins, which are lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy and pride. There are some Satanists who actually believe in the devil, and worship Lucifer, and they are known as traditionalists, but there really aren't many of them.
The bible doesn't say very much about Satan at all, it says that he can transform himself into an angel of light, but it mainly seems to cast Satan as the dark force within ourselves that makes us do selfish things.
Apparently the earth is run by Satan, and you need to accept Jesus Christ to be saved, and go to heaven, but that's enough of the bible, because that's not really what modern Satanism is about.
Satanists like the concept of Satan, the fallen angel who challenges the authority of God, who wants to have the same power, and of course that gave man the knowledge of good and evil from the forbidden fruit.
Some say that Satanists believe that they themselves are gods, in a similar way to how Hindus believe there are many gods, although they also believe in one God who is the universe. If God is everything, then it's not a far jump to have the belief: "I am God".
Do Satanists Worship The Devil?
As I said, some do worship the devil, or the fallen angel Satan, but for the most part, even the bible seems to suggest that the devil isn't a real being, just the temptation within ourselves.
Satan means "the opposer" in Hebrew, or it's a verb meaning obstruct, or oppose. If you take a look at that Wikipedia page, the book of Job seems to suggest that Satan is actually a member of God's "divine council", or the "sons of God".
Satan was apparently the highest of angels, and the "brightest in the sky", but then his pride led him to challenge the rule of God. He is depicted in the bible as "morning star, sun of the dawn", "prince of the power of the air", "the prince of this world", "deceiver", "lord of the flies", and many other things.
What do Satanists really believe? Some of them believe in the actual fallen angel, and believe that he has a better plan for the earth, including giving in to temptation. However, most Satanists are atheists, and don't take it all that seriously, it's just an opposing view to Christianity.