As a religion, Satanism in any lasting popularity begins with the Modern Satanism surrounding and as a response to The Satanic Bible, a text compiled, written and edited by Anton Szandor LaVey and published in the late 1960s. Before that, Satanism had only a literary and fantastic existence as a religion. Within that tenuous literary context, certain philosophical postures, principles, and values developed as both the result of condemnation and of reactionary exaltation. The literary splinters and fragments of Christian satanism primarily functioned as foils and became the currency of rumour-panics as it entered or derived from folktales, while the latter is what will be covered here.
The admirable aspects of Satanism as a philosophical construct prior to the advent of Modern Satanism are primarily associated with Romantic poets and ironic and sympathetic depictions of Satan, Lucifer, or other anti-Gods by authors such as Shaw and Twain. Occasionally reinterpretations of literature, such as Milton's classic and heavily influential Paradise Lost, provided the Satanic anti-hero a nod of admiration at his plight and the manner in which he bore it, but by and large the vast preponderance of Satans have been antagonists to heros in rather conventional dramas. Those exceptions typically exhibited qualities of genius under duress, resistance to injustice and tyranny, and they displayed a fairly consistent value of freedom of thought and action. Rebellious hell-fire clubs and the occasional Luciferan group, while significant social indicators, added little in the way of philosophic depth or complexity in any duration.
With the advent of Modern Satanism in the latter part of the 20th century and the technological facilitation of publishing both online and through print-on-demand books, Satanism assumed a greater presence and diversity than for which its representative portion would otherwise have qualified in previous times. An abiding and consistent emphasis on individualism and autonomy added incentive, in a Protestant atmosphere of disputation and fractionating hiving, to strike out on one's own, such that many if not most Satanic organizations, and especially churches, consisted of but a handful of people. Some of these were writers and sought to expound their philosophic foundation in essays or books, while others chose media of other types, or engaged in activities such as ritual or politics.
What comprises Satanist philosophy is subject to change primarily due to a value of individualism and autonomy that demotes idea and action to the status of mere characteristics of an individual. Genius and originality being the emphasis, advocates of Satanist philosophy are liable to integrate even completely self-defeating aspects to their philosophical expression in pursuit of some aesthetic or ideal which they value. This will often come as the result of an emphasis to some other conventional Satanist virtue, such as the refutation of, and opposition to, unwarranted or unwanted authority; or the undertaking to support unpopular, demonized, or misrepresented postures and perspectives.
Pre-Modern Satanism in Literature
The main impetus for the Christian satanism to be found in literature prior to the advent of organized churches was as a foil and antagonist to principles held aloft by the Church as sacred, and imperiled by exposure to nefarious opponents. For this reason satanists tended to be direct hierarchical, and ultimately amoral, competitors; rejecting the authority and rulership of Christian institutions, effacing the ability to distinguish moral instruction of the Church; and anti-Christian, espousing a specific delight in blaspheming and conducting travesties of the rites of conventional Christian religion.
Philosophy associated with these literary constructs was base and superficial, amenable to adaptation by Christian contenders for application as a slander to those whom they conceived as their opponents. Its priority effectively escalated the secular values of indulgence, influence, power, control, and generally, exploitation.