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The Devil’s PartySatanism in Modernity$
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Per Faxneld and Jesper Aa. Petersen

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199779239

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199779239.001.0001

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‘It Is Better to Believe in the Devil’

‘It Is Better to Believe in the Devil’

Conceptions of Satanists and Sympathies for the Devil in Early Modern Sweden

Chapter:
(p.23) Chapter 1 ‘It Is Better to Believe in the Devil’
Source:
The Devil’s Party
Author(s):

Mikael Häll

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199779239.003.0001

This chapter demonstrates how, unlike in the English language, “Satanist” was in use as a term for Devil-worshippers in Swedish theological discourse as early as 1617. Further, using court records from the 17th and 18th centuries, the chapter shows such Satanists did actually exist in Sweden at the time, albeit only in an individual, solitary and unsystematic way. The sources reveal that for example some outlaws and cunning folk turned to the Devil for assistance, and that their practices could reasonably be seen as a form of “folk Satanism”. Through a process of exchange between learned and popular discourses Satan came to be regarded as a spirit governing the wilderness, and, similar to originally non-demonic nature spirits in folklore, he would sometimes grant favours to humans, for instance help with hunting and fishing.

Keywords:   Satanism, Sweden, early modern, nature spirits, outlaws, cunning folk, folklore, theology

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