Satanism and Witchcraft – The Occult and the East – Dark Undercurrent

By: Dr. John Ankerberg, Dr. John Weldon; ©2003
What type of influence has Eastern religion and on the west, and what is the relationship of Eastern religion to witchcraft and Satanism? The authors describe the influences and the way it has affected Western cultural thinking.

Satanism and Witchcraft: The Occult and the East – Dark Undercurrent

In this article series we will discuss the relationship between witchcraft and Satanism on the one hand and Eastern religion (especially Tantrism) on the other. We have included this discus­sion because of the great influence of Eastern religion in the West and the fact that few people seem to be aware of such connections. For millions of Westerners, Eastern religions are viewed rather benevolently as examples of “wisdom of the East.” Unfortunately, Eastern religion also carries a dark undercurrent with which even devotees are often unfamiliar.

In her Drawing Down the Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers and Other Pagans in America Today, Margo Adler interviewed numerous prominent witches who discussed the expe­rience and philosophy of witchcraft. The parallels to Eastern religion and occultism were obvi­ous. These witches make correlations to yoga, shamanism, developing altered states of con­sciousness, the realization of inner divinity, and alleged connection to the “infinite.” Witches themselves speak of witchcraft as being “the Yoga of the West” and that “a Witch is a type of European shaman”:

Adrian Kelly told me, “What really defines a Witch is a type of experience people go through. These experiences depend on altered states of consciousness. The Craft is really the Yoga of the West.” Morning Glory Zell said that a Witch is a type of European shaman, and being a Witch involves being a priestess or priest, a psychopomp, a healer, a guide….
Most Witches stressed that the goal of the Craft was helping people to reclaim their lost spiritual heritage, their affinity with the earth, with “the gods,” with the infinite.[1]

It is well documented that numerous perversions (including human sacrifice) occur in witch­craft and Satanism, and yet these also have a rich tradition in Eastern religion (e.g., Hinduism), as well as pagan occult religion in general.[2] In his Occultism, Witchcraft and Cultural Fashions, the noted cultural anthropologist Mircea Eliade of the University of Chicago refers to the inter­connections between European witchcraft and Hindu Tantric yoga. He points out that “even a rapid perusal of the Hindu and Tibetan documents” reveals the connection:

As a matter of fact, all the features associated with European witches are—with the exception of Satan and the sabbath—claimed also by Indo-Tibetan yogis and magicians. They too are supposed to fly through the air, render themselves invisible, kill at a distance, master demons and ghosts, and so on. Moreover, some of these eccentric Indian sectarians boast that they break all the religious taboos and social rules: that they practice human sacrifice, cannibalism, and all manner of orgies, including incestuous intercourse, and that they eat excrement, nauseating animals, and devour human corpses. In other words, they proudly claim all the crimes and horrible ceremonies cited ad nauseam in the western European witch trials.[3]

“The Witches of Orissa” is another article by Satindra Roy published in a Bombay anthropol­ogy journal. It makes the following observations about a particular sect of Indian witchcraft. Roy begins by noting the connections between the witch cult and Tantra’s Shakti (power) worship.

The witches of Orissa still show a great reverence for the cult of Tantras…. Their deep reverence for the cult of the Tantras and their intimate connection with the Tantric shrine at Kamrup leave no shadow of doubt that witchcraft, whatever it is, has its connection with Shakti worship…. The powers for evil develop themselves by worshipping the terrible aspect of Shakti, and some worshippers after passing through the lower stages… use their evil influence on all and sundry with whom they come into contact. …
It may be noted here that Orissa was at one time, almost wholly converted to Tantric Buddhism, which slowly made room for Vaishnavism, which is now the popular religion of Orissa…. The Tantrics also used to develop great powers of evil, which they could apply against their antagonists if enraged or provoked.[4]

He proceeds to show that the witches apparently derived their powers for evil from magical incantations learned from Hindu gurus. Significantly, we find they may endure the characteristic death struggle of occultists:

It is believed that the witches derive their powers for evil from certain incantations which they learn from their gurus…. It is believed that the witches at the time of their death suffer intolerable pain if they cannot transmit these incantations to a willing convert. Witches during their lifetime also show very great solicitude for the propagation of the secret cult and make converts whenever possible….
There are some witches whose evil-eye is so strong that it would kill a playful child within a few minutes if it is cast upon him.[5]

An anti-moral pragmatism is a strong feature of Satanism and witchcraft on the one hand and much Eastern religion on the other. For example, in a standard text entitled Yoga: Immortality and Freedom, the late yoga authority Mircea Eliade observes the amoral orientation of much yoga.

The tantric texts frequently repeat the saying, “By the same acts that cause some men to burn in hell for thousands of years, the yogin gains his eternal salvation.” … This, as we know, is the foundation stone of the Yoga expounded by Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita (XVIII, 17). “He who has no feeling of egoism, and whose mind is not tainted, even though he kills (all) these people, kills not, is not fettered (by the action).” And the Brhadaranyaka Upanishad (V, 14, 8) had already said: “One who knows this, although he commits very much evil, consumes it all and becomes clean and pure, ageless and immortal.”[6]

Further, the goals of the sexual union in Tantra and witchcraft on the one hand and in magic/ Satanism on the other are also similar.[7] For example, in Tantra and witchcraft we find the pre­dominance of the feminine energy theme.[8] In both categories we find occasional cannibalism, ritual cruelty, a preoccupation with death, ritual sacrifice, ritual insanity, anarchy, and horrible degradations in general.[9]


  1. Margo Adler, Drawing Down the Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers and Other Pagans in America Today (New York: Viking Press, 1980), pp. 104-105.
  2. Cf., Nigel Davies, Human Sacrifice in History and Today (New York: William Morrow, 1981).
  3. Mircea Eliade, Occultism, Witchcraft and Cultural Fashions (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1976), p. 71.
  4. Satindra Roy, “The Witches of Orissa,” The Anthropological Society of Bombay, Vol. 14, No. 2, pp. 187-188, 194.
  5. Ibid., pp. 189-190, 195.
  6. Mircea Eliade, Yoga: Immortality and Freedom (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, Bollingen, 1973), p. 263.
  7. E.g., David Conway, Magic: An Occult Primer (New York: Bantam, 1973), pp. 129-133; Eliade, Yoga, pp. 263-267; Adler, pp. 107-108.
  8. Eliade, Yoga, pp. 202-206, 261, 272, 294-307; Adler, pp. 10-11, 22, 35-36, 84-86, 107-112.
  9. Ibid.

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