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Worship of Satan, or the devil, the personality or principle regarded in the Judeo-Christian tradition as embodying absolute evil, in complete antithesis to God. Cults associated with satanism have been documented, however sketchily, back to the 17th century. Their central feature is the black mass, a corrupted and inverted rendition of the Christian Eucharist. Practices are said to include animal sacrifice and deviant sexual activity. Worship is motivated by the belief that Satan is more powerful than the forces of good, and so is more capable of bringing about the results sought by his adherents.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on satanism, visit Britannica.com.