The Satanic Panic: Its Roots and Branches

Although the recent resurrection of the Satanic Panic discourse tends to locate this phenomenon in the late 1980s through the early 1990s (thanks to a storyline on the series Stranger Things), the roots of this cultural oddity go back decades further. Of course, one could argue that the fear of Satan and all his works has been part of human history for centuries, as long as Christianity remains a powerful religious influence in the world, that fear is likely to continue. But the late 20th century Satanic Panic marked a volatile confluence of factors: an occult revival in the 1960s followed by a rise in secularism in the 1970s, and increased religious factionalism combined with the rise of right-wing political movements in the early 1980s. By the early 1990s, the stage was set for a number of prominent events that later came to define the Satanic Panic era. This talk will explore a number of disparate but often related elements that converged to create the Satanic Panic of the 1980s-’90s, including Satanic themed horror films (such as Rosemary’s Baby, The Exorcist, and The Omen), the Manson Family murders, and the rise of the Moral Majority in the US.


Peg Aloi is a freelance film and TV critic, a former professor of media studies, and co-editor (with Hannah Sanders) of The New Generation Witches: Teenage Witchcraft in Contemporary Culture (Routledge) and Carnivale and the American Grotesque: Critical Essays on the HBO Series (Macfarland). With Hannah she also co-organized two scholarly conferences at Harvard University on paganism, witchcraft and media. Peg’s forthcoming book The Witching Hour: How Witches Enchanted the World is a cultural analysis of the witch in contemporary media. Recently Peg was featured in the documentary film The Witches of Hollywood. She is currently editing a collection of essays for The University of Liverpool Press: Women in Folk Horror: Cradles, Cauldrons, Forests and Blood. Peg was also one of the co-founders of The Witches’ Voice and wrote about film and TV for the site for over a decade, and her long-running blog “The Witching Hour” can now be found on Substack. Peg also works as a professional gardener.

Curated & Hosted by

Amy Hale is an Atlanta based writer, curator and critic, ethnographer and folklorist speaking and writing about esoteric history, art, culture, women and Cornwall. She is the author of Ithell Colquhoun: Genius of the Fern Loved Gully (Strange Attractor 2020) and is currently working on several Colquhoun related manuscripts. She is also the editor of Essays on Women in Western Esotericism: Beyond Seeresses and Sea Priestesses (Palgrave 2022). She has contributed gallery texts and essays for a number of institutions including Tate, Camden Arts Centre, Art UK, Arusha Galleries, Heavenly Records and she is a curator and host for the Last Tuesday Society lecture series.

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Apr 9th 2024 8:00 pm - 09:30 pm

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