Adonism is a Neopagan religion founded in 1925 by the German esotericist Franz Sättler (1884-c.1942), who often went by the pseudonym of Dr. Musalam. Although Sättler claimed that it was the continuation of an ancient pagan religion, it has been recognised by academics as being “instead the single-handed creation of a highly gifted and educated man”, this figure being Sättler himself. Adonism is a polytheistic religion, revolving around a belief that there are five principal gods: Belus, Biltis, Adonis, Dido and Molchos. Adonis is the most prominent of these in the group’s theology, being a benevolent figure that Sättler equated with the Christian mythological figure of Satan. In contrast to Adonis, Molchos is believed by Adonists to be malevolent, and to be responsible for the enslavement of humanity through monotheistic religions such as Judaism,Christianity and Islam: the religion therefore has “a pronounced anti-Christian bias”.
Born into the Bohemian region of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Franz Sättler proved himself to be a talented linguist, gaining a doctorate in the subject and publishing the world’s first Persian-German dictionary. Subsequently travelling across much of Europe, he was imprisoned by the French during the First World War, where he first came across Theosophy and the occult, topics which greatly interested him. Briefly becoming an intelligence agent for the Czechoslovak government, he was again arrested and imprisoned, this time in Germany, and whilst imprisoned here he began formulating some of his esoteric ideas and writing books on the subject. Released in the mid 1920s, he went on to begin propagating Adonism through the foundation of his Adonistic Society. Sättler would face legal trouble and a public scandal due to his beliefs in the 1930s, leading to him renaming the Society the Alliance of Orion, before it was eventually shut down by the Nazi government in 1939. Sättler himself disappeared in the early years of the following decade, with some believing that he was executed by the Nazi authorities.
Scholar Hans Thomas Hakl stated that “The influence of Adonism… on the German magical scene is substantial. It definitely influenced the German magus Friedrich Wilhelm Quintscher (1893-1945)… and also the Fraternitas Saturni, the most interesting occult fraternity in modern Germany”. Many of the group’s adherents have also claimed that Adonism was an influence on the German magician Franz Bardon (1909–1958), although this remains debatable as Bardon’s magical beliefs differed to “a noticeable degree”. Hakl would also compare Sättler with two of his contemporaries in the European occult movement of the early twentieth century, the Englishman Aleister Crowley and the Armenian George Gurdjieff, but noted that he never received the posthumous fame that these two experienced.
Sättler erroneously claimed that Adonism was an ancient religion which had been followed by the Chaldeans, Phoenicians, Persians, Egyptians and Greeks. He also made the claim that it survived in part amongst the Yezidis of the Middle East, and also among the people of Nuristan (a fictional place he considered to be separate to the actual Nuristan inAfghanistan). It was in this latter city that he claimed that there was a large temple, the Bit Nur (House of Light), where he claimed the original ancient Adonist scriptures were kept. Other than Sättler’s claims however, there is no evidence that Nuristan or the Bit Nur have ever existed. Sättler claimed that it was in this temple that he first learned about Adonism, and where he was given the name of Dr Mussalam.
Adonism is a polytheistic religion, believing in a number of different gods, of which there are five principal deities. Adonists believe that the first two of these were the primordial god Belus and his consort Biltis, and that they emerged from Chaos. According to Adonistic beliefs, Belus and Biltis had a child, Molchos, who was a malevolent deity and who created a world populated with deformed monsters; because of the horror of it, Belus and Biltis destroyed this world, before going on to give birth to two more children, a benevolent son named Adonis and a daughter called Dido. Adonis then created our world, basing humanity upon the likeness of both himself and his sister, however <Molchos> then killed Adonis out of jealousy, taking control of the world. Being resurrected by Dido, Adonis then went on to try to protect humanity from Molchos’ machinations, for instance telling one human, a man called Noah, to build a wooden ark to save him and the other animal species from the Great Flood.
Molchos, however, was not finished in his attempts to harm humanity. Aside from attacking them with plagues and sickness, he also sent false prophets such as Moses,Zarathustra, Jesus and Muhammad to convert people to his monotheistic worship under such names as Jehovah, Ormuzd and Allah. Within these religions that venerate Molchos, such as Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, Adonists believe that Adonis, the creator and benefactor of humanity was demonised as such figures as Satan, Ahrimanand Iblis. Through the domination of these monotheistic religions, Adonists believe that Molchos maintained control of the world, but that in 2000 CE, Adonis will face Molchos in a final battle, defeating him and bringing about a Golden Age, which will last until the universe is once more subsumed under Chaos.
The primary way in which Adonis and Dido are celebrated in Adonistic religious practice is by the sensual enjoyment of sexual intercourse, both of the heterosexual andhomosexual varieties. Indeed, Sättler summarised his faith by remarking that “Adonism is worship of the Devil [i.e. Adonis] with an erotic background.” He was therefore a prominent proponent of sexual reform in early nineteenth-century Germany, holding to beliefs that would later be legally accepted in the last decades of that century. Adonism also holds to a great belief in tolerance for other human beings, with Sättler stating that “The most important virtue of the Adonist is tolerance and the area in which he can practice it is boundless”, and also holding to a personal maxim: “To understand everything means to pardon everything.”