Satanic Panic Mini-Gallery

The Children are in Danger
Francesco Maria Gouache/DeAgostini/Getty

The roots of Satanic Panic go back centuries, springing as much from the culturally resonate concepts of black mass, ritual magic and the witches' sabbat as anything in the 20th century. Here we see an engraving of children initiated into Satanic ritual by Francesco Maria Gouachem taken from the 1626 tome "Compendium Maleficarum" or "The Book of Witches." This vision of supernatural stranger danger stems from an age of intense witchcraft persecution (explored in our episode "Hammer of the Witches"), in which zealous witchcraft theorists tortured and murdered as many as a half-million innocents in the name of weeding out a non-existent threat to society.

About the Author: Robert Lamb spent his childhood reading books and staring into the woods — first in Newfoundland, Canada and then in rural Tennessee. There was also a long stretch in which he was terrified of alien abduction. He earned a degree in creative writing. He taught high school and then attended journalism school. He wrote for the smallest of small-town newspapers before finally becoming a full-time science writer and podcaster. He’s currently a senior writer at HowStuffWorks and has co-hosted the science podcast Stuff to Blow Your Mind since its inception in 2010. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling with his wife Bonnie, discussing dinosaurs with his son Bastian and crafting the occasional work of fiction.