The co-founder of the controversial South African Satanic Church, Riaan Swiegelaar, was actually a sangoma before leaving traditional healing for Satanism.
Swiegelaar has recently made headlines for leading the first Satanic Church in South Africa, which was officially registered in February this year.
But prior to following Satanism, he was a qualified traditional healer for eight years.
“My journey started when I met my Tata, Dr Alfred Megwa, in 2008. I was already doing psychic work at the time and he felt that I needed to twasa with him in order to take my ‘seeing’ to the next level,” he told The Citizen.
After completing his training, he practiced part-time as a sangoma, offering psychic services to clients, and rituals to treat emotional and spiritual afflictions for those who required it.
But after learning about Satanism, he hung up his traditional-healing boots.
“After learning about Satanism, I no longer felt the deep draw towards traditional healing. One of the main reasons was that in Satanism, you do not practice animal sacrifice, as you revere life in Satanism. To take life would be anti-satanic. I then saw myself more as a Satanist than traditional healer, and so chose to acknowledge my inner Satanic nature to revere life,” he said.
Despite the uproar around the establishment of the church, they however do not believe in Satan nor practice any devil-worshipping or sacrifices.
Instead, the church promotes being true to oneself, unconditional self-love, accepting one’s sinful nature as well as educating the public on various rituals for self-empowerment.
But his church does not follow traditional ancestral beliefs nor does it associate ancestors with Satanism. He does not believe traditional healing is devil worship, Swiegelaar said.
“Ancestral worship does not form part of Satanism. Ancestral worship would be to revere something outside of yourself and Satanism is about revering what lies inside yourself.”
“We acknowledge and understand the place traditional healing holds in South Africa, but we distance ourselves from any form of animal sacrifice that might form part of the rituals performed in traditional healing.”
He said those who believed traditional healing was associated with Satanism had no understanding.
“We have in no way said traditional healing is devil worship. We also find that people who do claim traditional healing to be devil worship and therefore associated with Satanism, have a lack of understanding of both traditional healing and Satanism.”
Swiegelaar is also a former pastor at a Christian church.