Equating Satan with one or more ancient pagan gods

Many theistic Satanists believe that "Satan" ia actually a Christian caricature of some god who was worshiped under other names by ancient peoples. Satan has been identified with a variety of ancient gods, including Pan, Set, Shiva, and, most recently, Enki.

Such a belief can be very comforting. If you believe that Satan is historically the same entity as one or more specific ancient gods - especially a god who was beloved and worshiped in ancient times, rather than just feared or reviled - then you can believe that your Satanism is the modern revival of a venerable ancient religion, perhaps even "the oldest relgion" -- which feels a lot safer than, say, regarding your Satanism as the daring adventure of a bunch of Christian-era people sailing into uncharted spiritual waters with an entity reputed (though perhaps wrongly) to be the embodiment of "Evil."

But how do you decide which ancient god(s) to identify Satan with? Most Satanists who make such identifications have never bothered to read very many, if any, scholarly books about ancient religions. And, even with the best scholarship, there is plenty of reason to be wary of equating gods in different pantheons.
Similarities between two gods in different pantheons do not imply that the two gods are identical, just as similarities between two people do not imply that the two people are really just one person or that they are identical. For example, there could very easily be two different women in two different cities who both are tall, have blue eyes and blond hair, and have jobs as librarians.

There are also a lot of differences between the gods of different pantheons. For example, Zeus and Thor are both thunder gods, but are otherwise very different in their perceived personalities and roles.
Even more importantly, it is all too easy to misunderstand another culture. Even within our own culture, it's easy to misunderstand a subculture that one is not a part of. Think of the ways that Christians misunderstand the Pagan and Satanist subcultures, for example. Or the ways that many heterosexuals misunderstand the gay subculture. All the more so, it's all too easy for a European or American anthropologist visiting another culture to misunderstand one or more aspects of that culture. See, for example, the many American Indian critiques of how their tribal cultures have been misunderstood by white anthropologists.

And it's even harder to understand, truly, an ancient culture whose people aren't even alive anymore to explain things to us. Archeological evidence and the surviving written records do tell us quite a bit, but I'm sure there's a lot of nuance that even the best archeologists and historians have no means of grasping. Thus, even with the best scholarship, some seeming similarities between the gods of different cultures might not be real.
Furthermore, given the Church of Azazel's belief that the gods concerned with human affairs are limited in power (see Post-Copernican natural theology), it also seems reasonable to believe that most such gods are not universal but relate only to specific people or groups of people. Even within our own culture, different people are drawn to different religions and different gods.
It is sometimes appropriate to equate deities across pantheons. For example, if it can be shown, from reputable scholarly sources, that the traditional worshipers of both of two ancient pantheons held a longstanding belief that god A in pantheon 1 equals god B in pantheon 2, then it may be reasonable to conclude that god A and god B are the same. It is not reasonable, in most cases, for modern Westerners to equate gods whom their ancient worshipers did not equate. At the very least, it's not reasonable to assert that such an equation is a historical fact.
Some Satanists look for Satan in ancient pantheons on the grounds that Satan must have been around before the worshipers of Yahweh started pointing to Him as their enemy. But that, in itself, is not a reason to equate Satan with any widely-worshiped ancient pagan god.

The Church of Azazel does not see Satan as the sort of entity who needs or wants vast hordes of human worshipers. (Christians will even say that Satan's greatest lie is that He doesn't exist.) Therefore, we see no reason to assume that Satan would have been widely known among humans before the worshipers of Yahweh singled Him out as their enemy. Hence there is no reason to assume that he must have been known under other names in various ancient pagan pantheons. Of course He might have been known under other names in various ancient cultures, but there's no reason to assume that He definitely was, especially as a popularly worshiped god.
Another reason why some Satanists look to ancient pantheons is that doing so helps them break out of the Christian paradigm and thereby helps them get over Christian-derived fears, e.g. the fear of hell. For that very reason, we highly recommend that all new Satanists explore a variety of different non-Abrahamic religions and theologies. However, one can do this without equating Satan Himself with the gods of those other religions.
Some Satanists feel that the traditional Christian figure of Satan, without identifying Him with some pre-Christian god, would be inherently too "negative." We disagree. A fairly positive view of Satan can be easily arrived at from just the Christian Bible (primarily the New Testament) plus the Book of Enoch plus the rather bloody history of Christianity, as seen from a modern Western point of view, even without looking at any pagan sources. (See Our core beliefs and their here-and-now basis and the Theology of the Church of Azazel. See also Satan and "evil" in Christianity (and Satanism) on Diane Vera's Theistic Satanism page.)
Due to the very limited amount of information that even the most erudite scholars have about ancient cultures, the Church of Azazel does not officially identify Satan/Azazel with any pre-Abrahamic god. However, individual members who feel drawn to make such an identification are free to do so, provided that they do at least one of the following:
Make a reasonable attempt to back it up plausibly from relevant scholarly sources.
Use the names of one or more ancient deities to refer to the Prince of Darkness without asserting that the ancient deities themselves are necessarily the same entity as the Prince of Darkness. Since the Church of Azazel paradigm acknowledges that there is not a one-to-one correspondence between entities and names, it is legitimate to refer to any deity by any name that feels appropriate to the individual worshiper. Thus, for example, one can use "Set" as a name for Satan without asserting necessarily that the Hebrew/Christian Satan was derived from the ancient Egyptian Set. (See Why some folks call the Devil "Set" by Geifodd, and, for more details, "Set" and the Prince of Darkness.)
What we don't appreciate are those who not only identify Satan with some pre-Abrahamic god but who also (1) claim that identification to be a historical fact (especially if one does so on the basis of very little if any scholarly historical evidence), and then, on that basis (2) claim that Satanism itself is "the oldest religion in the world."

Also, whereas in private personal rituals an individual Church of Azazel member is free to use whatever names one wishes, in Church of Azazel group rituals we will generally confine ourselves to using, as names of the Prince of Darkness, only those names which historically have been used primarily as names of Satan/Azazel, rather than names of other deities whose identification with Satan/Azazel is historically more questionable. This means that our group rituals will use primarily Abrahamic names to refer to Satan/Azazel, which we don't see as a problem because it isn't really possible for people to escape their own culture completely anyhow.
Although the Church of Azazel does not equate Satan with any specific ancient God and especially not with any widely-worshiped ancient god, we do believe that Satan favors revival of the worship of various ancient gods, both as a slap in the face of the Christian god and because He enjoys creating variety. Therefore, perhaps Satan is more than happy to farm out some of His own worshipers to these other gods, by allowing them to believe that Satan Himself is one or more of these other gods. For example, a form of Satanism which believes that Satan equals Enki is likely to give birth to new forms of Paganism which worship Enki as Enki, dropping the association with Satan.