NO other single device has been associated with Satanism as much as the black mass. To say that the most blasphemous of all religious ceremonies is nothing more than a literary invention is certainly a statement which needs qualifying - but nothing could be truer.

The popular concept of the black mass is thus: a defrocked priest stands before an altar consisting of a nude woman, her legs spread-eagled and vagina thrust open, each of her outstretched fists grasping a black candle made from the fat of unbaptized babies, and a chalice containing the urine of a prostitute (or blood) reposing on her belly. An inverted cross hangs above the altar, and triangular hosts of ergot-laden bread or black-stained turnip are methodically blessed as the priest dutifully slips them in and out of the altar-lady's labia. Then, we are told, an invocation to Satan and various demons is followed by an array of prayers and psalms chanted backwards or interspersed with obscenities . . . all performed within the confines of a "protective" pentagram drawn on the floow. If the Devil appears he is invariably in the form of a rather eager man wearing the head of a black goat upon his shoulders. Then follows a potpouri of flagellation, prayer-book burning, cunnilingus, fellatio, and general hindquarters kissing - all done to a background of ribald recitations from the Holy Bible, and audible expectorations on the cross! If a baby can be slaughtered during the ritual, so much the better; for as everyone knows, this is the favorite sport of the Satanist!

If this sounds repugnant, then the success of the reports of the black mass, in keeping the devout in church, is easy to understand. No "decent" person could fail to side with the inquisitors when told of these blasphemies. The propagandists of the church did their job well, informing the public at one time or another of the heresies and heinous acts of the Pagans, Cathars, Bogomils, Templars and others who, because of their dualistic philosophies and sometimes Satanic logic, had to be eradicated.

The stories of unbaptized babies being stolen by Satanists for use in the mass were not only effective propoganda measures, but also provided a constant source of revenue for the Church, in the form of baptism fees. No Christian mother would, upon hearing of these diabolical kidnappings, refrain from getting her child properly baptized, post haste.

Another facet of man's nature was apparent in the fact that the writer or artist with lewd thoughts could exercise his most obscene predilections in the portrayal of the activities of heretics. The censor who views all pornography so that he will know what to warn others of is the modern equivalent of the medieval chronicler of the obscene deeds of the Satanists (and, of course, their modern journalistic counterparts). It is believed that the most complete library of pornography in the world is owned by the Vatican!

The kissing of the Devil's behind during the traditional black mass is easily recognized as the forerunner of the modern term used to describe one who will, through appealing to another's ego, gain materially from him. As all Satanic ceremonies were performed toward very real or material goals, the oscularum infame (or kiss of shame) was considered a symbolic requisite towards earthly, rather than spiritual, success.

The usual assumption is that the Satanic ceremony or service is always called a black mass. A black mass is not the magical ceremony practiced by Satanists. The Satanist would only employ the use of a black mass as a form of psychodrama. Furthermore, a black mass does not necessarily imply that the performers of such are Satanists. A black mass is essentially a parody of the religious service of the Roman Catholic Church, but can be loosely applied to a satire on any religious ceremony.

To the Satanist, the black mass, in its blaspheming of orthodox rites, is nothing more than a redundancy. The services of all established religions are actually parodies of old rituals performed by the worshippers of the earth and the flesh. In attempts to de-sexualize and de-humanize the Pagan beliefs, later men of spiritual faith whitewashed the honest meanings behind the rituals into the bland euphemisms now considered to be the "true mass". Even if the Satanist were to spend each night performing a black mass, he would no more be performing a travesty than the devout churchgoer who unwittingly attends his own "black mass" - his spoof on the honest and emotionally-sound rites of Pagan antiquity.

Any ceremony considered a black mass must effectively shock and outrage, as this seems to be the measure of its success. In the Middle Ages, blaspheming the holy church was shocking. Now, however, the Church does not present the awesome image it did during the inquisition. The traditional black mass is no longer the outrageous spectacle to the dilettante or renegade priest that it once was. If the Satanist wishes to create a ritual to blaspheme an accepted institution, for the purpose of psychodrama, he is careful to choose one that is not in vogue to parody. Thus, he is truly stepping on a sacred cow.

A black mass, today, would consist of the blaspheming of such "sacred" topics as Eastern mysticism, psychiatry, the psychedelic movement, ultra-liberalism, etc. Patriotism would be championed, drugs and their gurus would be defiled, acultural militants would be deified, and the decadence of ecclesiastical theologies might even be given a Satanic boost.

The Satanic magus has always been the catalyst for the dichotomy necessary in molding popular beliefs, and in this case a ceremony in the nature of a black mass may serve a far-reaching magical purpose.

In the year 1666, some rather interesting events occurred in France. With the death of François Mansart, the architect of the trapezoid, whose geometrics were to become the prototype of the haunted house, the Palace of Versailles was being constructed, in accordance with his plans. The last of the glamorous priestesses of Satan, Jeanne-Marie Bouvier (Madame Guyon) was to be overshadowed by a shrewd opportunist and callous business-woman named Catharine Deshayes, otherwise known as LaVoisin. Here was an erstwhile beautician who, while dabbling in abortions and purveying the most efficient poisons to ladies desirous of eliminating unwanted husbands or lovers, found in the lurid accounts of the "messes noir" a proverbial brainstorm.

It is safe to say that 1666 was the year of the first "commercial" black mass! In the region south of St. Denis, which is now called LaGarenne, a great walled house was purchased by LaVoisin and fitted with dispensaries, cells, laboratories, and . . . a chapel. Soon it became de rigueur for royalty and lesser dillettantes to attend and participate in the very type of service mentioned earlier in this chapter. The organized fraud perpetrated in these ceremonies has become indelibly marked in history as the "true black mass".

When LaVoisin was arrested on March 13, 1679 (in the Church of Our Blessed Lady of Good Tidings, incidentally), the die had already been cast. The degraded activities of LaVoisin had stifled the majesty of Satanism for many years to come.

The Satanism-for-fun-and-games fad next appeared in England in the middle 18th Century in the form of Sir Francis Dashwood's Order of the Medmanham Fanciscans, popularly called The Hell-Fire Club. While eliminating the blood, gore, and baby-fat candles of the previous century's masses, Sir Francis managed to conduct rituals replete with good dirty fun, and certainly provided a colorful and harmless form of psychodrama for many of the leading lights of the period. An interesting sideline of Sir Francis, which lends a clue to the climate of the Hell-Fire Club, was a group called the Dilettanti Club, of which he was the founder.

It was the 19th Century that brought a whitewashing to Satanism, in the feeble attempts of "white" magicians trying to perform "black" magic. This was a very paradoxical period for Satanism, with writers such as Baudelaire and Huysmans who, despite their apparent obsession with evil, seemed nice enough fellows. The Devil developed his Luciferian personality for the public to see, and gradually evolved into a sort of drawing-room gentleman. This was the era of "experts" on the black arts, such as Eliphas Levi and countless trance-mediums who, with their carefully bound spirits and demons, have also succeeded in binding the minds of many who call themselves parapsychologists to this day!

As far as Satanism is concerned, the closest outward signs of this were the neo-Pagan rites conducted by MacGregor Mathers' Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, and Aleister Crowley's later Order of the Silver Star (A... A... - Argentinum Astrum) and Order of Oriental Templars (O.T.O.)*, which paranoiacally denied any association with Satanism, despite Crowley's self-imposed image of the beast of revelation. Aside from some rather charming poetry and a smattering of magical bric-a-brac, when not climbing mountains Crowley spent most of his time as a poseur par excellence and worked overtime to be wicked. Like his contemporary, Rev.(?) Mantague Summers, Crowley obviously spent a large part of his life with his tongue jammed firmly into his cheek, but his followers, today, are somehow able to read esoteric meaning into his every word.

Perennially concurrent with these societies were the sex clubs using Satanism as a rationale - that persists today, for which tabloid newspaper writers may give thanks.

If it appears that the black mass developed from a literary invention of the church, to a depraved commercial actuality, to a psychodrama for dilettantes and iconoclasts, to an ace in the hole for popular media . . . then where does it fit into the true nature of Satanism - and who was practicing Satanic magic in those years beyond 1666?

The answer to this riddle lies in another. Is the person generally considered to be a Satanist really practicing Satanism in its true sense, or rather from the point of view taken by the opinion makers of heavenly persuasion? It has often been said, and rightly so, that all of the books about the Devil have been written by the agents of God. It is, therefore, quite easy to understand how a certain breed of devil worshippers was created through the inventions of theologians. This erstwhile "evil" character is not necessarily practicing true Satanism. Nor is he a living embodiment of the element of untrammeled pride or majesty of self which gave the post-Pagan world the churchman's definition of evil. He is instead the by-product of later and more elaborate propaganda.

The pseudo-Satanist has always managed to appear throughout modern history, with his black masses of varying degrees of blasphemy; but the real Satanist is not quite so easily recognized as such.

It would be an over-simplification to say that every successful man and woman on earth is, without knowing it, a practicing Satanist; but the thirst for earthly success and its ensuing realization are certainly grounds for Saint Peter turning thumbs down. If the rich man's entry into heaven seems as difficult as the camel's attempt to go through the eye of a needle; if the love of money is the root of all evil; then we must at least assume the post powerful men on earth to be the most Satanic. This applies to financiers, industrialists, popes, poets, dictators, and all assorted opinion-makers and field marshals of the world's activities.

Occasionally, through "leakages", one of the enigmatic men or women of earth will be found to have "dabbled" in the black arts. These, of course, are brought to light as in the "mystery men" of history. Names like Rasputin, Zaharoff, Cagliostro, Rosenberg and their ilk are links - clues, so to speak, of the true legacy of Satan . . . a legacy which transcends ethnic, racial, and econimic differences and temporal ideologies, as well. The Satanist has always ruled the earth . . . and always will, by whatever name he is called.

One thing stands sure: the standards, philosophy and practices set forth on these pages are those employed by the most self-realized and powerful humans on earth. In the secret thoughts of each man and woman, still motivated byt sound and unclouded minds, resides the potential of the Satanist, as always has been. The sign of the horns shall appear to many, now, rather than the few; and the magician will stand forth that he may be recognized.

Copyright ©1969 by Anton Szandor LaVey - All rights reserved, which includes the right to reproduce this material or portions thereof in any form whatsoever except as provided by the U.S. Copyright Law. For information address Avon Books, Inc.