The most infamous Satanic ritual is the rite known as the Black Mass. The development of the Black Mass is not, as some authors have understood it, a recent development, but one that has occurred over a period of 1200 years and its origin, far from lying in an established Satanic tradition, lies within the rituals and ceremonies of the early Christian church.
The Mass of the Dead is considered by someÂ to be the originator of the Black Mass and, although considerably different from the modern versions of the Black Mass, it’s sole function was to procure the death of a person. This variation of the early Christian Mass was performed by a Christian priest accompanied by a female server, with whom he had copulated prior to the ritual. The Mass took place in a disused church, water from a well in which an unbaptized child had drowned replaced wine and a black triangular host was duly consecrated.
The progression from the Mass of the Dead into the modern Black Mass took a new turn when it was linked to the medieval witches sabbath. Accordingly the inclusion of a horned figure who presided over the ceremony and who came to be associated with the Hebraic scape-goat came to be one of the central aspects of the Black Mass. The orgy was also then included, something that was most likely derived from the rites of the Bacchanalia or Dionysiac cults of ancient Rome and Greece, of which shall be spoken presently.
In his book The Black Arts (Pan Books Ltd. 1967.), Richard Cavendish outlines the proceedings of the witches sabbath. Commencing with the witches paying homage to the Devil. The witches would light a fire whilst the Devil was seated upon a throne in the form of either a goat, representing Satan himself, or a dog, which may have been connected with the dark Goddess – the dog being one of the sacred animals of Hekate – rather than with Satan himself. The witches would then approach and adore the Devil, though their approach would be in a manner foreign to normal men, such as walking crab-like or with their backs turned to him. After this ‘came the offering of the candles to the Devil and the obscene kiss.Â where the witch kisses the Devils behind. Following the obscene kiss, initiation, baptism or marriage would occur followed by the feast and the orgy which concluded the witches sabbath.
The inclusion of a feast and an orgy at the end of the witches sabbath is very much reminiscent of the Bacchanalia that existed during the times of the Roman empire. The Bacchanalia was originally a secret sorority that eventually initiated men into its cult. Its members, who were said to indulge licentiously in their passions, were also alleged to have been responsible for a number of deaths, performed in secret caves, and defilements of its male members who refused to take the oath of the cult or to commit specific vices. When the cult was finally repressed by the authorities there was estimated to be some 7000 men and women who were members, many of whom were arrested and imprisoned whilst their meeting places were destroyed and the Bacchanalia were prohibited throughout Rome. The similarity between the Bacchanalia, the witches sabbath and the Black Mass are therefore fairly evident.
In modern times there are numerous versions of this ritual used by different Satanic groups. The Black Mass contained within the Church of Satan’s ‘The Satanic Rituals’ (Avon Books. 1972) is based upon a combination of the rite used by the Societe de Luciferiens, a French Satanic society that operated in the 19th and early 20th centuries, and the fictional work of J.K. Huysmans entitled La Bas. Explained as a psychodrama that elevates the ‘concepts of Satanism to a noble and rational degree,’the Black Mass is considered to free the individual from the constraints that have been acquired – both consciously and unconsciously – from past indoctrination and stigma. The actual ritual as laid out in the Satanic Rituals consists of a priest, who acts as the main celebrant, accompanied by two assistants, being referred to as the deacon and the subdeacon respectively, a nun adorned in habit and wimple and a naked female who serves as the altar and a congregation. The ritual begins with an invocation to the Prince of Darkness and his host of demons, followed by a renunciation of past allegiances and a dedication to Satan-Lucifer. The ritual progresses through the Satanic Offertory, Canon and consecration of the host. The Mass is completed with the recital of the fifth Enochian Key and the Repudiation and Denunciation, whereby the power and divinity of Christ is denied and the power of Satan is invoked to cause vengeance to Christ and his host of angels. After this has been said the rite is concluded with the wafer which, having been consecrated by insertion into the vagina of the female altar, is then cast to the floor and trodden upon. The participants drink from the chalice and the ritual is then officially declared completed.
The Order of Nine Angles offer a similar though different tradition concerning the Black Mass. Whilst in the Church of Satan’s Black Mass, the naked female takes the place of the altar, the Black Mass of the Order of Nine Angles stipulates that it is a naked male who serves as the altar. Three further participants and a congregation complete the number of celebrants. As opposed to the accepted understanding of a Black Mass where the participants are all adorned in black robes, the three leading participants wear white (Priestess), scarlet (Mistress of the Earth) and Purple (Master of the Temple) and whilst the Church of Satan exclude the sexual element that seems to have been prevalent in many of the previous versions of the Black Mass, the Order of Nine Angles have included two specifically sexual elements, the first being the masturbation of the Priest by the Priestess, who then ejaculates over the host, which is duly trampled upon by the congregation and the inclusion of an orgy at the end of the ritual.
The usefulness of the Black Mass has a number of different features. Its first and most universal function within Satanic orders is that it is a powerful ritual of psychic release, a catharsis that enables its participants to free themselves from the conscious and unconscious influences of the prevailing authority of the Christian church. By inverting or altering the texts and ritualistic procedure of the Christian Mass, the participants of the Black Mass effectively tap into and alter their own, often unconscious, feelings and thoughts that pertain to the Christian world-view. From such a perspective the theory that Satanists who perform the Black Mass hold the Christian world-view as their own becomes a fallacy. For the Satanist is trying to free him or herself from the Christian world-view in virtue of his or her performance of the Black Mass. For example, in the Order of Nine Angles version of the Black Mass the Christian ‘Our Father’ is replaced by the ‘Satanic Our Father’ thus:
‘Our Father which wert in heaven hallowed be thy name
In heaven as it is on Earth. Give us this day our ecstasy
And deliver us to evil as well as well as temptation
For we are your kingdom for aeons and aeons.’Â
Whilst this seems to be the central function of the Black Mass, the Order of Nine Angles also state that if the ritual is performed correctly the energy so raised may be directed by the chief celebrants according to their wills. From this perspective the Black Mass can effectively live up to its seventh century predecessor The Mass of the Dead and cause the death of an opponent or adversary.
The importance of the Black Mass in modern Satanism therefore has a number of purposes and even though some groups – such as the Society of Dark Lily – regard its cathartic use as something of the past, such catharsis being performed intellectually – it still remains one of the most potent and blasphemous rites of Black Magic.
One form of modern blasphemy is the Mass of Heresy of the Order of Nine Angles. The theory behind this Mass is based upon the assumption that Christianity has produced an effect not only on the magical or psychic level of human life but also on the sociological level. This social aspect of Christianity is considered to be manifest mainly in the political forms of Communism and liberalism. The concept of equality of races and sexes, the goal of eternal peace and the upholding of Jewish state from which Christianity is assured a firm foundation in its Holy birthplace, all amount to a Holy Crusade according to Satanists. The need for a new form of the Black Mass, one that frees the psyche of the protagonists from the unconscious influences of liberalism and equality is one that has been answered in the form of the Mass of Heresy. Whilst this Mass negates equality it upholds and positively identifies with the positive aspects of National Socialism. Thus the individual pronounces that he/she believes in the inequality of races and the divine status of Adolf Hitler, who is perceived as being god-like, a saviour of the Aryan race. The Holocaust is denied and the Swastika and Mein Kampf are focal points for the ritual, Mein Kampf replacing the Black Book of Satan which is used in the Black Mass and other traditional forms of Satanic Ritual.
To many individuals such a ritual appears to be pointless and unnecessary. The holocaust is proven and therefore such a ritual seeks to deny the truth. Yet such reasoning only strengthens the Satanists’ case. Nazi Germany has become a scapegoat for the projection of the Jungian ShadowÂ Â according to some Satanists’. In the case of the defence even Simon Wiesenthal has openly defended the view that not all camp guards were brutal and cruel sadists, rather only 10%, a fraction of what many would have one believe. The key then to the use of rites such as the Mass of Heresy is to free the psyche from prejudice, in relation to this a member of the Order of Nine Angles says ‘individuals who participate in genuine Satanic Masses sometimes experience a kind of ‘satori’ – or sudden enlightenment – and are thus led to an increase in their consciousness as well as an enhanced vitality because they have broken free of constraining opposites.’Â Yet probably the best example to show the blasphemous nature of the Mass of Heresy is that in some countries individuals who perform it may be liable to prosecution and imprisonment.