(Illustration in “La Sorciere” by Jules Michelet, Paris, 1862. Artist: Martin van Maele, Paris, 1911 – Source)
The most infamous Satanic ritual is the ceremony called Black Mass (Missa Niger/Messe Noire/Liturghia Neagra). The Black Mass has been practiced by Satanists for centuries, and it is still practiced today. However, many Satanists nowadays do not give much appreciation to it, by reason that they do not understand it. Most consider this rite to be nothing more than a blasphemy for those who hate God and the Church, yet they do not understand its true aim and power.
While it is true that the Black Mass has been created to blaspheme the Church and to mock the Catholic Mass ritual, the full aim of the ritual is far more complex.
The Black Mass is, just like the Catholic Mass, a magical rite. Occultists agree that as a ceremonial magic rite, the Catholic Mass and the Black Mass have the power to direct energies into the world. The Catholic Mass for example, is a ritual that is affecting much of the practitioner’s spiritual state and also the world around him. When a Catholic Mass is celebrated certain energies are generated and directed into the world. The energy of the Catholic Mass is a result of White Magic. Throughout time, priests and magicians have used the Mass to all kinds of magical uses. When a person is sick, the Mass is said over the body of the individual to heal it through the power of the rite. Other times, it has been used to ward off diseases of cattle. It has also been used to bless houses, to bless fishing-boats to make them productive, to protect someone going on a journey, to bring rain and good weather and also to obtain children. It has been used as a tool of White Magic.
The Black Mass is a perversion of the Catholic Mass, and thus, also a magical rite. It is, by itself, genuine Black Magic.
The magical aim of the Black Mass is first of all concentrated on the liberation from the Christian energy that is directed, every day, by the power of the many Masses and Christian rituals. As I said, when a Christian Mass is celebrated, certain energies are generated into the world. What the Black Mass does is to distort these energies and redirect them. The Black Mass also generates its own forms of energy, that are to be directed into the world.
The psychological aim of the Black Mass is also to liberate the individual from the Christian dogma. It is a ritual that helps to liberate unconscious feelings, emotions. By its power, it throws the practitioner into a world of chaos, magick and lust. In a world of freedom.
We live in a world of Christian thought and White Light spirituality. We feel this influence in life every day, and we are under its control. Some of us accept it while others struggle to break free, to get rid of this Christian programming and mind manipulation. As an example, there are many cases when an individual who is new to Satanism, wants to get rid of the Christian traces he still has imprinted in his mind. Since childhood people are taught of the Christian religion by ways of manipulation. Guilt and fear are the most used ways to teach the child of the Christian religion, and so when thoughts are imprinted in the mind of the child by such ways, he will carry them with him for all his life. Thus it becomes hard when one wishes to get rid of the Christian dogma. Satanists need to free their souls of any Christian influence. When such is the case, they need their ‘tools’ to tear down the walls. For this, rituals like the Black Mass are ideal. Because they strive to get rid of this Christian influence as much as possible, they create special rituals to help them achieve this goal. Either if it’s the Black Mass, the Initiation Rite or any other such blasphemous ritual, they work to rid themselves of the energy of the Christian spirit.
Just like any other Ceremonial ritual, the Black Mass needs its ‘ingredients’. These ingredients are added to the rite according to the practitioner’s liking and need.
When such a ritual is to be done, emotion is the basic ingredient to make it ‘work’. Putting your emotions into a ritual increases its power and makes it easier to direct into the world. The Black Mass, being a very blasphemous ritual, requires much emotion. Hate, lust, ecstasy.. all of this is needed to create the power of the ritual.
Many people are shocked by the Black Mass, and they have all the right to be. It is an extreme ritual. It is shocking, brutal and unmerciful. It is a ritual in which the practitioner releases all his emotions, good or bad, with no restraint. The more emotion given, the more powerful is the ritual. In the case of the Black Mass, where the aim is to utterly crush and destroy any Christian trace, the emotion and blasphemy must be at its highest level.
DESCRIPTIONS OF THE BLACK MASS
The Mass is the central act of Christian worship. It is a ritual which is offered to God. The Black Mass as I said, is the inversion of the Christian Mass, a parody if you will. It is a ritual of mockery and blasphemy, which is instead offered to the Devil. As Christians meet for their Mass, so do Satanists, at their Sabbaths, to celebrate the Black Mass as their main ritual, the very essence of their Devil Worship.
The Black Mass has evolved a lot since its original form. At first, it was an act of liberation to bring back the Pagan spirit that the people had long forgotten and to put aside the Christian influence that suffocated everyone. In later times, it became more and more indecent, more blasphemous, more wild and evil.
Although many false information is given to us in the books, much of it is true. That the witches used to fly to their Covens for Sabbaths to celebrate Black Masses seems of course to be a false story and so it must be. Other stories though, are true, and the traditions such as re-baptizing in the name of the Devil, dancing in circles, inverting the cross, spitting and stepping on the cross, stabbing the host and orgies of non-marital partners are still being practiced today.
An interesting yet disturbing fact that we come across in most books on the subject of witchcraft and Satanism, is that human sacrifice is performed at the Black Mass. I personally, in all this time of research and study, have never stumble upon such an act in Satanism. The idea that most of these books were written by Christians gives me doubt that these acts have truly been performed. Thus I shall not speak of it. What I want to talk about right now is the way that this ritual began to get form and how it changed its structure over the years, though its aim remained the same. To blaspheme the Church and to give praise to the Devil.
From the earliest versions of the Black Mass to the last, we recognize that its form had changed only a little. The ritual, in its form and structure, has always remained similar to the Catholic Mass as it is performed. We know from the book Satanic Rituals of Anton LaVey that some versions of the Black Mass have even remained the same in sight and so in verbal structure.
Some versions of the Black Mass were performed in vestments consecrated by the Roman Catholic Church, though it was an exception rather than a rule. The authenticity of a consecrated host seems to have been far more important. It is well known that the objective of the coven was to steal the Host from the Church and to bring it to the Sabbath to be used in the Black Mass. When the witches went at the altar for Communion, they retained the Host in their mouths and then hidden it so that no one could see them. It is said that money were given to those who purchased the Hosts from the Church.
(Joseph-Antoine Boullan, or “Abbé Boullan” (1824 – 1893) was a French Roman Catholic priest accused of being a Satanist and performer of Black Masses. He was a friend of J.K. Huysmans who wrote the classic novel “La Bas“.)
When the Host was not stolen from the Church, the witches made their own Hosts. These were generally black or blood-red instead of white, bearing Satanic markings or images of Satan stamped on them. In 1324 there was found in the home of Alice Kyteler, a Kilkenny witch, “a wafer of sacramental bread, having the devil’s name stamped thereon instead of Jesus Christ”. The Host is sometimes shaped hexagonal or triangular.
Sometimes the host and wine were replaced by different drinks and foods such as apples (to represent the Forbidden Fruit), turnips, sausages, crackers, water or juice (mostly apple juice).
Instead of white candles, black candles are used in the Black Mass. The Altar is covered by a black cloth, sometimes velvet or silk.
The places where Black Masses are practiced are various, either indoor or outdoor. If a Black Mass is to be practiced outdoors, forests and caves are the places where they are to be done. If it is indoors, an entire room has to be prepared for it. Cellars were perfect for such a ritual. The room is draped with black hangings and the windows are shuttered with curtains drawn.
(Sketch of H. Louatron’s chapel from his book “À la Messe Noire ou le Luciferisme existe“)
Cavendish tells us that in May 1895 at the Palazzo Borghese a Satanic chapel was discovered. The walls of the room were draped with scarlet and black curtains excluding all light and at the farther end was stretched a tapestry depicting “Lucifer Triumphans”, and underneath an altar was a figure of Satan. The room was furnished with luxurious chairs of crimson and gold, with tabourets and faldstools.
Traditionally, an image of Satan stands above the altar. A Baphomet or Inverted Cross has its place beneath the image of Satan.
As for the clothing of the participants, it is not a rule. In the early versions of the Black Mass it is said that the vestments of the priest conducting the ritual had to be those of a Catholic Priest, all consecrated. In later times, the vestments changed..
(Priest, wearing catholic vestments, performing a black mass. Artist: Martin Van Maele – Source)
The basic vestments are black or blood-red robes. A witch tried in southern France in 1594 described that at the saying of Mass at a Sabbath held on St.John’s Eve the celebrant wore a black cope. Sometimes the vestments bear Satanic symbols such as inverted crosses, Baphomets or magickal symbols.
The modern version given to us by the Order of the Nine Angels is different. The priestess is clad in white robes, the Mistress of Earth in scarlet robes, the Master in purple robes and the Congregation in Black Robes.
What is to happen at a Black Mass also varies. Besides the ceremonial rituals, the traditional form of the Black Mass often involves sex, dancing and feasts at the end or even during the ritual. As you will later read in this article, sex has an important part in the ritual and women have an important role in the ritual. The orgy is said to be derived from the rites of the Bacchanalia or Dionysiac cults of ancient Rome and Greece.
Dances are also common. As Jules Michelet beautifully puts it in his book “Satanism and Witchcraft”: “This dance, this whirling frenzy, the notorious “Witches’ Round”, was amply sufficient by itself to complete the first stage of intoxication. The performers danced back to back, arms behind the back, without seeing their partner, though back often came in contact with back. Little by little each man lost all knowledge of self and of her he had beside him. Old age and ugliness were abolished by a veritable satanic miracle; she was still a woman, still lovable and confusedly loved.”
At the end of the ritual a feast is used to take place, though is not a necessity.
HISTORY OF THE BLACK MASS
The Black Mass is a very old ritual, said to be dating back to the second century, when St.Irenaeus accused the Gnostic teacher Marcus of practicing a version of the Mass dedicated to a deity other than God, according the Richard Cavendish’s research. Gerhard Zacharias, in part two of his book “Satanic Cult” talks about various gnostic sects from the 3rd century who “infiltrated the Christian Church” and fused their original rites with the Christian Eucharist, which gave rise to the Phibionite Communion. He presents an example of an account by Epiphanius, a doctor of the Church in the year 335 who has been in close contact with the Phibionites (Barbelo Gnostics) and was an eyewitness of their rites, who says that they have feasts after which “they fall into a frenzy” when they start to copulate to the point when the men ejaculate in their hands and present it to Heaven saying this gift is “the body of Christ” and they eat it, after which they do the same with the female fluids or menstrual blood, presented as “the blood of Christ”. If, while copulating, the semen makes women pregnant, they kill the foetus and pray to God saying “We were not letting ourselves be tricked by the Archon of lust, but were collecting together the transgressions of our brother.”
Zacharias also presents the rites of the gnostic sects of the Ophites, also through testimonies of Epiphanius. The Ophites’ rite of Eucharist consisted in making a snake wrap itself around the bread, after which they divide the bread among the communicants and start worshiping the snake.
However, most scholars agree that its original form first started to be practiced somewhere around the 12th and 13th century.
During the period of the Middle Ages the Black Mass began to get form from numerous other rituals who were parodies of the Catholic Mass ritual, such as The Feast Of Asses and The Feast of Fools who were Church festivities at the time.
(Feast of Fools – artist: Pieter Bruegel the Elder, ca. 1525–1569 – Source)
The Feast Of Asses (Festum asinorum) is a parody of the Mass in which Balaam’s Ass (from the Old Testament) would begin talking and saying parts of the mass. The ass (read “donkey”) was rode by a girl into the church. When the ass arrived in the north side of the altar and the Mass was ended by the priest, instead of saying “Ite, missa est” (Go, you are dismissed) he would bray three times, and the people, instead of the “Deo Gratias” (thanks be to God) would also bray three times, “Hee-haw, hee-haw, hee-haw.” Zacharias offers us a part of the Ass’s Hymn, taken from a fourteenth-century manuscript describing the Feast of Asses in Beauvais:
“From Eastern regions
The Ass has come
Handsome and very strong
Most fitted to bear burdens
Hey, sir Ass, sing!
You shall have enough hay
And plenty of oats
God from Arabia,
Frankincense and myrrh from Sheba,
Have been brought into the church
By the power of the Ass.
Hey, sir Ass, etc.
Say Amen, Ass
(here they kneel)
You caneat your fill of grass;
Amen, repeat Amen;
You can reject the old [fodder].
Gee-up, gee-up, gee-up!”
(A 15th century woodcut, bridging the image of the fool and the ass. – Source)
Other such parodies were “drinkers mass” and “gamblers mass” which lamented the situation of drunk, gambling monks, and instead of calling to “Deus” (God), called to “Bacchus” (God Of Wine). Some of these Latin parody works are found in the medieval Latin collection of poetry, Carmina Burana, written around 1230. The Catholic Church, however, eventually reacted by condemning them as sacrilegious and blasphemous.
One other important ritual of such is The Mass of Saint-Secaire which is said to originate in the Middle Ages in Gascony. Priests used to be condemned to have attempted Masses for evil purposes such as cursing a person to death. Such is The Mass of Saint-Secaire.
In my opinion, the main reason for which the Black Mass has been so much practiced in the Middle Ages is because the people felt more “poisoned” by Christianity and were intoxicated by it at that time. The Black Mass was practiced by Satanists at their Sabbaths to worship Satan and to destroy the Christian influence that was suffocating them.
In the 14th century, when the Church was persecuting heretics, many have been accused of conducting Black Masses, The Knights Templar being some of them. One instance of a Black Mass in the 14th century is said to have happened in 1325 at Cologne. The ritual was celebrated by a Dutchman who called himself Christ and a woman who was referred to as Virgin Mary. The ritual is said that had involved nudity and sex.
In the 15th and 16th century Black Masses seemed to have spread, as Gentien le Clerc (1615), a priest in Orleans, confessed to have performed Black Masses followed by drinking and sexual orgies.
In the 16th century, Catherine de Medici, the Queen of France was said to have performed a Black Mass, all based on a story by Jean Bodin in his book on witchcraft. Catherine, being involved or at least connected with the spread of poisonings which then were at high number especially in France and Italy, was said to also have been related to Satanic rituals, some which were Italian versions of Black Masses.
(Bewitchment seance organized before Catherine de Medicis by Cosmimo Ruggieri. – Source)
Also, Catherine de Medici was said to have worn talismans bearing Satanic symbols and names of Demons including Asmodei (Asmodeus). A copy of a talisman made of melted metals in precise astrological times can be found at Biblioteque Nationale din Paris. This talisman contains cabalistic formulas that were offered by her astrologer, Cosimo Ruggeri. The aim of this talisman was to attract power and love. It is oval shaped: one side has depicted Jupiter, seated on a eagle, and a hermetic and magical female image with beak and bird claws; on the back of the image of Venus, goddess of beauty and love, accompanied by the names of demons engraved including Asmodeus, the demon of carnal desire, usually invoked to get the specific energy to win the love of another person but also the name of archangel Haniel.
(Talisman of Catherine de Medici – source)
The female figure with the bird head and eagle feet is holding a dart with her right hand and with her left hand an object like a convex mirror or a lens. The female figure on the other side is holding a heart in her right hand and a comb in her left hand. We can recognize in those two pictures two magical images of Venus from the Picatrix.
Forma Veneris secundum opinionem sapientis Picatricis est forma mulieris tenentis in eius dextra manu malum et in sinistra pectinem similem tabule et is tis figuris scriptum: OÉ…OIOÉ… . Et hec est eius forma. Forma Veneris secundum opinionem sapientis Mercurii est forma habens corpus hominis et vultum et caput avis. pedes vero aquile. Et hec est eius forma.
The image of Venus according to the opinion of the sage Picatrix is the image of a woman holding an apple in her right hand and a comb like a wooden tablet and on this figure written OÉ…OIOÉ…. That is her image. The image of Venus according the opinion of the learned Mercurius is an image having human body, face and head of a bird and feet like a eagle. That is her image.
Book II, Chapter 10
From Agrippa’s Three Books of Occult Philosophy:
From the operations of Venus they made an Image, which was available for favor, and benevolence, at the very hour it ascending into Pisces, the form of which was the Image of a woman having the head of a bird, and feet of an Eagle, holding a dart in her hand.
Book II, Chapter 42
We can also observe the seal of Venus, sigil of Haniel, the Intelligence of Venus and his name, the name of the angel of Venus, Anael and Haniel and the name of the demon Asmodeus as Asmodel.
The son of Catherine de Medici, Henri de Valois continued the practice of black magick and the Black Mass in the turrets of his castle in the Bois de Vincennes. After he died a whole collection of Black Mass and black magick items were discovered. The Medici Mass as it is called, is more fictional for there is little evidence to back up this story.
In the 17th century, around the year 1647, the nuns of Louviers claimed to have been forced to participate naked in such Masses. Madeleine Bavent, a nun of Louviers in Normandy wrote in prison that she was forced by Father Pierre David, the chaplain of the convent at that time, to attend Mass naked. The nuns, she says, used to go completely naked in the church and in the gardens, and danced before Father David. In 1628 Father Mathurin Picard became chaplain with Father Thomas Boulle as his assistant. They both practiced the Black Mass with the nuns at a house near the convent. This continued until Picard died and Boulle was burned alive. Madeleine died in prison the same year at the age of 40.
(The nuns of Louviers receiving the eucharist naked, illustration by Martin van Maële in the book “La Sorcière“, 1911 edition by Jules Michelet – Source)
Between 1673 and 1689 at least fifty priests were executed for sacrilege and others were imprisoned. Father Davot was convicted of saying Black Mass over the naked body of a woman. Father Tournet was convicted of saying Mass on the body of a young girl whom he had made pregnant, with the intention that she would miscarry. Father Gerard was convicted of using a girl’s body as his altar in saying Mass and copulating with her as part of the ceremony.
Many of the sacrilegious priests were arrested as a result of the activities of a special court, set up by Louis XIV in 1679 to deal with cases of poisoning involving some of the French nobility. The court’s sessions were secret and from its verdict there was no appeal. Meeting in a room hung entirely in black and lit with candles, it was called the Chambre Ardente or Burning Court. Its investigation, headed by Nicholas de la Reymie, Police Commissioner Of Paris, rapidly extended from poisoning into sorcery. The most skeptical modern writers have conceded a strong element of truth in de la Reymie’s reports.
( La chambre ardente, Charles Cabot, Paris 1868 – Source)
The investigations centered round a widow named Catherine Deshayes (1640-1680), known as La Voisin, a famous witch, fortune-teller and suspected abortionist. La Voisin was known to have been procuring poisons and charms and to perform magical ceremonies in her home in the Rue De Beauregard.
(La Voisin – Source)
Such was the case when she assisted Etienne Guibourg (1610-1680), a French Roman Catholic abbe in his sixties, to perform Black Masses for Francoise-Athenais (Madame de Montespan). The Marquise de Montespan, born in 1641, was the mistress of King Louis XIV of France. She came to La Voisin with the intention of performing magick to alienate the king from both the queen and the Duchesse de la Valliere, to make herself his mistress and ultimately his wife. La Voisin agreed to help, and, together with her daughter Marguerite and the old Abbe Guibourg, have decided to perform three Black Masses to grant Montespan whatever she desired.
Madame de Montespan was used as an altar in the ceremony. She lied naked upon the altar with the chalice resting on her belly, and the Black Masses were said over her body. Her head was lying on a pillow, her arms were stretched out crosswise with black candles on her hands, and her legs were spread out.
Abbe Guibourg, standing between Montespan’s legs, invoked Satan and the demons Beelzebub, Asmodeus and Astaroth and began to perform the Black Mass. Whenever the mass called for kissing the altar, Guibourg kissed Montespan. He consecrated the host over Monstespan’s genitals after which he inserted pieces into her vagina.
(The Guibourg Mass, Paris 1666. – Source)
When La Voisin’s house was searched a curious chapel was discovered. Its walls were draped in black and behind the altar was a black curtain. A mattress rested on the altar, covered by a black cloth, and on top of this were black candles. There were magical books and candles made with human fat, supplied by a public executioner who was one of La Voisin’s lovers. There were also reports of ceremonies based on testimonies, including the testimony of Marguerite, La Voisin’s daughter who made a statement before the Chambre Ardente under no sort of pressure. Marguerite referred to a ceremony which took place in January 1678, when a woman of high rank arrived at their house at ten o’clock in the evening, wearing a mask. After she knocked in a special character, Marguerite opened the door and conducted her to the chapel. Though Marguerite did not take active part of the ceremony she was present, as she sometimes assisted in ceremonies and prepared the altar. It is believed that the masked woman described by Marguerite was no other than the Marquise de Montespan.
Rhodes explains that the economic situation of the 17th century brought little prosperity among the ordinary parish clergy, while the ‘devilish business’ of the Black Mass as a service to people, especially to women such as the already mentioned Marquise de Montespan and others was very profitable, which is the reason why La Voisin entered this business anyway. A number of higher ranking clergy such as Dulong, canon of Notre-Dame and Brigalier, a Royal Almoner, were also involved in this.
She and her associates were loyal to each other, and even under torture she refused to reveal the names of the others involved, associates or clients.
La Voisin was burned alive in February 1680 and in October the king suspended the sittings of the Burning Court, probably because his mistress, Madame de Montespan, had been involved. But de la Reymie continued his enquiries in secret, on the king’s instructions, until June 1682.
(La Voisin preparing for execution – Source)
(Affair of the Poisons, questioning Catherine Deshayes, known as La Voisin. Engraving from 19th century, France – Source)
(Execution of Catherine Deshayes, “La Voisin“ – Source)
Guibourg was imprisoned in the castle of Besancon, chained to the wall of his cell for three years till his death.
The Guibourg Mass as it is called, shows several similarities to the Medici Mass that is, the Black Mass performed by Catherine de Medici, the Queen of France during the 16th century. H.T.F. Rhodes says that “it has been suggested that La Voisin in her turn was the pupil of Catherine de Medici who had introduced Italian poison and the Italian Devil into France.” Catherine de Medici wore a talisman engraved with the name of the demon Asmodeus and was connected with the spread of poisonings in Italy, while La Voisin and Guibourg invoked Asmodeus and were involved in the poisonings in France.
Huysmans tells us in his novel “La-Bas” (1891) that Guibourg celebrated other versions of Mass, one of them called the Spermatic Mass. In this ritual, Guibourg wearing the alb, the stole and the maniple, would celebrate this Mass with the sole object of making pastes with which to conjure the Devil. Some archives, he says, inform us that he once did this at the request of a certain Madame Des Oeillettes. This woman, who was indisposed, gave some blood; the man who accompanied her stood beside the bed where the scene took place, and Guibourg caught some of his semen in the chalice; powdered blood and some flour was added and, after the sacrilegious ceremonies, the Des Oeillettes woman departed bearing her paste.
In 1788 the Marquis de Sade describes in his famous novel Justine (2nd version) a celebration of a black mass in a cloister. Another of his novels, Juliette (1797), in parts four and five, describes a meeting between Juliette and Pope Pius VI in the Vatican. In many other writings, he places the Host and the Mass, the priest and the Pope himself in sexual settings. There is no doubt that such ideas were widespread and commonplace in the France of de Sade’s time.
During the 19th century the London based clubs called the Hellfire Clubs was said to have sexual orgies, perform Black Masses and to worship the Devil. The Hellfire Club was the name of several exclusivist clubs established in Britain and England in the 18th century for the high ranking society who wanted to indulge in immoral acts such as sex, religious and political mockery. Much like the characters in de Sade’s 120 Days of Sodom, the members were somewhat privileged people looking for new ways of entertainment, and like Sade, they all despise religion. Dr. Stephen Flowers writes about them in detail in his book “Lords of the Left-Hand Path“. At page 161 Flowers cites from Blackett-Ord’s book Hell-Fire Duke, saying the members “named the Devil himself as their president and three of the leading members went by the names Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.”
(‘The diabolical maskquerade, or the dragons-feast as acted by the Hell-Fire-Club, at Somerset House in the Strand’. 1721 – Source)
The members being of such high ranks (the founder, Sir Francis Dashwood was a Member of the Parliament and close acquaintance of Benjamin Franklin, Grand Master Free-Mason who was to become 6th President of Pennsylvania and United States Minister to Sweden and to France) were constrained to wear masks at their sexual escapades, especially women who were of high stature in society.
A rather interesting fact is the inscription Dashwood had placed over the entrance, writing Fay ce que voudras, “Do what you will”. This was lifted directly from a reference to the “Abbey of Theleme” in the sixteenth-century humorous work The life of Gargantua and Pantagruel by Francois Rabelais. This motto was taken up in the twentieth century by magician Aleister Crowley as “Do what thou wilt“. (Lords of the Left Hand Path, page 162.)
In a later part of the century, various books were starting to treat the subject of the Black Mass, most notably Jules Michelet‘s La Sorcière in 1862, Jules Baissac’s Grands Jours de la Sorcellerie in 1890, Joris-Karl Huysmans‘ classic novel La-Bas in 1891, Le Satanisme et la Magie by Jules Bois in 1895 with a preface by J.K. Huysmans and Die Synagoge des Satan by Stanislaw Przybyszewski in 1897
(Jules Bois and J.K. Huysmans – Source)
Huysmans’ novel La-Bas (translated as Down There or The Damned) was special in a way that it described the black mass in detail and offers us a clearer picture of what the French Satanism had been up to that point.
He describes in deep detail a Black Mass (in chapter 19) which he claimed was practiced in Paris in those years. The description of the Black Mass by Huysmans differs in many ways from the others especially in that Satan is explicitly worshipped, and hatred is openly expressed against Christianity. It is not certain if he ever attended a Black Mass, though he had claimed he did. La-Bas however, still remains only a work of fiction.
(Illustration in La-Bas, by Huysmans, Paris 1891. Canon Docre. Artist: Henry Chapront, Paris 1924. – Source)
Richard Cavendish, though he recognizes that the Black Mass “appears more often in fiction than in real life“, offers us a story about a reporter from Le Matin (French newspaper between 1884 to 1944) who in 1889 wrote an article on the Black Mass and who, though he doubted the existence of it, was invited to one.
Cavendish sums up the story by saying the reporter “was taken to it with blindfolds on his eyes and when they were removed found himself in a dark room with erotic murals. On the altar, surrounded by six black candles, was an image of a goat trampling on a crucifix. The priest wore red robes and the congregation of about fifty men and women chanted hymns. Mass was said on the bare body of a woman stretched on the altar. Black hosts were consecrated and eaten by the worshippers and the ceremony culminated in an orgy. Le Matin confirmed that the reported had really been to this meeting but would give no further details.”
(Black Mass. Artist: Manuel Orazi, Paris 1903 – Source)
(La Messe Noire – Artist: Leopold Cenni, Paris, 1908 – source)
(The Black Mass, Manuel Orazi, 1898)
He gives further examples of such events taking place in the early 20th century, such as the stories of William Seabrook in 1940, who said he had seen Black Masses in London, Paris, Lyon and New York, or the story that the Spanish writer Julio Caro Baroja was told about occurring in 1942 in the Spanish Basque country.
The 20th century had offered us no real historical accounts of Black Masses. However, many writings have been created on the subject. One of them is the popular book Der dunkle Gott: Satanskult und Schwarze Messe by H.T.F. Rhodes, published in 1954. Rhodes, while having access to all the historical documents, writes that, at the time of his writing, there did not exist a single first hand source which actually described the rites and ceremonies of a Black Mass.
Oddly, in 1929 a pornographic film was shot, features on a DVD called “Erotica Anthologie Volume 1 – Messe Noire”.
A chronological order of the books treating the subject in the 20th century would be: Le Messe Noire by Gabriel Legue (1903), L’orgie Satanique A Travers Les Siecles by Roland Brevannes (1904), Les Messes Noires, le culte de Satan-Dieu by Docteurs Caufeynon et Jaf (1905), Le Messe Noire ancienne et moderne by Joanny Bricaud (1924), History of Witchcraft and demonology by Montague Summers (1926), The God Of The Witches by Margaret Alice Murray (1931), A Popular History Of Witchcraft by Montague Summers (1937), Witchcraft And Black Magic by Montague Summers (1946), The Satanic Mass by H.T.F.Rhodes (1954), Priere a Satan – Messes noires d’hier et d’aujourd’hui by Francis Barney (1957), The Meaning of Witchcraft by Gerald Gardner (1959), Le Diable. Erotologie de Satan by Roland Villeneuve (1963), Satanic Cult by Gerhard Zacharias (1964), The Black Arts by Richard Cavendish (1967), Weird Ways Of Witchcraft by Dr. Leo L. Martello (1969), Satanic Bible by Anton LaVey (1969), Satanic Rituals by Anton LaVey (1972), Messa Niger by Aubrey Melech (1986).
Many of them only repeated the same information and were not historically accurate. Montague Summers was a clergyman with no serious academic or historical studies but rather a modern ‘witch-hunter’, being credited for publishing the first English translation of Heinrich Kramer’s and James Sprenger’s famous witch-hunting manual, Malleus Maleficarum. He wrote several books on medieval Witchcraft which also treated the subject of the Black Mass and the Witches Sabbath.
Margaret Alice Murray’s books The Witch-Cult in Western Europe (1921) and The God Of The Witches (1931) were a great success, yet were contested by many academic scholars for the fact that she promoted the idea that the witches were a pagan cult worshipping a horned-god, ideas which influenced the birth of Wicca in the 1940’s and implicitly Gerald Gardner’s The Meaning of Witchcraft (1959)
The Satanic Mass by H.T.F.Rhodes (1954) is perhaps the best source written on this subject in the 20th century, along with The Black Arts by Richard Cavendish (1967). While Rhodes is not a historian of religious studies, he is a historian of sociological and criminological studies, which is also evident in the subtitle of his Satanic Mass book, presented as “A sociological and criminological study.” He presents the information with objectivity and at many times, with skepticism, yet he offers a great deal of material to study, perhaps the most comprehensive to ever been published on the subject of the Black Mass.
Richard Cavendish on the other hand is a respected historian specialized in medieval and religious studies, collaborating with many important historians, professors and academicians. His book, The Black Arts became a classic in occult literature as well as other works he has done in his careers.
Anton LaVey’s Satanic Bible (1969) and Satanic Rituals (1972), along with Aubrey Melech’s Messa Niger (1986) and the materials of Order of Nine Angles (cca. 1980’s) have also been of great importance.
LaVey actually started out with an audio recording released as an LP entitled “Satanic Mass” recorded in 1967 and released in 1968. This was about the same time the psychedelic rock band Coven released their track called “Satanic Mass”. This was essentially a 13 minute audio recording that was part of their stage show back in 1968 and was included on their 1969 record album “Witchcraft Destroys Minds & Reaps Souls” together with the full published text. It took hundreds of hours for researching the material and to the bands knowledge it was the first Black Mass published in any language. However, it is not entirely a black mass, yet more of an initiation of an adept into the religion of Satan, followed by an orgy.
(Psychedelic rock band “Coven” on album “Witchcraft Destroys Minds & Reaps Souls” – Source)
LaVey’s “Church of Satan” first had a written black mass done by Wayne West back in 1970 which was called “Missa Solemnis” (named after the “Missa Solemnis” version of the Latin Mass) and published by Michael Aquino in his book “Church of Satan”. A documentary film called “Satanis – The Devil’s Mass” appeared in 1970 featuring LaVey and the Church of Satan, showing ritual footage and interviews with him, his members and Christians. The second written Black Mass was featured in Satanic Rituals under the title “Le Messe Noir”. Right after “Le Messe Noir” comes “L’air Epais” or “The Ceremony of the Stifling Air” which is another form of black mass “with pseudo-historical connection to the story of the suppresion of the Knight Templar by the king of France” (Stephen Flowers, Lords of the Left Hand Path, p. 365).
However, Anton LaVey did not participate nor consider the black mass a real magical or religious ritual, yet a somewhat psychological deprogramming from the Christian dogma, considering the original descriptions of the Black Mass as creation of the Church to manipulate people. He said that “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 on the religious service of the Roman Catholic Church, but can be loosely applied to a satire on any religious ceremony.” and “a black mass today , would consist of the blaspheming of such ‘sacred’ topics in Eastern mysticism, psychiatry, the psychedelic movement, ultra-liberalism, etc.”
(Anton LaVey, 1966 – Source)
One other modern writing describing the Black Mass is the “Black Book Of Satan” by The Order Of Nine Angels. In this book the version of the Black Mass is changed. Whilst in the other Black Masses known the altar is a naked female, in the Black Mass offered by O.N.A. the altar is a naked male. Also, O.N.A. gives a gay and lesbian version of the Black Mass and also that which is known as “Mass of Heresy”, a sort of Mass dedicated to Hitler as a hero sent by the dark gods, encoraging and celebrating racism and nazism. It is described as “having the aim of challenging the accepted beliefs about recent history, provoke dissent and encourage Promethean challange.”