A BLACK MASS:
The Black Pope: The Authentic Biography of
Anton Szandor Lavey
by BURTON H. WOLFE
Anton Szandor Lavey with Jane Mansfield
On a foggy, Friday night in San Francisco, inside a black Victorian style house standing incongruously amid a row of pale and unremarkable homes of ordinary people, the hands of the ancient wall clock meet at twelve. It is the hour of the warlocks and witches, and of evil spirits. Time for the Satanists to begin the most vital part of their day, when no sunlight can shine upon them and there is little noise to disturb their work.
Within the sharply gabled house, a short distance from the cliffs of San Francisco Bay, three dozen members of an assemblage, which is identified by their leader as a grotto, are gathered in the antechamber to a chapel of infamy. Some of them stand in front of bookshelves filled with works on black magic, Satanic lore, witchcraft, ghosts, werewolves, vampires, the occult, and the supernatural. A stuffed Indian bandicoot hangs from the top shelf by its tail, its mouth curled into a sardonic smile. Beneath it there is an old-fashioned black and white dentist’s chair, occupied by a dark haired young woman who wears a skirt hiked well above her knees and a flimsy blouse exposing half of her breasts that are adorned with a pentagram-shaped amulet dangling from a gold chain wrapped around the pale white skin of her neck.
Across the room from the young woman, two men clothed in black turtleneck shirts, both fronted with amulets identical to the one worn by the provocative young, converse intently beside a skeleton housed in a glass case. Along another side of the room, three painted women, also adorned with the pentagram-shaped amulet, chat on a sofa in front of a white marble tombstone slab fashioned into a coffee table.
Most of the men in the antechamber are conservatively dressed in dark suits, white shirts, and ties of solid colors, although a few wear red sweaters or leather jackets and black boots. The women are far more flamboyant. Their faces are painted heavily with makeup, they are scented with exotic perfumes such as Jungle Gardenia, they wear lavender and orange miniskirts with tight fitting blouses tucked into them, or silk gowns, and both garbs are arranged in a way to expose much of their breasts.
The men and women chatter quietly, eyes wide with anticipation, until a figure in a floor-length robe, hooded and black, enters the antechamber. The figure is that of a tall man who has been designated an assistant priest. He announces that a midnight mass is about to begin. At once the men and women put out their cigarettes, stop talking, and line up at a door leading to an adjoining room, as previously instructed. They are a well-disciplined congregation.
Following behind the black-robed man, they file into the adjoining room that will be used as a chapel, and take seats barely visible in the light that filters in from the antechamber. As soon as they are seated, the door is shut and they are immersed in total darkness. Suddenly, the silence is broken with organ music that sounds like a combination of corrupted Bach, church hymns, and Teutonic airs mingled with some electronically produced effects that are reminiscent of those used for horror films. The sinister sounds from the organ continue amid the blackness for five minutes, and then a heavy knock is heard on the door and a woman, clothed in the habit worn by nuns, enters carrying a burning candle in front of her. She uses it to light other candles on a stone fireplace and the lid of the organ.
Now the scene is illuminated. Facing the congregation is the organ, draped in black and topped by a human skull. The organist, too, is covered by a hooded black robe. Next to him stands the woman in the nun’s habit, candle held before her face in a holy, almost angelic looking pose. But the face is that of a blond haired minx who looks like a miniature Jayne Mansfield and who, just half an hour before, was walking around the macabre house in a flashy dress cut to expose half of her breasts and to reveal her thighs to the edge of her panties, in the style of the actress she mimics.
Infamous LaVey/Church of Satan “Black House” at 6114 California Street, as it looked before and after Anton had it fenced to keep intruders from knocking at the door or causing any mischief.
Reproduced from The Black Pope by permission of the Publisher.
Behind the nun-mocker, a black coffin stands on its lower edge, forming a hexagon. On top of it, there is a stuffed great horned owl, eyes glowing lifelike in the reflection of the candlelight.
The walls of the chapel have been painted black; the ceiling is blood red. Painted on the main wall to the right of the organ is a replica of the Baphomet sigil as depicted in books dealing with the occult: a goat’s head in an inverted pentagram within a circle, representing the Powers of Darkness, the generative fertility of the goat, and the carnal instincts of man. It is the Baphomet sigil that forms the face of the amulet dangling from chains on the necks of the members of the congregation.
Below the replica of the Baphomet sigil, along the mantel of a large stone fireplace, a fleshy female lies draped only in a leopard skin. To her right, a pale-faced young woman, with long blond hair cascading down her black velvet robe, stands rigidly at attention with a sword held upside down in front of her. She is the High Priestess. Next to her, wearing the standard hooded black robe, an assistant priest mans a brass Chinese gong.
On the other side of the room there are three more hooded assistant priests and two naked female acolytes. A Nineteenth Century chamber pot is concealed between their legs.
Beside the hooded assistants stands a powerful-looking man whose face, unlike the other male faces, is bared. Only the top of his head is covered, with a skintight cowl pierced by horns made of bones. He is the High Priest. His garments are a black cassock covered by a black gabardine cape with scarlet lining. His barbed beard and mustache are Mephistophelean. His squinting eyes, glittering in the candlelight, are satanic. His manner is solemn and commanding, his air one that seems to proclaim: “I am He.” This is Anton Szandor LaVey, the first man in American history to organize a religion based on Devil worship and to declare himself, as the founder and leader of it, to be the emissary of Satan on Earth.
Now one of LaVey’s assistant priests, the tallest, steps away from the group and removes the leopard skin from the woman lying on the mantelpiece. Her naked white flesh is offset spectacularly by her long black hair and thick, highly arched, painted black eyebrows. A necklace supporting the Baphomet amulet hangs almost to the valley of flesh formed by her billowing breasts, that shimmer wax-like in the glow of the candles. She lifts one leg, doubling it at the knee, positioning herself so that the black triangular mat of her pubic hair is barely visible. The hair from her head flows over the edge of the fireplace.
All eyes in the room are fixed upon her. She has become the altar, an altar of flesh, an altar of carnal celebration.
The tall assistant priest picks up a big brass bell, waves it over the naked altar for sanctification, and begins to ring it. Immediately the organist starts playing The Hymn to Satan, a corruption of Bach’s Jesu Meine Freude. The assistant priest slowly revolves in a circle, counterclockwise, ringing the deeply toned bell nine times, the magic number of Satanism, to purify the air. When that is done the High Priestess offers him the cased sword she was holding. He unsheathes it, points it over the altar of naked flesh, and intones a somber supplication, snapping out the words and hissing the s’s in them in simulation of a serpent.
“In nomine Dei nostri Satanas Luciferi excelsi,” he chants, as the organist improvises low-pitched, rumbling trauma and terror music. “In the name of our exalted god, Satan, Lucifer, Ruler of the Earth, King of the World, I command you to come forth from the Gates of Hell and bestow the blessings of the Power of Darkness upon us. Come forth. Come forth by the names [a pause, followed by the biblical names for the Devil]:
“Satan [he turns to the South], Lord of the Inferno.
“Lucifer [he turns to the East], Bearer of Light.
“Belial [he turns to the North], King of the Earth.
“Leviathan [he turns to the West], Great Serpent of the Abyss.”
“Shemhamphorash!” he shouts.
The congregation shouts the Name of Names back at him: “Shemhamphorash!”
“Hail Satan!" the assistant priest cries.
In response the congregation shouts in unison: “Hail Satan!”
The hooded functionary who has been manning the brass gong pounds on it. The tall assistant priest returns to his assigned place, and High Priest LaVey steps forward to begin his role in the Black Mass he has reconstructed. He picks up what he has dubbed the Chalice of Ecstasy, a silver goblet filled with his favorite elixir: not blood or nectar, but bourbon whiskey. He drinks deeply and then passes the goblet to his hooded assistants for them to share in his version of the legendary brimstone. After the assistants have partaken of the elixir, LaVey retrieves the chalice and waves it over the naked altar while an assistant moves toward the congregation with a Byzantine phallic image that serves as the aspergillum or “holy water sprinkler.” The liquid that has been poured inside the aspergillum is seminal fluid mixed with milk. The assistant dips the phallus into the fluid and extracts it, letting it drip onto the floor. Then he shakes it at the members of the congregation. Some of them are hit in the face with the fluid that is dripping from the phallus, but they have made no effort to avoid it and they do not try to wipe it off.
With the mockery of the Mass of the Catholic Church completed, High Priest LaVey is ready for his major function in the ancient Black Mass, modernized. While the female in the nun’s habit holds a burning candle in front of him to provide light, he takes the sword left by the High Priestess with the tall assistant priest and holds it aloft. Then he reads from a book that has a thick black cover, spitting out the words in a harsh, guttural voice:
“Oh, friend and companion of the night, thou who rejoiceth in the baying of dogs and spilt blood, who wanderest in the midst of shades among the tombs, who longest for blood and bringest terror to mortals – Gorgo, Mormo, thousand faced moon – look favorably on our sacrifices.
“Open wide the gates of Hell and come forth from the abyss to greet me as your brother and friend.
“Grant me the indulgence of which I speak.
“I have taken thy name as a part of myself. I live as the beasts of the field, rejoicing in the fleshly life. I favor the just and curse the rotten.
“By all the gods of the Pit, I command that these things of which I speak shall come to pass.
“Come forth now, and answer to your names by manifesting my desires.”
Next comes the invocation of infernal names. As deep, rumbling chords from the organ chill the room, LaVey snarls each of them, and the congregation responds by shouting the name in unison: “Asmodeus” [Hebrew devil of sensuality]. “Balaam” [Hebrew devil of avarice]. “Beelzebub” [Phoenician god of the flies, chief devil of Christianity]. “Hecate” [Greek goddess of witchcraft]. “Ishtar” [Babylonian goddess of fertility]. “Mammon” [Aramaic god of wealth and profit]. “Pan” [Greek fertility god]. “Shaitan” [more or less the Satan of the Yezidi devil-worshipers]. And a dozen others. Once they were worshiped as highly exalted deities. Now they are infernal names antipathetic to Judaeo-Christian religion and other white spiritual religions. Fallen, debased gods, they are beneficent only to Satanists.
“Shemhamphorash!” LaVey shouts. “Shemhamphorash!” the congregation responds in unison. “Hail Satan!”
After completing the invocation of the infernal names, LaVey chants a spell in the ancient tongue of the magicians known as Enochian. It has a guttural, ugly, sinister sound. La-Vey snarls the words as he recites them: “Micama, goho Pe-IAD zodir comselahe azodien biabe os-ton-dohe. Norezoda cahisa otahila Gigipahe; vaunud-el-cahisa ta-pu-ime quomos-petehe telocahe; qui-i-inu toltoregi cahisa I cahisaji em ozodien; dasata beregida od torezo-dul. Behold, sayeth your god, Satan. I am the circle on whose hands stand the Twelve Kingdoms. Six are the seats of living breath; the rest are as sharp sickles, or the Horns of Death wherein the creatures of Earth are and are not, except in mine own hands, which sleep and shall rise.”
And now LaVey is ready for the major deviltry of the night: the psychodrama. On past Friday nights for the last two years he has conducted a phantasmagoric variety of ceremonies: Fertility rites designed to correct sexual problems, to induce lust and evoke orgasm. Madness rituals to consecrate the insanity in all human beings. Shibboleth rituals to vent anger and hatred of obnoxious people and exasperating social customs. Destruction rituals to curse or hex despised enemies.
Tonight, for the entertainment of his flock, LaVey has decided to conduct what he construes to be a traditional Black Mass; a ceremony of blasphemy designed especially to mock the Mass of the Catholic Church.
A large plaster replica of Jesus Christ on the cross, blood streaming from his wounds, is dragged from a corner of the room and hung upside down on the wall over the replica of the Baphomet sigil. Condoms are draped over Jesus’s torn, outstretched arms. An American flag is un-furled from the naked altar. The setting is complete.
To open the Black Mass, LaVey leads the congregation in the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer, backwards. Then he picks up a triangular “holy wafer” [a crusty piece of cake]. The naked female altar pulls down her one uplifted leg and lies spread-eagled. LaVey inserts the “holy wafer” into her vagina for sanctification. When it is sufficiently moistened and sanctified, he and his naked female acolytes break it into pieces that are placed on the tongues of half a dozen parishioners. The naked acolytes then lead them into the center of the chapel for confessions. The sin of a slender, red-haired male parishioner, asceticism during recent years, is construed as being so great that he agrees he should be scourged. He is placed across the lap of one of the acolytes. Another pulls down his pants and flagellates him with a cat-o’-nine-tails, as the organist plays When You Wore a Tulip (“…’twas then Heaven blessed me…”).
When the scourging is finished, another member of the congregation, dressed in the miter and holy robes of the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, tramps around the room as the organist plays Entry of the Gladiators, until he is seized by the men in black robes. They hurl him to the floor, pull down their pants, and stoop over him, pretending to defecate on his body. A preparation of brown, brackish mud is splattered upon his vestments. When he is sufficiently covered with it, he is dragged out of the room to the strains of a Eucharistic chorus from Wagner’s Parsifal and shouts of “Hail Satan.”
Next, a frail man clothed only in a white sheet crawls around the room with a cross tied to his back. Members of the congregation kick him. One of the naked female acolytes slaps him with the cat-o’-nine-tails while the organist plays Onward Christian Soldiers and all of the members of the congregation jeer mightily. Then one of the naked female acolytes grabs the crawling Christ by the hair, pulls his head close to her waggling backside, and leads him out of the chapel.
As the Christ is dragged out, the men in black robes haul the Nineteenth-Century chamber pot into the center of the room. While the organist plays The Battle Hymn of the Republic, LaVey shouts toward the ceiling of the chapel as if directing his words toward Heaven: “Without the men of the black path, the white light could never shine! We created your God! Now, therefore, we may destroy your God! Your anemic saints we shall smash, even as we have smashed that pallid monstrosity that hangs limpid upon the cross still!”
With that, LaVey pulls out a plastic figure of a saint, throws it onto the floor, grinds it under the heel of his boot, picks it up, and tosses it into the chamber pot, as the organist plays The Stars and Stripes Forever.
“Thus we drown him,” LaVey proclaims, “and prove that he hath never walked on water and never shall again.”
Next, LaVey stands over the chamber pot, zips his fly open, and attempts to urinate. He has difficulty in generating a stream; so he calls to the organist: “Will you please play me some water music?” And the organist complies with a rendition of How dry I am. Throughout, the members of the congregation have remained reasonably straight faced, but now they give way to laughter.
The song describing the High Priest’s plight having produced nothing more than laughter, the organist shifts his playing to a selection from Handel’s Water Music, and that works for LaVey, a lover of the classics. His act of vilification proceeds. “Ah!” he exults as his urine rains down on the image that he tossed into the chamber pot. “I see some of the saints screaming for help in the whirlpool.” The organist plays I’ve got a lovely bunch of coconuts (“here they are all standing in a row”). “There’s one lurking by the shore, trying to evade my holy waters,” LaVey continues. He fires another stream of urine into the chamber pot, causing his parishioners to laugh in appreciation.
When LaVey is done with his watering, the naked female acolytes take their turns squatting over the chamber pot and peeing into it, as the organist plays selections from Respighi’s Fountains of Rome and Singing in the Rain to help them along. One of the acolytes pees and pees. “I can’t stop it,” she says, looking helplessly at LaVey. The members of the conversation are convulsed with laughter.
After what seems like several minutes of non-stop peeing, at last the acolyte is able to turn off the faucet, concluding the desecration of the saints. In appreciation of the show, LaVey faces the naked altar and proclaims: “Thus, Satan separateth the just from the rotten, as Satan and Nature always have.”
There follows a bit of revelry consisting of the naked female acolytes joining hands with the men in black robes and dancing with them back to back as the organist provides a rendition of the Bacchanal from Samson and Delilah. After a few minutes of what has been construed over the centuries by Christians as the kind of devilish dancing practiced by witches, the acolytes and hooded men part to form an open path for the woman in nun’s garb. She performs a bump-and-grind routine, while the organist produces strains from Vision of Salome followed by some burlesque theater music. The nun’s habit comes off, revealing a harlot miniskirt that had been hidden beneath it. Blond hair falls down over bare shoulders. The mock nun, defrocked, writhes in ecstatic enjoyment of her freedom as the congregation cheers lustily.
Moving her gently aside, LaVey raises his hands in supplication. “The sagging spirit of guilt and repression is cast off,” he chants. “The carnal nature of the beast is bared. Heaven shakes and Hell laughs. Ecstasy triumphs over the decadent self-denial preached by milksops and eunuchs. The way of the flesh encompasses humanity in its folds of pleasure. Satan rules the Earth. Hail Satan!”
“Hail Satan!” the congregation shouts in unison.
Pleased with the way his resurrection of the Black Mass has played out, LaVey is in a bountiful mood. Before closing the Mass, he decides to let his entire flock share in a dispensation from the High Priest. “Come forth to declare your wishes,” he invites.
The first to respond is a writer of popular magazine articles and books. He asks for greater acceptance of his work, more sales, more popularity, more dollars. So far as he is concerned, there is only one deity that will be receptive to that kind of prayer; and, besides, he holds with Voltaire, who wrote: “You must have the Devil in you to succeed in any of the arts.” Nevertheless, the writer is skittish about his revealing openly to the members of the congregation his deep-seated, ego-based, materialistic desires; hence, he utters his wishes softly to LaVey so that no one else can hear.
“May all that you wish be bestowed upon you by our god Lucifer,” LaVey intones. “You shall be thrice blessed and enjoy great fortune. Oh, Satan, hear these desires and grant them as thy bounteous gifts. Shemhamphorash! Hail Satan!”
“Shemhamphorash!" the congregation responds in unison. “Hail Satan!”
Emboldened, others who have been shy about expressing blatantly materialistic wishes to a group come forth with their requests. “Bring my girlfriend to me in heat…May the young corporation executive be attracted to me…Grant that the pay raise I seek shall be approved…Cause my competitor to make mistakes so that I can triumph over him.”
As Satanists, they do not seek salvation, forgiveness, or world peace. Instead, their requests for the blessings of Satan represent their purely self-oriented, materialistic wants. In the spirit encouraged by LaVey, they give way to their innermost desires with abandon and return to their seats feeling unburdened.
To conclude the Mass, LaVey opens his cape wide in front of the naked altar while using one of his hands to form the Sign of the Horns: the two outermost fingers, representing the goat, thrust upward in defiance of Heaven, the two innermost turned down in a denial of the Holy Trinity.
“Oh, Harlot of Abominations, Mother of Empires,” La-Vey invokes. “Oh, Great Beast which rules the Earth. Come forth out of the darkness and sweep the world. Rise and give the Sign of the Horns.”
The members of the congregation dutifully rise from their seats, each lifting her or his right arm heavenward with the sign. LaVey cups his hands in the traditional magic Sign of the Flame over the naked female altar. Then he shouts “Hail Satan” three times while the congregation echoes each.
Once more the tall assistant priest rings the bell nine times. Again the organist plays The Hymn of Satan. On the final ring of the bell, the ceremonial sword used in the Mass is sheathed, and LaVey proclaims: “And so it is done.” He blows out the flame from the candle on the fireplace, covers the naked altar once more with the leopard skin that had been removed, lifts the woman from the mantel, and carries her from the room he uses as a chapel in his thick, strong arms.
When LaVey and his assistants have filed out of the chapel, the men and women of the congregation get up from their seats, chattering and ambling slowly into the dining area of the black house for cakes, coffee, and tea. In a few minutes LaVey, now defrocked, emerges from a hidden room to shake their hands and chat with them. “How’s the baby, Marianne?…Did your deal come through, Jack? ...Hello, Joanne, nice to have you with us again. How was your trip?”
There is no sign to indicate that these people have just participated in a ceremony that has terrified Christian priests and ministers, scandalized churches and nations, and caused a million souls to be burned at the stake. A few of the men are intent on lining up assignations with the women whom they consider the most alluring. Other men are merely absorbed in everyday conversation typical of Americans’ small talk or the enjoyment of the cakes, coffee, and tea: tame stuff for Devil worshipers engaged in a Black Mass.
The Mind Opening Books By permission of the Publisher
Burton H. Wolfe is the author of hundreds of articles and essays published in major newspapers and magazines, and of subject-definitive books such as The Hippies (New American Library) and Hitler and the Nazis (Putnam) that have been used for basic sources of study in high schools, colleges, and universities across the U.S. From his home office in Boynton Beach, Florida, Wolfe publishes The Mind Opening Books. Contact Wolfe via his email address, firstname.lastname@example.org
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