“I do not know whether the monstrous tableau of the Black Mass . . . is still enacted in our days, but I do know that all but the most horrible practices of the sacrilegious magic of the Middle Ages are yet performed, from time to time, in a secrecy which is all but absolute.
Arthur Symons, The Symbolist Movement in Literature (1919)*
I wonder if we should think more often and more clearly about sacrilegious magic, ritual obscenity and propitiatory perversion. Although professedly religious, we seldom if ever understand sacrilege, obscenity and perversion in religious terms. We seldom if ever understand obscene and perverse acts as magical incantations, hieratic rituals, and Satanic propitiations.
Sin is an offence to God and therefore an offering to Satan. Thus sacrilege, obscenity and perversion are not always the works of benighted fools who do not fear God’s wrath. They are, more often than we may care to think, the works of fiends who do these things to curry Satan’s favor.
Sacrilege, obscenity and blasphemy are Satanic rites whereby a Satanist is clothed in black raiment. The essence of Satanism is, after all, the belief that a man clothed in black raiment enjoys the favor and protection of the stronger power and has joined the winning side. Sacrilege, obscenity and blasphemy are satanic amulets and talismans; not simply badges of allegiance but also sources of power.
My epigraph is taken from a discussion of the novel La Bas (1891), by Joris-Karl Huysmans. In this discussion Symons says that Huysman’s character Madame Chantelouve “is an attempt, probably the first in literature, to diagnose a case of Sadism in a woman.” Madame Chantelouve appears again Huysman’s En Route (1895) where she is described as “a demonical adulteress who had drawn [the protagonist Durtal] into frightful excesses, who had linked him to nameless crimes, sins against holy things, to sacrileges.”
Sadism is best understood as a Satanic rite of defilement, gratuitous cruelty being the antitype of love. In fact defilement is an anti-baptism in filth, since sins can be washed in as well as washed away. A close student of the Marquis de Sade explains the religious significance of his Sadistic cruelty and perversion this way:
“The Sadean rebel wants to step outside human morals and civilization, and very like the emperors of Roman times, he yearns to outrage nature,” and his “horrible crimes are acts of worship offered to Satan.”**
“It’s not an accident that the same ghastly evils, homosexuality, transgenderism, pedophilia, and child sacrifice, keep reappearing in the late stages of societies given completely over to more common evils such as lust, sloth, and greed. In the absence of a comprehensive theology of evil, we must make do with recognizing its historical patterns, and one observable pattern is that submission to Mammon in the form of usury and greed tends to precede submission to Asmodeus in the form of conventional lust, eventually followed by submission to Baphomet and Moloch, among others.”
*) Arthur Symons, The Symbolist Movement in Literature (New York: E.P. Dutton, 1919), pp. 257-258.
**) Nancy L. Bolles, The Satanic Vision of the Marquis de Sade (Doctoral Dissertation, French, University of Wisconsin, 1995), p. 10