Friday, June 09, 2006

running with the devil

so the big 6/6/06 has passed, and satanic activity in the city has ebbed to the usual level.

on tuesday i attended a satanic high mass at the steve allen theater in east hollywood, as the guest/chauffeur of the doc, who was doing research for an article. this was the same night as the big 666 concert celebration at the henry fonda theater, with hank III performing on the occasion of his pal stanton lavey's satanic nuptials. that was probably a louder and doubtless more bacchanalian event than the high mass, which made up for any lack of volume and debauchery by being a far rarer occurrence.

everyone was all dressed up in their evil best, with lots of pentagram jewelry -- mostly lapel pins and necklaces, but some belt buckles and other decorations -- interesting facial hair, and a surprising number of hats. the color mode was mostly black, but with a smattering of red, one blond guy in a white suit, and a woman wearing bright pink opera gloves that matched her bright pink pentagram necklace. (it was so, like ... barbie goes to hell or something.) some folks were full-on pierced and tattooed and such, but others weren't quite so obviously in league with the devil. before the mass we had drinks and mingled and talked with folks; a couple of people recognized my companion and chatted him up.

finally the theater opened, and we found seats. a reclining naked woman (strategically draped with a red cloth) loomed above the stage, and there was an array of chalices, candles, and other articles of faith on a table in front. after a few words of welcome, rumbling music emanated seemingly from the vents of hades itself, and the mass began.

three rituals were performed by three different people: compassion, lust, and destruction. the ceremony was structured very much like your basic magick rituals -- turning to the south, east, north, and west, calling out the guardians of each direction that symbolize different aspects of ... hell, i suppose. (and, at the end, closing the gates and whatnot.) some call-and-response a la a catholic mass. a fair amount of "hail satan!"-ing, which the congregation of about, i dunno -- 100 or so? -- lustily bellowed out. it was mostly very serious and somber, to the point where the solemn intoning of something like "all hail the joys of satan!" puzzled me, in my ignorance, b/c it seemed ... counterintuitive to the proceedings. each ritual allowed three supplicants to come up to the stage and state their desires to be blessed. these involved everything from wanting a good-paying job to wishing to be a playa to seeking payback for having been cheated. nothing too earth-shattering, really -- just the mundane desires of ordinary folks. who happen to be devil-worshippers.

as a person who has no use for any sort of organized religion, it would be easy for me to poke fun at all of it, but to be honest it was fascinating and actually seemed quite benign, even ... uplifting. satanists don't often get to be together in this fashion. there was a sense of euphoria flitting around the edges of the gathering -- they seemed quite happy just to be among like-minded folks. and, although i would be lying if i said i didn't find it somewhat silly (like any other religious ceremony), i still enjoyed myself immensely and am very glad i went. before the ceremony and during the reception afterward, the people were all very nice and polite, and when i talked with a couple of those involved, they seemed pleased that i found it so compelling. happy to be somewhat understood.

the thing i liked the most was how clearly and plainly the supplicants stated their desires (a key thing in witchcraft). i wish i could do it more, even within my own mind. it hinted at an ability -- fostered by their beliefs or not, i dunno -- to focus and distill one's thoughts down to a very simple form.

if there was any disappointment, it was due to my own expectations. i wanted to feel a stronger pull of power than i did. there was instead a more subtle tug of energy, like i said, among the participants. only one woman gave me an interesting and intense vibe, and she was somewhat distraught, it turned out. on the other hand, i felt quite blissful when we left, and not just b/c of the wine. the feeling lasted well into the next day. so perhaps there was more of a force at work than i thought.

is this the banality of evil? that you can walk among it and feel, if not right at home, then certainly comfortable? to say nothing of, and maybe more to the point, that it can fit right into your world? so unremarkable it's almost ... normal? like you can't even tell what it is anymore? hah. i do believe in evil, and i think it makes itself known all the time, but in places more soul-rottted than a theater full of satanists on 6/6/06.

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