An American Wrestles With God by Benjamin De Casseres


LIKE all children, I was born without a belief in or a knowledge of God.
A four-year-old may astound the world by suddenly improvising a melody on the piano, reciting Pindar in the orig­inal, doing lightning calculations, or writ­ing a passable poem, but that same child will look at you in a perfectly idiotic manner when you ask it, “Do you believe in God?”—unless it has been coached. Child evangelists—the most revolting of human abortions—are all made, not born. They are the machine products of evangelistic parents. There is no such thing as a spontaneous religious prodigy. It is always a hideous mutilation of child­hood. No such being ever made its appear­ance in a family that was non-religious. Of any real knowledge of God, of course, it has none.
Thus the child is born, and generally continues until puberty, an atheist, or, at least, an indifferentist. It plays, it makes believe. It plays at being papa and mamma, but it never plays at being God, or the devil, or Jesus, or Mary. It may have a tremendous imagination. It may be in­ventive. It may listen by the hour to fairy tales and tales of adventure; but it never imagines God or gods. It looks on Sunday-school or church as a bore, or as a rendez­vous for meeting other girls and boys, or as a place to dress up. It looks on its prayers at night as a branch of play, or, again, as a bore.
It is only at puberty that the idea, the feeling of God takes form—with sex, death, good and evil. And even then, with the vast majority of boys and girls, God is the last and least important of concepts.
The parental notion of the Creator, along with the bag and baggage of the standard creed, is accepted, and then dismissed as something to be used, like the wall fire-extinguisher, only in case of emergency. The interest that a few children, before puberty, show in God is only part and parcel of their intense curiosity. They are merely curious, not religious—and often unconsciously satiric.
“Now I lay me down to sleep. . . . If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take. Amen.” This was my earliest contact with God. I said it every night for years, following the words as my mother pronounced them. They hadn’t the slightest meaning to me. There was even a trace of aversion in me when I hopped into bed and awaited the mean­ingless formula. My head was full of the game of prisoner’s base, or pussy, that I had played in the afternoon, or of Captain Mayne Reid or my real God, Oliver Optic. The prayer finished, I resumed my thoughts about the street boys or the characters in Optic’s book, more real at that time then ever God was to Plotinus. I had no curi­osity at any time, as I remember, about the meaning or the words of the prayer. It was a duty, like the weekly dose of rhubarb and magnesia.
I remember only one other contact with God until I was fourteen years old. “Re­member,” said my mother one day, apro­pos of what I do not now recall, “that God can see you everywhere—no matter where you are.”
“Do you mean to say, mother,” I asked, “that God can see me if I stand under Schimmel’s awning on the corner?”
I now recall the peal of laughter that I heard from her with far more pleasure than I got from my first lesson in the om­nipresence of God.
I went to a Jewish Sunday-school (Sat­urday morning), where we were read to out of the Old Testament with explana­tions, based on the stories, of the good­ness (!) of Jehovah. These readings and lectures left no more impression on me than the Einstein theory on a flea. The class, when it got loose, never spoke of the matter, but went straight to marbles and pussy.
The boys and girls that I played with up until my twelfth year were, as I an­alyze them now, either vapid or cruel. They were all obscene, either actively or passively, including myself. All of us coming of middle-class, ultra-respectable, church-going people, we inherited our instinct for the obscene. We had in us the germs of sexual perversion, pyromania, greediness, theft, cowardice, all forms of cruelty and exhibitionism. Those that were passive in regard to these matters we regarded as milksops—they were not part of our gang. The most popular girl among us was almost hermaphroditic. She spat, fought like a boy, took a chew of tobacco with us, and was always in our stone-fights. I, with the rest of the boys, had my sling-shot with which to kill sparrows. I tortured mice, and used to help pull the rope on the cattle at the slaughter-house, and watch the men cut the throats of the cows and bulls, delight­ing in seeing the blood gush forth and the dying struggles of the animals. This was the “divine innocence” of our childhood —and maybe it was just that that Jesus meant when He said we must be as little children to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. I do not know.
But the point is this: As a boy, I, along with the others, took my inherited “wick­ednesses” naturally and with glee. But there was one name never mentioned in all those years either by myself or my pals, male or female, and that was the name of
God. Those golden days were deliciously atheistic. Nor did we ever hear of the Devil, or if we did, the word had no meaning. So it remains, to me, the most curious and significant of my backward.. looking experiences that the belief in God, the consciousness of God, is not inherited, is not instinctive, although every other psychic attribute—including kindness and good-fellowship—is in the blood and nerves of every child.


So there was no inkling, no herald, of the great adventure that was to befall me—the adventure of my soul with the idea of God—until puberty, which came in my fifteenth year. My interest in the uni­verse awoke when I began to blush and stammer before girls. From my twelfth year to my fifteenth I accepted God and the inspiration of the Old Testament with­out any thought about the matter. I had been told that they were facts, like the Boston Tea Party, the assassination of Lincoln, and the belief that a strip of bacon around the throat would cure a sore throat.
But tumescence begot in me revery, a sense of mystery, a vague uneasiness, soli­tude, apprehensions, glamour, question­ings. I fell in love. I began to pity street beggars. I read the newspapers and pon­dered. What made me walk? Look! I could stop walking whenever I willed! I peeped through a street telescope at the moon, and nearly fainted at the over­whelming power of my first cosmic emo­tion. I did not know what I was doing for an hour afterwards. Space! the Infinite! a world hanging in space unsupported!—what was anything? What were we all? What was this thing I was living on? Something expanded tremendously in me. I reeled like a drunken boy through the streets. The hush of a mighty awe fell upon my soul. Human beings whirled before me like ghosts. My girl-love be­came an ethereal being. I walked on air.
An immense tear—a stupendous tear, an unburst tear—seemed to keep my heart from beating.
God! That word dropped into my brain like a bomb. That word now became the Word. Sex-ache and God-ache took pos­session of me simultaneously with a de­moniacal fury. All this took place within a period of an hour after looking through a street telescope for a nickel. That night was the first broken night’s rest in my life, a healthy, regular life until then. The next day I went through my work in a cigar-store in a trance. The Moon, the Universe, Space, Time, Women, Life, Will —it was a witches’ dance, an initiation, a dreadfully beautiful Awakening. It was the Footprint on the sand. I had discovered the presence of the Being Who was des­tined to become my Friday, Whom I was to hate, deny, curse, love, cajole, thump, dismiss, call back, slay, resurrect.
That was my first adventure with the World Spirit, with the Presence; the be­ginning of a prolonged and eternal parley, of a perpetual love-hate duel between my­self and God.
Thenceforward nothing was of any ulti­mate importance, nothing was worth while, compared to the existence or non­existence of God. All turned on that question. Until that was established, all that was, is or could be was meaningless. I was embarked on the Sublime Adven­ture. I was looked on askance—above all, by my parents. “You can never know .. . Do not think about such things . . . You will go crazy.” But the mystical bud had opened in my brain, and no power, pa­rental, economic or religious, could pre­vent the unfolding of that marvelous flower with its changing perfumes—that monstrous poppy which breeds ecstatic poisons, kills with rapturous swoons, emaciates and dilates simultaneously: God.
I now no longer believed in the Old Testament. The New Testament I had not yet opened. I bought a booklet at the Friendship Liberal League’s clubrooms which pointed out one hundred and forty-four contradictions in the Old Testament. I marked them out carefully in an old second-hand Bible that I picked up on the stalls of Leary’s Old Book Store. I showed them to my father. “We should not inquire into such things.” He feared what I now knew—that God had not actually written the Old Testament. I had the pleasant thrill of fear in this adventure. Had any one adventured there before? I asked myself timidly, knowing nothing of the Higher Criticism. “While I do not believe in the inspiration of the Bible, I do believe in a God,” I murmured to my­self over and over in my lonely meditative walks in Fairmount Park. I was afraid to let go of God—a good God, a merciful God.
But how reconcile this belief with that singing, blind boy that an elderly man led down Eighth street every day? His sweet face, twisted in pain, nearly made me faint with pity. He was the symbol of earthly injustice, an enormous question-mark, a challenge to my belief. I hurried by him as though I were guilty of some­thing I could not define. The problem of Evil thundered with iron knuckles on the door of my belief in a good and merciful Father. Maybe the Devil ruled the world! —I swept that aside as monstrous. l feared the personal consequences of such a belief. I might be paralyzed or blinded if I accepted it.
Then came the great event which seemed to be manufactured for me. On May 31, 1889, the dam above Johnstown, Pa., broke and the waters carried away the town of Johnstown and drowned five thou­sand whirling, plunging, struggling men, women and children. As everything that has ever happened to me, mentally or physically, since puberty is related pri­marily and fundamentally to the two questions, Is there or is there not a God? and if there is, How does anything I am experiencing modify my conception of Him?, the Johnstown flood and its heart-wrenching details acted with the same power on my imagination and nerves as Voltaire said the destruction of Lisbon by an earthquake in 1754 had acted on him—”from that moment I disbelieved in the goodness of God.”
I read all the pathetic details of the brutal “act of God” in the Philadelphia papers. I saw each day the wagons going up and down the streets collecting bed­ding, clothing and money. I saw at night in my dreams the children wrenched from the arms of their mothers, families ob­literated in an hour, and the horrors of death as the waters receded. In my in­flamed imagination I could hear the prayers and curses of thousands.
The thundering waters of the Cone­maugh washed away forever my belief in a good, merciful, humanized God. My rage knew no bounds. I hurled oath after oath at Him. I consigned Him and His universe to Hell. I declared everlasting war on the Author of the universe. Luci­fer, Cain and the Devil looked like saints to me now. I did not turn atheist (I have never been an atheist). I turned God-hater. I was anti-God. The Creative Power was evil! God was more real than He had ever been. But He must be destroyed! Atheists were cowards, just as cowardly as those who affirmed a smiling, benefi­cent, all-merciful God. I would destroy the belief in a good God and take up the war against Him where Lucifer and the revolting angels had dropped it—for dropped it they had; one could see that, I thought, by the way prayers still went up from the churches and synagogues.
Prayers instead of anathemas! I in­stinctively felt that if I turned atheist my evolution would cease. I might as well turn Catholic. There was too much fight in me to let God go. I had never believed in free will; therefore I had no bone to pick with man. He was a victim. I wept over his ills, his fate. To the degree that I pitied man I cursed God. I shouted my challenges and questions into the spaces. I came to understand the legends of Prometheus and Christ. I felt the need of world-sacrifice. I felt like stopping people in the street and telling them the Truth —they muss know who I was and what I was here for!
The blind boy was individual evil. He was Man. Johnstown was History, natural and racial. My adventure by 1890 had come to attain cosmic proportions. I was a black pessimist, furiously anti-God. Death was a fact. Immortality, like free will, was the ruse of priests to let God out of a bad theological hole. I nearly fainted more than once at the sight of thousands on the street who lived in mortal error. They walked and talked and acted as if they were going to live for eternity! How to tell them that the grave was the end, that the universe itself would come to an end, that all was futile?


The stars began to obsess me as the moon had. I studied astronomy. I knew the names of all the stars. My own nothingness in endless space fed my instinct for suicide. Why exist if I was nothing? I wrote mourn­fully pessimistic poems on the transitori­ness of life. And always came back to God, incessantly, like a cat returning to watch a mouse-hole.
I began to read. I literally ate up books —the Baron d’Holbach’s “System of Na­ture,” which satisfied my prejudices but did not satisfy my intellect or my meta­physical mysticism; Huxley, Spencer, Dar­win, Ecclesiastes, the Greek tragedies, Byron, Locke, Omar Khayyam, Tom Paine, Bradlaugh, Saltus’ “The Philos­ophy of Disenchantment,” which had a powerful effect on me; von Hartmann, Schopenhauer, Büchner, Buckle, Gibbon, Berkeley, Tyndall, Lyall, all the theolog­ical writers I could find in the old Mer­cantile Library at Tenth and Chestnut streets, George Henry Lewes, Shelley, Humboldt, Wallace, Haeckel, Voltaire—
History, physics, philosophy, meta­physics, poetry, astronomy, fiction—I was looking for a point to assault God, to argue Him out of His universes, to find a weapon to drive through His heart and liberate Man in an eternal sleep. Men at that time were talking about the mystery of the Northwest Passage, the mystery of the Poles. Baby talk! Here was a boy walking among them—in Fairmount Park —meditating the dethronement of God!
I went into the gallery of the Park Theatre at Broad street and Fairmount avenue one night to hear Robert G. In­gersoll lecture on Voltaire. Pleasing, elo­quent, true, and worth the quarter I paid. But an agnostic! Pah! Agnosticism was a liberalized form of atheism. “I do not know!” Why, God was the one thing I did know! His works, his methods, his existence were staring you in the face, Mr. Ingersoll! God exists-écrasez l’infame’, I hurled back at Ingersoll.
The core of the matter was that I had not yet outgrown the God of the Old Testament. My rage was the rage of Jeho­vah Himself, the rage of King David, the rage of Isaiah and Jeremiah. It was pity and mental torture sublimated to a de­vastating anger.
At war with God, looking on man as something that had better be annihilated, the frustrated religious forces in me then transferred their need of worship and love to Nature. At sixteen I became panaleptic. It came at about the time of my moon intoxication and increased in madness as my rage against God increased. It actually took the place of sex-rapture. I regarded girls as nuisances, toys, snares of God, a way of damnation. (This attitude to­ward the female has never quite worn off.)
I made every foot of Fairmount Park my own. I watched the waning and the coming of seasons as one watches the sleep­ing and waking of his mistress. I rolled in the grass in ecstatic frenzy. I kissed the trees, I almost swooned in the breezes, I lay on the ground staring for hours into the blue of heaven until I was near to bursting with mad pleasure, all of which had strange sex-implications which trou­bled my then chaste soul, but which now cause me an ironic grin. The great event of my life then was Springtime, a hal­lowed miracle. I did not at that time confound God and Nature. But I think it was this early Nature-worship that was the germ in me of that supreme conscious­ness of Beauty and Power, unstained by ethical conceptions, that finally swallowed the old God in me and incorporated him in a transcendent apotheosis of xsthetic amorality.
From 1890 until the turn of the century my life was occupied with four things—God, books, alcohol and suicide. The three latter were all roads to the first, modes of noosing Him, underground pas­sages to His throne, where I intended to confront Him and demand in the name of all things that had lived and died since the beginning of Space and Time the Why?
I now discovered Pascal and Descartes, and through them returned to Ptolemy’s egocentric universe. The stars may not revolve around the earth, but they did revolve around me, for if, as Pascal or Descartes said, the universe is a circle with its circumference nowhere and its centre everywhere, then each one of us is the centre of the universe. Each being is then the measure of all things. I did not revolve around the sun and the stars; they revolved around me!
Following Pascal and Descartes came Emerson and Whitman to confirm my egocentricity in trumpet tones. They lifted me to the pinnacle of extreme in­dividualism. They dared me to dare all things. They dared me to confront God. They gave me back my dignity as a unique being. But while accepting their doctrine of the almighty ego, I rejected—my bitter, militant, ethical sensibility rejected—their smug acceptance of things and the essential goodness of the Oversoul. Egoity, dilated to cosmic proportions, superposed itself on a raging hatred of the temporal order, its futility and imbecility.
It was about 1903 or 1904 that there was a fissure in my brain, a sinister slit in my consciousness. A face, humorous, satanic, ferocious, floated up from the depths of that fissure. It was the Spirit of Tragic Humor. I lost Thee, my Enemy, my Friend, my Torturer and my Consoler, in the bil­lows of my laughter. As my consciousness and my brain halved, I saw myself for the first time as a ridiculous little witling, and God, if I thought of Him at all at that time, as a Scaramouch, a roguish blue­behinded ape. Lucifer died that Narcissus might be born. I guffawed with God, with the gods, for I felt also at this time my monotheism dissolving into polytheism. I forgot Heaven and discovered Olympus. I was a gay Narcissus. I looked into the lake of my mind and saw a clown-face. I found the exquisite uses of my flesh. God incarnated as a bawdy Eros. He winked at me out of the ale-pot. I still thundered at times against Him, but I felt I was cursing a phantom. The sense of evil, the sense of sin, vanished.
Spinoza until then had been but a name. I knew his philosophy only by hearsay, in second-hand expositions. I began to read him. I began to meditate on panthe­ism, on a God who was the spirit of evil as well as the spirit of good, a God who was Power and Beauty unallied to man­made ethical attributes. I heard the first notes of a transcendental symphony, or, rather, the beginning of a titanic struggle between two opposing and equally power­ful forces such as Wagner put into the Overture to “Tannhäuser”
Now the Great Adventure was in full march again! Spinoza and King David were face to face at Armageddon—and Arma­geddon was in my soul. The Psalmist of Hate and Humility faced the serene etern­ist of Amsterdam. I passed from bitter curses to ecstatic swoonings. I rocked Heaven with my shrapnel, and recouped my strength by rendering up my soul to the Impersonal Spirit. I celebrated both of my brain armies in a passionate prose-poem to Spinoza and his God.
Then came 1914. Dead was the God of Spinoza in me, dead the God of the ale-pot and the bawdy Eros, during those four years of planetary cannibalism. The spirit of King David and his immortal barbaric God possessed the world, pos­sessed me, and I hurled anathema upon anathema at Him, reversing the smug at­titude of David, but preserving his passion and his rant.
This bearded old Jehovah of the Jews, this marvellous creation of the Old Testa­ment poets, would not walk out of my soul. In my Great Adventure He remains my sword of Excalibur. He is the greatest and truest of man’s anthropomorphic crea­tions. He is the very garment and texture of Reality. He is Mars, the Serpent, the Instinct of Self-Preservation, Big Brother with a club and sling-shot. He was not born of closet speculations and theological subtleties, but of direct contact with reality.
He mirrors the Earth we live upon and its sublime victim—Man. He was built of blood, thunder, lightnings, fear, flood, famine, pest, hate, murder, life, death, war and covetousness: an epitome of the adventures of the human race on the planet Earth. He was (and is) the perfect mirror of life in all its cruelty, irony, humility, hypocrisy, implacability and amoralism. No Spinoza, no Nietzsche, no Christ can dynamite Him out of His heavens, be­cause those heavens that lock in Jehovah —the old storm-god of the Midianites­are locked forever in our hearts and brains. He is practical, pragmatic, the literal I Am of every-day life. He is mud-and­blood humanity. He is the Errinye of personal vengeance. Christ may have a Second Advent; Jehovah’s Second Advents are perpetual. Flatten Him out to a philo­sophical abstraction in times of peace and prosperity, He will round to form, gather up His lightnings and His siege-guns when Death stalks the world. Jehovah, in a word, is not a God but the Superman.
So during the World War I hated Him and I loved Him. I used to fling anathemas at Him. He became confusedly identified with the God of Spinoza, and both lapsed into Satan.


In 1918 admiration was born like sweet lullaby music out of the fantasia of hate, despair and disillusion. I again heard the Pan-phallic pipes of Greek polytheism. God was laughing at me—impotent sun-midge of a day! I took the God of Spinoza and the God of King David and Hellenized Them. I renounced homogeneous unity for heterogeneous diversity. I carved gods out of God. I paraphrased the saying of Goethe, that the meaning of Life is life itself, into The meaning of God is earth-spirits, air-spirits, water-spirits, flower-spirits, star-spirits, individual daemons, familiars. The bright, etheric face of Shel­ley rose out of the wreck of Spinoza and King David. I was in the clutch of mate­rial ecstasy. A mystical atheist!
But polytheism was, after all, only a Merlin garden that I had stumbled on and loitered in with half-closed eyes and wide-open nostrils on my way to the Bright Tower. I am primarily a creature of intellect, and not of sentiment. The heart is the cloudy crucible of all prob­lems. The brain is the clarifier. Too long had I been imprisoned in the crucible.
Near my fiftieth year the ascension to the eyries of the brain began in earnest. Liberty dwells on mountain-tops. There one has unobstructed vision, preternatural sight, a sudden revaluation of values. My brain is the mountain-top of my soul. I myself had the Bright Tower within me all these years, obscured and weed-hidden until now by my emotional judgments, by my “common humanity,” by my un­conscious craving for “salvation”—sal­vation of my own blowsy ego. All great, enduring revelations come from Intellect, the cold, clarified visions of Artists and Ironists. And I saluted Goethe, Nietzsche and Jules de Gaultier.
So at last! Artist and Ironist!—that is God! Supreme, innominable, immanent bainter, poet, musician, satirist, roman-:et, mathematician—that is God! He is an ethereal Beethoven and Shakespeare, a Rodin and Cervantes, a Euclid and Ein­stein, an Aristophanes and Aeschylus, a Wagner and Dostoievsky, an Aphrodite and Zeus. God is all of these—and myself!
God has nothing to do with human beings except as characters in an eternal serial, an eternal dream-tale, an eternal fabulous drama. Good and evil are art-motives. God is superhuman, unhuman, inhuman. He dreams scenarios, of which we are the puppets. Our agonies and prayers are situations. He is Spinoza’s God, the Eternal Return of Nietzsche, the Oversoul of Emerson, the Unknowable of Spencer, the Mephistopheles of Goethe. He is All—omniscient, omnipotent, omni­present, eternal creator, eternal playboy, eternal incarnation; the great dramaturge.
Arriving at this truth, I was released. I, with the rest of the species, am part of the music, drama, farce and mathe­matics of the Supreme Artist. And when I utter sadly “Such is life!” because of my disillusions, defeats and strangled de­sires I say, “But such is God, too!” For God is Life.
But Why? my brain still asks at times; and then again I am Lucifer organizing the revolting angels against Heaven, Prometheus launching curses at Zeus, and a King David raining death and destruction on Life. Why? Is the tragic farce, the music, the artistry worth while?
And a veiled sigh comes to me from the depths of myself; a veiled sigh, or is it a veiled laugh?—and I hear a voice:
“I have assigned to man the sublime role of Why? for an Eternity. Why? is the master-key to my art. That word Why? is the name of all My dreams, tragedies and farces on all the stars. It is the real name of every being I have ever made. It is the name of every sun I have ever created. It is the name of every picture I have ever painted. In the Legend of Life Why? is my eternal Hamlet.”
So I am thus, like all living things, identified with God in all His manifesta­tions, in all forms and on all planes—a Tantalus of Eternity.


The following short story was written by Madison Grant as “The Major.” It was published in “Hank: His Lies and His Yarns”, privately printed (probably by the Boone and Crockett Club) in 1937. 


“MAJOR,” said Hank at their camp up Lost Horse Cañon, “I have been thinking all day ’bout them sheep down in the Bitterroot Valley. They do smell something dreadful, don’t they? They ought to be vermin but they ain’t, because they do say in the East there are people that eat sheep, which they call mutton.”

“What has that to do with sheep being vermin?” asked the Major.”Why you sure know, Major, what a vermin is?”

“No,” says the Major, “I don’t.”

“Vermin,” says Hank, “is anything you can’t eat, so sheep ain’t vermin, though they ought to be.”

“Hank, why are you so down on sheep? I know that all cattle-men and hunters detest the brutes, but why are you so especially bitter? Yesterday I was afraid you were going to shoot the shepherd of the flock we rode through.”

Then Hank said, “That Greaser shepherd, he sure ought to be shut. He’s vermin
all right. Well, Major, I tell you why I hate sheep; because they robbed me of my religion.”

“What, robbed you of your religion, Hank?”

“They sure have, I ain’t no Christian no more. I can’t belong to no religion what uses a blatting imbecile of a lamb for a symbol. And they say Christ was a shepherd. I’ve seen pictures of him carrying a lamb. Just look at them half-breed shepherds we saw yesterday. No, I ain’t no Christian, I ain’t.”

“Well, Hank, the sheep and shepherd question has nothing to do with Christianity. They are symbolical. But if you are not a Christian, what are you? You have got to be something, are you an Atheist or a Deist or an Agnostic or a Moslem? You must be something.”

“Well,” said Hank after an embarrassed pause, “I suppose I am a Dunkard.”

Aeschylus at Marathon. Are we Saved by Love or by Hate?

Aeschylus at Marathon.
Are we Saved by Love or by Hate ?

Once for all, let us clear our minds of cant. Let us rise to the noble honesty of the Greek attitude which faithfully reflected the sanity and the sanctity of Hate. Can we find a more faithful or more inspiring embodiment of this noble pagan position than in the beautiful, hate-breathing epitaph which Aeschylus wrote for himself? Here it is:

Athenian Aeschylus, Euphorion’s son,
Buried in Geta’s fields these lines declare ;
His deeds are registered at Marathon,
Known to the deep-haired Mede, who met him there.

We wish to offer a few observations on one phase of the opinions elicited by our Symposium. We desire to reason in the most patient manner possible with the most misguided beings who have ever obstructed human progress, we mean the well-meaning but deluded Tolstoyans. The Tolstoyans tell us that Love is the only remedy for social misery When the Tolstoyan stands before the victim of oppression and outrage, it is thus that he addresses the suffering man: “It is true that the oppressor has robbed you not only of the chance of a decent existence, but has condemned your wife to life-long starvation and your daughters to prostitution; nevertheless you are still more blessed than your murderer and exploiter because you have done no evil; and you must still love the instrument of your afflictions. You are far more prosperous than he is, although you are in this sorry light, because you have the approval of your conscience even while you are starving, and if you continue to love.him till you starve to death, you will be numbered with.the saints: in glory everlasting.” When the Tolstoyans, mock our miseries with such precious consolations (for I have but reduced their doctrines to their logical, conclusion) I am compelled to say to them that it is such unutterable imbecilities as these which drive us to despair of humanity. Against such stupidities omnipotence itself must contend in vain. While’ these, insanities meet us at every turn, progress, is all but impossible—our perpetual damnation is the only thing of which we can be certain. Tolstoyans tell us that social syncope exists because men do not love enough. We believe in the antithesis of this statement—we believe that, so, it is not inherent in human nature, social misery exists because men do not hate enough. Love rarely inspires thought, and indeed its apostles tell us that with love no thought is necessary, that love is a substitute for thought. No apostle of Hate has ever talked such nonsense—it has never been alleged that Hate is- a substitute for thought, but we have abundant proof that profound hatred has inspired some of the most impressive streams-of thought, some of the most powerful intellects ‘of all time. Karl Marx, quoting George Sand, declares “On the eve bleach general reconstruction of society, the last word, of social science will ever be

“Combat or death ; bloody struggle or extinction,
“It is thus that the question is irresistibly put.”

H. M. Hyndman wrote: “It is precisely the hatred and disgust I feel for the misery, degradation and physical deterioration around me which had more influence in making and keeping me a Social Democrat than anything else.” William Morris, writing on “How I Became a Socialist,” says: “To sum up then, the study of history and the love and practice of art forced me into a hatred of [the existing] civilisation.”

In a world whose characteristics were prevailingly “lovely,” love would best become a man, but in a world whose leading features are to the last degree unlovely, hypocritical and hateful, hate is the only sentiment an honest man can entertain. Hence it follows that in this predominantly hateful world, men of hate leave their impress on every page of history, while men of love, with their pale and ineffectual negations, have their day and cease to be. Hannibal, Napoleon, Nelson, Danton, Mirabea, Byron, Attilla, Morris, Marx, Proudhon— these names stand as sublime coefficients of vast streams of Hate.

What are the greatest events in modern history, its most inspiring episodes? They are: Tell, Hampden, Milton, or Cromwell, hating and resisting the tyrant to the death; Nelson’s exploits with his middies, inspired to glorious deeds by their hatred of Napoleon and the French; Napoleon’s achievements with his Grenadiers, whose inspiring motive was hatred, first, of their own aristocracy, and then of the enemies of the Eagle Paris razing the Bastille, France liquidating eight centuries of misery, Patrick Henry exclaiming “If this be treason make the most of it”; the embattled farmers firing at the Bridge of Concord (Discord) rather the shot heard round the world, the shot of which Emerson wrote: “Their deed of blood all mankind praise, Even the serene reason says, It was well “done”; Victor Hugo pouring the vials of his hate upon Napoleon the Little. These are the inspirations of Hate and they are among the noblest chapters of human history.

The great Haters are the great Lovers. Love Which does not hate the hateful as prpfoundly as it loves the lovely is mere hyprocrisy. Let us seriously ask the question, Do the predominant characteristics of the present age attract or repel an honest soul—in- other words, is our present age hateful or the reverse? We ought to base our answer upon the opinions of those whose honesty, capacity and experience entitle them to pronounce judg- ment on this issue. We present a series of such opinions in the sonde VIA HELLOROSA (see below). Those whom we have quoted are not journalists, statesmen, or Doctors of Divinity—but perhaps are not less trustworthy on that account. We believe that a consideration of the unbought opinions of Hugo, Heine, Lemennais, etc., will convince any free mind that-the world has now reached the most murderous, most hypocritical, most hateful stage of social evolution known to history.- Shall we love or shall We hate this horrible epoch which has been cursed by the united execrations of Heine, Hugo, Marx, Proudhon, Nietzsche, Shaw, Tucker, Morris, Redbeard, and Wallace? Surely, not to hate in the profoundest possible manner, such an era, which presents an apotheosis of legitimised assassination and worshipped hypocrisy) is to confess oneself a defender of assassins and a devotee of prostitutes and pirates. When one considers the systematic slaughter of the young and helpless, when one ponders the malign influence of our boasted institutions upon thousands of young men and young women, robbing them, as it does, of their unreturning May time and condemning them to lives of unescapable ignorance, bitterness and vice, institutions which murder thousands to give to a few, luxuries as maleficent as the evils they rest upon, when one has circumnavigated this continent and sub-continent of misery, then one asks oneself the question, How can I sufficiently bate and curse this frightful epoch with which I am fatally contemporaneous?

Let us then, like Aeschylus of old, go forth to meet the Mede which threatens the self-realisation of the Free, with a spirit of Hate as unalterable as his own laws, and in a mariner that he will be able to appreciate. If time permit, let us give our enemy a decent burial on the field of our vindication, and if time do not permit we shall leave the dead to bury their dead. But on our field of Marathon we shall erect, with due libations, a trophy of accomplished Hate and Love—of Love for ourselves and our own, of Hate for all that threatens us and ours.

JOAN ERWIN MCCALL, Founder of the Religion of Hate.



A woman forgives everything, but the fact that you do not covet her.—A . de Mussel.

Cleopatra is a thorough woman ; she loves and deceives at the same time.

A woman with whom one discusses love is always in expectation of something. —Poincelot.

There is no torture, that a woman would not endure to enhance her beauty.

Women, cats and birds are the creatures that waste the most time on their toilets.
—Ch. Nodier.

A man must be a fool, who does not succeed in making a woman believe that which flatters her.—Balzac.

A woman is necessarily an evil and he is a lucky man who catches her in a mild form.—Menander.
The music at a marriage procession always reminds me of the music of soldiers entering battle.—Heine.

I do not mean to say that women have no character. Not at all ; for they have a new one every day.—Heine.

Mohammed excluded woman from Paradise.. Did he suppose that Paradise would no longer be Paradise if every man were again to meet his wife there ?—Heine.

If one wishes to get an idea of the amount of self-love which women possess in their youth, let him judge of it by the amount which remains to them after they are past the age of pleasing.—Chamfort.

Have you ever known a’ woman who seeing a male friend conversing with another woman would suppose that she was an unsympathetic companion ? You see by this the opinion they have of each other. Draw your own conclusions.—Chamfort.

Love, said Epicurus, never benefitted any one; nay, it is much if it did no harm. In his opinion it was a sort of fever destructive to the body; in fine, a short epilepsy. He looked upon it as a shortener of the days of the most vigorous; and judged that the gout, the weakness of the eyes, the trembling of the nerves, were all caused by the commerce with women. His advice was to eat moderately, use much exercise, and to have nothing to do with women.

THE DEATH PENALTY – Ambrose Bierce


Ambrose Bierce

“Down with the gallows!” is a cry not unfamiliar in America. There is always a movement afoot to make odious the just principle; of “a life for a life”—to represent it as “a relic of barbarism,” “a usurpation of the divine authority,” and the rest of it. The law making murder punishable by death is as purely a measure of self-defense as is the display of a pistol to one diligently endeavoring to kill without provocation. It is in precisely the same sense an admonition, a warning to abstain from crime. Society says by that law: “If you kill one of us you die,” just as by display of the pistol the individual whose life is attacked says: “Desist or be shot.” To be effective the warning in either case must be more than an idle threat. Even the most unearthly reasoner among the anti-hanging unfortunates would hardly expect to frighten away an assassin who knew the pistol to be unloaded. Of course these queer illogicians can not be made to understand that their position commits them to absolute non-resistance to any kind of aggression; and that is fortunate for the rest of us, for if as Christians they frankly and consistently took that ground we should be under the miserable necessity of respecting them.

We have good reason to hold that the horrible prevalence of murder in this country is due to the fact that we do not execute our laws—that the death penalty is threatened but not inflicted—that the pistol is not loaded. In civilized countries where there is enough respect for the laws to administer them, there is enough to obey them. While man still has as much of the ancestral brute as his skin can hold without cracking we shall have thieves and demagogues and anarchists and assassins and persons with a private system of lexicography who define murder as disease and hanging as murder, but in all this welter of crime and stupidity are areas where human life is comparatively secure against the human hand. It is at least a significant coincidence that in these the death penalty for murder is fairly well enforced by judges who do not derive any part of their authority from those for whose restraint and punishment they hold it. Against the life of one guiltless person the lives of ten thousand murderers count for nothing; their hanging is a public good, without reference to the crimes that disclose their deserts. If we could discover them by other signs than their bloody deeds they should be hanged anyhow. Unfortunately we must have a death as evidence. The scientist who will tell us how to recognize the potential assassin, and persuade us to kill him, will be the greatest benefactor of his century.

What would these enemies of the gibbet have—these lineal descendants of the drunken mobs that hooted the hangman at Tyburn Tree; this progeny of criminals, which has so defiled with the mud of its animosity the noble office of public, executioner that even “in this enlightened age” he shirks his high duty, entrusting it to a hidden or unnamed subordinate? If murder is unjust of what importance is it whether its punishment by death be just or not?—nobody needs to incur it. Men are not drafted for the death penalty; they volunteer. “Then it is not deterrent,” mutters the gentleman whose rude forefather hooted the hangman. Well, as to that, the law which is to accomplish more than a part of its purpose must be awaited with great patience. Every murder proves that hanging is not altogether deterrent; every hanging, that it is somewhat deterrent—it deters the person hanged. A man’s first murder is his crime, his second is ours.

The socialists, it seems, believe with Alphonse Karr, in the expediency of abolishing the death penalty; but apparently they do not hold, with him, that the assassins should begin. They want the state to begin, believing that the magnanimous example will effect a change of heart in those about to murder. This, I take it, is the meaning of their assertion that death penalties have not the deterring influence that imprisonment for life carries. In this they obviously err: death deters at least the person who suffers it—he commits no more murder; whereas the assassin who is imprisoned for life and immune from further punishment may with impunity kill his keeper or whomsoever he may be able to get at. Even as matters now are, incessant vigilance is required to prevent convicts in prison from murdering their attendants and one another. How would it be if the “life-termer” were assured against any additional inconvenience for braining a guard occasionally, or strangling a chaplain now and then? A penitentiary may be described as a place of punishment and reward; and under the system proposed, the difference in desirableness between a sentence and an appointment would be virtually effaced. To overcome this objection a life sentence would have to mean solitary confinement, and that means insanity. Is that what these gentlemen propose to substitute for death?

The death penalty, say these amiables and futilitarians, creates blood-thirstiness in the unthinking masses and defeats its own ends—is itself a cause of murder, not a check. These gentlemen are themselves of “the unthinking masses”—they do not know how to think. Let them try to trace and lucidly expound the chain of motives lying between the knowledge that a murderer has been hanged and the wish to commit a murder. How, precisely, does the one beget the other? By what unearthly process of reasoning does a man turning away from the gallows persuade himself that it is expedient to incur the danger of hanging? Let us have pointed out to us the several steps in that remarkable mental progress. Obviously, the thing is absurd; one might as reasonably say that contemplation of a pitted face will make a man wish to go and catch smallpox, or the spectacle of an amputated limb on the scrap-heap of a hospital tempt him to cut off his arm or renounce his leg.

“An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,” say the opponents of the death penalty, “is not justice; it is revenge and unworthy of a Christian civilization.” It is exact justice: nobody can think of anything more accurately just than such punishments would be, whatever the motive in awarding them. Unfortunately such a system is not practicable, but he who denies its justice must deny also the justice of a bushel of corn for a bushel of corn, a dollar for a dollar, service for service. We can not undertake by such clumsy means as laws and courts to do to the criminal exactly what he has done to his victim, but to demand a life for a life is simple, practicable, expedient and (therefore) right.

“Taking the life of a murderer does not restore the life he took, therefore it is a most illogical punishment. Two wrongs do not make a right.”

Here’s richness! Hanging an assassin is illogical because it does not restore the life of his victim; incarceration is logical; therefore, incarceration does—quod, erat demonstrandum.

Two wrongs certainly do not make a right, but the veritable thing in dispute is whether taking the life of a life-taker is a wrong. So naked and unashamed an example of petitio principii would disgrace a debater in a pinafore. And these wonder-mongers have the effrontery to babble of “logic”! Why, if one of them were to meet a syllogism in a lonely road he would run away in a hundred and fifty directions as hard as ever he could hoof it. One is almost ashamed to dispute with such intellectual cloutlings.

Whatever an individual may rightly do to protect himself society may rightly do to protect him, for he is a part of itself. If he may rightly take life in defending himself society may rightly take life in defending him. If society may rightly take life in defending him it may rightly threaten to take it. Having rightly and mercifully threatened to take it, it not only rightly may take it, but expediently must.

THE RELIGION OF EGOISM. A Prayer for more Bitterness.

A Prayer for more Bitterness.

BRETHREN, we must become more bitter. Bitterness is the best antidote to the Christian slave-pox which for two thousand years has poisoned our blood. Said Emerson (my faithful ally in this and many another matter) “The doctrine of hatred must be preached as the counteraction of the doctrine of love when that pules and whines.” We are all pulers and whiners to-day—we are born such and rarely out-grow it. Bitterness is the only thing which can tear the bandage of Idealism from our eyes and enable us to see life as the old unseduced Greeks and Romans saw it. And when we can see life as the Greeks and Romans saw it, perhaps we will have no further use for bitterness and can then throw it away. When the poison of Idealism is extirpated, then, perhaps, will come to pass the saying of Zarathustra, ” Growth in wisdom is measured by decrease in bitterness.”

Blessed is the man who has felt the deepest and best of all bitternesses—the bitterness of one starving in the midst of plenty—and who is made a giant and a clairvoyant by that bitterness. Herein I have an advantage over Nietzsche, who unfortunately always knew where his next meal was coming from. If I-, Erwin McCall, had not been for years to all intents and purposes a DAMNED TRAMP—with never an assured meal ahead—I would never have been saved. It was this (philosophic) blessing of ever imminent starvation which made me see life as it is—bared of all its hypocrisies—made me see that ” He who feeds me governs me ” or as Bacon said ” Nations and wars go on their bellies.” It is a good starvation which also starves the ” Ideal.” Thus the tramp who has brains will learn what it took Nietzsche years of fatal devotion to literature to ascertain. If Nietzsche had had a couple of weeks’ tramping among friends and real Christians he would have learned in that time all that Montaigne, Chamfort and Co. could teach him, and the tree would have defied the lightning for another half-century.

The prospect of starvation may even save the soul of a millionaire—let us not be selfish with this last and best gift of the gods, starvation, but let us pass it round and redeem the rich from their intellectual poverty.

And then—and then—it must be said, although it will be misunderstood : only he who has been once thoroughly bitter can know how sweet love is. Man is fearfully and wonderfully made and truly our heaven and our hell are inseparably intertwined. Avaunt, logician, you have no antinomies like those of the human heart. This prayer for bitterness has relieved me immensely—if the mere aspira- tion for bitterness thus makes blessed, how ecstatic must be a deed of bitterness.

A Bible Not Borrowed from the Neighbours.

EMERSON the Egoist said ” All laws are laughable but those which men make for themselves.” It is time to say that all Bibles are to be rejected save that which we write for ourselves. The Bible of Jesus, of Goethe, of Heine, of Emerson, of Whitman, of Thoreau, of Nietzsche,—all these may help us somewhat but we must have pride enough to demand a Bible not borrowed from the neighbours. A slave may rest content with a Bible writ by another, the freeman must write his own. Vicarious suffering, vicarious salvation are out of date. We may weep over the sorrows of Jesus and Nietzsche, we may rejoice over their triumphs—but we are not saved till we weep over our own sorrows and rejoice in our own happiness, till we are deified by our own Calvary, till we can show our own Via Dolorosa, our own Gethsemane agony and exultation.

The Egoist learns to say:—”I, too, have a Divine Record—the record of my innermost griefs, sorrows, temptations, triumphs, tears and rejoicings.” We no longer accept salvation second-hand, we demand an original, an egoistic, salvation. Saved we are by love of self, pity for self, tears for our own incommunicable woe, but, last and best revelation, we are taught to strengthen and purify ourselves by laughing over our dire mistakes. Such laughter is the divinest emotion. Jove and the lions never weep, but often laugh. “The artist only reaches the last summit of his greatness when he learns how to laugh at himself “—he alone can go forward.

But some one says, Does the Religion of Egoism cure our sorrows as did the old Religion? We reply, What sorrows? Whose sorrows? The sorrows of a fool? To all such we say, The New Gospel is not milk for crying babes. We may add that the greatest injury you can do to a fool is to cure his sorrow—his only teacher. And the wise man will cure his own sorrows. After all, the New Religion deals generously enough with the sorrowing one. It makes each one of us the only God in the universe. What more do you want? And if a God cannot cure his own sorrows, the world will begin to doubt his divinity. We repeat what we learned in the cradle, that it is a shame not to have your own Bible and God in your own Ego’s home, it is a shame to be obliged to borrow these from the neighbours. Moreover the founders of new Religions have always lived above the question of consolation—and every Egoist is the founder of a new Religion.

An Egoist’s Confession of Faith in Himself.

FOR greater convenience in discerning and damning our enemies we have taken out a legal authority which permits us to divide all Egoists into two classes—philosophers and scoundrels. In our unwritten tract “Why I am an Altruist,” by A. Skinflint, we exhibit this confession of the egoist-scoundrel: “Having made a cool million by as cool a steal, I straightway endowed ten chairs for the teaching of altruism. Never was I more sincere than in so doing, for, the more altruists, the more victims for me.”

The best things are always the worst. Intemperance is only the abuse of the power of digestion. Unbridled lust is but love turned awry. Thus Egoism, the best thing in the world, may by abuse become murder, and scoundrelism of every sort. Every scoundrel is an Egoist but not every Egoist is a scoundrel.

By the egoist-philosopher (Hail to thee! death-dedicated apostle!) we mean the man who has the courage to proclaim the law of universal gravitation in ethics—that each ego is the centre towards which all things gravitate. He is the only man who wears his heart upon his sleeve for daws and even for men to peck at. I am sorry to say that he appears to be the only honest man in the world for he alone has found himself out and tells himself out. But he does more—he finds out those who think they are serving the heavenly ideal and he shows them they are fools, while the pseudo-altruist (egoist-scoundrel) says nothing but fattens on their foolishness.

It is a well-known fact that the preacher, whether of altruism or egoism, rarely practises what he preaches. In the Clarion Mr. A. M. Thompson gently chides us for devoting our “very conspicuous talents to the cause of advancing everybody’s interests but ” our own.” That’s me all over “—in fact that is pre-eminently the egoist-philosopher.. But every egoist-scoundrel must be a professed and professional altruist—every man who goes forth seeking whom he may devour must profess to be an altruist as the very condition of attracting victims to his net. But the man who avows himself an egoist scares away every possible victim from his net—or, more correctly, he throws away the net itself. Our language is not sufficiently expressive to enable us to state the paradoxes of our nature but the stern fact is that the egoist-philosopher is the only man who shows any real pity for men—the only man who shows them the only possible means of salvation. We egoist-philosophers are the only people who possess any real sympathy. Precisely because we do not prate of sympathy (the devil take this exception) do we possess the more. It is through the terrible calvary of our feelings (feelings too deep for thought) that we have fought our way to the egoistic philosophy of life—that invincible fortress defended by Epicurus on the one hand and the Stoics on the other. In combatting sympathy, we, like Nietzsche, combat the overcharged heart whose terrible inundations of sympathy would, if not ruthlessly restrained, swamp the free action of the intellect.

Be sure then of this—the man who devotes his days and nights and the money of all his dearest friends to the preaching of an egoistic philosophy, there-lay materially imperilling his awn chances in life, is necessarily nobler than the so-called altruist whose very creed is a sort of blackmail levied on the goodness and the goods of applauding fool-millions. Then the avowed Egoist and Atheist (shall we coin a word, Athegoist) who proclaims the true gospel of salvation, is not a knave though all the high-priced clerics and all the M.P.s and the whole gang of professional and endowed prostitutes declare him such; but, I repeat, he, as the only man who wears his heart upon his sleeve is the one honest man in the universe, the only man who has found himself out and told himself out. But the world with its usual supernatural and superasinine stupidity worships the scoundrel and keeps its obloquy for the honest philosopher. Such are the miracles of unreason which crown and culminate two thousand years of christian idiocy, such the result of feeding ourselves on babe’s milk, stale for twenty centuries by the clock.

Verily, we egoist-philosophers, we “destroyers of false hopes, are the true Messiahs”; we sacrifice ourselves for the sins of the past and for the happiness of future generations; we are the only genuine martyrs, for whom no subscriptions are raised, no civil list exists. In an age given over to the worship of altruism, the unmitigated egoist-philosopher must necessarily be a martyr. I mention Nietzsche in a madhouse and Stirner starved to death. But there are others.

The Calvary of Egoism.

EVEN the Egoist has his Calvary, but it is a home-made Calvary, just as the Egoist’s Bible is home-made. It is of suicide I speak, of a death self-decreed and self-executed, not of a death forced on one by a mob of fools and fanatics. (“Natural death is a coward’s death. We should desire a different kind of death—voluntary; conscious, not accidental or by surprise.”—Nietzsche)

It is time for the Egoist to give to the world a new Stabat Mater. The egoist-suicide speaks from his Cross with a hitherto forbidden eloquence—he speaks these bitter truths which man has hitherto lacked the courage for uttering :

Mother, behold thy prattling babe,
Behold the Suicide thou hast made!

Yes, mother, thou art the cause of this suicide. Listen to me, listen to this voice from the grave : There was not a lie perfectly calculated to unfit me for life which you did not faithfully instil into me. You did your work most perfectly. You poisoned me from my earliest years by teaching to me as the very word of God and means of eternal salvation, every superstition and every delusion which could deliver me bound into the hands of all the Shylocks and all the Judases of earth. I spent the best years of my life believing the Bible and trying to live it—and here am I. I would prefer to entrust myself to the mercy of the Devil (if one existed) than to such a fool of a mother as you have been to me. Truly, mother, thou has been a benefactor to man. Thou madest me (too late) a philosopher and I must bless thee for that?. (I would have truly blessed thee if thou hadst made me a philosopher in the cradle). Thou madest me a suicide and others will bless thee for that. Verily it is no small credit to thee that thou didst remove the curse and the curser thou didst create.
Will Christian journals please copy? And now, brethren, receive the benediction—”Here’s to the health of the next one that dies.” Thus endeth the fabrication for the first day.


THE LAND OF THE ALTRUISTS, A Parable for the Infant Class.

A Parable for the Infant Class.

If you start from the South Pole and sail due north, you will come to a wonderful country inhabited by the people called Altruists.

They are called so because they prefer other people’s happiness to their own.

They are a very industrious, hard-working, uncomplaining people, forever toiling from daylight till dark, making all kinds of useful and luxurious things; yet so unwilling are they to enjoy the fruits of their labour, so anxious for somebody else to be happy at their expense, that they have made this very ingenious and complete arrangement to secure that result.
They have ordained that everybody who has produced a thousand dollars’ worth of goods shall receive from the rest of the community sixty dollars a year ; he who has made or obtained in any way ten thousand dollars’ worth shall receive six hundred dollars a year ; and so on in proportion.

Now, it is easily seen that, as the people to whom these stipends are paid are at liberty to go on working and making enough to live on, they are able to lay by the amounts paid to them by the community. After a while these amounts become so large that they need not work at all, for all the rest of the Altruist community are pledged to support them, their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, not only till death, but forever.

Such sweet and unselfish dispositions have these Altruists.

There are getting to be a good many of these people who are supported by the Altruists.

Two or three million at a guess in every twenty or thirty million families do not work, but are paid because they have so much already. They are getting very bossy, too, these stipendiaries of the workers, and begin to hold themselves very loftily, and despise the unselfish workers as dirty, ignorant, low creatures, unmindful of the fact that it is only because the workers are Altruists that they enjoy providing luxuries for others-rather than for themselves.

It is getting to be rather hard scratching, too, for the workers, Altruists though they be, who enjoy hunger and suffering; for to the objects of their care, the supported class, they have given, not only all the houses and furniture, and all but a little of the butter and meat and bread, but the very land itself, so that now, when the Altruist workers want to work still harder and to cultivate more land to support the rapidly-growing numbers of the Aristocrats, they find themselves forbidden by these very Aristocrats to use the land which they have given them.

Clearly a catastrophe must occur. Although the Altruists enjoy starving as long as they have the pleasure of seeing the Aristocrats, as they call those whom they support, have plenty, there is a physical limit to the process of starvation, and, when the Altruists begin to diminish in number, the Aristocrats must also dwindle.

What the outcome will be no man can prophesy—a relapse into slavery at least, which the Altruists would no doubt enjoy even more than their present arrangements; but there is a chance that their natures may change : they may become Egoists, and no longer take pleasure in giving to those who give nothing in return. Then there will be no Aristocrats, and everybody who is not an Altruist will have a much better time.

—John Beverley Robinson in “Liberty”

“Where is the graveyard of dead gods?” H. L. Mencken and George Jean Nathan

Repetition Generale
By H. L. Mencken and George Jean Nathan

(from The Smart Set, March, 1922)

THRENODY.— Where is the graveyard of dead gods? What lingering mourner waters their mounds? There was a day when Jupiter was the king of all the gods, and any man who doubted his puissance was ipso facto a barbarian and an ignoramus. But where in all the world is there a man who worships Jupiter today? And what of Huitzilopochtli? In one year — and it was but five hundred years ago — no less than 50,000 youths and maidens were slain in sacrifice to him. Today, if he is remem-
bered at all, it is only by some vagrant savage in the depths of the Mexican forest. Huitzilopochtli, like many other gods, had no human father; his mother was a virtuous widow; he was born of an apparently innocent flirtation that she carried on with the sun. When he frowned, his father, the sun, stood still. When he roared with rage, earthquakes engulfed whole cities. When he thirsted, he was watered with 10,000 gallons of human blood. But today Huitzilopochtli is as magnificently forgotten as Allen G. Thurman. Once the peer of Allah, he is now the peer of General Coxey, Richmond P. Hobson, Nan Patterson, Alton G. Parker, Adelina Patti, General Weyler and Tom Sharkey.

Speaking of Huitzilopochtli recalls his brother, Tezcatlipoca. Tezcatlipoca was almost as powerful: he consumed 25,000 virgins a year. Lead me to his tomb: I would weep, and hang a couronne des perles! But who knows where it is? Or where the grave of Quetzdcoatl is? Or Tlaloc? Or Chalchihuftlicue? Or Xiehtecutii? Or Centeotl, that sweet one? Or Tlazoltcotl, the goddess of love ? Or Mictlan? Or Ixtlilton? Or Omacatl? Or Yacatecutli? Or Mixcoatl? Or Xipe? Or all the host of Tzitzimitles? Where are their bones? Where is the willow on which they hung their harps? In what forlorn and unheard-of hell do they await the resurrection morn? Who enjoys their residuary estates? Or that of Dis, whom Caesar found to be the chief god of the Celts? Or that of Tarvos, the bull? Or that of Moccos, the pig? Or that of Epona, the mare? Or that of Mullo, the celestial jackass? There was a time when the Irish revered all these gods as violently as they now hate the English. But today even the drunkest Irishman laughs at them.

But they have company in oblivion: the hell of dead gods is as crowded as the Presbyterian hell for babies. Damona is there, and Esus, and Drunemeton, and Silvana, and Dervones, and Adsalluta, and Deva, and Belisama, and Axona, and Vintios, and Taranucus, and Stdis, and Cocidius, and Adsmcrius, and Dumiatis, and Caletos, and Moccus, and Ollovidius, and Albiorix, and Leucitius, and Vitucadrus, and Ogmios, and Uxellimus, and Borvo, and Grannos, and Mogons. All mighty gods in their day, worshipped by millions, full of demands and impositions, able to bind and loose — all gods of the first class, not pikers. Men labored for generations to build vast temples to them — temples with stones as large as hay-wagons. The business of interpreting their whims occupied thousands of priests, wizards, archdeacons, evangelists, haruspices, bishops, archbishops. To doubt them was to die, usually at the stake. Armies took to the field to defend them against infidels: villages were burned, women and children were butchered, cattle were driven off. Yet in the end they all withered and died, and today there is none so poor to do them reverence. Worse, the very tombs in which they lie are lost, and so even a respectful stranger is debarred from paying them the slightest and politest homage.

What has become of Sutekh, once the high god of the whole Nile Valley?
What has become of:


All these were once gods of the highest class. Many of them are mentioned with fear and trembling in the Old Testament. They ranked, five or six thousand years ago, with Jahveh himself; the worst of them stood far higher than Thor or Wotan. Yet they have all gone down the chute, and with them the following;

Nuada Argetlam
Llaw Gyffes
Dea Dia
Iuno Lucina
Diana of Rhesus
U-TinHlir ki

You may think I spoof. That I invent the names. I do not. Ask your pastor to lend you any good treatise on comparative religion: you will find them all listed. They were all gods of the highest standing and dignity — gods of civilized peoples — worshipped and believed in by millions. All were theoretically omnipotent, omniscient and immortal. And all are dead.

Axis Mundi “Popular Music We All Love” and other tracks…

After hearing me mention it in an interview, someone on Facebook asked if my music was available. I’ve performed in two bands proper – URILLIAsekt and Axis Mundi. There isn’t much from URILLIAsekt available but Axis Mundi was sort of my solo project and I do have a few tracks from that. I admit, I cringe a bit on listening to some of these, but for what they are and the time I was doing them, it works decently well. Here is a bit of history I wrote some time around 2002:


Axis Mundi was formed as a solo project in 1998 after Joe Morgan and myself dissolved URILLIAsekt. URILLIAsekt has a bootleg video that has been passed around infrequently, but there was no official releases.

I first recorded under my own name “Kevin I. Slaughter”, releasing a cassette tape limited to 9 copies. These nine copies were given out and I think that I’ve lost my own version of it. Shortly after this Heather Fraser began wirking with me on music and in performances, and I released “Popular Music We All Love”


“Popular Music…” is a compilation of tracks from the first 4 years of Axis Mundi’s musical work. It has been the only full length release to date, and currently we plan on it being the only one.

The CD has been released 4 times in an “official” capacity (whatever that may mean), with each version being slightly different. I have my own very convoluted “artsy-fartsy” reason for doing this, and if you ever meet me and don’t know what to say, you can bring this up and that’ll be good for at least a few minutes of conversation.

I uploaded the tracks to so they are available once again (warts and all), and they’re in the last known order/arrangement.

Even the most doltish listener will quickly pick-up on the fact that I stole existing music and sounds with impunity. Most of the work present is more of a collage than song-writing, and at no point do I make the claim of originality or talent for that matter. My most frequently used equipment was a couple of tape decks and a primitive sampler.

The track “Transitional Pulse” is just that, a marker between older tracks and newer (at the time of release).  Some of the tracks are effectively soundtracks to films unmade, some only make sense when they were performed live. There was always a heavily visual aspect to my performances. “Man Sun” is literally a soundtrack to a video, it was a school project where we had to manufacture our own “creation myths”, so I chose the concept of Helter Skelter and produced a psychedelic video montage and the audio that appears here.

“Brocken” was a live performance of Matt G. Paradise’s “A Night on the Brocken” ritual, published originally in his magazine “Not Like Most.”

“Frustration” is a recording of a Dorothy Parker poem, with guitar by Erin C. It’s followed by a sort of remix from a performer I worked with at the time.

The last track is a recording I made of reading an excerpt from a Barnaby Conrad book on bullfighting. .

Axis Mundi “Popular Music We All Love” by Kevin I. Slaughter

Flyer for my 24th birthday show.

I also found a review penned by Tracy Twyman, and I believe it ran in her magazine Dagobert’s Revenge:

Popular Music We All Love
review by Tracy Twyman

Joseph Campbell defined the Axis Mundi as, “the imagined axis linking the Earth’s surface with the lower world (Hell) and the upper world (Heaven) at the metaphoric center of the Earth.” And that is exactly what this CD does, taking you on a trip from the depths of infernal madness and obsessive compulsion, on through the profane and unhallowed mire of our mundane, temporal existence, across the vast, chaotic chasm of Choronzon known as the Abyss, and on into that ineffable and sacrosanct region which we call the Divine, all done in a process of three stages which can be interpreted to represent those three levels of being which I have just described. And yet, oddly enough, the songs on this CD were never meant to be together. As the liner notes explain, “Popular Music’ Is a compilation of tracks derived from live performances and home taping sessions… This is not intended as a standard album, but merely a reflection of an ongoing process.” It is mostly the work of one Mr. Kevin Slaughter, known for his program on the Radio Free Satan broadcast network, along with some help from Heather Fraser and unnamed others.

The first track, “Sound of Music”, is a good example of what it would be like to play your Fisher Price Tone-a-Phone in the sewer. The next track, “Her Muse”, is one of those “depraved ravings” pieces in the vein of Sisyphus Autopsy, written from the point of view of a stalking ex-boyfriend who has captured his prey and is now trying to convince her, probably at gunpoint, that they belong together. On “Thanks for the Memories”, someone mumbles incomprehensibly over an instrumental of “A Kiss is Still a Kiss”, an over-modulated version of “Funky Cold Medina”, and a soup of various static-filled samples. “Popular Media” is perhaps the most wry in its humor, an actual recording of Kevin Slaughter calling up a radio talk show to discuss “racialist music”, including the moronic comments made by the host of the program. And in “Mi Amore”, women scream as their bodies are cast into the flaming pits of Hell. The last track, “Man Sun”, is very interesting, as the narrator explains concepts of infinity, eternity, God, Abraxas, dualism, unity, and equilibrium, mixed with reenactments of speeches made by Charles Manson and his followers. As more of a “stream of consciousness” piece than an act of premeditation, this compilation works very well. I’d like to see what they do when they plan it out ahead of time. A more standard full-length CD entitled, Love Songs, is scheduled for release in the coming months.


In addition, while I was at it at least, I’ve uploaded some miscellaneous tracks that were never released properly. First is an unfinished recreation of a novelty album first released on 78 titled “Hard to Get“. I don’t know the orig. artist name or anything at this point, but the female voice is my dear friend Erin:

Hard To Get by Kevin I. Slaughter

And finally (unless I find other junk on my hard drive to append here), this is a track created for an HP Lovecraft tribute compilation CD that was cut from the final release. The title of the track is “Invocation Inebriation“:

Invocation Inebriation by Kevin I. Slaughter


“The Black Mass” by William Lindsay Gresham

I will be away for a few days to give a talk in Detroit. I hope to see some of you there.

I plan on having it recorded and then edited and up on YouTube, but I cannot say how long it will take.

I thought I’d post something I found archived away in some dark subfolder on an old hard drive, to entertain you while I’m gone. I will be tweeting some, I’m sure, and you can follow me there.

The date stamp on the text file for this shows 3/12/2005. I don’t know where it came from…. I’ve fixed a few typos, but there may be more.

The Black Mass

The whys and wherefores of the most abominable of all sexual rites. Where Satnism began and where it leads.
by William Lindsay Gresham

“And thou, thou whom, in my quality of priest, I force, whether thou wilt or no, to descend into this host, to incarnate thyself in this bread, Jesus, Artisan of Hoaxes, Bandit of Homage, Robber of Affection, hear! Since the day when thou didst issue from the complaisant bowels of a Virgin, thou hast failed all thine engagements, belied all thy promises. Centuries have wept, awaiting thee, fugitive God, mute God! Thou wast to redeem man and thou hast not, thou wast to appear in thy glory, and thou steepest. Go, lie, say to the wretch who appeals to thee, ‘Hope, be patient, suffer; the hospital of souls will receive thee; the angels will assist thee; Heaven opens to thee.’ Imposter! thou knowest well that the angels, disgusted at thine inertness, abandon thee! Thou wast to be the Interpreter of our plaints, the Chamberlain of our tears; thou wast to convey them to the Father and thou hast not done so, for this intercession would disturb thine eternal sleep of happy satiety. Thou hast forgotten the poverty thou didst preach, Vassal enamoured of Banquets! Thou hast seen the weak crushed beneath the press of profit; thou hast heard the death rattle of the timid, paralyzedby famine, of women disemboweled for a bit of bread, and thou has caused . . . thy commercial representatives, thy Popes, to answer by dilatory promises and evasive excuses, sacristy shyster, huckster God! Master, whose inconceivable ferocity engenders life and inflicts it on the innocent whom thou Barest damn-in the name of what original sin?-whom thou Barest punish-by the virtue of what covenants? -we would have thee confess thine impudent cheats, thine inexpiable crimes! We would drive deeper the nails into thy hands, press down the crown of thorns upon thy brow, bring blood and water from the dry wounds of thy sides. And that we can and will do by violating the quietude of thy body, Profaner of ample vices, Abstractor of stupid purities, cursed Nazarene, do-nothing King, coward God!” This diatribe, nothing if not eloquent, is more than a passage at the climax of one of the world’s most hair-raising novels. It represents the unconscious content of the minds of millions of the faithful, when driven to utter desperation by the “bludgeonings of chance.” The scene in the book is a Black Mass, devoted to the adoration of Satan and the blaspheming of God, being said by an infamous unfrocked priest, Canon Docre. The hero, a writer named Durtal, who is working on a biography of Gilles de Rais, has been taken to the Satanic mass by his mistress, the languorous Mme. Hyacinthe Chantelouve. Disgusted by the obscenities in the violation of the Host, the agnostic Durtal drags his entranced mistress away and into a shabby wineshop for a drink to clear his head. But the publican suggests that they take a room upstairs since they are obviously gentlefolk and the tavern is patronized by riffraff. The room contains a rickety bed, a cracked chamber pot and two chairs. When they are alone Hyacinthe, still in the grip of the Satanic mass, turns to her lover:
“Her eyes were sombre, mad. She enlaced Durtal. `No!’ he shouted, furious at having fallen into this trap. `I’ve had enough of that. It’s late. Your husband is waiting for you. It’s time for you to go back to him-‘
“She did not even hear him. `I want you,’ she said, and she took him treacherously and obliged him to desire her. She disrobed, threw her skirts on the floor, opened wide the abominable couch. A look of swooning ecstasy was in her eyes and a smile of joy on her lips. She seized him, and, with ghoulish fury, dragged him into obscenities of whose existence he had never dreamed. Suddenly, when he was able to escape, he shuddered, for he perceived that the bed was strewn with fragments of Hosts . . . he was not absolutely convinced of Transubstantiation-he did not believe very firmly that the Savior resided in that soiled bread-but-in spite of himself, the sacrilege he had involuntarily participated in saddened him.”
The novel ends with the realization of Durtal that Mme. Chantelouve is bad medicine and he had better split fast, which he does. This leaves him (or Huysmans, who is always the
hero of his books) in his chronic state of disgust at the idiocy of human beings. The book was strong meat in 1891. The Victorians loved it.
Joris-Karl Huysmans was the author of “La Bas,” was a desperate little guy-a wary-eyed, quiet, buttoned-up sort of character who spent his life as a clerk in a government office and wrote his novels on the taxpayers’ time. This and the toadying and intrigue necessary to keep his sinecure, probably set up in his unconscious such an operation of self-loathing that he had to project it onto mankind.
He was tormented by the age-old Riddle of Evil or, as it is squeamishly titled by philosophers, “The Ethical Problem.” He finally died reconciled to the Faith of his Fathers but to the last he was hag-ridden by fears and anxieties and could not retire for the night without drawing a magic circle with an imaginary fiery sword about his bed and sealing the doors and windows with holy water.
And he had good cause for anxiety, for he was one of those hypersensitive souls who had thought long and hard about man’s suffering and could not quiet his doubts and indignations by superficial panaceas of radical politics.
He was hooked on the dilemma of Dualism. Unless a person is by nature tough-minded, or has come to terms with Pain and Evil through religion or philosophy, it is better not to dig too deeply into the history of the human race. But in choosing for the subject of his greatest book the Black Mass, Huysmans was able to blow off a lot of steam through the lips of the detestable Canon Docre. This device has probably saved many writers from the foolish farm, or at least helped; the raging aggressions of the unconscious, too horrible to be given conscious expression by our proper selves, can always be foisted on fictional villains.

MY FAVORITE VERSION in English of “La Bas” is a translation with the title “Down There,” made many years ago by my old friend from Greenwich Village days, the poet Keene Wallis. In it, the passages of Durtal’s fictional book on Gilles de Rais and his sodomic slaughter of peasant’s children in his tower set off a chain-reaction of nightmare in my psyche which had farreaching effects. It led, in time, to a study of Satanism, its theological derivations and the folk-ways out of which it grew.
If there is one word which describes the background of the Black Mass it is “confusion.” But some fairly clear points emerge:
The “natural” or folk religion of mankind is a polytheism of good and bad forces or gods, angels and demons. As the tribes grow more complex in their culture and found cities, thinkers emerge. They postulate a First Cause. This cannot, as a creator, be considered Bad or Destructive, else it would be licked before it started in the creation business. The next thought is that out of the original creative force there develop two forces-dark and light, good and bad. How the original Unity manages to bust up into warring factions is just a sample of the natural anthropomorphic tendency of man to make God in his own image and the universe a macrocosm of human society.
While monotheism was not an invention of the Jews, theirs was the first and boldest statement of it in the Western world on a mass level. Christianity, deriving from Judaism, was faced from the first by an embarrassing need to reconcile the God of Love, as preached by the prophets and by Jesus, with the earliest form of Yahweh, the God of Vengeance, found in the older books of the Old Testament.
When one people are conquered by another the gods of the vanquished become demons to the victors. And when Christianity finally overran Europe the old gods fled in all directions. Some became identified in the folk mind with Christian saints, and their worship-or veneration-went on practically without intermission. But there was one of the old order which was banished to outer darkness by the fathers of the Church. This was the Thracian god Dionysus-or Panby Zeus out of Semele, the earth-goddess; his symbol was the black goat or simply the phallus. He was in charge of fertility and of the vine. And a festival in his honor was quite a whing-ding, with animal sacrifices, generous drinking and you-know-what.
The Church found that you can take the peasant out of paganism-by decree-a lot easier than you can take the paganism out of the peasant. And for centuries, side by side with Christian worship, were held Sabbats, attended by thousands of the country people, in which a “priestess” or officiating witch approached the black statue of the goat-man, the old god Dionysus, now re-named Satan by the Church. She lit a torch from the blazing brand set between his horns, and went into a liturgy which began: “Save us, Lord Satan, from treachery and violence.” She then kissed the phallus of the image, and on occasion lowered herself upon it in ritual coitus.
Being saved from “treachery and violence” took on a very specific meaning as the ages passed in Europe and the feudal lords became ever more grasping, gold-hungry and brutal. The Sabbat became a folk-ceremony, invoking the Old Power against the God of the cathedrals-and the rich barons who had taken Him over, according to the tillers of the soil. The French historian, Jules Michelet, author of the classic book, “Satanism and Witchcraft,” works himself up into a fine lather of rage at the enormities perpetrated on the common people by the barons. From our more sophisticated age we can argue that they were probably no worse than a bad case of the Third Reich.
The workings of the peasant mindare obvious-“God helps the baron and his soldiers rob us and rape our daughters. God is the enemy of Satan.Therefore Satan is on our side; let us pray to him.”
Thus the ancient Sabbat is one tributary of the Black Mass. There is another, and again, it derives from the reaction of men under unbearable conditions.
There is an important fact about the development of Christianity which we are hardly likely to learn in Sunday school and this is what it was really like to live as a Christian in Rome between A.D. 30 and A.D. 400. It must have been like trying to live, raise your children, worship God and transact your business, in a town where a lynching is going on constantly. For this mass lynching was the spirit of the “games” which politicians put on to keep the mob quiet and buy themselves into office. The Emperor Trajan, in 107 A.D., to celebrate his conquest of Dacia, sponsored a series of “games” which went on for 122 days; in addition to the chariot races and other events, the crowd was sent into screaming ecstasies by the slaughter of 10,000 animals and 11,000 people.

A HERESY started early in the days of the Church, and I think it did not have to be imported from the Balkans or anywhere else. I think it grew out of such a scene as this:
A young Christian merchant, on returning to Rome from a business voyage, finds that his wife and children have been scooped in by one of the periodic round-ups of Christians to provide victims for the games. He wishes to die with them, but is dissuaded by his friends since he holds an important position in the church. All efforts to spring his family by bribery fail, or else he simply cannot raise the money. He is drawn to the arena on the fateful day by an impulse he cannot deny, hoping that his prayers can shorten their torments. After an elaborate program of bear-baiting, setting foxes afire after their tails are drenched with oil, and gladiatorial combats, the Christians are brought out, the women naked, their hands tied behind them. They are fixed to stakes driven in the sand. Then their children are paraded before them; the girls are raped by specially trained leopards, the boys torn to pieces by mastiffs. Our young Christian’s wife is hung head-down while a pack of half-starved hyenas tear off her face and breasts. Still alive, she is lowered, again tied to the post, her abdomen sliced open and her viscera drawn out and given to dogs to worry and fight over. Finally, to speed up the show for the other events, one of the arena attendants runs his short sword up her body and she is dragged out the Gate of Death. The attendants have a Good Thing Going for Them-selling the bodies to relatives so they can be given Christian burial.
Our young husband does not try to reclaim the body-other members of the church do it for him. The elders try to console him, pointing out that the rewards of Heaven are in store for those who die as martyrs for the Faith. The man sits in a catalepsy, unmoving, uncaring. Eventually he seems to recover enough to take care of his shop and attend the secret services of his church but something has changed in him. Finally he is approached by another Christian who hints that the Church fathers have got it all wrong -this world is hell, the creation of Satan. Sex is sin in any form-look at the way the mob howls at the sextorture events in the circus. Only by denying the flesh, mortifying it and eventually leaving it, can true life be found. This doctrine was supposed to have begun with a Persian sage named Mani in the second century A.D. and to have infected the Western churches under the name of Manichaeism, but I don’t think we have to look for an import. I think it is a return to the “natural” religion of opposites and their eternal struggle-bad against good, night against day, winter against summer; the origin of it is in the very dualism of man’s perceptive apparatus which early in life tells him that there is a difference between “I” and “that.”
The Persian dualistic doctrines held that there would be an eventual triumph of the light or good forces over darkness and evil but there were doubters.
The tenet that marriage itself is a sin got stern reproof from the Church, but the idea took hold. If God is good, why did he create Evil? This was the big question. And the answers men demanded had to be answers which would satisfy their mode of thinking, which was bound by dualism.
There arose in the Church, like a viper in its bosom, the secret sect of the Cathars, who denied all the sacraments of the Church because they were administered with Matter, and Matter was of this world and of the Devil. They rejected the Virgin Mary because God was much too holy to have entered anything so vile as a woman’s body. Leaders of this heresy were called the Perfect and were initiated into its innermost secrets after incredible austerities. A Cathar priest, saying an ordinary mass, would say certain phrases backwards in symbolism of the Catharistic reversal of the basic tenets of Christianity. This woman-sex-flesh-despising cult grew and flourished like the green bay tree, subject to various additions and perversions wrought in it by time. At last it infected the powerful order of warrior-monks, the Templars.

THIS ORDER had been founded with the best of intentions in Jerusalem in 1119 A.D. by nine knights; its purpose was to defend the Holy Sepulchure and the pilgrims visiting it. For 140 years the order grew and flourished, conducting a perpetual Crusade against the Saracens. When the Moslems finally captured the Holy Land, the order retired to its island of Cyprus and its many castles throughout Europe. It had become a powerful, rich and autonomous organization, answerable only to the Pope. Its members swore personal poverty, chastity and obedience. As the order grew in riches, poverty didn’t mean much: they lived like kings. And at first they had eschewed women, but when you keep a bunch of soldiers cooped up in a castle long enough something’s got to give, and there were rumors that the Templars preferred each other to women. Nature, it seemed, had triumphed in the end. In any order with 9,000 castles and manors, it is obvious that there must have been a few gay boys in the crowd. And there is no doubt that many of its members were secret Cathars. But that the entire order was officially Catharistic, there is evidence to the contrary.
Anyhow, King Philip IV of France, called the Fair, wanted to destroy the order for the best of all possible 14th century reasons-robbery. On the night of October 13, 1307, he ordered the arrest of the grand master and the other high ranking officers of the order. In Paris 138 Templars were “examined” for a month during which time 36 expired at the hands of the examiners and the others confessed anything the king wanted confessed, chiefly to denying Christ and spitting on the cross.
Philip had built better than he knew. He had invented a brand new racket-accusing people of heresy and witchcraft so as to confiscate their property or pay off old grudges. The essential evidence against the accused was “The Queen of Proofs”-his own confession in court. The brain-washing went on around the clock. This attack on the Templars set in motion what has come to be known as the great Witch Mania which terrorized Europe for three centuries before it finally gave way to commonsense and common decency.
The witch hunters all unknowingly obeyed one of the maxims of modern merchandising-“Find a need and fill it.” The Church was now definitely on the side of the strongest armies and the richest nobles; the poverty-stricken serfs needed little urging to revert to the old god of the phallus, so abhorred by the mitred bishops of the rich. The witch Sabbats began to be held in secret but more devotedly: the more heat was put on the more conversions there were to the worship of Satan. In the popular mind the terms “God” and “Devil” had simply been transposed, only “God” was not allied with the folk, was not in favor of liberty, equality and fraternity.
And still the tormenting paradox of Evil in a world designed and created by a good God, tortured the sensitive intellects. Many gave up and in regard to Evil followed the maxim, “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.” And this included a great many parish priests who sat up all night with dying parishioners and hardly had enough to eat in payment for their devotion to their jobs. Word began to get around that if you said a mass in a certain way, with certain objects under the altar cloth, it would cause the death of an unwanted landlord or husband. Wealthy men-or their wives-were willing to pay for such services.
Some of the more threadbare gentlemen of the cloth began trying to find buried treasures by means of magical changes in the mass. Between 1673 and 1680 in France alone some 50 priests were executed for sacrilege.
King Louis XIV, the Sun King, was occupying the splendid and bankrupt throne of France. Adultery in court circles was all the rage and a man in love with and faithful to his own wife would have been laughed out of court as a hopeless “square.”
Religious ideas had changed a great deal since the ruin of the Templars. Now the cognoscenti began experimenting with atheism, or occultism, in which the powers of the Devil were now assigned to elemental forces which could be controlled by the proper rituals. There was a great casting of horoscopes to find out what the King would do next. And at this point there arose one of the most infamous women of history, Catherine Deshayes, known as “La Voisin.”
La Voisin, from an old house in the suburbs of Paris, operated a racket right across the board; she dealt in poisons easy to administer and hard to detect called “powders of inheritance” for doing away with people
who had left you their estates in their wills. She sold abortifacients, performed abortions on the premises, cast horoscopes, read the Tarot cards for her customers and, for a staggering fee, would arrange a special Black Mass with genuine consecrated hosts and a real priest, using the body of a naked woman as an altar, a magical operation guaranteed to produce results. The king’s mistress, the Marchioness of Montespan, took part in one of these, occupying the place of dishonor on the altar and “receiving” the host in proper Satanic fashion. At least this time the Host, when violated, was violated in a place reserved for royalty. The purpose of the operation was, of course, to insure Montespan’s continued hold over the King.
La Voisin and her gang-which included her lover, Nicholas Levasseur, the executioner of Paris, who provided fat from the bodies of executed murderers to make Black Mass candleswere finally caught, tried and executed in 1679. But La Voisin was made of tough stuff. Never once did she let slip the name of a single customer.

THE ROUGH and tumble 17th century was drawing to a close and for another hundred years nothing much was heard of the Black Mass in Francealways a center of its activities.
In the 18th century in England some young rakes, led by the notorious bully and seducer, Sir Francis Dashwood, founded a Hell Fire club and a mock order of “monks” with “nuns” to match but the morale of laity and clergy had gone so to pot that nc one of importance minded.
It was not until the great upsurge of occultism in the 1880’s that the Black Mass came into its own again, sometimes an actual Satanist mass by sincere worshipers of the goat-headed god, more often a fraud for the extraction of money from tourists. In the latter category it formed part of the entertainment of the gay French capital up to World War II, in company with exhibitions usually involving one woman and three men, or liaisons between a woman and a Great Dane, a Shetland pony or even a small python. It was to one of the peep-show-type Black Masses, without a doubt, that the nervous novelist, Huysmans, was conducted by one of his occultist lady friends while he was writing “La Bas.” For he was nothing if not thorough.
Today, the Black Mass seems to have died down for a time. A few years ago the Vicar of the parish of Yarcombe in Devonshire, reported that the church had been disarranged one rainy night when it had been left open to serve as a refuge for benighted wayfarers. The candles had burned to their sockets, one candlestick held the paw of a white kitten which had been hacked off. A prayer book lay face open on the floor and when recovered it was observed that the lines “Give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness,” had been crossed out with diagonal lines of black-grease pencil. But such resurgences are sporadic.
There remains, of the elementals which tormented Joris-Karl Huysmans, only the philosophical Problem of Evil. And it has two viable antagonists in the modern world.
In the early 19th century the biggest double-dome in Europe belonged to Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Heidelberg. Beginning with the idea of Pure Being, derived from Lao Tsu of China, he worked out a theory of reality as Absolute Idea, best exemplified in the Prussian State. To him good and evil were necessary opposites as war was necessary for eventual social progress. His theories struck fire in the brain of young Karl Marx who, as he put it, “turned Hegelian Idealism right-side up” with his “dialectical materialism,” which has gone on to dubious glory as the religion of Communism. Marx said, “The philosophers have only described the world; the point, however, is to change it.” If, in this process of change, the individual loses his life, it is of no consequence. This takes care of the paradox of Good and Evil by making the triumph of the toiling masses, led by their self-appointed vanguard, the Communist Party, the only Good-and keeping the Party members so busy they don’t have time to think of bourgeois philosophical nonsense.
But there is another solution to Huysman’s horror.
Out of the mysterious East in the 1930’s there began to come rumors of a psychological-religious method or discipline which, once achieved, answered, or more properly dissolved, all doubts and dilemmas. It captured the imagination and curiosity of psychologists, scientists and avant garde intellectuals; in the 17 years since Hiroshima enough of its results have become known to widen the circle of interest, as yet still among the intelligentsia. It consists of a discipline which makes the U. S. Marine Corps boot camp training seem like the first day in kindergarten. But for those who perservere, it is claimed, the shell of dualism which imprisons the human mind splits like an abscess and the divine certainty beyond all opposites comes flooding in. The name of this discipline-religion in Japanese is, of course, Zen.