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The Antichrist’s Turntable

dj-1Aleister Crowley played a significant part in my conversion.

Sort of.

Back in the late 70s, a group of high school buddies began to uncover bizarre occult themes in rock music. We weren’t fueled by rabid preachers denouncing backward masking. This was much less subliminal. Lead guitarist for the band Led Zeppelin, Jimmy Paige, was known to have a fascination with the black arts. Not only did he own an occult bookstore, he purchased Aleister Crowley‘s Boleskine House, on the shores of the Loch Ness. Crowley was considered one of the foremost practitioners of the magical arts in the world. He fancied himself as the Beast of the Book of the Revelations, the antichrist, performed sex magic, invoked spirits, condoned human and animal sacrifice, and referred to himself as the most evil man in the world. So what interest would one of the best guitarists in the world have with a Black Magician?

To make a long story short, the more I researched, the more I learned of Crowley’s influence on many rock musicians and pop cultural icons of the era. The connections did not seem coincidental. No, I wasn’t about to confess that rock music was of the devil. But it did cause me to concede  that occultism had significant influence on musicians and their music.

I was reminded of this by Katy Perry during the 2014 Grammy awards. Christian Today’s headline described it this way: Katy Perry Grammy Awards ‘Dark Horse’ performance shows singer’s rejection of childhood Christian Values; Witchcraft, satanic symbolism completes transition from Gospel singer roots. From the article:

Pop star Katy Perry’s performance of “Dark Horse” during the 2014 Grammy Awards on Sunday evening has shocked some fans as it displayed dark satanic imagery, including witchcraft and demons.

Perry was dressed as a witch and wore a Knights of Templar cross across her chest during the performance. She also pole-danced on a broom, and was finally burned at the stake towards the end of her controversial ensemble on the awards show, which is watched by families across the world.

The singer’s dark performance shocked many, even prompting E! News to tweet: “Um, did we just witness actual witchcraft during Katy Perry’s #Grammys performance?”

Is this just a case of Christians overreacting? It wouldn’t be the first time. I mean, was the singer intentionally employing “satanic symbolism” as a way to renounce her childhood Christian values? Or was this simply a performance that we shouldn’t read too much into?

Apparently, it’s not the Grammy’s first intersection with occultism. For instance, last year International Business Times  wrote 2013 Grammy Illuminati Rumors: Were Rihanna, Beyonce & Jay-Z Repping The Occult? The article is pure tabloid TMZ. But does that immediately discredit the charges that the musicians were “repping the occult”? Frankly, I’m not sure.

Then, n a less sensationalistic note, the American Dream dug a little deeper with The Jay-Z Illuminati Conspiracy: Are Beyonce And Jay-Z Seducing Our Kids Into The Occult?

Why are Jay-Z, Beyonce and many of the other artists that they work with (such as Rihanna) so obsessed with the Illuminati?  Why does Illumunati symbolism constantly show up in their music videos, their live performances and even in Jay-Z’s Rocawear clothing line?  Is it just a coincidence that they flash hand signs representing the all-seeing eye of Horus and the Mark of the Beast during nationally televised events?  If it was a one time thing, perhaps you could dismiss their behavior as a coincidence or as a publicity stunt.  Sadly, the truth is that there is no way that all of this occult symbolism could get into their music videos and live performances by accident.  There is an agenda at work here. (bold mine)

All this conspiratorial jargon makes me itchy.

But can the charges be dismissed that easily? Especially when you have NPR, a (slightly) more credible source, describing JayZ as A Master of Occult Wisdom. Which brings us ’round to Mr. Crowley:

In the making-of video for “Run This Town,” [Jay-Z is] pictured wearing a sweatshirt with the phrase “do what thou wilt” printed across the chest.

“Yes, that has very deep roots in modern occult culture,” [Mitch] Horowitz [author of Occult America] says. “The full expression is ‘Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.’ That was one of the key maxims of the British occultist Aleister Crowley. So when Jay-Z appears in a hoodie with that phrase on it in public, that’s exactly what he’s referencing.”

Apparently the reference to Aleister Crowley was not just a one time thing for Jay-Z. The rapper, and other celebrities, have been linked to a Luciferian organization that Crowley founded known as Ordo Templi Orientis.

The Daily Mail’s Forget Scientology, celebs are now falling for an even more sinister ‘religion’: Introducing the Satanic sex cult that’s snaring stars such as Peaches Geldof continues to unspool the thread:

…when Peaches Geldof chose to share her ‘religious’ convictions with her 148,000 followers on Twitter, it lifted the lid on a much more sinister world than first impressions would suggest.

The socialite, 24, is a devotee of Ordo Templi Orientis, known as OTO, and even has the initials tattooed on her left forearm.

But a closer look at OTO — and Aleister Crowley, its founding ‘prophet’ — gives the lie to that assumption.

Crowley, who was born into an upper-class British family in 1875, styled himself as ‘the Great Beast 666’. He was an unabashed occultist who, prior to his death in 1947, revelled in his infamy as ‘the wickedest man in the world’.

His form of worship involved sadomasochistic sex rituals with men and women, spells which he claimed could raise malevolent gods and the use of hard drugs, including opium, cocaine, heroin and mescaline.

Crowley’s motto — perpetuated by OTO — was ‘do what thou wilt’. And it is this individualistic approach that has led to a lasting fascination among artists and celebrities, of whom Peaches is the latest in a long line.

Once again, this type of stuff can be fodder for conspiratorial nuts and alarmist Christians looking for demons under every bush. But my question is relatively simple: Can we dismiss such connections between occultists and contemporary music / musicians that easily?

Sure. Katy Perry may have been been simply putting on a performance. But when it comes to “satanic symbolism” and “witchcraft,” when does one cross the line from “performing” to actually engaging in the occult?

I’m not sure what you make of these things, but as one who was ensnared in the occult by means of music, I am hesitant to view reports like these as simply reactionary tabloid fodder.

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{ 11 comments… add one }
  • Kimberly Robinson January 28, 2014, 7:13 AM

    For some reason I got a song in my head reading this, not a Katy Perry song or a Jay-Z song, but an old Keith Green song called “No One Believes in me anymore”.

  • Jessica E. Thomas January 28, 2014, 7:49 AM

    “Can we dismiss such connections between occultists and contemporary music / musicians that easily?”

    No. The connection is definitely there. I’ve never been a fan of Led Zeppelin, by the way. I realized in high school that their music gave me a definite “dark” feeling that I didn’t want any part of.

    As for Katy Perry, I would expect nothing less from a prodigal daughter, although, given her background in the church I suspect naivety is playing into it somewhat. Regarding her performance at the Grammys, I think some (well, a lot of) poor creative decisions were made. She could have acheived a much better result if she had taken the more fanciful approach that she’s known for. However, there’s really no way to redeem the lyrics of that song.

  • StuartB January 28, 2014, 8:35 AM

    Some of the connections though need to be more properly made. For instance, if a band was heavily into D&D, fantasy, Lord of the Rings, etc, many would say they are “dabbling in the occult”, when they really aren’t. That’s why I can’t write off most heavy metal, doom metal, etc, as truly occultic and demonic. The 70s, 80s, 90s, and all those “satanists are everywhere” scares really did a disservice to the church.

    Oftentimes, stuff with the occult is just mere theatre. People dabbling in Crowley and alchemy and the like in their lyrics and videos does no more than evoke those old Hammer horror films, Dracula, Frankenstein, etc. No different really than having a picture of a gargoyle around somewhere. If you are ever interested in doing a video and music comparison, watch/listen to two songs: Year Zero by Ghost BC, and Goodbye Gemini by Blood Ceremony. One’s heavy metal, one’s Jethro Tull lite. One’s pure theatre despite over the top lyrics, the other is more evil despite our unfamiliarity with the gods being mentioned.

    I read VigilantCitizen for fun sometimes. It’s easy to start seeing patterns that appear to be cultish and Masonic and the like in things, especially when there is nothing there. But ultimately, so what. It matters little if there is an Illuminati running things; Jesus is still Lord. You’d think after reading some of the stuff online that all these “enlightened Christians” don’t actually believe in a God.

  • Rebecca LuElla Miller January 28, 2014, 10:55 AM

    I tend to think there is no conspiracy the way we normally think of it, but Satan is the god of this world, acting as he does as part of his rebellion against God who is permitting him to do his worst. Does that mean the music industry is more “Satanic” than Wall Street? I don’t think so. Whether people are openly defiant of God by siding with His declared enemy or are openly defiant by living for self, it’s still open defiance. The fact that one seems more socially acceptable than the other doesn’t change the truth that both are opposed to God.

    Ultimately the Christian has to understand that our job is not to zip around putting out fires–stop this evil practice or that. Rather we need to be about our Father’s business–what He told us to do. We are to make disciples, not ferret out and protest Satanic activity. We fight against “rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness” with truth and righteousness, faith and salvation, the gospel of peace and the Word of God. And we pray.

    I’ll also add that Eph. 5 does say we are to expose deeds of darkness: “Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them; for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them” (vv 6-11).

    So it seems to me there’s a place for an exposing post like this one, Mike. I don’t think that’s the same as the crusades against “rock music” that some went on decades ago.


    • Lynette January 28, 2014, 8:18 PM

      Well said, Becky!

    • Adam Riser February 6, 2014, 7:20 PM

      Well the entertainment industry is, by its nature, visible and influential. Kids won’t follow Wall Street crooks, but they will follow Katy Perry and Jay-Z. Do you find it interesting that these satanic and occult symbols are being used out in the open by artists these days? Clearly the dark spiritual force–Satan–doesn’t fear being outed anymore because he’s out in the open, and there isn’t a strong enough church presence to show people what he’s doing. To me that proves we’re getting closer and closer to the end. Worldwide, people are accepting good being called evil and evil good.

  • John W. Morehead January 28, 2014, 11:41 AM

    I wrote on the Perry Grammy performance today too for what it’s worth: http://johnwmorehead.blogspot.com/2014/01/perrys-dark-horse-evangelicals-and-pop.html

    Of course western esotericism is present in our culture, as it has been for a long time. But the question is how should Evangelicals understand and relate to it. Was the interpretation and response to the Perry performance the best way forward?

  • Lyn Perry January 28, 2014, 12:36 PM

    The whole show was a bacchanalia.

  • D.M. Dutcher January 28, 2014, 2:32 PM

    I don’t think it’s witchcraft. The song’s lyrics are about “playing with magic” in the sense of falling for a woman you really don’t want to cross if you break up with her. They just made a set piece based on the rough idea of a witch. Usually I worry about the occult when the work of art or song makes direct reference to something that can actually be practiced or seeks to blend it with Christian beliefs. A lot of stuff just uses motifs and I don’t think is harmful.

    I think to go on your point though Mike, a lot of rock stars and performers seem to really get into gurus or esoteric religions. It’s not just Crowley but Gurus from India, Scientology, or things like EST. Or if you go back far enough, Spiritualism, Theosophy, and New Thought. Something about being at the top of the world seems to make people want custom religions and philosophies that only the top of the world can practice. As well as get bilked tons of money from.

  • Jill January 28, 2014, 7:13 PM

    It would be very difficult to erase the demonic symbolism in Katy Perry’s performance. Playing witch with a broomstick is one thing; it’s quite another to send your witchy self through a sacrifice ritual while attended by men wearing horns. It’s just too blatant. The grammies, in general, was “of the devil” if you want to put a fine point on it–a bacchanalia, as Lyn Perry mentions above, complete with overt sexuality of all kinds.

  • Teresa Lockhart January 29, 2014, 12:26 AM

    Thank you for such a well-written response to a hush-hush topic that many Christians choose not to address.

    Occult means “hidden.” I think we are in deep denial if we think a dark agenda does not exist. We often don’t see because our eyes are closed.

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