In a couple of interesting bits of synchronicity, recent news reports are tracking subjects covered this week on this blog.
The folks at Harvard have succeeded in using public pressure to get a student group to cancel a planned "satanic black mass," Bloomberg news reports.
This blog, of course, just covered an apparently similar ritual in Illuminatus! A sentence from the Bloomberg report: "The school’s administration had worked with students to ensure that no consecrated host, the sacramental wafer that’s been blessed by a priest and is used in the Eucharist ceremony, would be used to re-enact the black mass." A couple of sentences from Illuminatus! (page 118), "Padre Pederastia handed him the Host. 'I stole this from the church myself,' he whispered."
The whole Bloomberg story is worth reading; check out the priest representing the church that backed the Inquisition lecturing the rest of us on what a college campus should permit. There's a lot of the usual double talk about preserving freedom of inquiry from the college president, Drew Faust (love that last name), who had planned to attend a Catholic church to protest the black mass. Maybe she can look for female priests while she's there.
My informant for the Bloomberg News piece, John Merritt, also pointed me to the news that Morning Glory Zell-Ravenheart has died. Information about her is here.
She was an important figure in the Church of All Worlds, the religion inspired by Robert Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land. Robert Anton Wilson was intimately involved with those folks and published many articles in the group's journal, Green Egg, some of which you can read by clicking links on the right side of this page. Carole Cusack's book Invented Religions, mentioned in yesterday's blog post, has an excellent chapter on the Church of All Worlds.
Speaking of Stranger, Oz Fritz mentioned the book in his recent post on his blog on Aleister Crowley:
Crowley apparently had direct experience with followers misunderstanding his tantric teachings particularly in reference to the Agape Lodge that operated in Los Angeles around the end of his life. As recounted in The Unknown God by Martin Starr, Crowley basically fired the head of the Lodge, Wilfred Smith. Though I don't recall the specific reason he gave, he must have obviously thought that Smith wasn't doing a good job. It seems the Lodge may have turned into a bit of a love cult with Smith placing emphasis more on sexual conquest and endurance than on the postbiological activities, voyages, or magick it's meant to fuel.
Further evidence for this supposition might be found in the science fiction classic, Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein. Heinlein had visited the Lodge, attending at least one party there, and was friends with Jack Parsons who took over the leadership of the Agape Lodge when Smith departed. Plausible rumor has it that Heinlein got the assignment to write a popular account of Crowley's teachings. I call it plausible because Stranger does read as an excellent presentation of Crowley's basic gist with the added benefit of only indirectly referring to him once with the mention of The Book of the Law thus avoiding the association of these liberating ideas with his sinister reputation. In Stranger, Heinlein seems to satirize, ridicule and skewer the whole love cult aspect of the new religion presented by the central protagonist Valentine Michael Smith. I suggest that this may have been a commentary on the Agape Lodge.
Apropos of this, did you see John Merritt's comment in yesterday's blog post? "One other thing: the June publication of the last volume of Bill Patterson’s biography of Robert Heinlein is undoubtedly going to cause a lot of speculation about the origins and meaning of Stranger in a Strange Land to be irrelevant. It should be interesting….. "
And let us not forget that L. Ron Hubbard was also a member of Agape Lodge, and we know what he ended up doing.
Heinlein knew Hubbard, and, in some ways, the Fosterite Church in Stranger in a Strange Land reads like a parody of Scientology, especially its attitude towards critics, but it was written in the 1950s before Scientology really took off.
The Boston Satanists still held the Black Mass, just at a different location. Not sure if they used a consecrated host. I hope not.
Crowley said in "Black Magic is Not a Myth" that a real Black Mass requires a real priest... so Padre Pederastia in Illuminatus! makes the Black Mass more authentic (efficacious). But, no doubt a Black Mass w/o a real priest still casts real psychological effects on its participants and the communities they're a part of.
Personally, I have no problem with Harvard shutting down the Black Mass. The Black Mass isn't 'black magic' like Haitian voodoo. It's a deliberate attack against another religion. I'd also be against a campus Quran book burning. Most forms of Satanism aren't a religion to/in itself, like Buddhism, Judaism, etc. It's an intentional perversion of another religion, meant to profane.
The most in/famous "real" Black Mass I know of is the dual, synchronized ceremony alleged by Jesuit exorcist Fr. Malachi Martin to have occurred on June 29, 1963 in both the Vatican's own St. Peter's Basilica and South Carolina's St. Paul's Cathedral, by Satanist apostates in the upper echelons of the Church. Fr. Martin novelized it in Windswept Vatican, beginning on page 7... Never has a Black Mass been so eloquently laid on paper.
In a related note, Fr. Martin alleges the problem of pedophilia in the Church is actually the result of these Satanists... which would make the Black Mass in Illuminatus! even more 'authentic,' since Fr. Pederastia's name obviously refers to pederasty. If you're curious for an "insider's perspective" on the situation of the Church, its waning authority, and the struggle it's facing between good and evil, there are many, many illuminating interviews with Fr. Martin available Youtube. Whether you believe in his metaphysics or not, he's surprisingly sane and well-spoken, and has real insights to offer on the inner- and geo-politicking going on in the Vatican these days. As Pope Paul VI announced in 1972, da qualche fessura sia entrato il fumo di Satana nel tempio di Dio... the smoke of Satan has entered the sanctuary...
On a slightly lighter note, did anyone else notice that Harvard's president is named Faust? Isn't that just perfect?
The link above titled "Windswept Vatican" should instead read, "Windswept House."
I had a wonderful related synchronicity today! At the gym looking at a soundless morning TV show out of NY, "Michael and Kelly" or something like that. They are honoring the teacher of the year for teacher's week I think. A young blonde woman steps out apparently the winner. Her prize sits a on a pedestal inside a museum-like case - a Golden Apple. The teacher even looked a little like Eris.
That said, I'll get into the spirit. L.Ron Hubbard was a science fiction writer, and we know what he ended up doing.
If Bill Patterson = William Patterson the Gurdjieffian, then from past experience I don't trust the accuracy of some of his reality tunnels. We also know more than one precedent of Gurdjieff followers knocking Crowley so I have to wonder if that dynamic exists in this matter.
I also wonder how what he writes could possibly change an obvious interpretation of the main character's name Valentine Michael Smith. Heinlein even takes you halfway there with the Archangel connection at the end. That obvious interpretation coincides with Crowley's primary instruction to invoke one's own greater intelligence. Maybe Heinlein didn't intend that interpretation. That makes it no less valid. On the dust cover notes for the hardcover unedited edition of "Stranger..." Ginny Heinlein states that the character names got carefully chosen, that they have a deeper meaning. She gives an example with Jubal Harshaw then exhorts the readers to discover other meanings. So what could the name Valentine Michael Smith mean?
Fosterites likely could have been influenced by Scientology - known in SF circles since the late '40's. Heinlein would also have known of Hubbard's famous statement ( as reported by Harlan Ellison and others): "Screw this writing, I'm going to start a religion and make some real money."
All Hail Eris!!
We stick apart...
The Gurdjieff guy is William Patrick Patterson and the Heinlein biographer is William H. Patterson. So I am guessing they are not the same person.
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