The following is the introduction to The Devil-Worshippers, an anthology of classic tales of Diabolism and Black Magic edited by the Dark Lords.
Mankind’s Primal Religion
DEVIL-WORSHIP! What could be more terrifying? What could provoke more primal fear than the specter of men who worship a deity, not of benevolence and light, but pure evil and darkness?
In his classic study, The History of the Devil and the Idea of Evil, From the Earliest Times to the Present Day, Paul Carus make the case that Devil-worship is the primeval form of human religion:
Devil-worship naturally precedes the worship of a benign and morally good Deity… there seems to be no exception to the rule that fear is always the first incentive to religious worship. This is the reason why the dark figure of the Devil, that is to say, of a powerful evil deity, looms up as the most important personage in the remotest past of almost every faith. Demonolatry, or Devil-worship, is the first stage in the evolution of religion, for we fear the bad, not the good.
Devil-worship is indeed a religion of fear, but it is also a religion of awe: awe at the powers of darkness; awe at the dark god who commands these powers and must be propitiated by mortal men.
But more than mere slaves who live in fear of a tyrannical God in the manner of the Yehovans, Devil-worshippers hope to gain great boons by their fealty—all the wealth, power, pleasure and knowledge which the Lord of this World has to offer. In an age of widespread unbelief and cynicism—a so-called “Age of Enlightenment” which starves men’s souls of the potency and faith of the old religions—it may be Devil-worship that offers the path out of this cul-de-sac of ignorance—a path that is compatible with the materialistic and hedonistic ethos of the age, yet which serves a transcendent Master: the Devil!
Notes About These Tales and Essays
“Devil Worship” (pub. 1900) is the second chapter of Paul Carus’s opus, The History of the Devil. Carus describes pre-Christian forms of worship among American Indian tribes and ancient Greeks—in particular their practice of human sacrifice to sinister gods—to show that Devil-worship is indeed mankind’s primal religion.
“Secret Worship” (pub. 1908) is a brilliant tale of an outbreak of Devil-worship at a monastery in a remote German village. Written by the great master of the weird tale, Algernon Blackwood, the story illustrates a vexing fact about faith: the closer one gets to God, the more tempted one is by the Devil!
“The Late Mrs. Fowke” (pub. 1921) is a delightful little story of a housewife with a most unusual hobby, and an alter ego that is quite diabolical. Let this be a warning to those who take mundane appearances for truth, that out in remote hollows, hymns are being chanted to dark gods, and a more sinister, vital existence is being celebrated!
“Gavon’s Eve” (pub. 1912) tells of witchcraft and devilry at a remote Scottish loch. The star of this tale for this editor is the setting: an ancient, ruined Pictish castle, with a stone altar set above a black pool, illuminated by the midnight moon of Gavon’s Eve. Surely the Devil comes out to play in such settings, or not at all!
“Dig Me No Grave” (pub. 1937) by pulp legend Robert E. Howard is a superb tale of a diabolical pact that comes due in the most dramatic and terrifying fashion. The words of the ancient pact should resonate with every monodiabolist who dares to trade his immortal soul for the terrible powers of the Master:
“There is but one Black Master though men calle hym Sathanas & Beelzebub & Apolleon & Ahriman & Malik Tous… Ye abysse yawns & ye debt is to paye. Ye light fayles, ye shadows gather. There is no god but evil; no lite but darkness; no hope but doom—”
“The Demon Pope” (pub. 1888) is a whimsical story about a Faustian pact with a twist, and diabolism in the innermost circle of the medieval Church. Considering the evil antics of the Inquisitors of said Church, and persistent rumors of a Devil-worshipping cabal at its heart, this tale might not be far off the mark!
“The Black Mass” (pub. 1891) is an infamous excerpt from the French novel novel Là-bas (“The Damned”), about a seeker’s descent into the underworld of diabolism in late 19th century Paris. The Black Mass portrayed here was controversial in its day, and it remains one of the most disturbing and believable accounts of diabolical worship in the literature—“a madhouse, a monstrous pandemonium of prostitutes and maniacs” indeed. A must read!
“Incense of Abomination” (pub. 1938) is a melancholy tale of Devil-worship, suicide and haunted souls, by the great pulp author Seabury Quinn. His depiction of Black Masses and Satanic orgies is first rate, as is his understanding of a major challenge for the faith: the tendency of disciples to backslide, doubt, succumb to depression and even suicide. The Devil’s religion is not for everyone! As Doctor Bentley puts it: “There’s an essential nastiness in Devil-worship which is revolting to the average man, not to mention its abysmal wickedness.” However, the beautiful young Marescha redeems the faith for many with her stirring words:
‘Take off your robe; that’s what we’re here for. This is our religion, the oldest in the world; it’s revolt against the goody-goodies, revolt against the narrowness of God; we live for pleasure and unbridled passion instead of abnegation and renunciation—life and love and pleasure in a world of vivid scarlet, instead of fear and dreariness in a world all cold and gray. That’s our creed and faith. We’re set apart, we’re marked for pleasure, we worshippers of Satan.’
Amen to that, sister!
“The Witch” (pub. 1909) is a chapter from Marjorie Bowen’s classic novel “Black Magic”—an epic tale of two dashing young sorcerers’ quest for forbidden knowledge and power in medieval Europe. In this chapter, the sorcerers seek the counsel of a fellow diabolist and witch, as the love of one sorcerer for the other clashes with his romantic interest in a lady of the Court, and with their destiny to become the Devil’s chosen agents, who will put the Antichrist on the highest throne of power. Look for this entire outstanding novel to be published in a future installment of the Dark Lords’ Library of the Occult!
“Hymn to Satan” (pub. 1913) is Aleister Crowley’s little ode to the Lord of this World. Despite this, the question of Crowley’s diabolical bone fides has been a subject of contention among occult scholars. Israel Regardie asserts that “anyone who says Crowley was a Satanist and a devil-worshipper should have his head examined.” Crowley, ever the trickster, is contradictory on the subject, but clearly states in his masterwork Magick in Theory & Practice:
The Devil does not exist. It is a false name invented by the Black Brothers to imply a Unity in their ignorant muddle of dispersions. A devil who had unity would be a God—“The Devil” is, historically, the God of any people that one personally dislikes.
Which begs the question: who are these “Black Brothers”, and how does one join? But we digress…
“Satanism in the Nineteenth Century” (pub. 1896) is the first chapter from occult scholar A. E. Waite’s study Devil-Worship in France. Waite makes some interesting observations about the very active diabolist scene of late 19th century France, including the notorious Black Mass described by Huysmans in this collection. As Waite notes, the revival of the cultus diabolus in the epicenter of the (so-called) “Age of Enlightenment” is a testament to the timeless appeal of the Devil and His religion!
“The Sabbath of the Sorcerers” (pub. 1896) is a chapter from A. E. Waite’s translation of Éliphas Lévi’s monumental occult classic, Transcendental Magic: Its Doctrine and Ritual. This excerpt describes various aspects of diabolical arcanum and Black Magickal practice, as they were known in pre-modern Europe. Lévi includes a description of the notorious Goëtic Black Evocation rite from the Grimoire of Pope Honorius, which was said to be means to summon the Devil Himself. A must read for all students of the Black Arts!
“The Sanctuary” (pub. 1934) is a stand-out tale of secret Devil-worship at a country estate. It’s a beautiful parable of an undeniable fact: that even amidst the most idyllic surroundings, the Devil is ever-ready to rear His horny head, and human beings are only too willing to bow before Him. There is no sanctuary for unbelievers on Lord Satan’s black earth!