Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and Sammy Davis Jr – Dancing With The Devil

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Super group Led Zeppelin. Lead guitarist Jimmy Page harboured an intense interest in Aleister Crowley and the Occult.

Magician David Fox investigates…

They say the Devil has all the best tunes – and maybe there is an element of truth in this well-worn clich√©. Many of the finest rock acts over the past half century are clearly indebted to the infernal influence of Old Nic himself…

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Sammy Davis Jr was an early member of the Satanic Church.

Would you sell your soul to The Lord of Darkness for temporal gain? The late great Sammy Davis Jr was a celebrity member of the Church of Satan. Founded in 1966 by Anton Szandor Lavey, the legions of Lucifer have boasted several world famous luminaries among their congregation – the most recent being Antichrist Superstar Marilyn Manson!

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Anton Szandor Lavey founded the Church of Satan in 1966.

Indeed, the 1960s heralded a new age of rebellion and decadence. Civil-rights protests, a growing spiritual re-awakening – and of course Rock and Roll music – are defining hallmarks of the era. The Rolling Stones classic ‘Sympathy For The Devil’ controversially portrays the Prince of Evil as the perennially misunderstood anti-hero. The Beatles also chose to include the self-proclaimed Great Beast 666 Aleister Crowley on the cover of their multi-platinum ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ album in 1967.

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The Beatles multi-platinum selling album ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band‘ (1967). Crowley can be seen at the top left.

Led Zeppelin’s lead guitarist Jimmy Page developed a deep interest in the Occult, and most notably Aleister Crowley. The English mystic’s doctrine of Thelema (Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law) seemed to resonate strongly in the mind of the musical genius. Page duly purchased Crowley’s former home – Boleskine House on the banks of Loch Lomond in Scotland.

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Aleister Crowley’s libertarian doctrine of Thelema appealed to musicians such as Jimmy Page, David Bowie and Ozzy Osbourne

The Beast had conducted a complex magical operation at the spacious manor at the turn of the twentieth century known as the Abramelin Ritual. Consequently, it was widely believed to be haunted by ghosts and demons – a terrifying legacy of Crowley’s diabolical dabblings! Curator Malcolm Dent, a close friend of Page who lived at Boleskine for several years, frequently spoke of supernatural phenomena at the residence. Visit link: Malcolm Dent at Boleskine House.

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Jimmy Page at Boleskine House near Loch Ness.

Black Sabbath would define the genre of Heavy Metal with their ground-breaking self-titled album in 1970. Deliciously dark, menacing and sinister, the riff to the title track is played in the spine-tingling tritone of G to C# which incidentally was banned by the Medieval Church for fear of summoning daemonic forces. Bassist Geezer Butler harboured a deep interest in the supernatural, and the lyrical content throughout their best known work reflects his fascination.

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Black Sabbath would define the Heavy Metal genre with thunderous tracks such as NIB, Black Sabbath and Paranoid.

A new wave of heavy metal groups and rock bands from the 1970s onwards continued to explore the darker realms of our existence. From British Black Metal fore-runners Venom, to Los Angeles Thrash legends Slayer, the lyrics became more intriguing, disturbing and down-right shocking. The Devil seemed to be lurking on the periphery at all times, casting his anarchic authority over the proceedings like an ominous orchestral conductor subtly manipulating the creative strings.

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US legendary Thrash Metal band Slayer. Pushed the boundaries throughout the 1980s and 1990s.

In recent years, Rock and Roll music has enjoyed a sensational resurgence and is now appreciated by fans of all generations. Old Nic has been firmly accepted as part of our main-stream culture. Contemporary acts such as Queens of The Stone Age and Royal Blood frequently pay homage to icons such as Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin – politely recognising their common infernal heritage! The Devil clearly works in mysterious ways – but is he really such a fearsome fellow? After all, ‘Lucifer‘ is actually Latin for ‘bringer of light’ or ‘The Son of the Morning Star’.

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The archetype of rebellion. Perhaps the Devil simply represents the belligerent streak which resides in each and every one of us?

The author of the article is David Fox, a professional entertainer and freelance writer who currently resides in the UK.

Visit David’s new website at: www.davidfoxmagician.co.uk or contact him at: email@magician-midlands.co.uk

Voodoo – Priests, Potions and Papa Doc

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‘There is not a shred of doubt in my mind today that the African, in his own mysterious ways, has harnessed one of the strangest powers of all — the thing they call Ju-ju.’

James H. Neal

Thousands of men were at work constructing the new harbour at Tema Port, Ghana. The colossal project involved the clearance of vast swathes of land with state-of-the-art bulldozers and machinery. However, in the midst of the bustling industry, one solitary tree trunk refused to budge. Despite being subjected to numerous attempts to uproot it from the ground, it appeared to defy all logic, and stood obstinately intact in the centre of the barren landscape.

‘This tree be Fetish’ explained a local tribesman to a government official who had been assigned to oversee the work. The civil servant was bemused and clearly did not understand this curious statement.

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A Fetish is said to represent a powerful spirit (loa).

Essentially, the man was suggesting that a powerful spirit (loa) dwelled within the tree. In Voodoo tradition if an object is said to be ‘Fetish’ it is effectively the host of such an entity. The only way that the tree could be removed successfully would be if a Fetish Priest was called in order to conduct an appropriate ceremony. Such a Holy Man was duly summoned. On arrival, the Priest explained that he would speak to the spirit and see if he could persuade it to move to another tree.

After entering a trance-like state, the Priest concluded that the ceremony had been a success, the spirit believed that the new harbour would bring many benefits to the local people and agreed to move on. Then, amazingly with minimal effort, the workmen were able to perform what was unthinkable a few hours before. The tree yielded obediently in the baked solid soil revealing a massive lattice of jagged roots for all to see.

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Baron Samedi the loa of the dead. Mainstream representations of Voodoo are much distorted.

There are many such incredible anecdotes regarding the mysterious religion most commonly known as ‘Voodoo’. In West Africa (where it originated) it is often called Vodun. As Alfred Metraux has noted, the peoples of this region have ‘kept alive beliefs and rituals inherited from the ancient religions of the classical East and the Aegean world.’ Voodooists identify with a sophisticated pantheon of Gods and spirits. Indeed, the religion may have evolved in the New World in countries such as Haiti, Brazil and the USA, but there remain clear similarities with the root practices. Christianity has been synthesised with Voodoo and particular saints have come to be associated with the loa (spirits) of Voodooism. For example Saint Patrick often represents Damballah-Wedo (the snake God) on account of his affinity with the reptiles.

Ceremony, ritual and trance are vital components of Voodoo, and the hunsi (initiates) meet at hunfort (a secluded place) to pay homage to the spirits. A clear hierarchy exists, and the hungan (priest) and/or mambo (priestess) will oversee the proceedings. Indeed, the sacrifice of animals, lively music and often frenzied dancing, led many westerners in the past to look down upon the religion and dismiss it as mere ‘sorcery’ or ‘black magic’. However, with an estimated half a billion followers throughout the world, Voodoo is clearly a vital aspect of daily existence for many.

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Papa Doc who ruled Haiti from 1957 to 1971 used Voodoo to exert his control over the masses.

Many may view Voodoo with suspicion and disdain on account of its distorted mainstream image. Popular media representations such as Ian Fleming’s Bond novel ‘Live and Let Die’ have fuelled both intrigue and fear. The infamous Voodoo Doll, amulets, potions and the casting of spells represent a belief system which appears to be the complete antithesis of Christianity. Nonetheless, it must be understood that a true Voodooist is ¬†aware and respectful of the subtle forces which exist in nature. The axiom of ‘do unto others as you would have them do to you’ should always apply.

Clearly more serious study is required regarding the origins, evolution and influence of Voodoo throughout the world. Alfred Metraux’s research on Haitian practices throughout the 1940s and 1950s is most illuminating. However, it is understandable that practitioners may choose to be less than forthcoming to academics when Voodoo is often regarded with such suspicion and contempt. In nations which ostensibly champion Christianity as the official religion, Voodoo is frequently dismissed as a cult and deliberately marginalised from mainstream consciousness.

The author of the article is David Fox, a professional entertainer and freelance writer based in the UK. Visit David’s website for more information: www.magician-midlands.co.uk.

The Ten Spookiest Churches in the World

Are you brave enough to read this? Are you easily ‘spooked’ out? Would you dare to visit one of these spine-chilling churches late at night? Because… when the congregation’s away, the ghosts come out to play…

  1. Newby Church, North Yorkshire, UK

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A hologram of the Emperor from Star Wars? No, it’s the ghost of a medieval monk! Conclusive evidence that some spirits are not camera shy. Taken in 1963 by the Reverend Lord, this spectral snap-shot continues to perplex experts the world over. Psychics have speculated that it may be the ghost of a 16th century friar who treated plague victims.

  1. Westminster Abbey, London, UK

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Westminster Abbey may be an iconic British landmark, but with over 3000 burials registered on the site, it boasts an impressive array of terrifying tenants! Notable inhabitants include: a Benedictine monk who mysteriously materialises in the early evening, and a sombre soldierly spirit (said to be the ghost of the ‘Unknown Warrior’ who is entombed inside the abbey itself).

  1. Christ Church, Alexandria, Virginia, USA

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The perfect setting for Stephen King’s next blood-curdling blockbuster, Christ Church, Virginia, is sensationally spooky! Sinister sightings of spectral civil-war soldiers in the graveyard are commonplace and ensure that this national monument is a popular haunt for avid ghost hunters. Thirty four Confederate troops were interred in a mass grave, and some tourists even claim to have captured their armed apparitions on celluloid.

7. Borley Church, Essex, UK

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Borley became world famous thanks to ghost hunter extraordinaire Harry Price. Mysterious tapping sounds and unexplained footsteps around the building have been reported by witnesses. But perhaps the most disturbing phenomenon of all has taken place in the crypt. Investigators have been unable to explain how coffins have been bizarrely moved from their original positions despite the door being locked!

6. Most Holy Trinity Church, New York, USA

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Anyone who has seen ‘Poltergiest’ will know the occupational hazard that comes with disrespecting the deceased. The spirits of those interred in an old burial ground beneath the school of Most Holy Trinity Church are said to linger after dark. Spine-tingling tones of eerily ethereal voices coupled with disturbingly disembodied footsteps resonate. Lights in the gym hall mysteriously switch on and off, as if the dead protest a denial of dignity.

  1. Frauenkirche, Munich, Germany

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The black sinister footprint at the doorway of the Frauenkirche in Munich is said to have been made by the Devil himself! Legend has it that he offered to pay for the building of the church provided it had no windows. The builder accepted his satanic salary and slyly positioned the columns so that the church windows cannot be seen from the Devil’s position! When the wind howls eerily around the Gothic towers it is believed to be Lucifer expressing his anger.

  1. Church of St Wystan, Repton, UK

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From the ghoulish goblin who lives atop the spire, to the peculiar misty spirits who dwell in the graveyard, St Wystan’s Church is a hive of weirdness. Locals speak of strange supernatural figures appearing during the witching hour around the church. The spirit of a seventeenth century grave-digger is also said to linger among the tombstones.

  1. Basilique du Bois-Chenu, Domremy La-Pucelle, France

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Dedicated to Joan of Arc who was burnt alive at the stake after being accused of witchcraft by the English, the Basilique du Bois-Chenu is a well known spooky hotspot. Joan was said to have experienced divine visions as a young girl living in the village. Her ghost has been sighted on numerous occasions around the church, returning to visit her childhood home.

2. Mont Saint Michel, Normandy, France

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Divine intervention played a role in the building of the Abbey of Mont Saint Michel when the Arch Angel Gabriel appeared before the Bishop Aubert of Avranches and instructed him to build a holy structure. Mysterious monks and the ghost of Captain Louis d’Estouteville (who defeated the English in 1434) now haunt this unique location. The ghost of the soldier is often sighted guarding the ramparts, loyally performing his duty to the King of France.

1. Lucedio Abbey, Trino, Italy

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Terrifying tales of torture, murder and dark rituals prompted the Pope to close Lucedio Abbey in the eighteenth century. Its horrifying history is equally as disturbing as the weird inexplicable fog which appears around the building, and the sinister evil ‘presence’ which can be experienced in the crypt. Several monks were found buried in a perfect circle and were all seated! Even more bizarrely, their bodies were naturally preserved. Italy’s most haunted place… were the abbots practising some sort of sinister sorcery?

The author of this article is David Fox who is a freelance writer and entertainer based in the UK. Visit David’s website for more details: David Fox Magician.