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 cliché. 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

Dennis Wheatley – The Devil Rides Out

The mysterious world of Dennis Wheatley…

David Fox explores

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‘Should any of my readers incline to a serious study of the subject (Occult) and thus come into contact with a man or woman of Power, I feel that is is only right to urge them, most strongly, to refrain from being drawn into any practice of the Secret Art in any way.’

Dennis Wheatley (1897 – 1977) was one of the most prolific, widely-read, and successful authors of the twentieth century. Throughout his colourful career, Wheatley penned over 50 novels, a multitude of short stories, and produced a variety of non-fiction texts. His association with the British military is well documented, and he contributed to the war effort during the 1940s. Indeed, his involvement with the War Office, and the planning of the Allied invasion of northern France, would provided the basis for much of his future fictional work.

Wheatley’s character: Gregory Sallust (the protagonist of several of his best-selling thriller novels) is now regarded as a fore-runner to Ian Flemming’s James Bond. Both authors came from a similar background and naturally shared both the dominant values and world-view of their generation. These are evidently reflected within their works of fiction. However, despite only producing several novels of an Occult orientation, Dennis Wheatley has become synonymous with the supernatural and Black Magic. Why has a man who sold over 50 million books in his lifetime gained such a mysterious reputation?

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‘In every age there have been secret societies, and the greater part of them have been brotherhoods concerned, to a greater or lesser degree, with magic.’

It could be said that Wheatley’s association with matters of a preternatural nature began during his time at prep-school in the early 1900s when he was convinced that he had seen a ghost. As he states in one of his works of non-fiction ‘The Devil and All His Works’ (Hutchinson 1971): ‘It has long been maintained by many thinkers of many nations that Homo Sapiens is endowed with a sixth sense.’ Clearly Wheatley appreciated that such matters resonate strongly within the collective consciousness of mankind, and in the 1930s he had the opportunity to draw upon this fascination to cement his reputation as a highly engaging and readable author.

‘The Devil Rides Out’ was published in 1934 and became an instant success. Wheatley’s inter-war readership were evidently mesmerised by the exotic themes of black magic, ritual, sacrifice and secret malevolent societies. Indeed, he always researched the background of every novel meticulously prior to producing a first draft. Notable occultists of this era such as Aleister Crowley, Rollo Ahmed and Montague Summers were all consulted by Wheatley on matters of the ‘Old Wisdom’.

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‘None of us can hope to lead perfect lives. But, if we follow the Right-hand Path, we shall be armoured against the temptation to do evil.’

Wheatley’s detailed descriptions of occult ceremony, practice and philosophy within his novels have lead many to speculate whether or not he was a practitioner of the ancient arts himself. Although he denied ever having been involved with a secret society during his life-time, it is patently obvious that he possessed a profound understanding, appreciation and respect for the Occult. For example, ‘Strange Conflict’ (published in 1941) describes the curious ability of adepts to wage combat upon the astral plane against the backdrop of the Second World War.

Sceptics would of course scoff at Wheatley’s suggestions, but it must be borne in mind that many of the leading Nazis were deeply influenced by the dark arts. The so-called ‘Magical Battle of Britain’ has been discussed in Dion Fortune’s fascinating work of the same name. It should also be remembered that governments old and new (from King Saul’s dealings with the Witch of Endor in the Book of Samuel, to Queen Elizabeth’s reliance on the magick of John Dee, and Margaret Thatcher’s government’s consultation with astrologers prior to the Falklands Conflict) have called upon the powers of the unseen during times of national crisis.

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‘Today the world is threatened with a new age of Darkness.’ 

A fitting testimony to the enduring appeal of Dennis Wheatley’s work is his perennially increasing cult following. His novels remain very popular, and the Hammer Horror productions of his Occult stories are much revered by Horror fanatics. Wheatley’s geo-political stance and seemingly unswerving loyalty to Queen and country may be antiquated and somewhat ridiculous to some, but there is much within his works of great value to contemporary readers and those who approach them with an open mind.

To find out more about the author David Fox, visit his website: David Fox Magician.