by Paula O'Keefe

This essay is reformatted from a version originally found at Marilyn Manson: Views http://www.dead2theworld.com/MarilynManson/views/view5.htm (Accessed November 29, 1999)
Now available at http://www.sit.wisc.edu/~jfheule/golgotha/apokalypsis.html,
part of the Marilyn Manson: Songs of Golgotha site.


Antichrist Superstar: the concept, the performance, the one with the name

------dreamed reckoned typed and (c) by Paula O'Keefe (angelynx), May-June 1997

(nota bene: anything herein which is not historical fact or a direct quote from someone is the writer's personal interpretation, and is, as always, offered subject to the possibility that she's dead wrong.)

first: the concept

(Apocalypse: from Greek apokalypsis, "unveiling or uncovering of things hidden; a revelation")

Prof. Robert Fuller's excellent, and excellently titled, little book Naming The Antichrist: The History of an American Obsession (to which I am gratefully indebted for this and much more background material) explains that a central point in the concept of Antichrist, throughout its history, is that it does not denote a supernatural creature. The Antichrist can easily deceive us and work amongst us because, although in league with evil, he is a human man not unlike ourselves. In his very earliest days, he might even have been a Christian. The first and second letters of John (which contain the only use of the word "Antichrist" in the Bible) show that he saw "the spirit of antichrist" in some from the community of early Christian believers, who, disagreeing with certain points of doctrine, had left the group to preach their own alternative view. "Now many antichrists have come," he warns, "this is the spirit of antichrist, of which you heard that it was coming, and now it is in the world already." (These particular antichrists dared to deny that Jesus had lived and died his earthly life in actual human flesh, asserting instead that, as a divine spirit, he had only taken on the temporary appearance of a human body.) John spoke in the lower case: "anti-Christ," just as we might say "anti-war" or "anti-abortion." To him, antichrists were any who did not believe the doctrine of Jesus exactly as John himself did, especially if they deceived others by preaching heresy - even if in every other way they were still believers. It took some time for this mere spirit of dissent to become the upper-case Antichrist, a wicked individual, with his own mythology and secret agenda.

By the third century CE the figure of Antichrist had become identified with the apocalyptic monster of the Book of Revelation, which was thought to represent him allegorically, and had taken on the unique identity of Satan's end-time henchman. Early Christian writers clarified his position and works. Jerome (c. 340-420) wrote, "Nor let us think that Antichrist is the devil or a demon, but one of men in whom Satan is to dwell bodily." Chrysostom (c. 345 - 427), referring to "the lawless one" in 2 Thessalonians, wrote, "But who is this one? Think you, Satan? By no means, but some man possessed of all his energy." The position originally expressed by John had been, these writers believed, superseded; while unbelievers and other culprits might manifest anti-Christian behavior, they were not themselves Antichrist. They were only in the spirit of, or acting as precursors of, the one terrible Antichrist who was yet to come.

This theory did not then carry the influence it does today. Christianity, of course, was not taken very seriously by most thinkers and philosophers of the world during its first three centuries; more to the point, not even every Christian writer of the day agreed with Jerome. A North African scholar, Tyconius (c. 330-390), wrote a thoughtful study of the Book of Revelation which downplayed its apocalyptic tone, suggesting that it should be understood to symbolize the struggle of good and evil within the church through history. The famous theologian Augustine, following Tyconius' lead, completely demillenialized Revelation in his work The City of God. Discouraging readers from seeing their lives as lived on a battleground between cosmic forces and leading toward the imminent end of the world, Augustine scaled Revelation down to an allegorical portrait of the daily conflict within every human soul, the pull between goodness and sin. To him Antichrist was no supernaturally inspired entity. Not only heretics and religious dissenters but slave dealers, cheaters, drunkards, perjurers, all evildoers were Antichrist. This moderated view of Revelation's hallucinogenic grandeur became the approved orthodox position.

However, it failed to capture the public imagination, and to this very day one can hear evangelists and "prophecy scholars" breathlessly interpreting the day's news in the light of Revelation as sure proof that the end times will arrive a week from Tuesday. In the minds of these believers, the Antichrist has a highly specific role to play, divined by re-interpreting the Books of Revelation and Daniel in modern terms. Their scenario basically runs thus: The "rapture" (the abduction of all faithful Christian believers from earth to heaven) will be followed by a chaotic seven-year period of world social crisis. Russia attacks Israel but is destroyed by Israel and her European allies in a one-day thermonuclear war that kills 25% of the world's population. The Antichrist, in the guise of a brilliant and charismatic European politician, takes credit for Russia's defeat. Supported by the "superchurch," an alliance of the world's remaining religions (remaining, that is, after Christianity has deserted the planet), he rises to power on a tide of worldwide acclaim and is given the reins of the unified world government. (Thus the multi-headed and multi-horned "Great Beast" of Revelation at which all marvel and worship - each head representing a subject nation. Daniel's prophetic dream also contains a beast with ten horns, plus one little horn which can see and "speak great things," and has such power that it casts down stars and stamps upon them.) His henchman is the "second beast" known as the False Prophet, a master magician. On their insistence, no one may transact business who does not wear a mark - the infamous "number of the name of the Beast," 666 - and those who refuse are killed. God avenges their deaths with the Tribulation, a wave of plagues and pestilence's. The treacherous Beast then turns on Israel and, as commander of all the world's combined armies, orders all Jews slaughtered. This is the cue for Jesus himself to return to earth at the head of a celestial army, precipitating the Battle of Armageddon, in which Israel will be saved, the armies of the Beast massacred and the Antichrist himself thrown by Jesus into a lake of fire. Satan is bound and the world enjoys a thousand years of peace and prosperity - the fabled Millennium. Notice how inextricably the two are connected, Christ and Antichrist: the Antichrist must appear and commit his foretold acts to bring on Armageddon and the Second Coming. And both are at one time mortal men, the vehicles of an immortal power, chosen to rise to fame and then - inexorably - to die for it.

An entertaining, if slightly alarming, thread of Fuller's book details the tendency of religious-minded Americans to see the USA as a divinely inspired and God-favored nation, and therefore to represent our history (subconsciously and otherwise) in terms of titanic Good vs. Evil battles, mythologizing, beatifying or demonizing its characters as suits such epic struggle. Another running theme, and an important one to our topic, is the fundamentalists' (a term that's not as recent as one might think, incidentally - it was coined in the 1920s) constant vigilance against the seeping influence of modern thought, which works against them at every turn to lure believers - and more importantly, their children - out of the safe pond of Biblical inerrancy and into the wide ocean of scientific and philosophical ideas. Independent thought leads to religious doubt and the loss of minds once true to God. In an unnerving paragraph, Hal Lindsey, a Christian youth counselor and millennialist author ("The Late Great Planet Earth" et al) advises college students in conflict between their Christian beliefs and their education to "begin distrusting academic authorities, suppress their natural curiosity, and submit reason to unquestioning acceptance of Biblical authority."

But Naming The Antichrist primarily demonstrates that, for centuries, fundamentalist Christians have used the image of Antichrist for four major purposes:

•to provide a target and scapegoat;

•to give believers, by banding together against a perceived enemy, a sense of community and collective purpose;

•to "set the boundaries," providing a pure example of what believers should NOT be or do (i.e., to be a screen on which they project the "unacceptable" aspects of themselves), and

•to maintain the tension and sense of immediate apocalyptic threat - a "crisis mentality" - on which they rely to justify their actions.

It is crucial to have some world-threatening villain, be he Nero or Hitler or Saddam Hussein, "named" as the Antichrist so that believers may be assured the end times are advancing as promised.

I submit that the events surrounding the release of Marilyn Manson's album Antichrist Superstar and its supporting "Dead To The World" tour fit these qualifications, and will in future take their place in books like Professor Fuller's. Explication, experiences and personal epiphany to follow.

second: the one with the name

The Reverend Mr. Marilyn Manson, center of the following discussion, has made a number of statements about assuming the name of Antichrist, but they boil down to one point: like John and Augustine, he believes the title belongs neither to the Devil nor to any man alone. Although he has said frequently - and, one suspects, with considerable pride - that the purpose of the album Antichrist Superstar is "to create a musical ritual that will bring about the Apocalypse," he has been quick to add (huH Magazine, Oct. '96) that "people look at the Apocalypse as the world being destroyed, but I look at it on a different level. For me, the idea of Antichrist is an unspoken knowledge that every person has, it's just the denial of God and the acceptance of yourself as a powerful being who can make their own decisions. It's not someone with a 666 on their head who's going to burn down the world."

Paradoxically, Mr. Manson may be both more similar to these church elders than he seems, and more in tune with the original definition of antichrist. A Reverend (as is well known) of the Church of Satan, and a manifestly anti-Christian artist, Manson is probably the first named Antichrist to have so named himself and to consciously speak for the role. He has often stated that the destruction of Christianity is one of his primary goals. In more moderate terms, he has said that his quarrel is not with the concept of deity or even with the Bible, but with the intolerant and judgmental attitudes that characterize fervent believers and their concept of Almighty God.

I believe there is an important understanding here which must be kept in mind. The Christianity which Manson wants to bring down is, I believe, not that faith in its essence but the popular Christianity of the past several decades: the Christianity of televangelism and boycotts and right-wing politics, which insists on stamping its own moral code over the faces of others who believe and behave otherwise, which demands that its values and its version of God must be the law for all, which in short virtually embodies the qualities of moral smugness, rule-by-terror, dishonesty and greed that Manson assails. A consistent theme of Manson's is his regret at the corruption of innocence and his wish to regain that innocence, which he has actually described with the phrase "being born again." The more I have studied this the more I have become convinced that what Manson despises is the corruption of the church, not the church itself. This is why I say that to some degree he's in sync with the early Church fathers, as he objects to changes in practice that distort the meaning of the teachings. I am not saying he's a closet Christian; I'm saying that I do not think he would have felt driven to attack modern Christianity if its excess and ugliness did not seem to be corroding something that, in its original state, had value.

And that value was to set and enforce personal ethical boundaries. To cause conscience.

More times than I can count, I have read quotes from Manson that are wistful, almost sad, about the plight of a society that needs something as drastic as Marilyn Manson to spotlight and drill its flaws. In his idea of a perfect world there'd be no need for him to do what he does, he says, and you can't help believing him. It's a dirty job he's assigned himself, and his belief in it doesn't clean it up much. His classic line, "Raise your kids right or Marilyn Manson will raise them for you," has always sounded to me more like a plea than a threat to steal babies. Why wouldn't you want to raise your kids right? What's wrong with you, if you'd actually leave their care to some rock band? It's hard not to hear that he wishes things were less extreme, more defined, that there were taboos - that individual people had a sense of right and wrong. There's an echo here of so many kids' wish that Mom and Dad would pay them some attention, care what they do, even if it means asking questions and setting curfew. A wish for someone to act responsibly.

And there's the difference between the Church of Satan and the Church of Christ - Satanism insists upon responsibility and individual accountability [ "to live outside the law you must be honest"] while Christianity will let you shirk your duty and let the Bible make your decisions for you. Quite frankly the CoS often sounds a heck of a lot more honest and ethically sound (and decidedly less condemnatory) than the competition. Small wonder the kid-who-would-be-Manson gravitated to it, smaller wonder that he took his new role as advisor to those even younger so very seriously. Someone was gonna be responsible, even if it had to be him. (And he made a pretty damn good Daddy, better than most.)

That's the perfect beauty of it, the polished sphere at its center: the Antichrist is a better Christian than the Christians. In the classic, original sense of the word he is an antichrist, preaching a form of the word that's far different from the one approved of by Those In Charge. But the word he offers - honesty, responsibility, loyalty, discipline, self-worth, and rejection of the forces that have made the church a whore in bondage to money and power - is both Satanism as it is and Christianity as, dare we say, it ought to be. That's why they're afraid of him: because they know, and can't deny to themselves, that he's telling the truth and they aren't.

I am not claiming that Manson himself is a paragon of virtue, either celestial or infernal. I'm claiming that the band's message and the theme of ACS express bitter disappointment in the Christianity and the Christian culture in which he was raised, and share the lesson he learned from them: that you must reject that culture if you want to live your own life. The lesson is not that you must become a Satanist, that's just the agency through which the kid Manson was helped to find definition. You might find it elsewhere. But you must find it yourself.

It would follow that he considers rejection of God and Jesus more an individual victory than a crime against humanity. Though he has elsewhere spoken of the ACS LP as "the soundtrack for the end of the world," Manson's Apocalypse and his Antichrist are alike internal and psychological. The person who is liberated from the idea of a dominating, all-powerful deity has struck a decisive blow for personal freedom - has, for him or herself, killed God and changed the world forever. "I think every time people listen to this new album, maybe God will be destroyed in their heads and they'll become themselves and go through the same transformation I did," Manson says, "where you are a worm and you become something that's much stronger." One can feel the fundamentalists shuddering; here is a rock star, a hero to hundreds of thousands of kids, earnestly and intelligently expressing this profoundly antichurch belief in the pages of national magazines - and asserting that his newest album is committed to expressing it as well. Does the Antichrist need to be a master politician to gain control over the world? One imagines them worrying. Might he not exert his influence through another field of endeavor?...

And indeed, Manson expresses zero interest in politics or social causes. His is not a band you'll find playing fund-raisers or Concerts For. Even the pressure placed on his tour schedule by the outrage of the civic-minded has not moved him to speak out against censorship and religious bigotry, though he has commended his fans' efforts to fight back (individual initiative, you see). If he is playing the role of the Antichrist, it's on his own definition and terms - the only way a credible Antichrist would.

Which brings us to those four fundamentalist purposes....

"You're going to have to make a decision tonight," [evangelist Stephen Hill] yells. "Are you or are you not going to follow Jesus?"

He steps off the stage, strides down the center aisle. "This thing is burning in me right now! Because I'm hurting for America!" He wipes his sweating face with a white handkerchief.

"This end-time move of God - it's going to be violent! It's not going to be smooth! We're dealing with a wicked generation now! We're dealing with a generation that pierces every part of their body and puts rings in it!

A generation that puts Marilyn Manson on the top of the charts -the most demonic group ever!"

-- from "What In God's Name? The Pensacola Revival," Peter Carlson, Washington Post, 4/27/97

The Antichrist Superstar LP was under attack within weeks of its release. Self-styled cultural defenders William Bennett, C. DeLores Tucker and Sen. Joseph Lieberman held a televised hearing to chastise Interscope for releasing such filth, and Bennett circulated a newspaper column hammering it ("one of the sickest groups today...lyrics unfit for human consumption") alongside his other favorite target, gangsta rap. But these were nothing compared to the Christian-guided, media-fueled assault that would descend when the band took its new LP on tour. The verbal and print attacks leveled at Manson's stage performance and general influence - most of them thoroughly ignorant - were classic examples of naming the Antichrist.

The definitive example appeared on the Internet. During the months of March and April 1997, the World Wide Web page of the Gulf Coast chapter of Rev. Donald Wildmon's American Family Association mounted a campaign to stop Manson's April shows in Biloxi and Jackson, MS. The centerpiece of said campaign was two "sworn affidavits" alleged to be from unnamed teens who had attended Manson concerts. The shows they saw were nonexistent both by the alleged date of their performance and by their content, and one doubts the kids themselves even exist, but the statements attributed to them stirred up outrage and trouble for Manson for the rest of the summer. The second one is by far the more extensive and is quoted below. The reader is encouraged to swallow her or his amusement or disgust and admire the craft of this excerpted document, carefully tailored to raise the unthinking wrath of any right-thinking mom and dad. (original typos and grammatical errors left as-are.)

"I have witnessed Manson pull out small chickens, several puppies and kittens out of the bag and throw them into the audience. ... Manson will then tell the audience to make a sacrifice to the music and he will not start the show until all the animals are dead. Manson told me they represent the killing of innocence..... The concerts I've been to are tightly controlled by Manson security guards. No police are ever allowed into the concert area. ...Manson has a team he calls his private Santa Clauses. They come at the crowd from the sides and throw out bags of pot and cocaine throughout the entire audience front to back.... I witnessed Manson pull out his private body part and play with it openly in front of the crowd. I have witnessed him go over to his female guitar player, who is usually totally naked, and plays with her private part in front of the crowd. Manson band members performing anal intercourse on each other on stage.... security guards will bring an audience member on stage and strip all of their clothes off. ...Manson sang happy birthday to him and then had this little boy stand on stage while Manson performed sexual acts, including oral sex, while asking the little boy if he would like to do this and would he like to do this. ... witnessed rapes at most concerts. The crowd get into a frenzy and females are held down against their will and raped many times as Manson prods them on. ...I have witnessed Manson perform a satanic church service toward the end of the concert in which he preaches from the satanic bible. Manson gives an invitation to receive satan into your life...I witnessed Manson call for the virgin sacrifice in which all the children in the concert arena are pushed forward by the crowd to be dedicated to satan. I witnessed Manson sharing from the satanic bible, pronouncing some words over the ones who have come or been pushed forward and then Manson pour pig's blood over everyone who has been in this group.... I saw Manson perform sexual intercourse on [a] sheep. I've turned my life around and I am now fully involved at [name withheld] and have given my life to the Lord Jesue Christ." ==>(full text available at http://www.geocities.com/SunsetStrip/Alley/4812/poaafa2.html)

I've quoted these astonishing fantasias at some length because I think they say a good deal more about the AFA (a Christian "media watchdog" organization) and the rest of the Christian opposition than they do about Marilyn Manson. Evidently feeling people wouldn't be outraged enough if they simply reported that he performs bare-assed, tears up a Bible and says "motherfucker" a lot, they concocted (and these are entirely concocted) accounts which make Manson appear utterly demonic. Nearly pornographic in their detail and encyclopedic in their debauchery - drugs, nudity, oral sex, anal sex, bestiality, pedophilia, masturbation, voyeurism, violent rape, bloodshed, full Satanic Mass complete with gory baptism - they quite frankly read like personal fantasies, not only of what a really Satanic rock show would be like but of everything nice people dread yet find fascinating. (Note that they can't imagine a truly offensive display without nude women, and so compulsively added a naked female guitarist to the band even though no such person has ever existed.)

And to top it off, police - the properly deputized civil law - are excluded, the only governance supposedly being Manson's own (nonexistent) hired thugs, who have anything but the audience's safety in mind.

The AFA has created a lurid orgy of Satanic mob rule and unsuspecting kids walking unprotected into the literal mouth of Hell, a show more extravagantly shocking than any Marilyn Manson has ever performed. They are projecting all their fears onto Manson; the performance they profess to find so appalling pales beside the one they actually want, the one that would prove to them that the Antichrist has truly come and Western Civilization is slipping on the brink of the abyss.

Scapegoating. An unhappy teen who was devoted to the Sex Pistols and Manson committed suicide: someone had to be blamed and it wasn't John Lydon. Bennett's column grumbles: "Many thoughtful people lament that our society has become increasingly coarse, vulgar, brutal and violent... that this kind of music - which is so mournful, so joyless, so moribund, so filled with images of death - has played its part in that degradation should come as no shock." Nadine Winter, who tried to ban the DC Armory show: "The time is now to stop creating platforms for people who say 'Kill your mother. Kill your father.' "

Sense of purpose. Prayer vigils, alternative Christian concerts and informational town meetings have been held in many cities, including Dayton and Caldwell, OH, Wheeling WV (where the gathering outside the venue was described by Rev. George Kurtz as "not so much in protest as to witness for Jesus Christ in the midst of darkness"), Boise ID, Pittsburgh PA (where Christian teens, who had been told they shared the responsibility to counter Manson's message, prayed for his soul - "Imagine what he could do if he were fired up for God!" enthused one - and for "complications" that would keep Manson offstage). --Praying for Manson's soul, or rather for Brian Warner's, was a common theme as folk stressed that it was Satan, not this misguided human in his service, that they opposed, and that Manson himself needed saving even more urgently than the community's children did.

Bad example.-- see virtually all of the AFA "affidavits". Also: "It seemed that everyone in attendance," reported the Christian Family Network on Manson's 2/14/97 Dayton, Ohio show, "was dressed in a weird combination of makeup, hair dye, and blasphemously printed attire. I can't imagine the pit of hell looking much different. ...Throughout the concert, Manson led the crowd in various acts against the Church, against family and parents, and against Christ. It was so depressing to see 5,200 young people so easily led [!] and so much in vocal disdain for our Lord....At the front of the stage was a tremendously large and high pulpit for him to use in espousing his hatred and filth...The music during the concert was filled with the most filth imaginable. It was incredibly blasphemous as well...Through the haze [after the show] you could watch these oddly dressed and made-up young people trying to exit the Arena and again go about their hopeless lives."

Crisis mentality. CFN again: "Perhaps it is very wrong to say that the concert ended harmlessly. Our youth were led down a path to destruction. There [sic] eternity will belong with Satan if nothing is done by the Church to correct this." The AFA affidavits fit in here as well: if such a touring Satanic circus was in fact abroad in the land, damning souls by the thousands, it would certainly call for drastic action by believers. (As we have seen and shall see, however, what the circus is genuinely up to is so dangerous to their worldview that it makes these fears of black bibles and pig's blood sound almost quaint.)

(--and some poor things are just plain confused: "I thought Marilyn Manson was the name of a female country singer," griped Fitchburg, MA., parent Ralph Riley. "The next thing you know your kid is at a Satanic cult concert.")

Their lack of understanding hobbles them at every turn. What they think is happening here is so far from what actually IS happening as to place it almost in another world. In their small vista, walled on all sides by ideas centuries old, what Manson is creating is at the very mildest pornography and at the worst heresy, sacrilege and outright devil-worship. What Manson is in fact creating is a deep and exquisitely balanced energy ritual which at its most apprehensible levels has the power to make any thoughtful listener question her or his faith, and on its more profound levels is High Ceremonial Magick. No less. It is angry at Christianity, but it is not about Christianity; it dislikes being checked and hampered, but it ultimately doesn't have to worry, because the defenses set against it are looking for another monster entirely, and will never even see the one that actually got inside.

(Manson, politely as always: "After awhile, I start to feel sorry for these right-wing Christians and political groups. They seem so concerned, but it seems like all their efforts go to waste...And they have not yet succeeded in cancelling or preventing a show from happening, so I start to feel a little bit of sympathy somewhere in the bottom of my cold heart. [But] Each time I come to a city, they prove my point with the way they behave. If these people truly believed in the values they try to promote...I think I recall reading Love thy neighbor somewhere in the Bible...I think they should be inviting me to dinner rather than making bomb threats and attacking me outside my hotel.")

Nearly every interview that Manson did to introduce and explain the ACS LP before its release touched on the unusual and rigorous disciplines he put himself through to create the record. These disciplines ran from altering his diet and using specific drugs, to sleep deprivation, sensory deprivation, pain threshold rituals, and, on the cerebral side, the study of numerology and the Kabbalah. Manson explains that he actually heard the complete album in dreams, a finished creation from the future as it were, and went to all imaginable lengths to return to the mental space where he had 'heard' the songs he must create. (Or already had created: "I don't know, " he admits, "if I really dreamed those songs, or if those songs dreamed me, or if they were something from the future or something I wrote a long time ago. There's no real clear delineation between what has happened and what will happen when you open your mind and let yourself be on a different level of...awareness.")

Late in this same run of interviews, Manson began to introduce the theme of the watchtowers of the world and the role of the Antichrist in opening them. This caught the attention of my friend Shanda Robertson, who provided me with a copy of a then-recent article by magickian and occult writer Donald Tyson. The article, "The Enochian Apocalypse" (published in the summer 1996 issue of Gnosis Magazine) , explains Tyson's theory that the true purpose of Enochian magick is "to plant among mankind the ritual working that would initiate the period of violent transformation between this present aeon and the next, commonly known as the apocalypse."

Tyson argues that this tremendous occult system and language, reputedly delivered by angels to the Elizabethan mage Dr. John Dee in the late 1500s, was - by the angels' intent - never completely understood or utilized by Dee. It is not merely the potent form of magic Dee believed it to be, but "an initiatory formula designed to open the locked gates of the four great Watchtowers that stand guard against chaos at the extremities of our universe." The gates are locked from the inside, from the Earth; only a human being can open them. Dee may have believed that there was no danger in this since the time of the Apocalypse is pre-ordained by God, but Tyson believes that the angels intended the contrary; that the coming of the Apocalypse will be determined by the time when a human magickian shall have the knowledge and power to perform the entire ritual of the 48 Enochian Keys, which they had now delivered to earth. "This date is not predetermined," wrote Tyson, "but will be determined by the free will and actions of a single human being who in the Revelation of St. John is called the Antichrist." (One can see why Shanda brought this to my attention.)

After describing the workings done in this field by the master magickian Aleister Crowley (1),Tyson delivers a final valuable insight: "In my opinion the apocalypse prepared by the Enochian angels must be primarily an internal, spiritual event, and only in a secondary way an external catastrophe. The gates of the Watchtowers... are mental constructions. When they are opened, they will admit the demons of Coronzon [Satan in his chaos-god aspect of Death-Dragon] not into the physical world, but into our subconscious minds. ...the apocalypse is a mental transformation that will occur, or is presently occurring, within the collective unconscious of the human race." Tyson goes on to paint a grisly portrait of a world driven insane by mind-invading monstrosities - the true cause of the horrors, plagues and wars foretold in Revelation.

Himself apparently a Christian or at least in empathy with Christian principles, Tyson recoils from this image and believes Dee, "an extremely pious man," would have done the same: "I do not believe Dee ever suspected that he was being used by the angels for the terrible and awesome purpose of transmitting the magical formula of the Apocalypse to the human race. I believe that [if he had] he would have burned all his books at once." --As previously noted, however, the Reverend Mr. Manson neither is a Christian nor has overmuch concern for the things they fear. Though agreeing with Tyson that the Apocalypse is a psychic rather than an overt event, he has set himself and his creation deliberately - as stated earlier - to bring it about.

Tyson's work is of further interest, as concerns Manson's stated interest in the Kabbalah (an ancient Jewish system of mysticism) and its influence on the ACS LP. The article quoted above is an excerpt from his book Tetragrammaton (Llewellyn, 1995), a detailed study of the relationship between Enochian magic and the Kabbalah. This meticulous and highly complex work includes a set of sigils (names written as talismen) intended to invoke and banish the 24 angels called "Wings of the Winds," who circle the throne of Christ and whose names collectively contain the great secret name of God. The booklet accompanying the Antichrist Superstar CD displays three of these same sigils:

•HIHV, sign Capricorn, element Earth - a finder of flaws, punishing the disloyal; invokes the severe angel Vabashiah, banishes the merciful angel Shabuel;

•HVIH, sign Pisces, element Water - protective, creative, psychic, sees to it that others act responsibly; invokes the severe angel Vamediah, banishes the merciful angel Demuel ;

•VHHI, sign Gemini, element Air-exposes all deceit, tests friendships; invokes the severe angel Hiviah - "the angel of lies"- and banishes the merciful angel Vihael.

As placed, they seem to be assigned respectively to Manson, Ramirez and Gacy, though there's no way to verify this guess. --

It will be noted that in every case the Mansons have chosen to invoke the Severe rather than the Merciful angel form. Severity in Kabbalistic work is a trait of the female, lunar, left-hand half of the universal balance. The female angels are responsible for all manifest, structured forms and cycles. They measure, limit, punish; offer analysis and critical judgment; rule styles and social trends; bring forth ideas and possibilities (i.e., carve defined, specific forms out of the limitless potential of creative energy); are the source of dreams and nightmares, fantasies, fear and pain. Considering the harsh and painful subject matter of the album, the stringent physical measures used to create it, and its origin in Manson's dreams, these are stingingly appropriate.

It will be noticed also that, there being only three sigils used - earth, water and air, theoretically one for each of the pictured band members - there is no one to take the place of fire. This is interestingly rectified by the fact that the "shock symbol" (the lightning-like international symbol for "risk of electrical shock" which is the overall identifying sign for the album and tour) is quite similar to a sigil from this set, IHHV, which like the other three invokes a Severe/Female angelic presence and represents the element fire. Moreover, this sigil, which invokes the angel Hazekiah and banishes Kazahel, has as its function "to expose lies, to strike to the heart of issues, to bring down false prophets, to punish falsehoods in media and advertising."

I believe it is reasonable to say that, having demonstrably used this Kabbalistic/Enochian system of sigillized names, unique to Tyson, and having made reference to the watchtower theory which likewise is Tyson's own, Mr. Manson must have read the book we quote. I know not what other works on Kabbalah he may be familiar with (IMHO this one is extremely dense to be one's introduction to the field), but this alone is a 'hard copy' proof of his interest in ritual and ceremonial magick.

It's not the first clue. Manson has specifically identified his performances with acts of magick in the past (the most famous quote being that in which someone asks him after a show whether he really performs Satanic rituals and Manson responds, "What do you think you've just seen?"). Speaking to the Satanic magazine Black Flame, he was explicit: "I get adrenal energy from the crowd, and they get it from me. This energy motivates me, makes me feel completely vital on stage. After the show, I feel drained and have no more emotion, which is the exact prescription for a ritual in the Satanic Bible. I've found performing to be the most powerful thing I've tapped in to." There's no question that he excels in the craft of raising, transmuting and using energy drawn from external sources - what the attendees, pro and con, have to offer the band is often a deciding factor in how the show plays out. This plus his familiarity with Aleister Crowley and with Dr. LaVey's writings on Satanic ritual practice has encouraged fan circles to speculate at length on the magickal structure of a live Manson performance. Those who understand these things know that a true ritual working is not necessarily the showy invocation of demons and lightning that Hollywood so loves; magick, to paraphrase the Master Therion only slightly, is purely the art and science of causing change to occur in accord with one's will. The key word is "causing." Manson, I will state openly, channels energy from the entire audience to fuel his performance to a pitch of dramatic, kinetic and symbolic intensity which is all but irresistible; a communal theatric ritual of pain and acute emotion in which his message becomes overwhelming. Ideas suddenly clarify; questions blaze up in the skull; you change. In accord with one's will. Is this not how the Apocalypse is to arrive? Is this not exactly what Manson hopes the ACS project will do?

Such an understanding begs several intriguing questions: Is there any possibility, extreme though it be, that Manson foresees himself as the one Crowley expected to come after him - the one Tyson identifies with the Antichrist, destined to perform the complete Enochian Working ? (Yr writer does not consider it beyond his capabilities, and in fact more than half expected to witness it in Dayton.) And what, if so, does he think would be the result of cracking the Watchtowers? One so dedicated to the cause of free will would, I venture, hardly turn his powers toward subjugating all humankind to a plague of violent insanity; if then he disagrees with Tyson's interpretation, what is his? --Manson says that, through experiments with the future, he's already seen his own death "as ugly and as beautiful as it can be." One wonders.)

So much for hard copy proof. For experiential proof, we proceed.

third: the performance

The tour in which the Antichrist Superstar ritual and passion play is being performed bears the multi-leveled name of "Dead To The World." On one level this is slightly humorous - it is after all a world tour, and a long and wearing one, a year or more in duration; on another it is simply a reference to one of the LP's song titles, "Dried Up, Tied and Dead To The World." On yet a third level, however, it refers to the condition of one in a rapt, transcendent state - equivalent to "withdrawn from mere worldly things", or as sometimes put, "slain in the spirit." All these ideas are relevant to a tour in which the audience is nightly informed, "Each thing I show you is a piece of my death."

The first form of the stage set for the tour involved a stained-glass window showing a naked female angel (see above...) victorious in combat with Satan, framed by a set of impaled angelic nudes. The second form replaced this window with one depicting Christ sitting on his throne in judgment, framed not by the rather garish angel corpses but by austere mock stone wings with Gothic arches and rose windows, the whole having the feel of a Medieval triptych. I confess I never quite got the point of the first set, but the second seems absolutely right - elegant, respectful, sternly pointed, stating both "judge not" and "you too shall be judged." It must profoundly startle both kids expecting a Satanic extravaganza and undercover Christians who probably expect to see it defiled (which it never is). Already one is surprised and off-balance, and the performance hasn't yet started.

Though the band arrives on stage and begins to play, the show begins with the first spotlight on Manson. In the early shows of the tour, he would first be seen walking from the back of the stage: head up, arms opened wide, in full control as he accepted the acclaim of the crowd. In later shows, despite the impressive addition of a staircase for him to descend, he has preferred to strike an awkward pose, head cocked aside and arms dangling at odd angles. Perhaps an ironic statement that as the weeks wear on he feels more puppet of the audience's wishes than triumphant star, or perhaps bringing the show's theme of interlocked controls into play from the first moment. (This pose will reappear throughout the show.) Whatever, the moment is always huge, as the energy level rockets on first sight of him and its surge transforms him: the broken pose lasts only a moment, replaced by that stance of pride and welcome as he descends the stairs. (Even the Winston-Salem Journal, not known for its esoteric perceptivity, nailed this point by describing the Manson show as "a dialogue of energy.") --As much Marilyn as Manson, Superstar as Antichrist, a star making a star's grand entrance.

The show begins with "Angel With the Scabbed Wings," a sharp swat to the glamorous image, as the star - not yet a transformed creature - bluntly depicts himself as a STD-bearing drug/sex addict ("he is the angel with the scabbed wings, hard-drug face, want to powder his nose/he will deflower the freshest crop/dry up all the wombs with his rock'n'roll sores"). Manson sometimes sings "I am" in place of "he is" just to nail in the point.

Then two older songs, "Get Your Gunn" and "Cake and Sodomy," (the latter, one of the oldest songs still in the set. I flinch to wonder how many times Manson has sung this by now.). Big favorites, well known and loved, they serve to keep the energy level kicked up and charge Manson's batteries. Still relevant, too, with GYG's "I bash myself to sleep/what you sow I will reap/I scar myself you see/ I wish I wasn't me" and that snarling "Goddamn your righteous hand!" intro as right as ever. Get back into the mythos with "Dried Up, Tied and Dead to the World" - which follows in the tracks of "Angel" with its feel of satiated, drugged-out sex and false promises - and the set sinks deep in sardonic bitterness. Manson spits out the chorus: "all dried up and tied up forever, all fucked up and dead to the world."

The first act closes with the heartrending "Tourniquet," in which our star pays the hardest price - "you'll never ever believe in me," he accuses us, sometimes adding "she'll never ever believe in me." It's not uncommon to see fans in tears at this point, pulled into their star's scarred sorrow and helpless to convince him of their faith. (What does Manson draw from this? Is he lashing those who don't understand or sifting out those who do? maybe both? "But I do believe," you can see the few repeating urgently, "I do believe...")

All right, our star is a wracked and junked-up mess; it's time to see why. Act Two begins with the magnificent "Kinderfeld." A wrenching experience on record, on-stage it becomes a performance of amazing resonance and unhuman, inexplicable beauty. Manson, having disappeared off stage right, reappears towering overhead on industrial stilts and crutches. He creeps to center stage, a ten-foot-high alien spider, a vintage-leather pilot's helmet framing his pale face. It's impossible to convey the feel of this spellbinding apparition, all wide eyes and insectile grace, which everyone loves on sight though they can't say why. There's something archetypal about it that strikes every heart. Those already moved by "Tourniquet" are completely enthralled and those who weren't then are now.

I believe I understand this. "Kinderfeld" is the agonized crux of ACS, depicting both the abuse suffered by the star in childhood and the force that abuse exerted to transform his personality from helpless worm to inchoate angel. On stage, lacking the range of voices and devices available in the studio, some other way had to be found to present the same story. How better than to present the battered wormchild as a creature not quite human, a gangling alien with deep innocent eyes (possibly, just possibly, not unlike the young Manson's own self-image...) - something deformed and different yet so instantly appealing to a hallful of kids that it's accepted with love and empathy on sight? The strength of our welcome literally acting in place of the boy's own will to enact the metamorphosis from tormented freak into star before our eyes, and Manson thus finding a way, using our emotional energy, to make this traumatic experience both interactive and redemptive? "And all the children sing to the worm..."

It must be something like this if not this itself - the response it draws from crowd after crowd is too universal to be accidental. It never fails. We're eating out of Manson's hand when the monster pulls out a pink plastic recorder and tootles a few bars, and by the time he rears back, stabs the crutches into the air and shrieks the Disintegrator's lines - "This is what you should fear - you are what you should fear" - the moment is so powerful it hurts. We're pulled completely into the story, made part of its desperate pressure, part even of the ripping open of the cocoon.

And here too is a sharp point of the message: we become part of the worm's story to understand that he/we had to do this ourselves, there was no other help. "There's no one here to save ourself," near-whispers Manson and we understand: not only no mom and dad but no God, no savior, no one but we ourselves and our own will. The crucible of this utter certainty forged the worm's heart into an angel's. Your only enemy is your own weakness; you are what you should fear but too you are your only chance; you're all you've got.

Underlining the realization comes "Sweet Dreams" and all its connotations - the song that brought so many newcomers to the Family, the song that "panders to our MTV audience" but still means what it means. "Some of them want to use you/some of them want to be used by you/some of them want to abuse you/some of them want to be abused." Which are you and where in these equations do you stand? Still a quiet moment in the set but sung with such anger, and getting so many cheers and that jarring happy energy (yay! the hit!) that seems to fly in from some other show altogether. It's a strange tangle and putting it right after the unity of "Kinderfeld" has the effect of instantly testing the crowd's sincerity, pressing hard, do you mean what you just said? do you really care? do you? (Look back at those female angels, severe, exacting, exposing falsehoods and testing friendships and probing for lies...)

"Lunchbox." The "normal" fantasy, the kid's dream of power and revenge and showing-them-all. It's been updated for this tour: "I wanna grow up, I wanna be, a big rock'n'roll star" has become "I wanna be Antichrist Superstar" --one could say the first dream is already accomplished.

"Minute of Decay." "I'm on my way down now, I'd like to take you with me, I'm on my way down." Utter exhaustion and despair. Manson shows us the bleak future that, as he says, he foresaw: "I looked ahead and everything was dead, I guess that I am too/I looked ahead and saw a world that's dead/I guess that I am.. .I guess that I am too." A vision indeed and a foreshadow of the show's direction, a transition between the song before and the one after. The relatively innocent wish to just become a gee-gosh Big Star is subsumed by a sense of irresistible and terrible destiny (and one wonders, not for the last time, what Manson is thinking while he sings it).

Act 3. "Little Horn." The show wrenches out of its depression and charges into the future with this stupendous dream that comes to the angel-in-waiting. It's the other side of Armageddon, and of "Minute of Decay" - seen through the eyes not of the wanderer in a blasted waste but of the Beast at the head of his armies, as Manson roars in raging triumph, "And out of the bottomless pit comes the Little Horn!" A song of staggering, literally apocalyptic power that never fails to give chills, as for a span we're truly in the Antichrist's Mass, hailing the star-destroying beast of the Prophet Daniel's vision. "Save yourself from this!" challenges Manson and answers his own challenge, "Everyone will suffer now -- you can't save yourself." (This assertion flies in the face of the rest of the show and its relentless stress on self-salvation, and makes sense only as the voice of the Little Horn itself - a single ring of Antichrist without Superstar.)

"Little Horn" stamps to a stop and is instantly followed by "Apple of Sodom."(2) Sinuous and Eastern-sounding, it takes its title from the legend of the fruit that grew by the God-blasted city, its outside fair and sweet-looking but its center black with ashes and cinders, unfit to eat. (Makes sense, after the above.) "I found the center of fruit is late/it is the center of truth today," Manson sings. "I cut the apple in two... ohhh....I pray it isn't true." The song is presented with a dreamlike beauty. Snow whirls down on Manson (and the first two rows), casting a constant play of shadows as it spills through the beams of spotlight and between his outstretched fingers, while the gowned members of support band Rasputina coo eerily on the staircase landing. Maintaining the Biblical tone, is it a mere caution against deceptive appearances, or another of Manson's foretellings of a blighted future? or both? - "I've got something you can never eat!" he barks, whether in pride or warning is hard to say. Snow continues to fall...

but a huge, marching drumbeat kicks in, and the stage changes in the wink of an eye. The stained glass and churchly setting are covered by stark black-red-and-white banners marked with the shock symbol, the stage is dominated by a tall podium likewise marked, the band members wear helmets and suggestions of uniform, and Manson reappears in a black suit with tie and vivid red dress shirt. Fists jam into the air in time to the beat; introspection and memory are yanked into the here-and-now. The snow that seemed all fantasy and innocence suddenly suggests a brutal winter, and one thinks of war, young soldiers sent out to freeze and die, the siege of Leningrad. It's time to make the central point, the most crucial. Manson draws himself to his full striking height on the podium, a position of total authority, and tosses out kisses, smiling wide and sharklike; a moment later he's hung over its edge, hurling his thin frame back and forth, arms swinging like a marionette's. If "Little Horn" is the apocalyptic manifestation of the Antichrist as monster, "Antichrist Superstar" is the manifestation the prophecy theorists are expecting, the charming, scheming world leader - and Manson exposes this character as the liar he is. Politician or military dictator or televangelist, all of whom he could easily symbolize, the image he paints is of power as vicious sham, as mere appearance, totally dependent on the masses' compliance. For all the contempt they show us, they know that if we didn't grant them power over us, they would have none - and we should know it too.

Remember, the "shock symbol" has not only the commercial meaning "risk of electric shock" - literally misuse of power - but the Enochian symbolic meaning of "strike to the heart of issues, punish falsehoods in the media." It's in front of this banner that Manson shreds pages out of a Bible and tosses them to the crowd. See the truth? You bet. All the threads of the show wrap tight: the true power over you belongs to YOU - not Manson, not the government, not the cops, not God. You and you alone. The only power anyone has over you is what you give them, as, Manson seems to say, you just gave it to me. And the worst crime against yourself you can commit is to abdicate, to follow blindly. This is true philosophical Satanism, which worships neither the Devil nor anything else, which grants authority to nothing and no one. It's not about the Christian Devil, it's about defiance and denial of the Christian - these Christians', remember - God. This is why it's the monster the fundamentalists fear but will never see, alert as they be for those cloven tracks and that whiff of brimstone. For them, to refuse God and Christ is to automatically turn to Satan, to shift sides, white to black, inside a system so smotheringly tiny it has room for those alone. This is so much bigger than that.

And the beauty of it is that Manson includes himself, striking these smirking con-man/tangled-puppet poses, perfectly aware that he himself is accused of using shock and spectacle to sway impressionable minds. What appears as my quasi-fascist power over the masses, Manson's inspired performance explains, is just as illusory as Jerry Falwell's or William Bennett's. The differences between us are that I know it - I recognize and acknowledge that I was placed here by my audience, even that I'm literally pulling energy from them - and I say so and I share. With Manson you get your energy back with interest - hell, with fascination. You get it back transformed into red lightning and wisdom you can take home. Purified and asperged and refined and recharged. Because handing over your power to another in dull ignorance and losing it and following where it went like a hopeful dog is slavery and fascism, but handing it over to another in full knowledge and getting it back all electric and gleaming from contact is sex and magick and true love.

And if you have the power you can do anything with it... The podium's whisked away. Manson races back on stage, red shirt open to the waist, hellish gangster turned sexy rockstar, yelling "My beautiful people!" "The Beautiful People," their rant at the "fascism of beauty," joins the pit in freaks' unity and pride, and all bounce. Again, if you give someone energy willingly, who's manipulated? No one to any detriment and Manson knows it. He scans a spotlight over the crowd, encouraging them to see themselves and each other. This is often when he inserts a recital about the oppression the band has suffered on the road and their now-impressive string of victories, especially if tonight's show is taking place despite opposition from local forces. "I'm proud of you for coming here tonight," he almost always says, binding the crowd and the band together, implying that he knows they too had to drive through roadblocks to be here.

"The Reflecting God" closes the set and sometimes the show. There's hardly a line in this lyric that isn't summary and underline. "My world is unaffected, there is an exit here..." - it's only the world whose simplistic poles are God and Devil that's being destroyed, only the people whose future can't conclude without the Antichrist and the Battle of Armageddon that won't be able to build on what they've learned tonight - "I went to God just to see/and I was looking at me." (Sometimes he sings "looking at you.") "Saw heaven and hell they were lies /when I'm God everyone dies." [Dies for good - no afterlife of reward or punishment. Once you opt out of the God-ruled system, your life, like yourself, is all you have.]

It's broken by the snapping staccato of "no salvation, no forgiveness" - lines Manson found razor-carved into a fan's arms, statements I thought too bleak to bear until I came to understand them. They don't mean "you are too awful to ever be forgiven" - they mean "no one can save or forgive you, no one has that authority over you, no one has the right to judge your worth" [human value and dignity over all] and awesomely beyond that, "there is nothing for you to be saved from or forgiven for - the system whose commandments they made you fear, the sins and crimes and guilts you are loaded down with, none of it exists."

[If you grasp all this you face a world in which you actually determine for yourself, by yourself, what you are going to do. Let that sink in. No guilt or hope of approval or sense of deserving or not deserving. Equal to everyone and with no fear of any Power That Be you can stand on your own feet and step forward from there. This may not seem all that stunning to anyone who wasn't raised Catholic, but to the rest of us... If you're in this spot with me you're suspended breathless, you're staring over the edge of the chasm, your heart's not beating, and Manson might do anything--]

--and he stamps into the huge, percussive chorus, which over the weeks and months of the tour has been stripped from the CD's two verses to its bare core: "Scar, scar, can you feel my power? Shoot shoot SHOOT, motherfucker -" Everyone, the whole hall, pounds and sings and howls cathartically and it goes on as long as Manson wants it to, as long as he can resist swinging his mike stand into the drum kit and flying blindly offstage. Why does this work the way it does? Because it's as huge and loud as it's stark and simple? Because of its mixture of defiance and despair? Does it mean "go on and shoot, fucker, nothing can hurt me now" or "what the hell, shoot, nothing matters anymore"? Bullets or needles?

No matter. The world you understood is splintered. It's over.

Almost incomprehensibly, there are encores. Do you get an encore after you destroy a world? Apparently so. When they happen, the first one is "Irresponsible Hate Anthem," and Manson appears in front of an American flag the size of a baseball diamond, its field of stars replaced by a shock symbol, a regular flag wrapped around his waist. "FUCKIIIIIIIT!" he shrieks and they're off at full gallop - the night's final manifestation of the all-American, anti-christ superstar, explaining the freedom to hate. (Doesn't that sound like something you Really Shouldn't Say? "Freedom to hate"? Go ahead. Say it.)

"1996," that screaming anticyclone of opposites, is held tightly in check for maximum concentration, Manson slowly declaiming the lyrics in a tour-de-force oratory unaccompanied by the band except on the massive choruses - "Anti-people, now you've gone too far, here's your Antichrist Superstar!" It is a statement of pinpoint clarity, as point after point is hammered home like an icepick. The limitless patience with which the Reverend has explained himself for years holds even now, as he deliberately holds each phrase up to the light in turn. "ANTI-Satan! And ANTI-black! The anti-world is on my back!" (Interesting to note that in this storm of negations of which he's careful to hit both sides - anti-girl and anti-man, anti-white and anti-black, anti-sober and anti-dope - he adds "anti-Satan" but not "anti-God." --And, rather touchingly, "anti-me" but not "anti-you.") Just when the tension of this slow taut delivery becomes unbearable, Manson unleashes the band and they rip through that utterly devouring downspiral of a last verse - "anti-money and anti-life/anti-husband, anti-wife/anti-song and anti-me/ I don't deserve a chance to be!" The prophecy theorists' Antichrist will lose his throne and his life - the Devil's black sacrificial lamb, chosen to die - and Manson's unhuman demagogue has already seen the end of the world;

everyone will suffer now.

And that leads us to "Man That You Fear," that old song, that heartbreaking decrescendo, in which Manson looks at the world and asks "how could you?" It's a song of such bitter disappointment, of decay and things gone wrong...ants in the sugar, muscles atrophy, everything turns to shit, and though you loved the boy you're afraid of the man he's become. Again there's that theme of innocence lost, of learning the hard way that things just aren't what they should be. More times than I can count he's described his uncertainty about what to do with this power he's been given - whether to help and encourage, or to give up on a world that refuses to believe in itself, or in him.

Its staging is stunning. In the darkness between songs the microphone stand is switched for another one dressed in tall stalks of white lilies, Easter lilies, dappled bright red; when Manson comes out to sing he's draped in trailing rags like torn cerements, gravecloth, soaked and dripping in blood. A parable of the anti-resurrection, a Jesus who never rose, walking from the grave to witness. It came to me one night that the crucial line is "you've poisoned all your children to camouflage your scars" - rather than admit its wrongs and face reality this culture has browbeaten and silenced generation after generation of inquiring minds, dead kids and battered kids and starved kids and even kids just shushed ("begin distrusting academic authorities, suppress their natural curiosity, and submit reason to unquestioning acceptance of Biblical authority.") Am I going too far to suggest that Manson is saying, even Jesus himself would question this? (--and who, indeed, to better understand all of this than the ultimate battered and abused child? the lamb born to sacrifice? who in the history of the human imagination ever suffered more to please his daddy?) Or is this the part of the Antichrist's history we never hear, how on the third day he does not rise to heaven, but walks the earth in his own mentor-father's role of accuser and advocate?

All of this could be. What is, is that the song is so sad, and yet holds to the theme. The world is so corrupt that it has to suffer ("I have it all and I have no choice but to") and yet one feels he's sorry; "someone had to go this far," he offers. But there's no wavering from the point. Manson stretches out his arms, opens the long bloody fingers.

"Pray now, baby, pray your life was just a dream..."

[just try erasing it all now. just try getting someone up there to come riding to your aid. try.] "..the world in my hands..."

[this red-handed villain, this prophesied monster, this abused and transcendent child. This star.]

"... there's no one left to hear you scream...no one left for you."

It's all up to you now.


(1) Crowley never considered himself to be the Antichrist. Although his identification with the Great Beast (To Mega Therion) of Revelation was lifelong, he seems to have regarded himself more in the light of the second beast, the False Prophet, who is the level between the final beast and humankind. The text of his classic Book of the Law clearly states: "This book shall be translated into all tongues: but always with the original in the writing of the Beast [himself]; for in the chance shape of the letters and their position to one another: in these are mysteries that no Beast shall divine. Let him not seek to try: but one cometh after him, whence I say not, who shall discover the key of it all." --Crowley did not, himself, perform the complete working in 1909, nor did Parsons in 1947.

(2) In the first draft of the show, this spot was taken by "Cryptorchid," and it's the only change from Version 1 to 2 that I regret. "Cryptorchid," with its delicacy, its snowlit mystery and innocence, was exquisite in this space; its core incantation, "Prick your finger it is done/the moon has now eclipsed the sun/the angel has spread its wings/the time has come for bitter things" had the quality of a prophecy, and "Antichrist Superstar" thundering in after it was like jackboots in new snow. "Each time I make my mother cry/an angel dies and falls from heaven..." -no, "Apple of Sodom" has its smoky charm and its own reasons to be, but nothing can replace "Cryptorchid," which is as pure as January starlight.

This study, being much more of a "field operation" than its companion piece Worms With Angel Wings, could not have been completed without a great deal of travel, observation, and comparing of notes with my invaluable fellow travellers both material and immaterial. I therefore gratefully and affectionately acknowledge the help of Judy Renee Pope, Elizabeth Bouras, Regina Lowe, Carrie Schulman, Shanda Robertson, Laura Osgood; Jeanette, who's got the scars to prove anything; everyone on the list who helped me reckon out the magick of it all (especially aleck, Thessaly, Rodent and Yelena); also Carrie DeSalvo and Rachel DeMontoya-Karrington. =)

...and of course and as always, Marilyn goddamn Manson himself and themselves.


This page last updated 29 October 2002