Diabolus in Music(k)a

Symbolism utilized by the Polish band Behemoth
Symbolism utilized by the Polish band Behemoth

I originally wrote this for a forum I am a member of, but have reworked it for posting here as well. The original term “Diabolus in Musica”  meaning “the Devil in Music” refers to the Tritone, the augmented fourth of music theory and was dubbed as such by the Church during the middle ages.

When I was young, I was raised in a very strict Christian household. I had friends refer to my mother as the mom from the movie Carrie and they were only half joking. When my parents finally divorced my mother dove head first into the church and overnight anything that was not “church approved” was not allowed in our home. Books, movies, music, anything you can think of, if it wasn’t “Christian” or if it contradicted anything her current pastor was preaching, it would be broken, burned, or tossed out. I was thirteen when this change occurred in my home, and I don’t know if you’ve ever tried telling a thirteen year old girl what to think but needless to say, it was not a smooth transition.

Regardless, I was a musician, music was and is my passion. I play flute primarily, but am proficient on every instrument other than the guitar (I just cannot make sense of that thing). So I used music as an outlet. Friends would burn me CD’s from bands like Slayer, Cradle of Filth, and Deicide, and we would label them with the names of pop bands. I believe CoF’s Midian was labeled as a Backsteet Boys album for example so that when my room was searched it wouldn’t get tossed. There was no privacy at home, everything we had was searched at least once a week and eventually once a day. My mother’s church believed very much in “spiritual warfare” and that objects and subjects could bring spirits or demons into a persons life. She suffered quite a bit  at the hands of my father, we all did, and so I think it was fear that drove how strict our home became.

It was a little before this age, in middle school that I started getting pulled toward the occult. I had a met a boy during a summer music program, and his mother who was the first Wiccan I had ever met gave him a copy of Raising Hell: A Concise History of the Black Arts – and Those Who Dared to Practice Them, to give me. She said I might enjoy it. And she was right. It was found and burned eventually. I was severely punished. Allowed nowhere but school and church. But despite all that I am still glad she thought to pass the book onto me. It is not the most in depth or accurate, clearly not written from a practitioner, and fairly cheesy at some points, but for a kid who knew nothing, it was a pretty good introduction so it seems worth the mention.

By the second half of high school, I was a half-assed practitioner of sorts. A few friends and I had a small working group, and kept a book of notes that we passed back and forth to track everything that seemed important. For my 18th birthday one of them got me a copy of CoF’s Nymphetamine. I had never had the lyric booklets before for any of these bands, and we did not have internet. I fell in love with the lyrical style. It weaved myth and reality in and out in a way I had not realized. I found myself reading them over and over, scouring them as if they were a mini grimoire, and in all honesty, they sort of were. I had always been a fan of literature and adored dissecting the symbolism in poetry so every time I read them another few dots fell into place. At the time though, I thought I was just being rather silly.

In college, the world of metal really opened up to me. I was dating a man who was a fan of Venom and the first wave black metal bands. The first time I went home with him, the album Welcome to Hell was hanging on the wall overhead.

venomwelcometohell

This was the door to everything, but at the time I detested those bands. I felt that music was an Art and that taking occult philosophies and purposefully making them cheesy for the mainstream was one of the lowest and most disrespectful things an artist could do. I have since changed my mind on that obviously. I was majoring in musical performance at the time. Taking theory courses, private lessons, and learning to conduct as well as play. I met an acquaintance who was very eager to get me into some new music, from him I found Amon Amarth, Gorgoroth, and a few other bands who also had pieces to share. This was also the time that I was able to begin researching the occult “legitimately”. And I use that phrase very lightly, but we had a bookstore across from campus and I had internet at last, so it was a start.

A few years later I came across Behemoth who has since become a beloved inspiration to me. For years I assumed that any dots I connected via music were just an illusion, that there was “real” info out there, I just had to find it. In fact I still believed this when I first started this blog. It was only after studying some of these philosophies more in depth that I could start to see the legitimacy of the lyrical content. I remember my head snapping to the side and exclaiming “what the fuck did they just say?!” when I heard the Behemoth lyric “think of me not as one, think of me not as none, think of me not at all, for I am continual” for the first time. I had assumed most metal bands were just putting on a show until that point.
Recently this world has cracked wide open with my discovery of bands such as Dissection and Watain who I adore as well, as I quite literally have integrated bits of their work into mine. It was with these two bands that I discovered the cross over between aspects of the metal world and the occult, were in fact, not all in my head.

A picture of my more recent simple altar set up utilizing the open pentagram concept from ToBL. Clearly, I'm not an artist, but you get the point.
A picture of my more recent simple altar set up utilizing the open pentagram concept from ToBL. Clearly, I’m not an artist, but you get the point.

I write this because I owe each and every one of these bands (as well as many more who are not yet named and are not limited to the metal genre) my utmost respect. When I was in the dark world of Christians, they showed me the light of what would become my own individual path. I thought it was just an outlet, loud music to let out a bit of anger. I thought it was just a release, and it very much was a release, but I see now that it was so much more. Without the march of their blast beats I would not have the pieces I have today, and I would not have been able to escape the traps I had unknowingly walked into once I found the supposedly “real” occult material I had always been looking for. I didn’t need to search so passionately, their voices were calling the whole time. And I want to thank them with all my heart.

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