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The Llewellyn Encyclopedia

Term: black mass

DEFINITIONS

Black Mass: A perversion of the Catholic Mass supposedly performed by Satanists. It required a defrocked priest to run the service and a nude woman as the altar. The communion wafer would be stolen from a church and the Lord’s Prayer would be recited backwards. Although Witches were (and still are) accused of participating in this rite, it is not a part of Witchcraft.

Black Mass: The Mass is a rite developed by early Christians duplicating some of the aspects of Jesus’ “Last Supper” in the garden of Gethsemane. By the Middle Ages, Christians saw Pagans having large celebrations and assumed that they were rituals done in opposition to the Mass and referred to them as Witches’ Black Masses. However, it was not until the 17th century when the Black Mass became associated with an actual inversion of the Christian Mass. Supposedly requiring a defrocked Priest as the presiding ritualist and a nude woman as the altar, it included insulting the image of the cross and reciting the Lord’s Prayer backwards. There is little evidence that such practices were ever performed except for show or by some poorly-educated individuals who thought it was a real ritual. Some authorities also claim that it was any Mass in France performed for magickal purposes as opposed to the policy of the Church. This was supposedly invented by a priest to one of the mistresses of the French King to ensure that he wouldn't desert her for a younger woman.


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