• Weird History

The Gruesome History Of The Black Mass

The black mass is a mysterious, gruesome ritual with a long history. Rumors and legends about the black mass date back to at least the 4th century. The historical black mass ritual usually featured demon worshipping, "the shameful kiss," cross trampling, and group sexual relations. The modern black mass involves the performance of the mass on the body of a naked virgin lying on an altar - right before the priest copulates with her. 

Questions - like "what happens during a black mass?" and "how is black mass celebrated?" - surround the mysterious ritual. But just as Satanism isn't exactly what it seems, how to perform a black mass depends on whom you ask. There are a number of elements that are the same at nearly every black mass, including desecrating Christian symbols and deviant sexual behavior.

Medieval Christians claimed that thousands of women were having intercourse with demons during black masses. And thousands confessed to participating in them. Even more disturbing stories involved consuming bodily fluids - a practice that Aleister Crowley, "the wickedest man in the world," revived in the 20th century. It doesn't get more gruesome than the black mass, in which there was even a recipe for cooking babies.

  • The Knights Templar Were Apprehended For Spitting On Crosses At Black Masses

    Photo: François GOGLINS / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    In 1307, the Knights Templar were accused of heresy by French King Philip IV. The Templars were a medieval society of knights who took a vow not to marry. Since 1119, they had been dedicated to defending the Kingdom of Jerusalem and protecting Christian pilgrims during the Crusades. But their downfall in 1307 was fast. The charges against the Templars included claims that they had been participating in heresy.

    Allegedly, during these heretical rituals, new members were forced to spit on a cross and renounce Jesus Christ. They were also accused of kissing each other indecently and worshipping a cat, and the Templars reportedly vowed that "unnatural lust was lawful."

  • Cross Trampling Was A Popular Event At Black Masses

    Photo: Derek Smootz / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    For centuries, black masses were seen as a way to attack Christianity by subverting their rituals. Because of that, instead of venerating the cross, trampling on a cross was a popular activity at black masses. In addition to trampling, a black mass might feature an inverted cross. Or, as in the example of the Knights Templar, spitting on the cross. Instead of making the sign of the cross with the right hand, worshippers of the devil might use the left.

    In every way, these rituals were the exact opposite of traditional Christian religious traditions in order to set the black mass apart. 

  • Descriptions Of The Black Mass Are Often Extremely Salacious

    Black masses flaunted rules about sexual relations and sexuality. According to a letter written by Pope Gregory IX in 1232, heretics at black masses performed all kinds of deviant acts. After a ceremony where attendants "bestow a foul kiss on [a toad's] hind parts" and kiss the anus of a black cat, the ceremony would quickly devolve into a scene of group relations. Gregory wrote:

    The lights are put out and those present indulge in the most loathsome sensuality, having no regard to [gender]. If there are more men than women, men satisfy one another's depraved appetites. Women do the same for one another.

    Even into the modern era, descriptions of the black mass always featured sexual transgressions. Holding religious ceremonies on the naked body of a woman and throwing parties for group exchanges made the black mass seem even more reprehensible to Christians.

  • The Black Mass Broke Every Single Rule

    This description of the black mass endured for centuries. A person dressed as a priest would stand before an altar where a naked woman lay. She was surrounded by "a black candle made from the fat of unbaptized babies, and a chalice containing the urine of a prostitute." There was an inverted cross above the altar. The priest would "bless" black-stained turnips. Prayers might be chanted backward. 

    The culmination of the event was "a potpourri of flagellation, prayer-book burning, cunnilingus, fellatio, and general hindquarters kissing." They might even slaughter a baby during the ritual. But there's a major problem with this description of the black mass: it may have never existed at all.