Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Russian Satanists Convicted

About a month ago V.V.F. posted an article critiquing attitudes toward nudity and sexuality in the Pagan community as expressed in its artwork. She further explained her experiences in the comments section of Robert's article on the same topic.

In the experience I had with the local community, the conflict between traditional sexual mores and Lord Summerisle's idea of a good time was even more contracted, because while no one was actually boinking, there was this strange pressure to pretend as if we were the sort of people who had orgies. The over-enthusiasm displayed in regard to nudity was a big part of this.

My immediate thought was that I'm glad I was never part of such a community, because if I'm going to bother at all I want to be hanging out with the kind of folks who really do have orgies, not a bunch of poseurs.

However, I recently came across this story from Russia that has me rethinking my position, or at least refining it. Apparently this Satanic order did in fact indulge in orgies, but in just about the most distasteful way I can imagine. The leader of the sect and his second-in-command were arrested back in February and put on trial for various illegal activities related to their involvement in the group.

Two young people are being tried in Russia for organizing a Satan-worshiping sect. Their adepts were subjected to abuse during gatherings, while some girls, including those below the age of consent, were molested.

The sect named “Nobilis Ordo Diaboli” – or the “Noble Order of the Devil” – was engaged in the secret worshiping of Satan in the republic of Mordovia in central Russia since 2003. It was organized by medical student Aleksandr Kazakov, 24, and had up to 75 adepts over the years, investigators say.

Kazakov, who is the prime suspect in the trial, used his charisma to lure young people from well-to-do families into the “Order”. New adepts were recruited from mysticism-loving friends of sect members and through satanic websites and internet message boards. Every initiate had to sign “a contract”, which gave the “high priest” ownership of his or her soul as part of the initiation rituals.

Under Kazakov’s guidance, members gathered in secrecy, dressed in black robes and performed “unholy rites”. They also indulged in orgies and drinking sessions that could last for days. For girls, sex with the man and his closest “apprentices” was a requirement, and those unwilling could be raped. The Satanists also didn’t hesitate to involve minors, say the investigators.

The second man on trial, Denis Danshin, 23, was Kazakov’s second-in-command and was responsible for suppressing dissent and doubt among the flock, sometimes through violence.

The trial of Kazakov and Danshin concluded in July, with the sect leader receiving a 20-month prison term and his lieutenant a year-and-a-half suspended sentence.

The leader of a satanic sect that practiced orgies as part of the initiation of adepts has received a 20-month prison term.

Aleksandr Kazakov, 25, was found guilty of creating an organization that violated human and civil rights, and of indecent actions directed at a minor. His right-hand man, Denis Danshin, 23, received a year-and-half suspended term, reports Interfax news agency.

The two men organized the so-called “Noble Order of the Devil” or “Nobilis Ordo Diaboli.” Adepts, who were mostly high school or university students recruited via Internet, gathered in secrecy to perform death-themed rituals and indulge in promiscuity.

Prosecutors also accused Kazakov of rapes and beatings of dissident members, but failed to gather evidence.

The lack of evidence may mean that some of the allegations were false, as I find is often the case with crimes that are tied to the occult. Remember the "bad magick" case that I covered in 2008 and 2009? It wrapped up almost a year ago but finding that out took some dedicated searching since the local news organization that had been following the story didn't even print an article on the trial's outcome. The result of all that hysteria was two misdemeaner pleas that led to no prison time for either defendant, a far cry from the lurid allegations originally put forth by prosecutors.

Be that as it may, though, the activities of the "Noble Order of the Devil" strike me as cultish, ridiculous, and not particularly magically efficacious, even if some of their crimes were exaggerated. The idea of being a "devil-worshipper" as described in works of church propaganda from the Middle Ages makes no sense to me as a serious magical practitioner. There's no evidence that most of the activity those works describe ever happened, and from a magick theory perspective it's unclear to me how most of it was even supposed to function, aside from providing the celibate priests who compiled these supposed lists of depraved practices with a rich fantasy life.

To put it bluntly, accepting the entire Christian cosmology and then deliberately choosing the losing side is just dumb. Most people who call themselves Satanists in the United States are either LaVey Satanists, who reject Christian cosmology in favor of some form of humanism, or Setians and Luciferians who have their own metaphysical cosmologies that vastly differ from conventional Christian beliefs. I would hope that the "Noble Order of the Devil" is not representative of Satanists in Russia, because if that turns out to be the case my opinion of Russian occultists will almost certainly drop a few notches, but given the small membership quoted in the article I find it unlikely that this was anything other than an isolated group practicing their own brand of mysticism or lack thereof.

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Astrophel said...

You just feel that way because you've never really done a detailed study of medieval devil worship and separated the wheat from the chaff.

Anyway, orgies are traditional; rape, to my knowledge, never has been. They probably got caught because the Master was none too pleased with someone taking advantage of their authority in order to abuse sincere followers.

Scott Stenwick said...

Well, I have to admit that I've never felt a need to study devil worship in depth and was going with the prevailing academic consensus. Obviously, if you speak from personal experience that's a whole other matter - but it seems to me there have to be much more efficient methods for accomplishing one's magical goals than what these idiots were up to.

Astrophel said...

If you've never felt the need to study it in depth, that's fine - I've never studied, say, Korean shamanism in depth. That's just why you feel the way you do.

Reading through the accounts of the Sabbat, especially as a magician, it's blatantly obvious there was something actually going on...the good stuff is just wedged in between very large chunks of the usual nonsense about cannibalism and incest from people who confessed under torture. But, as Richard Cavendish put it, "to assume that beneath so much smoke there was no fire at all seems unduly skeptical." You just have to separate the wheat from the chaff. And once you get to 18th-century France the reality of the Black Mass is documented and pretty much undisputed - just look up the Affair of the Poisons if you want to get started.

I just have to wonder though how you're judging the magickal efficiency of the group's practices when there's basically no information as to what they were really doing? Especially since everything that IS available in the video looks pretty standard. There's an initiation with people taking magickal names in a circle, the supposed use of "costumes and drinking", and the paper held up at 1:35 contains sigils and even - wait for it - bindrunes! I don't know, looks like magic to me.

Scott Stenwick said...

As a point, the prevailing academic consensus regarding witchcraft persecutions is not just a feeling, it's based on historical research and analysis. I'm open to the possibility the consensus could be wrong, but it is based on a thorough analysis of the evidence we have rather than conjecture. It is known that many people practiced various forms of folk magick during the Middle Ages and Renaissance, and the tradition of grimoire magick existed in some form during those periods as well. That's more than enough "smoke" to justify a lot of accusations, especially if grimoire magick gets classed as "devil worship," which it really isn't.

As far as the efficiency of these practices go, I'm only offering my opinion based on the evidence I've seen. If it comes out that this group was producing incredible probability shifts with their rituals I'll stand corrected - all I'm saying is at this point I doubt that was the case. If that makes me a skeptic so be it. Also, note that at no point have I contended that this group was not working magick - any ritual done with the intent of creating change in conformity with will qualifies as magick in my book. A sigil or bindrune constructed for a particular objective certainly counts, no matter how well or how poorly it's empowered.

Regarding the black mass, it strikes me as silly, a parody of Christian ritual - but that's just a feeling on my part and maybe I'm totally wrong about it. Does it work? If so, how well?

Scott Stenwick said...

I received the following comment via e-mail from a reader who was unable to register so he could post it. I don't personally know a lot about the politics of the period in question, but this explanation sounds plausible to me.

Oh dear, just when WILL supposed esotericists free themselves from xist propaganda and stop shooting themselves in the foot. Dante has it completely wrong. The Chambre Ardent affair which he quotes is anything BUT an example of genuine occultism and certainly not proof of a Black Mass.

Decades of sexual perversion by the French nobility and their hangers-on predictably resulted in a good trade in illegal abortions, subsequent blackmail and political poisonings. It had absolutely NOTHING to do with genuine occultism save for the common denominator of torture on victims who will say anything to stop their suffering, confirming the lies of the Church by telling their torturers what they want to hear. This 'evidence' is used as a dupe to deflect the ire of the ignorant masses onto an unpopular minority (us) and away from the people in power - yet again.

The Chambre Ardent affair was probably the key tipping-point of the subsequent French Revolution which followed because it revealed the wicked moral and financial corruption of the French nobility. Louis XIV gave instructions for any important nobles to be passed over by the inquisition and the only people who were executed were the usual small fry. Mostly mountbanks and fraudulent mediums/diviners.

Yet 90% of occultists suck up the bits about Satanists and Black Masses from the Xist history books as though fact and then, like Dante, pass this disinformation on as part of the 'received wisdom' of modern day occultism. Shame on you all for not knowing your own bloody history.

Arnold Frampton

Astrophel said...

I'm honestly shocked that Arnold is claiming he Affair of the Poisons had nothing to do with the occult. I chose that example for a reason - academic consensus is that the people implicated were practitioners of magick.

The affair began as an investigation into a supposed plot on the king's life and was traced back to a cabal of magicians, who sold "inheritance powders" (i.e. poison) alongside such things as love potions and spellcasting services. Home searches produced PHYSICAL EVIDENCE of occultism, most notably signed receipts from clients. Authorities also found charms, grimoires, and ingredients for love spells, such as powdered menstrual blood and baggies of nail clippings. Oh, and arsenic - the original break-up spell.

Not only that, suspects admitted readily to involvement in the occult during initial interrogations - which DID NOT involve torture. Marie Bosse contended that she dabbled in "a little harmless love magic" when police investigations uncovered her considerable apothecary, while Vanens and his associates claimed they were searching for the Philosopher's stone in order to account for a vast collection of chemicals used in poisoning and the production of counterfeit coins. Since at this time the Parisian Parliament hadn't upheld a death sentence for fifty years, admitting an involvement in magic was a convenient way to explain away substances used in the manufacture of poison. Arnold is completely wrong about those executed being mostly "fraudulent mediums and diviners", since not a SINGLE person was executed during the entire affair for witchcraft and divination alone.

I have an entire book about how the occult was a means of power for women at court, the lower classes, and others who had no recourse through the traditional power structures of the ancient régime. Renegade priests were at the center of the magical underworld, because they alone were able to turn the vast power of the Catholic Church to serve the needs of these communities. Sorceresses hired them to consecrate love charms. Magicians hired them for demonic conjurations. Clients paid them for a variety of services that ranged from slipping a petition beneath the chalice to a full-blown Black Mass on their behalf, the ultimate magic in a pious society in the midst of the Catholic Reformation.

Personally, I've never been in a Black Mass, but I know people who have and they speak highly of it. What I HAVE done is utilized most of the practices (host desecration, breaking crosses...masturbating with a baptismal candle...) in solitary rites of my own design, to good effect. So I can say from experience that the constituent practices do work. As to how well, I once powered a protection/reversal working for a friend by desecrating a host over some herbs that I burned on his behalf, and he was pretty pleased with the outcome.

Also, the single most corrosive substance I've ever had in my chalice was a recipe for "Satanic holy water" I got from a medieval witchcraft confession in an academic text. It was used for religious rather than magical ends, but the charge was truly impressive (even given my high expectations), and the experience it engineered far surpassed anything I've done for the same result, before or since.

Back on the original topic, nobody really knows what the group in the article was doing or how well it worked, but to dismiss diabolical magic on the whole as ineffective silliness that never actually happened is rather unfair. I can say from experience that there's nothing quite like coming back from the bookstore with an armload of academic texts, doing all the research yourself, trying out those old recipes, and going "holy shit it worked" as you hold in your hands something that might not have been produced in centuries. It's an incredible feeling.

V.V.F. said...

I don't think these pseudo-Satanists have any genuine interest in working magic, or magic that works. They're just a couple of manchildren using the powerful mythology of diabolism to manipulate and violate teenagers for a sense of power. It's as simple as that. I would be honestly surprised if any of them had ever cracked open a copy of the Satanic Bible.

Richard said...

To Mr Frampton—

I see no-one espousing Christian propaganda on this thread, by the way. People may have mentioned historical Black Masses, but they, in and of themselves, cannot on their own contribute to Christian propaganda. It is similar to saying that atheists disbelieve in God. Is mentioning one's religious disbelief candidly admitting that the Christian fundamentalists are correct? Certainly not.

While I am no expert on occult history, I must say that using the phrase 'Xist' to refer to Christians is counterproductive and looks faintly childish. While one may find Christianity religiously objectionable, there is little cause to resort to terms like 'Xist'. You may voice you criticism of Christianity without resorting to infantile epithets.

Scott Stenwick said...

but to dismiss diabolical magic on the whole as ineffective silliness that never actually happened is rather unfair.

Nowhere in this article did I "dismiss diabolical magick on the whole." I do know people who have worked with diabolical spirits and gotten good magical results, so I would never try to make such an argument. Similarly, I'm familiar with the ways in which, for example, hosts were used during the Middle Ages and Renaissance for various magical purposes, not all of them virtuous. Few academics doubt that those practices did go on, and Church policy backs it up - that's the reason for the longest time communion was only given by placing the host on the tongue rather than in the hand.

My comment on "silliness" was with regard to the Black Mass in particular, and my personal feelings toward it. As I wrote, it seems to me that rather than being an effective ritual in its own right it is a parody of the Christian Mass. But I hope that was able to make it clear there that this is just my opinion - while as a Thelemite I regularly participate in Aleister Crowley's Gnostic Mass, which is sometimes confused with the Black Mass, I've never done one myself and I don't know of anyone who has.

In asking how well the Black Mass works, I wasn't being snarky - I'm honestly curious. If as a magical method it produces fantastic results I'll freely admit to being wrong in dismissing it. After all, to my way of thinking magical techniques are only silly if they don't work.