SIR PAUL MCCARTNEY OF THE BEATLES CANNOT READ or write music. ‘Yesterday,’ he told Larry King, simply came to him in a dream. And I know what you’re likely already thinking. As one of history’s greatest hit-makers, McCartney was simply being modest. Let us then consider John Lennon’s interview with Playboy Magazine. Concerning the construct of his own music, he admitted: “It’s like being possessed, like a psychic or a medium.” To this Yoko Ono would add of her late husband’s band: “They were like mediums. They weren’t conscious of all they were saying, but it was coming through them.” If there’s any doubt as to what John and Paul were channeling, Lennon put an end to that when he confessed: “I felt like a hollow temple filled with many spirits, each one passing through me, each inhabiting me for a little time and then leaving to be replaced by another. (People Magazine)” If the Beatles weren’t writing their own music, then who was?
Little Richard was somewhat more forthcoming about the secret ingredient behind his musical potency, and as we shall soon come to find, is only one honest witness among a multitude of others. In The Life and Times of Little Richard, Charles White quotes of Richard:
“I was directed and commanded by another power. The power of darkness … that a lot of people don’t believe exists. The power of the Devil—Satan”
That Rock N’ Roll is the soundtrack to Satan’s homecoming parade is an obvious conclusion to make. Such a claim has been openly advertised among its muses for decades. It shouldn’t come as a surprise then to learn that Apollo isn’t only the Sun, giver of all animal and plant life; he is also the god of music. In The Secret History of Rock ‘N’ Roll, Christopher Knowles writes: “Apollo was himself the ultimate rock god. The Homeric Hymn to Pythian Apollo depicts him as ancient cross between Hendrix and Bowie, ‘clad in divine, perfumed garments…at the touch of the golden key his lyre sings sweet.’ When Apollo did his act for the Olympians, ‘the undying gods think only of the lyre and song.’”
David Bowie would agree. He told Rolling Stone, “Rock has always been the devil’s music; you can’t convince me that it isn’t. I honestly believe everything I’ve said—I believe rock and roll is dangerous. … I feel that we’re only heralding something even darker than ourselves.” Perhaps more importantly, Jim Morrison of The Doors made the connection between ancient and modern times. To this he said:
“I like to think of the history of rock & roll like the origin of Greek drama. That started out on the threshing floors during the crucial seasons, and was originally a band of acolytes dancing and singing. Then, one day, a possessed person jumped out of the crowd and started imitating a god.”
Morrison was referring to rocks true origins—the ancient Mystery Schools. And here’s the age-old secret recipe regarding the Mysteries. They can best be summed up with a Greek word; Entheogen, meaning, “Creating the God within.” Just know this, the mystery religions, despite being highly disciplined in their art forms, weren’t about dogma—they were about experience, as Hendrix would say. Everything one might hope for in a rock concert was accounted for in Greece, Egypt, and Babylon: drink, sex—sometimes even orgies—ear-numbing musical throbbing, rowdy pyrotechnics, confrontations with police, spiritual transcendence, and on the wildly-lit stage, often elevated, was an encounter with “god” himself. But the greatest mystery behind the Mysteries was drugs. More specifically—mushrooms. Or as R. Gordon Wasson wrote in The Road to Eleusis, mushrooms “leap forth seedless and rootless, a mystery from the beginning…They express religion in its purest essence, without intellectual content. Aristotle said of the Eleusinian Mysteries precisely the same.”
Psychonaut Terence McKenna, author of Food of the Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge, advocated what he called the “stoned ape theory,” in which hallucinogens were the primary catalyst in the evolutionary development of all human intelligence. Essentially summing up the Serpents temptation with Adam and Eve (Genesis 3) and every Elitist Mystery cult which has followed, McKenna concluded this of his studies in psychedelic drugs, plant-based entheogens, shamanism, metaphysics, and alchemy. “You are a divine being. You matter, you count. You come from realms of unimaginable power and light, and you will return to those realms.”
So secretive were these Mystery festivals, which ironically birthed the philosophies, religions, music and arts of worldwide civilization as we know it, all the comforts and damnable distractions which we furnish our lives with today; that we have very little insight into the actual logistics of what went on behind closed doors. We do have a few glimpses, however, scraps of papyrus that survived the sands of time. There was Egypt’s Festival of Bast. Greek historian Herodotus once observed this Isis cult on the Nile, claiming the young women on boats would make a noise with rattles and mock the women of the place by standing and lifting their skirts, while others danced and got into mischief—not quite unlike Mardi Gras today. Elsewhere across the Mediterranean, in one of ancient Greece’s most famous plays, Euripides’ The Bacchae, a messenger spy reports on the festival of Dionysus (we mostly know him as Bacchus), and the wild Bacchant women—housewives mainly—who would be whipped up into a drunken frenzy whenever god came around. The messenger reports, “The entire mountain and its wild animals were in one Bacchic ecstasy. As these women moved, they made all things dance.”
There were of course the Maenads, who would consume their drug-laced “wine” and “preform sexual, or violent, or sometimes violently sexual rituals to the thrashing of drums and flutes. Rumor had it that the Maenads used such extreme methods as cutting and flagellation in their initiations, and even that wooden or clay phalli (worn on belts) played some unspeakable role.” Not overlooking the Korybantes, “the noise-crazed madmen of the ancient Mysteries….literally screaming their songs until their throats were raw (Christopher Knowles, The Secret History of Rock ‘N’ Roll).” But whatever the particulars, historian Walter Burkert had this insight: “Mystery festivals should be unforgettable events casting their shadows over the whole of one’s future life, creating experiences that transform existence.”
The Mystery of Mithras is of particular interest. Its cult members, always secretly hiding from their Christian contemporaries, would douse their naked bodies in the blood of a bull while huddled together in a dark underground cavern and, taking communion, the body of “god” being a mushroom mixed with other psychedelics, they would chant the nonsensical lyrics that can be found in the 4th-century Egyptian Mithraic liturgy:
“I invoke the immortal names, living and honored which never pass into mortal nature and are not declared in articulate speech by human tongue or mortal speech or mortal sound: EEO OEEO IOO OE EEO EEO OE EO IOO OEEE OEE OOE IE EO OO OE IEO!”
What follows for Mithras initiates, according to the liturgy: “you will see yourself being lifted up and ascending to the height, so that you seem to be in midair….You will hear nothing either of man or of any other living thing, nor in that hour will you see anything of mortal affairs on earth, but rather you will see immortal things.” Most importantly, should the Mithrian be of the highest disciple, he will encounter Mithras himself. The sun god, Apollo—Satan, is once again described as a youthful god, beautiful in appearance, dressed in a white tunic and a scarlet cloak, with fiery red hair, lightning bolts for eyes, stars issuing forth from his body, and wearing a fiery crown.
Irrefutable evidence connects Rock ‘N’ Roll with the Mysteries. Christopher Knowles makes this observation: “Mystery cult centers were the ancient equivalents of today’s clubs and concert halls, which may be why so many of the old pagan place-names are still in use—the Orpheum, the Apollo, the Academy, the Palladium….” And where the Mithrian Mystery is concerned, let us not forget an ancient Roman Mithraeum in Liverpool, England, which was in the 1950’s converted into a nightclub. It was conveniently called the Cavern Club. And the Beatles made their name there.
So, getting back to Jim Morrison—in his biography, No One Here Gets out Alive, authors Jerry Hopkins and Danny Sugarman cite Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek as having said:
“When the Siberian shaman gets ready to go into his trance, all the villagers get together… and play whatever instruments they have to send him off [into trance and possession]. … It was the same way with The Doors when we played in concert… I think that our drug experience let us get into it… [the trance state] quicker…. It was like Jim was an electric shaman and we were the electric shaman’s band, pounding away behind him. Sometimes he wouldn’t feel like getting into the state, but the band would keep on pounding and pounding, and little by little it would take him over. God, I could send an electric shock through him with the organ. John could do it with his drumbeats.”
Michael Jackson referred to this shaman spirit while speaking with Teen Beat in 1984. “When I hit the stage it’s all of a sudden a ‘magic’ from somewhere that comes and the spirit just hits you, and you just lose control of yourself.” Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac did too. On April 14, 1971 she told Circus: “It’s amazing, cause sometimes when we’re on stage, I feel like somebody’s just moving the pieces. … I’m just going, ‘God, we don’t have any control over this.’ And that’s magic.”
Ginger Baker was drummer to Eric Clapton’s band, Cream. He said: “It happens to us quite often–it feels as though I’m not playing my instrument, something else is playing it and that same thing is playing all three of our instruments. That’s what I mean when I say it’s frightening sometimes. Maybe we’ll all play the same phrase out of nowhere. It happens very often with us”
But it goes beyond the stage, as the Lennon and McCartney have attested to. Never to be outmatched by the Beatles, Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones told Rolling Stone Magazine in 1977, “We receive our songs by inspiration, like at a séance.”
Robert Plant and Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin are in equal agreement; they don’t know who wrote their most popular song, Stairway to Heaven. Davin Seay, author of Stairway to Heaven, quotes Plant as having testified:
“Pagey had written the chords and played them for me. I was holding the paper and pencil, and for some reason, I was in a very bad mood. Then all of a sudden my hand was writing out words. … I just sat there and looked at the words and then I almost leaped out of my seat.”
Elvis Presley believed he had a twin that communicated with him spiritually. Folk singer Joni Mitchell even enlisted the help of a male spirit to write her music. This she confided to the press in 1974. Time Magazine reports: “Joni Mitchell credits her creative powers to a ‘male muse’ she identifies as Art. He has taken so much control of not only her music, but her life, that she feels married to him, and often roams naked with him on her 40-acre estate. His hold over her is so strong that she will excuse herself from parties and forsake lovers whenever he calls.”
The gods of Rock ‘N’ Roll aren’t simply prototype memes of distant pagan cultures. They are, in many ways, gods of old incarnate—avatars, if you will. Mythology once more realized. And for every ancient Mystery School surrounding the fertile crescent of the Mediterranean, with their various social outlooks and disciplinary styles, there are, quite eerily, modern day rock stars and musicians to fill them. The gods are alive. They speak. It’s as Led Zeppelin once sang, “Let the music be your master, won’t you heed the master’s call? Oh Satan!”
I don’t know about you, but I’m done listening to music crafted from the twisted minds of angels and demons—translated to us, both on stage and in the studio, through spiritual shamans. I’ve devoted too much of my life to spiritual duality. I confess to claiming a love of the LORD while filling in the bulk of my hours celebrating the processions and festivals of the Mysteries in all its musical forms and which sought nothing else than to promote the damnable lie of the Serpent. We too can be like God. Perhaps I have never tasted of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and experienced what it is to be like god by partaking of his body. But I too have been indiscreet with the words of my Master, having once drawn a line in the sand: “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon (Matthew 6:24).” I am guilty of juggling the two, God and the master musician, Apollo—but no more.
Get out of the Mystery Schools while you can—the entire heliocentric religion of Apollo. Or as Bon Jovi would call his religion, the Homebound Train—because anyone who’s willingly riding upon it is going:
“down, down, down, down, down.”