The Third and Final Beast: Marilyn Manson and the Occult
Awhile ago, I read Angelynx's Apokalypsis, which discusses MM as Antichrist, particularly with reference to Donald Tyson's Tetragrammaton. My curiousity aroused, I recently purchased this book, and it was most enlightening with regard to Antichrist Superstar in particular, but also Holy Wood. While a lot of the information on this page can also be found on Angelynx's page and/or in various other places, for myself I would like to get all of this stuff in one place, as well as adding a few additional occult tidbits (e.g. tarot, numerology).
- The Tetragrammaton
- The ACS cycle
- HIHV sigil
- HVIH sigil
- VHHI sigil
- The shock symbol
- The shock symbol and the sigils
- The Tarot
- Cover of ACS
- Back cover of ACS
- The Hierophant
- Manson's name
The Tetragrammaton is the most holy name of God, IHVH, believed by some to have been used by God in creation, and hence the basis of everything that exists in our universe. Extensive information about it can be found in Donald Tyson's "Tetragrammaton." Tyson discusses at great length the connections between the Tetragrammaton and pretty much every other occult system one can think of. The table below provides a partial summary: (For the rest of this document, I will indicate the second H as "h" where differentiating between the first and second H's is important.)
|Letter||Hebrew letter||Element||Direction||Tarot suit||Astrological quality|
The four letters of the Tetragrammaton can be arranged into a cross, such that I is at the top, V is at the bottom, and an H is both left and right:
Angels called Wings of the Winds are associated with different combinations of the four letters of the Tetragrammaton. By arranging the letters in a cross, it is possible to trace visual paths between the letters so as to create a symbol for each angel. Confusingly, it makes a difference which H goes where! That is, IHVh and IhVH are different angels: they are opposites of each other, where one is male/mild and the other is female/severe. That which H is where makes a difference is more evident when one looks at the symbols for the angels (x = start of the path):
IH(1)VH(2), male, mild angel Kethahel:
I x \ h H \ / \ / V
IH(2)VH(1), female, severe angel Hatakiah:
I x / h H \ / \ / V
Hence visually they are opposites of each other; the symbol to invoke one will banish the other.
Tyson's Tetragrammaton is quite complicated, so I won't go into all of it. But two other important things to know are:
- In order to work with the Tetragrammaton, one supposedly must assume the name and identity of Christ as benign ruler / warrior messiah. (To boss the angels around, you need to convince them that you outrank them!)
- These angels, amongst others, are connected to the Watchtowers mentioned in the Enochian keys, originally given to Dr. John Dee but recently (ab)used by Satanism. The Watchtowers are four pillars of the world which act to prevent the dragon of chaos from entering the world and destroying it. It takes a human being (the Antichrist?) to comprehend the Enochian keys and use them to bring on the apocalypse by opening the Watchtowers to the dragon.
And finally, a provocative quote from Tyson:
About one thing I feel quite confident. If there is to be such a thing as an apocalypse (and I do not say that there must be) it will take place on a psychic level, within the realm of the subconscious mind, and only display itself in the pyshical world as a secondary consequence of this mental and moral Armageddon. The true gates of the Watchtowers open inwardly on our own subconscious mind... This destructive but unsuspected possession of the subconscious will exhibit itself in chaotic and random acts of aggression, violence and vandalism. Perhaps it has already started. Perhaps not. You be the judge.
One notices that the ACS cycle, like the Tetragrammaton, consists of four elements. This suggests the following correlation to me:
Each element is even spatially at its correct compass point. (North at the top, East on the right, etc.) MM's labels for each letter/element suggest, as mentioned in my ACS Essay, a progression. For example, of ideas: on the basis of a heartfelt passion (heart), an intellectual system is built to rationalize it (mind). Eventually this system becomes stagnant and stifling (complacent), at which point it is torn down (malice) and replaced by something new (heart). Connecting this with IHVH suggests the prevalence of this cycle--a reminder, perhaps, that anything orderly and/or eternal in our world will eventually undergo irresistable change. This is appropriate for ACS, since one theme of the album is the flaws of social/political/religious systems that decree themselves the sole, eternal holders of truth.
One sees from this why HMCM appear the way they do, with numbers added, rather than simply place them around the circle in clockwise order. (Heart on the right, mind at the bottom, complacent on the left, malice at the top, for example.) The ACS cycle diagram captures both the idea of the progression and the elemental/directional association between HMCM and IHVH.
Another interesting thing to notice is that MM's labels, like the Tetragrammaton, involve a repeated letter:
This serves to further reinforce the parallel drawn.
I am still uncertain as to what the small circle indicates.
HIHV is one permutation of IHVH. The arrow path is the symbol of Vabashiah, HIhV, a severe female angel of the element earth:
I / \ / x h H \ \ V
Tyson lists her functions as follows (I have emphasized what I consider most relevant to ACS):
Finds faults or leaks in systems. Reveals mistakes or shortcomings in personality, particularly where these affect professional status. Makes known the weaknesses of competitors or rivals. Warns of business failure or stock collapse. Turns the weaknesses of others against them. Punishes disloyalty or betrayal.
To the upper left of the invocation symbol for Vabashiah is the Hebrew letter vau, which means nail and has the numerical value 6. The numerolgical value of MM's name, using the Hebrew numerological system (see numerology section) is also 6. To the upper right of the invocation symbol is the symbol for capricorn. Capricorn is associated with this particular angel, but it is also Manson's astrological sign. (Birthday: January 5). Underneath the invocation symbol is 0110, a binary number representation of 6 (same as vau and MM's name--hey, that's three 6's ;) ). Below that is NI:CV:BIV. Because the N, C and B are smaller and appear in each of the sigils, I think they stand for something, but I'm not sure what, while the rest is Roman numerals. This gives us 1:5:4. In the centre of the sigil is a square, which in astrology is used to indicate two heavenly bodies at a 90 degree angel which are disrupting one another. As a reference to the four elements, the square may also indicate earth (as opposed to the other two sigils)
HVIH is another permutation of IHVH. The arrow path is the symbol of Vamediah, hVIH, a severe female angel of the element water:
I |\ | \ h | H x | \| V
Tyson lists her functions as follows (I have emphasized what I consider most relevant to ACS):
Protecting a loved one, particularly from self-destructive behavior. Watching over animals. Creating works of art of a fantastic or dreamlike type. She aids in the expression of psychic communications such as automatic writing. Enforces service and self-sacrifice upon those who would flee from their responsibilities.
To the upper left of the invocation symbol for Vamediah is the Hebrew letter cheth, which means fence and has the numerical value 8. The numerolgical value of Pogo's name (Madonna Wayne Gacy), using the Hebrew numerological system (see numerology section) is also 8. To the upper right of the invocation symbol is the symbol for pisces. Pisces is associated with this particular angel, but it is also Pogo's astrological sign. (Birthday: March 6). Underneath the invocation symbol is 1000, a binary number representation of 8 (same as cheth and Pogo's name). Below that is NVII:CX:BII. Assuming the same as before (see HIHV sigil), this gives us 7:10:2. In the midst of the sigil is the astrological symbol for the moon.
VHHI is yet another permutation of IHVH. The arrow path is the symbol of Hiviah, VHhI, a severe female angel of the element air:
I / / h-----H / x V
Tyson lists her functions as follows (I have emphasized what I consider most relevant to ACS):
Exposes betrayal of trust, false friendships, adulteries, deceit, intrigue in the work place, scandals, gossip, slanders, libels. Testing friendships and love relationships. She is the angel of lies.
To the upper left of the invocation symbol for Hiviah is the Hebrew letter daleth, which means door and has the numerical value 4. The numerolgical value of Twiggy's name (Twiggy Ramirez), using the Hebrew numerological system (see numerology section) is also 4. To the upper right of the invocation symbol is the symbol for gemini. Gemini is associated with this particular angel, but it is also Twiggy's astrological sign. (Birthday: June 15 or 20--if anyone knows for sure, please clarify). Underneath the invocation symbol is 0100, a binary number representation of 4 (same as Daleth and Twiggy's name). Below that is NVIII:CV:BVIII. As before, this gives us 8:5:8. In the midst of the sigil is the astrological symbol for the sun.
The shock symbol in fact bears a resemblance to the invocation symbol for the severe female angel Hazekiah of the element fire:
I x / h-----H / / V
Tyson lists her functions as follows (No italics here because I think this entire description is rather telling):
To expose lies, to strike at the heart of issues, to reveal deception and pretense in all intellectual matters, to bring down false prophets, stop mail and communications fraud, to punish falsehoods in media and advertising.Around the shock symbol are five Hebrew letters. These spell out "Leviathan". They also appear around the Baphomet of the Satanic Bible.
Leviathan is a Biblical dragon associated with the sea, mentioned in Job, Isaiah and several Psalms. Interestingly, in Psalm 74 the line is "Thou brakest the heads of Leviathan in pieces" (my italics) which suggests that Leviathan has multiple heads, like the hydra, which MM mentions in Antichrist Superstar.
Another interesting fact: a dragon is sometimes called a Wyrm. So there is definitely a sense, I think, in which a dragon is a worm with wings.
So why include all this in ACS' artwork? As suggested also by Angelynx, I believe, it appears to be part of apocalyptic ritual.
In Tyson's "Tetragrammaton", he mentions the legend of the Golem. The Golem was a clay man created by Rabbi Loew. In the ritual to animate the Golem, Rabbi Loew provided the air element, and two of his disciples provided water and fire. The Golem itself was earth. In the case of ACS, Manson is earth, Twiggy is air and Pogo is water (these three being the main creative powers in putting the album together), as per their astrological symbols:
- Manson: Capricorn = Earth
- Twiggy: Gemini = Air
- Pogo: Pisces = Water
Additional astrological symbols in the sigils also shed some light here, I believe. Between the three sigils, we have a sun, a moon and a symbol for two heavenly bodies disrupting each other (the square: at a 90 degree angle, they interfere with each others' influence). I believe the implication of this is a disruption of conventional dichotomies: sun as male/light/reason/etc. and moon as female/dark/emotions/etc., interacting in a way that further increases chaos in the world.
As described in Tyson's "Tetragrammaton," each of the planets of classical astrology can be described using IHVH (recall that I=cardinal, H=mutable and V=fixed):
Mercury is the only planet possessing all three qualities. Seeing as how there are two H's in IHVH, it can be said then to fully contain the Tetragrammaton.
By using this symbol to represent himself, MM may be said to be equating himself to God. This is significant when one recalls that according to Tyson, one must take on the role of Christ in order to command the angels. Apparently MM decided to go one better still. :)
Also significant about Mercury is that in possessing all three qualities, it combines the symbols for the sun/cardinal (circle with a dot in the middle) the moon/mutable (crescent) and earth/fixed (cross). Thus the symbol of Mercury recalls MM's androngynous incarnation as Omega on mechanical animals, combining masculine and feminine properties. More broadly, it is another suggestion of the breakdown of corrupt and ineffective orders (social/religious/political) that is recurrent throughout MM's music.
While references to the Tarot are especially prevalent in HW, they can also be found in ACS. Different tarot decks make different connections between the cards (especially the higher arcana: Fool, Magician, High Priestess, etc.) and the planets, the zodiac, the Kabalah and so forth. I'm rather curious as to which deck is Manson's prefered one (other than the Holy Wood version, if it in fact exists in entirety)... The graphics I use below to illustrate my point are not necessarily from a deck MM uses, but they are traditional versions of the images on the cards.
The graphic on the cover of ACS bears some resemblance to the Temperance card:
Temperance is associated with the following: combination of forces, realization, action based on accurate calculation, a way of escape, healing, redemption. In some other decks I've seen, it is alternately labelled "art" or "alchemy".
Several of these meanings seem relevant to ACS. The apocalyptic ritual is a way of escaping from stifling, existant orders, and thus constitutes a kind of redemption. Additionally, the combination of forces (violation of dichotomies) occurs in ACS and in MM's other albums also.
One notices that the angel figure of ACS is combining even greater extremes than the angel of Temperance: rather than a vessel in each hand, the ACS angel has one hand toward the bright light at the window, and the other hand toward a toilet. This suggests a combination of elements beyond those unions that are seen as acceptable: real life earthiness, as opposed to some kind of idealistic "clean" representation of worldliness.
The Devil is associated with the following: blind impulse, irresistably strong urges, temptation, ambition, the execution of secret plans, materialism, fate, the need for introspection so as to recognize one's own weaknesses.
Again, several of these meanings seem relevant to ACS. The first portion of the album is devoted primarily to noticing all the things that are wrong with the world around oneself. Introspection is also a part of this. Temptation arises in the desire to overthrow this world, and there is a sense in which this can be seen as a "secret" plan. ("We're not gonna take this guy seriously; it's only entertainment." ;) )
As with the Temperance reference, MM again goes further, as Twiggy and Pogo are not merely chained to him, but set up so as to be drinking from his catheter. This emphasizes the earthy, carnal aspect of the Devil card, and also has the same effects as the cover with regard to overcoming idealization of the earthly, mortal world.
"The Hierophant", as the first cycle of ACS is called, is also a tarot card. Associated with divine wisdom, tradition, hierarchy, organization, teaching, endurance and peace, it is also sometimes known as "the Pope". Taken positively, it can imply the positive influence of one's superiors, but taken negatively it can imply abuse of power. I believe the name is used in ACS to call attention to the latter, as this is a recurring theme of the first few songs on the album (i.e. noticing the hypocrisy of authority figures and systems).
A number of numerological schemes of equating letters to numbers exist. For the purposes of this research, I am looking at the following two:
|The Latin system:
|The Hebrew system:|
In numerology, numbers with more than one digit are reduced to one digit by adding the digits together. For instance, 78: 7+8=15, 1+5=6. However, 11 and 22 are considered to be of special significance and therefore are not reduced. The significance of the numbers:
- Beginnings, masculinity, courage, stubborness, independence, leadership. The singularity of God.
- Cooperation, femininity, subtlety, love, humility, resilience, peace. Binaries of all kinds (gender, left/right, spiritual/material, dark/light, etc.)
- Good fortune, self-expression, optimism, enthusiasm, superficiality. The Trinity, the three Fates, the threefold Goddess of Paganism, three astrological qualities.
- Stability, practicality, honesty, predictability, resistance to change, foundations. The four elements, the four seasons, four horsemen of the apocalypse.
- Versatility, sensuality, persuasion, adventure, change, impatience. Five points of the pentacle.
- Harmony, sympathy, sacrifice, family, community, complacency. Six points of the star of David.
- Truth, the mind, spirituality, wisdom, solitude, pessimism. The seven planets of classical astrology, seven seals/trumpets/vials in the book of Revelation.
- Worldliness, ambition, risk, results, forgiveness, generousity. Its worldliness confirmed by my inability to think of any interesting religious references. :)
- Idealism, genius, synthesis, creativity, aloofness, broad consciousness. Associated with the devil by Satanists because it always returns to itself; all multiples of 9 reduce to 9. (18: 1+8=9, 27: 2+7=9, etc.)
11 is associated with intuition, revelation, charisma, duality, potential for both greatness and self-destruction, inspiration. There are eleven Sephiroth in the Kabalah (including the hidden one, Daath.)
22 represents success, discipline, self-confidence, the creation of great works, power, completeness. Potential for great good but also great evil. There are twenty-two paths between the Sephiroth of the Kabalah, and twenty-two cards in the major arcana of the tarot.
By applying the above system to "Marilyn Manson", one gets the following results:
- Marilyn = 4+1+9+9+3+7+5 = 38 = 11
- Manson = 4+1+5+1+6+5 = 22
33 reduces to 6. I don't see many characteristics of 6 that reflect MM very well, with the possible exception of sacrifice (note the protagonist's frequent martyring on MM's albums). But there is another entertaining thing to notice about MM's name:
- Marilyn Manson = 33 = 6
- Brian Warner (MM's given name) = 2+9+9+1+5 = 26 = 8, 5+1+9+5+5+9 = 34 = 7, 8+7 = 15 = 6
- Antichrist Superstar (MM's persona) = 1+5+2+9+3+8+9+1+2 = 40 = 4, 1+3+7+5+9+1+2+1+9 = 38 = 11, 4+11 = 15 = 6
9637 is a number that appears on the outer sleeve of ACS in Roman numerals: IX VI III VII.
From the numerological meanings above, one may take this as idealism and creativity (9) overshadowed by socially acceptable expectations such as harmony and family (6). Overthrowing these values indicates power but also superficiality (3); the emptiness realized by the protagonist of ACS when he realizes that he is only a negation of all the things he hates. But this void is filled with pessimistic yet spiritual wisdom (7): one is one's own God, and hence can rebuild the values that shape one's reality as one chooses.
A common theory I've heard about 9637 is that it refers to tarot cards, i.e. Hermit (IX) Lovers (VI) Empress (III) Chariot (VII). There is something to be said for this:
- Hermit = introspection and a difficult, solitary quest for wisdom. Also the danger of becoming too self-absorbed.
- Lovers = rather than simply relationships, can mean being torn between two loves, i.e. the carnal and spiritual aspects of life.
- Empress = beauty, creativity, fruitfulness, desire. But also domesticity as excessively dominant: in my ACS essay, I mentioned that references to "mother" on ACS may refer to America. Hence refusal of Americans to look beyond their white picket fences.
- Chariot = reconciliation of opposing forces; successfully facing up to conflict such that both powers (e.g. positive and negative, conscious and unconscious, or arguably good and evil) can be used at will. Antidote to stagnation.
Another theory of mine regarding 9637 is that it refers to the Satanic Bible statements most relevent to ACS' overall message. That is:
- 9: Satan is the best friend the church has ever had, as he has kept it in business all of these years. And the Antichrist continues that tradition. :)
- 6: Satan represents responsibility to the responsible, instead of concern for psychic vampires. A call to stop worrying about others' stifling and useless standards and start living for oneself.
- 3: Satan represents undefiled wisdom, instead of hypocritical self-deceit. Enlightenment is found by looking beyond "normal" expectations; one cannot improve one's reality by lying to oneself about it.
- 7: Satan represents man as just another animal, sometimes better, more often worse than those that walk on all-fours, who because of his "divine spiritual and intellectual development" has become the most vicious animal of all. Salvation consists in more than the assumption of one's own superiority. (Can be taken as foreshadowing Mechanical Animals if one applies this principle to the ACS figure himself as well as to the existing order.)
23x419 = 9637. This becomes significant when one looks at Aleister Crowley's book "777," in which he gives various occult significances of numbers. Crowley associates 23 with life force and 419 with the beast on which the Whore of Babylon rides in Revelation, which suggests again the occult intention to breathe life into Leviathan as a force of insight and doubt in peoples' minds. (see the shock symbol and the sigils above). These numbers are also interesting in that 22 = the number of major arcana cards in the tarot and the number of paths on the kabalistic tree of life, and 418 = the Hebrew numerological total of "abrahadabra," the magician's word of power. Using 23 and 419 then suggests that ACS intends to transcend formerly accepted limitations in magic: by becoming one's own god as the protagonist of ACS does, one surpasses the power of past magicians who, in spite of being of an Antichrist mindset, still allowed systematic rules to govern their practice.
And finally, a stupid but amusing thing to notice with 9637 (pointed out to me by Jeff Cohn): 9x6x3x7 = 1134. Try it on your calculator. If you then turn the calculator upside down, it looks like: h3ll. i.e. hell. Oooooooh, spoooooooky... :)