The Flowers of Evil: Litanies Of Satan

baphomet1
Eliphas Levi-Baphomet Goat-1856

As well as containing erotic poems that led to Baudelaire being prosecuted for insulting public decency, Les Fleurs du Mal contained the blasphemous Les Litanies de Satan (The Litanies of Satan). The English Pre-Raphaelite poet and pornographic writer Algernon Charles Swinburne cited it as the key to Les Fleurs du mal.

Ever since John Milton had cast Satan as the sombre, brooding, archetypal rebel in Paradise Lost, writers had begun to show more than a little sympathy for the devil. Blake had shrewdly remarked ‘The reason Milton wrote in fetters when he wrote of Angels & God, and at liberty when of Devils & Hell, is because he was a true Poet and of the Devils party without knowing it.’  Gothic novels and the Romantic writers, in particular Lord Byron, produced one Satanic hero after another to great popular demand. The apotheosis of this trend can be seen in the unforgettable character of Heathcliff in Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights.

What is remarkable in Baudelaire’s poem is the presentation of Satan as the Lord of the despised and oppressed, or to use Marx’s memorable phrase in The Communist Manifesto (published in 1848), ‘the wretched of the earth.’

The above illustration is from Dogme et Rituel la Haute Magic (Dogmas and Rituals of High Magic) by the French occultist Eliphas Levi, a contemporary of Baudelaire who is justifiably known as the father of modern occultism. It is not known, though it is often rumoured, whether they ever met. They certainly shared affinities and both would greatly influence the Symbolist and Decadent movements.

Litanies of Satan

Wisest of Angels, whom your fate betrays,
And, fairest of them all, deprives of praise,

Satan have pity on my long despair!

O Prince of exiles, who have suffered wrong,
Yet, vanquished, rise from every fall more strong,

Satan have pity on my long despair!

All-knowing lord of subterranean things,
Who remedy our human sufferings,

Satan have pity on my long despair!

To lepers and lost beggars full of lice,
You teach, through love, the taste of Paradise.

Satan have pity on my long despair!

You who on Death, your old and sturdy wife,
Engendered Hope — sweet folly of this life —

Satan have pity on my long despair!

You give to the doomed man that calm, unbaffled
Gaze that rebukes the mob around the scaffold,

Satan have pity on my long despair!

You know in what closed corners of the earth
A jealous God has hidden gems of worth.

Satan have pity on my long despair!

You know the deepest arsenals, where slumber
The breeds of buried metals without number.

Satan have pity on my long despair!

You whose huge hand has hidden the abyss
From sleepwalkers that skirt the precipice,

Satan have pity on my long despair!

You who give suppleness to drunkards’ bones
When trampled down by horses on the stones,

Satan have pity on my long despair!

You who, to make his sufferings the lighter,
Taught man to mix the sulphur with the nitre,

Satan have pity on my long despair!

You fix your mask, accomplice full of guile,
On rich men’s foreheads, pitiless and vile.

Satan have pity on my long despair!

You who fill the hearts and eyes of whores
With love of trifles and the cult of sores,

Satan have pity on my long despair!

The exile’s staff, inventor’s lamp, caresser
Of hanged men, and of plotters the confessor,

Satan have pity on my long despair!

Step-father of all those who, robbed of pardon,
God drove in anger out of Eden’s garden

Satan have pity on my long despair!

Prayer

Praise to you, Satan! in the heights you lit,
And also in the deeps where now you sit,
Vanquished, in Hell, and dream in hushed defiance
O that my soul, beneath the Tree of Science
Might rest near you, while shadowing your brows,
It spreads a second Temple with its boughs.

Advertisements

76 thoughts on “The Flowers of Evil: Litanies Of Satan

  1. Oh my sainted aunt…. I feel the need to step away lest I get struck by lightning. Kidding. Well, this is certainly ‘mal’ compared to the flower from yesterday. On the Levi-Baphomet drawing, ‘solve’ and ‘coagula’ – what’s that about? Not sure what I think about Satan as the god of the oppressed. Even with limited power, surely he’d be able to help, don’t you think?

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Certainly, that’s quite a list. But remember, Satan as a rebel, the fallen angel still wields tremendous power. Would he not champion his fellow ‘les miserable?’ And yet he stands idly by…

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It’s very insightful. We write freely when there is no one to hold us accountable. It’s only when we have to answer to someone that we are confined to a set of parameters. Such is writing and such is life, don’t you think?

        Liked by 1 person

      1. No shit? Sorry… Really? Now I realize there was some supernatural stuff associated with the whole Templar thing (I’m very much at a loss for words tonight) but weren’t they the protectors of the holy grail and the lance that speared Christ? Seems a bit off?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I will explain the Templar thing as best I can tomorrow, though tons of paper has been devoted to this subject (I have read about a tenth of it and that’s still a lot). The conspiracies theories around this subject is absolutely mental.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Well I will try to keep this brief for the sake of my sanity. The Knights Templar had accrued vast wealth and influence in the Holy Land and further afield. the Pope and King of France couldn’t allow this state of affairs to continue of course, they wanted it all for themselves. So they brought up charges against the Templars, which included heresy, blasphemy, worshipping a bearded diety which they would bestow upon the osculum infame (the obscene kiss) and practising unnatural acts of lust. As this was an all male order of colonisers stuck out in the desert it is probably safe to assume that they were right on the unnatural acts bit and torture did the rest. Also there was the suspicion that the Templars had gone ‘native’. This has led to all kinds of conjecture regarding the Templars and the Hashishim (the Assassins of the Old Man of the Mountain) recorded in their paradisaical garden by Marco Polo. The Templars were all burnt at the stake and the last Grand Master Jacques De Molay cursed the king and the Pope saying they would be dead within the year. They were. He also cursed the line of the king and the entire French monarchy. the house of Capets collapsed after 300 years soon after. The Freemasons claimed a connection with the Templars and this led to a mason during the French Revolution saying at the execution of Louis XVI ‘Jacques De Molay thou art avenged. See I am now banging my head against a wall, why do I even know all this. Anyway you have a clear (conspiracy theory clear, not normal clear) line of connection between the Templars, the Hashishim, The Freemasons, the Bavarian Illuminati and all the other secret societies that are controlling the world. Now i am drolling and speaking in tongues.

        Liked by 2 people

      4. Speechless.
        All right I knew the bit about the pope and the templars’ wealth and so forth. However, despite their being on the outs with the church, did they not claim to follow the ‘true faith’? (And I will say ‘claim’ because that could really mean anything, interpretation being completely subjective) After all the original followers of Jesus barely resembled what the catholic church had become by this point in history… Nevertheless, with just one option for serving Christ available, anyone not falling in line would have been considered a Satanist. That’s what you’re saying, right? You should have turned this into a post of its own. It’s really fascinating stuff.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Well the Templars were convicted on confession of a few under torture. The King and the Church were going to get them regardless of any actual wrong doing. The hashishim are fascinating, especially as they still seem to be in operation. Nothing is true and everything is permitted. The film Performance is full of that stuff, via William Burroughs. I have just realised that my ability to find a connection between things is actually paranoid and conspiracist thinking.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Gnosticism sort of wound its way into everything didn’t it? Hmmm… not sure if I want to go mad exactly. Though this is a subject I would like to explore eventually. All the so called heretics actually, all that burning at the stake, the torture – in the name of one who preached mercy, love and self sacrifice. It boggles actually.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. I could play devils advocate (who, me) and point out that regimes that are atheist have hardly been beyond reproach. A lot of scientists embraced National Socialism for the research opportunities it afforded and as for the communists and the Maoists. However the Church was particularly brutal and even being extremely charitable fall far short of the ideals espoused.

        Liked by 1 person

      8. You play devil’s advocate nicely. Anyway, point taken. The church doesn’t have the monopoly on cruelty. I was merely pointing out the hypocrisy. And I hope I’m not offending you. (I don’t think I am…)

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Interesting! I still believe Satan was created by the Church as a way to keep people, especially women, in line. In true metaphysics, Lucifer should be the light, or enlightenment. Baudelaire knew this. He looked beyond the realms of religion and into transcendence. I heard Wuthering Heights is still one of the most read books… probably because of Heathcliff!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am going to play Devils advocate here. Satan first makes his appearance in the Old Testament in the Book of Job. The whole relationship between God and Satan is somewhat ambiguous, though Satan is up to no good, it seems like that is his job. In Paganism the gods are quite atavistic and need appeasing, hence the need for sacrifice. Monotheistic religions have a special problem, the problem of evil. If God is good and all powerful, why is there so much evil in the world?.By their very nature it demands an adversary. Baudelaire was a diabolical Catholic, but a catholic nevertheless. Wuthering Heights is simply brilliant and was one of the favourite books of the Surrealists.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Devil’s advocate — hehe nice pun Cake! I agree that the basis of most religions necessitates the need for an evil doer who could be blamed for the world’s ills. It is a simple mentality that has worked for thousands of years. Perhaps it is the reason why humankind can never resolve their moral ambiguity — and why moral ambiguity itself is also necessary.

        While I am no fan of the Book of Job, I do understand the metaphysical concept — there can be no light without darkness and vice versa. But how evil must the darkness be? Is the darkness evil at all? (With this question, I find there is very little people can agree on!)

        As usual, your post has provoked great food for thought 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thank you, I do try. As for the whole metaphysics of darkness and light it is a vast subject. I always wonder about the fact that the three major monotheistic religions were born in the desert, what else is to there to do but state up into the unknowable infinity? Whereas elsewhere every tree and hill and stream had a deity, this was possible in the harsh nothingness of the desert. Now I am just spacing out.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Oh no, you are not spacing out! The ‘sand’ religions (monotheistic) vs. the ‘earth’ religions (polytheistic) is an increasingly hot topic. Especially now with temples being built for Odin in Scandinavian countries. Humankind define their gods as indigenous to their whereabouts.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I put that in there because it is one of my favourite songs, really pleased you catch it. My mind wanders a lot and one thing leads to another and I just hope my posts hang together. I have a post regarding Mick Jagger and the circle he moved in at the time of Sympathy, I will send it to you I think you would enjoy it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, this post hung together well. It is hard sometimes when you have several key points to pull through but they could almost stand on their own…but not quite. You do it well👍 Sympathy is a great tune of course the Stones were amazing…though I cast my fandom in with Zeppelin as a personal favorite. I’ll check out the post.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks Michael for the great comments, I really appreciate it. I love Zeppelin as well, they are from my home town and old Jimmy Page is a bit of an occultist as well. I am quite good at making tenuous connections and then running with it.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Fascinating poem, painting, post and pithy comments. The drawing reminds me a lot of Goya’s goats and devils and black masses. Great translation of the poem, incidentally. Oh the World of Mani and Manicheaism: everything so settled in black and white and with no shades of grey. I am thinking of writing an erotic cowboy novel, incidentally. It’s called Fifty Shades of Zane Grey.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That would be amazing and very funny. I forget to credit the translation, Roy Campbell is the translator. I will fix that shortly my mind is just reeling with Templars and Illuminati at the moment. Meg forced me down that rabbit hole and who knows when I will come back and what nonsense I will be sprouting.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m too out of it to philosophize with you but this is an excellent post. The poem is really good and I love that Blake quote. Totally. Also – Satan with boobs, huh? 😁

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Miss Cranes yes this is one of my better efforts, I worked hard to make Satan respectable. The comments led to the Templars and of course the Templars lead to all the other secret societies. Some drawing as well. I thought you would enjoy this.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well I am truly badass then…glad you enjoyed my little journey into the history of artistic occultism. I love all that stuff and mythology, I collaborated on a post on Thoth/Hermes/Mercury and Odin recently.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thank you… I have ideas I just need to write them down…I always think to best to not force it… it will come. Not today though time for another re post.

        Like

      3. Yes I do, it is a funny old cake that I don’t like. The Marquis De Sade and I have a notorious sweet tooth. Not into all this dieting rubbish, I have appetites and I hate to deny them.

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s