Like many before it, this book asks the question, why does Milton’s Lucifer cut a far more attractive figure than the Christian God? Why, across the ages, do we persistently have sympathy for the devil? In his delectably irreverent style Baddeley sets out to overturn our assumptions about good and evil, revealing the issue to be anything but black and white.
For example, did you know that ‘Lucifer’ derives from the Latin ‘light-bringer’ – allying Satan with Prometheus from the classical world? Just as Prometheus handed us the flame of truth, risking the ire of the Gods, so too did Satan hand us the fruit of knowledge. Across mankind Christianity has been pitted against Satan, wilful ignorance and conformity against curiosity independence and pleasure: These [says Baddeley] are the roots of Satanism.
Lucifer Rising takes us on a journey through the Satanic tradition and its most enigmatic leaders, beginning with Aleister Crowley – self-styled prophet who predicted the Aeon of Horus (aka Age of Satan) descending upon the twentieth century to liberate us from the strictures of Christianity – to Anton LaVey, founder of the twentieth century’s Church of Satan and dubbed its very own Black Pope. If the author admires the individualism of these figures, nor does he shy away from the less savoury aspects of the Satanic tradition. For example the direct link between the Thule Society and the emergence of the Third Reich, and the sinister strain of ‘Faustian Fascism’ still extant amongst some Satanists today.
Amidst the good and the bad Baddeley identifies Satanism as a source of resistance – allied to a history of creative counter-cultures putting a middle finger up to the establishment. At the forefront of this rebellion have been musicians, revealing how the history of devil worship is inextricably bound to that of rock’n’roll. Lucifer Rising tracks some of history’s most (in)famous, infernal collaborations: from the Rolling Stones notorious ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ to the demoniac self-styling of ACDC and KISS; the primal sounds of heavy metal bands like Metallica, through to the political anarchy of the punk bands like The Sex Pistols.
Baddeley reveals just how intrinsically the iconography of the devil has permeated the popular culture of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, suggesting Lucifer is indeed rising. This book is ultimately a celebration of the hubristic individuals that have flown in the face of the status quo – a reading of which might inspire you to make a more permanent alliance with the dark side this Halloween. The author himself ultimately throws in his lot with the devil, hailing the Aeon of Horus as the new age of curiosity, independence and pleasure, in which, ‘The Devil is winning.’
Lucifer Rising has recently been reissued with a new cover (see below).