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James Randi Educational Foundation

An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural

Introduction | "R" Reading | Curse of the Pharaoh | End-of-the-World Prophecies

Index | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | Y | Z

Black Mass Supposed to be a blasphemous version of the Catholic Mass in which the naked body of a woman (preferably a virgin, as one might imagine) is used in place of an altar. Popularly believed to be performed by witches at a sabbat, this ceremony may well be another of the totally fictitious aspects of actual witchcraft.
      Sophisticated Parisians of the seventeenth century toyed with the idea as a diversion. It is referred to by the Marquis de Sade (Donatien Alphonse François de Sade, 1740-1814) in his novel Justine and that very description may have given rise to the notion that it was an actual part of witchcraft.
      Those fanatics who hunted down witches and hanged or burned them for imaginary crimes of course believed in the Black Mass. They added to the myth by inventing boiled babies, drinking blood in place of sacramental wine, and other improbable aspects. Today similar irrationalities are accepted in courts of law when evidence is given in cases involving Satanism.



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