By the time you read this, your humble narrator will be on the edge of our seat at the West Oaks Alamo Drafthouse watching the triumphant finale of the Harry Potter films. The books and movies have given us of our best times over the past decade, and it's hard to believe that it's all over.
The series resonated with Rocks Off specifically because we really do believe in magic and wizards, and history backs us up pretty well on the subject. You don't have to go very far back to find people who very likely had occult powers. In honor of these individuals, we present five songs and the magicians they represent.
The Man: Grigori Rasputin was a peasant who rose to be the chief spiritual advisor to Tzar Nicholas II. The royal family was very reclusive, and Rasputin often used his familiarity with them as an unofficial steward, controlling access to the monarch. His drunken, lecherous behavior offended much of the Russian nobility, and they assassinated him in 1916.
The Magic: That Rasputin was in it for the alcohol and women no one will argue, but his claim to be able to heal was apparently true. Tsarevich Alexei suffered from hemophilia and Rasputin was several times able to staunch the flow of blood from life-threatening wounds by laying on hands, and on at least one occasion from a distance. Other powers claimed by Rasputin may have been exaggerations by him or his followers, but the effect he had on Alexei is indisputable.
The Music: Turisas is a Finish folk-metal band that incorporates accordions and violins into their otherwise standard metal makeup. Here we have their cover of an old disco tune by Boney M. "Rasputin," and it's frankly one of our favorite metal tunes of all time despite being a cover.
The Man: Edward Kelley was an alchemist and sometime partner to Dr. John Dee until they had a falling out over a bit of proposed wife-swapping. He became famous as a scryer and alchemist, and even though he started out his career being pilloried for counterfeiting he died fabulously wealthy at the age of 42, when Count Vilem Rozmberk of Bohemia had him imprisoned to extract alchemical gold from Kelley. He perished in an escape attempt.
The Magic: With Dr. Dee, Kelley became famous across Europe for aiding Dr. Dee in his hermetical experiments to utilize scrying and numbers to communicate with angels. This in addition to his aforementioned alchemy at which he made tons of money. He's most famous today, however for the magical Enochian language he developed, which went on to be the basis of many magical rituals utilized by a variety of modern ritualists.
The Music: Tool has released some truly disturbing music over the years, but "Faaip De Oiad" off Lateralus has got to be near the top of the list of truly horrifying things the band has done. The song is a recording of a 1997 phone call to the Art Bell radio show by a man who claimed that aliens were coming to attack humanity; whether it was a hoax is still disputed. The song's title comes from Kelley's Enochian language language, and means "the voice of God."
The Man: Who exactly the man who called himself The Count of St. Germain was will likely remain a mystery for all time. He appeared in France and England in the 18th century, bringing with him amazing musical skills and a variety of exquisite gemstones. He was rumored to be a Transylvanian prince in exile, and advised King Louis XVI.
The Magic: The Count claimed to be over 300 years old while at the French court, and even had witnesses at court who attested to seeing him looking unchanged from previous meetings fifty years prior. Sightings of the Count continue into the 20th century. One persistent rumor is that the Count is actually the legendary Wandering Jew, who must await the return of Christ before dying.
The Music: Here we have a composition by the man himself, who composed many of the songs for an opera call L'inconstanza Delusa that was performed regularly in 1745. The only version of the opera we can dig up is a piano transcription from the Count's original sheet music by pianist Rudolph Gruen.
The Man: If you thought that Rasputin was in it just to live the rock-star life, even he had nothing on his contemporary English counterpart Aleister Crowley. Crowley cared equally about magic, drugs and sex, and went about trying to combine those three things in as many different ways as he could. In addition to his own works, he is directly responsible for inspiring Gerald Gardner to found Wicca and Anton LaVey to form the Church of Satan.
The Magic: The sex. Oh sweet lord, the sex. Crowely believed that the energy released during sexual encounters was a potent magical fuel that could be utilized to accomplish many spells. Most sex magic is designed to physically or psychically empower the user, though summoning demons is also possible.
The Music: Maybe the most famous tune on this list, Ozzy Osbourne recorded "Mr. Crowley" in 1980 and released it on Blizzard of Ozz. Ozzy had read a few books on Crowley as well as a set of tarot cards that he found in the studio. Randy Rhoads' guitar solo is ranked No. 28 on Guitar World's "100 Greatest Solos."
The Man: Anton LaVey formed the modern Church of Satan in the 1960s, mostly by borrowing heavily from Crowley and Kelley. The religion eschews what most people would consider devil worship in favor of a more philosophical approach to human nature. Nonetheless, LaVey outlined many magical rituals for use in gatherings. He became a media personality and author of various occult texts, and died in 1997.
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The Magic: LaVey made it very clear that ritual sacrifice was barbaric and frankly lacking in imagination. However, the rituals outlined in his texts do contain spells to destroy enemies. He reportedly cursed Jayne Mansfield for mocking him, and she died within a year of the incident.
The Music: LaVey himself was an accomplished organist and calliope player. Seeing people sin at dance halls he played, then beg forgiveness at churches he played the next day, was more or less his entire inspiration for Satanism. Of all the mystics on this list, he is the only one for whom we have actual recordings; this is his rendition of an old German song called "Answer Me."