the NachtKabarett

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All Writing & Content © Nick Kushner Unless Noted Otherwise
In collaboration with Gilles R. Maurice

Manson on the cover of Metal Edge magazine, September 2001, wearing a red ring with the Square & Compasses,
and a black one with a pentacle star, both of which are characteristic Masonic symbols.

Closely related to the Cross of Lorraine, particularly via the Knights Templar, Freemasonry is a topic which has been no stranger to Manson throughout his work, and this interest in a sense climaxing during the Holy Wood era, particularly with the song King Kill 33°. During the Holy Wood era Manson was shown in a photo shoot to be wearing a Masonic ring with the Square & Compasses and Manson was also involved with the Johnny Depp film From Hell in late 2001 which explored the Masonic conspiracy behind the murders of Jack the Ripper. However the first of such Masonic references can be found as far back as Manson's first album Portrait Of An American Family on the song 'My Monkey' where he sings of "Little G's and Big Dicks." The song itself is a childlike nursery rhyme with much darker implications adapted from the song 'Mechanical Man' written by Charles Manson, this particular line is very subtle yet but also an incredible overt Masonic reference with the "little G's" being the G that appears within the square& compasses with represents the Great Architect, God as well as geometry, the ordered principle of the universe, and the "big dicks" standing for the obelisks, a notorious Masonic symbol adopted from Egyptian mythology to represent the phallus of Osiris, which the "Little G's" are often engraved upon, particularly as the gravestone of a Mason.

We are our own wicked gods / with little "g's" and big dicks

Marilyn Manson, My Monkey
Left; The Square and Compasses, the most identifiable symbol of Freemasonry, evoking judgement and discernment though it has no general interpretation. Right; Masonic obelisk grave also known as Cleopatra's Needle, representative of Osiris' phallus in mythology, with the Square & Compasses engraved upon.
Left; Manson on another shot from Metal Edge with the Square and Compasses ring. Right; emblem of the 33rd Degree of Freemasonry, the highest degree of all, and the number which inspired the title of Downard's essay 'King Kill 33', which theorizes on a Masonic conspiracy behind J.F.K.'s assassination.
Left; Albert Pike, 33rd Degree Mason and Sovereign Grand Commander of the Scottish Rite's Southern Jurisdiction. Right; portrait of Aleister Crowley in full Masonic regalia, signed with his infamous 15-sided cross of Baphomet, which is also related to the 33rd Degree of Freemasonry.

...and they orchestrated dramatic new scenes / for Celebritarian™ needs

Marilyn Manson, The Fall of Adam
A contemplative Twiggy as the High Priestess Tarot card, most similarly stylized in portrayal after A.E. Waite's version (right) by use of figure positioning as well as the pillars. Waite himself was a Freemason and inserted certain Masonic imagery within his deck. The B and J on the pillars behind her stand for Boaz ('strength') and Jachin ('to establish') which together represent 'Stability'. These are the symbolic representations of the foundation of Freemasonry.

When I'm god everyone dies

Marilyn Manson, The Reflecting God
Though not a Masonic element in itself Manson's numerous references to the Baphomet share ties with Freemasonry. The Templars were indeed accused of worshipping an idol named Baphomet, which possibly inspired Léo Taxil's famous 1886 anti-Masonic hoax "Les Mystères de la franc-maçonnerie dévoilés", in which he suggests a Luciferian worship of Baphomet by Freemasons. On Taxil's illustrations (right) the demonic idol is stylized after Eliphas Lévi's Goat of Mendes, a psychedelic version of which was reproduced on a Marilyn Manson 1996 tour shirt (left, with a closeup on the forehead pentagram on its back).
Left; Devil card in Manson's Holy Wood tarot, with the character wearing a traditional Masonic apron with skull and crossed blades as a loincloth, mimicking the idol imagined by Taxil on a promotional poster for his elaborate hoax (right), which suggests a Masonic re-appropriation of the demon.
Left; George Washington as a Freemason, 1867, wearing the Masonic apron. Right; detail from the cover of Taxil's hoax with the Baphomet idol.

and I want you now to just kill the king...

Marilyn Manson, King Kill 33°
Right; Marilyn Manson reenacting the death of Hiram, similarly to a Masonic initiation ritual giving access to the Third Degree, which James Shelby Downard sees as a toned down version of the esoteric 'Killing Of The King' rite in his essay 'King Kill 33', an ancient death ritual resulting in mass-trauma and better mind-control of the American population, which the author suspects to be the actual explanation lying behind John F. Kennedy's televised assassination.

We're the LOW ART GLOOMINATI / and we aim to depress

Marilyn Manson, The Golden Age Of Grotesque
Left; Manson emerging on a triangular platform during the Thaeter introduction to the 2003 Grotesk Burlesk tour, which is reminiscent of the pyramid & all-seeing eye symbology (right; on a one-dollar bill) usually associated with Freemasonry and the Illuminati by conspiracy theorists. The word Illuminati ('enlightened'), which is also a grade of initiation in the O.T.O., being what the band's title for the era, "The Low Art Gloominati", is a corruption of.
Left; screen capture from MTV's 'Man5on TV' 1998 special with Manson's eye in a shining triangle (also see The Age Of Horus on The NACKTKABARETT). Right; projection of the U.S. Great Seal imagined by Gottfried Helnwein for a 2006 interpretation of Wagner's operatic cycle 'Der Ring des Nibelungen'.

From illfigure on 02/12/03:

myself and many others ive spoken to would really like to know your thoughts and opinions on freemasonry and even though it seems like you're not a freemason, are you?

Answered by MM on 02/13/03:

That question requires a better understanding of what that group truly is, before I care to discuss my feelings. My genesis is deep in Bavaria. Things change, new names for old beliefs.

From 'The Oracle', a Q&A forum on in early 2003
Marilyn Manson on a Golden Age Of Grotesque era poster, wearing a military kepi adorned with a passion, red and silver cross usually present on the
chapeau of a Sir Knight Templar, the final order joined in the Freemasonic York Rite, which thus equals the 33rd Degree of the Scottish rite in prestige.


Even currently along with the implications of the Celebritarian revival, another Masonic parallel exists inherently (whether intentionally Masonic or not) even in Manson's forthcoming film, 'PHANTASMAGORIA: The Visions Of Lewis Carroll'. As Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas write in 'Turning The Hiram Key' while searching for the origins of Freemasonry,

"I felt like the duchess in Alice in Wonderland. Lewis Carroll was a freemason-why else would his rabbit wear white gloves, and why else would he use a pseudonymous forename meaning, 'son of a mason'? Perhaps it was during his initiation he got the idea for practicing how to believe in impossible things. The more I practised the easier it got."
Turning The Hiram Key, by Christopher Knight & Robert Lomas
Left : Charles Dodgson better known as Lewis Carroll, author of Alice In Wonderland and Freemason. Right : 2006 promotional poster artwork for Manson's film project 'Phantasmagoria: the visions of Lewis Carroll'. The headless figure is wearing traditional white Masonic gloves.
The Skull and Crossbones, omnipresent in Masonic imagery where it denotes a Master Mason and is often seen on gravestones. Left; on Manson's gloves during the High End Of Low era, including the 2009 Arma...Geddon video. Center; an evocation of Memento Mori as part of the 2006 Celebritarian emblem flash montage. Right; as a discreet pin worn by Manson, here with Johnny Depp at the premiere of the 2001 film 'From Hell' about a Masonic conspiracy.
Left; still frames from the Tainted Love video, 2002. Right; Manson posing for Vivienne Westwood in 2005, with the rings he was wearing during the era.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness will never understand it.

Marilyn Manson, I Have To Look Up Just To See Hell
Left; Heideloff's “Arms of the Masons”, an early Masonic emblem from 1515 borrowed by Manson on his cover art for Arma-goddamn-motherfuckin-geddon, coming full circle with the allusions he made during Holy Wood. Note the allusion to St. John the Evangelist, already present in the album's lyrics, and the compasses wheel centered on the M which subtly implements Manson's impressive collection of simili-swastikas flourishing during The High End Of Low.
The first Masonic congress occurred in the city of Straßburg, Germany in the year 1275. It was formed by Grand Master Erwin von Steinbach. This was also the earliest recorded use of the symbol of Freemasons, the square and compasses. Whilst Straßburg was considered the premier grand lodge of the day, other Great Masonic lodges had already been formed in Wien, Bern and the above mentioned Köln (Cologne); these were called Oberhütten or great lodges. Several Masonic congresses were held in the city of Straßburg, including the years 1498 and 1563. At this time the first recorded Arms of the Masons of Germany were recorded depicting four compasses positioned around a pagan sun symbol and arranged in the shape of a swastika or pagan / Aryan sun-wheel. The Masonic Arms of Germany also displayed the name of St John the Evangelist, the patron Saint of German Masons.
Bro. Henning A. Klövekorn, The 99° of Freemasonry: Turning the Solomon Key

GASPAR NOÉ: Has anybody ever said that your work was spiritual? [...]

MARILYN MANSON: I think art is about creation, so it is spirituality. Forget about the religion ; whoever built this room, painted these walls... Even if you're a mason, whatever you're building, if you're making something and putting it into the world, that to me is spirituality.

Mutual interview for MTV Talk@Playground
September 2009


S e e   a l s o   o n   T h e   N A C H T K A B A R E T T :

KENNEDY & KING KILL 33° | One of the more esoteric references in Holy Wood, King Kill 33° is one of the most blatant references to the Kennedy assassination after the song 'President Dead', which again represents the theme of Kennedy becoming the Second Christ in the eyes of America because his death was televised and subsequently portrayed as martyrdom. The title is a reference to the manuscript 'King Kill 33' by James Shelby Downard and Michael A. Hoffman. The concept dealt with within 'King Kill 33' is reference to the esoteric rite of The Killing Of The King (an ancient, radical version of the Masonic initiation ritual of the Death of Hiram), often associated with alchemy, and particularly how the enactment of this rite was the motive behind John F. Kennedy's assassination.

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THELAMBOFGOD.COM & KERN'S GATE | "Peter Kern, a turn-of-the-century Mason built a ceremonial entrance to his land to represent an esoteric gateway to death. This is the Jornada del Muerto, the journey of the dead man. Some believe that JFK passed through here on his way to Trinity and on to Dealy Plaza. It is located near El Paso. To my knowledge, it has no affiliation with Nazis nor do I CONDONE or PROMOTE any such beliefs. This is merely a mystical and bizarre piece of architecture I discovered on my quest for knowledge. If you look deeper, you will see its connection to Adam Kadmon as well." Marilyn Manson , in a post from his Official BBS, concerning his choice of Kern's Gate as an inspiration place for Holy Wood.

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DOUBLE-CROSS - THE CELEBRITARIAN SYMBOL | The symbol chosen by Manson to incarnate his Celebritarian art movement is one which is simple yet very complex and has a broad spectrum of associations to it which also relate very appropriately and inherently to the rockstar himself. The symbol was one which was adopted by the Knights Templar circa the 12th century AD, which after the Templars were crushed in the 14th century their traditions and secrets slowly evolved and crystallized to modern day freemasonry which was officially recorded as being established in 18th century England. The double cross denotes a highest degree in both the York and Scottish Rites of Freemasonry.

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ARMA...GEDDON & THE ARMS OF THE MASONS | Moving on to the primary and elaborate illustration on the single's cover, we are met with a symbol that is both religious in nature, as well as being linked to another group that Manson has covertly alluded to on a few occasions -- the Freemasons. The “Arms of the Masons”, by Carl Alexander Heideloff, depicts the square and compasses forming a sonnerad (sun wheel) / swastika. Besides evoking the phoenix reference Manson made when talking about the album, the Eagle is actually identified by the halo around his head as St. John the Evangelist, whom this particular group of German Freemasons adopted as their patron saint. Note the engraving's date, 1515, is yet another occurence of the number 15 during The High End of Low.

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