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Psalm 23

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Psalm 23:4

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Psalm 23:5
"...thy rod and thy staff they comfort me," Manson performing on the the Guns, God & Government tour during the Holy Wood era with a rifle sculpted microphone stand.

One of the most esoteric elements in Holy Wood is also one of the most prevalent in the imagery of the performance, and one which contains what the original title of the album was a corruption of, In The Shadow Of The Valley Of Death. Coinciding with the Occult elements of Holy Wood, though the Bible is the basis of Judaism and Christianity certain passages of it are considered to be genuine, but obscured, magickal text. The Key of Solomon The King for example, which is the foundation of modern day witchcraft and one of, if not the, most important book in the Hermetic Kabbalah of the OTO and the Golden Dawn utilizes elements from the Bible. The rituals within it for consecration and evocation calls for recitation of passages from it, specifically the Psalms, which were written by David the first king of Israel, Solomon's father.

Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones..
Psalm 137:9

Manson has evoked one of the Psalms more overtly during the era, Psalm 137:9, quoting it both before his performance of 'The Death Song' in his triumphant return to Denver (together with Leviticus 20:9 - "For every one that curseth his father or his mother shall be surely put to death"), that was recorded for the Nobodies single risking assassination in doing so three years after Columbine, and as a static message which concludes the questionnaire. This further evoking of the Psalms reiterates their occult significance in it in themselves and throughout the era, and interestingly enough it was the backlash of Columbine itself which inspired the necessity for the usage of this imagery, and coming full circle by reciting from them again in the very city which almost destroyed him three years prior.

Manson performing The Love Song during the Ozzfest portion of the tourdressed in Papal attire with a staff depicting the crucifixion.

Within the imagery of the performance of the Holy Wood era, PSALM 23 was one of the most significant and symbolic elements evoked. Psalm 23, 'The Lord is My Shepherd', offers an immediately appealing message of comfort and is thus widely chosen as a reading for church funeral services.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death....
Psalm 23:4

Again, this Psalm is one of the primary origins for the title of the album: Death Valley being both one of the locations where the album was recorded in and, in Manson's literary representation, the metaphorical city where the autobiographical protagonist of the Triptych grew up and was condemned to when the seemingly pristine city of Holy Wood rejected him which also acts as an identification to the Manson Family of the 1960's who went to war against the complacent evils of Hollywood, (read also about the imagery and significance of In relation to the Psalm and Manson's performance, the album Holy Wood was Marilyn Manson's victorious retaliation against Hollywood and society for blindly allowing America to lay blame and attempt to destroy him. Throughout the era the microphone stand Manson sung into was sculpted as a rifle.

...I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Psalm 23:4

Coinciding, during the Ozzfest portion of the Guns, God & Government tour when the performance imagery and songs were slightly altered, during The Love Song Manson emerged onto the stage in papal attire carrying and balancing on a staff with a crucifix atop.

"Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies..." Manson dressed in Papal robe, sash and miter performing Valentine's Day on the Guns, God & Government tour kneeling before an alter-esque table with two bald casts of his head atop bundles of grapes.

For the first portion of the Guns, God & Government tour towards the end of each concert the successions of the songs Valentine's Day and The Love Song were played which the stage theatrics during thereof illustrate the fifth verse of Psalm 23. The performance of Valentine's Day consisted of Manson emerging onstage in the dressings of a Pope, kneeling down in front of a table/alter with two casts of his bald head sitting atop bunches of grapes and pistols propping up each side. The song Valentine's Day with the imagery of a table prepared is significant also in that the song's refrain is a continual chanting of "In the shadow of the valley of death," acting as a recitation of the previous Psalm's chapter, "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death..."

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies...
Psalm 23:5

In the creation of Holy Wood meticulous parallels exist even between the songs themselves such as a piece of music repeating itself in a different song but in a different key and at a different tempo. Following Valentine's Day on the Guns, God & Government tour was The Love Song, which follows suite in this type of interrelated parallelism. For The Love Song, Manson emerged onstage which was fashioned with Nuremberg-esque hanging banners and singing behind a podium all adorned with the gun crucifix used throughout the era, which as a satire of America represented our culture's worship of death and violence as a religion, much like the way the corpse of Christ is worshiped and used to justify political ends.

...thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Psalm 23:5

When Manson appeared onstage for The Love Song what was most strikingly exceptional was that he was dripping from his head down his arms and chest with oil. Oil is often used, in the Biblical aspect especially, as symbolic for anointing, blessing, consecration & healing from God.

"...thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over." Manson performing The Love Song dripping from his head with oil behind the Guns, God & Government podium adorned with a crucifix made of a rifle & pistols, which followed the performance of Valentine's Day.
Albeit sans the oil, a full view of the Holy Wood gun crucifix podium as it was performed in Moscow on the European leg of the tour. The performance with oil was only done on the first and American portion of the 'Guns, God & Government' Tour. If one chooses to analyze this deeper it may be intentionally so as it was predominantly the American media who had scapegoated blame upon Manson for allegedly inspiring Columbine.

The passage of " the presence of mine enemies..." is a significant facet to Manson's performance and use of the Psalm. The era which all of this took place in was the Holy Wood era, the era which followed the Columbine massacre in which all of America and the media betrayed, turned their backs on and falsely accused Manson of inspiring almost resulting in his destruction. Instead of allowing them, Holy Wood was Manson's retaliatory fight back in the war which had been waged upon him. When taken back into the context of that time period Manson was singing in front of his "enemies" which each performance, and his "table" which was prepared before him was Holy Wood as his response.

Manson covered in dried black oil performing Rock Is Dead on the MTV European VMAs in Ireland, following the blame for Columbine being laid upon him, where the audience shunned him to the degree of literally turning their back to him; " the presence of mine enemies..." Note the Mechanical Christ's burning TV cross in the background, acting as a first spiteful stab symbolic of Christianity's demise after Columbine.

The Holy Wood era also both began and ended with this imagery. What can be considered the first performance of the era can also be considered the signification of the destruction of the Mechanical Animals era, that being Manson's performance on the 1999 European VMA's. This performance, which was only a few months after Columbine when most of the entire world still falsely vilified Manson and wished him for dead, occurred in the predominantly Catholic (and war torn by Christianity) Ireland where he literally was performing before his enemies with the table before them as his stage, all the while anointed with oil by performing covered head to toe in dried black oil. The majority off the audience literally turned their backs to Manson closing the event in this highly symbolic performance.

As Holy Wood was a war which Manson waged upon those who tried to destroy him, from which he emerged victoriously, the last performance of this era evoked the same imagery. This performance which occurred on October 8th, 2001 in Los Angeles, filmed for Pay Per View, was the final performance of the Guns, God & Government tour and also the end of the the Triptych, as Antichrist Svperstar was released on October 8th 1996. For the final two songs of the concert Manson performed covered completely in wet black oil for Astonishing Panorama of the Endtimes and Lunchbox signifying his vindication in front of his enemies, anointed with oil clutching his rod and staff (rifle sculpted microphone stand) In The Shadow of the Valley Of Death.


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 :

MARILYN MANSON - SAMPLES & BACKWARDS MASKING : PSALM 23 | A little known fact is that the introduction to 'Holy Wood's 'Guns, God & Government' world tour, immediately after the lights dimmed prior to Manson's emergence onstage, a screeching and hissing rendition of Psalm 23 was heard in the darkness before the band began to play, actually delivered by one of Manson's oft-mentioned inspirations, the avant-garde performance artist and singer, Diamanda Galás, as taken from her 1988 album 'You Must Be Certain of the Devil'. Visit our samples page to hear 'The Lord Is My Shepherd' by Diamanda Galás...

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ANTICHRIST SVPERSTAR - THE WORM & THE RED DRAGON | "But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people." Psalm 22:6, David anticipating the sufferings of Christ when he compares a tortured believer to the most miserable of all creatures.

Biblical references pertaining to Manson's thematic of the worm in Antichrist Svperstar's lyrics and artwork.

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