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Hellfire Clubs

To: alt.satanism
From: (IX Corp.)
Subject: Hellfire Clubs
Date: 4 Mar 2000 00:10:54 GMT

Since there is some controversy over whether or not the Friars of
Medmenham were Satanists, here are some notes from Geoffrey Ashe's "Do
What You Will" on other Hellfire Clubs:

Duke of Wharton:
"Total membership known to the authorities amounted to fourty-odd 'persons
of quality' of both sexes. The admission of women is interesting, since
most clubs excluded them. At Somerset House, it was alleged, everybody met
for orgies. But the Order in Council (banning the Hellfire Club) and the
pamphlet (praising the ban) both witness that this was not the
reason for the ban. Plenty of persons of quality held orgies. The Hell
Fire Club's main persuit was blasphemy; in other words, spitting in the
eye of the Church and the official morality it stood for.
 The proceedings sound comic rather than evil. As at modern gatherings of 
the Dickens Fellowship and the Baker Street Irregulars, the members came
to meetings in assumed characters. But instead of being Mr. Micawber or
Dr Watson, they turned up as revered figures from the bible, or saints,
and playe dthem for laughs. They staged mock rituals making fun of
christian dogmas such as the Trinity. When the company sat down to
dinner, the menu included a drink called Hell-Fire Punch, and the dishes
with such names as Holy Ghost Pie, Devils Loins and Breast of Venis. A
Holy Ghost Pie was an imitation host made of angelica root. Breast of
Venus was constructed out of small chickens, with cherries for nipples.
This fitted into the general scheme as a heathen touch.
 Why did the Lord Chancellor bother (banning the group)? ..... But an
organized display of aristocratic scorn towards Christianity, meaning the
Church of England, was more sedutious and heavily charged than might
appear....." (goes on to describe how ridicule of the Church of England
was an attack on the established order, which was teetering at the time)

Irish Hellfire Clubs:

 "The Irish Hell Fire groups are hard to sort out. The name shows that
their founders took a hint from Wharton. But they tended to be more
frankly wicked, and sometimes more overtly harmful. Their members flirted
with crime and with an ill-informed kind of black magic and devil-worship.
 Limerick had a Hell-Fire Club, and a picture in the Council Room of the
Corperation is said to portray members of it. The actual name, however was
not always adopted. One band of rakes was called the "Dublin Blasters."
This was still active in March 1737 when it was the subject of a report to
the Irish Parliament, stressing 'blasphemy' in much teh same tone as the
denunciations of Wharton's club. The founder of the Blasters was Peter
Lens, a painter, who boasted of being a satanist and praying to the Devil.
Another Blaster, a young nobleman, received a caller completely naked.....
 But a more notorious Dublin fraternity did use the old name.....
Its founders were Richard Parsons, the first Earl of Rosse, and Colonel
Jack St Leger. ....
 A picture by James Worsdale in the Irish National Gallery shows five
members of the Club. They are Lord Santry; Simon Luttrell, afterwards
first Earl of Carhampton, nicknamed the Wicked Madman; and Colonels
Clements, Ponsonby and St. George. Santry, then in his twenties, had a
penchant for cruel practical jokes. He encouraged duelling, with his
colleagues' approval. Every  member who killed his man was presented with
a badge of honour. Santry himself notched the barrel of his pistol to mark
each 'deed of blood.' ....
 The Dublin Hell-Fire bretheren held orgies at the Eagle Tavern on Cork
Hill, at Daly's Club on College Green, and at a hunting lodge on
Montpelier Hill in the range south of the city. ... Here and elsewhere the
members assembled to drink hot scaltheen, a mixture of whiskey and butter
laced with brimstone. They toasted Satan and addressed each other by
sinister names, such as Old Dragon and Lady Gomorrah. 
 .... Women -with the exception of a Mrs. Blennerhasset of Limerick --were
not admitted to full memberships of these Irish clubs. The person who
passed as Lady Gomorrah may have been a male transvestite. Women did
attend, however, as orgy partners, and sometimes also because they were
needed for satanic rites.
 Magic, at any rate, did spread to the rakish set in Britain and Ireland,
taking a dark tinge. Traces of the Hell-Fire revival in Britain are
scanty, but such as they are, they carry a more Satanic stamp than before.
 Edinburgh had at least one club that arranged pacts with the Devil.
Meetings occurred in Jacks Close, Canongate, in Allan';s Close, Carrider's
Close, and Halkerston's Wynd. There are traces of activity in much the
same style at both English universtities. An Oxford Hell-Fire Club is
supposed to have flourished for several decades. A pamphlet published in
1763 refers back  to this as a reproach against a clergyman named John
Kidgell, who is accused of membership -perhaps as an uindergraduate in the
1740s. .... At Jesus College, Cambridge, a tradition which Quiller-Couch
used to relish tells of an 'Appalling Club' started in 1738. Its founder
and President was the Hon. Alan Dermot, son of an Irish peer; it sunds
like an imitation of the club in Dublin."

 This book goes on to talk in great detail of the goings-on at Dashwoods
club. My favorite passage:
"Franklin came to West Wycombe in 1773 and they collaborated on a revised
Book of Common Prayer. It was grotesque that Sir Francis should undertake
this, and more grotesque that the result, as the Franklin Prayer Book, was
widely used in American churches."

And about his daughter:

 "Rachel Fanny was reared unobtrusively with a governess till her father's
death (Rachel being his late-in-life offspring by ex-actress Mrs.
Barry). Then, aged seven, she was packed off to a French convent school
with her legacies from her father --boldness, irreverence,
opposition-mindedness and 45,000 pounds. Her gifts of character were
focused by convent education into a more than paternal anti-Christian
feud, not controlled by the paternal humour and easy-goingness. She
returned to  England as a young bluestocking full of grievances.
... At 19 she was living as a guest with the family of Thomas De Quincey.
He may have picked up his scraps of Hell-Fire lore from her --not then, he
was too young, but when he renewed the acquaintance later. He was struck
by her dark, spellbinding beauty ('a magnificent witch,' he called her,
like Lady Geraldine in Christabel), and by her crusading zeal against
Christianity. She was not only a classicist but a Hebraist, and she had
got hold of her father's private papers and some of his books on magic.
.... She completed a fairly balanced "Essay on Government" which was
published and sold well. ....The introduction speaks of the
divinely-ordained law of Nature by which human beings persue their own
happiness, and declares that anything which really promotes this happiness
is permissible."

"A common harlot was enthroned in the Patriarch's chair, to hurl insults
at Jesus Christ; and she sang bawdy songs, and danced immodestly in the
holy place...." -Nicetas Choniates                 

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