Guest Post: What the Hell Are The Body Chanting on “Empty Hearth”?


In this guest post, Ascaris from Ævangelist provides an incredible analysis of one of The Body‘s most puzzling songs.

Transcendence through Repetition: The Body and the Church Universal and Triumphant

If the crowds and mainstream press coverage are anything to judge by, you already know The Body. Some of you may hate them for one reason or another, but you know them. Two of the enlightened converge in a divine opposition as Chip plays out his hatred of all music against the perfect grooves of Lee’s love for the same.

Okay, perhaps it’s just a noisy primitive sludge band that takes advantage of their creative freedom as a duo to play music however they want instead of as an endless compromise to some limited scope that five people could wring out of their differences. Whatever. If you’ve been paying attention, you heard their first foray into coverage by NPR, All the Waters of the Earth Turn to Blood. A few tracks in, you came across the mad rantings of an apparent accomplished auctioneer.

If you’ve read some interviews, you know the sample is part of ritual action by the Church Universal and Triumphant, and further googling might even have gotten you to “Decree 10.05” and photos of a CD titled American Doomsday Cults. It takes (or did in 2010) quite a bit more to penetrate beyond The Quietus’ description of “the frantic gabble of a man speaking in tongues” to an understanding of the Church itself.

What Chip chose to focus on was the background of CUT as a boots-on-the-ground organization. Through the 1980’s, the Church capitalized on leader Clare Prophet’s dedicated following to establish a system of shelters and an arsenal for a core group in anticipation of Saint Germain’s ambiguous prophecy through Clare of nuclear war at the turn of the decade. Needless to say, no such war took place and the Church Universal and Triumphant experienced significant attrition and disillusionment. I recommend a visit to Black Sun Journal for much more personal coverage of this experience.

The earliest precursors of the Church, however, began in the early 1950’s, and the Church has not yet died today, despite the death of founder Mark Prophet in 1973 and Clare Prophet’s retirement due to mental death in 1999 and physical death in 2009 and may well continue for the foreseeable future. The reason a suspicious failure of the world to end didn’t put down any trace of activity? Aside from doomsday prophecies, the Church and the Summit Lighthouse that it sprung from in 1975 had a mature system of beliefs and ritual. The Summit Lighthouse existed long before Germain spoke her words and did not need death as a reason to live.

The teachings of the Prophets drew heavily from the casually syncretistic leanings of the Theosophical Society, run through a mesh of pretty shiny New Age colors and the world of televangelism into a font of either self-help or the age-old occult drive to apotheosis through unity of the self with God. To this end, lonely individuals and congregations under the Prophets recited Decrees drawn from the memory of plainchant at gradually increasing rates for extended periods, treating human consciousness as the route to the Divine and raising it mechanically rather than chemically to a state of collective oneness and then on forever.

This Decree, led here by Elizabeth Clare Prophet is, believe it or not, the same prayer to Hercules (as a human child of godhood, Hercules is a convenient route from Earth to Heaven without the Christ’s inconvenient sacrifice) featured as the basis of “Empty Hearth.” Please note that even when The Body/the Machines With Magnets folks stretch the loop to half speed or less, the words are hardly comprehensible. Magic, especially when associated with ascent to a higher plane, takes its roots in understanding and achieves progress through obliteration of the “otherness” of that which is understood. Words, as any extreme metal fan knows, need not be in the worldrooted mind. To transcend mundane reality, transcend mundane understanding.

A transcript of our electroacoustic ritual experience follows.

Chip King: In all these days will a famine lay upon all of your lands, and a plague upon all of your people. Forever in the name of this Lord and all others. In all days hereafter will you rest uneasily, under the ash. Forever.

Mark Prophet and the Summit, as altered:
O Hercules, thou Elohim,
I AM a child of Love,
Come and seal my being
By might from heaven above.
Like a bolt of lightning blue,
Power of God flashing through,
Take dominion o’er me now,
To thy Light and Love I bow.
I AM come to do God’s Will,
Give me grace now to fulfill
All the plan of heaven’s Son
With thy Light I AM now one.
O Hercules, thy splendid shining
Shatter failure and opining,
Ope the way in Love divining,
Seal each one in crystal lining.

repeated, fragmented, distorted, and altered:
Purify and guard my being
By thine eye of grace all-seeing,
Clothe me in thy power real,
Fill me now with holy zeal.

inserted briefly:
I AM come to do God’s Will,
Give me grace now to fulfill
All the plan of heaven’s Son
With thy Light I AM now one.

The Homily of the Mother of Worms:
Remember that facets of the divine are manifest within the self how they will be. Time and the currents of experience and relation change all things and each is a distinct-contiguous refraction of the whole. Understanding is impossible and only being is attainable.

Perhaps you too will find oneness with the godhead through the emptiness of the hearth.


Thanks again to Ascaris for this guest post. I’ve been genuinely curious about this song for a good while, so it’s cool to have some answers solved.

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