I like to root for the underdog, so I’m always comforted to find Satanism in the news. There are, after all, some two billion Christians in the world, and only about a hundred thousand Satanists; if the eternal war between good and evil is a numbers game, then it would seem the good guys have this one in the bag. And yet Satanism persists—pure evil’s got moxie.
The latest coup from the dark arts is Charlie Charlie Challenge, a Ouija Board-ish pursuit in which players—who tend to be, let’s face it, kids and teens—cross two pencils over a piece of paper and attempt to summon a Mexican demon. According to no less reliable a source than the Daily Mail, four Colombian high school students were hospitalized for “hysteria” after playing the game, which set off an international pandemic of DIY voodoo:
Hundreds of teens have uploaded videos—from the UK to the United States, Sweden and Singapore—in which they ask, “Charlie, Charlie, are you there?” and then flee in terror when the pencil appears to move by itself …
“It’s a craze that has gone too far… It’s very dangerous for a young child to play with contacting the paranormal and diabolical,” Doctor Kelven Guerrero, who works at the Hato Mayor del Rey Hospital, told MailOnline.
He added: “It can cause a great amount of trauma in a young person … One of the major problems has been that in order to start playing a child must ask permission of Charlie to play.
“But Charlie also has to give permission for the game to end,” he ominously added.
The BBC, for its part, has maintained that the whole thing’s a hoax. Let’s hope not. I, for one, laud the efforts of these brave young people to install the legions of hell on earth and bring about the enduring reign of the Prince of Darkness. But I quibble with their methods.
Pencils have always been among the finest weapons in a Satanist’s arsenal; problem is, these kids are stacking with them instead of drawing with them. It’s downright primitive. To behold the true power of an occultist with good draftsmanship, one need only look to an eighteenth-century grimoire called Compendium rarissimum totius Artis Magicae sistematisatae per celeberrimos Artis hujus Magistros, about which the Internet yields little. It’s written in Latin and German; the Wellcome Library, which published a high-resolution scan of the book in its entirety, suggests that it dates to 1775, though its unknown author apparently attempted to pass it off as a relic from 1057. The volume is labeled NOLI ME TANGERE: don’t touch.
It doesn’t take long to see why the illustrator wanted to put several centuries between himself and these drawings. They convey a world of such hyperbolic perdition that you almost want to visit it, if only as a tourist. Genitals spit fire and snakes; hideous, multilimbed creatures sprout heads and pendulous breasts like tumors. In one panel, a string of crimson beads connects a mutated donkey’s knife-cum necklace to the raw end of his penis; he’s carrying a bloody piece of flesh on some sort of fire poker. In another, a litter of flying baby serpents come tumbling from the vagina of a flame-eared, bug-eyed, speckled, bulbous cat-woman. Those are among the two easiest to describe.
You can see all the images below. The lesson is clear: the newest generation of sinful mystics is not doing nearly enough to further their art. Together, we can teach these kids to harness evil as a creative force for a darker, less inhabitable tomorrow.
Dan Piepenbring is the web editor of The Paris Review.