Accusations of Satanists performing "Black Masses" date back to the 14th century -- however, these earliest accounts were part of accusations against the Templars, who aren't really known for being Satanists, thus calling into question the validity of the claim. (Sounds like it originated as just a false accusation to make against political enemies... or as something to get out of them under torture as we'll elaborate upon.)
Until the 19th century, actually performing a black mass was grounds for execution in most parts of the western world, and being by nature an event with many witnesses, it seems probable that these rituals were extremely rare, if they were really performed at all, up to that time. Most of the details sound as unlikely as the accounts of "witch's sabbaths" from the period, so-called confessions of which were usually being extracted by means of torture. As we know today, people who are tortured for long enough have a tendency to confess to just about anything, making their word no longer reliable.
By the 19th century, rationalism had taken hold and freedom of religion was respected to a degree, making it legal in more places for alternative religious practices to be performed. The first really reliable accounts of Black Masses date to this period, being now provided by people who were not forced under torture to tell their story. However, the known "accounts" of the mass from prior sources were used to influence these performances. It's notable that many of the "Satanic" actions alleged are the same as some random things the Marquis de Sade describes in his own pornographic books for the mere sake of being offensive, rather than suggesting they have anything to do with devilry.
The 1891 book Down There gives the following short history of known and alleged tales of Satanic masses:
"And you will claim," said Durtal, "that you aren't Satanic?"
"See, Carhaix, he's at it already. He won't even give us time to get our breath, but must be dogging us about Satanism. It's true I promised him I'd try and get you to tell us something about it tonight. Yes," continued Des Hermies, in response to Carhaix's look of astonishment, "yesterday, Durtal, who is engaged, as you know, in writing a history of Gilles de Rais, declared that he possessed all the information there was about Diabolism in the Middle Ages. I asked him if he had any material on the Satanism of the present day. He asked me what I was talking about, and wouldn't believe that these practices are being carried on right now."
"But they are," replied Carhaix, becoming grave. "It is only too true."
"Before we go any further, there is one question I'd like to put to Des Hermies," said Durtal. "Can you, honestly, without joking, without letting that saturnine smile play around the corner of your mouth, tell me, in perfectly good faith, whether you do or do not believe in Catholicism?"
"He!" exclaimed the bell-ringer. "Why, he's worse than an unbeliever, he's a heresiarch."
"The fast is, if I were certain of anything, I would be inclined toward Manicheism," said Des Hermies. "It's one of the oldest and it is the simplest of religions, and it best explains the abominable mess everything is in at the present time.
"The Principle of Good and the Principle of Evil, the God of Light and the God of Darkness, two rivals, are fighting for our souls. That's at least clear. Right now it is evident that the Evil God has the upper hand and is reigning over the world as master. Now—and on this point, Carhaix, who is distressed by these theories, can't reprehend me—I am for the under dog. That's a generous and perfectly proper idea."
"But Manicheism is impossible!" cried the bell-ringer. "Two infinities cannot exist together."
"But nothing can exist if you get to reasoning. The moment you argue the Catholic dogma everything goes to pieces. The proof that two infinities can coexist is that this idea passes beyond reason and enters the category of those things referred to in Ecclesiasticus: 'Inquire not into things higher than thou, for many things have shown themselves to be above the sense of men.'
"Manicheism, you see, must have had some good in it, because it was bathed in blood. At the end of the twelfth century thousands of Albigenses were roasted for practising this doctrine. Of course, I can't say that the Manicheans didn't abuse their cult, mostly made up of devil worship, because we know very well they did.
"On this point I am not with them," he went on slowly, after a silence. He was waiting till Mme. Carhaix, who had got up to remove the plates, should go out of the room to fetch the beef.
"While we are alone," he said, seeing her disappear through the stairway door, "I can tell you what they did. An excellent man named Psellus has revealed to us, in a book entitled De operatione Dæmonum, the fact that they tasted of the two excrements at the beginning of their ceremonial, and that they mixed human semen with the host."
"Horrible!" exclaimed Carhaix.
"Oh, as they took both kinds of communion, they did better than that," returned Des Hermies. "They cut children's throats and mixed the blood with ashes, and this paste, dissolved in liquid, constituted the Eucharistic wine."
"You bring us right back to Satanism," said Durtal.
"Why, yes, as you see, I haven't strayed off your subject."
"I am sure Monsieur Des Hermies has been saying something awful," murmured Mme. Carhaix as she came in, bearing a platter on which was a piece of beef smothered in vegetables.
"Oh, Madame," protested Des Hermies.
They burst out laughing and Carhaix cut up the meat, while his wife poured the cider and Durtal uncorked the bottle of anchovies.
"I am afraid it's cooked too much," said the woman, who was a great deal more interested in the beef than in other-world adventures, and she added the famous maxim of housekeepers, "When the broth is good the beef won't cut."
The men protested that it wasn't stringy a bit, it was cooked just right.
"Have an anchovy and a little butter with your meat, Monsieur Durtal."
"Wife, let's have some of the red cabbage that you preserved," said Carhaix, whose pale face was lighted up while his great canine eyes were becoming suspiciously moist. Visibly he was jubilant. He was at table with friends, in his tower, safe from the cold. "But, empty your glasses. You are not drinking," he said, holding up the cider pot.
"Let's see, Des Hermies, you were claiming yesterday that Satanism has pursued an uninterrupted course since the Middle Ages," said Durtal, wishing to get back to the subject which haunted him.
"Yes, and the documents are irrefutable. I'll put you into a position to prove them whenever you wish.
"At the end of the fifteenth century, that is to say at the time of Gilles de Rais—to go no further back—Satanism had assumed the proportions that you know. In the sixteenth it was worse yet. No need to remind you, I think, of the demoniac pactions of Catherine de Medici and of the Valois, of the trial of the monk Jean de Vaulx, of the investigations of the Sprengers and the Lancres and those learned inquisitors who had thousands of necromancers and sorcerers roasted alive. All that is known, too well known. One case is not too well known for me to cite here: that of the priest Benedictus who cohabited with the she-devil Armellina and consecrated the hosts holding them upside down. Here are the diabolical threads which bind that century to this. In the seventeenth century, in which the sorcery trials continue, and in which the 'possessed' of Loudun appear, the black religion nourishes, but already it has been driven under cover.
"I will cite you an example, one among many, if you like.
"A certain abbé Guibourg made a specialty of these abominations. On a table serving as tabernacle a woman lay down, naked or with her skirts lifted up over her head, and with her arms outstretched. She held the altar lights during the whole office.
"Guibourg thus celebrated masses on the abdomen of Mme. de Montespan, of Mme. d'Argenson, of Mme. de Saint-Pont. As a matter of fact these masses were very frequent under the Grand Monarch. Numbers of women went to them as in our times women flock to have their fortunes told with cards.
"The ritual of these ceremonies was sufficiently atrocious. Generally a child was kidnapped and burnt in a furnace out in the country somewhere, the ashes were saved and mixed with the blood of another child whose throat had been cut, and of this mixture a paste was made resembling that of the Manicheans of which I was speaking. Abbé Guibourg officiated, consecrated the host, cut it into little pieces and mixed it with this mixture of blood and ashes. That was the material of the Sacrament."
"What a horrible priest!" cried Mme. Carhaix, indignant.
"Yes, he celebrated another kind of mass, too, that abbé did. It was called—hang it—it's unpleasant to say—"
"Say it, Monsieur des Hermies. When people have as great a hatred for that sort of thing as we here, they need not blink any fact. It isn't that kind of thing which is going to take me away from my prayers."
"Nor me," added her husband.
"Well, this sacrifice was called the Spermatic Mass."
"Guibourg, wearing the alb, the stole, and the maniple, celebrated this mass with the sole object of making pastes to conjure with. The archives of the Bastille inform us that he acted thus at the request of a lady named Des Oeillettes:
"This woman, who was indisposed, gave some of her blood; the man who accompanied her stood patiently beside the bed where the scene took place, and Guibourg gathered up some of his semen into the chalice, then added powdered blood and some flour, and after sacrilegious ceremonies the Des Oeillettes woman departed bearing her paste."
"My heavenly Saviour!" sighed the bell-ringer's wife, "what a lot of filth."
"But," said Durtal, "in the Middle Ages the mass was celebrated in a different fashion. The altar then was the naked buttocks of a woman; in the seventeenth century it was the abdomen, and now?"
"Nowadays a woman is hardly ever used for an altar, but let us not anticipate. In the eighteenth century we shall again find abbés—among how many other monsters—who defile holy objects. One Canon Duer occupied himself specially with black magic and the evocation of the devil. He was finally executed as a sorcerer in the year of grace 1718. There was another who believed in the Incarnation of the Holy Ghost as the Paraclete, and who, in Lombary, which he stirred up to a feverish pitch of excitement, ordained twelve apostles and twelve apostolines to preach his gospel. This man, abbé Beccarelli, like all the other priests of his ilk, abused both sexes, and he said mass without confessing himself of his lecheries. As his cult grew he began to celebrate travestied offices in which he distributed to his congregation aphrodisiac pills presenting this peculiarity, that after having swallowed them the men believed themselves changed into women and the women into men.
"The recipe for these hippomanes is lost," continued Des Hermies with almost a sad smile. "To make a long story short, Beccarelli met with a very miserable end. He was prosecuted for sacrilege and sentenced, in 1708, to row in the galleys for seven years."
"These frightful stories seem to have taken away your appetite," said Mme. Carhaix. "Come, Monsieur des Hermies, a little more salad?"
"No, thanks. But now we've come to the cheese, I think it's time to open the wine," and he uncapped one of the bottles which Durtal had brought.
"It's a light Chinon wine, but not too weak. I discovered it in a little shop down by the quay," said Durtal.
"I see," he went on after a silence, "that the tradition of unspeakable crimes has been maintained by worthy successors of Gilles de Rais. I see that in all centuries there have been fallen priests who have dared commit sins against the Holy Ghost. But at the present time it all seems incredible. Surely nobody is cutting children's throats as in the days of Bluebeard and of abbé Guibourg."
"You mean that nobody is brought to justice for doing it. They don't assassinate now, but they kill designated victims by methods unknown to official science—ah, if the confessionals could speak!" cried the bell-ringer.
"But tell me, what class of people are these modern covenanters with the Devil?"
"Prelates, abbesses, mission superiors, confessors of communities; and in Rome, the centre of present-day magic, they're the very highest dignitaries," answered Des Hermies. "As for the laymen, they are recruited from the wealthy class. That explains why these scandals are hushed up if the police chance to discover them.
"Then, let us assume that the sacrifices to the Devil are not preceded by preliminary murders. Perhaps in some cases they aren't. The worshippers probably content themselves with bleeding a fœtus which had been aborted as soon as it became matured to the point necessary. Bloodletting is supererogatory anyway, and serves merely to whet the appetite. The main business is to consecrate the host and put it to an infamous use. The rest of the procedure varies. There is at present no regular ritual for the black mass."
"Well, then, is a priest absolutely essential to the celebration of these offices?"
"Certainly. Only a priest can operate the mystery of Transubstantiation. I know there are certain occultists who claim to have been consecrated by the Lord, as Saint Paul was, and who think they can consummate a veritable sacrifice just like a real priest. Absurd! But even in default of real masses with ordained celebrants, the people possessed by the mania of sacrilege do none the less realize the sacred stupration of which they dream.
"Listen to this. In 1855 there existed at Paris an association composed of women, for the most part. These women took communion several times a day and retained the sacred wafer in their mouths to be spat out later and trodden underfoot or soiled by disgusting contacts."
"You are sure of it?"
"Perfectly. These facts were revealed by a religious journal, Les annales de la sainteté, and the archbishop of Paris could not deny them. I add that in 1874 women were likewise enrolled at Paris to practise this odious commerce. They were paid so much for every wafer they brought in. That explains why they presented themselves at the sacred table of different churches every day."
"And that is not the half of it! Look," said Carhaix, in his turn, rising and taking from his bookshelf a blue brochurette. "Here is a review, La voix de la septaine, dated 1843. It informs us that for twenty-five years, at Agen, a Satanistic association regularly celebrated black masses, and committed murder, and polluted three thousand three hundred and twenty hosts! And Monsignor the Bishop of Agen, who was a good and ardent prelate, never dared deny the monstrosities committed in his diocese!"
"Yes, we can say it among ourselves," Des Hermies returned, "in the nineteenth century the number of foul-minded abbés has been legion. Unhappily, though the documents are certain, they are difficult to verify, for no ecclesiastic boasts of such misdeeds. The celebrants of Deicidal masses dissemble and declare themselves devoted to Christ. They even affirm that they defend Him by exorcising the possessed.
"That's a good one. The 'possessed' are made so or kept so by the priests themselves, who are thus assured of subjects and accomplices, especially in the convents. All kinds of murderous and sadistic follies can be covered with the antique and pious mantle of exorcism."
"Let us be just," said Carhaix. "The Satanist would not be complete if he were not an abominable hypocrite."
"Hypocrisy and pride are perhaps the most characteristic vices of the perverse priest," suggested Durtal.
"But in the long run," Des Hermies went on, "in spite of the most adroit precautions, everything comes out. Up to now I have spoken only of local Satanistic associations, but there are others, more extensive, which ravage the old world and the new, for Diabolism is quite up to date in one respect. It is highly centralized and very capably administered. There are committees, subcommittees, a sort of curia, which rules America and Europe, like the curia of a pope.
"The biggest of these societies founded as long ago as 1855 is the society of the Re-Theurgistes-Optimates. Beneath an apparent unity it is divided into two camps, one aspiring to destroy the universe and reign over the ruins, the other thinking simply of imposing upon the world a demoniac cult of which it shall be high priest.
"This society has its seat in America. It was formerly directed by one Longfellow, an adventurer, born in Scotland, who entitled himself grand priest of the New Evocative Magism. For a long time it has had branches in France, Italy, Germany, Russia, Austria, even Turkey.
"It is at the present moment moribund, or perhaps quite dead, but another has just been created. The object of this one is to elect an antipope who will be the exterminating Antichrist. And those are only two of them. How many others are there, more or less important numerically, more or less secret, which, by common accord, at ten o'clock the morning of the Feast of the Holy Sacrament, celebrate black masses at Paris, Rome, Bruges, Constantinople, Nantes, Lyons, and in Scotland—where sorcerers swarm!
"Then, outside of these universal associations and local assemblies, isolated cases abound, on which little light can be shed, and that with great difficulty. Some years ago there died, in a state of penitence, a certain comte de Lautree, who presented several churches with statues which he had bewitched so as to satanize the faithful. At Bruges a priest of my acquaintance contaminates the holy ciboria and uses them to prepare spells and conjurements. Finally one may, among all these, cite a clear case of possession. It is the case of Cantianille, who in 1865 turned not only the city of Auxerre, but the whole diocese of Sens, upside down.
"This Cantianille, placed in a convent of Mont-Saint-Sulpice, was violated, when she was barely fifteen years old, by a priest who dedicated her to the Devil. This priest himself had been corrupted, in early childhood, by an ecclesiastic belonging to a sect of possessed which was created the very day Louis XVI was guillotined.
"What happened in this convent, where many nuns, evidently mad with hysteria, were associated in erotic devilry and sacrilegious rages with Cantianille, reads for all the world like the procedure in the trials of wizards of long ago, the histories of Gaufrédy and Madeleine Palud, of Urbain Grandier and Madeleine Bavent, or the Jesuit Girard and La Cadière, histories, by the way, in which much might be said about hystero-epilepsy on one hand and about Diabolism on the other. At any rate, Cantianille, after being sent away from the convent, was exorcised by a certain priest of the diocese, abbé Thorey, who seems to have been contaminated by his patient. Soon at Auxerre there were such scandalous scenes, such frenzied outbursts of Diabolism, that the bishop had to intervene. Cantianille was driven out of the country, abbé Thorey was disciplined, and the affair went to Rome.
"The curious thing about it is that the bishop, terrified by what he had seen, requested to be dismissed, and retired to Fontainebleau, where he died, still in terror, two years later."
"My friends," said Carhaix, consulting his watch, "it is a quarter to eight. I must be going up into the tower to sound the angelus. Don't wait for me. Have your coffee. I shall rejoin you in ten minutes."
He put on his Greenland costume, lighted a lantern, and opened the door. A stream of glacial air poured in. White molecules whirled in the blackness.
"The wind is driving the snow in through the loopholes along the stair," said the woman. "I am always afraid that Louis will take cold in his chest this kind of weather. Oh, well, Monsieur des Hermies, here is the coffee. I appoint you to the task of serving it. At this hour of day my poor old limbs won't hold me up any longer. I must go lie down."
"The fact is," sighed Des Hermies, when they had wished her good night, "the fact is that mama Carhaix is rapidly getting old. I have vainly tried to brace her up with tonics. They do no good. She has worn herself out. She has climbed too many stairs in her life, poor woman!"
"All the same, it's very curious, what you have told me," said Durtal. "To sum up, the most important thing about Satanism is the black mass."
"That and the witchcraft and incubacy and succubacy which I will tell you about; or rather, I will get another more expert than I in these matters to tell you about them. Sacrilegious mass, spells, and succubacy. There you have the real quintessence of Satanism."
"And these hosts consecrated in blasphemous offices, what use is made of them when they are not simply destroyed?"
"But I already told you. They are used to consummate infamous acts. Listen," and Des Hermies took from the bell-ringers bookshelf the fifth volume of the Mystik of Görres. "Here is the flower of them all:
"'These priests, in their baseness, often go so far as to celebrate the mass with great hosts which then they cut through the middle and afterwards glue to a parchment, similarly cloven, and use abominably to satisfy their passions.'"
"Holy sodomy, in other words?"
At this moment the bell, set in motion in the tower, boomed out. The chamber in which Durtal and Des Hermies were sitting trembled and a droning filled the air. It seemed that waves of sound came out of the walls, unrolling in a spiral from the very rock, and that one was transported, in a dream, into the inside of one of these shells which, when held up to the ear, simulate the roar of rolling billows. Des Hermies, accustomed to the mighty resonance of the bells at short range, thought only of the coffee, which he had put on the stove to keep hot.
Then the booming of the bell came more slowly. The humming departed from the air. The window panes, the glass of the bookcase, the tumblers on the table, ceased to rattle and gave off only a tenuous tinkling.
A step was heard on the stair. Carhaix entered, covered with snow.
"Cristi, boys, it blows!" He shook himself, threw his heavy outer garments on a chair, and extinguished his lantern. "There were blinding clouds of snow whirling in between the sounding-shutters. I can hardly see. Dog's weather. The lady has gone to bed? Good. But you haven't drunk your coffee?" he asked as he saw Durtal filling the glasses.
Carhaix went up to the stove and poked the fire, then dried his eyes, which the bitter cold had filled with tears, and drank a great draught of coffee.