In The Desert Of Seth

By G. B. Marian

Ozzy Osbourne: Bark At The Moon (1983)

The original 1983 cover art for Bark At The Moon

I first heard Bark At The Moon back in January 1998, exactly 5 months after I began my walk with Seth-Typhon. It became my personal soundtrack during that period, and for reasons I shall explain below, it’s far more than just a “favorite album” to me; as far as I’m concerned, it’s nothing less than an inspired gnostic text that’s been set to music. If I ever have to give testimony in a court of law, they’d better make me swear on a copy of this (and preferably on vinyl, dammit!).

When Ozzy Osbourne was fired from Black Sabbath in 1979, his manager Sharon Arden (who would later become Mrs. Osbourne) talked him into forming a solo band with Bob Daisley, who had just left the band Rainbow. (This is ironic considering that Ronnie James Dio – Rainbow’s vocalist – replaced Ozzy in Black Sabbath at roughly the same time). Not too long after that, Ozzy and Daisley recruited lead guitarist Randy Rhoads (of Quiet Riot), drummer Lee Kerslake (of Uriah Heep), and keyboardist Don Airey (of Rainbow and Deep Purple). While Ozzy usually receives most of the credit for the music this band would create, most of it was actually written by his bandmates (and especially by Daisley). For further information on that particular tangent, I suggest reading Bob Daisley’s website for starters. But in 1982, Randy Rhoads died in a tragic plane crash; he was soon replaced with guitarist Jake E. Lee, and that’s when Bark At The Moon comes into the story. While the productions with Rhoads (i.e., 1980’s Blizzard of Ozz and 1981’s Diary of a Madman) are certainly the best Ozzy albums, Bark At The Moon is my personal favorite.

I came across a copy of this album on audio cassette at a K-Mart in Exton, Pennsylvania just after the winter holiday break of 1997-1998. School had just started up again, and it was mid-terms week. (Yes, you read that correctly; mid-terms happened after the holidays at my school for some reason.) Anyway, the neat thing about mid-terms at Great Valley High was that they were scheduled on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of that week; they were also half-days, so students went home at lunch time (and we got an extra half-day for our weekend, to boot). So despite the stress of taking tests, it was like having a little semi-vacation right after the holiday break.

Now another thing I should mention is that my mother and I used to do all kinds of fun activities together during this period. For example, we’d go see movies that my father didn’t care to see (and which my little sister and brother weren’t old enough to see just yet). During mid-terms, my mom would pick me up from school, we’d have some lunch, and then we’d go do something fun that no one else in the family wanted to do with us. One day we went to an antique book store somewhere out in the country, where I was amazed to find an entire shelf of books about Elizabethan ceremonial magic. (We didn’t purchase anything – those books were far too expensive – but just looking at them practically made me orgasm.) The next day, we went to a used bookstore where I found some really neat books by William James and Carl Jung. (I don’t know for sure, but I had a strong feeling that the bookstore owner was a Wiccan; she just had a real Wiccan-ish vibe to her, and I thought she was cute.) And then, on Friday – the last day of midterms and the very first Sabbath I would ever observe in my life – we went to that K-Mart and I found Bark At The Moon.

I remember looking at the album cover on that little cassette tape, with Ozzy dressed up as a werewolf. It was so cool and creepy looking, and I was especially impressed by the fact that this hellish beast just looked so damn happy. I looked at him smiling at me, and I smiled right back and showed the tape to my mom. Part of me worried that she’d tell me to put it back, because my father was really against any kind of “shock rock” being in the house. But when she looked at the tape, she nodded and said, “Let’s get it!” And that was all there was to it. We took that tape home and we ended up listening to it twice in a row. I listened to it again later that night – this time on headphones – and this became the start of a weekly ritual. From that point forward, I would listen to Bark At The Moon every Friday night, and I’d pray to Seth and experiment with different magical procedures that I found in books from my local library. I changed it up a little after a while, focusing more on strictly devotional practices as time went on. (And when Tony, Patrick and Tina came into the story several years later, we developed very different practices that have long since become our accepted group procedure.) But that first Friday night in January 1998 with Ozzy’s Bark At The Moon marked the beginning of the LV-426 Sabbath as we know and observe it today.

In the opening track, Bob Daisley’s lyrics tell us of a man who comes back from the dead as a werewolf. This fellow also seems to have a score to settle with certain individuals who committed a grave injustice against him while he was still alive and mortal. (It could be that these people are responsible for his death in some way.) For this reason, “Bark At The Moon” is basically a power fantasy (similar to Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man”) in which a person who’s been treated unfairly becomes an unstoppable force for vengeance. I think anyone who’s ever been mistreated by someone can identify with this, but because of the macabre symbolism that’s used here, I naturally feel there’s a Typhonian undercurrent to the song as well. Since it concerns a persecuted other who is transformed by his otherness into a frightening force of destruction (and whose destructive activities ostensibly serve a higher justice), it naturally makes me think of the Red Lord.

Ozzy the Werewolf!

The next track is “You’re No Different,” in which Daisley replies to every evangelical Christian who’s ever accused Ozzy of being “satanic.” It makes me think of how shock rockers and televangelists really aren’t that different in principle. Both glamorize themselves; both wear expensive clothes and freakish makeup; both have a knack for theatricality and hyperbole; and both deliberately capitalize on horrific ideas to make money. Just as shock rockers act out scenes of murder and mayhem on stage to sell their records, televangelists use similar things (e.g., the “Satanic Panic,” Illuminati conspiracies, ultraviolent books like Left Behind, etc.) to attract their audiences. The only substantial difference is that shock rockers usually admit that what they do is just an act; Ozzy, for instance, has never tried to fool anyone into thinking that he’s really a Satanist or a werewolf. Televangelists often don’t believe half of the things they say (hence why so many of them turn out to be gay, involved with prostitutes, or guilty of embezzlement); yet they must convince their audiences they’re “for real” or their stage acts will disastrously fail. The fact that so many of them succeed at this just goes to show that televangelists are some of the most accomplished black magicians in history.

(Let it be known that your typical episode of John Hagee Today – especially when Hagee starts frothing at the mouth about “homasexshuls” or how Americans need to support Israel now so the Antichrist can come and wipe it out later – is far more offensive and frightening than anything Ozzy Osbourne, Alice Cooper or Marilyn Manson have ever said or done.)

Daisley has stated that the following song, “Now You See It (Now You Don’t),” is really “A simple ditty about hiding a sausage…” Yet I can’t help but feel that on a deeper level, it could also be about a televangelist consorting with a hooker. The Jimmy Swaggart sex scandal wouldn’t happen until 1988, but the lyrics of this song mention trying to “forget my fear of hell,” being “careful of words that get caught in your throat,” and having to “face the music.” It just paints a picture in my head of some sweaty-palmed faith healer getting caught with his pants down. There’s also a short instrumental section in the middle of the track which I consider to be one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever heard. When I first heard that part of the song, I had a really intense vision of Seth being crucified by a mob of angry Christians. The irony of seeing Christians crucify something they hate was obvious to me at the time, but imagine my surprise when I learned about the Alexamenos graffito more than a decade later! It really gave me the shivers to think that I wasn’t the first person to “see” a crucified donkey-headed man after all. I don’t know why Seth would show me that while I was listening to a song about “hiding a sausage,” but considering that I was playing around with the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram at the time, I’m pretty sure I was actually seeing it with my ajna chakra. “Now You See It, Now You Don’t” indeed!

Next up is “Rock ‘N’ Roll Rebel,” in which Daisley confronts the accusation that Ozzy Osbourne is a “devil worshiper.” The key lyric goes, “I’m just a rock ‘n’ roll rebel, I’ll tell you no lies; they say I worship the devil, they must be stupid or blind.” I could really identify with this message because I was being mistaken for a “devil worshiper” by my evangelical Christian friends at school. As far as they were concerned, my God was their devil and my relationship with Him was a case of “demonic possession.” Looking back, I can understand why they thought this way; expecting them to understand something this unorthodox was admittedly unrealistic. But I was so frustrated that I eventually started flaunting the “satanic” image just to mess with them. (I also have to admit; it was necessary for me to explore the works of Anton LaVey before I could fully understand myself in a non-Christian way.) The funny thing is that we remained friends despite all of that, and that we still enjoyed hanging out together (as long as we didn’t discuss religion). But the fact that they thought I was mixed up with a evil spirit still made me angry, so “Rock ‘N’ Roll Rebel” really hit a chord with me and became my personal anthem for a while.

A promotional picture of Ozzy from Life Magazine, 1984

(However, I’d like to take a quick detour and mention that I hope these old friends of mine – especially Steven and Tristan – are happy. Despite the fact that they drove me batshit insane for a while, they’re still good people and they deserve to be happy.)

In “Centre of Eternity,” Daisley’s lyrics explore the idea of non-linear time. When I first heard this album, I was taking a philosophy class for one of my electives. My teacher in that class disabused me of the popular misconceptions about the German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche (e.g., that he was a fascist, an anti-Semite, etc.), and he taught us about Nietzsche’s ideas concerning the “Eternal Recurrence.” My strongest memory of this was when he said, “Imagine that all of time is a gigantic circular building, and that every moment is a different room in that building. We can only walk through each of these rooms one at a time, but everything that happens in them happens simultaneously. Each room is also there forever, and the things that happen in them are happening forever too.” That’s basically what Nietzsche’s Eternal Recurrence is in a nutshell, and every time I hear “Centre of Eternity,” it always makes me think about that. (I think this is also pretty much how Gods and Goddesses must experience time.)

The second half of the album is drastically different from the first. It begins with “So Tired,” which sounds like it could have been performed by the Electric Light Orchestra. It’s basically a love song in which Ozzy despairs over an unfaithful woman. There isn’t much for me to say about this one, save that the music video is interesting. It seems to be based on the 1925 silent version of The Phantom of the Opera, starring Lon Chaney. (Why on Earth this song was chosen for a music video – and not Rock ‘N’ Roll Rebel – I can’t even guess.) Overall, the song is extremely unusual for an Ozzy Osbourne album – and it pissed off quite a lot of hardcore metalhead listeners – but I enjoy its catchiness. The next song, “Slow Down,” doesn’t fit with the rest of the album’s theme either. In the lyrics, Daisley admonishes someone (perhaps Ozzy himself) for living their life too quickly and hastily. It would be a stretch for me to try and divine hidden Typhonian messages from this one (and I’m sure everyone reading this probably thinks I stretch it enough as it is with the rest of these songs), but like “So Tired,” it’s very catchy and sticks in my brain. I really enjoy the use of synths in this one, which again is apparently an affront to uber-serious headbangers everywhere (but who cares?).

Things finally get back on track with “Waiting For Darkness,” which is easily my favorite song on this entire album. It’s an attack on the inherent hypocrisy of organized religion, on how it offers people the illusion of certainty in exchange for their intellectual autonomy, and on how it enables its legislators to violate their own rules (and get away with it). Daisley seems to say, “If that’s what the Light is all about, then screw it; I prefer the Darkness.” And that’s the exact same conclusion I drew for myself several months prior to hearing this album. The winding paths of Seth are many and varied, but one common thread we all seem to share is our desire to wrest order from chaos for ourselves. We are not sheep that can be herded with a Pharaoh’s crook and flail; we’re donkeys that will kick you in the goddamn teeth if you try to tell us what to think or do. We would rather find our own ways through the darkness than bask in the glow of others and let them do our thinking for us. And hearing these exact same thoughts echoed right back to me (through Daisley’s words and Ozzy’s voice) was actually very terrifying at first; it was if Typhon Himself were speaking to me through the damn record, and I didn’t even have to play it backwards!

Since 1995 – when Bark At The Moon was digitally remastered and re-released on compact disc and audio cassette – the album has included an extra track called “Spiders In The Night.” The title of this one is pretty self-explanatory, and I always have a bit of trouble listening to it since I have a serious arachnophobia problem. (Just the word “spider” itself is enough to send me into hysterics, and I’m not exaggerating. Just ask my wife.) But as with “Now You See It (Now You Don’t),” there’s an interesting instrumental section in the middle, and it always makes me think about the film Pumpkinhead (1988) for some reason. (This is probably because I first saw Pumpkinhead just a few weeks before I heard this album.) If you’re listening to the horrid 2002 re-issue (which should be avoided at all costs), there’s yet another extra track called “One Up The B-Side.” According to Bob Daisley himself, this song is just about having anal sex with someone. (There isn’t much I can do with that one, except to say that Seth is also the God of “abnormal” or non-reproductive male sexuality, which includes…well, putting “one up the B-side.”)

Jake E. Lee (left) and Bob Daisley (right), the actual writers of Bark At The Moon

Hopefully I’ve sufficiently explained just why Bark At The Moon has become such an integral part of my sacred religious canon. And while I think it’s unfair that Ozzy gets all the credit for it, I’m thankful to Bob Daisley and Jake E. Lee for putting so much of themselves into it. (Even though they have no reason to care, it means a great deal to me.) I don’t know what spiritual beliefs they might hold – if any – and I highly doubt they have anything to do with Seth-Typhon (or at least not consciously); but for what it’s worth, I think Big Red digs this album too, that He’s actually in it somehow, and that the world is a much better place with this music in it.

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6 responses to “Ozzy Osbourne: Bark At The Moon (1983)

  1. katakhanas January 28, 2015 at 5:42 pm

    Kudos on this astounding tour de force of a post! Deeply informative and wildly engaging! It was heartwarming to learn about the cool activities you and your mom shared when you were in school and I grinned from ear to ear reading about your discoveries of Elizabethan ceremonial magic tomes at the antique store! Yowza!! I also really appreciated your very insightful remarks about the disturbing energies of televangelists; I happened to catch an episode of John Hagee several years ago and his virulent frothing-at-the-mouth denunciations of entities ranging from the nation of Russia (whose destruction has been assured by his Bible) to American “femiNazis” (a la Rush Limbaugh) and others would have been laughable if it weren’t for the fact that his Texas “megachurch” hosts thousands of congregants under one roof, which means all of us very much need to be wary of stupid people assembling in large groups! Oy vey!

    Like

    • G. B. Marian January 29, 2015 at 9:37 am

      Thank you! Yes, I’m lucky to have had a mother who was really understanding of me (even if she didn’t always completely understand me, heh). And yes, John Hagee is a particularly despicable televangelist; I think that a lot of what he says actually qualifies as hate speech. (Plus, I used to live not more than a stone’s throw away from where his church is located in San Antonio, TX.) He’s not the absolute worst I’ve ever seen, though – I think Bob Larson really takes the cake, especially when it comes to preying on the mentally ill and recruiting teenage girls for his batshit “School of Exorcism!”

      (Get ‘im, Anderson!)

      https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=52Hsjfs1iLI

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ekunyi January 29, 2015 at 5:27 pm

    Not too much to add here, save that I’ve really been enjoying your musical reviews via a Seth-Typhonian lens. Makes me want to write about my first time discovering Metallica as a young teen, back when Bast was still the mysterious “leopard woman” I dreamed about who encouraged me to explore the music, activities and dress my parents frowned upon, and then re-discovering them later with Set… I’d not considered the power of these moments as spiritual experience before I started reading your series, but they definitely were. Thank you for sharing, and thank you for getting me thinking. 😉

    Like

    • G. B. Marian January 30, 2015 at 10:00 am

      I’m glad you’re enjoying my reviews, and I’m especially glad you find them helpful. 🙂 Sometimes I get nervous because I think people are going to think I read way too much stuff into these things. (In some cases, I probably do.) But I wouldn’t be surprised at all if the leopard woman you described in your dreams really was Bast. I think there are quite a few things in popular culture that are genuinely influenced by the Gods and that They use to reach out to certain people. (I realize this probably sounds uncomfortably close to what fundamentalist Christians say about popular culture – i.e., that it’s inspired by “Satan” and can lead to “demonic possession” – but who cares?) This sort of thing isn’t limited to heavy metal, either; for example, I think an argument can be made that Madonna channels Ishtar (and probably a few other Goddesses as well). But the point is, I don’t think it’s crazy for someone to believe that a Deity can “speak” to them through their favorite music, films, comic books, video games, and/or whatever else you can imagine. And I can totally see Bast bonding with you through Metallica!

      Like

  3. satanicpuritan January 30, 2015 at 7:30 pm

    I’m so relieved to see someone else wanting to post “different” posts from a Typhonian point of view. It’s interesting that you’re posting this the same day I actually started working on something similar. Ultimately, I also have music that I relate to my own “religious cannon.” This was such a breath of fresh air to read. Thank you for this!

    Like

    • G. B. Marian February 3, 2015 at 7:12 am

      Thank you, Satanic Puritan; I’m very glad that you find this post so impressive. I certainly put a great deal of effort into it, so it’s very encouraging to know that other people understand where it’s coming from. I look forward to reading your upcoming post!

      Like

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