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backward satanic messages (backmasking)

An alleged practice of certain evil people, especially rock musicians, of saying or singing words which, when listened to backward contain evil messages such as "My sweet Satan"* or "Kill yourself." Or they might contain messages such as "it's fun to smoke marijuana"* or "sleep with me, I'm not too young."* Of course, you probably won't hear these messages until somebody first points them out to you. Perception is influenced by expectation and expectation is affected by what others prime you for.

Since most people do not listen to their music backward, the belief in such messages seems to be predicated upon one or two false notions. Either [1] the brain can be influenced subliminally by garbled words whose meaning is directly grasped by the subconscious or [2] the conscious mind translates clear speech into reverse speech where the "true" meaning is understood by the subconscious mind. In either case, the subconscious mind allegedly then directs the conscious mind to believe bad things or do bad deeds. There is no evidence that such mechanisms exist.

The belief in the existence and efficacy of backward satanic messages probably derives from the ancient practice of mocking Christianity by saying prayers backward at the witch's Sabbath. The belief is mainly popular among certain fundamentalist preachers who cannot look at anything without wondering how Satan is involved. Perception is heavily influenced by one's belief system. We not only see what we want to see and hear what we want to hear, we see what we expect to see.

The Beatles used tapes played backward for musical effect in some of their recordings, though they allegedly put in backward or subliminal messages announcing Paul McCartney's death when he was much alive. Jimmy Page, guitarist and occultist, is said to have inserted the backward message "here's to my sweet Satan" into his "Stairway to Heaven" song. The former was clearly intentional; the latter is said to be accidental by many of those who have listened before being told what to listen for.

One practical problem emerged with using this backhanded way to communicate: the only way to hear the messages is to destroy your record. Fortunately, the digital age arrived and eliminated that problem while creating another: now it is first-grade simple to find hidden messages in every kind of speech.

See also Aleister Crowley, pareidolia, and reverse speech.

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further reading


Secret Messages on Records Excerpt from Big Secrets by William Poundstone

Hidden Messages Discovered! Proof of the existence of a god and a devil!

Jeff Milner's Backmasking site

news stories

Hey, Who's That Face in My Song? by Leander Kahney

Last updated 27-Oct-2015

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