The Scandinavian band Ghost plays music in the genres heavy metal and metal, and, like many representatives of this genre, uses occult and satanic symbolism. Thus, many of the band’s compositions are various variations on the theme of desecration, denunciation or some versions of perversion of religious concepts. That, in fact, is what Ghost does in the song Mary on a cross.
Generally speaking, if one is to deal with criticism of Catholicism or Orthodoxy within the framework of occult and satanic concepts, one would need to study the issue in some detail, which is quite obviously difficult to do in a separate article and analysis of a particular song.
Therefore, perhaps we should only make a preliminary remark that, while this group obviously seeks to distort and desecrate religious symbols and meanings, we must consider that within the occult concept itself, and in general, if we think about it in isolation, such criticism can be not only destructive, but also transformative.
At least this argument has some logic, in that a radical disregard for religious symbols can act as a way of rethinking them, and also as a kind of impetus to the progress of religious meanings themselves. In general, of course, it’s not about the concept that “everything is not so unambiguous” – after all, Ghost are quite open occultists and Satanists, at least that’s how (and quite convincingly) the audience reads their stage image – but about the possibility to better understand the conceptual foundations of such creativity.
Glamor and flying
It should be said that this composition does not use direct desecration of religious symbolism. The lyrical hero compares his chosen one to the Virgin Mary. Certainly, from the point of view of religion, such a comparison is quite serious blasphemy. However, from the point of view of art, it is quite possible to consider such comparisons as a way to reinterpret and use the symbol in question.
It should be noted that, for example, for many European as well as South American countries, it is the image of the Virgin Mary that is virtually central to religion. At least if you look at the mass distribution of worship.
It should be noted, however, that in this composition the image is quite deliberately distorted. The line Mary on a cross can be seen as Mary on a cross, that is, crucified, although it is known that such an image is not used in traditional iconography and contradicts the canon. In addition, Mary on a cross, can also be read as Mary on a cross, for in English the word cross is used both to refer to a cross, including a cross for crucifixion, and to refer to a cross.
This option is important to point out because of the deep symbolism of the crossroads in occultism, where it has a huge volume of meanings, from the center of the world and the intersection of different realities, to the mystical space of performing occult rituals. On this subject, you can at least look at the abundance of different beliefs and examples that in almost every culture are associated with the crossroads.
Anyway, in the initial part of the composition we observe the story of the lyrical hero about some life story and, probably, his own experience. Of course, it is possible to dig into this symbolism separately, but superficially, this story is something like lines from the songs of modern trendy rappers (chicks, cars and glamour) or a narrative about the cool life of badass rockers.
Moreover, the story often resembles a confession and even becomes a kind of whine, in which the lyrical hero confesses to the listener about how difficult it was to settle down in this world, and in the end he decided to stay different. Here are some examples with a line by line translation.
“But through all the sorrow.
But through all the sorrow
We’ve been riding high
We’ve been riding high.”
A hint of some disappointment in the world, as well as a mystical experience, may well be used here.
“We were scanning the cities.
We were exploring the cities,
Rocking to pay their dues
Playing rock to pay their dues,
But besides all the glamor
But besides all the glamour
All we got was bruised
All we got was bruised.”
This part is just a bit of the aforementioned whining. That said, the lines as a whole seem almost utterly banal. Interest may perhaps be aroused by the word dues, which in its more precise sense may be a contribution, as a fee, for example, a fee for the opportunity to be part of some organization, an organizational fee. Here it is possible to reflect on various additional meanings and consonances. For example, we are talking about some more global sense, where everyone in a city has to pay some kind of fee in order to remain part of it. It could be about various metaphors for belonging to a community and, in general, the structure of current society.
It is also curious that the word rocking can be seen not only as playing rock, but also as rolling a rock off a cliff or rolling a rock. Rock is rock in English. There is a certain fatalism in this image, a movement doomed by external conditions.
In addition, the word dues is consonant with the word deus, which can be seen as deities. Thus the lines speak of paying some deities or playing fate in order to pay these deities.
“We were searching for reasons.
We were searching for reasons,
To play by the rules
To play by the rules,
But we quickly found out
But we quickly found out,
“It was just for fools.
It was just for fools.”
This part in general is something like a puberty protest, when a certain character, realizing that he is undoubtedly smarter than everyone else and, for example, having read Zeland or Papias, realizes that he can control reality, and ignore the stupid muggles.
What does the song “Mary on a cross” mean?
At the end, let’s consider the chorus of this composition, in the introduction to which the lyrical hero insistently informs that he is not going to let go, either his chosen and partner or someone else, and, moreover, wants to tickle her from inside (which quite obviously hints at the act of penetration with the sexual organ) and sees nothing bad in it. By the way, the album on which this track appears has a rather amusing title Seven inches of satanic panic, that is, seven inches (about 18 centimeters) of satanic panic, which is probably also a reference to the penis, which, in addition to its respectable size, also possesses some mystical powers.
Of course, the imagery that suggests, so to speak, tickling someone who appears in the image of the Virgin Mary from within is also a variant of defilement. It should be noted that in Satanism, reverse imagery can also be common, where a female representative wants to get intimate with Jesus. Anyway, let’s note that this composition still largely hints at a comparison of one’s chosen one or girlfriend with the Immaculate Virgin, who (the chosen one) is also, shall we say, cool, but also has a nice optional tickle from the inside out. Perhaps, though, the lyrical hero sees someone immaculate whom he wants to seduce.
The chorus lines:
“Mary on a, Mary on a cross
Mary on, Mary on a cross,
Not just another bloody Mary
Not another bloody Mary,
Mary on a, Mary on a…”
Offer an interesting play on words, where the crucified Virgin Mary (a perverse image in itself) is compared to a popular alcoholic cocktail. Although, there may be harsher sounds here, hinting at some ordinary dead Marys. Equally interesting is the final line, which sounds similar to the stable English expression carry on, which means to keep doing something, to keep going somewhere (globally), and has other similar connotations.
I hope I’ve helped you find the meaning of the song “Mary on a cross,” as well as make sense of the lyrics. If you have a different view of the song, write your own version in the comments.