Guest Post: What the Hell Are The Body Chanting on “Empty Hearth”?


In this guest post, Ascaris from Ævangelist provides an incredible analysis of one of The Body‘s most puzzling songs.

Transcendence through Repetition: The Body and the Church Universal and Triumphant

If the crowds and mainstream press coverage are anything to judge by, you already know The Body. Some of you may hate them for one reason or another, but you know them. Two of the enlightened converge in a divine opposition as Chip plays out his hatred of all music against the perfect grooves of Lee’s love for the same.

Okay, perhaps it’s just a noisy primitive sludge band that takes advantage of their creative freedom as a duo to play music however they want instead of as an endless compromise to some limited scope that five people could wring out of their differences. Whatever. If you’ve been paying attention, you heard their first foray into coverage by NPR, All the Waters of the Earth Turn to Blood. A few tracks in, you came across the mad rantings of an apparent accomplished auctioneer.

If you’ve read some interviews, you know the sample is part of ritual action by the Church Universal and Triumphant, and further googling might even have gotten you to “Decree 10.05” and photos of a CD titled American Doomsday Cults. It takes (or did in 2010) quite a bit more to penetrate beyond The Quietus’ description of “the frantic gabble of a man speaking in tongues” to an understanding of the Church itself.

What Chip chose to focus on was the background of CUT as a boots-on-the-ground organization. Through the 1980’s, the Church capitalized on leader Clare Prophet’s dedicated following to establish a system of shelters and an arsenal for a core group in anticipation of Saint Germain’s ambiguous prophecy through Clare of nuclear war at the turn of the decade. Needless to say, no such war took place and the Church Universal and Triumphant experienced significant attrition and disillusionment. I recommend a visit to Black Sun Journal for much more personal coverage of this experience.

The earliest precursors of the Church, however, began in the early 1950’s, and the Church has not yet died today, despite the death of founder Mark Prophet in 1973 and Clare Prophet’s retirement due to mental death in 1999 and physical death in 2009 and may well continue for the foreseeable future. The reason a suspicious failure of the world to end didn’t put down any trace of activity? Aside from doomsday prophecies, the Church and the Summit Lighthouse that it sprung from in 1975 had a mature system of beliefs and ritual. The Summit Lighthouse existed long before Germain spoke her words and did not need death as a reason to live.

The teachings of the Prophets drew heavily from the casually syncretistic leanings of the Theosophical Society, run through a mesh of pretty shiny New Age colors and the world of televangelism into a font of either self-help or the age-old occult drive to apotheosis through unity of the self with God. To this end, lonely individuals and congregations under the Prophets recited Decrees drawn from the memory of plainchant at gradually increasing rates for extended periods, treating human consciousness as the route to the Divine and raising it mechanically rather than chemically to a state of collective oneness and then on forever.

This Decree, led here by Elizabeth Clare Prophet is, believe it or not, the same prayer to Hercules (as a human child of godhood, Hercules is a convenient route from Earth to Heaven without the Christ’s inconvenient sacrifice) featured as the basis of “Empty Hearth.” Please note that even when The Body/the Machines With Magnets folks stretch the loop to half speed or less, the words are hardly comprehensible. Magic, especially when associated with ascent to a higher plane, takes its roots in understanding and achieves progress through obliteration of the “otherness” of that which is understood. Words, as any extreme metal fan knows, need not be in the worldrooted mind. To transcend mundane reality, transcend mundane understanding.

A transcript of our electroacoustic ritual experience follows.

Chip King: In all these days will a famine lay upon all of your lands, and a plague upon all of your people. Forever in the name of this Lord and all others. In all days hereafter will you rest uneasily, under the ash. Forever.

Mark Prophet and the Summit, as altered:
O Hercules, thou Elohim,
I AM a child of Love,
Come and seal my being
By might from heaven above.
Like a bolt of lightning blue,
Power of God flashing through,
Take dominion o’er me now,
To thy Light and Love I bow.
I AM come to do God’s Will,
Give me grace now to fulfill
All the plan of heaven’s Son
With thy Light I AM now one.
O Hercules, thy splendid shining
Shatter failure and opining,
Ope the way in Love divining,
Seal each one in crystal lining.

repeated, fragmented, distorted, and altered:
Purify and guard my being
By thine eye of grace all-seeing,
Clothe me in thy power real,
Fill me now with holy zeal.

inserted briefly:
I AM come to do God’s Will,
Give me grace now to fulfill
All the plan of heaven’s Son
With thy Light I AM now one.

The Homily of the Mother of Worms:
Remember that facets of the divine are manifest within the self how they will be. Time and the currents of experience and relation change all things and each is a distinct-contiguous refraction of the whole. Understanding is impossible and only being is attainable.

Perhaps you too will find oneness with the godhead through the emptiness of the hearth.


Thanks again to Ascaris for this guest post. I’ve been genuinely curious about this song for a good while, so it’s cool to have some answers solved.

Did you dig this? Take a second to support Toilet ov Hell on Patreon!
  • Kevin Sorbo would not be…

  • Eliza

    This is really informative. Not having listened to The Body prior to reading this, maybe it didn’t have the same feeling of finally cracking an impossible code, but it was still a good read.

  • JWEG

    So much more grim and mortifying:

  • Waynecro

    Many thanks to Ascaris and the TovH for this excellent analysis.

  • First of all, thanks to Ascaris to reach us out with this article.

    It seems that the Church Universal and Triumphant teachings were applied here in Venezuela through the artist Cony Méndez in the 40s. As far as Ascaris described, the Metafísica Cristiana she founded is a mix of occultism and especulative New Age teachings viewed through a left-side Christian morality and dogma. I had some of her books and, while they dambled into weird New Age nonsense, they seems to be one of the modern exponents of Universalism or Pantheism. I think the biggest difference between Méndez and the CUT is the televangelism methods, the Venezuelan was more rooted in the occultism and the power of music than a solid method of widespread their beliefs.

    I think The Body makes a deeply distorted view of this, but mostly because the CUT is possibly viewed with a more histerical and paranoical sense of eschatology than the one I know (Metafísica Cristiana), but nonetheless, it makes an interesting contrast on how to view different beliefs systems from the inside and the outside. I mean, they really believed in salvation through a more lighter approach to the occultism and the New Age mumbo jumbo, but viewed from the outside, the CUT was a brainwash machine, and the fanatical chantings is always sensed from the outsiders as a severe display of madness.

    Once again, thanks to the TOH, Dubs and Ascaris for this.

    • Stockhausen

      Nice input! That was interesting to hear some of the differences as it spread to other countries.

      • Before it was the commercialized bastard we have now, first New Age movements were in so many different places, and Third World countries were central points to the development of these philosophical or religious frameworks.

        I think, at least from my latino perspective, that our culture’s disposission to sincretism made us embrace some of them. I also tend to think that the inclusion of a globalized capitalism economy to our societes made those incipient movements to mutate into a duality of: poor people made witchcraft, rich people made yoga, which also means a disparate stereotype of beliefs; but, in the final hours, the perception of otherwordly experiences or understanding of “magic” was the same on both sides, just practiced in different ways. In this way, Metafísica Cristiana was more a middle/high class sincretic diversion because it was more structured, novelty and resonated more with that part of the societies’ ideals rather than the brujería. Paradoxically, the number of poor people made the brujería much more popular over here and right now, nobody talks about St. Germain teachings 😉

        Overall, and following my personal perception, I think at least Venezuelans have the sincretism in their blood, due the mixing race process and the openly welcoming to different races. Also, if this cult originated from the US, this passive and undergoing cultural role dynamics of “US means advanced people and culture vs. primitive Venezuela” could be another reason of origin to the Metafísica Cristiana movement. We always see foreigners as great, advanced and interesting rather that our own believes, values and history.

  • “Magic, especially when associated with ascent to a higher plane, takes
    its roots in understanding and achieves progress through obliteration of
    the “otherness” of that which is understood. Words, as any extreme
    metal fan knows, need not be in the worldrooted mind. To transcend
    mundane reality, transcend mundane understanding”.

    This is also the segment I liked most of his writings. I interpreted it as a different understanding of magic through the lenses of rationality, more than metaphysical faith. It’s cool to me to know about different ways to approach the magic.

  • Abradolf Lincler

    i dont know about you guys but i prefer to speak with my tongue, not in one

  • Guacamole Jim

    Super interesting read!

  • JWEG

    This is a rather intense read, but worthwhile.

    I might break my pattern of not referring to TovH on my personal facebook page just to post it before I go back to just cat pictures.

  • JWEG
      • My aunt and cousin are both into this shit. So annoying. My cousin flew to Hawaii for some sort of conference with her spiritual healing “master” a while back. I hate pseudoscience.

        • Yeah, New Age marketing is a joke, jajajaja!

          Now, stop bothering me with your negativity or you will dissalign my chakras balance.

          I believe in some occultist and philosophical practices, but modern New Age approach with the marketing and pseudo-science methods just makes me cringe.

      • Abradolf Lincler


    • Dave Vincent’s Perm

      Massages are bollocks

  • Stockhausen

    Awesome write up! I remember you giving me some brief information on this at one point, and I really enjoyed the more in depth look. Empty Hearth is my absolute favorite song by The Body, and I think of it as one of the more compelling songs in metal altogether.

    • Stockhausen

      That slowly accelerating chant was wild.

      • So twisted, and those shouts made me crazy for a couple of minutes!

  • Mother Shabubu

    I always thought it was just glossolalia, but this is far more interesting and almost sinister in a way.

  • Major Zim

    Chip comes into my grocery store from time to time. He’s a really nice dude.