Jesper Aagaard Petersen: Operation Mindfuck, Viking Edition
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In May 1973, residents on the small Danish island of Anholt found 13 “ritual sites” scattered in the desert covering the majority of the landmass. The encounter sparked a brief moral panic in Danish media with claims of satanic cult activity, but the most interesting aspect was the aftermath of the event. During the forty years since the discovery, some 400 “Satan coins” have been found, mainly in Denmark, celebrating the satanic dawn of 1973, and many “satanic letters” have been distributed to various persons with invitations to black masses, mild threats and occult challenges. Amazingly, the aftermath has been unknown to most, considered a threat and kept under wraps by police officers, museum officials and priests until 2013. Now we know that the entire complex was a colossal subversive Operation Mindfuck, orchestrated by one man, Knud Langkow, against the welfare state, the Lutheran church and the self-centered establishment of politicians, artists and intellectuals. Stirring the fear of the satanic by actively using exotic objects and alter egos to construct a nebulous cult, he challenged everything proper by playing bad – tongue-in-cheek, but never without a bite. As a celebration of the largest prank in recent memory, I will examine the background to and consequences of the event and compare it to similar projects using “guerilla ontology” and satanic imagery.
Presented by Jesper Aagaard Petersen, PhD. Jesper is associate professor at the Department of Teacher Education, NTNU, Trondheim, Norway. He has published widely on modern Satanism and related currents, most recently the co-written monograph The Invention of Satanism (2016) with A. Dyrendal and J. R. Lewis. His current research focus on the fluid boundaries between Satanism and esotericism, critical religious education, and the representation of and interaction between religion and science.