Vocalist Gunther Theys of Belium's ANCIENT RITES has issued the following update:"It is no secret that I always took a deep interest in history, ever since my childhood. Before I became a musician (or pretended to be one) I tried to express this passion through drawing and creating graphic novels. Through ANCIENT RITES I found a perfect channel to express these interests in an active way (next to travelling to museums and historical locations). "Most people celebrated 2008, these past weeks my mind was occupied by the 18th century. So I wish you all a splendid 1745 ;-). "Since the age of five, I am fascinated by a mysterious phenomenon called 'De Bokkerijders.' I recall asking my father to read about them, as I wasn't able to read yet. Meanwhile, I manage to read on my own, thank you. "De Bokkerijders are strongly rooted in legends and folklore of certain regions of nowadays Holland, Flanders and parts of the German Rhine Land. Their name still is known in the areas where The Bokkerijders have been active. Very conveniently many like to think of them as folklore or legends. They were as real as the Jacobins or Knights Templar or any other secret organisation. "The Bokkerijders (the name 'Bok' refers to the Goat in our language, 'rijders' means riders, as people believed the Devil transported them on his back during their nightly raids) were considered a Black Guild; their nocturnal attacks were aimed at churches and the leading cast. Bonded by a Satanic oath they created fear during three generations and slowly turned into an organised militia consisting of hundreds of members. Prosecution, extreme torture and ritualistic death awaited those who joined the cult and got caught. "Authorities took extreme measures to set an example, the trials were treated as a combination of crime and witchcraft, and hence the punishments were hard, beyond the usual. After private torture, in castle cellars, public executions awaited all members, parts of their mutilated corpses left on public display, other parts offered to the purifying fire. "It remains a mystery why so many individuals kept on joining their ranks, despite the harsh fate awaiting them. "As I mentioned before, these past weeks I have been consulting many books and documents on this occult phenomenon and discovered a political agenda. During their last uprise a huge amount of weapons were ordered to arm the militias but mass executions ended their anti religious revolution before it started. "On our 'Evil Prevails' debut EP, I already wrote lyrics to a track named 'Obscurity Reigns (Fields of Flanders)' dealing with this topic. The song was re-recorded and released on our debut album a few years later. Their history is unknown to the outside world as it was a relatively 'local' phenomenon, overshadowed by the French/Austrian wars and the French Revolution; both had a larger worldwide impact, besides failed 'revolutions' are not remembered. "Since I discovered, in two different sources, the names of direct ancestors (names, nick names and location match), who were a part of The Bokkerijders Coven, I feel the need to write a new lyric regarding the matter, now that I have proof their peculiar gloomy story became a part of family history. "Many were executed, one ancestor, called Peter Theys, escaped from prison, writer Anton Blok insinuates he left the region to set up a new Horde belonging to the first generation of Bokkerijders, elsewhere. "One of the untold family secrets mentions vaguely a few people migrating in order to escape the authorities and our calculations reveal we are talking Bokkerijders era. As it was a spread phenomenon many families had sympathisers on both sides, some supporting the authorities others attracted to the Bokkerijders, all depending on one's personal situation and religious preferences. Peculiar how certain Bokkerijder fractions genuinely believed in the Devil, others pledged the Oath to symbolically mock the ruling authorities and clergy, others had a political motivation. "I know it is not professional to talk about future works before they are realised but I thought it would be a nice idea to inform our friends, here on the RITES page, about one of the future lyrical contents... 'After lurking in the dark on a local basis for a few centuries their spirits will ride out again in one of our songs. Their story revealed internationally. "For those interested to find out more about this peculiar Bokkerijders phenomenon, I posted a few blogs on my private space. Feel welcome to find out more at this location. "Unknown history can be surprising and often darker than one would expect, specially considering the highly religious époque when all this took place."
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