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Mary on a Cross Song Meaning & Lyrics from Ghost

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The first time you listen to “Mary on a Cross” from the band Ghost, you might not be quite sure what the lyrics are referring to. That may be true the second and third times through as well, so we are decoding the meaning of the lyrics here for you. Ghost is known for blasphemous music with religious imagery, and we are approaching this song with that kind of theme in mind. So, read on to find out more about the Mary on a Cross song meaning.

What Does the Song Mary on a Cross Mean?

‘Mary on a Cross’ by Ghost means that the character Mary (referring to the infamous Virgin Mary) is enjoying romance despite her claim to remain pure.

The Virgin’s Mary name is used here in an evocative and provocative sense. It is obviously not talking about Mary Magdalene, as some have surmised, since the lyrics mention “Holy Mary”, also known as the Virgin Mary in the Christian faith. The lyrics seem to refer to sex when talking about going down, but the songwriters say that many of the lines hold double meaning and that these words could simply mean that she goes down in history.

The verses do not seem to imply a romantic or sexual song as much as they better fit the narrative of Ghost’s career.

Mary on a Cross Song Meaning
Track Cover

The Verses

The first verse talks about the success that the group has had. It discusses how they “paid their dues”. Even when they were feeling low, they continued on, and the song can be seen as a statement on depression, with a depressed spirit being a strong, underlying theme through everything.

The second verse talks about playing it straight and getting under control with the words “play by the rules”. The conclusion, though, is that this approach does not work and something had to change. In their profession, they decided that doing things by the rules was not for them and going their own way has helped to erase their previous sorrow.

The Chorus – Mary on a Cross Meaning…

While Mary may be evoked in the imagery, the song isn’t really about the Biblical figure. There are some religious terms used in the end of the chorus, however, but there is not a pervasive religious theme at work. The verses end on a note of not letting someone go, which is why the lyrics seem to belong to a love song. But if you read back through the verses separately from the music and pay attention to what they are saying, love is not the theme either.

The chorus veers off into sexual territory, with allusions to internal tickling and oral sex, but the overarching theme of a career trajectory is still there, as a double meaning to mental stimulation through music could be inferred.

The phrase “Mary on a cross” is a refence to marijuana, besides the obvious religious allusions. This doesn’t tie in with the large theme, but it is worth pointing out the meaning that some of the lines are trying to evoke.

All in All – Mary on a Cross Song Meaning

When you examine the lyrics carefully, it seems obvious that even though the songwriters want you to get that image of Holy Mary on a cross as a sort of blasphemous reference, the actual content of the song has nothing to do with religion or even the person of Mary. Themes of breaking out of the norm and the restrictions placed upon the band members are prevalent, and perhaps marijuana use had something to do with their feelings of freedom at some point.

Credits for “Mary on a Cross”

The song was written by the Ghost frontman Tobias Forge (see here) along with Salem Al Fakir and Vincent Pontare, says NME.

Release Date of “Mary on a Cross”?

The track was released on the EP “Seven Inches of Satanic Panic” back in September 2019, with “Kiss the Go-Goat” being included as well, according to Genius.

Ghost’s “Seven Inches of Satanic Panic” Album

The album was an EP, or single, and was released by the Swedish rock band Ghost. It only consisted of two songs, which run for a total of 7 minutes and 27 seconds.

The album was recorded in Stockholm, Sweden at Park Studio. It was produced by Gene Walker, who also leads the band. Loma Vista released the album in 2019.

Last Updated: February 10, 2023

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