Listening to this reminds me so much of the recent witchcraft experience I wrote about in A Vision of Satan, A Night of Magic.
Sunday, November 11th MMXVIII. Waxing Moon in Capricorn.
Our group has a powerful tradition of nocturnal witchcraft. When we determine the times and seasons are correct, we go out hiking deep into the wilderness where we have free reign to wander the woods under the cover of darkness. This is a mixed group of experienced psychonaut-witches and others new to our craft. This night was S’s initiation into our Mystery. After hiking a few hours, we arrived at our gathering place: a small clearing at the foot of a dense cypress dome. By sunset, our camp was set up, the sacred fire lit, and the tall pines stood watch as they were beautifully silhouetted against the twilight sky. As the slender crescent moon loomed low over the horizon, it was time again to take the mushroom potion I had so diligently prepared months ago.
We each bring our own different intentions to the rites. Some were there for guidance, others for healing or communicating with nature. My specific intention was to grow in magical knowledge and personal power. The group dynamic was just right, so I felt brave enough to take a very large dose. As we sat around the fire waiting for the arrival of the Mushroom Spirit, that old familiar indelible sensation of a subtle unveiling passed over us, wave after wave after wave. By the time we were each in a fully altered state, a strong wind passed us and we came to attention. Almost in unison we rose to walk. As we traveled silently in the darkness, the world became new again. Our sense of separation from nature was replaced by profound harmony. We slowly and carefully crossed a patch of swampland and into a scrub field. By this point, we had all been babbling to each other in endless streams of consciousness, roaring with raucous laughter and profound joy. When I peered through the darkness towards T and C (the other two experienced witches), we had been visibly transformed. T with his wavy golden locks, and wearing a cloak of stars became to me like the god Apollo! C with her bright blue hair and wearing a cape with a dark, colorful mandala, became like Gaia. I looked at myself and had become like Hades.
We decided to lay down and rest together a moment (the Mushroom always creates an alternating need to move and then to stop moving). I told the group it was time to be silent and listen to the world. The sudden quiet covered us like a blanket. After a moment (or maybe an hour? Time was becoming so difficult!), I went up to “Apollo” and asked him to walk with me alone. A short distance later we were shocked and surprised to find a crossroads in our path. This was the sign I needed! In many western traditions, a lonely crossroads is a particularly powerful place, and one especially where Satan is known to present himself.
Remembering my original intentions, I asked “Apollo” to guard my body. I did not know what I should do. By this point I was at the peak of altered consciousness. I stood at the edge of the crossroads and whispered into the darkness ahead of me, “Please, show me what to do.” Again the wind picked up and seemed this time to carry on it the whisper of a voice. I sensed the presence of a mighty and dread spirit. “Satan,” I said, “Here am I. If you would grant me the fantastic powers I’ve heard about, which you are known by men to offer those of us who call on you, I would freely give you whatever price you would ask of me!”
Then by an impulse I dropped to my knees, my arms spread out and my eyes looked up to the vast cosmos. Suddenly the sky itself rippled open into a terrible vortex! It was a swirling kaleidoscopic tunnel reaching into infinity from some other dimension. Fangs, bones, flames of Hellfire, glowing texts in an unknown language that revealed secrets unfathomable, hideous demonic faces with burning eyes staring through me, all rotating and ever changing before my dumbfounded self. I felt waves of new power crashing down on me, penetrating deep into my bones! My chest heavy with this power, I felt like I could become anything, do anything! A burning orange light rose out of me like a red-hot ball of iron. I knew this was my soul ascending towards the vortex. Out of the whirlwind appeared a terrible black claw with a singular reptilian eye. It was slowly coming down to snatch up my soul like the prize in an arcade claw machine. Then to my complete disappointment, the trance was broken with the sound of my name, which clashed and roared like thunder! “Gaia” appeared behind me, radiantly, standing next to our Apollo, to intervene and save my soul from being taken away.
The empty silence of the woods surrounded me again, and the vortex was gone, leaving only the countless stars sparkling down on us. I was equally grateful for their concern as I was desperate to go back into that trance. I appreciate my friends’ intervention, I know they meant well. But who knows what could have become of me had I not been interrupted. Twenty-four hours later I can still feel that power dwelling in me, so perhaps something was given to me after all?
The night continued, the trip was the most visually intense experience I have ever had. We eventually returned to our camp to rest by the fire, but the visions just would not stop. The group’s mad ravings and fits of laughter and wailing continued through the whole night. Ever restless, we broke into smaller groups here and there to explore the more familiar parts of our woods, rapidly exchanging our disjointed thoughts, sharing our visionary experiences, and gazing out at constellations and wishing on shooting stars. Sleep would not come to us till just before the dawn.
Was my encounter with Satan real? On a psychological level I may rationalize the experience in terms of brain chemistry and the power of suggestion. But on a spiritual level, I know my soul was touched that night, and had that infernal transaction been completed, I can’t say what would have happened to me. The experiences that night were real enough that we will be forever changed.
Alas Halloween has ended, and all the gatherings, merrymaking and parties are now already fading into memory. The many rituals, both the intimate and the grand, have left their mark on my spirit. Many lessons have been learned this Samhain, and yet I have only had the slightest peek behind that mysterious Veil. Still during this the darker half of the year, our sense of wonder may ever thrive. My personal studies in magic and witchcraft continue on. There is much more to be written in the Book of Faustus.
From the mailbox:
Lucian writes: “How do I join and become one of you all?”
Well Lucian, thank you for your question. The ‘Devil’s Path’ is broad and wide, and there is room enough for everyone to either follow in the footsteps of others, or to make their own way. It is a pathway of personal discernment. Begin first by spending time in the hedges and edges of society, nature and the world. That is where the silent voice of ‘Satan’ can be heard. It is the voice of dark allure that summons each person to explore their inner self, and realize your own godlike nature.
While you are determining your own path in magic, in devilry, in wherever your own passions lie, seek out the others. The internet is the great mind of humanity, always thinking and communicating to itself. Use that to your constant advantage. But in other words, YOU DO IT YOURSELF.
I do not speak for or represent any group but myself, but there is a great essay written by Magus Peter H. Gilmore, High Priest of the Church of Satan, called The Myth of the ‘Satanic Community’ and other Virtual Delusions, which is a great place to start.
“Satanism is a very unique philosophy, which has spawned an even more unusual movement and an organization, the Church of Satan, which has found a means for facilitating the interaction of a membership comprised of radical individualists. It is, in an apparent paradox that is a ‘third-side synthesis,’ an organization for ‘non-joiners’ Satanists by nature follow their own tastes; they have very uniquely personal systems of values… … Satanism is about centering the world on yourself, meaning knowing yourself as fully as possible…”
By following your own path, study, practice and perfecting your own self, and by putting your best work out there in the world, you will find the others who are like-minded. That is partly why this website exists for ME. It is connecting me and my work to people who are interested in these topics, and adding my own voice to the conversation. Believe me, I WISH there was some secret society whose door I could knock on to learn the secrets of witchcraft and sign my soul away in the Devil’s Book. Nothing comes to us for free. You must put in your own work, and build the community in your own image.
If you are looking for a place to start, take a peek at the books I’ve been reading on the sidebar, and you can also see my entire reading history for the past 5 years or so. I especially recommend Liber Null & Psychonaut , Modern Magick: Twelve Lessons in the High Magickal Arts, or The Tree of Life: An Illustrated Study in Magic to start with.
Happy Hallowe’en! For visiting today, I give you this blessing.
Tonight with the setting of the Sun, may all thy troubles be undone.
And may the stars in sweet repose, shine light upon all sorrow and woe.
When the waning moon does appear, so shall the waning of thy tears.
The spirits who in darkness dwell, grant thee the power of this spell:
“A year of good fortune, happiness, joy.
May all thy works and charms employ
The very best of all thy skills,
And ‘ere the perfection of thy Will.”
So be it!
Credit: Austin Pardun
Just a quick update. You may have heard of the hex going on tomorrow at Catland, Brooklyn, to hex Brett Kavanaugh. This is equally as important as the binding of Trump. I will be hosting a Black Mass of Destruction that night as well. All your hate, vitriol, bile and wrath for him is welcome. Feel free to send it my way or theirs on 10/20.
For the past six years I’ve been attending an annual Grand Sabbat with the local pagan gathering at the time of Samhain. It has become a cherished tradition with me and my friends. Unfortunately for us, each year the attendance seems to basically fall by around 50%. I won’t name them here but sadly I realized this year that it is a group of pagans in decline. Each year not only has the attendance dwindled, but the quality and size of the group ritual has gone downhill every time.
This year I brought seven of my friends (who were all dressed to the Nines in their witchy attire, ugh such queens!) to the Sabbat, and we were approached like total outsiders (which I guess we were since this is a tight-knit “community”). One very nice Druid welcomed us and recognized me, but there were just so many people with absolutely no social skills whatever. We were basically threatened with violence by this crone who ended up being the High Priestess that night, just for sitting somewhere she didn’t want us. And the thing is…I sense this socially awkward vibe at every pagan group I’ve attended from the cypress domes of the Everglades to the high-towered streets of Manhattan. And I get it. I get it. Modern day paganism represents a separation from mainstream culture, so there are many rebels and free spirits among the meadows. My hope is that this is just part of American neuroticism, you know? Maybe these people are the gatekeepers of their particular “nerd culture”, and so they react to an outsider with cringe-worthy antics lacking all social grace. I suspect that the internal society of pagan practitioners, so liberal in their embrace of the weird and outré, have a hard time saying “No” to their neighbors or correcting each other fraternally when there are faux pas afoot. Like I said though, this is an outsider’s perspective.
Which brings me to my second point. This “Grand Sabbat” was the smallest I had ever seen. It was also as socially awkward as the rest of the evening. Three years ago at this same event, 100 of us were entranced in a spiral dance around the great fire, whizzing with the beating of drums and flutes into a frenzy under the stars and planets, in a wide open meadow encircled with the glow of torchlight. Six years ago, we processed down a hill to the gathering place where we lifted the Veil and burned the effigy of a fallen warrior, then shared food and drink with the spirits of our ancestors. This year it was like drinking flat market-brand room temperature soda. So disappointing.
Human beings are built for ritual. Ritual is so deeply entrenched in our species that it predates civilization, even language itself! When we participate in group rituals, especially one such as this which is Nature-oriented, we need to let go of our inhibitions and join Her. It should be a communal and mystical experience. Ritual should lift our spirits to higher awareness and dissolve our egos. That is why I never half-ass any ritual. I go full in with the smells, the bells, the thunder of drums and the clashing cymbals, the harp and flute, the light and the darkness all mingling together. And most of all, I pour my goddamn heart and soul into the work I am doing because I BELIEVE what I am doing has merit.
That’s why I will no longer be attending the Grand Sabbat at this grove. Next year we will have a more intimate gathering on our own, and we will leave the ritual space changed and energized.