I came across this blog post the other day, and I’ve been meaning to write about it. The author writes his own blog, writes for Patheos, and does a good amount of YouTube vlogging. I especially enjoyed his video in which he interviewed his mother about her feelings of having a son who practices witchcraft. Both he and his mom seem to be very pleasant people.
The post is about witches working with “the devil.” His contention is that there is a growing trend in the witchcraft community to cease efforts to have witchcraft be seen as “socially acceptable,” which has encouraged more witches to experiment with practices that are, or have been considered, “taboo,” while seeking “historically authentic” witchcraft practices. Folklore, and whatever written history of witchcraft exists, is rife the witches interaction with the devil.
Reading the article, you find that the author is absolutely not talking about Satanism. He describes what he believes constitutes the devil, a collective representation of old Pagan gods and goddesses who have been largely demonized by Christianity.
We all seem to need to put a human face to our deities, and I’m not much of an exception. The deities I find representative of “the devil” are Lucifer and Lilith. While many people see them as individual deities on their own, I see them as collective representations of deities that many people identify as “darker deities.” The thing is, I’ve found that the darker a deity is perceived, the more that deity represents independence, free thought, individualism, open sexuality, and the lessening of societal norms. If that sounds a lot like a left-hand path, I guess it probably is just that. I think that generally, most witches lean toward that path, because we don’t generally like to follow, we like to lead.
Because of the push to normalize witchcraft, and make it more palatable to the general public, we have indeed sanitized it. Instead of a wild path, it has been portrayed as “witches are just like you.” Well, no, but oh how people have tried. At times, it seems like witchcraft, and yes, Wicca is often blamed for this, to be Christianity with different/more gods.
That perception is the fuel that fires more and more witches to seek out more “authentic” witchcraft practices. I’ve noticed a heightened awareness and interest in working with herbs, essential oils, and low witchcraft practice. Formal ritual practice seems to be giving way to everyday witchcraft, such as cottage, green, and kitchen Craft. However, there also seems to be an uptick in witches working the “hedge,” making spirits a bigger part of their practice. This is more ritualistic than the aforementioned Craft paths, but relies less on having to have lots of tools and rules. Rather, trance work and meditation are employed.
While I haven’t really identified my dark deities as the devil, I suppose they are similar to what the author is describing. These deities promote the wildness of the path, the enjoyment of breaking societal norms, practicing a more adventurous sexuality, getting down and dirty with the earth, and with the locality of our place on the earth.
There is, no doubt a darker side to these deities. They push us to embrace the darker aspects of our soul. For me, they force me to face my depression, to look at it, dismantle it, examine it, and even embrace it. These are not deities like Jesus, who encourage you to toe the line in order for a prize at the end of your life. These are deities who want you to take life by the tail, and work the hell out of it in the here and now. That is the prize they offer.
I will be honest with you. Although I was drawn to the likes of Lucifer and Lilith within a few years after I began practicing witchcraft, I was hesitant, and even frightened of working with them. Like most people, I was so accustomed to seeing Hollywood’s representation of a dark deities, doing horrific things. Eventually, I realized that Hollywood was simply playing off the teachings of Christianity, which created a demonic presence, one so horrific, that the flock would do anything the church said to keep from encountering such a beast.
The devil that the author wrote about in his post, and the deities that appeal to me, aren’t that malevolent beast, not the Christian Satan. Rather, they are deities who offer independence, deities who show the fruits of the earth and life, while making you look inward, sometimes to the darker aspects of your own life, for your own benefit.
Are these deities, or this devil real or simply archetypes? That’s for each person to decide for themselves.