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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in the devil

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

The cow is sick.

The baby is sick.

Your man has run off with another woman.

If the stories tell true, these are the times when the Devil would come and say: Come with me, join us.

And you would join.

There's no time when it's good to be poor, but early modern Europe was as bad as any. In a time without social safety nets, lacking kin, in times of need there was only the cold charity of the priests, and, later, the kirk. Under such circumstances, the death of a cow could spell ruin.

So let us say that the “Devil” was indeed (as they say) the local “cult leader,” the Man-in-Black, him that wore the Horns on the old fire-days.

Let us say that what he was offering you, in your time of need, was membership in a society of mutual aid beyond the kin-group.

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Grains, Spirits, and the Spurtle

It started when I was having trouble buying grains -- rice, flour, oats, you name it -- due to the quarantine panic. I looked in the pantry and realized that we had somehow previously amassed 10 lbs of grits along with 5 lbs of cornmeal -- plenty to get us through a temporary grain shortage. I was relieved, and my gratitude made me think of my ancestors and their reliance on grains, and of the ancestors of peoples around the world who did the same. Grains are sacred everywhere, although the specific grains will differ according to location.

 

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    It's my understanding that cherry wood is toxic containing cyanide. Your land spirits are looking after you to have left the mapl
  • The Cunning Wife
    The Cunning Wife says #
    Cherry wood does contain traces of cyanide -- definitely not good to eat (unlike the fruits)! Because the wood contains such a sma

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Wert

“Our Mother, who art in Heaven....”

(Our Mother in Heaven: that would be the Moon, right?)

Och, gods help me: if I never see another pagan rewrite of the Our Father again, it will still be way too soon.

I understand, I understand. We're pagans; so much of our lore has been lost down the centuries that we're hungry, hungry. Cooking up something from scratch is hard; it's easier if you have a recipe to tweak.

Well, I have no problems with “reclaiming” material per se: certainly I've done my share of it down the years. (Most wassailing songs, for instance, reclaim very nicely, thank you very much.) It does seem to me that there's a certain etiquette involved in the process, though. (These things must be done delicately, or you hurt the spell.) You have no right to borrow something unless you can rightfully claim to have improved it.

So much for Mater Nostra.

What Protestants call the “Lord's Prayer” has its own integrity. For one thing, it sticks to basics, unlike virtually all of the bad pagan rewrites that I've seen. In America, where most of us take the basics for granted—and shame be upon us for it—we're left with nothing to pray for but intangibles like enlightenment and spiritual advancement.

As my grandmother used to say: Feh.

The last Our Mother that came my way (I think it began: “Our Mother and Father...”) was sent around—this was back in the days of on-line lists—by the moderator of the list. I'm not sure whether he intended it as a serious attempt at creating pagan liturgy (“Blessed be: welcome to the Pagan Irony-Free Zone”), or if he was just trying to stir up controversy. Either way, the results did not impress.

Besides, I'm a votary of the Horned. Witches don't need a new version of the Our Father; we've already got our own.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
In Praise of 'Rosemary's Baby'

"Anything they say about us becomes ours, to do with as we please."

(C. F. Moore)

 

If (like me) you're one of those who has read pretty much everything that there is to read on the subject of witches, let me ask you: what do you think of J. R. Hanslet's 1933 All of Them Witches?

Isn't it a classic? Beautiful writing, good research, and—best of all—all that hot, hot information on what the Craft looked and felt like back BW (Before Wicca).

If you've got a copy (that beautifully-crafted J. Waghorn edition, with the real gold lettering and the black goatskin binding), hold onto it. It's never been reprinted, and (if you can find one), it will go for more than $1300.

Ha! Gotcha! If you think that you've read Hanslet's magnum opus, apparently you're one of those witches (gods know there are plenty of us out there) who can't admit that there's anything Craft-related that she doesn't know. Call it the Granny Weatherwax Syndrome.

In fact, you can't have read J. R. Hanslet's All of Them Witches because there is no such book. It's straight out of Ira Levin's brilliant 1967 witchsploitation novel Rosemary's Baby. Remember? It's the book that Hutch leaves to Rosemary that enables her to figure out that her neighbors (the ones who brought over the black candles during the big power outage) are actually witches and are planning to sacrifice her baby to Satan.

Or so she thinks.

“It's a religion,” she tells her husband (but it turns out he's a witch too). “It's an early religion that got—pushed into the corner” (177).

Personally, I think Rosemary's Baby is required reading for every modern witch: a little black gem of a novel, beautifully structured, with lots of twists and a delicious hermeneutic of suspicion. Don't trust anyone: they're all of them witches.

And, I mean. When, in the closing scene, Roman Castevet ( Steven Marcato) cries out: “He shall overthrow the mighty and lay waste their temples! He shall redeem the despised and wreak vengeance in the name of the burned and the tortured!” (236). Well, really, how can you help but chime in with a Hail Satan! or two, regardless of whether you actually believe in him or not?

Whenever I'm drawing up a bibliography on the Craft that lists enough books to make it inconspicuous, I almost always slip J. R. Hanslet's All of Them Witches in amongst the others. For those in the know, it'll read as a joke. For those that aren't, well...let 'em wonder. The god of witches—Old Wagtail Himself—is a notorious Trickster, and we, his children, are like him.

Because, best of all, Rosemary's Baby is a true story. That bit about the Horned siring children on mortal women: it's all true. In fact, my dear brother or sister in the Craft, he sired you.

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  • Paul B. Rucker
    Paul B. Rucker says #
    The movie version is also one of the most faithful adaptations of a book to screen that I have ever seen. I love this movie. My mo

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
So You Want to Be a Witch?

So, you want to be a witch, do you?

Well, here's what you do.

Friday night, go up to the old Indian graveyard up top the ridge.

Take off every stitch of clothing and dance, dance for the Devil.

Then get dressed and go back home.

The next Friday, do the same, and the one after that. Nine weeks running, you do this.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Living Deliciously

Wouldst thou live deliciously?

So the Dark Lord* whispers into Tamsin's ear, from behind, at the climax of Robert Egger's 2015 film The VVitch: A New-England Tale.

(Anyone who knows the Master well will recognize that nape-nuzzling whisper from behind.)

Forget all the nonsense about the Devil and temptation. We enter here into the realm of the Animal God.

See Him that we call the Horned as the collective body of animal life on planet Earth.** Embrace Him—embrace Life—and live deliciously.

Or reject Him and what He has to offer, and endure a joyless existence of crabbed misery.

“Buddha” was wrong. Yes, life is full of suffering, but there's joy, too. Embrace the Horned, embrace the life which as animals, is our inheritance by right. Embrace bodily existence, for all it's worth.

This is the gift of the Horned, lord of this world: the gift of a god.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
For 'Devil' Read: 'Horned One'

Take any proverb with the word “devil” in it.

Substitute “Horned One.”

See what you get.

***

Needs must, when the Horned One drives.

Echoes of the Wild Hunt, here. That's Him all right: driving us to action (or at least flight). Why do you think the Scourge is His symbol?

Between the Horned One and the deep blue Sea.

Oof. Choose between the Lady and the Horned. Meaning: an impossible choice.

When you sup with the Horned One, best bring a long spoon.

This one's old, going back to the days of the common bowl. Back then, everyone carried his own spoon. Since the Horned One feeds everyone from his cauldron, the long spoon would be well-advised. When you're dealing with the powerful, best be well-prepared.

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