devil

Witch & Popcorn

November, 2018

Just in time for Halloween and the love of all thinks spooky, Netflix released a dazzling supernatural horror from Spain called Errementari: The Blacksmith and the Devil. Watch the trailer here at this link below:

While the film is a very good watch, beyond that, it’s based on an old folktale, which in one form or another, has been around for thousands of years. The story is told many ways, but basically, a cunning Blacksmith is screwed over by the devil upon making a pact- and the Blacksmith figures out how to stick it to the old devil, and get out of the pact.

Set in 1800’s Basque region of Spain, the tale unfolds about the mysterious Blacksmith named Patxi. The village folk speak horrors about him, telling their children stories about him as if he’s a child eating boogie man. He doesn’t do much to dispel these rumors, as he has his property barricaded off, and he attacks anybody who comes near. The townsfolk say the devil lives there.

But the story is deeper than that. He had struck a deal with the devil to get home to see his wife during the war, only to discover things were not as they left them. Heart wrenching tragedy follows, and despite the fact the devil was dishonest on his end of the bargain, he sends a demon to collect Patxi’s soul.

Hilariously, the demon is no match for the bitter blacksmith, and all hell breaks loose both on earth, and later IN hell, as the mighty blacksmith seeks revenge and justice from the devil, himself.

This is one of the best made modern takes on an ancient tale I’ve seen in quite a while. Everything about this is a feast for the senses. The grisly, grimy Blacksmith’s squalid home is a stark contrast from the splendor of hell. The morbidly shabby hutlike shacks the townsfolk live in are offset by the magnificence of the forest. The children are filthy, skinny, and bruised and bloodied. In contrast to this, the beautifully animalistic demon is a yummy shade of licorice red, and covered in glitter! Crippling age is offset with youthful innocence. The use of severe extremes and striking contrasts provide extra shock, and communicate the level of misery the characters in the film are crushed under.

Beyond all of this, the film communicates the ignorance of uneducated society, and how bored small-minded people demonize the innocent. The old Pagan superstitions and Christian extremism combine with this ignorance to create a town of people easily controlled by the denizens of hell, and the voice of the so-called saving god is unheard.

A lesson is taught in this film through the fatal mistakes of Patxi. He was judged as a horrible human being, but he was actually a beautiful soul whose momentary lapse in judgement lead to the one event that he never forgave himself for. The village folk took this a step further and branded him untouchable for life. In the end, he is the only person from his town who has the strength to protect life.

Another lesson is one that Pagans speak of quite often. We reject the concept of beings that are all good or all evil. The demon sent to collect Patxi’s soul winds up defying hell and helping to save the day. Many of my Pagan kin say one man’s angel is another’s demon, and even demons can do things that help people.

I won’t add any more spoilers. Watch it for yourself. You don’t want to miss this wonderful film.

Happy viewing!

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About the Author:

Saoirse is a recovered Catholic.  I was called to the Old Ways at age 11, but I thought I was just fascinated with folklore. At age 19, I was called again, but I thought I was just a history buff, and could not explain the soul yearnings I got when I saw images of the Standing Stones in the Motherland. At age 29, I crossed over into New Age studies, and finally Wicca a couple years later. My name is Saoirse, pronounced like (Sare) and (Shah) Gaelic for freedom. The gods I serve are Odin and Nerthus. I speak with Freyja , Norder, and Thunor as well. The Bawon has been with me since I was a small child, and Rangda has been with me since the days I was still Catholic. I received my 0 and 1 Degree in an Eclectic Wiccan tradition, and my Elder is Lord Shadow. We practice in Columbus, Ohio. I am currently focusing more on my personal growth, and working towards a Second and Third Degree with Shadow. I received a writing degree from Otterbein University back in 2000. I have written arts columns for the s Council in Westerville. I give private tarot readings and can be reached through my Facebook page Tarot with Saoirse. You can, also, join me on my Youtube Channel.

Tarot Talk

February, 2015

This month, we will return to the Major Arcana, and talk about The Devil.  Let’s take a moment to review some general information about the Major Arcana.

 

There are 22 Major Arcana cards in a Tarot deck, with numbers from 0 to 21; the Majors usually deal with broader and more far-reaching life experience issues, archetypes that are easy for us to identify with and connect with at some point in our lives.

 

An archetype (pronounced “ark eh type”) is a generic, idealized model of a person, an object, or a concept which can be copied, patterned, or imitated.  In psychology, an archetype is a model of a person, a personality, or a behavior.  In the analysis of personality, the term archetype often refers to one of two concepts,  a “stereotype” (in other words, a personality type observed multiple times, especially an oversimplification of a personality type; stereotypes can be positive or negative), and an “epitome” (which is the embodiment of a particular personality type, especially as the “greatest” or “best” example of the particular personality type; epitomes can also be positive or negative).

 

So basically, archetypes present personality traits that are common enough to be known by us all, through images (rather than words) that contain symbolism that connects with our subconscious in a universal manner.  Each of us can understand the symbolism of archetypes and connect with that symbolism because each of us has (or will) personally experienced these archetypes.

 

Each Major Arcana card corresponds to a number, an archetype, an element, an astrological sign or planet, a Hebrew letter, and a Path on the Tree of Life joining two Sephiroth.  Let’s start breaking this one down; we’ve got a lot of work to do!

 

While many archetypes represent people in our lives, such as Mother, Father or Priest, some archetypes represent energies or effects, such as Destiny, Justice or Fate. The Devil, the number 15 card of the Major Arcana, represents the archetype of the Libido and Psychic Energy.  Yes, The Devil is often connected to sex, but actually he is more about our struggles with all of our physical world drives and needs, not just sexual needs.  Humans are born with a basic need to grow and learn, and we are also born with a resistance to change and a fear of the unknown.  In the best of situations the growth and resistance balance each other out, but that does not always happen. The Devil is the representation or metaphor for all of those forces both within us and outside of us that strive to derail us from growing and learning, and encourage us to give in to inertia and the distractions of physical-world pleasures.

 

We are civilized creatures, we modern humans, and the codes of ethics and conduct we impose upon ourselves as we grow up and take our place in our communities end up leaving a part of our “self” unmanifested and unexperienced, that part of us that is the opposite of those civilizing codes of ethics and conduct.  We call this part of ourselves our Shadow Self, and The Devil is the Adversary, the Tarot’s symbol for this uncivilized part of each of us that gets tamed and repressed as we grow up, but is still alive and well in the darkness.

 

The traditional image on The Devil is of a horned creature, sometimes with cloven hooves and the legs of a goat or the wings of a bat.  Often The Devil is seated on a throne, and he may be gesturing in a manner similar to the image on The Hierophant; indeed he can be seen as a perversion of the traditions and faith and striving for the highest good of the group that is The Hierophant.  Often there are a man and a woman standing at the feet of The Devil, usually bound by ropes or chains to The Devil’s throne and sometimes surrounded by flames.  Often the image contains a reversed pentagram, symbolizing the glorification of the passions of Fire and bodily pleasures of Earth over the higher good of Spirit.  However, there are interesting and informative variations to the traditional image to be found.

 

The Legacy of the Divine Devil is handsome; he tells very adequately about the seductive allure of superficial beauty and attractiveness.  We have all felt this lure; who hasn’t wished for a better body or a better pick-up line?  The Llewellyn Welsh Devil is called The Horned One, and is more is more about life in its natural state, without the interference of technology and society.  The Horned One is about primal instincts and ancestral memories and the natural world as well as the pleasure of the senses, without the pain, suffering and bondage seen in the more traditional images.  The Shadowscapes Devil appears to be more Trickster than Demon, and is not as obviously frightening; only after deeper examination do we see the talons on the hands that are seeming to protect the heart in his control.  The bound person trapped below the Shadowscapes Devil has her eyes closed and her arms over her head; if she would only look around, she would realize how fragile the chain that binds her actually is, and how easy it would be for her to escape.

 

The Devil is numbered 15, representing personal magnetism, a material focus, and the manifestation of magick.  In numerology, the number 15 reduces to the number 6, which is about balance, polarity, and the energy of “distance between.”  In order to achieve balance, we must experience polarity, and experience that connecting “tension” between the extremes.  The number 6 card of the Major Arcana is The Lovers; The Devil, which can bring fear and isolation, is the polar opposite of The Lovers, which brings love and connectedness.

 

The Devil corresponds with the element of Earth, cold and binding energies that dry and shape the world.  Earth energies are stable, material, practical energies that are slow to change; Earth is about the actual physical outcome or material manifestation of our efforts.  This element represents everything from the physical world including Nature and fertility, and wealth, resources, and physical pleasure and well-being.  It can represent diligence and an interest in quality rather than quantity just as easily as it can represent greed and avarice and cruelty.  The energies of Earth can be true to personal convictions or they can stubbornly resist compromise; they can encourage us to be detail-oriented, or they can encourage us to be inflexible and compulsive.  And of course, the element of Earth is about our physical bodies and our senses, and all the pleasures we can get from them.

 

In astrology, The Devil corresponds with Capricorn.  Capricorn, the tenth sign of the zodiac, is a Cardinal Earth sign, ruled by Saturn.  Capricorn people are stable, hard-working, practical, methodical, and ambitious, never losing sight of goals regardless of how many obstacles or distractions are in the way.  Capricorn people are a bit stoic and rigid, and they will stick to their beliefs despite convincing evidence to the contrary.  More than anything else they enjoy power, respect, and authority, and they are willing to toe the line for as long as it takes to achieve those goals.  The Capricorn personality is one that is firmly grounded in reality; here is the voice of reason in a chaotic world.  A Capricorn person may seem unfriendly, arrogant, or without humor, but remember the image of this astrological sign has a fish’s tail.  The emotions are there, just hidden within that inhibited exterior.  As far as material wealth is concerned, Capricorn approaches finances with prudence, planning and discipline, and thus, there are not many Capricorns who are lacking in physical-world resources.

 

In the Hebrew alphabet, each letter is connected to the creative forces in the universe. They express themselves on three levels: one level is archetypical and runs from the first to the ninth letter; the second level is one of manifestation and runs from the tenth to the eighteenth letter, and the third is a cosmic level and runs from the nineteenth to the twenty-second letter. The Devil corresponds with the Hebrew letter Ayin, the 16th letter in the Hebrew alphabet, a letter of manifestation; this letter corresponds with the eye (and all of our physical senses), as well as knowledge and the expression of character.

 

On the Tree of Life, The Devil represents Path 26, running between Hod, the lower end of the Pillar of Form (which provides analysis and communication) and Tiphareth, the hub of the tree just below Da’ath (the hub of the creation process where energies harmonize and focus to illuminate and clarify).  Hod represents instinct, logical analysis, and knowledge without wisdom or the influence of ethics, and Tiphareth reminds us that that who we are is more important than what we do.  Here once again we see hints of the polarity we need to experience in order to achieve balance.

 

That is a heck of a lot of information!  Let’s sum up what we have found.  The Devil is the archetype of all those primal and selfish traits that we attempt to tame as we grow up and take our place in a functioning community; these traits may be successfully repressed, but they don’t go away.  The number 15 has a material focus, and it can represent charisma and the ability to effectively use magick.  Capricorn also has a material focus; it is a Cardinal Earth sign, and it is ruled by Saturn, the planet of form and restriction.  Those are not necessarily bad things on their own, but it seems as if we are building a perfect storm here; let’s continue.  The element of Earth seems to play a big role here.  This element is connected to the physical world, and to what we need as physical beings to be healthy and happy.  The Hebrew letter Ayin, a letter of manifestation, represents our senses, our knowledge, and the expressions of our character.  The 26th Path on the Tree of Life, one of three that connect an outer Pillar to Tiphareth, presents a Dark Night of the Soul; difficult lessons to be learned.

 

So, The Devil tells of being caught up in the physical world and the effects of the physical senses, often to the point of being bound or addicted to those things.  On the other hand, The Devil is often the convenient scapegoat blamed for any excesses of the physical world.  After all, enjoyment of the physical world is somehow seen by many as a denial of or estrangement from God, and how nice it is to have The Devil around to blame for our own weaknesses. The Devil can tell of being chained to material goods, or being chained to your fear; it can represent being in bondage to negative thought patterns or habits or relationships or situations.  The Devil can tell us we are having issues with control (too much or too little), or that we are allowing ourselves to be controlled.  The Devil could represent believing in and valuing only the physical world, choosing to stay in the dark, or being too serious about life.

 

If The Devil is reversed, it could very well be indicating some kind of weakness that encourages the negative sides of this card.  A reversed Devil could also indicate that blocks and addictions are weakened enough to be released, or that we are ready to confront our negative reality and break free from its bondage.

 

In the end, The Devil is not necessarily an evil card.  Instead of fearing him, when The Devil shows up, we should look at our lives and make sure we are not allowing ourselves to stagnate in an unhealthy situation.  Acknowledge the Shadow, and strive for balance, and The Devil will end up as harmless eye candy.

Musings of a Massachusetts Witch

September, 2013

Wiccan and Satanism

 

When confronted by individuals who misunderstand Wicca and boldly state that it is a form of or is Satanism, I believe it is important to educate them on what Wicca IS as opposed to what Wicca IS NOT. Yes, I would state that Wicca is not Satanism and that the two spiritual paths are different but I believe that it is important to do so without degrading Satanism in the process.

 

I’ve heard individuals who identify as Wiccan say, “Wicca is not Satanism. We do not worship The Devil and don’t believe in Hell. Why would you assume we do?

 

And I’ve read statements such as:

 

Wiccan is not Satanism. Wiccans do not acknowledge the existence of Satan or God for that matter. To be a Wicca, the concept of a singular supremely evil being responsible for the damnation of man’s eternal soul is ridiculous.”

 

At first one might think that these statements are appropriate and acceptable but what are these statements saying about Satanist? And is this information accurate? How much do these individuals know about what Satanism is and what it is not? And do they even know enough about the origins of Wicca do make such statements?

 

Yes, it is true that Wiccans are not “devil worshipers” but are Satanist? If you believe that Satanists are “devil worshipers” why do you believe this? Are you making judgments based on a name or did you do research into what Satanists believe? Is this the same type of judgment that you are passing on Satanists that you, as a Wiccan or Witch, despise?

 

It may surprise you to discover that the majority of Satanists do not worship a deity known as Satan or The Devil nor do they acknowledge the existence of such an entity. The concept of a singular supremely evil being responsible for the damnation of man’s eternal soul is not something most Satanist believe in and … guess what? They also don’t believe in Hell. They view Satan not as an entity as Christianity does but instead as a driving force or energy. Satan represents: indulgence, vital existence, unified wisdom, kindness (to those who deserve it), vengeance and man.

 

And I am sure it would surprise you that Satanist and Wiccans believe in a lot of the same things … personal responsibility, respect for others and the power of magick. I believe that where we differ is our reaction to particular situations. As I studied the beliefs of Satanism I have seen that while the religion is a Left Hand Path, a belief system that is concerned with the advancement and preservation of the self, Christianity is a Right Hand Path, which holds beliefs in elevating spirituality and worshiping deity, and Wicca … well, I view Wicca as a Crooked Path. We embrace the ideals of self-actualization and self-deification, as well as the altruistic ideals of the Right Hand Path. We walk the path between the two, sharing beliefs and ideals of both – A balance, I would say with a smile.

So for me, understanding the path of Wicca and having some knowledge of Satanism, it bothers me when I read or hear fellow brothers and sisters of Wicca eagerly throw Satanists under the bus when they are being ‘accused’ of being Satanists because they fear that they are being associated with people that others have a distaste for. As I began, I agree it is important to educate others about Wicca but I would stick to discussing what Wicca IS as opposed to what Wicca IS NOT.