“The dark side”

800px-Night_trees_forestWhile I am best known as one of the forefathers of the Vanatru movement and one of the leading resources on the Vanir and Vanatru… the Vanir are not the sole entities in my life.  I am also a demonolater; my patron is Asmodai, the demon of wrath.  The entity most important to me is one I refer to as D (a lore demon who I’m not allowed to publicly identify).

This has surprised people.  “You don’t look like a Satanist!” 1. I’m not a Satanist.  2. What does a Satanist look like?  They don’t all have bald heads and goatees and wear all black all the time.  “But you seem like such a nice person!”  I am not required to be a clone of my patron.  My favorite reaction, though, is “But… demons are dark!  And evil!  And scary!”

Yes, I’m a walking Jack Chick tract – I listened to rock music, I started playing D&D, I started practicing witchcraft, I started practicing homosexuality… and now I work with demons.  (And for bonus points, I’m in a homosexual relationship with a demon!)

Coupled with that, sometimes, is “Aren’t you a bit old to try to be cool?”

…I’m almost 35 years old.  While I will be a Doc Martens wearing, pierced, unnatural-hair-colored punk when I’m an old man, I also am well past the “2edgy4u” phase of my youth.  I didn’t get into working with demons to be hardcore or because it sounded rebellious.  In fact, I was pretty resistant to “the demon thing”, initially.  Lucifer walked into my life in 2012, and then in late 2013-early 2014 my life turned into that scene from The Hobbit where dwarves show up at Bilbo’s house and suddenly there’s more and suddenly there’s more and then you have a houseful of dwarves eating your food and treating your stuff like their stuff and you’re wondering “how did this happen.”… but with demons instead of dwarves.  That’s mostly calmed down – I deal with exactly four demons at this point (and two more than the others), and that’s unlikely to change.  But after years of having been pretty much exclusive to the Vanir, it was a shakeup for me to throw in some demons with it, especially when the Vanir are known as “gods of peace” (which is not really accurate) and here’s the demon of wrath wanting to take me under his wing because I’m “a fighter”.

I see demons (or at least the ones under Lucifer’s government) as a pantheon.  They are in my experience and that of many others, god-level entities in terms of their power and agency in this world.  They are neither good nor evil… they just are.  Just like any other pantheon is.  If you look at demonology, there are lots of demons and they are known for lots of different things.  Demons are not all alike, just like gods in a pantheon have different domains and spheres of influence – Asmodai is not Purson is not Vassago is not Belphegor is not Rofocale is not Belial is not Astaroth.  Some demons are actively helpful towards humanity; some demons are helpful at a price.  Some demons are harmful; some demons are agents of decay and destruction to keep creative forces in check (overgrowth can be a sort of cancer) or to allow creation to happen and go to even greater places.  In the case of my patron Asmodai, he is an agent of retribution.  He is the pillar of severity, necessarily harsh.

The infernal pantheon tends to get seen as “the dark side”, and perhaps not unfairly so… but day needs night.  The other side of the Tree of Life is the Tree of Death.  The Vanir encouraged me to work with demons to help me to become more balanced, for the Vanir maintain the life cycles of the world and the “darkness” of the demons I work with is a part of that cycle, just as much as Frey’s sunshine and Njord’s calm sea, Freya’s fire of passion.

And indeed, as a disabled person… as a queer trans disabled person, I am very familiar with “the dark side” of life.  I am no stranger to wrath myself, experiencing intersectionality and hardship, a world that isn’t fair… isn’t just.  For a long time, as a pagan, I felt like it was wrong to be angry, wrong to express “negativity”, and I had to be love and light.  This did a lot of harm to me.  I’m not saying that it’s inherently wrong to focus on the bright side of life and to focus on the positive – not at all, I still try to keep an attitude of gratitude myself – but it is not the way that everyone can be.  One of the most important things that Asmodai has taught me is that anger is a gift.  Anger can be a catalyzing force, a motivation for change.  It is the mother of revolution.  When things need to be shaken up, gentleness will not always do it.  Anger is also not the same thing as hatred.  Indeed, hate (and hateful attitudes like bigotry) is often more born of fear than anger… but that’s a topic for another time, maybe.

In my spiritual journey, I ascend the Tree of Life… but as someone with physical and mental health challenges, I am intimately acquainted with the Tree of Death, because I live it every day.  And I have learned things from Concealment, Decay, Confusion, Desolation.  I have perhaps learned more from the dark than I have from the light, because in the dark, I had to adapt my other senses to survive.  A lot of people walk their spiritual path where they can see clearly, and get very clear results.  With the chronic challenges I have, I can’t say things like “I am prosperous, therefore I am blessed” (though I do believe I have received material blessings before), “the world is good, life is good, the gods are good”.  I have to hunt a bit more to see the fruit on my Tree, and its soil has been fed with blood, sweat, and tears.

But it is still a Tree.  It still stands, through everything.

Working with “dark” entities like demons… my life has been dark, the world has dark places.  Asmodai, in his wrath, his severity, has helped me to become a stronger person… to claim that within myself, and stop being a doormat.  I have gained more from my relationship with him than I have from working with entities who are more known for positive things.

Nature itself has flora and fauna that are nocturnal, rather than diurnal. Some people will find that they work better with “dark” entities, harsh gods… that’s their alignment.  It doesn’t mean they’re “wallowing in negativity”, it doesn’t mean that they’re “working with evil forces”.  It means that they accept reality… that nature is dark as well as light, dangerous as well as serene, red in tooth and claw as well as green in bud and leaf.  The “dark” Powers I deal with help me to better navigate the darkness of my life… most notably Asmodai, shoving me along when I need it, not allowing me to let the bastards win; D has teeth as well, and has taught me to use mine when needed.

This post is not meant to try to convince anyone to work with demons, because I don’t proselytize, but merely to explain why someone would go in that direction if they weren’t doing it to be “edgy” and “cool”.  This is my reason.

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About Nornoriel Lokason

Nornoriel Lokason is an author, artist, astrologer, and Reiki Master living in New Haven, Connecticut. He has been a pagan and occultist for over twenty years; he is one of the forefathers of the Vanatru movement (writing under the name Svartesol from 2007-2010), and has a Vanatru-specific blog, Roads to Vanaheim at PaganSquare. His main blog is The Serpent’s Labyrinth at WordPress, wherein he blogs about life with spirits and assorted topics. In addition to his work with the Vanir, Nono is a dedicant of Asmodai and lives with a demon companion. He has an Etsy shop showcasing handmade jewelry as well as offering spiritual services to the community. His official website can be found at http://www.nornoriellokason.com with a list of forthcoming projects, events he’ll be attending, and so forth.