Before I begin, I would like to make a statement for the sake of clarity. The following does not reflect the views of my teachers, traditions, or popular theology of paganism or witchcraft. These are merely my own personal experiences and unverified personal gnosis that later I found validity for. In fact, some of these ideas are completely contradictory to the theology of larger witchcraft traditions such as Wicca (which I don’t identify with nor look down on), and could even be seen as “blasphemous” to some. The ideas and experiences should be interpreted to reflect only my experiences and beliefs, not that of anyone or any group that I’m affiliated with or the larger community. Any deities mentioned are not necessarily how the traditions that those deities come from view or work with that deity. So if you choose to burn someone at the stake for this article, I am the only one responsible for it.
When I came back to witchcraft after my years of studying eastern traditions and indigenous traditions, I decided that I was going to meet the Horned God. At the time, of course, I had it ingrained in my head that the god of the witches was Cernunnos. I would petition and pray to Cernunnos to no avail. I would spend hours connecting to nature without any direct experience of him. I would even forage natural items from the forest around me and create a circle with horns to meditate within, so that it resembled the glyph of the Horned God in Wicca (also the sign of Taurus) but nothing.
Didn’t he know that I was seriously trying to connect? Perhaps he wasn’t real. Maybe he was just a psychological construct. Feeling a little discouraged but persistent, I kept this practice up. That’s when I began to wake up in my sleep. In a very liminal state of consciousness, I would arise from my body. I had already been astral projecting for several years now, so this wasn’t too out of the norm. What was out of the norm was this beautiful being in the room with a power about him so palpable, it was on the border of frightening – but his beauty somehow kept him from being terrifying. His skin appeared to be made out of starlight, yet it was a deep rich indigo color. He reminded me a bit of Krishna or Vishnu or Shiva, without any of the cultural markings or clothing. His eyes were a piercing gold. He was androgynous, yet masculine.
“What is your name?” I asked him. A hum filled the room. Getting a bit irritated that he wasn’t responding I asked again, “What is your name?” This time he responded. “The name you need is ‘Loo-mee-el’.” A force began pulling me backwards like a magnet until I found myself back in my body. How fascinating! However, this isn’t what I was looking for. I wanted to connect to Cernunnos, the god of the witches, not this entity. And what the hell was that response? Was he saying that’s his name or something else? I tried looking up Loomeeel online with as many spellings as I could think of, but nothing.
I kept at my petitioning of Cernunnos with no response during the day and then at night I’d either have a visit or a dream of this blue being. I remember one dream in particular he was standing in darkness and peacock feathers began falling down everywhere around him as if it was raining jewel-feathered arrows. Then there was another dream where in a whispering voice he told me, “The secret name of the Light is the same as the secret name of the Christ which is the spark within everyone and within all things, it is the secret name of the sun, and it is called ‘Lucifer’.” As he said this his form started to change and bull horns began to sprout from his head and as they grew they changed into goat horns, then ram horns and then finally stag antlers but then flash back to his original blue-skinned form. I suddenly realized that I had been visited by the Horned God this whole time and didn’t even realize it.
To be honest, this scared me. My whole life reading about Wicca and Witchcraft and Paganism, it was very clear – the Devil does not exist nor have anything to do with those things. Yet, I was having experiences that contradicted it. Of course my deeply rooted programming of indoctrination that I had as a child started to kick in, stuff that I thought I had overcome. I began having thoughts such as, perhaps this is the Devil trying to lead me astray, perhaps it’s all just one giant trick! Needless to say, I stopped trying to connect with the God of the Witches, for a while. While this entity wasn’t threatening in the least, he always had a feeling of familiarity and a lure that felt irresistibly comforting yet tremendously powerful, it was the idea that scared me.
A friend who has been in the Craft much longer than I suggested that I check out some books by Nigel Jackson and Michael Howard that discuss the link between the Devil, Lucifer, Satan and the Pagan Horned God of the Witches. The books that were recommended to me were Call of the Horned Piper, Masks of Misrule: The Horned God & His Cult in Europe, The Pillars of Tubal-Cain and The Book of Fallen Angels. So I decided to check them out and was amazed at what I read. So many puzzle pieces began to fit together. The books explore the pagan roots of witchcraft, looking outside of, but sometimes referencing Gerald Gardner’s Wicca. It looks at ancient paganism, beliefs of early monotheistic religions and the history and belief of early witch cults in Britain, Italy and the Basque region, including the Gospel of Aradia. The book creates a thesis that fills in a lot of gaps in Modern Witchcraft theology and history that is referenced in Modern Witchcraft but never explained in depth.
The Book of Fallen Angels in particular is deeply influenced on (and shares teachings from) Madeline Montalban and discusses Lumiel (the correct spelling of the name I was given). Madeline Montalban was an English ceremonial magician who was friends with huge figures in the occult world such as Aleister Crowley, Gerald Gardner, Alex Sanders and Kenneth Grant. She came into contact with an angel named Lumiel, a benevolent being concerned about the evolution and advancement of humanity. Lumiel later revealed to her that he was also known as Lucifer. The most shocking, yet validating part to me was when I read the following words:
“The Gnostics however did believe in the Luciferian doctrine that ‘everything in this manifest world exists because it carries a spark of life – or light – which emanates from the Divine Light or energy that empowers the universe and all that lies within it.’ They also believed the divine spark had been obscured or lost in the material world and it was the task of the spiritual seeker to find and redeem it. In the Luciferian tradition this divine spark from the forge is represented by Lumiel.”
– Michael Howard
The Book of Fallen Angels
“The Blue God is known by many names: the Peacock Lord, Dian y Glas, Melek Ta’us, Lemba, Eros, the Christos, and Lucifer, to name but a few. He is one of our central Gods, but in some myths he is an angel, while in others his origins as a djinn or faery are subtly revealed. He is a shapeshifter; a trickster, and a great teacher. He is paradox: the highest spirit, but also the most primal and low. He is sexual, as well as spiritual, and is the embodiment of both beauty and darkness.”
– Storm Faerywolf
Feri: American Traditional Witchcraft – Dian Y Glas, The Blue God
As much as people would like to distinguish Lucifer and the Devil, we find in occultism and magick that the more research one does, the more they blend together as two sides of one coin. The Devil being the dark, wild, forbidden aspect of the divine and Lucifer being the illuminating, liberating and enlightening aspect. Though older witches used terms like “the devil” and “lucifer”, it becomes clear when doing research that the Devil spoken of by these witches is not exactly the same as the adversary of the Christian God. However, we do see early witches throughout Europe synchronizing the two together, perhaps from seeing their cultures wiped out, their people killed, raped and tortured – it’s easy to see how some would say, “Yes, our god is the opposite of everything your god is.” The witch’s devil is however not the lord of evil or the master of a realm called Hell as held by monotheistic beliefs.
The Devil, instead, is a figure of initiation, a being at the “crossroads” who reveals paths to other worlds, the magister of the witch’s sabbath. I think Orion Foxwood states it best in his fantastic book The Flame In The Cauldron: A Book of Old-Style Witchery, where he talks about how the use of the term “the Devil” in his craft is not based on the Christian concept of the Devil but rather refers to another entity:
“There is, however, the presence of a spiritual force at the intersection between the worlds of the seen and unseen, sometimes referred to as the devil-at-the-crossroads, which shows up in many traditions, including the one I learned from the Brentwood Essex witches.”
– Orion Foxwood
The Flame In The Cauldron: A Book of Old-Style Witchery
The description for Gemma Gary’s book, The Devil’s Dozen, which is another fantastic book, does a great job at describing the Devil of the Witches:
“The ‘Old One’, who in folk tradition is often named ‘The Devil’ embodies both the ‘rend in the veil’ and the spanning bridge between the worlds of the material and spiritual, the revealed and the hidden. It is through union with this entity that witches and folk magicians gained access to the powers that reside within the hidden realms and the natural world, and could awaken the potent fire within.
In traditional folk belief, the Devil existed also as an embodiment of the chaotic forces of nature; a belief quite distinct and separate from that of the Church with its ‘Satan’ figure. To the witch, he might also represent the ‘darker’ aspects of the divine; the keeper and the revealer of the divine light, the psychopomp guide of souls, and the sentinel at the threshold unto the mysteries of death and the Otherworld.
Something, it would seem, of the ‘elder divinity’ and the old ‘spirit of the wild’ has lingered through to the present; permeating regional faery lore, the calendar of ritualistic seasonal folk-customs, and traditions attached to ancient landscape features. The themes of untamed, wild nature; its freedom, its spirits, its power and its magic, so repugnant and threatening to the Church, were grafted onto the diabolical; affording yet greater preservation of the Old One for those who sought to stray from the path of limitation and conformity, and tread instead the hidden ways of the witch and magician.
Historical witch-lore records varied rites of initiatory contact, via which the worker of magic and witchcraft entered into a close, working relationship and union with the Old One and the spirit world.”
– The Devil’s Dozen Book Description
So after doing a bit of reading and meditating on the subject, I became a bit more comfortable with the idea. I decided to take on the shackles of my indoctrination head on. I came to the conclusion that I’m perfectly okay with the idea of the Horned God of the Witches, being the same as the Devil. In fact, I became comfortable with the uncomfortable possibility that perhaps this was the Biblical Devil who has indeed come to deceive me.
I took back to my practice of meditating within the ring of the Horned God glyph within the forest and trying to petition him. This time was definitely different. There was a new liberation that came with this acceptance. While meditating my astral body was pulled out of my body. However, I wasn’t in the ethic plane, nor astral plane (at least any that I had ever experienced). Rather I was in a void of blackness, as if I was in outer space but there were absolutely no stars. There was however this giant Baphomet in the middle of the void, the size of perhaps the moon or a very small planet. Instead of the normal goat head of Baphomet, he had a man’s face with a beard and giant antlers like Cernunnos.
I found myself being pulled into his gravity and encircling his body in a manner similar to the painting “The Adoration of Pan” by Johfra, except I was alone within a void, orbiting this titanic deity. My astral body was “dancing” freely, uninhibited, wildly to the “music” that wasn’t there as I went around him. Then the deity spoke to me with words that seemed to penetrate every aspect of my astral body. “I am the one you seek. Cernunnos, Herne, Pan, Dianus, Tubal-Cain, Kokopelli, Mephistopheles, the Devil, Lucifer, Puck and many more are masks that I wear, names that I carry, but none of them are I and yet all of them point to me. I am the Witch-Father, the Man-In-Black, the Magister.” Then he gave me a name and told me that it was meant for only me, a name I will never repeat and will take to my grave. He then asked me if I would like to make an agreement, we exchanged terms and I found myself suddenly back in the circle meditating in the woods.
A bit in awe from the experience, I nervously reached out to one of my witchcraft mentors whom I deeply respect, who himself is a breathing occult encyclopedia. I relayed my experiences, a bit nervous of his response. I told him that what I experienced felt very much like what people during the witch-trials discussed of the Witch’s Sabbath, but of course those people were all making up lies under torture to tell the torturers what they wanted to hear right? Was it strange that I made a deal with this being. He assured me that there was a validity and wisdom to the confessions of a lot of accused witches’ confessions and that the Witch’s Sabbath was a real experience – though one on the astral plane, not on the physical. He told me that the contract was not unusual, but was unusual that the experience and contract happened so quickly, especially for my level of experience at the time.