Author; Roger J Horne
Distinct from the devil of Satanism and the devil of Christianity, the witches' Devil remains a potent figure in the lore of folk and traditional witches today. Approaching this enigmatic figure as an inherently syncretic being of many compounded aspects over time, The Witches' Devil explores his complex symbols, roles, and appearances across the ages. Here, the lore of the Devil is unpacked, revealing a host of powerful spiritual entities that can be accessed today by drawing on the threads of myth and folklore. Along this journey, we find the Devil's age-old connections to tree and plant spirits, the mass of the candles, bestial bodies, the demonic spirits of the grimoires, and the serpent that rebirths the world. We see his roles expand and fracture into such titles as Primus Magus, Angel of Poison, First Heretic, Father of Cunning, Bound Spirit of the Abyss, Founder of the Hosts of Faery, and Rex Aenigmatus (King of Riddles). We are challenged to re-examine our understanding of psalmistry and "popish" folk magic in witchcraft within a framework of heretical craft grounded in his lore. Most importantly, we are invited to light our own candles of illumination at his altar, to become wise, and to enrich our own magics by learning from this potent and often misunderstood Old One.
From the Introduction:
Now do we step into the dark. The lantern light flickers, its dim glow faltering even as you clutch it in your left hand tightly, the trail before us barely visible among the vines and weeds. The blackness of the woods at night surrounds us like a cloak. Crickets sound their trill. The cool air conjures clouds from our breath like a spell.
Somewhere in the distance, a voice enunciates some ancient speech we cannot quite make out, its echoes trailing high over the hills, its timbre wet-thick like the falling of branches after a storm. Perhaps it is not a voice at all. Perhaps it is merely the settling of the woods, a wind among the vines, some creature moving through the snarls of leaves and twigs.
Still, you cannot help but think it, and I cannot help but ask out loud: Is it him? Is he here?
Come with me, then. Let us walk, the two of us, and let us try to find him if we can. He is old now, older than he was when he taught the first witches at their fires, training them in arts so ancient the stones of the earth can’t fathom. The ages of the world have changed him. Time has left him worn and thin and scattered, emerging in the old lore here and there as a whisper or a clue, hidden behind so many black doors we hesitate to open, mortal as we are.
But still, he lives. We witches feel his gaze when we are alone in the dark, our lips busied with the work of incantation. We hear him when the breeze whistles through an old oak tree. We feel his hands upon ours as we knot the cord, as we burn the herbs, as we place the pins of our age-old craft.
And for those who feel the call, we know that somehow, despite all of his flaws and all of his danger, he is ours—feared like us and maligned like us, alone like us, rebellious like us, hungry for knowledge like us, drawn to the dark like us, obedient to no lord like us, wild and longing to be free like us, forever an outsider and other, just like us. By some strange and ancient curse, the things we fear in him are most like us, imperfect and flawed, something godlike but unlike a god, a kindred and beloved whom we cannot touch to rescue, a mirror through which we cannot reach.
Let us go, then, in search of him. For fear of him, and for love of him.
Let us reach for the blackberry tucked just there, among the thorns, trusting that the sweetness we find will be worth the pricking of our thumbs...