Disclaimer: Before you read this post, know that I AM NOT A SATANIST AND I DO NOT PRACTICE BLACK MAGICK. These paths are not my path. If you are looking for information on these topics, this is not the place to look. I practice magick detached from duality and I recognize the Light and the Darkness just like most pagans do. I have sympathy for the Devil and that’s about it because I studied the archetype of the Devil enough to see how he got himself into the mess he did in mythology and it’s really tragic. But I by no means “worship” him. Now on with my post.
I’ve spent a lot of time in the past year and a half studying Judeo/Christian mythology while writing my series. In my studies, I’ve confronted light, shining archetypes like the Seven Archangels, the Hidden Feminine Divine and even Jesus and the different faces and reflections of YVHV (mostly through study of the Archangels) . These Light archetypes have enriched my life and given me a completely different outlook on existence.
However, no story is complete without villains so because I’m writing a modern, continuation of Paradise Lost, I’ve had to study the Devil and fallen angels (in a safe context with the proper protections) as well to get the well rounded, Light + Dark= whole idea locked into place.
Confronting the archetype of the Devil, however, can be a frightening experience because it really brings out your desires. It shows you what your darkest secrets are and shows you what binds you and prevents you from moving forward. Last night I had a confrontation with the archetype energy of the Devil while I was trying to reproduce the Devil Tarot Card for my jewelry and key chain line I want to produce.
I’m really afraid of getting sued for copyright infringement so I’my trying my best to make my own, original artwork for my line … and failing MISERABLY, actually. It would be a lot easier if I had Photoshop and a scanner but I’m fucking poor so I have to do my best trying to draw tiny pictures on tiny slips of paper. First, I tried to draw the card. It was really hard and I gave up. I decided to turn to the public domain works of the illustrations for Paradise Lost. I colored a picture of Lucifer when he was a freshly fallen angel and it still didn’t resonate with me. Disgruntled, I gave up and went back to working on editing my story.
That’s where the real energy of the Tarot card I was trying to produce resonated. I was right in the middle of one of my darkest scenes, the first big battle of the series. This scene has always made me uncomfortable because I never let myself go as dark as I needed to go to really tell both sides of the story. However, after spending a couple of hours trying to draw the Devil card, I was able to finally break that barrier. I went back and read my edits today. The scene still makes me uncomfortable but it’s where it needs to be now. However, I really hope I don’t have to rework that scene again.
I went to bed and the energy of the archetype stayed with me in my dreams. I dreamed that I was a little girl with two blonde plaits in my hair. I wore a black dress with a white collar (similar to Wednesday in the Addams Family), black tights and black shoes. The whole dream had a 1960s feel to it. The Devil came to my house disguised as a priest. He pulled up in a shiny, black car with black tinted windows and shiny, chrome wheels. He knocked on the door of my house and asked my mother if he could take me to confession.
I walked out the door and my mother stood there in a blue, polka-dot dress and a white, ruffly apron, waving good-bye to me. I knew the Devil had come to take me away. I waved good-bye to her, knowing that I would never see her again.
The car ride was quite. I watched the scenery roll by. The Devil was kind, but there was something sinister underneath.
We went into the opulent, dark, Catholic Church with it’s shining gold Tabernacle and white, altar cloth. Statues of angels silently watched as the Devil directed me to a dark, wooden confessional. I was alone in the box, and the Devil was on the other side. I heard him slide the panel open and he asked me to confess my sins.
Of course, I was a child, so my sins were small. I didn’t really have much to confess at all. I don’t remember what I confessed, actually.
When it was over, he told me that to atone for my sins, I had to be sacrificed. He met me outside the confessional, took my hand and led me to the altar and began a sonorous incantation. I knew that I was going to be sacrificed but I also I knew I was protected and that I would not perish at the hands of the Devil. And I was not afraid.
Then there was a rumbling in my ear and I woke up to the cat purring in my face.
The dream suck with me throughout the morning. I looked up the meanings of the symbols and it was pretty much what I thought. There’s something that makes me feel guilty and I’m trying to confront it. I wasn’t afraid in the face of the Devil so it seems like I’m not too worried about whatever this is. I’m pretty balanced because in the dream, I was a child and that’s a representation of purity. The purity of the child fearlessly confronting the darkness of the Devil archetype symbolizes a healthy balance of light and dark within me.
But then I started thinking of it in a Tarot context and it deepened the symbolism. So let’s look at the cards.
The images on the two cards are actually different interpretations of the same “trinity” format found throughout the Tarot. It mimics the Holy Trinity and also the Supernal Triad of the Qabalah. We see that the Hierophant looks straight ahead and is flanked by two acolytes that look to him. The Devil is in the same position, seated on a throne as well, and flanked by a bound man and woman. Both the Devil and the Hierophant have the same hand raised. The Hierophant’s hand gesture is a blessing. I’m not sure what the Devil’s hand gesture means. It’s the Vulcan sign Spock uses on Star Trek, actually, but I don’t think the two are related (If anybody knows, please leave a comment).
The two figures on the Devil card are chained but able to go if they wish because the chains aren’t tight. The can have freedom if they want but they choose not to. The two figures on the Hierophant card have crossed keys, the secrets to which represents the keys to unlocking the gates and secrets of Heaven though traditional religious studies. The acolytes, on the other hand, are choosing freedom through religious studies. The two cards together, when balanced, can cancel each other out. But when unbalanced, they show two different ways of being bound — locked out (the Hierophant) and locked in (The Devil). Interesting enough, take that idea a little further and apply how being locked in is very feminine (as in, inside the womb) and being locked out is very masculine (lacking the key to access what you desire).
As a recovering Catholic, the link between the Hierophant and the Devil cards plays out strongly in my dream. The Devil, in my dream, was the Hierophant, binding me with the rigid, traditional ideas of the church and using those ideas against me. I’ve done a fair amount of research into church history, unwillingly in Catholic school and willingly in tracing the histories of which Pope decied to make which angels fallen (which is really unfair to a lot of fallen angels IMO and caused a lot of really great mythology to become lost or hidden). And with all the power and corruption in the Church, I can see how my dreaming mind linked the Catholic church with the Devil. My whole decision to leave the church when I was 14 was based on the corruption and backwards political stances of the church and I did feel like the church had become the Devil. I guess my mind linked the Church to Lucifer because it used to be beautiful, pure but fell to greed and corruption (at least in some stories, that’s what happened to Lucifer).
So to recap about what I think the dream means, it’s very closely related to the message I’ve written in my novel because from my studies thus far, it seems that the stories of the all of the angel, fall of man and the promise of redemption through a messiah are just a metaphor for balance and living a unified life separate from the notion of duality. Therefore, in order to know the Light, you must know the darkness. And in order to know the darkness, you must know the Light. And in my studies and practice, the traditional path I’m taking is good but I shouldn’t let it bind and constrict me and I should continue to process my thoughts for myself. I think this also goes with the traditional, uneducated idea of the “Devil” and what the Devil actually represents in mythology. I’m a Capricorn (ha, how fitting. The Devil card is ruled by Capricorn and Saturn) so I’m very Orthodox in my spiritual practices and studies but I shouldn’t let that tendency bind me and prevent me from expanding my spiritual studies.
And to top it all off, I drew the Emperor for Today’s card. I find that really funny since the Emperor is also a very conservative, orthodox guy but he stresses balancing hard and soft power.