The Witch devil is a Fairy Lord

“…alas! the melancholy yelping of the hounds, and the dismal bolloa of the hunter came nearer and nearer. After a considerable run, they had so gained upon him, that on looking back,–oh horror! he could distinctly see hunter and dogs. The former was terrible to look at, and had the usual complement of saucer-eyes, horns, and tail, accorded by common consent to the legendary devil. He was hiack, of course, and carried in his hand a long hunting-pole. The dogs, a numerous pack, blackened the small patch of moor that was visible; each snorting fire, and uttering a yelp of indescribably frightful tone. No cottage, rock, or tree was near to give the herdsman shelter, and nothing apparently remained to him but to abandon himself to their fury, when a happy thought suddenly flashed upon him and suggested a resource. Just as they were about to rush upon him, he fell on his knees in prayer. There was strange power in the holy words he uttered; for immediately, as if resistance had been offered, the hell-hounds stood at bay, howling more dismally than ever, and the hunter shouted, ‘Bo Shrove,’ at which they all drew off on some other pursuit and disappeared,” – The Devil’s Dandy Dogs.

By Johann Wilhelm Cordes

Upon a death struck horse, the dark man flies surrounded by his hunting hounds. He rides alongside the Queen of Elphame, both brandishing spears. It is a God of witchcraft, the very devil himself. This is our great initiator, the witches’ devil. The Faery King.

Unlike modern associations, the devil has many connections and relations with the fairy faith and folklore of the British Isles. He is the mighty Bucca of Cornwall; the leader of the Slau of Ireland and Scotland. The mighty dark man, who participates in the Wild hunt, “Within the lore of the Wild Hunt, again we find the Man in Black and also the Queen of Elphame, this time leading a host of the dead, the Hidden Company, in a hunt or procession in the forms of Hellekin, Herlechin, Holda, and Nicnevin….The spectral one being a host of the dead and fey signalling disaster and death to come or with the purpose of hunting down lost souls and evil-doers,” (The Man in Black).

The nature of the devil in witchcraft is often overlooked or ignored. I feel it is time for me to talk about his role as the witches’ devil, and how I view him within my own craft. The devil is the Witch Father, a god of nature itself, a satyr “ represented as black, with goat’s horns, ass’s ears, cloven hoofs, and an immense phallus…. He is the figure who danced light-heartedly across the Aristophanic stage, stark nude in broad midday, animally physical, exuberant, ecstatic, crying aloud the primitive refrain, ‘Phales, boon mate of Bacchus, joyous comrade in the dance, wanton wanderer o’ nights’ … in a word, he was Paganism incarnate, and Paganism was the Christian’s deadliest foe; so they took him, the Bacchic reveller, they smutted him from horn to hoof, and he remained the Christian’s deadliest foe, the Devil,” (The History of the Devil: The Horned God of the West).

There was once a time that little to no distinction was made between fairies and devils. You can see these with such words like Trow, which can be translated both to either elf (or troll) and Satan. The tendency to make fairyland a province of Satan’s kingdom was, at one point, very common within the history of the British Isles; and therefore, any person communing with fairies was considered to be practicing witchcraft or performing in Satanic rites (Carolyn Emerick: When Witches Communed with Fairies).

When someone gained the Second sight, they feared to see not only the fairy folk, but they feared to see demons, imps, and devils as well. In the words of Emma Wilby from Cunning Folk and Familiar Spirits, “there was often little difference between a fairy and an angel, saint, ghost, or devil. We find the popular link between fairies and angels, for example, expressed in the confession of a cunning man on trial for witchcraft in Aberdeen, in 1598. The magical practitioner, who was identified in the trial records as ‘Andro Man’, claimed that his familiar (described by the interrogators as the Devil) was an angel who, like Tom Reid, served the queen of the fairies. The records state ‘Thow confessis that the Devill, thy maister, quhom thow termes Christsonday, and supponis to be ane engell, and Goddis godsone, albeit he hes a thraw by God, and swyis to the Quene of Elphen, is rasit be the speking of the word Benedicte.”

It is fitting that Lucifer, the ruler of the Fallen angels, is a Fairy King. Within some christianized folklore, fairies were fallen angels; “’The Proud Angel fomented a rebellion among the angels of heaven, where he had been a leading light. He declared that he would go and found a kingdom for himself. When going out at the door of heaven the Proud Angel brought prickly lightning and biting lightning out of the doorstep with his heels. Many angels followed him… whereupon the Father ordered that the gates of heaven and the gates of hell should be closed. This was instantly done. And those who were in were in, and those who were out were out; while the hosts who had left heaven and had not reached hell flew into the holes of the earth, like the stormy petrels. These are the Fairy Folk–ever since doomed to live under the ground, and only allowed to emerge where and when the King permits,” (Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries).

The devil of the witches is a Fairy Lord, who reveals a narrow path into a dark wood. But not only that, he is also the King of familiars. He, alongside the Fairy Queen, can guide witches to their fairy lovers. And much like the witches and their own shape shifting abilities, the devil had many animal forms he could transform into: the cat, a black hound, ravens, the goat, a toad, animals heavily associated with witches and fairies, “Increasing interest in the folkloric dimension of witchcraft beliefs is leading scholars to consider that confession-depiction of the Devil might be rooted in genuinely popular ideas about embodied folk spirits, such as fairies and the dead,” (Emma Wilby: The Visions of Isobel Gowdie).

Given many names and many histories, the devil may share the name of the same icon we think of today; however, the two are very different. For the devil of the witches, is a god of nature and witchcraft itself. Unyielding, rebellious, poisonous, and crooked.

Not of the seed of Adam are we,

Nor is Abraham our father;

But of the seed of the Proud Angel,

Driven forth from Heaven.

– the fairies may be heard singing lightheartedly

Advertisements

Fairies and Witches: My personal thoughts on their relationships and connections

O’ Mester King o’ a’ that’s ill,

Come fill me wi’ the Warlock’s [Witches’] Skill,

An’ I shall serve wi’ all me will.

Trow take me gin I sinno!

Trow take me gin I winno!

Trow take me win I cinno!

Come take me noo, an take me a’,

Take lights an’ liver, pluck and ga,

Take me, take me, noo I say,

Fae de how o’ da heed, tae da tip o’ da tae.

Take a’ dats oot an’ in o’ me.

Take hare an hide an a’ tae thee.

Take hert, an harns, flesh, bleud and banes,

Take a’ atween the seeven stanes,

I’ de name of da muckle black Wallowa!

-The Witch’s’ Charm: Gaelic incantations, charms, and blessings of the Hebrides

The relationship between fairies and witches is deeply rooted in mythos, folklore, tradition, and history. It never surprises me to see fellow witches dive into the practices of fairy faith along their craft. It is all too natural.

The fairy faith of the British Isles grew alongside witchcraft, and with the coming of Christianity the two entities became more merged into one. Though as Emma Wilby says in Cunning Folk and Familiar spirits on the topic of Demon familiars and Fairy familiars, “…it is not feasible that a downward filtration process of this kind occurring over a couple of hundred years could fully account for the diversity and subtlety of fairy familiar beliefs throughout Britain from the very beginning of this period. It is even more unlikely that beliefs about demon familiars and beliefs about fairy familiars existed simultaneously and completely independently of each other. The only interpretation left before us, therefore, is that a significant proportion of fairy familiar beliefs were indigenous to popular culture.”

Though she speaks specifically about familiar spirits, she also addresses the nature of magical practices, specifically witchcraft and cunning folk, in relationship with the fairy faith. These practices heavily influenced one another. In the lore of Scotland, Ireland, and even Wales, witches were often compared to fairies. Witches could transform into Cat Sith, fairy cats said to be black with a white marking on their chest.

It is why Fairy doctors treated both fairy and witch ailment, for both were seen as the same. Witches and fairies could both send the evil eye and attack with the elf dart.  “Witches and fairy doctors receive their power from opposite dynasties; the witch from evil spirits and her own malignant will; the fairy doctor from the fairies, and a something–a temperament–that is born with him or her. The first is always feared and hated. The second is gone to for advice, and is never worse than mischievous,” (Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry: Edited and Selected by W. B. Yeats).

From this, it can be determined that fairy doctors and witches receive their power from the same source, but rather use it in different ways. In particular, it is interesting that dynasty is used to define the two’s power. Witches getting their power from the Devil, and fairy doctors getting their power from fairies (the Fairy Queen).

Dynasty: a line of hereditary rulers of a country; a succession of people from the same family who play a prominent role in business, politics, or another field.

It’s interesting that is used. For me, it acts that they’re opposites sides of the same coin. The coin being witchcraft.

In a few bits of mythology, folklore, and even modern traditional witchcraft practices, the witch was taught and even given the power of witchcraft from the fairies themselves.

Diana had by, her brother a daughter, to whom they gave the name of Aradia [i.e. Herodias]….Diana said one day to her daughter Aradia:

‘Tis true indeed that thou a spirit art,

But thou wert born but to become again

A mortal; thou must go to earth below

To be a teacher unto women and men

Who fain would study witchcraft in thy school….

And thou shalt be the first of witches known;

-Aradia, Gospel of the Witches

The Witch blood, whether of flesh or of spirit, contains the power of Faery, of fairies. For some, the first witches were the children of fairies and mortal beings. And this is why for me, the practice of both witchcraft and the fairy faith are inherent. They’re tied to one another. Both contain each other’s history and folklore. One is the land of the fairies, while the other is the land of the Devil; however, it wouldn’t be that surprising to find little differences between the two.

Shape shifting and masks

The Bewitched Man: by Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes

Medieval Latin- Masca: Specter; nightmare; person who uses magic (witch).

“…the aspect of anonymity which is so much a part of the Sabbat and other banned folk practices such as guising. Witches attending the Sabbat are likewise described as masked, disguised and veiled… witches were called masca , masks, by the Lombards and this is the root of the carnival celebration of masquerade, surely a form of the Sabbat itself. The etymology of mask intrigues with its chain of associations and accords. Infiltrating our vocabulary via Medieval Latin masca which evocatively signified a nocturnal female spectre, or a nightmare, or the mask by which the spectre was evoked,”Apocalyptic Witchcraft by Peter Grey.

Once again, the magical use of masks creeps it’s way into my craft, and makes a den inside my heart. Masks of rabbits, toads, serpents, wolves, cats, weasels, and so on; they can embody our very transformation. The act of shape shifting. Like the tales of witches flying to the Sabbat and becoming beasts of great power, we too can change our very form. But why do witches change their form? To fulfill their deeds in animal guise, to change into their familiar’s shape and race into the darkness with them, to dive into the otherworld with spirits and fairies, to unlock a hidden part of ourselves. As Peter Gray so elegantly put, “The animal which is not an animal. The man who is not a man.”

What exactly is shape shifting? I speak of it in terms of the non-physical. As Sarah Lawless states; “…shapeshifting as a magical practice involves either a part of the magician’s soul transforming into a spirit animal (known in the Germanic tongue as the fetch) and leaving the body to journey vast distances in both our realm and the otherworlds, or, another method is for the magician’s soul to leave their body and “ride” a living animal or external spirit animal or familiar in this or the otherworld.” (Source)

Like practices of the past, we too can imbue our masks with the skills of animal transformation. Take the mask and create it in accordance to the lunar phases. At the new moon, you gather your items and begin to forge the mask. The moon passes into its later cycles, and your mask shall grow in power. Its connection to your spirit grows as well.

Upon the night of the full moon, you shall take the mask to the witches’s meeting, the Sabbat. It is here you shall write the name of the beast backwards on the inside of the mask. Put on the mask, so that you may become on of the Masca; a specter of the night. It is in this state that you can change into the animal form that embodies your mask.

Become the cat, it runs with the Fairy horde into their mounds. Become the raven, it flies along side spirits of the dead. You will become what shape your heart desires, so that you may know yourself as an animal; so that you can experience the beast that is witchcraft.

Witchcraft hungers for you

Witches and old woman: By Francisco Goya

Midnight Sun

Cut lustre

On jeweller’s night

Draws us

Gather sabbatic

Bring grievances

Her witch eye

Sniper-sighted

Destroys

Block by block

The beautiful one

Stalks palaces and slums

-Apocalyptic Witchcraft: Peter Gray

Witchcraft is an old hag, dead and rotting. She sits on a pile of bones, and hides behind the graves of her elders. It is here where she lurks waiting for the right moment. Witchcraft hungers for youth, it hungers for you.

It is within youth that witchcraft is struck anew. The old hag withers, becoming one with the dead. She seeks the flesh and blood of babes. For when the witch devours the new life of the infant, it is allowed to be birthed once again into a new generation: the phoenix burning in its own fire.

But what does this mean? Why does it hunger?

From the beginning to the end, witchcraft survives, adapts, dies, and is born once again. It changes with every generation. And like the saying goes, “You are what you eat”.

Its view and thoughts differ with every generation, but the knowledge, the secrets, and desires are the same. It is with this that witchcraft succeeds so well. It is a practice that evolves, but the history and secrets are kept. The dead hold these truths, and they wait to pass them to the Mighty Descendants.

The very moment you step within the Sabbat these secrets are made possible. The witches are waiting there ready to teach and pass their secrets; however, are you ready to be dined upon by their wicked cannibalism? For when you are torn apart and thrown into the cauldron, the witch blood truly takes hold.

In a wicked place

In a wicked place, they bid;

      “Do not go to it.”

No man or mortal beast awaits,

       heresy is there.

When crossing the serpent’s path,

        you will be struck.

Fanged kiss piercing flesh and bone,

        toxin fills your veins.

Everyone warns you of the snake,

        “Do not go to it.”

However, none warn of its venom,

         it is pure ecstasy.

Boiling and conjuring in your soul,

         the witches’ blood.

Bitten, you are never quite the same

        now a poisoner’s heart.

Go forth and heed its call, infect rebel

        you are no longer weak.