the Devil you say
One of the “traditional witchcraft” lists on Yahoo had a discussion some years ago (2009, to be more precise) of the role of the Devil/Lucifer in witchcraft. Many seemed confused/alarmed by the notion that the God of the Witches could possibly really be Lucifer, Old Horny, Scratch, as in the Tempter of Eve.
Yet many of these same folk have no difficulty is spouting the oft-quoted “Gods of the Old Religion become the devils of the new” line.
Traditional Witches often practice dual faith observance, hence many of the traditions from the church found their way into Witchcraft (and quite possibly, vice versa.) Of course, in the 17th Century in England, to be a follower of “The Old Religion” meant you were a Catholic, so your mileage may vary there.
“Even a cursory examination of the historical records and folklore accounts relating to witch beliefs in Wales, and elsewhere in the British Isles, reveals that those who were accused of or actually practiced witchcraft in the past did not follow some ancient ‘Old Religion’ or see themselves as pagans. Most cunning folk would have regarded themselves as devout Christians and most attended church at a time when it was illegal not to do so. The ritual material of operative witchcraft, such as charms, spells, and incantations, were largely derived from ceremonial magick and popular forms of Christian folk religion i.e. pre-Reformation Roman Catholicism. Many of the semi-magical Roman practices denounced by the Protestants as ‘popish superstitions’ or even ‘witchcraft’ survived in the practices of the cuning folk and the so-called ‘white witches.’ The genesis of this dual faith observance in traditional witchcraft dates back to when the new religion of Christianity challenged the old pagan beliefs for supremacy in Western Europe.”
In Lady Gwen’s Green Egg article, Wiccan-Pagan Potpourri, she expounds
The Christian Bible, garbled as it currently is, speaks of a battle in the “heavens” . . . well, we know there was one, although the Christians have their time-space continuum a bit mixed up . . . to the point where it is all done and over with, according to them. But, we know that as it was in the beginning so it will be in the end . . . giving us the Alpha and Omega of history. When Christians speak of “fallen angels” and “salvation,” I merely reply: “Ummmm. . .of course.” Then they are gently felled with the statement: “If the Lord of Light lost the battle for control of Earth . . .who won?” They were taught that the Lord of Light was Lucifer, a very naughty angel who went against God and got his. Along with his followers, naturally. It is clear that a large number of the followers of the Lord of Light were confined to Earth, bred with Earth people and produced what we now have as a breed of “different” beings, classified as people who “have the POWER” or “KNOWING ONES.” Thus, we have an admixture upon this planet of Light and Darkness. The demarcation line becomes more obvious daily.
So, take what care you may, and “Every man for himself and the Devil take the hindmost” as an ‘early 16th century’ proverb runs in the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations.
Extract from Dante’s The Divine Comedy, “Hell”, Canto 5, lines 99-111. Translation by The Rev. H. F. Cary, M.A.
“Love, that in gentle heart is quickly learnt,
Entangled him by that fair form, from me
Ta’en in such cruel sort, as grieves me still:
Love, that denial takes from none belov’d,
Caught me with pleasing him so passing well,
That, as thou see’st, he yet deserts me not.
Love brought us to one death: Cain awaits
The soul, who spilt our life.” Such were their words;
At hearing which downward I bent my looks,
And held them there so long, that the bard cried:
“What art thou pond’ring?” I in answer thus:
“Alas! by what sweet thoughts, what fond desire
Must they at length to that ill pass have reach’d!”
[This is expanded from an earlier rumination at The Fallow Field posted originally in March 2009. It may be revisited and revised further as I’m not quite satisfied with it as yet.]