I was visiting a friend in a coastal town. Finally I had time to relax and just take in the sea air. My friend is a non-pagan with an open mind to all of my ways. Her partner calls me a Wiccan and I don’t object; it is a conceptual handle on what I am, as anything beyond that starts to sound a little too Middle Earth for him.
It was a bright but cold day when we headed to the sea. We found a café along the pebbly beach and settled in to be chilled by the wind and warmed by coffee. I offered to buy the second round and headed to the small wooden hut that served as kitchen and counter. A man stood there already waiting for his double latte with chocolate sprinkles. He eyed me suspiciously, a look that became rather sharper when he noticed my unicursal star broach. He nodded at the broach and said, “Love is the law… ” Suddenly I felt like a German spy from the Quiller Memorandum, “No, zes are not ze braend of zigarettes dat I normally smoke …” I replied “Love under will” and then stood awkwardly looking at him, feeling like we should now do some kind of black ghetto secret handshake ending with us bumping shoulders.
He grinned and I wondered if I should have just feigned ignorance and said my broach was a pretty star and that it went with a super-duper outfit I had at home.
He asked me if I was from the area, I said no and studiously avoided saying exactly where I was from. No need to worry about intrusive questions, he was more interested in telling me about himself, ending with, “Don’t you think I look like Crowley?” You and all the other overweight bald Thelemites, I thought. “Oh, yes,” I said. “Definitely a resemblance.” I made regretful noises about how I must return to my friend who was starting to look in need of coffee-defrosting. I saw him gearing up to ask to swap contact details. On his in-breath I jumped in firmly and said, “SO nice to meet you. LOVELY talking to you. MUST go.” And I trotted back to my friend, coffees in hand. I prised her chilled fingers off the old cup and slotted in a new cup which started to send heat up through her arm, enough for her to bend her elbow and swig a few gulps.
“Who was that?” she asked.
“Oh, just another Aleister wannabe.”
She looked at me confused. I gave a big ‘never-mind’ smile and toasted her with the coffee.
“Is that how much I owe you? I thought it was your round …”
I leant across and gave her a big kiss on the cheek.
“I must teach you the Secret Handshake of Middle Earth at some point …”
©StarofSeshat 2009 This is a work of fiction, any resemblance to persons living, dead or other is purely coincidental.
In Arthur Versluis’ The Philosophy of Magic he writes:
“There is one aspect of invocation that must be reiterated: the difference between expulsion of the demonic and invocation of the daimonic… the invocation of devic or celestial influences implies the expulsion of the lower, bestial or demonic creatures which ordinarily inhabit the mind of man – the demons of desire and hatred… Each time we manifest desire or aversion, we are bringing to life, signing a pact with, one of the demons of ego.
The reason the true magus – in the vernacular – ‘consorts with demons’ is to expulse those inner forms of ego. Every instant, every day that one lives without having expulsed those demons is a day lived in a tacit pact with them…For these reasons, the popular image of the magician as one who ‘consorts with demons’ is at once ironic … and accurate…”
This passage struck a chord with me, not least because it was a topic I was discussing with a friend not too long ago. He said that anything in your life which controls you instead of you controlling it, is demonic and calls for some kind of exorcism. That in itself resonated as I feel that I am undergoing an exorcism of my past at the moment which is freeing me physically and mentally. I know a couple of people who have confided in me that they are scared of their own alcohol intake that it is potentially problematic and yet they do nothing to change the situation – this could be classed (according to the above definition) as a form of demonic possession. Compulsive eating is demonic as the sufferer of this condition is most definitely under the control of the disorder, not the other way around. The uniting thread seems to be compulsion, a forcing of our will away from the middle path, often away from what we know is good for us: a compulsion to self-harm through excessive food, excessive alcohol, dangerous relationships or >insert your chosen ‘sin’ here<. Although I know that some people may get their knickers in a twist about me suggesting even indirectly that their ‘weaknesses’ are demonic and they are in need of an exorcism, I hope that they can overcome the knee-jerk response (which may indeed be the inner demon recoiling at being uncovered!) and consider the concept. I find the idea of almost personalizing the compulsions within very interesting. We can often recognise the compulsion, the end-product as it were, but not know the origins which is why we throw ourselves into therapy or compulsive repetition of our errors – so easily one demon can become legion within us if we don’t deal with the original intruder; after all, once demon number one has settled into the comfort of an entrenched ego, why wouldn’t he send out a general invite to his mates?
Yes, I am being flippant, but the concept still holds and it is helping me compartmentalise a mess of feelings inside me. So once the demon is identified, the question is, what to do? I think that is a personal decision, and I would not give a generalised answer to that when someone may take it as law and run with the idea right over a cliff (metaphorically speaking … although isn’t that what Jesus did with the devil whose name was ‘Legion’?). I am still pondering the nature of my demons, and bizarrely the thought of them doesn’t scare me. Colin Wilson wrote a fantastically interesting novel called The Mind Parasites – creatures that have colonised the minds of all men [sic] and who control the fate of mankind by remaining hidden in the depths of the unconscious. After reading that book you never look at the dark, quiet corners of your own mind in the same way again! But where as these parasites frightened me, the concept of the demonic doesn’t. I am keen to know them, because once known, once I have their name, I will be able to oust them from my being and I find that a very positive thought; just as once I admitted that my illness was psychosomatic, rather than clasping a sweaty hand to my forehead and curling up in victim mode at the wasted years and torments of my own mind (!) I felt hugely rejuvenated and empowered. Real chronic physical ailments are sometimes manageable but never curable. By admitting the potential psychosomatic origins of my illness, I have unleashed a flood of energy and uncovered some dark corners with the light optimism: if it is in my mind, then I can conquer it and be well. If the compulsions are demonic, I can know them and expel them. Of this I have no doubt.
The other aspect to this concept is that ego and habit energy is the resting place and breeding ground for such demonic energies. So logically, a two-pronged attack both on ‘knowing your demons’ and on breaking down ego and habit energy would be the most successful. I feel that the last month when I was riding on an artificial high (as genuine as it felt at the time, it was un-real), I was actually surfacing the wave of my ego. It felt good, it felt great, if felt compulsively, addictively wonderful – like too much chocolate, too much coffee, too much sex. And ultimately it was ‘too much’ of everything, it took me away from the middle path and I lost myself in ‘feeling’. I brought a lot back from the journey – there are things I learned – but it showed me once again how deceptive the path of ego can be. We think we are being true to ourselves, when actually we are living a fantasy.
So there are a few essentials for me that come from the concept of the demonic: as Dion Fortune indicates in her book Psychic Self-Defence, the greatest protection is being very grounded in this life, being grounded enough to give a belly laugh at a good film. I am finding my Kundalini yoga supremely grounding; it is what broke the cycle of flying high-higher-highest and brought me gently back to earth. I am now incorporating a minimum of two meditation sessions a day, where I can tune back into myself and check how far I have strayed off the Beauty Path. And this new moon I shall be beginning some ritual work to face my demons. I have Sobek to my left and Anubis to my right, and I am more than ready to stare into the mouth of Apophis. May Osiris bless me and my path. It’s time to know the demons, and really know my Self.
© starofseshat 2008
“Thanks, I’ll take these please.”
I place the book and crystal pyramid on the glass counter, and turn my head as a young man enters the shop. He stares intently at me with an openness I usually only see in the mentally impaired. Normally people steal a glance, lock eyes momentarily with a non-committal expression before looking away. He greets the assistant and looks at my purchases.
“A crystal pyramid. Awesome”.
Oh, I get it. He’s The-Man-Who-Walks-Up-To-You-In-The-Pub. The stranger, perhaps seeing something too open in my expression, seizes the opportunity to connect.
“I just got back from a mad Summer Solstice festival, yeah, down in Breinton. Course, Covent Garden is the business. That’s where you can get all the proper pagan clothes. You see I’m a pagan and I HAVE to celebrate the solstice.”
“Yeah, Celtic gods, An’allthat.”
Ah, An’allthat, that’s a new Celtic god to me, but I bow before his enthusiastic knowledge.
His assumptions prickle, and I can’t help but say, “We did our ritual this morning.” My goodness, am I really thumbing my metaphorical nose at him? Who is the youngster here?
At which point he starts groping inside his shirt and pulls out an ankh, nodding and grinning at my chest.
“Oh, yes.” I wear an ankh as well.
“Yeah, mine’s got a garnet in. My birthstone. So, yeah. This festival, it was so …”
Don’t tell me, awesome.
“I hadn’t heard of a pagan festival nearby.”
“Oh, yeah, an’ then we’ve got The Big Chill coming up.”
I think the organisers of The Big Chill would be surprised to hear they are a pagan festival. Suddenly I wonder if the Summer Solstice festival he attended wasn’t actually a music festival. And my suspicions are confirmed as he reels off more known music events, that are about as pagan as the Pope.
“So,” say I. “Will you be going to the Ludlow Esoteric Fair?”
“No Ludlow Esoteric Fair.”
“Is that at the castle.”
I explain where it will be, and mention the main aims of the conference. I mention Madeleine Montalban and The Regency Group.
“Oh, yeah,” he interrupts. “I went to the Conservationist Group thing in London. Thousands of people there. Well cool.”
I pause mid-breath and feel very old. Is this the generation gap that is yawning before my feet giving me vertigo?
He looks at me blankly. I start shoving my purchases into my bag. This conversation is going nowhere fast. He flips out a phone, and dials MD for Major Distraction, as I wave and smile at the assistant. He studiously avoids my gaze and pretends not to see me leave.
I walk away and wonder when it became so “awesome” to be pagan and so easy. Buy the clothes, go to the festivals, wear an ankh (that archetypal symbol of all things … Celtic?) and proudly tell whoever will listen, “Cos I’m pagan, yeah.”
© starofseshat 2008