THE GHOST OF AUSTIN OSMAN SPARE (II)

Art, Occult, Witchcraft

The first time I met the ghost of Austin Osman Spare was in the Summer of 1988, not long before my eighteenth birthday. I was boarding at my grandmother’s, in her witchy town cottage. As friends, relatives, and readers of Accidental Antichrist will know, she was a ‘spiritualist medium’, which Spare might have frowned on, and also a hereditary East Anglian witch, which he would have respected. Not that I knew either of these things at the time. Although I had recently acquired a badly photocopied collection of his written works, accompanied by some vaguely discernible illustrations, I had yet to learn much about him. Nowhere in the collected works did it say anything about his connection to Essex witchcraft.

One day during the summer I broke into a terrifying fever, my stomach a swelling ball of poison, and passed out. My grandmother rang round every doctor in Colchester before she finally got through to one who did not fob her off.

________________

Watching from the ruins of a monastery stronghold, a glassless stone crossed window arch overlooking a lush grassy valley, where naked witches circled in a Sabbat Dance, skinshifting into animal forms and back again. It is neither night nor day. Austin Spare is there beside me, having appeared suddenly to my left, smiling. He wears a velvet jacket and cravat, his hair wild and curly, as he did at around my own age, when alive. He wouldn’t have been out of place on a Saturday night at The Three Cups, or playing guitar in our local goth band. He tells me secret things known only by those neither living or dead.

___________

A fever dream. I had passed into unconsciousness from the pain. I’m not stupid or crazy. I’m not making an extraordinary claim requiring extraordinary proof. Not yet.

I returned to consciousness in hospital, post-operation. The dream had been so very real it confused me that I had gone from talking with Austin Spare to this strange and frightening place. I was in a ward where people were dying. I learned that a surgeon had cut me open, hurriedly pulled out my intestines, removing my appendix just seconds before it exploded. If my insides hadn’t been in a pile next to my unconscious almost flatlining body I would have died a truly horrible death. I wasn’t out of trouble yet, and had attained an infection, causing a different agony that kept me awake, crying to the nurses for stronger painkillers.

All my friends came to visit, and my arch-goth girlfriends pulled round the blinds. Perhaps it was my joy at seeing them all again that helped me recover in record time – so quickly it raised the doctor’s eyebrows.

By the time I left the hospital, I had been in the same room as three men had passed to.. wherever it is they were off to.

THE GHOST OF AUSTIN OSMAN SPARE

Art, Chaos Magic, Humour, Illuminates of Thanateros, Magick, Occult, Sorcery, Witchcraft

It is undeniable that Austin Osman Spare has a huge influence on modern occultism, having been made posthumously ‘famous’ in this context through the works of Kenneth Grant. Ironically, Spare held nothing but disdain for such pretentious and pompous ‘society’ when he was alive. You would not find him hanging out with Crowley, or even Gerald Gardner. As he wrote in The Book of Pleasure: The Psychology of Ecstasy;

“[Some] praise ceremonial Magic, and are supposed to suffer much Ecstasy! Our asylums are crowded, the stage is over-run! Is it by symbolising we become the symbolized? Were I to crown myself King, should I be King? Rather should I be an object of disgust or pity. These Magicians, whose insincerity is their safety, are but the unemployed dandies of the Brothels. Magic is but one’s natural ability to attract without asking; ceremony what is unaffected, its doctrine the negation of theirs. I know them well and their creed of learning that teaches the fear of their own light. Vampires, they are the very lice in attraction. Their practices prove their incapacity, they have no magic to intensify the normal, the joy of a child or healthy person, none to evoke their pleasure or wisdom from themselves. Their methods depending on a morass of the imagination and a chaos of conditions, their knowledge obtained with less decency than the hyena his food.”

Which was Spare’s way of saying he thought were are all a bit pretentious. Having explored the world of ‘ceremonial magicians’, and having fallen out with nearly all the biggest poseurs for all the right reasons, I am inclined to agree with him. Nevertheless, Austin’s friend Kenneth Grant seems to have been a jolly good chap. I reproduce some of the good things he had to say about me in The Neuronomicon.

Nor, as a ghost, is Spare impressed by the ever recycled fad of Chaos Magic, or fools as Peter J. Carroll, who dared claim heritage of the Zos Kia Cultus. In his Austin’s words, “Don’t blame me for this crap. They’re all cursed. Every single fucking one of the dirty lying cunts.”

That’s not a quote from one of his books. I heard him say it.

I have met the ghost of Austin Osman Spare a few times. I know how that sounds. Everyone has their opinion on the existence or non existence of ghosts, and there are enough of us that believe in them that you cannot call us all crazy. We all have our own experiences. Nobody can prove whether ghosts exist or not in absolute terms, but I have had several persuasive experiences that, at least at the time, convinced me they do. But I am not making any claims as to their absolute reality.

Spare would say it was our belief in them that made them real. His definition of real might not be the same as a closed minded materialist, and nor is mine. My experiences of meeting the ghost of Austin have been amongst the most persuasive, often coinciding with significant turning points in my life.

I have also known others with similar experiences of meeting the ghost of Austin Osman Spare, along with someone who seems to appear in several of his drawings. It has always been out of kindness on the part of his ghost that he appeared to us, because we needed to know we were not alone. Because we were struggling, like he did as an artist with integrity, refusing to bow to any ‘scene’ and selling his art in local pubs. It is never because he has been ‘summoned’ or has lowered himself to appear at a seance – everyone who has met his ghost, or experienced meeting his ghost, agrees on his contempt for ceremonial magicians and spiritualists. I know there are plenty of people who claim otherwise, but as Spare put it, “Their formula is deception and they are deceived.”

That is not a quote from his books either.

We get along well, Spare and I. We have a lot in common. We are both witches, originating from East Anglian tradition, what have walked what he calls “The Path Direct”. That sounds pretentious, and he is, because what he means is simply “straying from the beaten track”. Going your own way. So we are both connected to the same tradition. And we are both uncompromising magical artists, although I make no claim to be his equal as a draughtsman. The last time I laid eyes on an original Spare was at an exhibition of works by Aubrey Beardsley – which as a ‘footnote’ also included a portrait of Beardley’s wife, which Beardsley himself had commissioned from Austin Osman Spare. We both, his ghost and I, agree that he is unequalled. But I have also experienced his displeasure and even his anger. I am glad I have never pissed him off enough to get cursed, although its fair to say he has knocked me for six a couple of times. You really don’t want to meet the ghost of Austin Osman Spare when he shifts into his atavisms.

THE MASS OF BAPHOMET

Witchcraft

BAPHOMET; identified by Eliphas Levi as the Sabbatic Goat, his angel–devil zoömorphic hermaphroditic depiction amalgamates everything condemned as idolatry in the Bible;

“Take ye therefore good heed unto yourselves; for ye saw no manner of similitude on the day that the LORD spake unto you in Horeb out of the midst of the fire: Lest ye corrupt yourselves, and make you a graven image, the similitude of any figure, the likeness of male or female; The likeness of any beast that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged fowl that flieth in the air, The likeness of any thing that creepeth on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the waters beneath the earth. And lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest the sun, and the moon, and the stars, even all the host of heaven, shouldest be driven to worship them, and serve them, which the Lord thy God hath divided unto all nations under the whole heaven.” – Deuteronomy 4:15-19

Saint Paul certainly had no doubt that sacrifices to idols were actually to devils;

“What say I then? That the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing? But I say, that the things that the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils. Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he?” – 1 Corinthians 10:19-22

There is far more to the Baphomet than mere idolatry; its angel–devil zoömorphic hermaphroditic idol, with its flaming torch between its horns, conceals the Illuminated formulae of the Beast and his Scarlet Woman. It is the symbol of those primordial power zones whose colour is blood red, and such mysteries as are served in Tantric rites of the black goddess Kali, whose talisman is blood and whose totem is the goat. Symbolising the conjunction in Capricorn of Yesod (Luna) and Tiphareth (Sol) ie the solar eclipse or black sun (Black Son, Antichrist), it is the harbinger of Apocalypse, Opening the Way to the Black Aeon, and the embodiment of the Left Hand Path.


EXU-BAPHOMET

There exists no richer preservation of the pre-monumental Egyptian mysteries than the initiatory cults of West Africa, where the Tribe of Judah settled (the modern Israelites being in truth the lineages of converted Gentiles), and no purer a transmission than the Voodoo of Benin, the Obeah of Jamaica, the Makaya bokor of Haiti, the Makumba of Brazil, or the Palo-Mayombe of Cuba, all of whom recognize the function of an angel–devil zoömorphic hermaphroditic Mystery, representative of the knowledge of magick, and the Opener of the Way between our world and the Black dimensions. It is known by many names, but most common among them are Exu-Elegbara, meaning ‘to speak with strength’, Exu, Legba, and Met-Kalfu, meaning ‘master of crossroads (the liminal or in between). Like Hokmah (Wisdom) in the Old Testament Book of Proverbs; which we have identified with Sophia (Baphomet), it “standeth in the top of high places, by the way of the places of the paths… the gates, at the entry of the city, at the coming in at the doors.” While Sophia is a lunar Mystery, identifiable with the Ashera, Exu is a solar Mystery, in almost all respects the Baal of the Persians and Set-Osiris of Ancient Egypt.

The most famous of all Exu-Elegbara rays is undoubtedly Voudoo Papa Legba, who opens the way to the Rada nations, and whose spectrum is red and white. Ancient beyond days, his back is crooked and he walks with a stick, or as Gran Legba with a crutch, which is seen depicted in the right hand horizontal of his vevé cross. Voudoo Papa Legba is always served first in reglimen, somewhat in the same way that the crossroads god Ganesh of Hindu Tantra, the beast headed remover of obstacles, is served first in their own possession cults. Legba is very strict concerning ritual as are his warrior companions, Ogun and Shango.

In Rada Voudon Papa Legba’s wife is Ayizan. Just as Baal was an easily angered god most wisely approached through his consort Ashera, so do Voudusant approach Legba through Ayizan, whose cooling influence is symbolised by the palm leaf of her vevé. As the Ashera rules over the sacred tree, Ayizan is the poto mitan at the centre of the ritual temple, representing the ascent and descent of the Laws. So too does Ayizan rule over the market place, which is her function in exchanges between the Laws and their servants. It is only through the Double Current of the male Legba and female Ayizan that the Laws take possession of their servants; a Mystery of clearly sexual implications and a secret rarely revealed to non-initiates.

In the Makaya cults of the bokor sorcerers called sanpiel or bizangos, it is through the intertwining of the serpent Simbi-Makaya and his consort Marianete, that Opens the Way to the Infernal Realms of the Djab, and the Intranquil. Simbi Makaya is the mercurial transmission of Met-Kahfu, the Left Hand Path of Legba, identified with the Black Sun, and the Antichrist. In Palo Mayombe, which deals largely with spirits of the dead, Simbi is known as Zimbi, the servitor of Exu.

The principal genius loci of Exu-Elegbara is at Woro, near Badagary, amongst a grove of sacred trees. He is usually depicted as seated with his hands on his knees, between them his Pan like impressive phallus. Effigies to him are often of clay heads, in modern times sometimes of concrete, with cowrie shells for eyes. Bird feathers form his head-dress, and he is often depicted as horned. His Odun, or feast, is October 1st, at which time his fetishe is drenched in palm oil and hen’s blood; the symbolic equivalent of the lunar kalas of the priestess.

In Haiti, this is that dark aspect called Met Kahfu, who opens the way not to the Laws, but to Chaos. His name Kahfu means limbo, the liminal realm in between. His name in French is Maitre de Carefour; Master of the Crossroads. This is that aspect identified with the image of the Devil. In his most Satanic aspect he stands at the Gate of Hell, and so his other names include Lucifer or Satan. Also like the Devil, or Goat of the Sabbat, Kahfu the Master of Crossroads is the initiator of sorcerers, witches, and were-wolves. At the dead of night, sacrifices to him are made at the crossroads, and other offerings on an unused square of white cloth. He likes strong spirits such as rum or whiskey, especially if it can be ignited as they draw much from the heat of fire. His vevé, like that of his Rada avatar, depicts a cross, yet with the in between dimensions also depicted, thus forming eight rays. His rite is in almost all ways the reflection of the true Witches’ Sabbat, resided over by the Sabbatic Goat.

Those who in life transgress destructively on the lives of others, who break the commandments of God, must suffer after death and cannot gain Absolution in the Light. Met Kahfu is the spirit who collects these damned souls, and locks them away in suffering beyond time. Without him our dimension would be invaded by bitter and regretful souls, malevolent Shadows, the undead. So it is a good job that Met Kahfu is doing, keeping the Ways to such Chaos Realms closed; and no wise sөrcerer would ask him to open them without good and Lawful reason; chiefly, for the punishment of wrong doers. In this, like the Laws of the Higher Realms, Met Kahfu does the work of the Good God, Bon Die, whose judgement is passed. He is the slave owner whose whips, tridents, and hot black pitch cause such eternal suffering to the damned.

Although we speak here of his manifestation in African magic, the same archetypal force is present in the magic of Asia; Compare the synchronicity between the the trident tipped crosses of Exu in South American spiritism and the trident tipped cross representing the intersection in ancient Taoist sorcery. Compare these with the Awe Helm of Icelandic Galdr, called also the Cross of Odin, the crossroads god of warlocks in pre-Christian Europe. Almost invariably this archetype, in whatever cultural manifestation, is interpreted by Christians as evil and identified with the Devil.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Exu-Elegbara is also identified in Santeria, Makumba, Quimbanda, and urban voodoo, not just as a devil but as the Devil. As in European Witchcraft, and perhaps like Sophia concealed as Baphomet, this became ‘accepted’ as a means of rebellion against the very Church that condemned them. Exu has similarly ‘accepted’ this image as the Devil, with all its associations of magick and initiation, as has his female avatar and consort (Cuba and Brazil) Pomba-Gira, meaning ‘spinning dove’, called also Maria the Queen of Hell. Other names for him include El Christo Negro, meaning Black Christ or Anti-Christ. So too do we find Exu conflated with both the Testament of Solomon and Baphomet, the Sabbatic Goat, its angel–devil zoömorphic hermaphroditic idol on the altars of urban voodoo sorcery, in which rites it is most commonly invoked by the name of the “first angel in the first heaven” – Exu-Beezlebu.


THE MASS OF BAPHOMET

“Conjuro vos Baron, Sathan, Belial, Belsebut, by the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost, by the Virgin Mary and all the Saints, to appear before us and speak to us, and to do our bidding.” – The Testament of Solomon

A fuller meaning of the angel–devil zoömorphic hermaphroditic idol and the octinomos name of Baphomet may now be gained, together with an understanding as to the purposes for which the Black Mass, or Mass of Baphomet, is performed.

If there is an altar, the idol, or other fetishe such as a goat skull, will be placed prominently upon it. Candles will typically be black and / or red, if a goat skull is employed a candle will be placed between its horns as with the torch of Levi’s depiction.

Incenses may be of henbane, opium, and cannabis, or other entheogens may be employed such as the flying ointments of Witchcraft, the secret ‘bush medicines’ of African Vodou, or the various sacraments of those traditions anthropologists call ‘shamanic’.

The trampling of the cross, as previously described, creates a crossroads sigil at the centre of the ritual circle, its arms designating the quarters. Such is the universal solar symbol of that archetype, natural Law, or Lwa, called Exu-Elegbara, Master of Crossroads, the Devil, and the Baphomet. The anti-clockwise dance of the Sabbat, called Widdershins by the Witches, symbolises the dark underworld reflection of the sun.

Other symbols associated with the archetype include the pentagram, either upright as on the Baphomet’s brow, or averse as with modern Satanism, and the eight rayed star, being the letter of Ashera and a sigil of the Black Sun.

Some form of offering such as a sexual and/or blood sacrifice, releasing Life Force for the spirits to draw upon, will be required if manifestation of any kind is to occur. The erotic elements of the Black Mass, or Sabbat, are not merely shallow indulgences of carnality, but serve to heighten the spiritual ashé (ojas, ching) of the participants. Such is the true purpose of the Devil’s Kiss, or Saracen’s Kiss, which is delivered through the kalas of the preist/ess’s sexual partner/s in the ritual as a kiss and series of heated breaths upon the Mulladhara chakra. This arousal leads to the raising in the priest/ess of the serpent of Kundalini, and activation of the Ajna chakra, the opening of Ayin within the psychic awareness of the preist/ess, and the awakening of Qoph, opposite the Vishudda chakra, being the entrance point of Exu-Elegbara, he who speaks with strength.

It is then that the priest/ess intones the octonomos name. Through self identification with the idol and name of Baphomet the magi-priest/ess becomes the embodiment of the in between, the reciprocal of the idol, so poised that s/he can, at will, be male, female, neither and/or both, operating in a multi-sexual context beyond good and evil. The infinity of Daath, the Shadow dimensions, is made finite in the physical body of the priest/ess, its emanations manifesting within time and space and on the material plane.

Having Opened the Way, the Invisibles may be called, typically to appear in a Black Mirror, or blazing incense within a Triangle of Evocation, as described in the grimoires, or else to take possession of the celebrants, or those among them prepared and able to act as mediums, as with the rites of Obeah, Voudon, Tantra, and the Sabbat. Alternatively, the Baphomet may be called to charge some talisman or spell directly with its dark chaotic power, in which case the priest/ess instead focuses the ashé of their awakened Ajna into the palms of their left and / or right hand. A sacrament might be consecrated and shared with the circle, the priest/ess as Baphomet tracing the eight rayed sigil of the Black Sun upon each brow. The Baphomet may spawn a servitor Thought Form, or grant a Familiar spirit (Imp), as told of in the grimoires of Solomon, and as with the Infernal Tradition of Witchcraft.

In another sense, the Baphomet denotes the priest/ess who employs the Double Current of Sol-Luna – Black Sun and Red Moon – manifesting as a single entity; represented as the solar eclipse. Baphomet thus represents the victory of Darkness over the Light, the eclipse of the solar ego through the dominance of the lunar female, in the non-being of Daath. It is also in this sense the Black Aeon should be interpreted. The Mass of Baphomet opens the Way not just to the dark powers of sorcery, but to the Black Aeon (Apocalypse) itself as Gnostic apotheosis of the Left Hand Path.


THE BLACK PSALM OF BAPHOMET

When the palms are placed together in a prayerful mudra, called in Ancient Babylon the raising of the hands, there is a free flow of power between them. The sorcerer may inform this circuit thus formed with their Will, which then sweeps through the biofield, its emanations sending new information into the morphic field. They may also draw down power from Ajna and Qoph, focusing it into the right and left palms, and so harm or heal by the laying of hands.

The Psalms have long played an important role in sorcery, as was known to the Witches and the Cunning, as it is today among the Obeah, the Hoodoo, and in urban voodoo; see my book The Mystical Power of the Psalms. In the Solomonic grimoires they are employed to bind and command the daemons. In contrast The Black Psalm of Baphomet, an averse prayer, is a petition and evocation. It may be employed in solitary practice, or as part of a group ritual as a ‘Call and Response’.

Our Lord & Lady who art in the Abyss Octonomos be Thy name
Our Will be done that Thy shall become On earth in full manifestation
Bless us this day with your Dark Gnosis And lead us into Illumination
IO Baphomet! IO Baphomet! IO Baphomet!

Zazas Zazas Nasatanada Zazas!

IO Keeper of the Devil’s Door between the Worlds IO Shadow of the One True Light
IO Dweller at the Threshold of the Liminal
IO Master of Witches, Sorcerers and Werewolves IO Walker on the Roads of Dust
IO Great black shape that makes men shiver IO Baphomet! IO Baphomet! IO Baphomet!

Zazas Zazas Nasatanada Zazas!

IO Baal IO Tammuz IO Set
IO Black Sun IO Red Moon IO Anti-Christ IO Harbinger of Apocalypse and Revelation

IO Pan IO Pangenitor IO Panphage IO Hoofed and Horned God of Lust IO God of Panic, Madness, & Hysteria

IO Baphomet! IO Baphomet! IO Baphomet!

Zazas Zazas Nasatanada Zazas!

IO Ashera-Mari IO Lilith IO Hecate
IO Queen of Hell and the Intranquil Spirits IO Black Goddess of Love and Death Thou art the Tree and the Serpent of Eden Thou art the Whore BABYLON
and the BEAST upon which she rideth IO Baphomet! IO Baphomet! IO Baphomet!

Zazas Zazas Nasatanada Zazas!

IO Male-Female Beast-God of the Black Aeon IO Bornless One that Abideth Forever
IO Guardian of the Abyss

IO Guardian of the Gates of Hell Thou art not a Shepherd but a Goatherd Thou art the Heresy and the Blasphemy IO Baphomet! IO Baphomet! IO Baphomet!

Zazas Zazas Nasatanada Zazas!

IO Satan IO Lucifer IO Beelzeboul
IO First among Angels who fell from the First Heaven We who remember your Descent upon Mount Harmon Who have tasted of the Forbidden Fruit, we call you For thou art the Red and thou art the Black
For thou art the Knowledge of both Good and Evil IO Baphomet! IO Baphomet! IO Baphomet!

Zazas Zazas Nasatanada Zazas!

Nail the Door that our enemies may not enter Nail the Door to those whose tongues are forked Nail the Door to them that love cursing Nail the Door to them that neglect to bless Let them knock three times and no answer And may their prayers become as sin
IO Baphomet! IO Baphomet! IO Baphomet!

Zazas Zazas Nasatanada Zazas!

May you stand at the right hand of our enemies Overlooking all that they do
May strangers spoil their labour
And another take their office
Set your demons upon them

That they shall believe in them and be lost IO Baphomet! IO Baphomet! IO Baphomet!

Zazas Zazas Nasatanada Zazas!

IO Initiator of the Red and Black Rays
IO Bringer of vexation and sorrow
Bring no vexation or sorrow to us your Disciples Grant to us Power everlasting, for ever and ever Thou art the the Door and Thou art the Way
We have knocked three times and Thou has answered IO Baphomet! IO Baphomet! IO Baphomet!

Zazas Zazas Nasatanada Zazas!

Open the Way to the Black Aeon of Sorcery Open the Way to the Realm of Dark Gods Open the Way for us that we may pass through When we pass through we shall salute the Mysteries For we are the same
Servants of the Left Hand Path
IO Baphomet! IO Baphomet! IO Baphomet!

Zazas Zazas Nasatanada Zazas!

So Shall it be

So Shall it be

Amen Amen Amen

Amen Amen Amen

__________________________________________________________________________

Excerpt from THE MASS OF BAPHOMET by Nathaniel J. Harris

Available from Amazon UK, Amazon USA

The Devil’s Door

Magick, Occult, Religion, Sorcery, Spirituality, Witchcraft

‘Just as there is a door which opens unto God, so is there a Devil’s Door which opens upon the recremental deeps. Let the aspirant be in no doubt that once this door is opened that the deeps will come in.’ – A.E. Waite

‘The cornerstone that the builders rejected is the place from which I come. The gate that is not a gate is the source of the living One.’ – The Gospel of Mary Magdalene

There is a peculiar feature to many of England’s medieval Churches, being a smaller entrance commonly situated in the North side of the building. This door is only opened during the Ceremonies of Baptism and Communion, and at no other times. Lore tells that Devils may reside within the Spirit of an unbaptised child, and that its spirit is Exorcised during these Rituals. It is also at this door that the aspiring Initiate of the Black Art may meet their Master, and make their Pact. For all these reasons, it is called the Devil’s Door.

In Christian lore, it is said that the Lord will rise again in the East; thus this side of a Church is regarded as the most sacred. It was common practice for the dead to be buried with their feet pointing towards to East, so that they could meet Him at the time of Resurrection. Next is the South, then West, and finally the North – this from the belief that the dead would rise in this order. The East is considered God’s side, where His throne is set; the West, man’s side, the Galilee of the Gentiles; the South, the side of the ‘Spirits Made Just’ and Angels, and the North is the Devil’s side. Criminals and paupers were frequently buried in the North side of the churchyard.

References to the North as the direction of the Evil One may be found in the Bible. In Jeremiah 1-13/14 we find; ‘What seest thou? And I said, I see a seething pot; and the face thereof is toward the north. Then the Lord said unto me, out of the north an evil shall break forth upon all the inhabitants of the land.’  In Jeremiah 46-20; ‘..destruction cometh; it cometh out of the north’.

The cardinal direction of North was associated in the Middle Ages with criminality. An accused person would stand facing his judges to the North. If a thief or criminal was being chased by the authorities, they could seek sanctuary within a church, as no violence was to take place there. If they could get to the Devil’s Door and take a hold of its handle, they could not be arrested until such times as they had let go. Ecclesiastical sanctuary is believed to have developed through usage from the Anglo-Saxon period until James I abolished the right altogether in 1623. Nevertheless, it was still practised in some parts of the country until the 19th century.

Many early churches in Britain were built upon the very spots used by previous generations of pagan worshippers. Perhaps it was that the sacred space usurped by the church would have been entered only from the North. In ancient Britain and the Germanic territories, the direction was central to the pagan Mysteries. Might we see here the presence of the Sorcerer-God known to us as Woden? That Master of Darkness, Initiator of Sorcerers, and Knower of the Dead? It seems a strong likelihood that these Mysteries may have informed the lore of the Devil’s Door. Amongst Woden’s many names we find also that of ‘Grim’, once again associated with the Devil as the ‘Church Grim’. The God Tyr, also, is associated with the North; indeed his Rune is an arrow pointing to the North Star.

It occurs in Phaerie Lore that the human wishing to make contact with the Hidden Folk may do so by circling a mound beneath which they live, anti-clockwise, and ending in the North. Perhaps here we see the continuation from the Elder Faith, carried through yet adapted to a Christian interpretation. Indeed, as we shall see, there are many practices that remain essentially unchanged from their origins within Phaerie Lore, the service of the Old Ones, and those that are later defined as Infernal Witchcraft.

Yet just because we find a strong correlation, we should not assume to have solved the Mystery in its entirety. Here we have one of many examples where myths have wound together like twisting roots, revealing an intricate pattern.. The association of the North with Devils, and the realms of the dead, may also be found in the Magick of the Zoroastrians. In a Rite of Exorcism, performed in the name of Ahurumazda, the Druj is cast out with these words; “Perish away to the regions of the North, never more to give unto death the living world of the Holy Spirit.”

According to the book of Bahir, amongst the oldest of Kabalist texts, the North is the abode of evil, and Satan comes from the North. It may be noted that the Northerly direction, the cold wastes of the Abyss, and the darkness of perpetual winter, are attributed within Kabalist Lore to the ‘Sephiroth that is not a Sephiroth’; Daath. The significance here is that Daath is indeed the Devil’s Door upon the Tree of Life, leading to the alternate dimensions of the Tree of Death – and the realms of Hell.

It is congruent, also, that within the Egyptian Mysteries the North is associated with Set- the original archetypal ‘Devil’ who was Invoked with Rites we would otherwise describe as Witchcraft pure and simple. For now it is enough to draw attention to the associations with Set, funerary Rites, self overcoming, and the Pathways of the Tree of Death which have been called the Tunnels of Set.

This Mystery may also be found within the Rites of Freemasonry. It is told of the Temple of King Solomon that; ‘….the Sun and Moon….could dart no ray of light into the North part thereof.’ Thus it is that the first degree Mason is taught the North of a term of darkness. This is more than mere allegory, for whilst the Sun progresses through the ecliptic it never reaches beyond 23 degrees North of Earth’s equator. Thus, a building constructed any further North will receive light only on its South face when the Sun is at its meridian height.

According to Witchcraft Lore, it is at this Devil’s Door that the candidate meets their Initiator. Such provides the culmination of a Rite taking place over a series of consecutive nights, during which time the candidate visits the church at midnight and circles the building Widdershins, walking backwards, a variable number of times (usually 3, but always an odd number).

On the final night the Devil is called upon to appear, perhaps as a person, a toad, a large black dog, or any other creature it might choose. The candidate offers a Consecrated host, which must be fed to whatever awaits. As with the formulæ of Witchcraft generally, it must be stressed that there are many variants to this tradition.

It is of relevance that the Rites of Initiation take place at locations bordering the dimensions, as may be understood to be the symbolic aspect of the Devil’s Door itself, or at the crossroads, the seashore, bridges, and so on. Initiation concerns the worlds of the Visible and Invisible, hinging upon the point where the dimensions intersect. The mythic function serves to accentuate occult reality, allowing it to obsess us temporarily that we may once again reabsorb it.

In all these traditions the Initiator may be specifically identified with the Devil. Evidence of such goes back at least to the Middle Ages, with many signs appearing in the Persecution records. In all such depictions, the Rites are portrayed as overtly Satanic. It is that mythic formula concealed also within the tale of the Fall, of Eve and Adam’s partaking of the Forbidden Fruit.

Within many of the old Trade Gilds, which in their day celebrated the Mysteries of their Craft and gave offering to their Gods at their gatherings, the Initiator also became identified with the Devil. Such things were true of the Society of the Horseman’s Word. The Devil is also recognised as the Mystery behind the closely related Initiatory formulæ of the Toad Witches.

Another formula of Self-Initiation is recorded by Scot in his Discoverie of Witchcraft (1584), amongst the most commonly employed books within the Cunning and Art of England, in which the candidate places one hand upon their head, the other on the sole of their foot, giving all between their two hands to the Devil and declaring their self the enemy of all organised religion.

Yet Nature presents one grand and useful lesson more; the knowledge of Self. She teaches, by contemplation, to prepare for the closing hours of existence; and when she has led through the intricate twists and turns of mortal life, she finally brings the lesson of Death. Such are the peculiarities of the Rites of Initiation. They are an invitation to reflect upon that awful subject and teach that, to the Upright Man, death has no terror equal to that of error and illusion.

The formulæ of Initiation, whether into primitive societies or advanced fraternities, are of symbolic death and resurrection; as typified in the myths of Osiris, Christ, and Hiram, amongst many others. Such symbolism is present in the tradition of meeting one’s Initiator at the North side of the church- being that part of the graveyard where the poor are buried, and where sunlight does not fall.

Through the nearness of darkness and death we are inevitably reminded that our own life is but a transient dream. It is analogous, also, to the Inner Darkness, through which we may be presented with glimpses into the Mysteries. It is a symbolic renewal of the candidate’s connection with the embryonic Void; the gateway to the Mysteries, living and breathing the Rite as a dreamer dreams a dream. The shadows of the graveyard serve to remind us of the shifting shadows of Self, ever descending into reincarnation, attempting even death for its satisfaction. This darkness is embraced in its totality that the flame of Illumination may ignite spontaneously within the Self, as the Limitless Light first emerged from the Void.

This is that symbolic death that allows us to mature, imperceptibly, within ourselves. It is not a physical death, but the death of the candidate’s inertia upon the Path of Self; their unawareness and alienation. The aim of Initiation is to kill this death, uncovering the Self buried beneath so much sand and mud. It is as if the candidate were reincarnated ‘this time around’- and let us not forget, that through this symbolised death, the Initiate may come to expand their awareness of mortal death. It is not entirely unknown for Initiates to regain certain memories of previous incarnations at such times. This death corresponds to the Alchemical processes of transmutation, and does not in itself present the culmination of the Rite.

This Harrowing of Hell, called also the Journey Unto the Centre of the Earth, is not merely one of introspection. It serves also as an Enchantment cast upon one’s own Self by the aid of the Devil. The descent into one’s Self foreshadows Infinity; its aim is the perception of a complex reality revealed through various components of the Rite. It is at this stage, having attained the very heart of this realty, that the tangible world opens itself up to the Mysteries.

Herein lies the paradox of Initiation. It is easy to comprehend the need to Become One’s Self in order to realise one’s potential, yet it is difficult to comprehend how the seemingly finite Self is to identify with the infinite Mysteries.

By the process of Initiation, the aspirant rediscovers their Self, stripping it of those beliefs and miscomprehension that hindered them from becoming their own creator, which the Alchemists understood by the phrase Son of His Works. The Initiate enters into this Mystery, revealing the cruel beauty which runs as a current through the Self, as it runs also through the world.

Much superstition and misunderstanding has been accumulated around the formulæ of Initiation. It is often supposed that the candidate acquires by these Rites great Mystical insight as if by a single moment of Illumination, and that great powers are to be granted them suddenly by the agency of the Devil. In reality, however, the Rites of Initiation provide a function that might better be described as poetic, stirring the Greater Mind within the individual as great poetry may serve to awaken the Secrets of the Soul; which is as Danté called the Straight Track.

Nor is the Devil’s Door representative of some singular and finite Attainment. Rather, it is a vow that must be continually reaffirmed. It is not enough to perform this Rite but the once, and consider oneself a ‘Witch’ from this moment on, and forever. The enigma may be decoded through the dictum ‘The object of the Quest is the very way of the Quest’, by which is meant that the goal of our journey is not the aim of our embarking, for it will be to us forever Mysterious. Rather it is the journey itself that is its own purpose. Thus, in the old gilds (the forerunners of ‘guilds’, preserving trade secrets and lore), the candidate for Initiation was sometimes known as a Journeyman. The Rites themselves serve as a momentary Enchantment, a marking of the beginning of a journey that may have no ultimate destination other than death, itself as illusory as life. It is a spelling out with action, and may never replace the endless journey of maturation it represents.