The Devil on the Path of Initiation

The fifteenth Tarot card of the Major Arcana is The Devil, a most maligned figure, perhaps this Atu should properly be called ‘Pan’, for the ‘Devil’ is a rather meaningless term… The Magician who reaches this stage of the Journey is mighty indeed. His Hebrew letter is Ayin- ‘eye’ and his third eye, the ajna chakra is open wide. After Death & Alchemical re-birth The Magician is now, like his Arcadian brother, on the peak of of a mountain. He has overcome fear and experienced every ecstasy and horror with equal non-attachment. The Aspirant must choose now, to remain in his place of power, with the ability to manifest any desire, to remain a King on the Earth, or to allow his very identity to be consumed by Godhead. This is temptation. The Horned God is to be revered and feared in equal measure. Capricious is the Ram! He is Baphomet. His number adds the X of Unity with the V of the Pentagram. His spiral horns reach to infinity Above and his roots to infinity Below. He is the archetypal sorcerer. The innocent youth of Atu I has grown into half a God, his choice is whether to remain on his summit, amassing power or to proceed onwards from Briah to Aziluth. Service to Self, the way of the ‘Black Brother’ or Service to Others. Black and White Magick are, however, rarely so well defined, ideas of the old Left Hand/Right Hand Path dialectic have dissolved to the Grey of Chokmah- Wisdom.

Plutarch relates the story of the sailor Thamus who heard a disembodied voice declare “The Great God Pan is Dead”, a child had been born in Bethlehem. The Christian Theologians built their religion on the bedrock of millennia of Paganism. It was a hostile takeover, the Old Gods became demons. Set and Shaitan are forms of this exiled deity… Pan, the scapegoat… Unbridled sexuality and Dionysian excess, the raw power and beauty of wild places, “red of tooth and claw”, the cult of the Shaman and the Bacchanals of the Ancients all belong to ‘The Devil’. Pan, of course is still alive and well, thriving in his imposed role of Adversary.

No pale blonde Messiah has inspired the dark genius of Poets, Artists, Musicians and Magicians like The Great God Pan.

Devil or god, to me, to me,
My man ! my man !
Come with trumpets sounding shrill
Over the hill !
Come with drums low muttering
From the spring !
Come with flute and come with pipe !
Am I not ripe ?
I, who wait and writhe and wrestle
With air that hath no boughs to nestle
My body, weary of empty clasp,
Strong as a lion, and sharp as an asp-
Come, O come !
I am numb
With the lonely lust of devildom.
Thrust the sword through the galling fetter,
All devourer, all begetter;
Give me the sign of the Open Eye
And the token erect of thorny thigh
And the word of madness and mystery,
O pan ! Io Pan !

(Excerpt from ‘Hymn to Pan’ by Aleister Crowley)


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