It was not always this way. We first met in, of all places, Sedona, Arizona. I lived in a warehouse on the edge of town in a small industrial area. It was late afternoon when I returned home. As I opened the door the scent of what smelt like a skunk hit my nose. Squinting and wondering what the hell it was, I continued to walk into my apartment and there before me, sitting crossed legged, was what can only be described as the Devil himself. He was enormous, his cloven feet and muscular furred legs filled up the entire space and as I looked up, as if through the roof of the building, his body extended, until his huge horned head and blazoned eyes looked down at me. I completely freaked and ran from the room, out into the desert behind the building. I was in shock, I didn’t know what to do with myself, my mind was racing, I was in a complete state of panic. I walked around for a while
constantly talking out loud, telling myself to calm down, that I was somehow hallucinating and that this thing could not be real.
After a while I plucked up the courage to go back and see if He was still there. When I returned the front door was slightly ajar. I slowly crept up to it and took a peek inside. Sure enough, he was. I don’t quite know what came over me but I instantly felt a burst of courage and slowly walked into the room.
Its very hard to describe an experience like this unless you have had one yourself. My mind continually screamed at me to run, that this was either a complete illusion, or I was now sitting at the feet of Satan himself. To look at him was so overwhelming, it was as if his image was somehow projected over reality, I could see him but at the same time, see through him, into the room around me. One thing was for sure, His presence was immense.
I will say this for myself: whenever I have faced intense danger in my life, courage has always won the day and I will inevitably lock in and face whatever is confronting me, as much out of curiosity as anything else.
My body shook and my breathing was erratic, everything about this being scared me, his appearance was exactly like that of the Devil.
Now you’ve got to understand that I am not and never have been a practising Christian. I feel a certain empathy with Christ but by no means am I devout.
Yet in this moment in the presence of this creature my mind reverted to a Christian’s worldview.
I tried to clear my head of these thoughts but couldn’t help thinking, “ Shit, they were right all along. There must be a God because I’m now sitting at the feet of the Devil “.
So began my initiations. Many, many things have transpired since that first meeting and many fears have been faced and overcome. He has shown me how His presence protects and guards the Mysteries and how wrong I was to think of him as the Christians do, as the Devil, how wrong.
Scapegoat is the word that comes to mind when I think now how culturally His image has been used to project all the evils of the world.
In my own experience, this could not be further from the truth. I have been brought to tears in His presence with the level of tenderness and compassion He has shown me and others who would dare to go beyond themselves and enter into nature’s spiritual realm.
Certain tests in the sense of mythic adventures must be overcome in order to pass beyond the gate that He guards. In my case, for example, after that first meeting, I forced myself to face my fear and was amazed to find how much cultural Christian imprinting lay at the root of my psyche, that needed dismantling.
For a two to three month period I was completely consumed by his presence and at times felt as if I was going completely insane. The energy that emanates from His presence is pure life force, wild and untamed and the fear that arouse inside of me, if I was willing to surrender, was terrifying.
Finally I called a mentor of mine and told him exactly what was going on. How I was petrified that if I were to surrender to this presence I would literally go on a sexual rampage, scared I would rape or kill someone. I cried as I explained this unfathomable situation to my friend.
He just laughed and said that in magick the experience I was having was called overshadowing. That I was being blessed by the Old God and that I should simply surrender and go with it. He also told me that in times long past if this were happening, I would be honoured and considered blessed amongst the tribe, as the God possessed me.
I cried back at him, “You don’t understand if I surrender to this thing I’m going to end up in jail or something“. He again simply laughed, assured me that I wouldn’t and that I should totally go with it and stop trying to resist.
My girlfriend and I left town that afternoon and headed up to the woods in the San Francisco peaks, where we walked for miles. Unbelievably, we found a set of antlers laid on the earth before us. This surely was yet another sign of His presence.
Finally we found a spot that felt right, deep in the heart of the mountain’s forest. We sat and faced each other, holding the horns between us. I cried out to the wind that I was ready and willing to surrender to Him, I felt my heart pounding in my chest. My girlfriend sat open armed ready to receive what ever was about to flood through me.
The fear at that point for me was excruciating, my body began to shake. I let out a long deep groan as He stepped into me and then, in an instant, all was calm. The calmest I had ever felt in fact, our beings merged and all traces of fear left me. Then and only then could I see and feel His real presence.
A more calm, balanced, warm, immense energy I have yet to meet. Affection and love merging with wood, trees, rivers and the ever fertile earth.
A gentle smile began to brighten my face as my girlfriend sat giggling and laughing as she witnessed my transformations, part man, part nature.
The communion lasted for what seemed like ages and in that time His presence communicated to me who and what He is and more importantly what lay beyond Him.
No other God has been more outcast, ridiculed, condemned and criticised than He.
I realize now that the ordeal, at least for me, was to face my fears, which I believe is partly His role. To turn us back on ourselves to reflect our imbalances, impurities and only those truly courageous and pure in heart may pass beyond His Guardianship.
It has been many years since this initial initiation and only after the fact have I gone to books, etc, to find what has been written about Him.
I realize now why He has been given the role of the Devil, why His presence evokes so much fear in people and why the uninitiated project all their anger, sin, lust, etc, on to Him.
Whatever is un-owned or denied in self, whatever natural force has been pushed away and perverted will rise to the surface when in His presence. Not to be acted out on, as was my fear, prior to surrendering, but instead to be acknowledged owned, integrated and then moved beyond.
The great joke of it all is this inner denial of our primal nature, this symbolic rejection of the Horned God, is reflected out into the world collectively.
We, with all our religions, with all our advances in technology, with all our civilisation, are systematically destroying the earth. We are so far from balance within and without ourselves, so scared to look within and creatively express what is there, that we cling to the lie. That Spirit is something up there, something beyond our grasp, unattainable. Only to be reached in the so called afterlife.
When in fact Heaven is here, now, under our very feet. If you think the Christ was crucified and died for our sins, that is nothing, to what He (The Horned God) has had to endure. Rejected, cast out demonized, betrayed, raped, poisoned, deceived, denied, and the collective consciousness has the audacity to call Him Devil.
I now know this to be the lie that it is. It’s as if I stumbled across a great secret, a mystery revealed.
R.J Stewart, one of the few who deeply understands this mystery, says in his book The Underworld Initiation, of the Horned Man: “ In the individual psyche, the ancient Guardian is expressed as that which limits or restricts. It may become an image of fear, loathing or disgust, envy or unfulfilled lust. These are the diabolic emotions with which we are familiar both from orthodox religious suggestion and from modern psychotherapeutic theories. In the Mysteries, such reactions are known to be entirely the response and the responsibility of the individual; they come from within, and not from the guardian power. In religious terms, we tended in the past to blame ‘ the devil ‘ for our personal and national evils; in modern parlance we claim that we are victims of society, or the products of unavoidable psychic damage in our childhood. In extreme cases, the esoteric traditions would not deny either exterior or malefic influence or collapse under social and personal pressure; but these are never used as catch all explanations or excuses, least of all for self indulgence.
The Devil cannot truly tempt us; we tempt ourselves. Nor does he keep us out of Heaven, we debar ourselves from truth by refusing to undergo the changes essential to pass within. The Guardian stands at the Gateway where we are made fully aware of our own limitations.”
He goes on to write, “ With one hand, the Guardian protects the Mysteries from penetration and imbalance, while with the other he protects the individual from contact with energies that he or she is unable to bear. To pass him you must solve all the riddles, but the answers are not words or tricks, they are YOURSELF ! “
“ One of the more noticeable occurrences during a genuine magical or innerworld experience, is a fear that rises from within. This is not the commonplace fear triggered of by an exterior agency, but the reaction mentioned in religious texts as ‘ the fear of the Lord …….. The beginning of all wisdom ‘. It often reacts through into the body and operates from deeper levels of consciousness than those of mere emotion or discomfort. This uncontrollable reaction denotes the presence of the Guardian. “
There is no greater gift other than the experience itself, than to read something, that confirms an inner reality.
I was lucky enough to meet RJ Stewart in Sante Fe, New Mexico and there was an instant recognition between us. A silent knowing between initiates. I highly recommend his book ‘The Underworld Initiation’ to anyone interested in this subject.
As for me, the Mystery deepens every day and I am glad that I have made my peace with The Horned God, now moving back and forth through the Gateway freely, occasionally meeting others on their journey.