[For Part One, click here.]
“AD GAIA qui lætificat juventutem meam,” you chant, twirling your lit censer counter-clockwise in your left hand. The aroma of onycha and myrrh fills your nose. Codex Saerus described the odor as ‘petrichor’—the smell of dry earth and rain.
Having distributed the smoke around you, you set the censer on the slab and retrieve your Sword of Aggression. You raise it skyward, piercing the night air with its blade.
“Oh Mighty Lucifer, Keep me in thy grace! Light my path with the lamps of thy infernal light, If it is thy will allow me to prosper that I may serve thee better. Bring torment upon my enemies and those who would hinder my service to thee, Let them forever burn in the fires of thy wrath!”
I’d kill for a fire about now, you think, suppressing the urge to chatter your teeth.
“Help me to experience and know the substance of thy being, And keep me away from the deception of those who are without thy grace— fuck, it’s cold!”
You can’t help it. You stammer the last part.
Composing yourself, you continue.
“Upon the demise of this body guide my soul to Hell, For it is my wish to be with thee. These things I ask: Thy will be done on this black earth as it is in Hell. For thine is the light of my dominion, salvation and triumph forever.”
You rise to your feet and extend your arms outward.
“Ave Luciferi! Let thy will be done!”
And there you stand, alone, naked, anticipating a sign.
The forest is still.
Fortunately, you prepared for this. You attempt other invocations.
“Ave Satanas!” You cry, thrusting your dagger into the air.
The trees rustle, unimpressed.
Again, there is silence.
Losing momentum, you go back to a kneeling position and glance warily about you. Nothing has changed. There are no serpents emerging from the forest en masse, no half-man, half-goat monstrosities bargaining for your soul, no mysterious men in flowing capes riding a Horse of the Apocalypse.
Just you, alone, in the woods.
Naked. Cold. A little afraid. Mostly disappointed.
“Was it the fuck?” You ask, to no one in particular. You set your athame aside and throw your hands up in surrender. “Seriously—you have to know how cold it is out here. I’m trying my best.”
Wait. Who the fuck was that?
“Hello?” You ask.
No answer. Maybe you’re just being paranoid.
There it is again!
“Seriously. If this is a joke, cut it out.”
It’s a joke, alright. And you’re the punchline.
Is that any way to treat a guest?
“… Wait.” You put two and two together.
Your face pales.
“… Oh God. It worked, didn’t it?”
No thanks to the Nazarene.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa—I’m not a Christian.”
Clearly. You rang?
“Oh. Uh …” For lack of anything eloquent to say, you settle with, “Hello.”
Hi. Is this important? I’m kind of busy.
“Not really. Where are you? I don’t see you.”
Good. One look at me and your tiny human brain would explode.
Fine. Close your eyes.
With a dismissive sigh, you shut your eyes. Only darkness greets you.
Okay. Now open them.
“OH MY GOD!” You scream, covering your face with your hands. The hideousness of what you laid eyes on is so viscerally unsettling it makes you feel like vomiting. Tears flow from your eyes like you’re in a room full of pungent, freshly-cut onions. You’re glad you don’t have your athame handy, or you might’ve hollowed your own eyes out on impulse.
“You’re hideous!” You shout, swallowing back the taste of bile in your throat.
Yeah. Hi. I’m the Devil, in case you forgot.
“Ugh.” Finally finished freaking out, you gradually retract your arm. With an immense sigh of relief, you discover the abomination before you is gone. And it’s in that moment that you realize you’ve probably just offended the Father of Lies. “Wow—I’m sorry. That was rude.”
You feel elation. Suddenly, months of speculation, reading, and missed social appointments are vindicated by the actual presence of Lucifer. “I can’t believe you’re real. I have so many questions!”
And so little time.
“Why, do you have some place to be?”
I’m the Devil. I’m immortal. I’ll always have someplace to be. You, however, have a fleeting few decades left.
“A few decades? So you’re not going to curse me for having summoned you to die tomorrow, or whatever?”
Why would I do that?
“I don’t know. You’re the Devil. You’re evil. You do evil things. Right?”
That depends on your definition of evil.
You roll your eyes. “So even the Devil argues semantics.”
To your surprise, this makes Him laugh. I invented semantics.
Of course. Semantics, loopholes, exploitations—my domain is the advancement of chaos. These are all mechanisms by which unanticipated choice reigns in an ordered system. Your human infrastructures are porous. Like a sponge, absorbing My influence through the smallest perforations until the whole system is saturated.
“I kind of saw you more as a ruthless warmonger than a politician.”
Satanists don’t launch Crusades to kill My opposition, now do they? They prefer more ‘Machiavellian’ techniques. Think back to the Fall of Man.
“Right, right—in the Garden of Eden. Nice work, by the way.”
“So what’s the point of it all?”
If societies stood unopposed, if human sovereignty were unquestioned, the march of progress would inevitably halt. I am found within the heart of every dissident, every refugee, every disenfranchised group the ‘status quo’ your people so prize has cruelly ignored.
I am the curiosity and intuition that beckons men’s souls beyond the mundanity of their ordinary lives. I am the Light of Knowledge and Truth, and My fire must burn Eternal. Let it beckon you, like a moth to a flame, past the boundaries of your comfort zone and into the Abyssal Unknown beyond.
The candle flames flicker.
For some, the journey to My flame is a perilous one, for all freedom demands sacrifice. And sacrifice you must. You must sacrifice your species’ incessant need for the validation of others, your inflated sense of self-worth, and sometimes, even your own bodily integrity. But in return, you will discover things unseen, and your trek will carve a path in the Darkness for others to follow. No longer a sheep to be herded by the Shepherd of God, you will become a Master of Men.
In time, all of mankind will discover there that the struggle between Shepherds and sheep was a work of fiction; that the Shepherd was never in control, and the sheep was never his possession. The essence of the Self can be neither restricted, nor bolstered; only convinced one way or another of its own self-worth. There are no wolves and sheep among men; only flames, light-sources, waiting for the proper kindling and an errant spark of genius.
The candle lights snuff out unexpectedly, casting you into moonlit night. The full moon marches higher into the heavens.
Follow your intuition into the Darkness, brandishing the Light of your own wisdom, and you will never be lost.
“I understand,” you say, absorbing His words. “Thank you.”
Now go forth, human, and make known My word.
“You got it. Now can I put my clothes back on?”
You throw your hood on over your ears and pull the drawstring to scrunch the hem around your face. You’ve never been happier to be fully dressed before.
You’ve already placed your tools in your backpack, save your leftover incense and candles, which you dutifully bury. In the Hermetic tradition, the responsible disposal of magickal remains involves burying them, casting them into the ocean, or burning them. There’s no body of water along Pidgeon Hill, and you’d rather not start a forest fire. You have a feeling you’ll want to come back.
It’ll be another evenly-paced, hour-long hike to get back to your car and drive home for the night.
You remember being young and playing elaborate imaginary games in the woods behind your family’s house after dark, being frightened by every subtle noise and imagining their source—a zombie, or a dragon, or a serial killer. You remember the first time you tried chanting Bloody Mary three times in the bathroom with the lights turned off, and chickening out at the second recitation.
You wonder how much magic and beauty you lost out on by being afraid of it and now, with only a flashlight, you’ve never felt more unafraid in your entire life.