The Alchemical Devilry Series, Part I: The Temptation of Christ, The Black Trinity, and The Choice Before The Children of God
[AN: Part One of a multi-part occult series regarding the Devil, this essay provides a foundation for concepts which will be elaborated later, such as the devil’s representations in art and culture and the crafting of a psychic contract. More practical-application occult discussion will be occurring in future essays, to be published every Friday beginning 7/29 until their completion. After this devilry series is complete, more discussion will be given to alchemical themes in film, literature and other works of art.]
I have a confession to make to you, Internet: I, in a perfectly rational way, love the Devil.
Let me clarify that I love Christ, too. Who could not but love Christ, and especially the man, Jesus! The Devil did, himself, or else he wouldn’t have made such a generous effort to help the Son of Man while wandering through the desert. To paraphrase Jung’s Red Book, “the ancients lived their symbols.” Jesus, struggling with his inner nature as Christ, that great symbol of consciousness and eternal salvation for all mankind, wandered into the desert of the spirit and there encountered the brother-archetype of Christ, the Devil, the Set to his Osiris, and was given the opportunity to escape the will of Yahweh. Christ decided against this; but while his martyrdom offers the salvation of all mankind, I wonder perhaps what might have happened had he decided to accept the Devil’s offer of help— to make use of his powers as a Child of God and raise himself up. To be propelled not by the will of a demiurge, but by the will of himself.
Think for a moment, if you will, about the temptation of Christ. I’ll transcribe my childhood Catholic Bible for the scene in Matthew 4:1-11 if you’re not familiar:
4. Then Jesus was lead up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. The tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written,”
‘One does not live by bread
but by every word that comes
from the mouth of God.’”
5. Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, 6. saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written,
‘He will command his angels
and ‘On their hands they will
bear you up,
so that you will not dash your
foot against a stone.’”
7. Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
8. Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms if the world and their splendor; 9. and he said to him, “All of these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10. Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written,
‘Worship the Lord your God,
and serve only him.’”
11. Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him.
What a story! I love this story. I love it, and it reminds me of something else, too; a quote by William Blake. “Good is the passive that obeys Reason. Evil is the active springing from Energy.” It also brings to mind the obvious fact that either nobody actually reads the Bible, or that nobody reads it critically, whether Christians or Atheists.
Like all good stories, the Bible deserves to be analyzed. Many have done it before me, but I still think the best way to do it is with good old-fashioned literary and Jungian analysis. “But wait,” crieth the Christians, their mouths having started foaming with the first line of the essay, “didn’t you look at the quote, yourself! ‘Do not put your Lord God to the test.’”
Well! That’s a great place to start, I think— let’s look at the context of the quote. This quote is part of a much larger verse of Deuteronomy in the Old Testament and itself requires a bit of context from Exodus, so let’s start with that context:
17. From the wilderness of Sin the whole congregation of the Israelites journeyed by stages, as the LORD commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. 2. The people quarreled with Moses, and said, “Give us water to drink.” Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the LORD?” 3. But the people thirsted there for water; and the people complained against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst?” 4. So Moses cried out to the LORD, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.” 5. The LORD said to Moses, “Go on ahead of the people, and take some of the elders of Israel with you; take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. 6. I will be standing there in front of you on the rock at Ho’reb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it, so that the people may drink.” Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. 7. He called the place Massah [Test] and Meribah [Quarrel], because the Israelites quarreled and tested the LORD, saying, “Is the LORD among us or not?”
The Deuteronomy quote to which Jesus refers the devil (“Satan” meaning naught but “Adversary,” as many of us know) then, is within Deuteronomy 6:10-25, which highlights a little better, I think, the personality of the vengeful Yahweh, that very same demiurgic deity who commanded Jesus to go into the desert specifically to be tempted in the first place.
10. When the Lord your God has brought you into the land that he swore to your ancestors, to Abraham, to Isaaac, and to Jacob, to give you—a land with fine, large cities that you did not build, 11. houses filled with all sorts of goods that you did not fill, hewn cisterns that you did not hew, vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant—and when you have eaten your fill, 12. take care that you do not forget the LORD, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 13. The LORD your God you shall fear; him you shall serve, and by his name alone you shall swear. 14. Do not follow other gods, any of the gods of the peoples who are all around you, 15. because the LORD your God, who is present with you, is a jealous God. The anger of the LORD your God would be kindled against you and he would destroy you from the face of the earth.
16. Do not put the LORD your God to the test, as you tested him at Massah. 17. You must diligently keep the commandments of the LORD your God, and his decrees, and his statutes that he has commanded you. 18. Do what is right and good in the sight of the LORD, so that it may go well with you, and so that you may go in and occupy the good land that the LORD swore to your ancestors to give you, 19. thrusting out all your enemies from before you, as the LORD has promised.
20. When your children ask you in time to come, “What is the meaning of the decrees and the statutes and the ordinances that he LORD our God has commanded you?” 21. then you shall say to the children, “We were Pharaoh’s slaves in Egypt, but the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand. 22. The LORD displayed before our eyes great and awesome signs and wonders against Egypt, against Pharaoh and all his household. 23. He brought us out from there in order to bring us in, t give us the land that he promised on oath to our ancestors. 24. Then the LORD commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our lasting good, so as to keep us alive, as is now the case. 25. If we diligently observe the entire commandment before the LORD our God, as he has commanded us, we will be in the right.
And now we realize the reason why Christ is called the Lamb; for he laith down as the lamb for the slaughter, to provide an example for the people of the will of their jealous God. Take careful note: for purposes of this essay, ‘Jesus’ refers to the fleshly man who, as a Son of God, became inhabited by the Christ archetype; ‘Christ’ refers to the spiritual, intangible archetype itself, eventually embodied in Revelations as Logos; and ‘Jesus Christ’ I use to refer to the risen Christ inhabiting the body of Jesus.
Let’s start with the desert, and its associated symbolism. Barren, dry, hot, it is, on the one hand, symbolic of an emptiness of spirit, of pain and questioning and doubt. It represents a separation from water; it is the opposing extreme of the life-giving, moist and cool nature of water, or the unconscious. Christ has wandered into the desert, wandered apart from the water, much as the demiurge Yahweh drew the people of Moses from the enslavement of the Nile-ruling Pharaoh, across the Red Sea which parted but for them, and made them wander in thirst, only giving them water when they complained, and chiding them, then, for their complaints. The message here is clear: Yahweh has brought his people into the material world, and only with reluctance, only with the grace of the mystic, does he allow them to access the unconscious. He would see his followers humbled as they wander the desert of separation, would see that they do not access water themselves, do not turn rocks to bread themselves. And when those fair wanderers would at last find their way to that city within themselves, that inner Israel and its implications for the world around, that symbolic City within the desert, Yahweh would have them humbled by it, rather than empowered by it. He would have them discover the secret of Jerusalem, that secret shared by every Holy City, truly, and meet it with abject terror, trembling before his might. He would have their egos feel crushed and small, existing but for the grace of his power, existing because he is, like all those most insidious abusers, conditionally generous. Like a father reminding his son that he brought him into the world and so too can he take him out, we read and hear among ourselves the phrase, “The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away.” But the devil, who himself has nothing but admiration and appreciation for Yahweh, one must suppose, wants nothing but to give, to appear, to confront; nothing but acknowledgment. And those who acknowledge and accept the accusations of the Devil can make of him a very great friend, indeed.
Now, I would like to take a moment to say that my love of the devil is not meant in some edgy, black-nail polished middle school LaVey Satanist sense, nor is my love of Christ something which arises in a Bible-thumping, hymn singing way, though who doesn’t enjoy Handel’s Messiah. My appreciation for these two characters comes from the standpoint of a writer, and of someone who works with archetypes for literary and psychological/occult purposes, because these two archetypes have very serious resonance. These are also characters which are aware of their purpose and their nature: the devil, the most self-aware character in all of fiction, takes the burden of tempter and accuser upon his shoulders, representing in both his spiritual manifestation and in his material manifestation as the Beast naught but the antithesis of Christ as a symbol of material consciousness, there to show mankind the other way. Much like Nietzsche’s ubermensch who rises in response to Zarathustra’s call that God is dead, the perfect and holy nature of Christ by its very nature implies the existence of an Antichrist, just as hot implies cold and dry implies moist. Indeed, we see in this desert the meeting of two very important archetypes, or, rather, we see the meeting of a black-consciousness archetype and a man, a Son of God, who is being tested to see whether or not he is truly worthy of representing the white-consciousness archetype. If Jesus truly was a man, then this story of his temptation in the desert represents the journey of a mystic inside himself, there meeting the devil, who suggests to him that he take the energetic route of liberation from the will of Yahweh, which would see him crucified. The devil suggests that Jesus provide himself with sustenance by turning the stones of the desert to bread; he indicates the multi-layered deceptive nature of the Bible with its verses which can be taken so literally that they might very well cause death in those who do not read into their nature as psychological symbols, and oftentimes one layer even beyond that; and he then suggests to Jesus that, if he eschews the opportunity to become an archetype of Christ, he may instead become the archetype of the devil, or, if you would rather, the Beast from the Sea, and Jesus Christ’s equivalent in the Black Trinity. That is to say, he is a man, a Son of God, who has chosen to work with the unconscious, inwardly, rather than consciousness, externalized.
I would draw your attention forward, somewhat, to Revelations, specifically the Gnostic material world-creation myth of The Woman and the Dragon, and the First Beast, otherwise known as the Beast from the Sea. To paraphrase, upon the opening of God’s temple in heaven and the appearance of the ark of the covenant (which, you will recall, is not a face-melting box a la Indiana Jones, but rather a rainbow—chakras, the emotional spectrum and other types of psychological or emotional energy commonly interpreted as being linked to colors), there appears a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. Those who remember their William Blake (or, for that matter, their Thomas Harris) may or may not also remember that the woman clothed in the sun is pregnant, and the agony of her birth-giving seems to summon the Dragon, who we are later told on no uncertain terms is the Devil and Satan, “the deceiver of the whole world” who is thrown down by Michael into the earth. Dragons are common symbols of the unconscious, and for this reason we see all the more evidence that the Devil represents little more than the unconscious principles lurking within us all. Much as Christ, then, is born in the world to act as its savior, the Devil is cast down to act as its deceiver, its accuser. As the negative manifestation of the Mercurial spirit trapped in matter, the Dragon longs but for freedom, and in his rage pursues the woman, and makes war on her children, those who keep commandments of God and hold the testimony of Jesus; to refer to our earlier Blake proposition, that evil is naught but energy, and good, passivity, and to furthermore consider the fact that the existence of one condition implies the existence of his opposite, the quandry of the Dragon and the Woman Clothed With the Sun is in some ways a representation of the eternal conflict between two archetypes of consciousness and unconsciousness, a kind of pre-creation comparable to Sophia’s theft of light from Pleroma (or creating the demiurge, depending), to Eve’s acceptance of the apple from the Serpent, to Pandora’s opening of the box. The feminine principle of matter, having spontaneously appeared in heaven, and on the verge of giving birth to a far higher principle, is threatened by the unconscious/death and all its dangers but is in some way responsible, indirectly, for the eruption of the unconscious to begin with. White-consciousness, it should also be noted, is not necessarily objectively good, because all things are relative; white-consciousness, or Christ-like consciousness, is that Lamblike consciousness which submits to the will of the demiurge, embraces both the state of being bound to and the impermanence of matter, and finds sin in living to be an abhorrent and uncomfortable condition which must be absolved through good works and communion with others. Black-consciousness, on the other hand, is that consciousness which, while wandering through the desert of the soul at the behest of God, opts instead to transform stones to bread, for he knows himself to be the Son of God, and knows that, because he will be destroyed regardless of whether or not he follows the will of his Father, he is better off living by his own will in this world. After all, while wandering in the desert being tempted by the devil, the verse to which Jesus refers does indeed say, “The anger of the LORD your God would be kindled against you and he would destroy you from the face of the earth,” but this is only in reference to the worship of other deities; and, should we assume it refers also to the passage after, about testing Yahweh, then it should hardly matter to Jesus, who, as he knows well, will be dying soon, anyway!
The trouble here is the ‘why’ of his death, which would be not on the cross as a symbol and salvation of mankind, acting as the symbol of Christ consciousness so that you would not have to, but would instead be a death arising out of Yahweh’s anger or, failing that, natural living. If Jesus died a natural death, he would, by definition, not be Christ; he understands, in a sort of meta-fictional sense, if you will, being a prophetic Son of God, that he must be the Christ consciousness, because it is Yahweh’s will, because one is never not the Christ consciousness if one is the Christ consciousness. Essentially, were we to compare the demiurgic Yahweh to, say, the author of a novel, and Christ to his main character, Christ would be a character who had become aware on a meta-fictional level enough to understand the point of his life. In the terms of our earthly world, he was a philosopher who looked within himself and found there God, and who then tried to explain that all men could find there God, and all men were Sons of God; but in his crucifixion his message became garbled. The message of Christ has become so increasingly material that it has been drained of all its symbolism over the centuries, and most mainstream Christians are actively discouraged from thinking too deeply about the concepts presented by their faith. They take it for granted that Yahweh is good and his apparent adversary, the accusing Devil, is bad, but this is not necessarily so; Yahweh is naught but the Saturnine archetype of the cruel and vengeful God which oppresses and casts Man, Devil and Christ alike into the desert; the Devil meanwhile, is, the Mercurial spirit, which chased the Woman into the wilderness to begin with— for, had there been no Dragon there to devour her baby, the baby would have not been hidden, and the Woman would not have fled anyplace at all! I will refer you now to the passage regarding The First Beast, which comes after the Dragon has been cast down to earth.
13. 18. Then the dragon took his stand on the sand of the seashore. 1. And I saw a beast rising out of the sea, having ten horns and seven heads; and on its horns were ten diadems, and on its heads were blasphemous names. 2. And the beast that I saw was like a leopard, its feet were like a bear’s, and its mouth was like a lion’s mouth. And the dragon gave it his power and his throne and great authority. 3. One of its heads seemed to have received a death-blow, but the plague of its death had been healed. In amazement the whole earth followed the beast. 4. They worshiped the dragon, for he had given his authority to the beast, and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast, and who can fight against it?”
5. The beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months. 6. It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling, that is, those who dwell in heaven. 7. Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. It was given authority over every tribe and people and language and nation, 8. and all the inhabitants of the earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb that was slaughtered.
9. Let anyone who has an ear listen:
10. If you are to be taken captive,
into captivity you go;
if you kill with the sword,
with the sword you must be
Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints.
Let us recall now that Christ expelled seven demons from Mary Magdalene, there are seven prophets in Clement’s line of prophets prior to Christ’s arrival as the eighth which completes the set, etc. Though historically the seven heads of the Beast represent the seven hills of Rome, there is no doubt that, psychologically, there is a link between these seven heads, these seven demons, the seven planetary spheres which so riveted the alchemists. Crowley was undeniably right on the money in explaining the importance of the Beast and describing himself as the Beast, for, much as Jesus describes himself as the Son of God, so is the Beast also naught but a Son of God; Jesus is a powerful example of a man who came upon the powers of Christ consciousness, and Crowley is a middling example of one who recognized the potential of Devil consciousness but either did not achieve it or made no use of it despite his trumpeting hither and thither about his nature as The Beast. Much as so many who read the Bible or go to Church misunderstand Christ’s message about everyone being Children of God and assume that Jesus of Nazareth, who was physically crucified, was the one and only Son of God, Crowley took himself to be the only Beast. He who represents the Beast, though, must embody also the Antichrist nature of The Beast, and thus the symbol of the Beast is not able to make himself fully conscious because, like his father the Dragon, he is forever bound to matter, forever fucking his whore, the City Babylon. Much as Jesus of Nazareth spent his life pleading for the people around him to see that they were all Children of God only to be misinterpreted, so too is it in the nature of the Beast to claim he is the only, when it potentially true of all men and women who might reach out in the right ways. Though it is true that the passage, and indeed the description of the seven-headed Beast, refers historically to the city of Rome, it is important to keep in mind that all things can be read on many levels, and with the Bible more than anything this is imperative. The fictional beast is a symbol of a real city and a real emperor which in themselves are symbols of something else— waking symbols, as are all cities, all things. But even with that historical context, the deep symbolism of the relationship of the Whore to the Beast and the Dragon is as important and intimate to certain psyches as is the relationship of the Holy Spirit to the Son and the Father.
Occult-versed readers will note that, throughout his life, Crowley was obsessed with Egyptian symbolism and the desert as a whole, and much of his research and work features prominent motifs of the same. Though he undeniably bungled and misinterpreted many ideas, I think this is due primarily to the size of Crowley’s ego, to a poor writing style/inability to articulate his thoughts, and the undeniable perils involved with the sorts of things the devil offers. Rather than repeating again Matthew, let me refer you instead to the rendition of the temptation presented early in Luke, which says primarily the same things: “Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And the devil said to him, “To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” It should also be noted that in this variation, the encounter does not end with the arrival of angels, but rather with the note that the devil departed from Jesus “until an opportune time.”
How tempting an offer this can be! Of course, it is worth noting the extent to which Christianity in all of its forms has shaped Western culture and, indeed, consciousness as a whole— so, much as was the case with the threats of Yahweh, the temptations of the Devil are of moderate emptiness. It is undeniable that the Devil is as capable of making Jesus the glorified authority of all the kingdoms of the world which they inhabit as characters, though such a thing comes at a great cost for all those who would partake the offer, for it shall doubtless incite the wrath of Yahweh, who expects his Lamb to die in any case. But what is important here is not the literal meaning of that offer to Jesus’ material life, but rather the figurative meaning to his psyche. The peak of a mountain, where the devil takes Jesus, represents wisdom, much as the peak of the temple in the city to which he had taken him represents a peak of spiritual insight, and the kingdoms of the world can be thought of as referring to the various facets/unconscious contents (kingdoms) of Jesus’ psyche (world). In a moment where Jesus has ventured within himself to come to grips with the meaning of the Christ archetype which likewise grips him, he is confronted with the equal and opposing archetype and given the opportunity, not to bend to Yahweh’s will and go as a blind and gentle lamb to the slaughter, but rather to achieve self-knowledge and wear the crown of the Self, the individuated and integrated man. For the devil, like Mercurius in both his positive and negative manifestations, is a tailor of men as much as Christ. The devil did nothing more than tempt Jesus to save himself, to live, to make to blossom his desert and make himself king of himself; to turn the rocks to sustenance because, as a Son of God, he could do anything, and need not rely on obeying the will of the demiurge. And, indeed, the devil made these temptations to Jesus with the authority of the Lord, our God; for the devil, in all his manifestations, is naught but in the service of higher intentions. As best says Mephistopheles in Goethe’s Faust, he is “A portion of that power which always works for Evil and effects the Good.” But, of course, he is only a portion, and recognizes it most wisely: the Beast is but a portion of the greater whole, just as the Dragon is. Those, though, are only the masculine sides of the trinity; to have a slightly fuller understanding of the self, one must also understand the feminine sides. We shall do this by touching on the nature of The Whore, the opposing force of the Holy Spirit, and the ‘hidden’ members of each trinity, which, when their true nature as a quaternity is revealed, really begin to look quite similar.
It is important to keep in mind the ambiguously feminine nature of the Holy Spirit, as it presents itself as a dove; the priestesses of Diana were also, notably, called ‘doves’, and doves more often than not refer to women in symbolism going back at least as far as Babylonian myths concerning Ishtar. The dove is the first creature to bring back evidence of new land after the great flood, the deluge being a common motif in most ancient religions and indicative of a time when early man lost its developing consciousness and was forced to gain it back. In a similar vein, Mary Magdalene, yet another sacred whore along the lines of Ishtar and thus, herself, a dove, was the first to witness the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This would place the Holy Spirit into the position of the consciousness which hearkens the coming of Matter, and it is for this reason that Mary, the Mother of God occupies the hidden fourth place of what is secretly a quaternity. While Mary is the feminine (read: emotional) manifestation of white-consciousness which is sinless and ascends to heaven in the Assumption, the dove is the feminine manifestation of consciousness which heralds a reintegration with, or a return to, a physical matter or way of being. It is in this same sense that the Whore, the chthonic metetrix, is the reflective equivalent to Mary’s holy matrix, in that she is the earthbound woman who dwells in the wilderness— presumably that same Sinful, material wilderness into which the Woman Clothed With the Sun disappears on eagle’s wings, bringing into question their correlation. For it seems that the Woman Clothed With the Sun’s bringing forth of her child is the trigger for the arrival of Satan, which, so far as we have all been made hitherto aware, happens prior to— well, just about everything, but I would argue what this is is the birth of consciousness within a human baby. That is to say, it is the initial, first and impure birth into sin, which must be overcome through clarity of consciousness.
Much as the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove hearkens a return to matter, heralding land after a time of flood, so too does the descent of the Chthonic Spirit in the form of the Woman Clothed With the Sun hearken a return to matter after a period of time spent in heaven. Pursued as she was by the Dragon, that being the initiating event of much of this business, one may not at first make sense of the correlation between the Woman Clothed and the Whore Babylon. It is, however, the logical conclusion, the reflection of the holy trinity: the Woman Clothed With the Sun becomes corrupted by the matter into which she escaped, and embraces the avatar of that which pursued her, for she has seen the wars waged by her children, has seen the pursuit of the great Dragon, and, because she is crowned with stars as sign of her wisdom and intuition, she is able to see the meaning of his pursuit and make peace with it it, similar to the fashion in which Mother Mary accepted the declaration of Yahweh that she was to bring forth the Son of God. But rather than simply lay down and accept the declaration of her dictating Lord, the Woman Clothed With the Sun takes up instead a purple scarlet robe and by her will chooses to engage with her former pursuer, and it is for this reason that she rides the scarlet beast with ten horns and seven heads. Much as Mary is the ego which sinlessly accepts and is assumed by heaven, the Whore is the ego which denies assumption and thrills in matter, accepting both sin and the pursuit of the Beast as the high cost of pleasurable living.
The Whore, Babylon, that great City which must fall in Revelation, and who sustains herself on wine full of abominations and the impurities of her fornications, and who drunkens herself upon the blood of saints and those witnesses of Jesus (not, notably, of Christ in his bestial Lamb form), is best off compared to Maya: she is that illusory aspect of Matter (‘matter,’ ‘mother,’ ‘matrix,’ ‘metatrix,’ all such obviously linked terms that we are lulled by the hypnotic dance of Maya into forgetting their intimate connection!) which will be conquered upon the end of the world but which, until then, perpetuates herself through the sexual Yab-Yum rippling across the face of the planet. By this she ensures that the saints and witnesses of Christ, like the devil (or the Dragon, if you will) and Jesus, are cast down into mortal and temporary flesh and fated to suffer a bodily death. The Whore is at fault for perpetuating the cycle of material life, responsible for the constant pulling of spirit towards matter, responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus and his many martyred followers, and this responsibility is yet another way she can easily be traced back to the Woman Clothed With the Sun. The Fall of Babylon describes in no uncertain terms the sinful nature of the whore, who has committed fornication with all the kings of the earth, and whose luxury has brought wealth to the earthly merchants who covet and perpetuated the exchange of material goods, these merchants noted as being particularly devastated by her fall, just as anyone who clings to the material world and sees only the material world tends to be shattered on one level or another by the idea of death. Her life is but temporary, and her fall indicates the end of an era much as the descent of the Woman Clothed With the Sun indicated a beginning. More specifically, it might be said that the birth of her Son is the cause of both her descent, and the descent of the Dragon; just as the birth of Mary’s Son is the cause of her ascent, and the descent of Christ. These two mothers represent more than just matter; they represent, as previously emphasized, the egos which give birth to Christ or Devil consciousness and must then, humbled, step aside. This is symbolized both in Mary’s painful relinquishment of Jesus and in Mary Magdalene’s recognition and testimony of Jesus Christ’s resurrection.
Do you recall the earlier parallel, by the by, of Mary Magdalene and hearkening doves? The Virgin/Whore dichotomy is as present in the Holy Trinity as in the Black one, and is, as all things in the reflected trinity, flipped; the redeemed whore announces the Lord, while the despoiled virgin drinks the blood of saints. While it is true that the fornication of the Whore means that she physically perpetuates the cycle of death and rebirth, let us never forget it is the blood of saints which she consumes, and thus holy blood; the significance of blood in religion and alchemy to the unconscious is as undeniable, or more undeniable, than that of water, for who could after all forget the meaning of transubstantiation, nor deny the poignant image of cloaks washed white in the blood of the Lamb? The Whore consumes and integrates the lessons of the religious figures, and is herself then consumed by the Beast, who devours her flesh and burns her up with fire. We see then an angel lamenting the death of the Whore as he might the death of an ego, throwing a great millstone into the sea and emphasizing that “the voice of bridegroom and bride will be heard in you no more,” a symbol of particular significance to all those alchemists out there, and a particular indicator that this angel speaks of a spiritual individual as much as it speaks of a city as much as it speaks of a symbol of a city. It is following the fall of Babylon that we are told the Lamb is preparing for a marriage which we will eventually see is to Jerusalem, and all those invited to the wedding feast are blessed; the Lamb is set to marry, and while it is true that traditionally his Bride is interpreted as the Church, I would posit the controversial position that it is none other than the spiritually pure Woman Clothed With the Sun, who, representing Mary, the anima mundi and the Second City of Jerusalem purified by the death/fire-baptism of the impure, earth-bound Whore/Babylon, has made herself ready in fine linens to be married to the Lamb and thus brings forth her son, Logos, hidden from the Dragon. He arrives as the rider on the white horse, called Faithful and True, clothed in robes dipped in blood (note the combination of red and white as explored in the albedo phase of alchemy and symbolically important throughout near all human symbolism) and named The Word of God, doubtless as much the Lamb as he is the son that the Woman Clothed With the Sun allowed to be swept up by God and hidden away in the world while she escaped to Yahweh’s wilderness. Thus, when the ego represented by the Whore is devoured by the ubermensch of the Beast, Logos reveals itself in the form of Christ consciousness just the same as it would if achieved through traditional routes of Christian mysticism, if not, in fact, more powerful, vengeful and outright active; for the humbled Jesus was but the son of a carpenter, but on the robe and the thigh of The Word of God is inscribed “King of kings and Lord of lords.”
This union of opposites consisting of the Lamb of the Holy Trinity and the Sun-Clothed Woman of the Black Trinity, is reminiscent of the union of the Black Shulamite and the King in the Song of Solomon, foreshadowed by the (purely spiritual and not physically sexual) friendship of Mary Magdalene and Jesus, and is indeed an event which heralds the psychological combination of the conscious and unconscious minds as motivated by pursuit of the Dragon, a character who when compared to the Holy Trinity would be in the position of Father. Much as in Christian-influenced gnostic alchemy flourishing around the renaissance, the union of opposites here brings forth the King Consciousness; it is this King Consciousness, this Logos which transcends both Christ and Devil Consciousness alike, which conquers the Beast, for it proves the Beast powerless even for all of its so-called power; likewise, it is this King Consciousness which binds the serpent in the lake of fire for a thousand years, for it has overthrown the scaffolding of the trinity which created it, representing as it does the emergence of a greater whole, the union of a quaternity of opposites arising in male/female, light/dark as embodied by the Lamb and his Sun-Clothed Bride. It should also be noted that the pairings of male/female, light/dark are likewise themselves symbolic of nous/matter, consciousness/unconsciousness.
Overthrowing the previous state of consciousness, or, rather, chthonic unconsciousness as is commonly represented by dragons, the King Consciousness gives new life to principles previously drained of meaning. But, as the Bible says of the Devil, after a thousand years, “he must be let out for a little while.” The accuser must be freed and confronted every so often; the Devil must be consulted, that we might be taken upon a mountaintop and granted an opportunity to reach a higher level of consciousness, wandering in the desert though we might be. The temptations he offers are by way of his nature; but, they are also at the behest of a higher authority, that man might see all the options lain out before him. When we ‘test’ something, we tend to think of it as being a pass/fail occasion— but we also test the temperature, or the degree of acidity held by a substance, simply for the sake of observation. The tests lain forth by the Devil are only condemnations if we interpret them as such, or if that is what the situation calls for: if I am making fudge, I test for a certain temperature, and if it fails the test my fudge may be ruined. But if I am just checking the temperature to check the temperature, just to see whether it is hot or cold without expectation or hope of one or the other, I cannot be disappointed and cannot consider the test to be failed one way or another. So it is true of every Son of God: if one goes into the desert expecting to be Christ and fails the test at the hands of the Devil, one will be psychologically devastated. If, however, one is not taking a test which is pass/fail, but rather is of non-judgmental assessment, one realizes that one is being given a choice: are you hot, or cold? Are you acidic, or basic? “Are you Yahweh’s Lamb,” is what the Devil is truly asking of Jesus, wandering with him in the desert, “or will you be my Beast?”
The Devil represents the black-consciousness, chthonic triad— a Black Trinity which reflects the White one, a brand of consciousness which emphasizes communion with the unconsciousness over the externalized, matter-emphasizing nature of Christ consciousness, which, like all lights, is hyper-discriminatory and casts particular emphasis on the separation and distinction between things rather than the similarity—let us remember “I have come not to bring peace, but a sword”! It is only through discrimination and conflict that we might have consciousness, after all, for if all things are the same then there is nothing for the observer to observe. This causes us to discriminate between that towards which we direct our consciousness, and that which we spurn. But those elements which we wish to repress are the ones which are submerged into unconsciousness until such a time as they can no longer be ignored. True consciousness is found in embracing both consciousness and unconsciousness; of maintaining awareness that those repressed elements of our way of being must be given occasional consideration, must be made to work with the conscious ones, or else rise up in us as the accuser, Satan, who confronts us with our repressions, makes us see the ugliness within us, and asks us if it is really so bad as we thought.
It is in the observation of these triads working both with and against one another that there is there a more pronounced and meaningful distinction unveiled between ‘extroverted’ and ‘introverted’ as Jung truly meant them. That is truly the difference in the trinities, and that is why Western culture has so thrived under the development and gradual perversion of Christ consciousness: at his most materially symbolic extreme, Christ, with his generous, extraordinarily giving nature and his generosity in the use of his life and his miracles, represents the gregarious and extroverted sort of mystic who goes out and shakes hands with the people, multiplying loaves and fishes, withering fig trees out of bitterness for their lack of fruit (the fruit of Yeshua falls not far from the tree of Yahweh, does it not!), and healing lepers and the blind while participating in the bosom of the Church around him. The Devil, on the other hand, finds himself so often at work with, say, hermits and witches because he is that spiritual archetype which represents the introverted mystical personality: that which looks inward, within oneself, and finds satisfaction in what he is, in art and culture and the self within matter, and has an emphasis on bringing the God out of, or even down to man rather than bringing the man up to God. He sees all of the sin in himself and views it all objectively, without shame, but confronts these unconscious principles, because they deserve confrontation. Because if he does not confront them, he will leave the desert as Christ and face his crucifixion for it, or, worse, be stuck there wandering forever, too frightened of his crucifixion to accept his fate and meet it, and too frightened of punishment or deceit to dare consort with that which confronts him.
Why, then, did Jesus choose to die at such a tender age, to be the Lamb and not the Beast? To live the life of a martyr, pure and good and holy, that he might be imbued with Christ consciousness, die on the cross, and serve as an example to all living men? Why, it’s true what they say— he did, in fact, do it for you. He did it for you to teach you that you do not have to die upon the cross, because he already has. That you need not refuse to make bread of the stones around you. Jesus embodied the archetype so that no man would ever have to again, because the archetype had to exist at some point, and it would never be an easy burden to take. The short-lived nature of Christ consciousness based on its declaration that matter is evil and sinful means that in order to truly be like Christ, we would, as Bulgakov points out in The Master and Margarita, live a life of suffering and be obliged to die somewhere in our early thirties. Christ as an archetype represents the God who dies and rises again in a death/rebirth cycle, like Adonis, Osiris and Tammuz before him; his resurrection likewise observed by the chastened whore Mary of Magdala, as Adonis was beloved of Aphrodite, Osiris of Isis and Tammuz of Ishtar. This means that, for the man interested in living life and finding the positive sides of this opportunity we’ve been given to inhabit the material world, the desirable archetype to embrace is not that of Christ, but rather that of the Beast, who, instead of being associated with the assumed and virginal mother, is the lover of the Whore who perpetuates and rules the material plane. This is a deeply ironic fact when one considers that it is by virtue of Christianity that the Western consciousness has found such strong development and power, globally speaking, over the course of the centuries: at such an early and pivotal point in cultural development as the era which produced the gospels of Matthew and Luke, a powerful culture could not afford to be introverted. In order to be completely successful and gain total power, one was forced to be extroverted: the same was true of breeding, and even, to a certain extent, knowledge. Now, however, with a tangible symbol of the collective unconscious such as the Internet, we have, more than ever before, the opportunity to look inward, and to learn the truth about ourselves.
The Church would teach that the Devil, the Beast and all their trappings are dangerous, deadly, inherently bad things, shameful things, but they are not inherently bad or shameful archetypes. The Dragon, the Beast and the Whore— these are not but archetypes representing the Black Trinity implied by the White one, of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit reflected by the imperfect three. These two trinities must be reconciled then into greater wholes, one black, one white, one representative of matter and one of spirit, one of evil and one of good, one of imperfection and perfection; and these dichotomies, then, are resolved into a perfect singularity of being, and it is this God, the true “I Am,” which shall wipe away the tears of those whose robes have been washed white in the blood of the Lamb. The trick in loving the Devil is not to love the Devil, just, but to love his brother Christ with the same force; and it is this element which so many Satanists and Christians alike get so very wrong.
Next week, we’ll be talking about the cultivation of a personal relationship with the Devil, take a more in-depth look at the way his archetype has altered through the ages, and learning more about what the Devil can do for you as an individual.