The Elder Sign and its Occult Associations in Arab Magic

“The Elder Sign is sometimes confused with the Pnakotic Pentagram and the swastika-like Sign of the Old Ones.  However, the actual Elder Sign is a symbol which is often compared to a tree or tree-branch, and consists of a central line with three lines branching off to the left and two lines branching off to the right:

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This symbol seems to be all but completely unknown to Western occultists.  However, it is easily recognizable as a relatively common symbol in Arabic magical traditions.  It appears to be one of the 28 graphemes attributed to the first century Turkish physician Diagoridos (سوديروقسيد).  The symbol became more popular in Arab occult traditions in the mid-9th century because of its inclusion in the text Shuq al Mastaham Fi Ma’arifat Rumuz al Aqlaam by Ibn Wahshiyya (ةيشحو نبا). Wahshiyya is famous for his contributions to the Arabic grimoire known in the West as Picatrix, which he made via his text Kitab al Falaha al Nabatiyya.  He is likewise famous for his decipherment of many Egyptian heiroglyphics centuries before a similar breakthrough occurred in the West.

Below is a summary of the esoteric associations of the Elder Sign based on the writings of Wahshiyya, and supplemented with additional material, primarily from Ibn ‘Arabi (يبرع نبا).  Hopefully, this might provide some insight into the significance and use of this symbol within Arab magical traditions, and perhaps by extension, the magick of the Cthulhu mythos:

The name of the sign is “Zai” (ياز)
It is a Solar Grapheme [huruf ash-shams (سمشلا فورح)]
Its numeric value is 7 (٧)
It is associated with the 19th lunar mansion [manzil (لزنم)] which is called “The Sting” [ash-shaula (ء(وشلا)]
Its zodiacal sign is Scorpio [burj al ‘aqrab (برقعلا جرب)]
The divine name associated with this sign is “The Living One” [al Hayy (يحلا)]
Terrestrially it is associated with the element Water and celestially it is associated with the element of Air.”

– Ryan Parker, The ‘Elder Sign’ and its Occult Associations in Arab Magic

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Ahl-i Haqq and the Kurdish Devil-Worshipers

hoodedfiguretome

“I had a Persian friend in Tehran, an avant-garde playwright and member of a sect called Ahl-i-Haqq (‘People of Truth’ or ‘People of God,’ ‘haqq’ being a divine name) who traveled to the valley of the Satan-worshippers in the mid-1970s.

A Kurdish sect influenced by extreme Shi’ism, Sufism, Iranian gnosticism, and native shamanism, the Ahl-i Haqq consists of a number of subgroups, most of whose adherents are non-literate peasants.  With no Sacred Book to unite these subgroups in their remote valleys, they often developed widely divergent versions of the Ahl-i Haqq myths and teachings.  One subgroup venerates Satan.  I know of almost nothing written about the Shaitan-parastiyyan or ‘Satan-worshippers,’ and not much has been done of the Ahl-i Haqq in general.  Many secrets remain unknown to outsiders.

The Tehran Ahl-i Haqq were lead by a Kurdish pir, Ustad Nur Ali Elahi, a great musician and teacher.  Some old-fashioned Ahl-i Haqq considered him a renegade because he revealed secrets to outsiders, i.e., non-Kurds, and even published them in books.  When my friend asked him about the Satan-worshippers, however, Elahi gently rebuffed him:  ‘Don’t worry about Shaitan; worry about the shay-ye tan‘ (literally ‘the thing of the body,’ the carnal soul, the separative ego).  My friend ignored this doubtless good advice, and with his brother set off for Kurdestan in their Land Rover.

… At last they were there – and their little caravan was met by a dozen or so long-tressed tribesmen in traditional Kurdish costume: baggy pants, turbans, guns.  Scowling fiercely they greeted the brothers thus:

‘Ya! Zat-i Shaitan!’ – Hail, O Essence of Satan!

Compared with the thrill of that moment the rest of the trip proved anticlimactic.  The villagers had long ago given up banditry (they said), and naturally there was no evidence of nocturnal perversion.  Abjectly poor, they possessed nothing so exotic as a pig or a flagon of wine.  As for their religion, they professed to know virtually nothing about it; either they were protecting secrets from outsiders, or they had really forgotten almost everything.  Considerable knowledge can be lost in a nonliterate society devoted to secrecy and cut off from the world; leaders can die without passing on certain details, and whole villages, stricken by disease or drought, can perish or disperse and vanish.

No doubt the devil worshippers knew more than they told my friends, but in the end they seemed no more sinister than any other group of mountain Kurds, a generally noble-hearted and hospitable people when not engaged in blood-feuds, vendettas, or guerrila warfare.

What, however, is the ‘essence of Satan’?  In a book devoted to the teachings of Ustad Elahi, Satan is said to exist, bound and powerless, a mere fallen angel.  Moreover, ‘apart from man, evil does not exist in nature … the ‘devil’ is simply the way that the domineering self … expresses itself in us. … The story of Satan was over long ago; it only concerns God and him.’  In other words, the Koranic version of the Temptation and Fall (very similar to that of Genesis) is literally true, but irrelevant.  The Satan from whom all believers ‘take refuge’ in prayer is, in truth, a projection of their own spiritual imperfection.  Needless to say, this is not orthodox Islam or the opinion of most Sufis; it is, however, a very interesting resolution to a very thorny theological problem.”

– P. L. Wilson – Iblis:  The Black Light (Satanism in Islam)

Origins of the Cult of Senor la Muerte

deathinaforest

“The Cult of Senor la Muerte consists of hundreds of thousands of followers who are spread out across Argentina and nearby countries. These devotees wholeheartedly worship and praise the Scythe-Bearer, whose magic is ritually invoked in order to gain money and riches, attract the person they love, open the paths to happiness and success, protect them against all dangers, help them to acquire power, heal and banish sickness, cast or deflect curses, and dominate or annihilate their foes.

Within this cult, Senor la Muerte is represented by the image of a skeleton, often cloaked in black, and holding a scythe in one of His hands. The origins of both this representation and the current form of the cult Senor la Meurte is believed to have originated in 1767. It was during this year that King Charles III of Spain gave the order for the expulsion and persecution of the Jesuits who had established themselves in Cuenca del Plata. This political decision was made due to the fact that the Jesuits in Paraguay and Argentina had, at that point in time, gained enough power, wealth and influence to worry the Catholic Church, which in turn convinced the Spanish monarch to act against the Jesuits in a campaign aiming to remove them from the colony and confiscate their wealth.

These Jesuits, who had, with the help of the local tribes of the Guarani Indians, built many richly adorned churches and temples, refused to surrender to Spain. This resulted in an even more forceful approach from King Charles, who more or less declared war upon the Jesuits and all their followers. With their superior military power, and led by General Carlos Francisco de Croix, the Spanish military force wiped out most of the Jesuits, seized their riches, and burnt to ash many of their churches and temples.

In one of the most important of these temples was a very special icon carved out of the holy wood of the Palo Santo tree. This life-sized icon depicted Jesus, Satan and Death in the form of the Skeletal Reaper of Souls. The group of Guarani Indians who themselves had carved this icon for the Jesuits, managed to save the wooden image from the fires that consumed the temple. They brought the great icon with them into the jungle and, before returning home to their respective villages, split the carven image into three separate pieces. They then divided the three parts amongst themselves so that one tribe got the image of Jesus, the second tribe got the image of the horned Devil, and the third got the image of Death, in the familiar form of the skeleton armed with a scythe.

Thus, the three cults of Senor Jesus, Senor Diablo/Satan and Senor la Muerte evolved amongst these tribes of the Guarani. All three cults were more pagan than Christian, for they had deeper connections to their own ancient shamanistic religion and magic, than the religion to which the Jesuits had attempted to convert them.

According to folk tradition, the lineage of the modern day cult of Senor la Muerte is traced directly back to the Guarani tribe that decided to equate the Skeleton Wielder of the Scythe with their own ancient god of death and venerate it as a magical fetish, ascribed with the power to both protect the faithful against ‘bad death’ and punish all of their enemies.

Additionally, influences from Afro-Brazilian religions and systems of witchcraft can be seen within certain manifestations of the cult of Senor la Muerte in Argentina, and these are believed by some to have also been spread to Argentina by the Guarani.

Because of the influence of the African traditions, some followers of Senor la Muerte have compared Him to, or identified the Lord of Death as, an Exu. The Exus that SLM has most often been identified with are the ones connected to graveyards and the skeleton lines of Kalunga and Caveira, such as Exu Lorde da Morte, Exu Morte, Exu Caveira, Exu Tata Caveira, and the ruler of the souls of the dead, Exu Rei das Almas Omulu.

Within some parts of Argentina, this syncretism has developed quite naturally because of the obvious and simple similarities that exist between the two cults. For example, Monday is the day of both Exu and SLM, both utilize black-and-red or black-and-white talismans and candles, and both receive offerings of tobacco, red carnations, red and black candles, liquor, beer, red palm oil, fried or raw pork chops and spicy food.

Like Exu, SLM is viewed as a potential ‘path-opener’ who holds the keys to all locked roads and gates, and has the power to both grant blessings and bring death. Similar to how Exu uses his trident to remove all obstacles that block the path, SLM uses His mighty scythe to cut down, transform, remove or eliminate that which blocks the flow of His power. Both Exu and SLM are also petitioned and paid for their favors, which range from banishing and healing, to committing acts of magical murder.

The above-mentioned syncretism between the two cults may be interesting, but if considered from the initiatory perspective of Quimbana and its views regarding what Exu really is, the syncretism in question will not be valid. The same goes for the more esoteric perspective of the SLM cult, which also makes it clear that the folk-magical syncretism between Exu and SLM is not well grounded and is based only on the similarities of outer attributes of the two cults.”

Liber Falxifer: The Book of the Left-Handed Reaper

Tomino’s Hell

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A popular Japanese urban myth is known as ‘Tomino’s Hell.’  It’s based off of a poem written in 1919 by Yomota Inuhiko, in which the protagonist, Tomino, falls into Hell.  The urban legend states that you may read the entire poem in your mind, but if you read it out loud, it will place a fatal curse upon you.

“Tomino’s Hell” (トミノの地獄) is written by Yomota Inuhiko (四方田 犬彦) in a book called “The Heart is Like a Rolling Stone” (心は転がる石のように), And was included in Saizo Yaso’s (西條 八十) 27th collection of poems in 1919. It’s not sure how this rumor started, but there’s only a warning that “If you read this poem out loud, tragic things (凶事) will happen.”  – Creepypasta Wikia

The powerful and emotive language used in the poem can also be an excellent conduit for Satanic meditations on Hell.  If you’re not superstitious or daring, you might even venture to chant it.

姉は血を吐く、妹(いもと)は火吐く、

ane wa chi wo haku, imoto wa hihaku,

His older sister vomited blood, his younger sister vomited fire,
可愛いトミノは 宝玉(たま)を吐く。

kawaii tomino wa tama wo haku

And the cute Tomino vomited glass beads.
ひとり地獄に落ちゆくトミノ、

hitori jihoku ni ochiyuku tomino,

Tomino fell into Hell alone,
地獄くらやみ花も無き。

jigoku kurayami hana mo naki.

Hell is wrapped in darkness and even the flowers don’t bloom.
鞭で叩くはトミノの姉か、

muchi de tataku wa tomino no aneka,

Is the person with the whip Tomino’s older sister,
鞭の朱総(しゅぶさ)が 気にかかる。

muchi no shubusa ga ki ni kakaru.

I wonder who the whip’s shubusa(?) is.
叩けや叩きやれ叩かずとても、

tatake yatataki yare tataka zutotemo,

Hit, hit, without hitting,
無間地獄はひとつみち。

mugen jigoku wa hitotsu michi.

Familiar Hell’s one road.
暗い地獄へ案内(あない)をたのむ、

kurai jigoku e anai wo tanomu,

Would you lead him to the dark Hell,
金の羊に、鶯に。

kane no hitsu ni, uguisu ni.

To the sheep of gold, to the bush warbler.
皮の嚢(ふくろ)にやいくらほど入れよ、

kawa no fukuro ni yaikura hodoireyo,

I wonder how much he put into the leather pocket,
無間地獄の旅支度。

mugen jigoku no tabishitaku.

For the preparation of the journey in the familiar Hell.
春が 来て候(そろ)林に谿(たに)に、

haru ga kitesoru hayashi ni tani ni,

Spring is coming even in the forest and the stream,
暗い地獄谷七曲り。

kurai jigoku tanina namagari.

Even in the stream of the dark Hell.
籠にや鶯、車にや羊、

kagoni yauguisu, kuruma ni yahitsuji,

The bush warbler in the birdcage, the sheep in the wagon,
可愛いトミノの眼にや涙。

kawaii tomino no me niya namida.

Tears in the eyes of cute Tomino.
啼けよ、鶯、林の雨に

nakeyo, uguisu, hayashi no ame ni

Cry, bush warbler, toward the raining forest
妹恋しと 声かぎり。

imouto koishi to koe ga giri.

He shouts that he misses his little sister.
啼けば反響(こだま)が地獄にひびき、

nakeba kodama ga jigoku ni hibiki,

The crying echo reverberates throughout Hell,
狐牡丹の花がさく。

kitsunebotan no hana ga saku.

The fox penoy blooms.
地獄七山七谿めぐる、

jigoku nanayama nanatani meguru,

Circling around Hell’s seven mountains and seven streams,
可愛いトミノのひとり旅。

kawaii tomino no hitoritabi.

The lonely journey of cute Tomino.
地獄ござらばもて 来てたもれ、

jigoku gozarabamo de kitetamore,

If they’re in Hell bring them to me,
針の御山(おやま)の留針(とめはり)を。

hari no oyama no tomebari wo.

The needle of the graves.
赤い留針だてにはささぬ、

akai tomehari date niwa sasanu,

I won’t pierce with the red needle,
可愛いトミノのめじるしに。

kawaii tomino no mejirushini.

In the milestones of little Tomino.

Motivations for the Satanic Panic

satancheerleaders80s

“There are no cults that practice satanic ritual abuse (SRA).  Despite accusations of SRA that number in the tens of thousands, not one case has been substantiated.  The phenomenon of ‘recovered memory’ – in which a person experiences horrible abuse over several years, then completely forgets about it but suddenly remembers it with the help of a therapist – is the result of fevered imaginations running amuck.  The existence of satanic cults that practice ritual abuse is an urban myth fueled by societal fears of and fascination with sexuality.

… As a nation, we are obsessed with sex.  Unfortunately we also fear it, and repress our own interest in it, so it must be disguised and made unpleasant or violent to quiet our fears that watching it might arouse us, and to make information about it something a respectable person needs to know.  I feel that this ‘erotophobia,’ fear of erotic pleasure, is beneath as least some of the impulse behind both writing and reading the ‘satanic abuse’ stories …

… When something is labeled as forbidden and dangerous, it is easy to wonder if it could possibly be all that bad.  After all, the people telling us how bad the stuff is must have looked at it, and they seem more or less ok.  Furthermore, the urge to take at least a peek is very strong, particularly if one is raised in a belief system that labels any sexual impulse as very dangerous.  So not only does the reading of satanic child pornography, along with other types of sexual media, become permissible, it becomes almost an obligation to gain information to protect children and society.  I believe that a similar shocked, yet titillated, voyeurism fuels the current pop fascination with sadomasochistic imagery.

… The strongest force behind the satanic ritual and child abuse panic is people who fear, distrust, and want to get rid of any religion other than their own version of conservative Christianity.  Added to this is a major industry that ‘educates’ far right Christians, and any of the general public who get sucked in, regarding the dangers of Satanism, feminism, pornography, the homosexual menace, paganism, the New Age, meditation, sex education in schools, yoga, other world religions and the New World Order.  The Christian far right and their allies are horrified that so many women are leaving the home to go to work, and that divorce is an option.  What better way to convince them to stay home and stay married than to create a panic about daycare and other dangers to children?”

– Sharma Oliver, Claims of Satanic Ritual Abuse Are Unsubstantiated

Development of the ‘Evil’ Self and “Psuedo-Satanism”

satanlovechild

“In a few children, the self-concept of being a bad kid can go to an extreme, such as when children regard themselves as being ‘evil’ people.  This is most likely to happen when children have authoritarian, punitive parents, who use religious threats to humiliate and control them.  Michael Beck, a psychotherapist, has written about his own inner experience of having an ‘evil’ self-concept as a child.

‘I lived in constant dread of committing a mortal sin and dying without being forgiven … Imagine yourself as being in some precarious position … and not knowing quite how you got there.  Unrelieved dread leaves its indelible impression, and since anxiety generalizes, one grows apprehensive that things not evil are indeed evil merely because one becomes anxious about them.

This is a particularly taxing issue during adolescence, when one is constantly preoccupied with sex.  It is a mortal sin to think about sex.  The prescription for handling sexual impulses is suppression.  Since, whatever is suppressed intensifies and seeks expression, one is forced to handle a sticky wicket — so to speak.’

Beck goes on to explain how some people who develop an ‘evil’ self-image can lead themselves to believe that their behavior is being controlled by the Devil.

‘With even more damaged patients who think they are evil, the issue of their ability to deal with anger becomes a priority.  They often turn anger against themselves.  The extreme is the patient who becomes totally or partially identified with evil and feels she or he is either Jesus Christ or the devil, or possibly believes the devil is controlling him or her.’

These observations by Beck that some people have a self-concept of being ‘evil’ provide insight into why some teenage delinquents may be drawn to Satanic beliefs, in order to justify their aggressive behavior.  Adolescents who see themselves as being ‘evil,’ create a psychological environment consistent with their self-concept.  They see the world as they see themselves, a place where malicious evil is more genuine than compassion.

A therapist’s description of a seventeen-year-old girl involved in psuedo-Satanism illustrates the point.

‘Christina was also using satanism to rebel against her parents’ religion.  She did not keep her satanism a secret from her family.  When her mother asked her directly about her satanic beliefs, Christina told her mother that there was nothing good in the world and that was why she liked satanism.’

It is quite likely that a great many psuedo-Satanist teenagers are rebelling from an overly-restrictive, traditional religious family background which emphasizes that the world is an evil place.  The possibility needs to be investigated.”

– Jeffrey S. Victor, The Extent of Satanic Crime is Exaggerated

Satanic Unitarianism – A Hopeful Alternative

satanismritualists

““God, conquered, will become Satan; Satan, conquering, will become God. May the fates spare me this terrible lot …”
– Anatole France, La Revolte des Anges

What happens when, after rebelling against the authority, you become the authority?

This post, submitted by one of my readers (whose girlfriend is the author), explains that “By saying theistic Satanists are not “real Satanists”, the Church of Satan is creating a distinctly Satanic religious identity not in opposition to American society, but in opposition to those “proximate others” who are too ideologically close for comfort, which might threaten their position in America’s religious landscape.””  The subject of the paper focuses specifically on the Church of Satan; however, this notion of opposing “proximate others” prevails throughout all rungs of Satanic culture.  Prominent theistic Satanic groups, such as the Order of Nine Angles and the Joy of Satan Ministries, are as violent in their opposition of LaVeyan Satanism as they are against mainstream religious disciplines, for exactly the same reason — within the Satanic subculture, the Church of Satan is “mainstream.”

In my opinion, this is not an integral failing within either discipline’s theology, philosophy or metaphysics; upon closer scrutiny, many well-read Satanists agree they espouse the same ultimate message, regardless of the differing spiritual (or lack thereof) trappings.  This is indicative of an integral human failing.  Becoming the assumed majority opinion in any cross-reference of society seems to breed an attitude of “us vs. them” — and if acceptance is finally reached within the larger-scale community regarding the veracity of one’s claims, the vitriol turns inward to any who would “jeopardize” their new-found validity.  But at what cost?

If you ask those of us, like myself, who don’t wish to fit into any mold — who wish to embrace the essence of Satan as complete lack of convention, tradition, or hierarchy — it means accepting group identity at the cost of your principles, or consigning yourself to solitary practitionership forever.

There is another way.

I call it “Satanic unitarianism” (although a more advertising-friendly tagline has been suggested: ‘orgiastic Satanism’).  It is based on two simple premises:

1. No one group of Satanism is any better or worse than any other.  Upon closer examination, every group has its failings, its shortcomings, and its skeletons in the closet — some over, some subtle; some tolerable, some harder to swallow.  That is why Satanists are implored to accept no one’s authority as the “one true path;” it is a self-defense mechanism against indoctrination and stagnancy of thought.

2. Every Satanic group has something of value to contribute.  Yes — I do mean EVERY group.  That means even the ones you can’t stand, that make your gut turn, that disagree so strongly with your principles that you have a hard time thinking about it without getting angry.  That means even the ones inundated with Nazi iconography, even the ones saturated in Judeo-Christian themes, and yes, even the ones that reject the principles of magick.  Satanism isn’t about compartmentalizing things into easy-to-process chunks; it’s the difficult but all-important revelation that simplicity of any kind is an illusion, and if you think something’s simple, you haven’t examined it hard enough — or talked to enough people about it.

Not everyone is cut out for that kind of daily mental exertion.  Even people who find it fun and interesting also admit it is draining and difficult!  But I believe it can be taught.  I believe, given an atmosphere supportive and open-minded of new ideas, burgeoning Satanists aloofly guided by these principles will breathe new life into us.

These principles are what the blog, the page, and my Satanic faith are based primarily upon.  Based on the blog and it’s accompanying Facebook page’s growing following (and even the vitriol from its dissent) I can tell I’m not alone, and the idea has traction.  So I propose that people who agree with the principles I have just stated, and who are interested in hearing from all sides of the Satanic debate — rather than engaging in the regrettable feedback loops that so often occur when claims are made in a vacuum — should come together under the banner of Satanic unitarianism.  Join the debates on our Facebook page, distribute the learning material, and most importantly of all, be supportive of all your Satanic brothers and sisters, no matter what path they follow.

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