Oh, how I love the Dark Ones…well not really Tezcatlipoca, his worship is pretty grim as you will soon see.
Let us then begin with the archetype of the Dark Gods – the Horned One.
The Horned God
The Horned God is not necessarily a Dark God, but he needs to be addressed as part of the Masculine aspect. The Horned God is an archetype that has shown up in many religions and beliefs. One of the primary ones is an amalgamation of Cernunnos from the Celts, Pan/Faun from the Greeks and Romans and Herne the Hunter from the British Isles. In modern times he is also represented by Baphomet per Eliphas Levi. To those who have not done much digging around, he may also be seen as the devil.
I prefer to approach the Horned God from the psychology perspective. He is the masculine that is untamed. He represents the male part that is not compliant with polite society. He is the base instinct to hunt, kill, mate, and protect. He is not refined, he does not bother with reason and conscience, he is survival and desire.
When we work with the Horned One we allow ourselves to break free of the restraints that society places on us. We run wild and free and embrace our animalistic side. We are bold and don’t let fear hold us back.
Erebus is darkness. He is a primordial deity, the son of Chaos and the brother of night (Nyx). From his union with Nyx they conceived, Aether (light) and Hemera (Day), Hypnos (sleep), Moirai (the fates) Gera (old age), and Thanatos (death). Erebus is the Netherlands where you pass after death prior to entering the Underworld. There isn’t a whole lot written about Erebus, so I did a meditation to check in with him.
I am Erebus. I am the darkness behind the darkness. I am what allows darkness to exist. I am the nothingness, the absence of all light. You may fear me, but the darkness is just the darkness. What you experience here is what you bring here. There is no fear except what you bring. I can be the comfort of the womb before you were born. I can be the silence in which you find peace. I can be the nothingness that you seek. I was here before death I was here before sleep I will be here after the last light has been extinguished. For I am.
Lucifer gets such a bad wrap. I am going to talk about Lucifer as the bright and morning star. I am discussing him here in Dark Gods because most people these days associate him with the Christian concept of the devil, which is not historically how he is associated. In the Apocrypha Lucifer was considered a version of Venus, the morning star. The star that was the last one visible before the night. He is also considered the brightest star. His name could also refer to the King of Babylon.
Some consider him to represent the intellect and the ego. Because he would not sublimate his ego he was banned from heaven and given rule over the underworld.
Another way of looking at Lucifer is through the lens of spiritual science as developed by Rudolf Steiner. Steiner founded Anthroposophy and was an important figure in metaphysics having been instrumental in the Philosophical Society before leaving to start Anthroposophy. He characterized Lucifer as being the balance to Christ. Needing to have the opposing forces to mediate a balanced path for humanity. But for him, Lucifer represented the intellect, visions and imagination. The dark side of these include delusion, hallucination, psychosis and fantasy.
This view is somewhat aligned with the Anton LaVey’s view that showed up in the 1960s. LaVey holds that Lucifer is a crown prince of hell. He associated him with the East and dubs him the Lord of Air. He is the bringer of light, the morning star, intellectualism, and enlightenment.
This is an interesting contrast to the Cernunnos aspect of the Dark God, which is anything but intellectualized. Yet they both are about rebelling against what we are told to believe and how we are told to act.
I would like to insert one more comment about Lucifer as viewed from the Christian point of view. If the cosmos require a balance to operate, and Christ is seen as the light, and the virtuous – then by necessity there needs to be the dark and temptation. If we can take out the judgment associated that light is good and dark is bad, then we can see this as light and dark are required. It is the easy road to be seen as the “good” as the light. It is the far more difficult road to be seen as the “bad” as the darkness. It requires much more sacrifice for the greater whole to be the darkness. Does this not in turn show the the one personifying darkness is in fact, the better being? Someone who is willing to spend an eternity being scorned and feared and hated and loathed would have to be pretty great to step into that role. Would they not have to have great love and compassion to play such a role? This perhaps relates also to Judas Iscariot. In the resurrection tale, can he have loved Christ enough that he would spent eternity being damned because he did what had to be done and no other Apostle had the intestinal fortitude to do it? I prefer to see it as having the strength and courage to do what needs to be done and to stand up straight and fearless and take the consequences of your choices. Even if you did not want to take on the task at hand.
Tezcatlipoca is a key deity in the Aztec religion. He is associated with the night sky, hurricanes, the north, earth, obsidian, discord, enmity, divination, temptation, sorcery, jaguars, strife, change through conflict, and war. His name translates into Smoking Mirror. He is often shown with black and yellow stripes on his face and with his right foot replaced with obsidian, bone or a snake.
According to the Aztec creation myth Quetzalcoatl and Tezcatlipoca joined forces to create the world. Before that there was only the sea and the crocodilian earth monster called Cipactli. To attract Cipactli, Tezcatlipoca used his foot as bait, and Cipactli ate it. The two gods then captured her, and distorted her to make the land from her body. After that, they created the people, and people had to offer sacrifices to comfort Cipactli for her sufferings. Because of this, Tezcatlipoca is depicted with a missing foot.
One of the more interesting and harrowing stories about Tezcatlipoca is the celebration of his annual feast held during Toxcatl, the fifth month of the Aztec calendar. The preparations begin a year earlier, when a young man, is chosen by the priests to be the likeness of Tezcatlipoca. For the next year he lives like a god, wearing expensive jewelry and having attendants. He is worshipped literally as the embodiment of the deity. He marries four young women, and spends his last week singing, feasting and dancing. During the feast where he was worshipped as Tezcatlipoca he climbs the stairs to the top of the temple where the priests seize him. He then crushes the clay flutes on which he had played in his brief moment of glory. At that point he is sacrificed and his body eaten. Immediately after he dies a new victim for the next year’s ceremony is chosen.
Working with the Dark Gods
So how can we work with the Dark Gods? Personally, I would not call on this type of energy very often. This is place to go when the outlook is dire. Draw on this energy if you need justice and protection. If you are being hunted, if you are afraid for your life – then use the wisdom, courage and strength of the Dark Gods. Do not do this lightly. Their action will be swift and certain. It is not for the faint of heart.
You can also ask for their help in conquering fear, to bring you courage or to help you bear a burden. The Dark Gods can help balance energy so you can see and hold both sides of a situation. If you need grounding, if you need to understand the base side of being human, turn to the dark ones.
Lastly, the Dark Ones do us all a service. They embody this energy and hold it for us. It is a difficult energy. By their doing this, we do not have to hold that energy, they do it for us. I think it is appropriate to remember that, honor it and thank them for the gift of darkness that they bring us.
Enter a meditative state, however you get there. Now focus on the darkness. Feel the pit of your stomach. Move to your first and second chakra and breath in there. Press your consciousness into your masculine side. Feel the power of masculine energy build within you. How does that feel? Take out all the stops. Breath in the fierceness of raw maleness. Can you feel your senses sharpen? What are you thinking about?
Now, take yourself back in time. You are standing on a ledge, outside your cave. You are looking out over a vista. You are still. You smell the air. What do you smell? What is nearby?
You rub leaves and bark on yourself to mask your scent. You reach out and pick up a stick with a sharp point on it. You know where to find a place in the woods where prey go. It is by a stream where they come to drink. You set out. What do you see? What do you hear? How do you move? What smells are present? Now you are by the clearing. You crouch by a bush and wait. What happens next?
Be in that moment as long as you dare. Stay with the meditation. When you are ready, go back to the cave. Breath in the moment. Breath in the lessons. Deepen your breath and find your way back to the here and now. Before you open your eyes, lock in those feelings in your lower chakras. Thank that part of yourself for surfacing and teaching you. When you are ready – open your eyes.
Image is of The Horned God from the Witchcraft Museum, Boscastle.