A little over a year ago I went into the dunes & there I met the Devil.
It was on Boxing Day, or as it is simply known in The Netherlands, Second Day of Xmas. There is a song that goes: Without you every day is like Xmas/ it’s cold & there’s nothing to do. Well, that was the kind of Xmas I was having. I felt the familiar urge to go out & I was also feeling rebellious, so I packed some items with a view of doing some proper witchin’ on an Xtian holiday. It was a dark, cold & wet afternoon so I didn’t expect too many people out in the dunes. Also great witching weather (see picture above). In fact it turned out to be one of my more significant hexpeditions.
A few days before, I woke up & the stone had fallen out of my Goddess pendant that I always wore, day & night. This gave me an uneasy feeling, as if Something Was Afoot. She was trying to tell me something, but what? I felt naked without Her, like I was making room for something else without knowing what.
Anyway, off I went into the dunes, as usual greeting the spirits & asking them to guide me to a place where I could do my thing unseen & to anything else they’d like me to find or see. At once my feet went off at a fair pace, which is always a promising sign. I was guided to a path that was not on my usual route as it is on the outer edge of the dunes, close to the last street of the city. Talk about liminal!
As usual I was looking out for sticks & stones & other muddy things to find. I never can resist a good gnarly bit of wood, so I was excited to spot a crooked bit of root on the left side of the path (of course. Where else?). I wasn’t sure if it was still attached to a tree somewhere so I poked it with my foot. Yes, it was lying loose. I picked it up, turning it over – Well. This is what I saw:
I’m not joking, that is how I found it. I gasped so loud it was almost a cry. I stared in disbelief. When I had recovered somewhat I asked if I could really take it home. Yes I could, so I quickly put it away as there were people coming. They must have thought I just had seen a ghost. I was so flabbergasted I even forgot to leave an offering, although I did say Thank you about a thousand times. Off I went, still muttering & also crying somewhat. Something afoot , indeed.
You see, at the time I was following a course on witchcraft that I was feeling less & less at home with. I had thought that it would be more or less like TradCraft but with a twist. Well, there was a twist indeed & I didn’t like it one bit. Things would come to a head not long afterwards & I eventually left, in an unpleasant atmosphere. (I’m still debating whether I should write about this as I’m risking pissing off the teacher’s entire fandom & I’m not sure that would be worth it!). Therefore I had already started to return to Traditional Witchcraft as I knew it, renewing my acquaintance with Gemma Gary’s writing for example & feeling the pull of Auld Horny more & more.
What the course did do for me was reconcile me somewhat with the idea of male gods, as I had a deep mistrust to the Xtian guy in the sky based on previous experiences & I was skirting other males of the species by a mile as a consequence. When that stone fell out of my Goddess’ hands, I therefore already had a feeling that She had done enough to heal me for now & that it was time to do something completely different, as a woman & as a witch.
So the ritual I was going to do that day was more or less intended as an honouring of the Devil, to figure out how to go from here & to ask for his guidance. I had already started on the road towards him & here I had found him in no uncertain manner. You can hopefully understand my inner turmoil on finding this little devilish manikin a bit more now. Besides, it’s a unique natural artefact in its own right.
On the next Dark Moon at the start of January I went out into the dunes again. It was night this time, with a howling North-Western gale & icy showers every now & then. Bracing! Nevertheless I was headed to the beach, the biggest Crossroads of them all, invoking the spirits along the way & informing them that I was there to dedicate myself to the Devil if that was okay with them.
Who are you, asked one of them when I paused at a crossroads to light a cigar for them. I explained who I was, or at least that I was trying to find out that very thing, but that I felt that even if I wasn’t entirely ready for this I felt I had little choice, as this was my path & I had to move forward. I felt a contented silence behind me as I went on.
What happened on that beach I can’t entirely share, but it involved hagstones, lots of shouting at the top of my voice & getting sandblasted to an appalling extent. And at the end I saw his face before me, like a mask of green leaves with fire behind it.
And a voice, saying in a slightly amused & indulgent manner, Zo zij het, so be it. I had done a deal with the Devil. Totally worth getting sandblasted for.
I’ll write about my path from then on soon, but the first thing I did was give the manikin a face. One of my wonderful Instagram friends remarked that he looked as if he’s half in this world & half in another. That’s certainly true, but his face just looked mangled to me. I made him a new one of wood pulp clay:
While working I felt his presence very strongly, with my tools getting little nudges, moving by themselves. It was… an experience. This his how he turned out eventually:
Don’t you love how he even has a heart? And that very realistic arm & shoulder, I can’t get over it. If you think I should have left him as he was: enhancing natural artefacts like this is a very, very old tradition the world over & it felt very natural to me.
I’m still trying to figure out whether to coat him in resin or something as he is quite brittle & some bits have broken off. Anyone any tips?
So that is how I met the Devil, but this is only how the story starts… To be continued!