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Encountering the Demonic as Christians | The Infernal Divine for Christian Witches

Two sides. One coin.

Christian Witch, Witchcraft, Mysticism, Magic, Crystals, Bible, Incense, Folklore, Sara Raztresen, God, Spirituality, Tarot, Occult, Evangelical, Demons, Sin, Danger, Possession, Idolatry, Discernment, Church, Solomonic Magic, Occult, Left Hand Path, Demonolatry, Demonology

"You see two sides. I see one coin."


This is what God said to my father in one of the most vivid dreams he's ever had—one he remembers in crystal clarity even twenty years later.


In this dream, my great grandmother (his grandmother) was casually mixing some muffin batter in her kitchen. As she did, one of my father's acquaintances—a man who took care of himself, who loved to run, and who perished in Rhode Island's most grizzly travesty in living memory, the Station Nightclub Fire of 2003 that claimed 95 lives—was out for a jog outside the house. He ran through the fence gate, up to the front door, and my father answered that door.


The acquaintance said, "Hey, thanks for thinking of me!" and then ran off again.


And then my great grandmother, still mixing her muffin batter, said to my father, "God's in the other room; would you like to meet Him?"


So my father walked into that other room, which should've been the living room. Instead, it opened up to a court room, with the judge's desk so high and tall and overbearing, and with God sitting behind it. Only His great hands and His chest were visible; His face was shadowed, hidden, as He tends to not like people seeing His face directly, lest they... die (Exodus 33:20).


In that court room with God, though, were three others: the Prosecutor (Lucifer), the Defense (Jesus), and one guest in the stands behind the lawyers' tables (Mother Mary). In between it all, God held out His hand, where a gold coin hovered above His palm and spun. That was when He told my father: "You see two sides; I see one coin."


By that, He meant that He and Lucifer were not what people understand them to be. Their dynamic is not what people understand it to be. Nothing was what we understood it to be.


Once upon a time, I thought I had to pick a side of that coin. I thought I had to call heads or tails and see where this coin fell, and where I would go thereafter; hell, I thought my soul already had called heads, called God, and that was what I was rocking with forever. But here's the thing: whether you choose Heads or Tails, you still need to pick up the whole coin. You can't scrape one side off of it or pretend it isn't there.


Where one goes, the other goes, too: you just might not notice it if you're always holding the coin flat, one face up, the other against your palm.


Recently, though, as I turned this dream over in my head, I came to understand it—and what I wanted. Why choose heads or tails when I had the whole coin already in my hand? When there was an entire other side of detail there to explore, to study, and to appreciate? Why limit myself to a half-understanding of what I've come to understand as the Great Equation; why only study one side when both are balanced with each other?


That's why I work with the Infernal Divine, or as modern Christians know them, demons. Except we need to talk about what demons as a whole are, who the 72 Goetic demons are, and how we can understand the way both God and Devil into a self-sustaining ecosystem rather than splitting them apart and letting them run out of balance with each other.


So let's talk.


*Note: this post contains affiliate links. None of the products linked are ones I have not used or do not endorse, and there is no cost to you for clicking a link, nor any extra cost to you if you purchase an item through these links.


What Christians Call Demonic (and Get Wrong)

Christian Witch, Witchcraft, Mysticism, Magic, Crystals, Bible, Incense, Folklore, Sara Raztresen, God, Spirituality, Tarot, Occult, Evangelical, Demons, Sin, Danger, Possession, Idolatry, Discernment, Church, Solomonic Magic, Occult, Left Hand Path, Demonolatry, Demonology
Cult of the Lamb art

It seems these days, according to modern Christians, everything is demonic. Crystals. Tarot cards. Video games. Harry Potter. Even just things you happen to like a lot have the potential to be "demonic" because they become "idols" (neither of which are remotely true, displaying a fundamental misunderstanding of both of these concepts). And while some video games, like Cult of the Lamb, obviously have very clear references to occultism in it, the fact that so many especially Evangelical and Fundamentalist Christians can't grasp the fact that players are aware of the symbolism and understand it to be ironic says enough about their critical thinking.


Because contrary to what I used to believe when I was a child, no: saying the name of a demon or seeing its sigil will not suddenly cause it to manifest out of nowhere in your house.


The thing is that Jewish and early Christian mystics, miracle workers, and dare I say, magicians had entirely different ideas about demons and what they were. Illnesses and conditions such as blindness were thought to be the work of specifically unclean spirits. Evil spirits, or demons as we understand them, weren't really conceptualized the same way. In fact, if you do a textual analysis of the Greek used in the Gospels, you'll find that the word used for demon is daimon—a Greek term that once upon a time just meant spirits more powerful than people. If we take a quick peek at Encyclopedia Britannica's explanation here:


In Homer the term is used almost interchangeably with theos for a god. The distinction there is that theos emphasizes the personality of the god, and demon his activity. Hence, the term demon was regularly applied to sudden or unexpected supernatural interventions not due to any particular deity. It became commonly the power determining a person’s fate, and a mortal could have a personal demon. As early as Hesiod (c. 700 BC), the dead of the Golden Age became demons; and later philosophical speculation envisaged these as lower than the gods (possibly mortal) but as superior to humanity


We can see how daimon, or daemon, soon became demon, in which, as Christianity rose to power, they came to just appropriate the word to denounce all such spirits as evil. (Ironically, though, this definition would also mean Saints of the Catholic Faith could be called daimoni in the classical Greek sense). Likewise, My Jewish Learning acknowledges that "in none of the languages of the ancient Near East, including Hebrew, is there any one general term equivalent to English 'demon.'" The writers go on to say:


In general, the notion of a demon in the ancient Near East was of a being less powerful than a god and less endowed with individuality. Whereas the great gods are accorded regular public worship, demons are not; they are dealt with in magic rites in individual cases of human suffering, which is their particular sphere.


They then explain:


Since much of pagan magic was protective – intended to keep demons away or to expel them – obviously Israel's religion aimed at a very radical extirpation of traffic with demons. Calamities and illnesses were not from demons but from the Lord. "Shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord has not done it?" (Amos 3:6).


And the "Satan" Christians are always so worried about? The word comes from a title, HaShatan, meaning "the Adversary"—an angel of God that tested His faithful, like with the story of Job. However, this doesn't cover that of the several different words for "demon," some are actually benevolent and, according to Jewish folklore, even walk into temple and worship God with the people. Some of these spirits were just regular old pals having a good time and minding their business, while the dybbuk was one of the terrible and unclean spirits causing illness. We see Jesus deal with these often in the Gospels, healing the sick by means of exorcism, which was a common form of magic for Jewish wonder workers that, thanks to Jewish apologist Flavius Josephus, we actually have a pretty detailed account of in terms of the method God gave to Solomon for working this kind of magic. (It involves a root under the nose of the afflicted person and a few other things.) Christian magic, too, relied on papyrus amulets drawn up in the name of God, Jesus, and several angels to ward away spirits that plagued loved ones or themselves.


Yet you'll notice that right away, Christians are out of the loop. As you can see, not only were demons a little more specific than the catch-all term modern Christianity uses it as, but there were magical means of getting rid of them, too. Still, these Christians will say that of course God has power over all per Amos, and yet... they'll both cower in fear at the thought of demons and think that every single thing that isn't the Bible is also, somehow, a demon. In my opinion, this creates a lot of fear and stress for the average person to see attacks on their psyche and spirit everywhere, and I can't imagine myself living like that. Can you?


The only thing that even comes close to what modern Christians understand as "demonic presences" can, in my opinion, be summed up in a Gospel that isn't even included in the Canonical New Testament: the Gospel of Mary Magdalene. In the Canonical Gospels, she is the first to declare Jesus risen, and she's also the one that had "seven demons" expelled from her—but in her Gospel, she calls these demons the "seven powers of Wrath," which any Catholics may find familiar. That's because these seven powers very possibly could've been the prototype of the Seven Deadly Sins. Those powers in Mary's Gospel are called:

  • Darkness

  • Desire

  • Ignorance

  • Zeal for Death

  • Kingdom of the Flesh

  • Foolish Wisdom of the Flesh

  • Wrath

It's these powers that assault the soul and try to make it forget that it is, in fact, a Divine creation. In my experience, demons, if we're to use this term more loosely than just meaning unclean spirit, are exactly such things: afflictions of the soul that cause you to act in ways that don't serve you and make you forget your place as a child of the Most High. When we're consumed with fear, or a lack of confidence, or gluttony, or status, or any other such things that cloud our senses and make us act out, we might call that a demonic influence, sure—but even then, if God commands all of these things, can't we interpret it more as His trying to teach us a lesson?


No one wants to consider this idea, which is a shame, because that's where this kind of liberation from these forces really comes from: when you learn about them, and not just to defeat them, but to understand them and become acquainted with the ways God has them test you on the daily. When you stop looking at them with hostility, and instead curiosity, that's when real change starts to happen.


But remember when I mentioned Cult of the Lamb? Yeah, they did their homework, as I said. So let's take a peek at the inspiration for their adorable in-game mini-bosses.


The 72 Goetic Demons and Their Documented Appearances


I've actually very much been enjoying the work of one lovely scholar, Esoterica, who has a fantastic collection of videos on all things, well, esoteric. This includes Jewish and Christian magic and mysticism, as well as the history of things like demonology. And wouldn't you know—there's quite a bit of fascinating stuff about demons and God's people, including how King Solomon bound one infernal King, Asmodeus, and used that demon's power to build a temple of God. In fact, it's through a little ring delivered by Archangel Michael after King Solomon's fervent prayers to save a laboring lad that we discover this in the pseudoepigraphic work, The Testament of Solomon, originating between the first and third centuries CE.


Read it. It's so cool.

Christian Witch, Witchcraft, Mysticism, Magic, Crystals, Bible, Incense, Folklore, Sara Raztresen, God, Spirituality, Tarot, Occult, Evangelical, Demons, Sin, Danger, Possession, Idolatry, Discernment, Church, Solomonic Magic, Occult, Left Hand Path, Demonolatry, Demonology
Weyer's De Praestigiis Daemonium

But as I was saying about Esoterica: imagine my surprise when he discussed the way in which skepticism about witchcraft brought us some of the most useful tools to delve into demonology in a more modern and easily recognizable occult style. It seems that, according to Esoterica, as women were being burned and tortured in the thousands across Europe for "witchcraft," some people actually did stop to ask if maybe this wasn't the path of action that should've been taken—folks like Johann Weyer, who in 1563 published De Praestigiis Daemonum (On the Deceptions of the Demons) suggested that maybe witches didn't need to be tortured and killed, but just rehabilitated from their apparent delusions and possessions of demons. Then, later on, in an effort to combat these demonic influences running amok and tricking these poor ladies into doing whatever whacky nonsense they thought witches did at the time, that same Weyer would go on to publish Pseudomonarchia Daemonum ("False Kingdom of the Demons"), which you can still read entirely for free here (if you know any Latin). I don't read any Latin, but I can pick out the names of what later occult practitioners will come to call the 72 Goetic demons.


Now, here's the thing: Christians will flip out at the idea of conjuring demons, and yet I'll remind you a second time that this is literally what King Solomon did, with a rulebook given directly to him by God Himself. Hence we get the term Solomonic magic to define this type of old school occultism that involved evoking, binding, and commanding demons to serve a practitioner. This has fascinated people for centuries, the idea of commanding demons, and the fact that it originated deep in the pages of Jewish mysticism (Kabbalah), then found itself appropriated and refashioned into the many other Christian and general esoteric traditions (like Enochian magic, Christian Cabalah, Hermetic Qabalah, so on and so forth), is equally as fascinating. Granted, some of these have been used for insidious means, such as tricking Jewish people into converting, while others were gladly using Jewish mysticism as source material without actually showing any acknowledgement or respect for Jewish people, but the fact is that the historical through-line and origins are extremely apparent and shouldn't be ignored.


This is especially the case where, in Kabbalah, and in the typical Left Hand Path occultism, we find two things that even Christians should be able to recognize: the Tree of Life (in this mysticism divided into spheres known as the Sefirot) and the Tree of Knowledge (divided into spheres known as the Qliphoth), also called the Tree of Death—the husks of creation where demons live, and the tree in which Adam and Eve ate from. In these traditions, it's said you can work your way up a chain of spheres, where certain angels (or demons) act as wardens to test the practitioner, grow their mystical skill, and help them master themselves before coming face to face with God in Kether (or with Moloch, or Satan, in Thaumiel). Granted, Jewish Kabbalah is a closed practice, and requires careful work with trained Kabbalists to even think about approaching; it's not for anyone and everyone to go play with, so keep that in mind and be respectful of these religious mysteries and the people who hold them dear.



Christian Witch, Witchcraft, Mysticism, Magic, Crystals, Bible, Incense, Folklore, Sara Raztresen, God, Spirituality, Tarot, Occult, Evangelical, Demons, Sin, Danger, Possession, Idolatry, Discernment, Church, Solomonic Magic, Occult, Left Hand Path, Demonolatry, Demonology
King Paimon's Sigil

The 72 Goetic spirits, however, make up a focus of fascination for many occultists. From Weyer's description of them, among many other materials involving this mystic approach to God and the spiritual realm (like the Clavicula Salomonis or Key of Solomon from 1312), came the Lesser Key of Solomon in the mid-17th century—of which the demons are summarized in the Ars Goetia. Thankfully, for modern practitioners, the taboo around these spirits is no longer what it was in the middle ages, and you can even find the entire Lesser Key of Solomon (and other great demonolatry resources) on even places like Amazon pretty easily if you want to look into them.


There is an inverse book full of 72 angels, too, known as the Ars Notoria, that details some notes for the medieval angel magicians on the Right Hand Path that used to work with them. Nonetheless, these demons are masters of all kings of things—like Prince Stolas, who can teach about astronomy and herbs, or Belphegor, who helps people make discoveries and think of new and wacky inventions to make money with. (A bit of a Seen on TV vibe, y'know?) They're powerful spirits, many of which were once fallen angels (such as King Paimon, once a Dominion) and they command several legions of demons—ones like the powers we've just discussed.


Of these demons, I've met several: Prince Stolas, Prince Vassago, King Belial, and King Paimon, to name just a few. Each are fascinating in their own respect and, through my very personalized work with Lucifer, have a lot to say and a lot to teach—not just about plants and stones, but about oneself, too. The road to self mastery is a long one, and I find that the more I walk it, the more I find some overlap between the realms of Heaven and "Hell." You could even say that Earth is that middle portion of the Venn diagram between them.


Because St. Paul asks us at one point in 2 Corinthians 6:15:


What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?


And it's by talking to that very King Belial that I found an answer. It's by being willing to have conversations with them, and understand them from a still Divinely-guarded, yet open position, that I was able to gather the courage to face them. By grasping the fact that there was neither heads nor Tails, but only one Coin, I came to understand: I could learn more about God by learning about what He wasn't. I could learn more about the world, and Humanity, by learning how these forces worked among us, and Who directed them, and why. I could learn about myself, and all the things holding me back from understanding the world or, at the very least, my own actions.


It's a tough path to walk, though—what I call the Both Hands Path.


Finding the Balance Walking the Both Hands Path


Now, what do I know about working with these beings? Truthfully, nothing that I can explain better than what you can find out yourself. A word of warning, though: when you find yourself on the path of mysticism, you see, you find yourself learning things that make Ecclesiastes 1:18 make a lot more sense:


For with much wisdom comes much sorrow;

the more knowledge, the more grief.


Because while I and many other modern practitioners stray away from Solomonic magic, preferring to respect the demons—or Infernal Divine—as their own autonomous, dignified beings, it doesn't make what they have to teach any easier to grasp or to accept. When I encounter these beings, I ask God to let them through, I offer gifts of liquor or tea the way I would if a friend came over for a chat, and I spend time reading tarot or learning through books or simply meditating with them, all to end with me experiencing things that I won't understand until days, weeks, or even months later. Granted you still have to do your due diligence and make sure you understand what demon you're being directed to call upon, so that you don't get yourself into a truly dangerous bind (as not all demons actually... like people), but it's not nearly so full of drama as people think it is. It's a difficult bit of spiritual work, yes, but one that nonetheless has brought me some interesting facts and revelations that, beforehand, I would've been too scared to know.


And so the priest of Ecclesiastes is a relatable figure to me, because you come to understand how the world is as wonky as it is: because people don't have the whole story, and in fact, refuse to have it. They don't want to hear what Lucifer's side of the story is in relation to his "fall." They don't want to speak to demons, or even to angels, afraid of it all as tricks and deceits as they stuff their nose in another ancient book they don't understand at all. But you can't have both sides of the Coin that way. Hell, you can't even perceive the Coin at all.


The way I find balance between these paths, as you might imagine—between walking with God and with Lucifer, worshipping one and deeply respecting the other, learning from both—is by acknowledging that these two cannot exist without each other. That they play a role in the narrative that is written out on Earth, and that they both represent different paths to the same goal: enlightenment, self mastery, and power, wisdom, that doesn't look like either of these things, but in fact looks like sorrow. Like grief.


However, this isn't something I can actually advise anyone to do, because I don't know who's time it is to do it. Only God does. You have to ask Him, as a Christian witch, whether or not it's appropriate to begin acknowledging Heads and Tails of the Coin, whether it's your time to start laboring with Both Hands. As I've said in a recent sermon: the definition of faith is not just believing some entity exists. It's trust. So have faith that God will point you in the right direction, that He'll keep you safe and hold you in His hand even when you come face to face with the entities Hollywood and the Church both have told you to fear, and when you face the most terrifying thing of all: the Powers that you didn't realize were eating at your soul like termites.


One thing I will say is this: all that I do is in service of God. Including the work I do with those on the Other Side of Him. All helps me become a more well rounded, complete mind, and all helps me understand Him—hence my doing all of this in the first place. I don't care for power. I don't care for fame. I care for understanding things, and I care for helping others understand, too.


Be safe. Be well. And be secure in the knowledge that it is not only okay, but necessary, to grieve as you continue along this path and find yourself no longer turning with the World.


 
Where the Gods Left Off, Pagan, Christian, Witchcraft, Spirituality, Religion, Medium, Psychic

We are 25 interviews through, with 25(ish) more to go. That's good! That puts us right on target to get these written, edited, and then plopped into our design template throughout July.


I've been certainly needing to pace myself, or at least remind myself to, because in my hurry to get this done, I seem to have forgotten that I have a whole life to live, too. Oops. However, I'm also finding that a I read these interviews over and remember how I felt at the time, as well as what I learned since performing them, that my heart hurts.


There was so much I didn't know and so much I learned in just a single year of this exercise that I find myself blown back by it. I can't wait to share this with you, because if it's as brutally healing for you as it was for me, then you'll be in for a ride.


Definitely check out my shop to grab a SIGNED COPY as soon as it releases. First books ship on September 20th—which is coming up pretty quickly! Once this is off my plate, of course, it's back to absolutely tunneling on Discovering Christian Witchcraft, and the resources I'm reading lately are going to make it even juicier for when I'm ready to get back at it.



 

Christian Witch, Witchcraft, Mysticism, Magic, Crystals, Bible, Incense, Folklore, Sara Raztresen, God, Spirituality, Tarot, Occult, Evangelical, Demons, Sin, Danger, Possession, Idolatry

Sara Raztresen is a Slovene-American writer, screenwriter, and Christian witch. Her fantasy works draw heavily on the wisdom she gathers from her own personal and spiritual experience, and her s


piritual practice borrows much of the whimsy and wonder that modern society has relegated to fairy-and-folktale. Her goal is to help people regain their spiritual footing and discover


God through a new (yet old) lens of mysticism.



Follow Sara on Tiktok, Instagram, Twitter, and Youtube, and explore her fiction writing here.


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