The Devil

The Devil
from theTarot of Marseilles

This winged entity holds a tapered torch above two beings bound to a pedestal, on which he is standing upright. The fifteenth Arcanum of the Tarot  introduces  the secrets of the intoxication of counter-inspiration.  There is an intrinsic difference between meditation on the other Arcana and meditation on the Arcanum “The Devil”. 

One should not arrive at an intuition of evil, since intuition is identification, and identification is communion. Unfortunately many authors — occultist and non-occultist — have dealt without reason with the profound things of both good and evil. Thus Dostoyevsky released into the world certain profound truths of Christianity, and, at the same time, certain secret practical methods of evil. This is the case in his novel The Possessed.

Another example of an excessive knowledge of evil is the preoccupation with twofold evil amongst German Anthroposophists. Lucifer and Ahriman are the two principles of evil, subjective and objective, the seducing principle and the hypnotising principle.
Novel by Dostoyevsky

The East is under the domination of Lucifer, because it denies matter; the West is under the domination of Ahriman, because it has created a material civilisation and tends to materialism. All machines—including computers and television—incorporate Ahrimanic demons. Laboratories are the fortresses of Ahriman; theatres—and churches, some believe—are the fortresses of Lucifer.

The preoccupation with evil  has clipped the wings of the Anthroposophical Movement  since the death of Rudolph Steiner its founder. One ought not to occupy oneself with evil, if one wishes to avoid the risk of paralysing the creative élan and a still greater risk —   furnishing arms to the powers of evil. 

A Persian King battling with Ahriman

 Love is the vital element of profound knowledge. One cannot love evil. Evil is therefore unknowable in its essence. One can understand it only at a distance, as an observer of its phenomenology.  The world of evil is a chaotic world. One ought not to enter this jungle if one does not want to lose one’s way . One should remain an observer from the outside.


In the fifteenth arcanum two personages are attached to the pedestal of a monstrous demon. The theme  is of the generation of demons and of how their creator can become a slave of his own creation.  Artificial demons can be engendered by human communities—such are many of the monstrous “gods” of the Phoenicians, Mexicans, and even Tibetans . The Canaan Moloch who demanded the bloody sacrifice of the first born, mentioned so often in the Bible, is  an evil egregore, i.e. a demon created artificially and collectively by human communities infatuated with the thrill of fear. The Mexican Quetzalcoatl is a similar instance of this.


Demons who do not have  an existence separate from the psychic life of their imaginers, have a semi-autonomous existence which is designated in modern psychology by the term “psychological complex”.  C. G. Jung regarded these as parasitic entities, which are to the psychic organism what, for example, cancer is to the physical organism.  A psychopathological “complex” is therefore a demon, when it has not come from outside but is engendered by the patient himself. These demons can sometimes even bruise their victims with real blows, as was the case with St. Anthony the Great and the holy priest of Ars.

Jean Vianney, the Curé d'Ars

A woman told Vianney that she was devastated because her husband had committed suicide. She wanted to approach the great priest but his line often lasted for hours and she could not reach him. She was ready to give up and in a moment of mystical insight that only a great saint can receive, Vianney exclaimed through the crowd, “He is saved!” The woman was incredulous so the saint repeated, stressing each word, “I tell you he is saved. He is in Purgatory, and you must pray for him. Between the parapet of the bridge and the water he had time to make an act of contrition.” (insert by Shaun MacLoughlin)

How are demons engendered? As with all generation, that of demons is the result of the cooperation of the male principle and the female principle, ie. the will and the imagination.

The two personages, the one male and the other female, attached to the pedestal of the Devil are the parents of the demon,  who have become enslaved by their own creation. These egregores represent perverse will and imagination contrary to nature.

Karl Marx

Writing in the 1960’s Valentin Tomberg wrote:

The birth of such an egregore in modern times is known to us:
“A spectre is haunting Europe—the spectre of communism”—such is the first phrase of the Communist Manifesto of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels of 1848. It  continues:
“All the powers of old Europe have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this spectre: Pope and Czar, Metternich and Guizot, French radicals and German police-spies.”

Friedrich Engels

Engendered by the will of the masses, born from the despair following the “industrial revolution”, nourished by  resentment amongst the masses, armed with a dummy intellectuality which is Hegel’s dialectic misconstrued—this spectre grew  – at this time.  For Marxism there is no God or gods—there are only “demons” in the sense of creations of the human will and imagination.

 There is the Word, and there are egregores before whom humanity bows down; there is revelation of divine truth, and the manifestation of the will of human beings; there is the cult of God, and that of idols made by man. Moses received the revelation of the Word at the summit of the mountain, the people at the foot of the mountain made and worshipped a golden calf. Those who experienced the Nazi demon or egregores suffered more than mankind suffered from the great epidemics of the Middle Ages.

 Let us be silent.  To be silent is the great magical commandment of not engendering demons through our arbitrary will and imagination. Let us be amongst the builders of the “great cathedral” of mankind’s spiritual tradition. May the Holy Scriptures be holy for us; may the Sacraments be sacraments for us. This is what the commandment to be silent entails— the commandment of not engendering demons.

Worshipping the Golden Calf
The Inquisition

It is this fever of desire to change everything utterly at a single stroke which gave birth to the demon of class hatred, atheism, disdain for the past, and material interest being placed above all else, which is now making the rounds in the world.

The relationship between Temperance and the Devil explains how the religion of love was able to give way to the funeral- pyres of the Inquisition, how the hierarchical collaboration within mankind became the struggle between the classes, how the scientific method was transformed into materialistic dogma, and how the facts of biological evolution were used as a basis for the doctrine of intrinsic inequality between races and the superiority of certain nations.

There is the relationship between inspiration and counter-inspiration. This counter-inspiration can be designated as the “voice of the flesh”, which  promoted the Manichaean and Cathar heresy, which declares Nature to be intrinsically bad.

The ascetic Saint Anthony the Great was an expert on the subject of the “demon-flesh”. 
He said:
The body has three kinds of carnal movements.

The first is a natural movement, inherent in it…the second kind of movement in the body is produced by too abundant food and drink…the third movement comes from the evil spirits.
Saint Anthony

More than a century earlier Origen had said:

Christians have to struggle on two fronts. The perfect, as St. Paul said,  “…are contending  against Principalities and Powers, against the princes of darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in heavenly places” (Ephesians vi, 12). Lesser ones, who are not yet perfect are still struggling against the vices and weaknesses of the flesh.

One should not…speak to disciples, at the beginning of their formative period, of profound and secret mysteries; but one should confide to them the improvement of habits, the formation of discipline, and the first elements of religious life and simple faith.

Such is the milk of the Church.

Speaking of our Guardian Angels Origen said:

We must not always rely on them to fight for us; they help us only when we  are commencing.
In time, we should arm ourselves for combat. Before we learn to do battle, we are succoured by Angels. Initially, we receive the provision of celestial bread…as long as we are children, we are nourished by milk.  But when  we have nourished ourselves on the bread of life, listen how the apostolic trumpet invites us to combat!

It is with a loud voice that Paul cried to us, saying; “Take the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand the wiles of the devil.”

Twelve centuries later St. John of the Cross repeats that the soul who seeks God is called to renounce every created being, above and below, terrestrial and celestial.

David says, “I have watched and am become as the lonely sparrow on the housetop”, that is “I opened the eyes of my understanding, and was raised up above all earthly considerations.

Saint John of the Cross
As Origen expresses it, “one has attained a mature spiritual age”.
Saint John puts it this way:
…lt is when in their opinion the sun of divine favour is shining most brightly on them, that God leaves them in such darkness that they do not know which way to turn. When God sees that they have grown a little, he weans them from the sweet breast so that they might be strengthened, lays aside their swaddling bands, and puts them down from his arms that they may grow accustomed to walking by themselves.

This progress is accompanied by more and more subtle temptations. The temptations of the “vices and weaknesses of the flesh” are therefore followed by the assaults of artificial demons. Saint Antony the Great spoke:

No one, if he is not tempted, will be able to enter the kingdom of heaven. For, take away the temptations and no one is saved.

The ladder of perfection therefore entails that of temptation. Saint Anthony continues:

lt is quite possible to tell the difference between the good and the bad when God grants it. A vision of the holy ones is not turbulent…it comes so quietly and gently that instantly joy and gladness and courage arise in the soul…

On the other hand, the attack and appearance of the evil ones is full of confusion, accompanied by crashing, roaring, and shouting: it could well be the tumult produced by rude boys and robbers.

This at once begets terror in the soul, disturbance and confusion of thoughts, dejection, hatred of ascetics, indifference, sadness, remembrance of kinsfolk, and fear of death; and then a desire for evil, a disdain for virtue, and a complete subversion of character.

If then the fear is taken from you immediately and in its place comes ineffable joy and contentment; and courage and recovery of strength and calmness of thought , then be of good cheer and pray—for your joy and your soul’s tranquility betoken the holiness of Him who is present.
The Torment of Anthony by Michelangelo
Saint Teresa of Avila

Saint Teresa of Avila writes:

Visions that come from the devil not only lead to no good, but leave bad effects behind them. Each time I have had an immediate warning from the Lord that they came from the devil. Not only is the soul left in great dryness, but the Lord has allowed me to be subjected to great temptations and spiritual trials.

The pleasures and joys which the devil bestows differ greatly from those which come from God…When the devil speaks to us, all good things seem to be hidden from the soul and to flee from it; it becomes restless and touchy, and suffers nothing but bad effects. It may seem to have good desires, but they are not strong; and the humility that remains behind is false, excitable, and lacking in tranquility.
Saint John of the Cross:

There is a great difference between the visions of God and those of the evil one. Those of Satan result in dryness of spirit, in a tendency to self-esteem; and in no degree do they produce the gentleness of humility, and love of God. Diabolic visions do not endure, rather, they are immediately effaced, except when the soul attaches itself to them.

The effects of visions of  God are quietness, enlightenment, joy like glory, sweetness, pureness, love, humility, inclination, or elevation of the mind to God, sometimes more of one, sometimes more of another…(St. John of the Cross, The Ascent of Mount Carmel )
Anglo-Norman Apocalypse

Authentic spiritual experience remains the same across the ages. The essence of this tradition is to see heaven open and the Angels of God ascending and descending.

Nations are under the direction of Archangels. There are, at the same time, egregores or demons engendered by the collective will and imagination of nations. The “French cock” therefore disputes with the “Archangel of memory” over the direction of France. And it is the same with other nations.

If the psychic and mental energy of good does not accumulate, how can one explain miracles or the magical action of certain “holy places”,  if  they are not  “magnetised” by the  will and imagination, of believers?

Holy places, miraculous relics, statues and icons, are not receivers for the  mental energy of pilgrims and other believers, but rather places or objects where “heaven opens and Angels are able to ascend and descend”.

Relics are windows open to heaven. The more energy they give out, the more they become capable of giving out.

Pope Francis prays before relics of Peruvian Saints. God can use a relic of a saint to heal
From Walsingham

Consecrated water does not “lock up” the blessing—or the force of will and imagination of the priest who blessed it—but the blessing “hovers” above it. It re-establishes the primordial relationship which existed between water and the spirit of God on the first day of creation, when “the spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters”.

And a few drops of holy water are very effective for chasing demons away, as borne out by authentic witnesses across the centuries.

Light Drives out Darkness

Once artificial demons are generated, how does one combat them, and how does one protect oneself and rid oneself of them?

Good does not combat evil in the sense of destructive action. It “combats” it by the sole fact of its presence. Just as darkness gives way to the presence of light, so does evil give way before the presence of good.

Modern depth psychology has discovered and put into practice the therapeutic principle of bringing unconscious complexes to the light of consciousness.

San Francisco de Borja performs an exorcism in a painting by Goya.
Master Leonard
The novelist William Golding, author of The Lord of the Flies and The Spire, said: “Marx, Darwin and Freud are the three most crashing bores of the Western World.  Simplistic popularization of their ideas has thrust our world into a mental straitjacket”.

He likened their teachings  to deflating balloons.

Saint Anthony rendered demons visible, and thus impotent. A demon rendered impotent is a deflated balloon.

It is thus that certain demons engendered collectively in the Middle Ages became purely abstract and fell into forgetfulness—which was the lot, for example, of the famous demoniacal personage known by the name of “master Leonard” or the “goat of the sabbath”. He disappeared from one day to the next thanks to a courageous and pure soul who deflated him.

Artificial demons, brought to the light of day and resisted, are dissipated. With respect to “natural demons”, this is not so. The demon, for example, who loved Sarah, the daughter of Raguel, and who killed her suitors “fled through the air to Egypt. Raphael pursued him there, and bound and shackled him at once” (Tobit viii, 3), according to the Jerusalem Bible, and “…was overtaken by the Angel Raphael in the waste lands of Upper Egypt, and there held prisoner”

In order to protect oneself and rid oneself of demons, one has to  make the sign of the Cross towards the north, south, east and west, each time saying the first two verses of Psalm 68 (from David):

Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered;
let those who hate him flee before him!
As smoke is driven away, so drive them away;
as wax melts before fire,
let the wicked perish before God!
The Archangel Raphael exorcises the demon Asmodeus

And here is further advice, as simple and as effective as the preceding: if one senses depression or any other sign of approach of a demon or demons, one spits three times to the left and crosses oneself.

The Temptation of Job by the devil
miniature from the Bible Historiale of Guyart

However no magical formula would have prevented Satan from testing Job. Satan does not accuse Job of sin committed but of a potential sin. And he sets to work so as to actualise it. They are “laboratory experiments”,  that he makes with Job in order to prove his prosecution thesis. Who needs them? God? No, because God is too noble and too generous a friend, and too tender a Father, to put his friends and children to the test. God does not need  verification of his  certainty: 

“There is none like Job on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil” (Job i, 8).

 The one who needs to test is therefore Satan himself—and, perhaps, some of the “sons of God” present at the dialogue who could have been impressed by the accusation advanced by Satan. No magical means would have sufficed in Job’s case to protect him against Satan, and to drive Satan away. Job had to endure to convince Satan of the futility of his design to get him to curse God.

It was the same in the case of Tobias and the demon Asmodeus. Tobias had proved, having spent three nights in the wedding chamber with his fiancée in prayer, that he was not one of those “such as go about their marrying with all thought of God shut out of their hearts and minds, wholly intent on their lust, as if they were  brutes without reason” (Tobias vi, 17—Vulgate).

Having done so, the Archangel Raphael made the demon leave and go to Egypt. The demon was  vanquished by  Tobias demonstrating he was not like Sarah’s seven preceding suitors. The demon who “loved” Sarah wanted to protect her against a marriage that he believed would be unworthy of her. Tobias proved that he was a husband worthy of her.

This is why the procedure with an advocatus diaboli (devil’s advocate) is  required preceding the declaration of a new saint by the Church.

The Prayer of Tobias and Sarah,
German wood engraving 1860

Were the pagan gods demons—collectively engendered egregores?

One Has to distinguish between:

  1. Paganism of the Philosophers, for example, Hermes Trismegistus, Pythagoras, Plato, Aristotle, Plotinus, etc.
  2. Mythological  Paganism, for example Homer and Hesiod.
  3. Naturalistic Paganism, the  cults of the sun, moon, stars, fire, air, water and earth. 
  4. The cults of “divinities” engendered by perverse collective imagination and will—the cults of egregores, for example a priest of Moloch sacrificing human beings.
Iamblichus Chalcidensis
c 325 - c 245 BC

“Pagan” philosophers knew of the unique God—the creator and supreme Good of the world. The difference between Bhagavad-Gita,  Hermes Trismegistus, Plato, etc, and Moses is that the latter made monotheism a popular religion, whilst the former reserved it for the élite. Iamblichus says:

The Egyptians establish a pure intellect above the world, , and another which is distributed into all the spheres. Such Gods as are truly the givers of good; alone associate with good men, and with those that are purified by the sacerdotal art, and from these amputate all vice, and every passion. When these impart their light, that which is demoniacal vanishes, in the same manner as darkness when light is present. Theurgists receive from this light every virtue, obtain worthy manners, become orderly and elegant in their actions, are liberated from passions, and purified from every disorderly motion, and from atheistical and unholy conduct. (De mysteriis; trsl. T. Tayler, Iamblichus on the Mysteries of the Egyptians, Chaldeans and Assyrians.)


The “paganism” of the poets was a universal humanism. Its “gods” were human personages—heroes and heroines, divinised or poetised, prototypes of the human personality, i.e. planetary and zodiacal types. Thus Jupiter, Juno, Mars, Venus, Mercury, Diana, Apollo, etc., were not at all demons, but  personalities who corresponded to cosmic — planetary and zodiacal— principles.

Clement of Alexandria

The fourth form of “paganism”—that of the worship of collectively engendered demons is due to the degeneration of the other three forms—and above all of “naturalistic paganism”.This  led to the whole of paganism being  unjustly renamed   as the “demoniacal religion”. The Church fathers had  to do with degenerate paganism and, consequently, were right in seeing in the popular pagan cult of their time either the cult of demons or the fables of poets. 

Saint Augustine

 But those amongst them such as Clement of Alexandria, Origen and St. Augustine,  who knew of the paganism of the initiates and philosophers, spoke of what “all men possess as a healthy anticipation of the moral doctrine”. As Origen expressed it:

There is…nothing amazing about it if the same God has implanted in the souls of all men the truths which He taught through the prophets and the Saviour.

This is something quite different from paganism as the worship of demons.

Just as the prophets of Israel until John the Baptist prepared the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh, so did the initiates, sages and righteous men of the whole world prepare the world for his Word and his Spirit. The incarnated Logos was awaited everywhere wherever one suffered, died, believed, hoped, loved… The Jews prepared for the Incarnation; the pagans prepared themselves to recognise the Logos. Thus Christianity had its precursors everywhere—the “choir” of precursors included not only the prophets of Israel, but also the initiates and sages of paganism.