The Sacred Fire, by B.Z. Goldberg, , at sacred-texts.com
KORAH rose up against Moses and Diakonus Nikolaus against Paul. There were others who dared to rise, not only against the men of God, but against the Divine Being Himself. They allied themselves with Satan, for all their faith in God. And this alliance may not be so strange as it appears.
The belief in devils was well-nigh universal. Jesus drove seven demons out of Mary Magdalene alone. These devils may have signified the earthliness of Mary, her sexuality dragging her down into the abyss of prostitution. In fact, the devil was conceived as imitating God, aping Him as it were. He was paying homage to idols with the same sacraments as the faithful were using in their divine worship. Moreover, the evil spirit is ever spiting the Divine Being. The latter seeks to keep man good and pure; the former is ever leading him into temptation, always on the lookout to drag him down into the mire of sin. And just as purity consists principally in chastity, so does the demon, in direct opposition, concentrate on fornication as his means of leading souls astray.
The evil spirit may assume any human form, male or female and, as such, cohabit with humans. In fact, it was believed by such men as Augustine that the devil could
impregnate a woman. To do this, he must first assume the form of a woman and cohabit with a man. After receiving within him the semen of the male, he would change himself into the form of a man and cohabit with a woman, transferring to her the semen he had previously received. There actually were women, in the Middle Ages, who claimed to have been visited at night by the devil and who related how they had felt his semen to be cold.
The evil spirit was elevated to a position almost on a plane with that of the Divinity by Manes, a Persian, who drew about himself a considerable following in the third century. He was an uncompromising dualist, who saw the world as the manifestation of two forces: light and darkness, day and night, God and the devil. Just as God is supreme in the world of light, so is the devil the lord in the world of darkness. Both are great, omnipotent, and spiritual, almost on a par with each other, but standing in opposition from all eternity, touching, yet remaining un-mingled.
The first man, Adam, was really, according to Manes, the product of the devil. It was Satan who created him in his own image, in conjunction with sin and desire. Satan, too, gave him Eve as his companion and seducer. He drove into Adam all portions of light he had stolen from the kingdom above, and, as a result, Adam was a discordant being, created in the image of the evil spirit, yet carrying within him the spark of light. Even Eve was possessed of a tiny spark or ember. And, although the first humans were entirely under the dominion of the devil, they were at the same time under the protection of another agent. The glorious spirits in the world of light above took these two humans under their care and sent
down æons, spiritual beings, to instruct them in light and to guard them against sensuality.
Now, man possesses infinitely more light in him than does woman. The latter conveys the idea of darkness. In fact, the entire Kingdom of Darkness is often referred to as feminine. Eve is the embodiment of sensuous seduction. She led man astray by awakening within him the sexual passion. But other sensuous pleasures are the work of the devil. Sexual desire is the original sin, because through sex the light substance imprisoned within the body is extended for a longer period of time. Woman is, then, a demonic evil. Sensuality is the means the devil uses to bind man to the inferior regions. Consequently, Manes had three seals by which he sought to hold man as closely as possible to the glorious spirits in the upper world of light. They were: signaculum oris, the taboo on meat and wine, signaculum manes, the taboo on labor, and signaculum sinus, the taboo on sex. But of the three, the last one was by far the most important. Marriage was anathema, and intercourse or any relationship whatever with a woman was a union with the devil.
Thus, the faith of Manes and of his disciples was preoccupied with theologic problems concerning the powers in both the upper and the lower spiritual worlds. In so far as it was concerned with sex, the sect had not a good word for it, looking upon it as a mere activity of the devil. And yet, there was one little turn given these very theologic concepts that made of this sect a community concerned primarily with sex and engaged in setting free their sexual urges.
Since the body and its passions belong to an entirely different world from that of the spirit or light spark
dwelling in man, the less contact there is between the two, the better it will be for the soul, the purer it may hope to remain. The more the body is degraded, the deeper it wallows in the mire, the further it sinks into the abyss of darkness, the stronger and purer is the light of the spirit within it. Consequently, indulgence in sex is a
The Evil Spirit tempting the soul of a pagan idol
way of purifying the soul by soiling the body. In this respect, their theory may have been evinced by their own actual experiences. For when one's mind is obsessed with sex, and his desires are forever egging him on in the sexual path—desires that are not being satisfied—his mind is bound to be blurred, and he is unable to think calmly and clearly. But when the strain of continency is raised, the
resulting mental serenity is conducive to clear thinking and to spiritual activity. Hence, while marriage was forbidden, prostitution was raised to a sacred institution. Many of the followers of Manes threw aside all bonds and settled on the shores of the Jordan, establishing there a community in which absolute sexual promiscuity prevailed.
In the Middle Ages, the sects growing out of the Manichæans, the Cathars and the Bulgarites, were persecuted for the practice of homosexuality, which they were accused of spreading in their communities. Because they maintained that the devil had exerted a powerful influence in the teachings of Christianity, the Cathars were accused of worshipping the evil spirit.
Still another Satanic sect, the Messalians, which persisted until the eleventh century, even cursed the Son of Man at their mysteries, although they believed in his divine nature and in his mission as the savior of the world. In their orgiastic rites, they introduced "devils" with which they engaged in sadistic and masochistic acts.
The rebellion against God was still further evinced in the witchcraft cult that reached the climax of its development in the latter part of the fifteenth century. The members of this sect looked upon the devil as their father, and they joined together in weekly meetings, sabbats, to render him homage. There, the devil appeared under various forms. At times he would enter the body of a tom-cat or a goat. Again he would assume the appearance of a bull or a very strong black man. But whatever his form, virility was ever his outstanding characteristic.
As the worship progressed, the faithful, free from all restraint, satisfied their hunger and thirst with food and drink. Intoxicated with drink and excitement, they extinguished the lights, while the devil commanded: "Mix, mix." Then it was that all bonds were thrown aside, and men and women, mad with the heat and flames of passion, indulged in promiscuous sexual union. And as the women far outnumbered the men in this cult, many of them sought intercourse with the devil, under whatever form he may have assumed. There is on record in Toulouse the case of one such woman, who confessed that she had engaged in intercourse with the devil and had given birth to a monster, half wolf and half serpent.
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When the devil was a god
(From an old English ballad)