As we arrive upon the holiday season, the time of festivity, the great winter mass, perhaps this is a good opportunity for some seemingly random and probably rambling discourse inspired by a rather cryptic quotation I found on a blog devoted to the writings of Carl Jung. The quotation is as follows:
“The first ‘devil’ in Christianity was Lucifer, the ‘light bearer’, ‘the Light of Nature’. It existed before the Light of Logos, the spirit. It is a feminine earthly light analogous to Pan.”
Try as I might, I have been unable to find a source for this quotation outside of Carl Jung Depth Psychology. Yet, strangely, it gives me a few ideas.
For some reason, I think the relation, perhaps even concordance, between Luciferianism and paganism. Perhaps I get much of this feeling from Michael W. Ford’s Magick of the Ancient Gods, for my money a good treatise on the idea of chthonic paganism, but maybe it will make sense once I explain it.
The logoic (that is, of the Logos) hierarchy of Christianity upholds the servants and avatars of the word of God in the heavens, while casting its rivals to the domain of the abyss. Thus many of the gods of old found themselves recast as evil demons in Christian lore, some of them forming the amalgamation of Satan himself (Zeus, Dionysus, Pan etc.). You find this in the Bible with many rival gods of Yahweh cast as either false gods or demons, you find it in Christian demonology such as the work of Colin DePlancy in his Dictionnaire Infernal where various pre-Christian gods from different parts of the world form a lot of the demonic rogues gallery, and in Paradise Lost where part of the infernal retinue consists of the gods of Egypt and the Levant. Hence, the gods of old, their creed, and the philosophies of their peoples and civilizations, only ever attained savage, wicked and heretical character precisely because that is what Christian and Jewish doctrine has made of them, or in a sense by the hand of the great Hebraic sky tyrant who fancies himself to be The Great Will.
When we consider the idea of Logos, from Hellenic philosophy right up to Christian philosophy, we come upon the idea of an external force directing the cosmos, bending its shape. This active cosmic principle, seen as the order of the cosmos, as the divine faculty of the demiurge of Platonic thought and in Christian doctrine the Word of God as embodied by his son Jesus, almost seems as a thing separate from Nature, supernatural in this sense that it is above and outside of Nature. Yahweh, Jesus, Allah, the old Demiurge, and perhaps other deities and philosophical conceptions, other iterations of The Great Will, represent this conception of Logos.
In that regard what might our conception of The Light of Nature represent? Perhaps he represents God-In-Nature, or Man-In-Nature, the light accessible to Man, a dweller (and transformer) of nature as Alexander Spirkin might put it. Pagans, both in the ancient world and in modernity, have seen man as a being in nature, partaking in the great spiral of the universe.
Where precisely am I going with this though, and what does it have to do with Christmas?
It is Nature’s Sun, Nature’s God, Nature’s Light, that is the object of pagan devotion. It is the birth, vacation or rebirth of the sun that is the reason for the season for pagans. For the ancient Greeks, this probably meant the travel of Apollo, the son of Zeus and a solar god of the arts, oracles and knowledge, to the mythical land of Hyperborea where spring was eternal. In Rome, December 25th was the birth of the sun god Sol Invictus, and this was celebrated with much gift-giving, light-kindling and merrymaking, including excessive drinking. Indeed, this was the festivity that the early Christians tied to the birth of Jesus, without any basis in the Bible, so that the Romans might accept their religion through popular custom. Some might claim that Mithras, the martial solar deity of the Mithraic mysteries, shares the birth date of Sol Invictus. And this may well have been linked to the whole theme of regeneration, that is the regeneration of the world through the re-emergence of the light of the sun, the regeneration of the cycle of the seasons, and the triumph of the Sun.
In a way the modern Christmas is pretty bifurcated. On the one hand, some of what we know celebrate very clearly derives from the old Roman festivity to some extent, and other aspects of it also coincide with other old winter solstice festivities and themes. On the other, the theme we have imposed upon it for over a thousand years is the birth of Jesus, which is only connected to the old tradition by the opportunistic co-option of the Roman festivities by the early Christians. It is largely from the Christian recasting of the winter solstice, however, that the commercialist mode of Christmas ostensibly springs. We echo the old festivity devoted to Nature’s Light, but in the name of Jesus and hence the Light of Logos. While, of course, the ways of old and their gods are still remember as barbarous idols in the eyes of Jesus.
In that milieu, you have the infernal pantheon, consisting of many of the old gods, and Satan, who shares many characteristics (at least aesthetic anyway) of a selection of the old gods. He occupies the spot that the Christian hierarchy allots him to, the domain into which Christianity has pushed all of its old rivals, all of that which opposed their God, their Logos. To renounce, to displace, to abolish, to truly transcend that order is to change that position. It is to return those demons, those idols, the princes of darkness, to their place of light, perhaps make the darkness conscious in a Jungian sense, to raise the fallen host from the abyss to godhood, to reject the false order of Yahweh in favour of the true one, one which spirals as nature does. Though, it must be said, there has always been chthonic force to the paganism of old. But, it was not in exile from the divine like it would be in Christianity. Instead, it was but the shadow of the divine, one aspect of it, the underworldly light of nature. Raise the Beast up to the heavens and perhaps he will no longer be beast, but just as much divine as any other god. Or, perhaps, as much a part of the web of archetypes, of deific masks, as the like of Apollo. And picture, as I have demonstrated in the past, the gods rebuked to the realm of the fallen – Ba’al, Astarte, Melqart, Pan, Tammuz, Ishtar, Amun/Ammon, and many more. In the hierarchy imposed upon them by Christianity, they are demons. Removed of that, they are the gods they once were. In this way I make sense of what may be called a holy “mission” in life: to bring forth the light of nature, where the Luciferian, Promethean light is accessible. For it is not in the logoic planes that the Christian mystics and their modern wannabes think enlightenment takes place, but in the cosmos, the material universe, the earth, where Man can meet with any sense of gnosis and knowledge, and attain the wisdom that is in the primary key to the freedom that would allow one to direct one’s own destiny and liberate your fellow man.
I hope I haven’t I seemed to out of it in writing this post, it really was simply a rambling that I wanted to do, and based on an admittedly mysterious and perhaps dubious quotation, but one that, somehow, helps me make sense of part of my worldview, and this slowly emerging “renaissance” (I say that as though I was ever truly able to part with if it as thought before) of pagan thought in conjunction with my own philosophical Luciferianism. On that note, Happy Yule, Merry Christmas, Io Saturnalia, praise to the blessings of the Jolfadr and long live the golden age of Saturn. I hope that, in keeping with the old Roman way, you enjoy the season with at least some drunkenness as I intend to do.
The last month has been very eventful for freedom of speech on the Internet, and not for good cause. Last week, Tumblr announced a total ban on pornography would be implemented on December 17th. As has often been the case in past moral crusades against pornography, the impetus for this is a classic “think of the children!” scenario. In a statement, Tumblr makes it explicitly clear that their underlying motivation is to crack down on child pornography. But, it should be obvious to us that this excuse is a hollow in its self-righteousness. First of all if it was truly only child pornography they were concerned with, they would not be so focused on removing all adult content on the website. Secondly, despite the website’s claims to still allow free discussion about sexuality, the new move appears to present a credible threat to various sexual subcultures, sex-positive activists and sex workers by targeting their content even if it is not overtly pornographic.
I cannot ignore the irony of all this. The First Amendment is supposed to be America’s ironclad guarantor of freedom of speech and expression in the United States, the example of such for the free world (in contrast to my country where we don’t even have a written constitution). But the powers that be can effectively subvert it in the name of a substanceless moral panic disguising the expansion of unitary power over free expression. This applies not only to pornography and sex-positive communities (not to mention online LGBT groups), but also, as I’ve pointed out months ago, criticism of Israel. America, for its pretense to care about freedom of speech, is quite prepared to destroy it in as many ways as it can get away with in order to sanitize public discussion on the Internet.
About a year or so ago I got seduced into appreciating Hellenism through Greek black metal bands like Rotting Christ, Kawir, Varathron, Thou Art Lord, Necromantia and Macabre Omen, and since then I have even gone so far as to Hellenize my current logo (via the inclusion of laurel wreathes, meanders and a variation of the Veringian Sun).
One thing I have come to realize in the process is that there are numerous ways to look at the Greek pantheon of deities, and it is very interesting the ways you can interpret them through a chthonic or Left Hand Path lens. A number of Greek deities have surprisingly chthonic associations, and even chthonic cults. The obvious chthonic deities would definitely be Hades, Persephone, Hecate, maybe Pan to some extent. But we won’t focus on them, precisely because we immediately know of their chthonic nature. Instead we’ll focus on the major players of the pantheon of Olympus who you typically don’t think of as chthonic deities, or at least not immediately.
Let’s start with the king of Olympus himself, Zeus. Not many people know that Zeus has manifested in the form of serpent, but there are Greek myths and cults that record precisely that. As Zeus Meilichios, Zeus was worshiped as a chthonic deity in the form of a snake, and his cult was focused on the obtainment of wealth and prosperity through propitiation to the deity. Zeus Meilichios has been referred to as a kindly, seemingly benevolent deity, but his nature was believed to alternate between benevolence and wrath, and his followers were required to appease him frequently in order to stay on his good side. Xenophon once recorded how his failure to offer a sacrifice to Zeus Meilichios supposedly resulted in a shortage of money. He was also believed by a deity (or daimon) of vengeance, similar to Alastor and or the Erinyes, but was also believed to be able to purify the souls of those who killed another as an act an revenge by petitioning him with the sacrifice of a ram in a holokaustos (basically a sacrificial rite wherein they burn an animal or parts of in a pyre to the deity at night).
As a side-note of sorts, Zeus Meilichios sometimes shared cult space with Athena, the goddess of wisdom and patron of the city of Athens, and Zeus was accompanied by Athena while he was in the form of a serpent. In a similar manner, the cult of Athena Itonia has a serpent companion adjacent to the goddess, suggesting a serpent familiar. It was even recorded that, in a cult devoted to a chthonic Zeus at Koroneia, Athena takes the place of Persephone as the queen of the underworld. Athena Itonia herself is said to be an echo of a primitive mode of worship devoted to her in Athens wherein she was a goddess of the earth responsible for its nourishment. So apparently, at least when adjacent to a chthonic Zeus, Athena had chthonic associations of her own albeit expressed chiefly in local cults.
Anyways, the form of Zeus Meilichios is not the only time Zeus has appeared as a serpent. Another cult has Zeus appear as a serpent in the form of Zeus Ktesios. Ktesios was the name of a benevolent spirit or daimon charged as the guardian of the household, but may also have been an old fertility deity. Zeus Ktesios was seen as a deity of the storerooms, though some say Zeus Ktesios is simply Ktesios taking the name of Zeus. Like Zeus Meilichios, Zeus Ktesios may also be a daimon of fertility, owing to his snake form. In one myth, Zeus transforms into a serpent in order to pursue the fertility goddess Demeter, who herself transformed into a serpent in order to evade yet another of Zeus’s lustful advances. Their mating produced the goddess Persephone, who would later become the wife of Hades. Zeus transformed into a serpent again (or a dragon depending on who you ask) in order to seduce Persephone, and out this union Persephone bore him a son named Zagreus. We’ll touch on Zagreus in more detail a little later.
For now though, it is worth noting that Zeus Meilichios serves as a connection between Zeus, the ruler of the sky, and Hades, the ruler of the underworld. Due to his chthonic nature, Zeus Meilichios has been identified by some as Zeus-Hades, though he was also associated with Ploutos, the deity of wealth. Despite being a sky god who rules atop Mount Olympus in what is ostensibly the heavenly realm of the cosmos, many of Zeus’ local cults were chthonic in nature in that they are devoted to a chthonic aspect of Zeus. Besides Zeus Meilichios, there was Zeus Philios who was also apparently depicted as serpent, but was a much friendlier deity (or daimon) associated with banquets. There was also a deity named Zeus Eubouleus, who was part of a triad alongside Demeter and Kore (Persephone) at Attica and who may have been treated as either a local avatar of Ploutos or a demigod. However, there was also a separate deity, or more likely a demigod or hero, named Eubouleus (who may also have been identified with Ploutos), who was the guardian of the swine of the Eleusinian mysteries and who preside over agriculture, specifically ploughing and the planting of grain (which may, or may not, explain why Jupiter is depicted as sowing seeds in the Roman de la Rose manuscript). Strangely enough Eubouleus is also listed as an epithet of Hades as well as Zeus. Another chthonic aspect of Zeus the oracular daimon Zeus Trophonios. Trophonios was the name of a mortal son of Apollo who got swallowed by the earth and re-emerged as the daimon of a cave near Lebadeia, where he also became known as Zeus Trophonios.
There was also Zeus Chthonios, who was Zeus of the Earth, who was worshipped in Boeotia and Corinthia where he was venerated as Third Most High, and who was either an avatar of Zeus or epithet of Hades. Similarly, Zeus Katachthonious (Zeus of the Underworld), though seemingly an avatar of Zeus, was most likely an alternative name for Hades – for those who dared not to invoke his real name – indicative of Hades’ role as the ruler of the underworld in the same way Zeus rules the sky and of his complete dominion over the underworld. This makes sense given that, although Hades was one of the gods, the Greeks feared him too much to worship him directly, possibly because his domain is the land of the dead. It is worth noting however that, at least according to Timothy Gantz, that Hades may well have been a shadowy alter ego of Zeus. In a way, to me it seems, the fact that the Greeks, in order to avoid actually approaching Hades (the Greeks were apparently so scared of Hades that he didn’t even have his own formal cult), had to recognize him as the shadow of Zeus; by identifiying Hades as Zeus Katachtonious, acknowledged Hades, who represented death in a way, as the shadow of life, as the shadow of that great heavenly thunder and fire (paging Heraclitus) that steered the cosmos for eternity. And, ironically, perhaps Hades himself has his significance as a chthonic sun.
Similarly, we can look at Dionysus and his relation to Hades, and to start with let us return to Zagreus, the son born by Persephone and the serpent Zeus (who in this myth is sometimes referred to as Zeus Katachthonios). Both Zagreus and Dionysus share the same origin story: they were born from Persephone after she mated with Zeus. According to the Orphics, Zagreus was the original, firstborn incarnation of Dionysos, who was killed by the Titans who tore him to pieces out of envy that he was placed on the throne of the heavens. When Zeus saved Zagreus’ heart and placed it in his thigh (or turned into a potion for Semele to drink in one myth), Zagreus was born again as Dionysus. Zagreus might well have been considered a chthonic deity, one of the highest in the underworld, according to early fragments mentioning him as “the highest of all gods”, likely in reference to the gods of the underworld.
If that’s not enough, for Heraclitus, Dionysus and Hades were essentially one. From the Fragments of Heraclitus:
“For if it were not to Dionysos that they made a procession and sang the shameful phallic hymn, they would be acting most shamelessly. But Hades is the same as Dionysos in whose honour they go mad and keep the feast of the wine vat.” – Heraclitus Fragment 15
Dionysus must have represented life due his association with a phallic festival, no doubt tied to fertility, while Hades obviously represented death. In saying that, he explains life and death as being inseparable, one and the same in a sense, and to worship Dionysus and Hades is to worship the same object. In this sense, Heraclitus casts Hades as the shadow of Dionysus. And Heraclitus is not the only one who thought this about Dionysus. According to Karl Kerenyi, there was a “secret” held by the ancients which entailed that Dionysus and Hades were the same being and that thus Dionysus was the Lord of the Dead and the Underworld, perhaps basing this on the way he was worshipped at Eleusis. Curiously enough, Zagreus (who you will remember is the first-born Dionysus) is also identified with Hades by Aeschylus in his Aigyptioi, and the Greeks also identified Dionysus/Zagreus by the Greeks, particularly Diodorus Siculus, with the Egyptian deity Osiris, who was the ruler of the Egyptian underworld, to the point that they even believed Osiris shares myth with Dionysus (specifically, the myth of the infant Dionysus being torn to shreds by the Titans).
Multiple important deities besides Zeus and Dionysus have received the epithet “Chthonios”, indicating status as chthonic deities in some capacity, even if contained to specific cults as is the case for Zeus. One such deity is the goddess Demeter, divine patron of grain and fertility and bringer of the divine law, who was given the epithet “Chthonia”. Given that this the epithet of chthonic or even “infernal” goddesses like Hecate (goddess of witchcraft)’ Nyx (the night) and Melinoe (a goddess of ghosts), Demeter was likely also associated with the chthonic pantheon, which in her case is likely the result of her connection to earthly fertility. Her myths recount the origin of this epithet through the names of some of her worshippers, who built sanctuaries in her honor. It is said that at Eleusis Demeter was the receiver of souls, and at Sparta Demeter Chthonia was venerated as the queen of the underworld instead of Persephone. A notable myth that ties Demeter to the underworld is the myth of the abduction of Persephone, which, depending on the telling, forces Demeter to descend to the underworld in order to negotiate her release, though the typical telling is that she simply sends Hermes to do it on her behalf. This myth is also central to the Eleusinian mysteries, in which Demeter is the central goddess. Within these mysteries, the myth of Persephone’s descent and ascent from the underworld represented the soul’s transition into death and re-emergence into what was supposed to be the next life, and their psychotropic rituals were geared towards re-enacting that myth in order to understand the secret of life and death, which were the mysteries of Demeter.
Hermes is another important deity who receives the epithet “Chthonios”, and in Greek myth he served as the messenger and herald of the gods moves between Olympus and the underworld where he serves as a psychopomp. In the last book of the Odyssey, the dead were said to be under his care and he was believed to guide them to their proper place in the underworld. There were two aspects associated with Hermes, which were both contained within him in unity – there was an infernal aspect of him that was associated with necromancy, and there was a benevolent aspect of him as the protector and shepherd of souls. All of this could be said to echo his role as the deity of boundaries, and thus associated with the liminal space between this world and the netherworld, almost like a demon. Hermes Chthonios was invoked in private rituals focusing on curses and binding spells, was said to be able to raise chthonic spirits from beneath the earth, and was venerated in festivals honoring the dead. Hermes Chthonios is sometimes identified with another possible chthonic entity by the name of Agathos Daimon, a.k.a. the Agathodaemon. The main reason for this identification is that the caduceus of Hermes represents the attributes of the Agathos Daimon, namely fertility and Hermes, due to his occasional appearance as a phallic deity, also embodies fertility, and the magical papyri of Greece and Roman Egypt position Hermes as a bringer of good fortune.
Aphrodite, the goddess of love and/or sex, also had something of a chthonic cult to her name. In some regions of the Black Sea, where she might have been a patron of Greek colonization, she was worshipped as a chthonic goddess as well as a goddess of love. In Pisidia (now the Turkish province of Antalya), a bust was uncovered of a woman resembling Aphrodite adorned with tightly braided necklaces and round-shaped earrings apparently also associated with the cult of Demeter-Persephone, and Aphrodite was one of many deities in the region who were venerated as chthonic deities. Aphrodite, as Aphrodite Chthonios, was believed to bestow eternal life to those who had faith in her when they died, and so statues of Aphrodite Chthonios placed in tombs and the goddess was found depicted on sarcophagi thus cementing her funerary associations. In the Bosphorus the cult of Aphrodite had its own chthonic associations, resulting from a syncretism between the cult of Aphrodite and that of the Scythian goddess Argimpasa, who was identified with Aphrodite Ourania. Aphrodite-Argimpasa and may have been a local equivalent of Ishtar or Inanna. Like the Aphrodite Chthonios of Pisidia, this goddess was frequently adjacent to death, appearing as decoration of funerary objects and the garments of the deceased. Subordinate to the goddess is an anguiped, a monstrous-looking divinity with serpents for legs, who may have been a nymph or a goddess herself but was also depicted as a cruel figure brandishing a severed head. Ironically enough for a goddess with the epithet Ourania (Ourania meaning “heavenly”), Aphrodite Ourania seems to have been treated as a chthonic goddess in her cult appearances, being viewed as an ancient daimon of vegetation in association with Eros and Ares, appearing in annual rebirth. Aphrodite of the Underworld was also venerated in a sanctuary of Persephone at Locri. Chthonic Aphrodite may also have been treated as a goddess of vengeance, allied with the powers of the Erinyes (or Furies).
There was also a chthonic Artemis (who normally is a light-bringing goddess), worshipped as Artemis Amarysia at Amarynthos. This chthonic Artemis was considered one of two aspects of Artemis worshipped at Amarynthos distinguished mainly by the sacrifices they accepted. The chthonic Artemis accepted lame or maimed sheep as offerings while the other Artemis, Artemis Olympia, accepted bulls as offerings. The chthonic Artemis was also strongly linked with the goddess Hecate, and hence identified as a syncretic deity named Artemis-Hecate. Artemis also was associated with chthonic divinities at Kamarina, in the Italian island of Sicily, where she was worshipped in votives alongside Demeter and Persephone.
As strange as it seems, even Apollo who is traditionally held to be a solar deity had chthonic associations. In Anatolia, Apollo’s chthonic associations derived from his association with healing and incubation in artificial grottos, along with his alleged adventures in the underworld, and his apparent relation to a curious Iranian name Khshathrapati. Khshathrapati, for those who don’t know what the hell it is, is a name meaning “Lord of Power” which may or may not have been a name for a god, and scholars suspect it may have been a name either for Mithra or for Apollo. Apollo was also connected to the Babylonian deity Nergal, who was both a solar deity and a deity of the underworld and like Apollo he commanded plagues (which for Apollo might be the inverse of his aspect as a healing deity), and both were associated with snakes and ravens. It’s also worth noting that Apollo wasn’t always a solar deity, and only gradually became a solar deity within the Hellenic religion, so it is possible that he may originally have been a chthonic healing deity or something to that effect. Apollo may also have head an association with death through his association with a chthonic cult at Amyklai dedicated to him (as Apollo Amyklai) and his lover Hyacinthus (who was a mortal man). Leto, the mother of both Artemis and Apollo, represented alongside her nymphs a volatile spring that upheaved from the earth, and her cult at Lycia involved her presiding over graves, so she too has her chthonic associations.
Hera, wife of Zeus, may also have been an earth goddess at some point, possibly interacting with primeval water dragons that nourished her earth and their reinstallment on the riverbed renewing the earth, which may explain her status as the nurturer of monsters such as the Lernean Hydra. Hephaestus also has a noticeable relation to the earth, not just in being associated with volcanoes and aided by chthonic creatures such as the Cyclopes and chthonic spirits such as the Dactyls, but also as a deity who fell from Olympus, spurned by his own mother Hera, and descending to earth. His sons and grandsons are the Cabiri, who were worshipped in a mystery cult in Samothrace. The war deity Ares also has minor chthonic associations. For instance, at Sparta, the sacrifice of black dogs was seen as an unusual choice, which was taken to be chthonic in nature, the Amazons’ offering of horses to Ares was also seen as primitive, he is sometimes seen as associated with the Erinyes due to his bloodthirsty nature, and a dragon, namely the dragon slain by Cadmus, was considered sacred to Ares. Scholars also think that Ares may have originally been an explicitly chthonic deity, specifically either a fertility deity or a deity of plague and death, before becoming a vicious war deity in Homer’s writings. Finally, Poseidon, the sea deity, was originally an overtly chthonic deity, and this might still be echoed in the fact that one of his epithets, Enosichthon, means “earth-shaker”. Not only do the epithets of Enosichthon and Gaieochos signify some relation to the earth, and from there properties as an argicultural deity in addition to sea deity, but at Tainaron he even served as an oracle of the dead.
Another link to the chthonic aspect of the Greek divine was the epithet Kourotrophos, meaning “child-nurturer”. The reason for this, according to Theodora Hadzisteliou Price in her book Kourotrophos: Cults and Representations of the Greek Nursing Deities, is the notion that life springs from the earth and returns to the earth upon death, which is hence linked to the cycle that the Kourotrophoi represent – pregnancy, the beginning of life, the care of the child, life growing, and death, the departure of the soul and its fortune in the next world. Many Greek deities were venerated as Kourotrophoi, including Apollo, Artemis, Hecate, Hermes, Aphrodite, Athena, Gaia and Demeter. The children cradled by the Kourotrophoi are also held to be chthonic in nature, and those children included the Cretan Zeus, Persephone, Trophonious, Heracles, Ploutos and Erichthonios, and it is supposed that this chthonic nature is an echo of the pre-Hellenic religious tradition of the Minoans and the Mycenaeans (more on that subject later). Kourotrophos also seems to have been the name of a standalone Athenian goddess who was worshiped as the protector of children, and who may have been treated as a healing goddess as well.
Something else worth noting about the chthonic aspect of Hellenism is that, before what is generally established as Hellenic Greece came into being, the religion of the Mycenaean civilization had a generally chthonic tone, or at least that is what speculated. Whereas in Hellenism the deity Poseidon was a sea deity, for the Myceneans he was a deity of the earth, specifically earthquakes, and was the head deity of the Mycenaean pantheon, which may have been suggested by the name Poseidon-Wanax (Wanax possibly meaning “Lord”). Unsurprisingly then, Poseidon’s cult was the strongest and most powerful of them all before what’s referred to as the “Dorian invasion”. A goddess known by name or title Potnia was also powerful at this point, possibly the mother goddess of the Mycenaeans, and in the later Hellenic world Potnia simply became an epithet for other goddess (such as Potnia Theron for Artemis). In addition, many of the major deities that have been described in this post emerged from the original Mycanaean religion, and it is possible that those deities had strong chthonic associations in that time that had to were largely officially shed in the Homeric pantheon and from their the Hellenic religion, leaving the most of the chthonic tendencies consigned largely to local cults.
So as it stands, we have perhaps an interesting picture of that hidden chthonic side of Hellenic religion, with many major deities having a chthonic side to them that often gets sidelined in most popular understandings of them and, to be fair, the mainstream of Hellenic religion, as well as a pre-Hellenic religious tradition that may or may not have been dominated by chthonic impulse. What it tells us, perhaps, is two things. First of these that it is a known fact that Hades and his realm of death were feared by Greek society to the point that Hades had no formal popular cult. The underworld was the place where most of the dead were thought to end up, so it was considered a place of dread, though not quite as harrowing as regions such as Tartarus, certainly not the blissful abode of Olympus. So, the local chthonic cults may well have been a way of dealing with deities like Hades and his wife Persephone and their realm as simply avatars of the divine, as was likely the case with the chthonic Zeuses, Aphrodites and Athenas. Secondly, there is the possibility that, despite their fear and loathing for death and for Hades, the Greeks considered the chthonic realm, of the underworld and the earth, as much a part of the cosmos as the realm of Olympus, so it would make just as much sense to occasionally worship chthonic deities, albeit including the chthonic guises of the Olympians, as it did to worship the Olympians themselves.
I discovered new levels of absurdity on the internet when I encountered a video from a conspiracy theory channel on YouTube called Truthstream Media (no doubt a horrifically bad pun on the phrase “mainstream media”), in a video entitled “Why Are We Becoming Inundated with Unicorn Symbolism?”. I had only recently discovered it, though it is actually a few months old. Nonetheless, I think it would be fun to try and dissect this take and bring to light the level of absurdity being dealt with, as well as in general indulge once again in talking about bizarre conspiracy theories about mythology and the occult, something I don’t believe I’ve done too often in a quite a while now. So strap yourselves in, you’re in for quite a ride.
In that pursuit, let’s first establish what the basic concept of a unicorn is supposed to be in the popular imagination. On some level, we are all familiar with the myth of the unicorn, no doubt thanks to various fantasy media as well as a litany of consumeristic entertainment marketed towards girls (not to mention the prehistoric mammalian beast known as Elasmotherium, which some consider to be a kind of “real life unicorn”). A unicorn is supposed to be an elusive equine creature, typically a white horse and always brandishing the famous singular horn on its head, embued with positive magical qualities such as the ability to heal the sick and purify poisoned water and can only be found and captured by a virgin woman. In this sense, the unicorn is very much a symbol of purity in the Christian context, which is very much tied to sexual purity, namely virginity and chastity, considering the role of the virgin woman in the unicorn myths, and it probably goes a long way towards understanding the generally fluffy connotations of the representation of the unicorn in modern products.
But apparently, according to Truthstream Media, the unicorn is in reality a sinister occult symbol, connected with (drum roll, dramatic silence) the Rockerfellers, the New Age movement, The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, Lucifer (for some reason) and from there the Antichrist, all wrapped up in some sort of anti-Christian occult agenda to brainwash your kids into becoming transgender.
Yep. You heard me.
There’s a lot to unpack in the video, and you can go and watch it here if you want, just if you truly want to subject yourself to what is simultaneously the equivalent of a particularly boring and insufferable night of lame drug trips, kale and Jack Chick tracts, but let’s go over a lot of the main premises of the video.
For a start, the speaker claims that there’s some sort of intense marketing campaign centered around promoting unicorn symbolism. One that, we are assured, is separate to the fairly common marketing campaign for products commonly aimed at young girls. Supposedly, this marketing campaign is uniquely intense. As proof of this, the speaker says she took her daughter to two major American supermarkets – Walmart, Target, and specifically – as well as a mall and a local Texas grocery shop and took photographs of random unicorn-themed items (excluding My Little Pony merchandise) finding several unicorn-themed clothes, toys, accessories, food, drink, and other merchandise. Already I get the sense that this isn’t some sort of coordinated push for unicorn products at the hands of some New World Order, but a product of the ebb and flow of capitalistic markets, which are not necessarily the product of elitism but rather complex economic incentives inherent in the system. In fact, right from the outset it seems that the speaker is unaware of the tendency of market forces and corporations to appropriate all sorts of tropes, icons (even those from the domain of radical left-wing movements), narratives, myths and even morality. Indeed, Slavoj Zizek gives a good explanation of the way ethics is appropriated by the system in much this way to present a commodity for the purpose of our regular consumeristic rites.
For roughly seven or eight minutes after the prologue of the video the speaker goes on about just how many unicorn products she can find in the store and how much photos she snapped, all while failing to demonstrate how this is any different from common marketing in any way other than, essentially, “just look at all these unicorn products I found”. In fact, most of the video is just her talking about how much unicorn-themed items she can fit in her camera. But this is only the least absurd aspect of this video or its claims.
The real meat of the speaker’s conspiracy theory is found about ten and a half minutes into the video, after some pointer about unicorn-themed commercials, and we get into the supposed message of unicorn symbolism in the products and commercials being presented to us. The speaker points to a lot of the unicorn-themed products as carrying some sort of message about magic and the belief in magic and personal uniqueness, and then immediately jumps to discussing Jennifer Doudna’s book about genetic engineering.
I’m not kidding. That’s actually part of a video that is still ostensibly about unicorn symbolism in contemporary merchandise.
The book, entitled A Crack in Creation: Gene Editing and the Unthinkable Power to Control Evolution, seems to be a discussion about a DNA sequence named CRISPR (short for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats; what a mouthful) and its possible use in gene editing in order to make changes to human embryos, as well as cure diseases like HIV/AIDS, many genetic diseases and certain cancers, and an attempt to caution the public about the gravity of such a discovery, including possible dangers. Now, as profoundly important as such subject matter is, I’m still absolutely bewildered as to what this has to do with consumerist unicorn symbolism. Well, the speaker mentions how CRISPR scientists are reportedly aiming to use this technology to resurrect extinct animal species such as woolly mammoths, as well as create new and previously fantastical species of animal such as unicorns and winged lizards, and how Doudna herself claims that “it won’t be long before CRISPR allows us to bend nature to our will”.
This may seem like particularly neurotic attention to detail applied to what is essentially media hyperbole (not to mention personal hyperbole from Doudna herself) meant to puff up and gloss over the real story – namely that gene editing might, just might, be technologically feasible in the future – still disconnected from the actual premise of the video. But, that would seemingly be mistaken. For you see, because the “unicorn craze” is more over the top than ever (which, in reality, it isn’t; it’s just market forces and consumerism at work), there’s supposedly a deeper meaning behind the unicorn symbol, besides the Christian symbolism of sexual purity that was already established for the mythical creature. After a less than subtle remark about “the elites” having their own set of idols that they worship (referring of course to classic conspiracy theory tropes such as the Bohemian Grove, Masonic Ba’al worship, Illuminati “Satanism” and so forth), we arrive at the central claim surrounding unicorn symbolism.
It turns out that unicorns are actually a New Age occult symbol, tied to a movement allegedly pushed by the Rockerfellers through the Lucis Trust, which is supposedly tied to Luciferianism because during the 1920s it was known as the Lucifer Publishing Company for five years before it was changed to Lucis Publishing Company. Yep, you heard me. Of course it’s worth noting that the Lucis Trust has nothing to do with the Rockerfellers in reality, or at least, there’s no evidence that the Rockerfellers actually funded it, and in fact it was started by Alice and Foster Bailey as a non-profit organization promoting New Age spiritualism and goodwill – a fact that, as the speaker said, a quick search on the Internet easily provides. In fact, the connection between unicorns and the Lucis Trust is never explained from that point onward in the video, you’re supposed to just take it at face value that the unicorn is somehow a Luciferian symbol. But then what to expect from a video that cites an unnamed book claiming that unicorns and 666’s are part of the same category of esoteric symbolism connected to the New Age movement.
Of course, one immediate and rather glaring problem with that that I can think of is….well….
The Bible literally says that Jesus Christ is supposed to emerge as a divine warrior conquering the enemies of God at the end of time! This is very clear from the Book of Revelations, specifically chapter 19. Revelation 19 in particular makes it explicitly clear that Jesus will appear as a warrior figure, identifiable as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, who will lead an army of angels to defeat and capture the forces of Satan. We get good sense this right out of the gate from the first six verses.
“I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war.
His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns.He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself.
He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God.
The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean.
Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty.
On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:
KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.”
– Revelations 19:11-16
Is this not a conqueror figure, who brings about his thousand-year reign through war? By the speaker in the video’s own logic, Jesus himself is the Antichrist! I guess that means the Rothschilds, who are directly implied to be the Antichrist family through juxtaposition, are actually the family of Jesus in this case. My mind is blown on so many levels by just how amazingly absurd this whole premise is, even by the logic we’re presented! So absurd was this that I was forced to laugh out loud after hearing it.
Oh, wait, never mind. It turns out the Antichrist is actually supposed to be Shiva, the Indian deity of destruction and transformation, because according to Nancy Hathaway (a supposed “occult author” who may or may not just be another New Age quack) the unicorn (again, Antichrist symbol here according to this batshit insane lady talking to us) is a symbol of transformation and the powers of destruction whose purpose is to destroy the old and establish the new, which is also rather overtly tied by the speaker to CERN just to throw in that other ridiculous theory that CERN are some sort of Hindu Satanists. Outside of the quote from Nancy Hathaway, the exact relation between the unicorn and Shiva is never actually explained, and a simple search offers up no actual evidence of any historical connection between the unicorn and Shiva, and there is very little that suggests the unicorn was a creature of significance in Indian mythology and religion, let alone as a symbol of destruction. Thus we are simply dealing in New Age pablum with no evidence to support it.
But 13 minutes in it somehow manages to get even more ridiculous. After a throwaway assertion that unicorns are a symbol of fertility going off of random online articles and the alchemical element of Mercury, we arrive at yet another aspect of this conspiracy theory: it turns out that unicorns are actually an occult symbol of the gay agenda teaching kids to reject their assigned gender and embrace transgenderism.
Yes. The unicorn is actually an occult symbol of transgenderism because of that motherfucking “Gender Unicorn” designed by Trans Student Educational Resources. This is actually a real take that someone spent 14 out of 17 minutes building up to in a video.
Apparently by transformation, they mean the transformation of sex and gender roles, the transformation of binary male and female into androgyny. And somehow I doubt this is what Nancy Hathaway intended by transformation by any stretch, so this is most likely just her extrapolating transsexual symbolism from a modern symbol that was most likely chosen without any input from Hathaway, or for that matter Manly P. Hall who the speaker immediately shifts gears to by saying that Hall viewed the unicorn’s horn as symbolic of the pineal gland, the “spiritual cognition center of the brain” (oh no, not this shit), and apparently a symbol of the illumined individual according to “the mysteries” who defends their doctrines with his horn, the flaming sword that portrudes from his head. That last detail, it goes without saying, sounds more like the angel protecting the Garden of Eden than the Antichrist. But, more importantly, what do the pineal gland, esoteric mysteries and fiery angelic swords have to do with transgenderism and modern progressive ideas about gender identity? This question that would logically follow from the exposition we’re dealt with is never answered, or even touched upon, at all within the video, which leads me to think that all of this is pulled out of the speaker’s multiple orifices. Literally the only explanation for the unicorn being a symbol of transgenderism is that god damned Gender Unicorn that TSER desgined, which was almost certainly designed without any esoteric context or input from some magicians.
Citing Carl Teichirb, yet another Christian conspiracy theorist ranting about the “globalists” and their “new world order”, the speaker claims that the unicorn as a symbol is closely tied to the Practicus ritual from the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. The speaker also claims that this Order was singularly responsible for the occult revival of the 20th century. Now it must be said that the Practicus ritual does indeed make reference to a “Unicorn of the Stars”, and the specific context of that grade is made crystal clear in Grade of Practicus.
You are qualified to receive in this Grade and — by the power to me entrusted — I now confer upon you the Mystical Title of Monokeros de Astris, which means the Unicorn from the Stars, signifying the imputed purity of soul and the restored virgin state which you have received in the ceremonial consecration of your desire part.
This is very explicitly a reference to the Christian connotations of virgin purity associated with the unicorn, and it doesn’t really have anything to do with Shiva or transsexualism, and it is never explained within the video how those concepts have anything to do with each other.
By the way, just as a brief aside, the video seems to reference a “winged unicorn” depicted at the Palace of Darius in Susa, located in Iran. The problem with this is that that’s not a unicorn, but in fact an aurochs – a species of cattle that once co-existed with humans and was the ancestor of modern cattle before being driven to extinction in the 17th century. In fact, you need only look at a side by side depiction of the aurochs from both Persia and Babylon to see that the winged animal in question is in fact meant to be an aurochs, not a unicorn.
On a tangent, the unicorn actually does make multiple appearances in the Bible as a strong and fearsome animal that is difficult to tame. However, the actual Hebrew name of the creature is “re’em”, and its identification as a “unicorn” is simply a product of the King James translation. The Hebrew word “re’em” is often translated as “wild ox” or “oryx”, but the description of the creature as a powerful and wild creature suggests that it likely refers to a wild species of cattle. Now this description seems somewhat different to the modern conception of a gentle and pure creature of peace, but it makes perfect sense in the context of the likely origin point of the myth of the unicorn: the Greek monoceros. This animal, like the re’em, is described by Pliny as “the fiercest animal” and said that it was impossible to capture one of them alive due to its sheer strength. Unlike the Christian conception of the unicorn, the monoceros was considered by the Greeks and Romans to be a real creature, the subject of natural history, rather than a mythical creature suited for mythology. But while the Biblical “unicorn” is actually a wild bull, likely an aurochs, Pliny the Elder said that the creature had the feet of an elephant, which combined with its singular horn suggests a rhinoceros (likely the Indian rhinoceros considering the many excursions to the Indian subcontinent undertaken by the Greeks and Romans), which came to be interpreted as the unicorn after a long period of tales and accounts getting lost in translation. Speaking of India, some claim that a one-horned creature depicted in seals that were excavated in Harappa, in what was the remains of the ancient Indus Valley civilization, is the earliest depiction of a unicorn. Considering the shape of the animal’s body very obviously resembles a bull and the way that the aurochs were depicted in Babylon and Persia, the animal is very likely to be a bull rather than a unicorn.
It is also worth noting that the unicorn’s great strength continued to be a theme in its character as it was transforming into the modern image of the unicorn. Like Pliny before him, Isidore of Seville in the 7th century described the unicorn as a very strong animal and having the ability to pierce any creature it attacks with its single horn while adding that that the unicorn is impossible to capture unless a certain trick is played on it: “If a virgin girl is placed in front of a unicorn and she bares her breast to it, all of its fierceness will cease and it will lay its head on her bosom, and thus quieted is easily caught.”. It’s from this that the medieval Christian symbolism surrounding the creature develops, and after that the unicorn goes from being a dangerous beast that can’t be tamed (except by virgin breasts of course) to a gentle and magical creature that was essentially the animal symbol of Jesus Christ himself.
Anyways, after all that the speaker claims that the unicorn is supposed to be the symbol of an illuminated initiate and spiritual being and that this is the context for all of the unicorn symbolism she keeps seeing in supermarkets because she clearly never pays attention to what kids like or what market trends are. The symbolism of the unicorn as that of an initiate is true only in a very limited context, in that it is specific to Golden Dawn rites rather than universal symbolism, and even then the context of that illumination is defined not on some weird transgender Illuminati mumbo jumbo that the speaker pulled out of her vagina, but rather by already existing Christian symbolism about virginity. Apart from that, the symbol of the unicorn in general has barely anything to do with what the speaker is claiming it to be associated with.
Towards the end we get some drivel about how the Baileys wanted to expand the growth of a new world religion, which knowing them almost certainly means sort of banal and cynical but relatively benign New Age spiritualism rather than whatever sacrifical diabolism that the speaker seems to imagine, and it’s here that we come back to the central theme of the alleged unicorn-based inundation of society. The entire reason for the speakers retarded conspiracy theory is, in her words, “there is nothing rare or unique about a symbol that is being flaunted everywhere and overused more than toilet paper”, at which point I am inclined to point her in the direction of dragons. But at least here in Wales the dragon is a national symbol so its mass proliferation here is directly tied to national identity, unless of course that fact in itself is yet another conspiracy by the Rockerfellers to promote Satanism. Oh and did I mention that the unicorn is the national animal of Scotland? Were the Rockerfellers responsible for that as well? Do a cabal of Anti-Christian Jews (let’s not kid ourselves here, we all know what these theories really are) secretly control Scotland and are they planning to turn the country into a beacon of transsexual religion? More to the point though I must ask: what’s the point of going on about how a fucking fictitious animal isn’t rare or unique just because there’s lots of products bearing its image? What the hell kinds of fools should we be taken for with this tripe?
This theory, at its base, is incredibly weak, forced to draw together disparate symbolic interpretations and the writings of other conspiracy theorists who believe basically the same god damned thing as her and each other in order push this idea of the unicorn as some sort of mystic symbol of the New World Order and mystic initiation into its new religion based on concepts and themes that are otherwise unconnected to each other. It’s a hodge podge of Christian paranoia and New Age bullshit mashed together by a sense of bewilderment that market forces exist and that a mythical creature that has been embedded into the public consciousness as a symbol of goodness and purity for centuries would become a widespread product for girl things.
And, by the way, as a final note, I have mentioned this a few times but there is a recurring problem with the video and its central claim: the relation between all of these concepts of transformation, purity, esoteric initiation and illumination, gene editing, genetic engineering and transgenderism is never elaborated on sufficiently. You’re just supposed to take it as read that these ideas and the disparate sources for them are connected to each other, but without any explanation as to how this is the case. Hell, the Lucis Trust is mentioned once, is subtly referred to again, but their role in all this and their relation to unicorns (let alone why the name Lucifer Publishing Society is actually a sign of diabolical connotations) is never explained. The only reason that Jennifer Doudna’s work is thrown into all this is that one time where she mentions creating unicorns through gene editing, and we’re supposed to take that as symbolically relevant with no further elaboration. Frankly, the only way all of this makes sense is if you already agree with the general mode of conspiracy theory presented in Truthstream Media’s videos (or for that matter buy into all the same conspiratorial garbage that literally every Christian wackjob before this channel has been promoting for decades).
All in all, this is surely one of the most hilariously absurd and pointless things I’ve seen in a while and I’m amazed I had so much to write about it.