Hell is not usually something that many Pagans talk about. Often we will deny the existence of that infernal realm, erroneously citing it as a particularly Christian belief that –like the Devil– has no place in our spiritual understanding of the Universe.
We do, however, tend to believe in magical principals, especially those as put forward in the various Western Magical traditions. Once such principal is that of the egregore, or “thought-form” which is a type of artificially created entity or energetic form that is given its astral existence by the belief, will, and life-force of an individual or group. Usually this is done with concentrated effort, often with ritual focus, but also can these forms be created by the will of those who are particularly strong, or through the communal belief of a large group. With this in mind is it so far off to assume that by the collective belief of so many in a largely Christian dominated society that Hell itself would exist in this manner as well?
In the Feri Tradition we are all familiar with our beloved Blue God. In one aspect –that of Melek Ta’us, the peacock Angel of Middle Eastern myth –he is said to be related (or in some cases the same being) as Lucifer, that Promethean light-bringer who in modern times has been conflated with the Christian Prince of Darkness. The Blue God is said to be the first-born of the Goddess and it is he who rules over humankind as the Daemon (higher self, or Godself) of the world.
To some this might seem paradoxical; how can our collective “higher nature” be the same as the prince of evil? Further insight may be derived by looking deeper into another piece of Feri lore which states that while underneath the hand of the Goddess he is beneficial and loving, but removed from Her influence he is a wrathful and terrible spirit. Certainly we can see this in terms of patriarchal culture; when the Goddess is removed from the picture then our lord becomes the jealous and wrathful god that is mentioned in the Biblical texts.
In one myth it is said that he was cast out of heaven for his pride, which is a story that most of us are familiar with in its Christian form as “the fall from grace”, giving us the concept of the “fallen angels”. After the Fall he was said to repent for his sins, weeping for over 7000 years and filling 7 jars with his tears which he then used to extinguish the fires of hell, thus establishing him as a savior figure not unlike the Christ.
Another way to look at this myth is to see the fall not as a “fall from grace”, but as a necessary descent; a Promethean display of spirit manifesting down the scales of density and into matter. In my own trance experiences with Melek Ta’us I have felt that he contains both good and evil; beauty and darkness, which only serves to further qualify him for his position as “lord of the world” (i.e. the collective Daemon of humanity) as he contains all human potential, as opposed to some popular savior deities who exist only in a half-formed state of supposed “perfection”, setting the bar impossibly high and then harshly judging those who cannot attain the same state of mindless, saccharine, stagnation.
This is also a myth about free-will; in older versions of this myth cycle, Lucifer (along with all the angels) is ordered by God to never bow before anyone or anything. It is only later after God creates Adam that they are asked to bow before God’s humanly creation. As the rest of the angels dutifully bow before the first human, it is Lucifer (Melek Ta’us) alone who refuses (“I am made from light and he from dirt! I will not bow before him!”) thus establishing Melek Ta’us as a figure with a will of his own, a characteristic associated in Islamic tradition with the djinn as opposed to angels who have no choice but to obey the will of God. It is the establishment of free-will that makes our beloved Melek an important –and accessible—figure for us. He contains multitudes; he is the first emanation of God Herself, and thus represents God on the earthly plane. His image is the peacock; a heavenly bird that is linked to earthly serpents as it was believed that they got their radiant colors from a snake’s venom. The Feri tradition sees him as a manifestation of the unified Divine Twins; the serpent of primal, earthly powers melded with the dove (or other bird) of transcendent spirit.
That he embodies both good & evil, spirit & matter, and beauty & darkness makes it easier to identify with him; he has the same potentials and limitations that we do. He is inextricably linked to us; as we evolve, so does he evolve as well.
Having firmly established Melek Ta’us as a savior deity, we can turn to him in that capacity in order to heal our own pain and suffering; to “save” us from our own undoing. We all have secret pain. We might not be aware of it (we often are), but it is there. It is that part of us that secretly believes that we are not good enough... not worthy. It is the presence of our inner demons that perhaps were originally invoked in order to protect us from further pain, but now –with a life and will of their own –have begun to dictate to us the boundaries of our existence, constricting us and preventing our fullest potential.
Often we judge ourselves harshly for having these feelings, which simply compounds their negative impact upon us. We tell ourselves that if we were truly spiritual, enlightened, etc. then we wouldn’t feel powerless, shameful, or despair. We often respond by attacking ourselves for our weakness and when this happens we are very likely to attack others in the same way.
In another myth of Melek Ta’us attributed to the Yezidi, a poor farmer awakens one day to find a wounded peacock lying on the ground outside his home. Seeing that the bird was very close to death the farmer decides –at great burden to himself—to forgo his daily chores and instead care for the wounded creature. All night the farmer devotedly attends to the sickly bird, feeding it and giving it water… giving it his bed to sleep in and warming it by the fire. The next day the farmer awakes to find the peacock restored to full health and is shocked to hear the bird speak:
“Noble farmer! Thank you for mending my wounds and restoring my spirit! For I am the spirit of evil and shall reward you and your family for your kindness.”
With that the peacock placed a blessing upon the farmer and his family and with a cry, flew up into the heavens.
This myth centers around deep compassion, not just for the sickly or those less fortunate but even for evil itself. If we accept the definition of ‘evil’ as “life-force that has been twisted”1 then we are perhaps less likely to delve into the realm of moralistic absolutes that plague much of monotheistic thinking. When we see evil as something that can be healed, then we perhaps are in a better position to do that healing; to open our hearts in compassion for our own weakness, and that of others, instead of reproaching it. We are being called to do what is perhaps the most difficult thing ever: we are asked to have compassion for all parts of ourselves, which includes the weakness, the sickness, and the pain.
“We do not coddle weakness,” a familiar Feri tenant begins, “nor do we condemn it in others.”
Our beloved Peacock Lord wants us to be happy. He wants us to share in his universal dance of ecstasy and desire, and we can only truly do so when we have healed our guilt, shame, and inhibitions. Once healed, we can begin the work of helping to heal others, as well.
This ritual was inspired by the trance experiences of my husband, Chas, from which he created a meditative exercise2. I have taken his basic idea and expanded it into a ritual form that can be used by an individual or a group.
Black Scrying mirror or other scrying surface
A few peacock eye feathers in a small vase
A skull or image of a skull (preferably human)
Seven small jars
A chalice (each participant should have their own)
A small pitcher of water
Anointing or Blessing oil
A black candle
A blue candle
A red candle
A violet candle
In the center of your working area prepare an altar to the Blue God on which are placed the candles, the seven jars, the water pitcher, and the vase of peacock feathers. In the western edge of the circle place the skull.
Perform a soul alignment, and ground & center. Create a ritual space (such as casting a circle). Light the Star Goddess candle (black) with whatever usual invocations you are accustomed to. Perform the Water Cleansing rite.
Invoke the spirit of the serpent by lighting the red candle, saying:
Coiled deep and down below,
With scarlet flame rise to us
And fill us with Passion and Power!"
On the last line, imagine those points of the Iron Pentacle being invoked into your body, and the connecting line between the two glowing clear and strong.
Invoke the spirit of the dove by lighting the blue candle, saying:
Stretched across the heavens,
With blue flame descend to us
And fill us with Pride and Self!"
Again, imagine those Iron points and the pathways between them glowing bright.
Taking both the red and blue candles, use their flames to light the violet, thus bringing the powers of the Twins together:
"Winged Serpent! Melek Ta’us!
First-born rainbow light of God
Spread amongst the earth and heavens
And merge with us in the name of Sex!"
Allow the energy of all the activated points of the Iron Pentacle to flow upward and into the point of Sex, which shines with a crystalline rainbow flame.
Allow your energy-body to open up as you would open to a lover. Tender. Passionate. Erotic. Imagine his rainbow light shining deep within you... charging you with the power and purpose to face your true self.
When you feel sufficiently charged, look into the scrying mirror so that you can see your own reflection. Allow yourself to remain open and calm... Look deep into your life and your power. Be aware of any insights that may arise.
Make a prayer that he assist you in discovering and facing your own hidden shame:
"Peacock Angel! Peacock Lord!
Shining light into the dark
Descend you now the rainbow flame,
Revealing here our secret shame,
Into Hell you now embark!"
Allow his rainbow light to flow down deep into those areas which are buried and dark. Allow this light to illuminate an area of your life that you have kept buried —that which you do not want to think about. Allow yourself to recall something in your life that you feel has brought you guilt, or shame. It can be something you did to someone else, something that happened to you, perhaps recently, or in childhood, etc. If it becomes too uncomfortable, just relax and remember your soul alignment.
Imagine that these feelings are part of a secret, toxic fire that has been silently burning within you. Feel how this fire is like a small sphere of toxic flame that burns somewhere in your fetch beneath your navel. Feel how it calls into itself every bit of your own power that has been turned against you: every feeling of unworthiness, of shame, guilt... each time you have felt powerless... scared... alone... and especially those feelings that you have kept to yourself... perhaps fantasies of hurting someone... of hurting yourself... of coercing someone, or otherwise subjugating their will. No matter what it is... even if you do not understand what it is... allow yourself to feel it... to face it... and allow its power to burn in that sphere of toxic flame within you. This is the presence of your own personal Hell.
Hold those emotions within you and allow them to shine. Emotions are nothing more than energy running through your psyche, so let that energy build and shine. See how it is actually power, and though it has up until now been turned against you, you can control it, tame it, transform it. When you feel the energy is at its peak, breathe three times into your Hellsphere, allowing this power to be sealed into it.
Feel how Melek Ta’us feels your pain; how he feels the pain of all who suffer. Imagine him larger than life standing before you, his radiant light filling the room, the sky, the world. Imagine (and feel) that he begins to weep, his etheric tears raining down upon you. Recite the Prayer of the Tears:
"You shed your tears to end our suffering,
Into seven jars they flow
Washing clean our pain and sorrow
Quench the fires down below."
Focusing on this etheric rain, slowly pour some water into each of the seven jars, feeling how they not only represent Melek’s tears, but that they ARE his tears. See his rainbow light descend into each of the jars and from them into your chakras.
See the power of red flowing through the first jar and into your base chakra. Feel how it is filled with vitality, potential, and life-force. Feel your fetch. Chant or tone power into the jar and the chakra. Continue chanting or toning for each.
Still in the realm of the fetch, feel orange flowing through the next jar and into your 2nd chakra, which glows with unbridled creativity and pleasure.
Now, feel how your fetch merges into your talker at about your solar-plexus where you see yellow shine through the 3rd jar and into your solar-plexus chakra, filling it with the qualities of confidence and power.
In your talker, green shines through the 4th jar and into your heart-center filling it with connection, community, and love.
The vibration of the talker is elevated as you ascend up into your 5th chakra in your throat. Blue shines though the 5th jar and into your chakra filling it with the qualities of communication.
Talker merges with the holy daemon (God Soul) in your 6th chakra –your “Third Eye”. Violet light shines through the 6th jar and into the chakra filling it with intellect, vision, and dreams.
Feeling the presence of your daemon at your crown, white crystalline light shines though you and into the 7th jar filling it with understanding, knowing, and divine inspiration.
Anoint yourself on your chakra areas with the water from each of the corresponding seven jars, feeling how the tears of Melek Ta’us are cleansing and soothing you, like a healing salve for your soul. Feel how you are being healed.
All of these power-centers in your body are alive and active. Feel and see the light of each of them shine outward into your chalice which now shines with multi-colored, crystalline rainbow light.
Chant whatever sounds you are inspired to make and see how your chalice explodes with a torrent of rainbow-pearlescent liquid energy in which Melek Ta’us now appears as a pure white peacock. Drink deep from your cup and feel how this charged water –his etheric tears—are filling, empowering, and healing you. As you drink, feel how he flies above you into the heavens, weeping his healing tears down upon you, flowing down into that space within you that has burned with the toxic fire. Hear the fires sizzle as the tears begin to douse the flame. Feel these fires being quenched and soothed until there is only wet ash and soot.
Call Melek Ta’us down into you. Feel him descend from the heavens and flow down through your crown and into your body, moving erotically through you as he scrubs and brushes you clean, finally exiting through your perineum with a flow of erotic energy. Notice how he takes on the drab colors of all that toxic muck. He lies on the ground before you, wet… drab and dirty… next to lifeless…
Feel how you have been cleansed and empowered. Feeling yourself shine with rainbow light, open your heart to him and to the dark powers that he now holds within. Open yourself to compassion… feel compassion not just for the God… but for his weakness; your weakness. Feel compassion for sin, wrong-doing, and even evil –not as a justification for it, but as a means to move beyond judgment and therefore become free of it. Let this compassion shine from your heart and into the peacock angel.
When he has taken all of it in, he slowly rises, turns, and then beats his tail feathers upon the ground three times –filling all seven heavens with thunder! –as you ring the bell three times he transforms himself into a radiant peacock of many colors, filling your body with his rainbow luminescence once more. Bask in this presence for awhile.
Facing the skull, open the Western Gate in whatever manner you are accustomed to. In trance step through and into that space between lives... and you stand on this side of a river bank amongst those souls who have not yet passed on and into the next phase of life after this one.
Now your journey truly begins. Allow Melek to guide you to a place in the ground where you find an opening. Notice what it looks (and feels) like and taking a deep breath of power you descend down into the Underworld. Down into a cavernous place... down... down... cool at first, the air now begins to heat up the further you descend. You finally emerge into a place of fire and light... of torment, and of pain. This is the transpersonal dimension of Hell, and you are able to perceive souls here who are trapped, and who believe that they deserve to be here.
After you have taken in as much detail as you can stand, allow Melek’s presence within you to shine outward through you. You may experience great sadness at the suffering of so many. So be it. Allow it to inspire great compassion that moves out in waves from you. If you begin to weep, so much the better... allow your tears to be those of Melek Ta’us, and see his ethereal tears splash down upon the fiery ground, quenching those flames here as they did within you. Hear the flames sizzle and sputter as they are extinguished. You may wish to chant the Prayer of the Tears as you do this.
Feel how Melek’s tears are so awesome that they actually begin a torrent of etheric water that soaks this place, completely dousing the flames leaving, once more, the ash and soot of pain and suffering. Feel how those suffering here are being soothed and freed; the light of consciousness being fed to them so that they become aware of their state –and of their power.
Once more Melek shines with a pearlescent flame and he moves outward and into this place, taking all the suffering and muck into himself, once more becoming drab and dirty. Again, shine compassion into him… and with three beats of his tail feathers upon the ground (and three rings of the bell) he again transforms his appearance and is radiant and beautiful once more. With a lively shriek he rises up out of this place.
With your Will, you reach out to those souls here and invite them to follow him up... imagine a crystalline stairway emerge that spirals up through the opening into which you came into this infernal place. Chanting or singing if you wish, begin to ascend, being aware of those who chose to follow you. Rise up and back into the place of the River where you assist them to cross into the next phase of existence by projecting the mental image of a bridge that crosses the river. (Remember not to force anyone to follow or to cross the bridge. We can only show them the way, but the path is their own.)
When you are ready, return to the realm of the living and close the Western Gate. Anoint yourself with the oil with a blessing. Give thanks to Melek Ta’us... to the Dove... to the Serpent. Give thanks to the Star Goddess and open your circle.
You may wish to have something to eat and to perform an additional cleansing rite. It is done.
©2007 Storm Faerywolf
Originally published in Witch Eye Volume 16
1. Attributed to the late Victor Anderson.
2. See, Chas Bogan, “Our Faith Has No Hell”, Witch Eye #10, http://www.FeriTradition.org/witcheye/essay_faithnohell.htm