Black Magic or Redemption? Gargoyles

Gargoyle on St. Vitus Cathedral

“Abashed the Devil stood, and felt how awful goodness is…”

John Milton

This article was prompted by a pair of short films by a documentary film maker whose work I really enjoy. The films are called Black Magic Kingdoms and can by found on the Enigma Channel of Chris Everard. In these films, Chris pans over the masonry of Narbonne Cathedral and both inside and outside of Cologne Cathedral in Germany. What he says is correct: the stone is carved over with demons from the Goetia of King Solomon. To the modern mind, impacted as it is by skepticism towards the supernatural, atheism, and materialistic science, interpreting these figures as evocations to demons rather than to devotions to Christ is an easy mistake to make. But we have to realize that these magnificent buildings were not designed in modern times by people with a post modern mind set. They are visions from the heart and soul of the Middle Ages, and quite early at that —–the 12th century.

I was born into a French Catholic family. My father’s side was intensely religious having emigrated to Quebec in the 1604 and bringing their 1604 religious practices with them. Going to the cathedral in early childhood where both French and Latin were spoken filled my subconscious with powerful, numinous images and an endless attraction to things Medieval. It also implanted with deep spiritual struggle within. As I grew in the Existentialist 1960s, I was forced to question the basic Christian belief that Jesus Christ IS God.

But people in the Middle Ages in Europe had no such struggle. They believed. Only passionate belief could explain the sacrifices that must have gone into creating these massive and intricate temples, these consciousness transformers that send your spirit soaring.  Chris Everard is right that there is no place in the Bible that talks about these demons, though Satan is the constant underlying adversary of the New Testament, lurking between the lines —just as his minions cling to the walls of the cathedrals.

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Medieval Christians really believed that Jesus Christ was God.

I am sure there are people who believe this now, but most  have a hard time with this these days.

Mystical, esoteric Christianity is a doctrine of Immanence—-the awareness that the Divine infuses everything that exists. Everything is alive and has a soul. If you believe in a Creative Intelligence that dreamed the worlds into life,  how could it be otherwise?.

God walked the earth in the form of a man to transform the world, to show  human beings that we too are capable of Higher Consciousness, even of miracles. By taking on human form, God infused His essence directly into humanity,  kindling the Divine Spark. His adversaries were those who ( to this day)  work to reduce humanity to the level of zomboid slaves. This is where the concept that God so loved mankind that He sent his only begotten Son (Himself) to save us comes from, I think: The devil was having a splendid time in the Roman Empire. Corruption, brutality, war, enslavement threatened to devour the world and God took notice.

The story of Paradise Lost by John Milton was based on the old Celtic myths about the War in Heaven that was caused when the archangel, Lucifer, challenged the worthiness of the God’s creation. He didn’t like the human race much and wanted nothing to do with it. Archangel Michael threw him out of Heaven and that was how he came to try to destroy us ever since. So the story goes…

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The Cathedrals are Encrusted with Demons.

Most people in the Middle Ages were illiterate but they understood symbols—-pictures that were worth a thousand words. The cathedrals were referred to as Books in Stone. They were carved over with spiritual lessons: The life of Christ, visions of Heaven and Hell and the hierarchies of the worlds  for a few.

Symbolizes resurrection from death

Symbolizes resurrection from death

The cathedral is the House of God. Often referred as Mother Church, the cathedral was meant to be the body of Mary, Mother of God. The faithful entered the body as sinners and, after receiving the Eucharist, exit reborn in Christ. For Medieval people this ACTUALLY HAPPENED. They really believed in this powerful supernatural event. Clever modern atheists like to point out that the Eucharist is cannibalistic, a vestige of human sacrifice. What they miss is that, to the believer, Christ/ God gave his life to be the LAST human sacrifice. The Resurrection made His flesh divine, no longer human but something higher that when taken into us transferred its power to us to transform our flesh.  Just as corn dollies replace human sacrifices to Goddess at Harvest, the wafer and wine stand in for the transmuted flesh and life force of Christ. The emphasis on the Scared Heart links the blood to the circulation of love and forgiveness through energy center of the heart by which we connect to the highest spiritual dimensions.

What the cathedrals teach us is that, not only was God’s purpose to redeem humanity, but the entire Creation including the seventy-two demons of the Goetia.

Medieval cathedrals have an area called the tympanum, the half moon area above the door with a depiction of Christ at the Last Judgment. On His right the good people are escorted to Heaven with the angels and on his left the bad ones undergo horrific tortures by the devils in Hell.

lt_med_sculpt_lastjdg2Of course the quickest interpretation of why these devils are here is too scare sinners into obeying the Church. I believe that is the role of Last Judgment Hell, though in this depiction from Autun Cathedral there is a touching image of Christ’s mercy as His hands reach down to lift the damned up form the lower depths.

This same compassion must be extended to the seventy-two demons whether they like it or not. Demons have no free will, they are what they are, but are still part of the Creation. This suggests that in order for full redemption to succeed, even they must be transformed to their divine nature. Even the deepest darkness must be returned to God. Indeed some of these grotesques—-for they are not all gargles or gargoyles—- exhibit a kind of longing for the light of understanding, a kind of confused  vulnerability.

I think it is a very beautiful belief that by entering such a place one is transformed form a body of corruption to one of divine fire and that all living things will be brought to that blessed state with you.

Can the Creation be redeemed with any piece of it missing? In Celtic Faery Tradition we learn that even Lucifer himself must be transformed, even he must be brought back to Heaven to sit at the left side of his Father.

Hierarchies of Worlds

“Long is the way
And hard, that out of Hell leads up to Light.”
— John Milton (Paradise Lost)

We can’t leave the Medieval mind set without taking into account the hierarchical view of the Creation. The above and below notions of Heaven and Hell were far more concrete when people believed that the earth was flat. Hell and the demons were under the plate of the earth. earth was like a flying saucer in space and Heaven was above. So we see in the cathedrals: The demonic figure are usually on the bottom and as the building goes higher, the angels and saints go up until, at the very top is often a Crucifix or a cross or a statue of the Virgin Mary.

Demons are in the roof, as in Notre Dame de Paris, I think reveal an awareness by the designers of the many dimensions that surround the Earth, our Paradise Lost. The limitation of stone, and all concrete images, is that they must SHOW things that are abstract by either anthropomorphizing them — as in the case God the Father as a bearded old man—-or must use space in suggestive ways that may not be understandable without an explanation. The explanation for demons being in the upper levels of the cathedrals could be that it was the only way to show that they are all around us in the fourth dimension. That they can see us through the ethers ( the sky) though we may not see them. This does not “elevate” them in status but does depict their power over us, spurring us on to take refuge with Christ—-inside the cathedral —in the body of his Mother, the Church.

As for gargoyles —many of them are not at all demonic, but rather images of peasants and common people –the only characters seen as fit to spew run off from the roofs, the only beings “low” enough to act as  gutters. Just doing their jobs…..

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Freemasonry and the Demonic Cathedrals

The cathedral builders were the first Masons. What was merely the artisans guild of stone cutters has been transformed in modern times to a sinister secret society said, at the very top levels, to worship Lucifer. That being said, it does not mean that the medieval stone masons were into anything of the kind. Of course their emblems and signs are all over the cathedrals just in the way that even today, real silver is stamped Sterling.

Artists, again not readers of words, would have their signs, symbols that stood for their names. That these were co-opted by modern Freemasons does not mean that Medieval masons were worshiping the Devil. An aversion to the Catholic Church does not mean that it is right to interpret some the of the greatest works of art ever created with diabolical intent. These ideas are dangerous. Three-hundred years of the executions of millions of innocent people to such ideas getting out of hand attests to how dangerous these notions can be.

For me, our current escalation into scientific tyranny is far more frightening than the works of the ancient stone-cutters art.

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Hidden Mystery of the Unicorn Tapestries Revealed!

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The Hunt of the Unicorn Tapestries

The Hunt of the Unicorn Tapestries comprise an allegory of the fate of the pure soul in the world. The Unicorn has often been referred to as a Christ figure, but its meaning is much older than Christianity, for the image of a Beast, no matter how mythical, would not be used to symbolize the Son of God unless that God existed at the most primal, pre-conscious level, deep in the Soul of the World. When one meditates on the sequence of images in the Hunt of the Unicorn Tapestries, it looks more like an ancient Fertility Rite enacting the sexual awakening of the World. This has more to do with the Medieval Courts of Love than the Passion of Christ.

The innocence of the Unicorn is signified, not only by its clean, white coat, but by its single, uncloven, horn. One horn suggests unity,  it  cannot be entered, it wards off intrusion. Dual horns, in this context, suggest that that which was whole is now split. The possessor of two horns lives in the world of opposites, of two sexes, and therefore is concerned with procreation. That which is split then seeks reunion through the birth of the third, mirror image of itself, and so the regenerative cycle goes on.

That is why the Unicorn can only be tamed by a virgin, for the Virgin is undefiled, unitary, and protected. The Men of the World cannot open the Unicorn’s body unless he lies in the lap of the Virgin who comes forward voluntarily with an aura of sacrifice. The symbolism of the single fertilizing horn in a Virgin’s lap is clear. In the case of the Unicorn, there is a divine fertilization. Only when the Soul, (the Virgin) is torn away from her union with the Divine, can she be joined with man. Therefore the men, who seek to re-discover lost innocence, and because they are of the World, cannot value purity as inner possession only, and kill the Virgin’s Divine connection so she will be available for them in the world of duality.

This interpretation suggests that there is an alternate allegory to that of the passion of Christ possible here, something to do with the Virgin as World Soul in union with the Divine, and the Unicorn as the mystic seeking return to the source.It is also a Creation myth that shows the Fall into duality without which earthly life would not be possible.

For me, the quest for the Unicorn, and these beautiful tapestries, evoke great Mystery, so they are part of my Mysterious Domain…which is of course, in my imagination…

A Mystery is Sought

The Hunters represent primal man, crude, blind, and driven by base desires without the light of consciousness. They  enter the forest to hunt, but find themselves on the path of a great Mystery that will  instill a sense of belonging to something larger than themselves. Only a powerful encounter with the Otherworld will be shocking enough to awaken them.

They come upon a Unicorn dipping his horn in a fountain.


The  Hunters  break out of the woods and find a garden where all the animals, both hunter and hunted, live in peace and harmony together. It is the Garden of Paradise before the Fall,  before the intrusion of Man.

A beautiful, pure white Unicorn dips his horn into the Waters of Life, both to purify them, and fertilize the Earth with his divine power.

The Waters springing up from the Underworld  let us know we are in the Realm of Faery…

The Unicorn leaps over a stream


The Unicorn sees the Hunters and leaps over the stream that runs from the fountain. In the old traditions, bodies of water, especially rivers and streams, are crossing points between the mortal world and the Otherworld of Faery. It is interesting to note that while the Unicorn was at the fountain, he was safe in Paradise where the Hunters were not able to act against him. By leaping over the stream, is he not, therefore, running toward danger,  straight into the spears and arrows? If that is the case, it would seem his  sacrifice is voluntary, as all true sacrifices must be.
But why?

The Unicorn defends himself

The Unicorn defends himself by attacking the dogs. Is this not a representation of how the most pure, Divine power must seek protection from the defilement of the basest instincts of Man symbolized by the dogs?  In the old fairy stories, animals often stood for the gross sexual appetites, unrefined and undisciplined  by the consciousness of the higher mind. The idea of the tail wagging the dog comes to mind when you think of people who chase after sexual pleasure, or release, irregardless of the consequences.

Rather than defending himself, could the Unicorn be protecting the Virgin? Could he be trying to prevent the primitive Hunters despoiling her with rude weapons and coarse sexuality? For the Unicorn is the Virgin’s lover is he not?

The Ladies know what it means to capture the Unicorn

The Ladies of the Palace know what the mystery is and how it must climax. For they too have been virgins in love with the Unicorn.

A Virgin Tames the Unicorn

This is event is always referred to as the Virgin taming the Unicorn, but it not be seen another way?  It is really an image of the Unicorn laying hos head in the Virgin’s lap. While lying there between her legs, he is killed by the Hunters. Perhaps the Unicorn lays down its life to protect the Virgin from the instinctual, untamed, and unenlightened desires of the Hunters. He is her purity, and her inviolability. Once the unity is cleft, there can be no return to Paradise. Innocence is lost forever.
Interestingly, this piece of the tapestry is damaged and the figure of the virgin torn away. The red gowned  Lady coyly looking on is merely her handmaiden. We see the dog drawing the Unicorn’s blood.

So much for the pure, innocent Soul of the World in our times…

The Hunters slay the Unicorn

The Unicorn is pierced through the heart , both his spiritual heart located below the throat and his physical heart in his breast. The Palace of civilization stands on the other side of a lake. The refined Lords and Ladies stream down from the palace to receive the Hunters who seem changed by their encounter with the Unicorn.They approach the Ladies who appear to instruct them, perhaps on the proper attitude of respect to maintain regarding the Procreative Mysteries.

Indeed, the Lord and Ladies seem to ignore the Unicorn as he is impaled  above them, at the edge of the palace garden.  They seem much more intent on sharing the gifts of civilization with the Hunters. The palace is thus the realm between the higher and lower levels of being.

The Unicorn is restored to life

Often called ‘The Unicorn in Captivity’.
This is an apt title, although it leaves out the impression that the Unicorn has come back to life. Perhaps this is because he never was a mortal creature, but a symbol all along, a representation of innocence and purity too good for the World. Now he is captured, fenced in, and controlled by the forces of civilization that would use him as an example of perfection. Yet he is set apart, no longer part of the whole, rendered, in a sense, useless. He is emptied of the numinous wholeness he once wielded in the lost Paradise. In the  World, duality is all, for without duality, the cloven horn and hoof, the Creation as we know it, would cease to exist.
The Unicorn knows this. That is the nature of his sacrifice. He is at peace.
Go to my Videos for a beautiful Medieval song that goes well with these tapestries
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The Struggle Between Darkness and Light: The Old Meaning of Christmas

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The Color of Christmas is Black

Christmas is a celebration of the dawning of the light.

In the Western World we have combined elements of Pagan rituals with the Christian Mystery of the nativity for a joyous recognition that new Light comes out of Darkness, that the resurrection of life after death is part of the cycle of nature.

Red, green, gold, tinsel, these are the colors associated with Christmas. But the old color of Christmas is black. The black of the long night filled with stars, the black of life still quickening under the soil, The darkness of the evergreen forest with glints of sun shining through,  the darkness of snow banked  houses inwardly lit by candles and hearth fires.

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And then there is the old tradition of Saturnalia.

Ancient Romans told tales of a Gold Age ruled over by King Saturn, God of sowing and husbandry. Old King Cole was a Merry Old Soul could have been written about him. The earth brought forth abundantly  as King Saturn brought people together from far and wide to teach them how to plant an harvest and till the ground, how to live lawful lives under his generous and peaceful rule. All property was held in common, greed and war were not even thought of.

After King Saturn vanished, or died, his reign continued to be commemorated by the Romans with shrines and festivals in his honor. And every winter from the 17th to the 23rd of December, great revels took place led by the Spirit of Misrule. Slaves were freed and allowed to act the part of Masters. Masters waited upon slaves. Class barriers were further razed as everyone indulged in feasting, drinking, dancing and orgies. The high point of this carnival was the coronation of the Mock King. Usually chosen by lot, the slave who was mad King, ordered the people around, often requesting the drunken revelers to perform ridiculous antics, like silly dances, mimicking animals, or carrying musicians on their backs.

But as was the case in most ancient agricultural societies known for an abundantly fertile and yielding earth. there was another side to these festivities. For the Mock King, who for a few days enjoyed every indulgence, for whom was his command, ended his reign with his head on the block, burned in the fire, or hung on the gallows tree.

It was believed that the Sun actually died on Winter Solstice, and that the only way to bring it back to life, was to exchange one life for another — a human life for the life of the sun.  The Mock King of the Saturnalia, chosen by chance — and therefore by the Gods — drunken and in a state of high excitement, was a slave for whom these few days may have been worth the price of his short and miserable life.

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The Battle of the Summer and Winter Kings

What is this connection of Christmas time and death? For Christians it would be a pre-configuration of Easter, when the Son would die as a human being and be resurrected as God, and bright solar God at that.  In December, the Mock King, a Christmas Fool dies to bring back the Sun.

The Celts had a tradition of the Oak King and the Holly King meeting on the field of battle at Winter Solstice. The Oak King o Summer must give way to the Holly King of winter, but will not do so without a fight. That it was a fight to the death is a given in the books I have read on the subject. Was this another way to insuring the sun coming back in exchange for a human life? Or was this battle enacted in the Dreamtime — the Otherworld realm where European  shamans battled witches to protect the fertility of the land?

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It is the brightness over the darkness that gives Christmas its special character. Gold over black. The warm glow of fire, the colored lights, the shining evening clothes and jewels shining in the long dark night of winter is the glamor of Christmas. But under the reassuring images of Santa Clause, and  abundant gift giving in honor of King Saturn’s Golden Age, and the Peace on Earth that also characterized his mythical reign, is the deeper complication of our mortality and our place in the scheme of things. We call on angels, wise Kings and a Great Mother Goddess to bring forth the Light now.  The Mystery still remains — the birth of the Divine Child, the one and only God, entering the darkness of the flesh to awaken the Light within us all.

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