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One Man's Blasphemy, Another Man's Faith: the

Nature of Syncretism and Dual-Faith Observance


by S. Draqonah
I came across a comment that I found very interesting about the regularity and
usefulness of blasphemous practices within historical occult tradition, ranging from
Roman maleficia to European/English witchcraft and folk traditions.
The more I study the history of the occult, the more I see calculated blasphemy
(that is, in regards to the accepted religious mores of the time) as being one of the
most defining tools in a magicians arsenal.
This is an astute statement because it implies a couple of truths. First, that the
magician must be viewed within the context of historical locale and the defining
social conventions of its time. Secondly, that as archetype, the magician or witch is
to be viewed as the outcast, whether exile is imposed or voluntary, who wanders on
the fringes of social acceptability, often due to his/her refusal to adhere to social
and moral norms of the time; more often for the very subversion of those
conventions.
The statement quoted above was met with a response that claimed all practices
perceived as blasphemy within the Eurocentric traditions are the result of theft and
appropriation from Africa and the Middle East, and only appear blasphemous due to
[read White Mans] ignorance or misuse of what was stolen. Aside from this opinion
being informed by observations made solely through a prism of race, it is far too
sweeping, as another commenter points out, to be anything but partially true. If all
magic stemmed only from the Mesopotamic/African region, it is impossible to
account for Seir of the Norse peoples which trickled into Scotland or centuries-old
Inuit folk magic. I personally find problems with this statement because Magic is
less an innovation of a distinct historical set of peoples as it is the progeny of the
Magical Imagination that spans the trans-historical arena of culture and place. To
say said Magical Imagination began in such-and-such a place at such-and-such a
time is really only a statement perhaps, and only perhaps as to who was able to
document their ideas and practices in some lasting fashion first.
While the last may seem a bit digressive, the important notion contained within lies
in the words appropriation and misuse, for these imply a co-mingling of faiths and
practices, which is the necessary root of all blasphemous ritual. Be mindful though,
intent is an essential element as the processor of the magical current and without a
deliberate Averse use of tradition, such co-mingling is merely an occurrence of
syncretism. Of course, by syncretism, I refer to the combining of different, often
seemingly contradictory beliefs, while melding practices of various schools of
thought. Any student of theology or the occult should readily be able to name a
list of such occurrences.
The Catholic Missionaries brought their faith to the indigenous peoples of many
colonies, including those in Africa and Haiti, and as a result these new Western
traditions were assimilated or, at very least, accommodated within the pre-existing
faith of Voudun or Vodou. The disparate iconography of the Catholic saints and the
Loa became conjoined in meaning and representation within the minds of many

One Man's Blasphemy, Another Man's Faith: the


Nature of Syncretism and Dual-Faith Observance
by S. Draqonah
practitioners. Often, the observance of this newer Western faith was merely used to
mask their true practices, which were considered heretical by the European
interlopers. The Afro-Cuban practice of Santeria is likely the truest and most wellknown form of syncretic observance, with its prevalent use of Christo-Iconic magic.
However, none of these necessitate blasphemy. They may be deemed sacrilegious
by the Christian-minded, but at their crux they lack that truest intent to invert or
subvert the norm. In essence, the Power to Blaspheme is a matter of will and intent
that lies in the heart of the practitioner.
Within the magical and historical imagining of the Witch-Cult of Europe and England
(in reference to the as if hypothesis, expounded upon in the Chumbley essay
Magick is Not for All), we see similarly important examples of this dual observance
of faith.
The Cunning folk of southern Britain, known for their practice of folk magic and
healing, often blended their work with Christian iconography and psalmistry (use of
Christian devotional psalms). Although regarded as white witches and sometimes
exorcists, those practicing the Craft of the Cunning, whether professionally or semiprofessionally, ran the risk of raising suspicion with the church, who regarded such
practices as the Devils work. With this in mind, the Cunning man or woman were
careful to cloak their most Hidden Artes under the veil of the religion of the
Mundane. But in the secret glens and at the crossroads of the night, they too prayed
to the Old Gods, just as they did when kneeling at the altar rail during Sunday Mass.
For it was these Gods of the Elder Faith they truly invoked through prayer. The
secret realms of the Hidden Arte were the places where these practitioners would
reach out to the Other, and it is at these junctures the Blasphemous Rites would be
enacted.
It is remiss to not give an adequate and simple definition of dual-faith observance.
So for the purposes of this essay I find the one given by Michael Howard in his book
The Children of Cain (2011) to be most appropriate:
Dual-Faith Observance: The inclusion of Christian prayers, symbols and images
(often in a heretical, inverted, reversed or Averse way) in traditional witchcraft.
Such practices are legitimate Gnostic techniques employing behavioral-thought
modification as a means of unfettering the mystic from prior past conditioning. It is
for this very reason Paul Huson, in his book Mastering Witchcraft (1970), suggested
the witch recite the Lords Prayer in reverse and why such techniques are important
to Draconian and serpentine praxes. As such, the implementation of averse prayers,
inverted symbols or the counter-mass are not simple antisocial acts of rebellion
against the Church. In truth, they are to be regarded more profoundly to provide
any sort of efficacy to the user.
Inherent within the Profane is its implicit and explicit reflection: the Sacred. The
interaction of these two alien bodies of thought and their subsequent produce
should be considered of greater import to higher Gnosis. It is with this Iconostasis of
Blasphemy the sorcerer may free himself from the illusory world of duality. When

One Man's Blasphemy, Another Man's Faith: the


Nature of Syncretism and Dual-Faith Observance
by S. Draqonah
regarded as a vehicle of transmission, blasphemy becomes the agent of Free Will.
The Profane and the Sacred are constructs formulated by both stance and
perspective. One mans beauty may be anothers filth. But for blasphemy to be
more than a notion there must be two circles of opposing thought and belief, held in
equal strength, which forcibly interact. For it is only when the boundaries of those
circles, each held in full regard, are reciprocally permeated does the spark of ritual
rise to full and trasnformative spiritual conflagration. Thusly, the Mundane becomes
infused with the spectral vitality of Otherness.