Let me set the scene for you. A darkened room lit only by candles. Clove incense fills the air. Inkubus Sukkubus’ music blares from an unseen speaker. You raise your athame high above you and invoke Nyx and Hekate. Tonight is the dark moon, their most sacred time of the month.
To some, this scenario is 100% taboo. Invoking deity with an athame (yes, I have met those that have a HUGE problem with this). Use of stereo in circle (goodness, didn’t you know you’re not suppose to use electronics in circle? lol). Invoking “dark” deities, and most taboo of all, magickal workings being performed during the dark moon.
To others, this entire makes complete and logical sense. Candle light and clove incense always get me in a magickal mindset. Inkubus Sukkubus is a fantastic Pagan (and Goth) band, and I frequently use their music for my group sabbat circles. I use the athame for invoking everything. I very rarely use wands. Hekate is a goddess of the dark moon, so the timing makes sense for her. Nyx is the goddess of the night, so invoking her during the nights when the moon’s power holds the least sway, when it is truly night, also makes sense.
No matter the view, if you’ve ever held a ritual even close to this, you’ve tasted Dark Paganism. If you’ve ever celebrated Samhain in the dead of night, and honor the Dark Goddess and those that have gone before, you’ve tasted Dark Paganism. But what is Dark Paganism?
According to author John J. Coughlin, Dark Paganims is a combination of one or more of the following definitions:
- A Pagan movement within modern Paganism working to reclaim the dark side of the light/dark polarity that is often ignored thats to the idea in Judeo-Christian religions that dark=evil.
- The use of dark or Gothic imagery in ritual
- Paganism which honors dark deities such as Sekhmet, Kali, the Morrighan, Hades, Persephone, Hekate, Set, Anubis, Macha, Babd, Cerridwen, etc whom are associated with war, death, witchcraft, the dark moon, the underworld, etc.
- “A from of Paganism that is attuned with the internal or ‘dark’ school or approach to spirituality often considered a Left Hand Path.”
(These definitions have been provided in multiple articles by Coughlin. His website is http://www.waningmoon.com/darkpagan/ and many of his articles are located there).
My personal path combines the second and third definitions, so its no wonder Samhain is my favorite Sabbat! But then again I’m also part of the Gothic subculture, and I’ve loved Halloween for as long as I can remember.
Dark Paganism can also include vampirism and the Vampiric faith, blood magick, and necromancy. For some it also includes darker sex magick that may have bdsm-like influences (often for energy raising, healing from any kind of abuse, etc).
Dark Pagans, unlike many other Pagans, aren’t afraid that others will associate their use of skulls, athames, and dark gods to devil worship. They don’t really care what others think. They also aren’t part of the group of pagans who think all paganism should be safe and happy. We know that some magick is dangerous, and that paganism can be scary. But quite a bit of what people find scary (i.e. death, skulls, cemeteries, etc) is very spiritual and beautiful in our eyes! We also don’t shy away from working with darker herbs like belladonna, wormwood, deadly nightshade, etc.
My personal path includes the worship of many dark deities, especially Sekhmet, Anubis, The Morrighan, Nyx, Hekate, Hades, and Persephone. I perform my rituals almost exclusively in the dead of night. The exception would be occasionally Alban Eiler (Spring Equinox), Midsummer, Lughnasadh, and usually Mabon. I love workings for the dark moon, and its one of my favorite (and most accurate) times to do divinatory work. My path includes blood magick, vampirism (I’m actually a Sanguinarian), bdsm-like sex magick whenever I include a partner in my sex magick, and necromancy in the way that I do call on the dead during Samhain, memorial rites, and many other times of the year. For years I’ve prominently displayed a ceramic skull on my altar to symbolize my ancestors, and when not working with individual deities, I call on the energy of the Dark Mother and the Dark Father. Even my tarot deck is darker, featuring Vampires and Gothic imagery. Honoring my menstrual cycles also goes hand in hand with honoring the dark moon. And I’m not afraid of the image of the traditional Witch. Somedays I even proudly embrace the stereotype.
- Goth Craft by Raven Digitalis
- Shadow Magick Compendium by Raven Digitalis
- Nocturnal Witchcraft by Konstantinos
- Gothic Grimoire by Konstantinos
- articles by John J. Coughlin
Here are some pictures of my tarot deck. The imagery is very detailed and just stunning:
The Emperor and The Empress:
Seven of Knives, Nine of Knives, Daughter of Knives: