While I have written on facets of this topic before, I just came across two more interesting quotes from Marsilio Ficino regarding music. Ficino had suggested in his De Vita that a demon could actually carry music into the ear. He also proposed that the musician could “make” demons with his music.
While the later idea is ridiculous, it nonetheless opens that idea that demons can be summoned via music and could enter into a person via the ear or perhaps by affecting the thamus or spirit.
This idea is especially pertinent to the notion of Orpheus as a mage-musician as well as the contemporary celebrity as a musician-mage able to mold and shape the audience through induced possession.
As a side note, the idea of an “alien” organism entering the ear is a common theme in science fiction present in Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan and Alien: Covenant.
One of the more famous churches in Rome is a former temple dedicated to Athena or Minerva, which has been converted to a Catholic church titled “Maria sopra Minerva” or Mary over Minerva, celebrating Our Lady’s victory of the degenerate pagan goddess Athena.
While I had known that Our Lady was presented by early Christians as superior to the various goddesses that were venerated in the Mediterranean world, I was not aware of how great a contrast Our Lady has to the goddess Hecate–especially as read in the tradition of Neoplatonic magic.
Like Artemis-Diana with whom she is linked, Hecate, the goddess of the underworld and witchcraft was linked with the moon. She further had snake hair (a Gnostic symbol) and was adorned by fiery snakes. Finally, and most interestingly, Hecate was an image of the world soul, the “membrane” between the intellectual-spiritual world and the physical world. Thus, there is the connection with magic and witchcraft as those who mediated the power of Hecate could mediate between the spiritual and physical world, summoning demons and powers.
As a result, Hecate is a demonic mediatrix, a diabolical mockery of Our Lady.
Finally, it is weird how common the image of the veil or membrane between the spiritual and physical world is in everything from faerie tales with magic mirrors (remade by Walt Disney); to the Early Modern Chinese novel, The Journey to the West, to the poetry of Percy Shelley; to Stephen Spielberg’s 80s film, Poltergeist.
In fact, Hecate’s function sounds a lot like the screens of electronic devices that mediate the demonic world of the internet into our homes.
Our Lady of Guadalupe, Pray for us.
Marsilio Ficino famously writes in his book of natural magic De vita libri tres, “music is almost nothing other than a spirit [i.e., a demon.” This quote is especially interesting considering some music’s origins in shamanism and possession and the relationship between the contemporary music industry and occultism as well as how music has served as a catalyst in the recent mass shootings. Finally, many exorcists have noted the music can be a source of demonic infestation. One should thus be careful what he or she listens to.
One of the dominant ideas of Renaissance Neoplatonism and contemporary occultism is the belief that that prior to Plato there was a tradition of magi that included Pythagoras, Empedocles, and Zororaster in which a theological tradition was passed down called the prisca theologia.
While one might readily dismiss this idea as ridiculous fantasizing, several professional scholars have written on the idea that these mystery teachings do, in fact, crop up in Aristotle.
The father of this tradition was allegedly Orpheus whose myth has a number of shamanistic and magic elements in it, including the following:
- A marriage that was never consummated with Eurydice, his wife.
- A serpent that stings Eurydice (a memory of the serpent in the Garden of Eden)?
- A descent to the underworld and power via music over the demons in the underworld.
- The failure to bring his wife from the underworld.
- The power to enchant nature and animals and plants to do his bidding via ritual music.
- The creation of pederasty and sodomy (as possibly a cultic ritual) after failing to retrieve his wife.
- His own death and dismemberment and prophesied future resurrection by women who desired him (human sacrifice?)
All of these elements would later serve as the basis of later Western magic up until the present day.
Interestingly, in French cave paintings, this “Orpheus” shaman shows up as a shape changer (possibly a constellation) associated with animals and phallic activity as well as music (I could not find the cave painting of the musical shaman).
We be worshiping Isis up in here
I just came across an interesting tidbit on Gnostics: apparently the heretical Christian sect, engaged in “the recitation of communal exercise…meant to produce mass ecstasy.”
I had previously believed that the only people engaged in ecstatic chanting and singing in the ancient world would be found at Dionysian rituals, but it is interesting to note that the Gnostics engaged in such activity as well.
What is important in all of this is that the Christians were NOT engaged in singing hymns that were meant to produce ecstasy as some charismatic Christians claim today. Rather, it was the pagans who summoned spirits to put them in ecstatic trances.
This is not the method of singing to the only Ultimately and Ever-living God.