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Can the Devil be a bringer of good luck? Yes, indeed, according to old European traditions. This devil -- known variously as Old Nick, Old Scratch, Old Split-Foot, and Der Teufel -- did not begin his career as the "Satan" (adversary) of Christianity and Judaism or the "Prince of Darkness" and "fallen angel" popularized by John Milton in his epic poem "Paradise Lost" (1667 - 1674).

The old Devil is a Teutonic woods-spirit, an ogre-like trickster who may desire to eat human flesh, but is often friendly to wood-cutters and footloose soldiers. In Germanic folk-tales like those collected by the Grimm brothers, he is usually described as living out in the woods with his aged grandmother who combs his hair to put him to sleep at night. Among Americans of Anglo-Saxon heritage, he is sometimes said to have a wife who quarrels with him.

In the area of Central and Eastern Europe comprising Germany, Austria, Hungary, and the Czech Republic, the Devil was never fully absorbed into the Christian mythos as Satan but remained as he had always been, a slender, horned, bearded, fur-covered half-man of the woods. Under the regional names Krampus, Schwarze Peter (Black Peter), and Knecht Ruprecht (Ruprecht the Servant), he accompanies Saint Nicholas on his rounds of gift-giving, originally on December 6th, but eventually on Christmas Day, December 25th. In the early part of the 20th century it was the custom during December to send humourous Krampus postcards to friends. The example shown here, dated 1932, contains a bit of verse in German:

Gruss von Krampus!

Wenn im Herzen brennt das Feuer
freut sich das schwarze Ungeheuer
The English translation, supplied by Liselotte Erlanger, is
Greetings from Krampus!

When the fire burns in the heart
the black monster rejoices

This old Devil was a spirit of untamed nature who loved music and in many ways resembled the half-human Greek god Pan. Like the West African deities Ellegua and Legba, he could be met with at a crossroads, where he would make pacts -- but unlike these deities, he was described in folktales an unpredictable ally, and a rather dim-witted foe who was easily and humourously outwitted. Coincidentally, he also resembled the Guatemalan crossroads deity Maximon, known as San Simon, for he took a special interest in the affairs of drunkards and gamblers.

Nowhere is the devil seen more clearly as a helpful ally than in hoodoo practices that employ the image of the Red Devil to guard one's property. It so happens that there is a popular American brand of lye (a powerful caustic chemical used in soap-making and to clear out drain pipes) that bears the trade-name "Red Devil." In past times, this product was sold in boxes bearing a very nice drawing of the devil; these days it is packaged in plastic jars and the devil image is quite simplified and reduced in size. However, the use of the product has not changed: to protect your property from intruders or from people who may want to lay a trick or put down powders for you to step in or step over, simply bury four unopened containers of Red Devil lye at the four corners of the property with the Devil images facing outward to guard the premises.

Wild animality, shown by the lustfully burning hearts lapped by the long tongue of dancing Krampus, was acknowledged as the Devil's domain. It was Krampus' job to punish children who had behaved badly during the year. Unlike the conventional Christian Devil, Krampus is usually depicted with only one cloven hoof, not two. Not having been a "fallen angel" he is never shown with wings. His tools are a short switch, with which to beat wrong-doers, and a length of chain. The latter emblem is ambiguous in depiction: Sometimes Krampus, as Saint Nicholas' servant, is chained; other times he chains those whom he intends to punish.

When Christianity overtook the native Teutonic religions, the Devil acquired some new attributes. In one of the Grimm's tales, "The Devil's Sooty Brother," he actually lives in Hell, where, for a term of work stoking the hellfires, he grants a veteran soldier a comfortable life in the here-and-now.

The handmade 1" x 1" painted clay Red Devil head shown above is typical of the Devil under European influence; although made in Peru, he has the short cow horns, red skin, and black goatee beard seen on many Devils from France, Spain, and Portugal. This Devil head is actually a tiny but detailed bead (pierced side-to-side, right below the horns) and is designed to be hung on a necklace.

The Red Devil plaster ornament at left was made in Peru and is one of a series, all different, that depicts a multitude of little Devils playing musical instruments. It is suitable for hanging on a Christmas -- or Halloween -- tree.

The 8" tall green devil figural candle shown at right depicts the transitional, half-Teutonic, half-Christian devil. He has short horns and carries the old pagan tool of a gig or trident (wrongly called a pitchfork by those who don't know the difference) -- but although he is wingless (hence, not of angelic origin), he is surrounded by the flames of Hell.

Figural candles like these are used by practitioners of occultism and hoodoo to obtain certain desires. Red devil figural candles are said to cause someone to burn with lust and are used in spells of sexual domination. Black devil figural candles are believed to drive unwanted associates away or cause harm to an enemy. Green devil figural candles are alleged to have the power to compel a debtor to repay money that is owed; they are also burned by folks who wish to have easy money without much labour.

Order a Devil Head Bead from the Lucky Mojo Curio Co.

Order a Devil Candle from the Lucky Mojo Curio Co.

Order a Musical Devil Ornament from the Lucky Mojo Curio Co.


Start on a Saturday. Get a green devil candle and carve the borrower's name on it along with the words "GIVE ME MY MONEY!"

On a piece of unlined paper write his name 9 times and cross his name 9 times with the words "GIVE ME MY MONEY!". Place the paper beneath an overturned saucer, and put the candle, which you have dressed with Pay Me Oil and Compelling Oil on top of that.

As the candle burns, speak out loud your demand for the return of your money or for the money that rightfully yours, in your own words, and close with the phrase:


Now take up the burning candle and saucer and retrieve the borrower's name paper from underneath. Hold the paper near the flame and say,

     Green Devil, this is my command:
     Until [Name] repays the debt he owes

     Compel him to feel the sting of his conscience
     Compel him to burn with the fire of remorse
     Compel him to taste in his mouth only ashes 
     Compel him to dream of the evil he's done
     Compel him to remember his debt to me 
          Whenever he thinks of money
          Whenever he hears the word "money"
          Whenever he sees money
          Whenever he touches money

     or it will be hot for you!

Singe the paper a little, then put it back under the saucer and pinch the candle out (do not blow it out).

For seven days, light the candle and speak aloud the commands as above. Then singe the paper, using the same warning words given above each time.

During this week, while the spell is working, you MUST also contact him somehow and ask for your money, firmly and confidently. If you will see him in person, wear Pay Me Oil and Compelling Oil on your clothes when you meet. If you write to him by mail, sprinkle Pay Me Sachet Powder and Compelling Sachet Powder and on the letter, drag your fingernails down through the powder in wavy "snake lines" and then blow the powder off the paper. If you write to him by email or speak to him by phone, your opportunity for contact will be less, but at least wear Pay Me Oil and Compelling Oil as you communicate electronically and be sure to state your command clearly and firmly.

If at any time during this period he makes a payment or repays the debt in full, thank the Green Devil for his aid and assistance, and consider the spell complete.

However, if despite your verbal contact with him and despite the magical warnings he has received with every singe of his name-paper, he still has not made any movement to repay you, you can add to the words and action of the magical command. On the 7th day of the spell, which should be a Friday, light the candle and speak your demands aloud, as before.

As the candle burns, speak out loud your demand for the return of your money in your own words and close with the phrase:


Pick up the burning candle and saucer and retrieve the borrower's name paper from underneath one last time. Hold the paper near the flame and say,

     Green Devil, this is my command:
     Until [Name] repays the debt he owes
     Compel him to feel the sting of his conscience
     Compel him to burn with the fire of remorse
     Compel him to taste in his mouth only ashes 
     Compel him to dream of the evil he's done
     Compel him to remember his debt to me 
          Whenever he thinks of money
          Whenever he hears the word "money"
          Whenever he sees money
          Whenever he touches money
     Green Devil, 
     Compel [Name] to run through the flames of Hell
          Until he falls to the ground at my feet
          With his arm outstretched
          And the money in his hand,
          Begging me to take it!
     GIVE ME MY MONEY -- or ***BURN***!!!

And let his name-paper burn up.

For more information on devil-related folk-magic, see these illustrated pages:


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Hoodoo in Theory and Practice by cat yronwode: an introduction to African-American rootwork
Hoodoo Herb and Root Magic by cat yronwode: a materia magica of African-American conjure
Lucky W Amulet Archive by cat yronwode: an online museum of worldwide talismans and charms
Sacred Sex: essays and articles on tantra yoga, neo-tantra, karezza, sex magic, and sex worship
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Freemasonry for Women by cat yronwode: a history of mixed-gender Freemasonic lodges
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Hoodoo and Blues Lyrics: transcriptions of blues songs about African-American folk magic
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The Lesser Book of the Vishanti: Dr. Strange Comics as a magical system, by cat yronwode
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Eclipse Comics Index: a list of all Eclipse comics, albums, and trading cards

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Candles and Curios: essays and articles on traditional African American conjure and folk magic, plus shopping
Crystal Silence League: online prayer request network; upload your prayers here and pray for the welfare of others
Gospel of Satan: the story of Jesus and the angels, from the perspective of the God of this World
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Yronwode Home: personal pages of catherine yronwode and nagasiva yronwode, magical archivists
Yronwode Institution: the Yronwode Institution for the Preservation and Popularization of Indigenous Ethnomagicology