Attis - The Horned One and The Devil

The Element Encyclopedia of Witchcraft: The Complete A-Z for the Entire Magical World - Judika Illes 2005

The Horned One and The Devil

Attis was the young lover of the great goddess Kybele. Their relationship is the subject of a lengthy and very complex saga:

Zeus lusted after Kybele but she disdained him. He attempted to rape her. She escaped him by transforming herself into a rock. In the throes of passion, Zeus ejaculated onto the rock. Even as a rock, Kybele is fertile. She conceived and bore a hermaphroditic child named Agdistis, who may or may not be an incarnation of Kybele herself.

Agdistis was immensely powerful and violent, perhaps expressing Kybele’s rage. The gods, led by Dionysus, decide to eliminate him/her. Dionysus transformed a fresh water spring into wine; Agdistis, intending to drink deeply of water got drunk instead and fell into a stupor. Dionysus, meanwhile, had collected strands of Kybele’s fallen hair and braided them into a rope, which he knotted into a noose and slipped over Agdistis’ genitals.

Abruptly Dionysus or Pan let out a bloodcurdling scream, jolting Agdistis awake. He/she jumped up, castrating her/himself. A river of blood poured forth from which a tree emerged, either an almond or pomegranate depending upon the version of the myth. (Sometimes the miraculous plant is also described as a red flower, perhaps a poppy.) A woman, passing by, picked the nut, flower or fruit. A virgin, she instantly conceived.

Her father, however, scoffed at the notion of virgin births and punished her by locking her in a tower, depriving her of food, attempting to induce miscarriage and starve her to death. Every night, however, Kybele slipped into her locked room, bearing apples and water as sustenance for the woman she had chosen to be her sacred vessel.

The young woman’s magical child was born on December 25th. His grandfather rejected the baby and so the baby was brought to the river and placed in a basket to die among the reeds. An alternate version suggests the baby is abandoned on a mountaintop. There are two versions of what happens next: either a mother goat finds the baby and rescues him or a shepherd finds him and brings him home, nurturing the baby on the milk of a goat who has just given birth. The baby is named Attis, derived from the Phrygian word for goat, attagi. Attis is the goat-god, although he is envisioned as the most handsome man on Earth.

That’s just the beginning of this very complex saga, which eventually concludes with Attis’ resurrection three days after his death, coinciding with the vernal equinox.

Attorney Pierre de Loyer, a contemporary of French witch-hunter Pierre de Lancre, suggested that the goat worshipped by witches was none other than Attis, the consort of Kybele. In his opinion, devotees of Kybele and Dionysus served as prototypes for the witches of his day.

See also Devil, Dionysus, Pan; BOOKS: Witch-hunters’ Manuals: Pierre de Lancre; BOTANICALS: Apples, Opium Poppy; DIVINE WITCH: Dionysus, Kybele; HAG: The Devil’s Grandmother.