The blueprint for musicians (particularly guitarists) to make a pact with the Devil at the crossroads is laid down in the lore of the voodoo doctors from the American South.
Essentially you trade your immortal soul for fame and fortune.
This voodoo lore from the Southern States was around before famed 1930s bluesman Robert Johnson reportedly traded his soul with the Devil at a lonely Mississippi crossroads.
For example, the notion of making a Devil’s bargain was sung about by such blues luminaries as Tommy Johnson (no relation to Robert) and blues pianist Peetie Wheatstraw in the 1920s. Both claimed to have had dealings with the Devil.
The notion of making a pact with the Devil has many parallels in European folklore. Although some say the Devil in blues music is a folk memory of the voodoo spirit Papa Legba.
So how do you go about selling your soul to the Devil for fame and fortune?
The old voodoo lore recommends you do the following:
- Take your guitar or other musical instrument, along with a Black Cat Bone, to a lonely crossroads at midnight. (For the Black Cat Bone, DON’T hurt cats, use a dried chicken bone and paint it black).
- Sit down at the crossroads and play your best riff on your guitar.
- As you do so, think and wish for the Devil to come.
- By the by, you will hear music in the distance. Quiet at first. But getting louder as the musician comes close.
- Do NOT look around. Just keep playing your guitar.
- The invisible guitar player will eventually sit down beside you and will play in unison with you.
- After a while, you will feel something alive tugging at your guitar. Do NOT try to hold on to your guitar. Let the Devil take it. And keep strumming with your fingers as if you still had the guitar in your hands.
- Soon the Devil will hand you his instrument to play and will accompany you on your guitar. Again you’ll be laying riffs in unison.
- After a time, the Devil will grab your hands and squeeze them. Don’t be afraid.
- Finally, he will take his guitar back, and will give you your guitar back. Keep playing and do NOT look around. The Devil’s music will become fainter and fainter as he walks away into the distance.
- When it’s all quiet, you can go home.
As a result of your meeting with the Devil, and the trading of guitars, which symbolises the trading of your soul, you will be able to play anything you want to play on the guitar.
And you’ll be able to do anything you want in this world. And anything can be yours if you put your mind to it.
But you have sold your eternal soul to the Devil. And you will be his in this world, and the world to come.
So should you take the plunge and sell your soul to the Devil?
Well, in truth, this lore about the Devil’s bargain has a deeper resonance. It may well have its roots in European witchcraft and Devil lore.
In Britain, for example, a prospective witch or warlock would commit to joining a coven (which were very secretive due to the threat of persecution) by ritually dedicating themselves to the “witch master”, known as the Man in Black.
This ritual involved the witch or warlock crouching down and touching the sole of their left foot with one hand, and their head with the other hand.
This meant that they devoted their whole self, their very life itself, to the Man in Black, who have symbolised the “horned one” of ancient British magical and religious belief.
So in truth, the idea of making a pact with the Devil has a deeper, secretive element to it – a long way from the popular notions about making a pact with the Devil would have us believe.
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