Editor’s Note: As the magickal community is likely aware, our dear friend and colleague Donald Michael Kraig is currently undergoing some difficult health challenges. While Don works on his recovery, we will be sharing some guest blog posts from friends, authors, and other noted community figures. Please enjoy this guest blog post by Donald Tyson, author of a vast number of books, including The Serpent of Wisdom, The Demonology of King James I, and Necronomicon.


Donald TysonThere’s been a lot of chatter on social media recently about the use of occult symbols by prominent entertainers at major venues, such as the Superbowl Halftime Show and MTV’s Video Music Awards. Madonna was notorious for using such symbolism. More recently, Lady Gaga has taken away Madonna’s crown and outdone the Material Girl at her own game. Other entertainers, such as Beyoncé, Marilyn Manson, Lil’ Wayne, Ke$ha, Miley Cyrus, Jay-Z, Kanye West, and Eminem, to name but a few of them, have jumped on the bandwagon and incorporated esoteric symbolism into their stage performances.

What does it all mean? Should we be concerned about it? Are these performers members of a secret organization known as the Illuminati, as their critics claim? Are they Satanists? Or are they just attention seekers, using and abusing symbols they don’t understand for their shock value? You may think you’ve read enough on this overworked subject already, but let me give you a few thoughts from the perspective of a magician working in the Western traditions.

The first thing I notice, when I study the photographs and video clips of these popular performers, is what a small set of occult symbols they actually use. There are less than two dozen symbols that appear regularly. This is not very many, considering that Western magic has hundreds of symbols potent with esoteric meaning. The limitation on the number of distinct symbols used is probably due to the need for recognition from fans.

What are the symbols? The most common among them is the hand sign of horns, with the index and baby finger extended; the eye in the triangle; the eye of Odin (one eye covered by a hand), the hand sign of the number 6, with the thumb and index finger making a circle and the other fingers extended; the inverted cross; the so-called Satanic cross or alchemical symbol of sulphur; the inverted and upright pentagrams; the Egyptian eye of Horus; an eye set in the palm of the hand; skull and bones; the goat; the serpent; the lightning bolt; the figure of Baphomet.

If you consider these symbols, you will see that they fall into two categories: symbols of general use in magic, and symbols considered to be chaotic or Satanic. There is no attempt by entertainers to differentiate between these two categories. Many people regard any symbol connected with the occult to be inherently evil. Those of us who study magic know that this is incorrect. Just the opposite is true: no symbol is inherently evil—but the general audience for these entertainers does not know it. To them, occult symbols are mysterious, intriguing, powerful, and dangerous—everything likely to fascinate the mind of a teenager.

Popular singers have turned to occult symbols for shock value because they have exhausted the possibilities of sex. They can go no further with sexual suggestiveness unless they have actual sex on stage. They most look elsewhere for something that will spark controversy, and they find it in the occult. This is unfortunate, since that occult symbols have a more profound meaning that is debased by their exploitation. But no one should assume that the entertainers who abuse these symbols know what they are doing, or that these individuals belong to the Illuminati or any other serious occult current.

Our thanks to Donald for his guest post! Visit Donald Tyson’s author page for more information, including articles and his books.

More information on Donald Michael Kraig and how you can help can be found at the Heal Don Kraig Facebook group.

Written by Anna
Anna is the Senior Consumer & Online Marketing Specialist, responsible for Llewellyn's New Worlds of Body, Mind & Spirit, the Llewellyn Journal, Llewellyn's monthly email newsletters, and more. In her free time, Anna enjoys reading an absurd number of books; doing crossword puzzles; watching ...