The Adept and the Imp

A tall tale of temptation, devilry and magic

The discerning reader will find a number of true Occult teachings concealed in this amusing story in a seemingly daft manner, as well as descriptions of the many subtle ways in which the powers of darkness tempt us.

"Look, Imp, up there," said the Devil to his favourite servant. The Devil—or the Prince of Darkness as he is not affectionately known to his myriads of minions the world over, and under—glared malevolently at the Imp, who half submerged in a malodorous swamp, was absent-mindedly engaged in pulling the fingernails from a sinner who had recently arrived in the middle regions of Hell. Shining from an immense distance, a thin beam of light stabbed into Hell. The light was so intense, that the Devil shaded his slanting eyes.

"There!" exclaimed his Satanic Majesty petulantly, pointing at the crumbling roof, "See?"
The imp looked up, and then quickly lowered his gaze, for his sight was only accustomed to the sulphurous gloom of the lower regions. Shading his burning, yellow eyes from the ray which had dared to penetrate the obsidian darkness of this dread domain, the Imp glanced fearfully at his master's frowning countenance.
"Not another 'simple little task', Your Magnificentness?" he asked in a quavering voice.

The Devil, or Beelzebub, Belial and Satan, as he is also known to his many enemies, smiled. It was not a pleasant sight. There is no humour in Hell, except the satanic laughter which erupts uncontrollably whenever a particularly pious cleric or really ambitious politician enters its gates. No, Belial's smile was not light-hearted. It was a malicious grimace which parted his huge, stained tusks to reveal a set of teeth which resembled nothing so much as a row of decaying tombstones. One scaly talon scratched his black and leathery cheek as he peered into the Imp's quivering face. "Imp", said the Devil, and his grin widened, "I want you to darken that light. I want you to destroy that light. It hurts my eyes."

"G-g-go up there?" C-c-climb all the way up there?" stammered the imp. "C-c-couldn't you go, Master? I am far too small and p-p-powerless for such a t-t-task."
"ME?" The Prince of Darkness' derisory laughter sent shockwaves reverberating around the walls of his grim fastness. "Imp," continued the Devil, "That light is the light of an awakened man. Whoever is capable of sending it so far would recognise me at once. I bear certain signs which no Adept would fail to spot. No, you will go up there. Armed with my great knowledge and infernal wisdom that light can be snuffed out faster than I depose disobedient dictators. And if you succeed I will give you many rich gifts, including—" he paused and stroked his cheek.

"Including—?" repeated the Imp eagerly.
"The skin of his Soul for your shoes," Belial snarled. "Now take this box of magic tricks and put out that damned light!"

The Prince of Darkness was not called the 'Old Serpent' for nothing. He was exceedingly old and exceedingly cunning. He knew every little and large corruption that had ever festered on the earth or beneath it, nor was there any vice he could not improve upon with a delectable twist all his own. Wherever light flourished he would draw from his arsenal of evil just the right weapons to corrupt, ruin and make barren that which might bring forth the smallest good. Now the yellowish-green glow in his eyes blazed up in violent hatred, his cloven hoof connected sharply with his servant's scaly bottom, and the reluctant emissary of evil found himself booted out of Hell.

Now, Beelzebub's arsenal included several devastating weapons: wealth, fame, power, sex, envy, vanity and greed, and the greatest of these was power. The weak-in-evil succumbed easily to the lure of fame and riches. Even the most saintly victims rarely needed more than three temptations to ensnare them in his net. And if they didn't work, pride always finished the job. Unfortunately he had overlooked one important fact: this was an Occult Adept—a genuine Master—who had overcome all temptations, otherwise he would never have revealed his great light. One small Imp could never overcome such a formidable opponent. Well—not unaided. . .

With that thought, the Devil drew a deep breath and the Imp, sucked into the magical tornado of his powers, was blown violently upwards. He rolled, he tumbled, he spun, tightly gripping his travelling bag of tricks; up through the mephitic vapours and mists, to the place and radiance of the bright star whose light had penetrated even into Hell.

Slowly the Adept awoke from his holy meditation, his iridescent mind still afire with the celestial glories he had witnessed in the highest Heavens. Yet a shining serenity remained within him as he opened his mild eyes to behold a suave—and immaculately dressed stranger—bowing obsequiously before him. Belial, who invented snake-oil salesmen even before there were any snakes or salesmen, had not missed a detail of his servant's impressive ensemble. From his hand made Gucci shoes, through the shimmering opulence of his Armani silk suit and solid gold Rolex wristwatch, the satanic salesman was every inch the epitome of 21st century power-dressing.

To the discerning eyes of the Adept, the Imp's Louis Vuitton bag of samples, looked somehow unholy and easily revealed the origin of its infernal contents. In place of the sharp suit and immaculate grooming, the Sage saw black hoofs, a blacker heart and a small sly face brimming with malignant cunning. His nose twitched involuntarily at the odour of brimstone that emanated from the hellish huckster, yet possessing a keen sense of humour which is ever the hallmark of the truly wise, he did not wish to disillusion even this child from Hell.

The place of their meeting was on a high hillside overlooking deep green valleys and shimmering rivers; a delightful spot rich in natural beauty, refreshing to the senses and far from the noise and bustle of towns and cities. At a short distance, surrounded by a grove of stately oaks, could be seen the humble dwelling of the Adept, whose flower-covered walls glowed in the light of the noonday sun. In this remote spot the Imp could display his wares without interruption. Blinking before the brightness of the Adept, and smugly imagining his real nature was well hidden within his barrier of flesh, the Imp introduced himself as a commercial salesman who wished to present the Adept with various samples.

"You have something to sell?" asked the Adept with a kindly smile.
"N-n-not s-s-ell, sir, g-g-gifts." The radiance of this man was altogether too unsettling and made the Imp's head swim.
"Gifts!" exclaimed the Adept, sounding pleased. "Really, you are too kind."
"B-b-but not from me," stammered the Imp. He had no intention of taking the blame if his master's plot failed. That's the sort of team-spirit that prevails in Hell.
"A g-g-good friend sent me."
"A friend?" murmured the Adept thoughtfully. "Does he know me? Where are these gifts?"

"Here," replied the Imp, pointing to his bulging designer bag. He mopped his brow and started to feel more at ease. He took in the Adept's gentle eyes, smiling mouth and trusting manner. 'This saintly simpleton will be a pushover', he said to himself. He would begin with small temptations. Absurd of the Prince of Darkness to give him such a big, expensive bag. A plastic carrier from Tesco with one, or possibly two temptations, would have sufficed for this gullible poltroon.

Now, magic as it is commonly understood by the vulgar and desired by the foolish, is mostly a matter of glamour, and this bag contained more thrills, enchantments, narcotics, spells, magic powers and elixirs than any would-be magician could dream of. Here were herbs from Hell that could produce false Heavens, potions to seduce the most reluctant lovers, rituals for infinite riches, philtres for fame and elixirs of youth; in short, everything that may poison the heart, corrupt the blood and degrade the mind, so adding to the population of Hell.

The Imp confidently uncorked a small vial of vanity and wafted it under the Adept's nose. Immediately the air was filled with pious voices proclaiming the Adept as the holiest man who ever lived, with one passionate voice singing out: 'O Mighty One, we, the countless multitudes of thy adoring servants, proclaim you Ruler of the Earth and the Heavens. Only command us and we obey.' And from every blade of grass, from the waters, from the air, even from a lone cloud drifting by, came laudation, until the whole world was united in one continuous paean of praise.

The Adept listened silently and smiled until the Imp thought: 'What a simpleton!' Adding aloud: "All the world acclaims your greatness! How your holiness dazzles them!"

But the Adept was chuckling softly to himself. "No, my smartly-dressed friend, I hear the croaking of toads, the chatter of monkeys and bleating of multitudes of sheep. Is this the gift of your friend? The hypocrisy of the world of men in a little bottle?"
Then the Imp, scowling in his black heart, grew uneasy, and watched in dismay as the Adept dispersed the flatteries with a wave of his hand.
"It w-was just an experiment, your holiness!" blustered the Imp.
"A somewhat childish one," retorted the Adept.
"I have other gifts."

Now the Imp released his master's tried and tested temptations from their bottles. False humility to turn the holiest saint into a sycophantic hypocrite. Greed, to bloat the flesh and warp the mind; vapours to distort the inner vision; unearned riches, followed rapidly by self-righteousness, bigotry, greed, envy and the empty vanity of worldly success. But the Adept only smiled in his calm fashion and the temptations disappeared in a swirl of oily smoke and were no more.

Now the Imp became desperate; he spread a veritable cornucopia of tasty temptations before his victim—every dish spiced with the most exquisite pleasures and seasoned with the aroma of a thousand forbidden fruits no small mind could possibly resist. The Adept remained unmoved. Only as a last resort was the Imp permitted to use the one temptation that never failed to overcome the most incorruptible victim. Revolting images of unspeakable obscenity streamed through his rancid thoughts. Dare he? Should he? He gave a sudden yelp of anguish as Beelzebub, who was of course watching from below, tugged magically at his servant's most sensitive parts in a fit of pique.

The Adept who knew the plot and the play, nodded sympathetically.
"In pain?" he asked solicitously. "Can I help you?"
"Just a t-t-twinge from an old wound," replied the Imp, writhing in agony. He shuddered and tried desperately to collect his scattered wits. He had come to corrupt, not to be saved. Beelzebub would have his nuts on a plate and degrade him to the lowest Hell if he even so much as thought of redemption.
"The air here is an excellent restorative," said the Adept kindly.

It was true. The scenery was now imbued with a brighter light that penetrated every leaf and flower; the very air sparkled with a vibrant life that quickened the mind and filled the heart with joy. The valleys below were garlanded in a silver haze, and from the distant forests and murmuring streams came the soft song of birds upon the wing. The exhilarating beauty only served to emphasise the profound gulfs between the illuminated Sage and the sterile pleasures of the world of men. Amidst these gentle sounds came the clear note of a solemn bell, and the Adept was amused to see the ears of the dapper salesman from Hell twitch uncomfortably.

The Imp was unaccustomed to such rarefied conditions and coughed into his silk handkerchief. The pure light burned his beady black eyes; it dazzled the murky thoughts that drifted in the void between his horns. The screech and howling, clamour, stench and disorder of his 'cosy' home were missing; this silent peacefulness painfully undid the stitches which held his ragged disguise together. 'Belial—y-you lousy bast—' he muttered. But his satanic master was in constant touch—in a very real way—and merely tightened his grip upon his servant's throbbing credentials. The Imp stared wildly into the kindly eyes of his victim.

"I—I have brought a friend." he croaked.
"A friend?" asked the Adept.
"A—y-young l-lady friend," the Imp replied. "She is behind that tree; shall I fetch her?"
"By all means," said the Adept.

The infernal messenger drew himself up to his full height of five feet two inches, and with a triumphant smirk introduced his master's secret weapon. She was so bewilderingly, delicately lovely that the Adept stepped backwards in surprise. A movement not lost on the Imp who bared his fangs in a leering grin and rubbed his hands together. Her diaphanous dress of shimmering silk clung deliciously to her long limbs and slender waist. A fillet of gold encrusted with priceless gems adorned her long, dark hair, framing two smouldering eyes which regarded the Adept with undisguised longing. She was like a heavenly virgin arrayed for her bridegroom, subtly holy yet enticingly sensuous. An adoring devotee ready to throw herself at the feet of any saint and transport him to paradise. Only her perfume; cloying and sweetly corrupt, spoiled the spell. That was the one flaw in the Devil's enchantment; the unmistakable seal his satanic nature had stamped upon his bait.

Now, as she swayed seductively, her sorcerous heart brewing elusive snares; pale eyelids veiling incarnadine sin, the Adept looked so admiringly at her that the Imp let out an inward roar of triumph. 'At last!' he gloated, recalling the nursery rhymes he had heard when he was an imp-in-arms on Beelzebub's knee; tales of desert hermits who'd had their very souls sucked out of them by lithe-limbed young sirens not half as hot as this sensuous beauty. You have to remember that the Imp was a complete stranger to virtue. Satan had one use for women and one use only, and it wasn't washing the dishes. The emissary of evil licked his lascivious lips with his leathery tongue and lost himself in visions of the Adept cavorting on a bed of writhing adders as Beelzebub's secret weapon sucked every last drop of virtue from his lily-livered soul.

But the Adept turned to him with reproof in his piercing eyes: "Young man," he said softly, "I do not know by what tricks you have brought this young woman here, but she is so very lovely, she must be protected from unworthy hands."

'The sly old perve,' muttered the grinning Imp to himself as he heard the remote laughter of his Master echoing his own thoughts. "I would most willingly leave her in your holy hands," he replied smoothly, "She will be only too eager to serve you in your—er—prayers and devotions."
"On the contrary," replied the Adept. "She will make an excellent companion for my wife."
"W—w—wife!" spluttered the diminutive demon. Outrage and alarm were blended in equal measure in his tone. The Imp was shocked from the tip of his curling horns to the soles of his sulphurous feet. This man was unholy. A fraud; openly revealing his weakness for a mate. Who ever heard of such an abomination? It was against all the rules of asceticism, hair shirts, chastity and self-flagellation which his Master had spent millennia drilling into priests and holy men the world over. The Imp was appalled and gaped at the Adept, unintentionally displaying his blackened fangs in the process.
"My love," called the Adept, "We have visitors."

Never before had the Imp beheld such beauty as the queenly woman who now approached them. The sorcerous charms of Satan's siren were utterly eclipsed by the golden sweetness of the Adept's wife. Here was no sly, cunning wench, revelling in her wanton witcheries, but a shining, open countenance, harmonious proportions and quiet strength and innocence. Her noble bearing gave her simple dress grace and queenliness. Her gentle glances caressed the mind with an indefinable peace; her voice quickened the very air with its lively gaiety, and her smiling blue eyes broke through the veil of the demon's cunning and exposed his black heart to the magic of her purity. The Imp ransacked every nook and cranny of his chaotic mind in a desperate search for some way to corrupt this woman; for it was well known in Hell that a really bad woman could turn the best of men into a monster of wickedness with a flutter of her eyelashes. But the warm love that this woman radiated was all-embracing and unconditional. There was laughter in her wise eyes, whose mild glances turned the Imp's blood to ice. Bitterly, he sensed the complete understanding between the Adept and his wife and knew he had failed again as she led the mincing succuba into the house.

Beelzebub, who had not missed a moment of the action unfolding above his dread domain, erupted in a volcano of rage until his tusks clicked and a sulphurous stream of the most malodorous curses burst from his writhing lips.
"My SUPREME succuba!" He bellowed. "The Queen of Seduction and Mistress of Unholy Vice degraded to a common kitchen slut?! Imp!" he commanded imperiously, "give him the greatest temptation, and if you fail, you can kiss more than your crown jewels goodbye!" The Imp got the message. He was to offer the Adept the world. Now this was to be a truly great magical operation; to create a comprehensive enchantment until the victim yielded. He was to offer total power over an entire world and everything in it. The Imp pulled out a huge, red bottle and launched into his best patter at breakneck speed in the hope that this temptation would finally sweep the Adept into Hell.

"My most expensive and exclusive sample. This bottle contains a combination of magical ingredients which will give you absolute control over every force of nature. "Here—take it!"
"No, thank you," replied the Adept.
"Just watch me, sir," continued the Imp. "I will first demonstrate some of the lesser powers, such as massive earthquakes, tidal waves, financial meltdowns, and a devastating world-wide flu pandemic that will—"

"—A most unpleasant bottle," interrupted the Adept, and stopped the Imp from uncorking the phial. The Imp stared dumbfounded at his victim and then realised that his eagerness had revealed his true intentions. He trembled from horn to heel at the thought of what Beelzebub would do to him.
"Only in the hands of the evilly intentioned," he blustered. "In y—your h-hands all would be well. Think of the g-g—good you could do!" He stumbled over the word as though it were an impassable obstacle to his vocal chords. "No more disease, no wars, no poverty, no death, riches and happiness beyond imagining for all!"
"And no evolution," added the Adept quietly. "Changelessness is as bad as chaos."
"B-but, most honoured sir, think! You could change the world for the b-b—better." This word seemed to give him almost as much difficulty as the previous one, but he struggled bravely on. "You could become the b-b-b—beneficent emperor of the Earth. You could change the destinies of every living thing! Worship and applause from every tongue. Obedience from every creature. Everyone would love you! Your k-k-kind, k—kindn, kindness would rule—"

"Stop!" cried the Adept. "Enough! The transient bubble of material power does not interest me; earthly thrones are the footstools of fools and crowns corrupt the best of men. Your bag contains some very strange samples which smell strongly of sulphur. Can your master really give all this world to me, and is it his to give? It is a very great deal to offer, and all to me?" He nodded his head solemnly and repeated softly: "Yes, a very great deal."

The Imp laughed complacently. "Sir, my master is a very generous man."
"But," continued the Adept, "has he acquired all this honestly?"
The Imp winced, then in a flash of evil cunning replied: "Sir, he may have obtained some of his, er—treasures—from thieves, but in a thoroughly honest manner."
The Adept, who appreciated the Imp's subtlety, sadly murmured: 'Alas, few men can resist the Devil's blandishments,' adding aloud: "Would you make me a thief, too? I will now reveal a little of MY magic, for you have offered me power, love, fame, wealth." He pointed below: "And all the world."

Then, in that high place, where the fragrant airs brought peace to the heart and joy to the mind, far from the chattering clamour of the world of men, the Adept challenged the Devil through his Imp.

Without warning, the hellish huckster found himself transported into a vast region illuminated by twin, dazzling suns whose radiant orbs filled all the sky. His bat-like ears throbbed painfully to the swelling sound of mighty symphonies never heard on earth; rivers of molten light swirled around him and stabbed his burning eyes and his infernal senses reeled as he began to tumble, hoof over horn, through region after region of such beauty that his black heart threatened to pop out of his gaping mouth. Finally, form vanished altogether, to be replaced by a golden space; an imperishable heaven of spinning stars, rushing galaxies and worlds without end; uncountable. Now, trembling in hoof and claw, he drifted, far beyond Belial's aid—a very small, frightened little devil, his infinitesimal cunning forgotten, his paltry bag of cheap tricks blown apart by the greater magic of the Adept, wielding such powers as only God can grant.

Now the symphonies dwindled to a low melody and a profound stillness entered these heavens; for the Adept was immersed in his paradisiacal meditation and into all that golden space stole a great peace. His mind soared ever higher and the poor Imp somersaulted after him amid a cataract of glories no mortal eye has ever seen. But all the bewildered myrmidon heard was a cacophonous thunder that tormented what remained of his scattered senses while his bulging eyes watered from the searing light that beat upon them. All the virtues of this purified cosmos could not sublimate this carbonised moth, who flailed about in abject misery, bewailing his misfortune and calling out for his master, Belial, to save him. But his Satanic Majesty could not hear; for the gulf between them had become so great that all the Devil's cunning could not solve the mystery of his servant's disappearance.

Meanwhile, the crescendo of peace had attained its perfect equilibrium; all the melodies drawn into one, crystalline chord of sonorous sweetness—each star an echo of its gentle power, until all that vast space was glorified with the divine name of God. But the terrified Imp was reduced to a drifting cinder in a boundless ocean of light, a pitiful mote of soot whose temptations had diminished to their proper proportions, still gripping his tawdry bag of cheap enchantments, utterly lost in the cosmic empire of the Adept's holy meditations. Then the spawn of Beelzebub beheld the activities of wisdom; for the Mighty Magician of God now meditated upon the purpose of Goodness and its radiance flowered before the Imp's astonished gaze. Through the luminous empyrean emerged a celestial geometry which harmonised all things into a divine unity. He beheld the spinning designs that order the suns and planets and beheld such riches that all the temptations of his master became the trash of a beggar's idle dreams. All this cosmic wealth so dazzled the eyes of the poor Imp that he became totally blind and, groping wildly for a footing, at last discovered a firmness beneath his hooves. At once the ethereal enchantments vanished and he found himself sprawled inelegantly at the Adept's feet, his immaculate suit in tatters and his cheap spells dropping to the ground from his nerveless fingers.

The Holy Sage opened his eyes and smiled at the distracted little salesman. "I believe you were going to sell me something?" he asked kindly. "Something about laying the world and all its riches and powers at my feet? And all—" he paused and smiled, "—Given in friendship out of the boundless generosity of your master's heart, so long as I am loyal to him and carry out his wishes. I wonder what happened to those that accepted your offer?"
There was no reply. The Imp had vanished. Only the faint odour of sulphur and cheap aftershave revealed the small salesman's sudden disappearance.

The Prince of Darkness glared at his quivering servant with a fiendish malevolence any self-respecting tyrant would sell his soul to possess. To his discerning eye, the regions through which the Imp has passed had almost straightened his deformities and imparted a sanctified odour which his master found extremely disagreeable. He glanced at the tattered Louis Vuitton bag and it's crumpled magic tricks that had followed the Imp's precipitate descent, now floating untidily upon the surface of a pool of steaming brimstone wherein his servant had so recently delighted to wallow.

"You're warped! Hopelessly warped!" he yelled, and hurled the poor wretch down into the deepest abyss of Hell.


If you have enjoyed this story you may also like Symphonie Fantastique—a most unusual book about devils and devilry by J Michaud PhD in which are revealed many occult truths. We also discuss devils and hell in our short story about a suicide-bomber—The Jihadi and the Jinn

© Copyright Michael Juste &
First published March 2014. Updated 5 March 2023.

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