|“||This little puppet of shit and bones shall be my royal carriage so I may grow to manhood and rule this land.||”|
— The Devil describes his Vessel's purpose.
A Vessel – also referred to as the Sacrificial Lamb or the Child of Serpent and Man – is a human born with a spark of darkness in his heart in order to accommodate his body to a pure evil spirit such as the Devil. The Vessel is one of the necessary means for the completion of both the Grand Rite and the subsequent Great Terror.
|“||A shriek, a scream, a cry of mirth. All leading to the Dark Lord’s birth.||”|
— Season Two promotional rhyme.
The Vessel is a young man conceived with love but brought up in darkness, deprived of the opportunity to have a name until the moment of baptism, when he is ritually killed by drowning in the river of Hell-blood obtained by Witch Pox victims, and rises as the incarnation of Satan. As he is possessed by an obscure fragment of the Devil, even before the end of the Grand Rite and his full merger with the Devil, the child has remarkable supernatural abilities that manifest themselves in bloody and violent ways especially when angered.
The Dark Baptism
|“|| Boy:"Why must I be baptized?" |
Countess Von Marburg: "So that you can be born again. More powerful than before.
— Describing the benefits of the Dark Baptism.
A unique element of this young creature is its lack of a proper first name as if it was an attempt to dehumanize him since the first cry. Deprived of a human identity, the child is brought up in the name of black magic and participates in Sabbaths and other ceremonies held by witches – as can be seen by the drawings of "Little John." At the right moment, the child receives the Dark Baptism of fire and blood, hosting in his little body the essence of Satan himself. As believed by Countess Von Marburg, this baptism seals the union between body and spirit in the Vessel, as well as enabling him to grow in power and strength; allowing the human body to host such a strong essence as that of the Devil.
Throughout the Salem Series
Throughout history, different Vessels were born within witch hives, but only two of them are known by name. Sebastian Von Marburg was conceived by the witch that is currently known as Countess Von Marburg, unspecified centuries before 1692 – roughly two hundred years prior – in order to be sacrificed in the name of the Devil and become the flesh and blood of the Evil One. Owing to unspecified events, the Grand Rite was prevented and the young man grew up normally like a born witch.
Years later, an out-of-wedlock male child was given birth by a young Puritan woman, Mary Walcott, in despair for her lost lover, John Alden. By deception, she was educated in the diabolical arts of witchcraft by the Essex witches; in particular, by her servant and friend, Tituba. While Mary believed her son to be dead, he was raised in secret for seven years by the Essex Hive with the aim of making him the Devil's Vessel at the end of their Grand Rite. As the thirteenth sacrifice is made, Mary Sibley discovers the truth about her son and the Essex Hive allows the Samhain to spend some time with the child, in order to create an emotional bond helpful during the last phase of the sacrifice, when the child will be sacrificed with great love. The child, despite the loving care of his mother, assumes disturbing behaviors such as hiding dead birds in his bed or torturing George Sibley with needles and pins. He's even scolded by Tituba who doesn't want him to be discovered by his mother in committing mischief. The child also draws disturbing scenarios of dismembered bodies, orgies, and cruel sacrifices.
As soon as the Countess Von Marburg discovered of his existence, she enacted a kidnapping plan with the purpose of being the one preparing the Vessel for the Master. Despite the vain attempts implemented by John Alden and Cotton Mather to exorcise the child, the Countess succeeded with the help of Anne Hale in taking the child at the crags and killing him by drowning him into the river of Hell-blood, under the eyes of a bewildered Mary Sibley. The Devil, then, walked on Earth in flesh and blood, and the very next day started with his destructive plan, beginning with the punishment of the little circle of witches present when he woke up with a following escalation of killings to bring the Apocalypse.The Dark Lord became accustomed without too much difficulty to his human body, aware of the pleasures and pains that it could experience. However, the Vessel received a fatal attack by Mary Sibley, who dismembered the body by resorting to an old and drastic form of magic that also took the lives of the remaining Essex Elders.
Although the body was re-assembled and sewn by Tituba, and infused with new life, soon the child's body was broken from the inside; thus a fully adult and naked body covered with blood came out of it. This was possible through the voluntary sacrifice of a pure soul, that of Cotton Mather entered Hell through a Hell Gate. Shortly after reaching adulthood by Cotton Mather's sacrifice, the Vessel made up of John Sibley's body was stabbed to death with an Angel Dagger by Anne Hale, who is willing to use as a Vessel in her Grand Rite the unborn child she stole from Gloriana Embry's womb, now growing in her own womb.
Rituals and Incantations
To Celebrate the Consecration of the Vessel
A poem set out by the Countess Von Marburg as an example to be used for the supreme sacrifice in which she explains the functions of love as a necessary prerequisite for creating the perfect vessel.
Incantation: "By my love, you were made. Now in love to return. By my love, offered up. In love's fire, ever burn."
Mentioned by: Countess Von Marburg
To Unleash the Devil on Earth
To consecrate a human body so it may host the Devil, witches must gather near the ditch full of hellfire, during one of the three nights illuminated by the Starry Messenger Comet, at the Witching hour (midnight). With a consecrated dagger they must shed their own blood and that of the vessel into a golden goblet, blessing this action with ritual words. Once completed this act, since all the ritual requires is an avowal of complete and total love at the moment of sacrifice, the Witch who began the Grand Rite must speak words of love to the vessel, who as a supreme sacrifice must be her own son, and then let him drown in the pitch.
Incantation: "By the eye of the Serpent which blazes overhead, the eye which flies in the sky but once a turning, see we are worthy, see we are ready and have prepared the pure vessel for you. This is the place of desolation, the dreaming sanctuary of the deathless flame. And from this open Gate of Hell comes the walking horizon of the other God-given flesh."
Used by: Countess Von Marburg
To Open the Gate of Hell
Once the last breath has left the sacrifice's body, it would become an empty shell and it will be ready to host inside the Devil himself, allowing him to live as a human being.
Incantation: "Open the Womb of Darkness, not in fear. Open the Gate of Creation, the path between world and time! Let the fire of Lucifer and Hecate's love burn the flesh of this child of serpent and man! Let the flesh receive the new word!"
Used by: Countess Von Marburg
|Sebastian Von Marburg||Approximately around the XV century (Sebastian is believed to be 250 years old) Countess Von Marburg has given birth to a child to be used as a vessel. Nullified the Great Rite, he grew up as a cradle witch.||Failed|
|John Sibley||Born of the love and long believed dead, John was sacrificed and inhabited by Lucifer after an unspecified period of possession, which reached its peak in conjunction with the approach of the end of the Grand Rite. He's currently the only known successful vessel.||Inhabited|
|"Hope Mather"||The fruit of the love between Gloriana and Cotton, who was violently torn from its mother's womb by the malice of Anne Hale, that is planning to carry on herself Gloriana's pregnancy and give birth to a suitable vessel for the Dark Lord.||Planned|
- Countess Von Marburg (to Mary Sibley): "Do you not think that the other Mary felt betrayal when she realized what God intended for the son he gave her? The Angel of the Annunciation failed to mention that she would end up weeping at the foot of the cross beneath her slaughtered son. Now, like that other Mary, you must look beyond the deceit and embrace the glorious gift. And what an honor to sacrifice one's own to such a cause. It's a sacrifice I sought to make many years ago with my own son, Sebastian. I would have given anything for that honor, for him as well as for me. Alas, it was not meant to be."
- — Wages of Sin
- Countess Von Marburg: "When the comet blazes overhead tomorrow night, little John will be baptized in the river of hell-blood and granted the infinite honor of using his mortal frame to bear his dark force."
- Mary Sibley: "No. No, I won't do it."
- Countess Von Marburg: "The choice is yours. Join us at the crags tomorrow and baptize him, allow our little prince to fulfil his destiny. Or I will bathe in his young blood as I have so many others."
- Mary Sibley: "Kill him and the Grand Rite is over."
- Countess Von Marburg: "For a time, yes. C'est la vie. But I am everlasting, unlike you, and when the Starry Messenger returns, it will be I who completes the Grand Rite."
- Mary Sibley: "So either way, if I do as you say, my boy dies."
- Countess Von Marburg: "He was only born to be a vessel. Do not deprive him or yourself of that honor."
- — Wages of Sin
- The Devil (to John Alden): "This little puppet of shit and bones shall be my royal carriage so I may grow to manhood and rule this land."
- — On Earth as in Hell
- Countess Von Marburg (to Mary Sibley): "Ah, birth. Such terrible hard work. We're all born howling and then must rest. But what dark dreams of our new world flicker behind those perfect lids? Shall I give you a glimpse? For two thousand years, they have tried and failed to build the Kingdom of God here on Earth. Now it is our turn. Under our Dark Lord's dominion, Salem will prosper and grow, becoming a mighty nation. And it all begins here, with this little boy!"
- — The Witching Hour
- Mary Sibley: "I had a dream, too, once. A dream of a new birth of freedom. But my sleep produced only a monster."
- Countess Von Marburg: "A monster is but a god seen through fearful eyes."
- — The Witching Hour
- The Dark Lord: "You refused the boy I was. What say you to the man I've become?"
- Mary Sibley: "I've already birthed one monster who would be God. That is quite enough for me."
- — Black Sunday
- The Dark Lord (to Anne Hale, whilst dying): "Why, after all you've done to secure my victory?"
- Anne Hale: "Power. I've discovered mine. But don't worry. I'll bring you back. But I will be your immortal bride, not Mary. I already carry the child you will make your new home. And mine was an immaculate conception, as it should be."
- — Black Sunday
- John Sibley has grown for seven years without a true first name since baptism was also his death through the accomplishment of the Grand Rite.
- Seven is a number full of magical and esoteric connotations in Western Magical Traditions but is not known if it's a coincidence or if is it a prerequisite that the vessel must be sacrificed in his seventh year
- The Devil's vessel is designated as a male human being, a ruler of men who will bring the End of Days.
- In popular culture, influenced by the doctrines of the Abrahamic religions, there is a concept of an evil being known as "The Antichrist", designated as the Devil himself or as a son of the Devil and a mortal woman, a blasphemous version of the Immaculate Conception of the Christian religion. In the Revelation of St. John, a text included in the New Testament which is also known as Apocalypse, refers to the End of Days, caused precisely by this Antichrist, who will rise and will guide men by deception away from the Almighty and straight into eternal damnation. The theme of the Antichrist was taken up many times in both literature and in film adaptations, such as The Omen (1976).
- The vessel is considered the new Word Incarnate, a sort of messiah of the witches.
- Thanks to the sacrifice of a pure soul, the vessel can quickly reach adulthood.
- The vessel and his mother-bride are intended to celebrate the so-called "Royal Marriage," an unholy union to seal the ascent to a divine couple and celebrate the end of days.