Like the demon Baphomet, Abraxas is largely an amalgamation of various myths, usually involving a god/demon creator that is neither bound to the concept of good or evil, but outside the dialectic altogether. Unlike the myth of Abraxas, Santana's "Abraxas" album is an amalgamation of some of the greatest rock jams of all time. Which is why it is the fourth album I have added to my vinyl collection. It satisfies multiple requirements, including kick-arse album art. I remember just staring at this album when I was younger. It is my uncle John's favorite album, and although it was not in our family collection, he brought it over almost every weekend.
Simultaneously frightening and alluring, I spent many afternoons as an adolescent wondering just what the hell is going on in this scene. What is Abraxas? And what did it have to do with the music I was hearing?
“We stood before it and began to freeze inside from the exertion. We questioned the painting, berated it, made love to it, prayed to it: We called it mother, called it whore and slut, called it our beloved, called it Abraxas…”*
* (Excerpt) from DEMIAN by Herman Hesse (Harper & Row)
One conception of god neither good or evil, but outside of both parameters is the Gnostic god/demon Abraxas. Just a creator being, possibly evil, but certainly nothing like the Christian conception of a loving, personal god. The Zoroastrians and even the Hebrews also had sects that believed in a similar being responsible for creating us, but largely indifferent, or possibly even evil.
None of the metaphysical mumbo jumbo seems to have anything to do with the album, which contains the classics "Black Magic Woman" and "Oye Como Va." I bought it on date night at the new pie shop/record store that used to be a Barnes and Noble and is now the Rockford Public Library.