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Devils and Demons

   

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"The Origin of Devils & Demons"

By John Godl

Modern culture, most notably the horror genre, has adversely impacted on our understanding of paranormal phenomena. There is a disturbing tendency to label events as Satanic, apparitions or other manifestations as emanating from demonic forces or Hell itself. This has led to the discredit of those who engage in serious study of the phenomena, as the origins of these cliché characters are rooted in quantifiable mythology not tangible reality

Since the dawn of time man has been frightened of the dark, by nature superstitious he fears the unseen presence of evil spirits and created a host of rituals to protect himself from them. Cultural evolution seeing the creation of infernal pantheons, devil's who undermine a God's will and lead humanity into sin and towards eternal damnation. Most ancient societies had evil entities in their religious dogmas some, such as: Satan - Lucifer - Beelzebub - the Demon and Devil form an important part of the Jewish, Christian and Islamic religions. Princes of Darkness, Arch Angels of Hell and their minions who oppose the will of respective deities, however the origins of these infernal beings are not so unholy. Judaism is the alpha religion from which the other two groups emerged, it is in many ways an anthology of ancient mythologies, as the Hebrews came into contact with their neighbors during their wanderings they absorbed many of their mythic legends, heroes and villains, Lucifer was one such entity.

Lucifer is Latin for 'Light Bearer' and a Roman deity associated with the planet Venus, which was known as Lucifer in Roman astrology before Venus, daughter of Jupiter, was promoted from Goddess of vegetation to Goddess of love and beauty with the planet renamed in her honor. He was called the 'Light Bearer' because Venus was the morning star, rose in the sky heralding the dawn. Lucifer is the son of Astraeus and father of Ceyx, Daedalion and the Hesperides. As a deity he came to personify the quest for light, variants of his name used for several Goddesses of 'light' including Artemis, Aurora and Hecate. He was by no means an evil force, history reveals Lucifer the antithesis of darkness and evil. The Hebrews never associated him with Satan, nor did the early Christians, the name had a positive connotation, was generally interpreted as meaning 'illumination' it was a popular name with the female equivalent Lucinda (Lucy) and synonymous with a person who searched for knowledge.

Lucifer was adopted by the ancient Hebrews and retooled Shahar God of the dawn, Jerusalem means 'House of Shalem' and has ties to the worship of Venus the 'Bringer of Light'. In the Christian context it was cleric Origenes Adamantius [185-254CE] of the early Greek Church who first claimed Lucifer was the Devil, a concept championed by Augustine of Canterbury in 7th century England based on mistranslation. Lucifer was equated with Satan by St. Jerome in his Vulgate which claimed he was the serpent in the Garden of Eden who tempted Adam & Eve to transgress. He erroneously translated 'Heylel', which means Venus in Hebrew, into Lucifer and an allusion to Satan when it wasn't. One of the reasons he equated Lucifer with Satan was politics, his hatred of an orthodox movement started in the 4th century by the Bishop of Cagliari, Lucifer Calaritanus, who founded a group called the Luciferians. By equating Lucifer with Satan he ensured that his heretical views on Christ's divinity and relationship with Jahova, etc, would be thought Satanic and not resuscitated.

There is no scriptural source designating Lucifer as Satan, nonetheless the Church taught he was an angel cast out of heaven because he wanted to take over the throne of Jahova. However it would be religious popular fiction which would cement Lucifer as another face of Satan, the 'Divine Comedy' by Alighieri Dante [1265-1321] and 'Paradise Lost' by John Milton [1608-1675]. It was at this period Mephistopheles entered the lexicon of Hell's overlord, the name a play on Lucifer, meaning 'not loving the light'. It has no scriptural basis, it's a medieval literary creation in the Faust novella which became an accepted part of Christian mythology in the same way Dante's view of Hell or Milton's view of Satan came to define the church position.

 The archetypal creature of darkness in Judeo-Christian and Islamic theology is of course Satan, the origins of Satan are complex but predates the theologies which defined him as the antithesis of their God of love and justice. Pre-Islamic Arabs were plagued by ferocious sand storms and hot stinging whirlwinds which could last days even weeks, often claiming lives. They considered these winds to be an evil spirit called 'al-Shairan' also 'Saitan' who haunted the Sahara, various rituals were performed to protect a tribe from it. Early Hebrews came into contact with Arabs during their wanderings and absorbed tales of this evil spirit into their culture, over time it was incorporated into scripture and translated 'Sathane' meaning 'Slanderer' or 'Adversary'. Judaic spirituality is different to Christian and Islamic, Satan doesn't feature as prominently. To ancient Hebrews Satan had a different meaning, like in the days of the Prophet Mohammed the term 'Jihad' meant a faithful persons struggle with inner demons, temptations and worldly distractions from spiritual enlightenment, so too did Satan. Who was looked upon as a metaphor for the inner struggle, his name denoted something one struggled with spiritually, figuratively not literally, later generations redefined the legend under external cultural influences including Zoroastrianism which provided concepts of good vs. evil duality. He came to represent the forces of darkness, pure evil. Jewish scholars taught he was responsible for sins recorded in the Torah, mans fall from grace in Eden and evil extant in the world. Like Lucifer the persona of Satan changed in the Christian context during the medieval period to give an increasingly reactionary Church more power, he was cast in the cloven hoof image of a goat, the pagan God Pan. Jewish, Christian and Islamic doctrines differ on what he is in the theological scheme of things, but North Africans still live in fear of the 'al-Shairan' or devil wind.

Another pre Judeo-Christian evil entity is Beelzebub, commonly called 'Lord of the Flies' he is regarded as the prince of evil spirits and Satan's chief lieutenant. However prior to his being expropriated by the Hebrews he was the patron God of the Philistines in ancient Palestine, a popular Arab deity linked to Ekron and Baal. Like other foreign deities the Hebrews took to and worshipped their clergy branded Beelzebub a false god, an evil entity which was embraced by Christian theologians as another name for the evil one.

A popular character in the religious realms of darkness is the Demon, the modern view of them is the infernal minion of Satan, tormentors of the dammed in Hell and largely a creation of the medieval Christian Church. As is often the case the origins of this mythic creature is outside the Judeo-Christian theology, it comes from the Greek 'Daimon' which means, depending on the context, "replete with knowledge" - "divine power" or "fate". The ancient Greeks believed there were good ones 'Eudemons' and bad ones 'Cacodemons'. They were intermediary spirits between men and its pantheon of Gods, Eudemons were considered guardian spirits who gave guidance and protection in Greek mythology some were deified heroes. Philosopher Socrates said he had a Daimon who warned of danger and bad judgment, it was more accurate than omens or reading the entrails of birds. Cacodemons led people astray, Helenized Jews introduced the concept and early Christian literature created the popular horror movie image.

The word Devil is a popular blanket term for the Judeo-Christian Satan, however it has no theological foundation, it's derived from the ancient Greek 'Diabolos' meaning "adversary or prosecutor" with no particular religious connotation, introduced into Christology in the medieval period which was a time of great theological inventiveness. The widely believed home of these pseudo evil entities is Hell, the original concept of an abode of the dammed has Persian origins, but was a place where disobedient wives were dispatched. In the Judeo-Christian context Hell means different things to both groups, the ancient Hebrews adopted the concept from the ancient Greeks 'Hades' which means 'the unseen place' and 'underworld' where the spirits of the dead repose without any moral judgment. The Hebrews translated 'Hades' as 'Sheol', like the Greeks the Hebrews referred to Sheol as simply an abode of the dead, a place of waiting for final judgment. The popular image of Hell as being a place of horrendous eternal torment is a product of Christian mythology, the works of authors such as Dante and Milton whose imagery has no scriptural basis but is widely embraced nonetheless.

These communal myths are products of retooled external cultural influences, rooted in age old fear. Western culture is permeated by ancient mythologies, modern horror movies and novels have legitimized it and ingrained it deeply in popular consciousness. Those who investigate paranormal phenomena or ponder claims which are made should do so with an open mind and weight of scholarship behind them, guard against notions of mythologic creatures and concepts modern clerics don't accept any more.

From: http://www.castleofspirits.com/origindevils.html