Devil’s Advocate


I have been fascinated for some time with what are commonly known as ‘demons.’ Why, you ask? Well I’ll tell ya.

It all goes back to my musings on Satan/Lucifer and how he (if pronouns even apply) got the reputation he has. First off, Satan and Lucifer really are not one and the same. Lucifer was, as most probably are aware, an archangel who is said to have lead the rebellion in heaven against Jehovah. The name Lucifer translates from the Latin as “light-bearer.” Lucifer was also a name for the planet Venus, which is often referred to as the Morning Star when it appears in the morning sky, a harbinger of dawn. (Venus’s orbit overtakes Earth’s every 584 days so sometimes it’s the Evening Star. For more on that, go here).

475px-Paradise_Lost_1

Lucifer as a fallen angel seems to come from a passage in Isaiah 14:12, which is actually talking about a Babylonian king, and doesn’t even use the word Lucifer. This parallels a Canaanite myth about the “Morning Star” trying to rise above the clouds and establish himself as a god, only to be cast into the underworld. Interestingly the story closely matches the passage in Isaiah. It seems to be this association with the ‘Morning Star’ (lucifer) that later writers conflate with Satan-Sataniel. The Lucifer myth was transferred to Satan in the first pre-Christian century, in such apocryphal books as the Life of Adam and Eve (in which Eve ostensibly gets to tell her side of the story),  the Armenian Penitence of Adam, The Slavonic Life of Adam and Eve, and others. It’s all very confusing and frankly it’s giving me a headache. There are many names for Satan or ‘the adversary’ in the New Testament, but not once is he called Lucifer. Suffice it to say it’s all done by later writers. I’m not even going to get into Dante here, as I don’t consider his writing to be religious texts in the same sense, but only fiction.

Fallen angels are not demons, and even demons have not always had such a bad rep. It wasn’t until the Middle Ages that the word demon took on its now ubiquitous meaning of inveterate evil, conjuring images of hideous, malformed imps bent on wreaking havoc and dragging you to hell, although earlier Christian writers had already reduced them to villiany, specifically Cyprian in the 3rd century CE described them in his On the Vanity of Idols:

They are impure and wandering spirits, who, after having been steeped in earthly vices, have departed from their celestial vigour by the contagion of earth, and do not cease, when ruined themselves, to seek the ruin of others; and when degraded themselves, to infuse into others the error of their own degradation. These demons the poets also acknowledge, and Socrates declared that he was instructed and ruled at the will of a demon; and thence the Magi have a power either for mischief or for mockery, of whom, however, the chief Hostanes both says that the form of the true God cannot be seen, and declares that true angels stand round about His throne.

I’ve previously mentioned Socrates’ dæmon, who advised him. At that time and in Neo-Platonic thought  they were seen as a sort of divine being, an intermediary between man and heaven. The new Catholic Encyclopedia says that the sinister meaning was ascribed to the term as early as the Greek New Testament, unsurprisingly, since the gods of the old religion become the devils of the new. The Hellenistic view was that they existed outside the person, which Philip Pullman used in his “His Dark Materials” books.

Socrates and his Demon
Socrates and his Demon by Eugène Delacroix

So how about that heavenly rebellion? The story is that Lucifer was told to bow before Adam and refused. Lilith, Adam’s first wife in apocryphal texts, when told she had to be subservient to Adam, had the same reaction, only she uttered the secret name of God and got away. (This is an old magical belief, that to name a thing is to gain power over it. The SFF writer Ursula K. Le Guin uses this device in her Wizard of Earthsea trilogy). Which kind of begs the question: How did Lilith know this name, but legions of angels did not? Be that as it may, a third of the angels were cast out of heaven, although to my knowledge no exact number is mentioned in the Bible. The magical text, the Lemegeton, or The Lesser Key of Solomon, lists 72 of these, some frightful and fierce, others quite mild and helpful who can be conjured by mages for various purposes. Some teach astronomy, arts, herbs, mathematics, kindle love or lust, while others incite wars and violence. Several are said to be hoping to return to the Seventh Thrones in a millenia. They come from the Powers, Dominations, and Order of Thrones in angelic lore. Although nowadays anything that resides in Hell (where I assume these beings hang out when not being summoned for various magical workings) is considered a demon, I don’t see them as being the same at all.

Personally, I’m more inclined to go with the Socratic vision of the dæmon. I tend to think mine is my muse, although I think I’m still learning how to hear him.

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36 thoughts on “Devil’s Advocate

  1. Fantastic post.

    I find it very interesting that in many of these kind of stories, the demons, angels, or gods were punished for trying to give humans some form of knowledge. It almost seems the big argument between them is that some think they should help us or at least give us the means to help ourselves, and the others have this totally hands-off, don’t get involved with humans at all mindset.

    The snake in the garden telling Eve to eat from the tree of knowledge.
    Prometheus teaching us about fire…

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    1. Yes, that’s what really piqued my interest in them. It’s as if Jehovah wanted humans to remain ignorant of everything, I was trying to find which one was responsible for teaching the art of cosmetics and make-up to women (there is one) but couldn’t find him again. The names they have are remarkable too, which I didn’t get in to. There’s one named Amy although it’s considered male, Andras (lots of guys named Andras now!), which I find a little puzzling. Many Christian societies, even into the 20th century had laws stating children could only be named after saints or biblical characters. How names of fallen angels got popular I have no idea 😉

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      1. I guess family and friends were getting annoyed at all having the same names.

        It was their way of shocking the neighbors. “I am going to name my daughter…Amy!”

        Gasps of horror follow… 😉

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  2. I myself always see fallen angels as tragic, rather than evil figures – those who succumbs to some sort of self destructive temptation, and frequently take others down with them. But I’m with DD and Gypsy when it comes to this idea of describing as “evil” those who want to obtain some kind of knowledge (not just a Judeo-Christian idea, evil – think of overreachers in literature, such as Icarus and Faust.) The traditional, monotheistic religions, though, are indeed the worst when it comes to punishing females for wanting to learn something. I’ve long thought that the whole idea of Original Sin is bogus – in the first place, ladies, have you ever in your life met a man who had to be tempted into eating whatever you had on your plate? Ever male I’ve ever met was all about “are you gonna finish that? Can I have some?!”

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  3. Forbidden fruit of course being sex 😉 And no, I’ve never met a man who needed any encouragement to partake of that. It’s all bs, but it sure made a handy excuse to keep women subservient and submissive. I’m gonna rock it with the fallen angels, the demons, the Watchers, the Nephilim, and all those bad boys.

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  4. *giggles* Must admit I’m probably equally as guilty of that, but I know what you mean, Mary. 😉

    Regarding the evil thingie…
    I came from a secular family so at one point decided to read the bible on my own. No, I couldn’t get through the whole thing. And I just remember finding Genesis so weird.

    What really raised my eyebrow is that God got all pissed that they tasted the apple. Now most theologians believe that is symbolic of sex, right? He demands that they now must put on clothes and casts them out of Eden. BUT, as He kicks them out, he demands that they go out and multiply.

    How are they supposed to multiply if they don’t have sex? And if He wants them to have sex and multiply, why make them feel all ashamed now about their nude bodies?

    I liked the snake.

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    1. What bugs me more than “apple = sex” is “apple = knowledge.” The idea that women should be punished for wanting know something, to learn somethingknew, or oh horrors wanting to know something FIRST, before the guys do, has seeped into the culture in hideously damaging ways that can only be rebelled against, never truly undone. That’s why I always say Women’s Studies programs ought to cover any damned thing that any woman wants to know.

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    2. That’s an interesting thought. What if it had been Adam who succumbed to temptation first? What would the consequences, if any, have been? Probably would have pinned a medal on him, as soon as he learned to make clothes to pin it to.

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  5. That’s one of the things that always baffled me, too. If sex was so evil and awful, why’d He design it in the first place? It’s so ridiculous.

    Most so-called religious people have never read the Bible either, you’re not alone 😉

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  6. Hi DD this was a very interesting read. First I was thinking Lucifer and Satan was one in the same until I read on and said ah that make sense. Sometimes I forget their role in history and look at them as one.

    Also I found this to be interested and juicy (don’t mind me everything was interested just pin pointing):
    The story is that Lucifer was told to bow before Adam and refused. Lilith, Adam’s first wife in apocryphal texts, when told she had to be subservient to Adam, had the same reaction, only she uttered the secret name of God and got away.

    I never heard of this until today. Also Lilith? I though Adam had only one wife which was Eve. Who is this Lilith chick and what happen to here to make Eve came into this picture? Who did my skin crawl when I read the section about “uttered the secret name of God”. I never thought he had any name beside God and knowing that he has another name made my skin crawl. So creepy in a weird way.

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  7. Hi Vanessa,

    You might be interested in these links.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Names_of_God_in_Judaism

    And here are some links on Lilith: http://witcombe.sbc.edu/eve-women/7evelilith.html

    http://www.lilithgallery.com/library/

    The mythologies about her are really fascinating. Unfortunately, the level of sexism in them are disgusting. Lilith demands to be equal to Adam and when that is denied she flies out of Eden on her own. Ah, but she can’t just be an independent lady. Oh, no- her desire for equality stems from the fact that she is EVIL. *eye roll* So evil, in fact, that all she wants to do is kill babies and rape men in their sleep. Riiiigggggggggghhhhhhhht.

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  8. Ayep. Plus supposedly the way to tell her apart from human women was to look at her legs, which were said to be really hairy. I don’t know if they mean gorilla-hairy, or just don’t look like she shaved recently. If I can find that one I’ll link to it.

    Eve was brought in after Lilith told Adam to go fug himself and took off for parts unknown. 😉 There’s a great deal out there that gets hushed up, or just ignored, by the church. Even the Jews had the Shekinah, the female counterpart of Jehovah, who was worshipped in Solomon’s temple along with Jehovah until the destruction of the temple. All of this gets glossed over or forgotten or buried because it doesn’t suit the church’s purpose.

    And “God’ is more like a job title, rather than a name. Yahweh, or Jehovah (YHVH) is his name, at least the known one.

    P.S. I did a short post on Lilith back last August. http://wp.me/phpuy-tM

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      1. Oh that’s awesome! I didn’t know about that book. He’s a very interesting person with all his interests (acting, photography, poetry). He turned 80(!!) earlier this year, about a week before Shatner did.

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  9. Ladies this is some juicy stuff. I am over here cheesing and reading. Like I am reading the gossip column, lol. Oh I was thinking perhaps he had more of a hidden language name. I know of Allah, Ja, Jehovah and etc but I was thinking something buried and really secretive that if it is said something will happen. You both can tell I watch too much horror and suspense. I have to come back and check out the link. I got to get going but will respond back in a few more hours! Thanks ladies yall rock!!!

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  10. I don’t think whatever name Lilith found out (variously called ‘ineffable’ or ‘secret’) is one that’s been recorded in the Bible or any apocryphal writings. From my understanding, it’s not something that CAN be written down, or even spoken, which makes it all the more interesting that Lilith happened to know it… 😉

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  11. “Ladies this is some juicy stuff. I am over here cheesing and reading.”

    Vanessa, I can’t tell ya how much I grinned at that statement. 🙂

    Juicy indeed. See, I’ve never been into celeb gossip. I don’t care who my friends are having sex with, let alone someone I’ve never met and never shall meet. Now, THIS is the kinda stuff that fascinates me.

    Oh, and you’re not off on the secretive name stuff. Lots of magical traditions stem in knowing the true name of something and thus, gaining power over it. The fairy tale, Rumpleskilskin, plays on that idea.

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    1. To name something is to establish dominion over it, which is why men fight for the right to name real estate, and also why they like their wives to take their names.(It’s hardwired into people – who among us hasn’t seen a little kid take a fancy to a toy and just yell “that’s MINE!” whether it actually is or not?) If Lilith knew God’s actual name and had the nerve to say it, it seems to me that this was a pretty openminded God to acknowledge her strength and let her escape, even if she didn’t have time to shave her legs. Losing Adam’s company was no great loss if you ask me; dude was a mooch and a blameshifter.
      The idea calls to mind that allegory I mentioned a while back – the one in which Margaret Atwood says that the writer’s struggle is akin to the bibilical story of Jacob wrestling with the angel – the angel wouldn’t give him a blessing until Jacob said his own name – because what good are you, as a person or an artist, if you aren’t willing to establish dominion/take responsibilly for your own identity?

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  12. Okay back. Yeah I don’t care too much about celebrity hook up it does nothing for me especially when I am not getting the hook up, lol. I rather have my own personal enjoyment oh yeah:))), lol, I am laughing but I am so serious. I like juice like this one and personal juice. I get my cup of OJ every time I talk to my mother. Love the family juice and best friend juice because it is real. Celebrity they are real but they are too out there for me and a bit boring.

    I am about to read some of the link both of you have post and comment on them….brb.

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  13. “I rather have my own personal enjoyment oh yeah:))), ”

    Vanessa,

    EXACTLY!!! 🙂 🙂

    DD,

    Glad you liked the links.

    Mary,

    You’re right. At every angle, he really comes across sounding like a ninny.

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  14. For us all to meet up one day and free trip to Prague (did not read free but interpret it that way 🙂 ) That will be great even if I had to pay for my own flight ;). The conversation and photo taking will be worth it! You all are a bunch of good people and that include you too Chazz :). I tip off my wig off to you to be the only man brave enough to endure our conversation.

    Talking about conversation “like their wives to take their names”. Yes most men like the idea but they do not always get it, lol. Please let me know when I am wrong. I know a lot of stuff but many time they are twisted from pieces and pieces of information I place together and than it is off or belong to another situation/person/topic. Still on the topic of religion it is funny how Muslim man are portray as being aggressive and dominant to their wive/wife and the wife purpose is to serve the man (which is not all true it depend what type of Muslim the person categorized them self in. If I remember right their are 6 or 8 different type of Muslim (popular group that is practice….there are a ton but 6-8 main groups). I am awful with numbers explained why I have not won the Lottery yet. But my brother and his family are Muslim and he explained this to me years ago the difference between the different type of Muslims. Even though he was not born into the culture he and his family have study it and practice it. The point I am trying to make is in Muslim community the wife does not have to take the man last name if she choose not to. She can keep her maiden name, but the children must take the husband last name. She does not look frown upon or is shame. That is her decision. I can not comment on obedient, lol, because they both have their own minds. A few other Muslims I have met through Mass and group meetings (I love all religion and people) some where very obedient and listen to their man and others express themselves very well.

    P.S. Mary I like your comments.

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  15. Mary J,

    Now that would be a hoot! Love it! 🙂

    Vanessa,

    So glad you’ve joined our little group. Love how in a second it can go from silly to serious and then back again. So many great discussions. And I truly appreciate the amount of respect here for others’ points of view.

    And yeah. Second you on Chazz. Where is he? Waves to him, wherever he might be…

    Okay DD, start working on Prague… 😉

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  16. I am happy as well. I must admit I am not the brightest bulb in the bunch but I like learning something new each day and socializing. I never felt anything less from anyone of you, got criticize, or looking down by not knowing or understanding in total. I too appreciate the amount of respect we all have on each other blogs for others’ points of views. I must second that! Okay I am getting teary eyes. I need to write my blog, chat a little, go back to the tailor, and cook dinner. Ladies and Chad I hope you all are having a great day!

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    1. Thanx startingover – I think I can speak for the gang when I say we love having you “here”! Don’t sell yourself short – you’re plenty smart, IMO. I pruposely said men “like their wives to take their last names,” b/c you’re right, they don’t always get their way and the good ones learn to live with it, as my husband has! He really wanted me to change my name when we got married, but I just didn’t think it was fair, and over the years he’s realized that I’ve watched his back longer, and more carefully, than a lot of wives who changes their names b/c it’s the style, but don’t think twice about engaging in selfish behavior that’s bad for the marriage.

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      1. Mary,

        I also wanted to point out that I chose to take his name. He didn’t even ask me. I wanted to. Whereas my sis chose to keep her maiden name.

        I think that’s the great thing about today. People can make the individual choice.

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      2. Oh totally Gypsy – the significant thing is having the right to exercise the choice. My niece just got married and has opted to rock it old-skool, taking her adorable new husband’s name. The most interesting aspect of this, to me, was when my 81-y.o. mom, an old-school Catholic lady if ever there was one, confided in me “geez, I really thought she’d keep her maiden name.” I remember the days when she told me I was nuts for even considering such a thing :D!!

        p.s. to Chazz – I concur with my girlfriends here – you are getting a point of view that weaker men couldn’t dream of, and we’re glad to have you here!

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  17. Vanessa,

    Not the brightest bulb?? Are you kidding me? You’ve never, ever come across that way. And besides, people in general just have different areas that they are more knowledgeable in. Put me in a room with mathmaticians and you might as well stick the dunce cap on me!

    “I like learning something new each day ”

    Which means you are a VERY bright bulb. That’s the attitude that enriches people…

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  18. And I must add it’s great insight since he want to be a writer. If more male writers really, truly listened to and got to know various women, we’d stop seeing so many of those darn, one.dimensional cliche female characters that drive me absolutely batty.

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    1. It’s really, really hard to write from the other gender’s point of view; even otherwise excellent novellists struggle with it. You know who did a great job, recently? Junot Diaz in “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.” He does some chapters from the POV of the narrator’s sister and mother that are razor-sharp and heartbreaking at the same time. Also bilingual. DUUUUDE!

      I invented a male character (my MC’s brother) that Rosie was really taken with – so much so that she wanted me to write a chapter from his POV. I told her I just plain couldn’t begin to put myself in the guy’s shoes – hopefully if this story goes anywhere, readers will enjoy thinking about what it is like to be his sister, or his daughter, or his niece…

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  19. I believe strongly that a writer who has the skill to create a living breathing female on the page can create a living, breathing male and vice versa if they wish. Some writers go back and forth depending on the story, others tend to prefer writing one gender over the other.

    The vital thing is to sit down and create a three-dimensional person. The important thing is to focus on the character, rather than get hung up on the gender. It’s important to ask, “what would my character think in this situation? How do they feel? How would they react?” Men are individuals, Women are individuals.

    Know thy character. 😉

    Now i’m curious about your story! Good luck with it! 🙂

    And thanks for the book rep. I think I’ve read something from him before.

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