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Devils and Demons

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Jenny
41477.  Thu Dec 22, 2005 3:55 pm Reply with quote

Demons, of course, are not to be confused with daemons - see the other thread for those.

I started to wonder where the concept of the Devil came from.

In earlier religions, God was a morally neutral manifestation of Ultimate Reality - the source of All That Is regardless of whether humans found that to be good or evil from their point of view. There was thus no schism in which the divine was divided into good or evil powers, no angels or demons.

Margaret Murray, in The God of the Witches, explains the development of schisms as being the result of political upheaval.

Quote:
In the more primitive cults the deity is in himself the author of all, whether good or bad. The monotheism of early religions is very marked, each little settlement or group of settlements having its one deity, male or female, whose power was co-terminous with that of its worshippers.

Polytheism appears to have arisen with the amalgamation of tribes, each with its own deity. When a tribe whose deity was male coalesced with a tribe whose deity was female, the union of the peoples was symbolized by the marriage of their gods. When by peaceful infiltration a new god ousted an old one, he was said to be the son of his predecessor. But when the invasion was warlike the conquering deity was invested with all good attributes while the god of the vanquished took a lower place and was regarded by the conquerors as the producer of evil, and was consequently often more feared than their own legitimate deity.

In ancient Egypt the fall from the position of a high god to that of a "devil" is well exemplified in the god Setekh [Seth or Set], who in early times was as much a giver of all good as Osiris, but later was so execrated that, except in the city of his special cult, his name and image were rigorously destroyed.*

* As the peoples of the arid Upper Egypt, worshippers of Seth, were united with the Nile-dwelling adherents to Osiris and Horus, it was necessary for some resolution of the religious conflict to take place. In some places, the divine twins Horus and Seth were worshipped together as one god with two heads. However, Seth eventually came to be regarded as inferior and evil but remained a representation of the monistic divine principle. The latter solution better explained the continual conflict between the forces of good and evil, and so foreshadowed later dualistic religious systems.


Although not all anthropologists agree with Murray's view of her source material insofar as her thesis about the persistence of paganism goes, this seems to me to be a very likely scenario for the development of the character of 'the Devil'.

 
grizzly
41485.  Thu Dec 22, 2005 4:19 pm Reply with quote

it would certainly be a very practical solution to the philosophical problem of evil

 
Mostly Harmless
41494.  Thu Dec 22, 2005 6:59 pm Reply with quote

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Last edited by Mostly Harmless on Sun Jan 08, 2006 4:26 pm; edited 1 time in total

 
JumpingJack
41503.  Thu Dec 22, 2005 8:00 pm Reply with quote

Fascinating stuff.

I would like to know:

(a) why anyone wanted to curb robust sexuality in the first place

(b) why this idea caught on, given how enjoyable* it is.





I mean, it's not for me, but for a friend...

 
Jenny
41510.  Thu Dec 22, 2005 10:22 pm Reply with quote

I think the answer to (a) is that if you can control one of the most powerful urges people have, you have a lot of power over them, and the answer to (b) is guilt, as a consequence of the effort put into gaining that control.

 
Tas
41522.  Fri Dec 23, 2005 4:25 am Reply with quote

I think it is one of the few things that Dan Brown got right, in the D* V*n*i C*d*, over the Church usurping various holy days and then spent time in converting pagan ideals into sins and evil. Old women with herblore became witches, the horned god became the devil, celebrations involving anything sexual were deemed to be evil and sinful and so on.

:-)

Tas

 
Mostly Harmless
41527.  Fri Dec 23, 2005 5:05 am Reply with quote

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Last edited by Mostly Harmless on Sun Jan 08, 2006 4:26 pm; edited 1 time in total

 
Tas
41530.  Fri Dec 23, 2005 6:01 am Reply with quote

For the best Demons and Devils, read Bad Omens by Pratchett & Gaiman. I re-read it periodically, and still makes me laugh out loud!

:-)

Tas

 
Jenny
41611.  Fri Dec 23, 2005 1:22 pm Reply with quote

Agreed Tas - very funny book indeed.

 
Mostly Harmless
41818.  Mon Dec 26, 2005 5:38 pm Reply with quote

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Last edited by Mostly Harmless on Sun Jan 08, 2006 4:27 pm; edited 1 time in total

 
Tas
41854.  Tue Dec 27, 2005 5:31 am Reply with quote

Mostly:

The thing is, I don't normally like TP. Sure there are some great one liners and descriptions, but I don't really enjoy his books all that much (Sacreligious I know....probably will get stoned to death or summat)

:-)

Tas

 

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