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Where did the devil originate?

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  • Where did the devil originate?

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    Last edited by true sadness; March 23rd, 2006, 08:08 PM.

  • #2
    It is true that the Christian church decided to depict Satan by drawing on pagan deities like Pan. It's also true that Pan is just one of a number of pagan deities who are depicted with horns. Bacchus/Dionysus, Cernunnos, and other deities are also frequently shown with horns.

    Making the gods of the old religion into the devils and demons of the new (conqueror's) religion is one way to encourage people to convert to the new religion. It also provides convenient justification for forcing people to convert.

    It's possible to take anything and make it sound bad if you are creative about it. I bet you could take the most inoffensive, friendly character, person, or deity and describe them in ways that aren't exactly complete lies but which make them sound really horrible. Propagandists do it all the time in "spinning" the news to make their particular political cause sound good. It's not really much of a surprise that religious groups might do it too so that competing religions sound bad.

    The idea of evil deities, by the way, was not invented by the Christians. The ancient Mesopotamians, for instance, had a lot of magickal and religious emphasis on combatting what they perceived to be evil spirits everywhere around them in daily life. In other cultures like in Egypt it's also not uncommon to find myths which paint specific deities as being rather evil, like Set. But if you dig you can also often find other myths about those same deities where they are definitely not evil.

    Christianity, though, is a very dualistic religion for many of its followers where there is a constant conflict between God and Satan.

    Ben Gruagach
    MysticWicks forum guide in "Paths: Wicca", "Books" and "History"
    author of The Wiccan Mystic: Exploring a Magickal Spiritual Path
    visit my website at http://www.witchgrotto.com
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    • #3
      Hi-

      As for the idea of Satan, he seems to be a melding of the older jewish entity called H’ satan, with the Zoroastrian idea of Angra Mainyu. H’ satan was a member of God’s “court”. He acted like the prosecuting attorney – asking probing questions and demanding proof. A good example of the role of this deity can be seen in the first two chapters of Job in the Hebrew Bible.

      Angra Mainyu, on the other hand, is the Zoroastrian deity who opposes the good God. He works to corrupt and tempt everyone, etc. The ancient Jews appear to have picked up this idea during the Babylonian captivity, when they were taken away to Babylon for about three generations, where Zoroastrianism was flourishing (around 600 BCE). They then molded it onto their previous H’ satan deity.

      For the image of Satan , I’d go back to Ben’s most excellent post.

      -Equinox
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      I like my spirituality because I think it's true. But I love my spirituality because it makes me excited to be part of the universe.
      - Ben Trimegistus, 2004.2.23 (That's how I feel too!)

      What do I believe? Find out on my webpage (here):

      In short, I'm a Naturalistic Pagan (OK, now that link is fixed) who has found a spiritual home at a Unitarian Universalist Church.

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      • #4
        Satan, as used in a text book term, feels more to me like an idea or statement for being. "Satan" is a representation of "evil", or wrong, or what may be considered to be wrong by whatever religion that uses some form of grand "Evil" in their faith.

        Most customs and beliefs in our culture have sprung from those of paganistic descent...though the idea of a darker force, a demon if you will, is incredibly ancient in human history. The fear of damnation is the crux of modern religion as many of those from the past.

        But it is hard to exactly know what is honest...perhaps the creature depicted in the Bible as Satan has a ring of truth somewhere down the line of some demon-like encounter...but the idea of "evil" must be the basis of human progression.

        Fear is the best motivation perhaps in the same way that hunger is the best spice. I believe the religious take on "Satan" has slowly met with a sort of evolution throughout history.
        <img src="http://img11.photobucket.com/albums/v34/redwoodmists/twoWOOF8.gif">

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        • #5
          Originally posted by true sadness
          Or is Pan and the Horned God the same?
          I wouldn't say they are one and the same but they are very similar; I think they're just from different cultures.

          as an afterthought... did I post this in the right place?
          Yep, I'd say so.
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