Let’s talk about the devil. Or at least what he looks like. Handsome? Hairy? Horned? Bestial? Blond? Weird face poking out of his butt? So many options. Warning, we do spend a lot of time on medieval perceptions of Jews, so that’s a thing.
1:20 – I joke about the devil as being off-topic for a podcast about hell. It’s not QUITE a joke, hell’s an approachable topic, the devil is a discussion about the nature of evil. Broadly speaking we do agree on the nature of alcohol, although there’s some division of opinion on what the classier brand might be.
3:10 – Feel free to follow Folklore Thursday on twitter, or, hey, TheDispatchist. Information about Gryllii from the finest sources, the weird little critters that populate Hieronymous Bosch’s hellscapes. Euripides’s thoughts on how many bodies Cerberus has. Spoilers, three.
7:04 – Aleteia on “Why is Satan Depicted with Horns, Red Tights, and a Pitchfork?” I also reference Damned: An Illustrated History of the Devil about 75 times this episode. Also, have a fun article about why the devil wears red tights, some great illustrations there.
10:00 – We don’t really have a consensus on why the devil has that distinctive spade tail, but I think it’s really very wyvern-like. I guess I can get the “phallus” idea but that seems kind of after the fact. -Jacob
20:00 – from Folklore Thursday, “The Man with the Chicken Feet.”
23:06 – “Aaron shall take the two he-goats and let them stand before the LORD at the entrance of the tent of Meeting; and he shall place lots upon the two goats, one marked for the LORD and the other marked for Azazel. Aaron shall bring forward the goat designated by lot for the LORD, which he is to offer as a sin offering, while the goat designated by lot for Azazel shall be left standing alive before the LORD, to make expiation with it and send it off to the wilderness for Azazel.” Leviticus 16, your exact translation may vary.
Azazel is head of the Se’irim, the goat-demons, although what a goat demon is, we’re not sure. They’re mentioned in Isaiah, “but wild animals will lie down there, and its houses will be full of howling creatures…and there the goat-demons will dance. Lilith gets a mention there, too. He appears in the Sacred Text of Wiki as one of the Canaanite gods, god of the Morning Star (!) (How did I not notice that? It’s another name for Lucifer…) Although whether or not YHVH was a part of that pantheon seems up in the air. I like the theory that he was a god of metallurgy, because that provides a great binary pair with the demon of the wilderness vs the god of civilization.
Mount Azazel at right.
At some point around here we went through some summary of the development of monotheism, which involved some Terminology. Specifically, monolatry, which generally is the worship of one god to the exclusion of other gods in a set or pantheon (for example, “Israel” breaks down into “the people of the God of El.”) Henotheism is a refinement of that, the exclusive worship of one god without asserting that he is THE god. Religious studies has some remarkably fine word-shaving.
25:44 – the Grigori? We don’t give these folks much time here. They’re a group of angels, mostly fallen, who make an appearance in Enoch and other apocryphal texts. They’re angels that got to close to the earth–very gnostic–and ended up marrying the natives. Azazel is on the list of grigori, and in that role acts as a tempter/educator, much like the serpent in the garden of eden…which he likely is. (more here). I personally think that he’s the demon that tempts Jesus in the wilderness, because that’s very much in his role as the demon of the scapegoat and Jesus was very much a scapegoat. Since Azaz-El was a brother to Yahweh (or something rather like it), that means that Jesus went into the wilderness to listen to his somewhat crazy uncle complain about the family (Matthew 4, “Christ’s Hiking Trip with Satan”)
Have a few pictures! Azazel from Sandman #26 or #27, the “Season of Mists” storyline. Leonard from 2019’s Dreaming #10, a very fun issue with a whirlwind trip through Hell and a demonic major incarna, and then Leonard from DePlancy’s Dictionary Infernale. Finally, a luxurious Lucifer from Sandman: Season of Mists. More about Leonard, grand-master of orgies, on DeliriumsRealm.)
A few different versions of the gimpy Satan: Tundale’s thousand-arm barbeque, Dante’s frozen gnawer.
31:46 – If you’re into Dungeons and Dragons, you might enjoy this bit of pointless geekery concerning Asmodeus and the couatl deities Jazirian and Arimane. There’s a fairly deep rabbit hole here which I’m sure we’ll cover in Dungeons and Dragons and Hell down the road.
34:38 – “Be watchful! Your adversary, the Devil, walks about like a roaring lion, seeking to devour you.” There’s some fun pictures of a literal satan lion in this article from the Watchtower. It includes Satan leaning over someone when they’re at their laptop at night. Actually, he’s looking away. Come on, Satan, you’ll have to be stronger than that. Maybe you’re not up to the 21st century. Okay, this is a pointless aside. Back to the pointed asides.
36:13 – Diablerie, fun word. Reckless mischief, wildness, devil lore, black magic. A sort of playful demonology. It sounds like it’s generally the term for the point in the medieval play where all the demons come out and frolic. I can find support for that, but can’t really prove it.
36:45 – Seven devils, seven deadly sins? This is apparently early 1400s demonology, possibly by John Wycliff. But there are so many of this sort of list, it’s about as official as a list of birth stones…
It’s hard to classify “the devil.” Lucifer, Ba’al, Azazel, a bunch of others….I don’t think that there’s one devil. There are, however, seven dwarfs.