History of religion

The devil, that's just folklore

(Published in Grail World 11/99)

In our time, many people struggle with religions, with "religious truths" in particular. Too much abuse has been committed to religious sentiment. Large religious communities put themselves at the service of earthly ideologies of rule and were not ashamed to tolerate blatant injustice for the purpose of exercising their own power and to justify violations of self-taught values with theological subtleties.
A figure that is particularly interesting in the history of religion, with whom “modern man” does not know what to do with, is provided by the “adversary”, “Satan” or “devil”, who were extremely important in medieval piety. Siegfried HAGL investigated the question of whether all this is really just folklore.

"I am the spirit that always denies
And rightly so; because everything that arises
Is worth it to perish!
So it would be better if nothing was created
So is everything that you sin,
Destruction, in short evil,
My real element. "
Johann Wolfgang v. Goethe, Faust 1st part.

The bad principle

To clarify religious terms, one likes to go back to the origin of a tradition and ask what people might have understood by it at the time this teaching was created. But just about all teachings evolve. You experience falsifications, but also expansions and deepenings, so that recourse to the very first beginning does not necessarily have to lead the furthest.

For example, to get close to the phenomenon of "Faust", the scientific way would be to study the old folk books. Finally, one could perhaps find out that there was a Württemberg black artist named "Georg Faust" in the 16th century who possibly blew himself up in a failed alchemical experiment.

One can, however, simply read Goethe's “Faust” and encounter in this work a representation of the searching person that is still unsurpassed today; of a person who has never existed like this, and who still has features that suit everyone.

As unreliable as the method may be, we still look back here and ask about the origin of the myths of the "evil spirit":

The “adversary” as an outstanding figure of medieval popular piety appears relatively late in Western history.

In the Old Testament of the Bible, "angels" are mentioned frequently, but "fallen angels" are hardly mentioned, and "Satan" does not appear until Job (1: 6 and 2.1) and Zechariah (3.1). The "Satan" mentioned in the Book of Job has a resemblance to a Babylonian demon who accuses people of the gods, and Goethe obviously also read Job. [1]

The gentile ancient world hardly knew a term corresponding to Satan. The universe was seen inhabited by invisible beings of various kinds (goddesses, gods, furies, demons, geniuses, spirits, etc.) who act on people in their specific way. The dualistic conception of an “evil power” as opposed to a “spirit of good” is first found in Zoroaster (Zarathustra, between 1500 and 600 BC cf. "Religions of Antiquity X"), and it can be assumed that his teaching influenced late Judaism, Christianity and Manichaeism.

As the scrolls found at Qumran show, Essenes in the 1st century BC developed the terms “Satan”, as can be found in many places in the New Testament of the Bible. This “diabolos” (Greek “confounder”), which finds its counterpart under the name “Iblis” in Islam, became an omnipresent “tempter” in the Middle Ages could.

The key witness for the justification of the medieval fear of the devil is - as is so often the case with fundamental Christian doctrines - the apostle Paul, who in the letter to the Ephesians clearly points to the kingdom of darkness as the most dangerous enemy of every Christian:

"For we do not have to fight with flesh and blood, but with princes and mighty ones, namely with the lords of the world who rule in the darkness of this world, with the evil spirits under heaven." (Eph. 6:12).

According to the Revelation of John, the power of these evil spirits and their Master will only be broken at the end of days when "The dragon, the old serpent, which is the devil and Satan" will be chained for 1000 years.

The description of the fall of the angel comes from the apocryphal book of Enoch, which together with the authorized biblical writings was the inspiration for the representations of the archangel Michael, which can be found in many churches, who throws the rebellious Lucifer and his followers down into hell. In the Baroque era, Michael, the lord of the heavenly hosts, became the model of the Counter Reformation, the personified program of the fight against all heresy.

Ancient baptismal rites show how important even early Christians were to take such teachings: in the 1st century, for example, a person to be baptized had to be solemn "The devil and his works" renounce. The pagan convert was only baptized if he had previously admitted that all the spirits he had previously worshiped or feared were in reality nothing but demons - hostile spirits who fight against the one God of goodness and justice.

Satan - Devil - Beelzebub
Satan (Hebrew "adversary"), originally every perpetrator (in war, in court), since Sach. 3.1 f. And Job 1.6 ff./2.1 ff. The accusers in the heavenly council. According to the non-canonical “Book of Enoch” the Satan plunged into the abyss because of his rebellion against God by the archangel Michael. Only in late Judaism and early Christianity did Satan become an adversary of God, the devil with whom he largely merged in Christian tradition.

Devil (from ahd. tiufal from Greek diabolos, "confounder", "slanderer") The Hebrew Satan, in the Christian. Faith tradition an evil spirit who appears as the supreme adversary of God, then generally the evil principle thought of as a person.

History of religion: In the prophet. Universal religions, T. is considered to be the opposite of the good God, the power of evil in the sense of sinfulness ("Diabolos" in Christianity, "Iblis" in Islam). In Buddhism, “Mara” represents the evil power of “thirst” (tanha), more of the malevolent will to live than of ethical evil. The idea of an essentially evil power personified as god or demon is also widespread in the history of religion. In the Babylonian religion, for example, a demon accuses people of the gods. In Egypt, Seth-Typhon is related to the devil. The dualistic conception of a bearer of evil power as opposed to a spirit of good is particularly pronounced in the teaching of Zoroaster, which influenced late Judaism, Christianity and Manichaeism with regard to the concept of the devil. In the New Testament the devil has become the ultimate adversary of God. He is the chief of evil spirits (Mk. 3,22; Beelzebub), the "Lord of this world" (Joh. 12,31), tempter (Mt. 4,1-11), lord of the power of death (Hebr. 2, 14). His power is fundamentally broken through Christ, so that the believers can resist him (l. Petr. 5,8 f.) And do not succumb to eternal death. Its final annihilation only happens at the end of the world (Revelation 19 f.).

Beelzebub, Belzebub (Hebrew BA'al ‑ Zebub "Lord of the Flies"), the city god of Ekron in the land of the Philistines (2nd Kings 1). In the New Testament (Mark. 3,22; Matth. 10,25) Beelzebub is the chief of the demons. “Casting out the devil with Beelzebub” (Matt. 12, 24-27) means replacing a bad thing with something just as bad.

Source: Brockhaus Encyclopedia, 17th edition.

Demons, devils, evil spirits

In the Middle Ages, an extensive theology of the adversary emerged on a biblical basis; under the keyword “demonology” to this day a component of Christian teachings, which is hardly taken seriously any more. Does it even make sense today to deal with it?

First of all, every person is faced with the question of whether and how a heavenly servant of God, who lives in full awareness of God's greatness and omnipotence, can rebel against the Almighty and his perfection. Many answers were sought, innumerable assumptions were made in order to make plausible a process that eludes human understanding from the outset. One of the most appealing of all descriptions given by humans comes from Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179), the greatest visionary of the Middle Ages:

“Lucifer, who was cast out of heavenly glory because of his pride, was so perfect in the beginning of his creation, so great that he felt no lack of his beauty and strength. But he saw his beauty and weighed the power of his powers and - fell into pride. He encouraged him to just start whatever he wanted. He'll be able to do what he's starting. So the proud angel spied the place he believed he could reach, where his strength and beauty would come into its own, and he said to himself: 'There I want to shine like this one.' [2] And all of his contingent agreed with him and said, 'What you want, want too weather'. But no sooner did he think, puffed up with pride, to carry out this madness than the zeal of the Lord arose like a fire-breathing black cloud. The devil brood broke up. "

If one follows such elusive explanations, then after his fall Lucifer became a tempter, whose seductive arts mankind was not up to. She let the fallen archangel lead her astray. In order to free mankind from its aberrations, the sending of the Son of God Jesus was necessary. Another divine intervention is prophesied for the end times, which will only then bring the final annihilation of evil and liberation from it.

In the medieval understanding of the world, the cosmos became the stage for the struggle between light and dark. Every single person is whirled into this millennia-old dispute; he is forced to take sides and choose his own fate. The world is polarized. According to the Jewish theologian Martin Buber, this “moralization of the universe” is one of the great achievements of the Jewish tradition, which was later adopted by Christianity and Islam. One reason why followers of the three great monotheistic religions see the universe with different eyes than those who believe in other great religions?

The great medieval draft of the global struggle between right and wrong, between light and darkness, was later narrowed to a petty dispute between denominations and religious groups, each of which accused the other side of the "covenant with satanic powers". The great word of Jesus was forgotten: "You shall recognize them by their fruit" (Matt. 7:16), and crusades, heretic hunts, the inquisition and the burning of witches seemed to prove that Lucifer had long since risen to become the “lord of this world”, manipulating secular and ecclesiastical princes at will.

The modern show

In the first half of the 20th century, the doctrine of the adversary was still an unquestioned part of Christian religious instruction, and Lucifer was considered to be personally existing. In the last few decades this view is only represented by marginalized groups (in the Catholic Church, for example, by the much vilified "angel work"), while a modern theology, following the example of psychology, sees Satan only as a symbolic figure. It is concluded that a loving Creator can neither admit an evil principle nor have hell created. The thought that even an archangel can fall seems absurd, and the idea that dark otherworldly planes are the result of lower human thoughts and feelings is only taught by esotericists.

Our time has chosen a more psychologically oriented approach! Accordingly, the devil mainly served as a specter to make people internally unfree and to suppress them. It is therefore part of the necessary “liberation of man” from inner constraints to overcome this medieval superstition. This view is held not only by some clerics ostracized by the official church, such as Eugen Drewermann, but also by other progressive priests.

The fear of the devil is certainly not a good advisor, and overcoming it is undoubtedly progress.

We could all breathe a sigh of relief if we were sure that the "adversary" is just a fantasy product. Should the “diabolos”, the “confounder”, nevertheless exist in the reality of creation, then his total denial is the best disguise he could wish for.

Here, too, we are faced with the Pilate question "What is truth"to which even Greek philosophers capitulated, and which even modern theologians do not know how to answer conclusively. And so we are once again thrown back on our own feelings and independent search in order to find our personal view of the world, which can never encompass the full truth, can only come closer to it. -

 The secret of Lucifer

In the “Grail Message” Abd-ru-shin brings a new, comprehensive view of the “Mystery of Lucifer” and explains, among other things, the “Lucifer Principle”. The depth of this picture is only revealed to the reader by studying the entire work in the order of the individual lectures. In the following we quote excerpts from the lecture “The Mystery of Lucifer” (Volume 2) and point out that some of the terms mentioned are only clarified in the entire picture of creation, which gradually unfolds for the reader of the three-volume work. 

“A gray veil rests over everything connected with Lucifer. It is as if everything is shrinking back to lift the corner of this veil.

The recoil is really just the inability to penetrate the realm of darkness. The inability, however, is again quite simply in the nature of the thing, because here too the human spirit cannot penetrate that far, but rather a limit is set for it in its nature. Just as he cannot go as far as the highest height, he cannot penetrate to the deepest depth, nor will he ever be able to.

In this way the imagination created a substitute for what was missing, beings in various shapes. One speaks of the devil in the most adventurous forms, of the fallen and cast out archangel, of the embodiment of the evil principle, and whatever else is. One does not understand anything about the actual nature of Lucifer, despite the fact that the human spirit is hit by him and thereby often whirled right into a tremendous dichotomy, which can be described as struggle.

Those who speak of a fallen archangel, as well as those who speak of the embodiment of the evil principle, come closest to the fact. But here too there is a wrong attitude that gives everything an incorrect picture. An embodiment of the evil principle lets the highest peak, the ultimate goal, what has become living-body, think of all evil, that is, the coronation, the perfect conclusion.

Conversely, Lucifer is the origin of the false principle, the starting point and the driving force. Nor should it be called the evil principle that it works, but rather the wrong principle. The sphere of action of this incorrect principle is material creation. (...)

Lucifer himself stands outside of the material creation, so is not drawn into the decomposition, as is the case with the victims of his principle; for Lucifer is eternal. It comes from a part of the divine being. The conflict set in after everything material began to emerge. Sent out to support the spiritual being in the material and to promote it in development, he did not fulfill his mission in the sense of the creative will of God the Father, but chose other ways than those marked out for him by this creative will, out of a will, that came to him in his work in materiality.

Abusing the power given to him, he introduced, among other things, the principle of temptations, instead of the principle of supportive help, which is synonymous with serving love. Serving love in the divine sense meant, which has nothing in common with slavish service, but only focuses on spiritual ascent and thus the eternal happiness of the neighbor and acts accordingly.

The principle of temptation, however, is synonymous with the laying of pitfalls, through which creatures that are not sufficiently stable in themselves stumble, fall and get lost, while others regain strength in vigilance and strength in order to then flourish powerfully to spiritual heights. Everything that is weak is hopelessly abandoned to destruction from the outset. The principle knows no goodness, no mercy; it lacks the love of God the Father, but with it also the greatest buoyancy and the strongest support there is.

The temptation in Paradise described in the Bible shows the effect of the beginning of the Lucifer principle by depicting how it tries to test the strength or steadfastness of the human couple through temptation, in order to immediately mercilessly in the path of the couple at the slightest wavering To encounter annihilation.

Steadfastness would have been synonymous with a joyful attitude into the divine will, which lies in the simple laws of nature or creation. And this will, the divine command, was well known to the human couple. Not wavering would at the same time have meant following these laws, through which man can only make proper and unlimited use of them and thus become the real "lord of creation" because he "walks with them". All forces are then at his service if he does not oppose himself and work automatically in his favor. (...)

Lucifer does not want to wait for the gradual ripening and strengthening in kindness, does not want to be, as he should, a loving gardener who tends, supports and cares for the plants entrusted to him, but with him literally "the goat became the gardener". He goes out to destroy everything weak and works relentlessly in this way.

He despises the victims who succumb to his temptations and pitfalls and wants them to perish in their weakness.

He also disgusts the baseness and meanness which these fallen sacrifices place in the effects of his principle; because only people make them the disgusting depravity in which they present themselves, and with this they only encourage Lucifer all the more to see creatures in them which only deserve destruction, not love and care.

And the principle of living out, which follows the principle of temptation as a natural consequence, contributes not a little to the implementation of this annihilation. Self-expression takes place in the lower regions of the dark, but in so-called psychoanalysis it has already been taken up earthly by various practitioners on the assumption that self-expression matures and liberates on earth as well.

But what terrible misery the practice of this principle must cause on earth! What mischief it must cause, because on earth there is not only similar things together, as in the regions of darkness, but even darker and lighter things live next to and with one another. Just think of sex life and the like. If such a principle is let loose in the practice on humanity, in the end there only has to be a Sodom and Gomorrah, from which there is no sliding out, but where only horrors of the greatest kind can bring an end. (...)

The application of this loveless principle, however, naturally had to separate Lucifer more and more from the loving will of the almighty creator from the nature of the matter, which brought his own separation or expulsion from the light and with it the ever deeper fall of Lucifer. One who has separated himself from the light is Lucifer, which is synonymous with an outcast.

The repulsion also had to take place according to the existing primordial laws, the incontrovertible Holy Will of God the Father, because no other event is possible.

Since only the will of God the Father, the Creator of all things, is omnipotent, which is also firmly rooted in material creation and its development, Lucifer can certainly send his principle into materiality, but the effects will always only move in the primordial laws established by God the father can and must form in their direction.

By following his wrong principle, Lucifer can give an impetus to dangerous ways for mankind, but he is not able to force people to do anything by force, as soon as they do not voluntarily decide to do so.

In fact, Lucifer can only lure. But man as such stands more firmly than he in the material creation, therefore also much more secure and powerful than the influence of Lucifer can ever affect him. Every human being is so protected that it is tenfold shame for him if he allows himself to be lured by this strength, which is weaker than himself. He should consider that Lucifer himself stands outside of materiality, while he is firmly rooted in ground and soil that is fully familiar to him.

Lucifer is forced to use only his auxiliary troops for the application of his principles, which are composed of human spirits who have fallen in temptation.

But every upward-striving human spirit is not only able to cope with these, but is far superior in strength. A single serious act of will is enough to make an army of it disappear without a trace. Provided that these with their lures find no echo or resonance to which they can cling. (...) " Abd-ru-shin

Abd-ru-shin "In the Light of Truth", Grail Message, publisher of the Grail Message Foundation, Stuttgart.
Fischer, W., "History of the Devil, Stuttgart, o. J.
Haak, FW "Satan, Teufel, Luzifer", Munich, 1987.
Hildegard von Bingen, "Know the ways (Scivias)", Salzburg 1965.
Pagels, E ,. "Satan's Origin", Berlin 1996.
Pagels, E., "Adam, Eva and the Snake", Reinbeck 1991.
[1] The double-faced, ambiguous serpent of Genesis is not yet referred to as Satan.
[2[ What is meant is that Lucifer wanted to shine in creation, "like this" (God) in the eternal heavenly realm.