Today I would like to discuss one of the most important archetypes out there, the Devil. This figure features prominently in all mythologies, from the god Set in Ancient Egypt to the classic horns-and-tail Satan. It is also possibly the most misunderstood out there. The Devil is typically associated with evil, with sin, with arrogance (and all the other negative traits), with dark sides. It tends to be a very negative image. However, like the figure of Death, the bad side is just one half of the coin. The Devil is not all hellfire, and is actually a very transformative archetype, dealing with the union of opposites (as do all of them to some level).
The Devil is actually a means to an end, and is a necessary part of every process. If we split the world into the dualities of light, reason and logic on one side and darkness, spirituality and emotions on the other, the Devil would not actually represent the latter, but a means of reaching the latter through the former. A very simple example can be seen in the Moon Landing (whether it actually happened or not is irrelevant here, since we are dealing with memes more than with facts). The Moon represents the female side of Man, as the Sun represents the male. Yet for centuries all the human race could do was gaze at the Moon, although it was indeed a source of great inspiration. We finally did reach the Moon on July 20, 1969 (not coincidentally, Woodstock would occur less than a month later), and how? Through the use of technology, of rationality driven to its utmost. The Devil, then, teaches us to shine a light on our unconscious. We must, however, be careful not to fall into temptation.
|Notice how Neil Armstrong's face is clearly divided in two: one half dark and the other golden.|
The Devil's power has forever been tempting us. From the Temptation of Christ in the Bible to Goethe's seminal Faust, there are countless examples and cautionary tales on the Devil's influence. The Devil is charming and seductive, as represented by his Succubus/Incubus manifestations. One very simple manifestation can be seen in the corporate globalist elite, who have almost literally sold their souls to the Devil for material gains. Taking rationality to the extreme takes one to hedonism and survival of the fittest (that is, back to the jungle - if you go all the way to the edge of a coin you'll end up right on the other side), and that is clearly what we are seeing: corporations and career politicians destroying the life of the average citizen for a purely financial gain - but all of this is bound to blow up in their faces, sooner or later, as it has a great deal of times before (the Roman Empire, the French Revolution...). Inevitably, though, this will all lead us, though at great cost, to further advancement in the spiritual realm. Remember how one of the consequences of the Industrial Revolution was a boom in spiritual studies and an interest in the paranormal. This is still going on, actually, which can be seen in the explosion in fantasy and paranormal stories (The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Twilight, et al).
Speaking of Twilight, it can be shown that Man is starting to come to terms with his own Moon/shadow side, with the evolution of the Vampire archetype, an offshot of the Devil. The first incarnations of the Vampire were extremely dark. They were hideous and only came out at night, they killed people to satisfy their own needs, they transformed into bats. This figure, however, has been slowly evolving, and now the most prevalent Vampire is handsome, avoids killing humans and actually shines in the sunlight. I hope it's a good sign.
The Devil is also associated with the bat, depicted for example in William Blake's Satan Exulting over Eve:
The bat was, and still is, though to a lesser extent, considered a frightening creature. It only comes out at night, and spreads disease and sometimes even sucks blood. It's a creature of darkness. Studying the bat, however, that is, applying the male Logos to it, it was discovered that they actually use a sonar to navigate through the air, using sound waves to make up for their blindness. Bats are also useful in combatting pests.
The Devil is also manifested in the figure of the Dark Magician, which I've explored before. The DM takes the Logos to the extreme, and a great representative is Saruman, from The Lord of the Rings. He succumbed to the Devil's seduction.
This does not mean, though, that the Devil should be ignored or shunned. The trick is to access your own dark side, to face your shadow, but in your own terms. While denying our own shadow can lead it to be manifested externally (wars, corruption, poverty - Hiroshima is an excellent example), doing only its bidding leads to terrible loss as well, as I've explained above.
The Matrix provides a good analogy. Neo, or Thomas Anderson (or Twin Son-of-Man) gains access to the "real" world through his technological explorations, his hacking. Without computers, he never would have been found by Morpheus. However, he must still confront the Devil, in the form of the Machine (ultimate rationality) to gain access to the REAL real world.
|Neo is right to be cautious|
This whole adventure, I think, started with a dream I had:
We were in some sort of virtual/artificial world, trapped by the devil. It’s not quite hell, but there isn’t much to do. We’re in a shabby house, very narrow with many floors, and I can’t figure out where I’m going to sleep. Later, we’re having dinner at a restaurant, and then I look at my father and realise that he was the devil in disguise, because he was the only one who was allowed to do fun stuff in that world. He then does reveal himself as the devil, and he’s furious.
Needless to say, there's a personal layer here, although I would say it's not quite what Freud would point out here. However, I believe there's also a deeper meaning at hand. This dream occurred while I was reading The Gnostic Jung and the Seven Sermons to the Dead, by Stephan A. Hoeller. In the Seven Sermons, Jung mentions the idea that, while we tend to associate the male with the sky and the female with the earth (Uranus and Gaia, for instance), the opposite is also true (everything is also it's opposite). The female can be seen as the sky, and the male as the earth - symbolised by the snake (we'll get to the Eden story soon). After all, the male Logos represents rational thinking, logic, mathematics, but as we've been discussing, there's a dark side to all of this, and this dark side lies underneath, not above.
|Abraxas represents the energy of the union of opposites|
If we think of the role of the parents in psychology, the mother is the one who nurtures and gives affection, while the father is the one who teaches the child operate in the outside world. In fact, whereas the mother is the womb, the home, the father is the one who compels the child out of the home (through sexual initiation, apprenticeship at the business, and so on). The male parental figure provides the child with rationality. The mother role is essential, though, to remind the future adult to balance his rationality with his emotional side (I wonder how many career politicians and CEOs haven't had mommy issues - or an absent father, for that matter, causing them to compensate with excessive Logos).
We must be careful then, as always, to balance things out. I have also just read Arthur C. Clarke's Childhood's End, which also adds to this theme (the title itself is already very provocative). If you don't want spoilers, skip ahead. The gist of the plot is that a race of superadvanced aliens appears on Earth, and begins to take the reins of the planet, albeit beneficially. They get rid of war and disease, and although there is always a resistance movement, things go on well for 50 years. The catch was that the aliens didn't reveal themselves, and would only do so when humanity was ready for it. It becomes clear why when it happens: the aliens, the Overlords, are essentially demons, horns, wings and tail. It turns out that these Overlords, while possessing extremely advances intellects, are basically soulless, and only exist to serve the Overmind, which one could say is the collective for all the souls of the Universe. The task of the Overlords is to guide humanity to its next stage of evolution, wherein it will come together with the Overmind as one. The first manifestation of this next generation of Man is through psychic powers, such as telepathy and remote viewing. You can draw your own conclusions, but the connections to the theme I'm exploring are obvious.
Tarot also cautions us about approaching the Devil carefully, but adamantly. I will later expand on this, but you can already check out Aeclectic for a good basic idea, and Sallie Nichols' Jung and Tarot: an Archetypal Journey. It's always good, though, to make your own associations first:
More coming soon.