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Merry Christmas Satan...

12/20/2013 03:29 pm ET | Updated Feb 19, 2014
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As we are just days away from Christmas, I'd like to celebrate a historical figure who in my opinion shares his birthday with the Christ child. Now I'm not saying that while Mary was pumping the Lord and Savior out of her body, across town another woman was astonished to see the reptilian eyes of a physical anti-christ, but the concept of the devil the way the common person knows it stems from Christ. And so I thought I'd take a minute to list a few interesting facts about my favorite historical figure and if nothing else clear his name where necessary and put certain things in perspective. Why not take a few minutes between window shopping and sucking down Christmas cheer to celebrate the most fascinating, most allusive, most charming historical figure, the devil. Below are little tidbits of information I've gathered through my years of obsession...

An old timer

The devil makes his debut (biblically speaking) in the Old Testament where he works as one of god's agents. Called 'Satan' or hassatan his name literally translates to 'the adversary' and his godly duties are to roam the earth searching for the wicked and tempting the pious. BUT he and god are pals... They do fun things together like torment Job and kill his family on a bet. The evil version comes in the next book...

Get behind me Satan

The New Testament switches things up a bit. Christ (or the gospels) use the devil as a political agent to 'demonize' those who stood in their way. The Gospels are notoriously anti-Semitic in their accusations of devilry from the Pharisees and Sadducees. But they are oddly kind to Rome. Makes sense: why pick on the Romans when they have nothing to lose and everything to gain by demonizing the Jews? Jesus is tempted by the devil with all of earth's spoils (all of this I give to you...), turns down the offer (for whatever god-forsaken-reason) and goes on to be nailed to a cross and die. The devil is officially a bad guy -- he is the opposing force working against mankind to tempt us into sin and depravity. By the time we get to Revelation (a book originally thought to be written by John the Baptist but likely written by an exiled monk in Greece dubbed John of Patmos) we are faced with a terrifying dragon who rapes virgins. It's a confusing book and really seems to come out of nowhere, but it's a lot of fun to read compared to the REST of the bible.

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The Devil Went Down to Eden?

No. The devil is not the serpent who tempted Eve with the forbidden fruit. Depending on your perspective. That is to say, when Genesis was written there was no devil other than God's buddy who was too busy giving Job herpes and spanking Daniel for the census. As time progressed, Christians PUT the devil in Eden or at least put him behind the serpent's motivation (Milton's Paradise Lost signs the check on this 'fact'); but as written, the snake is just a motive-less asshole who wants to fuck with Eve and doom the rest of humanity. Of course as a result, Christians are born with 'original sin' and until baptized (where the devil is exorcised from them) they are unable to get into heaven. Dante in Inferno is however kind to those unbaptized, giving them the most illustrious ring of Hell which is 'almost' as close to the splendor of God's Kingdom... but not quite...

Legends of the Fall

The fall of the angels and the rebellion of Satan vs. God is one of the most popular biblical tales ever told except that it's not in the bible. They take a shitload of pot shots at the devil in the New Testament but there is no passage saying what we all have been led to believe: Satan and a group of his hooligan angels thought they'd rough up God and take over... they fail, get kicked out and start their own company... I mean underworld. We also use the name Lucifer a lot because of course he WAS the most illuminated angel who fell; but that's also suspect. There is a subtle passage in Isaiah in the Old Testament that says "How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!" But it's vague and most likely refers to a political story regarding a quite mortal King of Tyrus. Nevertheless, Christians have for centuries taken this passage as proof of Satan or 'Lucifer's' fall.

Horny Devils

OK, so here's whats not in the bible that was a popular legend of how the devils were ACTUALLY created. The Book of Enoch, which did NOT make the cut to be included in the proper bible, tells a story of the Watcher Angels. These were angels God sent to earth to watch over mankind. But these guys saw the wonderful women we had and just couldn't keep it in their pants. As a result, they were spanked real hard by God and expelled from heaven. The children they created were monsters, 'giants' as they were called (and a lot of nutjob conspiracy freaks insist these nephillim evolved into our modern day politicians). The expelled angels then became what we know today as demons. All for a piece of tail...

Hell's got a Big Mouth

Hell is truly where all the fun happens. Oddly Satan, in most of the vision stories of hell (Dante certainly takes the cake but there were MANY visions of hell before him), Satan is just a prisoner locked in tight with no real power -- just a horrible tortured pitiful soul, frozen in ice. There is an order to hell of course depending on how bad a sinner you were and almost ALWAYS there are priests, popes and politicians having something hot shoved up their asses. It's not a place you want to be -- but it's a place you all will most likely spend some time in. The Middle Ages are big fans of hell and provide us with some amazingly comical depictions of the agonies of the wicked. The granddaddy of course being Hieronymus Bosch, an unknown, undocumented painter with a VIVID imagination. To keep things fun, our medieval ancestors would put on 'mystery plays' which were long drawn out (sometimes 24 hour) plays that told a story about Jesus. Super boring. For the most part. Until we get to the end. Typically these plays would end with an elaborate depiction of the apocalypse and have a brilliantly designed 'Hellmouth' that actors dressed up as demons would drag patrons into -- essentially charting them off to hell. The Hellmouth was SO much fun that the church decided to stop doing these plays altogether....

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The Look of Evil

The devil is a red guy with hooves and horns on his head. But why? Well, in efforts to demonize pagan, non-christian religions, their deities were adopted for the image of Satan. The Greek god Pan is a dead ringer for our dear old black sheep. Recently scholars look to an Egyptian goddess 'Bes' for her red color and 'demonic' appearance as inspiration for Satan's 'style' (though Bes was a nice lady -- she was the goddess of fertility). And if that wasn't enough, the names appended to demons and the devil were of course amalgamations of Pagan gods' names... Beliar is a play on words for the pagan god Balaal for example. So the Christians move in, demonize the pagans' gods and replace them with patron saints... Everybody's happy...

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Reform School Satan

The Reformation, while edging away from 'superstitions' still had its problems with the devil. Luther had a ton of whacked out things to say about him. He claimed that the devil lived in his bowels and used him as an excuse for his severe constipation (I cast you out! Unclean spirit). I guess at one point old Beelzebub took a vacation from his ass and visited Luther in Wartburg while he was in seclusion and threatened him directly. Luther, thinking on his toes, threw an ink well at him (sort of a lame defense no?) and stained the wall of his room (the stain of which is still there for all to see...). Nevertheless Satan becomes a burden to the protestant reformation and only the Catholics are brave enough to keep him in their stable.

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Romance is in the Air

The Romantics are the best. By the time we reach their era, Christianity has already lost its powerful grip and the Romantics are ready for some real change. The devil becomes the guy we know and love today: the champion of the poets, the rebel who stood up to authority, the black sheep, the misguided angel. Faust is the charming tempter out for a good laugh. This is where I get my fascination from. The ceremonial antagonist. The guy who doesn't like the band because they 'got too popular.'

Now when I say celebrate Satan... I don't mean go out and sacrifice a virgin. First off, my view on Satan is shaped entirely on arm-chair research and a Catholic upbringing. I take it all with a grain of salt (which I quickly throw over my left shoulder...). The devil is a complicated subject and remains a total mystery to many people including myself. I live a virtuous life (for the most part); I believe in respecting others, in grace, and in humility and kindness above all. Then why 'celebrate' the devil? Well, MY devil is a chronic rebel with an undying problem with authority who just can't resist mixing things up sometimes. The world needs that. The historical data, my personal views on religion and metaphysics are too muddled to do anything with the devil other than interpret and acknowledge... Why do I celebrate the devil? I'm just a fan is all...