left biblioblography: FALLEN ANGELS...AND SPIRITS OF THE DARK: BOOK REVIEW

Saturday, April 29, 2006

FALLEN ANGELS...AND SPIRITS OF THE DARK: BOOK REVIEW

"But there's dragons and beasties out there in the night
to snatch you if you fall.
So come out fighting with your rattle in hand.
Thrust and parry.

Light a match to catch the devil's eye. Bring
a cross of fire to the fight.
And let no sleep bring false relief
from the tension of the fray.

"Come wake the dead with the scream of life.
Do battle with ghosts at play.
Gather your toys at the call-to-arms
and swing your big bear down."
Jethro Tull, No Lullabye

This is a book I dug out of the garage. When did I buy it? Lawyer's page is 1994, probably in 96-97. Why did I buy it? I'd given up most of this nonsense long before. As I fancy myself a bit of a writer, well, religious works provide a wealth of ideas, context, and besides, as I've said before, I dabbled a lot in the occult in my youth.

The title in question is FALLEN ANGELS...AND SPIRITS OF THE DARK by Robert Masello. It's a small compendium of demonology, legendary myths (standard stuff: witches, vampires, werewolves), and the occasional flavor of esoterica.

It's a fun read.

More sources in argument of syncretism. Xtianity borrowed in droves from the cultures around them. Examples:

Beelzebub: the book has this entry:
"When Satan rebelled, he recruited several very powerful seraphim, Beelzebub among them, to fight at his side." - SATAN AND HIS COURT, pg. 25

And yet, we see this, at answers.com (the Wiki entry):
"The source for the name Ba'al Zebûb / Beelzebub is in 2 Kings 1.2-3,6,16 where King Ahaziah of Israel, after seriously injuring himself in a fall, sends messengers to inquire of Ba'al Zebûb, the god of the Philistine city of Ekron, to learn if he will recover. Elijah the Prophet then condemns Ahaziah to die by Yahweh's words because Ahaziah sought council from Ba'al Zebûb rather than from Yahweh."

Or Astaroth - "also rode around on a dragon, but he had only one head - usually depicted as quite ugly - and carried a viper in his left hand. Grand duke of the western regions of Hell, he was also Treasurer of the whole place. The original couch potato, he encouraged men to sloth and idleness. In his spare time, he was guidance counsellor for other fallen angels."

Bill O'Reilly comes to mind.

The Wiki entry has this:
"His name seems to come from the goddess 'Ashtart/Astarte which was rendered in the Latin Vulgate translation of the Bible as Astharthe (singular) and Astharoth (plural), that last form rendered in the King James Version of the Bible as Ashtaroth. It seems this plural form was taken either from the Latin or from some translation or other by those who did not know it was a plural form nor knew that it referred to a goddess, seeing it only as a name applied to some god other than God and therefore the name of a devil."

Astarte was a goddess of love, supposedly very beautiful. Man, did those Israelites have hang-ups!

Even Dagon (Lovecraft's favorite), the former Phillistinean deity, was relegated to the role as Hell's baker. Or Adralemech, wherein the Wiki entry states:
"In Assyrian mythology Adramelech (also called Adrammelech, Adramelek or Adar-malik) was a form of the Baal, a god very similar to Moloch. To him were offered children, who were sacrificed by being thrown into fire and sometimes eaten. The centre of his worship was the town of Sepharvaim, where he was called Baal Adramelch ("Baal", meaning "Lord", was an Assyrian title for some gods)

Similar to many pagan gods, Adramelech was turned into a demon in Judeo-Christian tradition. According to Collin de Plancy, in demonology, Adramelech became the President of the Senate of the demons, Chancellor of Hell and supervisor of Satan's wardrobe, being generally depicted with a human torso and head, and the rest of the body of a mule (or sometimes as a peacock)."

Can anyone say, "Karl Rove"?

It's not hard to see how henotheism came into play. Conquer the people, and downgrade their gods to the status of demons.

Lilitu (aka Lilith), is a prime example. Originally an Assyrian demon, she was sexually insatiable. Incorporated into the Midrash as Adam's first wife, but refused to take a submissive role in their copulation (translation: "I get to be on top, and yell 'Bingo', asshole!"). As a result, she was evicted, and according to legend, went to Edom, where she had numerous affairs with demons, thereby spawning the lilin (another borrowing here, from the Akkadians). The brats squirted forth were incubi and succubi.

Yeah, fevered imaginations and sexual hang-ups are fertile ground, it seems.

The explanation for DID (disassociative identity disorder, formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder) is firmly rooted in the dybbuk, touched on a bit in the book, the Wiki entry says:
"In Kabbalah and European Jewish folklore, a dybbuk is a malicious possessing spirit, believed to be the dislocated soul of a dead person. Dybbuks are said to have escaped from Gehenna, a Hebrew term very loosely translated as "hell." The word "dybbuk" is derived from the Hebrew ?????, meaning "attachment"; the dybbuk attaches itself to the body of a living person and inhabits it, and must be exorcised by a prescribed religious rite. According to belief, a soul that has not been able to fulfill its function in its lifetime is given another opportunity to do so in the form of a dybbuk."

All kinds of stories. Werewolves, zombies, vampires, standard stuff. Witches and the hunting thereof.

I found two very interesting bits, towards the back. The Navky and Utburd.

Navky:

"Among the various sorts of ghosts that confronted travelers, few were as piteous as the Navky, haunters of Slavic lands. They were the spirits of children who had died unbaptized or at their mother's hands. Most often they appeared in the shapes of infants or young girls, rocking in tree branches and wailing and crying in the night. Some begged for baptism from passerby. Some-thirsting for revenge against the living, who had let them die nameless-lured unwitting travelers into perilous places. But they were not always human in form: In Yugoslavia, it was said, the Navky took the shapes of great black birds, which cried in a manner that chilled the soul."

Utburd/myling:

"In Scandinavian folklore, Mylings are (supposedly) the phantasmal incarnations of the souls of unbaptized or murdered children. The myling (also known as "utburd") would chase lone wanderers at night and jump on their backs, demanding to be carried to the graveyard so they could rest in hallowed ground. The only problem with this was that mylings would often be enormous, and grow heavier as they neared the graveyard, to the point where the person carrying them would sink into the soil. If one should prove unable to carry an utburd to the cemetery, the ghost would kill its victim in rage."

In short, an interesting read. Easy (one night oughta do ya), but unsettling in some respects.

It is as I've said before: Those who fear the darkness, build walls.

But when walls fail, the wings of fancy take flight, and the imagination takes wing down the darker paths of the subconscious, and the shadows on the wall take sinister shape, the unblinking moon casting shades of fancy upon the naive.

Fear: the fertile playground of the psyche.

Till the next post, then.

Cheers.

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10 comments:

PastaLaVista said...

Fear: the fertile playground of the psyche.

Fear. Such a powerful tool. IMHO Fear is the bederock of ALL religions. I've said it before to the point where it's almost a cliche to myself. But none the less SO true. That SO vivid description of hell. Nothing subtle about it. No metaphors or parables here. Kiss my ass you fucking ancient storytellers! I don't believe that crock of shit! I for one am not buying it. Who do you think your fooling? Not me that's for sure!

udonman said...

I think I'll get a copy and agood bottle of tequilia and make anight of it but to me the only chilling thing of the book is the fact that like the bible and the koran is there was and still are people who believe this and unfortunetly some are in seats of power

Anonymous said...

So THAT'S what wrong with me! I've been infiltrated by dybbuks! Out, OUT damn dybbuks!
Sounds very scientological....Hmmmm.

Adramelech needs to be replaced as the supervisor of Satan's wardrobe. Call the Queer Eye guys!

All the variations of Beelzebub are simply dialectal mispronunciations. The word should actually be "BallsO'Bob" :)

k.

Krystalline Apostate said...

PLV:
Kiss my ass you fucking ancient storytellers!
Wow, sure got a head of steam worked up yesterday, ey? I think the buy-bull is a great work of fiction. Far too many people take it as fact, way I see it.
karen:
Adramelech needs to be replaced as the supervisor of Satan's wardrobe.
I've heard ole Shaitan was a snappy dresser. No?
The word should actually be "BallsO'Bob"
LOLLOL! Infector of scrotums, ballbuster extraordinaire.

Anonymous said...

ra
I've heard ole Shaitan was a snappy dresser. No?
Ah, you wonderful man. Always educating me. Hadn't heard of Shaitan; had to look him up. Don't know how he dressed; may have indeed been quite snappy.
The satan I picure is still wearing those red trap-door long johns! Hee. Scary to a child, but pretty impotent to an adult. Of course I've seen him portrayed otherwise, but the childhood version remains intact.
k.

Krystalline Apostate said...

karen:
Ah, you wonderful man. Always educating me.
Hey, it's my moral obligation to teach everyone I meet something new. & if they don't bolt, they may even learn a 2nd thing.
The satan I picure is still wearing those red trap-door long johns!
Oh my. Ye old vaudevillian stereotype?
My 2 favorite renditions of the POE:
A. Tim Curry in Legend (a real, real elegant version of the cyberdemon from Doom), &
B. The liquid devil in Prince of Evil - not as personable, pretty gross, but intriguing in a conceptual sort of way.

Rosemary said...

I hate it that Lucifer was co-opted by the church and demonized. As the consort of the Celtic mother goddess Dana, his title was "Prince of Light". Sounds like a rather nice deity to me.

PastaLaVista said...

RA:
Wow, sure got a head of steam worked up yesterday, ey? I think the buy-bull is a great work of fiction. Far too many people take it as fact, way I see it.

I was not having a good day yesterday. Sorry about going off on a tangent rant.

Krystalline Apostate said...

rosemary:
As the consort of the Celtic mother goddess Dana, his title was "Prince of Light"
I believe you're thinking of Cernunnos? I think Lucifer was a co-opting of Apollo, god of the sun. Diana (aka Artemis) was the perpetual virgin, I don't think she had a consort.

Krystalline Apostate said...

PLV:
I was not having a good day yesterday. Sorry about going off on a tangent rant.
Hey, as long as you're not taking it out on someone, it's okay. No big whoop.