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revealer of the deeds of darkness, becomes an avenger, and by evolution an instigator of the evil it originally disclosed and punished. It may be remarked also that though we have inherited the phrase ‘Demons of Darkness,' it was an ancient rabbinical belief that the demons went abroad in darkness not only because it facilitated their attacks on man, but because being of luminous forms, they could recognise each other better with a background of darkness.
The ex-god-Deities demonised by conquest—Theological animo
sity-Illustration from the Avesta—Devil-worship an arrested Deism-Sheik Adi—Why demons were painted ugly-Survivals of their beauty.
THE phenomena of the transformation of deities into demons meet the student of Demonology at every step. We shall have to consider many examples of a kind similar to those which have been mentioned in the preceding chapter; but it is necessary to present at this stage of our inquiry a sufficient number of examples to establish the fact that in every country forces have been at work to degrade the primitive gods into types of evil, as preliminary to a consideration of the nature of those forces.
We find the history of the phenomena suggested in the German word for idol, Abgott-ex-god. Then we have 'pagan,' villager, and 'heathen,' of the heath, denoting those who stood by their old gods after others had transferred their faith to the new. These words bring us to consider the influence upon religious conceptions of the struggles which have occurred between races and nations, and consequently between their religions. It must be borne in mind that by the time any tribes had gathered to the consistency of a nation, one of the strongest forces of its coherence would
be its priesthood. So soon as it became a general belief that there were in the universe good and evil Powers, there must arise a popular demand for the means of obtaining their favour; and this demand has never failed to obtain a supply of priesthoods claiming to bind or influence the præternatural beings. These priesthoods represent the strongest motives and fears of a people, and they were gradually intrenched in great institutions involving powerful interests. Every invasion or collision or mingling of races thus brought their respective religions into contact and rivalry; and as no priesthood has been known to consent peaceably to its own downfall and the degradation of its own deities, we need not wonder that there have been perpetual wars for religious ascendency. It is not unusual to hear sects among ourselves accusing each other of idolatry. In earlier times the rule was for each religion to denounce its opponent's gods as devils. Gregory the Great wrote to his missionary in Britain, the Abbot Mellitus, second Bishop of Canterbury, that “whereas the people were accustomed to sacrifice many oxen in honour of demons, let them celebrate a religious and solemn festival, and not slay the animals to the devil (diabolo), but to be eaten by themselves to the glory of God.' Thus the devotion of meats to those deities of our ancestors which the Pope pronounces demons, which took place chiefly at Yule-tide, has survived in our more comfortable Christmas banquets. This was the fate of all the deities which Christianity undertook to suppress. But it had been the habit of religions for many ages before. They never denied the actual existence of the deities they were engaged in suppressing. That would have been too great an outrage upon popular beliefs, and might have caused a reaction; and, besides, each new religion had an interest of its own in preserving the basis of belief in these invisible 24
beings. Disbelief in the very existence of the old gods might be followed by a sceptical spirit that might endanger the new. So the propagandists maintained the existence of native gods, but called them devils. Sometimes wars or intercourse between tribes led to their fusion; the battle between opposing religions was drawn, in which case there would be a compromise by which several deities of different origin might continue together in the same race and receive equal homage. The differing degrees of importance ascribed to the separate persons of the Hindu triad in various localities of India, suggest it as quite probable that Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva signalled in their union the political unity of certain districts in that country. The blending of the names of Confucius and Buddha, in many Chinese and Japanese temples, may show us an analogous process now going on, and, indeed, the various ethnical ideas combined in the christian Trinity render the fact stated one of easy interpretation. But the religious difficulty was sometimes not susceptible of compromise. The most powerful priesthood carried the day, and they used every ingenuity to degrade the gods of their opponents. Agathodemons were turned into kakodemons. The serpent, worshipped in many lands, might be adopted as the support of sleeping Vishnu in India, might be associated with the rainbow ('the heavenly ser
1. Any Orientalist will appreciate the wonderful hotchpot of Hindu and Arabic language and religion in the following details, noted down among rude tribes of the Malay Peninsula. We hear of Jin Bumi, the earth.god (Arabic jin = demon, Sanskrit bhümi = earth); incense is burnt to Jewajewa (San. skrit dewa = god), who intercedes with Pirman, the supreme invisible deity above the sky (Brahma ?); the Moslem Allah Taala, with his wife Nabi Mahamad (Prophet Mohammed), appear in the Hinduised characters of creator and destroyer of all things ; and while the spirits worshipped in stones are called by the Hindu term of 'dewa' or deity, Moslem conversion has so lar influenced the mind of the stone-worshipper that he will give to his sacred boulder the name of Prophet Mohammed.'— Tylor's * Primitive Culture,' vol. ii. p. 230.
pent') in Persia, but elsewhere was cursed as the very genius of evil.
The operation of this force in the degradation of deities, is particularly revealed in the Sacred Books of Persia. In that country the great religions of the East would appear to have contended against each other with especial fury, and their struggles were probably instrumental in causing one or more of the early migrations into Western Europe. The great celestial war between Ormuzd and Ahriman - Light and Darkness — corresponded with a violent theological conflict, one result of which is that the word deva, meaning 'deity' to Brahmans, means 'devil' to Parsees. The following extract from the Zend-Avesta will serve as an example of the spirit in which the war was waged :
*All your devas are only manifold children of the Evil Mind—and the great one who worships the Saoma of lies and deceits; besides the treacherous acts for which you are notorious throughout the seven regions of the earth.
You have invented all the evil which men speak and do, which is indeed pleasant to the Devas, but is devoid of all goodness, and therefore perishes before the insight of the truth of the wise.
*Thus you defraud men of their good minds and of their immortality by your evil minds—as well through those of the Devas as that of the Evil Spirit—through evil deeds and evil words, whereby the power of liars grows.' 1
That is to say-Ours is the true god : your god is a devil.
The Zoroastrian conversion of deva (deus) into devil does not alone represent the work of this odium theologicum. In the early hymns of India the appellation asuras
1 Yagna, 32.