How the Demiurge Became the Devil | Earth Diver Myth

When chaos and disorder reign, it  is often the Devil who is blamed,   his sinister machinations believed to disrupt  the very balance of the cosmos ordained by God.   The Devil, once a mere representative of  non-life, has evolved into a malevolent   force over time, an antagonist to the  protagonism of his divine counterpart.

My name is Radiana, and I shall reveal to you the   obscure nature of this being  who, in Romanian folklore,   is a demiurge and trickster, quite different from  the diabolical Devil depicted in Christianity. In dualistic cosmology, the universe is viewed as  the product of two coeternal and coexisting forces  

Or principles: one representing life and cosmos  and the other non-life and chaos. This concept   collapsed over time into an oversimplified  metaphor of good and evil, as the two forces   are often seen as being in a state of constant  strife or conflict, with each trying to overpower  

The other. And some have personified these  forces and refer to them as God and the Devil. Early Christian theology introduced the Devil to  Western culture as a fallen angel who rebelled   against God and lured humanity into sin,  establishing him as an embodiment of evil.  

While he was assimilated by some cultures  and integrated into religious thought, he   has also evolved in other cultures as a standard  reference to generic evil and was overlapped with   pre-Christian deities of Chthonic nature or  primordial beings who co-created the world.

Such is the case in Romanian mythology, and  this is also reflected in the common language,   with one popular proverb stating that the  Devil is not as dark as one may think,   often referring to a situation or a person that  may not be as bad as perceived upon first glance.

Although the origins of the word are  said to be of scriptural origin from   the Greek diaballein which means “to  slander, attack,” or “to throw across,”   and passed down through popular mythology through  the church and ecclesiastical books, according to  

Older etymologies, the name of the Devil is  closely linked to the realm of the sacred. The word “devil” is believed by some  scholars to mean “lesser god” from the   root div- or the Proto-Indo-European  dyeu- which means “to shine” and its   derivatives refer to the sky,  heaven, god, and the divine.

And it is important to note here that, when the  Old Testament was translated from Hebrew to Greek,   Egyptian Hebrews from the third century  BC used the form “diabolos” instead of the   Hebrew “Satan” to refer to a being similar to an  angel whose task was to test man’s faith to God.  

And when this was translated to Latin, the word  “diabolos” morphed into “diabolus”, which in the   Middle Ages came to be understood as meaning  “double death” or “the double bite of death”   from the words “dia” meaning “two”  and “bolus” meaning “bite” or “death”.

Some scholars believe that this Christian  conception of the Devil and the imagery   conjured by it was significantly influenced  by the Desert Fathers who retreated to the   Egyptian deserts in the 4th-3rd centuries AD,  as their visions of the dark angel mentioned  

In scriptures and memories of fallen gods  led them to create a synthetic portrait   of a grotesque anthropomorphic devil, which was  later legislated by the Council of Toledo in 447. Be that as it may, the first Christians did not  imagine the devil in the way most do today nor  

Was he portrayed often in primitive Christian  art. According to ethnologist Antoaneta Olteanu,   such ritual “silence” around his portrayal  can be explained by one Russian fairy tale,   in which a peasant is commanded by a  lord to paint the portrait of the Devil;  

And the man does so but without looking  at his art. When he finishes the painting,   he takes it to the lord who, after gazing  upon it, is found dead the next day. And so, it was only centuries later that  the Devil as we know him today came to  

Be depicted. Art Historian Jurgis Baltrušaitis  demonstrated that European demonic iconography of   the 14th-16th centuries had been enriched with  elements from the East, which intensified its   frightening aspects. Thus, hordes of devils with  bat wings or women’s breasts came from China to   the walls of Western Churches, amplifying  the demonism of an already cryptic being.

And so, the Devil has not always been depicted as  diabolical. And he maintained in many aspects his   divine origin, even if as an intermediary between  the material world and the spiritual realm.   And Romanian mythology emphasizes this,  placing him alongside God as a primordial  

Being whose influence on reality spans  back to the very act of creation,   in which he is said to have  played a significant role. It is said that the Devil emerged into the world  alongside God, from a worm on an island of foam  

Floating on the primordial ocean called Saturday’s  Water. Although, in a Transylvanian variant,   the Devil is said to have appeared after God,  in his angry solitude, cast his hatchet into the   cosmic ocean from which sprung the cosmic Fir tree  representative of the axis mundi. The Devil was  

Nestling under it, and so he was made the being  at the center of creation. But, in all variants,   the Devil calls God Fârtat which means brother  while God calls him Nefârtat which means the   opposite, a non-brother, or someone “unlike him”,  an enemy. And despite their differences, they live  

In good understanding at first, until the Devil  wants to create the world or a bed to rest upon. At the behest of God, the Devil dives into  the cosmic ocean and brings mud to the surface   from which the Earth is created by God and  later expanded through the Devil’s cunning.  

Depending on the version, the mud burns the Devil,  darkening his appearance, or it is his cunning   and disobedience to God that morphs him into a  dark monstrous being over time, but regardless,   some of the mud always gets trapped under his long  fingernails and henceforth he is deemed unclean  

Despite the dirt being considered magical and  the Earth made from it being considered sacred.   This makes the Devil an earth-diver, which is a  common character in traditional creation myths   throughout all of Eurasia, India, Oceania, and  America, who is sent by the primordial being into  

The cosmic ocean to find the mud for the creation  of the Earth. This motif is between 75,000 and   130,000 years old and so, it has been passed down  through oral tradition for a long time. While in   most cultures the earth-diver is depicted as a  bird, usually a duck, in Eastern European creation  

Myths, this character is generally embodied  by the Devil, one of the primordial twins. And in Romanian folklore, the Devil is not  only an earth-diver but also a demiurge.   As the legend goes, “God made the world and  everything on it with the help of the Devil,  

And because of this, the world is only  good in part, and evil exists in it.”   It is said that, after completing the creation  of the earth, God went to wash his hands,   and “from the drops that splashed  from his hands, the angels were born.  

Seeing this, the Devil also washed his hands, but  from his drops came out demons. And so he kept   washing and sprinkling droplets everywhere, and  therefore more demons exist than angels.” And this   is also reflected in the Romanian proverb: “God  builds the house, the devil brings the guests.”

And so, in Romanian mythology, the devil’s role  is not limited to that of a mere antagonist of   the Abrahamic God. Instead, he serves as  a demiurge and a crucial figure in binding   together the divine and mortal realms. As a  trickster archetype, he also causes disruption  

And chaos in both worlds through his otherwise  creative meddling and inventions. And although   he is put in direct opposition to God, his scope  is not merely limited to the destruction of his   brother’s creations. Many of the Devil’s  attempts at proving his power resulted in  

The birth of new realities and creations that  the other creator could never have conceived. In some folk tales, the act of creation seems  to be an eternal and rather playful competition   between the two beings. For instance, it  is said that the Devil created the goat,  

And God created the sheep. Then the Devil  built the tavern and God built the Church.   And when the Devil invented tobacco and  brandy, God invented frankincense and   wine. But sometimes his creations remain  unfinished or turn out to be bizarre. One legend has it that the  Devil built the first house,  

But he built it without windows or doors and so  he could only enter and exit through the chimney.   He was not very happy with it and so he gave  it to God who fixed it. And then he created  

The wolf from mud, but the wolf would not move  at his command. God, seeing this, yelled at the   wolf to jump and bite the Devil and so the  wolf lunged at his creator who ran from him.

Another time, when the Devil saw that God created  the first man, he wanted to create one too but he   ended up creating the monkey instead. And to scorn  God, he taught the first man how to wear his pelt  

Inside out, growl, and hide under a bridge to  thus scare God. But when God crossed the bridge   and heard the man growl, he cursed him to forever  remain that way, and thus the first bear appeared.

And so, although God was not able to conceive  the same things as the Devil, it was always he   that perfected his brother’s creations and  so the Devil always remained in his shadow.   Because of this, the Devil grew with resentment  and turned his demons and some of God’s angels  

Against him. They revolted but lost the battle.  The traitors fell into the bowels of the Earth,   while some fell into waters, forests, and deserts  where they were ordained to remain and rule. Others got stuck hanging in the aether upside  down. It is said that their drool rains on the  

Earth ever since, causing death and disease. Those  who hung upright began creating the Borders of   the Aether, the borders that the souls of the  dead must cross and pay to reach the Heavens. As for the Devil himself, God chained  and threw him into the infernal realm  

Near the core of creation or axis mundi which  is said to be in the waters beneath the Earth.   There, “he sits fettered in the sea and endlessly  gnaws at his chains. And just when they are about   to come loose, the blacksmiths fasten them  back. They were taught by their ancestors  

That on Sundays, when the Sun is about to set,  they must beat the hammer once in vain and then   the Devil’s chains are made again.” And this part  of the myth is reflected in what is possibly the   oldest and most consistent folk tale across the  Indo-European space: The Smith and the Devil.

Although he was confined to the Underworld, it is  said that the Devil continued to scheme against   God. And so, he crafted a golden throne adorned  with jewels that would impress his brother.   But he crafted it in such a manner that  whoever sat on it, would be stuck there,  

Fettered by unseen hands. When he was done, he  invited God to his realm and sit on his throne.   But sensing his intentions, God tricked  the Devil into sitting on the throne   first to show him how it’s done, and  so the Devil fell into his own trap.

As such, Romanian folklore places the Devil in  the underworld where he is shackled and naked   in his dark and hideous form. But his spirit  is believed to dwell on Earth, especially in   desolate wastelands “where roosters do not crow,  sheep do not graze, and priests do not toll.”

Here, he can take on any form he desires, from  a lowly goat to a graceful horse, a small mouse   to a fierce dragon. Sometimes, he may appear as  a monstrous being with two horns, pointed ears,   wolfish red eyes, and goat-like legs complete  with hooves, fur, and a long tail, and other  

Times he can fashion himself into a simple ball  of yarn. No shape is beyond his ability except   for those said to be created by God, such  as the sheep, bee, lamb, dove, or donkey. His shape-shifting abilities make him a master of  illusion and trickery and it is said that he uses  

Them to lead people astray, particularly those who  have broken sacred norms regarding time and space,   such as stepping into a magical place like  the forest or a graveyard during the night.   There is no shortage of folk tales  describing the Devil’s apparition  

In such desolate places in the dead of the  night putting the fear of God into people. However, not everyone is afraid of him and many  call him by repulsive names such as Dark One, Ugly   One, Crippled One, Killed-by-the-Cross, Unclean  One, or Scaraoțchi, from the word Iscariot.  

And they often send him awful people and objects  too by using the well-known curse “Go to Hell.”   They also “cut the Devil in four” quite often,   which means they’ve achieved a great  accomplishment, as the Romanian saying goes. Although he can be cunning and is described  as such in many tales, folklore suggests that  

The Devil can be outsmarted by human ingenuity  and especially women who, as the saying goes,   ”are more devilish than the Devil.” The story of  “The Woman Stronger Than the Devil” is a popular   example of this. In the tale, the Devil comes  to take the fortune of a man who made a pact  

With him. But a woman intervenes to help  the man. She gives the Devil a string of   curly hair to straighten, but the Devil fails  and flees, leaving the man with his fortune. In other stories, the hero outwits the Devil by  tricking him repeatedly, so much so that the Devil  

Falls into his own traps or outright tries to get  rid of the human by even paying him to go away.   And this theme is widespread throughout Romania,   especially in Maramureș,  Muntenia, and Transylvania. Beyond such tales, where  folklore meets esotericism,   the Devil acts as a conduit between  the spiritual and material realms,  

Imparting knowledge and information that would  otherwise be unattainable. His connection to the   mythical time of creation and the afterlife, and  his ability to move between these realms, can make   him a valuable ally according to folklore. And in  some tales, summoning him can result in a mutually  

Beneficial exchange of skills and information,  leading to unique wealth and occult knowledge. The Devil is known to patronize figures  like sorcerers and skilled performers,   who he endows with extraordinary  abilities. And there is an array of   traditions and practices used to establish  communication or exchanges with him.  

It is said that if you need the Devil for  anything, you must collect nine sticks that   you find spinning on a body of water and, whilst  naked, take them to a crossroad at midnight.   There, make a fire with them and the  Devil will appear. And when he does,  

Offer him two eggs. If he accepts them, he will do  anything you ask. And after he fulfills your wish,   you must leave the location and when you do, you  will hear screaming, laughing, chanting, drumming,   even gunshots, but you must not look back because  if you do, the Devil will turn you to shreds.

But the Devil will not dare as  much against old witches, or hags.   It is said that the only creature the  Devil fears is the hag, which is the   term commonly used for a healing witch,  wise woman, or sorceress in her old age.  

As opposed to Western interpretations of witches  who are enslaved by the Devil in some way, the hag   in Romanian folklore has mythical qualities and  legends place her emergence in time immemorial. As one legend goes, once upon a time when God  was walking with St. Peter on Earth, he saw the  

Devil arguing with an old woman. He immediately  sent St. Peter to separate them and make peace.   And he did as God instructed, but as soon as he  left the two alone, they started arguing again.   Once more, God sent him to separate them. And  so, St. Peter got angry and beheaded them both.  

As if he had done nothing wrong, he then  returned to God who asked how he separated them.   And St. Peter told him that he cut off  their heads, to which God demanded that   he go back and restore them. St. Peter went  and put the Devil’s head on the old woman’s,  

And on the old woman’s, the Devil’s,  because he could not tell the difference. And so, his metamorphosis from an  earth-diver demiurge to a trickster   archetype and later a personification of  generic evil is, at its core, a reflection   of man’s magico-religious perception  of non-life and the agency of chaos.  

Until next time, remember: the only thing  more devilish than the Devil is a cunning hag.

#Demiurge #Devil #Earth #Diver #Myth