Who is Satan?

by Don David Scott, the Raven

"I was not content to believe in a personal devil and serve him, in the ordinary sense of the word. I wanted to get hold of him personally and become his chief of staff."
Aleister Crowley (1875-1947), British occultist. The Confessions of Aleister Crowley, ch. 5 (1929; rev. 1970).
Perhaps the dictionary definition of Satan will shed some light on this subject: (perhaps not):
"Satan ... noun
The profoundly evil adversary of God and humanity, often identified with the leader of the fallen angels; the Devil.
[Middle English, from Old English, from Late Latin Sat'n, from Greek Satanas, Satan, from Hebrew satan, devil, adversary, from satan, to accuse.]"
The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Third Edition. -----------------------------------------
The Concise Columbia Encyclopedia says:
"Satan [Heb., = adversary], in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, the principle of evil conceived as a person; also called the Devil. In Christian tradition Satan was the leader of the angels who rebelled against God and who were cast out of heaven. He and his followers are seen as tempters of humanity and the source of evil in the world. He has numerous other names, such as Lucifer, Beelzebub, Evil One, and Prince of Darkness."
Dictionaries attempt to provide us with basic definitions, defining words in their broadest sense. One purpose of a dictionary is to supply the speakers of a language with meanings common to all, thereby allowing us to understand each other. Encyclopedias also define terms of common usage, but they go a step farther by providing essays on subjects which words invoke. The philosophies from which Satan arose sprang from the distant past, and from a clash of cultures. We will need to descend (as from the Gate to Hell) deeper in to the chasm of history. --------------------
"Those who consider the Devil to be a partisan of Evil and angels to be warriors for Good accept the demagogy of the angels. Things are clearly more complicated."

Milan Kundera (b. 1929), Czech author, critic. The Book of Laughter and Forgetting, pt. 2, ch. 4 (1978; tr. 1980). ---------------------
Philosophies in general and this subject in particular require diligence to comprehend. Dedication to truth, not an acceptance of the teachings of others but rather a scientific study of reality, is required. Logic should be your tool of choice in any study. Many Scholarly works have covered this subject and I do not claim to do more than scratch the surface of Satan's origin. My intent is to stimulate the need for knowledge. I hope that my casual essay will arouse the desire in others to study this subject in more depth. In the future, I will expand my essay in greater detail. Now, let's get our hands dirty...
In the beginning, the Hebrew god was without form and void. His people, the Hebrew tribes, were primarily hunter-gatherers; if you had it, they hunted you down and killed you for it. They took from others and then made it their own. When the "walls of Jericho" came tumbling down, as you can see in the Torah, the Hebrews killed every man, woman and child. Then, by direction of their "god," they severed the heads of the fallen and pounded them to the tops of stakes for display. This was to serve as a warning. It also provided the Hebrews with an income.
The idea that only "our tribe" is human and everyone else is "not human" is not unique. Actually, it is common among tribes even today in "primitive," for lack of a better word, societies. Yet their violent adherence to their god was noted by other tribes. Noted, and dealt with. Civilization after civilization used them as slaves after winning the war against them and thus saving their own heads from the stake.
Hebrew philosophy has, throughout recorded history, been eclectic. They often absorbed the ideas of their "oppressors" into their religion. "We are being punished by god" the holy men would say, "why are we being punished?" The answers to these questions usually took the form of "god is teaching us..." During the years 586-538 BCE the Hebrews entered a period historians call the BABYLONIAN CAPTIVITY, where the Persians used them as slaves. The Persians believed in two basic gods, the god of night and the god of day, a god of light and a god of darkness. Since you could pull off unscrupulous behavior at night, the god of darkness seemed less-than perfect to the Hebrew captives. They reasoned that the god of light must be JHVH, their god, and that the god of darkness must be his adversary. "Satan" in Hebrew means "adversary," and thus, Satan was born.
Shortly after Satan's "birth" the idea of Hell gained acceptance. Prior to this, the official doctrine was that all people (Hebrews) who died went to Sheol. Sheol was a place of shadows where the world still existed but remained forever out of your grasp, a phantom world that you walked for eternity. You went to Sheol despite your blasphemy or holiness. Our idea of ghosts emerged from this belief.
The Persians also are responsible for the doctrines of a final judgment, the resurrection of the dead, a scheme of world history, new beliefs about the end of time, and a more involved and extensive set of beliefs concerning angels. Frankly, the Hebrews did not come up with much on their own. Their belief system reminds me of a well-organized pawn shop. -----------------
"We may not pay Satan reverence, for that would be indiscreet, but we can at least respect his talents. A person who has for untold centuries maintained the imposing position of spiritual head of four-fifths of the human race, and political head of the whole of it, must be granted the possession of executive abilities of the loftiest order."
Mark Twain (1835-1910), Concerning the Jews, in Harper (New York, Sept. 1899; repr. in Complete Essays, 1963). ------------------
A survey of the Bible will yield no explanation of Satan's origin. Further, no explanation of gods' reason for allowing Satan to exist is given. The christians, who built their religion on a reinterpretation of Judiastic thought, further elaborated on the origin and nature of Satan. Most christian theology personifies Satan as god's real opponent, who is an entity, a real being. This idea is nowhere to be found in the christian bible or Hebrew torah. In the bible, he is only a "principle" in a "created order," not a real being. The title "fallen angel" was also appended by christianity.
The belief in a master of the powers of darkness belonged to many ancient cultures, most notably the Chaldeans, the Persians, and the Babylonians. Zoroastrianism's Ahriman and the Egyptian God Set, all possessed similar characteristics to Satan.
Satan has been called many things, in the New Testament he is named "the tempter," "the slanderer," "the enemy," "the liar," terms which the Hebrews undoubtedly used for Jesus. A survey of the teachings of Jesus next to the doctrines of the Torah, would provide an excellent case for proving the Hebrews correct, at least with regards to Judiasm.
With the preceding in mind, we will return to the original meaning of "Satan," adversary. To me, as a Satanist, Satan represents the opposer to all judeo-christian ideals and ideology. Satan is the personification of Evil, where Evil means fleshly, unspiritual, and ungodly. Satan represents the fulfillment of the fleshly life, the enjoyment of the here and now, and the liberation of the psyche from the chains of judeo-christian guilt.
Who is Satan?
Oh hear the names He has been given:
Archfiend, Prince of Darkness, Prince of this world, serpent, Old Serpent, Tempter, Adversary, Antichrist, Common Enemy, Enemy of mankind Diabolus, Father of Lies, fallen angel, rebel angel, evil genie, Shaitan, Eblis, spirit of evil, principle of evil, Angra Mainyu or Ahriman, the Foul Fiend, the Devil, the Evil One, Wicked One, Old Nick, Apollyon, Abaddon, Satan, Lucifer, King of Hell, angel of the bottomless pit...
Who is Satan? He is the mighty adversary of the inhuman death-cult religions. He is the light springing from the darkness of history. He is the true friend of mankind.
But most of all....
"The Prince of Darkness is a gentleman."
(William Shakespeare in King Lear, act 3, sc. 4. Spoken by Edmund the Bastard.)
Hail Satan!
Don David Scott