In the spirit of the Halloween season, I was hunting and gathering images of the devil aka Satan aka Lucifer aka Scratch. I don’t know that I have any amazing fresh insights on Our Dark Lord.
My main point here is to offer up some interesting images of the dark master as he’s been imagined over time for your holiday meditations. Some of these I know a little about; some of them I don’t know the background.
Let’s start with this Gustave Dore image of Satan at the center of Cocytus, the ninth circle of Hell in Dante’s Inferno.
I really dig this hot Satanic tango.
Here’s a nice classic representation of red Satan with horns and a pitchfork.
Here’s a vintage 1513 metal engraving of the Devil meeting the Knight of Death in the woods, or something like that.
One recurring idea of Satan involves him as representative of our more base low-level animal instincts. The prince of this world is thus often represented as some kind of animal, often goats; my favorite, naturally.
In Biblical lore, Lucifer was beautiful. The devil is often now depicted as suave, good looking, and seductive, “a man of wealth and taste,” but historically these images of Satan as an ugly primitive beast were a common theme.
Part of those horrible animal instincts, of course, is sex. Sex is bad, m’kay? Satan is sometimes presented as a horny satyr. That temptation to sin naturally lends itself to representing the evil one as a seductive woman, such as in this Jenna Jameson devil costume.
Is it Dave Nalle? No, it’s the ex-carny Anton Lavey. He liked to play on that sexy Satan idea. This seems pretty cheesy to me, but he had movie stars and such throwing themselves at him. It worked for him.
Another recurrent devil theme is the idea of Satan as a lost, suffering soul. Look at his anguish in these images.
Indeed, it appears in this image that Satan has been reduced to praying- though I wouldn’t think he’d be expecting favors from God, what with that little trying to overthrow heaven thing and all.
Of course the fine, God-fearing and peace-loving folks of the Palestinian Authority recognize the real source of evil. Written on the Jew’s (Satan) abdomen: Israeli Colonialism. The Pope says: “Peace on Earth.” The Jew (Satan) answers: “Colonies on Earth.” Front page cartoon in Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, the official Palestinian Authority Daily, March 22, 2000.
These days, Western societies are much more secular, and less inclined to take Satan seriously. This 1960 Louvin Brothers album cover seems to be a popular image today in some quarters as kitsch, with the plywood devil and all.
Then again, when some event of human depravity slams us sufficiently, the old crazy Biblical stuff starts looking more reasonable. Surely Satan must have been behind such unbelievable wickedness as 9-11, right? Thus, there seem to be multiple examples around of people finding the face of Satan in smoke of the Twin Towers.
I really like The Weekly World News, because they’re the only source you can count on to give you ALL the news- whether it’s true or not. You might take this cover story about Satan being captured by US soldiers in Iraq as satiric of the kind of thinking that was producing stuff like the 9/11 image above.
Mostly though, us sophisticated moderns are more prone to cast Satan as a comic character, such as Jon Lovitz’ characterization of him as the ultimate loser on Saturday Night Live, beaten in the People’s Court.
For another approach, consider this camp Satanic cheerleaders movie.
Trey Parker and Matt Stone have made perhaps the best comic use of Satan though, starting as Saddam Hussein’s fem homosexual lover in the South Park movie. I was especially pleased back in August to hear that US Marines guarding Hussein in Iraq have repeatedly forced him to watch the South Park movie, particularly the bedroom stuff.
Following the fem gay routine, notice how Satan’s sitting here all knock-kneed like an anxious teenage girl waiting for a kiss from her date.
Just last week in episode 1011 “Hell on Earth” Satan (sans Hussein) threw a big Halloween party in his own honor, wanting it to be as as big as one of those ridiculous oversized Sweet 16 parties sometimes thrown for spoiled rich American teenage girls. Thus, it was only logical that Satan show up for his party in a Britney Spears schoolgirl costume.
Then you can get into all the incarnations of Satan in movies, from Al Pacino to George Burns, but that’s starting something else entirely.
So let us close then with one such image from the best screen Satan ever, Walter Huston in The Devil and Daniel Webster. In this final image from the movie, he’s lost Neighbor Stone’s soul in court. Needing to get back on track, he’s been consulting his little black book to see who’s next on the list. Who could it be?
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