If God is a personification of the term Good, then Devil may derive from Evil – a word stemming from the Latin diabolus, which in Middle English became devel.
With over 40 names, the Devil has far more titles in The Bible than anyone else except Jesus – the most common being Lucifer, Satan, the Prince of Darkness, and the Anti-Christ. Revelation mentions The Beast, though Matthew refers to the ruler of the Lake of Fire as Beelzebub.
The Evil One is also called the Deceiver, Dragon, Enemy, Father of all Lies, and Leviathan. Portrayed as the Serpent of Old, the Tempter, and the Wicked One, the Devil appeared as the snake who seduced Eve in the Garden of Eden.
Traditionally, the Devil is a fallen angel who lures human beings into sin. He is often seen as the opposite force to God, stealing souls away from Heaven for the darker realms of Hell.
In many cultures Satan remains a symbol of evil – a metaphor for sin and excessive pleasure. He is the trickster, folk villain, enemy, anti-hero, tyrant, and source of unhappiness and misfortune.
So what the devil should we call the Evil One? Anything except Master!
The Faust legend is a morality tale warning ambitious young men to reject the devil and all earthly temptations of power and desires of the flesh.
In German classic literature a jaded scholar called Doctor Faust makes a pact with the devil Mephistopheles, signed and sealed with his own blood. He agrees to exchange his soul for worldly pleasure, riches, and knowledge – but when the terms of the agreement expire he is doomed to spend the rest of eternity in hell.
Who is Faust based on? The most likely prototype seems to be Dr. Johann Georg Faust (c. 1480-1540), a famous German alchemist and magician.
Why does Faust make this pact? He is a dissatisfied academic who yearns for something more.
How long is his rule on earth? Faust is granted 24 years – one for each hour of the day.
What does the magician do with his new powers? First, he seduces a beautiful maiden called Gretchen. Yet although he destroys her earthly life she is granted a place in Heaven because of her innocence. Then he plays pranks on people, settles old scores, and meddles in the politics of his day. At one point he demands to see the most beautiful woman ever, and is granted a visit from Helen of Troy. And finally – having sated his lusts and tamed the natural world – he has a moment of utter contentment before the devil appears and rips his body to pieces.
In choosing instant gratification and pleasure, Doctor Faust rejects Christianity and turns away from God. He is a personification of Matthew’s warning: “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?” (16:26-27)
Geraldine Monk’s Interregnum is a collection of experimental poems based on the Lancashire Witch Trials of 1612. The title refers to a gap or pause in history where the social order shifts. In this collection, nine-year-old Jennet Device represents such a metamorphosis on several different levels. She is the downtrodden, exploited child – a female in the lowest patriarchal position – and is closely aligned with the animal kingdom. But she also becomes an instrument of change.
As the folklorist John Roby shrewdly observed, “Witchcraft and kingcraft both came in with the Stuarts and went out with them.” Twenty-two years after the first Lancashire Witch Trials, another group of Pendle folk were sent to the assizes, found guilty, but eventually received a royal pardon from Charles 1st who was not as superstitious as his father, King James. Jennet Device is thought to have been among the accused – “Babyface on the chopping block” (Monk) – but the times were finally changing.
This anthology is strange and penetrating. It pushes against traditional language, exploring a stark landscape where everything struggles to survive against poverty, prejudice, and oppression. Resistance is inscribed on the body in scabs and scars. But there is a freedom in the natural world that can liberate even the weariest spirit.
Monk explores the importance of what happened on the slopes of Pendle Hill – past and present – questioning to what extent history can impact the future. She ultimately concludes that although we cannot live the lives of others – nor escape “Words birthed. Made flesh. Took wing. Horrids and / enormaties” – we can strive to be less ignorant and more compassionate.
If you like challenging poetry that is felt and processed in gut before being savored in the mind, you will probably enjoy Interregnum.
Need a refreshing dessert for hot summer days? Try a chilled fruit fool as a quick, easy treat!
1lb raspberries, gooseberries, or rhubarb
4oz fresh elderflowers
1/3 pint of milk or single cream
1 tablespoon of vanilla
1. Prepare the fruit for stewing (wash, peel, top-and-tail as needed) and place in a medium-sized pan on stove.
2. Add the sugar, elderflowers, and sufficient water to cover the fruit. Bring to the boil and stew until all the fruit is soft. For a smooth texture, strain the fruit through a sieve. For a crunchier taste, stir the mixture with a fork to soften the remaining pulp.
3. Cool in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
4. Over low heat melt the butter.
5. Add all the remaining ingredients and whisk continually for 8 – 10 minutes until the mixture thickens.
6. Cool in the refrigerator for at least thirty minutes.
7. Fold the cold fruit mixture carefully into the cold custard to create a marbled effect.
8. Spoon into individual serving dishes and top with fresh fruit, mint leaves, or whipped cream.