In a world in financial crisis, where young children can download footage over the Internet in seconds of people being hacked to death, the question “what is Evil?” should be easy.

It seems we are “awash” with evil. Mothers selling their children for prostitution so they can get more money to score drugs. A world where few things remain that qualify as “truly shocking”.

But is all this pornography, this pornography of violence truly evil in the traditional sense?

Or have the lines between what is personal choice and “entertainment” and what is “evil” on the other blurred so much it is hard to get a clear answer?

In world in which masses of information are available at our fingertips has our picture of “what is evil?” changed or are we just a bit more world weary?

The “Devil” in “Hell” is the “Source” of Evil

If US Television represents the modern storyteller, then the “packaging” of evil in a Hollywood sense provides for a simple, easy to understand narrative:

“The source of greatest is Evil is The Devil, otherwise known by a string of aliases such as Lucifer and Satan. The Devil exists in Hell and his job is tempt humanity and torture condemned souls.”

This is close to what many millions of children are taught around the world, especially by christian churches. Many believe it. Even the Catholic Church is adamant that this narrative is true and that the existence of “The Devil” is indisputable.

Why then do so many people doubt the existence of the personification of evil?

Could it be because the simple narrative we just described, the narrative promoted heavily by mainstream christian churches and endorsed by the Vatican is nothing more than a 20th Century marketing myth- created much like those other great consumer myths – Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny?

It’s pretty easy to see. Look up the origin of the word “Hell” on the world wide web and you’ll quickly see it was originally the name of a Nordic goddess of the underworld 1,500 years ago.

The word “Devil” is Greek (diabaulus) meaning slander, traduce and it wasn’t used as a label for the supreme evil being until well into the 6th and 7th Century CE.

How then can we make sense of the true meaning and origins of evil?

The origin of word (Etymology)

Our first mistake in trying to understand the meaning of “evil” is in thinking of a kind of negative force, rather than a singular entity.

The word evil itself is translated from the Ancient Greek word for an ancient demon spirit ubel, which is equivalent to the the Hebrew name azazel for the same spirit. In Olde English, the word was spelt yfel and later ivell and evyl.

In the earliest meaning and origin of the name azazel (evil) is that he was believed to be a demi-God cast down by the gods for his actions against humanity and doomed to wander the Earth never to escape until the end of time. In Biblican stories, this equates to the story of the archangel Michael and the story now associated to the history of The Devil.

However, in escoteric Jewish traditions, azazel was not the sole evil spirit, but one of seventy-two (72) demons who when they assisted were arch-angels and when they were called to curse others were demons.

Therefore the word evil in its earliest sense, is evil incarnate….. the physical manifestation of ill, badness or azazel. While the original meaning of evil as the title of the supreme bad spirit has been lost, evil retains strong negative meanings, including “bad in a positive sense, morally depraved, doing, or tending to do harm.”

In this understanding of evil as literally the personification of negativity as a spirit that we find a rich history across the ancient cultures including Mesopotamia, Syria, Egypt, Greece, Rome, Spain and Northern Europe in the connection between different labels meaning similar things.


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