Krampus, the Christmas Devil

Brom_Krampus

Krampus is the evil counterpart of St. Nicholas. Whereas jolly St. Nick brings well-behaved children gifts, Krampus carries naughty children off in a basket slung over his shoulder and takes them back to his lair.

The myth of Krampus is Germanic in origin, but other countries – such as Austria, southern Bavaria, Hungary, Slovenia and Croatia – have similar legends. The Krampus is generally a goat-like demonic entity with long horns, cloven hooves, and yellow eyes. Young men in the aforementioned countries dress like the Krampus, frightening small children.

In Europe, the feast of St. Nicholas is celebrated on the 6th of December. The evening preceding is called Krampusnacht, the night that the Krampus is said to materialize and punish naughty children. (In his more benign modern version, the Krampus punishes bad girls and boys with gifts of coal and ruten – bundles of birch used to swat disobedient children.) The evening might also be celebrated with a Krampuslaufen, an alcohol-fueled run through the streets in which participants dress as the Krampus or his female pagan counterpart, the perchten.

krampuslauf

Krampuskarten are greeting cards depicting the Krampus looming over naughty children (or “punishing” salacious women). Printed since the 1800’s, the earlier versions depict a more frightening and lewd beast; modern versions are much more charitable of his image. These illustrations are generally accompanied with humorous or raunchy slogans.

krampuscards

KRAMPUS THROUGH THE AGES

2000 BCE Enkidu appears in the Epic of Gilgamesh, the earliest known appearance of a ‘Wild Man’ in literature.

600 BCE In the book of Daniel in the Old Testament, King Nebuchadnezzar is punished by God for his pride when he is turned into a hairy beast.

217 BCE Saturnalia is introduced as a winter celebration in Rome, marked by gift giving, wild parties, and a reversal of the normal social roles of slave and master.

4th Century CEDue to Roman influence, many Germanic tribes, such as the Goths and Vandals, convert to Christianity; their pagan traditions survive in small villages in the Alps where the Church cannot penetrate.

1250 CE King’s Mirror, a Norwegian text, features a Wild Man character who is described as being covered in hair.

17th Century CE ‘Knecht Rupert’ appears as a figure in a Nuremberg Christmas procession.

1810 CE The Brothers Grimm began publishing stories of Germanic folktales, marking a resurgence in Germanic pagan folklore.

Early 19th Century CE Holiday postcards from Austria, Germany, and other parts of Europe feature holiday greetings Krampus and other companions of St. Nicholas.

Early 19th Century CE Germanic and Dutch immigrants to the US popularize ‘Pelznickel’ traditions in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and as far west as Indiana.

2004 CE Blab! Magazine curator Monte Beauchamp publishes Devil In Design, a collection of vintage Krampus postcards from the turn of the 19th century. This book marks an increase in Krampus’ popularity in the English speaking world.

2004 CE An Adult Swim show The Venture Brothers features Krampus during a Christmas special.

2007 CE The American television show Supernatural features an evil Krampus character.

2009 CE American satirist Stephen Colbert is visited by Krampus on his television show The Colbert Report.

– Who Is Krampus?, Krampus.com

Satanism, Tantrism and the Left-Hand Path

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“‘Left-Hand Path’ in the East

Tantrism can be found in both Hindu and Buddhist varieties. Hindu Tantric practice is generally divided amoung two paths; The Vamamarga (or vamacara or vamachara) or ‘Left Hand Path’ or red tantra and the Dakshinachara or ‘Right Hand Path’ or white tantra. The most obvious but not the only distinction between these two is that LHP Tantra involves actual sexual practice as part of its rituals while RHP tantra uses non-sexual yoga practices instead. It is interesting to note that in common usage in India today, the term ‘Tantra’ has come to mean ‘black magic’ while in the West that term has  come to refer mostly to hippie-like ‘sacred sex’ yoga classes. Experts say both interpretations tend to cloud the full picture of what Tantra is fully about.

… There is little question that Tantra (both Buddhist and Hindu) arose in part as an anti-nomian revolt against restrictive mainstream Vedic, Buddhist and even Muslim morality. So those who would say it has nothing to do with taboo-breaking are quite obviously wrong. …

Left-Hand Path in the West

Prior to LaVey, no one that I know of ever applied the term ‘Left-Hand Path’ to themself or to anyone else in a positive way in the West. As far as I can tell, the term first appears as a perjorative in Western literature in Helena Blavatsky’s ‘The Secret Doctrines’ of 1888 in which she uses it as a blanket term for bad-guy, selfish, materialistic, evil black magicians.

Blavatsky postulated that from the days of Atlantis there have been evil adepts of the Left-Hand Path who used their Black Magic for self-serving, materialistic and destructive purposes as contrasted with their opponents, the adepts of the Right-Hand Path who only pursue altruistic magic for the betterment of others. She obviously picked up (and partly misunderstood) the term ‘Left-Hand Path’ during her long study in India because the term does not appear in her earlier work, ‘Isis Unveiled’ at all. In subsequent writings, Blavatsky’s disciples have specifically made this moralistic judgmental error in understanding the basics of Vamacara or Left-Hand Path segment of Tantrism. …

It is pretty safe to assume that LaVey read Blavatsky and rejected almost all of her philosophy even to the point of recognizing himself and his outlook as the villain of her cosmology. When she shuddered about selfish Black Magician of the Left-Hand Path, LaVey probably smiled and recognized himself in that role. This was apparently the extent of Tantrism’s influence on the Satanic Bible and LaVey’s other works, since LaVey never mentioned it. But even badly filtered through Blavatsky’s misinterpretation, the essential truth of what the Left Hand Path is all about was recognizable to LaVey: indulgence instead of abstinence, pleasure instead of pain, selfishness instead of altruism, flesh instead of spirit.

But, while Vamachara Tantra and Modern Satanism are both Left Hand Path, there is an essential difference between the two that keeps Tantra from being strictly speaking, ‘Satanic.’ Modern Satanism expects its adherents to be their own gods without any need for personal instruction or permission from any guru to be a ‘Satanists.’ Vamachara Tantra however is not so individualistic and, in fact, strictly requires its initiates to study under the tutelage of a Tantrik guru. Tantra teaches that performance of the rites of Vamachara without the oversight of a guru will not only be ineffectual but warns that it might even be dangerous. So while both Vamachara Tantra and Modern Satanism are both LHP, Tantra cannot truly be said to be ‘Satanic’ per se in the sense that Satanists use the term.”

– RtM, Satanism, Tantrism and the Left-Hand Path

The Devil in Islamic Theology

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In Islam, there are three sapient creatures of Allah: humans, angels, and the jinn (or genies). Jinn are referred to in the Qur’an as having been made by “scorching fire” (Qur’an 15:27). They are divided into five types:

“1. If one is mentioning the jinn purely of themselves, the are called jinni.
2. If one is mentioning the jinn that live among mankind, they are called aamar whose plural is amaar.
3. If one is mentioning the ones that antagonize the young, they are called arwaah.
4. If one is mentioning the evil ones that antagonize humans they are called shaitan for the singular [and shayateen for plural].
5. If they cause even more harm and become strong, they are called afreet.”
muttaqun.com

In Arabic, the word jinn (“several genies”) is in the plural form; the singular form is jinni (“one genie”).

In this metaphysics, angels are without sin, and therefore without free will; they obey the orders of Allah without question. The jinn, like humans, are capable of sin, and therefore free will; they can be good, evil, or neutral. Jinn (and humans) that exercise their free will to evil ends are called shayateen, or shaitan in the singular form.

The first (and most infamous) jinn of note in the Qur’an is Iblis, who, because of his rank among Allah’s sapient creatures, was considered equal to the angels prior to his fall. When Allah commands his followers in Jannah (Paradise) to prostrate themselves before Adam, “the Best of Creation,” all but Iblis obey. Iblis refuses to prostrate himself before Adam, whom he considers lesser for having been made of the dirt, whereas he was made of holy fire. Allah casts him out of Jannah as punishment, but spares him an eternity in Hell until Yawm al-Qiyāmah, the Day of Last Judgment.

“The Noble Qur’an – Ar-Rahmaan 55:15, 15

He created man (Adam) from sounding clay like the clay of pottery.
And the jinns did He create from a smokeless flame of fire.

The Noble Qur’an – Al-Hijr 15:26-42

26. And indeed, We created man from sounding clay of altered black smooth mud.
27. And the jinn, We created aforetime from the smokeless flame of fire.
28. And (remember) when your Lord said to the angels: “I am going to create a man (Adam) from sounding clay of altered black smooth mud.
29. “So, when I have fashioned him completely and breathed into him (Adam) the soul which I created for him, then fall (you) down prostrating yourselves unto him.”
30. So, the angels prostrated themselves, all of them together.
31. Except Iblîs (Satan), – he refused to be among the prostrators.
32. (Allâh) said: “O Iblîs (Satan)! What is your reason for not being among the prostrators?”
33. [Iblîs (Satan)] said: “I am not the one to prostrate myself to a human being, whom You created from sounding clay of altered black smooth mud.”
34. (Allâh) said: “Then, get out from here, for verily, you are Rajîm (an outcast or a cursed one).”
35. “And verily, the curse shall be upon you till the Day of Recompense (i.e. the Day of Resurrection).”
36. [Iblîs (Satan)] said: “O my Lord! Give me then respite till the Day they (the dead) will be resurrected.”
37. Allâh said: “Then, verily, you are of those reprieved,
38. “Till the Day of the time appointed.”
39. [Iblîs (Satan)] said: “O my Lord! Because you misled me, I shall indeed adorn the path of error for them (mankind) on the earth, and I shall mislead them all.
40. “Except Your chosen, (guided) slaves among them.”
41. (Allâh) said: “This is the Way which will lead straight to Me.”
42. “Certainly, you shall have no authority over My slaves, except those who follow you of the Ghâwîn (Mushrikûn and those who go astray, criminals, polytheists, and evil-doers, etc.).”
muttaqun.com

Ibn al-Qayyim wrote in his book Madarij as-Salikin that Iblis misguides humans through 7 gates (‘aqabahs):

1. Disbelief
2. Innovations (bid’ah)
3. Minor sins
4. Major sins
5. Busying with permissible deeds to the exclusion of rewardable deeds
6. Busying with deeds of lesser reward instead of greater reward
7. Unleashing the shayatin from among the jinn and humankind upon that person

Iblis (and other shaytans) are “whisperers,” who tempt the souls of mankind through the seven ‘aqabahs. The Qur’an details a prayer to stave off the whispers of Iblis:

“Say: I seek refuge with the Lord and Cherisher of Mankind,
The King (or Ruler) of Mankind,
The God (or Judge) of Mankind,-
From the mischief of the Whisperer (of Evil), who withdraws (after his whisper),-
(The same) who whispers into the hearts of Mankind,-
Among Jinns and among men.”
— Quran, sura 114 (Al-Nas), ayat 1–6

Some scholars argue that Iblis is the Father of all disobedient jinn.

“Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah called Iblees the father of the jinn in more than one place (see Majmoo’ al-Fataawa, 4/346, 235), as did his student Ibn al-Qayyim, then al-Haafiz Ibn Hajar in Fath al-Baari (6/369).

Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Azeez ibn Baaz (may Allaah have mercy on him) said in Majmoo’ al-Fataawa (9/370-371): The shaytaan is the father of the jinn according to a number of scholars. He is the one who disobeyed his Lord and was too proud to prostrate to Adam, so Allaah expelled him and cast him away. End quote.

It says in Fataawa Noor ‘ala al-Darb by Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (al-Jinn wa’l-Shayaateen, question no. 2):

Undoubtedly Iblees is the father of the jinn, because Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And the jinn He created from a smokeless flame of fire”
[al-Rahmaan 55:15]
And He describes Iblees when he addressed the Lord of Glory (may He be glorified and exalted) (interpretation of the meaning) :
“ ‘I am better than him (Adam), You created me from fire, and him You created from clay’”
[al-A’raaf 7:12]
And Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Will you then take him (Iblees) and his offspring as protectors and helpers rather than Me while they are enemies to you?”
[al-Kahf 18:50]

This evidence clearly indicates that Iblees has offspring and that the jinn are his offspring, but how did that come about? This is something of which we have no knowledge and it is something concerning which it does not matter if we are ignorant, and knowing it does not bring any benefit. And Allaah knows best. End quote.”
IslamQ&A

The Yezidi, a pre-Islamic Kurdish tribe with links to Zoroastrianism, worshiped Iblis and the shayateen under the name of Melek’Taus.

The Devil’s Bridge

Hundreds of stone or masonry arch bridges in Europe have been titled ‘The Devil’s Bridge,’ and many have an associated creation-myth in which the Devil assists in the bridge’s construction, or barters to enable it.

France

There are 49 Devil’s Bridges in France, including:

Pont du Diable – Aniane (Gorges de l’Hérault, Languedoc-Roussillon)
Pont du Diable – Villemagne-l’Argentière (Hérault, Languedoc-Roussillon)
Pont du Diable – Beaugency
Pont du Diable – Céret
Pont du Diable – Foix
Pont du Diable – Olargues
Pont du Diable – Valentré
Pont du Diable – Crouzet Migette

Italy

Ponte del Diavolo – Ascoli Piceno, Marche
Ponte del Diavolo – Blera, Lazio
Ponte del Diavolo (officially Ponte Vecchio, also Ponte Gobbo) – Bobbio, Emilia Romagna
Ponte del Diavolo (or Ponte della Maddalena) – Borgo a Mozzano, Tuscany
Ponte del Diavolo – Cavallara (a frazione of Gualdo Cattaneo, Umbria)
Ponte del Diavolo – Cividale, Friuli
Ponte del Diavolo (Ponte Vecchio) – Dronero, Province of Cuneo, Piedmont
Ponte del Diavolo – Lanzo Torinese, Piedmont
Ponticello del Diavolo (‘the Devil’s little bridge’) – Torcello, Veneto

Spain

Puente del Diablo – Cueto, Spain
Pont del Diable – Martorell, Spain
Pont del Diable – Tarragona, Spain

United Kingdom

Devil’s Bridge – Devil’s Bridge (Pontarfynach), Ceredigion, Wales
Devil’s Bridge – Kirkby Lonsdale, Cumbria
Devil’s Bridge – Horace Farm, Pennington Parish, Cumbria
Devil’s Bridge – Weston-super-Mare, North Somerset (1841 bridge over railway)
Devils Bridge – in the grounds of Weston Park, Staffordshire (18th century listed bridge in form of grotto)
Devil’s Bridge – Pontwalby, Glynneath, Wales
Devil’s Bridge – Mossley Hill, Liverpool

Other countries

Ponte do Diabo – Vila Nova, Portugal
Ponte da Mizarela – Vieira do Minho, Portugal
Pont du Diable – Gorges de l’Areuse, Switzerland
Teufelsbrücke – St. Gotthard Pass, Switzerland
Teufelsbrücke – Commune of Egg, Switzerland
Steinerne Brücke – Regensburg, Germany
Puente del Común – Bogotá-Chia, Colombia
Puente Los Esclavos – Santa Rosa, Guatemala
Dyavolski most (Дяволски мост) – near Ardino, Bulgaria
Hudičev most – Bohinj, Slovenia
Hudičev most – Tolmin, Slovenia
Duivelsbrug – Breda, Netherlands
Moara Dracului – Câmpulung Moldovenesc, Romania
Kuradisild – Tartu, Estonia
Chertov Most – bypass route around the Severomuysky Tunnel, Buryatia, Russia

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An example of one of these myths is Dyavolski most (Дяволски мост), ‘Devil’s Bridge,’ near Ardino, Bulgaria. The legend states that during the Middle Ages, the Arda River over which it was built was very turbulent. Many had tried, but all had failed to tame the waters with their bridges. One particularly ambitious man made a pact with the Devil, who gave him the secret for creating a bridge that would last forever, under certain conditions. He was to create the face of the Devil in his work, and if he didn’t complete the project in forty days, his soul would be taken to Hell.

The man completed the project in 39 days, only to die two days later, taking the secret of his bridge-building mastery to his grave. The bridge still stands exactly as it was built 500 years ago, and when viewed from a certain angle, its reflection in the water creates an ominous visage.

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Osorezan

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Osorezan, meaning “Fear Mountain” in Japanese, is one of three mountains in the country considered most sacred. The Tendai sect of monks’ description of the entrance of Hell closely matches the topography of the mountain, leading some to refer to it as a literal “Gateway to Hell.” Despite all this, Osorezan is not a mountain, but rather, a caldera volcano which last erupted in 1787. The Sanzu river surrounding it, the Japanese version of the river Styx, takes on a yellowish hue in places due to its high sulphur content. It is toxic to touch, let alone drink, and has eradicated virtually all plant life surrounding it. It is only accessible to tourists between May 1st to October 31st, as the harsh winter makes the pathways to it inaccessible.

Mediums, known as itako, reside at the base of Mt. Osore. Historically, itako have been blind, elderly women, but modern itako often defy this trope. From July 22nd to the 24th, the itako host the Osorezan Taisai, an event in which they channel the spirits of loved ones through trance-states induced by eating the Devil Skull Mushroom. The mushroom is indigenous to the area.

“Mysteriously, unusually large numbers of skull mushrooms sprang out at Mount Osore after The 2011 Tōhoku earthquake, officially named the Great East Japan Earthquake (東北地方太平洋沖地震, とうほくちほうたいへいようおきじしん, lit. North Eastern Japanese Earthquake, 9.0 magnitude, ) and tsunami of March 11, 2011, 14:46 Japan Standard Time, which caused over 15, 000 deaths in Japan.

Many faithful and spiritual locals consider this extremely rare paranormal phenomena as those people killed by this earthquake reincarnated into this special mushrooms for guarding the Gate of Hell at mount Osore, so that this earthquake’s victims would all go to Budddah’s land and the Heaven.

The last time when this many skull mushroom sprang out was happen in the fall of 1923, which was only a month after the Great Kantō Earthquake (関東大震災, Kantō daishinsai) struck the Kantō plain on the Japanese main island of Honshū at 11:58:44 am JST on September 1, 1923, which was the deadliest earthquake ever to strike Japan up until this year’s Tōhoku Earthquake.” – Dr. Takeshi Yamada

The souls of the deceased are said to cross Lake Usorisan, which Sanzu feeds into. Relatives of the deceased have hidden hundreds of thousands of Jizo – small humanoid statues – all over the bank of the lake. These are said to protect the spirits from evil demons. Where the souls of children are said to reside, visitors leave toys and pinwheels.

Rusalka

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Rusalka are the Slavic variation of the siren myth. During the daytime, these half-fish, half-women dwell at the bottom of lakes and rivers. By night, they emerge and seduce men, leading them into the water to drown. According to legend, the Rusalka are the spirits of young women who died untimely deaths, particularly unwed mothers, and thus pine for the affection of men and young children. Most aren’t aware they’re dead, and are not maliciously motivated.

Some also manifest as children who were aborted for being conceived out of wedlock, or infants who died before baptisms. If the spirit is avenged, or baptized as a child, it will return to a place of rest.

Pontianak/Langsuir

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In Malay and Indonesian mythology, the Pontianak (also called Langsuir) is a vampiric female demon. These demons arise when women die in childbirth as a result of “laboring sickness” (meroyan) along with their children.

Sir William Maxwell described the demonesses thusly:

“If a woman dies in childbirth, either before delivery or after the birth of a child, and before the forty days of uncleanness have expired, she is popularly supposed to become a langsugyar, a flying demon of the nature of the ‘white lady’ or ‘banshee’.

“To prevent this a quantity of glass beads are put in the mouth of the corpse, a hen’s egg is put under each arm-pit, and needles are placed in the palms of the hands. It is believed that if this is done the dead woman cannot become a langsuyar, as she cannot open her mouth to shriek (ngilai) or wave her arms as wings, or open and shut her hands to assist her flight.”

The Pontianak sucks the blood of living infants. She appears as a woman with long nails and billowing black hair, though she can also shapeshift into an owl as a means of escape in tight situations. Interestingly, this demon may be domesticated; some legends state that if a man cuts the Pontianak’s hair and nails short, she enters a domesticated state and passes for a normal, living woman. Some have even become wives and mothers.