Thursday, September 19, 2013

Supernatural Friday: The Devil in Folklore

The Devil is one of two main characters in my newly released short story, “Devil in the Details”  in the anthology, Harboring Secrets. The protagonist for ages against God and his angels, he has been known as Lucifer, a fallen angel, Satan, the Great Horned God, Mammon, dragon, Father of Lies, Abaddon, Accuser, Apollyon, Cloven Hoof, Beast, Beelzebub,  and Belial, to even name more names. The Devil is believed in many religions, myths and cultures to be a supernatural entity that is the personification of evil. The nature of the role varies greatly, ranging from being an effective opposite force to the creator god, locked in an eons long struggle for human souls on what may seem even terms to being a comical figure of fun or an abstract aspect of the individual human condition.

While mainstream Judaism contains no overt concept of a devil, Christianity and Islam have variously regarded the Devil as a rebellious fallen angel or demon that tempts humans to sin, if not commit evil deeds himself. In these religions, the Devil has assumed more of a dualistic status commonly associated with heretics, infidels, and other unbelievers.
In mainstream Christianity, God and the Devil are usually portrayed as fighting over the souls of humans, with the Devil seeking to lure people away from God and into Hell. The Devil commands a force of evil spirits, commonly known as demons. The Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) describes the Adversary as an angel who instigates tests upon humankind. Many other religions have a trickster or tempter figure that is similar to the Devil. One of these is Loki in the Norse mythology.

In one legend from Colonial America, the lawyer Daniel Webster goes up against the Devil and wins. There’s even a well know rock country song, 'Devil Down in Georgia,' where the fiddler in the story out fiddles the Devil. Another is folklore about a real person in history, Colonel Philip Lightfoot must danced against the Devil to save his land  at what is known as Dancing Point today. The legend says that the Devil caused the barrenness in the land and remarked that it was his, not Lightfoot’s. Colonel Lightfoot agreed to a contest between the two of them. They would see who was the best dancer and could last the longest, with the land as the prize. They marched to Dancing Point at dusk and shed their coats and tricorns. After building a large fire, both proceeded to dance their hearts out. Around and around a tree stump they whirled. Lightfoot had claims to being an accomplished dancer and he proved it that night. The Devil didn’t give up, as he was determined to win, but when the first rays of dawn painted the morning sky, the Devil knew he had lost. He limped away in humiliation, crossing the James River to Surry County. The old-timers report that he still lives there. This tale is in chapters in my Haunted Virginia: Legends, Myths and True Tales and Virginia's Haunted Historic Triangle: Williamsburg, Yorktown, Jamestown, and Other Haunted Locations

Another tale is about the Blues singer Robert Johnson who is supposed to have met the Devil at a crossroads in Mississippi, the Devil took his guitar off of him, tuned it, played a few songs and gave it back, from then on Robert Johnson could play the Blues better then anyone alive.

But most times, the human doesn’t win and loses his/her soul. Just as what happens to my heroine in “Devil in the Details.” Another such folklore where the mortal lost concerns a girl rushing to a dance. Her mother forbids her to go, saying the preacher said the dance was going to the devil. The girl goes anyway and ends up dancing with this handsome young man. He whiles her around ad around until she vanishes. He then bows to others at the dance and vanishes. The girl is winging her way to Hell.

There is also one from Devon England that in the 1800's a set of footprints in the shape of hoofs appeared over night in the snow going for hundreds of miles appearing to go straight over the roofs of houses and barns.

There are tons of stories of the devil in southern folklore. One told of how the devil would hide among goat herds in the form of a large billy goat. When a prospective sinner drew near, the devil stood on his hind legs and follow him until the person came to a crossroads. If the sinner would turn to confront the devil before he/she reached the crossroads, the devil took his/her soul. If not, then the sinner had best get to church as soon as possible and confesses his sins before he pass those same crossroads again. In the French-Canadian folktales of the 19th century argues that the legends involving the Devil can be categorized according to a trinity of basic tale types. The first type is the “beautiful dancer,” the second is the “builder of bridges and churches” and the final is the “instigator of pacts.”

Devil be or not, one should never sell their soul to strangers, for after all, the Devil is the Prince of Lies after all.

Here is short excerpt from "Devil in the Details."

They say the devil is in the details. Most especially when one sold their soul to the Devil in a literal sense. Then life and death becomes extremely important. 

I should have read that contract better before I signed it in blood ten years ago. 

Jenna tossed back the glass of scotch she held. The amber liquid burned a path down her throat to her stomach. The glass clinked loud as she set it down next to the empty bottle. It toppled over and spilled the scotch across the table’s surface. 

A giggle escaped her. Who gave a damn about a mess on one measly table? Or that she never been so drunk in her life. Not with her soul in trouble. Hell put things into perspective.

Buy Harboring Secrets in print at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books A Million and at your local independent bookstore. It is also available  on Kindle and as a Nookbook on 


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