The anglosaxon concept of “Sympathy for the Devil”

Lord_of_Darkness, model by Giuliano Fontanelli


Skipping and simplifying many historical passages I would like to underline the main philosophy that is behind a cultural and social aspect that many of us underestimate, but I consider fundamental, to manage the figure of the “Trickster” in  storytelling of any kind of media that has to spread around the world.

“There is only one thing that binds the Human Being to its evolution: Fear.”

Fear is the engine that drives every Being to exceed their limits for survival.

This element has always dominated any ancestral culture, in its corporate management, in its forms of educational texts, whether through the telling of stories and tales.

The “Unknown “, “Not-known “, has always been the limit beyond which anything can happen. Leading to Death. The posting of the Body: a detachment that takes us away from everything to which we are linked, and that brings us to the highest mental and spiritual pain: the Silence.


There is a big contrast between American – Australian  and European cultural level. This is due unexpectedly from a particularly strange … social, traditional and religious representation of what the Evil is.

In the East, primarily from India to Japan, there are religious philosophies such as Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism, which essentially are based on traces of real life passed down from generation to generation: people have created an awareness of the earthly life situation related to the ” main opposed elements that flow into  each other thanks to the energy of vital movement, actually becoming a single element “.

A link to this very simple concept is the symbol of the Tao. Done with only two colors,two elements, representing the duality of everything.

In these cultures, there are no Good or Bad, but only the limits, of course, opposites, of a single element, whatever you analyze. The Gods Pantheon is mainly explained by the forces of natural events, and are generally represented by human and animal physiognomy that best match the symbols of these forces. Human kind can only watch and attend in front of the manifestations of the Nature. (Godzilla is still fighting above the cities…)

Based on this type of culture it is dealt the detachment from earthly life and all the  limitations of living .

From India, via the Middle East, in the Ancient Arabic religious culture, the Zoroastrians, and from the ancient Egyptians and in the Jewish religion, influenced by the Shamanic Spiritualism from Africa, there is an element that is inserted and diversified over time the concept of “Everything is One ” that belongs to the Far East: the concept of Taboo. That is different from the concept of “Sacred” or “Holy” shown from India to the Extreme Orient.

The Taboo represents “everything that is forbidden” by cultural rules and  religious laws, especially if we want to consider a “Religion” as a code of Ancestral social rules handed down by tradition. And it is surrounded by the Fear of the Evil.

Arises the conflict between Good and Evil, between Light and Darkness, between the Jewish God and all the other Demons (which strangely have names of the Gods worshiped by the ancient ethnic groups living adjacent the Jews), between those “Who has the right to pronounce on the “Name of God ” because protected and authorized by Him”, and who is actually a “pagan ” (from the latin word Paganus= Foreigner) and therefore, as such, “Someone that doesn’t believe in the rules that We believe”,then Sinner, worshiper of Evil.

This concept evolved over millennia and melts, trough the Holy Bible,survived and renovated, in Christianity.

With the birth of Christianity, which over the years arose, before reaching Rome, from the shores of the Mediterranean then it spreads throughout the Roman Empire and beyond, until becoming the “state religion “, the meaning of “Taboo” evolved in the concept of “Evil”, and as such condemned as “Sin”.Everything that is not in the circle of “normal act of a religion ” is no longer classified as something “simply different”, but something “wrong to avoid or destroy”. (again..something “paganus”)

But “Pagan ” is mainly an adjective that historically born and is saddled with those is outside the circle of cultural and religious dominance in a certain anthropological context. An accusation that they had to withstand even the first Christians in the Roman persecutions.

As in any historical situation, in any other part of the World, the Christian religion moved and spread in parallel with political and economic interests of social classes that supported it, expanding itself, often with dire confrontations, particularly with the other great monotheistic religions, in all directions of the Earth and often diplomatically absorbing the social nuances of the incorporated cultures .

A very practical example is the merger of the solar Druidic wheel to the symbol of the Christian cross. Here’s comes the Celtic Cross … symbol of two cultures in a historical form of religion that belongs to a large area well-defined continental Europe.

An evolution, the Religious Culture, still in place today, where human contacts and exchanges of ideas are at the height of their progression.

The focus of Christian philosophy has always been Europe. A continent outlined by precise common cultural boundaries, but divided into two distinct areas: the Mediterranean one and the Continental one. Culturally divided in Latin-Hellenics, and the Gothic-Saxons.

Two distinct climatic zones, containing, therefore, anthropological different situations.

If in fact the symbols of the Mediterranean positivity of life are linked to Sunshine, Light, Sea water, white and blue: the spatiality of “Outdoor Living” is opposed to fear of a “Darkness without Light” and at a “Dark Earth that doesn’t give any kind of fruit, but that expels Rots and Fire “(the first sightings of oil wells at the edge of the Arabian desert).

Instead,over the Alps, the European climate changes definitely going up North,in the middle of the Continent, from which came the Gothic and Saxon cultures: and all that is positive of the Mediterranean Area becomes negative: the white represents the Snow, Cold, Death, the Sun is an element that creates Clouds,the Sea is darkness and fog, the Earth, with its Gorges,is often warm, though obscure, safer and it allows the continuation of Life , and it is a source of wealth with its mining areas of precious stones, iron and coal .. that gives the Fire. The colors of “hot ” in Northern Europe, are brown, black, green. The Earth is Mother, the female element, uterine, instinctive, the Sky is the Father, male element, mathematician, distant but powerful. Exactly the opposite of Southern Europe!

These elements combine with the ancestral Christianity, creating two different ways to live it.

In the Mediterranean area, until at least IV century, Evil was a very powerful concept and it is not represented. Simply because taboo, unnecessary, and ultimately rejected, as part of the pagan cults of the polytheistic cultures.

The Bible speaks of a Snake, simply as “being poisoned with morphology diametrically opposed to the human being ” … no legs, while all other terrestrial beings have, it is fallen from Heaven to Earth, losing it arms, moving in the dark, but in reality it is an animal of Creation. And he’s a creature of God .. Rather they are held up as Demons all the other Idols worshiped by religions that surround the Jewish people. But it never been represented figuratively. Just because the Jewish God is one, and it is a concept too broad as to be represented only by an unpronounceable Tetragrammaton. No type of figurine can represent the creative power of God.

Concept later taken into account by Islam, that of “the Name of God “.

In the New Testament, the Devil tempted the Nazarene several times and several times. The Nazarene stops it and wins it … but it’s a metaphor to describe the Madness, animal or particularly bright, which takes away from the Normal good sense of Living life in a proper way.

Devil is never represented figuratively in ancient monotheistic religions..

But when Christianity comes into contact with the continental European cultures .. it born the modern concept of the Devil. Just because living with the mysterious elements of the Dragon is part of the ancestral background of Nordic culture where Christianity spread during the High Middle Ages. (Ca 476d.C until 1000 D.C)

The ancestral culture of the  Saxons and Gothics area, merging with Christianity has created the concept of “Sympathy for the Devil “, absent in the Mediterranean.

In Anglo-Saxon culture, which spread to America through the various forms of Protestant Christianity, life is connected to the hot, dark depths of the Earth, while Air and Sea, the Sun does not represent almost anything, but rather, often, Death.

Everything is the opposite of Mediterranean culture.

But the Earth holds, in Saxon culture, even the Dragon and his Treasure.

The Dragon, the Supreme Serpent, dangerous “Source of Strength, Wisdom, Power and Millenaria Magic Life” is often confused with the Mediterranean concept of Demon. Monster of demonic. But also the Power of Nature, Vanquisher of Death. Is very similar to the concept of Eastern Dragon … that is just the Terrible and Undeniable Force of the Nature.

The One who communicates with the Dragon is the Trickster, the Clown cheating, crazy damned Elf that needs to feed the Death with living beings, half Human and half a Faun, an Animal that lives outside the Human Rules but that makes contact with the Mother Earth, the Goatboy, the Devil.

IT is there, perched on the Dead line, moving back and forth between the two worlds of Life and  of Death, making crossing the border, often with deception, dealing busisness with Human Beings in exchange for secrets, treasures, power and richness.

Then actually the Trickster, The Half Clown Half Cheater, becomes positive figure as a “necessary bridge ” between Life and Death, a necessary element sentenced to a “dirty job that someone must necessarily do “.

Thus,  by the “aberration” of this concept, approaching to the Devil is more likely and convenient then to get closer to God. The concept of Evil, completely distorted and limited, simply becomes an excuse to get “what you want from life ” .. .even justifying the embrace various forms of Satanism. That many time is only just … a frustrated way to protest against the “unfair and distant Christian God” and the laws of Culture that He demands.

This is why in social settings “borderline ” certain forms of religious membership are so “popular ” and “incurred ” because basically they are justified by the philosophy of survival of the same type of environment. Even thanks to the innate human need to “control their fears  celebrating them”.

The Devil, as opposed to a King God ,”superhuman ” but “sodistant that never comes in handy pleaded for help” ( as the historical popular British culture suggests),  becomes a semi-human figure who shares part of our sufferings and weaknesses, which necessarily come to terms with where we are forced to ally for life in exchange for the soul.

As consequence, the concept of the Mediterranean Taboo of Christianity against the Evil (avoiding it!) is destroyed. And with it the Fear of Evil, which becomes an event “incredibly striking “, but that you can win and manage with only human capabilities.

You misinterpreted the concept of “free will ”  replacing it with “free administration ” of Good and Evil, completely underestimating the aspect of teaching of the Ancestral Wisdom  acquired by the time doe ancient religions about the consequences of any type of wrong human behavior.

In modern British culture, especially reconnecting the Far West to the Extreme Orient, retracing imaginarily the globe counterclockwise in the area of the West Coast American, you are returned to the Taoist concept of Chaos. Where Good is in the Evil, and Evil can be Good.

Everything is actually given to the human being  to dominate, limiting it,  having a description and some form of representation of the fears and mysteries surrounding the Life,with the illusion of winning them, especially those related to silent gap that creates sudden Death.

Here is what is the Devil for the cinema, for example.

Why do I say this?

Because the Film, in its two main forms ( the Documentary and the Entertainment) always has a narrative or educational function. And then it always has been brought with the ancient concept of Latin fabula.: through symbols and examples to educate the perils of Life.

Since the beginning of its history, Cinema has tackled this problem.

Besides just from Europe comes the concept of “representation of the Mystery of Evil ” film, through German Expressionism, which draws strongly from his profound culture and advanced theatrical drama. Where the analysis of evil is not considered a scandal culture.

Even in Italy, with Cabiria, in Turin,the most North European italian city, they have tried at the beginning of the XX century, but the product was cut off by “Christian Solar Mediterranean ” culture . While American entertainment, in this period, is related to the conquest of the West or exaggerating of the Space, with George Meles.

Must wait Walt Disney, with its dark Austrian-Hungarian influences, boldly and blatantly to see represented on a screen “the power and allure of Evil ” in the U.S.. Masterful example is the Night on Bald Mountain, as a last act of imagination, although little attempt had already happened before.

Maximum land of contrasts, United States becomes the land where it was best represented and exploit the saxon concept of “Sympathy for the Devil “.

Concepts that were completely transported by the “North European “culture, but amplified,entered in the normality of usual living, socially, culturally, musically, religiously and by all mediatic way,everything moved in that direction:  having no ancient cultural origins,(if we don’t consider the Natives) the American public is provided mainly by that culture the they received from the Anglo-Saxon culture, increasing the effects through the “melting pot “, even in a negative way, as an island continent.

The strength and success of this whole narrative is precisely the representation of what is a Cultural Terror, which of course creates interest, curiosity, criticism, used to draw a moral society, exploited as Media,including motion-pictures.


2 Responses to The anglosaxon concept of “Sympathy for the Devil”

  1. FPS says:

    Hi Giuliano!
    Very nice article!!!

    • Studio Tekne says:

      Thank you FPS! I hope it help to understand a little more the “Western way of thinking about”. I think for storytelling and concepts in general is useful to know that. XD

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