Angels and Demons, Writing

The Bard of Bars – I

surface level of wine glasses

There’s a pub on the end of a dark lane in a big city not too far from the coast. The bard, looking more vagrant than minstrel, swept into the tavern from the cold. He had expected the customary applause but found indifference. He wore a coat sewn together of various patches that would have marked him as a rare and talented spinner of yarns in ages past. Here, he looked some indigent seeking shelter from the rising winter winds.

Buzzing incandescent lights glowed a sickly orange in the haze of the dark room amid the cacophony of music, conversation, and the clang of glasses and plates all competing with screens showing some contest, the sound muffled by the tavern’s patrons.

On the wall, between screens next to shelves of various spirits, an odd drawing flickered in the shadows, animals and man melded together into a single creature. The bard smiled. There had been a statue near a ghost town he once visited that looked very much like the drawing. Every place had a hint of the tale needed.

“Ale for a tale,” he said to the ruddy barkeep, a fat man who looked a bit too serious at the taps.

Asmodeus“Brrrr…” or something to that effect passed the barkeep’s lips. “This crowd wants music, entertainment, sex, and blood. We’re not tots here looking bedtime stories. I serve hard drink for hard people.”

“My tale will bring you long life. Please, indulge me. One pint for a fable of worth.”

“Cash. Show me cash and I’ll show you the ale,” the barkeep said, not a hint of kindness anywhere in the bitter old drink slinger.

A waitress wearing scarcely a thing whistled for the barkeep’s attention and rattled off a long order of drinks, thumbing toward a crowd in the corner. The barkeep leered at her, unsavory and with ill-intent. The bard shook his head. Perhaps, he would strike the right note tonight and be able to end his wanderings at last.

Lust

The instrument on his back came loose at his touch. The patrons saw an old flat-top guitar but it was so much more. The bard ran his fingers over a few choice notes and with a pop and a gasp, all the lights and screens went black, and a hush fell over the room. Candles appeared in a inaudible whirr and flickered gentle light on the tables, on top of the bar, and a soft glow gathered about the bard. He searched the crowd.

Ah, there was the stranger in his customary hooded long jacket, dark clothes, and bare feet. No one ever noticed that.  The stranger had followed him through heaven and hell and everywhere in between for time immemorial.   That one wanted his name back. The stranger claimed his name was in one of the bard’s tales, one he had once lived. Find that tale and the stranger would let his wanderings end at last.

It was not this story. He told the tale of Wild Girl Meg and the Cursed Statue. In this village, a man and women married by arrangement, but the man was infatuated with a wild girl that lived in the surrounding forest. His wife, jealous, knew of a magic statue, one made of man’s lust, outside the village and made the appropriate offerings and prayed to the demon in the statue to turn her husband’s attentions away from little Meg.  Not a fortnight later, the villagers all disappeared. Some said the feral girl was a witch. Others had darker ideas. Whatever the truth, the patrons of this bar listened to the story.

The bard waited for a breath after for the applause. Some brought him drinks but none met the bard’s eyes. He did not notice the waitress putting her tray aside or wrapping herself in a long coat. She tapped him on the shoulder.

“Can I come with you?” she asked, her voice scarce a whisper.

“Aye. Do join me.”

The bard felt half-good about his take. He had wanted an apprentice so that should he die before his quest was completed, there would be one to carry on.  He looked for the stranger, but he was gone. The bard had not told the right tale, the one that would give the stranger back his lost name. Perhaps, next time.

 

 

 

Angels and Demons, Writing

Angels and Demons – Hadraniel

HadranielThere is a terrific tale about Hadraniel. This angel is the gatekeeper to the 2nd gate of Heaven. Do not dare ask me who the key master is. That’s not the point. Anyhow, Hadraniel is charged by the Almighty God of the Hebrews to give the Talmud to Moses.

Hadraniel did not like Moses, not one bit, and did not wish to give that red-sea parting man this holy book. Poor Moses had to face this intimidating angel, one said to be tall enough to stand on the earth and bump the moon out of its orbit. Moses had to face this gargantuan divine being all by his little squishy mortal self. Favored by God does not help when faced with a giant angel, and Moses has been falling short of his expectations time and time again. Missions for God are inherently difficult. But face the angel Moses did.

GatesOfHeavenGod reprimands Hadraniel for being mean to Moses, and tells him he must make nice. The tall angel straightens up (shame about the moon – God had to replace it immediately) and becomes guide to Moses.

I am not convinced Hadraniel did such a good job. Moses never makes it into the promised land. And that is simply good story-telling. Flawed hero, rebellious guide, great quest, and the hero dies in the end. That is a story that stands the test of time and can be told in many ways by moving the pieces of the proverbial tale-telling chess board.

Angels and Demons, Writing

Angels and Demons – Moloch

MolochMoloch is a first class asshat. Yeah, so he was once a god, the grand pupa of monumental jerks and depravity. The ancient canaanites worshiped this child-sacrificing pile of dung. Archeological evidence from the early 1900s supports the foul practice of child-sacrifice in ancient Carthage. Yuck.

Getting people to slaughter children (or even adults) on an altar is a classic demon move. Pretend to be a god, subvert people into doing the most vile and hateful acts and claim those acts as divine. Moloch was champion.

Moloch is an obvious villain. While his motivations may remain shallow, power and corruption of creation, his methods are terrifying. How many religions tempted men into slaughtering one another over the ages? How many demons fooled people into destroying their own souls? This is where story lives.

MolochAltarHowever, I suspect Moloch is a real power and still hiding in plain sight. Even in this modern age, we are still sacrificing children and committing profane acts and calling them righteous. Moloch just doesn’t require an obvious altar and hides his name, usually in suits wearing politicians. I doubt Moloch cares how innocent souls are sacrificed to his appetite. His power grows.

The only question is how can Moloch and those profane creatures like him be destroyed without sacrificing the entirety of humanity to the effort?

Angels and Demons, Writing

Angels and Demons – Abaddon

Revelation 9-11This character has scared me since my adolescent Sunday school days. Here we have named in the Bible, the “Angel of the Abyss”, king of a plague of locusts, the destroyer, the get your butt out of town because the Apocalypse is here angel.

Abaddon creeps me out. In many ways, he is not all that interesting of a villain. There is nothing to understand. He’s just going to tear your face off and kill you. Like Sauron in Tolkien or Harry Potter’s arch-nemesis, Voldemort.

Abaddon is bad because his gig is destruction. He’s the freaking angel of death and Hell follows him about. There’s nothing redeeming about him.

Although…

AbaddonAbaddon is never named “demon”. He is referred to as the “angel” of the Abyss. He seems to kind of be doing as the pen-ultimate good guy, The Lord God Creator of Heaven and Earth, commands him to do. At least, God is not stopping him following the pale horse out of Hell and wreaking havoc on us.

Again, these were things the Bible could not reconcile for me. However, a good song-writer, Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull, explained God brilliantly and in a way I understood and accepted, even if I did not like it.

And He who made kittens put snakes in the grass
He’s a lover of life but a player of pawns
Yes, the King of His sunset lies waiting for dawn
To light up His jungle as play is resumed
The monkeys seem willing to strike up the tune

Angels and Demons, Writing

Angels and Demons – Abathar

AbatharI woke up from a dream twenty-two years ago, opened one of the many notebooks that littered my bedside and wrote these words.

“Abathar! Abathar! Why have you come?”

This line became an integral part of my series, “The Idylls of Alleysiande” – a series of twelve books still in development. I believe they will be published one day in that not too distant future, but then, I suffer from delusions of grandeur. I always have.

At the time, I did not know there was any kind of angel or demon associated with the name, “Abathar”. I think the words came because of my intense study of William Faulkner in graduate school and the book, Absalom! Absalom! His reference is Biblical. It is a common sort of thing for English speaking writers in the A.D. era. I did not think I would ever use the line that I had awoken to record.

HorseofApocalypseI later discovered an obscure reference to an angelic being called Abathar who carries of a pair of scales to judge people’s worth. This sparked another reference, the third horse of the Apocalypse of Revelation- I wondered if Abathar might be the angel/demon badass riding the black horse and carrying a pair of scales as God’s judgement descends upon the world.

The whole idea of judgement from a source outside of humanity fascinated me. We are great at judging one another. We are terrible at justice or mercy. We have so many prejudices and so much self-loathing. It is strange how we often accuse others of the things we, ourselves, are guilty of. It takes a great deal of self-denial to justify our own cruelty and malice toward our fellow man, often using virtue signaling to cover up our own heinous short-comings. We all do it.

The battle we fight inside ourselves is epic and we can’t divide ourselves to separate the pure from the corrupt. I wonder if there is some power in the world that accomplishes this cleansing of our worldly pains and aspirations? Does divine justice exist? If so, what form does it take? What of mercy? Second-chances? Again, a brutal pondering that leads to story…

Angels and Demons, Writing

Angels and Demons – Metatron

MetatronThroughout history stories are told to explain our world and lives. My interest in angels and demons is not one of religion. It is one of storytelling, the drawing of heroes and villains and what drives them. I have a tendency to like names drawn from various mythical and legendary beings, the story of these beings whether or not they truly ever existed.

I am interested in Metatron because in Judaism, he is known as the “Recording Angel” or the “Chancellor of Heaven”. Basically,  he’s a scribe, a writer, the story-teller of heaven. I am thinking, I would like to read what he has written. Some would say I have because I have read the Bible in its many, many, many translations. And that’s the problem, I want to see the unedited work. I want to see what it looks like unabridged by the powers of man, politics, and religion. And that’s where my imagination takes wing.

ScribeToo often heroes and villains are too good or too evil. The thing about angels and demons, their role depends a lot on where you are standing in history. As time marches on, one religion will gobble up another, erase its names or steal them into their own mythology. Demon names often appear as gods of vanquished peoples. Angel names often find themselves repeated in multiple ancient cultures in various forms. This also interests me. How names are remembered and interpreted.

LibraryInHeavenAs a child, innocent but curious, I thought much as I was taught. God in good. The devil (whatever he is) is bad and makes people do bad things. Then I learned about the rebellion in Heaven and wondered, if Heaven is so bloody great, why did a third of the angels rebel? It never made any sense to me. John Milton did nothing to improve my bewilderment.

I wondered if Heaven was painfully dull. Perhaps, you can only wear white in Heaven and the only music is that of harps and operatic angelic choirs? Once a week, that might be fine. But what if you wanted to hear a bit of screaming guitar or wear jeans and t-shirts and play video games? Did heaven have the same restrictive kinds of rules they had for me at my Catholic school? That would not be heavenly. Not to me.  I need to raise a bit of Hell from time to time. And sometimes, I like to read a book that scares the piss out of me and not a book that is paragraph after paragraph of begetting and family history full of Thees and Thous.

Did the rebellious angels know what would happen? Were they simply trying to “liven” things up when everything went horribly wrong? Expelled to a dimension where love is not, does not exist. Was this a wise punishment? If there is no love in Hell, how could fallen angels be redeemed? Did Metatron record these events? What did he have to say about it? I still wonder.

And that is where story begins…

 

Angels and Demons, Villains, Women, Writing

Angels and Demons – Lilith

Lilith_1Lilith has been around a long, long time in myth, legend, and appearing in all sorts of cultures, mostly as a demon. The Babylonians, Assyrians, and Sumerians all cast her as a demon. Lilith or “lillit” translates as “Night Hag” or “Night Monster” or “Screech Owl” in Hebrew language texts. Literature often enhances these references. However, I understand her. She might be wrong, but heaven knows, she has her reasons.

In Jewish lore, Lilith is Adam’s first wife.  She appears as his first wife, created equal from the very same dirt that brought about Adam. It is satire, this folklore so we are not meant to take it seriously. In this story, Adam divorced Lilith when she refused to “obey” him.

Subsequently, Eve was then created from Adam’s rib. Clearly, I was Lilith’s progeny and not from subservient and idiotic Eve. What kind of woman accepts an apple from a serpent? Seriously, Lilith did less damage leaving Adam behind in the garden.

Yes, this is just a story, one of many with no hard proof of veracity,  but it makes me rip-roaring furious. There are lots of examples of  female deities, both demonic and divine, getting pushed into the trash heap of history. It is not only Lilith, cast as a villain (first wife, demon- what man doesn’t think of his first wife as a demon?) .

There is also Asherah. She was the wife of God, also consort to the Sumerian deity, El.  In the Bible, in the book of Deuteronomy, God commands her shrines destroyed so as to keep his worship pure.  Even though Jeremiah proclaims her to be the “queen of heaven”, there is not a lot of talk about how God is both male and female.

Honestly, I’m too weary to rail on about the patriarchy. It’s been wearing on my nerves for half a century. No wonder Lilith went full-on demon. She was created equal and told by Adam that he wasn’t having it. Yeah, at that point, fire starts pouring out my eyeballs too.