Thursday, November 23, 2006

Does the curse of Cain live on?

[Illustration: a Late Antiquity incantation bowl meant to repulse demonic attack against a home. Note the two demons who are visualized as fettered by chains surrounding them. This one actually has pseudo-script rather than the proper incantation - a substandard product sold by an illiterate magician to an illiterate client? www.lib.umich.edu/pap/magic/images/39.jpg]

One reader writes:

My initial exposure to this [the idea of demonic changlings living among humans] was from a book by Elizabeth Clair Prophet called "Fallen Angels and the Origin of Evil." The book deals with a theory by Origen, which claims that not only did evil seed from the Fallen Angels resulted in the corruption of Man, but that the bloodline descendants of these early hybrids are still active today...Jaketheflake.

Mr. Flake has picked up on the fact that often specific occult beliefs extend across faith systems. Christians also embraced this idea of demonic-human couplings (hence, Rosemary's Baby). And it fact, the idea of spiritual-human unions has greater affinity to the basic theology of Christianity (Mary impregnated by the Holy Spirit, for example) then Judaism, but both inherited this idea from the Apocalyptic writings, which in turn is based on a text shared by Christians and Jews, Genesis 6. Elizabeth Clare Prophet was simply elaborating on this thread of esoteric tradition within Christian tradition.

The mainstream of Jewish esoteric tradition claims the line of Cain,

The 'Beasts of the Field' are the offspring of the original Serpent who had sexual intercourse with Eve . . . From them came forth Cain who killed Abel... (Zohar 1:28b)

was wiped out in the great Flood. On the other hand, there is another tradition that teaches that demons are actually formerly human - the souls of those who died in the Flood (PdRE 21; Targum Pseudo-Jonathan 4:1; Pirkei de-Rabbi Eliezer 34).

The most striking aspect of is the particularly Jewish inclination to explain the existence of demons as being a by-product of human misdeed. Rabbinic Judaism largely walked away from the "Fallen Angel" explanation found in Apocalyptic texts. Hence we have no Devil, no "anti-god" competing with God for souls, etc. For those Jews who believed in the demonic (and there have been many), since there is little room for an ontologically autonomous evil force, demons have to either originate from God Herself or from the only other spiritual force in the universe - us. Most have opted to identify the demonic with human transgression (a modern reiteration of this appears in Adin Steinsaltz's primer on Kabbalah, The Thirteen Petalled Rose p. 17).

To learn more, look up the Encyclopedia of Jewish Myth, Magic, and Mysticism available at Amazon. http://www.amazon.com/Encyclopedia-Jewish-Myth-Magic-Mysticism/dp/0738709050/sr=1-1/qid=1159997117/ref=sr_1_1/002-7116669-7231211?ie=UTF8&s=books


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