Following up on my article on Saint Nicholas, Santa Claus and Black Pete, I got to thinking: isn’t it strange how Nicholas, a saint associated with gifts, found himself in the company of such dubious a character as Black Pete?
The answer is, no! The notion of reward and punishment according to one’s behavior is logical, effective and healthy. Balancing gifts with conditions, and adding an element of judgment to the entire process, is a wise choice. Kids can’t afford to blindly trust men bearing gifts, even if they come dressed in white beards and fancy clothing, all chubby and jolly-like. Appearances can be deceiving, and a little apprehension is a useful thing.
It’s also a simple premise to apply and understand. If you deserve it, you get a present. If you transgress, you get the lash. As simple as that.
Strangely enough – and here’s where it gets interesting – God’s sworn enemy and the underworld’s commander-in-mischief, the devil, is often referred to as Old Nick.
Behind The Name
The name Nicholas is derived from two ancient Greek words: Nike (victory); and Laos (people) ––> Nikolaos i.e. The Victory People, or Victory Of The People.
Nicholas (or Nicolas): A composite word with a powerful meaning. Something with which perhaps both the servants of light and the minions of darkness would want to associate themselves?
Correction: both the servants of harmony and the minions of chaos (I try to steer clear from relative terms).
Behind The Fallacy
There’s a great deal of confusion around the ontology of the theological. Let’s dispel it, see if we can make some sense of things.
God is not the bringer of light, the custodian of goodness etc. Yes, this is what people want to believe, it’s an easier story to follow, but the scenario has no bearing in terms of how things really work. Not only is it completely fantastic, it has no applicability.
If one were to apply logic to the theological, while retaining the fable-like symbolism, God could never be as simple a figure as the ‘bringer of light and goodness,’ or any of that moral fantasy stuff. He would be something more representative of harmony and function; the equivalent of an assembling force, the keeper of order, the one whose almighty power determines the smooth flow of everything. The world would function under his watch. His overarching role would sustain the operation of sophisticated systems and complicated structures.
Similarly, his antagonist and foe, the devil, is not the advocate of darkness, a sadist with prongs etc as Christianity and Islam would have you believe. Instead, if nature were to be taken into account, he would be more akin to the demons of the ancient world, the daemons, as they were known at the time, which represented the creative but whimsical parts of life, such as the Shadow (see Jung), the Genies (see genius), and the elemental parts of life (see Lucifer, who was cast out from the Heavens and plunged to the earth, where he was banished inside its elements i.e. away from the ideal, into the real and tangible, because he’d challenged God’s totalitarian rule.) The devil’s renegade intransigence would give meaning to the Almighty, if not a reason for the Almighty to improve things.
Imagine a bunch of Quentin Tarantinos in robes coming together every century to revise the holy scripts
As for the bestial, monstrous, Satanic version of the devil, it’s an invention of the Middle Ages. Satan the torturer, who wields prongs and stuffs people with fire enemas, is a bogeyman developed in the synods of the middle ages to keep the masses in a perpetual state of fear, a hell from which the clergy would absolve them if they obeyed the Canon blindly. (Note: Canon stems from the term Kanonizomena, which means ‘that which has been arranged.’)
Consider the two-horned Satanic sadist a bitterly-arranged and terribly-overdone Black Pete.
Also consider the fact that the ones in charge of this narrative clearly lost the plot during the storytelling process. Imagine a bunch of Quentin Tarantinos in robes coming together every century to revise the holy scripts, making up new and exciting stories to keep their audience captive, and getting carried away with each revision.
Yes, it’s that simple.
Stable Versus Volatile
Having taken Satan-the-monster out of the picture, let’s reexamine our two main characters, starting with the traditional devil.
The devil is the necessary chaos to God’s harmony; the mischief-maker; the primordial rebel whose existence not only represents the wisdom of chaos, but also incites the restoration of divine harmony.
Together, these two opposing forces put on a mighty show, counterbalancing and complementing each other in the circus we call progress
Call him God’s necessary fiend.
God, on the other hand is the force that leads life forth; the vessel in which things assume form and meaning, purpose and longevity. He’s the great gift bearer, whose aim is to fulfil people’s dreams.
But he often loses his grip. Without a frame of reference to define him, people start taking him for granted and stop heeding his calls.
To regain their attention, God needs the devil, uses him as an excuse to drive people back to heaven. The devil also forces God to up his game.
Yes, even God needs a challenger.
In turn, the devil needs God for similar reasons. He needs someone to keep making structures the devil may restructure, limits to break when the rules become too rigid, and righteousness, plenty of it, against which the devil can summon the anger and despair necessary to reconstitute malfunctioning establishments.
He also needs God to make sense out of the mad chaos of hell, whence genius arises, and often ends up.
Together, these two opposing forces put on a mighty show, counterbalancing and complementing each other in the circus we call Progress, around which we move in circles, drilling our way through the bedrock of time.
In A Divine Nutshell
Both God and the devil seek supremacy. To each their own and altogether. They should know better than that, but they can’t help themselves. It’s in their nature, how it’s supposed to be.
Their ongoing conflict keeps the world revolving.
The result of this arrangement is an elegant universe
When either side becomes too powerful, their interrelated motion turns into commotion, which turns into violent revolution, leading to confrontations that nudge the world into a much-needed correction.
And life goes on. In human form, or not.
It has been doing so for billions of years.
It will keep doing so for billions more.
The result of this arrangement is an elegant universe in which living organisms create new aspects of themselves, redefining consciousness as we know it.
The outcome of this consciousness is victory, inasmuch as victory is the result of consciousness.
No wonder both sides of the spectrum claimed the name Nicholas for themselves.
Eyes open, and may the forces of light and darkness shape you, guide you, and, time and time again, accentuate your mind.