Upon reading through the Grimm’s Fairy Tales a theme popped up from time to time. The Devil is actually bearable enough to have relatives, specifically a grandmother. I don’t know who made this picture to the left, but it’s great. I wish more people would credit the artists who create illustrations like this one.
Now, in the previous post I talked about how people tried to outsmart the Devil in the Grimm’s series. They assumed that the Devil was an idiot and that they could trick him. I explained that there could be several reasons for this, but one of those reasons was to make the Devil more relatable. I know you may think it’s weird that people want to relate to the Devil, but it’s not really about saying the Devil is their homeboy; it’s about making the Devil more understandable. What is more understandable than having relatives?
In several Grimm’s stories and specifically The Devil and his Grandmother, the Devil has a grandmother. He lives with his grandmother. She cooks his food and keeps his house and he can tell her how his day went. She also regularly tricks the Devil because he trusts her implicitly, which is kind of sad if you think about it. Here the Devil trusts his grandmother with everything, but she betrays his trust to random passersby who want to know the answers to various questions or get hairs from his chin.
Most of us don’t really have a back story for the Devil. We don’t have his origin story. We don’t know a story other than God doesn’t like him. There are origin stories though, and some of them do involve the Devil having relatives, specifically you and me. That’s right, we’re related to the Devil, according to some.
People of the Christian belief generally believe that the Devil was cast out from heaven. That’s the story that most people know, but there is more to the story. The Devil was once known as Lucifer, or the Son of the Morning. He was favored in heaven. He was also our brother and God was his father. When God brought for his plan for how people would come down and spend their Earthly lives, the Lucifer wanted to do it his way and Jesus wanted to do it God’s way. When Lucifer was turned down, he became angry and riled up a bunch of other souls in heaven. There was a war. After the revolt was put down, Lucifer and his followers were cast out upon the Earth in spirit form, never having the chance to actually get a body. Lucifer hence forth became the Devil and encouraged people to do all manner of bad things because he felt bad because of the choices he made and he wants everyone else to feel bad too. He’s kind of a party pooper.
This story says nothing about a grandmother, which is notoriously the relative the Devil has in the Grimm’s stories, but there is a little more to the story above. Continuing in that same pattern, some believe that God has a wife. We’re all God’s children, literally, so is Jesus and so is Lucifer. This belief goes further and says that perhaps that God was even like us one day and he had his own heavenly parents and eventually became a God himself. It’s a really out-there idea to some people, but the idea is there. This would explain how the Devil could have a grandmother. Now why this grandmother, our grandmother if we take the story seriously, would be spending all her time with the Devil I don’t know. It just doesn’t seem fair, but maybe he’s the neediest one so he gets all the time with Grandmother, I don’t know.
Now, portions of this explanation might have been floating around in religious circles during the time in which these fairy tales were created. This belief isn’t exactly new. There are Christian beliefs floating around that sound like something out of a Greek mythology book, but we don’t discuss them commonly so when we hear them we’re like, “Whoa, it doesn’t say that in the Bible.” Well, the thing about the Bible is that the Bible has been tinkered with. It’s been translated. People took out pieces they didn’t like. People voted on the pieces they did like. The Bible we have today is most likely a very stream-lined and sanitized version from what used to exist. There probably used to be something like the story I relayed in the Bible, but it’s gone now and we just won’t know if it used to be in there or not unless we find a really, really old Bible or piece of the Bible hidden somewhere.
Despite the fact that people might have known about this story, there may have been other stories floating around. There may have been an idea that the Devil was spawned from some other evil family completely unrelated to any of us. Of course he’s got a grandmother because everyone has a grandmother. If this is the case, it does make sense that the Devil is constantly being undermined by his grandmother. She’s evil; he’s evil; it works out. If she is truly evil, it doesn’t make sense that she constantly help people who show up at the door, but maybe all grandmothers are bound to help people out, evil or not, because there is some kind of secret grandmother code.
The whole point of this is that the idea of the Devil having relatives isn’t exactly far-fetched. The idea isn’t coming from nowhere.
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Grimm’s Fairy Tales