6

Most folkloric representations of the Devil seem to be male. For example, (female) witches were sometimes imagined to have had carnal knowledge of Satan. In most folktales about the devil, said entity is depicted either as an animal, an inhuman creature of some sort, or a man. Are there any mythological or folkloric examples of Satan appearing in a specifically human, female form?

  • 'Satan' per se is a figure of Judeo-Christian-Islamic tradition. Would you accept a response from outside that tradition? – Spencer Aug 12 '16 at 0:30
  • @Spencer - You mean some other god of evil, adversary, or trickster spirit? Not really. I'm sure there's some such entity that's even exclusively female, but that's not really what I'm wondering. – Obie 2.0 Aug 12 '16 at 0:45
  • Devil assuming a female form would suit you? I clearly put here assuming, not being. – Gibet Apr 28 '18 at 9:00
  • @Gibet - Certainly. Even back in Medieval times and earlier, theologians would tell you that the devil was a formless spirit, but the Devil often was depicted as assuming the form of a man, or a serpent, or a horned humanoid, or whatever. So the form of a woman would roughly be on equal footing. – Obie 2.0 Apr 28 '18 at 9:04
  • My time for answering is desperately short. Take a look at St Dunstan of Canterbury. The devil tries to trick him assuming the form of a gorgeous woman. Because Dunstan was a smithy he used hot pliers to pull out Satan's nose. This is fairly popular medieval tale. – Gibet Apr 28 '18 at 9:14
1

From Jacob Grimm “Deutsche Mythologie,” translated by James Stallybrass Vol 3, 1883, page 1007.

Judaism has devils, but knows nothing of she-devils; all power for good or evil it places in the hands of male beings (page 396). To put it still more generally: gods are all together the older, and a strict monotheism or dualism recognizes gods alone; it is in the mellower fullness of Polytheism that goddesses first emerge. The Teutonic paganism, like others, is fond of female deities and elves: even the Goth. Vaihts (genius) is feminine (page 439). Divine mothers, bright benignant dames, norns, valkyrs, wood-wives, water-maidens, formed a main part of the religion: only kobolds and home-sprites are exclusively male; the very giantess are often lovely in mien and manners, and the world of the dead is ruled by a goddess.

He goes on to describe Grendel’s mother in Beowulf and Devil’s mothers/grandmothers in the KHM.

His mythology is very worthwhile reading. Luckily, it has been translated into English so it can be read by Americans also. The Stallybrass text are available free online.

The problem in answering the question further is that many people think that that "Satan," the "Devil," "Lucifer," etc., all refer to the same being/idea when they are not. In different times/places characters are replaced. For example, in the Grimms KHM, the character that often appears as the "Teufel" (devil) was at one time prior Donar (Thunar/Thorr). It is Donar who is the god who rules over clouds and rain and when the text describe the Devil arriving with wind and noise, this was at one time how Donar arrived. Time passed and Donar was replaced with the Devil. But elements of wind and noise in the text still point to the older pagan beliefs. This “Devil” here is not necessarily the same being as the Jewish “Statan.”

Note- it was easier to use the Stallybrass text rather than translate the whole thing myself again

  • Why are you talking about Jewish representations of Satan here, specifically? I was more interested in Christian (although Muslim would also work). – Obie 2.0 Apr 28 '18 at 3:09
  • And your quote about Judaism is not correct. The most famous she-devil, Lilith, is heavily tied to Jewish tradition. It also seems to think polytheism is newer than monotheism. ..which is odd. – Obie 2.0 Apr 28 '18 at 3:10
  • If you want to discuss this in Mythology & Folklore Chat, feel free. – Obie 2.0 Apr 28 '18 at 3:21
  • This is what Grimm wrote about the subject. Sorry if it is not what you are looking for. – Oliver-Grimm Apr 28 '18 at 3:57
  • Grimm does not seem to classify Littlith as a devil. He mentions her in a section under creation as a rabinnical myth as the first woman created in the same way as Adam from the earth. – Oliver-Grimm Apr 28 '18 at 4:12

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.