Comments on: Demon face http://blogs.reuters.com/photographers-blog/2012/11/28/demon-face/ What makes a great picture? Thu, 18 Aug 2016 11:13:37 +0000 hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.5 By: RTG92 http://blogs.reuters.com/photographers-blog/2012/11/28/demon-face/comment-page-1/#comment-353761 Tue, 04 Dec 2012 22:16:30 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/photographers-blog/?p=35035#comment-353761 While the photographs here may be very well done, this poster should be ashamed of his presentation of this traditional practice. The way in which he portrays this ritual is offensive not only to those involved but also to those that, unfortunately, have to be associated with someone holding onto such an ethnocentric perspective.

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By: GBMar http://blogs.reuters.com/photographers-blog/2012/11/28/demon-face/comment-page-1/#comment-353601 Thu, 29 Nov 2012 15:32:33 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/photographers-blog/?p=35035#comment-353601 Actually, Perchten, the name of the festival, comes from the name of a Germanic Goddess named Perchta. The “devils” you see at Perchten do not actually come from the *Christian* devil, but originated as Pagan nature spirits. (The Greeks called them satyrs, the Romans called them fauns, the Hebrews called them sei’rim, etc.) All over the world, different pre-Christian cultures believed in supernatural horned beings that existed somewhere between human beings and the Gods. These creatures were never believed to be “evil,” but could be good or bad just like people. They often protected forests and animals, and they helped farmers with their crops (provided that the farmers were respectful toward them). Krampus, who is said to accompany Saint Nicholas at Yuletide in Germanic folklore, is just one example of these creatures.

It was only after Christianity spread to Northern Europe that these creatures were completely demonized as “devils,” which was mostly an attempt to defame Paganism. In Perchten we find one of the ways in which the Germanic Pagans thought these beings could be friendly: by warding off evil spirits that threaten the fertility of the land and the safety of the hearth. This is an example of what archaeologists call apotropaic magic, which goes back to Neanderthal times. So this sort of practice really has nothing to do with “the devil” since it is far older than both the Christian devil and Christianity itself.

For more information, check out the references on Wikipedia’s webpage about the Goddess Perchta:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perchta

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