Black gods and demons

Mihail Petruševski, in his comparative study of the black deities and demons in the history of religion, establishes that all black gods and demons have a chthonic nature and therefore belong to the underworld. According to Vyncke (1969), the Slavic clannumen was to a considerable extent chthonic in nature. This people sacrificed to its numina in lakes and springs. According to Petruševski, these were considered ‘entrances to the underworld’. Three Slavic names of gods can be explained in this way. Tjarnaglofi means ‘Blackhead’. Siwa has been explicitly labeled as a prominent goddess by Helmhold. In Common Slavic, siv- is connected with ‘grey, ashen, black’. Siwa can then be interpreted as ‘the Dark Goddess’. Pripegala, probably related to the Baltic gods names Picullus, god of the underworld, and Pikals, evil deity. These names are related to Lithuanian pekla which means hell. The basic meaning is ‘tar, pitch’. Pripegala then means: ‘the tarred, the blackened.’ Several testimonies confirm that the Slavs blackened some of their idols. (Vyncke, 1969)

A contemporary interpretation of a dead god. Mort(h) by d1sarmon1a on DeviantArt
Baphomet in the form of a demonic knight after slaughtering the Templar, Source

‘Black’ gods like Tjarnaglofi or Siwa are not necessarily evil, although they may look scaring. They are called ‘black’ because they control the realm of darkness, the underworld. They stem from ancestor worship. Likewise, they are the deceased ancestors, who live in the realm of the dead. Furthermore, they are invoked to give advice, so they are more like tutelary deities. That is a fundamental difference with the demonic beings like Pripegala or the demons from Christian hell, who represent the evil, destructive force. The ‘black’ gods from Slavic mythology are associated with keywords such as ‘underworld, grey, ashen, forefather, death‘. Words classified in the Semantic Colour Space under the code 001:000 or black-on-blue.

While the destructive demons with words like ‘hell, demon, ruthless, destruction‘ belong under the code 001:101 or black-on-red.

I. Michiels, red.

The green Demons from Europe

The devil is often depicted in green. The devil as a hunter for poor souls is an old motif, but the devil has only appeared in hunter’s suit since romanticism. In medieval images, the devil is still a cross between a snake and a dragon. Western demons usually have the toxic colours of green and yellow, or they are green and black.
Heller (1989)

The supernatural sword

The magic sword is a powerful weapon found in many myths around the world. Dating back from the middle ages and earlier, it is associated with knights and saints using supernatural powers to fight demonic monsters or enemies. In the Semantic Colour Space, this construction situates itself as follows: White-on-blue or Yellow-6 : sword, supernatural, holy, knight and hero.

Black-on-red or Green-4 : demonic, destructive forces depicted by dragons, serpents, griffins, and the weapon itself as a means to kill, to destroy.

Book Cover Tales From Camelot Series 6: Excalibur, Paul Green.

Excalibur, in the Arthurian tales, is the magic sword of King Uther Pendragon, King Arthur’s father. In the account of the Sword in the Stone, Arthur obtained the British throne by pulling a sword from an anvil sitting atop a stone that appeared in a churchyard on Christmas Eve. The act could not be performed except by “the true king”, meaning the divinely appointed king or true heir of Uther Pendragon.

In the account of the Lady of the Lake the sword Excalibur came from the lake. And when Arthur was dying, he ordered Bedivere to throw the sword back into the lake. He ignored this command at first, but did so anyway, and an arm clad in white brocade took the sword to the bottom.

White-on-green: the swan (lady of the Lake), fertility.

King Arthur Asks the Lady of the Lake for the Sword Excalibur, illustration by Walter Crane
Ridder Soler de Vilardell doodt een griffioen met het beroemde zwaard. Bas-reliëf bij de poort van Sant Iu van de Kathedraal van Barcelona

Vilardell’s legendary sword is one of the strongest medieval legends in Catalan courtly literature, comparable to the famous Excalibur from the Arthurian tale. The bearer of the sword is said to be invincible. There are mentions that knights are said to have killed a great serpent and a dragon with the sword.

The saint story of St George defeating the dragon with his sword or lance is related to the myths described above. The Christians turned it into a moral battle between good and evil.

The yellow-6 hero with his sword fights against the green-4 dragon. The keyword ‘fight’ is classified under yellow-on-green.

heraldisch wapenschild van Kagran, Wenen.

i.Michiels, red.

Vampires: colours and shapes

(Inez Michiels, 2022)