To some Satan is "almost" all-powerful while others limit his power to only corrupting or deceving mankind - some religions do not regard Satan as pure evil and instead believe he is granted the ability to corrupt humanity in order to test faith - though in the popular mind Satan will always embodies the raw and evil demonic possession.
Origins of The DevilEdit
In Christian belief Satan was originally called Lucifer, the Morning Star, which means light-bearer. He was a Seraphim (angel) in heaven. Eventually, he grew prideful and jealous of God's power and attempted to overthrow him, gathering up legions of followers and revolting against God. He was defeated by Michael the Archangel and cast into Hell as punishment. It is said that on the Day Of Judgment Satan shall rise to power again and lead another war against Heaven, this time he and his followers will be cast down by God himself and sent to a lake of burning fire (Hell) as an eternal punishment for their many sins.
In Islamic belief, Satan is referred to as Iblis (religion) and did not rebel against God out of a jealousy of the Creator's power but rather out of contempt for mankind - who God created and had his other creations bow down to: Iblis refused to bow to mankind (some say he knelt before God only) and was thus banished from Jannah ("Paradise") and given only the power to corrupt humans until the day God would return to pass judgment on the world.
In the Old Testament, he is simply an angel referred to as ha-Satan, or the Adversary. It is important to note that he was viewed as the enemy of man, not God. He was one of God's closest angelic advisors. The Satan's job was to tempt man away from God's law. This was intended as a means of testing man's righteousness. another thing is that Satan did not rule Hell in the old testament.
In popular culture Satan is depicted as a red-skinned humanoid with the legs of a goat, similar in many ways to the Roman god Pan, he varies from having red dragon-like wings or none at all and tends to have a long tail with a forked end - his weapon of choice tends to be a trident and he is always seen tending to the fires of hell or tempting some poor soul: an adept shape-shifter Satan is said to take on any form he pleases in order to tempt people but the satyr form (known as a Devil) remains one of his most famous personas. This however was based on Pan of greek myth and contrary to popular belief was unbiblical, Satan in the bible described as a tall slender figure, with tattered red robes, jewels blacked out from fire, long wings, it is desribed as absolutley terrifying.
Satan is also frequently confused with Baphomet, a goat-headed demon strongly associated with black magic and due to this the two beings often merge - this is also the case of many of Satan's alter-egos, such as Beelzebub (lord the flies) or Baal - many of Satan's alter-egos are based on ancient fertility gods or pagan deities that the early church viewed as evil and thus added into an infernal hierarchy of demons with Satan as their lord and master: over the centuries however demonology became less popular and the infernal hierarchy concept faded away (though some still believe in it).
Role in HeavenEdit
Before his fall, Satan held the position of Accuser, which was a position much like a prosecutor in modern human courts - he was also seen as God's most beloved angels in many texts yet became his most powerful and recurring opponent following his Fall.
God As The DevilEdit
Although rarer than the classical "fallen angel" theory there has been a school of thought (largely seen as heretical by orthodox scholars) that the Old Testament "God" - with his frequent displays of anger, strict enforcement of rules and what some may argue as petty vengence - was indeed "Satan" while figures such as Jesus represented a "demiurge" of sorts that sought to free humanity from a cycle of sin created by a malicious or uncaring higher-power. This school of thought is popular with some Theistic Satanists, who see Lucifer as a champion of freewill who fought against a tyrannical God - of course the idea of a malevolent God is not accepted by most within mainstream religion and in the past people were oppressed for teaching such doctrines.
Yet despite this the idea of God (usually the Old Testament version) as Satan still exists and is held as fact by some, especially those who are embittered towards the Church or disagree with the events of the Bible, which may be viewed as violent and intolerant to those who do not share its views or morals.
The idea of God portraying as Satan was later used to create the the main villains of the His Dark Materials trilogy, The Authority, the first angel who claimed to be God and created Judeo-Christian-Islamic religions but was only a fraud, and his Regent Metatron, an evil man-turned angel who ruled Heaven and was the one responsible for the Magisterium's (Church) oppression and corruption and hatred towards free-will.