18 People Who Allegedly Sold Their Soul To Pure Evil

18 People Who Allegedly Sold Their Soul To Pure Evil

Shannon Quinn - September 28, 2018

Throughout history, many famous people have claimed that they can give thanks to all of their success because they made a deal with the Devil. This comes from the fact that some believe that if you promise Satan himself that he can have your soul rotting in Hell after you die, it’s possible to get whatever your heart desires when you’re still alive.

However, in some cases, these stories of these Satanic pacts could just be a rumor. It is important to keep in mind that many of these people who are accused of making a deal with the Devil probably didn’t actually do it, and jealous rivals want to tarnish their reputation. In these stories from history, we will sift through the facts and the fiction of people who sold their soul to the big guy downstairs.

18 People Who Allegedly Sold Their Soul To Pure Evil
Robert Johnson was a dapper young man who was popular with the ladies and became a legendary blues singer. Credit: NPR

18. Robert Johnson

Guitarist Robert Johnson was so talented, he became one of the most famous blues musicians in history. As the story goes, Johnson was born in 1911 to a poor farming family in Mississippi. He wanted more for his life, so he went to the crossroads of two major highways, and made a deal with the devil. He wrote a song called “Me and the Devil Blues“. Knowing that this would make Christians angry, he even wrote “You may bury me on the highway side.” Tragically, his death came far sooner than he probably expected. He died at only 27 years old. While his exact cause of death is unknown, most people believe that he got wrapped up in a relationship with a married woman and that he was poisoned by a jealous husband. Many people credit Robert Johnson for beginning the unapologetic, gritty mood that would later become rock and roll.

Despite his devilish song lyrics, the Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Mississippi wanted him to be buried there. When the Reverend James Ratliff was questioned about Johnson’s deal with the devil, he said that he had never even heard of Robert Johnson until a week earlier. He knew about the rumor, but he decided that as long as his congregation wanted him to be buried in his church, he believed his soul could be saved, because so many Christian people would be praying for him.

18 People Who Allegedly Sold Their Soul To Pure Evil
Bob Dylan says he made a “bargain” in exchange for his music career. Credit: New York Post

17. Bob Dylan

In his song titled “Crossroads“, Bob Dylan tells the story of being at a crossroads with his soul. He falls to his knees, and pleads to “the lord” to help save his soul. From the lyrics, it would seem like he is referring to God. But the very last line says, “And I’m standing at the crossroads, believe I’m sinking down.” Most people believe that this “crossroads” Dylan is referring to is the same place that Robert Johnson once reportedly knelt down to offer his soul to the Devil in exchange for the success in his music career. Dylan had just as much success with his career, and continues to live as an icon in music history.

During an interview, Bob Dylan makes reference to that very same bargain that he referenced in his song. He said, “It goes back to that destiny thing. I made a bargain with…it…a long time ago, and I’m holding up my end.”

The interviewer seems a bit confused, and asked, “What was your bargain?”

“To get where I am now,” Dylan said.

“Should I ask who you made the bargain with?”

Dylan laughs, and stutters, “Ha, you know. With the- the- the y’know, with the Chief Commander.”

“On this Earth?”

“On this Earth, and in the world we can’t see.”

18 People Who Allegedly Sold Their Soul To Pure Evil
Theophilus of Adana was a priest who apparently made a deal with the Devil. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

16. Theophilus of Adana

Way, way back in 538 AD, Theophilus of Adana was a cleric in the Roman Catholic Church. He was elected to become a new bishop, but humbly denied the offer, and let his rival have the seat of power. He actually wanted to have an ecclesiastical position, instead of having all of the power and responsibility of a bishop. It’s very possible that he had ulterior motives, though. Theophilus wanted the position of archdeacon, which controlled where all of the donation money went.

He thought that if he gave his rival the bishop position, that he would have at least been grateful enough to return the favor and give him the seat he really wanted. However, the new bishop did not return the favor at all. He handed the archdeacon position to someone else, to completely turned his back on Theophilus of Adana. He was stuck as a humble cleric. That’s kind of like being voted as team captain, but letting your friend take the lead instead, and they thank you by sending you to the bench for the rest of the season.

This made Theophilus of Adana understandably angry. He tried to do a good Christian thing and got screwed over in return. he decided that the Church wasn’t as holy as they made themselves out to be. He felt like they were a bunch of hypocrites. So he decided to summon Satan to help him. He signed a contract in his own blood and denounced Jesus and the Virgin Mary. With Satan’s help, he was voted in as bishop a second time.

However, he felt so guilty over his pact with the devil, he confessed with another priest, and showed him the bloody contract. The priest decided that they should burn it. Theophilus of Adana looked very happy, looking up to the sky, as if God had forgiven him, but then, he died right afterward and collapsed on the floor.

Over the years, the legend of Theophilus of Adana has been re-told so many times, there are loads of different variations to the story. It’s so old, there is no telling how much of it- if any- is true.

18 People Who Allegedly Sold Their Soul To Pure Evil
Illustration of Niccolo Paganini shows that some people were a bit creeped out by his intensity. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

15. Niccolo Paganini

Niccolo Paganini was a professional violinist. Born in 1782, his parents began sending him to lessons when he was just 5 years old. He was already giving public performances in his home city of Genoa, Italy at age 11. By age 15, he was already on a world tour. While other musical geniuses like Mozart and Beethoven were given full credit for their talent at a young age, people questions if Niccolo Paganini was actually working together with the Devil. According to some versions of the story, it was Paganini’s mother who was such a hardcore stage mom, she was the one who summoned Satan to make sure her son sold out concerts.

He was so talented, people were blown away. He did not need sheet music, because he memorized all of his songs. His fingers moved so quickly, it was almost as if his fingers were made of rubber. Modern-day scholars even believe he must have had a combination of two medical syndromes- Marfan Syndrome, which would have made his fingers abnormally long, and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, which would have made his skin very flexible and rubbery.

Like other child stars, fame and fortune at such a young age ruined Niccolo Paganini. At 15, he was already an alcoholic and a womanizer. As he grew older, he was very tall, thin, and his face was sunken, probably from all of the drugs and alcohol. People who watched him were mesmerized, but also a little bit scared. Some say that he had the ability to split himself into doppelgangers, and walk around the audience to gauge their reaction to his music. Others say they saw the devil help him practice, and one time, apparently, a bolt of lightning came down from the sky and struck his violin bow during a performance.

When he was in his 50’s, Niccolo Paganini came down with a series of serious illnesses. The doctors thought he was going to die, so a Catholic Priest came to pray over him. When Paganini saw the priest, he freaked out. He was too young to die. He told the priest to leave because he swore he was going to pull through and get better. The priest left, but Paganini did, in fact, die. In a lot of people’s minds, the fact that he pushed the priest away from his deathbed only confirmed the rumor that he was working with the Devil.

18 People Who Allegedly Sold Their Soul To Pure Evil
Aleister Crowley often wore elaborate costumes during his occult ceremonies. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

14. Aleister Crowley

Aleister Crowley is famously known for being the leader of an occult group. He was raised by parents who were Quakers and began to reject the teachings of The Bible. His mother was very strict, and called him a “devil” and accused him of worshiping Satan. Because of this, he began calling himself “the beast” and “The AntiChrist“.

He was quoted saying that God and Satan fought over his soul. He wrote in one of his books, I was in the death struggle with self: God and Satan fought for my soul those three long hours. God conquered — now I have only one doubt left — which of the twain was God?”

However, if you actually look at Aleister Crowley’s teachings of what he truly believed, he defined “satanic” behavior in the way that Quakers would. The Quakers believed that any selfish thoughts or aspirations outside of God were considered to be Satanic. By that definition, a very ambitious scientist would be “Satanic” as well. In his group, Crowley’s phrase was “Do What Thou Wilt”- as in- do whatever you want with your own life. He encouraged people to do yoga, meditate, and focus on their goals and intentions while having sex.

18 People Who Allegedly Sold Their Soul To Pure Evil
Jack Parsons invented the first rocket jet fuel engine. Credit: Vice

13. Jack Parsons

Jack Parsons was born just a few years after the Wright Brothers flew the first airplane, and he grew up reading sci-fi stories about rocket ships taking people to space. He tried to summon the devil when he was just 13 years old, because he planned to sell his soul in exchange for a real-life rocket ship. It didn’t actually work, of course, but he continued to study science as he grew older, and tried to create a rocket engine that was powerful enough to go through the Earth’s atmosphere.

In his 20’s, he got involved with Aleister Crowley and his occult teachings, which, as we mentioned earlier, some people considered to be Satanic. Parsons attempted a huge spell called “The Babylon Working”, where he tried to summon a goddess named Babylon that would help men go to the moon someday. Technically, it worked. Jack Parsons succeeded in invented jet fuel that is used by NASA today. So- Did he actually sell his soul to the Devil when he offered it up at 13, and that is the actual reason why he succeeded and changed life as we know it? That all depends on what you believe.

18 People Who Allegedly Sold Their Soul To Pure Evil
Jimmy Page was an Aleister Crowley fanboy, and this is why some people believe he made a deal with the Devil. Credit: Billboard

12. Jimmy Page

Led Zeppelin’s guitarist Jimmy Page was very interested in Aleister Crowley and his occult teachings about selfishly focusing your intentions on what you want out of life. He was such a big fan, in fact, that he purchased Crowley’s former home in Loch Ness, Scotland. Page believed that the house was haunted. He told stories about how people had died in that house, and explained the strange sounds he often heard when he stayed there. This lead to a lot of people believing that he must have sold his soul to the Devil, like a lot of other famous musicians throughout the ages.

People began to spread rumors that if Jimmy Page was a Satanist, then the entire band of Led Zeppelin was, too. This started the myth that if you play “Stairway to Heaven” backward, you will hear demonic voices speaking.

11. Antoine Rose

Antoine Rose was a single mother, who was living in extreme poverty and trying to protect her son, Michael. She claimed that another “witch” had tried to kidnap her son in the middle of the night, but they stabbed her in the arm to stop her. Apparently, witnesses saw her asking the Devil for help in her desperate situation. She slathered an ointment on a broomstick and placed it between her legs. This was a psychedelic herbal that Wiccans once used to get high, and it could only be absorbed in the body through the skin. In the year 1477, Antoine Rose was accused of being a witch. She was tortured until she confessed to working together with the devil.

Her story is not that uncommon even today. At its surface, she was an impoverished single mother living on the streets turns to drugs. However, the story of her broomstick incident is one of the many stories that lead to the iconic “witch on a broomstick” stereotype.

18 People Who Allegedly Sold Their Soul To Pure Evil
This illustration shows John Fian and the cow that followed him around town, and the authorities who had to come and investigate. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

10. John Fian

In the 1500s, John Fian was a young man who became a Scottish schoolmaster just outside Edinburgh. He was a bit of a genius, earning a doctorate degree when he was still in his early 20’s. The only problem was that he spent so much time reading books, he didn’t know how to court a lady. He met one of his student’s older sisters, and he was very attracted to her. He bribed the boy to bring him three of his sister’s hairs and tried to cast a love spell on the young woman.

The boy gave him the hair of their family cow, instead. The next morning, the cow burst through the door of the schoolhouse, and jumped into his lap, licking and cuddling up against him. The cow continued to follow him around the town wherever he went. The local authorities spotted this strange behavior and brought Fian in for questioning. They tortured him by twisting his legs and neck with rope until he confessed that he got his magic powers from the Devil.

After getting a confession from Fian, they demanded that he write down the names of other people in the town who were witches, too. He did not write down any names, and fell asleep. When he woke up, he told the guards that the Devil appeared in his dreams and said how displeased he was. If he confessed the other names, he would die. That night, Fian managed to escape out of prison. When he was caught again, he said that he lied about working with the Devil, because they tortured a confession out of him. After this, they tortured him again, breaking all of his limbs, so that he was completely paralyzed. Then, they burned him in a fire.

18 People Who Allegedly Sold Their Soul To Pure Evil
This hilarious cartoon from Punch Magazine shows Phillippe Musard being carried by a crowd of happy people while he looks like he might be sick. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

9. Philippe Musard

In the 1800s, a French composer named Philippe Musard lived in London organizing grand balls where people could dance and have a great party. After doing this for a while and making a lot of money, he decided to move back to Paris. He returned home in 1832, right when everyone was terrified of the cholera epidemic. Musard knew that when people are afraid, they want to distract themselves with drinking and partying. So he threw huge balls that winter at the Theatre des Varieties, and became the real-life Great Gatsby. Artist Toulouse-Lautrec attended nearly all of these parties, and some of his paintings are based on them.

Not only did Philippe Musard throw parties for profit, but he also participated in them every single weekend. He invented his own group dances and lyrics for everyone to do together to classic music, like one called the ‘galop infernal’, which was actually hilarious. It is available on YouTube, and hopefully, most people would agree that it would actually be loads of fun to participate in, even today. He was also a musician, and composed his own tunes that his band played for people to dance to, so that the only place they could go to hear those sweet jams was at his party.

Basically, Philippe Musard had the best life ever. He was a professional party-thrower. Even his portrait looks like his face was puffy and his eyes were half-shut as if he was in a permanent state of being wasted or hungover. Musard partied so hard, he probably knew one day, it would kill him. He lived as if every day was his last day, and had a very dark sense of humor. He even had his effigy stamped on a candy bar at a local chocolatier, so that everyone could see it, just in case he died.

Of course, to pious Christian people, though Philippe Musard and his lifestyle was disgusting and sinful. They thought that he must be working with the Devil, because how else could he convince so many “good” people to party like sinners?

18 People Who Allegedly Sold Their Soul To Pure Evil
This portrait of Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa was in every volume. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

8. Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa

In the 1500s, Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa was a scholar who devoted his life to writing about the occult. In his books, he mentioned the devil a lot, and breaks down exactly how witches perform magic spells. You may be wondering how, exactly, Agrippa got all of his information.

He claimed that when he was a young man, he gave in to the temptations of the devil, and learned how to perform magic by following around groups of witches. He apparently found Jesus, and managed to save his own soul. He wrote his books in order to teach others who to keep the Devil at bay. During his lifetime, he published 8 huge books about the occult.

Even though he was so public about being friends with the Devil, he was never killed for witchcraft. Perhaps he was seen as publishing such valuable information on how to battle the Devil, they just wanted to keep him alive to learn more. While it would seem that he would have been promoting witch hunts in the Church, he actually pushed for people to be more sympathetic and understanding. He wanted to try to help save them from the devil’s grasp and have God save them through prayer, rather than burning them at the stake.

18 People Who Allegedly Sold Their Soul To Pure Evil
Urbain Grandier was executed by being burned alive. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

7. Urbain Grandier

Father Urbain Grandier was a French Catholic Priest in the 1600s. He began to go to tons of exorcisms in order to cast the devil out of someone who had been possessed. Normally, a priest was alone with the possessed person during the ceremony. We now know that demonic possessions were usually mental and physical diseases. If the exorcism did not work, they thought it was because of a particularly strong demon, and not because of a persistent illness.

According to records, there was a strangely high number of demonic possessions in the town surrounding the St. Pierre Du Marche monastery, and Father Grandier was assigned to take care of them. At the monastery, a nun picked up a bouquet of roses, smelled them, and then collapsed and started convulsing as if she was having a seizure. The mother superior picked them up and did the same exact thing.

Instead of realizing that the roses had been sprinkled with some sort of poison or neurotoxin, the priests believed that the nuns had fallen under a spell. One of the nuns was acting full-on possessed, and a priest named Father Mignon did an exorcism with two helpers at his side as witnesses. He asked the demon for its name, and she said, “Astaroth.” When he asked how it was possible that the demon got into such a holy place, it replied that it was through the roses, and that Father Urbain Grandier let him in.

The truth behind this incredible story was that Urbain Grandier was corrupt, but not with the Devil. He refused to take a vow of celibacy, and he would seduce the nuns into having sex with him. It is very possible that this nun agreed to pretend to be possessed by a demon in order to get revenge on Urbain Grandier for rape, or because her own reputation had been threatened. Grandier was found guilty of witchcraft, and burned at the stake. From then on, the Catholic Church no longer allowed priests to do exorcisms alone, for fear that they were inviting more demons down to Earth, instead of expelling them.

18 People Who Allegedly Sold Their Soul To Pure Evil
This portrait of Gilles de Rais shows him in his full glory. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

6. Gilles de Rais

Gilles de Rais was a knight who fought alongside Joan of Arc to help fight against the English and win a battle for France. The two became good friends, and Gilles de Rais was rewarded for his work by being given the title of “Marshal of France”. However, Joan of Arc was kidnapped and brought to the English. They called her a witch, and burned her at the stake.

Gilles de Rais was so upset by the injustice, that some say he began to dabble in alchemy in order to find the key to eternal life. At this point, he was the richest man in France, and the Catholic Church wanted a piece of the pie. Instead of giving his money to the church, he decided to put on an elaborate play, unlike anything anyone had ever seen before. He paid local actors, costume designers, and set builders to reenact his glory days of battle.

The church officials were so appalled by how he was throwing good money down the drain, so they decided to accuse him of being a serial killer who practiced alchemy and worshiped Satan. He was put to death, and when he died, the Catholic Church took custody of all of his money, castles, and land.

18 People Who Allegedly Sold Their Soul To Pure Evil
This illustration of Guiseppe Tartini usually goes along with the song he wrote inspired by the Devil. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

5. Giuseppi Tartini

Giuseppe Tartini was an Italian violinist and composer. In the 1700s, He composed a song called “The Devil’s Trill Sonata“. He claimed that he woke up one night to find Satan himself sitting at the edge of his bed, playing the violin. After this visit from the Devil, he was able to play complicated trills that are usually impossible for most violinists to achieve. Even today, many modern musicians are not talented enough to play “The Devil’s Trill Sonata”. Some people speculated that Tartini may have had 6 fingers on one hand, and that is how he could play those complicated notes.

18 People Who Allegedly Sold Their Soul To Pure Evil
Portrait of Dr. Johann Georg Faust. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

4. Johann Georg Faust

As the legend goes, Doctor Johann Georg Faust was an alchemist and astrologer who lived in Germany during the early 1500s. He wanted to be the smartest man in the world, and enjoy as many earthly pleasures as he possibly could while he was still alive. He made a deal with a demon called Mephistopheles.

According to records, he sodomized some of his male students, and was generally abusive and mean towards everyone. As a professor, he looked down on everyone else, because he believed that he was far superior. Local priests believed that he was in cahoots with the devil and that his pet dog was actually a demon who could transform in and out of canine form and into a human man servant. It would seem that he truly did believe in magic, because during his lifetime, he published several grimoires, or spell books. In 1540, he was conducting an alchemic experiment, and his laboratory exploded.

18 People Who Allegedly Sold Their Soul To Pure Evil
This wood carving from the 1700’s shows Jonathan Mouton laying in bed while the Devil drank his rum. Credit: New England Folklore

3. Jonathan Moulton

Jonathan Moulton was the early colonial settler in the New World who would earn the nickname “Yankee Faust”. As a young man, he was a poor apprentice to a cabinet maker but ended up completely switching careers, which was uncommon at the time. He became a professional silversmith and making a lot of money trading to England from the colonies. He also served as the Bridigire General for New Hampshire, and lead a battle to victory in King George’s War.

One legend says that Jonathan Moulton was able to afford his silversmith business by making a deal with the Devil. Moulton sat down and drank shots of rum with the Devil, and tried to get him drunk. Moulton said he would sell his soul in exchange for filling up the boots with gold coins on the first day of each month. They shook hands, and went their separate ways. Moulton found the biggest pair of boots in the entire state, where the leather went all the way up to the thighs. On the first of the month, the Devil took notice of how huge these boots were, and he laughed it off. A deal is a deal, after all, and he never specified the size of the boots. He filled them with gold coins.

The next month, Moulton was thrilled that the boots were filled all the way to the brim, but he was greedy. He got the brilliant idea to cut the soles out of the bottom of the shoes, and cut holes under the boots that would go down to his basement. The next month, the boots did not fill until the entire basement was flooded with gold coins. When the Devil realized he had been tricked, he got so angry, he set Moulton’s house on fire. This story was passed down for generations, and eventually written down roughly 100 years later.

In reality, Jonathan Moulton would have earned a veteran’s pension after serving in King George’s War. He would have also made a lot of money selling silverware to rich English families. He became rich so quickly, his neighbors felt as though it happened overnight, and they wondered how Moulton could have possibly made so much money, unless he did a deal with the Devil. He would have also been the kind of person who would have been loyal to the crown even during the Revolutionary War. It’s no surprise that he was unpopular, and that someone set his house on fire, blaming the entire ordeal on the Devil.

18 People Who Allegedly Sold Their Soul To Pure Evil
Since he was an artist, Christop Haizmann was able to paint his own illustration of his tussle with the devil. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

2. Christoph Haizmann

In 1677, an artist named Christoph Haizmann from Bavaria was working at a castle in Austria. He was so talented at painting, that he had been invited to completed commissioned work from his noble patrons. When he began have seizures, everyone believed that these were physical symptoms of being possessed by the Devil. People assumed that he must have sold his soul in order to gain all of his talents.

Christoph Haizmann confessed that he did, in fact, make a deal with the Devil 9 years earlier, at the start of his art career. But now, he regretted it very much, and wanted an exorcism. They demanded to know if he was a practicing witch, but the local authorities decided that he was not, but that the Devil had a hold of him. The local Catholic priest felt sorry for him when he saw Haizmann’s sick and weakened physical state. He began performing exorcisms on him. During these exorcisms, Haizmann claims that he had a vision that he came face-to-face with the Devil, who was in the form of a dragon. He was holding the contract to his soul, and he ripped it out of its talons. When he woke up, he was cured. After this, Christoph Haizmann began to paint pictures of the Devil. He painted a story with multiple panels, telling the story of how he sold his soul, and how the Catholic Church helped him get it back.

18 People Who Allegedly Sold Their Soul To Pure Evil
Illustration of the crazy witch trials in Salem. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

1. The Salem “Witches”

Even if you don’t consider yourself a history buff, it almost goes without saying that the famous so-called witches of Salem, Massachusetts were accused of being in cahoots with the Devil. The citizens of Salem believed that the Devil gave those people supernatural powers and that they performed Satanic rituals in the woods. Of course, it was later discovered that the confession that started it all was a lie, and innocent people were killed.


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Giuseppe Tartini. Wikipedia.

Joan of Arc. History Collection. August 2, 2016

What the Myth of Faust Can Teach Us. Benjamin Ramm. BBC. 2017.

A Book of New England Legends and Folklore in Prose and Poetry. Samuel Adams Drake. Robert Brothers. 1884.

Witch Hunts in Europe and America: An Encyclopedia. William E. Burns. Greenwood Publishing Group. 2003.

Sex, Drugs, and Broomsticks: The Origins of the Iconic Witch. Dylan Thuras. Atlas Obscura. 2013.

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A Case of Witchcraft: The Trial of Urbain Grandier. Robert Rapley. Manchester University Press. 1998.

A Violinist And The Devil. Melissa. TodayIFoundOut.com

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Theophilus of Adana. Wikipedia.

The Legend of How Bluesman Robert Johnson Sold His Soul to the Devil at the Crossroads. Open Culture. October 30th, 2020

From The Grateful Dead to Tom Waits: Bob Dylan’s favorite songs about the Devil. Far Out Magazine. Jack Whatley.

The Occult History Behind NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. SuperCluster. NOVEMBER 10, 2020

The Time A Town Killed A Priest: A Lesson In Hysteria. The Wisdom Daily. August 09, 2017

Fame, Fortune, Fire and Brimstone: The Legend of Jonathan Moulton. New England Historic Society. 2020