Life In Plastic Halloween Special: 13 Demons of the Ars Goetia

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Happy Halloween, everybody! ‘Tis the season of monsters, which have always been a great love of mine. Monsters are cool! Yay monsters! So, since it’s Halloween, I thought that I should provide something a little more monstery than usual. And since we at Nerditis never do things by half-measures, that means it’s time to look at DEMONS FROM HELL.

Demons are pretty much the ultimate monsters. The idea of evil spirits has been mankind’s big fear since we lived in grass huts and caves. No matter how far back we go, long before zombies and vampires were even a blip on the radar, people feared that spirits of pure, unquenchable evil would devour them.

The Ars Goetia (pronounced “Goh-et-ee-a”) is part of The Lesser Key of Solomon – a Renaissance-era occult book that purports to be King Solomon’s guide to wisdom. See, instead of Solomon asking God for wisdom and getting it, the idea is that he instead summoned seventy-two of Hell’s top demons, imprisoned them in a brass urn, and called them up any time he needed advice. Yeah. Sure. But The Ars Goetia chronicles seventy-wo demons culled from occultism and mythology, and is often treated as the definitive guidebook for demons. It’s also served as a handy-dandy resource for Castlevania and Shin Megami Tensei, but that’s neither here nor there.

Honestly, summoning demons doesn’t make sense to me. I mean, only one of two things is going to happen. Either nothing happens because there’s nothing out there, and you’re embarrassed and an idiot, or something is out there, and you’ve just spent the last several hours saying, “Hello, spirits of eternal evil! I want your advice!” Add to that the fact that occultism in that era was built on a Judeo-Christian foundation, and realize that you’re also condemning yourself to an eternity in Hell. So… why would anybody want to do this? There is no situation in which this is a good idea.

I’ve already talked about Demon’s Chronicle, a Japanese toy line which uses a lot of designs from Collin de Plancy’s Dictionnaire Infernal, so I think it’s time to revisit it. This line never did cover all seventy-two Goetic spirits, but it did about half of them. And, in honor of the Holiday of Horror, I have selected thirteen of the scariest monsters imaginable. I’ll quote passages from various Goetia translations, usually using Johann Wier, Collin de Plancy, or S. L. MacGregor Mathers. So, without further ado, heeere we go!

Bael

Bael

“The First Principal Spirit is a King ruling in the East, called Bael. He maketh thee to go Invisible. He ruleth over 66 Legions of Infernal Spirits. He appeareth in divers shapes, sometimes like a Cat, sometimes like a Toad, and sometimes like a Man, and sometimes all these forms at once. He speaketh hoarsely. This is his character which is used to be worn as a Lamen before him who calleth him forth, or else he will not do thee homage.”
-S. L. MacGregor Mathers (1904)

The first spirit mentioned in the Goetia is one of the big boys – Bael, also known as Baal, king of Hell and ancient god of Babylon and Sumeria. If you want to look at archaeology, “Ba’al” was actually a title meaning “lord,” and applied to a ton of gods. The one mentioned in the Bible was usually a mutated form of the Jewish god, portrayed as one deity among many and with a wife. That’s why Israel kept relapsing into worshiping him.

But archaeology aside, Bael is more than just a demon – he’s one of the Seven Princes of Hell, and has corrupted and damned more souls than you can count. And what do you call him for? He grants invisibility.   Probably “advice,” as well. Lots of demons in the Goetia grant invisibility, so why call the big guy for it? Clearly, because you have reason to talk to the king of evil. And there is no way that this will go well for you.

Belial

Belial

“The Sixty-eighth Spirit is Belial. He is a Mighty and a Powerful King, and was created next after Lucifer. He appeareth in the Form of Two Beautiful Angels sitting in a Chariot of Fire. He speaketh with a Comely Voice, and declareth that he fell first from among the worthier sort, that were before Michael, and other Heavenly Angels. His Office is to distribute Presentations and Senatorships, etc.; and to cause favour of Friends and of Foes. He giveth excellent Familiars, and governeth 50 Legions of Spirits. Note well that this King Belial must have Offerings, Sacrifices and Gifts presented unto him by the Exorcist, or else he will not give True Answers unto his Demands. But then he tarrieth not one hour in the Truth, unless he be constrained by Divine Power. And his Seal is this, which is to be worn as aforesaid, etc.”
-S. L. MacGregor Mathers (1904)

Clearly outranking even Bael, Belial is an ancient and evil king whose form seems to mock God, the Trinity, and angels. He declares himself to be First, even above Satan, and delivers power and authority. Unless you give the proper sacrifices, Belial will not honor the summoner, and will deceive or destroy them – and hey, those sacrifices aren’t listed!

On a side note, Belial comes from an ancient Hebrew term for “Worthless,” and even shows up several times in the Bible – more than a few people are called “Sons of Belial,” with the meaning being that they are worthless men. As a demon, Belial was sort of a folk name for the Devil, if applied to his ultimate uselessness. It’s an interesting take that the true king of Hell has a name that means “he’s a loser.”

Amon

Amon

“Amon, who commands forty legions, can appear in the form of a wolf with a serpent’s tail and vomiting flames. In human form, he has the head of an owl and his beak shows canine teeth. He was the supreme diety of the Egyptians, who had blue skin in human form. Amon can tell of the past and the future, and reconcile the differences between friends.”
-Collin de Plancy (1863) (translated)

“Amon, or Aamon, is a great and mightie marques, and commeth abroad in the likenes of a woolfe, having a serpents taile, (spetting out and breathing) [vomiting] flames of fier; when he putteth on the shape of a man, he sheweth out dogs teeth, and a great head like to a mightie (raven) [night hawk]; he is the strongest prince of all other, and understandeth of all things past and to come, he procureth favor, and reconcileth both freends and foes, and ruleth fourtie legions of divels.”
-Johann Wier (1583)

A wolf with the head of an owl and the tail of a serpent, this demon looks at you like a shark looks at its prey, its golden eyes waiting for the slightest mistake, the smallest breach in the circle…

Okay, that was just me being scary. But Amon is linked to Amun-Ra, deity of Thebes later revered as an Egyptian supreme creator god. As a patron of Egypt, Judaic religions have a clear reason to hate him, but why Amon and not Osiris, Anubis, or Set? Well, Amon is also the name of a 7th-Century king of Judah who was so corrupt and idolatrous that the people rose up and killed him. And this coming after Manasseh, who has been declared “The worst king.” Amon was clearly named for the Egyptian deity, and his legacy helped contribute to Israel and Judah’s eventual downfall and judgement. His advice destroyed God’s people. Remember when I mentioned how he watches you like a shark? How apt…

Caacrinolas

Glasya-Labolas

“The Twenty-fifth Spirit is Glasya-Labolas. He is a Mighty President and Earl, and showeth himself in the form of a Dog with Wings like a Gryphon. He teacheth all Arts and Sciences in an instant, and is an Author of Bloodshed and Manslaughter. He teacheth all things Past, and to Come. If desired he causeth the love both of Friends and of Foes. He can make a Man to go Invisible. And he hath under his command 36 Legions of Spirits. His Seal is this, to be, etc.”
-S. L. MacGregor Mathers (1904)

Glasya-Labolas has a few different names – Caacrinolaas and Caassimolar are the other ones most known, and Caacrinolaas sounds coolest, but Glasya-Labolas is his most common name. There seems to be no resources or origins on him outside of demonology, and his granted boons seem normal – invisibility, knowledge, and either causing or destroying love between people.

But I would like to point something out – Glasya-Labolas is the author of murder. The author of murder. When Cain broke his brother’s skull open with a rock, Glasya was there. When a mafia don orders a hit, Glasya is there. When a drugged-out junkie shoots someone over a few dollars, Glasya is there. If you summon this spirit, then you are summoning Murder. Praytell, why would it be a good idea to get this creature’s attention?

Marchosias

Marchosias

“The Thirty-fifth Spirit is Marchosias. He is a Great and Mighty Marquis, appearing at first in the Form of a Wolf having Gryphon’s Wings, and a Serpent’s Tail, and Vomiting Fire out of his mouth. But after a time, at the command of the Exorcist he putteth on the Shape of a Man. And he is a strong fighter. He was of the Order of Dominations. He governeth 30 Legions of Spirits. He told his Chief, who was Solomon, that after 1,200 years he had hopes to return unto the Seventh Throne. And his Seal is this, to be made and worn as a Lamen, etc.”
-S. L. MacGregor Mathers (1904)

And now I can present you with a happy story. On the surface, Marchosias is a fairly scary demon. He fights and gives truthful answers to questions, mostly – but it’s the violence that people are here for. Johann Wier even commented that he spits “I cannot tell what out of his mouth,” meaning that it’s worse than simple fire. I’d reckon that it’s a little sulfuric, if you get my meaning.

However, this flame-breathing hellspawn apparently has a hidden desire – he wants to return to heaven, and had the hope that it could happen 1,200 years after Solomon summoned him. But really, we all know that demons are beyond redemption, aren’t they? Wier even directly stats that Marchosias “is deceived in that hope.” BUT… do you know what happened 1,200 years after Solomon? Here’s a hint – Solomon was around at roughly 1200 BC, and this branch of the occult owes a lot to Judeo-Christian concepts and ideas. Perhaps Marchosias did indeed find redemption at the hands of the Redeemer.

Andras

Andras

“The Sixty-third Spirit is Andras. He is a Great Marquis, appearing in the Form of an Angel with a Head like a Black Night Raven, riding upon a strong Black Wolf, and having a Sharp and Bright Sword flourished aloft in his hand. His Office is to sow Discords. If the Exorcist have not a care, he will slay both him and his fellows. He governeth 30 Legions of Spirits, and this is his Seal, etc.”
-S. L. MacGregor Mathers (1904)

“Andras, who commands thirty legions, has the body of an angel and the head of an owl. He rides a black wolf and carries a saber. He can give advice on how to kill, and he can escalate quarrels and discord.”
-Collin de Plancy (1863) (translated)

And now we go from good to bad. Andras might not be the author of all murder, but he certainly enjoys it. Andras causes discord and death, and assists his summoner in murder – the demon apparently won’t do it himself, but he will gleefully show you how. But of course, if you’re already at the point where you are summoning demons to kill somebody, that kind of thing would be just a formality.

And let’s not forget… if you aren’t careful, Andras will kill you. He deeply despises those who summon him, and always looks for an opening he can use to destroy them. In that way, Andras betrays the seething contempt that all demons have for mortal humanity – even if you serve them, they will hate you. He just shows it on his sleeve, and murders whomever he can when he can. And those who call upon Andras are usually too desperate to realize this.

Eligos

Eligos

“Abigor presents himself as a horseman carrying a lance, a standard, or a scepter. He commands sixty legions & is a grand duke of hell. He knows of the secrets of warfare, of the future, and can instruct leaders of the ways to earn their soldiers’ respect.”
-Collin de Plancy (1863) (translated)

Eligos, or Eligor, or Abigor, is yet another Demon on a Steed. Though in his case, it isn’t an extension of himself (as with Andras and Agares), but is instead an actual beast. The Steed of Abigor was a gift from Beelzebub himself, a nightmare horse reanimated from the remains of one of the first true horses in the Garden of Eden.

When summoned, Grand Duke Eligos teaches the art of war, and commands on how to earn respect from soldiers. So I guess it’s safe to say that he’s a martial spirit. And of course, I have to ask just what kind of war you’ll be fighting if you get one of Hell’s chief generals to advise you.

Agares

Agares

“The Second Spirit is a Duke called Agreas, or Agares. He is under the Power of the East, and cometh up in the form of an old fair Man, riding upon a Crocodile, carrying a Goshawk upon his fist, and yet mild in appearance. He maketh them to run that stand still, and bringeth back runaways. He teaches all Languages or Tongues presently. He hath power also to destroy Dignities both Spiritual and Temporal, and causeth Earthquakes. He was of the Order of Virtues. He hath under his government 31 Legions of Spirits. And this is his Seal or Character which thou shalt wear as a Lamen before thee.”
-S. L. MacGregor Mathers (1904)

Agares is a jerk. It doesn’t say this in the above quote, but his special delight is in teaching rude or obscene gestures and words. So, the Fair Old Man appears willingly when summoned, and enthusiastically helps the summoner. He will find and return runaways, make your stubborn enemies flee, teach all languages, and even cause earthquakes. But what he loves is to give your kids a foul mouth.

Let me rephrase: Agares tracks people down, terrifies folks, rips up the foundation of society, and makes kids into foul-mouthed jerks. Essentially, he is The Internet.

Orobas

Orobas

“The Fifty-fifth Spirit is Orobas. He is a great and Mighty Prince, appearing at first like a Horse; but after the command of the Exorcist he putteth on the Image of a Man. His Office is to discover all things Past, Present, and to Come; also to give Dignities, and Prelacies, and the Favour of Friends and of Foes. He giveth True Answers of Divinity, and of the Creation of the World. He is very faithful unto the Exorcist, and will not suffer him to be tempted of any Spirit. He governeth 20 Legions of Spirits. His Seal is this, etc.”
-S. L. MacGregor Mathers (1904)

Clearly a member of the horsey set, Orobas is living proof that all Bronies are from Hell. I’m joking. Hilariously, he DID get a toy in the Monster in my Pocket toy line, only they called him an “oracle.” The figure does match this pose, though. He’s also appeared in Lovely Molly, a fairly recent horror movie.

On the surface, Orobas looks much nicer than the other Goetic demons. He gives genuinely honest advice, and goes to great pains not to harm you. He never ever lies, and is so faithful that he even protects you from other demons! Ah, but… traditionally, Orobas has been associated with the most cruel, evil, and bloodthirsty rulers and conquerors. You see, he’s a demon, and of course he protects you from other spirits – he doesn’t have to lie in order to corrupt you. All he has to do is give you the opportunity, and then let you do what you want. Evil masquerading as kindness is truly the worst kind of evil out there.

Amduscias

Amduscias

“Amduscias governs twenty-nine legions. His true form is as a unicorn, but appears as human form when summoned. He will give concerts if commanded, & is accompanied by the sound of trumpets and other musical instruments. Trees also bend to his command.”
-S. L. MacGregor Mathers (1904)

Most people who recognize this name remember it from Castlevania, where Amduscias, the “Hellfire Demon,” is a big horse-headed knight who can shoot fire and lightning, and who “puts on concerts.” Little did we know that he was based on a very traditional spirit – a unicorn with a blood-stained horn who composes the cacophonous tunes of Hell.

It’s the Musician of Hell! On the surface, Amduscias seems pretty minor – he speaks with a voice of thunder, gives excellent familiars, and puts on concerts of Hell’s music. Wait, “music?” No, rock music is not inherently satanic (sorry, Jack Chick), and in fact demons don’t particularly like music. Real music reflects the harmony and beauty of Creation, which they hate. The music of hell is a crashing cacophony of chaos, and its harmonies have been known to drive men man. Amduscias will put on a concert for you, but be aware that you put your mind at risk every time you listen.

Vepar

Vepar

“The Forty-second Spirit is Vepar, or Vephar. He is a Duke Great and Strong and appeareth like a Mermaid. His office is to govern the Waters, and to guide Ships laden with Arms, Armour, and Ammunition, etc., thereon. And at the request of the Exorcist he can cause the seas to be right stormy and to appear full of ships. Also he maketh men to die in Three Days by Putrefying Wounds or Sores, and causing Worms to breed in them. He governeth 29 Legions of Spirits, and his Seal is this, etc.”
-S. L. MacGregor Mathers (1904)

Starbucks chose its Siren logo by leafing through old books until they found a picture they liked, and then using it without even seeing what it was originally meant to be. As a result, they have had to defend themselves from some religious groups who claim that the Siren is a demonic and inappropriate occult creature to use as a corporate logo. Part of me wishes that they had used an illustration of Vepar instead, and had to explain why they used a disease-spreading mer-demon to represent Starbucks.

Duke Vepar governs the seas much like Poseidon. Waves and storms rage at his command, or remain peaceful to guide his allies and their warships. But he also spreads the plague, infecting victims with rotting, festering, maggot-filled wounds. They can be healed with due diligence, but Vepar is still one of the outright nastiest of the Goetic demons, with powers that will surely turn back on the summoner, leaving him decaying with the plague.

Buer02

Buer

“Buer is a president of hell and a demon of the second order who commands 50 legions. His form is that of a five-branched star or wheel, and he moves by rolling himself. Buer teaches philosophy, logic, and herbal medicine He is also skilled in curing the sick and giving good servants.”
-Collin de Plancy (1863) (translated)

“The Tenth Spirit is Buer, a Great President. He appeareth in Sagittary, and that is his shape when the Sun is there. He teaches Philosophy, both Moral and Natural, and the Logic Art, and also the Virtues of all Herbs and Plants. He healeth all distempers in man, and giveth good Familiars. He governeth 50 Legions of Spirits, and his Character of obedience is this, which thou must wear when thou callest him forth unto appearance.”
-S. L. MacGregor Mathers (1904)

It is my personal conviction that geneticists should work on breeding wheel-lions, just because I want to see one rolling down the road somewhere. Seriously, this guy is HILARIOUS! Apparently he can appear as a pentagram, or Sagittarius, or a lion face surrounded by a wheel of goat legs. But it’s just.. so surreal.

Buer heals the sick and wounded, but as we’ve learned, that’s just a smokescreen to hide his true intentions. He is a teacher – Buer teaches the liberal arts, but he also instructs on moral philosophy. If you call up Buer, you will learn of the morality of Hell. What this means is that you won’t just hear evil, you will receive it in a sweet and pleasing manner that sounds good and true, but will only drag you screaming into the fiery depths.

Stolas

Stolas

“Stolas is a high prince of hell commanding 26 legions. He appears as an owl or as a man who teaches astronomy, the properties of plants, and the worth of precious stones.”
-Collin de Plancy (1863) (translated)

Outside of the Ars Goetia, Stolas is really only known for two appearances in the Castlevania games, in which he mostly stands still and summons the hardest enemies in the game over and over again until you take him down.

In the Goetia, Stolas seems like one of the lesser demons – he teaches astronomy, astrology, and herbology, and helps appraise precious stones. But don’t underestimate this tiny little stilt-owl, for he is one of the high princes of Hell. Stolas outranks almost every other demon in the Ars Goetia, and yet he concerns himself with such small and innocuous matters! I wouldn’t discount astronomy or astrology, as the stars are very important in demonology. But what about herbs and gems? Those just might be innocent – see, much like Orobas, Stolas specializes in subtlety, and having a few “starter” specialties doesn’t hurt his cause much. No, finding out how much a cubic zircona is worth will not lead you to hell, but it will help build a rapport between you two. A bond, if you will. Stolas is your friend. He’s your buddy, giving some nice advice. Now, don’t you want to come to him with a REAL problem? Don’t you trust him?

And that’s why he’s scary.

***

Well, there you go! Thirteen down, only fifty-nine to go!  So, instead of witches and goblins, I brought out hardcore occult.  Man, when I do Halloween, I play hardball.

Also, be sure to check out today’s Figure Photo of the Day – it might just be another demon, one from the Dictionnaire Infernal who isn’t part of the Goetic 72!  Just remember something important: When you deal with Hell, expect to be burned.

Happy Halloween!

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11 responses to “Life In Plastic Halloween Special: 13 Demons of the Ars Goetia

  1. About the whole “demon” thing, I’m guessing that’s another classic example of Christianity fucking around with native beliefs. Because in Islam, Solomon, or “Sulaiman” as we knew him, was actually a very devout prophet of God, and that the 72 Goetian Demons were actually referred as his loyal “Djinn” servants.

    Yep, that’s right: we believe he has 72 Djinn Servants, not demons. It’s even canon in the pages of the Holy Qur’an.

    • Very interesting! That brings much of the concept to at least the 7th Century, and possibly older.

      A lot of the demons as we know them still came from pre-existing Middle-Eastern gods, though, so there is that.

      • The earliest reference i’ve been able to find is Jewish, from the 1st Century Rite of Eorcism. Jesus even references it once in matthew and in Luke.

  2. Yes these spirits are indeed the jinns of Solomon. The word “Demon” came from the Greek Daemon which were the spirits (not just evil), and the Romans called them Genii or Genius. Christians later called them Demons and depicted them all as evil and forever damned “angels” who fell from the sky. They later on downplayed the Islamic beliefs and made fun of the Genies, bastardized them as smokey slaves living in oil lamps or bottles, and acting as if the Jinn are just fictional beings.

    In reality. The jinn were made out of fire without smoke and were created by God. They were made before the creation of humans from clay, and after the creation of angels from light. The jinn have freewill just like human beings, and unlike angels, sense angels are made free from sin and cannot disobey God. Satan himself was not a fallen “angel” but a jinni who became a devil, indeed he had been placed high up with the angels, but he was no angel of course.

    The story of Solomon and the Jinn goes something like this:

    They [the jinn] assert that Solomon son of David, for whom may there be peace, sat [in audience] and summoned the chief of the jinn, whose name was Fuqtus, to review them. So Fuqtus taught him to know the name [of each jinn], one by one, and also its influence over the sons of Adam. Then he [Solomon] imposed upon them a contract and a pledge. After he had adjured them by that pledge and they had complied, they departed. The pledges were [in] the name of God, Exalted, Mighty, and Magnified. They [the jinn] were: Fuqtus, ‘Mrd, Kywan, Shimr‘al, Firuz, Mhaqal, Zaynab, Syduk, Jndrb, Siyyar, Zanbur, al-Da’hs, Kawkab, Hamran, Dahir, Qarun, Shidad, Sa‘sa‘ah, Baktan, Harthamah, Takallum, Furuq, Hurmiz, Hamhamah, ‘Ayzar, Mazahim, Murrah, Fatrah, al-Haym, Arhbh, Khyth‘, Khyfth, Rayah, Zuhal, Zawba’ah, Mhtukara, Hayshab, Tq‘ytan, Wqas, Qdmnh, Mufarrish, Ayra’il, Nizar, Shftil, Dywyd, Ankara, Khatufah, Tnkyush, Misalqar, Qadim, Ashja‘, Nawdar, Tythamah, ‘Usar, Thu‘ban, Naman, Nmudrky, Tyabur, Sahitun, ‘Udhafir, Mirdas, Shytub, Za‘rush, Sakhr, al-‘Aramram, Khashram, Shadhan, al-Harith, al-Hurth, ‘Udhrah (‘Adhirah), Faqruf.

    • Thanks for the info! Though I would point out that Jewish tradition predates both Islamic and Christian by far, and is the one I rely on for a depiction of Solomon.

      • Bare in mind that Islam was not a new religion when Muhammad came to be, for Muhammad was given the title as the final prophet of Islam (meaning peace within the submission to the one true God) and not the founder. The other prophets being Adam, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Solomon, Jesus and many many others are prophets in Islam, and Judaism was but a tribe which followed the Islamic belief of the prophets. If it would make you feel better I could just switch the Arabic word ‘Islam’ to English to read as Submission to God or the ones who worship only God, same as with Allah meaning God, Iblis meaning Satan, Gannah meaning Heaven, Gehennam meaning Hell, and to simple things as Bab means Door, so separating what is meaning in Arabic with English is a bit racist.

        And it also the information I gave you was discovered to be from the time of Solomon, the Christians would then later copy down the 72 names of the jinn, remove, and add in extras to fit their religion.

        Ancient people knew about the jinn, but not only in Arabia but all throughout the world and they were even worshiped as gods as the jinn can move at such great speed.

        The jinn as we know them in the bible were not the angels (Hebrew: Malakim, Arabic: Malaikah), but were the Kherubim/Seraphim the beings who were created from fire and Satan was one of them. The evil ones were known as Shedim or Shayatin in Arabic.

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