Exactly One Year Ago, I looked over some of the demons represented in the Demon’s Chronicle line, and picked out thirteen from the Ars Goetia. Why? Because, if you want something scary on Halloween, you can’t get much more terrifying than ancient spirits of eternal evil. And this year?
Format-wise, I’ll start out with more Goetic demons – not all of the ones represented in the Demon’s Chronicle line, but certainly a good amount – and then from there move on to some other prominent infernal individuals. Have you ever wanted a quick primer on Lilith? Moloch? Mammon? Well, look no further!
Just don’t try to talk to any of them. Seriously, this is for educational purposes only. Attempting to summon a demon will either result in nothing happening and you making fool of yourself, or… well, hey. Think about it for a minute. You’d better hope nothing happens.
DEMONS OF THE ARS GOETIA
Astaroth, Duke of Hell, is a very powerful force of the Abyss. He is a demon of laziness, vanity, and rationalized sin, and seduces people with ease. As part of the Ars Goetia, Astaroth teaches mathematics and handicrafts, can make men invisible and lead them to hidden treasures, answers questions, and gives mortals power over serpents.
As for his name, well… Astaroth’s name is derived from Asherah, a female figure in the near-east, though we discovered that part more recently than the demon was developed. Asherah worship is described in the Old Testament as “abominable” for the same reason as Baal worship – it was the idea that YHWH God had a wife, and thus was not the only god. And so, we turned that into a red winged man riding a big rat.
Aim – pronounced like “Ayim,” not like aiming a gun – is also known as Haborym, and much like Astaroth is a Duke of Hell who rules over twenty-six legions of demons. He gives men true answers and can make them witty, but to be honest, what he really enjoys is setting things on fire. Aim burns everything – cities, castles, holy places, houses, the countryside… he’s a big hellish pyromaniac, and certainly not a stupid idea to summon at all.
Valac is a President of Hell – treated like a collegiate president, not a United States government dude. His appearance takes the typical cherub (which is not based on actual Cherubim) ideal and twists it. The naked winged baby now has horns instead of a halo, and rides upon a true dragon of Hell. In fact, he even tries to appear like a poor little boy at times, but will you be fooled? Valac makes serpents harmless and reveals hidden treasure, just like many other demons.
Also known as Furtur or Furcifur, Furfur is one of the few Goetic demons who lacks the self-control to hide his true nature. Most of them pretend to be altruistic in order to lure people in, but Furfur is a guaranteed liar. Unless a summoner can trick him into entering a magical triangle, he will lead them wrong. Aside from advice, he can force love between a man and a woman, and create violent storms and tempests. Try to think for a moment about how those skills can be used, especially in tandem with his dishonesty.
Count Ipos just might be the goofiest-looking Goetic demon of them all, isn’t he? It’s the goose head. And his services – making men witty and valiant – just seem so innocuous. But let me ask you this: What state would your life have to be in if you need to summon a Count of Hell for a little self-confidence? And what kind of person would you end up becoming afterward?
Botis’s services are also pretty standard – he tells of things past and future, and he reconciles friends and foes. He cannot decide between appearing as a viper or a human with fangs and horns, though he almost always carries a sword. Why the violent, monstrous appearance if his services are so benign? To be honest, we keep going back to Orobas. These demons do not need to outright tempt a man, they simply allow them to fulfill their own desires. And “reconciliation” certainly seems vague, but think about it for a moment. If he forces somebody to cave in an argument, what would this do to your ego in the long-term? What kind of person would you become?
Ose only rules over three legions of demons, and he appears as a very basic leopard-man. So what makes him special? He causes insanity in whomever the summoner desires. He can make a person believe that he or she is anything – an animal, an object, or even the pope. Ose destroys lives on a whim, and can’t wait to give you the opportunity to let loose against anybody you hate.
Beleth is the god of lolcats. Just kidding!
Beleth is actually a mighty king of Hell, and demands allegiance. Sometimes he appears as a cat, but not often – usually he is a mighty king riding a pale horse, and demands proper respect from any conjurers who might call him. The conjurer must recite a specific incantation, draw a triangle, and hope that Beleth obeys. If he does not, then the conjurer is forced to serve the demon, instead. He corrupted Ham, Noah’s son, which has caused no end of trouble since.
We’ve all heard about Lilith, right? Adam’s first wife, who tried to be sexually-dominant and was thus cast out of the Garden? Well, that’s nice and all, and she sure seems like a feminist icon… but it turns out it’s all a lie.
Lilith as a demon has been around for over three thousand years. But Lilith as Adam’s wife only dates back to the 9th Century AD. Before then, she was a female demon physically patterned after the Babylonian Lilitu, but with a far more nefarious modus operandi. Lilith would seduce men away from their wives, and then strangle their children. Far from being the wife of the first man, she is a family-destroying minion of Hell, and truly horrible.
Moloch, once seen as a mighty bull, is now content to look like a silly cow. And yet, he is what he is – a god of child sacrifice, who has hungrily accepted the burnt corpses of infants for millennia.
Is there any evidence of this? Were the Israelites just slandering other religions? Sadly, it turns out that there is plenty of truth to Moloch, as archaeologists have excavated temple sites that not only included human sacrifice, but the remains of children as well. We also have friezes and murals depicting the slaughter of the innocent stretching from Babylon to Carthage. These stretch out even as far as ancient Greece, and the very idea of a parent willingly murdering his or her child is chilling.
On the Day of Atonement, the ancient Jews would sacrifice two goats for their sins. One would die messily to remind the Israelite community of the punishment for sin. On the other, they placed the guilt of the nation, and sent it into the wilderness “for Azazel.” The exact meaning of this passage is unclear, although it most likely just means, “As a scapegoat, released for our guilt.” And yes, this did prefigure the Messiah. Also, to keep the goat from wandering back into town, they would usually kick it off a cliff. Many commentators find this to be an example of disobedience for the sake of convenience. But that’s another story!
Since nobody can just let things be, a tradition soon developed that Azazel was a demon – a chief of Hell, the demon who taught mankind about weapons and cosmetics (grrrr, makeup!), and chief of the Grigori, the demons who mated with human women to produce the Nephilim and indirectly cause The Flood. As one of the Grigori, Azazel was bound and imprisoned early, trapped in a pit of jagged rocks until the final Judgement. According to this tradition, Azazel would be allowed free to claim the sacrificial goat as his, with this act of killing it before returning to his punishment yet another illustration of the power and penalties of unforgiven sin. Azazel in this form is often depicted as a muscular, goat-horned man wielding a trident or mancatcher, usually carrying the goat to its doom. It is hard to tell precisely when the concept of Azazel as a demon first emerged. We have not found any mentions of it before the Second Temple period, though the name obviously exists in the instructions for the Day of Atonement.
Adramelech is related to Moloch – in fact, the names might be in reference to the same deity, but the traditional demon who spawned from this is totally different. Rather than a god demanding human sacrifice, Adramelech holds a very important position as Chancellor of Hell: He supervises Satan’s wardrobe.
The donkey with a peacock tail is the Devil’s fashionista.
It would be really hilarious except for the fact that Robert Silverberg describes him as “The enemy of God, greater in ambition, guile, and mischief than Satan. A fiend more cursed – a deeper hypocrite.”
Most of you know Pazuzu as “Captain Howdy” from The Exorcist. But what he is goes far deeper. He is king of the demon of the wind, and son of the Babylonian/Assyrian god Hanbi. He is both benevolent and terrible, and as powerful as a hurricane. Pazuzu has the body of a man, the head of a lion, the talons of an eagle, two pairs of wings, a scorpion’s tail, and the, erm, reproductive organs of a serpent. He brings famine and locusts, but he also protects against the evil Lamashtu, a foul demon who murders mothers and children during childbirth. As evil as Pazuzu may be, he has his purpose in the world.
Ukobach is a minor little demon with a tremendous purpose. He stokes the fires and furnaces and boilers of Hell! At times he has been allowed to roam free, and in those moments he invented fireworks and the art of frying food, which makes me wonder if he is meant to be an evil demon or a blessed angel. Most of you know of him as that annoying fire gremlin from Castlevania.
Paraphrased from Collin de Plancy’s Dictionnaire Infernal:
“Deumus/Deumo is the goddess of the Calicut in Malabar. She is really a devil adored under the name of Deumus. She wears a crown, has 4 horns on her head and 4 hooked yet strong teeth in her mouth. Her nose is pointed and hooked. Her feet are like a rooster, and she holds a soul between her claws which she seems ready to devour.”
Okay, where to start? Deumus came from a total misunderstanding of Durga, a benevolent multi-armed Hindu goddess. Somehow people got this demon out of it. Whoops #1!
Deumus is female, but clearly in a man’s body. Whoops #2!
Speaking of Durga, Deumus kind of looks nothing like her, who is depicted as being rather pretty and benevolent. Whoops #3!
And that’s just how it goes.
Arioch is an actual name, having been born by Middle-eastern Kings as far back as Abraham’s war against Sodom. But as a demon, Arioch is much, much more. He is a fallen angel who, although he serves Satan, concerns himself strictly with vengeance. To be around Arioch is to know bloody revenge, and the feast of blood that ensues will always be in his favor. He is so singlemindedly devoted to vengeance that he neglects his other hellish duties in favor of it.
Originally, Baal-Zephon, the “Lord of the North,” was an incarnation of Zeus worshipped in Syria. In demonology, Baalzephon is the captain of the guard in Hell. As kingly and leonine as he may appear, remember that he is a tireless sentinel and drill master, ever training the armies of Hell.
As we near the end of this chilling little survey, we have Mammon. His existence comes from a simple word in the New Testament, often left untranslated but meaning “the love of riches.” Mammon is the personification of greed, of avarice, and of wealth. He makes it so the rich man cannot enter Heaven. He governs the sins of greed and envy, and rules over England.
Last but not least, we find Belphegor, one of the Seven Princes of Hell. He, along with Mammon, Asmodeus, Astaroth, Lucifer, Satan, and Leviathan, characterize each of the seven deadly sins. Belphegor is sloth. He seduces people first by indicating industriousness – he suggests ingenious inventions that will help make them rich, but then takes away their motivation and leaves them wrapped up in laziness and procrastination. With that in mind, he just might be the most successful demon ever.
And that’s a wrap for this entry! To be honest, I may go for a different theme next Halloween – researching and writing about child-murder and such isn’t as pleasant as it seems, but if you want something scary on Halloween… well, look at the source. Nobody in their right mind would willingly contact something like this, and yet there is such a huge tradition of demonology that one must wonder about the world’s sanity. My advice? Stay on the side of the angels!