Posts Tagged Lucifer

Solomonic Demonology

14 February 2012

There is a class of ceremonial magic generally referred to as Solomonic magic. This is, of course, named for the famous King Solomon, son of David. The idea that Solomon was a magician is fairly old, as the second century Testament of Solomon, a sort of prototype for later Solomonic grimoires, attests. Though Solomonic magic is primarily Christian in origin, it is dependent upon both Jewish lore and Arabic magical practices.

The most famous of the Solomonic grimoires is perhaps the Lemegeton Clavicula Solomonis, the Lesser Key of Solomon. Mostly dating from the 14th century, the first book of the Lesser Key, called the Goetia, was made popular once again in the 19th century through the “translation” of S.L. MacGregor Mathers, one of the founders of the Order of the Golden Dawn. Though the second book of the Lesser Key, the Theurgia Goetia, is concerned with spirits which are both good and evil in nature, we will focus on the more well known Goetia, which deals with demons proper.

It is important to know that there is quite a debatable concerning whether or not the Goetia and Theurgia Goetia are about demons, i.e. fallen angels, or some other kind of spirit. Some of the demonic names found in the Goetia are clearly derived from the names of pagan deities. Astaroth, the 29th spirit, is an excellent example of this. The name “Astaroth,” who described as a mighty and strong duke, is understood to come from the Canannite goddess Ashtoreth, the consort of Ba’al, one of the Jewish God’s chief cultural rivals. However, not only are all 42 of the Goetic spirits considered diabolical, they are, generally, considered fallen angels, some of whom, we are told, hope to regain their place in heaven.

Each demon is given a rank: Marquis, Duke, Prelate, Knight, President and Count or Earl. In some Solomonic-derived systems, such as from the Grimoirium Verum, all of the demons are ruled over by one of three greater demons: Lucifer, Beelzebuth and Astaroth, though this is not part of the Lesser Key. Regardless, each demon listed is itself a greater spirit, ruling over a multitude of legions, a legion consisting of 6666 lesser demons. Further, each greater demon is associated with a certain power or ability. The aforementioned Astaroth, whose seal was featured on the “Malleus Maleficarum” episode of the WB’s Supernatural, can “make men wounderfull knowing in all Liberall siences.” The 40th spirit, the Earl Raum, is said to ‘steale Treasures out of kings houses, and to carry it where he is commanded, & to destroy Citties, and ye dignities of men; & to tell all Things past, & wt is, & wt will be; & to cause Love between friends & foes.”

The Goetia is not, however, simply a book about demons. It is a grimoire about how to summon, or evoke, the demons and bend them to servitude. The magic of the Lesser Key relies upon a number of physical implements, including magical seals, a large circle filled with divine names, a magical triangle, and a lamen, a sort of magical pendant, with the demon’s seal or signature on it. To these some include the vestments, magical sword and blasting rod found in the Greater Key of Solomon, which deals not with demonic evocation, but astrological talismans and other, similar, forms of magic.

The actual process of evocation is somewhat drawn out and makes use of lengthy prayers, conjurations and exhortations. Importantly, this is not a kind of demonolatry or diabolical worship. The magician does not even conjure the spirit through his or her own power, but through the holy power of God, who is called upon through various names, some Jewish, some akin to the voce mysteicae of Neoplatonic theurgy.

When next we meet, I’ll discuss, briefly, the Gnostic archons, before moving onto some examples of how classical demons have been incorporated into some well known, and maybe some not so well known, contemporary fantasy.

Demons in Early Christianity

27 February 2011

First: a lot of demonology found in the grimoire tradition comes out of Christianity. I’ll do grimoire-related demons later on, so let’s just pretend they don’t exist for now, okay?

There appear to be two kinds of demons in Christianity (ymmv; not all forms of Christianity do this). The first is the unclean spirit and the second the fallen angel.

There are about 20 mentions of “unclean spirits” (pneumata akatharta) in the New Testament, such as the one’s Jesus casts out into swine that then kill themselves. There are also the “air spirits” (aero tou pneumato) of Ephesians 2:2 Presumably those spirits are demons of some sort, but of what variety it’s hard to say; the term “daimon,” the source of the English word “demon,” isn’t used, nor are these described as fallen angels. The movement, Christianity, of the morally neutral term daimon into something evil has already been discussed in the etymology part of the Guide. It is perhaps noteworthy that daimon only shows up only about five times in the New Testament, as opposed to the 20 or so times pneumata akatharta appears.

It is interesting that there is no direct connection, Biblically speaking, between these spirits and fallen angels, fallen angels that show up in . . . a bunch of different places, actually. For instance there is 2 Peter 2:4 “For if God did not spare the angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of deepest darkness to be kept until the judgment” and Jude 6: “And the angels who did not keep their own position, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains in deepest darkness for the judgment of the great day.”

The Apocalypse of St. John (aka Revelation) is another source for fallen angels. Importantly, the idea of the “War in heaven” comes from here, though it was likely heavily influenced by the apocryphal 3 Enoch, which describe a similar war between the sons of light and the sons of darkness. This will also be connected to the vision of a star falling from heaven, to be discussed a little bit later. The war is first discussed in Revelation 12:7-9, where the angle Michael boots Dragon, identified with Satan, from heaven, along with Satan’s angels.

An earlier portion of Revelation, 9:1, will eventually be connected with the figure of Satan. Rev 9:1 describes a star fallen from heaven to the earth (just as Satan is cast to the earth by Michael in Rev 12) and who has the keys to the abyss (i.e. hell). Due to what is, in my opinion, a misreading of Isaiah 14:12, this fallen star will be given the name Lucifer, to be connected with Satan.

Lucifer is a somewhat difficult but important subject, especially as he is connected to Satan. It seems clear that the part of the Hebrew Bible (Isaiah 14:12) where Christianity gets Lucifer from isn’t talking about an angel, fallen or otherwise. Rather the text is talking about the king of Babylon, who is given the title Day or Morning Star and is described as eventually falling from heaven (yeah, it’s a metaphor). But eventually this will get translated into Greek and from the Greek, Latin, where in some readings the title is turned into a proper name, something that is retained in the King James Bible today.

Finally, at least a few demons are described. Abaddon, for instance. Originally, Abaddon meant “place of destruction” and was associated with Sheol (an afterlife realm) in Jewish writings. In Revelation Abaddon becomes a king of hell and may even be associated with (or as) the Anti-Christ. Revelation also mentions “demonic spirits” that go out and perform miracles. Again, just what demons are is questionable. Another is the Dragon, identified with Satan, with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns and who probably represents the Roman Empire.