DEMONS, in Modern Witchcraft and Ceremonial Magick
DEMONS IN MODERN WITCHCRAFT
Wiccans and practitioners of other forms of Neo-Pagan Witchcraft do not regard the Gods, Goddesses and other entities invoked in rituals as being Demons. When witnessing to Wiccans and/or Neo-Pagans, to claim otherwise is to almost certainly cut off any form of effective communication with them.
see also: WITNESSING TO WITCHES in the ARTICLES Section.
DEMONS IN CEREMONIAL MAGICK
Ceremonial Magick demons are viewed as powerful intelligences that may be summoned and controlled in rituals. They also work with other spirits, including god-forms, elementals, angels, planetary and Zodiacal spirits and thought-forms. The Grimoires give detailed instructions for conjuring and controlling demons. The rituals are tedious, but modem Ritual Magicians say they work. Demons are dangerous; hence the magician takes great care to be precise. Demons appear in ingenious disguises to try to tempt magi-cians out of the protective Magic Circle, shriek obscenities, spit on the magicians and threaten to go out of control. (See also MAGIC.)
A dramatic example of the dangers of conjuring demons occurred in 1909 and involved Aleister Crowley and his student, Victor Neuberg. Crowley routinely conjured demons in his exploration of the Aethyrs of Enochian Magick. The two went into the desert south of Algiers, where they cast a magic circle to protect Neuberg and a triangle in which Crowley would Conjure a manifestation of the Abyss of the eleventh Aethyr. They slit the throats of three pigeons, one at each point of the triangle, "that their blood might be a basis whereon the forces of evil might build themselves bodies," according to Crowley. Dressed in a hooded black robe, Crowley went through a ritual in which he allowed himself to become possessed by the Dweller of the Abyss, Choronzon. The demon, he said, was not an individual but an evil and malignant force that longed to become real.
Crowley saw Choronzon appear in his Scrying topaz, blustering, raging and laughing wildly. From within the triangle, it manifested to Neuberg and tried to entice him out of his circle so that it could take control of him. To do so, it flattered him and promised to serve him; took the form of a woman Neuberg loved; appeared as a serpent with a human head; and took the form of a naked Crowley begging for water to slake his thirst. Neuberg attempted to control the demon with the Names of God and the Pentagram, to no avail (see NAMES OF POWER).
Choronzon began dictating a long speech, and while Neuberg wrote furiously, the demon threw sand from the triangle and broke the magic circle. It rushed in, flung Neuberg to the ground and tried to tear out his throat with froth-covered fangs. Neuberg once again invoked the Names of God and struck at the demon with his magic dagger (see ATHAME). Cowed, the demon writhed back into the triangle, where it continued to rave and attempted another seduction as the woman Neuberg loved. But the blood of the pigeons was spent and could no longer sustain the manifestation of form, and Choronzon vanished.
During this episode, Crowley had remained in Trance, astrally identifying with the demon and experiencing all of the emotions it exhibited,. When it was over, he took his magic ring and wrote the holy name of Babalon in the sand. He and Neuberg lit a fire to purify the site and destroyed the circle and triangle. The two-hour ordeal left both men exhausted. Some say that Crowley was obsessed by Choronzon for the rest of his life.
HIERARCHIES AND FUNCTIONS OF DEMONS IN CEREMONIAL MAGICK
Demons have been catalogued, ranked and classified since at least 100-400 AD the period in which the Testament of Solomon appeared, describing Solomon's magic ring for commanding the Djinn and listing the names and functions of various Hebrew, Greek, Assyrian, Babylonian, Egyptian and perhaps Persian demons. Christian demonologists of the 16th and 17th centuries catalogued demons into hierarchies of hell and ascribed to them attributes and duties, including ambassadorships to various nations.
Johan Weyer, who devised the most complex hierarchy, estimated that there were 7,405,926 demons serving under 72 princes. The Grimoires of Ceremonial Magick also give their own hierarchies. Some of the major demons are:
Asmodeus. The demon of lechery, jealousy, anger and revenge. His chief objectives are to prevent intercourse between husband and wife, wreck new marriages and force husbands to commit adultery. He is also one of the chief demons involved in cases of possession. Throughout history, he has been regarded as one of the most evil of Satan's infernal demons. He is usually portrayed as having three heads, those of an ogre, a ram and a bull, all sexually licentious creatures; having the feet of a cock, another sexually aggressive creature; and having wings. He rides on a Dragon and breathes fire.
Asmodeus has his roots in ancient Persia. He is identified with the demon Aeshma, one of the seven archangels of Persian mythology. The Hebrews absorbed him into their mythology, where he attained the highest status and most power of all demons in Hebrew legends. According to the Hebrews, he is the son of Naamah and Shamdon. He was part of the Seraphim, the highest order of angels, but fell from grace. In other Hebrew legends, he is either associated with or is the husband of Lilith, the demon queen of lust. Sometimes he is said to be the offspring of Lilith and Adam.
Asmodeus migrated into Christian lore, becoming one of the Devil's leading agents of provocation. Witches in the Middle Ages were said to worship him, and magicians and Sorcerers attempted to con-jure him to strike out at enemies. The medieval grirnoires sternly admonish anyone seeking an audience with Asmodeus to summon him bareheaded out of respect. Weyer said Asmodeus also ruled the gambling houses. He was one of the infernal agents blamed for the obscene sexual possession of the Louviers nuns in 17th-century France.
Astaroth (also Ashtaroth). A male demon who evolved from the ancient Phoenician Mother Goddess of fertility, Astarte or Ashtareth. In his male Incarnation, he has little to do with man's sexual nature. He is a teacher of the sciences and a keeper of the secrets of the past, present and future and is invoked in necromantic rituals of Divination. He appears as an angel in human form, by some accounts ugly and by other accounts beautiful. He does, however, possess a powerful stench. Weyer said Astaroth was a grand duke of hell and commanded 40 legions of demons. Astaroth is listed as one of the three supreme evil demons, with Beelzebub and Lucifer, in the Grimoire Verum and Grand Grimoire, which date from about the 18th Century.
The demon is said to instigate cases of demonic possession, most notably that of the Loudun nuns in France in the 16th Century. The nuns accused a priest, Father Urbain Grandier, of causing their possession. At Grandier's trial, a handwritten "confession" of his was produced detailing his pact with the Devil, witnessed and signed by Astaroth and several other demons.
Baal. Many small deities of ancient Syria and Persia carried this name, which means "the lord" (from the Hebrew báal), but the greatest Baal was an agricultural and fertility deity of Canaan. The son of EI, the High God of Canaan, Baal was the lord of life and ruled the death-rebirth cycle. He engaged in a battle with Mot ("death") and was slain and sent to the Underworld. The crops withered, until Baal's sister, Anath, the maiden Goddess of love, found his body and gave it a proper burial. The Canaanites worshipped Baal by sacrificing children by burning. As a demon in Christianity, Baal was sometimes portrayed as triple-headed, with a cat's head and a toad's head on either side of his human head. He imparted visibility and wisdom.
Beelzebub. Known as "Lord of the Flies," Beelzebub was the prince of demons in Hebrew belief at othe time of Jesus. The Pharisees accused Christ of exorcising demons in Beelzebub's name. In medieval times, Beelzebub was regarded as a demon of great power. A Sorcerer conjured him at his own risk of death by apoplexy or strangulation; once conjured, the demon was difficult to banish. When he manifested, it was as a gigantic, ugly fly.
Beelzebub was said to reign over witches' Sabbats. Medieval Witches reputedly denied Christ in his name and Chanted it as they danced. There are many stories of his copulating with witches in wild orgies; to do this, he apparently appeared in other than fly form. When Black Masses were fashionable in high society in the 17th Century, Beelzebub 's name was Chanted during the rites (see BLACK MASS).
Beelzebub was among the demons blamed for the demonic possession cases of the nuns of Loudun and Aix-en-Provence in 17th-century France, forcing the nuns into lewd behaviour.
Belial. One of Satan's most important and evil demons, who is deceptively beautiful in appearance and soft in voice, but full of treachery, recklessness and lies. He is dedicated to creating wickedness and guilt in mankind, especially in the form of sexual perversions, fornication and lust.
Belial's name probably comes from the Hebrew phrase beli ya'al, which means "without worth." The ancient Hebrews believed Belial was the next angel created after Lucifer and was evil from the start, being one of the first to revolt against God. After his fall from heaven, he became the personification of evil.
Weyer believed Belial commanded 80 legions of demons (at 6,666 demons per legion) and served as infernal ambassador to Turkey. Magicians of that time believed that Sacrifices and offerings were necessary to invoke him. Belial was reputed to break his promises to magicians, but those who managed to gain his true favour were handsomely rewarded.
Belial's name is sometimes used as a synonym for Satan or the Anti-Christ. In the Old Testament, the phrase "sons of Belial" refers to worthlessness and recklessness.
Belial also is known as Beliar.
Lucifer. In Latin, his name means "light-bringer," and he originally was associated with Venus, the morning star. His rebellion against God caused him and his followers to be cast from heaven. The fallen angels lost their beauty and power and became "fiendes black." In the Middle ages, both "Lucifer" and "Satan" were used as names for the Devil. Lucifer could apply to the Devil in either his pre-fall or post-fall state.
In the hierarchies of demons in various forms of Ceremonial Magick, Lucifer is emperor of hell and ranks above Satan, one of his lieutenants (ranks and distinctions not made in Christian theology). When conjured, he appears as a beautiful child. Lucifer is said to rule Europeans and Asiatics.
ARE DEMONS REAL?
Many people who believe in angels have trouble with believing in demons. They treat them as primitive superstition. The Bible is clear on this fact; Jesus ministry seemed to have more to do with demons than their good 'counterparts'.
Revelation 12:9 is the clearest Scripture on the identity of demons, "The great dragon was hurled down - that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him." The Bible indicates that the demons are fallen angels - angels who along with Satan rebelled against God. Satan's fall from heaven is described in Isaiah 14:12-15 and Ezekiel 28:12-15. Revelation 12:4 seems to indicate that Satan took one-third of the angels with him when he sinned. Jude verse 6 mentions angels who sinned. So, it is likely that demons are the angels who followed Satan in sin against God.
Satan and his demons now look to destroy and deceive all those who follow and worship God (1 Peter 5:8; 2 Corinthians 11:14-15). The demons are described as evil spirits (Matthew 10:1), unclean spirits (Mark 1:27), and angels of Satan (Revelation 12:9). Satan and his demons deceive the world (2 Corinthians 4:4), attack Christians (2 Corinthians 12:7; 1 Peter 5:8), and combat the holy angels (Revelation 12:4-9). Demons are spiritual beings, but they can appear in physical forms (2 Corinthians 11:14-15).
Unnecessary fear of demons is unhealthy. Demons can not be blamed for all human wrong doing. While demons can and do, tempt us, our natural inclination to do wrong requires little encouragement. The Bible clearly shows us that God is ultimately in control and good will ultimately triumph over evil. Rev 20:10
see also: DAIMONS; DEMONS; LILITH; DEMONS, Sexual Intercourse with
CAN A CHRISTIAN BE DEMON POSSESSED?;
TERRITORIAL SPIRITS AND SPIRITUAL WARFARE: A BIBLICAL PERSPECTIVE and
SPIRITUAL WARFARE in the ARTICLES Section of this Site.
One of the major problems with 'defining' Paganism and/or its beliefs and practices is that it is an 'organic' movement, in that it is undergoing constant change and re-evaluation from within, and as such any 'one-size-fits-all' approach to understanding Paganism will be found wanting.
Due to the very 'organic' nature of Paganism, and the many differing Paths and Traditions within it, in many cases no one definition may be universally accepted by all Pagans. Therefore, where such cases of possible conflicting and/or contradictory meanings of certain terms occur I have endevoured to give not only the generally accepted meaning, but also any major 'variations' in belief and/or practice.
Christians who believe this difference in meaning of certain key terms, beliefs and practices to be unique to Paganism need to remember that such conflicts also arise within the Body of Christ - the Church. Take for instance the differing practices amongst Christians concerning Baptism and the different attitudes towards women in the clergy.
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