Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Finding one’s helpful demons

By Juliet

I'm not what you'd call a church-goin' gal. Maybe because I've never felt a true calling, I find religious faith fascinating. Especially how it inspires creativity: art, music, and writing.

For instance, what happens when you shut a bunch of men away for hundreds of years, tell them not to have sex, and scare the crap out of them with tales of the devil?

Above: President Buer, 10th demon


They think a whole lot about demons. And they come up with really interesting characters. And spin some great tales about them.

There are seventy-two major demons in the Christian demonic pantheon, and they all have names and unique personalities and --at least to this heathen-- sound like the sort of characters with whom one wouldn’t mind sharing a bottle of wine and swapping stories.

Here's the really interesting thing: You don’t summon these guys to inflict B-movie horror tricks upon your neighbor in retaliation for weed-whacking at 7 in the morning.

Instead, these guys are helpful. They help people. Seriously. The conjurer, also known as the exorcist, calls these fellows up for a chat, then uses them to learn about science, or literature, or to get some serious work done. Even Noah was said to have called on the demon Shamdon for help in planting the first vine.

It’s all written down in grimoires and tomes with names like the Pseudomonarchia Daemonum and The Lesser Key of Solomon, consisting of the Ars Goetia, Ars Theurgia Goetia, Ars Paulina, Ars Almadel and Ars Notoria. These books describe the spirits and the spells needed to compel them to do the will of the conjurer

Right: Marquis Ronwe or Ronove

The demons are referred to as kings, princes, earls, marquises, dukes, counts, and presidents.

I love the ritzy titles. They’re all royalty, and they have some really interesting talents.

Vapula is a powerful Duke of Hell that commands thirty-six legions of demons. Depicted as a griffin-winged lion, he teaches philosophy, mechanics, and sciences. Leraje is a mighty Great Marquis of Hell who has thirty legions of demons. He inspires battles and disputes, and makes gangrene wounds caused by arrows. He is depicted as a gallant and handsome archer clad in green, carrying a bow and quiver.

Or my personal favorite, Dantalian, of whom the The Lesser Key of Solomon says: "He is a Duke Great and Mighty, appearing in the Form of a Man with many Countenances, all Men's and Women's Faces; and he hath a Book in his right hand. His Office is to teach all Arts and Sciences unto any; and to declare the Secret Counsel of any one; for he knoweth the Thoughts of all Men and Women, and can change them at his Will. He can cause Love, and show the Similitude of any person, and show the same by a Vision, let them be in what part of the World they Will. "
Above, Duke Abigor, desribed as a "goodly knight" riding a steed given to him by Beelzebub

The Pseudomonarchia Daemonum describes the demon Phenex: "Phoenix is a great marquesse, appearing like the bird Phoenix, having a child's voice: but before he standeth still before the conjuror, he singeth manie sweet notes. Then the exorcist with his companions must beware he give no eare to the melodie, but must by and by bid him put on humane shape; then will he speake marvellouslie of all woonderfull sciences. He is an excellent poet, and obedient, he hopeth to returne to the seventh throne after a thousand two hundredth yeares, and governeth twentie legions."

It's easy to get lost in this stuff. So if you’re looking for inspiration for a novel, you might want to check out the antics, talents, and tragic figures in this list of demons. Most of them command many legions of lesser demons, so there are thousands more where those came from.

And here’s the great thing: these demons were full of knowledge, wisdom, and beauty. From them one could learn the secrets of the world. But if they weren’t controlled, if they took over, there was hell to pay.

Hmm. Seems like there's a metaphor for the creative life in there somewhere....

5 comments:

Sophie Littlefield said...

you amaze me every time. Now i am stuck on the image of all those celibate priests sitting in a big rec room going "so there's this one? with, like, extra feet? No, wait, hooves, yeah, he's got hooves and he can like make people fight. Even if they don't want to. It's, like Fight Club, only with mind control, get it?....damn, i wish i could get laid."

Juliet Blackwell said...

hahahahaha! That's what *I* always think of too! Just how daily life was carried out, and how these demons were developed...we humans are quite the interesting bunch ;-)

Lisa Hughey said...

Aren't Demons fun? I was amazed when I first started researching them for my, ahem, other stuff. It also amuses me that a good number of the demons can compel humans to tell the truth--so I'm thinking the priests pulled out the truth telling demons if they thought someone was fudging in confession :)

Rachael Herron said...

I can see you using this in future work... totally fascinating, and I'm with Sophie in being stuck on the image of those guys stuck in a room.
:)

L.G.C. Smith said...

OMG, I love this post. I know very little about demons. Someday I'll have to plunder your library. :)

I can so see the monks huddled together on cold nights entertaining themselves with demon stories. What do you bet there'd be one or two who knew they were making it all up, and the rest of the poor guys wide-eyed and gullible? Maybe some of the demon stories came from older, pre-Christian traditions? So interesting.