Demons have been catalogued, ranked and classified
since at least 100–400, the period in which the Testament
Belial and djinn presenting their credentials to King Solomon (Jacobus de Teramo, Das Buch Belial, 1473)
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. Johann Weyer, who devised the most complex
hierarchy, estimated that there were 7,405,926 demons
serving under 72 princes. The grimoires of ceremonial
magic also give their own hierarchies. Some of the major
demons important to witchcraft cases 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 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
were said to worship him, and magicians and sorcerers
attempted to conjure him to strike out at enemies.
Grimoires 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
Astaroth (also Ashtaroth). A male demon who evolved from
the ancient Phoenician mother goddess of fertility, Astarte
or Ashtoreth. 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.
Asmodeus, demon of lust and anger (L. Breton, in Collin
de Plancy’s Dictionnaire Infernal, 1863)
Beelzebub, “Lord of the Flies” (L. Breton, in Collin de
Plancy’s Dictionnaire Infernal, 1863)
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 bá’al), but the greatest Baal was an agricultural
and fertility deity of Canaan. The son of El, 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 worshiped Baal by sacrificing
children by burning. As a demon in Christianity, Baal
was triple-headed, with a cat’s head and a toad’s head
on either side of his human head. He imparted visibility
Beelzebub. Known as “Lord of the Flies,” Beelzebub was
the prince of demons in Hebrew belief at the 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.
Witches 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.
Beelzebub was among the demons blamed for the possession
cases of the nuns of Loudun and Aix-en-Provence
in 17th-century France, forcing the nuns into lewd behavior
(see Aix-en-Provence Possessions).
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,
Belial (Jacobus de Teramo, Das Bach Belial, 1473)
especially in the form of sexual perversions, fornication
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 said 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 favor were handsomely
Belial’s name is sometimes used as a synonym for Satan
or the Antichrist. 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.” The name “Lucifer”
was sometimes applied to Christ, as the light-bearer, but
by 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, Lucifer is emperor of hell and ranks above Satan,
one of his lieutenants (ranks and distinctions not made in
theology). When conjured, he appears as a beautiful child.
Lucifer was said to rule Europeans and Asiatics.
Demons have been catalogued, ranked and classified