*This is a two part series. Please read both of these entries in order to see the whole picture*
A certain group of Satanists, which I have addressed before, somehow managed to convince their adherents that the spirits of the Goetia are some how demons. Which begs the question: Did the author of such nonsense even bother to read Ars Goetia, or look into the long-standing tradition of such works?
Evidently, none of these people have done any significant work with ceremonial magic. Though one could discount this claim just by talking to an experienced ceremonial magician about Goetic magic, I want to take things a few steps further. Naturally. I’ll explore this topic in these next two essays.
First thing’s first
I used to assume that Satan was not given dominion over these spirits because he is not mentioned at all. While this is true for Johan Weyer’s version and Aleister Crowley’s, as well as the 17th century version, this is not the case for another document* which Weyer drew influence from. Here Satan is mentioned. However, is he given dominion over the spirits? I will explain this in detail soon.
Although Weyer does not mention the book’s proper name, what he does mention is very similar. He cites ‘The Offices of the Spirits, or The Book of the Offices of the Spirits, or, the book called Solomon’s Apprentice,‘ which is similar to the source material named ‘Livre des esperitz’. The former book also stresses Solomon and says similar things in it’s introduction, which is why I believe Weyer used it as his source. More later on Weyer in part III. Let’s look at the source text first.
Since google translate is a bit rough – the original appears to be a mix between Latin and Middle French – I reworked it to the best of my current abilities. Please know that the original contains quite a few oddities, and I am certainly no linguist. However, again, I’ve done my best to render it readable.
“… begins the book of spirits, which was manifested to wise Solomon compel them on earth and to obey the human desire because, before the science was found, monsters were not manifested and revealed, said Solomon. The spirits did many evils and plagues on earth and destroyed many worldly goods, and did several human persecutions, and that the mercy of God bestowed upon Solomon this holy science to constrain spirits and… to obey a human creature, to limit their malice reigning upon the native earth.
At the beginning of the book, will be the names of which are spirits’ governors and masters of all other spirits, in the region and office of Lucifer, of Bezlebut, of Satan,
the four spirits who are governors of the four regions and parts of the world, that is to know, the spirit which is called… (goes on to name the spirits therein and their offices) …
Lucifer was indeed very great in stature, which as are other good angels[…] in the space of one hour because it boasted, watching and contemplating his noble beauty in which he was formed, and all those who were gone wrong with him were disposed of in Hell in confusion.
(*I leave out a few words here because I was unable to translate in any way that makes sense. It is originally “et ne demoura mye aux cieulx “. ‘Demoura’ seems to be a mash up of ‘de moura’, with moura meaning ‘dying’ and ‘de’ meaning ‘of’. ‘Mye’ means ‘clam’ or ‘mussel’. ‘Aux‘ means ‘to the’. ‘Cieulx’ appears to be the plural form of ‘ciel’, which would make it ‘heavens’. ‘Et’ means ‘and’, of course, while ‘ne’ is used to negate something. I’m not sure what a dying clam has to do with the heavens. I’m sure this has to be colloquial.
Also, the original ‘gectés’ , which I translated to ‘disposed of’, is similar to ‘gecté’, which is translated here from ‘Fust gecté en ung sac en Seine?’ into ‘Be bagged and thrown into the Seine?’)
Gay (better translated as cheerful, merry? or perhaps impetuous?), great and evil spirit is called Bezlebuth and was called before the time of old Solomon, and is the grant of Hell after Lucifer, and we must know that the kingdom parts of east, and him who the calls must keep his face towards east, appearing to him in beautiful figure and likeness. He teaches all sciences and gives gold and silver[…] which he compels to come and give responses that we request him and reveals the secrets of Hell if you ask him, and truly teaches things[…] land and sea and manifests all treasures that are land based and keeps other spirits, and must be called in good weather.
The third spirit is referred to as Satan, which was formed after Lucifer, and converses in the air near us. This Sathan appears in graceful semblance and dwells in the north. This one appears and has power to distort all men and women he was commissioned to….”
This text then goes on to name the kings over the four quarters which are named ‘East’, ‘Poymon’, ‘Amoymon’, and ‘Equi’, as well as the rest of the spirits.
Let’s analyze that, shall we?
So, assuming you’ve read this far, let’s say you shout victory! Yes! Satan is in charge of demons! Well, you’re wrong. Let’s get into why.
Firstly, it does not name Satan first. It names Lucifer, and it’s description sounds an awful lot like the biblical description of Lucifer and he is referred to as an angel cast into Hell. Which means… SURPRISE… Jehova has ultimate dominion! I’m not going to waste my time going into this, because it’s already quite well known that the personification of the morning star (venus) was a mistake made by whomever translated the Bible from Hebrew. I digress.
Next up is our man Beelzebub, who was made into the lord of Gluttony not too much later by a 16th century author. This entity’s real origin is disputed, but is often given the title ‘lord of the flies’ from ‘baal’ which means ‘lord’ and ‘zebub’ which is ‘dung’.
And then here’s Satan, or Sathan, which is an old variant of Satan apparently also found in older versions of the Bible. However, this Satan is certainly not the Satan that we find in JoS theology. Far from it.
This text is clearly within the biblical definition of demons, with it’s talk of them needing to be constrained and compelled. It even speaks about them doing evil things like casting plagues, destroying crops or towns (etc), and even possibly killing humans. So, if you’re worshiping the demons from this text, that would make you an evil-worshiper. Satan & co. were used here, I assume, because they were the most popular biblical “demons” at the time, with the rest being revealed, or made up names.
Let’s review what we’ve learned so far.
The source material for Johan Weyer’s Pseudomonarchia dæmonum was most likely a 15th century text which relied on Biblical scripture & Christian superstition for inspiration. While it does not explicitly say anything about forcing these spirits into submission with the will of God, the language used leads the reader to assume the Christian God has that power.
Let’s take a closer look at Johan Weyer’s book. Click here to read it.
I’m betting you’ve first noticed a certain part in Weyer’s bit saying “…where the kingdom of Christ is so attacked by the immense and unpunished tyranny of those who openly perform the sacraments of Belial…“. We will get into that later in part III.
In the introduction, Weyer states “concerning the princes and kings of the demons, which may be coerced with divine and human virtues.”
In Livre des esperitz, it is stated twice. “… begins the book of spirits, which was manifested to wise Solomon compel them on earth and to obey the human desire…” and “…to obey a human creature, to limit their malice reigning upon the native earth.”
Take note how the descriptions of Lucifer, Beelzebub, and Satan are left out in Weyer’s version. I will discuss this later. These texts then go on to list the demons. While Weyer’s text has 68, the source material has less. These, surely, were names revealed from Weyer’s own experimentation of the text.
Let’s stop at Bileth. The curious thing here is that we are finally given some hint to the conjuration method of these entities. There, we see the circle and triangle, though they are simple shapes instead of the elaborate symbolism given in the Lesser Key Of Solomon. “Abuse! Abuse! Abuse!” cries the JoS’er. Well, no.
These spirits are given legions of angels as well as ‘divels’ to use for the whim of the conjurer. There is only one entity who can give out angels to be used. That is Jehova. These spirits are not demons. Quite the contrary, since they are given legions of angels, they are therefore instruments of God. They are very much under God’s dominion; that is how Christianity works. The conjuration in Chapter IV is completely appropriate.
While the reader may also notice the various biblical antecdotes and memes, it would be contrary to Weyer’s character to take them literally and assume that his aim was to demonize these spirits. He did an amazing job of being true to his own personal virtues and not coming off as a heretic by including a damnation of such practices. We’ll learn more about how Johan Weyer did that in part II of this series.
*I removed a link leading to the original document which I attempted to translate in this entry because it is something I plan to work on during my university graduate work. I don’t want any links to it which might result in some one publishing a translation before I do. If you are worth your weight in gold, you will be able to find it yourself.