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In some Occult and similar writings, an archdemon (also spelled archdaemon) is a spiritual entity, prominent in the infernal hierarchy as a leader of demons. Essentially, the archdemons are the evil counterparts of the archangels.
Archdemons are described as the leaders of demonic hosts, just as archangels lead choirs of angels. Based upon the writings of Saint Paul (Col. 1:16; Eph. 1:21) the angelic court had been constructed by Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite and comprised nine orders of angels with three orders each to three hierarchies.
The First Hierarchy consists of: Seraphim, Cherubim and Thrones. The Second Hierarchy consists of: Dominions, Virtues and Powers. The Third Hierarchy consists of: Principalities, Archangels and Angels. This system of classifying angels has been accepted by the majority of Christian scholars. However, no similar consensus has been reached on the classification of demons. This is largely due to the fact that, historically, the definition of what an archdemon is and the names of those demons has varied greatly over time.
- Lucifer: pride
- Mammon: greed
- Asmodeus: lust
- Leviathan: envy
- Beelzebub: gluttony
- Satan: wrath
- Belphegor: sloth
In the Occult tradition, there is controversy regarding which demons should be classed as archdemons. During different ages, some demons were historically "promoted" to archdemons, others were completely forgotten, and new ones were created. In ancient Jewish lore, many of the pagan gods of neighboring cultures were identified as extremely pernicious demons in order to prevent Jews from worshiping them.
Therefore, the pagan deity Ba'al was reinterpreted as the archdemon Bael or Beelzebub, and the pagan deity Astarte was reinterpreted as the archdemon Astaroth. These two in particular were seen as some of the worst enemies of God. By the Middle Ages, these pagan deities were no longer worshiped, so their characterizations as archdemons were no longer important, but they still persisted anyway. New archdemons were invented over time, most of them revolving around Satan and the Antichrist.
Arabic and Middle Eastern occultism
Ahmad al-Buni qualified four kings of infernal demons named Mudhib, Maimun, Barqan and al-Ahmar, as archdemons paralleling the hierarchy of archangels in Islam. Each of them has their own demons under command. These kings are identified with different days of the week. Their names are sometimes inscripted in Talismans.
Demon Kings of the Ars Goetia
The Lesser Key of Solomon, an anonymous 17th century grimoire, lists 72 of the most powerful and prominent demons of Hell in its first part, the Ars Goetia. Satan himself is not mentioned among them considering his overall dominion of Hell as the Prince of Darkness. Below him, The Ars Goetia suggests, are the four kings of the cardinal directions who have power over the seventy-two, next the kings, and onward with other demons with lower monarchic titles. The four kings of the cardinal directions are the primary point of contention between different editions and translations, and occultist writers. The common composition of the kings is:
- King of the East: Amaymon
- King of the West: Corson
- King of the North: Ziminiar
- King of the South: Gaap
- King Bael
- King Paimon
- King Beleth
- King Purson
- King Asmodey
- King Viné
- King Balam
- King Zagan
- King Belial
- Theresa Bane, Encyclopedia of Demons, 2010
- Encyclopædia Britannica The New Encyclopædia Britannica: Macropædia 1991 ISBN 978-0-852-29529-8 page 411
- Encyclopedia of Demons and Demonology, By Rosemary Guiley, p. 28-29, Facts on File, 2009.
- Robert Lebling Robert Lebling I.B.Tauris 2010 ISBN 978-0-857-73063-3 page 86-87
- Robbins, Rossell (1959), The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft and Demonology, Crown Publishers Inc., ISBN 0-600-01183-6
- Bane, Theresa (2010), Encyclopedia of Demons in World Religions and Cultures, MacFarland, ISBN 978-0-7864-6360-2
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