Classification of demons
There have been many attempts throughout the history of Christianity to classify demons into categories. These systems of classification of demons are a part of Christian demonology. Classification systems are based on the nature of the demon, the sin with which they tempt humans, the month in which their power was strongest, the saints that were their adversaries, or other characteristics.
- 1 Classification by domain
- 1.1 The Testament of Solomon
- 1.2 Psellus' classification of demons
- 1.3 Spina's classification of demons
- 1.4 Binsfeld's classification of demons
- 1.5 Guazzo's classification of demons
- 1.6 Michaelis' classification of demons
- 1.7 Barrett's classification of demons
- 2 Classification by month
- 3 Classification by office
- 4 See also
- 5 References
Classification by domain
It can be noted that according to each author listed below, the domain of each demon is very different (with the exception of Francesco Maria Guazzo, who seem to have copied Michael Psellus with little difference.) It can also be seen that each author chooses his demons in a random form.
The Testament of Solomon
- Main article: Testament of Solomon
The Testament of Solomon is an Old Testament pseudepigraphical work, purportedly written by King Solomon, in which Solomon mostly describes particular demons whom he enslaved to help build the temple, the questions he put to them about their deeds and how they could be thwarted, and their answers, which provide a kind of self-help manual against demonic activity. The author is obviously a Christian. The date is very dubious, perhaps 1st century to 3rd century, certainly the oldest work surviving particular concerned with individual demons.
Psellus' classification of demons
- Demons of air, which cause atmospheric phenomena
- Demons of earth that try to tempt people
- Demons of water that destroy aquatic life, and cause wrecks and death of people in the sea
- Demons of the underground, which cause earthquakes and volcanic eruptions
- Demons of night, which avoid daylight and are invisible to people
- Demons of fire, which dwell far from us.
Spina's classification of demons
- Demons of fate
- Incubi and succubae
- Wandering herds or armies of demons
- Demons that are born from the union of a demon with a human being.
- Liar and mischievous demons
- Demons that attack the saints
- Demons that try to induce old women to attend Sabbaths
This classification is somewhat capricious and it is difficult to find a criterion for it. It seems that Spina was inspired by several legends and stories. The drudes belong to German folklore. Familiars, goblins, and other mischievous demons belong to the folklore of most European countries.
The belief in incubi and succubae (and their ability to procreate) seem to have inspired the sixth category, but it could also have been inspired in the Talmudic legend of demons having sexual intercourse with mortal women (see also Mastema).
The visions of tempting demons that some early (and not too early) saints had, perhaps inspired the ninth category (i.e. the visions of Anthony the Great).
Binsfeld's classification of demons
Binsfeld's classification of demons was prepared in 1589 by Peter Binsfeld. His demon classification based on the seven deadly sins, establishing that each one of the mentioned demons tempted people by means of one of those sins.
- Lucifer: arrogance
- Mammon: avarice
- Asmodai: lust
- Satan: wrath
- Beelzebub: gluttony
- Leviathan: jealousy
- Belphegor: laziness
Guazzo's classification of demons
- Demons of the superior layers of the air, which never establish a relationship with people.
- Demons of the inferior layers of the air, which are responsible for storms.
- Demons of earth, which dwell in fields, caves and forests.
- Demons of water, which are female demons, and destroy aquatic animals.
- Demons of the underground part of the earth, responsible of keeping hidden treasures, causing earthquakes, and causing the crumbling of houses.
- Demons of the night, which are black and evil. These demons avoid daylight.
Michaelis' classification of demons
In 1613 Sebastian Michaelis wrote a book, in which included a classification of demons as it was told to him by the demon Berith when he was exorcising a nun (according to the author). This classification is based in hierarchies, the sins by means of which the temptation is made, and includes the demons' adversaries (these adversaries are who allegedly suffered that temptation without falling).
Note that many demons' names are exclusively French or unknown in other catalogues. St. John and St. John the Evangelist are the same but were written as if they were different persons (or did he consider St. John as John the Baptist?), and other saints are cited only by their name without making clear, i.e., which Francis is (of Assisi?). There is no allusion to any ruler over these hierarchies. Satan and Lucifer are not mentioned.
- Beelzebub: arrogance; adversary, St. Francis
- Leviathan: attacks Christian religious beliefs; adversary, St. Peter
- Asmodai: lust; adversary: St. John
- Berith: murdering and blasphemy; adversary, St. Barnabas
- Astaroth: laziness and vanity; adversary, St. Bartholomew
- Verrin: impatience; adversary, St. Dominic
- Gresil: impurity, uncleanness and nastiness; adversary, St. Bernard
- Sonnilon: hate; adversary, St. Stephen.
- Karo (demon): unpitying; adversary, St. Vincent
- Camal: lust; adversary, St. John the Evangelist
- Oeillet: richness; adversary, St. Martin
- Rosier: sensuality; adversary, St. Basil
- Soufflet: disobedience; adversary, St. Bernard
- Belial: arrogance; adversary, St. Francis of Paula
- Olivier: fierceness, greediness and envy; adversary, St. Lawrence
- Jouvart: sexuality; adversary, not cited.
- Mudada: lewd behavior; adversary, Muhammad
Barrett's classification of demons
- Mammon: seducers
- Asmodai: vile revenges
- Satan: witches and warlocks
- Pithius: liars and liar spirits
- Belial: fraud and injustice
- Merihem: pestilences and spirits that cause pestilences
- Abaddon: war, evil against good
- Astaroth: inquisitors and accusers
Classification by month
During the 16th century it was believed that each demon had more strength to accomplish his mission during a special month of the year. In this way, he and his assistants' powers would work better during that month.
- Belial in January
- Leviathan in February
- Satan in March
- Belphegor in April
- Lucifer in May
- Berith in June
- Beelzebub in July
- Astaroth in August
- Thammuz in September
- Baal in October
- Asmodai in November
- Moloch in December
The classification of demons by month seems to have astrological implications more than religious ones.
Classification by office
There were also classifications by office, like those written in several grimoires.
Le Dragon Rouge
Written in 1522. (More info is needed here.)
Pseudomonarchia Daemonum, by Johann Weyer, is a grimoire that contains a list of demons and the appropriate hours and rituals to conjure them in the name of God, Jesus and the Holy Ghost (simpler than those cited by The Lesser Key of Solomon below).
This book was written around 1583, and lists sixty-eight demons. The demons Vassago, Seir, Dantalion and Andromalius are not listed in this book. Pseudomonarchia Daemonum does not attribute seals to the demons. Weyer said to have been inspired by another grimoire also attributed to King Solomon.
The Lesser Key of Solomon
- Main article: The Lesser Key of Solomon
The Lesser Key of Solomon or Lemegeton Clavicula Salomonis is an anonymous 17th century grimoire, and one of the most popular books of demonology. The Lesser Key of Solomon contains detailed descriptions of spirits and the conjurations needed to invoke and oblige them to do the will of the conjurer (referred to as the "exorcist"). It details the protective signs and rituals to be performed, the actions necessary to prevent the spirits from gaining control, the preparations prior to the invocations, and instructions on how to make the necessary instruments for the execution of these rituals.
The author of The Lesser Key of Solomon copied Pseudomonarchia Daemonum almost literally, but added demons' descriptions, their seals and details.
- Wikipedia (2005). Classification of demons. Retrieved July 10, 2005.