Friday, April 27, 2012

Vendredi: Chthonian Histories

Campaign season is shifting into high gear and, if I’m honest, I’m sick of it already.  Don’t get me wrong; I’m a religious voter and an ardent advocate of everyone voting.  Our ancestors didn’t wade through the hell of sea voyages, indentured servitude, slavery and 14 hour days in factories and on farms so we could shrug our shoulders and call a trip to the polls “too much trouble.”  In my opinion, that’s like spitting on your grandmother’s grave.  Still, all this idiotic name-calling seems to demean us all.

As happens more often than I’d like to admit, I have taken refuge from the coming storm in dusty old catalogues of demonology and demons where, to my surprise, I find that even Hell was supposed to be full of lame ducks, lobbyists and political parasites of all kinds.  Some of this is fairly amusing stuff and so, taken largely from Compendium Maleficarum written by Fra Francesco Guazzo in the late 15th century and translated by Montague Summers in 1929, I offer a few of the denizens of Hell’s beltway, so to say.

It only makes sense to begin with Hell’s President.  Forcas had the baring and appearance of the Old Testament God, or perhaps in a more modern visual context the President from The Hunger Games novels.  He was a military commander with 30 legions of Hell’s soldiers at his beck and call.  He also, perhaps surprisingly, was a learned philosopher and would teach humans willing to turn their souls over to him the intricacies of rhetoric and argument.

Speaker of the House, or Prime Minister depending on your version of democracy, was Lucifuge Rofocale who detested light and would quite literally melt away when exposed to it.  Returned to the dark, however, his demonic body would reassemble so that he could cause earthquakes, inflict disease and create pockets of treasure beneath the Earth.

Abbadon was in charge of Hell’s Pentagon.  This formidable General, who was also known by the name of Apollyon, had once been a destroying angel of Yahweh.  In Hell he was charged with not only overseeing the military, but with keeping the very worst of the Black Pit’s beasties at bay until the Apocalypse.

Ba’alber or Ba’alberith was the Secretary General of the underworld.  He was the one who kept the careful books that would help God sort out the sheep from the goats at the Final Judgment.  When not puttering around his library, he might make time to incite humans to murder.  Ba’alber was not above possessing a nun or two when the mood struck him.

Alastor was Chief Justice of Hell’s Supreme Court.  Doubtless, he was a busy demon as rumor had it that Satan would frequently change his mind and reissue judgments.

Leonard and Verdelet were like Secretaries of State.  It was their job to keep tabs on, and encourage, Satan’s minions on Earth: witches.  Leonard was particularly interested in the success or failure of their dark magic and it was he – not Satan himself – that appeared as the black goat at all those notorious sabbats.  Verdelet was in charge of transportation and foreign exchange.  He made sure that the witches got back and forth to those sabbats on time and that they had familiar spirits ready and willing to help them with their mischief.

Other lesser politicos included Melchom, the banker of Hell, Nysrock, Hell’s chef and Adramelech, Hell’s sommelier.  Uphir was the physician to the lords and ladies of Hell and it was Xaphan who kept the fires of Hell burning very, very brightly.

Header: The Temptation of Saint Anthony by Martin Schongauer c 148


Timmy! said...

That is so appropriate, Pauline. Since it seems that all of our politicians have sold their souls to someone...

Pauline said...

Seriously! And most of them were probably so slow that they turned their souls over to Melchom and didn't even hold out for Satan.

It is nice to live in a country where you can say stuff like that on the Internet and not "disappear" a day or two later.

All the same, frustrating.