Jon Watkins Fails Demonology: Rock Me Asmodeus

Asmodeus

Last week I made a post about Exposing Satanism, a website owned by Christian fundamentalist Jon Watkins (or DeplorablePreacher as he’s known on Gab) which, amongst other things, includes a long and embarrassingly misinformed list of demons – and that’s something that caught my eye.

Although most of the descriptions given to the demons are Watkins’ own, he didn’t compile the list. He credits another fundamentalist website as the source, but it seemed clear to me that the list originated somewhere else: its references to world mythology and folklore were just too wide-ranging to have been compiled by a fundamentalist crank.

Thanks to Google Books, I’ve found what I’m fairly certain is the original source of the list: Leonard R. N. Ashley’s Complete Book of Devils and Demons, published in 1996. While Ashley’s book is a bit ramshackle in its presentation, he’s clearly done his research. Rather sad, then, that this research has been so wildly distorted by Jon Watkins, who felt the need to scrawl his own bizarre theories and assertions over the list.

Watkins’ version of the list has, regrettably, been copy-pasted to other places on the net, spreading his bizarre. Partly because of the “someone is wrong on the Internet” factor, and partly because the list itself is actually quite interesting, I’ve decided to deconstruct Watkins’ ramblings. I can’t promise that I’ll make it through the entire list, but here’s the first part, running from Abaddon to the demon of Crest toothpaste…

(Incidentally, if you want a good online resource about demonology, I recommend DeliriumsRealm – a site I visited more than once in researching this post)

Abaddon – King of the Demons of Hell. The term “abaddon” in Hebrew context is another word for destruction; Also known as Apollyon in Greek, which means “The Destroyer”. In the Holy Bible New Testament, the Book of Revelation speaks of him as an angel (fallen) and refers to him as the king/ruler of an army of “Locusts”. He blows his horn which summons them upon the earth to harm the people who do not have the seal on God on their foreheads.

This is a mostly accurate summary of Abaddon’s role in Revelation; the one error is the reference to him blowing a horn (Watkins seems to be conflating Abaddon with the various horn-blowing angels that appear throughout the text). This is far from the biggest mistake we’ll be seeing Watkins make…

Abigor – He rides a horse and carries a scepter and lance. He appears as a handsome knight with great power concerning wars. He rules out commands as a leader of 60 legions in Hell. Very few demons are deemed attractive, he is one of the few who appears as a handsome man.

Abigor is one of the demons listed in Johannes Wier’s Pseudomonarchia Daemonum of 1583, which later became the for S. L. MacGregor Mathers’ 1904 Goetia. Watkins is paraphrasing one or the other text here, and in fairness, his paraphrasing is reasonably accurate. But since the Wier and Mathers texts are the two most readily-accessible demonic lists, I won’t give him too much credit

Adramelech – He is a form of a “sun god”. In his name Adra-”Melech”, melech means king in Hebrew. One appearance he is seen as a beast like creature that stands upright with a peacock like tail behind him. His worship was centered around a cult following where people would sacrifice & kill their own children in fire.

Adramelech or Adrammelek is a foreign god mentioned in the Old Testament: 2 Kings 17.31 says “the Sepharvites burned their children in the fire as sacrifices to Adrammelek and Anammelek, the gods of Sepharvaim.” (the name also turns up in 2 Kings 19:36-38, but there it is used to identify a mortal king). Bo other historical sources about the worship of Adramelech survive, and various commentators long before Jon Watkins let their imaginations run freely. In the early eighteenth century, a minister named Matthew Henry declared that Adramelech was worshipped in the form of a peacock; quite what gave him this idea is unclear. Philip Schaff, in his 1880 Dictionary of the Bible, declares that Adramelech was a sun go while the other deity mentioned in the Biblical passage – Anammelek – represented the moon. Collin de Plancy’s Dictionnaire Infernal features an illustration of Adramelech as a humanoid figure with the head of a donkey and – possibly influenced by Matthe Henry’s account – the tail of a peacock. As we can see, Watkins’ description is a jumble of different sources. “Melech” is indeed Hebrew for king, so marks for getting the etymology right.

Abraxas – The Demon of Lies! John 8:44 The word is found in Gnostic texts such as the Holy Book of the Great Invisible Spirit, and also appears in the Greek Magical Papyri. It was engraved on certain antique gemstones, called on that account Abraxas stones, which were used as amulets or charms.

John 6:44 refers to the Devil as the father of lies; why Watkins associates this statement with Abraxas (an occult term of obscure origin) is not clear. The rest of the above entry is copied from Wikipedia.

Aguares – He commands 30 legions in Hell and is known as a grand duke. He appears as a beat like man who rides a crocodile/alligator and carries a spear-like dagger. He has knowledge of all languages

Another demon found in the Pseudomonarchia Daemonum and Goetia, and Watkins gets the name wrong: it should be Agares or alternatively Agreas, not Agueres.

Akop – A demon from the Philippines who is said to eat widows & demon flesh. Also known as “Angul”.

The earliest reference to Akop that I can find is in Fay-Cooper Cole’s 1904 book Traditions of the Tinguian, which refers to him as an evil spirit with “a large head, long slim arms and legs, but no body.” Marjorie Leech’s 1991 book Guide to the Gods mentions that Akop preys on widows and widowers. Leech also lists Angul – a being that kills people with his axe – as a separate figure, so I suspect that Watkins is just being sloppy in conflating the two. (This isn’t the only time I’ll be referencing Marjorie Leech’s book, which is specifically cited as a source in Leonard Ashley’s volume).

Alocer – Another grand duke who commands 36 legions in Hell; He appears as a dark knight, riding a very large steed. He is said to have eyes of fire, horrible rigidity skin (a face like a lion) & speaks in a deep & narrow voice. He is also known for teaching people about the stars. He is viewed as a “good” demon to many cultures.

Yet another Goetic demon. Wier and Mathers describe him as having red skin, which appears to be the basis for Watkins’ curious reference to “horrible rigidity skin” (does he mean ruddy skin?). Contrary to Watkins’ claim, Alocer does not figure in the folklore of “many cultures”.

Amduscas – He commands 29 legions in Hell as a grand duke; His appearance is that of a unicorn’s but appears as a natural born human when called upon. He is said to bend trees at his own command.

Still another Goetic demon, and Watkins’ list again gets the name wrong: it’s Amduscias or Amdukias, not Amduscas. Since the Wier/Mathers lists are so widely reproduced I won’t be including any more Goetic demons in this post, unless Watkins makes any further errors or interpolations worth mentioning.

Apepi – A snake-like demon, who was apposed to the chain of commands of Ra, a sun god in Egypt. He is a demon of night & is known for disappearing upon the sun rising & appearing shortly after it sets. Also known as “Apophis”.

This is a crude but not inaccurate description of the Egyptian mythological figure Apep/Apepi/Apophis. It’s interesting to note that, when stepping outside of Abrahamic tradition, the list restricts itself mainly to beings that are seen as negative in their original context – so in this case, the list includes the serpent-demon that opposed Ra but not Ra himself, despite Watkins (and the site he borrowed the list from) consider Ra a false god and therefore, presumably, just as demonic as Apepi. This is one thing that tipped me off that someone genuinely interested in mythology was involved in compiling the list before it got hijacked by fundamentalists.

Asmoday – Also known as asmodeus below. Considered to be the king of Demons.
Asmodeus – A demon who was banished to the desert by Raphael. He represents the seven deadly sins & his appearance justifies it. Having four heads, wings, multiple legs; A very disturbing demon to look upon. He is well known for causing people to have confusing sexual thoughts/actions & is the primary dictator of lust.

Why the list included both variations on this demon’s name is unclear. The description of Asmodeis’ conflict with the angel Raphael comes from the apocryphal Book of Tobit. A fourteenth century tract called The Lanterne of Light identified Asmodeus with the deadly sin of lust, as did a sixteenth-century list by Peter Binsfeld – possibly drawing upon the Testament of Solomon, which credits the demon with tormenting virgins and newlyweds. Amosdeus also turns up in the demon lists of Wier and Mathers, where he is identified as having three heads and riding a dragon; Watkins’ description seems to be based on a misinterpretation of the illustration in Collin de Plancy’s Dictionnaire Infernal (the wings and additional legs mentioned by Watkins actually belonging to the dragon). Asmodeus is one of multiple Goetic demons referred to as a king of hell, which presumably inspired Watkins’ misleading claim that he is “Considered to be the king of Demons.”

Astaroth – A demon who commands the western legions of Hell. Well known for attacking people through laziness & sloth. He causes people to have great vanity & self-centeredness. He appears as a disfigured man with wings riding a dog type beast.
Astarte – A heathen goddess of whom is known for feminist behavior in women. Causes women to feel “better” than men/ encourages them to feel better than men.

Astaroth and Astarte are actually alternate names for the same deity, who entered Judeo-Christian demonology as a result of being repeatedly in the Old Testament as a pagan deity (to pick one example, here’s Judges 2:13 – “And they forsook the LD, and served Ball and Ashtaroth”). This caused her status as a deity of love, sex and fertility – and even her gender – to be distorted or obscured. Watkins’ description of Astaroth as “a disfigured man with wings riding a dog type beast” is based on an illustration in de Plancy’s Dictionnaire Infernal. Sebastien Michaelis (of whom more later) associated Astaroth with vanity and sloth, which presumably inspired Watkins’ claim about vanity and self-centeredness. As for the business about Astarte making women “feel better than men”, well, that seems to be Watkins projecting his own insecurities onto a mythological figure…

Azazel – Also known as Satanel, he is the Standard Bearer of the armies of Hell.

Azazel, a demon associated with goats, is mentioned multiple times in the Old Testament – although this is obscured by a number of English translations. In Paradise Lost Milton gave Azazel the role of standard-bearer; de Plancy’s Dictionnaire Infernal has an illustration of Azazel carrying a banner, likely in reference to Milton. By “Satanel” Watkins presumably means Satanel, the name of a demonic figure in the apocryphal Second Book of Enoch – but why he associates this being specifically with Azazel, I have no idea.

Azidahaka – A demon who has 3 heads & is an expert at spells & witchcraft. Uses deception to fool people.

Azidahaka (or Azhi Dahaka) is a being from Persina folklore who turns up in Zoroastrian religious scripture where he is described as a three-headed monster with defeated in battle by the hero Thraetaona. Watkins associates him with witchcraft and deception, but these seems like a generic demonological description that could fit any number of spirits.

Azrael – Known as the “angel of death”.

The angel Azrael is part of both Jewish and Islamic beliefs; in the latter faith he is indeed associated with death. Whether this qualifies him for inclusion on a list of demons is debateable.

Baal – Also known as Baphoment, Balan, Baalberith, & Berith he is considered one of the worst demons there are, he commands wars & supervises destruction of masses. He is one of the 7 princes of Hell who is said to be Satan’s right hand demon. He is mentioned in the Holy Bible in the Old Testament. He has a goat like head, wings like an owl, breasts like that of a woman & is worshiped by many cult followings such as the “Free Masons”. He desires sacrifices in mass numbers, often ones that are not known about (sacrifice under deception).

Jon Watkins’ merry mangling of demonology continues, with multiple distinct figures lumped together into a single compound demon. Baal is mentioned several times, sometimes denoting a specific non-Jewish deity, other times in plural form as a term for pagan deities in general. “Baal” means simply ruler or lord, and variations of it can be found as a prefix in the names of multiple demons or deities (see also Beelzebub and Belphegor, both of whom turn up in this list). Baalberith, or Baal-berith, is a deity mentioned in the Book of Judges as one of the “baals” worshipped by the Israelites after going astray from Yahweh, and is likely the basis for the demon Berith who is mentioned by Wier and Mathers in their demonological texts. These same sources also mention a demon called Balam, who is referred to as Balan in de Plancy’s Dictionnaire Infernal – but contrary to Watkins’ claim, Balan and Berith are different entities (Balam/Balan likely takes his name from the Old Testament diviner Balaam).

Baphomet is, of course, the name of the deity that was – according to accusations made in the Middle Ages – worshipped by the Knights Templar; by extension, modern conspiracy theories associate him with Freemasonry. There are multiple theories as to where the name originates, but the most widely-accepted is that it is a corruption of Mohammed – which would make it etymologically unrelated to the Baals of the Bible. Watkins’ description of the demon’s appearance is obviously derived from a famous illustration by Eliphas Levi which is connected symbolicly to Baphomet, amongst other figures. Given how many different entities Watkins is conflating here, it’s anyone’s guess where he got the details about large-scale sacrifice or the demon serving as Satan’s second in command.

Beelzebub – His name meaning “lord of the flies”, he is a high appointed demon of Hell that works along side Satan. He is one of the seven princes of Hell. His names appears as “Beelzebul” in the Holy Bible. His appearance is that of a fly-like man-beast.

Beelzebub does indeed appear in the bible, and his name is rendered either as Beelzebub or Beelzebul depending on translation. The King James Bible calls him Beelzebub rather than Beelzebul, and I’m quite surprised that Watkins is apparently unaware of this, given that fundamentalists of his stripe typically consider the KJV the only true English version of the scripture. The medieval Lanterne of Light tract associating each of the seven deadly sins with a demon paired Beelzebub with envy while Peter Binsfeld’s 1589 list calls him the demon of gluttony; one or the other of these is presumably where Watkins got the detail about Beelzebub being one of seven princes. While Beelzebub is traditionally associated with flies, I’m unaware of any demonological text that describes his appearance as “a fly-like man-beast”.

Belial – Also known as Beliel and Beliar, he is one of the 7 princes of Hell. His name means “worthless” and he specializes in trickery & false prophecy. He appears as a man with a beard holding a like wand like staff.

A very brief description for such a venerable demonological figure, but mostly accurate. Belial’s name is a Hebrew word meaning “worthless” or “without value”; a widely-reproduced 1473 woodcut illustration depicts him as a bearded man with a staff; he is traditionally associated with lies and deceit (see Paradise Lost). The one claim here that I haven’t been able to source is the comment about Belial being one of seven princes. When Watkins said this about Asmodeus and Beelzebub, he was likely drawing upon either The Lanterne of Light or Peter Binsfeld’s list, but neither text identified Belial with any of the seven deadly sins.

Belphegor – Known as the lead demon of sloth, he tricks people into wasting time & money on ways to increase their wealth. His influence over the world is very apparent. His appearance is a troll like man with a skinny rat like tail. He temps people by means of laziness, or not wanting to work to turn prophet.

Here, Watkins is definitely drawing upon Peter Binsfeld, who named Belphegor as the demon of sloth (The Lanterne of Light associated him with gluttony). The association with sloth has given Watkins an excuse to indulge in some ranting about modern society. The physical description comes from an illustration in de Plancy’s Dictionnaire Infernal, which describes him not as a demon of sloth but rather of invention.

Beng – A variation of Satan in the Roma Gypsy context.

From my cursory research, this appears to be accurate: Beng is indeed a Romani name for the Devil, thought to be derived from the Sanskrit word vyanga.

Buer – A demon deemed as the “president of Hell”, he teaches natural & moral philosophy. His appearance is that of a disfigured beast having arms & legs at multiple angles. His teachings influence people to think physically & emotionally, not spiritually which in tern causes false belief systems & wars over religious beliefs.

Another Goetic demon. Watkins’ description of him as “a disfigured beast having arms & legs at multiple angles” is obviously derived from the illustration in Collin de Plancy’s Dictionnaire Infernal. Wier and Mathers say that Buer teaches both moral and natural philosophy along with logic; Watkins interpets this to mean that he encourages people “to think physically & emotionally, not spiritually” before sermonising about the effects of this.

Bumalin – A Filipino god of the Underworld who feasts on kidneys of the dead. Viewed as a wolverine or a werewolf.

Filipino mythology isn’t my strong point, but I found a couple of citations for Bumalin: Pantheon.org, crediting a 1946 article called The Religion of the Ifugaos by Roy Franklin Barton, calls him an “evil god of the underworld” who “is invoked when there is sickness”, while Marjorie Leech’s Guide to the Gods describes Bumalin as feeding on the kidneys of people who die of dysentery. Given that neither wolves nor wolverines are found in the Philippines, I doubt that Bumalin is associated with these animals – this detail seems to come from Watkins’ imagination.

Caym – Also known as Caim & Cain (brother of Abel; after his death being appointed to a demon), He is a demon who has great understanding of various creatures such as birds, dogs and bulls. He uses the sounds of water to tell the future. He is said to be related to Baal.

Caym is yet another Goetic demon, who is said to teach men the language of birds, dogs, bullocks and other animals. The idea that he is the result of the Biblical Cain being turned into a demon seems to be Watkins’ own invention, based on no more than the similarities in names. I have no idea where the relation to Baal comes from, beyond Watkins’ imagination.

Charon – He is the boatman of Hell who takes souls across the Styx. He is a tall, dark cloaked figure often viewed as the “grim reeper” or “death” itself. He symbolizes death as is heavily worshiped as “father time” on December 31st.

This is brilliant. First off, Watkins is clearly conflating Charon (the ferryman of the river Styx) with Chronos 9the personification of time). While the image of Father Time associated with New Year’s celebrations does owe something to Chronos, it is a stretch to imply – as Watkins does – that December 31 marks some kind of festival of Chronos-worship. The Grim Reaper, meanwhile, is a medieval artistic motif.

Chax – Also known as Scox & Shax, he is another president of Hell. His appearance is that of a human, a stork & a horse combined; having the head of a stork. He is known as a perceptive demon knowing about all who follow witchcraft and cult followings. He is said to be a master thief. The story of the “stork being a baby to the mother” is about him. He births lies & deception. In Kenya he is known as Chemosit.

Another Goetic spirit, and Watkins makes a number of strange interpolations. First off, Chax is said to take on the form of a stork (according to Wier) or a stock-dove (according to Mathers), not a human/stork/horse hybrid. Both writers say that Chax can steal horses and speaks with a hoarse voice, which is possibly where Watkins’ reference to him being part horse comes from. Chemosit is indeed the name of a being in Kenyan folklore, although it’s unclear why Watkins associates this creature with Chax – except, perhaps, the fact that Chemosit is sometimes described as being part bird (on the original list Chax and Chemosit have separate entities). His attempt to tie Chax to the folktale of the stork that brings babies is just silly.

Chernobog – A demon who’s name means “black god” in Slavic, he brings all things that are evil at night. Considered a guardian of Hell. His appearance varies but is commonly seen as a Taurus creature (body that stands up-right like a human, but appears as a bull).

According to a few scattered historical references, Chernobog was an evil deity who figured in ore-Christian Slavic religion. Very few details about him survive – so few, indeed, that some researchers have questioned whether he was ever a authentic mythological figure. Chernobog turns up in Disney’s Fantasia, where he is given a pair of bull-like horns; this seems to be the basis for Watkins’ description of him as a bipedal bull.

Congo Zandor – A priest demon who is worshiped in Haiti. Known for voodoo & witchcraft he teaches how to use herbs and other products to make potions.

I’ll admit, I’m not sufficiently familiar with Vodou to speak with authority on this figure. I’ve looked at some sources that use the term “Congo Zandor”; in some cases it is the name of a spirit, other times the name of a rite. Katherine Dunham’s 1969 book Island Possessed mentions the spirit: “Congo Zandor, known in the Cul-de-Sac but a rare visitor, is supposed to be malevolent, sanguinary, and a regular consumer of human flesh.

Cresil – One of the seven princes of Hell, he is the demon of impurity & uncleanness. Also part of the “crest of dragons”. I believe the common household toothpaste called “Crest” originated from this demon as this demon represents uncleanliness.

In the early seventeenth century, the French inquisitor Sebastien Michawlis investigated alleged demonic possessions at a convent in Aix-en-Provence. Based on the testimonies of the supposedly possessed nuns, he assembled a list of demons – one of whom, associated with uncleanliness, was Cresil. Meanwhile, the Testament of Solomon includes a demon who identifies himself as the “Crest of Dragons”. Jon Watkins, who has shown a fondness for lumping together distinct figures based on no more than a tenuous phonetic similarity, has decided that Cresil and the Crest of Dragons are the same – and then throws a brand of toothpaste into the mix. I’m lost for words.

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