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Western Demons

Disclaimer: This work has been completed as an educational tool for students of history, religious and paranormal studies. The author wishes to discourage any use of this work in conjunction with paranormal field investigations of demons.

Presented by Kyle T. Cobb, Jr. to the audience of Dragon-Con 2013

Nos tibi credere.

A  Literary History

The one key element that is infused into the ritual by followers of Jesus is that they do it in his name. Mark 9:38-41 states:

Yohannan said to him, “Rabbi, we saw a man casting out demons in your name, and we forbade him because he did not go out with us.” Yeshua said to them, “Do not forbid him, for there is no man who does a powerful work in my name and can soon speak badly about me.” “Whoever therefore is not against you is for you.” But everyone who will give you only a cup of water to drink in the name that you are one who belongs to The Messiah, amen, I say to you, he shall not lose his reward.”

This replicates the Sumerian and Quabbalic formulas of invoking a superior power to command a weaker one.


Between the first and 3rd century AD, a magical text appeared called the Testament of Solomon. The Testament claims to be the story of King Solomon, the son of David, and his interaction with demons. According to the story, the demon Ornias, offspring of the angel Uriel, comes to Jerusalem as the Temple is being built and plagues the son of a one of the Temple’s master workmen. Solomon prays for help and was given a magic ring by Michael with a pentagram as its seal to bind demons. Using the ring to bind the demon, the demon bargains with Solomon to let him free in exchange for binding other demons. Fulfilling the deal, Ornais brings Beelzeboul to Solomon to be questioned. The parade of demons before Solomon continues with:


Asmodeus, also known as Aeshma-daeva

Ephippas the wind demon

Tephras the ash demon

The 7 of the 33 elements of darkness


And a plethora of others

In his discussion with the demons, Solomon learns of the demons’ practices and more importantly how to bind and expel them using their proper name.

Springing from the Testament of Solomon over the centuries hundreds of magical works circulated throughout the Mediterranean world. While these works were accepted knowledge in the non-Christian world, acceptance under Catholic dominated countries required modification.

By the early 1100s, magical works found themselves bound in hand copied spell books that have become known as grimoires.  Hidden from “uneducated” eyes, the grimoires were magical books that claimed to preserve the knowledge of the ancients while unraveling the mysteries of the ages. Building on the Testament of Solomon, a wide variety of books were created to describe the angels, spirits and fallen angels. These books often showed the proper amulets to protect the user from the specific being or to summon them. Occasionally tomes dealt with the specifics of the summoned when they arrived so that the reader could compare the description to ensure that the proper guest was attending.

Unlike the books of evil magic, most of the grimoires invoked the name of God, Jesus, arch angels or apostles in their summoning spells. This carried on the Babylonian and Quabbalic idea that there was an order the universe and that every entity had a superior to who they answered. In the writing of the Grimoires, it was then assumed that in commanding a spirit through the invocations of the name of God or Jesus was the ultimate authority and therefore use of the name ensured dominance.  Ironically many of the invocation look more like entries in one of the books of common prayer than a work on demons.

Because of the prohibition against using the name of god in vain, the Tetragrammaton serves in almost every grimoire as the primary invocation using a set of symbols but the one never to be spoken out loud. The word Tetragrammaton literally means “4 letters”. The 4 characters represent the consonants in the Hebrew spelling of God’s name Yod- He-Vah-He.

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Solomon confronts a hosts of demons.

Caelus spellbook

The word we would commonly call as Yahweh. Since God was the Authority, the Tetragrammaton was frequently used in demon summoning and binding.

Since each Grimoire was hand copied, over time they began to radically differ. A form of shorthand called Sigla developed and was used in many manuscripts for repeated phrases as well as common references. Similar to using # to represent number or pound. But like the use of the # sign, these could have multiple meaning or different meanings over time. As a result, some grimoires are almost unreadable to all but the best scholars.

The most important of the grimoires was a collection of earlier texts dating to the 16th century called the Key of Solomon. The Key of Solomon assembles Qabalistic and ceremonials spells into a single manual and in effect preserves many of the earliest accounts of demons as well as the spells and symbols used to bind them.

Odds are if you buy any book on historic Demonology it has borrowed extensively from the Key of Solomon.


And that is the problem we face today. Most of the popular books that can be discovered on demonology are copies or reinterpretations of older books. Most writers in the field are paranormalists or occultists and not historical linguists. Words change context and meaning. Partial understandings are propagated. Information is distorted.

The hope is that this article is a first step in getting beyond the pop-culture of ghost and demons. Instead the reader is encouraged to spend time reading the early source material. With these tools, it is the hope that one can gain a better understand what lurks in the shadows that surround us in the modern western world.

 In concluding this way too brief look at demonology, it is important to remember the story of the 7 exorcists from Acts 19:13-16.

But there were also some Jewish men who were going around and were exorcists of demons, exorcising in the name of our Lord Yeshua over those who had a foul spirit in them, while saying, “We exorcise you in the name of Yeshua whom Paulus preaches.” But there were seven sons of a man who was a Jew, a Chief Priest, whose name was Sqewa, who were doing this, And that evil spirit answered and said to them, “I know Yeshua, and I know Paulus, but who are you?” And that man who had the evil spirit in him jumped upon them and overpowered them and threw them down, and when they were stripped and wounded, they fled from the house. And this became known to all the Jews and Aramaeans dwelling in Ephesaus and great fear fell upon all of them, and the name of our Lord Yeshua The Messiah was exalted. Many of those who believed were coming and relating their wrongdoing, and they were confessing the things that they were doing. Many sorcerers also gathered their books and brought and burned them before everyone and they calculated their price, and it came up to fifty thousand silver pieces.