Saint Anthony and the demon's of the wastes, whose numbers include the heresiarchs Arius and Mani. FYI.
Again, apologies for mailing in the month of August. I am going to manage to get up one final post on his dark majesty. Since I have been busy with a few different projects next month will be played much closer to the vest. Next month's theme will be books that are useful to us here and now. Snapshot zeitgeists if you will.
But now for today's topic, which as you can guess will be from the "reference" section of the library. These two books are a couple of my favorites and for very different reasons. One is remarkable in its scholarship and the other in its sense of humor.
We'll start with the brainy one.
A Dictionary of Angels - Including The Fallen Ones by Gustav Davidson. Free Press. 386pp. ISBN: 9780029070529. $21. Buy it here and support the Devil's Accountant.
Born in 1895, Gustav Davidson was one of those pioneer writer/editor/publisher types that history has so few of. I am joking somewhat, but it is true that the man did work in nearly every capacity that a man of letters can find work doing. He briefly managed a publishing house, founded one of his own, had published several volumes of his verse and edited a wide variety of anthologies. Of all his efforts, including some bibliographic materials on collecting American juvenilia, it his dictionary of angels that has endured.
A Dictionary Of Angels is a large volume, nearly four-hundred pages in a tightly packed folio format. The book not only includes biblical and apocryphal references but also literary ones. So under the entry of Satan, you will find the root derivations as well as the more noteworthy literary manifestations of the dread demon, namely Milton's warring prince.
The quantity of angels, there classifications and derivations must of been a tall order to classify. Davidson didn't stop there. No, indeed he included one of the most enjoyable appendices found in any reference work about fallen angels. Namely a collection of seraphic spells and magic.
Want to conjure the sword of the archangel Michael? Gustav has you covered. How about a magic carpet? Didn't know you would need to invoke a the cherubim to own one of those, did you? Additional to these most useful evocations there is a complete series of charts demonstrating the orders of angels and who fits where. Add in the charts of angelic dominions over seasons, months and hours and you can find out which angel is in charge and when. Do the charts all the way through and you'll arrive at your guardian angels.
Just don't think it will be all sunshine and chubby cheeks. The angels are all under god's bidding and they take their responsibilities very seriously. Even the fallen ones.
For instance: My guardian angel is Samael. "The Severity of God," who is synonymous with the Angel of Death and whose visage terrified Moses so greatly that he begged God to not deliver his soul unto him. Good for me. No wonder some days seem so freaking hard to get through.
You should see who yours is. Maybe you've been living your whole life under the careful guidance of a metaphysical badass like me.
A Field Guide To Demons, Fairies, Fallen Angels and Other Subversive Spirits by Carol and Dinah Mack. Henry Holt. ISBN: 080506270X. 336pp. $17. Buy it here and support the Devil's Accountant.
While I have never yet had to draw upon the knowledge contained within this informative book, I walk confidently into the shadowy alley or along deserted canal walks with no fear of being overpowered by some foul spirit.
Why? Because of the Mack's inclusion of a "dispelling and disarming techniques" section in each entry of their field guide. See a Kelpie? Don't go near the water? Worried about St. Anthony's demons? Either stay true to your original moral position or find a densely populated place where you can talk with more tangible company. I have found that bars work wonders for driving St. Anthony's demons away.
Now for the ghoul of the desert you will need t keep your fire burning high and never, ever under any circumstances marry a woman without checking her for a tail. In fact, insist on checking her for a tail at the first pertinent opportunity.
The Mack's book is one that draws on a diverse selection of cultural legends, ranging from the woodlands of Germany to the humid balm of the Congo, with some more metaphysical 20th Century manifestations thrown in to assure the completeness of the field guide. The informative aspect of each entry is wonderfully written with a keen sense of the humorous nature of many of these dread creature's motives. I mean, if you can't smile while being devoured by the Incubi or Succubi then just when are you going to ever grin? Is a hirzute lizard man deceiving your best friend and masquerading as his wife? Lift that bridal gown. Show everyone the beast's tail before harvesting it and having a big cookout. Tastes like chicken, or so it is said.
My favorite entry in the Guide is concerning the archdemon Ahriman. Great Ahriman of Zoroastrian derivation is the atavistic forebear of all the modern Devil's most notable traits. Unlike the Christian Satan, Ahriman was a equal of the good deity, Ahru Mazda. Ahriman's insidious schemes and unfathomably powerful evil is such that the common man is truly no match and even if drawing upon the strength of the good lord you might still come up insufficient. He was Ray Lewis before Ray Lewis. Sorry, football season is nearing.
The Mack's use Ahriman to construct one of their more interesting observations on the role of evil in religion. It is especially interesting if you consider the fact that Ahriman was essentially omnipotent when compared to a mortal's faculties. It is in light of this fully composed evil that the Mack's leave you, and I too shall leave you with it too, with no escape except... Well, let them speak for themselves.
When confronted with the power of Ahriaman:
When dealing with demonic forces of this order, and with the attributes of evil so clearly defined, the traveler is asked to choose.
So what's it going to be? With or against?