The Demon of Guilt
Ever since man learned how to convey his thoughts and feelings through pictures, he has always tried to make sense of things. Later on, when nature wreaked havoc on the land, he thought surely this must be the work of an angry god who must be appeased. He thinks this way for humans are surely unworthy and must continuously be favorable in the eyes of the gods that rule the earth, the sky, the water, fire and all other elements that bind him to his surroundings.
After watching the 2018 horror film last night entitled MARA that talked about sleep paralysis and in conjunction with a sleep demon, I thought that if there were gods for almost everything back then, shouldn’t they have some sort of counterpart? A Yin to their Yang. An Up to their Down. A South to their North. A direct opposite to the good that they embody. Heck if Charmed had their Fear demon, named Barbas, brilliantly played by Billy Drago.
And Buffy The Vampire Slayer had a Vengeance Demon in the form of Anya, then why not a Demon that preys and lives off the guilt of others. One that uses our own guilt to fuel and define its very existence.
Currently, we are now in the age of this pandemic we love to loath called Covid-19, everyone is on lockdown and curfew hours have been set. Any form of research that had to made is done the easy way. Hello Google. My first search took me to articles concerning the Christian demon named, “Belial”. The word itself is Hebrew in origin and was meant to denote wickedness or worthlessness. The etymology of the word is translated as “lacking worth” and actually comes from two more other words, “Beli” which means Without and “Ya’Al” meaning To Be of Value.
If you’re a Horror fan like me, you’d probably remember the name being used in some films in the past which later on most people, collapsed into one being, and that is to denote and personify, Satan or Lucifer, if you want to be bookish about it.
Belial actually has other names such as Belhor, Baalial, Beliar, Belliall and Beliel and is not Satan himself but just one of his many demons under his command. Looking into this revealed more “heirarchical” info about Belial, most of which are conjecture. Some of these, range from him being created next to Lucifer, or is even the Father of Satan, and in apocryphal The Martyrdom of Isiah, and the Gospel of Bartholomew, he is labeled as the demon of lawlessness. And if you know and love your classics, he is also mentioned in John Milton’s Paradise Lost.
And while he may go under different names and aliases, he is most definitely found only in Christian demonology. This reminds me of a question I asked a Spiritualist before, and that is why cases of demonic possession are only heard of and documented within the confines of Catholicism? We don’t hear about demonic Buddhist possession or even Arabic demons. Is it because these demons just subscribe to one denomination and not others? We don’t know. But worth looking into.
My next search took me to a list of demons compiled and given their own position in Hell’s hierarchy. Some of the names were familiar to me. Not because I met or summoned any of them but these were names used and bandied about in television shows and movies that I’ve watched in the past.
There’s Abaddon, considered to be the King of Demons and is one of the antagonists the Winchester brothers needed to face in a season of the CW hit show, Supernatural.
Another is Asmodeus, who is considered to be the Demon of Wrath and used as a “work reference” by the sorceress, Morgan Le Fay in the 70’s Tv movie adaptation of Doctor Strange. Ok, don’t hate me, but I love that film.
Oddly the next name that popped out for me on that list and used in my favorite Disney film with Angela Lansbury in Bedknobs and Broomsticks is Astaroth. In the film, Lansbury portrays a Witch in 1940’s England and is looking for the Star of Astaroth in the hopes of turning the tide of the war in favor of the Brits, against the Nazis. In the lore of the film, Astaroth is a famous Wizard who was said to have endowed animals with the ability to speak and think, but was never heard of again. In Christian lore, Astaroth is a Duke of Hell with 40 legions of Demons under his wing or employ and is the Treasurer of Hell.
Wait. Treasurer? So they got jobs down there? Wonder if Disney really did their research on that one?
Still under A, Azazel is another name that I noticed. He is said to be Chief of the Goat-demons or the “hairy” ones as the list puts it. Pretty sure they just want to reference Pan, or the satyr that loves nature and plays a flute, as per Greek mythology. But in that realm and pagan iconography, he is the god of the wild, goats and a companion to the nymphs.
Moving on to B, I found Bael, head of the infernal armies comprised of 66 legions. In the Roman army, a legion would be about 4,000 to 6,000 soldiers, and part of the army which in total would be around a million. They were broken up in groups called Legions and a Legion was subsequently divided further into groups of men totaling about 80 called “Centuries.
Ok, next demon under B, was Belphegor. He is the demon or God of the Moabites, who were a race of people who lived in the highlands, east of the Dead Sea. They are mentioned in the Old Testament and what is known about them is what is inscribed in the Moabite Stone. Finally, I found Belial, whom the list calls as the Chief of all Devils and is responsible for wickedness and guilt.
And apparently that was all the confirmation I needed but like the other demons on that list, Belial has also penetrated popular culture and got referenced in past films like Nosferatu (1922), Basket Case (1982), and The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005) and including novels like Dean Koontz’s Phantoms (1983), and Master of Lies (1991) by Graham Masterson.
For a demon who may or not be one and the same as the Sauron from Hell, Belial surely gets around and has the track record to prove it. And while further searches have yielded similar and varied results, the worst demon that we could ever face would still be us.
The crap that we give ourselves because we failed to do this, we failed to do that or the combo of should’s and could’s coupled with some chipping at our own self-esteem, man do we have a Guilt cocktail waiting to be served. And whether we are aware of it, we serve it every day. We consume it every day and we look for it every day. Like some hard to find opiate, it’s something that eats us from within, up until our insides show and our own failures are as transparent as they become.
Well, sounds like demonic possession to me.
Where you get chewed up from the inside out til there nothing left to show for, other than our own misery, our own battered self-esteem and our own guilt. Perhaps that is the demon that needs no name. Come to think of it, it needs no name for we all have it. And it can’t take on a name for it is every one of us. It is the face we see in the mirror every morning when we wake up. It is the face of a co-worker who reflects our own disappointment if we fail to meet a previously set deadline. It is the face of our spouses and life partners when we cannot uphold a promise and keep it sacred. It is the face that we see again at the end of the day, knowing that we have wasted it and have done nothing to account for productivity.
So for all the scholarly tracing of who the demon of guilt is, I realize that it’s not needed. What we need is to exorcize the true demon. The demon within. The demon that tells you that for all your efforts, it is not worth anything. The demon that undermines the very good you want to put out into the world and telling you that you are just a drop in an ocean of misery.
How do we do that?
We tune it out.
We ignore the voice that tells us that we are not making any difference at all and continue to do what we do best. And if we don’t get to do it in the time we set out to do it, we need not feel guilty about it either. We ignore and boost it with what we can and must do. That is the only way to drown out the voice, the madness, the guilt. And once drowned, once that demon is mired in our own desire to do good and to be good at what we do in spite of the conditions telling us we can’t, then that is the time we can swim up to the surface, take that well-deserved gasp for air and know that you did it. And when you start feeling good about it, about yourself, then you know you have won.
And that is the best of all battles to win and to share.
Thank you for reading.
Fight your demons. Fight the good fight and come out a winner.