The Element Encyclopedia of Witchcraft: The Complete A-Z for the Entire Magical World - Judika Illes 2005
The Horned One and The Devil
Asmodeus is the Greek version of the Hebrew name Ashmodai, which may or may not derive from the Iranian Aeshma Deva. There are two theories regarding Asmodeus’ origins:
In dualist Iranian and Zoroastrian tradition, Aeshma Deva is an evil spirit, a deva (devil) who fights on the side of the Lord of Darkness. Aeshma means “Madness”; he is the third highest-ranking evil spirit. One theory is that Jews encountering Aeshma Deva during their Babylonian exile incorporated him into their own mythology.
An opposing theory suggests that there are actually two dangerous spirits whose names merely sound similar. Although the names are similar, Ashmodai is an independent Jewish spirit. Occultist Samuel MacGregor Mathers subscribed to this notion, suggesting that the name derives from the Hebrew Asamod, “to destroy.”
In Jewish demonology, Ashmodai is the destroyer, a high-ranking avenging angel, the Prince of the Revengers of Evil. He visits Heaven daily to learn the destined fate of human beings and to receive his assigned orders. Alternately, he is the King of Demons or Djinn.
According to Jewish tradition, Ashmodai is the son of Naamah, sister of Tubal-Cain, the first metalworker and a descendant of Cain. Naamah has her own reputation in Jewish folklore as a formidable demon, a sometime ally, sometime competitor of Lilith. Ashmodai is sometimes considered Lilith’s husband.
Ashmodai was King Solomon’s primary competitor. According to legend, Solomon enslaved Ashmodai, forcing him to help with Solomon’s building projects including the Jerusalem Temple. Ashmodai paid him back by tricking Solomon into giving him his magic ring. Once Ashmodai possessed the ring, he sent Solomon into exile, assumed his form and ruled in his place, although Solomon eventually regained his throne.
In Christian demonology, Asmodeus is technically an extremely high-ranking demon or rebel angel, however his name is also sometimes used as a synonym for Satan. Asmodeus is traditionally envisioned as a horned, lame man or as a composite creature with three heads (bull, ram, ogre), a snake’s tail, and goose feet, riding on a dragon.
See also Cain, Devil; ANIMALS: Snakes; DIVINE WITCH: Lilith; FAIRY-TALE WITCHES: Jewish Fairy Tales, Mother Goose; MAGICAL PROFESSIONS: Metalworkers; HALL OF FAME: Samuel MacGregor Mathers.