Seven Deadly Sins
In Christianity, seven moral transgressions of divine law that damn a soul to Hell. The Seven Deadly Sins each have an associated Demon that is a special agent of tireless temptation.
The Seven Deadly Sins are not mentioned as a group in the Bible, though they are dealt with separately in many passages. They were collected together around the time the Bible was translated into a single language. More than a dozen groupings of deadly sins exist. JOHN CASSIAN, a father of the church in the fourth century, wrote a treatise on eight deadly sins: Gluttony; Fornication; Covetousness (avarice); Anger; Dejection; “Accidie,” or heaviness or weariness of heart; Kenodocila, or foolishness or vainglory; and Pride. The list was refined in the sixth century by St. Gregory the Great. In the 13th century, St. Thomas Aquinas wrote about them in more detail in Summa Theologica, a defining work of Christian dogma. Aquinas referred to the sins as “appetites.”
In 1589, the Demonologist and witch hunter PETER BINSFELD published a list of Demons and sins and paired the Seven Deadly Sins with Demons. His pairings are given in the following, along with the opposing virtues recognized by the Catholic Church. The most common grouping of the Seven Deadly Sins lists a specific order. Five are spiritual in nature and two are carnal. Each of the seven spawns more sins, and each has an opposing virtue and a symbolic animal.
The seven sins and their Demons are as follows:
1. Pride—Lucifer: Pride led to the fall from heaven of the angel Lucifer (equated with Satan and Iblis) and his followers, who became Demons. Pride leads to arrogance and a desire for glory, which blocks God and others from one’s heart. It destroys all virtues.
Pride is symbolized by the lion. Humility is the opposing virtue.
Pride can be countered by taking credit for nothing but placing the credit for everything with God.
2. Avarice—Mammon: Avarice is about greed and obsession, for a greedy person never has enough of anything. Greed leads to cheating, fraud, thievery, murder, and miserliness. Aquinas called MAMMON “the devil who is Lord of Money.” Avarice is symbolized by the wolf. Sufficiency is the opposing virtue.
3. Lust—Asmodeus: Lust is the first carnal deadly sin and leads to infidelity, deceit, betrayal, and uncleanliness. Asmodeus is a major Demon who figures in many Possession cases and in the story of Tobit. Lust is symbolized by either the goat or the ass. Chastity is the opposing virtue.
4. Envy—Leviathan: One of the Ten Commandments is “Thou shalt not covet,” characterizing envy as a “sin of the Devil.” Jealousy leads to an obsession with possessions, with having more and better things than others. St. Paul called covetousness the root of all evils, because those who desire above all else to be rich fall into temptation and the Devil’s traps. It is possible to commit the sin of envy even when one has no money or possessions but still has the desire for them.
Leviathan is the monster Serpent creature from the depths that swallows its victims whole. Envy is symbolized by the dog. Charity is its opposing virtue.
5. Gluttony—Beelzebub: This deadly sin concerns eating and drinking that never satisfy but go on to excess. Beelzebub (Lord of the Flies) is the Prince of Demons and is often equated with Satan. In hell, the gluttonous are forced to eat toads and drink putrid water.
Gluttony generates wantonness and a loss of reason. The remedy is fasting and prayer. Sobriety is the opposing virtue.
6. Anger—Satan: Anger leads to rage, vengeance, war, bloodshed, violence, cruelty, irrationality, and all of humanity’s baser actions. It is easy to spark, and Satan quickly fans its flames. Uncontrolled anger lays waste to all landscapes, physical, emotional, and spiritual. Anger is symbolized by fanged animals such as a leopard or a raging wild boar. Cassian said that anger clouds discretion and right judgment and must be rooted out from the “inmost corners of the soul.”
Patience is the opposing virtue.
7. Sloth—Belphegor: The second carnal sin is sloth, which spawns laziness, carelessness, apathy, and negligence. Aquinas said that sloth breeds ignorance, which in turn creates a host of other sins. BELPHEGOR, who is worshipped with offerings of excrement, rules this sin. Sloth is symbolized by a donkey. Diligence is the opposing virtue.
FURTHER READING :
- Cassian, John. On the Training of the Monk and the Eight Deadly Sins. Available online. URL: http://www.thenaz areneway.com/Institutes of John Cassian/ the_eight_deadly_sin s.htm. Downloaded December 27, 2007.
- Mack, Carol K., and Dinah Mack. A Field Guide to Demons: Fairies, Fallen Angels, and Other Subversive Spirits. New York: Owl Books/Henry Holt, 1998.
- Thomas Aquinas. Summa Theologiae. Edited by Timothy McDermott. Allen, Texas: Christian Classics, 1989.