Belphegor is a Moabite god absorbed into Hebrew lore and then Christianity as a major Demon. The name Belphegor means “lord of opening” or “lord Baal of Mt. Phegor.” As a Moabite deity, he was known as Baal-Peor and ruled over fertility and sexual power. He was worshipped in the form of a phallus.
In the Kabbalah, Belphegor was an angel in the order of principalities prior to his fall. He is one of the Togarini, “the wranglers.” He is an archDemon who is part of the Demonic counterparts to the angels who rule the 10 sephirot of the Tree of Life; he rules over the sixth sephirah. He sits on a pierced chair, for excrement is his sacrificial offering. In Christian Demonology, Belphegor is the incarnation of one of the Seven Deadly Sins, sloth, characterized by negligence and apathy. According to St. Thomas Aquinas, all sins that arise from ignorance are caused by sloth.
Belphegor also rules misogyny and licentious men. He emerged from Hell to investigate the marital state among humans. For a time, he lived as a man to experience sexual pleasures. Appalled, he fled back to hell, happy that intercourse between men and women did not exist there.
Belphegor appears in the form of a beautiful young girl in order to tempt men. Besides sex and lust, he governs great riches. He is difficult to conjure, but if a person is successful and Belphegor takes a liking to him or her, the Demon will bestow great treasures and wealth, as well as the ability to make discoveries and create inventions of all sorts. In hell, he rules inventions and discoveries and serves as infernal ambassador to France.
FURTHER READING :
- Hyatt, Victoria, and Joseph W. Charles. The Book of Demons. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1974.
- 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.
Master of the Opening
Once upon a time, Belphegor was Ba’al Peor, also known as Ba’al Phegor, patron of Moab, an ancient kingdom located along the Dead Sea’s eastern shore, now in modern Jordan. According to Demonologists, Belphegor is the Demon of discoveries. He tempts people and leads them to ruin by inspiring them to create ingenious products and innovations that are destined to fail. Belphegor is also the Demon of sloth, who encourages people to fantasize and procrastinate rather than produce.
In 1955, Australian artist Rosaleen Norton (1917–1979) was charged with obscenity for an exhibition of several paintings including one entitled Belphegor.
Belphegor is guardian of France, especially Paris, where he allegedly lives. He preserves and protects erotic, risqué aspects of French culture (French postcards; Paris cabarets). He can bestow wealth and inspiration and can allegedly guide you toward the creation of new inventions (if you can trust him not to destroy you in the process). Legends suggest that he enjoys sowing discord, causing dissension, and luring people to ruin via their own greed.
Manifestations: Belphegor is a shape-shifter who takes pleasure in manifesting in surprising ways. He may appear as a beautiful naked womanor a fierce horned spirit with jagged claws. He is sometimes described as having a perpetually open mouth, but this derives from a misunderstanding of his name. The openings of which he is master include caves, crevices, wombs, and vaginas. Once upon a time Ba’al Phegor presided over mystic, erotic rites on Mount Phegor, condemned by Hebrew prophets as “abominations.”
Iconography: The original Ba’al Phegor was venerated in the form of a phallus; the Demon Belphegor is sometimes depicted seated on a toilet: medieval sorcerers engaged in commanding Demons often felt compelled to insult spirits to prove to authorities that they weren’t secretly worshipping them.
Offerings: Absinthe; erotically shaped pastry
See also: Ba’al (1): Ba’al Peor; Ba’al (2); Demon
From the Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses – Written by : Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.
From the “Dictionnaire Infernal” (edition of 1863 ) Written by Jacques Auguste Simon Collin de Plancy
Belphégor, démon des découvertes et des inventions ingénieuses. Il prend souvent un corps de jeune femme. Il donne des richesses. Les Moabites, qui l’appelaient Baalphégor, l’adoraient sur le mont Phégor. Des rabbins disent qu’on lui rendait hommage sur la chaise percée, et qu’on lui offrait l’ignoble résidu de la digestion. C’était digne de lui.
C’est pour cela que certains doctes ne voient dans Belphégor que le dieu Pet ou Crepilus ; d’autres savants soutiennent que c’est Priape. — Selden, cité par Banier, prétend qu’on lui offrait des victimes humaines, dont ses prêtres mangeaient la chair. Wiérus remarque que c’est un démon qui a toujours la bouche ouverte ; observation qu’il doit sans doute au nom de Phégor, lequel signifie, selon Leloyer, crevasse ou fendasse, parce qu’on l’adorait quelquefois dans des cavernes, et qu’on lui jetait des offrandes par un soupirail.
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