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In Biblical tradition, an archdemon (also spelled archdaemon) is a spiritual entity, prominent in the infernal hierarchy as a leader of the infernal host. Essentially, the archdemons are the counterpart of the archangels. Archdemons are described as the leaders of demonic hosts, just as archangels lead choirs of angels.
In the Occult tradition, there is controversy regarding which demons should be classed as archdemons. During different ages, some demons were historically 'promoted' to archdemons, others were completely forgotten, and new ones were created. In ancient Jewish lore, pagan gods of neighboring cultures were classed as extremely pernicious in order to protect Jews from worshiping them; therefore, Ba'al and Astarte were among the worst enemies of God. During the Middle Ages these characterizations were no longer important, but still persisted. New ones emerged, mostly revolving around Satan and the Antichrist.
Historically, what an archdemon is and the names of those demons has varied greatly over time. Based upon the writings of Saint Paul (Col. i 16; Eph. i 21) the angelic court had been constructed by Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite and comprised nine orders of angels with three orders each to three hierarchies. The First Hierarchy: Seraphim, Cherubim and Thrones. The Second Hierarchy: Dominions, Principalities and Powers. The Third Hierarchy: Virtues, Archangels and Angels.
Given that devils were rebellious angels who had fallen, they maintained their rank as ex-angels within their new roles. Alphonsus de Spina in 1459 believed that specifically one third of the original angelic court became devils; specifically 133,306,668. However, accounts have varied throughout history and Johann Weyer altered the figures to 7,405,926 demons and 72 princes of hell.
Some example archdemons over time include Adam Belial, Ashtaroth, Asmodeus and Lucifuge.
- Theresa Bane, Encyclopedia of Demons, 2010
- Robbins, Rossell (1959), The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft and Demonology, Crown Publishers Inc., ISBN 0-600-01183-6
- Bane, Theresa (2010), Encyclopedia of Demons in World Religions and Cultures, MacFarland, ISBN 978-0-7864-6360-2