There is a secret inherent in the title of the dread Demogorgon. Buried by antiquity and mired in secrets, the name of this particular spirit comes to us from the ancient Greeks, though no precise origin has yet been uncovered.
Equated in Christian tradition with a great devil and name-checked as such by the playwright Christopher Marlowe in his seminal work, The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus, Demogorgon’s true associations are much more mysterious.
Marlowe’s Elizabethan contemporary, Edward Spenser, familiar to most for his epic poem in praise of Elizabeth I, The Faerie Queen, also made mention of Demogorgon, “prince of darknesse and dead night,” in his famed aforementioned work.
First associated with the commentary by an unknown author on the Thebaid by Publius Papinius Statius, who draws a comparison between the poem’s mention of ‘the supreme being of the threefold world’ and a supreme creator whose name, like that of the true G-d in Jewish tradition, is taboo to impart.
Displaying influence from both Judaism and Mithraism in the commentary, the unknown author’s suggestion is of a primordial creator deity.
Sometimes considered a corruption of the more classically renowned term demiurge (see Plato’s Socratic dialogue, Timaeus), the more traditional assumption is that the Demogorgon was a principality in its own right, yet it is impossible to not note a certain correlation with the Gnostic parable of Yaldabaoth.
This association with Platonic allegory is considered at the heart of French philosopher Voltaire’s work of early science fiction, Plato’s Dream.
But how did a concept so neatly associated with creation and Platonic thought come to gain demonic status in medieval Christian thought? Of course, the Abrahamic faiths are no strangers to the demonisation of deities in other faiths, but how did such a specific figure enter into the grimoires and lexicons of demonology?
Let us, for a moment, enter the realms of pure conjecture: imagine a time in which the leontocephaline figure found etched upon the walls of the uncovered mithraeum of the mystery cults is both named and known; imagine that it is the early 2nd century AD and the serpent that winds about the fierce lion-faced countenance of that mysterious figure is none other than the Demogorgon itself.
Beneath the arc of the cave’s roof, beneath the decorations and depictions of the constellations that mark both time and space, you have inherited the truth of possibility, the knowledge of the supreme creature and the three dimensions in which it exists.
Gazing up at its monstrous face, you know it as the Nemean Lion, the Strength card of the tarot’s major arcana; reaching out for the keys in its hands, you know it as Aion, his presence representing the unbounded mastery of time—and wrapped about the monstrous frame of the deity is the aged and wondrous serpent, the bringer of knowledge, the liberator of Eve from the Garden.
It is in this moment that you realise that the figure is none other than the insane and rabid creator of matter, Yaldabaoth—and in this moment that you realise that the creator is not so much the demiurge of Plato’s imagining, but rather the true aspect of the fiendish Demogorgon. And in this, both the fallen angel Samael and the creator deity are once more revealed as once.