The Coronzon Press

The seven-headed dragon and the demon Choronzon

The beasts of the Apocalypse and their relationship with precursors in Near Eastern mythology, Enochian entities, &  Crowley’s skrying of the Æthyrs in Algeria in 1909

First published in KAOS 14, 2002, slightly revised here

In consideration of the Enochian Keys and their Apocalyptic imagery, and Revelation, a bizarre constellation of creatures emerges that are difficult to disentangle. Even the identity of the Beast 666 is far more ambiguous than generally realised, Aleister Crowley may have got the wrong beast if he wanted the one the Great Whore of Babylon was riding (hereinafter Babalon). And even the number may be wrong. And the more one looks the more the identities of Lucifer, Satan, the Great Red Dragon, and the serpent become indistinct and related by strange connections to such Enochian entities as the Stooping Dragon, Telocvovim (the Death Dragon), and John Dee’s demon Coronzon (or Coronzom, Choronzon to Crowley).

First off notice that the Great Red Dragon of Revelation 12.3, who wants to devour the pregnant woman’s child, has seven heads and ten horns, perhaps identifying him with Babalon’s beast, although the red dragon has seven crowns upon his heads unlike the ten crowns of the beast that rises up out of the sea in 13.1, which, though it has the seven heads and the ten horns is distinctly undragon-like, looking like a leopard with a bear’s feet and lion’s mouth. Babalon’s beast in 17.3 is ‘scarlet coloured’ and has seven heads and ten horns, no mention of how many crowns, if any. The red dragon in 12.9 is described as the ancient snake, who is called the Devil and Satan, and there was war in Heaven with Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon (12.7). So it’s intriguing that Telocvovim in the 19th Enochian Key, for whom Babalon’s bed is his dwelling place, is translated as ‘Him that is fallen’, suggesting Lucifer, and yet this name in Enochian appears to be a contraction of two separate words, ‘death’ (teloch, used in Keys 3, 8, 11) + ‘dragon’ (vovin, two variant forms in the 8th Key).

William Blake: The Great Red Dragon and the Beast from the Sea

In Revelation 13.4 the dragon is said to give power to the beast, this is the seven-headed, ten-horned, ten-crowned leopard-bear-lion beast, which seems to indicate they are to be regarded as two separate creatures, as William Blake painted them in his ‘The Great Red Dragon and the Beast from the Sea’ (c. 1805, in the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC). Babalon’s beast is never described as a dragon, but the scarlet colour seems to link it with the red dragon. And, to confuse matters still further, after the seven-headed, ten-horned, ten-crowned beast rises up out of the sea in 13.1 another beast comes up out of the earth in 13.11 and this one has two horns like a lamb and speaks like a dragon, and – although it’s ambiguous – it’s this beast that seems to be 666 in 13.18 (these two beasts were illustrated together in a woodcut by Albrecht Dürer).

So, ‘The Beast 666’ doesn’t appear to be the same beast that Babalon rides. Aleister Crowley in Chapter 49 of the Book of Lies indicates that it is the seven-headed beast that Babalon rides that he ‘frankly identifies himself with’, yet it is far from clear that Babalon’s beast should necessarily be construed as ‘The Beast 666’, nor is it clear whether the Beast 666 is a two-horned lamb with a dragon’s voice from the earth or a seven-headed ten-horned leopard-bear-lion beast from the sea, although it is definitely one or the other. And as if that wasn’t enough, we may have to revise our idea that the number of the Beast is 666. The Oxyrhynchus Papyri, which contains a fragmentary papyrus of Revelation that is the earliest known (late third or early fourth century), gives the number of the Beast as 616 [P.Oxy. LVI 4499]. Irenæus had previously cited and refuted this number. The Greek word used for ‘beast’ in Revelation, incidentally, is therion, hence Crowley as ‘The Master Therion’ and ‘To Mega Therion’, the Great Beast.

To summarise and gather as much clarity as possible so far from John’s bizarre account of his revelation: Babalon’s beast, though seven-headed and ten-horned, could be one of two seven-headed ten-horned beasts, one being the Great Red Dragon Michael fights that has seven crowns on those heads, the other being the leopard-bear-lion beast from the sea with ten crowns on those heads. Babalon’s beast, however, is scarlet-coloured, like the Great Red Dragon, which we know for certain is not the Beast 666. Perhaps it is a mistake to expect to be able to distil clarity from a phantasmagoric hallucination, nonetheless this image of Babalon – the Great Whore, the Scarlet Woman – riding the Beast represents for occultists a profound sexual mystery quite apart from such notions read into Revelation of ‘fornication’ being a metaphor for worshipping other gods and ‘Babylon’ as really being merely a guarded reference to Rome. In John’s vision the word that interests me the most used to describe Babalon is ‘Mystery’, in the Greek musterion, a derivative of muo, ‘to shut the mouth’, hence a secret or ‘mystery’, which, according to Strong’s Dictionary, comes from the idea of silence imposed by initiation into religious rites. In my experience the true understanding of the mystery of Babalon comes essentially from occult initiation (on ‘the prayer mats of the flesh’ you might say, to borrow the title of the Chinese erotic novel by Li Yu).

Just as ‘Babylon the Great’ is generally regarded by Biblical commentators as Rome, so is the beast with seven heads and ten horns: Rome stood on seven hills and the Roman empire was divided into ten provinces by Augustus Caesar. But I’m not convinced that this ‘reasonable’ way to look at it is the only or the best way. How does seeing the beast as Rome help, because, following this line of reasoning, so is the Great Red Dragon, who Michael fights as Satan. Why should the beast that rose up out of the sea and Babalon’s beast be identified as Rome but the Great Red Dragon be regarded as Satan? More importantly – and this is a question left unaddressed by those who seek to ‘explain’ Revelation – if the text is properly understood as a carefully constructed allegory does this not undermine its status as genuine visionary experience, as a ‘revelation’ from God?

John Steczynski: Apocalypse – Meditations on the Visions of John

The idea of the seven-headed serpent or dragon is much earlier than the Bible, it appears to have emerged from Babylonia – where it is mentioned in Old Babylonian lists and omens – from even earlier precedents. The seven-headed serpent is mentioned in the epic Andimdimma where it is compared with the weapon of the god Ninurta (see Landsberger, Die Fauna des alten Mesopotamien [Leipzig, 1934], p 60). A seven-headed serpent is also found on a Sumerian macehead; a seal dating back to the middle of the third millennium BCE from Tell Asmar (ancient Eshnunna), 50 miles northeast of modern Baghdad, shows the slaying of a dragon with seven heads (both are illustrated in Alexander Heidel’s The Babylonian Genesis [1951], figures 15 and 16). In Psalms 74.14 ‘the heads of Leviathan’ are mentioned, and Isaiah 27.1 has a reference to Leviathan that strongly parallels a reference to the seven-headed dragon or serpent Lotan from Ugaritic mythology mentioned on a tablet from Ras Shamra. Lotan was slain by Baal. In Isaiah 27. 1 it is written, in Heidel’s translation:

‘On that day the Lord will punish
With his sword, which is hard and great and strong,
Leviathan, the fleeing serpent,
And Leviathan, the tortuous serpent,
And he will slay the crocodile (tannin) that is in the sea.’

– Heidel, The Babylonian Genesis, p 103

The King James version has ‘dragon (tannin) that is in the sea’ but Heidel sees it as a crocodile in the Nile (the Nile is referred to as ‘the Sea’ in Isa. 19.5 and Nah. 3.8 and is today called el-Bahr, ‘the Sea’, by Arabs). The fourteenth century BCE Ras Shamra tablets were discovered in 1928 on the site of the ancient north Syrian city of Ugarit (Ras Shamra), excavated from a temple dedicated to Baal, and on one of these tablets is an inscription describing a battle scene in which one deity addresses another:

‘When thou shalt smite Lotan, the fleeing serpent,
(And) shall put an end to the tortuous serpent,
Shalyat of the seven heads…’

Ibid, p 107

‘Shalyat’ is an epithet of Lotan. Leviathan in Job 41 becomes completely demythologised and now only has one head – the riddle-like description there is generally understood to be of a crocodile. (Note that there is no real evidence that the so-called ‘chaos dragon’ Tiamat of the Enuma Elish was actually a dragon, or that she is related to the Hebrew word tehom, rendered as ‘the deep’ in Genesis 1.2.)

Turning to the 8th Enochian Key, I have become fascinated by the reference to the ‘Stooping Dragon’:

The midday, the first, is as the third heaven made of Hyacinth Pillars—26—in whome The Elders are become strong, which I have prepared for my own righteousness sayeth the Lord whose long contynuance shall be as bucklers to the stooping Dragon and like unto the harvest of a wyddow. How many are there which remain in the glorie of the earth which are and shall not see death until this howse fall and the Dragon sink? Come away, for the Thunders have spoken. Come away, for the Crownes of the Temple, and the coat of him that is, was, and shall be crowned, are divided. Come Appeare to the terror of the earth and to our cumfort and of such as are prepared.

A ‘buckler’ is ‘a small shield used for parrying’ and, in this context, ‘stoop’ means ‘to swoop down, as a bird of prey’. Presumably then, given the Apocalyptic tone of the Enochian Keys, the Stooping Dragon is the Great Red Dragon of Revelation.

Both Crowley and Kenneth Grant refer to the Stooping Dragon a number of times. Crowley, for instance, regards the Stooping Dragon as apparently being the equivalent of Apophis in ‘The Temple of Solomon the King’, The Equinox Vol. I, No. II, where in addition Austin Osman Spare’s diagram of The Fall is reproduced showing an eight-headed dragon/serpent (also plate 1 in Kenneth Grant’s Nightside of Eden). See in addition the reference in the 30th Æthyr of The Vision and the Voice: ‘Come thou, who art joined with me to bruise the Dragon’s head.’ A footnote explains that this is a reference to the Stooping Dragon. In Crowley’s 7th Æthyr the Stooping Dragon ‘raised his head unto Daäth’, there was an explosion, his head was blasted, and the ashes were dispersed throughout the 10th Æthyr. And the phrase ‘The Piercing of the Coils of the Stooping Dragon’ appears in The Rite of Mercury, which in Liber Israfel is given as ‘The Piercing of the Scales of the Crocodile’. None of this is graced with the merest glimmer of explanation. There are echoes in Isaiah 51.9 in the cutting of Rahab and the piercing of the ‘dragon’ (King James), represented by the word tannin, which Heidel again suggests should here be taken as ‘crocodile’, although it should be pointed out that the term tannin also occurs in the Ras Shamra tablets where it is equated with ‘Shalyat of the seven heads’. (Absorption of a mythical monster into an ordinary creature also occurs in Chinese literature, where the river dragon jiao is later demythologised and seen as a crocodile.) In Job 26.12–13 there is a curious mention of the ‘fleeing serpent’ or ‘crooked serpent’ that in the King James version disguises a further reference to the name Rahab by translating ‘he smiteth Rahab’ as ‘he smiteth through the proud’. Alexander Heidel provides a convincing argument to show that Rahab, besides being a designation of Egypt, is synonymous with Leviathan (The Babylonian Genesis, pp 102–114; coincidentally Rahab is the name of a harlot in Joshua 2.1–7 and 6.17–25), which in turn appears to have been the seven-headed serpent Lotan, although clearly we see in the various references the crumbling away of the original legendary material, and that process of mythic erosion is further continued in the references to fabulous ophidian beings in Revelation. And curiously enough we can see a similar process at work in the emergence of the ‘Stooping Dragon’ via the skrying of Kelly and Dee which is further elaborated in Crowley’s skrying of the Æthyrs in terms of an explosion of a dragon’s head in Daäth with the debris being scattered in the 10th Æthyr and the creation of the modern demon Choronzon.

Straining my own credulity somewhat, could the dragon’s exploding head explain how Austin Spare’s curious eight-headed dragon, one of the heads being shown in Daäth being hit by the lightning bolt, became the seven-headed dragon of Revelation? Kenneth Grant, in Nightside of Eden, is similarly obscure. On p 8 he says that Daäth is ‘the Eighth Head of the Stooping Dragon, raised up when the Tree of Life was shattered and Macroprosopus set a flaming sword against Microprosopus’. On p 43 Grant explains (I use the word loosely): ‘The Dragon whose eighth head reigns in Daäth is identical with the Beast 666. The male half is Shugal (333), the howler in the Desert of Set; the female half is Choronzon (333) or Typhon, the prototype of Babalon, the Scarlet Woman.’ There are further obscurities on the eight-headed dragon on pages 56 and 81 (‘…blah blah Lovecraft… blah blah Cthulhu… blah blah Tunnels of Set…’).

Well, there is undoubtedly something of interest in all of this, but the thing I find odd about both Crowley’s and Grant’s mentions of the Stooping Dragon is that they appear to assume that this has some meaning to the reader and yet neither actually refer the phrase back to what appears to be its only genuine occurrence, namely in the 8th Enochian Key received by Dee and Kelly. Now it could be that they took this knowledge for granted, but the fact remains that they went on to use the phrase in what to me is an obscurantist fashion and I am not convinced their obfuscations shed a great deal of light on the use of the term in the 8th Key. In a note on his skrying of the 10th Æthyr Crowley says: ‘The doctrine of the “Fall” and the “Stooping Dragon” must be studied carefully.’ I am inclined to think this is in the nature of a marginal reminder to himself to do just that some time. But he is certainly right that these ideas have a great bearing on the question of the Abyss.

The Dweller in the Abyss, Choronzon, comes in three spellings. ‘Coronzom’ is the original manuscript spelling of John Dee, which was later printed as ‘Coronzon’ by Meric Casaubon, and ‘Choronzon’ is the ‘corrected’ spelling by Aleister Crowley that adds up to 333 by Hebrew gematria. In The Vision and the Voice (Liber 418) Crowley was specifically told that the number of Choronzon was 333 in his skrying of the 10th Æthyr. Yet he obviously already knew this because he used the spelling in the previously skryed Æthyrs 17, 15, 12, and 11. The 17th was skryed on Dec 2, 1909, and the 10th on Dec 6. So far as I am aware, The Vision and the Voice, published in 1911, was the first time Crowley ever wrote about Choronzon; Liber 333 (The Book of Lies) was published in 1913 (note Chapter 42, ‘Dust-Devils’). He shows that he was aware of the original spelling of Dee and Kelly because like them he refers to the demon as ‘that mighty devil’. In the 28th Æthyr Crowley received what he regarded later as a prophecy concerning his experience of Choronzon in the 10th: ‘Thou shalt be vexed by dispersion.’ Dispersion also adds up to 333 in Greek. In the 10th Æthyr it is even stated explicitly: ‘Choronzon is Dispersion.’ Yet in a footnote Crowley claims not to have realised at the time that there was any correspondence between ‘Dispersion’ and ‘Choronzon’. Casaubon’s spelling of ‘Coronzon’ adds up to 345 in Hebrew (Donald Tyson gets 365 by taking Nun final as 70). So why exactly did Crowley change the spelling from ‘Coronzon’ before he was told the demon’s number in the 10th, if not because he wished to link Choronzon to the forewarning of being vexed by dispersion mentioned in the 28th, and present the demon as responsible for mental scattering and distraction. Did he perhaps, either consciously or subconsciously, desire to have his change legitimised and this is why he had the demon state its number? It’s fascinating that the spelling ‘Choronzon’ is already in use before the 10th Æthyr but the ‘Babalon’ spelling is not, Crowley was still spelling her name ‘Babylon’, and it is in the 10th Æthyr that he first uses the ‘correct’ 156 spelling (gematrically equivalent to ‘Chaos’) alluded to in the 12th Æthyr (in the phrase ‘Gate of the God On’, ie Babalon: BAB = gate; AL = God; ON = On) where it becomes representative of a ‘victory over Choronzon’ and mark of the banishment of illusion. (Of course, if we regard C[h]oronzon/m and Babalon as essentially Enochian words – ‘babalon’ appears in the 6th Enochian Key, which Crowley didn’t appear to notice – their numbers 333 and 156 when rendered in Hebrew are irrelevant and merely a curiosity.)

The account of the skrying of the 10th Æthyr was unusual among the 30 Æthyrs in that it was subjected to editing and revision. It states in the published version in The Vision and the Voice:

This cry was obtained on Dec 6, 1909, between 2 and 4.15 pm, in a lonely valley of fine sand, in the desert near Bou-Saada. The Æthyr was edited and revised on the following day.

The original account penned at the time was in fact torn out of the MS. notebook, according to an editorial note in the 1998 Weiser edition (p 159 n1 and p 170 n3). I have often wondered why exactly that was. And why, indeed, was this Æthyr edited and revised? What was the nature of this revision? Crowley doesn’t say, and the torn-out pages are now apparently lost. Was it simply to create a more ordered account out of the chaotic events of the operation, with bracketed explanations, or was there another reason? [This question is addressed in detail in KAOS 14, pp 126–133 – Ed]

Although the demon ‘Coronzon/m’ does not appear in the Enochian of the 19 Keys and so is not therefore strictly an Enochian word, as implied by Donald Tyson who believes it is Enochian for Lucifer, nonetheless this entity was named to Dee and Kelly on one occasion. (Laycock also lists Coronzon [and Coronzom] as an Enochian word in The Complete Enochian Dictionary.) The passage naming Coronzon is found in the Cotton Appendix XLVI, ‘Mensis Mysticus Saobaticus, Pars prima ejudem’. (Although the handwritten version looks more like ‘Coronzom’ than ‘Coronzon’, I will stick with the printed ‘Coronzon’ for the rest of this article.) The dialogue took place on April 21, 1584, and is between Edward Kelly, John Dee, and the Archangel Gabriel, on the topic of the Angelic Tongue, now called Enochian. Kelly asked whether Angelic was known in any part of the world, or not. Gabriel answered that ‘Coronzon (for so is the true name of that mighty Devil)’ envied the status of man in the eyes of God and so began to assail him. Coronzon prevailed with the result that man lost ‘the Garden of Felicity’ and was ‘driven forth (as your Scriptures record) unto the Earth which was covered with brambles…’. And as a result of that so too was the Angelic language spoken by Adam in his innocence also lost. (This episode naming Coronzon is recorded in Meric Casaubon’s A True and Faithful Relation of what passed for many Yeers Between Dr John Dee … and some Spirits, pp 92–93. The Enochian Keys themselves were received over the period from April 13 to July 13, 1584, at Cracow. Casaubon’s title ‘A True and Faithful…’ could be an allusion to Revelation 21.5.)

So far as I have been able to ascertain, the demon Coronzon does not appear in prior literature. If we put aside for one moment the popular conception of what happened in ‘the Garden of Felicity’, and do not rush to the conclusion that Coronzon is necessarily to be identified with the serpent of the Garden of Eden, Satan, or Lucifer – themselves conflated – we are left on reading the passage in isolation with ‘the true name of that mighty Devil’ who appears to have been responsible for the loss of the Angelic language, the ‘tongue of power’, to humanity. The serpent in Genesis 3 is neither named as Satan there nor said to be Satan’s instrument, this is an interpretation. The serpent in Gen. 3.1 is described as ‘more subtil than any beast of the field’. The ‘beasts of the field’ is a phrase that occurs in the 19th Key represented by the Enochian word Levithmong and also appears in the ‘Daughter of Fortitude’ passage [Cotton Appendix XLVI, Division XII, ‘Actio Tertia. Trebonæ Generalis’, ff. 218–220]. I point this out only to emphasise the resonances of the language used. Even in the New Testament the identification of the serpent of the Garden of Eden as Satan is not decisive: in 2 Corinthians 11.3 it is said that ‘the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty’ but still does not name the serpent as Satan and Revelation 12.9 mentions ‘…that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan…’, a sentiment repeated in Rev. 20.2, but the serpent is not mentioned explicitly in the context of the Garden of Eden, although presumably this is the implication. Matthew 10.16 even advocates that one should take after the serpent: ‘be ye therefore wise as serpents.’ The Gnostic text The Testimony of Truth discovered at Nag Hammadi in 1945 is particularly interesting here in that it tells the story of the Garden of Eden from the point of view of the wise serpent who denounces God as a ‘malicious grudger’ for refusing Adam gnosis, and also mocks God as lacking in omniscience since he had to ask where Adam was when he hid from him (Genesis 3.8–9). The text also equates the bronze serpent made by Moses in Numbers 21.9 with Christ. (The papyrus of the Nag Hammadi texts date to about 350–400 CE, although the texts themselves may date to 120–150 CE.) The conception of the Serpent as the True Redeemer is nothing new to occultists, and was touched on in Martin Scorsese’s 1988 film The Last Temptation of Christ (the number 358 has a few occultists overly excited, because mâshîyach, ‘Messiah’, and nâchâsh, the ‘Serpent’ of Genesis, both add up to 358 by gematria). Given that the Bible itself is hardly definitive in establishing the serpent of the Garden as Satan, how much more so should we be wary of blithely associating Coronzon as revealed to Dee and Kelly with Satan or Lucifer. Although Dee and Kelly undoubtedly brought their own assumptions and dogmas to the Work, it is probably better to regard the Enochian revelations as a direct angelic communication aimed at establishing a fresh picture of the Fall of Man and as far as possible avoid contaminating it by previously held ideas.

Most people who have looked at this passage in Casaubon have indeed too readily identified Dee’s Coronzon as Lucifer/Satan, and also as the Stooping Dragon given that the Great Red Dragon of Revelation 12 is there said to be the Devil, Satan, and ‘that old serpent’. Indeed, Crowley in the 3rd Æthyr says that Choronzon’s head is ‘raised unto Daäth’, thereby explicitly identifying Choronzon with his previous characterisation of the Stooping Dragon in the 7th Æthyr, which raises its head unto Daäth where it is blasted (the ashes being spread in the 10th, Choronzon’s domain), which links to Spare’s eight-headed dragon with one head in Daäth and then to a seven-headed dragon and then full circle to the Great Red Dragon of Revelation and again Satan and the serpent and the even earlier Lotan and Leviathan. In the 10th Æthyr Crowley (as Choronzon) also says: ‘Is not the head of the great Serpent arisen into Knowledge?’ Knowledge (gnosis) being Daäth, this shows Crowley made little distinction between the Stooping Dragon, the Serpent, and Choronzon – or even that ‘Choronzon’ identifies himself as the Serpent if the whole is taken together as a truly channelled work without any contamination by Crowley’s own concerns. (The dull-minded like to believe that human beings have no creative part to play in genuine spirit communication beyond reception. Anyone who has skryed will know, however, if they have not come away from the experience deluded by whatever entities they have been trafficking with, that what results is a blend of information already known – ordered more lucidly and coherently – with the inclusion of genuinely new material that emerges with the tacit acceptance that the whole be regarded as a communication from spirits.)

Some, such as Geoffrey James, have even identified Telocvovim (‘Him that is fallen’, literally ‘Death Dragon’) of the 19th Key as Coronzon rather than Lucifer (there is no text referring to Coronzon’s fall), going so far as to refer to Telocvovim as ‘the great dragon Coronzon’ [James, Geoffrey. The Enochian Magick of Dr John Dee. St Paul: Llewellyn, 1998, p 101]. I believe all these identifications of C[h]oronzon are in error inasmuch as they are made too easily without taking into account the complexity of the matrix of mythic material out of which the demon emerged. Instead it is instructive to look more closely at the serpent of Genesis, given that the serpent alone, set apart from later interpretations of who or what the serpent was actually supposed to be apart from a persuasive snake, is as much as we are entitled to draw into our correlation on the basis of the skrying of Dee and Kelly, where Coronzon as such was born into this world. The Greek word used for ‘serpent’ in Revelation is ophis, which simply means a snake or serpent, and, ostensibly because of the reference in Revelation, the word also means Satan. In Genesis, however, the Hebrew word nâchâsh is used, which, according to Strong’s Dictionary (entry 5175) means ‘a snake (from its hiss): – serpent’, but Strong’s points out that the word is derived from nâchash 5172: ‘a primitive root; properly, to hiss, ie whisper a (magic) spell; generally, to prognosticate.’ Similarly, nachash 5173, also derived from 5172, means: ‘an incantation or augury: – enchantment.’ So, the ‘serpent’ is already starting to look much more interesting, as a sibilant magical incantation, or serpent magic. Job 3.8 also appears to contain a cryptic allusion to a magical evocation when it speaks of those ‘who are skilful to rouse up Leviathan’ (the presence of the name Leviathan is hidden in the King James version, where it is translated as ‘mourning’). I am inclined to think of Coronzon as something evoked or invoked, although not necessarily an entity. In Crowley’s Confessions, interestingly enough, one of the transmogrifying illusory forms Choronzon took as witnessed by the scribe Victor Neuburg, besides a woman he was once in love with, was a human-headed serpent. Choronzon appeared to exert a powerfully disorientating phantasmagoria, as if this was all Choronzon was, which was quelled and died down and was known to be gone when Crowley wrote the name of Babalon, for the first time spelt this way, in the sand with his ring. As Crowley noted:

The name of the Dweller in the Abyss is Choronzon, but he is not really an individual. The Abyss is empty of being; it is filled with all possible forms, each equally inane, each therefore evil in the only true sense of the word – that is, meaningless but malignant, insofar as it craves to become real.

Confessions, p 623

Not Lucifer, not Satan, not the Stooping Dragon, nor even Lilith the only true serpent in the Garden, usually represented in medieval Books of Hours as a human-headed serpent; Crowley’s skrying of the 10th Æthyr does not read like an encounter with an identifiable entity so much as an enchantment engulfing both participants who discover when it is over, banished ‘In Nomine Babalon’, that they have been wrestling with thin air. This picture of Choronzon is to me much more fascinating and profound than making him a cardboard-cut-out Satan in some illusory Apocalyptic drama craving to be real just as were mere dust devils in the desert to Crowley in the name of Choronzon. This is indeed why to cross the Abyss is to come face to face with Choronzon, for we are fully everything we are fooled into believing is real, though it changes before our eyes constantly. The irony is that few things seem more real than Choronzon when encountered, or as illusory when the ordeal passes, like a storm that has decidedly moved on.

‘Thou didst shatter the heads of Leviathan, thou didst give him as food to the desert dwellers.’

– Psalms 74.14