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Meet Choronzon, The Demon Aleister Crowley Summoned With Sex Magick In Algeria

Everyone is familiar with the Devil - otherwise known as Satan, Lucifer, and a myriad of other names - the red-skinned, horned nemesis of God. He rebelled against Heaven and got cast into the abyss with the Fallen Angels who stood beside him. Ancient texts depict countless other demons; some Catholics place the number at 133,316,666, while Taoist traditions estimate the number of demons to be in the billions.

Whatever the culture or religion that describes demons, these immortal creatures are nearly always depicted as hideous and strange monsters with claws, fangs, and horns - many are said to have multiple heads or be stitched together from the bodies of both humans and beasts. But the Thelema demon, AKA Choronzon (or Coronzon), is a shape-shifter who yearns for a form of his own. This demon will typically take on the likeness of someone his summoner may consider provocative.

Choronzon is at the center of many "Sex Magick" rituals and was one of the demons supposedly summoned by Aleister Crowley. The notorious occultist asserted Choronzon must be conquered for would-be magicians to become truly enlightened, but summoning the demon and failing to control him can have dire consequences.

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  • He's Synonymous With The Serpent In The Garden Of Eden
    Photo: Thomas Cole / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    He's Synonymous With The Serpent In The Garden Of Eden

    Like all demons, Choronzon is immortal, though he wasn't described in writing until the 16th century. This first account came from English mathematician, alchemist, and occult philosopher John Dee and English occultist and spirit medium Edward Kelly. Dee and Kelly were discussing the "angelic tongue" - the language of the angels today referred to as Enochian.

    The pair supposedly summoned the Archangel Gabriel to answer their questions. When asked if anyone in the world still spoke angelic, Gabriel told them that "Coronzon" envied God's newest creation: man. So like the serpent in the Bible, the demon worked to drive Adam from the Garden of Eden and into the world, where he lost both his innocence and ability to speak angelic.

  • He Is The Female Aspect Of The Beast, And His Number Is 333
    Photo: Dalemundi / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

    He Is The Female Aspect Of The Beast, And His Number Is 333

    In Kabbalistic gematria, a system used to interpret Hebrew scriptures by assigning numerical values to words, Choronzon is "ChVRVNVN" and bears the value 333. This number, exactly half of "the number of the beast... 666," as described in Revelations 13:18, gives Choronzon significance as an "aspect" of Satan. Though he is typically explained as embodying the female aspect, Choronzon is still a male entity as part of the Beast.

    Choronzon's symbol is based on this description, illustrated as three triangles radiating from a central point. A similar symbol still gets used today to label radioactive materials.

  • In Thelema, He Is The 'Dweller In The Abyss' That Magicians Must Pass

    Developed in the early 1900s by notorious English occultist and magician Aleister Crowley, Thelema is a social and religious movement blending Egyptian mysticism, Buddhism, and "Magick" into a spiritual philosophy, espousing that "there is no god but man."

    Thelema also employs the so-called supreme moral code: "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law." Adherents seek to follow their "True Wills," with the ritual practice of Magick, often "Sex Magick," at the core of the system. To Thelemites, the demon Choronzon is "the first and deadliest of all the powers of evil" because he is "the metaphysical contrary to the whole Process of Magick."

    Choronzon is the "Dweller in the Abyss," the sole inhabitant of the chasm human magicians must cross to attain ultimate knowledge. Those who are prepared to meet Choronzon and capable of abandoning their ego will be able to move beyond the abyss, achieving the title of "Master of the Temple." Those who are ill-prepared will be wiped out.

  • He Was First Summoned By Aleister Crowley In 1909
    Photo: Unknown / Wikipedia / Public Domain

    He Was First Summoned By Aleister Crowley In 1909

    Though first described by John Dee and Edward Kelly hundreds of years prior, the demon Choronzon had his first recorded summoning on December 6, 1909. Only a handful of years afterward, he claimed to have received the "supreme" moral law of Thelema from Aiwass - the messenger of the Egyptian god Horus - Aleister Crowley embarked on a spiritual odyssey. He journeyed into the desert wastelands outside of Bou Saâda, Algeria, with his companion, Victor Neuburg, intending to invoke and defeat Choronzon to achieve ultimate enlightenment as a magician.

    After Crowley performed a Magick ritual with Neuburg, in which Crowley took on the submissive role to conquer his ego, he claimed he had invoked Choronzon by slipping into a trance and, after reciting the Call of the Aethyr, binding the demon within a triangle surrounded by two magical barrier circles. Crowley entered the triangle and supposedly defeated the demon after a lengthy debate and struggle, finally writing the name "BABALON" in the sand with his holy ring to signify he had overcome Choronzon.

  • He Can Take On The Form Of Someone Desirable
    Photo: Kalem Company / Wikipedia / Public Domain

    He Can Take On The Form Of Someone Desirable

    The "Dweller in the Abyss" is not unlike the abyss he inhabits - he's a void with no true form of his own, though he can take on the appearance of any form he chooses, including multiple human and demonic forms with multiple yet simultaneous voices.

    Aleister Crowley wrote that Choronzon is synonymous with the abyss in which he lives, calling him "not really an individual" and "empty of being... filled with all possible forms," with the desire "to become real." During the infamous 1909 invocation ceremony in North Africa, in which Crowley claimed to have defeated the demon, Choronzon supposedly shape-shifted into the form of an old man, a serpent, and even into Crowley's likeness.

    He also took on the form of a French female escort known to Crowley's companion, Victor Neuburg, to seduce him. Had Neuburg cooperated, he could have freed Choronzon from being bound by the triangle.

  • He Is The Demon Of Dispersion And Dissolution

    As the diametric opposite of occult magic and the demon within the abyss, Choronzon is anti-magic, anti-matter, and anti-life, an empty vessel presenting himself as attractive and substantive - a spirit guide to knowledge and enlightenment. He's an all-encompassing detrimental force seeking to disperse and dissolve all things physical, mental, and spiritual - similar to a metaphysical black hole.

    Choronzon despises order, rational thought, and piety. He also causes impotence, infirmity, and decay in matter; confusion and irrational thinking in minds; as well as darkness and despair in souls. During Aleister Crowley's 1909 ceremony to summon and succeed the demon in North Africa, the demon was said to have announced, "From me come leprosy and pox and plague and cholera and the falling sickness."