In the mid-17th century, a hidden group of sorcerors compiled a grimoire whose fell influence would echo through the ages. The grimoire was called The Lesser Key of Solomon. It was compiled from ancient texts and forbidden knowledge sourced from various hidden sects around the world. The true identity of those sorcerors remains one of the great mysteries of my career. For now, we must look to the text which may hold a key of its own.
Long before the Demon Lords came to power in the Abyssal Plane, there were the Kings of Hell as described by the Ars Goetia in The Lesser Key of Solomon. Geotia is the practice of dark magic that may include the conjuring of demons. It has been contrasted with Theurgy which describes rituals that evoke the presence of other dieties. Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa describes it in his work Three Books of Occult Philosophy:
“Now the parts of Ceremonial Magick are Goetia and Theurgia; Goetia is unfortunate, by the commerces of unclean spirits made up of the rites of wicked curiosities, unlawfull charms, and deprecations, and is abandoned and execrated by all laws. Of this kinde are those which we now adayes call Necromancers, and Witches."
The Ars Goetia describes no less than 72 demons, each with their own sigil, arrayed in a strict hierarchy. The hierarchy has 7 categories: Kings, Dukes, Princes, Marquises, Earls, Knights, and Presidents. The sigils were compiled by S.L. MacGregor Mathers and Aleister Crowley in their book THE BOOK OF THE GOETIA OF SOLOMON THE KING:
Today we will start at the top, and describe the all-powerful Demon Kings of Hell itself.
Bael - Head of infernal powers
The first king of hell, Bael has three heads: a toad, a man, and a cat. He speaks in a hoarse voice and can teach men the power of invisibility.
Invisibility spells and artifacts can almost always attributed to a more benign source. A high level wizard can learn the spell, and it has been proven to be transmissible to artifacts such as invisibility cloaks. However, you may sometimes encounter beings that can turn invisible innately or people that seem to fade from vision despite the fact that they seem to possess no notable wizardry. In those cases, be warned: Bael's influence might hold sway over the creature.
Paimon - Arts, philosophies, and sciences
One of the most horrifying stories I ever heard involved King Paimon and his cult's possession of a young girl and her brother. Paimon is the third king, who rides upon the back of a camel and is preceded by men-shaped demons playing loud trumpets. It is said that, should you encounter Paimon alone, you must immediately make a sacrifice to summon his two subordinates Bebal and Abalam. He also speaks hoarsely and incomprehensibly, but may speak in your native tongue when commanded.
Paimon's domain includes all knowledge of arts, philosophies, sciences, and secret things. He also may assist with the summoning of desired people or objects. It his said he even possesses knowledge of past and future events and that he will truthfully answer any question he is asked. As you might imagine, this incredible power is highly sought after which explains why he holds such a broad dominion.
Do not be tempted. Do not forget that this shortcut to knowledge would put you in debt to an ancient King of Hell.
One should always beware unearned wisdom.
Beleth - Love and respect for the king
Beleth the mighty, Beleth the great one, Beleth the king! When dealing with Beleth, one most demonstrate the utmost respect. It is common to wear a silver ring on your left hand middle finger, and hold it to your face, as a sign of deference.
As with other Demon Kings, there are those who desire to summon Beleth in exchange for power or knowledge. He may grant the love of men and woman and also possesses secret knowledge. It is said that Nam, the son of Noah who built the Ark, was the first to summon Beleth. With his help, he wrote a book on mathematics that was centuries ahead of its time.
Beleth rides upon the back of a great, pale warhorse, and is proceeded by all kind of music (similar to Paimon).
Purson - Weilding the viper
Again, Purson is proceeded by the sound of many trumpets. He appears as a large, muscular man with the head of a lion who rides upon the back of a great bear. In his hand, he wields a vicious viper.
Similar to Paimon, Purson knows of events past, present, and future. He may also reveal hidden treasures. He can change his shape into an aerial form to communicate secrets of divine creation. As a man, he may communicate secrets of Earth.
The remaining kings
In Part II, we will complete our summary of the 9 Kings of Hell, beginning with one of the most notable of all: The Dragon Rider Asmodeus.