Choronzon is a demon or devil that originated in writing with the 16th century occultists Edward Kelley and John Dee within the latter's occult system of Enochian magic. In the 20th century he became an important element within the mystical system of Thelema, founded by Aleister Crowley, where he is the Dweller in the Abyss, believed to be the last great obstacle between the adept and enlightenment. Thelemites believe that if he is met with proper preparation, then his function is to destroy the ego, which allows the adept to move beyond the Abyss of occult cosmology.
Including Crowley's spelling of the name, Choronzon, there appear to be three alternatives. Meric Casaubon states that the name is Coronzon (without an 'h') in his ‘True and Faithful Relation…’. However, this is at variance with the spelling that appears in Dr. John Dee's own journals. Laycock's Enochian dictionary gives the latter spelling as Coronzom, citing an original manuscript (Cotton XLVI Pt. I, fol. 91a) as the source for the variant.
Choronzon according to Crowley
Otherwise known as the Demon of Dispersion, Choronzon is described by Crowley as a temporary personification of the raving and inconsistent forces that occupy the Abyss. In this system, Choronzon is given form in evocation only so it may be mastered.
Crowley states that he and Victor Benjamin Neuburg evoked Choronzon in the Sahara Desert in December 1909. In Crowley's account, it is unclear whether Choronzon was invoked into an empty Solomonic triangle while Crowley sat elsewhere, or whether Crowley himself was the medium into which the demon was evoked. Nearly all writers except Lawrence Sutin take him to mean the latter. In the account, Choronzon is described as changing shape, which is read variously as an account of an actual metamorphosis, a subjective impression of Neuburg's, or fabrication on Crowley's part.
The account describes the demon throwing sand over the triangle to breach it, following which it attacked Neuburg 'in the form of a naked savage', forcing him to drive it back at the point of a dagger. Crowley's account has been criticised as unreliable, as the relevant original pages are torn from the notebook in which the account was written. This, along with other inconsistencies in the manuscript, has led to speculation that Crowley embroidered the event to support his own belief system. Crowley himself claimed, in a footnote to the account in Liber 418, that "(t)he greatest precautions were taken at the time, and have since been yet further fortified, to keep silence concerning the rite of evocation." Arthur Calder-Marshall, meanwhile, asserts in The Magic of my Youth that Neuburg gave a quite different account of the event, claiming that he and Crowley evoked the spirit of "a foreman builder from Ur of the Chaldees," who chose to call himself "P.472". The conversation begins when two British students ask Neuburg about a version of the story in which Crowley turned him into a zebra and sold him to a zoo. Neuburg's response in this book contradicts both the words attributed to him in Liber 418 and the statement of Crowley biographer Lawrence Sutin.
Choronzon is deemed to be held in check by the power of the Goddess Babalon, inhabitant of Binah, the third Sephirah of the Tree of Life. Both Choronzon and the Abyss are discussed in Crowley's Confessions (ch. 66):
- "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, in so far as it craves to become real. These forms swirl senselessly into haphazard heaps like dust devils, and each such chance aggregation asserts itself to be an individual and shrieks, "I am I!" though aware all the time that its elements have no true bond; so that the slightest disturbance dissipates the delusion just as a horseman, meeting a dust devil, brings it in showers of sand to the earth."
Non-Thelemic views of Choronzon
In much the same way that Satan has been championed by some of those who object to Christianity, Choronzon has been turned into a positive figure by some iconoclastic occultists, in particular chaos magicians who object to what they see as the stultifying and restrictive dogma of Thelema. Peter Carroll's "Mass of Choronzon" is a ritual with the purpose of casting the energy of one's ego into the universe to effectuate an unknown desire. This, in part, has served as an inspiration for modernised ritual effectuation based on the "333 Current". Carroll himself states in the afore-mentioned book, however, that Choronzon is simply the name given to the obsessional side-effects of any deluded search for a false Holy Guardian Angel, or anything which the magician would mistake for his own profound genius itself.
In popular culture
- Thrash/Metal band "Megadeth" mentions Choronzon in their song "Looking Down the Cross" from their 1985 album, Killing Is My Business... and Business Is Good!
- The death metal band Internal Suffering have many references to Thelema and related metaphysics in their lyrics, including much glorification of Choronzon. Perhaps most notably so on the album Choronzonic Force Domination.
- In the MMORPG RuneScape, a quest requires the player to kill a large demon called Chronozon, in a reference to Choronzon.
- A minor demon named Choronzon appears several times in Neil Gaiman's The Sandman. His behavior may allude to the occult conception of Choronzon, but the relationship is questionable.
- An unnamed demon appears in Hellblazer as one of the three devils. Its characteristics mirror Aleister Crowley's descriptions of the demon, such as having no true form and constantly changing shape.
- Choronzon is one of the collectible demons in the Shin Megami Tensei series of games.
- Choronzon is the name of a god-like posthuman character in Karl Schroeder's science fiction novels "Ventus" and "Lady of Mazes".
- Choronzon is the title of a song from Tangerine Dream's 1981 album Exit.
- Choronzon is the title of the 2003 album by blackened death metal band Akercocke.
- Choronzon is a recurring theme in the lyrics of Dutch death metal band Nox (not to be confused with the Hungarian Pop band).
- Choronzon is featured in the 2009 Horror film Necromentia
- There is a boss in Wild Arms 3 called "Colonzon", an obvious gaff at romanizing Choronzon.
- In the Horus Heresy series of the Warhammer 40,000 universe, Graham MacNeill's novel A Thousand Sons, Choronzon is identified with Tzeentch under the title of the Daemon of Dispersion.
- ^ a b c d Crowley, Aleister (1989). The Confessions of Aleister Crowley, ch. 66. Penguin. ISBN 0-14-019189-5
- ^ The Vision and the Voice, Aethyrs 9, 10 and 11
- ^ Laycock, Donald (1994). The Complete Enochian Dictionary, p. 98. Weiser Books. ISBN 0-87728-817-8
- ^ Online manuscript scan from The Magickal Review
- ^ Vision and the Voice, Tenth Aethyr, fn 12 and 13.
- ^ Vision and the Voice, Tenth Aethyr.
- ^ Calder-Marshall p34-36
- ^ Vision and the Voice, Tenth Aethyr, "Note by Scribe".
- ^ "For his part, Neuburg remained convinced for the rest of his life that he had wrestled with a demon in the desert." Sutin, Do What Thou Wilt 2000, ch 6, p 204.
- ^ Carroll, Peter J. The Mass of Choronzon
- ^ a b Carroll, Peter J.. Liber Null and Psychonaut. ISBN 0-87728-639-6
- Crowley, Aleister. "The Cry of the Tenth Aethyr" in The Vision and the Voice
- Dee, John, edited by Meric Casaubon. A True and Faithful Relation of What Passed for Many Years Between Dr. John Dee and Some Spirits. Kessinger Publishing. ISBN 0-7661-0812-0
- Rowe, Benjamin. "The Illusion of the Abyss."
- Sutin, Lawrence. Do What Thou Wilt. St. Martin's Griffin, New York.
- Thelemapedia. Choronzon.
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