A Multitude of Demons: More on the Mythology of the Constantine TV Series
Jacques Collin de Plancy was a French occultist, demonologist and writer. He published a number of books on occultism and demonology. The most famous of these books is probably his “Dictionnaire Infernal”. The “Infernal Dictionary”, as it is known in English, is a book on demonology describing demons organized in hierarchies. The book first appeared in 1818 and it went on to have several editions.
The most well-known is the 1863 edition which included 69 illustrations by Louis Le Breton depicting the appearances of several of the demons. Some of these images were used later on by S. L. MacGregor Mathers in his edition of “The Lesser Key of Solomon” (also known as “Clavicula Salomonis Regis” or “Lemegeton”), a grimoire on demonology.
Depiction of the demon Asmodeus from Collin de Plancy'sDictionnaire Infernal, first published in 1818. (Public Domain)
The “Infernal Dictionary” by Jacques Collin de Plancy mentions and explains the roles and functions of numerous demons from the infernal hierarchy. Out of all of these, Furfur is depicted in the first episode of the TV series “Constantine”. Furfur’s name is also spelled Furthur or Ferthur. Another version of the demon’s name appears on the TV show. This is Furcifer. In Latin, “furcifer” means “scoundrel”. Furcifer is a count of Hell who rules over 29 demonic legions.
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Usually, this demon is a big liar. Still, in order to tell the truth to every question, he can be compelled to enter a magic triangle. In this case, he speaks with a rough voice. Furcifer can induce love to appear between a man and a woman. He can also create storms, tempests, thunder and lightning. Leaving all of this aside, he can also teach things related to divine issues. As for his depictions, he is usually presented as a hart or a winged hart. Some authors claim that he usually changes from hart into angel when he is compelled to enter into the magic triangle.
Furfur as depicted by Louis Le Breton. (Public Domain)
Nergal and Pazuzu
In “Constantine”, Furcifer is said to be working for the demon Nergal. Nergal was a deity worshipped throughout Mesopotamia with the main seat of worship at Cuthah. As a deity of fire, the Underworld and the desert, Nergal ended up being viewed as a demon in Christian demonology. In some instances, he was even identified with Satan himself. Collin de Plancy and Johann Weyer depicted Nergal as the head of Hell’s “secret police” who worked as a spy in the service of Beelzebub.
An ancient Parthian relief carving depicting Nergal, the ancient Mesopotamian god of death and plague. (Public Domain)
Also in the ancient Mesopotamian religion, Pazuzu was the king of the demons of the wind. He represented the southwestern wind, the bearer of storms and of drought. Pazuzu is usually depicted with the body of a man, the head of a dog or a lion, having the talons of an eagle, a scorpion’s tail and two pairs of wings. He is generally presented with the right hand up and the left hand down. As the demon of the southwest wind, he brings famine during the dry seasons and locusts during the rainy seasons. Pazuzu is the arch-rival of the demonic goddess Lamashtu. In this regard, his image appears on amulets. Even though he is in essence an evil spirit, Pazuzu can drive away or frighten other evil entities, thus protecting human beings from misfortunes and plagues.
Assyrian demon Pazuzu, 1st millennium BC. (CC BY SA 3.0)
In the TV series, John Constantine invites Pazuzu to possess him in order to protect him from another evil entity. However, he then has to be exorcised. A very interesting aspect is the fact that the exorcism is performed by a woman. She is able to perform this rite because she had experienced a vision of what lies beyond.
The Eye of Horus and the Seal of Solomon
The Eye of Horus is an Ancient Egyptian symbol bringing good health, protection and royal power. The personification of this Eye is the goddess Wadjet. Many funerary amulets used to have the form of the Eye of Horus. The Eye of Horus is similar to the Eye of Ra, as the two represent many of the same concepts.
The Wedjat had the purpose of protecting the pharaoh in both the world of the living as well as in the world of the dead and it was meant to ward off evil. In the distant past, sailors used to paint this symbol on the bow of their vessel in order to enjoy safe sea travel.
A Wedjat/Udjat 'Eye of Horus' pendant. (Jon Bodsworth)
In the first episode of Constantine, the Eye of Horus is carved on a door in order to ensure the protection of the person living there.
At the end of the first episode of the series, John Constantine paints the Seal of Solomon on the rooftop of a building in order to trap the demon Furcifer inside. The Seal is accompanied in the series by a set of runes and some of John Constantine’s original designs.
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Originally, the Seal of Solomon is the signet ring of King Solomon. This symbol appears in the medieval Jewish tradition as well as in Islamic and Western Occultism. The ring was said to give Solomon power over demons and jinn (other supernatural creatures) as well as the ability to speak to animals. The legend relating to the Seal of Solomon developed by medieval Arabic writers spoke of how the ring was engraved by God and given to Solomon directly from Heaven. It is said that the original ring was made out of brass and iron and that the two parts were used to seal written commands given to good and evil entities, respectively.
One simple form of the Seal of Solomon. (CC BY SA 3.0)
Capnomancy and the Tall Man
Capnomancy (also known as “libanomancy”) is a method of divination which uses smoke. This is done by observing the way in which the smoke moves after a fire has been made. While a thin and straight plume of smoke is believed to indicate good fortune, the opposite is believed about large plumes of smoke.
When smoke touches the ground, it is believed to be a sign that rapid action must be taken in order to avoid a possible catastrophe. Some practitioners use their hands to manipulate the smoke and then they read the shapes that are produced. Capnomancy was used as late as 2003 in New England. There, the citizens practiced this ritual by looking at the smoke plumes from chimneys.
In capnomancy, a seer uses smoke to make predictions. (CC0)
At the beginning of the second episode from the series, John Constantine mentions having used this method of divination in order to get paid.
Also in the second episode of the series, the urban legend of the Tall Man is mentioned. This is a local legend or urban myth surrounding an entity who abducts local children who are never seen again.
Meeting Is Believing
Alan Moore claims to have met John Constantine in real life on two occasions. In the year 1993, he told Wizard Magazine of the first encounter:
“One day, I was in Westminster in London—this was after we had introduced the character—and I was sitting in a sandwich bar. All of a sudden, up the stairs came John Constantine. He was wearing the trench coat, a short cut—he looked—no, he didn't even look exactly like Sting. He looked exactly like John Constantine. He looked at me, stared me straight in the eyes, smiled, nodded almost conspiratorially, and then just walked off around the corner to the other part of the snack bar. I sat there and thought, should I go around that corner and see if he is really there, or should I just eat my sandwich and leave? I opted for the latter; I thought it was the safest. I'm not making any claims to anything. I'm just saying that it happened. Strange little story.” (Christensen, W.A. “The Unexplored Medium” Wizard Magazine, 1993.)
The writers who have had their run on the Hellblazer series have admitted to having met the character in person in real life. Jamie Delano claims to have encountered John Constantine during his run on the character, somewhere outside the British Museum. Peter Milligan saw Constantine at a party some time in 2009. He rushed after him, only to find he’d disappeared. Also, Brian Azzarello saw him once in a Chicago bar. He avoided him explaining the fact that “the thing about John is, the last thing you’d want to be is his friend”.
Artwork for the cover of Hellblazer 189 (Dec. 2003). Tim Bradstreet. (Fair Use)
The Fictional Ghost Theory
A group of young parapsychologists from Toronto invented a character named Philippe. They invented the entire biography of the character who was supposed to have lived in the Middle Ages at Diddington Mansion in England. According to their fictional story, Philippe had loved a woman accused of witchcraft and he died after trying to save her from burning at the stake.
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The whole idea behind this experiment was to try and make the fictional ghost of Philippe manifest itself like a real ghost. Still, despite all the efforts of making a collective hallucination happen, Philippe did not appear or make himself known in any way. The young parapsychologists were on the verge of giving up when, in 1973, they discovered the fact that three other parapsychologists (this time from Great Britain) had succeeded in their experiment based upon the same idea.
The most important thing for the fictional ghost to manifest itself was for it to be believed in. A medium was not necessary, and the atmosphere had to be a relaxed and cheerful one. Considering the new ideas and principles, the Toronto group continued their research and their experiment. A few days later, Philippe manifested himself.
What if the same principle can be applied in the case of John Constantine? What if John Constantine has been made real simply because those who created him believed in him? Real or fictional ghost, one thing remains certain: I would definitely want to meet the bloke.
John Constantine in the TV series. (CC BY SA)
Top Image: A demon or dark angel. Source:CC0
By Valda Roric
Roric, Valda, “From History to Mystery”, 2016, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Roric, Valda, “Wonders of History and Mythology”, 2016, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Jacques Collin de Plancy – “Dictionnaire Infernal”