Tuesday, 28 June 2011

The Infernal Lords XIV: Beelzebub

Like hungry flies,
Like swarming flies alight,
Melt, become fluid
Dripping like syrup.
Can you drink when fluid?

Inebriate with senses,
Or just illusions of senses.

[ Swarm – Tactile Gemma ]
Beelzebub by *GothicNarcissusArchduke Beelzebub is one of the highest-ranking Demons of Hell and undoubtedly one of the most fearful. He is the Demon of Gluttony, thus one of the Seven Satans as the Lord of Flies, as well as an Elemental and Astral Demon. Formerly the Second-in-Command of Seraphim under Duchess Astarte’s leadership, after his Fall he retained his mastership of Element Earth in all of its forms, and that of the astrological influence of Planet Pluto. He’s the Leader of the Order of the Great Fly, an honorary order which includes most of the Upper Demons whose elemental powers rely on Earth, as well as other important Courtiers: Marquis Adramelech, Prince Abaddon, Duke Azazel, Marquis Nergal, Duke Xaphan, Marquise Decarabia, Countess Jezebeth and, secretly, Prince Absinthion.
Among all Demons, Archduke Beelzebub is definitely the most loyal to Emperor Lucifer even since before the Fall. He was one of the first three angels to be cast out of Heaven in the aftermath of the Great Heavenly War, following His Majesty and preceding Marquis Leviathan. Out of the Seven Satans, he’s the only one to gladly indulge his own Sin without being overwhelmed by it, and thus de facto leads the First Level despite Queen Barbelo being the actual Leader. He sometimes clashes with fellow Satans, such as Duke Astaroth, Duke Belial and Count Asmodeus, due to their tendency to overindulge in their sins and neglect the Court rules, but all in all they share a good comradeship. Speaking of the Satans, he’s the only one to almost get along with Count Mammon, being quiet enough for the latter to handle. Despite being rarely befriended, he’s well respected by the whole Court and is usually the one to open the banquets during the mundane celebrations. He also runs most of the pragmatic aspects of Hell, such as collecting reports from the Leaders of the lower Demonic Levels, assisting Marquis Nergal and Duke Azazel with their duties respectively as Chief of Hell’s Secret Police and Deputy General of the Infernal Army, and in particular ensuring that no one lacks respect to the authorities. As the most trusted advisor of His Majesty, he has the best understanding of his ways and is likely the Demon who bears the greatest grudge against Yahweh and Heaven beside the Emperor himself.

Beelzebub: development and symbolism

Photo, concept, manipulation, styling, make up, frame design: GothicNarcissus
Model, hair: Arrigo Bettella
Additional resources: Amptone-stock (textures), Evilneil (wings), Sxc.hu (skull)

If you haven’t ever heard the name of Beelzebub, raise your hand. Great, I see no hands up (?), and it’s no wonder: among all the Demons, Beelzebub is surely one of the most widely known, to the point that his name is popularly used to call the Devil himself, and even many scholar interpretations identify him as Satan. Like most of the Upper Demons, he’s derived from a Semitic deity, Baal, through his epithet Baal Zebul, “High Lord”, mocked in the Hebrew translation as Baal Zebub, “Lord of the flies”. And indeed he is one, as he’s even portrayed in the shape of a huge fly with skull-marked wings, most notably in Colin de Plancy’s Dictionnaire Infernal. It is interesting to note that there is a Demon called Baal as well, but while the Dictionnaire Infernal lists them in two different entries, most scholars agree that they’re basically the same entity with alternate names: beside the name, they share many attributes, including being listed as one of the seven kings of Hell and the identification with the Devil.
Peter Binsfeld places Beelzebub as the Demon of Gluttony (which, again, is fitting for a fly), and pretty much all the sources agree in saying that he’s located very high in the infernal hierarchy. Some say that he’s related to element Earth, while there is some disagreement whether he was a Seraph or a Cherub.
Beelzebub from the Dictionnaire Infernal
Beelzebub from the Dictionnaire Infernal.
Beelzebub from Kaori Yuki’s Angel Sanctuary
Being so infamous, Beelzebub was also mentioned in Kaori Yuky’s Angel Sanctuary, even making a minor cameo in a single scene beside being briefly described in the side notes. She designed him as a fly (even creepier than the Dictionnaire Infernal depiction) but didn’t characterise him further than the official description because he was very difficult to draw. Nevertheless, his appearance definitely convinced me I would include Beelzebub rather than Baal, and that he would be my Demon of Gluttony too.
Due to his fame and his appearance on the manga, I started thinking of how to portray Beelzebub very early, right after starting the project. Similarly to Mammon, as neither Kaori Yuki’s nor his official depiction fit my vision, I had to come up myself with his graphical rendition that would stay true to his nature. In his case, my task was simpler: fly wings would be enough to recall the original motif. As you can see in the sketch below (this time done on my anthropology notebook), I originally considered also a furry collar to strengthen this connection, but I eventually scrapped the idea as it was too garrish. This first sketch, however, lacked a connection with Beelzebub’s sin, so I decided to add a fruit to symbolise it: fruits are served at the end of a meal to sweeten it, thus might be considered an “optional” and fit to the idea of Gluttony.
An almost decently drawn Beelzebub sketch
My almost decently drawn Beelzebub sketch.
The problem now was choosing one. Grape was downright scrapped, as it was the most clichéd thing I could possibly think of; apple followed for the same reason, and because there would be a Demon more closely connected to it; I couldn’t find any fruit specifically connected to the sin or idea of Gluttony so, after some further researches, I came up with the idea of pomegranate. Pomegranate has very strong symbolic connotations in many religions, beginning with Greeks, when it’s connected to the myth of Persephone and the Underworld, up to Hebrews and Christians: in the Judaic tradition, it’s a symbol of sanctity, honesty and rectitude, as it was believed that it contained 613 seeds (as many as the commandments in the Torah), while for Christians it represents fruitful martyrdom and holiness. What could be possibly better (and more blasphemous) than Beelzebub crushing a bleeding pomegranate in spite of God? And here it was.
I considered a couple of models for the role, but was not entirely convinced until I found Arrigo (on Facebook, for a change): I wanted Beelzebub to be more manly than the other Demons so far and he just caught my attention. We originally intended to shoot in November/December 2010, but things ended up being done last week. As the outfit, we opted for something elegant but sober, as in my view Beelzebub is not as wanton as most of the other Demons. Despite his infamousness, Beelzebub is not included in the Lesser Key Of Solomon: thus, and also considering the ethimologic study I mentioned above, I chose the seal of Baal, which indeed shaped as a fly or insect.
An important detail I was adamant about including were the skulls on his wings, as they are a fundamental trait of Beelzebub’s character. First of all, ancient Hebrews believed flies were born from corpses (the two words themselves share their root); secondly, Beelebub was regarded as a military leader of one of the strongest and darkest armies of Hell, which he raised directly from the dead like flies, and was therefore known as “The Lord of Chaos” and “Master of Calumny”; thirdly, in Christian mythology, during apocalypse he is said to be clouding the sky with his army of soul-stealing flies. He’s therefore well connected with the dead and Death in general (that’s why I associated him with the astral powers of Pluto, beside the latter being a chthonian force linked to Element Earth), and the skulls are his very emblem, even more in character than his Seal. They just have to be there.
Orange is often associated with Gluttony, hence it’s the theme-colour of the work. The theme-song is Swarm, an unreleased demo by Tactile Gemma: it’s about flies and also a bit about Gluttony, the best choice.

Monday, 27 June 2011


Happiness by GothicNarcissusAre you looking for happiness?
Are you looking for something better?
Do you ever feel emptiness?
Are you scared it’s gonna last forever?
Don’t give it away, don’t give it away.

I don’t want your happiness,
I don’t need your happiness,
So never show me happiness,
I don’t want your happiness.

Everybody needs sanctuary,
Everybody needs hope and fear,
But not everybody needs a preacher,
So don’t tell me what you want me to hear.
And don’t give it away, don’t give it all away.

I don’t want your happiness,
I don’t need your happiness,
So never show me happiness,
I don’t want your happiness.

I don’t want your happiness,
I don’t need your happiness,
So never show me happiness.
I hope you find happiness.

We don’t need your cheap salvation,
We don’t want your sympathy.
We don’t need your cheap salvation
Over and over again.

We don’t need your cheap salvation,
We don’t want your sympathy.
Don’t need your cheap salvation,

I don’t want your happiness,
I don’t need your happiness,
So never show me happiness,
I don’t want your happiness.

I don’t want your happiness,
I don’t need your happiness,
So never show me happiness.
I hope you find happiness.

[ Happiness - Hurts ]

Sarcasm. Black humour. Ill-concealed bitterness. Indifference. Emotional self-sufficiency. A bit of resentment. Self-consolation. Silenced hope. This wonderful song by Hurts portrays anything but what the title says. The relation between the lyrics and the title can be summarized with the word "oxymoron", and this was so intriguing that I wanted to do something about it.
And then Briar Rose asked me if I wanted to take part in a project of hers featuring indifferent-looking people with skull make up. I gladly accepted, as it would be a new challenge for me as a model, and we included the idea in our upcoming meeting. Then, when listening to the song, I immediately found a connection between the two things, and the idea stuck: a photo of a skull-me hooded in a black veil looking indifferently over my shoulder with Happiness as a title would create the same kind of oxymoron the Hurts song created. Thus, joining Briar Rose’s and my ideas, we came up with this photo, which I truly love. It’s most definitely what I wanted for this song.
I’d like to remark that the remarkable work with shooting, postproduction, hair and, in particular, make up is all Briar Rose’s, so all praise goes to her.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Turning point

Venus by *GothicNarcissusCirca mea pectora
Multa sunt suspira
De tua pulchritudine
Quae me laedunt misere.

Venus! I trow’d thou wast my friend,
Professed to Heaven thou wouldst send.
As a disciple of a villain,
Didst thou act the tragedienne?

Iam amore virginali
Totus ardeo.
Iam amore virginali
Totus ardeo.

Amor volat undique,
Captus est libidine.

Venus! I trow’d thou wast my friend,
Professed to Heaven thou wouldst send.
As a disciple of a villain,
Didst thou act the tragedienne?

Iam amore virginali
Totus ardeo.
Iam amore virginali
Totus ardeo.
Circa mea pectora multa sunt suspira
De tua pulchritudine quae me laedunt misere.
Tui lucent oculi sicut solis radij,
Sicut splendor fulguris, qui lucem donat tenebris.

[ Venus - Theatre of Tragedy ]

I consider this photo, along with the others taken in this session, some sort of turning point in my work as a photographer. I’ve always had a controversial relationship with artistic nude photography: I really love human body, I think that (when it’s well proportioned) it’s one of the most beautiful things on Earth. Nevertheless, centuries of mortification culture have tainted its collective vision, and today it’s too often seen as a mere sexual object and, consequently, a taboo. Thus, portraying it is a tricky work: it’s not always easy to harmoniously insert a nude figure in a context where it really fits, and too often it’s simply exploited for its sexual/taboo power, as breaking taboos, in particular sexual ones, always draws attention to a work.
I don’t really enojy browsing through artistic nude photography exactly for this reason: most of the pictures just break the taboo for the sake of it, and to me such photos are is meaningless. As I strongly believe that the subject must always be functional to the concept of the photo, a person who simply stands up naked without a context that requires it is simply pointless. Better yet, it’s a bit squalid, as it’s often a desperate attempt to play with the viewers’ pudency or sexual obsession to drag their attention to an otherwise uninteresting work.
It’s no wonder I’ve always been somewhat reluctant to experiment with artistic nude myself. I knew it takes a lot of competence to create a genuinely interesting nude portrait, and have always been afraid to fail, to merely end up doing something like the works I despise. I just didn’t feel ready and artistically mature for such a challenge, and I’m quite sure I wasn’t for real. Finally, some time ago I felt I had something to tell that wouldn’t have worked without a naked figure, and that I was finally ready to give it a try. I said it to Briar Rose, and we put a nude photoshoot among the possibilities for our upcoming collaboration.
The shoot as you can see it came up rather unexpectedly: at the beginning, we had planned to do it outdoors in a forest nearby, so that we would have had a natural context to help us valorize the photos. Of course, a sudden and violent downpour totally screwed out plans, so we initially just dropped the idea and decided to wait for another occasion. Fortunately, that same night, right before going to bed, we saw my black background, and decided to give it a try, just to see what came out. The shoot was born as a mere study without any pretense (we just hoped to get a Venus photo for my Aégis Collection), but turned out unexpectedly well. We used a simple desk lamp for illumination, which provided a somewhat pictoral light, so we tried something very classical-oriented. The red fabric, together with Briar Rose’s wonderful hair, helped give the classical painting feel. I guess I was somehow more embarrassed than Briar Rose, but she was quie at her ease, which helped me relax too, and thigs worked out so well we even had some photos to publish.
What I’m very satisfied of is the fact that we managed to provide variety even working indoors in studio-like conditions. I was a bit skeptical at first, and quite afraid that such photos would have really turned out to be nothing more than a naked girl out of context, but Briar Rose is just more than a random girl. Her very expressivity created the context out of nowhere and made the photos worth publising. Here are the other photos from this session.
De Profundis by *GothicNarcissus
Persian Lovesong by *GothicNarcissus
Profumo by *GothicNarcissusEmmeleia by *GothicNarcissus

Thursday, 23 June 2011

The Infernal Lords XIII: Mephistophel

You know it’s not enough
To keep your tears around your wrist,
To keep your merits on a list,
To keep your money in a bank,
To keep riding your rank.

I know there’s no end to your rights,
No switches for the light,
No cure for your plights
And no wind for your paper kite
Torn to pieces on roses.

You won’t sleep until you sign on the dotted line.

[ Torn To Pieces – Susanne Sundfør ]
Mephistophel by *GothicNarcissusCount Mephistophel is a Higher Demon of the Fourth Level and is known as the Soul Buyer. He was formerly the Second-in-Command of Principalities under Duke Azazel’s leadership and followed his Master both staying in Heaven undercover after the Great Heavenly War and when he was cast out, becoming his Lieutenant in Hell. As former Principalities, they are both quite experienced of the Sublunar World, which is the reason why they’re part of the Earthly Division of the Infernal Army. Count Mephistophel’s job is specifically to have mortals sign the Goetic Pacts his Master invented, which are contracts between the Humans and Hell where the former sell their soul in exchange for supernatural help from the latter: he marks the souls as purchased only to collect them when the mortals’ time is due, and provides them with the necessary power to conjure the Demon they need, opening a direct link between the two parts. The vast majority of fellow Higher Demons, in particular Goetic Demons (those whose job is specifically to grant powers or knowledge in exchange for souls), avail themselves of his work to be summoned into the Sublunar World more easily. The Seven Satans, who usually choose their victims themselves rather than being summoned by mortals, are an exception.
Count Mephistophel is particularly infamous for the deal he made with Doctor Faust, which is so notorious it provided a lot of writing material even for the human lore and literature. He’s fanatically loyal to Duke Azazel and follows his orders very carefully, to the point of occasionally clashing with any Demon who comes in his Master’s way. Nevertheless, his natural diplomatic skill help him avoid fights and keep good comradeship with most of fellow Courtiers, making him pleasant even to notoriously antisocial Demons such as Countess Agares and Viscount Legion. He’s rather moderate when compared to most of the other Courtiers and, although he takes part in the mundane life of the Court, he rarely gives up to any excess, being particularly eager to carry on his duties instead.

Mephistophel: development and symbolism

Photo, concept, manipulation, styling, frame design: GothicNarcissus
Model: Wishes to remain uncredited
Hair, make up, assistant: Nebulosamente
Additional resources: Amptone-stock (textures), Nightgraue (wings)

Mepistophel (more commonly Mephistopheles) is one of the most well-known demonic figures in Western culture, to the point that he’s often identified as Satan himself and his name is used as a synonym for “the Devil”. He is derived from the German legend of Doctor Faust, a dissatisfied scholar who makes a deal with the Devil’s rapresentative, Mephistopheles, to sell his soul in exchange for superior knowledge, magical powers and a life of pleasure with Mephistopheles serving him with his powers. After his death, according the original accounts, he’s damned and his soul is carried to Hell by Mephistopheles. The legend was so influential that it was turned into many literary and theatrical works, most notably Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s Faust and Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus, and originated a zillion other interpretations, some even portraying Mephistopheles as an agent of God who simply carries away souls which are already corrupted. Cut it short, there was more than enough material not only to sketch but also to base a character on.
Mephistopheles Flying over Wittenberg by Eugène Delacroix (1828)
Mephistopheles Flying over Wittenberg by Eugène Delacroix (1828).
Graphically speaking, Mephistopheles’ common representation is rather generic, basically the very stereotype of the Devil, so I had to “customise” it. When making up the character, I mostly drew from the popular imagery, with some twist every now and then: he’s a lieutenant of Azazel, he writes the contracts and make Mortals sign them with blood (thus purchasing their soul) and provides them with powers. In my interpretation, it’s the mere power to summon the competent Goetic Demon, who will be in charge of the Mortal needs (for instance: if the Mortal needs knowledge in astronomy, Mephistophel will make a contract between him and Andrealphus and give to the victim the power to summon him, leaving up the rest to Andrealphus). His function is essentially bureaucratic, so I would portray him as a dark, fashionable and fascinating lawyer/notary in the exact act of luring some innocent to sell their soul for whatever futile reason. Hence, the symbolism: he’s holding the contract in one hand and giving the pen to his victim with the other after dipping it in the other’s blood. As for the name, out of all the different options I chose “Mephistophel” because it’s the most fitting in my series. Many Angels have their names ending in -el, so it would fit the Fallen Angel motif better than any alternate spelling.
On a funny side note: the contract. Geez, that was the most difficult part of the work, even longer than the make up and hairdo, and it even turned out to be just a minor detail in the photo. First of all, my assistant Linda and I had to get some parchment effect on the paper and I came up with the idea of using the Amélie Poulain method: washing the sheet in tea and drying it with a hairdryer like in the movie. The result was less than impressive, but at least it was something. Then the writing: we had no idea about what to put on it, so the model came up with the idea of printing a quote of Goethe’s Faust. Problem solved: I installed the needed font on Linda’s computer, put Mephistophel’s seal at the bottom of the page and tried to get it printed. To no avail, as the printer just refused to work. Linda and I tried to reinstall the drivers, update them with no results, until we resolved to bring her older laptop to life, install the printer on that one and finally have the whole thing done. So basically: make up time = 15 minutes; shooting time = 3 minutes, even less; printing the contract = more than 2 hours. Heck!
Mephistophel by GothicNarcissus: detail
Mephistophel by GothicNarcissus – detail. Click to enlarge.
The theme-colour is called khaki, and I used it because it’s a common military colour and Mephistophel is a very active member of the Army (although with diplomatic duties). Despite having entire gothic metal discographies on my computer, finding a fitting theme-song for Mephistophel proved quite difficult. Soul trade is not as popular as one would expect among gothic metal bands. I eventually opted for Hatred by Gothminister because I couldn’t find anything better, but then I found  Torn To Pieces by Susanne Sundfør and it was just perfect!

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

The Infernal Lords XII: Andrealphus

Find me in the frequency:
You are never alone,
A mirror that can’t be broken,
Reflections of the stars.

Lost beneath the veil of time,
You were once so frail in your delusion.
Can’t you see that all is infinite?
Oh Indigo, you are the key to unlock eternity.

[ Indigo :LOR3L3I: ]
Andrealphus by *GothicNarcissusMarquis Andrealphus is a Higher Demon of the Second Level who was previously a high-ranking Virtue. His duties were to guard the planets of the Astral Plane, regulate their influence on the Sublunar World and keep humanity from discovering the secrets of their physical counterparts (the actual Solar System); after his Fall, despite losing his role as the Guardian of the Skies, he retained most of his powers over the Stars, as well as his immense knowledge both in the Art of Astrology and in the Science of Astronomy, which he can grant to Mortals along with that of other sciences when summoned as the Demon of Astronomy and Astrology. Not only do his powers allow him to create an illusion of the night sky, the Planets and their orbits and movements, which he uses to decorate the ceiling of Hell at night, but also to contrast the astrological power of Heaven, which emanates from high-ranking Angels, blocking it and letting that of the Astral Demons flow instead to influence mankind towards Evil.
The reason of his Fall was to be able to explore the Sublunar World and witness the difference between the complex laws of physics that rule it and the geocentric Astral Plane, who works on the miracles of Angels and out of the laws of nature. Rumour has it that another reason was a fellow Astral Demon: he followed Marquise Anamelech, his romantic interest, when she revolted against Yahweh during the Great Heavenly War, hoping she would reciprocate his feelings someday. He also has a good comradeship with other Astral Demons, most notably Duke Astaroth of Mercury, who loves discussing the skies with him, Princess Lilith of the Black Moon, Duchess Astarte of Venus, Duke Azazel of Saturn and Marquis Rosiel of Uranus, although he tends to avoid Marquis Adramelech’s presence due his own mild photophobia and the latter’s overprotectiveness of his twin sister. He’s described by fellow Courtiers as a mysterious and fascinating Demon who speaks with a subtle and seducing voice and usually stands in the darkest corners emanating dim starlight from his body.

Andrealphus: development and symbolism

Photo, concept, manipulation, styling, frame design: GothicNarcissus
Model, hair: Mattia Montanari
Make up: Pukkia CyIce
Assistant: Jimmy Richter
Additional resources: Miss69-stock (textures), Nightgraue (wings), Ro-stock  (starry sky)
Special thanks to Insolentia for helping blend the wings!

Ever since I was a child, up to around sixteen, all I wanted was to become an astronomer. Then I realised I sucked at maths and physics so it wasn’t the job for me, but I never ceased to be fascinated by the night sky. No wonder I decided that a Demon who granted knowledge about the stars was to be included in my series, and here comes Andrealphus.
Which was not an easy pick: as I often say, most of the Goetic Demons are just a copycat of each other, doing pretty much the same thing in a slightly different order or combination. Although not as commonly as the Demons who “knoweth things past, present and future”, “findeth hidden treasures” or “reconciliateth friends and foes”,  browsing through The Lesser Key Of Solomon I came across quite a bunch of people who taught either astrology, astronomy or both, and I had to decide who was fit for my project. The problem was that most of their names were just plain awful. Seriously, I couldn’t take seriously a Demon called Marax, Stolas, Furcas, Bifrons or Alloces; they’re just… bitch, please. Asmodeus was already busy with his own lusty stuff, while Amy sounds too much like the goddess-complexed female Demon fronting Evanescence. I wasn’t particularly enthusiastic about Andrealphus either, until I read Innocent Bird by Hirotaka Kisaragi. One of its main characters, Shirasagi, is a Demon and his real identity is Marquis Andrealphus; although I’m not overly fond of that character, he was enjoyable enough to make me opt for that name.
Shirasagi, aka Andrealphus, from Hirotaka Kisaragi’s Innocent Bird
Shirasagi, aka Andrealphus, from Hirotaka Kisaragi’s Innocent Bird.
Although I already had a clear idea about the symbolism and even what the finished image would look like even before choosing the name, I had no clue about the model, apart from preferring a dark-haired guy. I found Mattia casually while browsing the “people you could know” on Facebook (which is proving unexpectedly useful in casting models) and immediately thought he was perfect for Andrealphus. I asked him, he liked the idea, we quickly arranged the shooting and everything was done smoothly and without any trouble.
A very rough Andrealphus sketch
A very rough Andrealphus sketch.
For what concerns the symbolism, it’s all about his starry nature. My idea was so show Andrealphus while demonstrating his illusory powers by recreating a starry sky all around him and a model of the Solar System in his hands; his clothes are meant to make him look smart and professional. By the way, I’ve depicted him as the Demon of both Astronomy and Astrology. A little side note on my view of the subject might be useful: first of all, in the Infernal Lords cosmology, there are two planes of existence, the Astral and the Physical one. Astronomy is the science that studies the physical universe, while astrology interprets the apparent position of the planets to determine the influence of their Astral Plane counterparts: in a world with Angels and Demons, how far-fetched can it be for them to use the stars to influence mankind?
In the real world, astronomy is a science which I love, astrology an art with no scientific pretence whatsoever which I don’t believe in but I’m very fascinated by. My thought is, basically, that one doesn’t harm the other and I see no need for astronomers to go around bitching about astrologers.
Andrealphus by GothicNarcissus: detail
Andrealphus by GothicNarcissus – detail. Click to enlarge.
The theme-colour is indigo, which recalls the night sky; the theme song is also called Indigo and is sung by :LOR3L3I:, and I chose it because the lyrics are quite fitting for one of the most eye-opening, mind-widening Demons in the series.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

The Infernal Lords XI: Mammon

In the ruins of days gone by
A young affection, a velvet sky.
A slave to greed,
I do not feel regret anymore.
I sense a presence of birds encircling me,
And I am gone, forever gone.

Til jord skal vi bli...

[ The Ravens – Tristania ]
Mammon by GothicNarcissusCount Mammon is the Demon of Greed, thus one of the Seven Satans as the Count of Gold. Being the former Chief of Angels, the lowest Choir, it’s unclear to many how he made it to the First Level of Demons despite his shortcomings. It is likely, though, that he got to incarnate the Sin of Greed just because of that: as the lowest-ranking Choir Chief in Heaven, he was usually disregarded by the others (most of whom, ironically enough, are now in Hell themselves, but lower in the hierarchy), which led him to an endless quest for more power until he ended up embodying the related Sin. The riches he gathered in the process probably played an important role, too, and eventually led Emperor Lucifer to appoint him as the Chief of the Infernal Bank. Anyways, the neglection he faced at the hands of fellow Choir Chiefs made his temper extremely bad: he’s antisocial, rather paranoid and obsessive (in particular when it comes to money), mostly bitter and resentful towards the whole universe, and extremely selfish and mean. It’s because of his antisocial tendency that he usually covers his face with a rich and highly decorated mask that recalls a bird of prey despite his good looks.
Due to his very bad temper and his exaggerated graveness, most of the other Courtiers find him unpleasant and try to have little or nothing to do with him, in particular Count Asmodeus, whom Count Mammon despises for his love of gambling, and Duke Xaphan, who bears personal resentment towards him. Count Mammon also holds a strong grudge towards Duke Belial since that one time when the Lord of Deceit stole gold from him for the Israelites to make the Golden Calf. He practically gets along only with Archduke Beelzebub, who appreciates his seriousness and pragmatism (which, truth be told, are pretty rare qualities to find in the other Courtiers, especially the Seven Satans). Another reason for the two getting along pretty well is that Count Mammon’s Elemental Power over Metal is a manifestation of the other’s own Element, Earth, even though Count Mammon strongly refuses to participate in the Order of the Great Fly. Indeed, he prefers the company of his gold and precious objects, a selection of which he wears on his wings, and leaves his residence in the Infernal Bank only when strictly necessary.

Mammon: development and symbolism

Photo, concept, manipulation, styling, frame design: GothicNarcissus
Model: Federico Romano
Hair, assistant: Nebulosamente
Additional resources: Amptone-stock (textures), Darklaela-stock (wings), Myruso (wallpaper)

Mammon from Kaori Yuki’s Angel Sanctuary
Like all the Demons related to the Seven Deadly Sins, I first found out about Mammon thanks to Kaori Yuki’s Angel Sanctuary, where he makes a couple of cameos. Although it was even given a couple of lines of speech, the character was not very developed as, according to the author, it was rather difficult to draw, so it was only quickly described in the side notes. I found it fascinating nonetheless and I did some researches on my own. Provided that Mammon was just the concept of Greed itself or the worship of riches in the Old Testament, it was eventually turned into an actual false god in the New Testament and subsequently demonised, in particular during the Middle Ages. He’s found as the Demon of Greed in Peter Binsfeld’s classification, and later even in John Milton’s Paradise Lost. Other accounts say he came from the lesser angelic Choir, so I had pretty much all I needed to know. Graphically, Kaori Yuki’s depiction is very similar to the one from the lore, which represents Mammon as a winged humanoid figure with claws and the head of a bird of prey. Quite fascinating, all in all, and surely inspiring.
Popular depiction of Mammon, author unknown
Popular depiction of Mammon, author unknown.
All of this happened around November 2009, right after I kicked off the project. The idea of a bird-headed man would contradict my general concept for the series, so I had to come up with a fitting alternative which would give the idea of a bird without spoiling the human looks of the Demon. I got quite enthusiastic about it, as I saw it as a very interesting challenge and my first major departure from Kaori’s influence. It was about the time when Parnassus was released and, although I hadn’t see the movie (I’m not much of a cineast), I saw Heath Ledger’s character with the plague-doctor Venetian mark, and thought it would be a fitting idea for the peck. I tried to sketch the character (quite fittingly on the notebook during my economy class – lol!), portraying it as elegant but much more sober than many other Demons. I also had the idea to comb the model’s hair in a bun and put diverging feathers in it to strengthen the bird connection and reprise the messy feathery head of the original source.
An awfully drawn Mammon draft; anatomy just took a day off
An awfully drawn Mammon draft; anatomy just took a day off.
So, all in all, the concept came up rather early and easily. The fitting model did not, which is kind of weird, as I did not have any particular requirements. He did not have to be breathtakingly beautiful as most of his face would be covered by the mask, nor did I expect a particularly refined body, which would be completely covered. The only important thing was the hair, which had to be dark blond or light brown to recall gold, and long enough to be tied in a bun. Now, you would expect to find someone like that quite easily among fellow goths or even regular metalhead, but hell to the no. The first guy I considered cut his hair short and dyed it black some few days before I decided to ask him; the second only posed for a friend of his and was not comfortable, nor interested, in doing so for other photographers; the third was just... meh, and I kept him as the very last ditch, as his face would be covered anyway; the fourth was better-looking and apparently interested in the project, but lived far away, and when I went there for other business and tried to organize the photoshoot, we had some timing problems, so I dropped the thing and kept him as the penultimate ditch.
Out of discouragement, I asked some friends if they knew somebody with the freaking long, golden hair, and one told me that Federico, a friend of his, would be in Trieste for a couple of days later that week. Unexpectedly, despite the short time, everything went incredibly smooth: we got in touch, met for a talk, arranged the shooting and took the photo within three days; the work was finished and published that same day. I almost could not believe it, after so much trouble.
The symbolism of the work is all bird or Greed-oriented: I’ve already mentioned the mask and feathers; the the elegant yet somber outfit symbolises wealth but a certain parsimony; the white wings were simply more fitting than dark ones, without any particular meaning. As you can see in the draft, they were supposed to be covered in jewels to further remark the Greed concept, as in pawn pledges taken from his victims. While at the time I shot the photo that was just beyond my photomanipulation skills and I had to give up, after some five years I finally found the right way to get it done: I had a pair of white wings lent, I covered them in my mother’s jewels, I shot them and I blended them into the pre-existing wings. Despite being a well-known Demon, Mammon is not listed in The Lesser Key Of Solomon, so lacks a Seal. I borrowed Crocell’s, as the wings recalled the bird motif. No need to explain why the theme-colour is gold, I guess. The theme-song, The Ravens by Tristania, was simply perfect, as it talks both of greed and birds. The Norwegian line means “we shall be to the Earth”, which could be a further reference to Mammon’s Fall.

Monday, 20 June 2011

The Infernal Lords X: Barbelo

Open your eyes and see
She’s only a chimera to thee,
The celestial thought is only in your mind:
This feminine person is an atrocious kind.

This doomed empress is waiting for you
To perish anytime soon.

[ Empress – Nemesea ]
Barbelo by *GothicNarcissusHer Majesty Queen Barbelo is the spouse of Emperor Lucifer and the First Lady of Hell. Being the Demon of Wrath, as the Queen of Darkness she’s part of the Seven Satans, the First-Level  of Demons. She has also full control over one of the four Elements, Fire. She was the first female being ever created by Yahweh and the fourth Angel overall, after Emperor Lucifer, Great Angel Michael and Prince Abaddon. Thanks to her mighty powers and bellicose nature, she quickly rose to prominence as the Second-in-Command of Powers, gaining the spotlight in the Heavenly Army and much respect from her soldiers. Yet, she decided to follow Emperor Lucifer in the Great Heavenly War because of Yahweh’s failed attempt to deprive her of her powers in his quest to reduce the political influence of female Angels in Heaven. Her being the first and supreme female principle is what led Emperor Lucifer to make her his official bride after her fall, even though they openly cheat on each other – for instance, rumour has it that Duke Xaphan from the Fourth Level is the Queen’s Favourite.
Queen Barbelo shares a relationship which lies somewhere between deep friendship and rivalry with Princess Lilith and Duchess Astarte, all of them representing one primordial side of femininity: while Duchess Astarte represents the (twisted) holiness of a woman with powers over fertility, and Princess Lilith epitomises the most wayward, pure and instinctual side of femininity, Queen Barbelo embodies the very essence of the creative and destructive principle of womanhood, both in a positive and a negative manner. For instance, it was her idea to use a woman, Eve, to lure the then newborn mankind to Sin through the Tree of Knowledge Plot, ending Yahweh’s absolute power over the Earth, opening a way for Evil to spread in the world but also granting free will to mankind in the process. This episode started her deep and long-lasting friendship with Marquis Leviathan, with whom she often works closely, like in the First Murder Plot, when the two combined the influence of their Sins with a little psychic help from Marquise Anamelech to induce Cain to kill Abel. Her retinue includes other fiery or bellicose demons, such as Count Furcifel, the Demon of Thunderstorms, and the military Marquis Nergal.
Her destructive side manifests best through her Sin, which makes her temper rather unstable: she can become quite a sadist at times, and greatly enjoys the sight, scent and taste of blood. That’s why she can fully master Fire, a destroying force which leaves behind ashes and ruins, but can also renew and purify things.
Because of her frequent fits of Wrath, she prefers to leave many of the practical and political aspects of her queenship in the capable hands of Archduke Beelzebub, and go wreak havoc on the Earth instead. As Babylon the Great, however, she will lead the Seven Satans and their troops during the Armageddon in order to bring corruption among mankind through their Seven Deadly Sins.

Barbelo: development and symbolism

Photo, concept, manipulation, frame design: GothicNarcissus
Model, make up, hair: Federica
Styling: Federica and GothicNarcissus
Assistant: DamaInNero
Additional resources: Myruso (wallpaper), Sxc.hu (throne, wings)

This work is the first one in which I took so much freedom from the traditional Christian and Jewish mythology and mostly relied on other sources to create a character. Indeed, Barbelo is not listed anywhere among the classic Demons. The Barbelo is actually the supreme Gnostic principle of femininity, who helped God create the universe, and from whom Yahweh (seen as the Demiurge, a lesser figure, in the Gnostic conception) stole the light, forcing her to steal that of other Aeons in return. The only mention of her I found in anything related to the Christian and Judaic traditions is in the apocriphal gospel of Judas, while the one and only instance of her being a Demon comes from Kaori Yuki’s Angel Sanctuary, where she’s the Demon of Wrath and Lucifer’s first bride.
Barbelo from Kaori Yuki’s Angel Sanctuary
Barbelo from Kaori Yuki’s Angel Sanctuary.
At the beginning of the project, I established that I would avoid both using figures foreign to the Jewish and Christian imagery and copying too much from Angel Sanctuary. Nevertheless, differently from all the other works, this time I built the figure already knowing who was going to portray it: my friend Federica. I know her well from high school and her temper would simply match that of the Demon of Wrath. Hence, an exception had to be made in this case.
At very first, when I had to decide about the Demon of Wrath, I found out that, according to Peter Binsfeld, it was either Satan or Amon; I identify the former as Lucifer, who is above all the Demons and could not be one of the Deadly Sins (not to mention that in my cosmology the word “Satan” generically identifies the First-Level Demons and is an honorary title rather than a proper name), while the latter just sounds too much like the related Egyptian god, so neither were suitable. Secondly, Hell needed a Queen to match the Whore of Babylon figure from the Book of Revelation; she had to be a high-placed Demon and since Lilith was not part of the First Level not bearing one of the Deadly Sins, she was unavailable for the role. Thirdly, I would prefer a female Demon of Wrath aniway, as I see it much more as a feminine sin: male wrath is just brute, female one is much subtler and more consuming. However I put it, Federica did fit and Barbelo was just around the corner. I asked her if she wanted to pose, and she agreed. The photoshoot was postponed from August to November, and further to December, but at least this gave me the time to get a decent whip.
The Whore of Babylon, a strong argument supporting Barbelo
The Whore of Babylon, a strong argument supporting Barbelo.
When developing my own Barbelo, I tried to avoid as much as I could Kaori Yuki’s character and to rework the Gnostic principle instead. After all, back then the Italian edition of the manga hadn’t progressed up to Barbelo’s appearance and, as I avoided spoilers as much as I could, I only knew of her existence without any clue of what she did. The fact that both carry a whip is purely a coincidence, and besides their other powers are completely different.
So I took the general idea of aprimordial feminine figure who at some point clashed with Yahweh and further developed her as a former Angel, planting the unavoidable Angel Sanctuary references (Lucifer’s bride, Demon of Wrath) on this ground. Once the character was done, the symbolism came up by itself: the whip is a perfect symbol of both wrath and power; the leather dress emphasises her badass personality; the throne and the rich wallpaper represent her Queen status; the red gems represent her elemental connection with Fire; the dark and gloomy atmosphere, as well as the coal-black wings, symbolise her being one of the most evil Demons of Hell. Most obviously, Barbelo doesn’t have a seal of her own; I found the one I used looking for the Seal of Azazel but I don’t know where it originally belonged. The theme-colour is a shade of lavender to recall femininity and make the red parts stand out. The theme-song, Empress by Nemesea, needs no explanation, I guess: it was just the perfect fit for the work.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

The Infernal Lords IX: Abaddon

Kill and be killed, more than fight to survive.
I’ll give you strength to continue the fight,
I’ll feed you anger and soft little lies,
Out of blood hatred grows, no place to hide.
Kill and be killed, more than fight to survive.
I’ll be your shining star, I’ll be your guide.

My Lord is great, I’ve killed before:
All is fair in love and war and peace.
In war and peace.

[ Hatred Grows – Tristania ]
Abaddon by *GothicNarcissusPrince Abaddon is the Lord of Locusts and Bottomless Pit. Formerly the Chief of Powers, he was the third Angel ever created by Yahweh, after Emperor Lucifer and Great Angel Michael, who might be considered his brothers. As a result, he is now one of the most powerful Demons of Hell and it is speculated that his powers are second only to those of Emperor Lucifer himself, and even stronger than those of the Seven Satans combined. This is the reason why he was appointed as the Supreme General of the Infernal Army and is thus called the Antichrist by the Heavenly Army, a name he eagerly embraced.
Unbeknownst to most Demons, he was given a very delicate mission: he will be the one to lead the Armageddon together with Prince Absinthion; thus, he has to spend most of his time in a deep slumber induced by a spell of Duke Astaroth’s to gather as much power as possible. Little is known about him or his personality, for he rarely awakes and leaves his residence in the dungeons of Pandemonium, the Bottomless Pit – which, despite its name, is quite a comfortable place. Even the exact nature and extent of his immense powers are not known, for he’s often bound and always blindfolded, particularly during his sporadic public appearances, to prevent him from unleashing them accidentally: his eyes are indeed the vehicle of his powers and he’s forced to keep them concealed not to accidentally harm fellow Courtiers. In time, this contributed to create much rumour and a legendary aura around his character, such as a long-running feud for power between him and His Majesty, his being a traitor who’s being kept alive in chains rather than executed because of his kinship and so on.
He ranks as a Prince in the Infernal peerage due to his relation to Emperor Lucifer, his immense powers and the sacrifices required by his mission, which consumes most of his time. Hence, despite being the de jure Leader of the Third Demonic Level, he is largely absent and his Army and Level-Leader duties are carried out respectively by the fellow Third-Level Demon, Duke Azazel, the military-tempered Marquis Leviathan and by His Majesty’s top advisor, Archduke Beelzebub.

Abaddon: development and symbolism

Photo, concept, manipulation, styling, frame design: GothicNarcissus
Model, hair, make up: Seth Storm
Additional resources: Amptone-stock (textures), VampyricCadenceStock (wings)

Abaddon is another Demon I discovered thanks to Kaori Yuki’s Angel Sanctuary, where he’s a monstrous son of Lucifer’s who can kill lesser beings with his sole presence and is thus chained in a dungeon and mistreated by Astaroth, who’s in charge of looking after him. Despite having an important supporting role in the manga, I never grew particularly fond of his character, and got interested in him as a potential Infernal Lord only after reading about his official depiction. I found out he’s a pretty well known figure in the Christian mythology, with many useful details.
Christian fights with Apollyon, aka Abaddon
Christian fights with Apollyon, aka Abaddon.
As usual, when a lot of things are said, most are in open contrast with each other. Nevertheless, some points are generally accepted: Abaddon (Apollyon in Greek) means “the Destroyer” and is identified as the Angel of Destruction of the Book of Revelation; he is the Lord of the Bottomless Pit and of locusts, and will do a big deal of things during the Armageddon. At this point, sources diverge, and I had to choose carefully what would or wouldn’t fit. First of all, I downright scrapped the possibility that he was a good entity, an instrument of God’s will, another name for the resurrected Jesus Christ or even Archangel Michael himself. Among the interpretations of him as an evil being, I scrapped those who identified him as Satan (as to me that’s Lucifer), but kept those who said he was the Antichrist. I also took some inspiration from Kaori Yuki’s character, like the fact that he doesn’t show much in public, is chained in a dungeon, dangerous for other people and a relative of Lucifer’s. His identification with Satan and Michael strengthened this point, as I decided the three of them were linked and considered like brothers. Of course, I had to give a totally different graphical rendition of him, as Kaori’s Abaddon looks more like a beast than a person.
Abaddon (with Kurai) from Kaori Yuki’s Angel Sanctuary
Abaddon (with Kurai) from Kaori Yuki’s Angel Sanctuary.
While choosing a model, I had just one strict requirement: he had to have beautiful lips to compensate the concealed eyes. This time, I found Seth Storm browsing through ModelMayhem, so finally I made some use of a photography portal. We originally had to shoot in August, but the meeting was postposed up to December due to many circumstances. Nevertheless, this allowed me to know my model better and eventually find out that he was compared to Abaddon several time before and has used a locust as a symbol, which was a rather interesting coincidence.
Compared to the other works from this series, this is slightly more erotic, with a clear, despite still subtle, bondage theme. This was one of the major tributes to Kaori Yuki’s work, but in my case symbolises the binds Abaddon bears on his powers; the blindfold has a similar meaning, but is also a reference to another of Kaori’s characrers, Justice from God Child. The rest of the symbolism is quite clear, I guess: a lot of black in the background for the Bottomless Pit, a reversed cross on his choker for he’s the Antichrist, and the Seal with two converging lines to further recall the Abyss (which was borrowed from Ipos, as Abaddon is not a Goetic Demon and lacks a Seal of his own). I also wanted to include a locust, but I eventually scrapped the idea as it just didn’t fit. The theme-colour, grey, is a neutral colour, and refers to the uncertain nature of Abaddon’s powers. The theme-song, Hatred Grows by Tristania, refers to his role as the leader of the Armageddon.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

The Infernal Lords VIII: Anamelech

There she is, looking down at me,
Down at us, gazing with a sigh.
Bright as always, clouds give way.

She catches it all so gently with a shine.
They’re on their thrones, looking down at us.
With hate and loss the aim remains
So unfairly in their misery.

[ Moonlit – Octavia Sperati ]
Anamelech by *GothicNarcissusMarquise Anamelech is the twin sister of Marquis Adramelech and a Second-Level Demon herself. A close friend of Duchess Astarte’s even before the Fall, she was a high-ranking Seraph and an Astral Angel. After the Fall she retained this trait, becoming the Demon of the Moon and keeping control over the Planet’s influence, astrological on mankind and physical on the tides. She has also limited divinatory abilities, being capable of foreseeing the future, in particular tragic events and bad news, as well as projecting her visions into other peoples’ mind even across different Planes of existence: it was her who predicted from Hell that Duchess Astarte would be replaced as the Queen of Heaven by the Virgin Mary, a mere Mortal, leading her former Chief to rebel and become a Fallen Angel herself. Beside that, much like the Moon itself she’s still able to use the Light elemental powers, but only in her brother’s presence, with the intensity changing according to her position.
She is pretty much the complementary opposite of her brother, being rather quiet and reserved where he’s arrogant and flamboyant, and even though she’s part of Emperor Lucifer’s close entourage she doesn’t like to vaunt, preferring to act in a more subtly manipulative way. A nightly Demon, she’s not very involved with the Sublunar World and prefers residing in Pandemonium without caring about mankind any more than her Astral essence obliges her to, waiting for the Second Heavenly War to begin in order to gain back her former position in the night sky. Her only famous deed in the Sublunar World was taking part in Queen Barbelo and Marquis Leviathan’s First Murder Plot, projecting a fake vision into Cain’s mind to exacerbate his envy for Abel and unleash his violent instinct, then haunting him into insanity with ghostly visions. Rumour has it that she reciprocates Marquis Andrealphus’s romantic feelings, but her elusive demeanour makes it hard to know for certain.

Anamelech: development and symbolism

Photo, concept, manipulation, frame design: GothicNarcissus
Model, hair, make up: Blood Countess
Styling: Blood Countess and GothicNarcissus
Additional resources: Amptone-stock (textures), ArrsistableStock (starry sky), Faestock (peacock tail)

I bumped into Anamelech’s figure while doing researches about Adramelech; the two of them were derived from similar deities worshipped in an Assyrian town called Sepharvaun, Adramelech being the Sun God and Anamelech the Moon God(dess), so they were absorbed as Demons into the new monotheistic system together. Apart from that, the information about Anamelech as a stand-alone demonic figure is quite scarce: according to Matthew George Easton’s Bible Dictionary, she is a female lunar Demon who takes the form of a quail and is bearer of ill news; rome rabbinic traditions depict her as a mule instead – that’s all. Meh, thank you so much.
Anamelech, source unknown.
After patiently looking further, I found a much more interesting story about Anamelech projecting visions into Cain’s mind to push him to kill Abel and subsequently drive him insane to claim his soul: this would provide me with more useful material, but was still far from enough to build a character on. It was evident I had to work on my own, so, after scrapping the quail and mule part as it didn’t help me at all, I looked at the loose base I had, a female figure related to the moon, and decided to just take my Adramelech idea and mirror it: this is how the twin Demons idea was born. I already had Astaroth and Astarte as twins in my series, but while the two of them look really alike and have generally similar traits, Adramelech and Anamelech would just be the complementary opposite of each other. So, while he was bright, extroverted, arrogant, ambitious and flamboyant, she had to be murky, introverted, modest and gentle (although only in appearance, as the Moon is bright as well). On this base, I inserted the vision part, making Anamelech somewhat of a seer, and to mirror Adramelech’s ill friendship with Astaroth, I decided she had to be genuinely friends with Astarte.
Provided this basis, the two photos were conceived as having opposite but complementary characteristics: Adramelech would be light-haired, dressed in white, in a frontal pose with an open albino-peacock fan and an arrogant attitude, while Anamelech would be dark-hired, dressed in black, showing her profile in a shy way with a closed coloured peacock tail. For the model, I immediately thought of my friend Giulia due to her classy, aristocratic and melancholic features long before I got in touch with Jimmy for the companion work; although she agreed, we just didn’t get any occasion to meet. Coincidentally, I managed to arrange the photoshoot with her shortly after that with Jimmy, so that the two works would be published within a short time.
As I said, most of the symbolism in the work simply mirrors Adramelech’s, but there are some interesting things to say anyway: the profile pose is also a reference to the moon phases, while the starry background most obviously recalls the night sky. As Anamelech lacks a seal, I chose that of Decarabia due to its crescents, the astrological symbol of the Moon (and subsequently adapted it for Adramelech as well). Also, it’s interesting to note that the make up, opalescent with little feathers in the eyelashes, is meant to recall a peacock feather, albeit more soberly than Adramelech’s. The theme-colour, a pearl, obviously recalls the colour of the Moon. No need to explain why I chose Moonlit by Octavia Sperati as the theme song, I hope!

Friday, 17 June 2011

The Infernal Lords VII: Adramelech

Drifting through the light inside,
A lucent image in the dark.

Hide the pieces, I become the sun
Shining through what became of you.

[ Frozen – Theatre of Tragedy ]
Adramelech by *GothicNarcissusMarquis Adramelech is a Higher Demon and an important figure in the Court of Pandemonium. He was formerly the Second-in-Command of Thrones under Duke Astaroth’s leadership, and followed his Chief during the Great Heavenly War against God, hoping to overpower him in the process, although unsuccessfully. After the Fall, he retained his powers as a former Astral Angel, becoming the Demon of the Sun: not only does he have power over the Secondary Element Light, but also on the astrological influence of his Planet. He shares these traits with his opposite yet complementary twin sister, Marquise Anamelech, the Demon of the Moon.
Having kept his former plot a secret, he’s still rather close to the oblivious Duke Astaroth, but his friendship with Duke Beelzebub is more notable, as he’s also part of the latter’s Order of the Great Fly. Another good comrade is Marquise Decarabia, who can boost her powers thanks to Marquis Adramelech’s. He also enjoys the company of Demons of the Arts, most notably that of Theatre, Count Kobal. Ambitious and arrogant, yet cultured and sophisticated, he aimed to the First Level as the Satan of Pride, but was overcome by the more cunning Duke Belial in the struggle for the position. Nevertheless, thanks to his mighty powers and his relation with the two aforementioned Satans, he made it to the Second Level anyways, being part of Emperor Lucifer’s entourage as the supervisor of his wardrobe. He’s also the Great Chancellor of the Court and it’s a spell of his that keeps Hell illuminated.
He has a slight dislike for Marquis Andrealphus, mainly because the latter can overpower his astrological influence, although he covers this as overprotectiveness for his sister, and has an ever greater dislike for the sombre Count Mammon and the ostracised Viscount Legion than other Courtiers do. The reason he is most rumoured about at Court, though, is his being notably at odds with Duke Belial, as they both like being in the spotlight, with Marquis Adramelech being envious of his title of Demon of Pride and Duke Belial taking advantage of his higher rank to constantly tease him.

Adramelech: development and symbolism

Photo, concept, manipulation, frame design: GothicNarcissus
Model, hair, make up: Jimmy Richter
Styling: Jimmy Richter and GothicNarcissus
Additional resources: Amptone-stock (texture), ED-resources (peacock feathers)

Adramelech is one of the Demons I came across after the Infernal Lords series was already in the process, when I was specifically looking for new characters to include. He’s not a Goetic Demon, but is described and depicted in Collin de Plancy’s Dictionnaire Infernal. Historically, he’s derived from an Assyrian Sun god adored in the city of Sepharvaim who, as usual, was subsequently absorbed into the Hebrew and subsequently Christian tradition, and retained his solar origin in his later depiction as a humanoid monster with a large peacock tail on his back, clearly recalling sun beams.
Adramelech from the Dictionnaire Infernal.
His peculiar appearance was enough to draw my attention, but when I looked for further details, I found out that, differently from most of the Demons, instead of telling how many legions of spirits he rules and what he does when you conjure him in the magic circle, the sources gave a round portrait of the character, including his occupations in Hell and even some information about his personality. Most of the traits of my character are taken directly from the original, such as being a former Throne, the Great Chancellor of Hell, the supervisor of Lucifer’s wardrobe and a member of the Order of the Great Fly, as well as being ambitious, arrogant, guile, mischievous and a deep hypocrite. Well, such a figure could not fail to be in my collection, so I decided to keep it safe while looking for a fitting model. My own image of him was quite clear all along: the same as the “official” portrait, but with a beautiful man instead of the monster. I’d say I was probably inspired by one of the characters in Sugababes’ Shape videoclip. I had pretty much forgotten about it until I saw it again some months ago, but it possibly kept subconsciously influencing me, perhaps drawing my attention to the illustration of the Demon in the fist place.
The Peacock Boy from Subababe's Shape video
The Peacock Boy from Subababes’ Shape video.
Anyway, quite some time after elaborating the idea I got in touch with Jimmy Richter via Facebook (some two or three days after I joined it). As he showed interest in my Infernal Lords project, I proposed him to pose as Adramelech due to his white hair. This proved to be a particularly fortunate choice, not only because his character is quite similar to Adramelech’s and helped me define it more precisely, but in particular because Jimmy added his own ideas, such as the peacock make up, which was inspired by Winged-Creations’ work Peacock.
The reason why I felt that Jimmy’s white hair would fit my work was that I wanted to strenghten the solar aspect of the Demon, so I opted for an albino peacock rather than a traditional one, as its tail would resemble sun beams more closely. The white, transparent and thin shirt also emphasises this aspect, while the rich laces represent the most mundane aspects of the character. As Adramelech is not a Goetic Demon and lacks a Seal, I had to borrow it from another Demon. The choice was made keeping in mind that Adramelech would have a companion piece, Anamelech, the Demon of the Moon, who lacked a Seal as well. I resolved to take Decarabia’s because of the crescents in it, and edited it into being a mirrored image of the former with the astrological symbol of the Sun instead of that of the Moon for Adramelech. I guess there is no need to say why it’s luminous rather than the dark like the others.
The choice of the theme-song, Frozen by Theatre of Tragedy, and white as the theme-colour have a similar meaning: as light is commonly regarded as a symbol of good, I wanted to portray Adramelech as an “evil” sun, very bright but cold at the same time. The lyrics of the song speak about both light and cold, while white is the most luminous colour, but is so pure it lacks any warmth, in particular if associated with black.