Azazel is a desert spirit worshipped by ancient Semites. He rules over a band of goat-spirits, the Se’irim. Azazel played a part in Jewish Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) rituals. As per instructions in Leviticus 16:21–28, two goats were brought into the Jerusalem Temple. One was sacrificed to the Creator; the other, dedicated to Azazel, is the original scapegoat. The sins of the people were ritually transferred to this goat, which was brought to the desert and set free. Although this was a Jewish custom, its roots are believed to be pre-Judaic. Azazel may belong to an ancient, now-forgotten pantheon.

He is among the leaders of the rebel angels. Azazel taught women the arts of metalworking and cosmetics. The Creator punished his disobedience by hanging him upside down in a canyon of jagged, pointy stones beyond the Mountains of Darkness until the Apocalypse when the Creator may again require his services.

In Jewish tradition, Azazel may be classified among the avenging angels. In Christian demonology, Azazel is a fallen angel, counted among Satan’s host. His name is sometimes used as a synonym for Satan. Apocalyptic literature from the early centuries of the Common Era describes sinners punished in the flames of Azazel. Lech le-Azazel (literally “Go to Azazel”) is the equivalent of “Go to Hell” in modern Hebrew.

Azazel is a master of herbalism and all the occult arts. He rewards those who visit him with knowledge and information.

Manifestations: He is a shape-shifter and may appear in any form, including a winged angel. In The Apocalypse of Abra ham, an apocalyptic text, Azazel appears as a twelve-winged dragon with human hands and feet.

Realm: Azazel, Chief of the Se’irim, lives in the Negev and Sinai deserts. The Jordan River valley, once wilderness, was a favored haunt. Azazel the Rebel Angel was banished to the desert of Dudael past the Mountains of Darkness, home of demons and “fiery serpents.” Despite being chained, Azazel remains so powerful that many spirits placed themselves under his command. (He is the spiritual equivalent of an imprisoned mafia don or mob boss still calling the shots from behind bars.)

Opponent: Should you find yourself in trouble with Azazel or afraid of him, the archangel Raphael is his traditional opponent and may be invoked for protection.

Offering: Frankincense

In Mikhail Bulgakov’s novel, The Master and Margarita, Azazelo, as he’s called, raises havoc in Communist Moscow.

See also: Demon; Mahalat; Peacock Angel; Prometheus; Raphael; Se’irim; Shedim