(Samael was sometimes identified with haSatan, the adversary in Judaism. Illustration by Gustave Dore)
On the account of several authors, who took for granted the rambling of some even more ignorant authors, Samael has grown to become one of the most shadowy angelic entities.
At the begining, Samael was reckoned among the seven angels in front of the Throne of God, one of the seven planetary archangels. In the course of time, his entity has been distorted to a demon – we will see why. Whenever we find his name associated with dark symbols, with satanism or luciferianism, with dark magic or with other “black” stuff (from black metal bands to video games or tattoos), we will realize that this isn’t the essence of Samael and those who use it abusively, without understanding what it’s all about, do this on their own account. Samael is the archangel who governs the planetary sphere associated with Mars. The fiery, warriorlike nature of this sphere has been the first step to the gradual alteration of Samael in the popular belief.
He has also been named Shamael, Kamael, Khamael, Chamuel, Shamuel, Samuel or Samiel. A famous occultist, whose gnostic teachings won’t be discussed here, has even taken on this pseudonym.
If he was right to do so or not, that’s none of our business. His name, Samael, means in Hebrew “God’s punishment” and it represents the severe, warriorlike nature of the divine creation. In his book, “The Conjuration of the Four Elements”, Eliphas Levi, the French occultist, refers to him as “the king of volcanoes”, next to Michael, “king of the sun and of lightning”. So, Samael is clearly the archangel of the Sphere of Mars, who chases the devil away. In the works of Papus, Samael appears as “the brightness of planet Mars, which receives God’s influences through Zadkiel” and can also pass it on. Therefore, there’s no such thing as a demonic entity, but one that has dealt with the ignorance of many. It’s interesting to notice that this confusion has a historical background.
In times of old, each angel was considered the patron of a large family, of a lineage. Each lineage came to rule when the stars would align in their favour. When the time had passed, the family would gradually lose power and influence. Together with the astrological time there would be the angelic time. Each angel would govern a certain day, a week, a month, a year, a cicle and so on. Of course, the power of a certain lineage would be related to the power of a certain angel. The Hebrew people were under the domination of Michael, the muslims under the influence of Gabriel and so on, until each of the 70 or 72 nations on Earth had their own Patron Saint. A crucial moment for the Hebrews has been the Roman domination.
Two thousand years ago, Judea was under the Roman domination and Rome was an expanding military empire, always bringing to heel new nations and conquering new territories. The angel who governed the Roman Empire in those times was Samael, the prince of war and punishment. The fact that he was the Patron Saint of the Latins can be easily noticed if we take a look at their war cult, their worship of God Mars, and their military nature. Once the power of a nation had grown, meant that their Patron Saint’s angelic time had come. People didn’t need more to associate Samael, the prince of the Sphere of Mars and the Archangel of War, to the Roman Empire and the attrocities that they had commited. If people fight each other on Earth, men had imagined that the Patron Saints would fight each other in the skies too. Even if this thing is not true, the human mind is fertile enough to see holy battles everywhere, according to each faith. This way, Samael has grown to be associated with the invading roman power and has decayed in the eyes of occultists, becoming a demon. This only happened, of course, in the eyes of those full of superstitious beliefs and ignorance, because there have always been sources attesting Samael as an angel. Some people were even afraid to say his name, so they prefered to deliberately change it to Camael, since in the written Greek C is pronounced S.
Others have prefered to call him Samiel or Samuel, for the same reason – they were afraid that someone would accuse them of writing about demons. The truth is that Samael has been a benefic angel, from the oldest times, and not just any angel, but one worthy to sit by the Throne of God. His role is somewhat opposite to Zadkiel’s. The latter one is the image of kindness and abundance, whereas Samael occupies a more disagreeable position. He handles the human karma, from the conflicts and negative situations point of view. Wars, suffering, punishment, hardship and adversity are all governed by this archangel. If Zadkiel offers gratification to people when they deserve it, Samael is the one who offers correction. The men can be gratified for their good deeds and also punished for those deeds which draw down unbalance, that’s why there are two archangels to do the job, each of them doing it with much justice and consideration though.
Even if Samael is the master of penance, this doesn’t mean that he lacks love or mercy. On the contrary, Samael is an entity which manifests a very deep love for the humankind and exactely this love makes him kind and just when he fulfills the divine law. For a man who has done wrong to another, he is of course bad, because he is the punisher. But for the hurt one Samael is a saviour and a fair judge, who redeems his suffering and makes the aggressor pay. This way we can see that Samael’s role is a complicated one and he can appear to humans as angel or demon, precisely because of the humans’ partiality. If there is forgiveness and atonement in a man’s deeds, Samael can sweeten or ameliorate the punishment that that man attracts to him. If there is no such thing, he just lets the karmic compensation act accordingly.
A violent person would become the victim of violence, an abusive person would become the abused one and so on. The more pain someone’s action causes, the more harsh the punishment will be. Samael is the one who can help us understand why we suffer. Samael is the one who can show us the truth and the cause of the suffering, of the war, the fights, the crimes and the misunderstandings, from the tiniest one to the Holocaust, from the most meaningless kindergarten grip to the World Wars. With the help of his love and light we can understand why we have suffered and why we have been hurt in life, why we had to take punishments and so-called inequities and why all these have actually been fair and just, and reasoned to be there in our lives. He is also the one who protects us from these conflicts, if our deeds prove us worthy of it and if we had already balanced our karma through actions filled with love and virtue.
His help can be invoked with the following prayer:
“By the name of God the Almighty, Elohim Ghibor, I call you, fair and just Samael, to help me is this times, as I need courage, justice and protection, Here and Now. Amen!“
(Seal of Samael reconstructed by Asterion after the figures attributed to the seven angels in Sefer Yetzirah, Aryeh Kaplan, fig. 44, page 171. Taken from Shoshan Yesod Olam, cca. 1717.)