How Buer-ring!

One of the things that irks me about things like demonology compendiums would be how extremely unpoetical the descriptions can be compared to the imagery. For example, this is the image of a Buer:

buer

This thing looks absolutely insane! Nowadays people keep drawing demons as creatures with maybe flames and rocky skin and stuff, trying to make it look ‘cool’ – but drawings like this, as well as those of monster-makers like Bosch showcase how true other worldliness can really¬† look like.

Now, not only is it a cool image, but there’s also a lot of possible metaphorical potential to examine. I am just waiting for the perfect moment when I can write something like “like a Bueric Dog-Hoof Wheel” in my writing.

What could it be interpreted as? A cyclical being? A being that can be ‘stable on all sides’? A wheel made merely from the spokes? Since the lion mane in the center is all fiery outwards, it could even be a beastial sun.

But, instead, we get this kind of writing: (7) Buer is a great president, and is seene in this signe [*]; he absolutelie teacheth philosophie morall and naturall, and also logicke, and the vertue of herbes: he giveth the best familiars, he can heale all diseases, speciallie of men, and reigneth over fiftie legions.

So that dog-wheel thing is just a Plato + Professor Snape? Where is the poesy? Why does his circular nature mesh with the teaching of moral & natural philosophy? It is because the Buer represents a sphere of perfect calmness from a beastial core? Could you use the Buer as a metaphor for the way man is both simultaneously beast but also logical form?

The answer is that the writers simply did not have the imagination, and they were encyclopedia-ists rather than poets. The artist is the one that invokes the deeper and more ‘demonic’ nature through his illustrations. This was also one of my problems with Swedenborg. He’s a mystic but he writes like a dull geographer. Furthermore, in his book on his exploration of other planets, he came up with an amazing concept for the race of Mercury beings that move around in abstract form, like what a human would be like if he was separated from the material world – but afterwards Swedenborg simply ran out of creative juice, and his descriptions of the other beings are so lackluster compared to the Mercurians (it’s probably because Swedenborg was himself an academic, and so the academic Mercurians were the beings he was most interested in illustrating).

It takes a poet to energize a concept. Just as Swedenborg was energized by Blake, the demons are energized by countless others – like Milton, Goethe, and many more. They were inspired by the images rather than the dull cataloguing. That was where the potential was being held.