“Whenever a human being encounters an Angel in the books, what are the first words the angel always says,” Mary Sibley’s son John asks the Devil’s biographer Cotton Mather in Salem Season 3 Episode 6, “Wednesday’s Child.”
“Be not afraid,” Mather answers. That’s because angels are sanctimonious monsters, fearsome engines of wrath. The most terrible things they did, they did on the command of god: The flood, Sodom and Gomorrah, the torment of Job, Jonah, Daniel, St. Anthony “and all the other holy falls, even the temptation of Christ himself.” God is a vengeful, jealous, sadistic murderer and hypocrite.
Angels have gotten too good a rep. Little Samael explains to the star-struck biographer that his beneficent winged heroes committed the most horrendous acts upon man that God could come up with. Vile things, angels, really, rapists and thugs throughout history, men and women fall to their knees in fear every time they appear.
The devil inside the body of Mary Sibley’s son John was unveiled as Samael in Salem Season 3, episode 3, “The Reckoning.” Samael is an ancient entity that goes far back to the Old Testament, the angel of death in some cases, the tempter of mankind in other, but still beloved of God.
One of the fallen angels, Samael is banished to hell, which isn’t as much a physical place as it is a dark consciousness devoid of the presence of the creator. It’s kind of like being unfriended by god, but not blocked but the other demons are also not exactly blocked because god forgives them because he always knew what they were going to do and they were in his service.
The Zohar describes Samael as meaning “poison of God.” Samael is also called “Venom of God,” and “Blindness of God.” He is the main archangel of death in Talmudic and post-Talmudic lore and can be good or evil depending on who is writing on him. Rabbinical writings describe Samael as the guardian angel of Esau and a patron of the Roman Empire. Samael is the collector of Moses’ soul.
Samael lives in the Seventh Heaven, which sounds like a chocolate treat. In religious mythology the seven heavens refers to the seven divisions of the visible sky, which includes the Sun, Moon, stars and the abode of immortal beings. The concept dates back to ancient Mesopotamian religions and is referenced in Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Catholicism and Jainism.
Seventh Heaven is prime real estate and, like city cops, Samael doesn’t work in the neighborhood he lives. Samael is the chief angel of the Fifth Heaven where he commands two million angels. The Chronicles of Jerahmeel hails Samael as “chief of the Satans.” Samael is the third name of the demiurge, aka Yaldabaoth and Saklas, in The Apocryphon of John, found in the Nag Hammadi library.
“There was another angel in the Seventh Heaven, different in appearance from all the others, and of frightful mien,” Louis Ginzberg wrote in the “The Ascension of Moses” chapter of The Legend of the Jews. “His height was so great it would have taken five hundred years to cover a distance equal to it, and from the crown of his head to the soles of his feet he was studded with glaring eyes, at the sight of which the beholder fell prostrate in awe. ‘This one,’ said Metatron, addressing Moses, ‘is Samael, who takes the soul away from man.’”
The Holy Kabbalah defines Samael as the “severity of God” and equates him with Satan and the Serpent. Daniel Conway’s Demonology and Devil-Lore says Samael functions as the left hand of God. It is written that he is the consort of Naamah and wedded to the arch-she-devil Lilith. Samael and Lilith were both renegades of God, Lilith having been cast out of heaven for demanding equality as the wife of Adam. Samael rides the serpent into the Garden of Eden, tempting woman with fruit from the Tree of Knowledge, which could also be interpreted as calling on the kundalini energy of the Divine Mother.
In Wednesday’s Child, written by Adam Simon and Donna Thorland and directed by Peter Weller (Longmire, Sons of Anarchy), the Boy “declares that on Black Sunday, hell will overtake Salem,” according to the official synopsis.
“Only those in the mansion will survive, and Mary is to be his bride in the new world. Tensions between the Boy and the Sentinel grow. Tituba uses her magic to bring Alden and Mary together. Mercy demands Hathorne rid Salem of Isaac. Meanwhile, Anne takes Gloriana in and performs black magic to take Gloriana’s child for herself.”
Salem “boldly re-imagines the infamous 17th century witch trials in colonial Massachusetts in a world where witches are real, but they are not who or what they seem,” reads the series overview.
“The third season of Salem dawns with the triumph of the witches’ plan to remake the New World by bringing the devil to earth and making Salem his capital. But the devil is a liar, and instead of a New World free from murderous Puritan hypocrisy, his own plan will bring nothing but death and slavery with the ultimate aim of leading humanity to destroy itself. And there’s only one person on earth who can beat the devil — the very witch that birthed him, his mother, Mary Sibley. The only problem is—she’s dead. Or is she?”
You can watch the season 3 overview trailer here:
Salem was created by writers Brannon Braga and Adam Simon. Salem. The series stars Janet Montgomery (Human Target, Made in Jersey), Shane West (Nikita, ER), Seth Gabel (Arrow, Fringe), Ashley Madekwe (Revenge), Tamzin Merchant (Jane Eyre), Elise Eberle (The Astronaut Farmer) and Iddo Goldberg (Mob City). New to the cast of Salem this season are Grammy-awarded nominated artist Marilyn Manson and Samuel Roukin (TURN: Washington’s Spies).
Salem season 3 airs every Wednesday, at 9pm ET/PT on WGN.