The Grigori (from Greek egrḗgoroi, "The Watchers") are a group of fallen angels described in biblical apocrypha, who mated with women, giving rise to a race of hybrids known as the Nephilim—called giants in Book of Genesis 6:4. References to Grigori appear in the Book of Enoch and Book of Jubilees. In Hebrew, they are known as the Irin, "Watchers," also mentioned in the Book of Daniel (chapter 4).
A modern view of the Grigori appears in some versions of Italian witchcraft, in which they are said to come from ancient stellar lore.
The word "grigori" is a transliteration of the Greek word, ἐγρήγοροι (egrḗgoroi), meaning "watchers." This word appears in the Septuagint translation of the Book of Lamentations, as well as the Book of Jubilees and the Book of Enoch.
According to the Book of Enoch, the Watchers were angels apparently dispatched to Earth to watch over the people. Soon, they began to lust for the human women they saw, and at the prodding of their leader, Samyaza, they defected en masse to marry and live among humanity. The children produced by these relationships are the Nephilim, savage giants who pillaged the earth and endangered humanity.
The Book of Enoch states that there were two-hundred Grigori, but only their leaders are identified and named:
These are the names of their chiefs: Samyaza, who was their leader, Urakabarameel, Akibeel, Tamiel, Ramuel, Danel, Azkeel, Saraknyal, Asael, Armers, Batraal, Anane, Zavebe, Samsaveel, Ertael, Turel, Yomyael, Azazyel (also known as Azazel). These were the prefects of the two hundred angels, and the remainder were all with them (Enoch 7:9).
Samyaza, Azazel, and the others become corrupt, and taught their human hosts to make metal weapons, cosmetics, and other necessities of civilization that had been kept secret. But the people are dying and cry to the heavens for help. God sends the Great Flood to rid the earth of the Nephilim, but sends Uriel to warn Noah, so as not to eradicate the human race. The Grigori are bound "in the valleys of the Earth" until Judgment Day (Jude 1:6)
The Watchers' story in Enoch is derived from Genesis chapter 6. Verses 1-4 describe the "Origin of the Nephilim" and mention the "Sons of God" who beget them:
When men began to multiply on earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of heaven saw how beautiful the daughters of man were, and so they took for their wives as many of them as they chose. Then the Lord said: "My spirit shall not remain in man forever, since he is but flesh. His days shall comprise one hundred and twenty years." At that time the Nephilim appeared on earth (as well as later), after the sons of heaven had intercourse with the daughters of man, who bore them sons. They were the heroes of old, the men of renown (Genesis 6:1-4).
Here, the "sons of heaven" are given no specific name or function; they could represent fallen angels, or simply heavenly beings that mate with women.
The Book of Jubilees adds further details about the Watchers. While "Watchers," or "Sentinels," are mentioned alongside the "holy ones" in the Book of Daniel, it is doubtful they have any connection to the Grigori. The angels were fairly popular in Jewish folklore, which often describes them as looking like large human beings that never sleep and remain forever silent. While there are good and bad Watchers, most stories revolve around the evil ones that fell from grace when they took "the daughters of man" as their mates.
Eliphas Lévi, in Le Grand Arcane ("The Great Mystery," 1868) identifies "egregors" (sic) with the tradition concerning the fathers of the nephilim, describing them as "terrible beings" that "crush us without pity because they are unaware of our existence."
In the early stellar cults of Mesopotamia, there were four "royal" Stars (known as Lords) that were called the Watchers. Each one of these stars "ruled" over one of the four cardinal points common to Astrology. This particular system would date from approximately 3000 B.C.E. The star Aldebaran, when it marked the Vernal Equinox, held the position of Watcher of the East. Regulus, marking the Summer Solstice, was Watcher of the South. Antares, marking the Autumn Equinox, was Watcher of the West. Fomalhaut, marking the Winter Solstice, was Watcher of the North.
In some witchcraft and Wiccan systems, the Watchers are beings who guard portals linking worlds together. Within such systems, they are viewed as a spiritual race, a set of deities, or as spirits of the four elements. The Watchers are associated with the four quarters of north, east, south, and west. In some Traditions, the Watchers are associated with the four elements: Earth, air, fire, and water. They are also linked to each solstice and equinox, as well as to a specific star.
In the star myths, the Watchers themselves were depicted as gods who guarded the Heavens and the Earth. Their nature, as well as their "rank," was altered by the successive lunar and solar cults that replaced the older stellar cults. Eventually the Greeks reduced the Watchers to the gods of the four winds. Christian theologians, in their attempts to discredit pagan beliefs, joined the Watchers to an evil class of fallen angels known as the principalities of the air. St. Paul, in the New Testament, calls the Fallen Angels "principalities:" "for we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers...against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in High Places." It was also St. Paul who called Satan "The prince of power of the air," and thus made the connection of Satan (himself connected to "a star," Isiah 14: 12 14) and etheric beings, for they were later known as demons and as principalities of the Air.
Earlier mystical Hebrew sects organized the Watchers into an Archangel hierarchy. According to this system the Watchers were ruled over by four great Watchers known as Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, and Auriel. In the Old Testament (Daniel 4: 13 17), there is reference made to the Irin, or Watchers, which appear to be an order of angels. In early Hebrew lore, the Irin were a high order of angels that sat on the supreme Judgment Council of the Heavenly Court. In the Apocryphal Books of Enoch and Jubilees, the Watchers were were sent to Earth to teach law and justice to humankind. The most common associations found in various texts on Medieval magic regarding the Watchers are as follows:
1. Araqiel: Taught the signs of the earth. 2. Armaros: Taught the resolving of enchantments. 3. Azazel: Taught the art of cosmetics. 4. Barqel: Taught astrology. 5. Ezequeel: Taught the knowledge of the clouds. 6. Gadreel: Taught the making of weapons of war. 7. Kokabeel: Taught the mystery of the Stars. 8. Penemue: Taught writing. 9. Sarie: Taught the knowledge of the Moon. 10. Semjaza: Taught Herbal enchantments. 11. Shamshiel: Taught the signs of the Sun.
It is these same angels who are referred to as the Sons of God in the Book of Genesis. According to Christian mythology, their "sins" filled the Earth with violence and the world was destroyed as a result of their intervention. This, of course, is the Biblical account and is not reflective of modern Witchcraft/Wiccan beliefs or tenets. Richard Cavendish, in his book, The Powers of Evil, makes references to the possibilities of the Giants mentioned in Genesis 6:4, being the Giants or Titans of Greek Mythology. He also lists the Watchers as the fallen angels which magicians call forth in ceremonial magic. Cavendish mentions that the Watchers were so named because they were stars, the "eyes of night."
Clement of Alexandria, influenced by Hellenistic cosmology, attributed the movement of the Stars and the control of the four elements to angelic beings.
Cardinal Newman, writing in the mid 1800s, proposed that certain angels existed who were neither totally good nor evil, and had only "partially fallen" from the Heavens.
In many Witchcraft/Wiccan traditions, the Watchers are not only the guardians of the portals to other realms, but also protectors of the ritual circle, and witnesses to rites. Each of the ruling Watchers oversees a Watchtower, which is now a portal marking one of the four quarters of the ritual circle. In Ancient times, a "Tower" was a military fighting unit, and a "Watchtower" was a defending home unit, similar to a National Guard.
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