He is credited as being in the heavenly hierarchies as well as being among the fallen angels. In the Chronicles of Jerahmeel Samael is described as being “chief of the Satans.” Even though this work depicted him as being one of the most wickest angels, he is nevertheless said to be an angel in the service of the Lord.
Angel of death
The evil side of Samael is depicted in Jewish lore. He is the angel of death, and collector of Moses’ soul. In the Haggadah Samael is the guardian of Jacob’s brother Esau. This presents Samael as a wicked angel because Esau is wicked only thinking of worldly things and drawn to worship in places of idolatry.
In the Zohar
Samael in the Zohar is associated with Amalek, the god of the physical world. The text describes Samael as Amalek’s occult name. The Zohar describes Samael as meaning “poison of God.” A. E. Waite in his work The Holy Kabbalah defines Samael as the “severity of God” and also equates him with Satan and the Serpent, Lilith being his bride. In Moncure Daniel Conway’s Demonology and Devil-Lore, Samael, functioning as the left hand of God, is consort of both the voluptuous maiden Naamah and the arch-she-devil Lilith.
In the Gnostic text Apocryphon of John discovered amidst the Hag Hammadi manuscripts, Samael is another name given for the demiurge who created the material world thus associating him with the Zohar text which links him to the physical world. Later in the grimoiric tradition Samael is spelled Sam-ael, for magickal purposes. In the Heptameron he is described as an angel. He is said to reign over Monday and Tuesday.
He appears in the 1505 version of “Faustbuch” entitled Magiae Naturalis et Innatural, where he is identified with the element of fire. Henry Cornelius Agrippa associated him with Urieus, a form of Oriens, guardian of the East. Mathers makes the same association in his edition of the Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage. Samael also appears in Mathers’ translation of the Grimoire of Armedal, and in this volume the spirit’s character remains confused since he is identified as both a fallen angel and a heavenly being. As a fallen angel he teaches magic, necromancy, also knowing the dangerous parts of necromancy to avoid, and occult sciences. Strangely he also teaches jurisprudence.
Some think that it is almost inconceivable that Gregory I (90-604), Saint Gregory, named Samael among the seven archangels.
Even though it is possible that Gregory I might not have know all of the Jewish lore surrounding Samael his declaration may not be as inconceivable as it initially appears. Samael before he fell may have been an archangel, The Chronicles of Jerahmeel described Samael as being “chief of the Satans” indicating he was an angel of great status, also one of the most wickedest. In Moncure Daniel Conway’s Demonology and Devil-Lore, Samael, functioning as the left hand of God, is consort of both the voluptuous maiden Naamah and the arch-she-devil Lilith.
This gives Samael and Lilith a commonality: both are renegades of God. A. E. Waite in his work The Holy Kabbalah defines Samael as the “severity of God” and also equates him with Satan and the Serpent. Satan and the Serpent are synonymous with the Devil, practically generally agreed to. God cast out the Devil for his pride by not honoring man. Lilith was cast out for about the same reason, as wife of Adam she demanded equality.
But the association of Lilith and Samael is described further in Hebrew lore. In the Song of Songs (1:7) one reads that God created both the Sun and Moon and they burned equally brightly. But the Sun and Moon argued over their brightness, so to dismiss this argument God sent the Moon away. When the Moon was separated from the Sun she did not shine as brightly.
According to the Zohar the Sun rightfully rules the day and the Moon rightfully rules the night thus creating two luminaries. The luminaries descending from above are the “luminaries of light” while the luminaries from below are the “luminaries of fire.” (Zohar I 20b)
In further Zoharic myths the Moon did not voluntarily separate and diminish herself but was commanded to do so by God which caused a k’lifah (or the husk of evil) the birth of Lilith. Thus Lilith is generally depicted as a beautiful woman from the naval up but as a flame of fire from the naval down. This is Lilith’s energy represented by the diminishment of the Moon causing the dark and fiery side of night.
In both Jewish and occult lore Lilith represents sexuality; she is the seducer of men. According to Jewish lore this is evil. Lilith is evil. But her evil in occultism becomes an asset. This is seen in The Rape of Eve where thee filth of Lilith can be explicitly used.
The Zohar associates Lilith and Samael when speaking of the quaternion marriage. The quaternion marriage involved two couples; God and Shekina above and Samael and Lilith below. But it is alleged that following the destruction of the temple that Shekina descended to be with her flock or people while her handmaiden Lilith ascended to become the consort of God, thus showing her importance.
In the Kabbalah
Samael (Hebrew SMAL, “The Liars”) in Kabbalistic tradition are the Qlippoth or demonic powers associated with Hod, the eighth Sephirah of the Tree of Life. In their traditional appearance is that of dull-coloreddogs with demon-like heads. The cortex is Theuniel, Kingdom of Shells, under the archdemon Adramelek.
Samael, The Desolation of God or the Left Hand, is the very opposite of Hod, the absolute will of God, in that the Qlippoth represents the complete desolation of a fallen or failed creation. The outer form Theuniel is also referred to as the Filthy Wailing Ones of God. Adramelek, name means is considered a powerful king or demon. Some say he is more ambitious than Satan. Adramelek was synonymous to the Hebrew god Moloch (see Molech) to whom human sacrifices were made. A.G.H.
Biedermnn, Hans. Dictionary of Symbolism: Cultural Icons & the Meanings Behind Them.Transl. by James Greer, John Michael. The New Encyclopedia of the Occult. St. Paul, MN, Llewellyn Worldwide. p. 416
Samael. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qliphoth#Samael>.Adramelek. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adrammelech>.
Greer, John Michael. The New Encyclopedia of the Occult. St. Paul, MN, Llewellyn Worldwide. p. 416