With Hereditary’s reign of terror now fully upon us (and critics near-unanimously dubbing it 2018’s scariest film), buzz about its terrifying ending has plenty of viewers asking: “Who the hell is Paimon?”
Spoilers for Hereditary follow below.
Paimon, for the non-occult folks reading, is described by occult texts as one of the kings of Hell — a detail that Hereditary brings fully into focus toward the end of the film when it’s revealed that Ellen, the family’s recently departed matriarch, was involved in apparent devil worship.
Hereditary’s writer and director Ari Aster explained to Inverse’s Eric Francisco by phone why he picked this spirit in particular to serve the film’s mythology.
“I wanted to avoid the devil because it’s just been done so many times,” he said. “I went into research and I just looked for a demon in demonology, and Paimon struck me as one that made sense. Ultimately, I have no ties the occult, and I’ve heard from a few sources that even Paimon is considered passé and an obvious choice — among some occultists, I mean.”
According to Aleister Crowley’s The Goetia: The Lesser Key of Solomon as “a great king, and very obedient unto Lucifer.” Sounds like he’s also a bit of a nerd, per the text:
This Spirit can teach all Arts and Sciences, and other secret things. He can discover unto thee what the Earth is, and what holdeth it up in the Waters; and what Mind is, and where it is; or any other thing thou mayest desire to know. He giveth Dignity, and confirmeth the same. He bindeth or maketh any man subject unto the Magician if he so desire it. He giveth good Familiars, and such as can teach all Arts.
For all the hype around Paimon in the film, Aster told Inverse that his inclusion in the narrative actually “came in pretty late” in the script-writing process. So for those occult stans who hoped there was some greater reason Hereditary’s cult worshipped Paimon in particular, that’s left mostly up to viewers.