Page 26. " Nothing about him looked particularly demonic, at least by classical standards. "
The Temptation of St. Anthony by Martin Schöngauer c. 1480-90. Engraving. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Public DomainThe Temptation of St. Anthony by Martin Schöngauer c. 1480-90. Engraving. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Evil, malevolent spirits, demons appear in various forms across many religions.

In the Bible, they are inhabitants of Hell and the Devil’s followers. They are to Satan what angels are to God. In some cases they are fallen angels, as was Satan himself.

Neil Gaiman's other work of the period, The Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes, features a particularly vast and fearsome horde of demons.

Demon statue
Public DomainDemon statue - Credit: metton
Page 26. " wondering vaguely who Moey and Chandon were "
Moet et Chandon_Bottle with Diamonds!
Creative Commons AttributionMoet et Chandon_Bottle with Diamonds! - Credit: bramus!/Bram Van Damme

One of the world’s largest champagne brands, Moët et Chandon is named for founder Claude Moët. The name Chandon was added after the company was turned over to Moët’s son, Victor, and his son-in-law, Pierre-Gabriel Chandon. Moët is often pronounced mo-way as it is seen as a French name; however, as Claude Moët was Dutch, the correct pronunciation is mo-wett or m-wet.

Crowley’s pondering stems from the lyrics of the Queen song "Killer Queen": the first line is “She keeps Moët et Chandon in a pretty cabinet”. Lead singer Freddie Mercury opts for the incorrect "French" pronunciation, thereby confusing the sophisticated Crowley.  

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Page 26. " The car he was driving was a 1926 black Bentley "
1926 Bentley
Public Domain1926 Bentley - Credit: Bjenks
Page 31. " as the familiar strains of Queen washed over him "

Queen was a hugely successful British rock band noted for their brazen style and fusion of rock, jazz, opera and dance music. Of all their songs, "Bohemian Rhapsody" is perhaps the best known and has often been credited as one of the greatest songs of all time:

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Page 32. " suddenly they spring Armageddon on you "
Fall of Rebel Angels
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeFall of Rebel Angels - Credit: Pieter Breugel

 Armageddon is the place where Good and Evil clash for the last time in the Apocalypse.

Then the sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up, so that the way of the kings from the east might be prepared. And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs coming out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.

“Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame.”

And they gathered them together to the place called in Hebrew, Armageddon. 

Then the seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, “It is done!” And there were noises and thunderings and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such a mighty and great earthquake as had not occurred since men were on the earth. Now the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. And great Babylon was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of His wrath. Then every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. And great hail from heaven fell upon men, each hailstone about the weight of a talent. Men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail, since that plague was exceedingly great.

Revelation 16:12-21

Page 33. " free James Bond bullet-hole-in-the-windscreen transfers "
You Only Live Twice
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeYou Only Live Twice - Credit: x-ray delta one / James Vaughan

 James Bond, the ultimate British spy, is mentioned a few times in the novel and it seems even Crowley enjoyed the character. The Bond movie released in the year 1967 was You Only Live Twice, with Sean Connery in the title role.

        

Page 37. " Spawn of Satan, and Lord of Darkness "
Lucifer, King of Hell, engraving by Gustave Doré illustrating Canto XXXIV of Divine Comedy, Inferno, by Dante Alighieri.
Public DomainLucifer, King of Hell, engraving by Gustave Doré illustrating Canto XXXIV of Divine Comedy, Inferno, by Dante Alighieri. - Credit: Paul Gustave Doré, 1832-1883 (artist); Dante Alighieri, 1265-1321 (creator)

 Satan, the devil of Christian, Islamic and Hebrew belief, comes from the Hebrew word ha-satan (the accuser). He was God’s spy, a member of the divine court tasked with gathering information.

He did not make evil himself, but rather illuminated and provoked evil in mankind:

And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? and still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause.

 And Satan answered the LORD, and said, Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life. But put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face.

Job 2:3-5

Page 37. " Fancy me holding the Antichrist "
the Antichrist
Creative Commons Attribution Share Alikethe Antichrist - Credit: Trevor Blake

The Antichrist is seen as the false Christ, an opponent to the true Messiah who will lead people astray instead of leading them to Heaven.

Page 38. " looking sort of, though not really, like Winston Churchill. "
Winston Churchill
Public DomainWinston Churchill - Credit: British Government

Prime Minister of Great Britain, 1940-1945 and 1951-1955, Winston Churchill is regarded as the greatest British statesman of the 20th century and is celebrated for his role in World War II.

 

 

Page 41. " I normally have to help with the White Elephant "

The White Elephant stall at an English village fête is a jumble stall. People bring surplus and unwanted household goods – or "white elephants" – and they are sold for charity.

The term stems from Thailand and Burma where the white elephant was seen as a sacred animal and was not used for labour, thus could not pay for the cost of its maintenance. Hence a "White Elephant" is something that costs more to maintain than it is worth.

The term is also used for a party game in the USA, the White Elephant Gift Exchange, where players compete against each other for a selection of gifts.

Page 42. " He’d seen a Ken Russell film once "
Ken at premiere of the Louse
GNU Free Documentation LicenseKen at premiere of the Louse - Credit: DiVicenzo

British director and screenwriter Ken Russell is known for his controversial style, especially with regard to sexuality and the Church. His 1971 film The Devils, based on Aldous Huxley's book The Devils of Loudun, features possessed nuns stripping off and taking part in a mass orgy with a statue of Christ.  The film was banned or heavily edited in most countries.

   

Explicit Clip - Warning: May Offend

Page 44. " 'Wormwood’s a nice name,' said the nun, remembering her classics. 'Or Damien. Damien’s very popular.' "

Damien is the young Antichrist in the cult horror classic The Omen. The son of the devil is switched with the baby of a prominent American diplomat, and raised by a demonic nanny and a hound of hell. Good Omens parodies all these elements.

Damian comes from the ancient Greek for "tamer".  St Damian was a 3rd century Christian martyr, making the name a fine choice for a nun.

Wormwood is mentioned in the book of Revelation as an angel or star that falls from the skies before the horsemen ride.  He also appears as a demon in C.S. Lewis's religious novel The Screwtape Letters, perhaps the classic referred to here.

 

       

Page 48. " Crowley had got a commendation for the Spanish Inquisition. "

The Tribunal of the Holy Office of the Inquisition, or Spanish Inquisition, was set up in 1478 to enforce Catholic orthodoxy amongst recent converts, particularly Jews and Muslims who had been coerced into Christianity.

It became a vehicle for widescale repression, imprisonment and torture by the Spanish monarchy, targeting a wide range of actual and supposed crimes.  It was finally abolished in 1834.

Page 48. " That Hieronymous Bosch. What a weirdo. "
Portrait of Jheronimus Bosch (‘Jeronimus Bos painctre’). Red and black crayon. From Recueil d’Arras (fol. 275). Arras, Bibliothèque Municipale.
Public Domain Jheronimus Bosch

 Hieronymous Bosch was a 15th-century Dutch artist known for his enigmatic paintings featuring religious and demonic imagery. Crowley is likely comparing the complexities and macabre imagery of the illustrations with the atrocities of the Spanish Inquisition.

The Garden of Earthly Delights.
Public DomainThe Garden of Earthly Delights. - Credit: Hieronymous Bosch