Azazel is variously described by his close friends and ancient texts as a fallen angel, a demon, and sometimes a being with a status again to God (Yaweh).
The name Azazel can be traced back to the Babylonian god NinAzu. he returned the tables of destiny, on which were engraved the destinies of the Universe, the Earth, and everything on it, to the King of the Gods. It is also said that the possession of these tablets apparently either gave the owner knowledge of, and power over the future. (Hello Sammy!).
In Jewish history he is more a symbol or representation of “the spirit of desolation and ruin, the source of all impurity” and is associated with sacrifices made on the Day of Atonement (sacrifices of goats; Azael is the word translated as "scapegoat" in the King James Version of the Bible.). This is significant given the ongoing themes of sacrifice in Supernatural.
His name is used derogatorily, as in lekh la-Azazel ("go to Azazel"), as in "go to hell". It is worth noting in the context of our Demon, that Azazel is often taken to represent a fiery hell.
In Islamic demonology, he is a djinn who is cast out of Heaven for refusing to worship Adam saying Why should the son of fire fall down before a son of clay?
Again with the fire.
One of the main texts to chronicle Azazel is the Book of Enoch which dates to about 200BC. The Book of Enoch is a title given to several works that attribute themselves to Enoch, who is the great-grandfather of Noah. Interestingly, Enoch was the son of Jared (Coincidence my ass???).
Azazel is the leader of the Watchers (divine beings, possibly angels, maybe shoutout to the Jossverse) who educated humankind in heavenly secrets that lead humankind to sin.
In some versions the Watchers seduce human women, in others it’s the women doing the seducing. Some texts indicate that it was the act of falling in love with human women that lead to some angels being cast from heaven (party poopers!). Whoever bought the first drink, the shagging resulted in children – oft referred to as Nephilim.
" It was then, and later too, that the Nephilim appeared on earth - when the divine beings cohabited with the daughters of men, who bore them offspring. They were the heroes of old, the men of renown." - Genesis 6:1-4
These offspring are often referred to as giants - being really tall and having ginormous porn hands (I’m just saying. Jared again)
The story goes that eventually God got pissed and sent his angels to put a stop to this, imprisoning the Watchers, and causing the children (Nephilim) to kill each other. He also sent the Flood (you know, Noah and the ark etc) to cleanse the Earth. The ghosts of the dead Nephilim become vengeful spiritd.
In some versions the Watchers (demons/fallen angels) are to be imprisoned til the day of their judgment and then led off to the abyss of fire (whatever happened to “guilty toil proven innocent?” I’m just saying). Sometimes this fire is taken to be Azazel himself.
Also of note in the Book of Enoch
- White is the color of moral purity (Mary and Jess and their nightgowns)
- Black color of sin and contamination of the fallen angels (Black eyes of the demon children)
- Red is the colour of martyrdom (hello John and his red candles)
Azazel in Literature (ok these are a bit of a stretch)
Percy Bysshe Shelly wrote a poem Alastor or The Spirit of Solitude, which warned idealists that if they are always searching for an ideal love, the world will be their tormentor, and they will die a lonely death. An alastor is a tormenting spirit or a Nemesis. Alastor is known to Zoroaster as the "executioner," and to Origin as Azazel. In the infernal hierarchy, he is the Nemesis. Again this sets up the Demon as being in opposition to Love (ie Mary and Jess)
William Blake wrote a poem called Tiriel, which is about the decline of and aged king and tyrant-father. In the poem the King calls down curses on his sons whom he has summoned to observe their mother’s death. The sons bury their mother, but declare that they have tired of their father’s tyranny and now will rebel against it. So Tiriel sets off wandering into the mountains. Sound a little bit Winchester like? Meh, maybe not. Anyway in the poem Zazel is the name of Tiriel’s (dum, dum, dum) brother. Is John closer to the Demon than we know?
Azazel in Psychology
Of course there's the whole school of thought that demons are really an aspect of our own subconscious, a manifestation of the collective unconscious. (*waves to Jung*). So let's imagine that Mary died in a house fire, and the Demon is a manifestation of John's guilt over her death...