Azazello's Cream


In the apocryphal Book of Enoch of the Old Testament, Azazel was the leader of the grigori, a group of fallen angels who mated with mortal women, giving rise to a race of giants, known as the Nephilim. Azazel is particularly noteworthy among the grigori because it was he who taught men how to make weapons of war, as well as teaching women how to make and wear cosmetics. Thanks to Azazel women learned the «sinful art» of painting their faces, so it is clear why he delivers the cream which has the effect of making Margarita young again. Eventually, Azazel's teachings created such iniquity that God decided to destroy all life on Earth with Noah's Flood.

Azazel is a common demonic character in many religions. In the jewish tradition Azazel was a demon living in the wilderness. This jewish tradition got followers in Algeria and Morocco. In islam, Azazel is a Dzhin thrown out of heaven because he refused to worship Adam and because he was driven by the lust for mortal girls.

In modern Hebrew the expression «go to azazel» means as much as «drop dead». Objects that «went to azazel», are broke and irreparable. And time, money or efforts that «went to azazel» are forever lost. In short, azazel is always a negative destination.

She dropped the box right on her watch crystal

Margarita begins having problems with the fourth dimension - time. Soon she will find herself in the fifth dimension.

As if a needle had been snatched from her brain

After having applied Azazello's cream, Margarita feels easing the pain in her temple which started after her meeting with Azazello and it feels «as if a needle had been snatched from her brain». This needle is also seen with Berlioz in the first chapter and several other places in the novel when humans who come into contact with Woland or one of his retinue like, for instance, Stefan (Styopa) Bogdanovich Likhodeev in Chapter 7 and Nikanor Ivanovich in Chapter 9.

A thundering virtuoso waltz

The action is again accompanied by music, but this time the music is not specified. Bulgakov didn't give any indications as on what musical piece we should imagine to accompany Margarita's transformation into a witch.

A squatting dance

Most people know this dance, though not by its Russian name: вприсядку [vprisyadku] means squatting, in the context of the typical Russian dance involving crouching on one leg with the other out straight, alternating from one leg to the other in a crouching position.

A sweeping broom, bristles up

The word Bulgakov uses for the broom on which Margarita flies away is not the typical witch's broom as we know it from stories. In most western presentations a witch's broom is made of twigs, tied together on a stem. The name of this kind of broom in Russian is веник [vyenik]. But in the novel Margarita flies on an ordinary flat-headed broom, a щетка [shchetka].

Moreover, she did not fly in the traditional way of the witches on the broom. Usually flying witches are depicted with the twigs of the broom behind them. But Margarita had the broom «щетиной вверх» [shchetnoy vverkh] or in the reverse way, «with the bristles up».

A shchetka and a vyenik
A shchetka and a vyenik

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