OF THE DEMON
According to some societies, all the affairs of
life are supposed to be under the control of spirits,
each ruling a certain "element" or even
object, and themselves in subjection to a greater
spirit. For example, the Inuit are said to believe
in spirits of the sea, earth and sky, the winds,
the clouds and everything in nature. Every cove
of the seashore, every point, every island and prominent
rock has its guardian spirit. All are potentially
of the malignant type, to be propitiated by an appeal
to knowledge of the supernatural. By the thousands
they accompany travelers, seeking them out from
their places in the elements.
The Lesser Key of Solomon
In ancient Babylon, demonology had an influence
on even the most mundane elements of life, from
petty annoyances to the emotions of love and hatred.
The numerous demonic spirits were given charge over
various parts of the human body, one for the head,
one for the neck, and so on. In present-day Egypt,
the ubiquitous jinn are believed to be so densely
distributed that acts such as pouring water unto
the ground are accompanied by seeking the permission
of a potentially dampened spirit.
Greek philosophers such as Porphyry, who claimed
influence from Platonism, and the fathers of the
Christian Church, held that the world was pervaded
with spirits, the latter of whom advanced the belief
that demons received the worship directed at pagan
While historical Judaism never "officially"
recognized a rigid set of doctrines about demons,
many scholars believe that its post-exilic concepts
of eschatology, angelology, and demonology were
influenced by Zoroastrianism. Some, however, believe
that these concepts were received as part of the
Kabbalistic tradition passed down from Adam, Noah,
and the Hebrew patriarchs.
The Talmud declares that there are 7,405,926 demons,
divided in 72 companies. Indeed, some commentators
hold that Satan was a prosecutor for God in early
Judaism, and a somewhat minor angel at that.While
most people believe that Lucifer and Satan are different
names for the same being, not all scholars subscribe
to this view.
There is more than one instance where demons are
said to have come to be, as seen by the sins of
the Watchers and the Grigori, of Lilith leaving
Adam, of demons such as vampires, the demon-locusts
from the Book of Revelation, impure spirits in Jewish
folklore such as the dybbuk and of wicked humans
that have become demons as well.
In Islam, the devil Iblis (Satan and/or Lucifer
in Christianity) was not an angel, but of a different
kind, the jinn. (Humans are created from earth,
Angels from light, and jinn from fire). The jinn
though, are not necessarily evil; they could be
good doers or sinners just like humans. Since the
jinn and humans are the only kinds of creation who
have the will to choose, the followers of Iblis
could be jinn or human. The angels, on the other
hand, are sinless and only obey the will of God.
In the Qur'an, when God ordered those witnessing
the creation of Adam to kneel before him (before
Adam), Iblis refused to do so and was therefore
damned for refusal to obey God's will.
Some branches of Buddhism affirm the existence
of Hells peopled by demons who torment sinners and
tempt mortals to sin, or who seek to thwart their
enlightenment, with a demon named Mara as chief
tempter. Most of these "demons" are considered
to be representations of mental obstructions. Hinduism
contains traditions of combats between its gods
and various adversaries, such as the combat of Indra
and the asura Vritra.
In Chaldean mythology the seven evil deities were
known as shedu, meaning storm-demons. They were
represented in winged bull form, derived from the
colossal bulls used as protective genii of royal
palaces, the name "shed" assumed also
the meaning of a propitious genius in Babylonian
It was from Chaldea that the name "shedu"
came to the Israelites, and so the writers of the
Tanach applied the word as a dylogism to the Canaanite
deities in the two passages quoted. But they also
spoke of "the destroyer" (Exodus xii.
23) as a demon whose malignant effect upon the houses
of the Israelites was to be warded off by the blood
of the paschal sacrifice sprinkled upon the lintel
and the door-post (a corresponding pagan talisman
is mentioned in Isaiah lvii. 8). In II Samuel xxiv;
16 and II Chronicles xxi. 15 the pestilence-dealing
demon is called "the destroying angel"
(compare "the angel of the Lord" in II
Kings xix. 35; Isaiah xxxvii. 36), because, although
they are demons, these "evil messengers"
(Psalms lxxviii. 49; A. V. "evil angels")
do only the bidding of God; they are the agents
of His divine wrath.
There are indications that popular Hebrew mythology
ascribed to the demons a certain independence, a
malevolent character of their own, because they
are believed to come forth, not from the heavenly
abode of God, but from the nether world (compare
Isaiah xxxviii. 11 with Job xiv. 13; Psalms xvi.
10, xlix. 16, cxxxix. 8).
Hebrew demons were workers of harm. To them were
ascribed the various diseases, particularly such
as affect the brain and the inner parts. Hence there
was a fear of "Shabriri" (lit. "dazzling
glare"), the demon of blindness, who rests
on uncovered water at night and strikes those with
blindness who drink of it; also mentioned were the
spirit of catalepsy and the spirit of headache,
the demon of epilepsy, and the spirit of nightmare.
These demons were supposed to enter the body and
cause the disease while overwhelming or "seizing"
the victim (hence "seizure"). To cure
such diseases it was necessary to draw out the evil
demons by certain incantations and talismanic performances,
in which the Essenes excelled. Josephus, who speaks
of demons as "spirits of the wicked which enter
into men that are alive and kill them", but
which can be driven out by a certain root, witnessed
such a performance in the presence of the Emperor
Vespasian, and ascribed its origin to King Solomon.
In some rabbinic sources, the demons were believed
to be under the dominion of a king or chief, either
Asmodai (Targ. to Eccl. i. 13; Pes. 110a; Yer. Shek.
49b) or, in the older Haggadah, Samael ("the
angel of death"), who kills by his deadly poison,
and is called "chief of the devils". Occasionally
a demon is called "satan": "Stand
not in the way of an ox when coming from the pasture,
for Satan dances between his horns".
According to some texts, the queen of demons is
Lilith, pictured with wings and long flowing hair,
and called the "mother of Ahriman" (B.
B. 73b; 'Er. 100b; Nid. 24b). "When Adam, doing
penance for his sin, separated from Eve for 130
years, he, by impure desire, caused the earth to
be filled with demons, or shedim, lilin, and evil
spirits" (Gen. R. xx.; 'Er. 18b.)
Demonology never became an essential feature of
Jewish theology. The reality of demons was never
questioned by the Talmudists and late rabbis; most
accepted their existence as a fact. Nor did most
of the medieval thinkers question their reality.
Only rationalists like Maimonides and Abraham ibn
Ezra, clearly denied their existence. Their point
of view eventually became the mainstream Jewish
Rabbinical demonology has three classes of, demons,
though they are scarcely separable one from another.
There were the shedim, the mazziaim ("harmers"),
and the ruiin ("evil spirits"). Besides
these there were lilin ("night spirits"),("shade",
or "evening spirits"), ("midday spirits"),
and ("morning spirits"), as well as the
"demons that bring famine" and "such
as cause storm and earthquake" (Targ. Yer.
to Deuteronomy xxxii. 24 and Numbers vi. 24; Targ.
to Cant. iii. 8, iv. 6; Eccl. ii. 5; Ps. xci. 5,
In the New Testament and Christianity
"Demon" has a number of meanings, all
related to the idea of a spirit that inhabited a
place, or that accompanied a person. Whether such
a daemon was benevolent or malevolent, the Greek
word meant something different from the later medieval
notions of 'demon', and scholars debate the time
in which first century usage by Jews and Christians
in its original Greek sense became transformed to
the later medieval sense. It should be noted that
some denominations asserting Christian faith also
include, exclusively or otherwise, fallen angels
as de facto demons; this definition also covers
the "sons of God" described in Genesis
who abandoned their posts in heaven to mate with
human women on Earth before the Deluge (Genesis
6:2, 4, also see Nephilim).
In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus casts out many demons,
or evil spirits, from those who are afflicted with
various ailments (such as epileptic seizures). The
imagery is very clear: Jesus is far superior to
the power of demons over the beings that they inhabit,
and he is able to free these victims by commanding
and casting out the demons, by binding them, and
forbidding them to return. Jesus also apparently
lends this power to some of his disciples, who rejoice
at their new found ability to cast out all demons.
By way of contrast, in the book of Acts a group
of Judaistic exorcists known as the sons of Sceva
try to cast out a very powerful spirit without believing
in or knowing Jesus, but fail with disastrous consequences.
However Jesus himself never fails to vanquish a
demon, no matter how powerful (see the account of
the demon-possessed man at Gerasim), and even defeats
Satan in the wilderness (see Gospel of Matthew).
There is a description in the Book of Revelation
12:7-17 of a battle between God's army and Satan's
followers, and their subsequent expulsion from Heaven
to earth to persecute humans — although this
event is related as being foretold and taking place
in the future. In Luke 10:18 it is mentioned that
a power granted by Jesus to control demons made
Satan "fall like lightning from heaven."
Augustine of Hippo's reading of Plotinus, in The
City of God (ch.11) is ambiguous as to whether daemons
had become 'demonized' by the early 5th century:
"He [Plotinus] also states that the blessed
are called in Greek eudaimones, because they are
good souls, that is to say, good demons, confirming
his opinion that the souls of men are demons.
The contemporary Roman Catholic Church unequivocally
teaches that angels and demons are real personal
beings, not just symbolic devices. The Catholic
Church has a cadre of officially sanctioned exorcists
which perform many exorcisms each year. The exorcists
of the Catholic Church teach that demons attack
humans continually but that afflicted persons can
be effectively healed and protected either by the
formal rite of exorcism, authorized to be performed
only by bishops and those they designate, or by
prayers of deliverance which any Christian can offer
for themselves or others.
Building upon the few references to daemons in the
New Testament, especially the visionary poetry of
the Apocalypse of John, Christian writers of apocrypha
from the 2nd century onwards created a more complicated
tapestry of beliefs about "demons" that
was largely independent of Christian scripture.
War in Heaven
According to the Bible, the fall of the Adversary
is portrayed in Isaiah 14:12-14 and Ezekiel 28:12-19.
However, the connection between Isaiah 14:12-14
and the fall is mostly based on mistranslation and
tradition. The King James Version (KJV), popular
among most Christian sects, reads:
"How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer,
son of the morning! [how] art thou cut down to the
ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou
hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven,
I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I
will sit also upon the mount of the congregation,
in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the
heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High"
The word "Lucifer" was inspired by the
Latin Vulgate, a translation that the authors of
the KJV adhered to in several occasions to elucidate
Christian traditions (see KJV, "The Project").
Lucifer is a Latin word meaning "light-bearer"
(from lux, lucis, "light", and ferre,
"to bear, bring"), a Roman astrological
term for the "Morning Star", the planet
Venus. The word Lucifer was the direct translation
of the Septuagint Greek heosphoros, ("dawn-bearer");
(cf. Greek phosphoros, "light-bearer")
and the Hebrew Helel, ("Bright one").
The word does not specifically refer to Satan. To
the contrary, in context, Isaiah 14:12-14 actually
refers to one of the popular honorific titles of
a Babylonian king (see Isaiah 14:4 for context);
however, later interpretations of the text, and
the influence of embellishments in works such as
Dante's The Divine Comedy and Milton's Paradise
Lost, led to the common idea in Christian mythology
and folklore that Lucifer was a poetic appellation
of Satan (see: The
Devil for more information).
Ezekiel 28:12-19, in context, refers to the King
of Tyrus (see Ezekiel 28:2 for context). The passage,
however, is popularly attributed as a reference
to, or allegory of, Satan, and even by some commentators,
an allegory of the fall of Adam.
The Christian teachings of [source missing] built
upon later Jewish traditions that the Adversary
and the Adversary's host declared war with God,
but that God's army, commanded by the archangel
Michael, defeated the rebels. Their defeat was never
in question, since God is by nature omnipotent,
but Michael was given the honour of victory in the
natural order; thus the rise of Christian veneration
of the archangel Michael, beginning at Monte Gargano
in 493, reflects the full incorporation of demons
According to tradition, God then cast God's enemies
from Heaven to the abyss, into a newly created prison
called Hell, where all God's enemies should be sentenced
to an eternal existence of pain and misery. This
pain is not all physical; for their crimes, these
angels, now called demons, would be deprived of
the sight of God, this being the worst possible
An indefinite time later (some biblical scholars
believe that the angels fell sometime after the
creation of living things), when God created the
earth and life, the Adversary and the other demons
were allowed to tempt humans or induce them to sin
by other means. The first time the Adversary did
this was as a serpent in the earthly paradise called
the "Garden of Eden" to tempt Eve, who
became deceived by Satan's evil trickery. Eve then
gave Adam some of the forbidden fruit and both of
their eyes were opened to the knowledge of good
At various times in Christian history, attempts
have been made to classify these beings according
to various proposed demonic hierarchies.
According to most Christian demonology demons will
be eternally punished and never reconciled with
God. Other theories postulate a Universal reconciliation,
in which Satan, the fallen angels, and the souls
of the dead that were condemned to Hell are reconciled
with God. This doctrine is today often associated
with the Unification Church. Origen, Jerome and
Gregory of Nyssa also mentioned this possibility.
In contemporary Christianity, demons are generally
considered to be angels who fell from grace by rebelling
against God. Some contest that this view, championed
by Origen, Augustine and John Chrysostom, arose
during the 6th century. Another theory that may
have preceded or co-existed with the hypothesis
of fallen angels was that demons were ostracized
from Heaven for the primary sin of mating with mortal
women, giving rise to a race of half-human giants
known as the Nephilim. That theory is accepted by
some contemporary Christian sects.
There are still others who say that the sin of
the angels was pride and disobedience. It seems
quite certain that these were the sins that caused
Satan's downfall (Ezek. 28). If this be the true
view then we are to understand the words, "estate"
or "principality" in Deuteronomy 32:8
and Jude 6 ("And the angels which kept not
their first estate, but left their own habitation,
he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness
unto the judgment of the great day.") as indicating
that instead of being satisfied with the dignity
once for all assigned to them under the Son of God,
they aspired higher.
Hindu mythology include numerous varieties of anthropomorphic
beings that might be classified as demons, including
Rakshasas (belligerent, shapechanging terrestrial
demons), Asuras (demigods), Vetalas (bat-like spirits),
and Pishachas (cannibalistic demons).
Originally, the word Asura in the earliest hymns
of the Rig Veda (the holy book of the Indo-Aryans)
meant any supernatural spirit—good or bad.
Hence even some of the devas (demigods), especially
Varuna, have the epithet of Asura. In fact, since
the /s/ of the Indic linguistic branch is cognate
with the /h/ of the Early Iranian languages, the
word Asura, representing a category of celestial
beings, became the word Ahura (Mazda), the Supreme
God of the monotheistic Zoroastrians. But very soon,
among the Indo-Aryans, Asura came to exclusively
mean any of a race of anthropomorphic but hideous
demons. All words such as Asura, Daitya (lit., sons
of the demon-mother "Diti"), Rakshasa
(lit. from "harm to be guarded against")
are translated into English as demon. These demons
are inherently evil and are in a constant battle
against the demigods. Hence in Hindu iconography,
the gods / demigods are shown to carry weapons to
kill the asuras. Unlike Christianity, the demons
are not the cause of the evil and unhappiness in
present mankind (which occurs on the account of
ignorance from recognizing one's true self). In
later Puranic mythology, exceptions do occur in
the demonic race to produce god-fearing Asuras like
Prahalada. Also, many Asuras are said to have been
granted boons from one of the members of the Hindu
trinity, viz., Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva when the
latter had been appeased from penances. All Asuras,
unlike the devas, are said to be mortals (though
they vehemently wish to become immortal). Many people
metaphorically interpret these demons as manifestations
of the ignoble passions in human mind.
On the account of the Hindu theory of reincarnation
and transmigration of souls according to one's Karma,
other kinds of demons can also be enlisted. If a
human does extremely horrible and sinful karmas
in his life, his soul (Atman) will, upon his death,
directly turn into an evil ghostly spirit, many
kinds of which are recognized in the later Hindu
texts. These demons could be Grimnex Vetalas, Pishachas,
In pre-Islamic Arab culture
Pre-Islamic mythology does not discriminate between
gods and demons. The jinn are considered as divinities
of inferior rank, having many human attributes:
they eat, drink, and procreate their kind, sometimes
in conjunction with human beings. The jinn smell
and lick things, and have a liking for remnants
of food. In eating they use the left hand. Usually
they haunt waste and deserted places, especially
the thickets where wild beasts gather. Cemeteries
and dirty places are also favorite abodes. When
appearing to man, jinn sometimes assume the forms
of beasts and sometimes those of men.
Generally, jinn are peaceable and well disposed
toward men. Many a pre-Islamic poet was believed
to have been inspired by good jinn, but there are
also evil jinn, who contrive to injure men.
Islam recognizes the existence of the jinn. Jinns
are not the "genies" of modern lore, and
they are not all evil, as demons are described in
Christianity, but as creatures that co-exist with
In Islam the evil jinns are referred to as the
shayatin, or devils, and Iblis (Satan) is their
chief. Iblis was the first Jinn who disobeyed Allah.
According to Islam, the jinn are made from the light
of flame of fire deviation of "light"
(and mankind is made of clay).
According to the Qur'an, Iblis was once a pious
servant of Allah, but when Allah created Adam from
clay, Iblis became very jealous, and arrogant and
Adam was the first man, and man was the greatest
creation of Allah. Iblis could not stand this, and
refused to acknowledge a creature made of "dirt"
(man). Allah condemned Iblis to be punished after
death eternally in the hellfire. Allah had created
Iblis asked Allah if he may live to the last day
and have the ability to mislead mankind and jinns,
Allah said that Iblis may only mislead those whom
have forsaken Allah. Allah then turned Iblis's countenance
into horridness and condemned him to only have powers
Adam and Eve (Hawwa in Arabic) were both together
misled by Iblis into eating the forbidden fruit,
and consequently fell from the garden of Eden to
The word "genie" comes from the Arabic
jinn. This is not surprising considering the story
of `Ala' ad-Din, (anglicized as Aladdin), passed
through Arabian merchants en route to Europe.
In New Age / Shamanism
Carlos Castaneda referred to demonic predators called
“flyers” which have the appearance of
frightening dark shadows and which vampirize human
energy. According to this view ancient humans were
complete, with much greater energetic resources
than effete, decadent, modern humans possess. At
the time when agriculture was invented the flyers
gave human beings their mind (constant internal
dialogue of beliefs, ideas, social mores, expectations,
and dreams of success or failure). By playing on
this self-reflection, sucking the angry and worried
energy it generates, the flyers began to farm human
beings for energy, just as humans began farming
animals. Modern humans are the hypnotized slaves
of these flyers; and the pseudoconcerns of modern
society are a flyer mechanism of mind control.
In science Hypothetical Demons
In thought experiments scientists occasionally imagine
entities with special abilities in order to pose
tough intellectual challenges or to highlight apparent
paradoxes. Examples include:
Descartes’ malicious demon - Cartesian skepticism
(also called methodological skepticism) advocates
the doubting of all things which cannot be justified
through logic. Descartes uses three arguments to
cast doubt on our ability to objectively know: The
dream argument, the deceiving God argument, and
the malicious demon argument. Since our senses cannot
put us in contact with external objects themselves,
but only with our mental images of such objects,
we can have no absolute certainty that anything
exists in the external world. In the evil demon
argument Descartes proposes an entity who is capable
of deceiving us to such a degree that we have reason
to doubt the totality of what our senses tell us.
Laplace's demon - A hypothetical all-knowing entity
(later called "Laplace's Demon") who knows
the precise location and momentum of every atom
in the universe, and therefore could use Newton's
laws to reveal the entire course of cosmic events,
past and future. Based upon the philosophical proposition
of causal determinism.
Maxwell's demon - An demon able to distinguish between
fast and slow moving molecules. If this demon only
let fast moving molecules through a trapdoor to
a container, the temperature inside the container
would increase without any work being applied. Such
a scenario would violate the second law of thermodynamics.
M. Scott Peck, an American psychiatrist, wrote two
books on the subject.
Peck describes in some detail several cases involving
his patients. In People of the Lie: The Hope For
Healing Human Evil he gives some identifying characteristics
for evil persons whom he classifies as having a
character disorder. In Glimpses of the Devil, A
Psychiatrist's Personal Accounts of Possession,
Exorcism, and Redemption Peck goes into significant
detail describing how he became interested in exorcism
in order to debunk the “myth” of possession
by evil spirits – only to be convinced otherwise
after encountering two real-word cases which did
not fit into any category known to psychology or
psychiatry. Peck came to the conclusion that possession
was a rare phenomenon related to evil. Possessed
people are not actually evil; they are doing battle
with the forces of evil. His observations on these
cases are listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical
Manual of Mental Disorders (IV) of the American
Although Peck’s earlier work was met with
widespread popular acceptance, his work on the topics
of evil and possession has generated significant
debate and derision. Much was made of his association
with (and admiration for) the controversial Malachi
Martin, a Roman Catholic priest and a former Jesuit,
despite the fact that Peck consistently called Martin
a liar and manipulator. Other criticisms leveled
against Peck include misdiagnoses based upon a lack
of knowledge regarding dissociative identity disorder
(formerly known as multiple personality disorder),
and a claim that he had transgressed the boundaries
of professional ethics by attempting to persuade
his patients into accepting Christianity.