Demonology is the study of demons or beliefs about demons, especially the methods used to summon and control them. The original sense of "demon", from the time of Homer onward, was a benevolent being, but in English the name now holds connotations of malevolence. (To keep the distinction, when referring to the word in its original Greek meaning, English may use the spelling "Daemon" or "Daimon".)
Demons, when regarded as spirits, may belong to either of the classes of spirits recognized by primitive animism. That is to say, they may be human, or non-human, separable souls, or discarnate spirits which have never inhabited a body. A sharp distinction is often drawn between these two classes, notably by the Melanesians, several African groups, and others. The Islamic jinn, for example, are not reducible to modified human souls. At the same time these classes are frequently conceived as producing identical results, e.g. diseases.
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. Traditional Korean belief posits countless demons inhabit the natural world; they fill household objects and are present in all locations. By the thousands they accompany travelers, seeking them out from their places in the elements.
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.
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 gods.
Many religions and cultures believe, or once believed, that what is now known as soothsaying, was, or is, a form of physical contact with demons.
The ascription of malevolence to the world of spirits is by no means universal. In Central Africa, the Mpongwe believe in local spirits, just as do the Inuit; but they are regarded as inoffensive in the main. Passers-by must make some trifling offering as they near the spirits' place of abode; but it is only occasionally mischievous acts, such as the throwing down of a tree on a passer-by, are, in the view of the natives, perpetuated by the class of spirits known as Ombuiri.
So too many of the spirits, especially concerned with the operations of nature, are conceived as neutral or even benevolent; the European peasant fears the corn-spirit only when he irritates him by trenching on his domain and taking his property by cutting the corn; similarly, there is no reason why the more insignificant personages of the pantheon should be conceived as malevolent, and we find that the Petara of the Dyaks are far from indiscriminate and malignant, being viewed as invisible guardians of mankind.
Demons are generally classified as spirits which are believed to enter into relations with the human race. As such the term includes:
Excluded are souls conceived as inhabiting another world. Yet just as gods are not necessarily spiritual, demons may also be regarded as corporeal; vampires for example are sometimes described as human heads with appended entrails, which issue from the tomb to attack the living during the night watches. The so-called Spectre Huntsman of the Malay Peninsula is said to be a man who scours the firmament with his dogs, vainly seeking for what he could not find on Earth: a buck mouse-deer pregnant with male offspring; but he seems to be a living man; there is no statement that he ever died, nor yet that he is a spirit. The incubi and succubi of the Middle Ages are sometimes regarded as spiritual beings; but they were held to give proof of their bodily existence, such as offspring (though often deformed). Belief in demons goes back many millennia. The Zoroastrian faith teaches that there are 3,333 Demons, some with specific dark responsibilities such as war, starvation, sickness, etc.
In Babylonian mythology, the seven evil deities were known as shedu, or "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 magic literature. It was from Chaldea that the name "shedu" came to the Israelites, and so the writers of the Tanach applied the word Shedim to certain Canaanite deities. They also spoke of "the destroyer" (Exodus xii. 23) as a Lord who will "strike down the Egyptians." In II Samuel xxiv; 16 and II Chronicles xxi. 15 the pestilence-dealing angel, that is spirit, called "the destroying angel" (compare "the angel of the Lord" in II Kings xix. 35; Isaiah xxxvii. 36).
Traditionally, Buddhism affirms 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, "prince of darkness," or "Evil One" in Sanskrit sources.
The followers of Mara were also called mara, the devils, and are frequently cited as a cause of disease or representations of mental obstructions. The mara became fully assimilated into the Chinese worldview, and were called mo.
The idea of the imminent decline and collapse of the Buddhist religion amid a "great cacophony of demonic influences" was already a significant component of Buddhism when it reached China in the first century A.D., according to Michel Strickmann. Demonic forces had attained enormous power in the world. For some writers of the time this state of affairs had been ordained to serve the higher purpose of effecting a "preliminary cleansing" that would purge and purify humanity in preparation for an ultimate, messianic renewal.
Medieval Chinese Buddhist demonology was heavily influenced by Indian Buddhism. Indian demonology is also fully and systematically described in written sources, though during Buddhism's centuries of direct influence in China, "Chinese demonology was whipped into respectable shape," with a number of Indian demons finding permanent niches even in Taoist ritual texts.
Also, the Śūraṅgama Sūtra, a major Mahayana Buddhist text, describes fifty demonic states: the so-called fifty skandha maras, which are "negative" mirror-like reflections of or deviations from correct samādhi (meditative absorption) states. In this context demons are considered by Buddhists to be beings possessing some supernatural powers, who, in the past, might have practiced Dharma, the Buddhass teaching, but due to practicing it incorrectly failed to develop true wisdom and true compassion, which are inseparable attributes of an enlightened being such as a Buddha or a Bodhisattva. In his autobiography, The Blazing Splendor, Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche, a prominent Tibetan Buddhist master of the 20th century describes encounters with such beings. Therefore, depending on the context, in Buddhism demons may refer to both disturbed mind states and actual beings.
Christian demonology is the study of demons from a Christian point of view. It is primarily based on the Bible (Old Testament and New Testament), the exegesis of these scriptures, the writings of early Christian philosophers and hermits, tradition, and legends incorporated from other beliefs.
Some scholars suggest the origins of early Greek Old Testament demonology can be traced to two distinctive and often competing mythologies of evil – Adamic and Enochic, one of which was tied to the fall of man caused by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and the other to the fall of angels in the antediluvian period. Thus, the Adamic story traces the source of evil to Satan's transgression and the fall of man, a trend reflected in the Books of Adam and Eve which explains the reason for Satan's demotion by his refusal to obey God's command to venerate newly created Adam.
In contrast, the early Enochic tradition bases its understanding of the origin of demons on the story of the fallen Watchers led by Azazel. Scholars believe these two enigmatic figures - Azazel and Satan exercised formative influence on early Jewish demonology. While in the beginning of their conceptual journeys Azazel and Satan are posited as representatives of two distinctive and often rival trends tied to the distinctive etiologies of corruption, in later Jewish and Christian demonological lore both antagonists are able to enter each other's respective stories in new conceptual capacities. In these later traditions Satanael is often depicted as the leader of the fallen angels while his conceptual rival Azazel is portrayed as a seducer of Adam and Eve. While historical Judaism never recognized any set of doctrines about demons, scholars believe its post-exilic concepts of eschatology, angelology, and demonology were influenced by Zoroastrianism. Some, however, believe these concepts were received as part of the Kabbalistic tradition. While many people believe today Lucifer and Satan are different names for the same being, not all scholars subscribe to this view.
A number of authors throughout Christian history have written about demons for a variety of purposes. Theologians like Thomas Aquinas wrote concerning the behaviors of which Christians should be aware, while witchhunters like Heinrich Kramer wrote about how to find and what to do with people they believed were involved with demons. Some texts such as the Lesser Key of Solomon or The Grimoire of Pope Honorius (although these, the earliest manuscripts, were from well after these individuals had died) are written with instructions on how to summon demons in the name of God and often were claimed to have been written by individuals respected within the Church. These latter texts were usually more detailed, giving names, ranks, and descriptions of demons individually and categorically. Most Christians commonly reject these texts as either diabolical or fictitious.
In modern times, some demonological texts have been written by Christians, usually in a similar vein of Thomas Aquinas, explaining their effects in the world and how faith may lessen or eliminate damage by them. A few Christian authors, such as Jack Chick and John Todd, write with intentions similar to Kramer, proclaiming that demons and their human agents are active in the world. These claims can stray from mainstream ideology, and may include such beliefs as that Christian rock is a means through which demons influence people.
Not all Christians believe that demons exist in the literal sense. There is the view that the language of exorcism in the New Testament is an example of what was once employed to describe the healings of what would be classified in modern days as epilepsy, mental illness etc.
Vedic Scriptures include a range of spirits (Vetalas, Rakshasas, Bhutas and Pishachas) that might be classified as demons. These spirits are souls of beings that have committed certain specific sins. As a purging punishment, they are condemned to roam without a physical form for a length of time, until a rebirth. Beings that died with unfulfilled desires or anger are also said to "linger" until such issues are resolved. Hindu text Atharvaveda gives an account of nature and habitats of such spirits including how to persuade/control them. There are occult traditions in Hinduism that seek to control such spirits to do their bidding. Hindu text Garuda Purana details other kinds of punishments and judgments given out in Hell; this also given an account of how the spirit travels to nether worlds.
Islam has no doctrinal hierarchy of demonology. Even though some Muslim scholars tried to classify jinn and demons, there is no established classification and terms on jinn may overlap or used interchangeable. Naming the Jinn also depends on cultural influences. Julius Wellhausen states, that Islamic demonology is also zoology. Many demonic or demon-like entities are not purely spiritual, but also physical in nature and related to animals. One prominent classification is made by Jahiz:
The German orientalist Almut Wieland-Karimi classified the Jinn in the ten most common categories mentioned in folklore literature:
The Ghul and the Si'lah often challenged orientalists to hold them apart, because both are shapeshifter and also appear as females to seduce men. A Ghul in Arabic meaning, terms any shapeshifting spirit, including the Si'lah. Furthermore, Marid and Ifrit may be hard to distinguish, since they are often used interchangeable, for example in "One Thousand and One Nights ". However both entities have properties apart from the other. The Ifrit is also related to the ghosts of the dead, seeking for revenge, unlike the Marid. On the other hand, the Marid is related to assistans of truthsayers, striving to heaven to access informations from the angels, while the Ifrit does not.
Additionally the Peri and the Daeva are kinds of Jinn in Persian lore. While the Daeva are akin to the Shayateen, subordinates of Satan, the Peris are good Jinn fighting the Daeva. However the Peri may endanger people, if they become angered.:185
Ahmad al-Buni relates four Ifrits to archdemons, diametral to the four archangels of Islam. They have their own Shayātīn (plural of "Shaytan") under command but are subordinate to Iblis, who is thought to be the leader of Shayātīn.
Judaism does not have a demonology or any set of doctrines about demons. Use of the name "Lucifer" stems from Isaiah 14:3–20, a passage which does speak of the defeat of a particular Babylonian King, to whom it gives a title which refers to what in English is called the Day Star or Morning Star (in Latin, lucifer, meaning "light-bearer", from the words lucem ferre).
There is more than one instance in Jewish medieval myth and lore where demons are said to have come to be, as seen by the Grigori angels, of Lilith leaving Adam, of demons such as vampires, unrest spirits in Jewish folklore such as the dybbuk.
Aamon (also Amon and Nahum), in demonology, is a Marquis of Hell who governs forty infernal legions.
Aamon is a demon and the Grand Marquis of Hell and the seventh spirit of the Goetia.Aggadah
Aggadah (Jewish Babylonian Aramaic אַגָּדְתָא "tales, lore"; pl. aggadot, Ashkenazi pronunciation aggados) refers to non-legalistic exegetical texts in the classical rabbinic literature of Judaism, particularly as recorded in the Talmud and Midrash. In general, Aggadah is a compendium of rabbinic texts that incorporates folklore, historical anecdotes, moral exhortations, and practical advice in various spheres, from business to medicine.
In terms of etymology, the cognate Hebrew: הַגָּדָה means "telling", while the Aramaic root אגד (as well as נגד, from which אגדה may arise) has the dual implication of “expanding” / “drawing out” and “binding” / “drawing in”. Correspondingly, the Aggadah may be seen as those teachings which communicate Rabbinic traditions to the reader, simultaneously expanding their understanding of the text, while strengthening their religious experience and spiritual connection. The root also has the meaning "flow", and here relates to the transmission of ideas.Beleth
In demonology, Beleth also spelled Bilet, Bileth, Byleth and Bilith is a mighty and terrible king of Hell, who has eighty-five legions of demons under his command. He rides a pale horse, and all kinds of music is heard before him, according to most authors on demonology and the most known grimoires.
According to Pseudomonarchia Daemonum Ham, Noah's son, was the first in invoking him after the flood, and wrote a book on Mathematics with his help.
When appearing he looks very fierce to frighten the conjurer or to see if he is courageous. The conjurer must be brave, and holding a hazel wand in his hand must draw a triangle by striking towards the South, East, and upwards, then commanding Beleth into it by means of some conjurations.
If he does not obey, the conjurer must rehearse all threatens the conjurations said and then Beleth will obey and do all that he is commanded. But the conjurer must be respectful and do homage unto Beleth due to his rank, and hold a silver ring in the middle finger of the left hand against his face, as it is the use of hellish kings and princes before Amaymon.
Beleth gives all the love of men and women he is commanded until the conjurer is satisfied.Belphegor
In demonology, Belphegor (or Beelphegor, Hebrew: בַּעַל-פְּעוֹר baʿal-pəʿōr - Lord of the Gap) is a demon, and one of the seven princes of Hell, who helps people make discoveries. He seduces people by suggesting to them ingenious inventions that will make them rich.
Bishop and witch-hunter Peter Binsfeld believed that Belphegor tempts by means of laziness. Also, according to Peter Binsfeld's Binsfeld's Classification of Demons, Belphegor is the chief demon of the deadly sin known as Sloth in Christian tradition.Christian demonology
Christian demonology is the study of demons from a Christian point of view. It is primarily based on the Bible (Old and New Testaments), the exegesis of these scriptures, the scriptures of early Christian philosophers, hermits and the associated traditions and legends incorporated from other beliefs.Chōchin-obake
Chōchin-obake (提灯お化け, "paper lantern ghost") is a type of Tsukumogami, "[the] lantern-spook (chochinobake) ... a stock character in the pantheon of ghouls and earned mention in the definitive demonology of 1784." The Chōchin-obake also appears in the obake karuta card game, popular from the Edo period to the early 20th century (and still in use today).Classification of demons
There have been various attempts throughout history by theologian scholars in the classification of demons for the purpose of understanding the biblical and mythological context of adversarial spirits. Theologians have written dissertations in Christian demonology, classical occultism, classical mythology and Renaissance magic to clarify the connections between these spirits and their influence in various cultures. The study of demonology was historically used to understand morality, behavioral tendencies, and has even been used as symbolism to relay anecdotal tales in folklore.
Classification systems are based on the supposed nature of the demon, the alleged sin with which they lure people into temptation and may also include the angels or saints that were believed to have been their adversaries; an idea which derived from the Biblical battle between the Archangel Michael and Satan in The Book of Revelation (12:7-9) describing a war in heaven which resulted in Satan and his angels being expelled from Heaven. The classifications of these fallen angels are based on many other characteristics as well, such as behaviors that caused their fall from heaven, physical appearances or the methods that were used to torment people, cause maladies, or elicit dreams, emotions, etc. Most authors who wrote theological dissertations on the subject either truly believed in the existence of infernal spirits, or wrote as a philosophical guide to understanding an ancient perspective of behavior and morality in folklore and religious themes.Daemonologie
Daemonologie—in full Daemonologie, In Forme of a Dialogue, Divided into three Books: By the High and Mighty Prince, James &c.—was written and published in 1597 by King James VI of Scotland (later also James I of England) as a philosophical dissertation on contemporary necromancy and the historical relationships between the various methods of divination used from ancient black magic.
This included a study on demonology and the methods demons used to bother troubled men. It also touches on topics such as werewolves and vampires. It was a political yet theological statement to educate a misinformed populace on the history, practices and implications of sorcery and the reasons for persecuting a person in a Christian society accused of being a witch under the rule of canonical law.
This book is believed to be one of the main sources used by William Shakespeare in the production of Macbeth. Shakespeare attributed many quotes and rituals found within the book directly to the Weird Sisters, yet also attributed the Scottish themes and settings referenced from the trials in which King James was involved.Deal with the Devil
A deal with the devil (also known as a compact or pact with the devil) is a cultural motif, best exemplified by the legend of Faust and the figure of Mephistopheles, as well as being elemental to many Christian traditions. According to traditional Christian belief about witchcraft, the pact is between a person and Satan or a lesser demon. The person offers their soul in exchange for diabolical favours. Those favours vary by the tale, but tend to include youth, knowledge, wealth, fame, or power.
It was also believed that some people made this type of pact just as a sign of recognizing the devil as their master, in exchange for nothing. Nevertheless, the bargain is considered a dangerous one, as the price of the Fiend's service is the wagerer's soul. The tale may have a moralizing end, with eternal damnation for the foolhardy venturer. Conversely, it may have a comic twist, in which a wily peasant outwits the devil, characteristically on a technical point. The person making the pact sometimes tries to outwit the devil, but loses in the end (e.g., man sells his soul for eternal life because he will never die to pay his end of the bargain. Immune to the death penalty, he commits murder, but is sentenced to life in prison).
Great achievements might be credited to a pact with the devil, from the numerous European Devil's Bridges to the violin virtuosity of Niccolò Paganini to the "crossroad" myth associated with Robert Johnson.
The "Bargain with the devil" constitutes motif number M210 and "Man sells soul to devil" motif number M211 in Stith Thompson's Motif-Index of Folk-Literature.Demon
A demon is a supernatural and often malevolent being prevalent historically in religion, occultism, literature, fiction, mythology, and folklore; as well as in media such as comics, videogames, movies and television series.
The original Greek word daimon does not carry negative connotations. The Ancient Greek word δαίμων daimōn denotes a spirit or divine power, much like the Latin genius or numen. The Greek conception of a daimōn notably appears in the works of Plato, where it describes the divine inspiration of Socrates.
In Ancient Near Eastern religions and in the Abrahamic traditions, including ancient and medieval Christian demonology, a demon is considered a harmful spiritual entity which may cause demonic possession, calling for an exorcism.
In Western occultism and Renaissance magic, which grew out of an amalgamation of Greco-Roman magic, Jewish Aggadah and Christian demonology, a demon is believed to be a spiritual entity that may be conjured and controlled.Demonic possession
Demonic possession is where individuals are supposed to be possessed by malevolent preternatural beings, commonly referred to as demons or devils. Symptoms of demonic possession commonly claimed by believers include erased memories or personalities, convulsions (i.e. epileptic seizures or “fits”) and fainting as if one were dying.Demonic possession is not a recognized valid psychiatric or medical diagnosis. The DSM-5 indicates that personality states of dissociative identity disorder may be interpreted as possession in some cultures, and instances of spirit possession are often related to traumatic experiences-suggesting that possession experiences may be caused by mental distress. Some have expressed concern that belief in demonic possession can limit access to health care for the mentally ill.Demonization
Demonization is the reinterpretation of polytheistic deities as evil, lying demons by other religions, generally monotheistic and henotheistic ones. The term has since been expanded to refer to any characterization of individuals, groups, or political bodies as evil.Demonology 101
Demonology 101 (commonly abbreviated as D101) is an online graphic novel written and drawn by Faith Erin Hicks from August 1999 to June 2004.
It tells the story of Raven, a 16-year-old demon being raised by a human in ordinary human society. In addition to the normal trials of teenage life, Raven must also deal with her uncertain origins, her adoptive father's past, and the supernatural world which intrudes on their lives.
Faith Hicks has stated that the TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer was one of her major inspirations. The comic is a coming-of-age story, but it deals with a wide range of issues, including issues of acceptance and exclusion, issues of trust and issues of free will. It is available online, in its entirety, at no cost.
The comic ended its five-year run in June 2004. As of 2018 the comic is no longer available on the creator's site, but can still be read via the Internet ArchiveFaith Erin Hicks
Faith Erin Hicks is a Canadian cartoonist and animator living in Vancouver, British Columbia.
She has created a number of graphic novels, both as sole creator (such as Zombies Calling! and Friends with Boys) and as a collaborator (Nothing Could Possibly Go Wrong and Buffy: The High School Years), as well as serialized works like Demonology 101 and The Adventures of Superhero Girl.Goetia
Goetia or Goëtia is a practice that includes the conjuration of demons, specifically the ones summoned by the Biblical figure, King Solomon. The use of the term in English largely derives from the 17th-century grimoire Lesser Key of Solomon, which features an Ars Goetia as its first section. It contains descriptions of the evocation, or "calling out", of seventy-two demons, famously translated from Latin into English by S. L. MacGregor Mathers and published by Aleister Crowley in 1904 as The Book of the Goetia of Solomon the King.
Goetic Theurgy, another practice described in the Lesser Key of Solomon, is similar to the book's description of Goetia, but is used to invoke aerial spirits.List of theological demons
This is a list of demons that appear in religion, theology, demonology, mythology, and folklore. It is not a list of names of demons, although some are listed by more than one name.
The list of fictional demons includes those from literary fiction with theological aspirations, such as Dante's Inferno. Because numerous lists of legendary creatures concern mythology, folklore, and folk fairy tales, much overlap may be expected.Murmur (demon)
In demonology, Murmur is a Great Duke and Earl of Hell, and has thirty legions of demons under his command. He teaches Philosophy, and can oblige the souls of the deceased to appear before the conjurer to answer every desired question. Before his rebellion against God, Murmur held the name "Matthias."
Murmur is depicted as a soldier riding a vulture or a griffin, and wearing a ducal crown. Two of his ministers go before him making the sound of trumpets. 'Murmur' in Latin means noise, whisper, murmur, and the sound of the trumpet. Some authors portray him simply as a vulture.
Other spelling: Murmus, Murmuur, Murmux.Samael
Samael (Hebrew: סַמָּאֵל Sammāʾēl, "Venom of God", "Poison of God", or "Blindness of God"; rarely "Smil", "Samil", or "Samiel") is an important archangel in Talmudic and post-Talmudic lore, a figure who is the accuser (Ha-Satan), seducer, and destroyer (Mashhit), and has been regarded as both good and evil. Rabbinical writings describe Samael as the guardian angel of Esau and a patron of Edom.
He is considered in Talmudic texts to be a member of the heavenly host (with often grim and destructive duties). One of Samael's greatest roles in Jewish lore is that of the main archangel of death. He remains one of God's servants even though he condones the sins of man. As an angel, Samael resides in the seventh heaven, although he is declared to be the chief angel of the fifth heaven, the reason for this being the presence of the throne of glory in the seventh heaven.Sexuality in Christian demonology
To Sumerians, Babylonians, Assyrians, and Jews there were male and female demons (Jewish demons were mostly male, although female examples such as Lilith exist). In Christian demonology and theology there is debate over the gender and sexual proclivities of demons.