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Category:Demons

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Demons are spirits which are aggressive, wrathful, dangerous, violent, malefic, or evil. They may be invisible or take on a visible appearance. Demons are thought to inhabit specific areas, may attempt to seize control of (possess) living beings, including pets, human beings. Their depiction is often a composite of wild or domestic animals, and these humanoid monstrosities may be festooned with faces on many parts of their bodies. Certain divinities or persons, such as Jesus, are well-known for their ability to command or cast out demons from such possession.

Bronze statuette of the demon Pazuzu. Mesopotamia. 8th–7th century BCE.
Bronze statuette of the demon Pazuzu. Mesopotamia. 8th–7th century BCE.

Contents

Ancient Middle Eastern Demons

The Queen of the Night or Burney Relief may depict the demon Lilitu, 1800-1750 BCE.
The Queen of the Night or Burney Relief may depict the demon Lilitu, 1800-1750 BCE.
The goddess or demon Tiamat, a bas-relief from the Palace of Ashur-nasir-pal, King of Assyria, 885-860 BCE, at Nimrûd.
The goddess or demon Tiamat, a bas-relief from the Palace of Ashur-nasir-pal, King of Assyria, 885-860 BCE, at Nimrûd.
A werewolf howling in a graveyard by the light of the rising Full Moon
A werewolf howling in a graveyard by the light of the rising Full Moon
Satan in "The Triumph of Death" painted in the 1300s by Francesco Traini.
Satan in "The Triumph of Death" painted in the 1300s by Francesco Traini.

Among the ancient Middle Eastern gods of Mesopotamia, Babylon, and Assyria, gods of chaos or gods who disturb societal and cosmic order, such as Tiamat, are opposed by warrior deities, such as Marduk, and when seen in this context, they may be identified as demons, especially if their body form is non-human or only partially human.

Likewise, some ancient Middle Eastern demons of the wilderness or feral malefics, such as Pazuzu or Lilitu, have survived as demons within contemporary religious traditions. Most notably, Lilitu has become Lilith in Jewish and Neo-Pagan traditions.

  • Lamashtu: Mesopotamian goddess or demon who menaces women during childbirth and kidnaps children while breastfeeding.
  • Lilitu: Assyrian storm demon.
  • Pazuzu: Assyro-Babylonian god or demon of famine, locusts, and the Southwest wind.
  • Tiamat: Babylonian demon or goddess of chaos and material origin of the cosmos.

Hindu Demons

Among Hindus, asuras are known to be feral, aggressive toward, and opposed to Hindu devas or gods and menacing ordinary human beings.

  • Asuras: Nature spirits harrying and antagonizing against Hindus and the devas whom they worship.
  • Rakshasas: Terrible, monstrous spirit-beasts which predate upon human beings.
  • Ravanna: Regarded as a rakshasa or demon by Hindus, antagonist to Vaisnavas depicted within the Ramayana.
  • Yakshas: Nature spirits which guard natural treasures and may be mischievous or malignant to human intruders.

Taoist Demons

There are many Taoist demons, some of them found within the Hell Realms, some described by classics such as "The Journey to the West"("Xiyouji") and "The Investiture of the Gods" ("Fengshen Yanyi"). A number of them are pets of gods, but some are nature spirits whose actions or interests are inimical to human beings.

  • Baigujing: White Bone Spirit, a slain female spirit who seeks to consume children in "The Journey to the West"
  • Niumowang: Bull Demon King, a contender for the rulership of the Demon Realm in "The Journey to the West"
  • Jiutou Zhiji Jing: Nine-Headed Pheasant Spirit, a beautiful female specter in "The Investiture of the Gods"

Buddhist Demons

Among Buddhists, the demon Mara, hungry ghosts (pretas) and disgruntled or malefic spirits of the Hell Realms might be encountered those of ill-refinement.

  • Mara (The Killer): A personal foe of the Buddha Gautama as well as a tempter and presenter of obstacles for individual adherents.
  • Hungry Ghosts (Pretas): Reborn grasping, greedy, and insatiable persons who parasitize human beings.
  • Malefic or Unruly Spirits: Inhabitants of the Hell Realms in Chinese Buddhism; those who occupy our world who may be malignant and deceitful.
  • Yakkhas (Yakshas): Tree spirits that live in remote places, analogous to the trolls, ogres, or goblins of Europe.

Jewish Demons

In the Jewish tradition, demons are so numerous that, if they weren’t invisible, humans would be overwhelmed by shock and fear and should therefore they should be thankful they cannot usually be seen. There are methods of demonic detection and protection against demons along with exorcism are Jewish specialties.

  • Bat melech: Contamination demons of uncleanliness.
  • Dybbuk: A demon that typically possesses those who are spiritually lax.
  • Estries: A female vampire-like demon. The male counterpart is a werewolf.
  • Holle (Holda, Hulda): A demon-witch, similar to Lilith, who has large protruding teeth and long matted hair. She tangles people’s hair up while they sleep and she eats children.
  • Ketev Meriri: Demon of catastrophe. Hairy and with scales, he rolls about in a ball like an armadillo. His gaze, like the basilisk or catoblepas is deadly.
  • Lilith: Adam’s first wife, demon succubus, child killer and sex demon, the cause of nocturnal emissions and attacker of men.
  • Ochnotinos: Demon that causes fever.
  • Poteh (Purah): The demon of forgetfulness and stupidity.
  • Shabriri: A demon that causes eye disease.
  • Shibbeta: A demon who strangles people—especially children who eat food touched by unwashed hands.
  • Werewolf: A man who turns into a ravening beast on occasion; the earliest werewolf is said to have been Benjamin, the son of Jacob and Rachael, after whom one of the 12 jewish tribes was named.

Christian Demons

From the earliest developments of Christianity extending out of Judaism, Jesus Christ has been recognized as a potent force in the control and defense against malignant spirits. The same scriptural source features Satan as a demon who tests, tempts, and then orchestrates the betrayal of the Saviour for purpose of the Crucifixion. As the enemy of mankind (in Job) and the architect of armageddon (in the apocalyptic writings of Revelations), Satan, sometimes through his pawns and agents, features as a great cosmic adversary the likes of which are beyond compare. Described as impersonating religious and spiritual beings the world 'round, some conservative Christians count him as the motive force behind all evil soever, from the Fall of Adam and Eve through everyone's daily weaknesses and moral compromise in sin.

By some, Satan is described as a domineering leader and commander of legions of other, lesser demons, devils, and imps. Certain arcane references, known as grimoires, provide the names of many of these demons, their character, means of summoning, weaknesses and strengths. Some of these demons make appearances in other cultures, such as Moloch, Baal, Astaroth, and Beelzebub. Some are known only by their reputations as contacts via these demonological directories, yet others achieve renown in recountings by victims, well-known exorcists, and Christian heroes who struggle with them and, through the Power of Christ, overcome them.

While it is well-attested that a faustian bargain is the height of folly (losing one's everlasting soul in trade for short-term worldly goods, knowledge, or power), minor deals and manipulations, such as arrangements for devils to harass and irritate one's foes as a consequence of their failure to meet their end of a fair bargain, are at times recommended to conjure workers as a means of obtaining justice, and petitioning at a place of power such as at a crossroads, long a part of African-American traditions of spirituality and magic, are not, by God-fearing Christians, equated to dealing in souls with Satan.

  • Malignant Spirits: Immature and perverse aspects of human beings, psychological maladies afflicting individuals, or as completely separate spirits whose influence and possessory intrusion. Jesus Christ remedies them through spiritual force and power and he is therefore sought as an ally to drive away (exorcism). Biblical descriptions, within the gospels, of Jesus driving a malefic spirit into a herd of swine, commanding antagonistic possessing spirits depart from their victims, and rebuking a demon to return from whence it has come, are all early examples.
  • Astaroth: Along with Lucifer and Beelzebub, one of the Grand Dukes of Hell.
  • Baal: The fertility and thunder deity of the Canaanites, considered the enemy of the Jewish Yahweh, who is known to Christians as Jehovah.
  • Beelzebub: Although originally associated with the Caananite deity Ba'al, over time Beelzebub came to be synonymous with Lucifer, one of the Seven Lords of Hell.
  • Lucifer: An ancient Latin name for the planet Venus as the morning star, the name means "Lighter-Bearer," but in Christian tradition, Lucifer is described as a Fallen Angel"whose pride caused his downfall.
  • Moloch: A Caananite deity associated with human sacrifice, especially children.
  • Satan: a demon who tests, tempts, and then orchestrates the betrayal of the Saviour for purpose of the Crucifixion; the enemy of mankind (in Job) and the architect of armageddon (in the apocalyptic writings of Revelations). He sometimes features as a great cosmic adversary the likes of which are beyond compare. Described as impersonating religious and spiritual beings the world 'round, some conservative Christians count him as the motive force behind all evil soever, from the Fall of Adam and Eve through everyone's daily weaknesses and moral compromise in sin. Satan is also described as a domineering leader and commander of legions of other, lesser demons, devils, and imps.

Islamic Demons

In the Islamic tradition, harmful and tempting spirits are subject to the direction and authority of Allah.

  • Djinn (Genie): Djinn have a variety of forms and temperaments. Some are helpful and some are dangerous or demonic. As master shape-shifters, they may take on the appearance of animals, especially black ones. (Read More ...)
  • Ifreet (Ifrit): Infernal djinn spirits or death-demons who iare attracted to the blood of murder victims, often to avenge their deaths. (Read More ...)
  • Iblis: A fallen angel who was cast out of heaven for refusing to bow to Adam. He appears as a trickster and a tempter spirit, and is considered a sort of djinn.
  • Shaitans: Demons who are the offspring of Iblis, but can also be the evil offspring of djinn and other evil beings.

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