Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 15

Demons are sometimes included into biblical interpretation.

In the story of Passover, the Bible

tells the story as "the Lord struck down all the firstborn in Egypt" (Exodus 12:2129). In the
Book of Jubilees, which is considered canonical only by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church,[34] this
same event is told slightly differently: "All the powers of [the demon] Mastema had been let
loose to slay all the first-born in the land of Egypt...And the powers of the Lord did everything

Demons are sometimes included into biblical interpretation. In the story of Passover, the Bible
tells the story as "the Lord struck down all the firstborn in Egypt" (Exodus 12:2129). In the
Book of Jubilees, which is considered canonical only by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church,[34] this
same event is told slightly differently: "All the powers of [the demon] Mastema had been let
loose to slay all the first-born in the land of Egypt...And the powers of the Lord did everything A
demon (from Koine Greek daimnion) is a supernatural and often malevolent being
prevalent in religion, occultism, literature, fiction, mythology and folklore.

In Ancient Near Eastern religions as well as in the Abrahamic traditions, including ancient and
medieval Christian demonology, a demon is considered a harmful spiritual entity, below the
heavenly planes[1] 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,[2] a demon is believed to be a spiritual entity that
may be conjured and controlled.


1 Etymology
2 Ancient Near East
o 2.1 Mesopotamia
3 Judaism
o 3.1 Tanach
o 3.2 Talmudic tradition
o 3.3 Kabbalah
o 3.4 Aggadah
o 3.5 Second Temple period texts
4 Christianity
o 4.1 Christian Bible
4.1.1 Old Testament
4.1.2 New Testament
4.1.3 Pseudepigrapha and Deuterocanonical books
o 4.2 Christian demonology
5 Islam
6 Hinduism
o 6.1 Asuras
o 6.2 Evil spirits
7 Bah' Faith
8 Ceremonial magic
9 Wicca
10 Modern interpretations
11 See also
12 References
13 Citations
14 Further reading
15 External links

Further information: Daemon (classical mythology), Agathodaemon, Cacodemon, Daimonic,
and Eudaimonia

Buer, the 10th spirit, who teaches "Moral and Natural Philosophy" (from a 1995 Mathers edition.
Illustration by Louis Breton from Dictionnaire Infernal).

The Ancient Greek word daimn denotes a spirit or divine power, much like the Latin
genius or numen. Daimn most likely came from the Greek verb daiesthai (to divide,
distribute).[3] The Greek conception of a daimn notably appears in the works of Plato, where it
describes the divine inspiration of Socrates. To distinguish the classical Greek concept from its
later Christian interpretation, the former is anglicized as either daemon or daimon rather than
demon.[citation needed] The original Greek word daimon does not carry the negative connotation
initially understood by implementation of the Koine (daimonion),[4] and later ascribed
to any cognate words sharing the root.

The Greek terms do not have any connotations of evil or malevolence. In fact,
eudaimonia, (literally good-spiritedness) means happiness. By the early Roman Empire, cult
statues were seen, by pagans and their Christian neighbors alike, as inhabited by the numinous
presence of the gods: "Like pagans, Christians still sensed and saw the gods and their power, and
as something, they had to assume, lay behind it, by an easy traditional shift of opinion they
turned these pagan daimones into malevolent 'demons', the troupe of Satan..... Far into the
Byzantine period Christians eyed their cities' old pagan statuary as a seat of the demons'
presence. It was no longer beautiful, it was infested."[5] The term had first acquired its negative
connotations in the Septuagint translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek, which drew on the
mythology of ancient Semitic religions. This was then inherited by the Koine text of the New
Testament. The Western medieval and neo-medieval conception of a demon[6] derives seamlessly
from the ambient popular culture of Late Antiquity. The Hellenistic "daemon" eventually came
to include many Semitic and Near Eastern gods as evaluated by Christianity.[citation needed]

The supposed existence of demons remains an important concept in many modern religions and
occultist traditions. Demons are still feared largely due to their alleged power to possess living
creatures. In the contemporary Western occultist tradition (perhaps epitomized by the work of
Aleister Crowley), a demon (such as Choronzon, which is Crowley's interpretation of the so-
called 'Demon of the Abyss') is a useful metaphor for certain inner psychological processes
(inner demons), though some may also regard it as an objectively real phenomenon. Some
scholars[7] believe that large portions of the demonology (see Asmodai) of Judaism, a key
influence on Christianity and Islam, originated from a later form of Zoroastrianism, and were
transferred to Judaism during the Persian era.

Ancient Near East[edit]


Human-headed winged bull, otherwise known as a Lamassu

According to the Jewish Encyclopedia, "In Chaldean mythology the seven evil deities were
known as shedu, storm-demons, represented in ox-like form."[8] They were represented as winged
bulls, derived from the colossal bulls used as protective jinn of royal palaces.[9]

From Chaldea, the term shedu traveled to the Israelites. The writers of the Tanach applied the
word as a dialogism to Canaanite deities.

There are indications that demons in popular Hebrew mythology were believed to come from the
nether world.[10] Various diseases and ailments were ascribed to them, particularly those affecting
the brain and those of internal nature. Examples include catalepsy, headache, epilepsy and
nightmares. There also existed a demon of blindness, "Shabriri" (lit. "dazzling glare") who rested
on uncovered water at night and blinded those who drank from it.[11]

Demons supposedly entered the body and caused the disease while overwhelming or "seizing"
the victim. To cure such diseases, it was necessary to draw out the evil demons by certain
incantations and talismanic performances, at which the Essenes excelled[citation needed]. Josephus, who
spoke of demons as "spirits of the wicked which enter into men that are alive and kill them", but
which could be driven out by a certain root,[12] witnessed such a performance in the presence of
the Emperor Vespasian[13] and ascribed its origin to King Solomon. In mythology, there were few
defences against Babylonian demons. The mythical mace Sharur had the power to slay demons
such as Asag, a legendary gallu or edimmu of hideous strength.

See also: Shedim

The female demon Lilith under the appearance of a snake cavorting with herself as personified
within the Garden of Eden, by John Collier, 1892

As referring to the existence or non-existence of shedim (Hebr. for "demons", "spirits") there are
converse opinions in Judaism.[8] There are "practically nil" roles assigned to demons in the
Jewish Bible.[14] In Judaism today, beliefs in shedim ("demons" or "evil spirits") are either midot
hasidut (Hebr. for "customs of the pious"), and therefore not halachah, or notions based on a
superstition that are non-essential, non-binding parts of Judaism, and therefore not normative
Jewish practice. In conclusion, Jews are not obligated to believe in the existence of shedim, as
posek rabbi David Bar-Hayim points out.[15]


See also: Tanakh

The word shedim (Hebr. for "demons" or "spirits") appears only in two places in the Tanakh
(Psalm 106:37, Deuteronomy 32:17). In both places, the term appears in a scriptural context of
animal or child sacrifice to non-existent false gods that are called shedim.[8][14][16]

Talmudic tradition[edit]

See also: Talmud and Jerusalem Talmud

In the Jerusalem Talmud notions of shedim ("demons" or "evil spirits") are almost unknown or
occur only very rarely, whereas in the Babylon Talmud there are many references to shedim and
magical incantations. The existence of shedim in general was not questioned by most of the
Babylonian Talmudists. As a consequence of the rise of influence of the Babylonian Talmud
over that of the Jerusalem Talmud, late rabbis in general took as fact the existence of shedim, nor
did most of the medieval thinkers question their reality. However, rationalists like Maimonides,
Saadia Gaon and Abraham ibn Ezra and others explicitly denied their existence, and completely
rejected concepts of demons, evil spirits, negative spiritual influences, attaching and possessing
spirits. Their point of view eventually became mainstream Jewish understanding.[8][17]


See also: Kabbalah and Dybbuk

Some benevolent shedim were used in kabbalistic ceremonies (as with the golem of Rabbi
Yehuda Loevy) and malevolent shedim (mazikin, from the root meaning "to damage") were often
credited with possession.[18]


See also: Aggadah and Angels in Judaism

Aggadic tales from the Persian tradition describe the shedim, the mazziim ("harmers"), and the
ruin ("spirits"). There were also lilin ("night spirits"), elane ("shade", or "evening spirits"),
iharire ("midday spirits"), and afrire ("morning spirits"), as well as the "demons that bring
famine" and "such as cause storm and earthquake".[19][8] According to some aggadic stories about
demons is told that they were under the dominion of a king or chief, either Asmodai[20] or, in the
older Aggadah, Samael ("the angel of death"), who killed via poison. Stories in the fashion of
this kind of folklore never became an essential feature of Jewish theology.[17] Although
occasionally an angel is called satan in the Babylon Talmud, this does not refer to a demon:
"Stand not in the way of an ox when coming from the pasture, for Satan dances between his

Second Temple period texts[edit]

See also: Apotropaic magic and Angels in Judaism

To the Qumran community during the Second Temple period this apotropaic prayer was
assigned, stating: "And, I the Sage, declare the grandeur of his radiance in order to frighten and
terri[fy] all the spirits of the ravaging angels and the bastard spirits, demons, Liliths, owls" (Dead
Sea Scrolls, "Songs of the Sage," Lines 45).[22][23]

In the Dead Sea Scrolls, there exists a fragment entitled "Curses of Belial" (Curses of Belial
(Dead Sea Scrolls, 394, 4Q286(4Q287, fr. 6)=4QBerakhot)). This fragment holds much rich
language that reflects the sentiment shared between the Qumran towards Belial. In many ways
this text shows how these people thought Belial influenced sin through the way they address him
and speak of him. By addressing "Belial and all his guilty lot," (4Q286:2) they make it clear that
he is not only impious, but also guilty of sins. Informing this state of uncleanliness are both his
"hostile" and "wicked design" (4Q286:3,4). Through this design, Belial poisons the thoughts of
those who are not necessarily sinners. Thus a dualism is born from those inclined to be wicked
and those who aren't.[24] It is clear that Belial directly influences sin by the mention of
"abominable plots" and "guilty inclination" (4Q286:8,9). These are both mechanisms by which
Belial advances his evil agenda that the Qumran have exposed and are calling upon God to
protect them from. There is a deep sense of fear that Belial will "establish in their heart their evil
devices" (4Q286:11,12). This sense of fear is the stimulus for this prayer in the first place.
Without the worry and potential of falling victim to Belial's demonic sway, the Qumran people
would never feel impelled to craft a curse. This very fact illuminates the power Belial was
believed to hold over mortals, and the fact that sin proved to be a temptation that must stem from
an impure origin.

In Jubilees 1:20, Belial's appearance continues to support the notion that sin is a direct product of
his influence. Moreover, Belial's presence acts as a placeholder for all negative influences or
those that would potentially interfere with God's will and a pious existence. Similarly to the
"gentiles ... [who] cause them to sin against you" (Jubilees 1:19), Belial is associated with a force
that drives one away from God. Coupled in this plea for protection against foreign rule, in this
case the Egyptians, is a plea for protection from "the spirit of Belial" (Jubilees 1:19). Belial's
tendency is to "ensnare [you] from every path of righteousness" (Jubilees 1:19). This phrase is
intentionally vague, allowing room for interpretation. Everyone, in one way or another, finds
themselves straying from the path of righteousness and by pawning this transgression off on
Belial, he becomes a scapegoat for all misguidance, no matter what the cause. By associating
Belial with all sorts of misfortune and negative external influence, the Qumran people are
henceforth allowed to be let off for the sins they commit.

Belial's presence is found throughout the War Scrolls, located in the Dead Sea Scrolls, and is
established as the force occupying the opposite end of the spectrum of God. In Col. I, verse 1, the
very first line of the document, it is stated that "the first attack of the Sons of Light shall be
undertaken against the forces of the Sons of Darkness, the army of Belial" (1Q33;1:1).[25] This
dichotomy sheds light on the negative connotations that Belial held at the time.[26] Where God
and his Sons of Light are forces that protect and promote piety, Belial and his Sons of Darkness
cater to the opposite, instilling the desire to sin and encouraging destruction. This opposition is
only reinforced later in the document; it continues to read that the "holy ones" will "strike a blow
at wickedness", ultimately resulting in the "annihilation of the Sons of Darkness" (1Q33:1:13).
This epic battle between good and evil described in such abstract terms, however it is also
applicable to everyday life and serves as a lens through which the Qumran see the world. Every
day is the Sons of Light battle evil and call upon God to help them overcome evil in ways small
and large.

Belial's influence is not taken lightly. In Col. XI, verse 8, the text depicts God conquering the
"hordes of Belial" (1Q33;11:8). This defeat is indicative of God's power over Belial and his
forces of temptation. However the fact that Belial is the leader of hordes is a testament to how
persuasive he can be. If Belial was obviously an arbiter of wrongdoing and was blatantly in the
wrong, he wouldnt be able to amass an army. This fact serves as a warning message, reasserting
Gods strength, while also making it extremely clear the breadth of Belial's prowess. Belial's
"council is to condemn and convict", so the Qumran feel strongly that their people are not only
aware of his purpose, but also equipped to combat his influence (1Q33;13:11).

In the Damascus Document, Belial also makes a prominent appearance, being established as a
source of evil and an origin of several types of sin. In Column 4, the first mention of Belial
reads: "Belial shall be unleashed against Israel" (4Q266). This phrase is able to be interpreted
myriad different ways. Belial is characterized in a wild and uncontrollable fashion, making him
seem more dangerous and unpredictable. The notion of being unleashed is such that once he is
free to roam; he is unstoppable and able to carry out his agenda uninhibited. The passage then
goes to enumerate the "three nets" (4Q266;4:16) by which Belial captures his prey and forces
them to sin. "Fornication ..., riches ..., [and] the profanation of the temple" (4Q266;4:17,18)
make up the three nets. These three temptations were three agents by which people were driven
to sin, so subsequently, the Qumran people crafted the nets of Belial to rationalize why these
specific temptations were so toxic. Later in Column 5, Belial is mentioned again as one of "the
removers of bound who led Israel astray" (4Q266;5:20). This statement is a clear display of
Belial's influence over man regarding sin. The passage goes on to state: "they preached rebellion
against ... God" (4Q266;5:21,22). Belial's purpose is to undermine the teachings of God, and he
achieves this by imparting his nets on humans, or the incentive to sin.[27]

In the War of the Sons of Light Against the Sons of Darkness, Belial controls scores of demons,
which are specifically allotted to him by God for the purpose of performing evil.[28] Belial,
despite his malevolent disposition, is considered an angel.[29]

Christian Bible[edit]

Old Testament[edit]
Demons in the Old Testament of the Christian Bible are of two classes: the "satyrs" or "shaggy
goats" (from Hebr. se'irim "hairy beings" and Greek Old Testament satyros, "satyr";
Isaiah 13:21, 34:14)[30] and the "demons" (from Hebr. shedim, and Koine Greek
daimonion; 106:3539, 32:17).

New Testament[edit]

Medieval illumination from the Ottheinrich Folio depicting Jesus exorcizing the Gerasene

The term "demon" (from the Greek New Testament daimonion) appears 63 times in
the New Testament of the Christian Bible.[31][32][33]

Pseudepigrapha and Deuterocanonical books[edit]

Main articles: Pseudepigrapha and Deuterocanonical books

See also: Book of Tobit, Book of Enoch, and Book of Jubilees

Demons are sometimes included into biblical interpretation. In the story of Passover, the Bible
tells the story as "the Lord struck down all the firstborn in Egypt" (Exodus 12:2129). In the
Book of Jubilees, which is considered canonical only by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church,[34] this
same event is told slightly differently: "All the powers of [the demon] Mastema had been let
loose to slay all the first-born in the land of Egypt...And the powers of the Lord did everything
according as the Lord commanded them" (Jubilees 49:24).

In the Genesis flood narrative the author explains how God was noticing "how corrupt the earth
had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways" (Genesis 6:12). In Jubilees the
sins of man are attributed to "the unclean demons [who] began to lead astray the children of the
sons of Noah, and to make to err and destroy them" (Jubilees 10:1). In Jubilees Mastema
questions the loyalty of Abraham and tells God to "bid him offer him as a burnt offering on the
altar, and Thou wilt see if he will do this command" (Jubilees 17:16). The discrepancy between
the story in Jubilees and the story in Genesis 22 exists with the presence of Mastema. In Genesis,
God tests the will of Abraham merely to determine whether he is a true follower, however; in
Jubilees Mastema has an agenda behind promoting the sacrifice of Abraham's son, "an even
more demonic act than that of the Satan in Job."[35] In Jubilees, where Mastema, an angel tasked
with the tempting of mortals into sin and iniquity, requests that God give him a tenth of the
spirits of the children of the watchers, demons, in order to aid the process.[36] These demons are
passed into Mastemas authority, where once again, an angel is in charge of demonic spirits.

Demon Seated by Mikhail Vrubel (1890), an illustration to the Russian romantic poem demon by
Mikhail Lermontov. Vrubel views this demon as "a spirit, not so much evil as suffering and
sorrowing, but in all that a powerful spirit... a majestic spirit".[37]

The sources of demonic influence were thought to originate from the Watchers or Nephilim, who
are first mentioned in Genesis 6 and are the focus of 1 Enoch Chapters 116, and also in Jubilees
10. The Nephilim were seen as the source of the sin and evil on earth because they are referenced
in Genesis 6:4 before the story of the Flood.[38] In Genesis 6:5, God sees evil in the hearts of men.
The passage states, "the wickedness of humankind on earth was great", and that "Every
inclination of the thoughts of their hearts was only continually evil" (Genesis 5). The mention of
the Nephilim in the preceding sentence connects the spread of evil to the Nephilim. Enoch is a
very similar story to Genesis 6:45, and provides further description of the story connecting the
Nephilim to the corruption of humans. In Enoch, sin originates when angels descend from
heaven and fornicate with women, birthing giants as tall as 300 cubits. The giants and the angels'
departure of Heaven and mating with human women are also seen as the source of sorrow and
sadness on Earth. The book of Enoch shows that these fallen angels can lead humans to sin
through direct interaction or through providing forbidden knowledge. In Enoch, Semyaz leads
the angels to mate with women. Angels mating with humans is against God's commands and is a
cursed action, resulting in the wrath of God coming upon Earth. Azazel indirectly influences
humans to sin by teaching them divine knowledge not meant for humans. Asael brings down the
"stolen mysteries" (Enoch 16:3). Asael gives the humans weapons, which they use to kill each
other. Humans are also taught other sinful actions such as beautification techniques, alchemy,
astrology and how to make medicine (considered forbidden knowledge at the time). Demons
originate from the evil spirits of the giants that are cursed by God to wander the earth. These
spirits are stated in Enoch to "corrupt, fall, be excited, and fall upon the earth, and cause sorrow"
(Enoch 15:11).[39]

The Book of Jubilees conveys that sin occurs when Cainan accidentally transcribes astrological
knowledge used by the Watchers (Jubilees 8). This differs from Enoch in that it does not place
blame on the Angels. However, in Jubilees 10:4 the evil spirits of the Watchers are discussed as
evil and still remain on earth to corrupt the humans. God binds only 90 percent of the Watchers
and destroys them, leaving 10 percent to be ruled by Mastema. Because the evil in humans is
great, only 10 percent would be needed to corrupt and lead humans astray. These spirits of the
giants also referred to as "the bastards" in the Apotropaic prayer Songs of the Sage, which lists
the names of demons the narrator hopes to expel.[40]

Christian demonology[edit]

Main articles: Christian demonology, Exorcism in Christianity, Exorcism in the Catholic

Church, and Demonic possession Christianity

Death and the Miser (detail), a Hieronymus Bosch painting, National Gallery of Art,
Washington, D.C.

In Christianity, demons are regarded as fallen angels or descendants from union between angels
and human.[41] Often deities of other religions are interpreted or created as "demons" (from the
Greek Old Testament daimonion).[42] The evolution of the Christian Devil and
pentagram are examples of early rituals and images that showcase evil qualities, as seen by the
Christian churches.

Since Early Christianity, demonology has developed from a simple acceptance of demons to a
complex study that has grown from the original ideas taken from Jewish demonology[citation needed]
and Christian scriptures. Christian demonology is studied in depth within the Roman Catholic
Church,[43] although many other Christian churches affirm and discuss the existence of

Building upon the few references to daemons in the New Testament, especially the poetry of the
Book of Revelation, Christian writers of apocrypha from the 2nd century onwards created a more
complicated tapestry of beliefs about "demons" that was largely independent of Christian
St. Anthony plagued by demons, engraving by Martin Schongauer in the 1480s.

The contemporary Roman Catholic Church unequivocally teaches that angels and demons are
real beings rather than 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.[46]

At various times in Christian history, attempts have been made to classify demons according to
various proposed demonic hierarchies.

In the Gospels, particularly the Gospel of Mark, Jesus cast out many demons from those afflicted
with various ailments. He also lent this power to some of his disciples (Luke 10:17).

Apuleius, by Augustine of Hippo, is ambiguous as to whether daemons had become

"demonized" by the early 5th century:

He [Apulieus] 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.[47]

Demons depicted in the Book of Wonders, a late 14th century Arabic manuscript

The Islamic term "Shaitan" or "Shayateen" refers to demons in western usage.[48] The term is
sometimes also translated as "devils" or "satans" and can also apply to sapient creatures then they
act in accordance with the demons. Thus Islam includes demons among humans and among Jinn
("Shayateen al-Ins" and "Shayateen al-Jinn"), but demons make up a supernatural creature
distinct from Jinn and angels.[49] Demons themselves can be classified into descendants of Iblis,
fallen angels, who sided with Iblis' rebellion against the creation of human[50] and the Afarit, an
infernal demon able to take the form of a deathspirit.[51] Unlike Jinn, demons do not share human
traits, like raising families, free-will and just die at last on the final day, although prayers are
hold to dissolve or banish them.[52] Therefore amulettes or talisman engraved with the names of
God or a prayer, are common in folkislam, to provide protection against demons. Whisperings of
demons are called wasws and may enter the hearth of humans, especially in states of strong
emotions like depression or aggression.[53]

Hindu beliefs include numerous varieties of spirits that might be classified as demons, including
Vetalas, Bhutas and Pishachas. Rakshasas and Asuras are often also taken as demons.

The Army of Super Creatures from The Saugandhika Parinaya Manuscript (1821 CE)

Originally, Asura, in the earliest hymns of the Rig Veda, meant any supernatural spirit, either
good or bad. 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. Ancient Hinduism tells that
Devas (also called suras) and Asuras are half-brothers, sons of the same father Kashyapa;
although some of the Devas, such as Varuna, are also called Asuras. Later, during Puranic age,
Asura and Rakshasa came to exclusively mean any of a race of anthropomorphic, powerful,
possibly evil beings. Daitya (lit. sons of the mother "Diti"), Rakshasa (lit. from "harm to be
guarded against"), and Asura are incorrectly translated into English as "demon".

Post Vedic, Hindu scriptures, pious, highly enlightened Asuras, such as Prahlada and
Vibhishana, are not uncommon. The Asura are not fundamentally against the gods, nor do they
tempt humans to fall. Many people metaphorically interpret the Asura as manifestations of the
ignoble passions in the human mind and as a symbolic devices. There were also cases of power-
hungry Asuras challenging various aspects of the Gods, but only to be defeated eventually and
seek forgivenesssee Surapadman and Narakasura.

Evil spirits[edit]

Hinduism advocates the reincarnation and transmigration of souls according to one's karma.
Souls (Atman) of the dead are adjudged by the Yama and are accorded various purging
punishments before being reborn. Humans that have committed extraordinary wrongs are
condemned to roam as lonely, often evil, spirits for a length of time before being reborn. Many
kinds of such spirits (Vetalas, Pishachas, Bhta) are recognized in the later Hindu texts. These
beings, in a limited sense, can be called demons.

Bah' Faith[edit]
In the Bah' Faith, demons are not regarded as independent evil spirits as they are in some
faiths. Rather, evil spirits described in various faiths' traditions, such as Satan, fallen angels,
demons and jinns, are metaphors for the base character traits a human being may acquire and
manifest when he turns away from God and follows his lower nature. Belief in the existence of
ghosts and earthbound spirits is rejected and considered to be the product of superstition.[54]

Ceremonial magic[edit]
While some people fear demons, or attempt to exorcise them, others willfully attempt to summon
them for knowledge, assistance, or power. The ceremonial magician usually consults a grimoire,
which gives the names and abilities of demons as well as detailed instructions for conjuring and
controlling them. Grimoires aren't limited to demons some give the names of angels or spirits
which can be called, a process called theurgy. The use of ceremonial magic to call demons is
also known as goetia, the name taken from a section in the famous grimoire the Lesser Key of

According to Rosemary Ellen Guiley, "Demons are not courted or worshipped in contemporary
Wicca and Paganism. The existence of negative energies is acknowledged."[56]

Modern interpretations[edit]

The classic Japanese demon, an ogre-like creature which often has horns.

Psychologist Wilhelm Wundt remarked that "among the activities attributed by myths all over
the world to demons, the harmful predominate, so that in popular belief bad demons are clearly
older than good ones."[57] Sigmund Freud developed this idea and claimed that the concept of
demons was derived from the important relation of the living to the dead: "The fact that demons
are always regarded as the spirits of those who have died recently shows better than anything the
influence of mourning on the origin of the belief in demons."[58]

M. Scott Peck, an American psychiatrist, wrote two books on the subject, People of the Lie: The
Hope For Healing Human Evil[59] and Glimpses of the Devil: A Psychiatrist's Personal Accounts
of Possession, Exorcism, and Redemption.[60] Peck describes in some detail several cases
involving his patients. In People of the Lie he provides identifying characteristics of an evil
person, whom he classified as having a character disorder. In Glimpses of the Devil 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 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, and that possessed people are
not actually evil; rather, they are doing battle with the forces of evil.[61]

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.[62][63] Richard Woods, a Roman Catholic priest and theologian, has claimed that Dr.
Peck misdiagnosed patients based upon a lack of knowledge regarding dissociative identity
disorder (formerly known as multiple personality disorder), and had apparently transgressed the
boundaries of professional ethics by attempting to persuade his patients into accepting
Christianity.[62] Father Woods admitted that he has never witnessed a genuine case of demonic
possession in all his years.[64][65][66]

According to S. N. Chiu, God is shown sending a demon against Saul in 1 Samuel 16 and 18 in
order to punish him for the failure to follow God's instructions, showing God as having the
power to use demons for his own purposes, putting the demon under his divine authority.[67]
According to the Britannica Concise Encyclopedia, demons, despite being typically associated
with evil, are often shown to be under divine control, and not acting of their own devices.[68]