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, the West Africans, and others; the Arab djinn, 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. Demonology, though often referred to with negative connotation, was not always seen as evil or devilish as the term would have one believe.
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.
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. In Korea, 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. 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 gods.
The ascription of malevolence to the world of spirits is by no means universal. In West 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 that 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 indiscriminating and malignant, being viewed as invisible guardians of mankind.
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. See Sefer Yetzirah.
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 Christianity, a demon is traditionally an evil spirit, not human in origin, and bent towards the destruction of mankind using every guile imaginable.
Certain denominations believe that a demon can get access simply by acknowledging or accepting its presence. Acceptance often means committing sin; eg. demons gradually gain control of the eyes when the eyes sin by looking at things vile, gain control of the tongue when it is used for slander or blasphemy, and can make it slip, etc, and this can spread to other parts of the body, regardless of whether the sinner calls himself Christian or not. This is called possession. In more extreme cases, the demon gains an actual entrance into the bodily frame, leading to disastrous results, often hideous and antagonistic. There are examples of such in the Gospels.
However, religious demonology practitioners such as Dave Considine and Ed and Lorraine Warren state that a demon can usually only enter into your life if you open a "door" via a Ouija board, a black magic ritual, or if you reside in a location where a demon has gained access through a "portal." They also say that a demon will often take the form of a child, or a child ghost, to trick a family member into taking it into the home.
They say that a Ouija board itself is not dangerous, but that merely using it to attempt contact with the dead constitutes an invitation to enter. They say that spirits contacted with this method are very rarely human (let alone deceased family members or loved ones), capable of reading your memories to fake their identity, and generally willing to lie about anything you ask them.
Some Christians believe that symptoms of demon possession include voices in one's mind or a horror of mind, especially when there are no signs of insanity or mental damage/unhealthiness, a stubbornness of mind- holding fast to a particular belief and refusing to listen to reason, a split personality as if two separate personalities share the same body. However, most practicing demonologists assert the importance of a medical and psychiatric evaluation before assuming that the person in question may be possessed by a demon. Schizophrenia, for example, can exhibit many symptoms commonly attributed to possession. Demonologists also often make a distinction between "demonic" and "diabolical," with devils perceived as being much more dangerous -- the "officers," perhaps, while demons would be the equivalent of enlisted soldiers.
Most Christian traditions also state that for protection against demon possession, faith in God is needed, an alert watchfulness, a guarding of one's own mind (i.e. analyzing one's thoughts and actions often) and an aggressive, often spoken refusal of all evil spirits and all things of evil spirits over every aspect of one's being, or over specific aspects of one's being (where possession is suspected or known to be manifest) in the Name of Jesus, and done in cooperation with God. Prayer against the evil spirit or spirits, prayer to shed light on what action(s) was done, or word(s) said that allowed them ground for possession so that this too can be refused are also often necessary.
Demonic infestation or demonic encounters have been claimed by many notable people throughout history, such as James Gall, Dr J.L. Nevius, Sir Robert Anderson, and Pastor Ernst Lohmann. Christians also believe the same evil spirits existed in the time of Jesus that exist today in everyday society. These traditions are generally not common in the modern Roman Catholic Church, nor in most other Christian denominations. Demons and demonic possession are generally considered to be a Medieval belief.
In Christian demonology, the only reliable way to rid oneself of a demon is through an exorcism, which is typically performed by a Catholic priest. Sometimes a blessing of the home can remove or deter the presence, as long as this blessing is properly performed. There are several levels of exorcism, the "lightest" of which is baptism. A Catholic priest can perform a "minor" exorcism in the home, but a "major" exorcism requires the consent of the local bishop.
This process requires a medical and psychiatric evaluation of every family member by licensed professionals, and the gathering of tape recorded and photographic evidence. It can take weeks or even months before a major exorcism may be approved. In the mean time, the family is usually instructed to ignore the perceived presence and to pray regularly, as it is believed that responding to it with fear or anger makes it stronger.
According to Christian demonology, sometimes more than one demon can be present within the home, but only one family member is really targeted for possession. The demon(s) will make an effort to divide family members against each other and cultivate an oppressive atmosphere. According to demonologists like Dave Considine, you cannot solve the problem by moving to a new home, because demons haunt a person, rather than haunting a home, unlike a ghost. Furthermore, numerous exorcisms may be required before the home and family are "cleansed," and the family will probably need psychological therapy for some time afterward.
According to protestant exorcist and author Pastor G. P. Haggart, demons dwell or hide in vacant areas such as abandon buildings, tombs, grave yards and the wilderness. There they feed off the sinful residue of man's carnal knowledge (Galatians 5:16-24).
Many may claim to be "religious demonologists" -- i.e., capable of evaluating a family for approval of a Catholic exorcism or other method of removal -- but there is only a small handful of them operating in North America, and all do so with the certified approval of the Catholic church. Certification requires extensive knowledge of Catholicism and Latin, as well as years of mentoring. Since demons and demonic possession are largely perceived as a mix of quaint superstition and urban legend, the role of the exorcist and the Christian demonologist has waned dramatically in the wake of the Age of Enlightenment.
Demonolators are not identical to practitioners of Theistic Satanism. They worship other demons (such as Belial and Leviathan) either alongside, or instead of Satan. Some demonolators say that their form of demonolatry is a tradition, often familial, that is not related to the modern religious and philosophical movements collectively referred to as Satanism. Not all of the occultists who worship demons use the word "demonolator" to describe themselves, nor do all belong to the specific group mentioned above.
In Islam, the devil Iblis (Satan and/or Lucifer in Christianity) was a 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.
Die Damonen: Die Damonologie der Israelitisch-Judischen und Fruhchristlichen Literatur im Kontext ihrer Umwelt = Demons: The Demonology of Israelite-Jewish and Early Christian Literature in Context of their Environment.(Book Review)
Sep 01, 2004; DIE DAMONEN: DIE DAMONOLOGIE DER ISRAELITISCH-JUDISCHEN UND FRUHCHRISTLICHEN LITERATUR IM KONTEXT IHRER UMWELT = DEMONS: THE...
Gabor Klaniczay and Eva Pocs, eds., in collaboration with Eszter Csonka-Takacs. Christian Demonology and Popular Mythology, Demons, Spirits, and Witches 2.(Book review)
Jun 22, 2008; GABOR KLANICZAY AND EVA POCS, eds., in collaboration with Eszter Csonka-Takacs. Christian Demonology and Popular...