Meet the Demons: Demystifying Demonology
“I am Legion: for we are many.”
Likely you’ve heard the term Demonology or Demonologist. On the popular TV show, “Ghost Hunters” for example, a resident Demonologist is sometimes called upon if they feel that a less than benevolent spirit is behind a haunting. Movies and books often make reference to Demonologists, and they are at times portrayed as heroic characters tasked with ridding homes and people of evil forces. But what is Demonology really?
Demon from The Exorcist
Technically, Demonology is just the study of demons and demonic forces. This is not specific to a particular religion. There are Christian, Jewish, Islamic, Occultic, and even Zoroastrian Demonologists. The focus of the study is generally to become familiar with the varying types of demons, demonic lore and history, and sometimes modern demonic activity.
The word demon is derived from the Greek term, daimon, which simply means inferior supernatural power or spirit.
Biblically, there is only one class of supernatural being that is inferior to God. These are Angels. The Angels were split after Lucifer’s rebellion, and those that aligned themselves with Satan were cast down to Earth (sometimes translated as Hell, but the literal translation seems to imply that Lucifer and a third of the heavenly host were cast down to Earth. Revelations 12) , becoming demons. But these demons are still seen as a species of the genus of Angels, and therefore, any classification or trait assigned to an Angel must apply to a demon as well.
This is not to say that Christians hold the only rights to demonic mythology. Socrates spoke of demons. Babylonians were obsessed with demons, and took great pains not to upset them. Zoroastrianism, which predates Christianity, has a very similar story of good versus evil and a war in Heaven. As stated previously, there are Jewish and Islamic demonic traditions, as well as countless others. In the main, however, the Christian tradition is usually the focus of the glamorized notion of the diabolical.
The Temptation of St. Anthony by Martin Schöngauer c. 1480-90
Now, some claiming the title of Demonlogist believe that their field of study is purely academic. They study demons, suss out the differences, and view all of the information from a scholastic point of view. Others view their chosen occupation as a spiritual calling. Thomas Aquinas for example could be called a Demonologist. Still others consider it a branch of parapsychology, treating the demonic realm as a real thing that must be understood in order to be dealt with. The latter do not always claim a particular religion, perhaps considering themselves pagan or spiritualist…but the demons that they study are still often derived from the Christian notion of “fallen ones”.
Whatever path one chooses to arrive at Demonology, there appears to be some agreement on the names and classes of demons. Where these originated from is anyone’s guess, but a good place to start would be with Milton, Voltaire, Dante Alighieri, and good old Thomas Aquinas. Some names are Biblical, some are Apocryphal, some come from the inspiration or imagination of the variety of writers who’ve taken on the topic. websites that do homework for you has put together a fantastic reference of the Top 10 Most Dangerous Demons. Here they are in Alphabetical Order:
Amy – The Presiding Demon of Hell
Despite a rather benign name, Amy is an extremely high ranking Demon in Christian theology; he is considered to be the ruling President of Hell. It is said that he appears in flame, but upon taking human form he used his demonic wiles to entrap familiars, to master human sciences and to manipulate the politics of the church. He is bent on taking the thrown of Hell and we are warned that he will use whatever means are possible to do so. Amy may be preoccupied with the political structure of various planes of existence, but he remains capable of commanding legions and waging war on humanity.
Asmodeus – (aka Abaddon) is “The Destroyer”
Mentioned in the Book of Tobias (Deuteronomy), Asmodeus is not your typical all around demon, he is considered to be one of the Princes of Hell, though other sources cite him as one of the King’s of Hell, a distinction that may not be all that important. Among other things, Asmodeus is responsible for the lust component of the famed Seven Deadly Sins, and it is said that those who submit to his sexual manipulation will be doomed to an eternity in the second level of Hell.
Astaroth – one of the Chief Devils
Astaroth is a powerful demon indeed, one of the original 72 to be named in The Lesser Key of Solomon, and this is one to watch out for. He will use temptation to lure and guide humans to their unending torture; he again, takes a role in the list of the Seven Deadly Sins.
Holds the distinction of being the most mysterious extrahuman character in Jewish sacred literature, his presence has been felt throughout the ages, but little is known about his origin or even his affiliation. He is a peddler of influence and knowledge, and popular culture has exploited his reputation and possibly given rise to his recent popularity.
Baal – The Christian King of Hell (also given as Baalim and Bael)
Baal may be the worst demon there is, he is said to be the ruling King of hell. His role as that of the right hand of Satan, and as the leader of sixty-six legions of lesser demons, makes him possibly the most dangerous entity ever conceived. His high rank and responsibility may make him less of a threat to the average living human, though ruthlessness and an all out passion for satanic power make him humanity’s worst nightmare.
Beelzebub – One of the Kings of Hell
Beelzebub may actually be the incarnate identity of Satan himself, though there is doubt in demonology circles. He may be an alternate incarnation of Baal or Bael, or he may be the original fallen angel (with the distinction that Satan was not the original). In any event, Beelzebub is largely regarded as the most powerful and dangerous demon there is. Of the available demons, Baal Zebub (as he is also known), is attributed to not one but two deadly sins, pride and gluttony, though there is some argument about this point.
One point that is seldom argued is Beezebub’s role as one of the three most prominent fallen angels, in the company of Lucifer and Leviathan. He is a force among the ruling echelon of Hell and aside his kin, is a plague on humanity and the heavens.
Byleth – one of the Kings of Hell.
Beleth (one of the many spelling variations is yet another King of Hell, some believe he is a separate incarnation of either Baal or Beelzebub, and as is the case with the demonic, deception and disguise are par for the course. Regardless of his connection to the other Kings of Hell, he is one of the most powerful there is, commanding eighty-eight legions of lesser demons, he is said to be one to offer prize and assistance to those who request it, but usually has an alterior motive. The story of Beleth may be responsible for the “selling your soul to the devil” idiom.
Leviathan, uncommonly not known by any other name, is said to be Satan himself, though argument exists. Typically represented as an enormous sea monster or serpent, it is believed that Leviathan was the serpent to have corrupted Adam and Eve. He stands next to Beelzebub and the famed Lucifer, and rules Hell as one third the almighty triad of Kings.
Lucifer – “Light-bearer”
Lucifer, once translated from the term meaning ‘Morning Star’, is the fallen archangel. He is the ambitious and power hungry Satan and was the subject of God’s wrath as he was cast out of heaven with his band of angels in tow. Some believe that Satan is in fact a representation of Lucifer, Leviathan and Beezebub, and that Hell hath only one King, and his name is Satan. He commands all in the realm of Hell and is the one demon all humanity agrees is most powerful and most dangerous.
Mephistopheles, the original Faustian
Mephisto is commonly held as the originator of the Legend of Faust, wherein the scholar wagers his soul against the devil being able to make Faust wish to live, even for a moment; using circular logic to trick Mephistopheles. He is often portrayed as Satan, though is it likely just his image that has been confused among the theology. He is known as a prince of Hell, and therefore may be considered one of the many hands of Satan.
Thanks to websites that do homework for you for the list.
Besieged by Demons, Unknown artist
In 1613 Sebastien Michaelis wrote a book, Admirable History, where he lists classifications of demons. He claims that the list was given to him by the demon Berith, while he was exorcising a nun. Here is Michaelis’ list:
- Belzebuth – pride
- Leviathan – faith
- Asmodeus – luxury
- Balberith – blasphemy and murder
- Astaroth – vanity and sloth
- Verrine – impatience
- Gresil – impurity
- Sonnillon – hate
- Lilith – first wife of Adam, succubus
- Carreau – mercilessness
- Carnivean – obscenity
- Oeillet – riches and wealth
- Rosier – love
- Verrier – disobedience
- Azazel – the Angel of Death
- Belial – arrogance
- Olivier – cruelty and greed
- Juvart – demonic possession
Lilith by John Collier. This is one of my favorite pieces of art.
Now that we’ve met the demons, what does the spiritualist Demonolgist say that we do to get rid of them? For those Demonologists inclined to believe in the warfare between diabolical spirits and humans will tell us that diabolical activity falls into three categories:
1. Infestation: This occurs when demons are acting as an annoyance or harassing presence to a person. Some Demonologists believe that a typical haunting is the work of demons, and the knocking, tapping, lights flickering, etc are all part of the infestation of an evil spirit.
2. Oppression: This is when a demon steps it up a notch and target one individual to torment. The idea is to alienate the person from their friends and loved ones, to literally oppress the person in their daily lives. The demon brings the individual lower and lower into a state of despair and sorrow, that it makes it much easier for….
3. Possession: Self explanatory, yes? The demon has now inhabited your body. They have actual physical control of you and your actions. This is considered fairly rare, although there seems to be an upswing in possessions, or perhaps it is merely the exorcist who is enjoying a renaissance?
So, now that you have a demon, how do you get rid of it? Well, if you’re Catholic you call on your Priest for an exorcism. Some protestant churches also claim to be able to rid one of demonic manifestations. But there are also Demonologists who claim to be able to purge these nasty nasties from person’s life. A prime example would be that of Demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren.
Ed and Lorraine Warren
The Warrens are the most prominent faces of Demonology. Specifically, Ed was a Demonologist and Lorraine claims to be a trance medium. Until Ed’s passing in 2006, they spent nearly 50 years together in combat against dark forces. They’ve been involved in some of the most high profile paranormal cases in history including the famous Amityville Horror and the case of The Entity, a supposedly true story of incubus attacks against a suburban woman. (Extraordinary Intelligence has examined this case previously. Read more here: Paranormal Seduction) Ed and Lorraine Warren’s full story and philosophy can be found in the book The Demonologist, which is available to read for free through Google Books. This is a fascinating tale whether you’re inclined to believe in the phenomena or not. Read the entire book here: The Demonologist.
CBS did a special on Ed and Lorraine Warren that gives a nice overview about the couple. Check it out below.
Whether or not you are inclined to believe in demons or the supernatural, Demonology is a fascinating topic full of more detail and intrigue than can fit inside this post. To learn more, check out the following sites: