Demons, also known as Devils, are very common antagonists in a number of theological stories, mythologies, folklore and fiction - they are considered either fallen angels, unclean spirits or degenerated lesser gods: although the word now has an attachment to malevolence, it was originally a positive term for any spirit lesser than a deity in status, but higher than human.
Demons have confronted a number of significant figures in religions from across the world such as the Hindu Gods, Buddah (Buddha), Jesus Christ and even God himself - normally it is believed that only faith can overcome these creatures and they are attributed with a number of evil powers.
Outwith religion Demons are seen as metaphors for natural disasters, affliction and cruelty - the most prominent of which are the "deadly sins" of Christian tradition: demons are also used to describe inner-fears and anxieties found in the minds of all people, which is where the common expression "face one's demons" comes from.
Demons are similiar to monsters in being frightening and against the natural order - unlike monsters however, most demons are seen as a spiritual threat rather than a physical one and can possess humans, cause poltergeist activity, drive people insane and much more.
War In Heaven(main article: War in Heaven)
The War in Heaven is regarded by many branches of Christianity as the beginning of demons, who were originally angels loyal to the rebel known as Lucifer - who fought against God and thus damned himself and his followers, becoming the chief spirit of evil in Christian theology - Satan.
Garden Of Eden
(main article: Fall of Man)
According to most texts, God created Adam and Eve, granting them access to the Garden Of Eden but forbidding them from eating the "sacred" fruit of knowledge from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (also known as the Tree of Knowledge and the Tree of Conception) - Satan (taking the form of a serpent) successfully tempted Eve into eating from the tree along with Adam, resulting in the supposed "Fall of Man".
Some texts also speak of Lilith, who was supposedly Adam's first wife created prior to Eve but turned from God's plan and became a demon in her own right.
Temptation of Christ
Jesus was said to be visited by Satan during his journey through a great desert and was offered the world itself by the evil spirit if he would bow before him - Jesus instead scolded Satan for his pride and upon seeing Jesus was unable to be corrupted Satan seemingly left.
Jesus was also reported to be a great and learned healer who travelled the world performing miracles, during his travels a story is told of how he came across a man troubled with madness and ordered the unclean spirits to reveal themselves - resulting in the now famous confrontation with Legion.
According to scripture Jesus ordered Legion to leave the man and they proceeded to possess a herd of pigs that ran into the sea and apparently drowned.
End of Days
(main article: Armageddon)
Revelations - which deals with the supposed events of Armageddon and the Day Of Judgement - is full of demonic imagery and tells the story of how evil comes to rule supreme over the world with figures such as the Horsemen, the Beast, Antichrist and so forth roaming the world and causing havoc.
These turbulent times are seen as either a symbolic or literal battle between good and evil with a second War In Heaven occuring and an enraged Satan falling to earth "..his rage immeasurable, for he knew his time was short".
According to most texts Satan is captured and imprisoned for a thousand years - during which Jesus sets up an age of enlightenment and peace - however after a thousand years Satan is unleashed once more and begins a second apocalypse.
The second apocalypse is the final battle as God himself is often believed to intervene and begin his Day Of Judgement - at which point Satan and his followers are cast into the Pit Of Fire and the Kingdom Of Heaven is forevermore merged with Earth.
Temptation of Buddah
Japanese Mythology is full of spirits, some of which are considered malevolent in regards to mortals, unlike Western mythology Japanese spirits are not really good or evil and are rather bizarre and often alien creatures whose methods and goals are often beyond the understanding of humans. Some of the more prominent demons in Japanese Mythology are the Onis and Tengus.
The Fomor from Celtic Mythology are often envisioned as evil spirits, though they are technically titans, they share a lot in common with demons however in being ugly, malevolent and residing in the ocean (which is often considered the home of evil spirits).
A Folk Devil is a common antagonist in folklore and myth, often envisioned as the classical satyr-like Devil of Christian lore (inspired by Pan of Greek mythology) the Folk Devil is often a trickster or tempter who is often tricked himself by a seemingly hapless would-be-victim.
Although Folk Devils tend to be defeated their are some variations of the theme in which the Folk Devil actually succeeds in their plan - a Folk Devil can be seen in many ways as an extension of pagan beliefs in fairies and lesser-gods, which were gradually replaced by the "Devil" as Christianity spread across the world.
As Christianity spread the old pagan beliefs were demonized and their followers accused of being part of "Witchcraft Cults" - in the minds of medieval scholars, the world was inhabited by evil-minded men and women who sold their souls to demons in exchange for power and moral panics often broke out as communities believed they were under attack by these "witches" - leading to terrible oppression (such as Witch-Hunts).
Prior to Christianity, many pagans believed in "fairies" - who were lesser-gods or spirits of nature, as Christianity spread the idea of these lesser-gods and spirits were not in line with the strictly monothestic Abrahamic religions and thus the Fairies were either declared to be angels, figments of the imagination or evil spirits that existed to lead people astray. Like Baal and Pazuzu before them the Fairies suffered a degeneration from lesser-gods and spirits to demons, though some particularly malevolent Fairies (such as Redcaps) were always considered demons, even in pre-Christian societies (though they went by different names and appearances).
Prominent Demons In Mythology / Theology
- Satan- chief of demons in Christianity.
- Iblis - chief of demons in Islam
- Samael - an evil angel in Judaism.
- Belial - a crowned prince of hell.
- Lilith - the original wife of Adam turned succubus.
- Beelzebub - a high-ranking demon often confused with Satan.
- Baphomet - goat-headed demon who is heavily associated with the occult.
- Antichrist - the enemy of Jesus who is said to surface in the End of Days.
- The Beast - the "false prophet" and a vessel for Satan to enforce his will during the Apocalypse.
- King of Terror- a figure described as arriving and starting wars (another name for the Antichrist).
- Ravana - a powerful demon from Hindu mythology.
- Mara - chief spirit of evil in Buddhism.
- Surtur - a fire giant from Norse mythology.
- Mephistopheles - legendary devil from the tale of Faust.
- Mammon - embodiment of wealth, often seen as a false idol.
Creatures Considered Demons
- Hags - evil witch-like beings in folklore/mythology.
- Imps - mischievious little spirits often considered low-ranking demons.
- Fallen angels - angels that have fallen from the grace of God (or similiar deity).
- Succubus - female spirits that seduce sleeping males.
- Incubus - male spirits that are accused of raping sleeping females.
- Poltergeist - "noisy spirit" - although a ghost, it can be seen as a demon by some.
Demons In Fiction
- Pazuzu - the main antagonist of The Exorcist series.
- Damien Thorn - the main antagonist of The Omen series.
- Freddy Krueger - the main antagonist of the A Nightmare on Elm Street series.
- Rosemary's Baby - the unnamed main antagonist of Rosemary's Baby.
- Pennywise - the main antagonist of "IT".
- Demonic Toys - the titular main antagonists of the "Demonic Toys" series.
- Ghoulies - the titular main character antagonists of the "Ghoulies" series.
- Trigon - a powerful demon from DC universe and enemy of the Titans.
- Mephisto - a devil-like figure from Marvel comics.
- Kil'jaeden - the secondary main antagonist of the Warcraft series.
- DIablo - the titular main antagonist of the Diablo series.
- The Beldam - the main antagonist of Coraline.
- Odio - King of Demons and the mastermind behind all evil in Live A Live