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Glossary of Wiccan, Neo-Pagan and Occult Terminology

DEMONS (a.k.a Daemons, Daimons)

In occult thought, demons are any of a wide range of lesser intermediary spirits between their world and the physical world.   Demons usually are associated with evil, but in pre-Christian and non-Christian cultures, demons were, and are, not necessarily good or evil.   There are good and bad demons, and demons capable of both kinds of behaviour.   For the purposes of this website we will use that as a 'working definition'.   The study of demons is called demonology.

The term demon means "replete with wisdom;" allegedly 'good' demons once were called eudemons, and evil demons were called cacodemons.   Demon is derived from the Greek term daimon, or "divine power."   In Greek mythology, daimons included deified heroes.   Daimons were intermediary spirits between man and the gods.   A good daimon acted as a Guardian Spirit, and it was considered lucky to have one for guidance and protection.

A guardian daimon whispered advice and ideas in one's ear.   Evil daimons could lead one astray.   Socrates claimed he had a daimon his entire life.   The daimon's voice warned him of danger and bad decisions but never directed him what to do.   Socrates said his Guardian Spirit was more trustworthy than omens from the flights and entrails of birds, two highly respected forms of divination at the time.

Historically, demons have been controlled by magicians and Sorcerers.   Solomon commanded the Djinn to work for him.   Demons have been exorcised as the causes of disease, misfortune and possession.   In ancient Egypt, it was believed that a magician who exorcised a demon responsible for a possession would be just as likely to use the same demon to other ends.   To the present day in many tribal societies, demons are blamed for a wide range of misfortunes and illnesses.

Kabbalistic systems of demonology have long and complex histories and distinguish between classes of demons.   According to the Kabbalah, evil powers emanate from the left Pillar of the Tree of Life, especially from Geburah, the sephira (sphere) of the wrath of God.   By the 13th Century, the idea had developed of ten evil sephiroth to counter the ten holy sephiroth of the Tree.   Another system of demons distinguishes those born of night terrors, and yet another system describes the demons that fill the sky between the earth and the moon.

According to the Kabbalah, there are demons who, with angels, are in charge of the night hours, and interpretations of diseases, and those who have Seals that may be used to summon them. In the development of Christian demonology, demons have come to be associated only with evil; by virtue of being demons, they are agents of the Devil.   Good Christian spirits belong to the ranks of angels of the Lord.

The ranks of demons chronicled by Medieval demonologists swelled to include the gods and demons of the ancient Middle Eastern and Jewish Traditions, and all pagan deities and Nature Spirits.  As agents of the Devil, demons became assoc!ated with Witches during the Middle Ages and Renaissance, an association perpetuated well beyond the Reformation.

Increase Mather, writing in Cases of Conscience (1693), said, "The Scriptures assert that there are Devils and Witches and that they are the common enemy of Mankind."   George Giffard, an Oxford preacher of about the same period, said that witches should be put to death not because they kill others but because they deal with devils: "These Cunning Men and women which deale with spirites and charme seeming to do good, and draw the people into manifold impieties, with all other which haue [have] familiarity with deuils [devils], or use conjurations, ought to bee rooted out, that others might see and feare."

Are Demons real?

Many people who believe in angels have trouble with believing in demons.   They treat them as primitive superstition.   The Bible is clear on this fact; Jesus ministry seemed to have more to do with demons than their good 'counterparts'.

Revelation 12:9 is the clearest Scripture on the identity of demons, "The great dragon was hurled down - that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray.   He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him."   The Bible indicates that the demons are fallen angels - angels who along with Satan rebelled against God.   Satan's fall from heaven is described in Isaiah 14:12-15 and Ezekiel 28:12-15.   Revelation 12:4 seems to indicate that Satan took one-third of the angels with him when he sinned.   Jude verse 6 mentions angels who sinned.   So, it is likely that demons are the angels who followed Satan in sin against God.

Satan and his demons now look to destroy and deceive all those who follow and worship God (1 Peter 5:8; 2 Corinthians 11:14-15).   The demons are described as evil spirits (Matthew 10:1), unclean spirits (Mark 1:27), and angels of Satan (Revelation 12:9).   Satan and his demons deceive the world (2 Corinthians 4:4), attack Christians (2 Corinthians 12:7; 1 Peter 5:8), and combat the holy angels (Revelation 12:4-9).   Demons are spiritual beings, but they can appear in physical forms (2 Corinthians 11:14-15).

Unnecessary fear of demons is unhealthy.   Demons can not be blamed for all human wrong doing.   While demons can and do, tempt us, our natural inclination to do wrong requires little encouragement.   The Bible clearly shows us that God is ultimately in control and good will ultimately triumph over evil. Rev 20:10

see also: DAIMONS; DEMONS, Sexual Intercourse with; DEMONS in Modern Witchcraft and Ceremonial Magick

see also:
SPIRITUAL WARFARE in the ARTICLES Section of this Site.

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One of the major problems with 'defining' Paganism and/or its beliefs and practices is that it is an 'organic' movement, in that it is undergoing constant change and re-evaluation from within, and as such any 'one-size-fits-all' approach to understanding Paganism will be found wanting.

Due to the very 'organic' nature of Paganism, and the many differing Paths and Traditions within it, in many cases no one definition may be universally accepted by all Pagans.   Therefore, where such cases of possible conflicting and/or contradictory meanings of certain terms occur I have endevoured to give not only the generally accepted meaning, but also any major 'variations' in belief and/or practice.

Christians who believe this difference in meaning of certain key terms, beliefs and practices to be unique to Paganism need to remember that such conflicts also arise within the Body of Christ - the Church.   Take for instance the differing practices amongst Christians concerning Baptism and the different attitudes towards women in the clergy.

- Jean-Luc
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