The modern, post-Christian, concept of demons is terrifying. Most are well acquainted with the stereotypical icon of the horned beast with cloven hooves. Interestingly, the modern iconography of demons, Satan, and the Devil, all closely resemble pre-Christian deities and folkloric beings such as the Horned God or Pan. While such deities were not evil in any way, the modern equivalent is the epitome of evil.
As society transitioned from early spiritual concepts into a Christianized worldview, those early gods became equated with evil. Frightening or grotesque figures used by early religions to frighten away evil soon became equated with the evil itself. Consider practitioners of folk religion. For many, it was necessary to worship the old gods in secret to avoid accusations of witchcraft, heresy, or demonic worship.
Even the etymology of the word demon does not mean today what it meant in the past. In the past, demons were simply spirits. They were not good or evil by nature. Demons have become misunderstood creatures. While there is evil in both the seen and unseen world, the term “demon” has become a generic catchall for everything evil.
Early Jewish and Christian society did not equate demons with fallen angels. When regarding the ancient Christian world, one also has to consider Greece. Many Bibles were first translated into ancient Greek long before any other language.
In ancient Greece, the word daimon referred to gods and supernatural beings. Further, it could also refer to the soul of the dead. To society during this time, daimons, as supernatural entities, could be responsible for illness. For example, doctors often visited the home of a patient along with a holy person. The reason is that if a patient suffered from stomach pains, the cause was a spirit or god who was causing it. Another name for these beings was daimon.
The same concept is true of those suffering from mental illness. The patient was considered “possessed” by a daimon. While this all seems as if they were regarded as evil entities, that was not the case. Society viewed daimons as beings that needed to be pacified through offerings or sacrifice.
As stated previously, the bible was translated into Greek before any other language. Within this context, the Hebrew scribes inserted the word daimon for any number of concepts including disease, animal hybrids, or even Pagan gods. And please keep in mind that Pagan is not a bad word. Pagan refers to those who lived in the country and practiced folk beliefs. Interestingly. The word daimon could also mean angel. With these concepts in mind, it changes the meaning behind many of the biblical references to demons.
Despite being classified as demons, these entities are very unlike the Western concept of demons. Within Japanese folklore, these creatures are spiritual beings. Alternatively, they are also referred to as ayakashi, monoke, or mamono. Typically translated from the Chinese term yaoguai which means monster or unusual creature. These Eastern spiritual beings are quite similar in nature.
The Yōkai are depicted with animal-like features yet with a humanoid appearance. For example, the Kappa has turtle-like features. Others look like everyday objects, and some have no defined shape at all. Yet, all possess supernatural abilities. According to folklorists, they are the personification of peculiar events. Just as Greek daimons could cause all sorts of phenomena, so too their Eastern counterparts.
The concept of Animism was prevalent in early cultures and remains an important aspect of modern non-Christianized lands. Animism is the concept that everything on earth was possessed by a spirit. This included supposedly inanimate objects. While this concept may seem silly to some in the modern world, consider how many times a person has remarked that an inanimate object is out to do harm. For example, “I swear this computer hates me and wants to make my life miserable!”
Conversely, how many modern people have a favorite chair, stove burner, or outfit simply because with each of these items life is just easier or better? Do any of these objects hold a spiritual essence? Do these spirits create good or harm because of their very nature? No matter how far the human race has come technologically, at its heart, humankind remains as connected to the beliefs of its predecessors as ever.
What is a Demon?
Traditionally, demons were seen as evil, malevolent forces that were responsible for all of the world’s misfortunes. Conversely, demons are also seen as a metaphor for the darker aspects of the human psyche. They are viewed as the embodiment of our innermost fears, anxieties, and insecurities.
In modern psychology, demons are often used to describe the psychological states of depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues. They can also be used to describe the inner struggle we all face when trying to overcome our own personal demons. In popular culture, demons have been used as a metaphor for the darker aspects of society. They are used to describe the darker aspects of human nature, such as greed, hatred, and violence. They can also be used to describe the darker aspects of our culture, such as racism, sexism, and homophobia.
In some cases, demons have been used to describe the darker aspects of one’s personal life. They describe the inner struggles humans face when trying to overcome our own personal demons. As seen as a metaphor for the darker aspects of the human psyche and our culture, they are used to describe the inner struggles faced when trying to overcome our own personal demons. The modern concept of demons is a far cry from the traditional view of these supernatural creatures.
With all of this in mind, it is pertinent to express that evil does exist. Five minutes of watching the news are enough to convince the most hardened skeptic. However, within the context of spiritual terms, there are beings that are evil.
Within the paranormal community, investigators typically find these entities fall into two categories. The first is a human spirit who was a nasty human being in life. The second category is for entities that never had a human life and are malevolent. Malevolent intent is the key phrase. Such beings today are simply called demons based on the Christian concept of malevolent or evil beings. The term demon has become a generic catch-all phrase. Yes, evil does in fact exist regardless of the name given to it and it is highly recommended that one does not go out searching for it.
When Did Angels Become Demons? By: DALE BASIL MARTIN, Journal of Biblical Literature, Vol. 129, No. 4 (WINTER 2010), pp. 657-677, The Society of Biblical Literature.
Yokai.com. Yokai.com | The Illustrated Database of Japanese Folklore. (n.d.). Retrieved April 12, 2023, from https://yokai.com/