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What is a Demon?

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A Demon is a supernatural being that is generally described as a malevolent spirit.

HistoryEdit

The Greek conception of a daemon (< δαίμων daimōn) appears in the works of Plato and many other ancient authors, but without the evil connotations which are apparent in the Septuagint translation of the Hebrew Bible and in the Greek originals of the New Testament. The medieval and neo-medieval conception of a "demon" in Western civilization (see the Medieval grimoire called the Ars Goetia) derives seamlessly from the ambient popular culture of Late (Roman) Antiquity. Greco-Roman concepts of daemons that passed into Christian culture are discussed in the entry daemon, though it should be duly noted that the term referred only to a spiritual force, not a malevolent supernatural being. The Hellenistic "daemon" eventually came to include many Semitic and Near Eastern gods as evaluated by Christianity.

The supposed existence of demons is an important concept in many modern religions and occultist traditions. In some present-day cultures, demons are still feared in popular superstition, largely due to their alleged power to possess living creatures. In the contemporary Western occultist tradition (perhaps epitomized by the work of Aleister Crowley), a demon, such as Choronzon, the "Demon of the Abyss", is a useful metaphor for certain inner psychological processes, though some may also regard it as an objectively real phenomenon.

Some scholars[1] believe that large portions of the demonology (see Asmodai) of Judaism, a key influence on Christianity and Islam, originated in Zoroastrianism, and were transferred to Judaism during the Persian era.

Psychical HistoryEdit

Psychologist Wilhelm Wundt remarks that "among the activities attributed by myths all over the world to demons, the harmful predominate, so that in popular belief bad demons are clearly older than good ones." Sigmund Freud develops on this idea and claims that the concept of demons was derived from the important relation of the living to the dead: "The fact that demons are always regarded as the spirits of those who have died recently shows better than anything the influence of mourning on the origin of the belief in demons."

ReferencesEdit

  1. Boyce, 1987; Black and Rowley, 1987; Duchesne-Guillemin, 1988.

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