The word demon is from the Greek word daimon meaning power, intelligence: beings whose special powers place them between people and gods. Though today the word demon generally refers to an evil spirit, or a devil, this was not always the case. In fact, the Romans regarded demons (numia), as a helpful race and honored them greatly. The idea that all demons are evil was (of course) popularized by Christianity, and comes from references to evil beings or unclean spirits in the Old Testament. Christians eventually developed their elaborate order of angels and the fallen angels (demons), led by Satan. In English versions of the bible, demon is usually translated as devil.
In ancient times, most believed demons to be the spirits of dead ancestors. Societies who practiced ancestor worship sought to influence these spirits for their own gain.
Demons were thought to be able to do many things, including posses people or places, causing illness, shape shifting, etc. Female demons were thought to assume the form of a raven, while the males to turned into werewolves. There are also specific demons who posses specific abilities. Vampires suck the blood of the living. The Japanese oni bring on storms. The Scottish kelpis haunt pools, waiting to drown careless travelers. The Furies were winged maidens who were sent by the gods to punish and inflict justice on men.
They are said to favor forests, dark places or to come out at night.
Incubi are male demons who have sex with mortal woman, and succubi are female demons who have sex with mortal men. In most accounts, these demons are said to be extremely pleasurable partners, and 'victims' often don't want to give them up. They are also said to be very persistent, ignoring exorcism rituals and the like. Incubi were said to be able to impregnate women...the biggest debate concerning this was where they got the semen. Incubi were thought to be insubstantial, and therefor it was believed that succubi collected semen from their partners, then either turned into incubi, or delivered it to incubi for use during sex.
There is, unfortunately, not a lot of general information on demons available on the 'net, so I'm going to have to leave you with that. In the future, I plan to investigate specific demons and/or types of demons.
© Copyright Sabrina Wish 1998