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Demons


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Netherworld
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« on: May 12, 2009, 01:13:34 pm »

Demon

In religion, folklore, and mythology a demon (or daemon, dæmon, daimon from Greek: δαίμων daimōn) is a supernatural being that is generally described as a malevolent spirit. In Christian terms demons are generally understood as fallen angels, formerly of God. A demon is frequently depicted as a force that may be conjured and insecurely controlled. The "good" demon in recent use is largely a literary device (e.g., Maxwell's demon), though references to good demons can be found in Hesiod and Shakespeare.[1] In colloquial parlance, to "demonize" a person means to characterize or portray them as evil, or as a source of evil. The mythical Sweeney Todd was accorded the title Demon Barber of Fleet Street in a 1936 film. The 19th-century Australian cricketer Fred Spofforth was nicknamed "the Demon (Bowler)", partly because of his tactic of inspiring fear in batsmen.

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Netherworld
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« Reply #1 on: May 12, 2009, 01:14:19 pm »



The Temptation of St. Anthony by Martin Schöngauer c. 1480-90. Engraving. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
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Netherworld
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« Reply #2 on: May 12, 2009, 01:14:34 pm »

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.
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Netherworld
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« Reply #3 on: May 12, 2009, 01:14:44 pm »

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[2] 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.

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« Reply #4 on: May 12, 2009, 01:14:59 pm »

Etymology
The idea of demons is as old as religion itself, and the word demon seems to have ancient origins. The Merriam-Webster dictionary gives the etymology of the word as Greek daimon, probably from the verb daiesthai meaning "to divide, distribute." The Proto-Indo-European root *deiwos for god, originally an adjective meaning "celestial" or "bright, shining" has retained this meaning in many related Indo-European languages and cultures (Sanskrit deva, Latin deus, German Tiw, Welsh [Duw],]), but also provided another other common word for demon in Avestan daeva.

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« Reply #5 on: May 12, 2009, 01:15:07 pm »

In modern Greek, the word daimon (Greek: δαίμων) has the same meaning as the modern English demon. But in Ancient Greek, δαίμων meant "spirit" or "higher self", much like the Latin genius. This should not, however, be confused with the word genie, which is a false friend or false cognate of genius.

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« Reply #6 on: May 12, 2009, 01:15:20 pm »

Psychological history
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."[3] 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."

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« Reply #7 on: May 12, 2009, 01:15:52 pm »

Hebrew Bible
Demons as described in the Tanakh are the same as "demons" commonly known in popular or Christian culture.

Those in the Hebrew Bible are of two classes, the se'irim and the shedim. The se'irim ("hairy beings"), to which some Israelites offered sacrifices in the open fields, are satyr-like creatures, described as dancing in the wilderness [4], and which are identical with the jinn, such as Dantalion, the 71st spirit of Solomon. (But compare the completely European woodwose.) Possibly to the same class belongs Azazel, the goat-like demons of the wilderness[5], probably the chief of the se'irim, and Lilith [6]. Possibly "the roes and hinds of the field", by which Shulamit conjures the daughters of Jerusalem to bring her back to her lover [7], are faunlike spirits similar to the se'irim, though of a harmless nature.
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« Reply #8 on: May 12, 2009, 01:16:01 pm »

The evil spirit that troubled Saul (I Samuel 16:14 et seq.) may have been a demon, though the Masoretic text suggests the spirit was sent by God.

Some benevolent shedim were used in kabbalistic ceremonies (as with the golem of Rabbi Yehuda Loevy), and malevolent shedim (mazikin, from the root meaning to damage) are often responsible in instances of possession. Instances of idol worship were often the result of a shed inhabiting an otherwise worthless statue;[citation needed] the shed would pretend to be a God with the power to send pestilence, although such events were not actually under his control.

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« Reply #9 on: May 12, 2009, 01:16:18 pm »

Influences from Chaldean mythology
In Chaldean mythology the seven evil deities were known as shedu, meaning storm-demons. They were represented in winged bull form, derived from the colossal bulls used as protective genii of royal palaces, the name "shed" assumed also the meaning of a propitious genius in Babylonian magic literature.[8]

It was from Chaldea that the name "shedu" came to the Israelites, and so the writers of the Tanach applied the word as a dylogism to the Canaanite deities in the two passages quoted. But they also spoke of "the destroyer" (Exodus xii. 23) as a demon whose malignant effect upon the houses of the Israelites was to be warded off by the blood of the paschal sacrifice sprinkled upon the lintel and the door-post (a corresponding pagan talisman is mentioned in Isaiah lvii. Cool. In II Samuel xxiv; 16 and II Chronicles xxi. 15 the pestilence-dealing demon is called "the destroying angel" (compare "the angel of the Lord" in II Kings xix. 35; Isaiah xxxvii. 36), because, although they are demons, these "evil messengers" (Psalms lxxviii. 49; A. V. "evil angels") do only the bidding of God; they are the agents of His divine wrath.

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« Reply #10 on: May 12, 2009, 01:16:30 pm »

There are indications that popular Hebrew mythology ascribed to the demons a certain independence, a malevolent character of their own, because they are believed to come forth, not from the heavenly abode of God, but from the nether world [9].

Hebrew demons were workers of harm. To them were ascribed the various diseases, particularly such as affect the brain and the inner parts. Hence there was a fear of "Shabriri" (lit. "dazzling glare"), the demon of blindness, who rests on uncovered water at night and strikes those with blindness who drink of it;[10] also mentioned were the spirit of catalepsy and the spirit of headache, the demon of epilepsy, and the spirit of nightmare.

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« Reply #11 on: May 12, 2009, 01:16:40 pm »

These demons were supposed to enter the body and cause the disease while overwhelming or "seizing" the victim (hence "seizure"). To cure such diseases it was necessary to draw out the evil demons by certain incantations and talismanic performances, in which the Essenes excelled. Josephus, who speaks of demons as "spirits of the wicked which enter into men that are alive and kill them", but which can be driven out by a certain root,[11] witnessed such a performance in the presence of the Emperor Vespasian,[12] and ascribed its origin to King Solomon.

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« Reply #12 on: May 12, 2009, 01:16:55 pm »

King and queen
In some rabbinic sources, the demons were believed to be under the dominion of a king or chief, either Asmodai [13] or, in the older Haggadah, Samael ("the angel of death"), who kills by his deadly poison, and is called "chief of the devils". Occasionally a demon is called "satan": "Stand not in the way of an ox when coming from the pasture, for Satan dances between his horns" [14].

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« Reply #13 on: May 12, 2009, 01:17:05 pm »

According to some texts, the queen of demons is Lilith, pictured with wings and long flowing hair, and called the "mother of Ahriman" [15]. "When Adam, doing penance for his sin, separated from Eve for 130 years, he, by impure desire, caused the earth to be filled with demons, or shedim, lilin, and evil spirits."[16]

Demonology never became an essential feature of Jewish theology. The reality of demons was never questioned by the Talmudists and late rabbis; most accepted their existence as a fact. Nor did most of the medieval thinkers question their reality. Only rationalists like Maimonides and Abraham ibn Ezra, clearly denied their existence. Their point of view eventually became the mainstream Jewish understanding.

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« Reply #14 on: May 12, 2009, 01:17:18 pm »

Jewish rabbinic literature
Rabbinical demonology has three classes of, demons, though they are scarcely separable one from another. There were the shedim, the mazziḳim ("harmers"), and the ruḥin ("spirits"). Besides these there were lilin ("night spirits"), ṭelane ("shade", or "evening spirits"), ṭiharire ("midday spirits"), and ẓafrire ("morning spirits"), as well as the "demons that bring famine" and "such as cause storm and earthquake" (Targ. Yer. to Deuteronomy xxxii. 24 and Numbers vi. 24; Targ. to Cant. iii. 8, iv. 6; Eccl. ii. 5; Ps. xci. 5, 6.)[17]

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