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James Randi Educational Foundation

An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural

Introduction | "R" Reading | Curse of the Pharaoh | End-of-the-World Prophecies

Index | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | Y | Z

demon (or daemon, from the Greek daimon) A malevolent spirit. Demons are often invisible, but can see, usually have wings and can fly, know the future, can propagate (with other demons or with humans), and can die. Demons come in all sizes, so they can enter and inhabit the bodies of humans and animals, but are inhibited from this by properly-selected charms and they fear fire, water, light, salt, and certain herbs. Sneezing is said to provide a demon with the opportunity of flying up one's nose, thus the expression, “Bless you!” or “Bonne santé!” or “Gesundheit!” as a response to a sneeze. It's not known to help, but it can't hurt.
      The Lesser Key of Solomon, the Lemegeton manuscript now in the British Museum, lists seventy-three demons in hierarchial progression, but there are so many other menus to choose from, one is hard put to decide which listing to accept. These head demons, former rebellious angels, bring about storms, shipwreck, earthquakes, and other cataclysms.

Demons, as drawn by Hans Holbein the Younger.

      Occultists, with their uncanny wisdom, have estimated that there are 7,250,000 demons currently in action, who are controlled by some seventy-nine higher powers. The hierarchy of demons is as follows:

      One emperor
      Seven kings
      Twenty-four dukes
      Thirteen marquis demons
      Ten counts
      Eleven presidents

      There are thirteen other less fancy officers in this court, and the regular common demons are under the control of this royalty.
      The Talmud, not to be outdone, declares that there are 7,405,926 demons in existence. The Greek philosophers Porphyry and Thales believed in demons. The Templars, a group of French knights dedicated to protecting Christians on their way to slaughter infidels during the Crusades, adopted the demon Baphomet as part of their strange religious rites, a fact all the more mysterious because the name is a corruption of Mahomet.
      Demons are believed to inhabit deserts in preference to most other zones, perhaps favoring the closer resemblance to their home clime.
      See also Johannes Weyer.

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Copyright (C) 1995-2007 James Randi.

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