Little Details

A Fact-Checking Community for Writers

Previous Entry Share Next Entry
Types of Demons
Spork, Zelda Queen
zelda_queen wrote in little_details
In the story, my main character is friends with a demon who is a species that is incredibly low-ranking. I've been Google searching "types of demons", but mostly all I've been able to find are lists of specific ones. I can find very little on actual species (incubus, etc)

I'm trying to find types demons relating to biblical texts foremost, however if anyone knows of demon types from other parts of the world, I'm interested in knowing those as well.

Thank you very much! :D

"Imp" is the term I most associate with lesser demons.

Oh yeah, those would work. Thank you! :)

Oh wow, I didn't know about those! *bookmarks* Thanks!

That's a hard question if you're using the Christian... hrm. Mythos is the only word that's coming to mind, sorry. The ranks of Heaven were diced over and arrayed many times -- Gustav Davidson's Dictionary of Angels, including the fallen angels has about 6-8 different rankings of the types of angels. However, there isn't a similar ranking that I've seen for demons -- and believe me, as someone very involved in SJ Games' In Nomine tabletop RPG? I have done a tad of research. O;> (I see that there are some pages which talk about Powers and Principalities and whatnot -- some of those appear as angelic rankings in Gustav's Dictionary, so... you might want to see if you have a handy library with that book in it. It's really awesome. Heck, if you have enough to get a used copy, I'd say it'd be worth it if you're doing any kinds of religious-themed/including stories.)

Likewise, the "types" of angels are also pretty vague -- Gustav's Dictionary gives jobs for given angels, and spheres of influence, but while the ranks are named, they aren't generally described as having different powers -- as I recall. I can't get at the book to double-check. They look different, have different numbers of wings, have different jobs, but their powers are handwaved. They're angels. They ask the Almighty for favors.

You might well do better looking at Asian demonic hierarchies.

Or, if going for specifically Christian-flavored/modern-flavored, just make up your own! If you walk a similar route as In Nomine did, choose an angelic hierarchy, and twist it to make the demonic version. (In the In Nomine version, the highest rank of angel maps to the highest rank (or at least, highest ego) of demon. You might want to consider inverting entirely, and have the lowest rank of angel become the highest rank of demon! You might also consider whether or not the most powerful sort of demon on Earth might be much weaker in the spiritual realm -- and vice versa, which might give some reasons why demon-summoners could have a prayer (hee hee) of controlling the rulers of Hell! If the most-powerful demons get a power-down on Earth, well, there's some interesting implications to play with! )

If you've got a good local library and/or are willing to order books, you might consider some of the Also Boughts from Gustav's, that Amazon popped up when I looked: starts out a bit... fluffy, but from the Look Inside sample, seems to be at least decently researched once you get to the demonic names and past the introduction. looks to be more a general "evil and/or 'wild'/dangerous and/or highly mischievous spirits" book, but might give you ideas.

(Note: please do NOT lift stuff from the In Nomine tabletop RPG. #1: it's full of both researched and made-up stuff, intermixed as seamlessly as possible, and #2: the made-up stuff is copyrighted. >_> You may want to look at it, as a "worked example" of research and made-up stuff -- but then again, depending on your process and how likely you might be to get "infected" with the ideas, you might want to avoid it till you'd gotten your own ideas solidly written down.)

Ohhh, thanks for all the info! :) I'll be sure to check those books out!

The Bible does not, to the best of my recollection, define any specific kinds of demons at all. Even the 'biblical' angelic hierarchy is actually based on a creative reading of St Paul, set out in the works of Dionysus Pseudo-Areopagite. Most of what we 'know' about the Christian view of demons derives from later works such as Dante's Divine Comedy. At the time of Jesus, the people writing detailed accounts of many hells and kinds of torturing demon were mostly Buddhists.

Much of the "demonology" was regarded as superstition even in the Middle Ages.

This is just what I was thinking. There are different types of angels mentioned in passing (cherubim and seraphim, IIRC), but that's it as far as Biblical specificity.

Even the 'biblical' angelic hierarchy is actually based on a creative reading of St Paul, set out in the works of Dionysus Pseudo-Areopagite.

And given that early depictions of angels show them wearing the uniform and rank distinctions of the Byzantine Imperial Civil Service, what are the chances that Dionysus was basing his hierarchy on that too?

Edited at 2013-02-01 01:06 pm (UTC)

Possibly, although it's worth noting that clergy to this day wear vestments which also derive from the same source, and Pseudo-Dionysius wrote an 'Ecclesiastical Hierarchy' as well as a 'Celestial Hierarchy', so I think it's probably not a direct borrowing.

Nevertheless, the fact is that the Bible absolutely does not contain the information the OP is trying to find in it.

Not sure if I can help, but:
> A small list of different kinds of creatures common known as demons (from different cultures)ouu
> Another list of creatures from different cultures, but I think the text in the begining may help you (at least with the christian view of demons).
> Maybe this can help? The wikipedia list of classification of demons, with classifications from different sources, as Sebastian Michaelis, Alfonso de Spina and from the Key of Solomon.

And I'm sorry, I don't speak english and I hope you can understand me. Sorry for any mistakes.

(Edited to add a link.)

Edited at 2013-02-01 01:34 am (UTC)

Those sources are all very helpful! Thanks! :)

The "classification of demons", maybe? This page includes hierarchies:

Ooop the link was already posted, sorry!

That's alright. :) Thanks for posting the link!

I've always used Collin de Plancy's Dictionnaire Infernal for the 'Christian' demon hierarchy. Link goes to wiki. I haven't been able to find an English language translation, but googling de Plancy should give you most of the text and illlustrations scattered across the web.

I'll have a look-see. Thanks! :)

There's probably something in Montague Summers somewhere, but I don't have mine handy.

Sounds interesting. Is that a book?

Author. Montague Summers was a rather eccentric clergyman who wrote a bunch of "true" books about witches, demons, vampires, etc etc.

The only one I've read is "The Vampire in Lore and Legend" but going by the style of that, his demonology one might be useful if you can find it.

The Encyclopedia of Demons and Demonology by Rosemary Guiley proved to be especially helpful to me when I ran into a similar problem in my writing. It names and ranks various demons, mostly Christian, but it includes other religions and cultures as well.

Thanks! I'll look that up!


Log in