The term "demon" was originally used to describe spirits or gods, usually a tutelary deity. It was also used to refer to the souls of humans, as well as the souls of animals and the spirits within rocks, plants, clouds, waterfalls and other things and places in nature. A demon can also be a spirit being that has never been embodied. They were both benevolent and malevolent as well as neutral.
Later, in Christianity, demons were always described as evil.
In Catholicism, demons are fallen angels, spiritual beings who were created innocent but lapsed into sin. Once demonic they work on the fears of men in order to tempt them away from God.
Demons exist as invisible forces or appear as inanimate objects, small reptiles or insects, domesticated or wild animals (see below), human beings, hairy goat-like beasts, plants, little creatures, or huge monsters. They also masquerade as other supernatural creatures such as angels or aliens.
They are not flesh and blood yet they eat, drink, reproduce and they can be wounded or killed.
Demons dwell in dreary, lonely places such as grave yards, remote deserts, or the ruins of cities that have been destroyed, they dwell in places where human suffering has occurred or in places that breed unwholesomeness.
They are strongest during the hours of darkness, they bring death and destruction in the form of disease, insanity, misfortune, and natural disasters. They have the ability to enter or possess the human body, control the mind, cause distress, and inflict pain. Women and children are especially vulnerable to possession which can be avoided with the use of certain incantations, rituals, drugs, herbs, and charms.
List of diabolical animals: serpents, worms, goats, pigs, hedgehogs, bulls, wolves, ravens, crows, vultures, owls, bats, cats, dogs, black horses, rats, mice, ferrets, weasels, moles, frogs, toads, spiders, flies, dragonflies, scorpions, bees, beetles, cockroaches, and others.
See Also: Creatures by Type » Demons
The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: The Universal Knowledge Foundation, 1908.
The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge. New York and London: Funk and Wagnalls Company, 1909.
Encyclopedia Britannica. New York: Encyclopedia Britannica Company, 1911.