Today we know that people of nearly every culture on Earth believe in some kind of evil entity. In India, the Hindus call the demons Asuras and in ancient China, demons are called Yaoguai. The latter were believed to be fallen celestial beings (similar to Christianity and Catholicism).
In ancient Egypt, it was believed that demons ate peoples’ souls when they went to the afterlife. In Hebrew, demons called Seۜirim come from another world and bring with them diseases and troubles. In Judaism, demons are evil spirits called dybbuk that can change someone’s personality and cause mental illness. In Islam, Djinns are creatures that can cause both good and evil.
In each of these belief systems, the devil and his demons take on different types of appearances and traits. However, the most common image is that of a horned creature with cloven feet and carrying a pitchfork. Don’t expect that type of creature to appear in your room. Although it has happened, demons most often come in a more subtle form. The one I saw looked like an ordinary man and it was my own soul that recognized this creature for what he truly was.
Interest in demons and more particularly in Satanism took a leap forward in the mid-20th century when Anton LaVey founded the Church of Satan and authored the Satanic Bible. He believed Christianity was too restrictive and that people should have the ultimate say in their own lives. More informal satanic groups then seemed to spring up in various parts of the world.
See Part 3: What is Possession?
Research Essay: Dragons & Demons in Norse Mythology