This is a subject that I explored on my One Witches Wonderland blog about a year ago, but since that blog has closed, I wanted to revisit it. What follows is the majority (although altered) of that original OWW post as well as some of the comments which were posted (names have been changed).
I had been told by other Pagans that if you believe in demons you aren't a "real Pagan." And I had read over and over again that demons & Paganism simply didn't mix. To be honest here, I am a firm believer that anyone who feels the need to define someone elses faith needs to reevaluate their own! I think that for the most part, the authors of these books were simply trying to make people understand that there is nothing "demonic" or "evil" about Paganism, especially since the vast majority of "newbies" have been raised in - at the very least - a very Christianized society. But I was still generally of the belief that I was in the minority. That was, at least, until I started polling others... Here's what I found!
I placed my polls on a number of websites including Facebook, Cafemom, Pagan-Place as well as a few other forums. My poll included a number of options and asked that people simply choose the option that best fit their belief. The options were:
- I believe in BOTH Angles & Demons
- I believe in Angles, but not Demons
- I believe in Demons, but not Angels
- I don't believe in either Angels or Demons
- I'm not really sure how I believe
Now, I didn't ask for any of these people to define how they saw demons, or what they believed demons to be. Because of that, I'm not going to speculate. However, I am going to explain MY beliefs, because, frankly, that's what this blog is!
While most people tend to think of demons as a Christian belief, this simply isn't accurate. Christian beliefs, of course, are the most common belief systems today which hold such beliefs, or at least which preach them so loudly. But in fact numerous ancient belief systems held beliefs in similar beings. Egyptian, Sumerian, Native American, Babylonian, Japanese and Chinese belief systems all contained "demon-like" beliefs, as did so many others. So I don't quite understand where this idea that demons can't be a Pagan belief has come from, but as I said, it doesn't bother me.
I believe, in demons. I do not believe in the Devil! I don't see any reason why you have to believe in the devil simply because you believe in demons - although I've been told I'm wrong... But to me, demons are simply "lower beings." They are not evil, they are not "dark." They are simply lesser... Lower on the "spiritual ladder" if you will.
Demons, by my belief, are spiritual beings, although they can, and often do, exist on the physical plain as well. We often think of the Gods, as "higher powers" but it's rare that people consider the idea of "lower beings." I, as usual, am rather different than most... I see all beings on a "ladder" of existence. The Great Gods would exists as the highest of the higher beings, demons, would be on a lower rung - Although, please note I do NOT say lowest, because I do not discount the idea that there could be lower beings, I simply don't know of them.
To me, demons are like fae. (I'm NOT saying Fae are demons!!) When you look at fae, you have faeries, brownies, elves, and so on - lots and lots of races all wrapped up in to the classification of fae. Well, demons are the same way. There are lots of types of demons, all classified the same way. Some of these are undoubtedly more "evil" than others - just like any other type of being. But that doesn't make they all evil!
Why do people see them as evil? Well, I can't completely answer that. But the reason I think people see demons as evil is simply because people are undereducated. At one point people believed diseases, SIDS, and numerous other negative things happened because of demons... And we need to remember that at one point Fae & Witches were classified as "demonic" as well. Obviously, people blame things which have nothing to do with demons are blamed on them. Why? Mostly because they were told to. Clergy and Priests often blamed these things on demons because they didn't have a better answer.
How can someone believe in demonic possession and NOT believe demons are evil? Well, first, because I understand that the vast majority of possessions - demonic or not - are entered in to willingly on both sides and when the need or want for the possession is finished, the beings involved go their separate ways.
There are, however, those possessions which are seemingly against the will of the possessed - although as I said above, many (not all) of these are due to the possessed enticing or inviting the possession without knowing. Again though, I don't see these entities as "evil." In fact, I see them much the same way I see humans. Serial killers are often seen as "evil." But research has shown that a great many of them aren't acting out of a place of evil, they are simply "damaged." Does that make them good? Nope. But it means they are in a grey area. They don't act because they are bad or evil, but because they have a need or drive that comes from a place of flaw. In demons, this isn't a flaw, as much as a "disadvantage."
** Please note that these are general statements. Like humans (and ALL beings) there are those who DO act from a place of negativity. There are obviously those serial killers who ARE just evil people, and the same can be said for some demonic beings! However, I would also like to state that I see the same "evil" as a possibility in ANY type of being and something that should not be limited to a view of Demonic beings!**Demons, like you and I, are striving to move up the spiritual ladder. Unlike you and I, however, demons aren't going through the same type of birth, life, death, rebirth, cycle, and aren't able to move up, quite as easily as we do. Eventually, we will ascend to something higher, something more pure. Demons, to a large degree, are stuck where they are. They aren't moving up, they aren't changing. It's simply their nature. But they want to move up. They want to be something stronger - they want to be US! And what a better way to be us than to actually take over one of us? I can't think of a better way, can you?
And I don't think it's a matter of "preying" on the weak or young, as much as it's a matter of not being strong enough to take over those of us who have a stronger will. The more in touch we are with our own spirituality and our own faith, the stronger we become, and the harder it is for another being - demon or not - to control us.
To me, this is also the reason as to why exorcism works so well. Exorcism happens when someone of a very strong faith, and very strong spirituality, uses their energy, their force, to remove a being, from another person. Usually, people are used to seeing Catholic Priests in this role, but the fact is just about anyone with a strong faith or spirituality can act in the role of exorcist. I've known Priests and Priestesses of numerous paths who have done exorcisms, and who have been successful at it. - Including Pagans!
I wouldn't suggest that someone go out looking for contact with a demon, but if it happens I don't necessarily feel it's something that can't be overcome, or even something which needs to be feared. Instead, I feel people need to better educate themselves on demons, as well as other beings, in an effort to better understand them, and of course, to better protect against their attacks, when they occur.
In the end, I feel demons are simply a part of the balance. We tend to happily accept the existence of kind, loving or "good" higher powers. So why is the idea of lower beings so hard for people to grasp? I don't know. To me, if there is higher, there must be lower. And while I don't believe that higher means better, I also don't understand the idea that lower means worse. It just means different...