Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Demonolatry Vs. Demonology

Demonolatry and Demonology are often misunderstood and mistakenly confused by those who don’t know the difference. Hopefully, this article can correct that. While one deals with the study of demons, the other deals with their worship. Before we delve into the meanings and differences of the two words, lets take a deeper look at their root – Demon.

Demon

In many religions, popular folklore and mythology, demons are seen as supernatural entities that are often thought of as evil and malevolent. In the Abrahamic faiths, demons are fallen angels of their god that reside in hell.

From the Ancient Greek word of ‘daimon’, which meant ‘lesser god, guiding spirit, tutelary deity’, came the Latanized spelling ‘daemon’ (plural – daemones) which were seen as ‘supernatural beings between mortals and gods’ that could be both lesser deities and ‘ghosts of fallen heroes’. These daemones (‘replete with knowledge’, ‘divine power’, ‘fate’, or ‘god’) were not necessarily evil but rather intermediates between the ‘divine and mortal’.

The Christian’s ‘New Testament’, being originally written in Greek, caused the usage of the word ‘daimon’ to be applied to the Judeo-Christian idea of evil spirits and their gods enemies that were cast out of heaven and into the abyss. By the 4th century, with the establishment of Christianity, the transposition of the word, from the ancient Greek meaning to the modern meaning we know to today, was complete.

Demonology

Demonology is the study and classification of demons and/or the belief about demons. It is a branch of theology that deals with the ‘supernatural entities that are not gods’. It does not just deal with the malevolent entities that the word demon has come to mean but rather both malevolent and benevolent entities.

Often times referred to with negatively, demonology was not always seen as evil or sinful as the modern terms connotation would have one believe. Greek philosophers, ancient Babylonians, Zoroastrian mystic and many early Christian writers wrote about the subject.

Demonologists have made many attempts to classify demons into certain categories based on the nature of the demon, the sin with which it is believed they tempt morals, the month which their powers maybe strongest, the office or ranking which they hold, and many other characteristics.

In 1589, Peter Binsfeld classified the demons according to the one of the ‘seven deadly sins’ which he believed they corresponded to:

Lucifer: pride
Mammon: greed
Asmodeus: lust
Leviathan: envy
Beelzebub: gluttony
Satan/Amon: wrath
Belphegor: sloth

During the 16th century is was believed by Demonologist that each demon has more strength to accomplish certain tasks during the month that they corresponded to:

Belial in January
Leviathan in February
Satan in March
Belphegor in April
Lucifer in May
Berith in June
Beelzebub in July
Astaroth in August
Thammuz in September
Baal in October
Asmodai in November
Moloch in December

Demonolatry

Demonolatry (pronounced by the author as demon-All-O-tree) is the worship of demons and is seen as a religion by those who follow it. Demonolators do not accept the modern transposition of the word ‘demon’ to mean evil and malignant spirits but rather the older Greek and Latin meaning of ‘replete with wisdom’ and ‘tutelary deity’.

Modern Demonolatry is a polytheistic religion that worships demons as part of a pantheon. As a polytheistic religion, there are those whose beliefs can be called soft polytheistic by believing that the demons are facets that are part of the whole; there is also those who can be called hard polytheists that believe that the demons are complete and separate entities.

What demons make up the pantheon is completely up to the individual Demonolator or Demonolatry group, but there are many common ones in usage. Those demons found the Lesser Key of Solomon are often times followed as well as those laid out in the hierarchy of Richard Dukante. Many Demonolaters dedicate themselves to the worship of one demon over all others while still worshipping those others but just not to the same extent as their primary demon.

Rites, those both religious and meditative, are practiced as part of the worship of demons which also includes days that are holy to certain demons. Magic is also an important aspect within Demonolatry, however every Demonolator does not practice it. Those who do practice it do so in a manner that is believed is more respectful to the demons and as such demons are never evoked, or called forth against their will, but rather invoked, or invited to be present during a magical ritual.

Conclusion

While many today see demons as evil spirits and fallen angels, it was not always the case. The ancients saw them for what they were – divine entities that were replete with knowledge. There are people today who also see them as such, those people who worship them are called Demonolators and practice Demonolatry. Those who just study them, either as the modern ‘evil spirits’ or even the ancient ‘lesser deity’ are Demonologist and practice Demonology. Congratulations, you now know the difference!

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