The most extensive exposition of Christian demonology are Heinrich Kramer’s Malleus Maleficarum—once thought to have been co-written by Jacob Sprenger— and Nicholas Remy’s Demonolatry, both assuming the reality of witchcraft and its capability of posing a threat to the Roman Catholic church.
Demonology refers to catalogues that attempt to name and set a hierarchy to demons and spirits thought to be malignant. In this sense, demonology can be seen as the mirror image of angelology, which attempts to compile the same information for good spirits.
In Christian tradition, demons are fallen angels, so demonology could be considered a branch of angelology. The grimoires of occult magic are the tomes that contain the lore of this version of demonology, containing instructions on how to summon them and (hopefully) bend them to the conjuror’s will, yet not all occultists modern and ancient necessarily evoked demons.
It is somewhat unclear how many angels were actually engaged in the war in Heaven and the exact number of the host is open to conjecture for many.
In the 15th century though it was estimated that 133,306,668 angels fell from the Heavens in a total of 9 days according to the Bishop of Tusculum (c. 1273), and this was reaffirmed by Alphonso de Spina (c. 1460).
I am sure that this number astounds even the most open minded. I my self was not surprised by the total figure of the fallen angels, I expected the number to be very big for the simple reason that it is reported that the number of angels is very big and that one third of them fell, so this third should be a very large figure also, but I was and still am very skeptic about the accuracy of this number when I first came upon it
On another note, The Book of Enoch tells of 200 “sons of God” (angels) who became enamored with “daughters of men”, and coupled with them, and were therefore banished from Heaven.
Hence, it can be assumed that the amount of demons number between those two, at least in some Christian traditions. On the other hand, the Talmud declares that there are 7,405,926 demons. Indeed, Satan was in early Judaism a prosecutor for God and a somewhat minor angel at that. While most people believe that Lucifer and Satan are different names for the same being, not all scholars subscribe to this view.
There is more than one instance where demons are said to have come to be, as seen by the sins of the Watchers and the Grigori, of Lilith leaving Adam, of demons such as vampires, the demon-locusts from the Book of Revelation, impure spirits in Jewish folklore such as the dybbuk and of humans that have become demons as well. Also, many Jewish legends tell that when God first created the angels, he gave them a choice of whether or not to follow him, and that those who denied were sent to the earth and became demons, though these are not fallen angels.
Islam, Judaism and Zoroastrianism
The existence of a malevolent supernatural personality who works to thwart the will of a good God is a central tenet of both Christianity and Islam.
Many scholars believe that Judaism originally received the concepts of eschatology, angelology, and demonology from Zoroastrianism. In the Zoroastrian tradition, Ahura Mazda, as the force of good Spenta Mainyu, will eventually be victorious in a cosmic battle with an evil force known as Angra Mainyu or Ahriman.
The New Testament explicitly affirms the existence of lesser adversary spirits, as does the Qur’an. In Christianity, Satan is the leader of a force of evil opposing the all-good God.
- Dictionary of the History of Ideas: Demonology
- Grimoires – A collection of Grimoires from the Internet Sacred Text Archive