Demons? Do Pagans even believe in Demons?
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! And 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. So neither of these aspects really affected how I saw things either. 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!
My polls were placed on facebook (in/on a few different groups/pages), on Cafemom (in groups), and on Pagan-Place. In total there were about 100 people who replied. While that's a small percentage of the Pagans in the US, it's what I consider to be a good general representation. All in all, 59% stated that they do believe in Demons! I was kinda shocked by that!
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.
The other reason I believe people equate demons with evil is because, like us, demons aren't fond of the bottom. Possessions by demons - as well as other entities - is not completely uncommon. And of course it always seems like they are preying on the young and weak. Unfortunately I can not say that I can dispute this. I have, believe it or not, seen a minor possession with my own eyes, and will never forget that experience. But I do NOT believe that these possessions actually mean demons are evil.
How can someone believe in demonic possession and NOT believe demons are evil? I guess because 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."
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.
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...