Before you read this, make sure you read the other chapers in Allpatheism.
Most religions believe in the existence of spirts and/or demonic entities that exist in a non-physical state yet have a certain degree of power over physical beings. Some religions work on actively avoiding demonic interference while others revere or attempt to coax them into doing a human’s bidding. However, seeing the widespread belief in these non-physical entities, one thing is certain: they do exist, but what are they?
In order to understand demons or spirits, we must first look closer at how they interact with us and us with them. There are various degrees of interaction starting from unconscious interference through the gentle planting of positive or negative thoughts in a human’s mind. After that, we can see more invasive interference in the form of inspiration and what some people call enlightenment. Then we have different types of apparitions and visual or auditory communications. Finally, we have full on possession of living or non-living entities in the physical realm. Again, in all these forms of interaction between non-physical and physical entities, one thing is certain, and it is that the human mind is the key.
The human brain is where the mind supposedly resides, and it is a physical object that can interact or be influenced by non-physical powers. Some philosophers believe that the brain is like an antenna: while it is physical, it is able to pick up non-physical waves and allows them to be transformed into physically perceivable things. However, unlike the antenna which is only a receiver, the mind is also a transmitter which creates ripples accross the non-physical world. And this makes sense when we learn about people or religions that work on summoning and/or influencing spirits and demons to do their bidding. In that case, another question is begging to be answered: are demons and spirits good or evil?
To answer that question, we must first answer another: do demons have free will or are they drones at the bec and call of magically endowed humans? To answer this, we must first understand how they came to be. Back when humans were few and the divine powers within them had not been as diluted as they are today, people had the power to create their own gods and divine entities. In order to answer a question that mystified them in the real world, humans came up with mystical answers to it such as thunder being Zeus’s anger or Thor’s hammer. When this answer was shared among tribes and peoples, it gained power enough to become a reality. This happens because where attention goes, energy flows, and when a vast amount of energy converges in one place, it gains physical existence. In this case, this energy concentrated in the idea of a god or a demon, which brought him to existence. By definition, a god or a demon is somewhat more free than a human according to the human conception of it; therefore, when it finally manifested itself, it retained its free will. In addition to that, it also retained its immortality as long as it fed on human belief and worship. Different ceremonies and rituals were developed, and these served to concentrate more energy on these entities and helped them manifest to their worshippers often in the old world.
When the number of humans increased and more and more of them ceased believing in these non-physical entities, the powers of demons and gods began to diminish, and many of them disappeared; gods moreso than demons because the latter carried on existing in modern religions, which allowed them to retain some fragments of their power. In addition to that, they kept their free will which is why they still demand gifts and sacrifices from their summoners for their bidding. The main goal of demons in general is to survive by feeding upon human belief and energy; therefore, they are neither good nore evil: they are literally attention seekers, and parents understand that you pay more attention to a troublesome child than a mild one.
In conclusion, by understanding what demons want, we can also learn how to use them and how to avoid their nefarious influences. They may have the ability to grant our wishes by the manipulation of other humans through spiritual interference; however, they are struggling for their survival, and we are the only ones who can grant or refuse their wishes. This is what makes them dangerous.