"We are all acquainted with demons, aren't we? Sometimes they are more subtle than the Devil in person. They are those things that clutch at us, strangle us, force us to obey them. They control us with great delight, and finally they own us. Demons are certainly as much around today as they were in Jesus' day. They are more subtle, perhaps, and so we think we have outgrown them. Because we call them by other names, we have a way of missing them. But there is still a great force surrounding us that tries to push us into what is not of God."
Demons, also known as devils, are very common antagonists in a number of theological stories, mythologies, folklore and fiction. They are considered either Fallen Angels, unclean spirits or degenerated lesser gods; although the word now has an attachment to malevolence, it was originally a positive term for any spirit lesser than a deity in status, but higher than human. Demons are also widely known to be enemies of Jesus Christ and any one that is faithful to God.
Demons can take any desired appearance, even that of an "angel of light". Nevertheless, they were generally described as ugly and monstrous beings, however, incubi and succubi are described as being beautiful in order to accomplish their mission of seduction. About the color of the demons' skin, since early times it was associated with black, thinking that they assumed the appearance of a black man, although not all descriptions agreed, giving demons very different aspects. Satan and other demons were also often depicted as black-dressed men, often riding a black horse. When demons appeared in the shape of animals, often they were black.
Outwith religion demons are seen as metaphors for natural disasters, affliction and cruelty, the most prominent of which are the "deadly sins" of Christian tradition: demons are also used to describe inner-fears and anxieties found in the minds of all people, which is where the common expression "face one's demons" comes from. Demons are similar to monsters in being frightening and against the natural order. Unlike monsters however, most demons are seen as a spiritual threat rather than a physical one and can possess humans, cause poltergeist activity, drive people insane and much more.
Demons are said to be malevolent angels, and have the same characteristics as their angelic counterparts: spiritual, immutable and immortal. Demons are not omniscient, but each one has a specific knowledge. Their power is limited to that which God allows, so they are not omnipotent. No account has been made about omnipresence, so it is as yet unclear if they can be in different places at the same time, but according to the tradition of the medieval witches' Sabbath, two conclusions can be reached: either the Devil can be in different places at the same time, or he sends an emissary in his name.
Because of their inherent beyond-human physical and mystical abilities, most known demons view themselves as superior to humans, and as such wish to rule over them. Despite this, demons can be summoned and even controlled. But the demons with strong will are capable of either shattering the control one has over them, or twist their wishes to bring him to the conjurers themselves. It is seen that certain demons have disguised themselves as humans and gained an incredible amount of influence in the criminal underworld, the wealthy upper-class, and even close family members and business associates of powerful individuals. However, there are also demons who deny their heritage and go to the human world to live in peace.
Demons are organized under their masters in legions. Every legion of demons contains 666 demons, all ready to strike out whenever needed. It is a rather a complicated system of hierarchies in Hell, but according to some calculations, the estimated the number of demons is 44,439,622, divided into 666 legions, each legion composed by 6,666 demons, and all of them ruled by 66 hellish dukes, princes, kings, etc. Gregory of Nyssa, in the 4th century, believed in the existence of male and female demons and supported the idea that demons procreated with other demons and with human women. Other scholars supported the idea that they could not procreate and that the number of demons was constant.