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supernatural being, generally malevolent in character. In general, the more civilized pagan societies came to consider demons as powerful, supernatural beings who lacked the dignity of gods and who, depending on the circumstance, might be either benevolent or malevolent in their dealings with men. Some demons, like the Greek Pan, were nature spirits; others were guardians of the home or fields or watchers over travelers; still others were spirits of disease and insanity or dream spirits. Some demons were considered to be intermediaries between men and the gods. It was not until the development of late Hebraic and Christian thinking that demons came to represent the unqualified malevolence so common in European demonology of the 16th and 17th cent. This period was a high point in the study of demons, in the speculation on their nature, number, and specific fiendishness. The list compiled in 1589 by a demonologist named Binsfield was considered to be highly authoritative; in it he listed the following major demons and their particular evils: Lucifer (pride), Mammon (avarice), Asmodeus or Ashmodai (lechery), Satan (anger), Beelzebub (gluttony), Leviathan (envy), and Belphegor (sloth). The widespread and ancient belief in demons is still a strong force in many regions of the world today. See spiritismspiritism
or spiritualism,
belief that the human personality continues to exist after death and can communicate with the living through the agency of a medium or psychic.
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; witchcraftwitchcraft,
a form of sorcery, or the magical manipulation of nature for self-aggrandizement, or for the benefit or harm of a client. This manipulation often involves the use of spirit-helpers, or familiars.
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See R. H. Robbins, The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft and Demonology (1959); H. A. Relly, The Devil, Demonology, and Witchcraft (1968); F. Gettings, Dictionary of Demons (1988).

What does it mean when you dream about a demon?

Dreams of demons are not always dreams of evil, or even symbols of torment. Devils can, for example, represent intelligence, cunning (“devilishly clever!”), and even sexuality (“You devil, you”). These traditional representatives of the dark side often symbolize the unconscious, especially one’s shadow self.


See also Devil.
Aello Harpy;
demon carrying people away, personifying a whirlwind. [Gk. Myth.: Jobes, 40]
or afrit gigantic jinn, powerful and malicious. [Muslim Myth.: Benét, 13]
the snake god; most important of demons. [Ancient Egypt. Rel.: Parrinder, 24]
king of fiends. [Hebrew Myth.: Leach, 83]
king of the devils. [Talmudic Legend: Benét, 58]
bird that is the devil incarnate. [Western Folklore: Mercatante, 181]
evil being, demonic in nature. [Animal Symbolism: Mercatante, 46]
feared as spirit of evil. [African Folklore: Jobes, 382; Mercatante, 9]
mere mention of his name brings death and destruction. [Western Folklore: Benét, 263]
ferocious spirits under sovereignty of Eblis. [Persian Myth.: LLEI, I: 326]
evil water spirit; dragged men under water. [Scot. Folklore: Briggs, 175]
Great Giant of Henllys
ghost of dead man turned demon. [Br. Folklore: Briggs, 199–200]
demon in the form of a man. [Western Folklore: Briggs, 232]
(genii) class of demon assuming animal/human form. [Arab. Myth.: Benét, 13, 521]
Old Bogy
nursery fiend invoked to frighten children. [Br. Folklore: Wheeler, 265]
demon in the form of a woman. [Western Folklore: Briggs, 232]
former symbol of demonic evil. [Animal Symbolism: Mercatante, 26]


(operating system)
(Often used equivalently to daemon, especially in the Unix world, where the latter spelling and pronunciation is considered mildly archaic). A program or part of a program which is not invoked explicitly, but that lies dormant waiting for some condition(s) to occur.

At MIT they use "demon" for part of a program and "daemon" for an operating system process.

Demons (parts of programs) are particularly common in AI programs. For example, a knowledge-manipulation program might implement inference rules as demons. Whenever a new piece of knowledge was added, various demons would activate (which demons depends on the particular piece of data) and would create additional pieces of knowledge by applying their respective inference rules to the original piece. These new pieces could in turn activate more demons as the inferences filtered down through chains of logic. Meanwhile, the main program could continue with whatever its primary task was. This is similar to the triggers used in relational databases.

The use of this term may derive from "Maxwell's Demons" - minute beings which can reverse the normal flow of heat from a hot body to a cold body by only allowing fast moving molecules to go from the cold body to the hot one and slow molecules from hot to cold. The solution to this apparent thermodynamic paradox is that the demons would require an external supply of energy to do their work and it is only in the absence of such a supply that heat must necessarily flow from hot to cold.

Walt Bunch believes the term comes from the demons in Oliver Selfridge's paper "Pandemonium", MIT 1958, which was named after the capital of Hell in Milton's "Paradise Lost". Selfridge likened neural cells firing in response to input patterns to the chaos of millions of demons shrieking in Pandemonium.


Demon Internet Ltd.


A program generator for differential equation problems.

[N.W. Bennett, Australian AEC Research Establishment, AAEC/E142, Aug 1965].
References in periodicals archive ?
The wig rustles as the character moves (not usually heard over the drumming), and can be thrown wildly about as in the transformation of a demoness from her beautiful disguise to her natural fanged state, or in the death of a character.
These included lamia (derived perhaps from the name of the Babylonian demoness Lamashtu: McDonough 1997: 336), geludes (from the Greek gello: Tartarotti 1751: 160; Oliphant 1913: 148) and masca, about which the thirteenth-century Gervasius of Tilbury wrote that
Her poems include a demoness who bursts into flames, astonishing the poet, and mythical/ religious characters such as the Black Madonna of Czestochowa, Sisyphus, and Shiva.
Like Gilgamesh, the enemies are primarily superhuman: the various asuras, the demoness Thataka, the demoness Soorpanaka, and, especially, Ravana, chief rival of Rama.
This uber-sexual demoness dominates the world of ancient Egypt at the time of cross-dressing Queen Nefertiti, who reigned as King Smenkhare.
One teaching credited to the well-known Mahayana Buddhist teacher, Guru Rinpoche, claimed that tobacco grew from the blood of a demoness, who had wished for an intoxicant that would obstruct spiritual practice.
Similarly, the child-murderess Lilith, because she is a demoness, can be attractive in a way that a human child-murderess cannot.
More often than not Colonel Garraway is under the influence of the "ruby witch," who resides in a vial locked in a "walnut tantalus" until the colonel uncorks his demoness and submits to her whims.
This Old Javanese text states that the sage Wisrawa was visited one day by a demoness called Kaikesi who had assumed the form of a goddess descending into the world.
The demoness in charge (Rhea Pearlman) spouts witless lines like, ``Nothing like a little gloom and doom to darken up the whole day'' and, ``We all have to answer to a lower authority.
Outside marriage the young man shines brightly, inside marriage woman darkens into a demoness.
From Monkey King and Havoc Monster, Pure Green Snake and White Bone Demoness, Dwarf Tiger and Dry Land Water Beast, American movies and Peking opera, vaudeville and puppets and brothel music, fireworks and kung fu, he will ordain a Peaceable Kingdom: "Night mirages filled the windows reflecting and magnifying - a city at war and carnival.