What’s in a name? A quick thought on Demonology and Demonologists

As the paranormal community becomes larger, and seemingly more outrageous, there have been quite a number of people who have recently started to refer to themselves as “Demonologists”. Now, I understand they believe that since they study “demonology,” the title fits. But we should remember that historically “demonology” and “demonologists” have little to do with each other.

Demonology is exactly what it sounds like, the study of demons or the beliefs about them. This study is first and foremost to include any and all alleged demons regardless of the theological system that they belong to. Not only does “Demonology” study “demons,” but it studies demonic forces in all of their supposed manifestations including familiars, egregores, ancestor worship, fallen angels and animal spirits to name a few. Most so-called “Demonologists” are focused on traditional Judeo-Christian demons & devils while forgetting that there are recognized demons throughout history that many believe to have been in existence long before the rise of Christianity.

The largest and most disturbing point, to me, is that the term “Demonologist” now refers to those who study demons. The usage of the word in this form is relatively modern. Historically, a Demonologist was a “witch-hunter” or someone who exposed humans who were believed to be in league with demonic forces. Traditional Demonologists such as Remy, Sinistrari, Bodin and Valderama, to name a few, were more than incidentally responsible for causing such a panic about witchcraft that hundreds, perhaps thousands of innocent people were put to death. I point this out because it, to me, shows a total disregard for the past. People heard the word “Demonology” and started calling themselves “Demonologists” without any care or concern that they had just associated themselves with some of the most closed-minded and vindictive people in our history.

I know that the word “Demonologist” makes etymological sense but we must remember that the word existed before our modern day usage and it had a meaning, and that history makes a difference. The historically recognized Demonologists of the 1600’s and 1700’s repeated anecdotal stories and rumors without basing any of their charges on facts. They were truly the demonic evil that they themselves believed they were unmasking.

“But, it’s only a word.”

Well, I say words matter.
History matters.
The fact is Demonologists were simple-minded, frightened people who helped to murder innocent people.

Even if you believe you are a “Demonologist,” I will not call you one; I wouldn’t hang that title on my worst enemy.


  1. John Tamm

    Just a quick question: What are your views on the “Jinn” or sometimes spelled “Djinn”?
    I ask, because I was tooling around on youtube, and came acrossed some few interesting clips of cases where There were people claiming to be Possessed by Either “Djinn” or “Demon” It just struck me funny, because alot of people don’t classify a difference between the two. I am just curious, because your recent bit about “Demonology” made me curious.

    From what I have found, and please, do correct me if I am wrong, but I believe it was said, that “Djinn” are “Demons” or ” Spirits of free will”. This is slightly confusing to me, as I have had a cousin who had come into “contact” with one through the use of an Oracle. He (my cousin) could probably give you a better account of what happened, as I vaguely remember what was going on at that point, if you would like. Any information would be appreciated.

    Thanks, John.


  2. johnt

    Historically Jinn are much like humans in the sense that they do have “free will” but as where humans were made of clay, Jinn were made of fire. The Qur’an specifically mentions them being akin to humans in the verse “…from amongst the species Jinn and human beings” (114th Chapter Line 6). They are believed to take many shapes from human to animal and aside from having a whole Jinn community, that they belong to, they are most commonly understood as tricksters of mankind or evil influencers or individuals. Their role is much like the Native American/First Nation people’s “Trickster” legends, who could also take various forms, the two diverge though because the “Trickster’s” tricks usually end on a positive note. Jinn are said to be totally malicious. It is also believed that the Jinn have as much trouble seeing and becomind aware of us as we do of them.
    Hope some of that helped in your understanding.

  3. Stan Howard

    The original term was Daemonologie ( Witch Hunters) started by King James VI of Scotland in 1597. The word Demonolgist came way later in history.


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