demons

Rusalkas are water spirits from Slavic folklore, who appear as a pretty young girls with long hair. In some versions of lore, Rusalkas are the souls of drowned women or unclean spirits who lure men into water, and drown them by entangling their body with their long red hair. Image: Ivan Bilibin

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Pazuzu (𒀭𒅆𒊒𒍪𒍪) is the ancient Mesopotamian king of wind demons. He’s responsible for storms, drought, famine, and locusts. Though evil himself, Pazuzu is invoked on amulets to drive away other evil spirits, like the malicious goddess Lamashtu. He’s also the spirit that supposedly possessed Regan in the film, The Exorcist. Image: World Imaging/PHGCOM on Wikimedia Commons

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In an Indian folktale, a Bodhisatta, known as the Prince of the Five Weapons, meets a demon, known as The Demon with Matted Hair, in a forest. Before it could devour him, the prince defeats the demon with discourse and reason, and turns him benevolent. Image: John Batten, 1892

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Seals and characters for summoning the greater demons Lucifer, Beelzebub, and Astaroth. In order of effectiveness, the symbols must be drawn in either: the sorcerer’s blood, the blood of a sea turtle, or engraved on emerald or ruby. From Grimorium Verum (16th Century) and The Grand Grimore (18th Century). Source: “The book of black magic and of pacts”, A.E. Waite, Embassy of the Free Mind

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The Monster of Krakow first appeared in Histoires Prodigieuses by Pierre Boaistuau, 1559. Four hours after its birth, the demonic beast reportedly uttered “Watch, the Lord cometh” and died. Source: Wellcome Collection

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Henry Wellcome commissioned this watercolor from R. Cooper in 1912, depicting an unconscious man being attacked by demons with surgical instruments. The painting is meant to represent the effects of chloroform on the human body. Source: The Wellcome Collection

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Barong is the benevolent king of the spirits in Balinese mythology, and the enemy of Rangda, the demon queen. In Bali, each region of the island has its own version of Barong modeled after different animals, including a lion, pig, and tiger. Image: an edit of work by Beeyan on Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA

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A witch at her cauldron, standing in a magic circle, surrounded by demons. A grimoire (book of magick spells) can be seen in the right corner, and a goat, representing the Devil, can be seen behind her. Etching by Jan van de Velde II, 1626. Source: Wellcome Library

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The arrow of Brahma is a magical weapon given to the demi-god Rama by Agastya, a sage and heavenly historian. In Rama’s battle against the many headed demon-king Ravana, he was only able to defeat him after using this arrow. Image source: British Library

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Akton is a demon that causes aches and pains in humans, afflicting the ribs and lower back. According to the Testament of Solomon, he can be rid by saying the names Marmaraoth and Sabaoth. The latter being one of the Hebrew names for God.

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Depictions of demons and the devil with extra faces, often on the groin, are common in medieval manuscripts. Some theorize that it represents their spiritual corruption, by emphasizing the senses that focus on the material world, others think it’s merely to make them monstrous.

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