The world’s major religions have quite a lot in common. As civilisations came into contact with each other, their beliefs, language and other cultural aspects blended into and influenced one another. So we see the same ideas of doing good and treating others well across different faiths. On the flip side of the coin, many of the worst and creepiest demons come up in different incarnations too. We’ve brought you our top-rated Forces of Evil, as it were, and honestly if they weren’t so vile, they’d be perfect as a theme for a slot game at a casino online! Keep reading to see what we mean; it’s macabrely fascinating.
Buddhists believe that Mara was the demonic embodiment of deception and dishonesty. He allegedly tried to sway Guatama Buddha off his path to enlightenment with all kinds of underhanded tricks. His worst move was to send his three beautiful daughters, who personified passion, thirst and discontentment, to seduce the great teacher. Ultimately he does get his come-uppance, and statues of Buddha holding his fingers to the ground symbolise an invitation to Earth to witness this triumph over temptation.
In the Judeo-Christian Book of Tobit, Asmodeus is “the worst of demons”. He kills every man who marries a young woman named Sarah – murdering seven suitors in all. Sarah’s eighth husband manages to finally ward the demon off thanks to Raphael, who tells him what to do, and then promptly follows and strangles Asmodeus.
Zoroastrianism predates Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism, Islam, Greek philosophy and other faiths, and has influenced all of them. The religion, which persists in parts of India, Iran and Pakistan, believed that Nasu was the patron of demon and decay. She would often turn into a fly, take up residence in a recently deceased body, and begin the process of decomposition. Oh, and anybody handling the corpse had to watch out that she didn’t infect them while they were still living.
Beelzebub’s roots are in the ancient religions of the Philistines, where he stands in for Satan and is also known as Lord of the Flies. He was also blamed for everything that went down during the Salem Witch Trials, and in the book ‘Paradise Lost’ Milton describes him as a lieutenant of Hell.
Aamon commands no less than forty leagues of evil spirits. In ancient texts he is said to be “great in power and most strong” and also to have the body of a wolf and the tail of a serpent. If that doesn’t impress you, he also spews flames.
Dantalion also commands leagues of spirits and features in some of the same texts as Aamon. He can change his appearance at will, and can control the minds of men and women. And you know he’s not using those powers for good.
A cow-headed entity with a penchant for snacking on live babies, Moloch’s status changed a lot as his story was retold. First seen in lore around the time of Moses, he eventually became a high-ranking Lord of Hell. Career goals, right?
In Jewish folklore, Dybbuks are the spirits of dead sinners. They’ll be punished if they move on to the afterlife for what they did here on earth, so they decide to stay. They move into a convenient host, and then proceed to torture and pester their host. Don’t feel too sorry for the hosts though; a Dybbuk can only take occupancy in someone who has sinned in some way themselves. This is Demonic Possession for Dummies, basically, down to the fact that a case of the Dybbuks is nothing that a good rabbi can’t sort out.
The Nephilim were a biblical race of giants, who were believed to have been descended either from angelic males and human women (a bit like Hercules, really) or directly from Cain. Either way, their huge size and ferocity inspired a lot of fear.
Pretas are found in Eastern religions, and serve as a cautionary tale against being too jealous or greedy. In a neat trick of karmic retribution, individuals who behaved this way in life are said to return with unquenchable thirst and insatiable hunger. To add insult to injury, they are not only doomed to try and satisfy these base urges, they usually crave something truly embarrassing like human waste.
The Rakshasa comes to us from Hinduism and Buddhism, and have come to their demon form after existing as very bad people. Their fingernails are toxic, they eat people, and they can work some incredible magic that is as powerful as it is evil. Nothing good, really.
The modernised versions of Djinni are lamp-dwelling genies, but wish-granting buddies of Aladdin the original demons are not. Old Islamic texts explain that they lived in a parallel dimension to humans, and were made of smoke and flame.
They’re the only beings, besides humans, to whom Allah gave free will so they can, theoretically, be good or bad. But while they may be very, very good when they are good, when they’re bad they’re downright horrid. Think shape-shifting commanders of fire, who are impervious to human weapons, and you’re on the right track.