Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Demons, devils and other deadly spirits...

The Devil's in the detail.

“Willingly, I too say Hail! To the awful unknown powers which transcend the ken of understanding.” Ralph Waldo Emmerson

Demons are subversive spirits. They exist in the folklore of every society on earth so whatever your religious convictions there are many ordinary people who think that in the natural world there are things which defy explanation. What a rich source of material for a fiction writer to mine!
This unknown quantity (and a belief in greater powers we know little about) has led some to believe in all sorts of mythical creatures. In this scientific day and age, those beliefs are less common than they were centuries ago but they still thrive today on every continent in the world.
Fiction writers – and especially horror, supernatural writers - have used those beliefs to good effect in their writing. If you cannot disprove a belief then you have to acknowledge that there is always the slim chance that the belief is true! Enter the world of ‘what if’! A world of fairies, angels and demons.  These kinds of scenarios are common in tales of horror
A demon/evil spirit of some kind may be wreaking havoc in a story or it could even be that a demon is the main protagonist. Or perhaps a demon is simply a messenger - the henchman of the devil, carrying out his will. These kinds of scenarios are common in tales of the supernatural and, indeed, horror in general.  
Throughout the history of the world, demons have been held responsible for every natural disaster that ever befell humankind. Whatever a demon is or does there is a certain categorisation of them in folklore that may be worth looking at. Every demon has their own relevant characteristic according to patterns and habits and what they stand for. For example there are demons associated with water, mountains, deserts, buildings etc. They are as invisible as bacteria, slipping inside people’s minds and commandeering their will. They are full of trickery and deceit and can be vengeful and destructive.   They are also used as a signpost for morality – underlining the fight between good and evil.
In the traditional story telling of ancient times the demon was usually the villain of the piece. Nowadays, we are a bit more discerning and take a rather more cynical view of such things but if we appeal to the deep subconscious part of our minds the primal fear of demons and all things evil are still there.
In my opinion, to write about such things as demons, evil spirits or similar entities and to construct a tale so powerful that readers will suspend disbelief and enter your story world, is a thrill indeed. This is the challenge for writers of the supernatural thriller.
Do you read these kinds of stories? Do you find them a bit too much?


  1. I do read them, and a lot of times love them. Or any other kinds of books where the demon isn't really a demon, but fills the same role. So many times, the story is fascinating!

  2. I certainly do read them - I love a good demon!

  3. Thanks for your comments. I'm off to get stuck into a demon story!

  4. I have to admit, I'm not a demon lover! I am a demon, but the lover bit escapes me...

    Very interesting post, Pat.
    CJ xx