Telling the Difference Between Demonic Entities

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Horror Mystery and Lore

Possession movies, even when they are highly religious in context, bring in huge crowds of fans, starting with The Exorcist (1973) and continuing on throughout the years, we never really get down to the brass tacks of demonic entities, who they are—or might be—and the people they have affected. Demon lore is complex in every religion and affiliated culture, there are elaborate organizational schemes for demons dated back from the 16th and 17th centuries and yet we still have so little understanding of them. For the many ills and misfortunes that plague the human race, there is the possibility of a demonic association that leads to exorcisms in many cultures. Specifically, in Catholicism, exorcisms deal with demonic possession, in which demons are said to battle for control of the soul of the victim they have targeted, these practices date back to 1614.

The Demons that Invade Our Lives

Christian demonologist Johann Weyer estimated that there were nearly 7.5 million demons that served as minions to 72 different princes of hell. Each of these demons belongs to a class of demons; to name a few, there are demons that attack people in their sleep, drain vitality, or possess those who are struggling with their own identity. So, let’s take a look at the different types of demonic entities that go beyond the typical Catholic exorcism expectations.

Attractive demoness
Photography by Alice Alinari

The Succubus

During the Middle Ages, authorities within the Christian religion asserted the existence of sex demons, which they furthered that to insinuating that sex with such demons was a sign of witchcraft. Although it’s a widely accepted possibility in the paranormal community, the stories and theories of such acts are described as horrific to experience. To be clear, while this may sound like an exciting ride for some lonely people out there, it’s not something that anyone in their right mind would purposefully pursue—it’s never consensual.

The Djinn

Collection of Genie Lamps--don't summon a Djinn!
Photography by Louis Hansel

Between 100 and 400 AD, the Testament of Solomon was written, which served as a list for Hebrew, Greek, Assyrian, Babylonian, Egyptian, and Persian demons. The Djinn are self-propagating, malicious, yet mortal demons. They are an invisible creature by nature but have shape-shifting abilities so they may better stalk their prey. Solomon was able to control these types of demons which he called djinn with his magical ring and he would frequently treat them as his own personal slaves by making them transport him wherever he wished upon their backs.

My Dream, My Bad Dream, Fritz Schwimbeck, 1915. Fritz Schwimbeck
My Dream, My Bad Dream, Fritz Schwimbeck, 1915.

The Nightmare

The story of this nocturnal visitor originated in the ancient world, in which a spirit or demon would come into the room of its sleeping victim, male or female, to incapacitate the individual and feed off of their vitality. In all reported cases, it is said the victim awakens to either a heavy weight on their chest or one that starts at their feet and progresses to their chest, either way, they are unable to move out from under the weight of the night hag. As they’re feeding off of the individual, the victim feels as if they’re suffocating and paralyzed, despite being fully conscious. Victims of the night hag end up reporting feeling groggy, sick, and otherwise exhausted both mentally and physically the next day.

Western-style vampire bears her fangs.
Photography by Rondell Melling

The Vampire

Now just wait, you’re probably conjuring up an image of Dracula hunched in a dark window of his castle in Transylvania, brooding and dangerous. The concept of the vampire in modern culture, especially since Stoker’s rendition, are the undead who return to kill and torture the living, but the actual origin is somewhat different. Older than the Slavic version of Dracula is a supernatural and demonic entity that did not actually take human form and it spans the world with small variations.

The Stoker Legacy Continues

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Featured Horror Books

The influence that Bram Stoker has over modern horror culture continues on and despite his works being within the public domain, the universe that Bram originally created for Dracula to reside within continues to be expanded upon through the works of Bram’s great grand-nephew, Dacre Stoker.

Who is Dacre Stoker?

Born August 23, 1958, Dacre grew up in Montreal, Quebec–he’s a Canadian-American author, sportsman, and filmmaker and taught at Appleby College in Oakville, Ontario for several years. In 1988 he ended up coaching the Canadian men’s pentathlon team at the Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea–that’s not really the information you’re looking to read about here though.

As a descendant of Bram Stoker, Dacre has become the international best-selling co-author of Dracula: the Un-Dead (2009) an official Stoker-family endorsed sequel to Dracula (1897). The Stokers’ have always had a frustrating history with Dracula‘s copyright, however, so when he was given the opportunity to reestablish creative control over the original novel, he decided to write a sequel that bore the Stoker name. He ended up co-writing this sequel with Ian Holt and both writers claim that they, “based [their work] on Bram Stoker’s own handwritten notes for characters and plot threads excised from the original edition,” along with research they conducted on their own. Surprisingly, the plot and characters directly contradict the original novel on many occasions, and it wasn’t well received by reviewers. To be fair though, Bram Stoker didn’t get exceptional reviews on much of his body of work, but they are still considered classics today.

After writing Dracula: the Un-Dead, he and Elizabeth Miller co-edited The Lost Journal of Bram Stoker: The Dublin Years (2012); most recently, he created Dracul (2018) along with J.D. Barker, as a prequel to Dracula and the book has been released in nearly twenty different countries and the film rights it seem have already been purchased by Paramount Studios. In the past decade, Stoker has contributed to his great grand-uncle’s legacy through Dracula in Visual Media: Film, Television, Comic Book, and Electronic Game Appearances, 1921-2010 along with several others, as well as writing, directing, and producing the documentary film Dracula meets Stoker (2011). It is said that he is currently working on a Bram Stoker Dracula travel guide with his colleague Hans C. De Roos, which will identify real-life locations that appear in Stoker’s novel, as well as the places in which Bram grew up.

Dacre and his wife Jenne now live with with their two children in Aiken, SC while managing the Bram Stoker Estate together.

Dracul by Dacre Stoker J.D. Barker

Serving as a prequel to Dracula (1987), Dacre Stoker and J.D. Barker were inspired by the texts and notes that were left behind by Bram Stoker. This supernatural thriller reveals the true origins of Dracula as well as those of Bram Stoker himself.

Paramount secured the movie rights for this prequel, which is currently still in the development phase, but it is rumored that Andy Muschietti, director of It (2017) will be heading the projects, so we’re looking forward to hearing more on that!

Dracul (2018) listing on Goodreads

Dracula the Un-Dead by Dacre Stoker & Ian Holt

Bram Stoker’s classic Gothic novel Dracula was followed over a hundred years later by Dracula: The Un-Dead (2009) and was co-written by his direct descendant, Dacre Stoker, as well as the famous Dracula historian, Ian Holt. This story follows the resulting horror of the original novel and is the first work that replicated the original Stoker content with the approval and support of the Stoker Family Estate since Bela Lugosi starred as the famous vampire in 1931. Derived from the notes that were handwritten by the great author himself, Stoker and Holt pulled characters and plot threads that were excised from the original edition of Dracula that were cut from the book before it was published.

Dracula: The Un-Dead (2009) listing on Goodreads

Have you read any books by Stoker’s descendant, Dacre Stoker? Feel free to comment below and let us know what you thought of Dacre’s work in comparison to the original classic!

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