Countless people are utterly terrified by them. They exist in every tradition, having come down from oral to written folklore and mythology. They are a major part of various cultures and religions around the globe from the infancy of human civilization. Demons, and other scary creatures, are as ancient as humans (according to numerous skeptics, humans invented them just as they invented God), and they have always been synonymous with evil, death, divine punishment, terror, and the supernatural, which is why people are so afraid of them. But why are demons so terrifying and scary for so many people? Where do they come from? And most importantly—what are their intentions and why do they exist? Put another way, what is the purpose behind their existence?
The word demon derives from the ancient Greek daimon (a spirit or divine power), and does not carry the negative connotation the modern word has given the term in its appropriation of it. With the passage of time, demons gradually became seen as evil spirits, fallen angels, or spirits of unknown type that can possess a human soul. The list of the 25 Scariest Creatures in Myth and Religion that follows will help you understand why so many people fear these demonic beings.
Xing Tian is a god with bad intentions in Chinese mythology who fights the Supreme Divinity, not giving up even after losing his head. Losing the fight for supremacy, he was beheaded and his head buried in Changyang Mountain. Nevertheless, headless, with a shield in one hand and an ax in the other, he continues the fight, using his nipples for eyes and his belly button for a mouth. He may not be outright scary, but Xing Tian is definitely a weird creature.
A vetala is a ghostlike being in Hindu myth. They are defined as spirits that inhabit cadavers and charnel grounds. These corpses may be used as vehicles for movement as they no longer decay while inhabited. However, a vetala can also leave the body at will.
In demonology, Ronove is a marquis and great earl of hell that commands twenty legions of demons. He is a vaguely depicted monster holding a staff. He is also described as a taker of old souls, often coming to Earth to harvest souls of decrepit humans and animals near death.
These demonic spirits come from Hindu myth, but we also find them in other religions such as Buddhism. They are known as man-eaters because it is believed that they eat their victims alive. According to Hindu tradition, they were so filled with blood lust when they were created that they ate Brahma, the creator god, alive.
Also known as the “hungry ghost,” a preta is a spirit found in some Indian religions that wanders around suffering from extreme hunger and thirst that can’t be satisfied. According to these religions, people who used to be corrupt, jealous, and greedy in a previous life return as a preta in this lifetime.