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.
In ancient Roman religion, lemures were evil spirits of the restless or malignant dead, and were known for their horrifying and disturbing appearance. It was also believed they were related to the Greek monster Lamia, from which their name derives.
According to ancient Japanese religion, a jorogumo is a blood-thirsty monster, but in most tales it is described as a huge spider that takes the form of a very attractive woman who seduces her male victims, traps them in her web, and then devours them with pleasure. I know a jorogumo might sound like some of your exes you guys, but let’s not be haters here.
Hundun is a faceless evil being in Chinese mythology and the source of disaster and chaos in Chinese cosmogony, comparable with the World Egg. The strangest thing about this demon, however, is how ancient it really is; according to Chinese tradition, it existed before heaven and earth separated or, in other words, as a scientist would claim, before the Big Bang.
Eligos is a great duke of hell that rules sixty legions of demons. He discovers hidden things and knows the future of wars. He is depicted as a godly knight carrying a lance, an ensign (flag or standard), and a serpent that looks like a cross between a snake and a lizard.
Djinni are supernatural creatures in early Arabian and later Islamic mythology and theology. The Qur’an says that the djinni are made of a smokeless and “scorching fire,” but are also physical in nature, able to interact with people and objects and be acted upon. Something like the Smoke Monster in Lost but without smoke, right? Terrifying.