Demons as Pure Spirits/Intellects

A short while back, I was reading a book about exorcisms written by a real-life official exorcist in the Catholic Church (Interview With An Exorcist by Fr. Jose Antonio Fortea). The book gave a brief rundown of some of the doctrinal points in demonology. Different types of demons were discussed—hidden, open, and closed—as well as other accepted “facts” of demon lore. I say “facts” because not everyone will believe in demons. I do, but others may not. Regardless, I don’t think the Church’s original description of the cosmos and how that plays into the origin story of demons fits what science has revealed about the universe.

But that is neither here nor there with respects to this particular entry in my blog.

One thing I found very interesting in the book was the description of demons as pure spirits. According to the Church, they exist entirely as disembodied intellects. They are nothing  but rational beings. Well, rational beings whose reason has been perverted by their evil. That gave me considerable pause when I read that. Maybe I played too much AD&D in my youth, but I always considered demons to be spirits, yes; but spirits with form. I always envisioned them as kind of scaly bat-like creatures. Spewing hatred and evil, of course, but not as diaphanous as this book describes. Regardless, they are dangerous: they can possess people … well, people’s bodies, and they have a few preternatural abilities.

What struck me most was that as purely rational beings most of their existence, or perhaps even all of their existence, is spent thinking. Again, hateful, evil thoughts; but only thoughts. And that struck me as very, very odd.


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