Graveyard Shift

Here's What Demons Are Actually Supposed To Look Like 

Megan Summers
Updated December 30, 2019 8k views 14 items

What does the Bible say demons look like? The Old and New Testaments contain few descriptions of these evil spirits' appearances, and physical characterizations of them have evolved over time through oral storytelling, grimoires, literature, and apocrypha.

Most of the images you'll find here are from Jacques Auguste Simon Collin de Plancy's 18th-century text, Dictionnaire Infernal. De Plancy, a demonologist and occultist, worked with artist Louis Le Breton to bring demons to life, and these woodcuts are still a primary source for representations of what demons really look like.

With the help of various sources, from encyclopedias to compendiums, collective fascination with demons has grown. The physical features of each demon often mimic their powers and abilities. Renderings of what these dark entities look like provide insight into the religious beliefs and customs that were popular when these devilish creatures came to prominence.

Azazel Is Described As A 'Crafty Worm' Or 'Unclean Bird,' Among Other Things
Azazel Is Described As A... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Here's What Demons Are Actually Supposed To Look Like
Photo: Louis Le Breton/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

In the English translation of the King James Bible, the name of the demon Azazel means scapegoat, and it's a synonym for hell in modern Hebrew. Azazel originates from ancient Jewish texts, and he's described as a desert-dwelling, goat-like fellow in the apocryphal Book of Enoch.

The extracanonical Apocalypse of Abraham expounds upon these details and lays out the modern understanding of what Azazel looks like based upon the prophet Abraham's narrative:

And it came to pass when I saw the bird speaking I said this to the angel: "What is this, my lord?"

And he said, "This is disgrace - this is Azazel!"

Abraham later condemns a sinner to "putrefy in the belly of the crafty worm Azazel, and be burned by the fire of Azazel's tongue." These various portraitures have coalesced into a general view of Azazel as a chief Se'irim, literally a "hairy one," or a malevolent goat demon trudging through the barren wilderness.

Beelzebub is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Here's What Demons Are Actually Supposed To Look Like
Photo: Louis Le Breton/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

Early mentions of the demon Beelzebub from the Synoptic Gospels define him as "the prince of demons," and the Canaanites - or ancient people on the western edges of the Middle East - saw him as Ba’alzebub, or "lord of the flies."

In the Testament of Solomon, he is described as a powerful despot from hell, declaring:

I bring destruction by means of tyrants; I cause the demons to be worshiped alongside men; and I arouse desire in holy men and select priests. I bring about jealousies and [slayings] in a country, and I instigate [conflict].

In the Dictionnaire Infernal, de Plancy traces Beelzebub's bug-like appearance, culminating in the German play Faust by Goethe, where he is "dressed like a bee and with two dreadful ears and his hair painted in all colors with a dragon’s tail."

Asmodeus is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Here's What Demons Are Actually Supposed To Look Like
Photo: Louis Le Breton/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

Asmodeus originates from the monotheistic Zoroastrianism tradition, and his devilish mythology grew and transformed through Judaism and Christianity until he became known as one of the highest-ranking demons to ever exist.

The Dictionnaire Infernal produces some gruesome portrayals of Asmodeus, and he is summarized as "a monstrous creature with three heads: one like a sheep, one like a bull, and one like a man. The man’s face may sound like the most normal, but with pointed ears, a hooked noise, jagged teeth, and a fire-breathing mouth."

Beyond this, Asmodeus has rooster legs and the tail of the serpent. He enacts his evil plans while riding a lion with a dragon's neck.

Paimon Wears A Crown And Rides A Camel
Paimon Wears A Crown And... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Here's What Demons Are Actually Supposed To Look Like
Photo: Louis Le Breton/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

The important demon Paimon is described in numerous grimoires, and one of the most salient verbal sketches of him can be found in The Lesser Keys of Solomon, edited by occultists S.L. MacGregor Mathers and Aleister Crowley in 1904:

The Ninth Spirt in this Order is Paimon, a Great King, and very obedient unto Lucifer. He appeareth in the form of a Man sitting upon a Dromedary with a Crown most glorious upon his head. There goeth before him also an Host of Spirits, like Men with Trumpets and well sounding Cymbals, and all other sorts of Musical Instruments. He hath a great Voice, and roareth at his first coming, and his speech is such that the Magician cannot well understand it unless he can compel him.