Terms Relating to Demons


This is the practice (pretended if not real) of expelling evil spirits from persons or places or things in which they are thought to be, by means of incantations and the performance of certain occult or magical arts – the opposite of those rites that aim at propitiating or evoking the assistance of the spirit world. It was not used by Jesus and his disciples in casting out demons – Jesus casting them out "with a word" (Matthew 8:16). The word "exorcist" (Gr. Exorkistes) occurs in the Bible only in Acts 19:13, where it is used of those who attempted to cast out evil spirits by using the name of Jesus whom the apostle Paul preached, and seemingly used by Paul in a way to discredit professional exorcists.

Consulting a Familiar Spirit

This is commonly thought of as consulting, or purporting to consult, with a spirit with which one has rapport and can call upon for information, advice, or assistance. It is mentioned 7 times in the King James Version of those who "have" familiar spirits (Leviticus 19:31; 20:6,27; 1 Samuel 28:3,9; Isaiah 19:3). So when mention is likewise made in it 4 times of "consulting" or "dealing" or "working" with familiar spirits (Deuteronomy 18:11; 2 Kings 21:6; 23:24; 2 Chronicles 33:6), some think it means consulting or dealing with those who "have" them in the sense of being indwelt and inspired by them, as in the case of the soothsaying maid of Acts 16:16-18.

  But such is by no means a necessary or even probable inference even though the American Standard Version also renders 2 Kings 21:24 and 2 Chronicles 33:6 as "them that had familiar spirits" and "dwelt with them that had familiar spirits." All of us, however, "have" familiar friends with whom we consult and deal with, but are not possessed or indwelt by them. And that is likely the meaning of all the passages that speak of "consulting" or "working" or "dealing" with familiar spirits – or that speak of "having" familiar spirits.


This is the process by which humans attempt or profess, to acquire information from superhuman powers of divinities, by the use of various physical means. (See Ezekiel 21:21). It contrast with genuinely inspired prophecy. In the New Testament (Acts 16:16), a maid is represented as "having a spirit of divination" – literally, "a spirit of a python (puthona, accusative singular of puthon, Python, the name of the mythological serpent slain by Apollo, later used as the equivalent of daimonion mantikon, a soothsaying demon (Harper’s Analytical Greek Lexicon).


Much the same meaning as "enchanting" or enchantment"; and "charmers" are much the same as "enchanters" – except possibly for referring more frequently to persons casting their spells by magical movements as well as words – possibly mesmerists or hypnotists. The Hebrew words thus rendered are: (a) Ittim, gentle ones, jugglers (Isaiah 19:3); (b) chaber cherer, to join a joining, fascinate (Deuteronomy 18:11, translated "charmer"; Psalm 58:5, translated by the nouns "charmers"; (c) lachash, a charm (Jeremiah 8:17, translated "charmed"; (d) lachash,3, to charm (Psalm 58:5, translated by the verb "charming").

  NOTE: Lachash (Ecclesiastes 10:11, in [13-b] above, and Jeremiah 8:17, here in [14-c], and lachash,3 (Ecclesiastes 10:11, here in [14-d have reference to snake charmers. Likewise, lehatim (Exodus 7:11, in [13-f] above) has reference to what magicians did in regard to serpents with their enchantments.


The foretelling of events by auspices or omens – "auspices" literally meaning bird seer or bird watcher; hence, predictions based upon the flight of birds, the feeding of foul, and by extension, phenomena in the sky, as a meteor of eclipse; and by further extension, predictions based upon anything – as black cats, nightmares, supposedly unlucky days or numbers, breaking of mirrors, etc.


Purported form of divination by means of determining and properly interpreting the locations of the celestial bodies of the zodiac – stars, planets, sun, and moon, worshipped by pagans as deities – based upon the belief that they influence human affairs and determine the course of events by their movements and respective and relative locations at particular times.

Monthly Prognostication: Purported divining by omens of the new moon (Isaiah 47:13).


  The terms "superstitious" (Acts 17:22) and superstition" (25:19) occurring in the King James Version - but rendered "religious" and "religion" in the American Standard Version – involve the use of the Greek word "demon" in compound terms meaning demon-fearing and demon-worship, respectively, as mentioned earlier in this paper, in the second paragraph under subhead "Basic Greek Terms and Their History." From the Christian point of view, the words "superstitious" and "superstition" properly apply to pagan religious and associated practices, though not from their point of view. And, since various aspects of them are treated as subversive of divinely authorized and acceptable religion, we include "superstition" in our catalogue of terms – in English usage, which derives from the idea of demon-fearing.

  Funk & Wagnalls New Practical dictionary of the English Language defines superstition as follows: "1. A belief founded on irrational feelings, especially of fear, and marked by credulity, also any rite or practice inspired by such belief. 2. Specifically, a belief in a religious system regarded (by others than the believer) as without reasonable support: also any of its rites. 3, Credulity regarding or reverence for occult or supernatural, as belief in omens, charms, and signs; loosely, any unreasoning or unreasonable belief or impression."

  Our culture, even among Christians, is not entirely free of vestiges of ancient superstitions. A common superstition of the Middle Ages was that the devil could enter a person during an unguarded moment when he is sneezing, but that this could be prevented if anyone present immediately appealed to God by use of his name. The tradition still somewhat current as saying "God bless you" when someone sneezes is a holdover from that superstition, which involved belief in the power of magic and witchcraft. Among other similar holdovers are the belief that 13 is an unlucky number, the belief in an evil eye, that breaking a mirror causes bad luck, and, conversely, that a horseshoe, a rabbits foot, or a four leaf clover brings good luck. The one most prevalent and taken most seriously in our day is dependence upon published horoscope for direction of one’s daily activities, based on belief that the stars (widely believed anciently to be demons, gods and goddesses) influence nations and individuals and that astrologers can by them predict the events of a person’s life. (See below under the term "Astrology.")


An umbrella term, embracing both divination and magic, but usually for selfish and deceptive purposes, if not intended to injure others; the professed use of powers gained from the assistance or control of spirits, especially for divining; but also for black magic (for either death or injury); necromancy; witchcraft.


Originally the English word "soothsayer" meant a truthsayer of a truthful person. But it came to be used, and is so used in the Bible, to refer to one who claims to have supernatural insight and is able to reveal secrets and foretell events. In the Old Testament, four Hebrew words are thus translated: (a) Gezar, to cut off or down, decree (Daniel 2:27;4:7;5:7,11); (b) anan.3a, to observe the clouds (Isaiah 2:6; Micah 5:12); (c) qasam, to divine, use divination (Joshua 13:22). In the New Testament (Acts 16:16), the Greek word thus translated is manteuomai, from mantis, a seer, diviner, akin to mainomai, to rave and mania, fury displayed by those who were possessed by the evil spirit (represented by a pagan god or goddess) while delivering their oracular message (Vine, Expository Dictionary of the New Testament Words). It is never used in either Old or New Testament of the prophets of God.


This is the attempt by human beings to compel or at least induce a divinity, by use of physical means, to do what they wish it to do – whether good (White Magic) or ill (Black Magic) – the terms in parentheses not occurring in the Bible. The purpose of "White Magic" is often to counter or protect from "Black Magic".


This a form of magus, and seems for the most part to be a magical charm or spell-binding attempted by incantation or formula of words chanted or recited, but does exclude action. It is used to translate the following Hebrew words: (a) Cheber, joining, charm (Isaiah 49:9,12); (b) lachash, a whisper, charm, amulet (Ecclesiastes 10:11, rendered "charmed" in American Standard Version); (c) lat, secret, enchantment gentleness (Exodus 7:22; 8:7-11); (d) nachash, whisper, enchantment (Numbers 23:23; 24:1); (e) nachash,3, to whisper, use enchantment (Leviticus 19:26; 2 Kings 17:17; 21:6; 2 Chronicles 33:6); (f) lehatim, flashings (Exodus7:11).


The term "imposters" is found in 2 Timothy 3:13 – "seducers" in the King James Version. The word in the Greek text is goetes, nominative plural of goes, originally and literally denoting a wailer or howler, and was used of an enchanter or magician who uttered incantations in a kind of howl or wail. Later it was applied to jugglers and to imposters and cheats. The New English Bible renders it "charlatans". It may have reference in the text above to false teachers who practiced magical arts, (see Acts 19:19) for many who practiced "magical arts" (Gr. Perierga) bringing their books together and burning them, in Ephesus, where Timothy was. It well could be that most of the practice of so-called occult arts were imposters.


Purported form of divination by means of determining and properly interpreting the locations of the celestial bodies of the zodiac – stars, planets, sun, and moon, worshipped by pagans as deities – based upon the belief that they influence human affairs and determine the course of events by their movements and respective and relative locations at particular times.

Monthly Prognostication: Purported divining by omens of the new moon (Isaiah 47:13).


This is a translation of the Hebrew word yiddeoni, a knowing one, or psychic. In our present day English, "wizard" is a masculine noun, but in the older English it was used of either man or woman. And, in Exodus 20:27, we read: "a man also a woman that has a familiar spirit, or that is a wizard, shall surely be put to death." It is interesting to note that where either a wizard or one having a familiar spirit is mentioned (namely, in all the passages of the above paragraph except Acts 16:16-18), the other is also mentioned; and that in one passage of the King James Version where "mecromancer" is mentioned "Deuteronomy 18:11). It is in connection with the other two. It is likewise interesting to note that Isaiah 8:19 speaks of them that have familiar spirits and of them that are wizards, "that chirp and mutter" – possibly referring to disguising their voices so as to appear to be voices of the dead (cf. 29:4). It becomes evident that being a wizard, having a familiar spirit (more often spoken of as woman), and being a necromancer are associated terms.

  NOTE: From the above, it is seen that the text of the scriptures "wizard" and "witch" are not cognate terms – not masculine or feminine of the same root word. Where in topical headings of some Bibles the expressions "witch of Endor" occurs, the text has references to a woman with a "familiar spirit" (1 Samuel 28:7-9). For "Witch," see "Witchcraft" and "sorcery". Numbers (15) and (16).


One would think this has to do with the practice or supposed powers of witches (females) or wizards (males), mainly for evil purposes, rendered the use of black magic, sorcery, enchantment, Satanism, and other occult (mysterious and supposedly supernatural) arts. But this is not altogether accurate. Witchcraft and sorcery are practically synonymous