Author Topic: A Midsummer Night's Scream  (Read 1972 times)


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A Midsummer Night's Scream
« on: June 18, 2006, 01:55:45 PM »

A Midsummer Night’s Scream:
(Fighting Fiendish Foes!)

“Not necessity, not desire - no, the love of power is the demon of men. Let them have everything - health, food, a place to live, entertainment - they are and remain unhappy and low-spirited: for the demon waits and waits and will be satisfied.”
Friedrich Nietzsche

“Demonology is the shadow of Theology”.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Throughout history man has sought to explain those things which he did not understand through the inventive tools of mythology and folklore. Hence, the sun and moon would be eaten by a giant serpent or dragon when they disappeared from sight, the earth moved through the cosmos on the back of an enormous turtle, or we were said to take our voyage into the afterlife while riding on a boat through the netherworld, or become like birds and simply fly away into the great beyond. Mythology itself, rich in allegory, symbolism, and secret teachings of world folklore, is a method by which humanity might come to easier conclusions mass marketed for a more widespread appeal. Organized religion, like most things, is filled with equal parts divinity and deception, truth and manipulation of these truths. For every teaching of love and forgiveness, there is a bloody battlefield and headless martyr. Perhaps those things in life that are most important are also the things most worth fighting for. However, history shows us that religion on the whole has ultimately become deceptive mind control; mass murder at it’s worse, counterproductive at best, offering temporary solutions to those who prefer easy answers and the comfort of bearded gods and shapely goddesses who promise us reprise if we hand over our worldly wares, our minds and even our very souls.

Because we live in a world of polarity and duality, which is broken apart by day and night, with shades of grey and prismatic, rainbow fragments in the spaces between, sometimes things can hide between the cracks. They sprout forth in the abundant imagination of human myth and folklore. For every angelic entity there is a demon in its mirror, for every demon causing havoc, there is an angel establishing order, and a wide myriad of reflections in between these two extremes. Undoubtedly, for as long as man has been calculating the cycles and perfecting his agricultural and seasonal understanding, there have been tales of demons and supernatural creatures that hunt in the shadows. Spectral apparitions who were thought to cause complications in our tidy march towards order, coming forth in plagues, famine, drought, death and decay if we didn’t live in constant appeasement to these primitive deities. “Demons” have been around for as long as man has had the ability to communicate thoughts, be it through grunts, sounds, music and words, or symbols and written language. They are as old as myth itself, and as some would believe, even more ancient still.

In their book “A Field Guide to Demons: Fairies, Fallen Angels, and Other Subversive Spirits”, authors Carol K. Mack and Dinah Mack embark on a journey through the many ages of demonology. Their work highlights some of the most prominent demonic species, the territories in which they commonly reside, as well as the various means by which these beasts were said to be defeated, according to tradition. I recently had the privilege of speaking to Carol and Dinah about their informative work, getting further details about their research on the topics of Demonology and related material.

MAD: Carol and Dinah, I'm grateful that you've decided to share some time with us today so that we might discuss the topic of your fascinating book, "A Field Guide to Demons". It's filled with hours upon hours of informative research and entertaining reading. This book is hard to put down! First off, could you please give us a little bit of your backgrounds, and how you became interested in the subject of comparative mythology, and in particular, demonology?

CKM: I am a playwright and have also taught creative writing for many years. In all fiction I've noted underlying myth/folklore elements and often the structure beneath the most powerful drama or fiction is recognizable as myth. During the course of my teaching at N.Y.U., I slowly acquired a Master's degree in Comparative Religious Studies, a fascinating field, and I had the opportunity to read mythology from all parts of the world over time.

DM: I have always been interested in stories of all kinds, but as I was introduced to comparative mythology in college, I became especially interested in the universality of the stories we hear and tell. In college I was a religious studies major, with a focus on eastern religion and comparative mythology and had an opportunity to deepen my knowledge of world myth and cultures.

CKM: Neither Dinah (my daughter) or I had any particular interest in demonology, but one weekend, not long after we both graduated (coincidently in the same year, Dinah with a Masters in Cultural Anthropology, and I with one in Religious Studies), we decided to go camping together. A heat wave struck and most of the camping grounds in the North East were closed. It was nearly 105 degrees and we didn't know what to do so we decided to visit the coldest places in New York City which are the Morgan Library, the Angelica film theatre, and an ice-skating rink on 34th street. We started at the Morgan which happened to be exhibiting some fabulous medieval prints of the Seven Deadly Sins. Admiring the renderings of hairy bipeds with hidden tails and lecherous expressions, we began a serious discussion of their wild attributes and all that we knew from our respective studies of global stories about such supernatural shape-shifters. We decided to explore the field more thoroughly in air-conditioned libraries that summer.

MAD: LOL, I don’t blame you. Many of Lovecraft’s entities preferred the arctic wastelands to that of the desert heat as well. In the introduction of your book you state:

"Demons are everywhere, in every part of the world and in every moment of recorded history. They are as invisible as microbes. They inhabit every grain of sand and drop of water. They lurk at crossroads, crouch at the door, hide in trees, slip into bed, wait in caves, slide down chimneys, hover at weddings and childbirth, follow caravans, pretend to be friends, mates, or grandmothers. They slip into your mind and become your self."

I use this quote, because within this short statement are many ideas that will run through the course of our discussion. This paragraph sums up some basics to what we might generally associate with 'demonic' entities.

One of the first things that people might notice about your book is that it's broken up into individual categories, very concise and keen on detail. Demons and entities of the mountains, the ocean, desert, forest, domicile, and more; all organized not only by their environment, but their territories. From the Egyptian Set, to the Teutonic Nixie and Kappa beast of Japan, many races of demons are covered extensively in your book.

Of all the thousands of demons and gods that you have explored, would you say that there is any element, or any region of the world where the folklore of demons is more profound than others? India for instance has many hundreds of deities and creatures in the 'higher' and 'lower' pantheon. Do you find them to be more associated with Fire, Water, Air, the Earth, or is 'Demon-ism' an equal opportunity employer? Coming in all shapes and sizes equally from the majority of world mythologies?

CKM: We created this book as a Field Guide because we discovered early on in our research that although many books were, and still are, being written about one or another culture's lore, that these ancient and powerful nature deities (for that’s what they were early on) manifested in specific habitats/territories such as water or forest universally; and that every forest, for example, throughout the world, held similar stories. Little Red Riding Hood's encounter with a carnivorous creature existed in all cultures and all peoples living in villages near forests have developed stories of where the wild things are and warn their young with remarkably similar tales. We found that each territory covered in the Field Guide was considered sacred. Nature was treated differently on a global scale long, long ago. The "demons" were there first and humans stopped at the borders of the forests, mountains, water, and deserts, and told thousands of similar tales about the inhabitants of each, choosing similar ways of banding together to combat them--these Guardians of the wilderness--and travel safely using globally similar techniques of what we call "Dispelling and Disarming" tricks.

DM: Demon-ism is then certainly an equal opportunity employer, coming in all shapes and sizes, as far as imaginations can imagine them, and for as long as sacred areas and challenging environments continue to exist (unfortunately, developers and corporations don't stop to heed the signs or learn the ancient stories). As for earth, water, and mysteriously dangerous terrain such as deserts and mountains, worldwide they all share the same stories because they are all sacred domains. I'd say that Air is more an element populated by angelic beings and that demons tend to fall to Earth. Demons, however, universally travel the globe in a split second --maybe via air, or a parallel universe, or a wormhole--who knows, but in all these tales the demonic have that talent.   

MAD: Manipulating “worm-holes” seems to be an attribute of most demonic species. I would contend however, that at least in their nature as fallen angels, or “Satan”, he is seen as a master of the air as well. Revelation states: “A multitude of angels led by Michael will then engage Satan to finish his reign as the prince of power of the air.” Ephesians 2:2 also states: "Wherein ye once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the powers of the air, of the spirit that now worketh in the sons of disobedience." The role of the Morning Star might also be associated with air, but that’s more about Lucifer’s mythology than your average demonite.

The subtitle of your work is "Fairies, Fallen Angels, and other Subversive Spirits". Could you please go into a little bit of the history about why we might consider fairies, demons, ghosts and other related creatures as all a part of the same shape-shifting genealogical folklore? For instance, Fairies, Leprechauns, and many other demons are seen to have the ability to shape-shift, cast illusion, or manipulate portals into our world. Reptilian myths in particular are very popular right now in relation to the 'R-Complex' of the brain.

CKM and DM: The Field Guide does explore Demons, Fairies, and Fallen Angels (such as Satan) and what we call “Subversive Spirits” as they are out to subvert whatever order the human species is into at that time. However, there are substantial differences between Fairies and Demons although both species shape-shift a lot and display colorful dances to lure tourists. Fairies (other than an occasional visit to a village dance) usually mind their own business and live happily in a parallel universe unless stepped on or bothered by a shovel or plow. Demons are generally more powerful and over-the-top in their excessive and passionate behavior in water, mountain, etc.-- We did not include Ghosts in the book, and as far as reptiles are concerned they are fascinating but also not included here--the only similarities in traits that I can see are their ability to shed their skin and creep around in dark underground places like many other demonic creatures (one or two of which don't have any skin, like the Nuckalavee).

MAD: For those not aware of what the Nuckelavee is, here is a short excerpt from your book, page 37:

"The Nuckelavee is a lethal amphibian centaur (from Scotland). He has a head the size of a small human, and his mouth, which rests on a snout-like piggish projection, is several feet in width. His human-shaped upper body rises from his horse-like torso. He has only one eye, which is huge and bloodshot. However, what makes the Nuckelavee uniquely unsightly in appearance is he has no skin at all!"

You go into some detail regarding a handful of amphibious deities such as, the Nixie, Kappa, Madame White and others. In a few spots in the book, you state that our idea of demons often inadvertently contributes to humanities idea of goodness. Do you believe this to be true, and can you give us a few examples of lessons that might be learned from these entities? In the greater scheme, do you see some of these 'beasts' as messengers? Or, should they be seen as purely evil? Do we fear what we don't understand, or both?

CKM: Universally, it seems that all demonic lore points to everything humankind considers 'evil' by its focus on destructive acts, envy, greed, over-the-top passion-led behavior, an utter lack of love and compassion, of sympathy, of selflessness, reason,  balance and  absence of all we consider "good".  I don't personally consider the creatures to be "messengers" but rather to be born of the richness of human imagination (and, rather optimistically I suppose, I think their dark stories point to a timeless, global insight on the part of all humankind on the nature of Joy, Love, and the light of human kindness and what it is like to be without it). In all fiction it would be very difficult to find anything for a protagonist to do without an antagonist; what would a hero have to overcome? As for those fierce Guardian demons, with sheer power and energy, whirling around and "explaining” aspects of nature and events that are, or were hard to understand? Yes, that is certainly their function also.

DM: Yes, I agree. I think the stories point to a universal desire to explain and name what is "evil", and therefore point us all to more positive ways to co-exist, to treat the sacred places with more respect, and to function in a community. In that, the darker, menacing and mysterious aspects of the stories say a great deal about the human wish for goodness in the end. And the fact that so many diverse cultures share such similar stories does say a great deal about the global vision of what life would be like without the more positive aspects of humanity.

MAD: A race of entities which has fascinated people for many centuries now, and has been featured in countless tales, is that of the Persian Djinn, or 'Genies' of the magic lamp. These beings are said to grant three wishes to those who might free them from their confinement, or answer their riddles correctly. Could you please go into a little detail about the characteristics of typical Djinn, and differentiate between these apparitional creatures, and that of the Iblis and Marid?

CKM: Iblis is the name of one fallen angel, rather like Satan, who was made of fire and refused to bow to Adam. He was made of clay, and was sent to hell for his pride, begging for mercy in his fall from grace. Given respite, he remained on earth to commit bad deeds and lead an army of a vicious species called Marid. He is King of the Djinn and is known as Shaitan (Satan) in some lore.  The Djinn, as a species, are also made of fire and are fascinating spirits. They are invisible to us and are rather like Fairies; they often live in their own villages in deserted places. They only get annoyed if hit by a stone and will retaliate horribly. They are sheer energy and considered responsible for whirlwinds and sandstorms. Like dust, they can get inside a person's mind and cause insanity. If they do decide to morph to human form, their eyes will glow like flames so one can recognize them. Despite their power they can be fooled and contained by enchanted bottles and can also be controlled by sprinkling salt on or around them.

MAD: Unless it’s a Disney tale, we usually see that the Djinn’s granting of three wishes frequently comes at a heavy price. It reminds me of a particular “Twilight Zone” episode entitled: “The Man in the Bottle”. If you would, could you please share some of the significant information you have discovered on the character of Lilith, and her role as possible mother of all demonic races? Also, can you account the connection between this figure of Lilith, and that of the Persian Djinn?

CKM: Lilith seems to spring from the same geographical desert area as the Djinn, has their energy, and is considered to be mother to the Shedim who whirl around doing bad things much like their Djinn cousins. Lilith appears in the Domicile section of the book because it is there that she is recognized as the first wife of Adam. Her name is much like the Hebrew word for "night" (lilah) and she has other manifestations in Babylonian and Sumerian mythology. She is passionate and uncontrollable and can be trapped while pretending to be a regular woman. When pulled in front of a mirror she casts no reflection and retreats back into her dimension. She was sent into the "wasteland" in the Bible and so perhaps she resides there with the Djinn (she is also made of fire).

MAD: I’ve come across a few different areas of research that proclaim Lilith as the mother of the Djinn, with Shaitan being the father. It should be noted that another popularized title of the various Djinn species is that of the “Ghoul”. Other researchers believe that, with Cain (also cast from Eden), Lilith gave birth to all blood-drinking Vampire races as well. Another specific entity, the fearful Mare, would later develop into our Westernized version of the 'Nightmare'. What are some of major attributes and history of this demonic form?

CKM: Some of Lilith's wild behavior can also be seen in the Mare-- a shape-shifting female who enters men's bedrooms and attacks them while they sleep. But. she is Norwegian and is closer to barns and farms than deserts and ancient wastelands.

DM: The Mare that we covered in the domicile section of the book is a female shape-shifter from Norway. She most often takes the form of a horse (the barn and farm environment), but interestingly she is able to fit herself through a keyhole or even under the crack of a door. I love that vapor-like quality, it’s a great image. Once the Mare gets into the bedroom, she lurks over the sleeping victim, and causes chest pain, shortness of breath and night terrors- thus, our "nightmares". By day the ‘Nightmare’ might shift back into the form of a woman and meld into the neighborhood.


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Re: A Midsummer Night's Scream
« Reply #1 on: June 18, 2006, 01:56:07 PM »
MAD: What are 1 or 2 of the names for the species, covered in your book or absent, that you personally found the most interesting and notable?

CKM: I have great admiration for most of the Mermaids. They are so alluring and musical, always singing or playing the harp. One of the species, the Merrow, from Ireland, actually metamorphosed into a harp! The Nixie is in shallow waters and seen around villages--unique because she's a shopper and loves to dance. The traditional ones at sea don't seem to understand that the human sailors they capture can't breathe underwater or maybe they don't care. The entire water species is colorful, including the really badly behaved Madame White, a diva of a demoness. The demon I find most frightening is the Windigo because he freezes peoples' hearts, causes blizzards, and can only be killed by a silver bullet. The Liderc from Hungary is another favorite of mine because he starts as a star and enters the home as a flame coming down the chimney and visits women whose husbands have been away too long. He has the leg of a goose so one can trap him by hiding his boot, and once he’s discovered the bedroom door, can be tied with a belt, thus stopping him. However there are many forms of Lidercs and they are rather unpredictable. Oh, and I also think the Croucher is another interesting demonic creature. I guess all the portals and doors, entryways, have interesting ‘Croucher’ type demons hanging around.

DM: My favorite species are definitely the Woodwives, fairies from Germany who live in old forests and dense groves. They are described as well dressed and long clawed, and appear surrounded by violent whirlwinds. What an entrance they make! I love the combination of the fine dress and the wind. As we described in the book, the Woodwives hate human commotion, traffic, logging, and even church bells. But what I enjoy most about this species is that they hate caraway seeds in baked bread. How picky! They are often lured to kitchens when they smell baked goods, and always expect an offering. I love the story we found about the poor cook that handed the Woodwife a loaf of bread and inadvertently added caraway. The Woodwife ran screaming: "They baked me a caraway bread- it will bring that house great trouble!" So be warned- no rye! What a tale!

MAD: Ha-ha! The tale of the Woodwives reminds me of how Lilith is associated with the poppy (seed) and the rose. Luckily it seems, especially in the Asian traditions, there is sometimes a bit of humor involved with the demonic races. I can think of a few tales where the reptilian Naga comes to mind as being comedic or ironic. There are just so many interesting stories involved with the ancient folklore. One of the things I enjoyed about your book, besides all the excellent illustrations and superb organization of topics, is that not only do you present the idea of demons as representing psychological traits of our inner psyche, but you also state the ways, historically, in which some of these creatures were believed to be conquered or defeated. Could you please go into some of your thoughts on this matter regarding Freud and Jung, the Id and the Shadow? Do you believe demons should be taken literally or merely as negative human character traits inventively given name and form by our subconscious?

CKM: Thank you for your kind comments on the book. It was fascinating to do the research. As you pointed out, each demon described in the Field Guide includes a "Disarming and Dispelling Techniques" section that explains the historical customs of conquering the species. The methods vary widely from feeding cucumbers to a Kappa, to bottling the Djinn, to ringing bells; but much eradication of demons is done by sunlight or illumination that usually disempowers them. I think that Freud, by illuminating a way of thinking about one's Id, is an interesting way of reflecting on human needs. Once "captured" and considered this way, it enables the patient to gain control of his/her self. In the naming of our psychological “flaws”, the drive is surrounded and reason kicks in. The Id is the passionate, driven, libido-led energy that lives in the dark subconscious of all humankind and feeds our dreams and screams its wants to the Ego portion of our mind that knows better and is under the surveillance of the Superego in case it gives in to the Id. Jung's Shadow is akin to the Id in the sense that it is part of the “everyman” and is permanently in residence, but I think that it is more a negative force, a way of seeing the other by a projection of a negative view of one's own perspective. As far as being taken literally, I think that's not a way to view "demons". To me they are brilliant personifications of destructive forces that spring from our global, cultural and ancestral heritage, and are examples of the wonderfully rich human imagination.

MAD: What would you suggest for people who literally believe themselves to be under some kind of mental or demonic attack? I realize that many factors can play into this, such as chemical imbalances, drugs, abuse, ect.

CKM: I don't feel qualified to answer that question but, I am certain that anybody who believes that he/she is under some "demonic" attack should see a doctor.

DM: I'd have to agree.

MAD: Would you share your beliefs on Exorcism? Does it serve any purpose or should this practice be abolished? Despite how it's often romanticized in movies, I'm sure that exorcisms can do more harm than good for many.

CKM: Oops, another question I feel unqualified to answer. In our research I have run across "exorcism", but I think perhaps the psychiatric approach to looking at one's unconscious driven forces and pulling them out in the light might be more suitable for 2006AD, rather than committing oneself to an ancient practice that perhaps should have ended around the time of the enlightenment. However, I like it in the movies.

MAD: Sorry, I have to ask, though it's not covered in you book. In the accounts of 'Alien' abduction and encounters, do you feel that these tales of 'Alien' visitation could in fact be New-Age forms of demonic species? Perhaps the shape-shifting nature from the demons of old have adapted into new technological based entities to fit in more with our modern times? The Greys, Reptilians, Little Green Men; would you consider them 'Fallen Angels' and in the same family as many of the creatures discussed in your work?

CKM: I haven't really followed the creatures you mention and my onlyknowledge of the species is from the movie, E.T. in which the alien is certainly an ‘Other’ like a fairy really, more than a fallen angel, who just wants to go home to his parallel universe. Somehow, the thousands of years of tales from all over the world of demons and fairies and supernatural creatures among us, seem more interesting than this new breed but who knows, maybe they are just new versions of old myths...

MAD: Well Dinah and Carol, I understand you're both very busy and I want to thank you again for taking the time to answer a few questions. I really appreciate it and absolute best wishes to the both of you on future projects. I hope to see some kind of follow up to the Field Guide someday! In closing, are there any final recommendations to those who might be interested in the topics of demonology and mythology?

CKM: Thank you so very much Michael, for your interest in our book. We spent an enjoyable and educational time researching the topic and many friends from various cultures generously sent us folklore and gave us leads on material, mythology and traditions, etc. We created a very extensive bibliography at the end of the book and there you'll find many pages of recommendations for further reading.

DM: Michael, thanks so much for asking us such thought provoking questions. I would agree that anyone who wishes to read further on the topic should look through the bibliography in our book. We took a long time compiling it, and found some wonderful sources of mythology during our research. There is a lot of great material to choose from.







MAD is an administrator at and co-host of its weekly “Revolution Radio” program, the archives of which can be found at

Carol K. Mack is an award-winning playwright with a longtime interest in comparative mythology, and a master’s degree in religious studies. Her website can be found at .

Dinah Mack has a bachelor’s degree in religious studies and a master’s degree in cultural anthropology.

“From childhood's hour I have not been
As others were; I have not seen
As others saw; I could not bring
My passions from a common spring.
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow; I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone;
And all I loved, I loved alone.
Then - in my childhood, in the dawn
Of a most stormy life - was drawn
From every depth of good and ill
The mystery which binds me still:
From the torrent, or the fountain,
From the red cliff of the mountain,
From the sun that round me rolled
In its autumn tint of gold,
From the lightning in the sky
As it passed me flying by,
From the thunder and the storm,
And the cloud that took the form
(When the rest of Heaven was blue)
Of a demon in my view.”

-Edgar Allan Poe, ALONE

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Re: A Midsummer Night's Scream
« Reply #2 on: June 19, 2006, 07:15:05 AM »
prezhorusin04, is that demon book any good? I was contemplating getting it.
I unify in order to enlighten
Attracting life.
I seal the matrix of universal fire
With the magnetic tone of purpose.
I am guided by my own power doubled.

Beyond The Door Lays A New Path For Us On Our Jorney...........One Day We'll See Our Fate In


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Re: A Midsummer Night's Scream
« Reply #3 on: June 19, 2006, 11:54:20 AM »
Hey Phantom, i would recommend "The Field Guide To Demons" as well as "The Vampire Slayer's Field Guide to the Undead" by Shane Mcdougall..".. Between both of them, there are thousands of demonic/vampire/shapeshifter entities covered.. As well as their relationships to each other in mythology, and even means by which to defeat and neutralize these creatures..

Very interesting and informative reads.. It was nice of the Macks to allow me an interview with them.. I've been a fan of their book for a few years now...
« Last Edit: June 19, 2006, 12:38:20 PM by prezhorusin04 »