Great books on demonology are hard to find. But there are a few rare gems that have survived from the ancient times, and there are also a few excellent modern works from academics and practicing occultists.
This list of best demonology books contains works from different time periods. Topically, it contains books about demon summoning rituals and also more encyclopedic works that list different demons, their specifications etc.
I’ve also included works that discuss the theory and philosophy behind demonic magic as well as a novel that really capture the atmosphere of occult activities.
On top of that, I’ve tried to be as objective as possible. That is to say, I’ve collected the works from writers that have opposing opinions on demonology.
For example, works from famous occult figures like Aleister Crowley who’ve propagated demonic magic. Next, curious and fairly objective historians of the occult like Richard Kieckhefer.
But also those who stand in full moral opposition to demonic magic. Like the famous exorcist Fr. Gabriele Amorth and St. Augustine, the highly influential Christian author and saint from Late Antiquity.
Overall, I’m confident that you’ll find these demonology books to be very useful in providing you with a balanced outlook and knowledge on this highly controversial subject.
1. Magic in the Middle Ages
Why did the Catholic Church and the Inquisition hunt down heretics? What was considered heresy? The most horrible transgression was necromancy, and summoning demons and other entities fell into that category.
In this excellent overview of magic in the Middle Ages, Richard Kieckhefer explores the various types of magic activities and shows that necromancy was in fact practiced most often by priests who were the most educated members of society.
The book also traces the different intellectual influences on Medieval magic, such as the closer cultural ties between Europeans and Arabs. Furthermore, it contains examples of actual demonic rituals performed in the Middle Ages from authentic texts from this time period.
2. Forbidden Rites: A Necromancer’s Manual of the Fifteenth Century
It’s a collection of rituals for summoning various demons and aquiring powers. It contains the full translation of the text along with the commentary.
So if you want a hands-on experience with an authentic magic text instead of just reading about them, Forbidden Rites provides the fully authentic experience.
3. The Book of Abramelin: A New Translation
This book was written by Abraham the Jew, an influential magician from the Middle Ages. He claimed to have received his magical knowledge during his travels in Egypt, from a hermit called Abramelin the Mage.
The Book of Abramelin provides ritualistic instructions for getting in contact with a Holy Guardian Angel. But it doesn’t stop there. The full purpose of the ritual is to then be able to summon and control good and evil spirits (demons) with full protection and blessing from God and the HGA. The demons will provide the person with all sorts of miraculous powers (invisibility, wealth, crush one’s enemies etc.).
The Abramelin is regarded as one of the most difficult magical rituals ever devised. It takes 18 months of intense spiritual work to complete! Aleister Crowley famously tried to perform the ritual (albeit from an older, unauthentic translation of the text) and failed to do so. Many have attributed his downfall in personal life that ensued to leaving the Abramelin ritual unfinished.
A popular 2016. horror movie The Dark Song is loosely based on the Abramelin ritual as well. Similar to Forbidden Rites, if you want to read an authentic magical text this is another great choice.
Important Note: Definitely get the “New Translation”, translated by Steven Guth, which is translated from the original German manuscript. The older translation dates back to a French 17th century translation that’s missing many valuable parts from the original.
4. The Encyclopedia Of Demons & Demonology
It contains well researched information on each of the demons, including their appearance, powers and historical accounts in which they appear. Here’s a small excerpt for one demon from the Encyclopedia:
“Abezethibou One-winged DEMON who lives in the Red
Sea, plots against every wind under the heavens, and is
the enemy of Moses.
In the Testament of Solomon, Abezethibou states that
he once sat in the first heaven, named Amelouth. He was
present when Moses was taken before the pharaoh of Egypt
and was summoned to the aid of the Egyptian magicians
when they sought to discredit Moses. Abezethibou takes
credit for turning the pharaoh against Egypt and for inciting
the Egyptians to pursue the Israelites in their exodus.
When the parted Red Sea falls in on the Egyptians, Abezethibou
is trapped with the pillar of air, until the demon
EPHIPPAS arrives to take him to King SOLOMON. Solomon
binds Abezethibou and Ephippas to the pillar (perhaps
a reference to the Milky Way) and commands that they
hold it up in the air until the end of time.
The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha. Vols. 1 & 2. Edited by
James H. Charlesworth. 1983. Reprint, New York: Doubleday,
This one is pretty basic, but consider that there are hundreds of other demons and related terms and the value of this 321 page book is pretty immense.
5. La Bas (Down There/The Damned)
Huysmans provides the most influential depiction of Black Mass (Satanic Mass) which was later adopted by popular culture and many occult groups throughout the West. Although this book is not entirely centered around demons, it explores the darker forms of occultism.
The most interesting parts of the book for your’s truly were the digressions into a wide range of topics such as the Cathar heresy, the various Gnostic beliefs and the origins of Satanism as well as an illuminating answer as to why anyone would worship Satan or demons.
Overall one of the most entertaining novels I’ve read that also left an intellectual impression. So I highly recommend it to everyone who’s even slightly interested in the subjects of demons and the occult.
6. On Christian Doctrine
Demons are the counterparts of angels and Augustine was highly influential on the Catholic Church’s view on the nature of demons and magic in general.
In this book among other topics, Augustine shares his opinion on the difference between religion as a public spirituality designed for the public good and magic as a private spirituality concerned with achieving one’s selfish goals with the help of demonic forces.
I’m paraphrasing of course. But this distinction is what made Christians so intolerant of any forms of heresy and magic, and subsequent prosecutions by the Inquisition. Definitely a subject worth of exploration as it will.
7. Demoniality: Incubi and Succubi
This is a theoretical exposition of demons from a Catholic priest, written during the beginning of Renaissance. It speaks of demons, their attributes, mannerisms and different reported experiences. Especially those pertaining to copulation with demons.
The book explores the nature of incubi and succubi, which are demons that can have sex with humans either in dreams or by taking on the body of another human. In fact, Father Sinistrari even claims that it’s possible for demons to father offspring with humans.
Demoniality is is considered as a biased Catholic work by a large number of non-Catholic occultists. Nevertheless it’s extremely interesting and provides a useful insight into the beliefs surrounding these sexual demons from Middle Ages and onward.
8. Grimorium Verum
If you’re interested in summoning demons for achieving selfish goals and desires, this is the book you should get. It’s one of the most notorious handbooks of black magic. It deals openly with summoning spirits of darkness and in surprisingly simple language. Much simpler to understand and perform than the Keys of Solomon.
One of the interesting things about this grimoire is the lack of moral warnings and judgment. Typically, magic manuscripts are filled with warnings not to harm others with magic, but Grimorium Verum takes no heed to such warnings and simply lays out the black magic instructions for everyone to do as they please.
We can only suspect that these texts translated from French and Italian originals were written by a highly advanced black magician who was already so deeply entrenched in the black arts that he/she found no point in pretending to be concerned about morality any longer.
9. The Lesser Key of Solomon
But if you’re interested in demonology, the Lesser Key of Solomon is the one you’ll especially want to read. it contains descriptions, invocations and sigils for over 72 demons or spirits. It was translated into English by Crowley and Mathers, members of the famous occult order The Golden Dawn.
The exact origin of this book is not clear. It is assumed that Cornelius Agrippa and other magicians found fragments of older demonology books and assembled them into this one during the 16th and 17th century. This is one of the most influential works of magic and essential for beginners (older occult dabblers have probably already read it!).
10. An Exorcist Explains the Demonic: The Antics of Satan and His Army of Fallen Angels
What would a demonology book list be without a book on exorcism? Fr Gabriele Amorth is the most famous exorcist in the world. In this book he provides a fascinating account of many exorcisms he’s done along with his personal opinion on possessions.
He also writes about the Catholic doctrine on the fallen angels and various occult manifestations in simple language. Some questions he deals with in this book include:
Where does the Evil One dwell in the human body?
How does the Devil appear and what does he look like?
What are the powers that comes from Satan?
Do the sins of ancestors influence our life?
How are spiritual evils contracted?
What is the state of souls in purgatory?
What is the role of sacramentals in fighting off temptation?
When should exorcisms and prayers of healing be performed?
What happens during an exorcism?
What you should do when a family is being attacked by a demon?