I Want An Encyclopedia of Demonology, Mysticism, the Occult, etc.
November 17, 2014 8:17 AM   Subscribe

Let's say I wanted to see the history of the angel Uriel. Or Zoroaster. Or Astaroth. Or one of the many demon-like figures in Japanese folklore. Is there such a comprehensive work of mythological beings? Something with facts like the first historical mention of the figure, various physical descriptions throughout time with context, their backstory(ies), etc?

I just find the subjects to be fascinating and I'd like to have a cool book/set of books. Ideally I would like something with more of an academic and historical perspective.

I'm thinking this doesn't exist but on the off chance that it does, point me in the right direction!
posted by Willie0248 to Grab Bag (8 answers total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
I have two very good books in this vein:

"A Field Guide to Demons, Fairies, Fallen Angels, and other Subversive Spirits" by Mack and Mack
"Faeries" by Froud and Lee

The first book is a sort of encyclopedia (though it takes the conceit of being a nature guide and is written with the assumption that you might encounter any of these beings in the wild and need to know what to do about it). It is very multi-cultural, but is definitely not exhaustive. I checked the index just now and, while it does have Zoroaster, it doesn't have Astaroth or Uriel. It does have quite a few Japanese mythical entities though. One nice thing about it is that, despite the conceit, it is very well sourced and referenced with an extensive bibliography in the back.

Faeries, on the other hand, is a very lovely book that deals specifically with the Celtic Fae Folk. It is exhaustive, but it is not well organized (in fact, it has neither an index nor a table of contents). I recommend it wholeheartedly if you are interested in the subject, but it is not the encyclopedia you are looking for.

When I was looking up the Amazon link for the field guide to demons, however, I came across these books:

The Encyclopedia of Demons and Demonology
The Encyclopedia of Spirits

They both look quite good, and I may just pick up a copy of each.
posted by 256 at 8:30 AM on November 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

The Dictionary of Demons is also worth a look.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 8:49 AM on November 17, 2014

My former boss at the Odd Fellows Hall John Michael Greer has written a number of different reference books that might be approaching what you are looking for including Monsters: An Investigator's Guide to Magical Beings and his New Encyclopedia of the Occult. You can see more of his books on his Amazon author page.
posted by jessamyn at 8:51 AM on November 17, 2014 [4 favorites]

These two are pretty good. I have a few others whose names I can't remember; if I can dig them up I'll come back and post them.

A Dictionary of Gods and Goddesses, Devils and Demons by Manfred Lurker

A Dictionary of Angels: Including the Fallen Angels by Gustav Davidson

You might also be interested in this FPP.
posted by prize bull octorok at 8:59 AM on November 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

I don't think there's been an update since 1995, but Man, Myth and Magic used to be pretty close to what you're asking for.
posted by kimota at 9:00 AM on November 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Came in to say John Michael Greer is the bomb!
posted by jbenben at 9:21 AM on November 17, 2014

For Japanese monster lore in English, Wikipedia is actually pretty awesome. Lot's of links.

If you're interested in Japanese Buddhist cosmology, you can go down the rabbit hole here.
posted by Nevin at 11:12 AM on November 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

You might also be interested in this FPP.

That FPP is on demonicpedia (which is greatly changed from when I posted the FPP in 2012), and Deliriums Realm catalogs of demons. The former was striving to be more multi-cultural and exhaustive, so it might be the best source for everything in once place at this time.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:15 PM on November 18, 2014

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