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Daemons Are Forever

Contacts and Exchanges in the Eurasian Pandemonium

Daemons Are Forever

Contacts and Exchanges in the Eurasian Pandemonium

A richly illustrated tapestry of interwoven studies spanning some six thousand years of history, Dæmons Are Forever is at once a record of archaic contacts and transactions between humans and protean spirit beings—dæmons—and an account of exchanges, among human populations, of the science of spirit beings: dæmonology. Since the time of the Indo-European migrations, and especially following the opening of the Silk Road, a common dæmonological vernacular has been shared among populations ranging from East and South Asia to Northern Europe. In this virtuoso work of historical sleuthing, David Gordon White recovers the trajectories of both the “inner demons” cohabiting the bodies of their human hosts and the “outer dæmons” that those same humans recognized each time they encountered them in their enchanted haunts: sylvan pools, sites of geothermal eruptions, and dark forest groves. Along the way, he invites his readers to reconsider the potential and promise of the historical method in religious studies, suggesting that a “connected histories” approach to Eurasian dæmonology may serve as a model for restoring history to its proper place at the heart of the discipline of the history of religions.


"David Gordon White’s new book, Dæmons are Forever: Contacts and Exchangesin the Eurasian Pandemonium, is one of the most significant monographs in the academic study of religion in recent years. With impressive geographical and temporal scopes—ranging from East and South Asia all the way to Northern and Western Europe, and from reconstructed prehistorical protomyths to  contemporary ethnography—the book impressively attempts to narrate the long story of vital religious contacts and exchanges across Eurasia. . . . Dæmons are Forever charts a path for future insights into Eurasia’s interconnected histories."

Reading Religion

"This is an excellent resource for advanced or graduate students and researchers, and it could serve as a reference covering the myriad stories, creatures, and Indo-European features included. . . . Dæmons are Forever is both capstone and cornerstone, a summation of a professional scholarly career and the laying of a foundation for the continuing work of a professor emeritus."

Journal of the American Academy of Religion

“Not only does White address an immense geographic space with stupefying erudition, but he examines an equally vast historical time period, using texts from High Antiquity to contemporary ethnography. . . . This work reveals the immense erudition and intellectual virtuosity of the author, an admirable expert not only of the religions of the Indian sub-continent, but also of a wide array of Euro-asian religious traditions.”

Archives de sciences sociales des religions (Translated from French)

“White is unique in combining the characters of an old-fashioned, obsessively knowledgeable linguist, an Eliadean (or even Frazerian) comparatist, and a cutting-edge theorist with a particular penchant for the dark, the bent, and the anarchic in human religious life. This book makes full use of all his talents, presenting a broad view, constantly enlivened with astonishing details, of the too-long-misunderstood role of the demonic in the history of religions.”

Wendy Doniger, University of Chicago

“A revelatory book that brims with erudition and ambition, making connections that span thousands of miles and cross not only centuries but millennia. White has written a book that issues a series of challenges to how we should look at South Asia and worlds far beyond.”

Peter Frankopan, Worcester College

Table of Contents

List of Abbreviations

Note on Translations

1 Dæmon-ology

2 Of Filth and Phylacteries

3 The Demons Are in the Details: Demonological Sciences and Technologies, East and West

4 Medieval and Modern Child Abductions

5 Odysseus in Taprobane

6 Perilous Fountains

7 Imagining a Connected History of Religions





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