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Are all demons the same?

October 18, 2012 by  
Filed under Demonology, Fr. Fortea, Spiritual Warfare

Dear Father Fortea, are all demons the same? Are there differences between them regarding power, personality, and things like that?

No. We have already discussed that each demon sinned in a certain way and with a determined intensity. While the angelic rebellion against God had its roots in pride, from this root other sins grew. This can be clearly seen during an exorcism, when the particular demons possessing the person display sins of anger, self-worship, and desperation, among others. Each demon has its own psychology and its own way of being. For example, some are talkative, others are mocking; some are proud, others are hateful. Even though they all turned away from God, some demons are more evil than others.

As St. Paul and the tradition of the Church indicate, we need to remember that there are nine hierarchies of angels (from highest to lowest): seraphim, cherubim, thrones, dominions, virtues, powers, principalities, archangels, and angels. The superior hierarchies are more powerful, beautiful, and intelligent than the inferior ones. According to St. Thomas Aquinas, each angel is completely different from other angels. In sociological terms, there are no angelic “races”; rather, each one is its own species. As we have said, though, it is possible to group the angels into hierarchies. These hierarchies are also called choirs, since these groups form themselves into choirs that sing praises to God. Their praise is obviously not that of the voice, but rather a spiritual type of praise that comes from their will to know and love the Trinity.

Because some angels from each of the nine hierarchies sinned and transformed themselves into demons, a demonic hierarchy exists. In other words, there are demons that are principalities, virtues, powers, etc. Even though they are demons, they retain their particular angelic power and intelligence.

Exorcisms have shown that superior demons can have power over inferior ones. What does this power consist of? This is something that is impossible for us to know because we cannot see how one demon forces another to do something, since there is no body to push or force. Nevertheless, a more powerful demon can prevent a less powerful one from leaving the body of a possessed person during an exorcism. Even though the weaker demon is suffering and wants to leave, the stronger one may impede it.


all demonsTo learn more about spiritual warfare and demonology, Catholic Spiritual Direction recommends Fr. Fortea’s excellent book, Interview With An Exorcist – An Insider’s Look at the Devil, Demonic Possession, and the Path to Deliverance. Published in part with permission by Ascension Press.


Art for this post on whether all demons are the same: Detail of Padre Fortea 2017, photographed by Elgatoconbotaselgatoconbotas, 5 May 2017 own work, CCA-SA 4.0 International, Wikimedia Commons. Cover of “Interview with an Exorcist” used with permission, all rights reserved. Feature Image Art: Lucifer, the fallen angel (Colorized), Gustave Doré (1832-1883), 1866, PD-worldwide, Wikimedia Commons.

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About Fr. Jose Antonio Fortea

Father José Antonio Fortea is not only an exorcist, but also a writer, and parish priest. He once thought he would lead what he has termed ordinary life as an attorney in Madrid, much as his father did before him, but sensed instead a vocation to the priesthood in his adolescent years. A theology graduate of Navarre University in Spain, Father Fortea wrote a thesis there on exorcism. He has been a practicing exorcist for several decades.

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  • LizEst

    Father Fortea, this is another excellent post. It’s good to have you, a professional exorcist, as a guide for these things. Thank you so much. Muchas gracias!

  • As  LizEst says, we are truly blessed to have you, Father, explaining this very misunderstood Ministry of Exorcism. Our Catholic Spiritual Direction Family is grateful to you for finding time to educate us.  Be blessed.

    • Cecilia

      Mary, we were blessed to have attended a conference (SCRC) over Labor Day to hear Fr. Fortea and other exorcists explain this much needed ministry in our Church. Would you be surprised to hear that this is part of the Healing Ministry and that deliverance ministry has been practiced by both laity and clergy for years? Yes, to have Spiritual Direction offer Father’s information is a great blessing to many of us. This is an area we are not encouraged to discuss w/many of our local clergy. Thank you SD!

      • Cecilia – you are welcome. I have been blessed to be exposed to Fr. Fortea’s talks as you did at SCRC. You are right on target!
        Sent from my iPad

      • Celia, you are right I am surprised, especially after reading the Documents from the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith with regard to the Ministry of Exorcism in the Catholic Church,watching Father Robert Barron’s Videos and listening to Jimmy Akin about the same subject.  But then, I have a policy never to enter into an argument about my Catholic Faith and Mother Church’s Teachings and Precepts.  Being an antique Cradle Catholic can be a handicap at times, Celia.  Be blessed.

  • Catholiceducator

    This is so interesting! I had no idea that each demon and each angel is different from the others.

    • LizEst

      That’s the beauty of this site. We learn much from the posts that are presented here…and also from each other.

      God bless you, Catholiceducator. I hope you continue to interact with all of us on this site.

  • Nancymarsden88

    I did not know that there are some angels from each of the nine heiarchies that became demons though they maintain their particular angelic powers and intelligence. In thinking of this present revelation to me it makes sense. The devils have no power but that which is permitted by God(mystery) due to our free will. Knowing how that was initiated tells all the more the awesomeness of the Lord.

    • Nancymarsden88

      Thinking when I say the demons have no power only what God permits due to our free will is a contradiction. If we are free, truly free God will only permit a demon’s attack if it is us that are in the affirmative.. Quija board? yes,no we say yes God will not say “No you can’t!” In order for freedom to be truly free we must have the option of going in the opposite direction of what is good and wholesome.

  • PadrePals

    So, if demons tortue and enslave other demons then hell must be more horrible then we can imagine! Let us pryy that no one, no matter how much of an enemy they are to the Church or evil choices they make in life, ever goes to that most forsaken place. Let us always pray for forgivness of sinners including oursleves. Terrible beyond any words.

    Question: Are Satan and Lucifer the same demon or are they different?

    • Becky Ward

      The same.

  • Ahavashalomtikvah

    Thank you Fr. for the lovely post. There is one question that always trouble me. How do we know if we are possessed by the devil (ESP. When some wicked thoughts keep coming) . I am battling with the sin of Pride. Sometimes , I will do certain things out of concern, or just to be good in the eyes of the Lord to people whom I don’t like, but when it comes to telling someone what I did , I also tell them why I did , but a different reason how it would benefit me( when sometimes this thought won’t even cross my mind, In the act of doing good)

    • Rowenalitorja

      Pray to the Holy Spirit.  When we have the Holy Spirit we are less likely to be deceived.  It is the Holy Spirit who illuminates and lifts our blindness..

    • JP

      The way I understand it (from readings by Catholic exorcists, lay investigators, and some Protestant Deliverance ministries) there is a difference between demonic possession and demonic oppression. In the case of Possession, the possessed becomes essentially becomes the embodiment of the possessing demon or demons. Demonic oppression is spiritual (and sometimes physical) harrassment meant to break the will of the victim, until they finally give permission in some form or other for the demonic to take possession. Oppression is very common, it is important to remember that we are in a state of almost constant spiritual warfare on this plane of existance. It sounds to me like you may be dealing with some oppression…pray, meditate on the scriptures…Ephesians is a good place to start
      Remember, we as humans are under attack constantly, whether we choose to acknowledge it as such or not. How we deal with this is crucial. Do we nurture demonic influence, or do we turn away and follow Christ in action??

      • LizEst

        …And, St. Peter offers this, “Stay sober and alert. Your opponent the devil is prowling like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, solid in your faith.” (1 Peter 5:8-9a)

    • Ahavashalomtikvah

      Thank you for your replies, it really made some things clear. It must be the demonic oppression and I really need to strengthen my spiritual life. While I was typing my first post , the cursor just got stuck and I couldnt for a long time complete my post. There are times when I have sinful dreams and luckily both the times I woke up before I commit the sin, is this also demonic oppression? I am looking for a spiritual director, and I am not able to find one. I did speak to my parish priest, but couldn’t find someone who can really direct me. I don’t mind even if it’s through cyber, but I don’t want to just goto anyone cause for fear of being led astray. I am weak in my spiritual journey, everytime I start with all eager , but slowly loose myself , for lack of being organized and my laziness:(

      • LizEst

        Pray and persevere.

        As to the dreams, many things influence them, such as what happens during your day, what has been in your thoughts, what you are fearful of and trying to run away from. Dreams are not something you can control. Therefore, you are not responsible for what kind of dreams you have because you cannot control them. Dreams themselves are not sinful. Still, you must be careful when you wake up that you don’t dwell on dreams that seem sinful. Although, they are not sinful in themselves, the devil can remind you and remind you of the dreams until you give in to the temptations and indulge them and wind up sinning because of them. First thing when you wake up, make the sign of the cross and start to pray. This will help a great deal. The more you practice this, the more the devil will flee.

        Keep a spiritual book next to your bed in case you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep. This will help you focus your thoughts on God instead of on yourself. Keep a rosary by your bed. Keep some holy water, too…and use it.

        Now, the opposite of bad dreams can happen, too. It can happen that you have dreams of very holy things. You can be praying all night in your dreams, singing holy songs, attending Mass in your dreams, etc. This can be a great consolation. Pray, pray and pray some more. In time, God will lift you up and either relieve you of this trial of disturbing (bad) dreams that you are having, or He will give you the strength and the help to endure it.

        God bless you always.

        • LizEst, I don’t know what you will make of this.  But I learned a long time ago to go to bed with good thoughts before I fall into sleep, and my dreams would continue from there.  Now that I am an antique, I falls asleep praying the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy. And Hey, Presto, ugly dreams have no chance because the Holy Spirit continues to pray when I am asleep!!!!!  But on a serious note, to reassure Ahavashalomtikvah, never worry about what you have been dreaming about.  You can never sin while asleep.  Mother Church has taught us so.  Be at peace.

      • Ahavashalomtikvah

        Thank you for all the beautiful replies. JP I read the book of Ephesians , Bile is such a beautiful book. LIz and Mary thank you for the replies regarding dreams. I will try and goto sleep with good thoughts and prayers. Though i cant keep a book by the bedside, as my Lil one will just tear it up the moment she can lay her hands on it ( she is at the stage where she snjoys eating paper and putting everything in her mouth).
        Rowena, i am somehow hesitate to pray to the Holy spirit as I feel i should in state of grace ,which i am currently not ( as i skipped sunday mass out of lazziness 🙁 and havent been to confession)

        • Dear Friend: Never hesitate to pray. This is never a good instinct and is not inspired by The Lord or anything good. He is always ready to receive us as we turn to Him for forgiveness.
          Sent from my iPad

          • Ahavashalomtikvah

            Thanks Dan. I just have one more question, if we have sinned knowing its a sin, but with the thought ” anyways I have to confess this, the last time I did it, so I’ll just do it this time and go to confession and after that not do it again’ how do I fight this weakness? I know I am committing a terrible sin of taking Gods love for granted. How do I feel His forgiveness so that such a thought never crosses my mind again

          • Dear Friend: First, you should know that the battle you face is a normal battle of the purgative way. This doesn’t mean that all is well. It just means that this is the battle of the first stage of spiritual growth. In your specific situation you should read “Spiritual Combat” and meditate on the sufferings of Christ through the Stations of the Cross by St. Francis or St. Alphonsus Ligouri. Beyond that, you should seek out a spiritual director or spiritual friend to begin working through these challenges and gaining some accountability for yourself. I am sure that Beck, Jo, and Liz probably have some good ideas and prayers for you as well. Hang in there.

          • Ahavashalomtikvah

            Thanks Dan. I hope i can get Liz or Beck to keep in touch with me through my personal email id. A spiritual friend i desperately need, cause i dont want to be misled by my own foolishness.
            Is there anyway i can get a pdf copy of spiritual combat and the stations of the cross by st Francis or St Alphonsus Ligouri. I mean i want to buy them ,as i have a Sony ereader.
            Also i keep readiing review on the your book Navigating the interior life and also the book ” The better part” are these books too advanced for me at my current stage of spiritiual journey? if not is there someway i can buy a the PDF versions of these books?. Thank you all for helping me. May God Bless you

          • LizEst

            Post your email and I will send you the pdf of “Spiritual Combat.”

          • Ahavashalomtikvah

            Thanks Liz. My email id is

          • LizEst

            Check your email. Pdf for Spritual Combat, St Francis and St Alphonsus versions of Stations of the Cross are on the way. No charge as all is in the public domain. Hope it helps.

          • LizEst

            Many years ago, I had a confession something like this: I missed Mass on Sunday but, well, I go on other days. The priest’s response, “Sunday is the day.” Sunday is the day because it is the day Christ rose from the dead. Every Sunday is a little Easter. That was the last time that sin was confessed. The grace of that confession opened my eyes. If the Sunday Vigil Mass is available to you on Saturday, the evening before, try going to Saturday evening Mass. It counts for Sunday, liturgically. I like it because I want to give, if at all possible, the very first worship I can to the Lord. And, if anything happens on Sunday, a severe storm, bad weather, emergency, illness, etc, I have already given the Lord the “first fruits” of that Sunday worship. If I can’t go Saturday evening, I go as soon as possible on Sunday. Try Saturday evening Vigil Mass for Sunday, if it’s available to you. That might help you get on track.

            God bless you!

          • Ahavashalomtikvah, what you say here is serious, very, very serious.  It is called abusing the Sacrament of Reconciliation or Penance.  Committing a sin deliberately and telling yourself it is O.K. because I shall later go for Confession makes that Sin a Sacrilegious Sin and the Confession you shall make will be Invalid.  Please confirm this with your Confessor next time you go for Confession. Meantime my compassionate Advice. Never, ever gamble with your Eternal Salvation

        • I just had to come back to your comment, Ahavashalomtikvah.  Why do you think you are hesitating to pray to the Holy Spirit.  What is making you so sure that God is angry at you because you believe your are not in a State of Grace? Who is making you afraid to go for Confession? You guessed it??? RIGHT.  The Evil One. He wants you to remain His slave.  But but beloved Ahavashalomtikvah, what does Jesus tell us about the lost sheep? Does He not leave the holy 99 ones to go and look for that, single, solitary lost one? Climbing rocky hills, peering into dark caves, calling, crying and falling until His voice is hoarse?  Have you watched the Passion of the Christ? Whom was He praying for as He was being scourged, crowned with thorns, being whipped like a beast of burden as He carried the Heavy Cross.  And what was that Cross?? was is not your few months’sins and my “Everest”of sins of a whole 74 years’ lifetime?.  Ahavashalomtikvah, in one of His conversations with Saint Faustina Kowalska, His Secretary and first Eucharistic Apostle of Divine Mercy He tells her that His purpose of bringing this Message at this time in the History of Mankind is to convert and reclaim all sinners.  The more desperate they are, the more determined He is to wrestle them from the slavery of Satan and Sin. And He says when He gave her the Divine Mercy Chaplet : “Even the most hardened sinner, when he shall pray this Chaplet only once with devotion and total trust in Me, I shall bestow on that soul enough Grace for that soul to obtain complete conversion”.  

          So as I conclude, Ahavashalomtikvah, take the first opportunity to go and meet Jesus in His Tribunal of Mercy and just confess to Him all what the Holy Spirit shall tell you to confess.  Do not even bother yourself beforehand what you shall confess. The Holy Spirit will speak through you what Jesus wants you to confess to Him. And you shall forthwith receive complete forgiveness of all your sins, the Sanctifying Grace will be restored to your soul and you shall then proceed to receive Him in the Eucharist as the entire Heaven breaks into Jubilation and Celebration.  Do not listen to the Evil One again who is telling you all hope is lost.  Jesus is waiting for you and the minute you shake your misgivings and resolutely resolve go to Him in His Tribunal of Mercy at the earliest opportunity, immediately, all your sins will be forgiven there and then even before you meet Him.  In the Meantime, I shall take you to Him daily during the 3.00 O’Clock Hour of Mercy.  Be blessed, Ahavashalomtikvah.

          • Ahavashalomtikvah

            Thanks Mary. That was so encouraging. I will visit the sacrament of reconciliation soon, with Gods grace this Saturday. As I have a baby and need to see if someone can take care of her for that time. Please do keep me in your prayers, as you said cause I need them. I have many atimes before embarked on a spiritual journey, but everytime after a period of time I lapsed committed sins, each time one worse than the other. Even this time, I don’t want to do that again, hopefully through this site and your prayers I can make this journey

          • Yes, I shall daily pray for you, Ahavashalomtikvah

  • Cecilia

    Fr. From the book “Exorcism & the Church Militant” by Rev. Euteneuer, I understand this hierarchy in the demonic world is reversed from that in the angelic world. If this is the case then does the authority and power come from the lowest level up, i.e., those the most powerful are those in the deepest level. Also, is this book correct in its teachings? Thank you

  • Rowenalitorja

    Thank you Father, very interesting. I know seven Angels:
    1. St Michael the Archangel – Prince of the heavenly host. 2. St. Gabriel- messenger of God, 3. St Raphael- healer and guide for christian pilgrim,4. St. Barachiel – guardian& provider of God, 5. St Uriel, -Archangel of Justice, 6. St. Sealtiel – Archangel of worship and contemplation 7. St Jhudiel – bearer of God’s merciful love, and my guardian angel (I name my guardian Ange)l.I pray everyday to St. Michael and my guardian Angel to protect me and my family and using Holy water in my morning and evening prayer. I believe that St. Michael is the most powerful angel.

    • LizEst

      Apart from the three angels officially recognized by the Roman Catholic Church (Michael, Gabriel and Raphael – the only three officially named in Holy Scripture), these names sound like they come from Eastern Orthodox Tradition. Are you Eastern Orthodox? Welcome!

      • Rowenalitorja

        I am catholic, I saw the statue of 7 angels in catholic church in the Philippines.

        • LizEst

          Very interesting. Thanks for the information. Perhaps they borrowed from the Eastern Orthodox, who have some beautiful icons of such. Perhaps there is also another explanation. I wonder what the background of the statue is.

      • Like you, LizEst, I know of only the three Archangels in the Holy Scriptures and Archangel Michael, I was taught, occupies the Highest Honour among the Angels. I never heard of the others until now. We sure have a lot to learn, don’t we?

        • LizEst

          Yes, Mary, we do have a lot to learn. I like the approach of following what our Catholic Church believes and teaches. This is our sure support and the way not to stray into other traditions or belief systems, just because we want to expand our horizons. If and when these angels are validly approved by the Church, then it would be fine to address them. Otherwise, one can know about them but keep a distance. We make a huge mistake when we dabble in areas that aren’t approved by the Church. That doesn’t mean Eastern Orthodox people are bad. Far from it. We just need to be prudent and submit all to the authority of Holy Mother Church. The fact that this statue is in a Catholic Church is not a guarantee, which is unfortunate because it gives a false impression. It does not support what the Church recognizes. Anyone can make an error in placing something inappropriate in a church building. We would hope not…but it happens. This would not be the first time.

          • I absolutely agree with you, LizEst. Remember even the greatest Saints whom Jesus Himself appeared to had to check His Messages with what Mother Church teaches.  And He was really pleased that they were committed to remain faithful to the Church to the point of disobeying Him until their Spiritual Directors confirmed they were on the right path and permitted them to do what Jesus was asking them to do. His Decree :  “He who hears you, hears Me and he who hears you hears the One who Sent Me.”  We must always obey what Mother Church Teaches, always and everywhere.  The rest, we can listen to politely and humbly and that is all we are required to do.

    • Darice

      Hi Rowena, You probably are not aware but the Church discourages us from  naming our guardian angels (See link below where this is stated under Chapter 6 #217). Six

      I read that on some forums/blogs (, that the reason for not naming them is that God has already named them and they are superior to us. Naming is a symbol of authority (like Adam named the animals in Eden). We should not even be asking them to reveal their name as an evil spirit may answer instead or may come to know the name and pose as an angel of light.

  • Desiree

    Thanks Be To GOD! There is finally a site for the laity who are capable of study and learning and need to so as to better minister to the church in our own parishes.Much of the clergy NEVER addresses or seem to consider the varying levels of spiritual depth or understanding of their congregations or have the ability to give spiritual direction.

  • Guest

    I want to make a few comments to your post.
    1)”…For example, some are talkative, others are mocking; some are proud, others are hateful…”  You said that some demon qualities are apparent during exorcisms, but what about outside of exorcisms. I think I can “hear” and identify some of these traits, and if so what can I do to combat them.   There may not be clear answers to that as it is different in every situation, but I think I have found that attempting humility and truth to be helpful.
    2) You mentioned that there are demons contradictory to the angels. Can we oppose the demons with angel strengths, or is that taunting and prideful? Can we offer Faith in battle, but will that elicit demons that we need to be capable of confronting?
    …These are really interesting topics and do deal alot with psychology and ego.

  • LizaR

    Hi LizEst,

    Can you also forward to my email add the PDF copy of “Spiritual Combat”?
    My email add is

    I would really appreciate it…Thank you!

    • LizEst

      Absolutely, LizaR! Check your email. It is on the way! God bless you.

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