As we know from the Talmud (or as you’re learning right now), each and every one of us has 1,000 demons to our left and 10,000 to our right (Berakhot 6a:4). It’s totally normal, but it can get annoying. Demons can cause everything from weak knees to contaminated drinking water (Pesachim 112a:5), and some have even been known to attack a person’s self-esteem with extremely sarcastic and hurtful comments (Pesachim 110a:5).
If you feel like you may be suffering because of the demons in your life, don’t worry! Just consult these easy methods to find out if you have been targeted for special demonic harassment, either at home or outside, and how to handle and resolve the situation with confidence. Remember, problematic demon attention can happen to everyone! You are not alone…literally.
Practice social distancing
When outdoors, it’s best to maintain proper social distancing, as demons require space to walk around humans. Always leave at least four cubits of space around yourself to avoid making the demon feel trapped and panicky (Pesachim 111a:3). (Tip: If you are a male human, try giving women you don’t know on the street the same distance and respect that you would give to a demon. Demons, women and demon-women deserve to feel safe.)
Burn cat placenta
Warning: Incredibly dangerous; do not attempt!
The Talmud provides a step-by-step process (really!) for how to actually see the demons around you. The ritual below is for educational purposes only; we don’t advise you do this. Really, don’t do this.
- Ask your neighborhood cats if any of them are a first-born female black cat, born to another first-born female black cat (they may have to use CatAncestry.com to verify this). If you identify this cat, politely ask if it happens to have kept a placenta on hand, like Kourtney Kardashian, and get permission to use it.
- Locate a mortar and pestle or other grinding tool.
- Take the cat placenta, burn it in a fire and grind it into a fine ash.
- Place ash in a special iron tube and seal it with an iron seal until you are ready to use it (cute iron tubes are available on Etsy). Note: If you forget this step, demons could steal the ash from you and then you’d have to do the whole thing with the cats over again and it could get awkward because how many cats actually have placentas in their freezers?)
- Tilt your head back and pour the ashes in your eyes to actually see the demons (Berakhot 6a:6).*
*Caution: According to the Talmud, Rav Beivai bar Abaye performed this procedure, saw the demons and was harmed. Do not actually put ashes of any type into your eyes, unless directed to do so by a human ophthalmologist with a medical degree. And even then, don’t, just in case the ophthalmologist is really Lilith in a lab coat.
Conduct the footprint test
You can also use a different, much less dangerous method of determining if you have a demon in the house: Place fine ash around your bed (any you have on hand will do). In the morning, if you see footprints in it that look like chicken feet, mazel tov, you have demons (Berakhot 6a:6).
Trust home remedies
Once you have ascertained that, yes, you do, in fact, have demons in your home, the first step is always to check your mezuzah and any other amulets you have around the house. And make sure you recite the Shema before you go to bed, obviously whenever you’re done doom-scrolling the internet (Berachot 5a:5).
The 13th-century grimoire of practical Kabbalah, “Sefer Raziel,” suggests warding off demons using a mixture of wormwood and weed, but this may backfire and end up making the demon get the munchies and want to hang out with you longer.
Take away its power
A more surefire way to solve the issue is using a formulaic incantation where you reduce the demon’s name until the name is gone (Pesachim 112a:5). For example, if the demon’s name is Kayleigh, you’d say, “My mother said to me to beware of Kayleigh, the demon of emotional haircut choices.”
Continue the incantation by saying the demon’s name in shorter and shorter iterations until it gradually disappears: “Kayleigh: Kaylei; Kayl; Kay; K.” When the letters are gone, the demon will disappear as well. Sadly, the bad quarantine bangs you cut with a pair of blunt craft scissors will have to grow out naturally—we have no magical incantation for that.
Want to learn more about monsters and demons in Jewish folklore? Listen to our Halloween-themed podcast episode here!