I almost entitled this “Demons: The Real Scoop” but decided that I was going to talk about more than just what a demon is in occult thought. Those of you who have been reading for a while may remember a post from some time back called Types of Spirits – A Small Primer. In that post, I stated:
“Demons” – Most of the so-called “demons” are actually daemons or faery/djinn of the Unseelie variety busily working out their malice toward human kind. However, if one deals with the darker aspects of the paranormal/occult, one will eventually run up against a creature which seems to be the exact opposite of an angel. Rather than being a creature of radiant light, totally aligned to the will of “God” (however you see that), these beings seem to gather darkness around them and to delight in the destruction, on all levels, of human beings. . .
In some areas of the blogosphere (mostly amongst occultists), there has been an ongoing discussion of this subject. Two very erudite posts on this subject can be found on the blogs of Josephine McCarthy, the noted writer on visionary magic, and Ian Corrigan, another respected writer on pagan topics. While these two writers do not agree with my above quote completely, I find myself in complete agreement with what they have to say. I encourage you to read these two posts thoroughly and to really consider them.
Looking back on my own post, I see that I was still writing about demons from the vestiges of my Judeo-Christian upbringing. At the time of writing that post, I felt that, if I were going to write about angels, a phenomenon with which I have had direct experience in the Otherworld, then I had to balance them off with demons. After more research both academic and practical, I have to say that this was a mistake. The creatures that some call demons are, in fact, members of the daimonic realm; the difference is that they are the spirits of the “sub-lunar” realms that frighten us.
We in the United States (I can not speak for other countries) have developed a cult of youth and beauty. People in this country spend ridiculous amounts of money trying to superimpose a totally unrealistic image of beauty on themselves and refuse to face the fact that, genetically, we just cannot all look like super models or actors (male or female) no matter what we do. We worship at the altar of their youth and good looks and, as soon as they begin to age, with a few exceptions, they are cast aside for the next “hot property”.
On the other end of the scale, while we set our eyes firmly on the young, we do our best to ignore the old and, worse yet, death. It used to be that everyone above a certain age had seen a beloved relative or friend die, at home, surrounded by kith and kin. No longer. Nowadays, many people die in hospitals, surrounded by technology designed to keep them alive past the point where their body has given up. Once death has occurred, bodies are covered and removed as quickly as possible and then disposed of with as much haste as families can manage. Very seldom do we see the old custom of laying someone out, having their relatives tenderly prepare their bodies and attending to the dead in vigil.
Plainly, we have been trained to view youth and impossible good looks as the ideal and to hide our faces from old age and death. And yet . . . the occult traditions have always told us that death is a birth into new life and birth is a gateway to death.
In the Otherworld, there are forces of creation and manifestation and there are forces of destruction and dissolution working together in an ongoing recycling effort to ensure that nothing in this universe ever goes to waste. We have no trouble with the angels, who work on the creative side but we start to flinch when we come to the daimon/demons who are responsible for tearing things down and taking out the trash (as well as other functions we can only understand if we have converse with them). Mr. Corrigan does an excellent job, in his blog post, of tracing the descent of the daimon to the demon and his work there is, again, well worth reading.
So, the “demon” meets with our rejection because of its part in the natural order but there is more to it than that. We also fear the demon, I think, because these spirits remind us of ourselves. An angel is, as Ms. McCarthy notes, a rather ‘point and click’ type of spirit. The angelic orders have their functions and they perform them admirably but they are not the most approachable beings in the Otherworld. While magicians certainly do work with them, to good effect, the work is most often conducted on the angel’s terms since these spirits do not/cannot really negotiate and do not really have any idea what it is like to live a human life in a human body.
Demons, on the other hand, have a long history of interaction with people, tend to have more of a personality and certainly have a deeper understanding of what our lives are about not only from the interaction but quite possibly as the result of having had relations with us in the past (take the Nephilim as an example). Because they are creatures aligned more to the forces of dissolution and because they interact in a more “human” manner, they hold a mirror up to us and show us that we really are not as virtuous and civilized as we sometimes think we are.
While I no longer view the demon as a creature bent on human destruction, they certainly are capable of bringing that destruction about in as impersonal a manner as the general giving the command for a drone strike. If we look past our fears (and I include myself here), however, I think that we will see that this class of spirits is much maligned and is every bit as necessary as the angelic orders. Where would we be if there was no one to take apart old structures, clear the area and make way for new building?