In my last post, I spent some time talking about demons and what they actually are. I linked to a couple of excellent blogs that indicated that demons were and are simply spirits/forces that are more closely linked with the processes of destruction and disintegration in our universe. These beings serve their purpose just as the angels do and our fear and moral judgement of them derives more from our discomfort with their processes and their similarity to us.
I would take these ideas a little farther here and note that much of the issue that we have with demons now derives from their association, in Abrahamic religions, with the Adversary of God, sometimes known as Satan. I could go the route of completely denying the existence of Satan which would be technically true but this would be an oversimplification. Satan does exist but not as an independent entity and he does not lead hordes of demons to make human lives miserable.
Without writing a book, let me say simply that Satan is a very powerful thought form that derives from the Christian (and to a lesser extent, Jewish and Muslim) need for a place to house all the ‘evil’ they perceive in the world. Since their god is, by definition, ‘good’ and the source of all ‘good’, and, whether they like it or not, ‘evil’ exists in the world, it became necessary to invent an Adversary who opposes god and upon whom all the bad stuff could be piled.
As a side benefit, the Christians could also claim that the Tempter lured them away from the path whenever they strayed (the devil made me do it defense) AND that any spirit that did not fit into their narrow cosmology was a minion of Satan known as a demon. Thus, Christians could rid themselves of wide swathes of pagan gods and other spirits that pagans worked with simply by claiming that they were demons sent to tempt the poor pagans into unimaginable sin. Never mind, of course, that their own god was originally a Semitic storm lord with a bad temper whom they had tamed down over time. But I digress.
Given that the Christian Church and, to a lesser extent, the other Abrahamic religions have been unrelenting in their insistence on the reality of Satan and his minions over the course of history and that these religions have had a major influence in the West, it is no wonder that ‘demons’ got a bad name. The original Greek word for demon was daimon which simply referred to a spirit and the terms agathodaimon and kaikodaimon (good spirit and bad spirit) referred simply to whether the spirit in question was acting to your benefit or not. Note: I am not a Greek scholar so please pardon spelling if it is not absolutely correct.
Now, if you spend any time around magicians, you will quickly learn that, while these people often consort with angels (and some of them even make a whole magical career out of doing so), there are quite a number who also evoke and work with ‘demons’. Their reasons for doing so seem quite clear – as I mentioned, the daimonic realms have a long association with human beings, have a much clearer idea of what our daily lives are like, understand the whole idea of living in a physical body and have a tendency to deliver on requested work with an expediency that one rarely sees in an angelic working. In other words, the daimonic spirits get things done. The trade off seems to be that they can be very literal and require some careful limits. There is no moral judgment placed on spirits, either angelic or daimonic; they are interfaces with which to work with certain energies.
What magicians do recognize though is another reason why demons and the daimonic realms get such a bad name. As I have said continuously throughout this blog, just as there are hostile people in our world, there are spirits in the Otherworld who are hostile and may be especially unhappy with humans for a number of reasons. Those spirits, whom I have dubbed the Intruders, love the Christian thought form of Satan. What better way to scare the life out of people and make their lives miserable than by posing as a “demon” in the Christian sense of the word in a society that, despite its secular humanist trappings, still has a great number of people who were at least raised in the Church? In addition, there are many levels of parasites in the Otherworld and some of the higher level ones have gotten in on the fun in order to produce the fear which feeds them. All of these Intruders have jumped on the Satanic bandwagon in order to further their own agendas.
So, you see why I flinch when some TV ghost hunter starts attributing phenomenon to a “demon”. If this individual had done the research, they would be able to reach beyond the prevailing paradigm in this culture and recognize that, just as there are all kinds of different people and animals in the world, so too the Otherworld is loaded with different “species”, some of whom are harmless and some of whom are predatory. This fact is why I harp on the idea of knowing what you are dealing with when going into any sort of paranormal event and, if you do not have the tools of discernment necessary to sort the spirits, having someone on your team who can.
Next time, I am going to discuss the idea of ‘demonic possession’.