Daemon is the Latin word for the ancient Greek daimon (δαίμων: “god”, “divine”, “power”, “destiny”), which originally referred to a lesser deity or guiding spirit such as demons (of course not intended as the we mean today ) of ancient Greek religion and mythology and later Hellenistic religion and philosophy.
The word comes from the Proto-Indo-European daimon “divider (of fortunes or destinies),” from the root da- “divide”. The daemons were probably seen as the souls of golden age men who acted as “tutelary deities”.
Dæmons are benevolent, benign spirits, beings of the same nature as both mortals and deities, ghost-like, spirit guides, forces of nature, or the deities themselves (see Plato’s Symposium). According to the myth of Hesiod: ” great and powerful figures were to be honored after death like a daemon … “
In Hesiod’s Theogony, Phaëton becomes a incorporeal daimon or a divine spirit, but, for example, the evils released by Pandora are mortal deities, keres , not daimones.
Even from Hesiod, the people of the golden age were transformed into daimones by the will of Zeus, to benevolently serve mortals as their guardian spirits: ” Good beings who dispense riches … [however] remain invisible, known only by their acts ” .
The daemons of revered heroes were located by the construction of shrines, so as not to wander restless. It was believed that they bestowed protection and good luck on those who paid them respect. One tradition of Greek thought, which found agreement in Plato’s mind, was that of a daimon that existed within a person from birth and that each individual was obtained from a single daimon prior to his birth by drawing lots.
In the Old Testament, evil spirits appear in the book of Judges and that of Kings. In the Septuagint, made for the Greek-speaking Jews of Alexandria, the Greek ángelos (ἄγγελος “messenger”) translates the Hebrew word mal’akWhile Daimonion (δαιμόνιον; pl. Daimonia (δαιμόνια)), which carries the meaning of a natural spirit that is less than divine, translates the Hebrew word shedim as the word Se’irim in some ways and words to idols (other gods) . The use of daimōn in the original Greek text of the New Testament caused the Greek word to be applied to the Judeo-Christian concept of an evil spirit in the early 2nd century. This is why today we associate it with this meaning.
The Hellenistic Greeks divided the demons into good and evil categories: agathodaímōn (“noble spirit”), from agathós (ἀγαθός “good, courageous, noble, moral, lucky, useful”) and kakodaímōn (κακοδαίμων) “evil spirit” from kakós ( κακός “bad, bad”).
They certainly look a lot like Arab jinns and in their humble efforts to help mediate the good and bad fortunes of human life, they resemble the Christian guardian angel and the opposing demon respectively.
Eudaimonia (εὐδαιμονία) has come to mean “well-being” or “happiness”. The comparable Roman concept is the genius who accompanies and protects a person or presides over a place ( genius loci ).
In monotheism of the mind, philosophical speculation has reached its final point. That this too is a self-projection of a human being, of the thinking philosopher, was not reflected in ancient philosophy. In Plato there is an incipient tendency towards the apotheosis of the nous …
He needs a closeness and availability of the divine that is not offered by the stars or by metaphysical principles. Here a name emerged to fill the void, a name that had always designated the incomprehensible but present activity of a higher power: the daimon .
What is the Self?
The ancient sages taught that every human being has a lower mortal self, called eidolon and an immortal higher self (Soul) called, precisely, DAEMON. The eidolon is the embodied self, the physical body and the ego personality. The Daemon is the Spirit, the true Self, which is each person’s spiritual connection with God. The Mysteries were designed to help initiates realize that their eidolon is a false self and that their identity is the immortal Daemon. .
From the point of view of the eidolon, the Daemon appears to be an independent guardian angel. Disciples and seekers who still identify with the eidolon, therefore, do not experience the Daemon as their true Self, but as a guiding spirit, whose job is to lead them to their spiritual destination, so it is a separate entity that attracts them. to advance and awaken to their true essence. Plato teaches: ” We should think of the most authoritative part of the Soul as a God-given Guardian who elevates us to our heavenly home .”
The Gnostic sages of the past taught exactly the same doctrine of mystery. Valentinus, a Gnostic sage who lived in Alexandria, explains that a person receives Gnosis from their Guardian Angel, or Daemon, but that this angelic being is actually the Higher Self or Soul of the seeker.
In ancient Egypt the Daemon had been depicted for millennia as a celestial twin of the eidolon. This image is also found in Gnosticism. The Gnostic sage Mani was said to have been aware that he had a guardian angel from the age of four and, at age 12, he realized it was his heavenly twin, whom he called ” the most beautiful and great of my person “.
In the Gnostic version of the Acts of John, John himself observes that at times Jesus had conversations with a heavenly Twin who came down to join him: – When all of us, his disciples, slept in a house in Genesareth, I alone, having wrapped myself up, observed what has he done from under my robe; and first I heard him say: “John, go to sleep”, and then I pretended to sleep; and I saw another like him come down, whom I too heard my Lord say: “Jesus, do not those you have chosen yet believe in you?” And my Lord said: “You are right, because they are men” -.
In the cult of the Hellenistic ruler that began with Alexander the Great, he was not the ruler, but his leading demon to be revered. In the archaic or early classical period, the daimon had been democratized and internalized for each person, which served to guide, motivate and inspire, as one possessed by such good spirits. Likewise, the first-century Roman imperial cult began by worshiping the genius or numen of Augustus, a distinction that blurred over time.
“ Before birth, the soul of each of us
chooses an image or design that we will then live on earth, and receives
a companion to guide us up here, a daimon, which is
unique and typical of us. However, in coming into the world, we forget
all this and believe we have come empty. It is the daimon
that remembers the content of our image, the elements of the
chosen design, he is therefore the bearer of our
-J. Hillman in “The Code
of the Soul”
The James Hillman Soul Code
But the main testimonies on the notion of the daimon are also found thanks to Socrates, who allegedly referred to a daimon or spirit-guide who often assisted him in his every decision. With this term he seems to indicate the authentic nature of the human soul, its rediscovered self-awareness.
The Greeks were not the only ones to be aware of the daemons: the Egyptians for example believed in a spirit, a vital force that accompanies us in life, the Ka ; the natives of Easter Island believed in the Aku-Aku , spirits belonging to everyone, which it was possible to see and with whom, in lucky cases, it was possible to talk. In addition, the Nordic peoples believed in the Dal’fek , spirits of each warrior, who had an animal shape that best expressed their personality. The Native Americans, on the other hand, believed in totem animals, animals that shared their knowledge and their contact with nature and everything, with whoever was able to establish contact with them. In Hinduism, however, it is known as Atman, the individual aspect of Brahman , or the universal Self.
We conclude the article by quoting the famous novel by Philip Pullman ” The Golden Compass “, in which all people have their own daemon visible and always next to them. The novel is set in a parallel world, in which each person is flanked, as we have said, by a daimon, that is the soul in the form of an animal, a sort of personal companion who accompanies everyone wherever he goes, and which disappears when the girl dies. person. If on the other hand, the dæmon is detached from the person it belongs to, this in most cases dies or remains psychically impaired, as the dæmon is the channel that connects it to the Dust , a mysterious and pervasive cosmic substance vaguely comparable to dark matter. of contemporary cosmology …