What is a daemon? The real question is, what is not a daemon? A daemon is not a demon. In Christian mythology, demons are fallen angels, malevolent forces that may wizards conjure and insecurely control. A daemon is not an earth spirit, or elemental. An elemental is a force that inhabits the four earthly manifestations of existence: fire, water, earth, and air. A daemon isn’t a remnant of someone who died. A daemon is a version of a person’s ego functioning at a higher level of existence.
Manly P. Hall, the Canadian born author, lecturer, and mystic, says this of the daemon in his hefty work entitled The Secret Teachings of All Ages: An Encyclopedic Outline of Masonic, Hermetic, Qabbalistic and Rosicrucian Symbolical Philosophy:
“The Greeks gave the name daemon to some of these elementals, especially those of the higher orders, and worshiped them. Probably the most famous of these daemons is the mysterious spirit which instructed Socrates, and whom that great philosopher spoke in the highest terms. Those who have devoted much study to the invisible constitution of man realize that it is quite probable the daemon of Socrates and the angel of Jakob Bohme were in reality not elementals, but the overshadowing divine natures of these philosophers themselves.”
Crowley also had a daemon. He refers to it as Aiwass. His Holy Guardian Angel, or Higher Self, dictated Crowley’s most famous work, The Book of the Law, to him.
In my childhood, the daemon appeared to me in a dream. At that time, I didn’t understand, but after I made the deduction almost twenty years later, my life fell into place. I have a connection to a unique history than what I was fed. I connected with a more ancient philosophical outlook.
Now, I believe the daemon is the guide to anamnesis; it reminds us of our spiritual self.
Again, I quote from Manly P. Hall:
“The instructors in the [Greek] Mysteries declared that at birth they assigned each individual an invisible patron spirit called the natal daemon. This entity was analogous to the totem of the North American Indians, except that the totem was invoked by prayer and fasting, while the daemon—being coexistent with the generating soul itself—became, as it were, the identity of the senses.”
In 2007, I faced an ordeal. Fate forced me into near-starvation because of a spiritual crisis, a situation that lasted forty days. After a romantic disaster (illustrated in detail within my novel Invisible Histories), I left my lover and needed to find a new direction in life. I was doing research at the time that focused on ancient forms of psychic communication. I built a talking board, or table, sort of like the Ouija board, but much more complex. I entered a motel room with little money, barely any food, and the talking board. There I sat for weeks, modifying my psyche.
I quote from my text:
“The Eternal Man returned from the past and rose from the bed in a trance. He grabbed the branding instrument and settled into the chair. He began to burn letterforms and sigils into the wooden surface. The scent of burning wood filled the room. He sectioned the board into five distinct areas; within the largest centermost area, he burned two rows of alphabetical letterforms. Below this he centered two rows of numeric digits along with symbols of the planetary intelligences. In the four remaining areas he placed the houses of the zodiac, along with four directional symbols.
His trance continued as he finished the table. His mind worked swiftly and automatically. He returned to the past as his hand finished the work.
The table introduces me to Yolanda; she’s a sweet child and tells me many things that come true. I call to Yolanda and she appears, but after talking with her, I begin to realize that she’s something more. In the theory of magic, eventually the magician becomes so in tune with his environment that he senses his higher-self, or Holy Guardian Angel—the Augoides or Body of Light. This spirit is not a sweet little girl; it’s my higher-self communicating through the facade of a child.
I know that I’ll run out of money if I eat, so I start to limit my diet. Fruit, honey, and cheese sandwiches will have to get me through the crisis. At first, I eat the sandwiches whole, then it becomes a half of a sandwich, then a quarter, and then none at all. The days are long and I often think about Hina coming back. I write a ten-page letter to her in the midst of my madness. I have no address in which to send it.
Eventually, I run out of food and I drink only water for days. I clear my system of thirty years of built-up physical and psychological toxins. I feel so clean that I don’t even care if I eat again. I’m very alone and I start to think that maybe I’m going crazy. I have these long debates with myself (and the talking board) wondering if I’m doing the right thing or if I’m just going to fuck everything up. As the days number into twelve, I lose weight rapidly, stop defecating from lack of waste, and wonder if I’ll just fade away. It seems like such a big risk. How can all of the factors fall into place?
I begin to realize I’ve been tricked. The androgynous spirit shifts from her child-like feminine voice to a more masculine guru-like persona, and then proceeds to tell me things to set certain events into motion; but later he tells me something different. He causes me to think that the police are coming after me. That Kathryn’s parents have some pull with the government (they did spend a lot time as corporate dignitaries in China). That the FBI has cataloged all of my mystical ways thanks to her mother’s constant snooping of my bedroom. I panic. Then I throw-up out of fear. These abrupt changes in direction frustrate me. I begin to distrust him, thinking that he may be a demon. I think that maybe he entices me to make irrational decisions (like exiting my lover’s home without a place to go, or staying in a fifty-dollar-a-night motel for three weeks instead of finding an apartment right away, or even recommending me to swim in the motel pool instead of going out to look for a roommate). It is clear the spirit wants me here, focused, alone, and free of temptation. I’ll waste away in a motel room of starvation and psychotic solitude. The odd thing is that I get the feeling that he’s trying to teach me something that can’t be communicated in any other way; I need to follow my heart and trust the Universal Mind to deliver me. I realize it’s like the Biblical stories of Jacob wrestling with the Angel, or Jesus in the woods for forty days confronting the Lion and the Serpent. I begin to calmly wait and see where he leads me.
Eventually he tells me many things about my future – I’m not sure if they will come true – but his descriptions are very detailed and vivid. I think that maybe he’s been sent to prepare myself for what will be a great trial. He’s trying to make me confront my fears; I begin to realize that he’s doing this to teach me to maintain serenity under any circumstances. He wants me to become a little angel, a mountain of self-control, discipline, and self-assurance.”
In the motel room I discovered my True Self. The knowledge was instantaneous. It entered me like a projectile. It was then that I re-discovered knighthood, and what that actually means.
In Plato’s Socratic dialogue entitled Meno, he illustrates the challenge of the sophistic paradox, or the contradiction of knowledge. Meno’s paradox is the theory of knowledge as recollection, as anamnesis. Meno states:
“And how are you going to search for [the nature of virtue] when you don’t know at all what it is, Socrates? Which of all the things you don’t know will you set up as target for your search? And even if you actually come across it, how will you know that it is that thing which you don’t know?”
If you aren’t aware of what signifies something as some “thing,” whether it’s an object, idea, or theory, it will be difficult to recognize it when you come across it. If you know the object, idea, or theory, then it wouldn’t compel you to seek it out at all. In either case, there is no point in seeking knowledge.
Socrates’ theory of anamnesis solves this paradox. He considers the soul immortal, and incarnating; knowledge inhabits the soul through eternity. We forget the knowledge of our immortal soul in the shock of birth. What we perceive as learning and experience is the retrieval of what we’ve forgotten. The ancient philosophers Socrates and Plato saw themselves, not as teachers, but as spiritual midwives, aiding with the birth of knowledge that was already present in the student’s soul.
An example of anamnesis occurred in the life of science fiction writer Philip K. Dick. One drug-induced afternoon after they yanked his wisdom teeth, he answers a knock at his door. He opens it to find a traveling religious zealot. Being a sensible man, she can’t convince Mr. Dick to join her religion. Dick looks at the woman's necklace as he closes the door. It’s a shining vesica pisces symbol. In a flash of recognition, he experiences anamnesis. He states:
“In that instant, as I stared at the gleaming fish sign and heard her words, I suddenly experienced what I later learned is called anamnesis—a Greek word meaning, literally, ‘loss of forgetfulness.’ I remembered who I was and where I was. In an instant, in the twinkling of an eye, it all came back to me. And not only could I remember it, but I could see it. The girl was a secret Christian and so was I. We lived in fear of detection by the Romans. We had to communicate with cryptic signs. She had just told me all this, and it was true.
For a short time, as hard as this is to believe or explain, I saw fading into view the black, prison-like contours of hateful Rome. But, of much more importance, I remembered Jesus, who had just recently been with us, and had gone temporarily away, and would very soon return. My emotion was one of joy. We were secretly preparing to welcome Him back. It would not be long. And the Romans did not know. They thought He was dead, forever dead. That was our great secret, our joyous knowledge. Despite all appearances, Christ was going to return, and our delight and anticipation were boundless.”
Dick’s experience is difficult to take seriously if you believe in the linear model of time. However, if the cyclical time paradigm exists, then Dick’s experience could be evidence of the reality of anamnesis. Unfortunately, every mystical experience is subjective, so there is little actual proof to support him, except for his word, which permeates his hefty Exegesis; it’s a wealth of philosophy, religion, and science, wrapped in a shell of psychic retrieval. Some nights, he wrote up to 150 pages of inspired writing. I wrote similarly. I wasn’t aware of our kinship until mid-December 2009. By then I had written most my text. His text made me feel not so alone. Late one night, I remember reading how he felt invaded by a rational mind, “as if he had been insane all his life and suddenly had become sane.” His confession empowered me and validated my struggle.
With anamnesis in mind, I refer to the “carrot and stick” idiom. According to The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition, the phrase “carrot and stick” denotes a promised reward with a threatened penalty. The idiom derives its meaning from mule training by drawing them forward with the promise of reward (the carrot) or the guarantee of punishment (the stick). Another version derives its meaning from the tying a carrot to a long stick and dangling it just out of reach of the mule. The mule tries to get at the carrot, but it’s not possible.
Spiritual cognition begins with this technique. By dangling the carrot (knowledge of the spirit) out in front of the seeker, the universal intelligence prods the aspirant into deeper levels of mysticism. Within each level of illumination, the aspirant reaches a greater reward. By recovering our forgotten destiny, we enter this cyclical force of being, which leads to spiritual wisdom. John Weir Perry describes the concept of recollection, or anamnesis, in his work entitled The Far Side of Madness, as a contradiction. He states, “… when the soul is born into the world it is inclined to forget its previously acquired vision of the divine light of heaven and must enter into these extraordinary mad states in order to retrieve what it has lost.”
It’s as if time moves backward and forward; and the subject must remember what he or she has already learned. Plato, Socrates, Hall, Crowley, Dick, Robert Anton Wilson, Emerson, countless others, believed in an Oversoul, a higher intelligence that helps direct you through life. Do you believe in higher intelligence in your life? Where is it leading you?