Recently I wrote a beginner blog piece on demons, which was a response to a fearful Christianised question that had been posed to me. Because the post was for beginners (and most likely curious teens), I posited that while demons are not ‘evil’ they can be bad, depending upon how you work with them, how you approach them or if you are on the receiving end of one of their actions. The first thing that became apparent, through a blog post by another writer, is that people do not read carefully, do not know their classical language, and also that I was not clear enough in what I was writing. Because this quickly descended down into a chaotic discussion, it became clear that I need to address this properly for readers.
The first snag in this subject matter is the Christian idea of demons, which is a construct, and has little bearing on the nature of inner beings. Ancient deities, spirits, angelic beings that did not fit the Christian order, ancestral beings and land powers all got grouped together under the heading ‘evil’ and were classified as ‘demons’. The use of that word comes from the word Daimon (Latin) or Daemon (Greek), which means spirit or an intelligence between mortals and the immortal. That usage became endemic within western society and has served to confuse and create a great deal of ignorance around the understanding of the various inner non corporeal beings that are around us.
Demon, to an occultist, is a type of inner being that is very powerful, can be destructive or dangerous if you are on the wrong side of their actions, not because they are evil, but simply because of their power and action. In modern use of language in English, there is no other name for this particular type of being, simply because of the Christianisation of our use of language. I often use the term ‘underworld beings’ but then people do not understand what I am talking about. So it can get a bit sticky with the use of language. These beings are not for beginners to play around with (hence the warning for beginners in my previous post), but for a working adept, they are part and parcel of the many beings a magician works with.
Daimon, to an occultist (who has had a classical education), is an overarching term for all inner spirits, sub deities, land spirits, underworld beings etc.
The difference between a ‘demon’ and ‘angel’
Demonic beings are what are termed ‘conditional’, i.e. their breadth of action is wide, their nature is closer to humanity as in likes, dislikes, emotion and choice of action.
Angelic beings as more ‘point and click’ beings, they have specific functions and actions and do not move outside of that pattern. (I will go into more depth on angels in a subsequent post)
Demons/underworld beings are a part of a much wider community of inner beings (Daimons) and an occultist will work with them all: powers of nature, ancestral beings, nature spirits, underworld beings (demons), deities, inner contacts and faery beings.
An occultist will also work with the massive array of angels. Angels, in their specific actions are worked with as interfaces for deeper powers, as thresholds, as action initiators, as guardians and dispensers. Virtually every culture around the world has their own system to work with all of these beings. There is no such thing as a ‘Christian angel, or a Jewish angel or a Goetia angel: those are simply vocabularies by which we can interface with these beings.
All of these different types of beings are worked with, respected for their power and worked with intelligently. Any of these beings can be ‘bad’ or ‘dangerous’ to the un-initiated dabbler. Any of these beings can be extremely useful to someone who knows what they are doing.
So let’s have a look at this in practical terms, and I am viewing this from kabbalist perspective. Other magicians may view it in a different way but they will recognise the dynamics. The first thing to do is disengage the perspective that all action is about we humans It is not, we are part and parcel of a much wider picture. What can be ‘bad’ for us can be very creative for everything else that is living. First let us look at a natural picture, and then we will look at a picture driven by magic.
A power is flowing from Kether (Divine consciousness) to express itself in Malkuth (the world). All power that flows down the tree from Kether is a mix of creation and destruction in a constant dance of polarity. An angelic consciousness stands on the threshold of Malkuth: it is the conductor of the orchestra of power. The power the angel is mediating as a threshold is a power that will flow into the world to bring change.
Once that power has crossed the main angelic threshold, it passes through a second angelic being that is the threshold for a particular land mass. That being mediates the still relatively unformed power to the spirits (Daimons) who will enact this power and bring form to it. The power flows into land/nature beings and ‘deities’ who work with the weather. A huge storm builds up out at sea and moves towards a land mass. A huge hurricane hits the land and flattens man made structures, tearing them apart. Sewers get flooded and overspill, water becomes contaminated etc. (Bear in mind that what follows is all a result of man creating structures…. if there were non, then many of the problems would either not happen or would be different).
The people are left with a town in ruins, contaminated water and no food or shelter. Cholera quickly starts to spread among the overcrowded camps of people. The underworld beings (i.e. demons) that are the inner consciousness of the disease fan out and do their job of breaking down populations. Inner parasites and other scavengers descend to feed upon the inner energies of the weakened people. What are left are the strongest most resilient people. They start to re build, breed and become strong and healthy. This is a natural cycle of creation and destruction that works around the world on a daily basis to a greater or lesser degree.
Ancient civilisations became aware of the inner consciousness of outer forces and their priesthoods learned to interact, communicate and negotiate with these beings. The more powerful beings that could be interacted with we named as deities (not Divinity, two different things), the weaker but still powerful ones in our terms we named as spirits. Out of that, mystical religions and magic was born. The priesthoods would, through communication and divination, learn how to sometimes be able to head them off, or channel their actions in to areas less dangerous to humans. That skill quickly became degenerated, but that is another story entirely.
Now let us look at a scenario that involves magic, and it is a scenario that will be more familiar to many magicians.
A magician decides for whatever reason to attack someone badly. The pattern structure is laid down either by ritual or vision or both. The magician calls upon demonic beings to help. Why demonic (underworld)? Because of the nature of the attack, this type of being is the most efficient at the job. The person is identified, the patterned structure is the template and focus for the attack, the pattern is energised and the being becomes the deliverer. The pattern formed is an attack that will silence the person, make them ill, and in effect will immobilise them. The attack is then timed and launched.
The ritual pattern envelops the person, which then creates the doorways and focus for the beings to get to work. The first being, which has been programmed to seal the mouth of the victim, wraps itself around and within the throat of the victim to disable speech and the magical use of breath. The second being, which is a being that operates through disease, enters and surrounds the victim, triggering a physical immune reaction: the victim becomes sick even though they have no actually contracted a specific bacterial infection. The body will ‘act’ as though it is infected. The victim’s body is overwhelmed by the magical attack, becomes very sick, weak and cannot use the power of utterance to counter the attack let alone communicate in any magical way.
These are two rather extreme examples of how underworld beings can work. There are many other types of actions that underworld beings have, and their natural actions, even though we may feel they can to be dangerous and bad for us, are simply doing their job. When those underworld beings are co worked with (or harnessed by some forms of magic, something I do not agree with) and focussed with specific human intent, then they most certainly can become destructive and dangerous. The evil is in the person wielding the power, not in the being itself. It is the co-opting of the nature of a being and misusing it that makes it ‘bad’.
This type of magical action takes a being and misplaces it natural actions. This goes against the laws of balance and plunges the being into the human world of duality.
So what other actions do underworld/demonic beings have?
In more ancient cultures, underworld beings for the most part were most known for their composting powers, their actions through the forces of nature and their ability to guard well. Along with deities, angelic beings, faery beings, land powers etc, these underworld beings were considered to be part and parcel of the world and were respected, worked with and sometimes feared – not because of ‘evil’, but because of their sheer power and the areas of physical existence that they operated in.
Just as a scientist working with, say, smallpox, in order to learn about the disease and develop a vaccine, is ‘good’, if that scientist was bribed, or kidnapped and forced to produce the virus in order to infect a population, then that scientist would be perceived as ‘bad’.
The basic summary on demons is this: the demons of Christianity are a falsehood. The demons of the grimoires are simply badly constructed windows used in order to reach these underworld beings and communicate with them. The ‘windows’ are the titles, names, specified nature and action of a being. When a magician uses one of these ‘windows’, in effect they are creating a filter that only part of the being’s power can flow through. It is like saying to a human, “I want you to do this job, but you can only do X, have one arm behind your back, and only behave in this way. For the most part, when working magically this way, all that the magician manages to reach is an intelligent parasite that is willing to play the part and do the job in order for a reward. Parasites are not demonic underworld beings, and I suspect what most people consider ‘demons’ are actually parasites. Parasites are spirits that feed off of the energy of other living beings in order to sustain themselves.
I will reiterate what I said in my first post on demonic beings, but hopefully this time it is worded better. These underworld powers are powerful. When they are dabbled with in ignorance or arrogance, they can become dangerous and destructive. Know what it is that you are working with, know how to work with them and have good reason beyond petty, silly, immature and greedy intent.