Seeing things: The daimonic nature of reality

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Seeing things: The daimonic nature of reality

Patrick Harpur


Quote:I want to emphasize the chief attributes of daimons because these are also crucial attributes, often neglected, of the ground of reality itself. Firstly, they are ambiguous, even contradictory, both material and immaterial, for instance. Secondly, they are elusive, fast-moving, appearing and disappearing in the twinkling of an eye. Thirdly, they are shape-shifters, like Proteus nearly impossible to pin down. Whenever, therefore, we think we have a fix on reality, we will find when we look again that the image, concept or formulation we proudly hold up is an empty mask whose living daimon has already slipped away. The nature of daimons tells us besides that reality is better represented by concrete, personified images than abstract and impersonal concepts. If we want to catch them, we cannot use plodding logic or precise rationality; we have to use our own quickest, most colored, shape-shifting faculty: imagination. Fourthly, daimons are always marginal creatures who favor liminal zones or times for their appearances. They are always, too, marginalized by ‘official’ culture, whether of science or of the Churches.  A fifth characteristic of daimons is emphasized by Plato in The Symposium, where Socrates tells us that we can have no contact with the gods or God except through the daimons who ‘interpret and convey the wishes of men to the gods and the will of gods to men.’ Only through the daimons, he says, ‘is there conversation between men and gods, whether in the waking state or during sleep.’ Here we understand the essentially intermediary nature of daimons, mediating between the material and the non-material, the personal and impersonal, between this world and the Otherworld.



Quote:The only concern of the Primary Imagination, wrote another poet, W.H. Auden, is with sacred beings and events. They cannot be anticipated, he says—they must be encountered. Our response to them is a passion of awe. It may be terror or panic, wonder or joy, but it must be awe-ful. Auden’s sacred beings and events are our daimons, archetypal images which Imagination generates. They are chiefly personifications, but Imagination can, like the ‘glamour’ the fairies cast over objects, enchant any thing so that what we had formerly overlooked is suddenly seen as ensouled, a presence, as if it were a powerful living person.



Quote:Television’s strange power to addict us stems from its literalization of Imagination itself: we gaze enchanted at the ‘little people’ in the artificial Otherworld on the screen. Because television feeds us images which are not, as Plato would say, representations of Eternal Forms (or, as we might say, Art), we remain—our souls remain—unnourished. We crave more images, and more, in the vain hope of that repletion which only relations with an authentic Otherworld can give. Indeed, whenever technology is divorced from true imagination it always proliferates manically, and we always want more—more machines, more images, and now more ‘information’, as if this quantitative ‘more’ could fill the void; as if ‘information’ were knowledge. Hence, however useful a tool a world-wide web of information is, it will never become the world-soul it is unconsciously imitating because it is a web spun out of our own entrails. Computer technology constantly drives towards the literalizing of daimonic reality. Its ‘chips’ are little souls to animate everything from ‘smart’ toasters to bombs; its cyberspace is a fantasy Otherworld; ‘virtual reality’ a counterfeit daimonic reality. We are fooled by the cleverness of computers into thinking that we can create an Otherworld and manipulate it. But the Otherworld is not our creation—if anything, it creates us. Nor can we manipulate it—we can only be transformed by it.
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


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  • Silence, Brian
I have often thought that perhaps all these "beings" are actually one thing because their behaviour is so similar and many physical descriptions are similar, right down to cases of "aliens" offering gifts of food, just like fairies are reputed to.  I thought of the original word daimon, which AFAIK is where the word demon comes from and the descriptions fit.  Even from a Christian perspective, the church (perhaps without authority) claims that these creatures are all demons, but if you lose the horror movie portrayal of a demon and think of a fallen angel (let's not think of wings and halos - please!) it's perhaps easier to see the connection.
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  • Larry, Sciborg_S_Patel, Silence, Typoz
(2021-01-30, 02:46 PM)Brian Wrote: I have often thought that perhaps all these "beings" are actually one thing because their behaviour is so similar and many physical descriptions are similar, right down to cases of "aliens" offering gifts of food, just like fairies are reputed to.  I thought of the original word daimon, which AFAIK is where the word demon comes from and the descriptions fit.  Even from a Christian perspective, the church (perhaps without authority) claims that these creatures are all demons, but if you lose the horror movie portrayal of a demon and think of a fallen angel (let's not think of wings and halos - please!) it's perhaps easier to see the connection.

I liked this blog post from Dead But Dreaming (thanks for putting me on to this site btw) ->

Some Faerie Metaphysics

Neil Rushton

Quote:In his 2005 book Supernatural, Graham Hancock vividly utilises Lewis-Williams’ work to discuss the continuity through time of entities experienced in altered states of consciousness, coming to the conclusion that the faeries of our historic period are one and the same as those portrayed in prehistoric caves. And writers such as Carlo Ginzburg and Emma Wilby have argued that there is a direct link between prehistoric shamanic storytelling and the folklore embodied in classical, medieval and later periods, that often incorporate entities such as nymphs and faeries; supernatural beings that interact with humanity when the conditions are right. Those conditions may well be reliant on the human participants undergoing an altered state of consciousness as a result of the ingestion of psychotropic compounds. There is certainly a preponderance of mushroom imagery associated to historic depictions of faeries, most especially the highly psychedelic red and white Amanita Muscaria (fly agaric) mushroom, and the psilocybin mushroom, both prevalent in Europe and Asia. If these historic folkloric manifestations of interactions with supernatural entities can be linked to the cave art of prehistory and preliterate societies, then we have a continuation of relationship with an alternative reality, accessed through altered states of consciousness, over a very long period of time.

Quote:But the ontological reality of faeries (in whatever form) has in recent decades become linked to other ‘paranormal’ activity types, primary of which is the intrusion into our consensus reality of entities usually known as aliens. The first person to suggest a definitive link between the the reports of faerie experiences and alien encounters was the astronomer and computer scientist Jacques Vallée. In his 1969 book Passport to Magonia he put forward the theory that the faeries were one and the same as the alien beings who had been purportedly abducting people around the world for a couple of decades by that date. His hypothesis is that there is a commonality to the experiences reported in alien abduction scenarios, and the reports of interactions with faeries in folklore. He suggests the aliens and the faeries are essentially the same phenomenon, tuned through the cultural receptors of the time and then interpreted accordingly. He makes special reference to the regular motifs in faerie-tales of the abduction, by various means, of humans by faeries. There’s a lot of data here – it’s the commonest motif in faerie folklore, and continues to be reported in anecdotal testimonies. For a variety of reasons humans are taken to an alternative faerie reality, either as midwives or nurses for faerie children, as servants to the faeries, for sex, as punishment or reward, or just because the faeries feel like it. These motifs, of course, coincide with many aspects of the consistently strange phenomenon of alien abductions, reports of which have grown at an exponential rate since the early 1950s. Vallée uses a range of evidence to tie-up faerie abductions from folklore and alien abductions from modern reports...
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


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  • Brian
Quote:Someone once said to me: ‘It is in the nature of our holy daimon to, from the day of our birth, constantly pray down to us. We can meet it halfway, though, by starting to pray upwards to it.’ We can still hear the echo of Plato’s thoughts in this analogy, Plato who described humans as ‘plants of heaven on earth.’ The intricate connection of the human soul with the celestial sphere is further strengthened by Plato’s assertion that each soul has its own native star from which it has come and to which it will return after death.

"And having made it [the soul mixture], he [the Demiurge] divided the whole mixture into souls equal in number to the stars, and assigned each soul to a star; and having there placed them as in a chariot, he showed them the nature of the universe, and declared to them the laws of destiny (…). He who lived well during his appointed time was to return and dwell in his native star, and there he would have a blessed and congenial existence."

Thus the daimon of the nous can be understood as a mediator between the earthly realm and the celestial sphere from which we stem and to which we will ultimately return. This view was, of course, echoed by Crowley in his famous aphorism, ‘Every man and woman is a star.’ We could even go so far as to view the daimon of the nous as a living, spiritual chain that connects man to his eternal higher self. The ancient Greeks viewed such a mediating function as being the essential nature of their daimones.

Acher, Frater. Holy Daimon (pp. 64-65). Scarlet Imprint | Bibliothèque Rouge. Kindle Edition.
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


(This post was last modified: 2021-02-13, 09:45 AM by Sciborg_S_Patel.)
The Animated World: An interview with Patrick Harpur

Gyrus


Quote:Gyrus: The threefold division of ‘body, soul & spirit’, as opposed to the dualistic mind/body model so common in our culture, seems central to your work. Could you sketch it briefly, and discuss how you feel “soul” has come to be distorted, misunderstood, or lost?

Patrick: You’ve started with the hardest possible question! I’ve just jotted down 14 ways in which the word ‘soul’ can be used, and there are many more. It’s impossible to define. But this flaw is also its strength. Like ‘God’, it’s a portmanteau word, ’empty’ in itself, yet taking on meaning in different contexts and in relation to other things.

Soul in relation to body likes to personify itself as Jung’s anima, for instance, or as the personal daimon whom Plato describes in his myth of the geezer called Er who returns from the dead at the end of The Republic. It’s different from soul in relation to spirit, which is where I prefer to use the word as the Neoplatonists used it. For them, soul was a whole realm intermediate between the spiritual or intelligible world (nous) and our own familiar sensory, material world. It was Anima Mundi, the Soul of the World, wherein dwell the daimons who link us, as Socrates remarked, to the gods.

However, this all-pervading collective realm was paradoxical: it could also manifest individually, as individual souls—in other words, as us. Since the chief faculty of soul is not reason but imagination, it likes to imagine itself in many different ways, cutting its cloth to suit the times. Thus it re-imagines itself now as Imagination itself—a powerful autonomous realm beloved of the Romantics whence all the myths come—now as Jung’s collective unconscious. It supplies the root metaphor for such modern re-inventions as the earth-spirit Gaia and Sheldrake’s morphogenetic field.

But, in another sense, soul and spirit can be thought of as symbols of the two main perspectives through which we view the world—the two perspectives which create the world we see. We experience them as a tension within ourselves between the spiritual longing for Oneness, unity, purity, light, transcendence etc. and the imaginative need to recognise Manyness, multiplicity, labyrinthine entanglement, darkness, immanence etc. It’s because, historically—ever since the Enlightenment—Western culture has emphasised the preeminence of ‘masculine’ upward-striving Apollonian reason and science that I have tried to emphasise the neglected ‘soul’ perspective which is dark, moon-struck, downward-spiralling and Hermetic or Dionysian—the Affirmative way of the artist, as the medieval mystics might have put it, instead of their own Negative way, which disdains and seeks to overcome the images and myths which soul, willy-nilly, besieges us with and which we find so hard to free ourselves from in spiritual disciplines. The great ascents of the spirit into rareified mountain realms where the One dwells in blinding light can be read as a disastrous neglect, even repression, of the Nekiya—the underworld journey of the soul whose course is tortuous and mazy, moving towards darkness and death. That’s why, as far as any sort of gnosis goes, I prefer the soul’s way, death and resurrection, the painful initiatory dismembering of the shaman, to the rather unsexed and anodyne rebirth system of ‘spiritual’ paths.

I prefer, as Jung says, wholeness to perfection. That’s the short and incoherent answer to your question.
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


[-] The following 1 user Likes Sciborg_S_Patel's post:
  • Brian
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell




Quote:In this wide-ranging interview, one of our favorite scholars, Patrick Harpur, discusses the fundamental role of the imagination in human history, the human mind, and reality at large. He also discusses the daimons, those elusive, contradictory figures who inhabit minds and the world, but who appear only to those with the eyes to see. Harpur's extensive, extraordinary, life-transforming body of work is one of the most criminally underrated in modern scholarship.
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


[-] The following 1 user Likes Sciborg_S_Patel's post:
  • Ninshub


Quote:A conversation with Patrick Harpur on the subject of Imagination and Vision; Blake and Tradition, followed by a Q&A with the author.
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


(This post was last modified: 2023-06-29, 02:25 PM by Sciborg_S_Patel. Edited 1 time in total.)

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