In early January, I was introduced to the concept of daemonism. I’d mentioned it briefly in a previous PBP post but neglected to expand upon it. Now, though, I’d like to take the time to explore it in-depth.
For some, the term daemon might invoke memories of Philip Pullman’s book series, His Dark Materials. In the books, a person’s daemon is the animal personification of their soul, whose form changes until the person reaches maturity; then, the daemon’s form settles into an animal that reflects the core aspects of their personality. For others, daemon might remind them of the Greek daimon. Through conversations with Hellenic polytheists, I’ve learned that the daimon is viewed as a guardian spirit, far more autonomous and external than the daemons addressed in this post.
That said, what is daemonism as a psychological concept? According to Kris “Okibi” [surname undisclosed], webmaster of The Dæmon Page, “your daemon is you.” She continues to posit that daemons are not necessarily the whole soul, but the parts of it that govern self-awareness, rationale, the conscience, and creativity. Therefore, a daemon is really simply a part of one’s consciousness. When a person talks to themselves in private, whether it’s in their head or out loud, the voice that “chides you when you’re wrong … is rational when you’re lost … laughs when you do something silly, or spills out your honest emotions while [you] stand silent” is interpreted by the daemian  community as the daemon.
To me, this concept makes a lot of sense. My mother has a habit of talking constantly to herself when she thinks she’s alone, and I do too to a lesser extent, though I don’t know if I picked it up from her or developed it on my own. With my interest piqued, I browsed the website’s forum for a while to see if I could determine what my daemon’s form might be. As mentioned in my post about corvids, I’ve come to accept that my daemon takes the form of an alpine chough.
At first, though, I was upset that neither the analysis for the common crow nor the one for the American raven matched my personality. In a bout of stubbornness, I brushed off daemonism as intriguing but not interesting enough to pursue. I only came to terms with my daemon’s settled form after a conversation with B., during which we tossed around some ideas and theories. Now, I love my daemon as much as I can love myself–and, in fact, part of cultivating a relationship with him is learning how to love myself and embrace my faults.
Naturally, this concept among The Daemon Page’s community is purely psychological in nature. The process of learning the settled form of one’s daemon entails identifying with an animal through the careful, in-depth analysis of its traits and habits. At one point, though, I developed a theory. Daemons usually have names, and at first, I found this idea rather frivolous since they’re supposed to be us. Why should I have a second name if I’m happy with the one my parents gave me? The explanation on The Daemon Page didn’t satisfy me, so I disregarded the notion as “not for me.”
Then I remembered that one of the souls in Kemeticism is the ren, or true name. According to Kemetic theology, learning another person’s ren means that you would have power to directly help or harm them, and therefore it’s wise not to share it with just anybody. What if the name of the daemon is one’s ren? Obviously, this theory doesn’t apply to non-Kemetics and non-daemians, but it makes the naming of a daemon very sensible to me.
This idea brought on all sorts of questions: How would other people take the concept of the psychological daemon and give it a unique religious flair? Has anyone else done this before? And in regards to this Kemetic take on daemonism: what is my ren?
- According to The Daemon Page, a daemian is a person “who knows their daemon and speaks with them on a regular basis.”
- O., Kris. The Dæmon Page. N.p., 11 Feb. 2008. Web. 13 Feb. 2013.