The Changing Face of the Daimon

Posted By on April 29, 2014

Guardian Spirit of the Waters, 1878, by
Odilon Redon


For this article,  I am assuming James Hillman’s thesis to be true, that everyone has a personal daimon that accompanies one throughout one’s life. Hillman’s book, Soul’s Code concerns this issue. I also take the words of Marsilio Ficino to be true when he said,

Whoever . . . scrutinizes his mind . . . will find his own natural work, and will find likewise his own star and daemon, and following their beginnings he will thrive and live happily. Otherwise, he will find fortune to be adverse, and he will feel that heaven hates him (Ficino 169).

For background information on this, read Hillman’s Soul’s Code, if you haven’t already.

Hillman also wrote of the so-called “acorn theory,” where a person’s potentiality, their entelechy, is contained in the soul.  Like the potentiality of an acorn to become an oak, so we possess potentiality in the soul, which can grow into what we are destined to become. One’s daimon, a kind of inner mentor, attempts to guide us to our destiny. In my opinion, the daimon is not a supernatural being, as in Christianity’s belief in a so-called “guardian angel.” The daimon is the same principle that guides a seed, say, a mustard seed, (since Jesus discussed this metaphor) to grow into a tree, wherein the birds of the air seek lodging. It is the entelechy of the entity, the pattern that entities already possess when they come into being. Entelechy was discussed by Aristotle, and I have written about it in an article entitled, The Entelechy of Animatter. On Aristotle’s use of the word, translator Joe Sachs says this:

Entelecheia, as can be seen by its derivation, is a kind of completeness, whereas “the end and completion of any genuine being is its being-at-work” (energeia). The entelecheia is a continuous being-at-work (energeia) when something is doing its complete “work”. For this reason, the meanings of the two words converge, and they both depend upon the idea that every thing’s “thinghood” is a kind of work, or in other words a specific way of being in motion. All things which exist now, and not just potentially, are beings-at-work, and all of them have a tendency towards being-at-work in a particular way which would be their proper and “complete” way (Sachs, Joe (1995), Aristotle’s physics: a guided study).

What I’d like discuss in this article is how the inner mentors, the daimones, change through history, and how this relates to the World Soul and her daimon. Since I follow the Hermetic principle, As above, So below, I take it that the World Soul also has a daimon that guides and cajoles her to her destiny, whatever that may be.

The World Soul is a being-at-work, just as all entities are, and will continue to be a being-at-work until there is a state of completion of earth’s destiny. This earthly telos may be viewed in many different ways. None of us know what the future holds for our world. There is one thing we may be sure of, however. The World Daimon has a changing face.

I have felt the influence of many modes or faces of my daimon. Inspirations, ideas, imaginings, illnesses, problems, all the things that compose my personality. Just as one’s personal daimon, if heeded, guides an individual’s destiny, so the World Daimon (henceforth capitalized) guides the destiny of the Anima Mundi. The World Soul, in turn, metamorphoses to heed the call of her Guide, just as we metamorphose in heeding the call of our daimon. This has been occurring since the moment of the Big Bang, when all animatter exploded into existence. Of course, we have no way of knowing what occurred prior to that moment. We can only speculate.

I see reality as being eternal. We are involved in eternity right now. Eternity doesn’t begin when we die. The Big Bang was probably just one of an infinite number of revitalizations that have occurred throughout eternity. Prior to each Big Bang, there is probably a Big Crunch, where the last universe collapses into itself, and then the cycle begins again. This is the nature of Soul. It is not linear, with a firm beginning and an end. It is cyclical, as is the universe. That is why we see the spiral shape  everywhere in Nature. The spiral is painted across the heavens, as if the universe were an infinite gallery of spiral art.

Let’s look at a few examples of how the World Daimon has changed faces during the course of history. We have good reasons to believe that the Big Bang was the starting point for this present universe. This amazing manifestation of energy was the first face of the World Daimon, or at least the one we are related to in our universe. It is the face of creation, or rather re-creation. Henceforward, the making of the Anima Mundi begins in painful birth-pangs, as this world, according to Keats, is the vale of soul-making. The early earth was a hot, violent place. It was almost all molten due to extreme volcanism and violent collisions with other bodies. After vast amounts of time, the earth eventually became a matrix of life, producing the natural beauty we experience today. Even with worlds, world-souls are led through states of adversity and suffering before achieving greater states of consciousness. The earth has been undergoing profound metamorphosis for billions of years. The Daimon changes faces every time further change is needed, as when the earth had cooled sufficiently to allow water to form, and when the first forms of life appeared around 3.5 billion years ago. Each time a new life form evolved, the Daimon was there, all along, nudging the Anima Mundi toward her destiny.

This is a mythical method of discussing very real and powerful forces in our universe. They are not transcendent; they are very much a part of this cosmos. The Anima Mundi and her Daimon are archetypal powers that our world desperately needs to recognize. In my next article, I will offer what I think is the name of the World Daimon.

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Philosophy and depth psychology fanatic; writer and resident soul spelunker

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