Demons/Daimons

On the primitive level it is therefore, self-evident that “demons,” or in our language “complexes,” have to be removed from the realm of the subject; integration – that is, a responsible acceptance into the total personality – is attempted only exceptionally, namely, by certain shamans or medicine men who kept a few conquered “demons” near them as “spirit helpers.”  P&R 96

If we look at the mythological traditions to which this theme is central, we see that a particularly widespread form of liberation from such a complex is represented in the motif of the so-called magic flight, in which a hero or heroine escapes a pursuing demon by tossing behind certain objects that grow into major obstacles for the pursuer and thus contribute to the rescue of the pursued. P&R 96

Demons almost never have a “normal” form; they are always images of disfigured or incomplete human beings and thus are very suitable visual images of the distorting effects of autonomous complexes. 

   The best analogy of the way in which a demon tends to compel one-sidedness is the way in which the rabies virus works.  If this virus touches a peripheral nerve of a person who has been bitten by a rabid dog, it travels, as we know, to precisely that place in the victim’s brain from which it can control the whole person.  It causes him to reject water so that the virus cannot be spit out of the mouth; it induces him to wander about so that he comes into contact with as many other creatures as possible; and finally it brings about an actual rage to bite so that the virus can be transplanted in a new carrier. 

   Autonomous complexes behave in exactly the same way; they can warp or destroy the whole personality.  Viruses, we know, are “dead” matter; it is only in a living creature that they acquire a “quasi-life.”  The same is true of autonomous complexes.  They take all the life out of a person; when they have “eaten him up” they become entangled with life in the surrounding environment.  That is why, when in the vicinity of people who are possessed, one often experiences a sudden fatigue and an inexplicable feeling of having one’s vitality sucked out.  P&R 103

Spirits are “either pathological fantasies or new but as yet unknown ideas.”  As we have seen, this is true of the archetypes in general.  Jung emphasized that the demonic works with negative effect mainly at that moment when “an unconscious content of seemingly overwhelming power appears on the threshold of consciousness”; then it will lay hold of the personality in the form of a possession.  Before such a content is integrated into consciousness it will always appear physically, because it “forces the subject into its own form.”  The negative aspect can be avoided if the man or the woman holds his or her own ground against the thrust of the unconscious content and tries to become conscious of its meaning through reflection.  The demonic, therefore, would be the creative in statu nascendi, not yet realized, or “made real,” by the ego.  P&R 105

Classes of Demons

Mythical images of demons are extremely varied; not all demons belong in the same category, nor are they all equally dangerous.  The Siberian Yakut have made a classification of demons that is serviceable enough for general use.  They distinguish (1) Aji, the spirits of the upper world, (2) Abassy, the spirits of the underworld, (3) Itschi, the spirits of the middle world or the spirits who rule over animals and plants, and (4) the spirits of the dead. 

The first two classes of spirits are eternal beings and preforms of the gods in the high cultures; psychologically they illustrate in symbols the archetypes of the collective unconscious.  Along with the often purely destructive tendency of such spirits there is also the motif of a spirit (especially often from the upper world) who falls in love with a human.  The latter is thereby induced to commit suicide in an attach of madness so that he may be united with the beloved in the Beyond (Daphne’s flight from Apollo). 

The spirits that rule over animals and plants are probably the oldest forms in which archetypal contents were imagines; among the Bushmen and the Australian aborigines – that is, in cultures that have remained especially close to their origins – they are actual gods.  In contrast to the upper and lower spirits, they are localized in the surrounding world of nature and are not separated into “light” and “dark.”   P&R 104

The spirits of the dead seem to embody mainly psychic contents, which are closer to the personal realm of the psyche; in the dreams of modern men and women they often appear as projected images (inner imagines) of the deceased.  Hence Jung, in his early work assumed that such spirits were nothing more than the embodiment of projected images, approximate representations of the father complex, the mother complex, and so on; “ a persistent attachment to the dead makes life seem less worth living, and may even be the cause of psychic illnesses.”  Jung later revised this opinion and was no longer quite sure that spirits are only such personal imagines, possessing no separate reality of their own.  “This opens up the whole question of the transpsychic reality immediately underlying the psyche.”  Jung is alluding here to the principle of synchronicity.  P&R 104

The question that nevertheless keeps recurring is to what extent such beings can be integrated.  Perhaps this much can be said: Whenever a demon, for example a “poltergeist,” consistently “follows” a man or a woman in spite of a change in place and atmosphere, this “spirit” is at least to a substantial extent subjective: if he disappears with a change of place, the relation to the subject is not of great importance.  (It was especially this phenomenon of the place-bound ghost that prompted Jung to correct his earlier view that spirits are simply subjective complex.)  Yet even when a spirit “follows” a human being everywhere, it is sometimes only in part subjective; this “subjective” component attracts, so to speak, the “objective devil”: as soon as the former is integrated, the latter withdraws(.) 

gods and demons

From the standpoint of Jungian psychology the distinction in antiquity between gods and demons means the following: The gods represent more the archetypal ground-structure of the psyche, which is far removed from consciousness, while the demons are visualizations of the same archetypes, it is true, but in a form nearer to consciousness, which comes closer to the subjective inner experience of humans.  It is as if a partial aspect of the archetype were beginning to move closer to the individual, to cling to him and to become a sort of “grown-on soul.”  P&R 110

The Demons in Christianity

Only Christ, that is, God himself (and certain angels), is positive; certain nature-spirits are neutral though better avoided; but all other daimons are evil.  The pagan gods of the earlier age were regarded simply as evil daimons.  Furthermore, the Judaic tradition of Satan and the fallen angels was mixed with the picture projected by the Greeks.  According to Justin Martyr, the celestial bodies and God’s angels possessed a providence over things beneath heaven.  (The angels are identical with the “gods” of Plato.)  But the cause of everything evil was the fall of certain angels and their intercourse with human females.  They try to usurp divine power and they pander especially to sexual passion.  Their sin lies not so much in hostility toward God as in disobedience and in deceiving and deluding (apoplanan) humanity.

  These views went back to the Book of Enoch (around 100 B.C.), in which the story, as we know, is told of certain angels who fell in love with human women and descended from heaven to be with them.  Together they gave birth to a destructive race of giants who laid the whole earth to waste.  As Jung explained, if looked at psychologically this signifies a precipitate invasion of human consciousness by contents from the collective unconscious.  The giants are images of the resultant inflation that leads to a catastrophe for mankind.  The fall of the angels, in Jung’s words, “enlarged the significance of man to ‘gigantic’ proportions, which points to an inflation of the cultural consciousness at that period.”  It was a question of an all-too-rapid growth of knowledge – exactly as is the case again today.  This story from the Book of Enoch is once more especially timely, such invasions of collective contents from the unconscious occur frequently.  P&R 111

The Church Father Athenagoras, in the manner of Euhemeros, conceives many demons as the postmortal souls of important deceased men, like heroes and kings.  (This corresponds to a reactivation of the beliefs of primitive peoples concerning the spirits of the dead, but in rationalistic disguise!) In addition to the demons, Athenagoras recognizes a whole crowd of angels who rule over the stars and over everything in the cosmos.  In his view Satan, before the fall, was the angel who ruled over all matter, so that after the fall the material world became part of the realm of evil.  Satan descended into hell because he had betrayed his office and because he and his followers had been wanton and presumptuous and had succumbed to lust for mortal women.It is clear that these early Church Fathers did not really want to think of Satan as a force in opposition to God, as this would have meant falling into a dualistic conception of God.  God is and remains the One and the Whole, and the evil angels, that is, the demons, are spirits of transgression, of compulsion (sexuality), and of pride (hubris), which disturb the harmony of creation and, according to the teaching of Tatian, separate man from his original fellowship with the divine Spirit.  It is the task of mankind to rediscover this fellowship.  The forces pulling man downward are on the one hand cosmos and matter and on the other the demons.  According to Tatian, spirits are not pure spirit but rather a pneuma of a subtly material kind.  However, because they are “fleshless” they cannot die easily.  In Tatian’s view, the capital sin of the angels is not sexual lust but their claim to divinity, that is, their power-drive.  They attempt to seduce mankind by means of phanasmata (false imaginations and delusions) into worshipping them instead of God.  This is why Pauline injunction to “test the spirits” (1 Corinthians 12:10) is so important.

Justin Martyr expressly places the guilt for the crucifixion of Christ not on the Jews but on the evil demons.  It was precisely for this reason that the cross became the power that overcomes demons.  P&R 114

If we accept the interpretation, widely held today, of the word religio as a “conscientious consideration of the numinous,” then the demons simply want, basically, to be “religiously” taken into account by uman beings.  We know from the mythically colored Greek historical writings that plague, harvest failures, defeat in war, and so on are often sent by a god who has been inadvertently overlooked in a cultic ceremony.  It was for this reason that Artemis sent a lull in the wind as the Greeks were about to set out for Troy, a lull that could be ended only by the sacrifice of Iphigenia.  In this respect the demons behave no differently from the gods themselves.  Seen psychologically they represent contents of the unconscious that make an unconditional claim on the attention of people; they act like “organs” of the psyche that do not function if not treated with respect.