One of the books I'm currently re-reading as research for Pop Culture Magic 2.0 is Daemonic Reality by Patrick Harpur. If you haven't read it, I highly recommend it as he makes some interesting connections with the classical conception of a Daemon and paranormal experiences that have occurred in the contemporary world. Not all of his information is as accurate as it could be, but there's useful concepts to explore, especially as it relates to the notion of imagination interacting with reality to create an altered reality. For example, he argues that UFO sightings can be an interaction with Daemonic Reality, using case studies where people thought they experienced a UFO, when actually what they saw was the moon or sun, but how they perceived it changed their perception of it, putting them in an altered reality of sorts. What I find fascinating about this book also is how he explores sightings of bigfoot and provides a similar context. In one distance, he discusses a family's interaction with a bigfoot and how they failed to understand the significance of it wanting an offering, when it left a feed pail out in front of their barn. They would hide the pail each day, thinking it was a game, when it actually wasn't. The variety of anecdotes in the book make for fascinating reading and in my opinion shows that there is an intersection between Daemonic Reality and our own perception of reality. Harpur notes the following:
"Our trouble is that we have been brought up with a literal-minded worldview. We demand that objects have only a single identity or meaning. We are educated to see with the eye only, in single vision. When the prenatural breaks in upon us, transforming the profane into something sacred, amazing, we are unequipped for it. Instead of seizing on the vision, reflecting on it...we react with fright and panic. instead of countering like with like, that is, assimilating through the imagination the complexity of the image presented to us, we feebly telephone scientists for reassurance. We are told we are only "seeing things" and so we miss the opportunity to grasp that different, daimonic order of reality which lies behind the merely literal."
It's an interesting point he makes and one I agree with. We get caught up in our own perspective of what reality should be that we don't always consider that reality could be something. A literal approach to reality is a seemingly safe approach to reality because it constrains reality to the physical perceptions that a person has, but in that process it discounts the imagination as something which is fictitious and treats the supernatural as being purely psychological, without considering that an encounter with the imagination can still bring with it a form of reality that has an effect on us. Harpur further elaborates on this problem when he notes the following:
"Literal reality is only one kind of reality, deriving from a superordinate reality, here called Daimonic, which is metaphorical rather than literal, imaginative rather then empirical. Literal reality is therefore, if anything, less real than daimonic reality. Moreover, in relation to the history of our culture, and also to traditional cultures, a belief in the literalness of reality is the exception rather than the rule. Literal reality is the product of literalism, which is really a way of seeing the world, but which insists that it is a property inherent in the world. It insists that it is the only reality and, as such, actively denies other kinds of reality, especially the daimonic, which it calls unreal, fictional, even delusional."
The problem with literal reality (aside from how dull it is) is that the denial of imagination is also the denial of the sacred, but also the denial of possibility. In a literal reality, the focus is only on what is denoted as real, and so the awareness of possibilities is constrained toward what seems most likely to occur, as opposed to being open to the experience of other worlds. The Daimonic imagination on the other hand entertains the possibility of other worlds and the acceptance that these worlds intersect with our own under the right circumstances and sometimes through the right actions. A Daimonic reality isn't limited to the here and now, but instead opens us to intersections with alternate realities, as well as encounters with spiritual beings. For those people who steadfastly cling to literal reality, an encounter with daimonic reality is unsettling because it doesn't neatly fit into a category and it can't easily be written off, though of course there are certainly enough attempts to do so.
One of the reasons I find pop culture to be relevant is because it allows for an engagement of the person's imagination through structures they are willing to consider that can also be co-opted into Daimonic imagination and reality. Since spirit beings aren't attached to one form or another, there is no reason to think they wouldn't take on the form of a pop culture character, especially if we also consider that such a character will embody certain traits that can be useful for the spirit to employ. On the other hand, it could also be argued that such characters are becoming part of the Daimonic reality because of their relevance to people. Nonetheless such structures are derived from human imagination, and in part from the desire for a literal reality, whereas the Daimonic imagination and reality is something which responds to and interacts with people, in ways that aren't tied to human conventions.
An encounter with Daemonic Reality is an encounter with something we don't control. We interact with it, but it doesn't fit our rules or categories. Rather it challenges us and causes us to realize that we may not be in as much control of the environment as we delude ourselves into thinking. It throws literal reality in our face and demands we question it and consider in that process that imagination is more than fiction...imagination is a doorway to the sacred, a doorway to the unknown and we can choose to open that door and see what lies beyond, but when we do so we know we are no long operating under just our own rules, but also entering Daemonic reality, with all the possibilities it contains that offer us a glimpse behind the curtain of conventional reality.