My problem with demons

demon Recently Josephine McCarthy made a post about entities, including demons, which demonstrated a problem I have with how Western Occultism, particularly Western ceremonial magic traditions depict demons. In her post, she depicted demons as malignant entities that want to harm people. The problem with this depiction is that its based on Christian beliefs about what demons are and when magicians draw on that perspective about demons, what are they doing is drawing on Christian concepts to describe something. That alone should make any magician question whether its accurate or justified.

If we look at the word demon, we discover that its derived from the Greek word Daimon which originally meant spirit of wisdom. When Christianity came alone, the Christian leaders had a vested interest in depicting the spirits of other religious practices in a light that made those spirits seem evil or corrupt. Thus the word demon came along. And the medieval grimoires that discussed such entities depicted them in that way because the authors were Christian and knew they had to do so if they didn't want end up burned on the stake. Perhaps they even really believed what they wrote, but we need to critically question it, factoring in the political, religious and historical context that has been used to present the information.

In Western ceremonial magic, there is an uncritical acceptance of the word demon and the description used to define such beings. That uncritical acceptance leads to evocation practices where an entity is summoned and compelled to do something by calling on the names of other entities and threatening them with those entities. Now I don't know about you, but if I was coerced in that manner I'd be pretty unhappy about it too.

My own experiences with demons has never been negative. I do refer to them as Daimons, using the proper terminology. And I work with them. I don't coerce them into doing something they don't want to do. I don't strike bargains where I exchange my soul in exchange for material delights. What I do is develop relationships with them, much like I would with any other spiritual contact I make. And much like any such relationship, what I contribute and what they contribute defines the relationship. However I want to note I've never suffered any adverse effects as a result of working with Daimons. If anything, they've enriched my life and spiritual practices.

I think its high time the magical community recognizes that the word demon and all of its associated meanings comes to us from a religion that has demonized our practices. Do we really want that perspective in our magical practice? Do we even need it? In my opinion, we don't and I find that its counter-productive to getting effective magical work done.

Edit: Josephine published another article on her blog where she clarified her perspective and did a great job of defining the magical work involved.