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Research avenues into concept of daemonic
Chordal
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Post: #1
Research avenues into concept of daemonic
I guess you could consider this my taking a break from studying. <!-- sSmile --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_smile.gif" alt=":)" title="Smile" /><!-- sSmile --> I just thought I'd introduce a topic here, because I'm wondering about the level of research that has gone into the concept of the daemonic from others, here. I mention this because I find, very often, that people don't research, or they don't research into credible sources (which I might say seem unusual for such a topic) and multicultural or varied sources, and because of this, their self-definitions seem a bit trapped in pop-culture ideas. I myself haven't done what I feel like is the level of research that I feel this field merits, but that's due to a number of factors.

Before coming to the identity place I'm at now, which is significantly less dramatic than it used to be (no, really), I was running around Satanist e-lists and related. Part of that I think I needed to get through as a developmental task, but it's really left me with a negative impression of a good portion of active people who also used to frequent those lists.

I attribute a lot of this to Anton LaVey's influence -- I never read deeply into his books because a lot of it was extremist right-wing reactionary stuff that just really turned me off in the bookstores. This has been compounded by experience with reading bits and pieces from some people who were influenced by him, such as John Allee and Isaac Bonewits -- both of whom have said that LaVey was intellectually dishonest. Of course, there are still philosophical groups based around LaVey's writings, which would have motives to smear (or harm) his detractors -- as has happened. Which, I suppose, is the first point of drama I mention which led me to exit the Satanist "scene," as Diane Vera would put it. She's also been the target of at least one smear campaign, even though I would consider her a Satanist in a more traditional sense of the term. Bonewits became a Pagan author, Allee was (or is, I'm no longer sure) a Philosophical Satanist.

I wouldn't really recommend Bonewits's texts, unless you like thinking that you're under a binding by him to not use anything he writes in a "negative" fashion, to be quick about it. Allee's groups have been open, when you can find them, but he was or is a Philosophical Satanist -- meaning that he's more in the vein of "think for yourself" than feeling some kind of connection with a literal "Satan" (and ha, the problem of defining that term!). Diane Vera has seen the figure of "Satan" to be synonymous with the fallen angel Azazel from the book of Enoch -- last I ran across her, she had a very poor website rating, but was running her own coven offline.

I should mention that the term "Satan," as used by "Satanists," has many and varied meanings and interpretations. Usually, from my experience, Satanists don't see "Satan" to be some sadistic fallen angel that lives underground and tortures people forever. If you look at an organization like the Temple of Set, though -- which sprung off of LaVey's initial public "Satanism," they equate Satan with Set from the Egyptian pantheon. If you look at Vera's interpretation, Satan is a literal fallen angel (Azazel) whose motives are more in line with assisting humanity than being loyal to the Abrahamic god. Various other practitioners have various other interpretations and approaches -- for example, what I've read of publishings by the Daemonolatry sect Ordo Flammeus Serpens (OFS) sees Satan as synonymous with the All (and therefore encompassing both good and evil). One thoughtful person I knew about a decade ago, equated Satan with Anubis. And Allee sees (or saw) Satan to be a metaphor which has taken on positive attributes in today's society, from a time when thinking for oneself was discouraged. Of note, Allee also sees this to be what LaVey was trying to get across.

So there's this proliferation of definitions. I have tried a couple of times to read the book, _The Origin of Satan_ by Elaine Pagels, though this book really breaks down the evolution of the concept of "Satan" from early days of Christianity. It's not really a spiritually-inspiring text, <!-- sSmile --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_smile.gif" alt=":)" title="Smile" /><!-- sSmile --> more a historical one. It's like breaking down the Abrahamic god in terms of politics and culture and the social evolution of the concept, when what you're interested in is spiritual.

Most of this stuff that I've mentioned so far, falls pretty clearly into the area of "Satanism". Related is the area of Daemonolatry, or as it was initially presented to the public, "Demonolatry." The latter spelling has attracted Satanists, a number of which seem to be influenced by this radical reactionary right-wing politic of LaVey and what he supposedly wrote (keeping in mind that LaVey was influenced, in part, by Mein Kampf -- if I recall correctly). The presence of these people, tends to silence left-wing types, and racial minorities. On top of this, inaction by moderation as regards people who actively see others as less worthy of full life than themselves, can be seen as accommodation by left-wingers and racial minorities, and can cause some people to leave.

LaVey was basically the first person to *call* himself a Satanist, publicly, so far as I know. He and his sect probably only survived because he (and the sect) officially did not *believe* in the existence of a literal "Satan." But because he is the first, and because he is so well-known, he tends to be the first influence any potential Satanist has to any kind of Satanist philosophy or religion. Also because a lot of these people have tended to be young, I suspect they don't yet have the critical thinking skills to be able to separate out what they see to be "cool" and what is information to take to heart.

Anyhow. The problem with books being marketed as "Demonolatry" (where "Demon" does not share the same meaning as the term "demon" -- "Demon" meaning roughly either "semi-Divine or Divine being, guide, or teacher worthy of reverence or respect"), is that I'm not sure that the people selling such books understood the reader base they would attract using a term which means "worship of Demons," as versus "worship of Daemons." The latter is closer to what I think they meant -- even though the two books I do have do draw off of books like the Lemegeton (Lesser Key of Solomon) and other grimoires. I have both been told (from multiple sources) and have read, that the concept of the term, "daemon," goes back to Ancient Greece, where the term was employed to reference beings from, basically, Mesopotamia. Chaldean, Assyrian, Babylonian religious (probably now called mythological) beings, if I'm recalling correctly. These beings were not all considered necessarily or essentially good or evil -- I suspect that the primacy on the "good/evil" dichotomy came into the Western world with Zoroastrianism (which has a God of Good [to humans] and a God of Evil [to humans]), which almost certainly influenced early Christianity. This seems to differ from Christianity, however (and I say this having never been Christian), in that in Christianity, what is good is good to God; what is evil, is evil to God. The latter is a Deity-centered religion, the former is a human-centered religion.

I did get my hands on a book which overtly referenced evidence of "Daemonolatry" in Ancient Greek records, and to be honest, the concept is a lot different from what we might call "daemons" or "demons" here, on this forum. Apparently, though, there is also evidence of belief in daemons in Ancient Greek philosophy tracts -- though I can't recall the specific philosopher (or philosophers) who eventually got in trouble for talking about this in public. It was either Plato, Aristotle, or Socrates...I'm thinking, Plato.

But anyhow, to get back to the point of this forum. I'm posting this because I can see that it's possible that the self-definitions of others may open up, given that they come into contact with more definitions of "demon" than "sadistic fallen angel that tortures people." Or, you know, anime definitions of the term, which themselves can spring from -- or at least be strongly influenced by -- distinctively Eastern streams of thought (like Daoism and Shinto). And in this case, the usage of the term "demon," in translation, can be extremely misleading (even if it does clean up the image of demons, a bit!). At one time I read on a (now defunct) website called youkaimura, that the translation of "fae" fit "youkai" better than the translation of "demon."

I'd be interested in reliable print forms of resources that others have accessed, as regards the concept of the daemonic, or demonic. The reason I'm not asking for electronic forms of information -- other than ones that are well-known and assured to be somewhat reliable or safe, like theoi.com -- is that I've found that a lot of websites that focus on demons or Satan or Satanism are run by people with questionable ethics and questionable research skills, and they aren't necessarily safe sites to visit.

Alternatively, it could be interesting to start up a list of potential search terms, just as a springboard for research.

Or, what are various members' definitions of the terms, "demon," "Demon," "daemon," "Daemon," "Satan," "Satanism," "Daemonolatry," "Demonolatry," "Daemonology," "Demonology?" "Demonkin?" "Daemonkin?" And what are your sources for your understandings, or are these based on more of a feeling of familiarity, safety, or "kinship"?

EDIT! I realize that the above concepts are culturally-specific. If you have a concept of yourself as something that could fall under the term, "Demon," or "Daemon," in English, I'd also really love to hear some on how you came to your conclusion (including cultural context)! I've gotta run, though. Good night!
2012-08-31 4:04
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skorpio
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Post: #2
Re: Research avenues into concept of daemonic
Chordal Wrote:Or, what are various members' definitions of the terms, "demon," "Demon," "daemon," "Daemon," "Satan," "Satanism," "Daemonolatry," "Demonolatry," "Daemonology," "Demonology?" "Demonkin?" "Daemonkin?" And what are your sources for your understandings, or are these based on more of a feeling of familiarity, safety, or "kinship"?

Granted, as you've said, there are a ridiculous amount of definitions, but I'll mention the ones that seem to be commonly used. I'm not going to quote any books or websites, mainly because I don't find most of them to be reliable, and that I actually haven't managed to look over many books.

Demon, daemon and daimon, from what I've gathered, seem to be localised variants of each other. The definitions attached to them are often:

1. The original Greek definition, a semi-divine being seen as some sort of a teacher. I always thought that to be a bit ambiguous.

2. The one used in Christianity (I've seen it in Islam to an extent, though it could actually be completely different that just sounds similar) of a fallen angel.

3. A energy being/spirit/<whatever word fits here> made up of primarily chaotic energy.

4. Same as 4, except being composed of primarily dark energy. (Shadow is usually the term used for this, but I've seen it being applied to demon).

Demonkin and daemonkin, as far as I know, are people who believe themselves to be psychologically or spiritually (or in both ways) connected to one or more of those definitions, in some way or another.

Personally, I've felt connected to the last two definitions there, but I'm reluctant to put a label on myself for the moment.

Demonolatry, daemonolatry or any similar spelling would usually mean the study of any one or more of the four I've mentioned, or sometimes something entirely different.

This is only what I've found, but hopefully it might help a bit.

Also, some (most?) versions of The Satanic Bible have an introduction added (obviously not by LaVey himself) at the start stating that LaVey didn't really believe in anything he wrote in the book, but liked to think that mankind could push itself to anything it wanted to with the right motivation, so I'd be quite skeptical of that book as well.

"Think you're escaping and run into yourself. Longest way round is the shortest way home."
- James Joyce
2012-09-01 9:13
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Chordal
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Post: #3
Re: Research avenues into concept of daemonic
Heeey. <!-- sWink --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_wink.gif" alt=";)" title="Wink" /><!-- sWink -->

So I've been looking over backposts -- particularly the ones I've started. I came up with an interesting question here, having read over your response, skorpio. Back when I first got into the otherkin community, there wasn't really anywhere near the level of acceptance of demonkin that I've seen (at least on this forum -- I am not really into many online otherkin communities). This is to the point that I withdrew from the scene in the early 2000's and came back later, to find that things had gotten a bit more tolerant.

My question is fairly straightforward, or so it seems: How did the term "demon" evolve in the otherkin community, from whatever it was at first, to "being primarily composed of chaotic and/or dark energy?" Given, of course, that the latter doesn't seem to be a commonly-held definition outside the otherkin community?
2013-01-06 3:20
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Chordal
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Post: #4
Re: Research avenues into concept of daemonic
Something I find interesting when thinking about being demonic (in an otherkin sense) as versus being demonic (in a religious sense), but didn't fully put together until just now: They're two really different things, or can be. Like, they're not the same idea.

One takes someone who is physically human but sees themselves as nonhuman and empathizes with demons (or at least other demonkin) to the point of identifying with them; the other is a loosely aggregated group of religious or pop-culture figures, who normally exist to be used in some form to further an agenda not their own.

Thoughts?
2013-01-20 6:42
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