Here there be Monsters part 3: At The Hand of Destiny

  
Over two thousand four hundred years ago, a man stooped in his study over a draft of his final defense. Dark was the night around him, long and elegant t the words which were written to prevent his impending death.
As he completed his masterpiece, he looked it over with satisfaction. It was air tight for the trial tomorrow and not a judge in all Greece would condemn him for his choice. While thinking over his inevitable triumph, an all too familiar voice arose in his mind. It said a single word.
“No”
Dejected, the philosopher tossed his defense in the fire, where the flames sealed his fate and fame for all time. He would not be known for escaping death, his guide, his true teacher, had told him the Virtuous path, and he would not deviate from it now.  Whenever he would about to say some foolish or false statement, before he would commit pen to papyrus, before he committed any rash act, there was the voice, resounding through his mind, body, and soul. It only said one word. Always “No” and nothing else.
The old man slept that last night of his life, and entered the senate chambers early the next day, were he was found guilty of corrupting the minds of youth and of Impiety. He was sentenced to death by poisoning. A mixture of poison and hemlock were provided. His friends and students pleaded with him to make an escape, but the voice here again clearly spoke. “No”. And he refused. He drank the hemlock freely. The coldness filled his body, starting in his feet, eventually reaching his heart, which soon failed under the calming embrace of a virtuous death of a wrongly convicted man. Four hundred years before the birth of Christ, this man, Socrates, speculated that a truly righteous person would be so reprehensible to society that he would be subject to all sorts of torture and then crucified.

You’re listening to Devilry and I’m Matthew William Motsinger

It is the voice of Socrates heard, and not his life, that we will concern ourselves with today. Much has been made, or nothing at all, of this strange and otherworldly characteristic of the famous philosopher. Plato immediately explained away Socrates belief in the voice as a higher consciousness, something akin to Freuds Super Ego. This is all to convenient except for the uncomfortable fact that Socrates saw the voice as something other than himself and that it was directing him to the will of the Gods.
                Plotinus sometime later, in AD 204, agreed with this patented rationality, seeing such creatures or voices as wholly psychological yet still transcendent. To reinforce this point he tells a story of how his fellow Neoplatonists wish to summon his Spirit, which he reluctantly agrees too. When it is finally summoned however it turns out to be a god. That’s god with a small g, not God the Father. The implication is significant. A god, to the Greeks was something other, inhuman, objective and yet it was a personal Spirit to Plotinus. A personal intelligence which could evolve or devolve according to the spiritual state of human it watches over.
Early accounts of this idea stretch back into pre-history, but it was the Neoplatonists that helped to define such strange creatures to man. Though what explaining can be done is only by halves. They are not physical, nor human in any sense, yet neither are they spiritual, not in the manner of angels or demons or fairies. Greer, in his book on Monsters calls them creatures of pure energy. Perhaps the Greeks did it better in imagining them as “those irrational impulses which arise in man against his will, to tempt him hope for instance, or fear.
                A good example might be as follows. Say you are driving over a bridge and a sudden thought crosses your mind, only for a moment. “What would happen if I drove into the water?” For a normal person who does not suffer from depression or mental illness these types of thoughts come up often, ever so briefly. Have you ever asked yourself why? Or where they might have come from? Or still more horrifying, who they might have come from?
                In fact, many great men of history have this type of oddity about them, not just Socrates or Proclus. Others in history have often felt a sense of a presence, an otherness, directing them, guiding them, helping them along their path. Perhaps the one of the more interesting examples is Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte whose meteoric rise was pockmarked by visions of his Familiar, which would appear to him either in the form of a Red dwarf, who warned him of impending doom, or a shining light, to bring him good news.
Greer attempts to add some simplicity to an extremely complex lore of these morally ambiguous beings. He pointed out, rightly, that such creatures have always been in existence. Bizarre mediators between gods and men, or THE God and man. The Greeks called such entities Daemons incorporeal servants of the divine. They were held in great esteem yet like the Fay, have always been respected by man, who would often offer up sacrifice to them as a means of ridding themselves of such creatures fearing what they might bring to the world of man. In the Latin west they adopted the name of Spirits, a term that traditionally referred to wind or breath. These beliefs are almost identical to Ancient Judaism’s teachings on personal Angels which watched over individuals, places, or whole nations. In this case, who influenced who in the ancient world is up for debate, yet the underlining point remains. 
                Christianity viewed such creatures with skepticism, and with its rise in the west such creatures were forced into a dualistic belief system they were not well formed to fit. They were divided up into good and evil and cast into different roles. The guardian angel watching over you and interceding for you with God is a much more polished vision of the ancient Greek idea. Similarly, the devil with plagues you with sin is but the same creature, only purely benevolent in nature, wishing the destruction, rather than the purification and transcendence, of your soul. In this way, the word Daemon became corrupted to its current use of Demon, a wholly other creature we shall tackle in a different podcast. This less savory form of the Daemon eventually evolved into the medieval belief in Familiar Spirits that followed around the Magi of that day. As we’ll see, this conjuring of the Spirit was just as common then as it was in the early Greek and Roman world.
This dividing only confuses the modern man to no end. Suffice to say, the creatures of antiquity called Daemon, indeed even those understood by the Jews, were of a more neutral morality, not taking ethics into account for their actions. They seem to be embodiments of force rather than of thought or philosophy.  They could be violent and destructive, as those who burned Sodom and Gomorrah into the ground. And they could just as easily plead for God to spare a city from destruction, as told in Zechariah 1:12.
Perhaps a Poets perspective, WB Yeats, has a clarity that philosophers do not, on the Daemon as the guardian spirit. “I think it was Heraclitus who said the Daimon is our destiny. When I think of life as a struggle with the deaimon who would ever set us to the hardest work among those not impossible I understand why there is a deep enmity between a man and his destiny, and why a man loves nothing but his destiny. I am persuaded that the daimon delivers and deceives us, and that he wove the netting from the stars and threw the net from his shoulder.”
Greer here posits that they can be classified into four categories, or four ways in which such creatures have made themselves manifest to man. The lowest and most benign are termed Larva, mindless senseless creatures that haunt dead spaces like graveyards and ghost towns. Most things thought to be ghosts seen in such places are actually the spiritual residue of these carrion creatures who feast off the dead energy of the world much like worms and flies do to dead flesh. Though they seem mindless and enigmatic, at times such creatures can mistakenly become latched onto a living person, wasting them away for no apparent reason. An act portrayed to perfection by Amicus Studios brilliant film “From beyond the Grave” an Anthology staring the weighty and mysterious Peter Cushing as the Proprietor of Temptations Limited, a dusty antiques store in foggy London. Successful businessman, Reggie Warren enters in search of a new snuff box, whilst the proprietors back is turned, he switches the price tag of the box he wants, with one far cheaper, then has the audacity to haggle the poor man down on the price. Unbeknownst to Reggie, the box he now possessed has a spirit attached to it, which quickly attaches itself to him, gnawing into his shoulder, causing him to slouch to one side throughout the film. As it burrows further into his body and soul, feeding off the juices of this life force, Reggie’s life becomes increasingly unhinged. His dog Mr. Hawkins wants nothing to do with him, and runs away, and wife who is repeatedly battered by the spirit, imagines that it is Reggie who is attacking her. It is only after a would-be witch doctor is summoned to rid them of the creature that all seems back to normal, or is it?
Spirits consist of the lower order of Intelligences. They are creatures of pure blind energy and are in some cases only seen as nominally connected to the Spiritual realm and have a habit of often appearing only in our mind or imagination rather than being manifest in material existence. That being the case, they are apt to taking orders, but will follow the order to extreme exactitude often producing unwanted results from he who made the request. This often gets the characterized as evil, though this seems unfair to an unthinking energy.
The next step up are the Elementals, creatures of Air, Fire, Water, and Earth. Confusing as these things are, Elementals nature are all the more so, as they live in or have control of the Element they possess yet have no real individual conscious as we tend to understand it and have a habit of being thought of as a collective rather than personal. They seem to be characteristic of animals, inhabiting a separate ecosystem belonging to the spiritual realm and dwell there as natures protectors of a sort. Given that, Medieval Scholars associated elements with a creature. Gnomes for earth, Undines for Water, Sylphs for Air and Salamanders for Fire. Hence Witches and Warlocks throughout the ages have always referred to the mysterious monsters as such when attending their dark rites. One such phenomena widely told among sailors is that of Saint Elmo’s Fire, named after Saint Erasmus of Formia, the patron saint of Sailors. Several notable figures, from Julius Caesar to Nikola Tesla, have all bore witness to the strange phenomena, of a luminous ball of Plasma glowing upon ships as they sailed across the vast empty ocean. The Sailors who did see held it in reverent awe and viewed it as a good omen that their patron saint was watching over them. Curiously, the Greeks who witnessed these strange events associated it with a creature, the salamander, who for them, is the symbol for the Element of Fire.
This same fire was seen atop the Hippodrome in Constantinople, when the Turkish hordes Sieged the unconquered city lighting the hope of Christian defenders that God would come with his heavenly hosts to save the last bastion of Eastern Christianity from the Muslim armies. As their ships returned to port to account that no Venetian relief force was on its way to relieve them, it disappeared shortly after one night. Just a few days later, the Muslims using their new Orban Cannons breached the final wall, pouring in and slaughtering or enslaving every Christian that could be found in the city.
Like Fairies, there methods and reason are foreign to us, Elementals are neither fully benevolent nor malevolent, but serve their own purpose in this strange cosmos we inhabit. Given the proclivity of Christianity to banish all things to good or evil, we should certainly take up warnings from all sides, that such creatures should not be taken lightly if encountered at all.
As stated before romantically, the daemon is sometimes viewed as a manifestation of the individual’s destiny, marking the struggle of life, of man and his daemon, who drives him like a master his slave. Jung, in the modern day, felt much the same way at the end of his life. Like Freud before him, Jung is remembered only by one singular contribution to Psychology, the collective unconscious, yet the implications of this theory are often ignored or so esoteric as to escape discussion. It would seem to me the very dark places men fear to go, the places Jung spoke of, were these uncomfortable entities that have been talked about in vast history of humanity. Despite being one of the most profound thinkers of the 20th century, most of his work is either overlooked or disregarded as irrelevant. Yet he is perhaps most enlightened of the early psychologist for his unending quest to answer the Question Neitzsche posed, Jung also took up the strange subject of the Occult. He read the vast works of the proto-scientists, that is the Alchemists. He was fascinated by the spiritualist movement and did his MD dissertation on “the Psychology and Pathology of So-Called Occult Phenomena”. That is, dear listeners, Jung was one of us. He saw the conscious world as an Island floating amid a vast and dark sea of the collective unconscious. And in that sea were horrendous monsters we could barely imagine, because we had pressed them so deep as to save our own sanity. To give shape to this idea he used a metaphor of Archetypes which harkens back to Plato’s world of Forms which saw the world as copies, lesser visions of a more manifest original. Perhaps the most personal Archetype to every individual belongs their Shadow, that which makes up all their suppressed drives, traits, emotions, desires, even dreams. The Shadow maybe abstract but is deeply personal and real to the individual, like the embodiment of a dark twin. To the psychological world this is transparent, but to the one who experiences the manifestation of the shadow it is opaque. You see it when you walk outside into the world every day, that evil with which you view your fellow man, that thing you detest in them, that is in truth the devil inside of you. That is to mean, the Shadow bypasses your conscious to superimpose itself on the world you live in. The abstract evil, worthlessness, pointless obscurity, that one might apply to the monotonous meaning is in fact, the confrontation with the shadow.  That it had its own agenda, agency, and aims was to Jung, self-evident.
                Later in life, Jung found while observing his patients, that these specters of the psyche were in fact intelligible. Through analyzing his patients dreams he found that on some unconscious level, these Archetypes lived an independent objective existence apart from his patients. This naturally shocked him to the core, and led him to speculate that perhaps the psyche did not actually reside fully within the physical body and that it may, at least in part, exist in a sphere so unlike our own that it is difficult to conceptualize and whatever drove the forces from this sphere was strange to say the least.
                It is perhaps one of Jung’s strangest tales when he told of the time, he met his own Diamon. Dreaming one night he saw “a winged being sailing across the sky. I saw that it was an old man with the horns of a bull. He held a bunch of four keys, one of which he clutched as if he were about to open a lock” The beast introduced himself as Philemon and he would here after visit the legendary psychologist often and not only in dreams, he appeared in waking visions as Jung does not shy away from saying “At times he seemed to me quite real, as if he were a living personality. I went walking up and down the garden with him and to me he was what the Indians call a guru… Philemon brought home to me the crucial insight that there are things in the psyche which I do not produce but which have their own life… I held conversations with him, and he said things which I had not consciously thought… He said I treated thoughts as if I generate them myself but, in his view, thoughts were like animals in the forest, or people in a room… It was he who taught me psychic objectivity, the reality of the psyche.”

                Jungs insight into the subject, as he says himself, is reminiscent of other cultures from around the world. One might say that such belief is a product of western thought traditions arising from early Greek philosophy or earlier, yet they would be wrong.
                                Among the Ojibway, though separated by thousands of miles of ocean and time, also believed in intercessory spirits that dwelt among men by the name of Manitous. They were seen as an individual’s destiny in a way which bestowed gifts as they saw fit on their human benefactors, those with prowess of bow or an eye as sharp as that of an eagle would attribute their great skill to their Manitous and would often thank them by leaving offerings for tobacco or other such items. They would often dedicate their family to a particular Manitou in order to secure its blessing, much in the same way Catholics and Orthodox dedicate themselves to a particular Saint, in the hope of receiving their intercession with God and uphold their virtues to mirror in everyday life. The practice of building Totems was formed in this way, and men who were from the same Totem considered themselves brothers. These same creatures, just like their European Neighbors, could be summoned or contacted through dreams, in which the Manitou would advise, reassure, or warn the person who had summoned it.
                Though it is more than likely myth, the story of Ozauw-amik or Brown Beaver, encapsulates the Ojibway belief in Spirits quite well, when he mistakenly jumped over his Father in laws arrows as they were being consecrated, giving the poor hunter bad luck. Over the preceding weeks, the proud old man was unable to kill a single thing to provide for his family and in shame and anger, plotted with an evil shaman to kill his son in law that the curse Brown Beaver had inadvertently inflicted might be lifted. Brown Beavers wife happened to over hear her father’s conversation with the Shaman and immediately went to warn her husband and pleaded with him that they should leave. Brown Beaver would have none of it though. For one, there was not distance that could out run Black magic, and two, he was proud and successful member of the tribe, what he had done was accident, he should not have to run away from his life for that.
                He too consulted a seer as to what he should do, who offered him an amulet for protection but knowing the power of black magic, advised the summon the Manitou for help. Brown Beaver wasted no time in doing so, though we are not told how he summoned them. A great eagle came to him in a dream.
                Later that spring, his father in law- Old Raven, requested the young mans help in gather seagull eggs from a nearby island. Always wanting to be helpful, Brown Beaver agreed to help, and they set off in a canoe across to lake where the island lay. Because he was old, they struck an arraignment whereby Old Raven would watch the canoe so that it would not be taken by the tied, while Brown Beaver searched the shore for the desired eggs. It was here that, by some magic, Old Raven pushed off in t canoe and called on the Seagulls, who had been squawking harmlessly away from Brown Bear as he approached, to become hostile. Hundreds of gulls began to swarm and peck at the poor man and though he struck back, he could by no means escape. It was then that a blinding flash of light and a crackle of thunder scattered the birds and Brown Bear saw that he was alone on the island. The sky had grown so dark that it was hard for him to see and all he could hear was the thunder around him and wind picking up at a frightening speed. He dashed into the small woods looking for a downed log or hole he could climb into to wait out the fierce storm that was upon him but in the end, could old hold on to a tree for dear life as the wind swirled around him. It became so strong in fact that it tore the tree from its roots and flung it, with Brown Beaver still clinging on its side, far into the water. To say that Brown Bear was scared is probably the understatement of the century. He had kept his eyes closed throughout the storm but when it had ended, he opened them, surprised to find he was not only alive and in one piece, but that the log was floating nearby his village. He swam to the shore, worried that his family might be hurt or worse. He found them perfectly fine, not having been affected by the storm in the least, except that is for his Father in law, who had not returned. Brown Bear related his bizarre story to the Tribe who unanimously agreed without question, the Manitous had saved him both from his murderous Father in law, and the storm.

Existence of such creatures are by no means in the rearview mirror of mankind. Practices today still produce the strange results of our fore fathers, of incorporeal beast which are encountered, if only we would look in the right places. Research on hallucinogenic substances such as DMT and psilocybin Mushrooms have recorded multiple people who insist they have encountered intelligences which were wholly outside themselves.  Extreme seclusion practiced by some Orthodox Christian hermits and Buddhist monks have given accounts of seeing visions while far away from their fellow man. Notable amongst the bible believers is the account of Christs forty day fast, culminating in his vision of Satan, who tempts him with the desires of the world. Practitioners of sensory deprivation are familiar with the strange thoughts and visions which arise with dampening of the senses. Voices, thoughts, dreams, all flood together with the lose of the body in the warm waters of the pitch-black tank, leaving some to wonder if such beings are always there, always around us, but noise, distraction, and commotion of modernity has deprived us of another level of perception. In the age of information could it be that we have traded for the challenge of the Delphic Oracle to “Know thy self” for social media platforms and the material information handed to us by the likes of google on glowing technological screens. And if we did take up that challenge, if we did look inward for these mysterious creatures, what wonders, or horrors might we find hiding within ourselves?
  
Bibliography ​​


Monsters by John Michael Greer

The Red Book by CG Jung

Psychology and the Occult by CG Jung

Daimonic Reality by Patrick Harpur

The Orders of the Dreamed by Brown and Brightman

The Manitous by Basil Johnston