Demons & Angels
The Nature of Demons.
I woke up in my tent, camped in a valley in the middle of Snowdonia. It was dark and all I could hear was a dog barking in the far distance. Then another dog, a little nearer, then some sheep started bleating on the hillside. Then the dog in the nearest farm joined in, and the cattle in the barn on the hillside started lowing. A feeling of absoloute cold and darkness swept over me, and then was gone. The nearby animals became quiet, whereas the animals yet further along the valley began to bay, bleat, low or crow. A minute later and all was silent.
A demon had just flown by, but fortunately was not interested in me.
Demons can be seen as personifications of cruelty that, by psychological mechanisms, “flit” from one person to another. Little acts of revenge that might grow into vendettas are one example. Another would be the perpetuation of child abuse within a family, from one generation to the next.
However, little demons can grow into big ones, when they reach a person with potential for power and influence. Such a person was Adolf Hitler, possessed by demons of violence of the strong against the vulnerable, rigid authoritarian rules, and anti-semitism. Through his leadership, his little personal demons became national, then international, and finally global demons.
The strange thing is, that when demons take on an inter-personal, community, or national scale, they appear to become independent spirits, with their own consciousness, and they become localised, dwelling in one place or moving to another.
Working with Demons.
How to counter a demon? You need angels, forces for good:- The traditional qualities of universal love such as healing, reconciliation, growth and education, and also qualities of good parenting like hard work, patience, perseverance, and strong boundaries with consistent rewards and consequences.
Like demons, angels can become collective forces for healing and reconciliation. They can possess and inspire a whole population through a leader, and are most manifest through their leader.
Work with personal demons is basically about psychotherapy and psychiatry. Where a personal demon has got out of control, and the individual needs physical containment, then admission to a psychiatric hospital may be necessary as well. If the psychotherapist or other mental health workers have something angelic about them - a capacity to love, cherish and nurture - then personal demons can, over time, be transformed into something positive.
Dealing with bigger, community, demons is an altogether different prospect. It’s not just a case of “smile sweetly, pray earnestly, and the demon will be vanquished”. Standing up against a whole community and pointing out a persistent cruelty or wrongdoing risks alienation and “demonisation”, and standing up openly as an individual against the cruelty of a whole nation, such as Fascist Germany, means almost certain death
Thus, alongside the magic, all the material apparatus of political resistance, international diplomacy, war, conquest and reconstruction may be necessary. And even then, the demon may simply “flit” to another part of the globe, as has happened with the transfer of oppression from Nazi Germany against the Jews, to the state of Israel against the Palestinians.
This is why Nelson Mandela is such an important figure in history, for he has shown that allowing himself to be possessed by an angel, and bringing that angel to his nation, has allowed South Africa to tame the demon of apartheid.
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