Evolution, Jung, and Theurgy:
IV. Some Implications for Neoplatonism

J. The Οἰκεῖοι Δαίμονες (Personal Daimôns)

According to Jungian psychology, an especially important daimôn is the Shadow complex, known anciently as the κακοδαίμων (the evil daimôn) or more euphemistically as ὁ ἕτερος δαίμων (the “other” daimôn, in contrast to the “good daimôn”).   One’s Shadow comprises all the character traits that one has rejected, consciously or unconsciously.  Since it comprises material rejected by the individual, by their family, and by larger significant groups, including the culture at large, the Shadow is a complicated, multi-layer complex.  It constellates around an archetypal core, which includes the tendency to dichotomize (that is, the Indefinite Dyad).  The archetypal nucleus of the Shadow also might include behaviors, such as incest, against which there may be a phylogenetic predisposition (Wilson 1978, 36-9).

The Jungian perspective shows that the Shadow should not be repressed.  First, as a daimôn, it is an autonomous personality, and if it is ignored, it will, inevitably, possess and project.  Indeed, this is a cause of κακοδαιμονία, that is, misfortune, misery, and even madness.  Second, because the Shadow contains rejected aspects of the psyche, and compensates conscious attitudes, it can be a source of balance and untapped power.  Therefore, it is better for a person to make the acquaintance of their κακοδαίμων and reach an accord that balances its needs with their conscious ethical commitments.  To this end, theurgy may be useful (see Section V).

Another important complex, which is, in a sense opposed to the Shadow, is the Superego, which may be defined as the moral complex.  The Superego constellates around an archetypal core that includes our species’ innate predisposition to learn rules and social norms.  Perhaps it may be identified with the ἀγαθοδαίμων (“good daimôn”) as moral guide (Dodds 1951, 42), but it must be kept in mind that that this daimôn serves society more than it serves Πρόνοια.  Further, in its role as guardian of νόμος, the social norm, it may inhibit communication with other gods and daimôns, especially the Shadow.

The most familiar daimôn is the ego complex, that is, our conscious mind, which seems to have evolved to improve our adaptation to the environment.  In the West, especially, we are inclined to attach undue significance to this daimôn, and to even identify our psyche with it, but it is just one daimôn among many, and, as Jungian psychology, Neoplatonism, and ethology — as well as other spiritual traditions — all agree, the ego is not in charge, nor should it be.  (Who is in charge will be considered next.)

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Last updated: 2006-04-22.