I cannot now recall when I first started using the phrase ‘the wound inflicted on the deep heart by the Daemonic God’, but I have used it for years and years in trying to describe ‘passion’ as the flickering flame of humanity penetrated and indwelt by the constant Divine Fire. I did not resort to it from reading other people who have also used this old Greek term, but it found its way to me only when God laid waste my own life; in the words of a deacon friend, who has been through this very recently and is still in the thick of it, the Daemonic refers to our ‘undoing’ by God.
God slays and destroys us, leaving nothing standing, so our existence can be dug up from the foundation, and rebuilt from the rubble. We are ‘over turned’ so that, deep down, we can ‘turn over’ a new leaf. The process of undoing is savage, fierce, terrible: in its throes we lose everything, not only bad or indeed evil things go, but also all the good things go, including especially the religious and spiritual things. We lose it all. We lose God, and we lose our life, and we lose our self. Once we really let it all go, this is a tremendous relief, and liberation. But in the throes of it we despair, and go into an abyss beyond any comfort; a place beyond despair: a place of dereliction and ruination and abject failure on all levels, and a place of mourning where tears, though never ending, become exhausted. Sometimes this is a place of screaming, in protest, or of crying out, in pain. Often, it is mute. It is beyond everything. All pious hopes, certainties, images, are burnt up. We are stripped, left naked, and raw. There is nothing left… It is all gone. “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” we read [Hebrews, 10, 31]– and dismiss, until it happens to us.
Aeschylus was speaking of the Daemonic in these words: “He who learns must suffer. And even in our sleep, pain that cannot forget, falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God.”
Only at the end of this long dark night and burning desert, may there be a coming to acceptance: “the Lord gives and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord” [Job, 1, 21]; but this cannot be uttered from within the midst of this process while it is still reducing us to nothing. In this process, the whole Voice of piety, of obedience, to God sickens us, and we want to spit it out. It is not even that we hate God. We simply find God wholly incomprehensible. Given what has happened to us, and to those we love, and to that in the world we value, then no ‘god’ makes sense, and to continue being pious and obedient is to falsify and lie about our heart’s dwelling place, and our heart’s truth in that place.
Perhaps the most significant echo of this struggle and suffering inflicted upon the heart, which deepens it and either strengthens and forges it in that depth, or unravels and utterly derails it there, is in F.G. Lorca’s writings on the ‘duende’ of flamenco which produces ‘deep song.’ He explicitly identifies the Greek word ‘daemonic’ with the Gypsy word ‘duende.’
Before Lorca, I encountered Socrates speaking of having a ‘creative spirit’, whom he called his ‘daemon’, dynamizing and driving the inspired condition of his life’s work; to this daemon he felt both indebted and duty bound, which is why he preferred to be put to death by the authorities and still keep his daemon, to abandoning his post and retaining his life, but a life no longer stabbed/inspired by the daemon.
The ‘Daemonic’ haunts Greek culture as much, or more, than the ‘Erotic.’ The ‘paradoxes’ of Heraclitus are all Daemonic; similarly, the Dionysic mysteries which Nietzsche contrasted with the calm cosmic order of the Apolline in ‘The Birth of Tragedy’ is another account of the Daemonic:
“The Greeks were keenly aware of the terrors and horrors of existence; in order to be able to live at all they had to place before them the shining fantasy of the Olympians. Their tremendous distrust of the titanic forces of nature: mercilessly enthroned beyond the knowable world; the vulture which fed on the philanthropist Prometheus; the terrible lot drawn by the wise Oedipus; the curse on the house of Atreus which brought Orestes to the murder of his mother= that whole Panic philosophy.. the Greeks conquered—or at least hid from view—by means of this artificial Olympus. [By contrast] …the tragic hero shoulders the whole Dionysic world and removes the burden from us. …this hero readies himself, not through his victories but through his undoing.”
The Daemonic is a shattering and wounding event, but it is also a spiritual power, a presence, that brings and indwells such events, and can indwell us if we will wrestle with and indeed be killed by this power. The duende is a process, and a work. The duende is a spirit who destroys, yet raises, our spirit: our spiritedness of passion. It is this spirit being referred to when the Bible says, “Jacob’s heart fainted, but his spirit recovered.”
The heart is fated to be wounded by the Daemonic in this existence.
Faint heartedness is the fate of a heart that flees and refuses this fate.
In the way of the Lakota, the Daemonic is Wakinyan Tanka, the spiritual guardian of the west in the Sacred Circle. He is the spirit who sends the thunder, lightning, and storm; his is the place of danger, mystery, and the power of life and death. He is the patron of the road of the warrior, who not only ‘hungers and thirsts for righteousness’ and justice, but is asked to ‘protect the sacred origins’ of all existence. The power that fights is also the same power that heals.
There are also uses of the word ‘Daemonic’ which falsify and distort its meaning. These are too legion to mention, but C.G. Jung’s usage of this word–which should be reserved for the terrible and holy–is usually either Neo-Platonic, or Gnostic, and thus is inherently false. For example, what Jung terms ‘the archetypal’ is not in any sense ‘Daemonic.’ Archetypes belong to the soul, even as thoughts belong to the mind. The Daemonic is beyond all thought, all images, all credal belief. Certainly, it is not of the soul any more than it is of the mind; it is of the heart. Most false notions of the Daemonic are false because they fail to realise the central point: that the Daemonic is the fate the heart is created for. For the heart, it is curse and blessing, its providential pain, its burden and honour.
Martin Buber evokes the Daemonic without ever naming it: “The world is not divine play, it is divine fate. That there are world, man, the divine person, Thou and I, has divine meaning. Creation — happens to us, burns into us, changes us; we tremble and swoon, we submit. Creation — we participate in it, we encounter the Creator, offer ourselves to Him, helpers and companions. Revelation does not flow from the unconscious; it is master of the unconscious.. It takes possession of the existent human element and recasts it. Revelation is encounter’s pure form.”
It would seem that there is no Hebrew word that exactly translates the Greek ‘Daemonic’, or the Gypsy ‘duende.’ The Daemonic God nevertheless completely overshadows the Old Testament. This God forces Jacob to fight for a blessing, then only grants this through a furious wound. This God sends huge Daemonic troubles and torments to the innocent Job. He sends to Saul, to drive him mad, his own ‘evil spirit’ [who is not the evil spirit Satan or Lucifer, but an aspect of God]: “But the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord troubled him. And Saul’s servants said unto him, Behold now, an evil spirit from God troubleth thee” [I Samuel, 16, 14-15]. One of [several possible] translations of ‘Isra-el’ is ‘he who fights with God’, or ‘the God who fights.’ Fights for what?
Fights for heart.
Fights for truth of heart, only won from depth, a depth only opened by a wound.
The God of the Jews is the existential God, the risk taker, who must fight, suffer, and make an ultimate sacrifice, to redeem the risk he took with his creatures.
He must not only join them in that risk, but let it bite and pierce him.
Only when we know how deep is the Daemonic wound in God, for our sake, do we ever ‘reconcile’ to the Daemonic God’s wounding of us, and indeed, not only accept its terrible loss for the sake of an ultimate gain, but praise this God as the ultimate lover, the ultimate existential hero.
No Greek experience really engaged, and committed to, this Daemonic God as totally as the Jews did. Yet he is a total enigma. He is the ‘Unknown God’ whom the ancient Greeks acknowledged on the hill where Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle taught, but in Judaism he is even more shrouded in divine darkness. He is personal, yet this makes him more mysterious than if he were some abstract, universal, impersonal, ‘essence’, for it his precisely his dispositions and ways as a person that are so impossible to discern; ‘where he is coming from’ and ‘what he is up to’ fits no pattern, and is beyond any thought, any image, any creed. The Jews are always being wrong footed by this God; they repeatedly get him wrong, fail, and always totter on the brink of destruction. As soon as we think we have him safely pinned down as a cruel task master he suddenly becomes a soft touch, but as soon as we settle into that he changes again into something new. It is precisely as person, as relating to his people personally, that he is not merely unknown, but unknowable. He is the hidden God, even the absent God, and always the paradoxical God, savage and tender at once. No God is harsher and no God is more gentle. Only faith in this God’s personal will and love toward us– personal faith, not doctrinal faith—allows us to endure all that he does to us. ‘My thoughts are not your thoughts, my ways are not your ways’, he declares, and this is why reconciliation to his will and his love toward us puts us humanly in extremis, on a wrack, stretched to breaking. This enigma, this unknown, this absence, this paradox, is the true father. His real name cannot be spoken among the people who took the chance, and trusted him. The only name that can be voiced is ‘I Am’, or ‘He Who Is.’ But his more secret name, only revealed to those in hell and in death who yet know he is the only God of the deep, suffering heart, is this: ‘he who inflicts a wound in humanity, and will not remove it from us, but joins us in it and is wounded by it.’ This Daemonic God who is our only father has the more intimate, passionate name: ‘he who wounds, and is wounded for our sake.’ Only those in the abyss of passion, in the lost place of deadness and hell, can break down far enough to break through, to this secret name of God. Only these really ‘know the father.’ To these he reveals all the secrets of the deep heart, in God, and in humanity.
What was the risk for? What was ventured, lost, and regained only in its lostness?
The truth of heart that could only be reached through a wound.
The truth of heart that had to be fought for.
The truth too strange, and deep for us, but the truth about us the father insists on: that we should have a heart like the father.
A heart great and deep. The heart that holds all things, suffers all things, carries all things, for the sake of making good on a risk and keeping a promise.
The Daemonic God is the God of sacrifice. Judaism’s central truth is that God created the world in deep passion; thus Christianity’s central truth should be that the world can only be saved from utter deadening and hellishness, and redeemed in its possibility, by deep passion.
The Daemonic creates in us rage, despair, fear, heartbreak, inexplicable black pain, and an incomprehension so far reaching, it cannot even be expressed in words.
We are being tested so something can be proved. The test and the proof is existential. It is of the heart: only passion can enter and sustain, keep going to the end of, and finally come through, this test. In Hasidic terms, we are being ‘checked.’ We are being checked out deep within, and checking something out deep in the world.
To kick against the daemonic process, to object to it morally and rationally, does not help get us through it to the other side. It is a waste of breath.
The person who stays with it is changed by that. Courage, strength, compassion, wisdom, is its legacy in us. Heroism is its own reward. Such a person can suffer for the world, carry the world, include the world, in their heart. Henceforth they fight for the world, and will not leave the fight, unless dead. This person is the Christlike ‘suffering servant’, ready to give away his life for the world.
Only by Daemonic wounding is passion deepened to the point where its fate and the fate of the world are tied together. Love will suffer for what it loves, when it is radically enworlded= staked to the ground, and no more wanting to flee, or rise above on the wings of a dove, but willing to stay in it and willing to see it through.
4=SUMMARY OF FUNCTIONS
In summation, it can be asserted that the Daemonic has multiple functions in human existence; these are only some of the main ones.
1–It rebukes and chastises us: correcting us, calling us back from folly and error, showing us our road is bad, and requiring us to change that road by changing our bad heart. “The Lord chasteneth those whom he loveth.”
2– It purges and purifies us: burns us to ashes, in a furnace. Abu Sa’id: “Realize that you know nothing and you are nobody. It is no easy thing to attain this realization. It doesn’t come with teaching and instruction, nor can it be sewn on with a needle, or tied with a thread. This is a gift from God and a question of whom he bestows it upon and whom he causes to experience it.”
3—It makes us laugh: the Daemonic not only causes us to grieve but also is the cause of our laughing. Laughter is truthful, and punctures pompous lies of every description, whether religious or secular, whether invented by humans or invented by the devil. Zen Buddhism has not accommodated itself fully to the Daemonic. Yet the relationship to the Daemonic it does have is often revealed through the power of Zen stories and teachings to release in us that great belly laugh in which truth is flushed out of its hiding places. Humour reflects the power in the Daemonic to reverse things, to show that what is riches to men is poverty to God and what is poverty to men is riches to God. Similarly, what is wisdom to men is foolishness to God and what is foolishness to men is wisdom to God. Isaiah, 45, 24-26: “Thus sayeth the Lord your redeemer… I am the Lord who made all things… who turns wise men back, and makes their knowledge foolish..” The Daemonic is ‘the Reversal.’
This is why also expressions of the Daemonic are the sacred clown called ‘heyoka’ in Lakota, or the ‘holy fool’ of Syriac, Greek, and especially Russian, Traditions of Eastern Orthodox Christianity, or the Celtic ‘court jester’ to the king who could not only depotentate the king’s enemies by his humorous barbs, but could also use them to prick the conscience of the king. The Daemonic is the Spirit of Truth, and truth often works by reversing the fundamental order of things we take for granted. Thus the Daemonic is surprise. When the Staretz Zosima prostrates to the eldest Karamazov son Dimitri, this shocks all the pious Russians who witness it, because a holy man bows to a man of turbulence and sorrows; but Dimitri, not Zosima, is the Christ-like figure in the novel.
Such turning upside down, or inside out, is especially needed in religious contexts, where any fixed expectation about God robs him of freedom, and condemns us to losing the need for personal, not credal, faith. The Daemonic pulls the carpet out from under our feet, with humour and surprise; another example, from Zen, is when the spiritual leader, near death, appoints the lowly cook as his successor, to the consternation of his more ‘advanced’ students. As my friend Miles Stryker once put it to me, ‘trying to figure out how God cuts the pie and how he serves it up is impossible.’
4– It tests and proves us, and existence, as to our and its truth, and real worth; it can only do this by risking value to nullity, risking meaning to pointlessness, risking purpose to futility. It checks us, and forces us to check out what really is life and death, heaven and hell: every edge, gap, cross-roads, Koan and Cross, by which existence is marked.
The hero is forged, but must also forge something true out of his own being forged. What is ‘true’ of heart is a ‘mettle’ that is being burnt, tried out, and in the end confirmed– or disconfirmed. In a novel by Andre Gide, one of his characters says: “I [want] to ring true”; such ringing true is no abstract idea of truth, but the authenticating of truth in concrete living; only this grants a person authoritativeness. What is deep emerges, and what gets us through depth is tried and discovered.
Thus, only the truth is left standing at the end of the existential testing. Everything else is consumed, proved unreal or inauthentic. What is true, deep, real, of heart is checked, and revealed. Like the ‘infernal printing method’ invented by William Blake, the acid of the Daemonic burns away falsity, to reveal ‘the fine wiry line’ of truth in our entire existence in this world.
5– It strips us, and strips the world, leaving us and the world naked, raw, exposed. Our basic heart truth and the world’s basic heart truth is dramatically revealed– by clashes, crises, crashings. The Daemonic sweeps away the soap opera dramas of the petty heart, but reveals the deeper drama of heart in which each of us personally and all of us communally is involved. The Daemonic reveals the Real Story. The Daemonic is dramatic: it is the author and dynamic ‘tension points’ of dramatic stories of every description, and more especially, it is the drama of the world’s story in history. Thus the Daemonic brings the tower of our wrong aspiration to construct a different story from human existence crashing down, to reveal the pit beneath. This is both dramatic and dynamic: it not only exposes, but exposes in order to change, to move things on in the real direction God and we are going. The Daemonic causes things to over turn: so we can turn over to the other side. The protagonist in drama is the only person prepared to ‘go to the end of the line’, but the Daemonic is taking everyone, like it or don’t like it, all the way. The Daemonic never leaves persons or communities ‘in peace’, but chases all humans in our places of hiding, dragging us out into an unwanted light. When we are not true to the Daemonic’s truth, we cower in fear, shame and guilt. This is existential: it is not the helpless child expecting punishment from a cruel parent who bosses him and threatens him with ‘tow my line or else.’ Rather, it is the self knowing in the heart that it gave up trying to be a heart. We can fool other people about how it is with us in the heart, but we cannot fool ourselves. Each of us knows.
6– The Daemonic wounds us to reveal the primordial and deeper wound pervasive in everyone. Only the killer of the false can be the healer for the true.
7– The Daemonic is mystical as well as existential; it ‘grounds’ us in the depth of the heart, where only what is true can ‘stand’ in the heart’s unfathomable abyss.
8—The Daemonic is not, as the Gnostics contend, the ‘shadow’ of God, the evil in God that compliments the good in God, making God a bipolarity of opposite forces. Why does God not have a shadow? Because creating the world is an act of gratuitous, pure goodness, an act of love. It has no shadow. This means that though God ‘does’ both good and evil to us—he announces this plainly in the Old Testament: “I form light and create darkness, I make weal and create woe, I am the Lord, who do all these things” [Isaiah, 45, 4-7], though this embarrasses Christians and they have to pass over it all too quickly—his evil, like his good, serves the more paradoxical love that is at work in the creation.
Hafiz, the Sufi poet of Persia, understands the love at work in God’s evil to us, though he expresses it with humour and aggression rather than grieving over it:
“Love wants to reach out and manhandle us
Break all our teacup talk of God.
If you had the courage and
Could give the Beloved his choice, some nights
He would just drag you around the room
By your hair,
Ripping from your grip all those toys in the world
That bring you no joy.
Love sometimes gets tired of speaking sweetly
And wants to rip to shreds
All your erroneous notions of truth
That make you contend within yourself, dear one
And with others.
Causing the world to weep
On too many fine days.
God wants to manhandle us,
Lock us in a tiny room with himself
And practice his dropkick.
The Beloved sometimes wants
to do us a great favour;
Hold us upside down
And shake all the nonsense out.
But when we hear
He is in such a ‘playful drunken mood’
Most everyone I know
Quickly packs their bags and hightails it
Out of town.”
Rumi, the Sufi poet of Turkey, also understands the Daemonic is the ultimate love:
“There is an animal called an ushghur, a porcupine.
If you hit it with a stick, it extends its quills
and gets bigger. The soul is a porcupine,
made strong by stick-beating.
So a prophet’s soul is especially afflicted,
because it has to become so powerful.
A hide is soaked in tanning liquor and becomes leather.
If the tanner did not rub in the acid,
the hide would get foul-smelling and rotten.
The soul is a newly skinned hide, bloody and gross.
Work on it with manual discipline,
and the bitter tanning acid of grief,
and you’ll become lovely, and very strong.
If you can’t do this work yourself, don’t worry.
You don’t even have to make a decision,
one way or another. The Friend, who knows
a lot more than you do, will bring difficulties,
and grief, and sickness,
as medicine, as happiness,
as the essence of the moment when you’re beaten,
when you hear Checkmate, and can finally say,
with Hallaj’s voice,
I trust you to kill me.
The Daemonic is both creative and destructive, but it destroys in order to create what is real to the paradox of love.
This understanding of the Daemonic as love is also present in a painting by William Blake of God creating Adam. It is, if anything, more extraordinary than either Sufi poem, since as a Christian, Blake is more heart oriented than Sufism, which is usually Eros–soul in emphasis. Some Jewish Hasids teach that God departs from his fullness to create a space for a world to arise, a world that stands in relation to him, and thus has its own freedom and its own capacity to love. In limiting his fullness, to make room for an Other, God must open a wound in his own being. This wound signifies commitment to us, despite our Otherness: being tied to us, whatever we do with our freedom and love. Thus even if we were to end up in hell, in a place of final failure of God’s project in us, God would be in hell with us. He gives us a piece of his heart in creating us with a heart. All this is iconically present in Blake’s painting.
Unlike Michael Angelo’s effete touching of fingers between God and Adam, in William Blake God hovers right over Adam, seizing hold of him forcefully. When I look at this, I am struck by the obvious suffering in each party, though the suffering differs. Adam’s suffering is more being in the hands of a fate he cannot change; it happens to him, he struggles in it, because it agonises him. It moves him deeply: it is the prime mover in his depths. But this is because he cannot change what is placed upon him by God. The wound of the Daemonic father which dignifies him and raises him from unconscious ‘participation mystique’ in nature, in the great mother, is irresistible, and inescapable. It happens. Adam’s is a passive suffering, he is in its grip and there is no escape, and there is no alternative. Nothing else is on offer. This is it. This unavoidable happening that befalls Adam as a fate may open up certain possibilities, but no other fate is possible, and simply to be free of fate is impossible. Thus it is love, or perdition; freedom is the acceptance of this fate, and thereafter we discover that love is what truly liberates us, what sets us truly free. The freedom to choose this wounding way of love is not ours: such freedom is illusory, part of our primal ignorance or primal fallenness. We have no choice. It is the way it is, and our ‘liking and disliking’ is irrelevant, because it changes it not one jot. God inflicts a greater passion on us, on our paltry creaturehood, and we have no say in that primordial event at all, no freedom to tell God not to do this. Our only freedom is in how we meet it, what we make of it, what we do with this wound which is a blessing, but which we can turn into a curse. We can rise to its challenge as a gift, or fall down under it.
Thus William Blake captures a subtle difference in the suffering of the Creator as contrasted with the suffering of his creature. God also suffers yet there is a calm, a profound peace, as he ‘makes his move’, as he dynamically and Daemonically takes hold of Adam in his divine passion, to inflict its wound. Mankind agonises in the grip of divine passion, over whether to let it excite, or raise up, the human passion in reply; God does not go in for any agonising. He is serene in his suffering, because there is no freedom to choose, there are no alternatives occupying his heart. God isn’t prevaricating, because God’s primal ‘choice’ is not open to doubts, or revisions. It is what is. God will not have second thoughts, or worry over what he has done in taking this chance.
This decision of God’s freedom and love only goes one way. It is the foundation, and it endures all the way through. It is unshakeable, it is unmoveable, and it is staked to the ground of our doubting, our prevaricating, over whether to embrace this challenging gift, or evade it. God won’t do anything ‘less’ with us and for us, that would allow us off the hook of the deepness and greatness his passion bestows upon our poor humanity. This wounding that raises us from our poor human clay is the Deed of God that not only creates us, but upholds us and goes with us all the way, like the cloud of smoke in the day, the fire at night, and the manna from heaven, that led the Jews through the wastelands, in their exodus out of the captivity and safety of Egypt towards the Promised Land [Exodus, 40, 34-38]. On our hard road we contend with it, sometimes angry with it, sometimes sad because of it, and are only gradually reconciled to it. This reconciliation is protracted.
Humanity, in the hands of the living Daemonic God, must bear what seems to us, from our perspective, inexplicable and unjust. At times we cry to God and he is silent. At times God seems nothing but remote and hostile: where was this God when Christ cried to him on the Cross, echoing David’s cry in the Psalms, and voicing the cry in all human hearts: ‘Where are you? What are you doing with us? Why do we experience not only the rapture of your closeness, but the gall of your refusal to help when most needed?’ We have to know the times of God’s failure to act for us and endure this to be restored to the times when God acts through us. Raw faith in a God whose personalness, whose disposition of will and love toward us, we must trust through thick and thin, is all we have to keep us going. It asks of us ‘abandonment’ to this strange person, to this strange fatherhood. The belief arises in our heart that God is in enmity with us, and in a sense it is so. But we misunderstand this. God is not angry at us for having problems with his way, but with how we lie about these problems, will not face them, will not go through them, and do such lying in order to shelve the whole thing. Evil is flight from the Daemonic blow of reality. This is what God does not tolerate. His wrath is against our pretence we have no problem with him, not against the problem we have with him.
Thus, the real situation is that it is we who are, in our heart, in enmity with the way of heart in this world. God’s enmity with us is because we will not be straight about the enmity we have against the heart way shared between God and us. When we are straight, the enmity in our heart changes, it ceases being a fixed stone that is non negotiable, it becomes more open to its dilemma, more willing towards the paradox wherein it dwells, more flexible and supple toward God’s manner of helping it find possibilities. The fleshy heart sheds tears that help it accept what God is doing with it.
Hence, William Blake’s painting of God creating Adam—whatever it means to him in his own mythology–portrays to me the act of creation as a passionate love, and this passion declares, there is no other foundation, no other way it can go, and work out. This is all there is. This is what is on offer. God is peaceful and serene in the gathering storm because he is not in two minds, or better, not in two hearts, about the Deed he is embarked upon. It is the same for us: it is often only when we stop torturing ourselves with alternatives, with choices, but accept the one thing we can do, and must do, however much a suffering of loss it entails, that we get the courage and strength to ‘just do it.’ This is because it is for love we act, and love is all there is. We stride into the arena, calm and gathered, ready for tremendous and tumultuous action.
9– The Daemonic entrusts the world to us, believes in us, helps us in the impossible: the Daemonic ventures something through us, takes a real risk with us, and thus with the world. It encourages and dignifies us in this venture, in this risk. Spiritual power comes only to those who stand in the truth; whereas those who substitute ‘force’ for ‘truth’ never receive any spiritual power, inspiration, blessing, for their action. But to those loyal and faithful to this peculiar project that the Daemonic is engaged on with humanity, not only spiritual power but many spirit helpers come to assist. From the sudden glimpse of a sunset that takes our breath away at the end of a tough day, to the spirit animal who comes in our dream to keep us going by granting help in a specific gift of power, life is full of wonders and moments of blessing and joy and peace in the midst of the journey and battle the Daemonic dumps us into. The heaviness and sorrow we must carry like a load makes these moments of opening in the storm doubly precious. They also function as ‘signs’ of an obscure providence. Thus they encourage and enrapture us. In the same way, in the midst of necessary harshness the Daemonic can suddenly show us gratuitous, exquisite gentleness.
The Daemonic fights for justice, yet also bears the brother, is merciful, is kind, forgives, and suffers and carries what others have fled and put down. It gathers and includes all on the heart ground common to all. Nothing upholds me, alone; I am only upheld by what upholds all, when I uphold all. In Lakota, this is called ‘putting the welfare of the people in my heart.’
10– The Daemonic redeems the wound it inflicts, by being wounded by it.
The unknowable father is finally revealed in his visible child. He who asked Abraham to sacrifice his human child for God is he who sacrifices his divine child for humanity. This child is ‘the lamb slain before the world began’, and he is offered up to the child who has gone astray. The straying human child Daemonically suffers to come back as far as he can to the divine father, but he cannot return all the way: it is the innocent child of the divine father who Daemonically suffers to bring the straying child back all the way to the divine father. In the end, not only humanity, but God, ‘come through.’ This is the victory the Daemonic wins. It is done in time, over time, for all time. It is done in the world, for the world. It is the true story of the beginning, middle, and end, of all things. This story is terrible, dramatic, tragic, and finally beautiful and wondrous. It is a story of the most extreme, moving passion and the most touching, aching pathos.
Neither the light of nous, nor the imaginal colour, multiplicity, and balance, of the soul, can comprehend the harsh ground, the dusty road, the tears, sweat, and blood, of the agonised ecstasy of the deep passion of the heart. Passion is our spirit: passion is the fire Christ said he came to kindle, and wished it was already kindled.
It will be.
The fire is coming.
This is the Daemonic’s doing, and it is glorious.
The Daemonic will wipe away every tear. Only by its fierceness will the tenderness of God be finally revealed.
The God we passionately love and hate, hope in and despair of, want and flee, is both tyger and lamb. So are we.
The Daemonic passion of deep heart is bold and vulnerable. So it is for God, so it is for us.
It just is what is.
The Daemonic is what is, in all its terror and beauty, in all its mystery and danger, its dynamism and irrationality.
Let what is be what is.