Do you ever feel driven by a force that you sense is outside of your conscious will? Perhaps this energy is directed in a productive way toward a creative passion or vocation, or perhaps has darker or destructive manifestations that veer into the realm of obsession or addiction? You may be in the grip of a powerful personal force that is trying to communicate with you. In fact, many traditions around the globe would say that we all are, whether we know it or not.
The personal daimon is said to be an inner guide or guardian spirit that protects, challenges, and drives an individual forward throughout life, according to a variety of cultures throughout the world. One of the primary roles of the personal daimon is to help direct its human partner toward purpose, or even destiny.
James Hillman, a Jungian analyst who developed his own approach to understanding the human journey, which he called archetypal psychology, wrote a book devoted entirely to the topic of the daimon and heeding its call, The Soul’s Code: In Search of Character and Calling. Hillman credits Plato’s “Myth of Er” as his own source of understanding this notion of the daimon, though he acknowledges that the idea is ancient and is present in many different cultures around the world. He includes some other terms for the same idea that shed light on the way the notion of the daimon may be more popularly present in segments of Western culture, while not quite acknowledged as such: the term genius, as used by the Romans, as well as the Christian notion of a guardian angel. Hillman’s description of the daimon is as follows: “The soul and each of us is given a unique daimon before we are born, and it has selected an image or pattern that we live on earth. This soul-companion, the daimon, guides us here.”
Writer and psychotherapist Thomas Moore describes the daimon as an “inner personality” that guides a person throughout life. He notes that a distinguishing quality of the daimon is that it is often experienced as other. A person may experience this inner guidance as an actual separate entity that seems to live within, or close by.
Here’s where it gets even more interesting: the direction in which the daimon urges one to move may not in fact be the direction in which the conscious ego or “personality” wants to go. In that sense, the daimon challenges its partner and is and potentially problematic. It can create inner conflict and there can be a sense of wrestling or struggling with this pull. At times it can feel much easier to ignore this force than to attempt to follow it, as following it may go against one’s beliefs about who they are. Life may be simpler if the daimon is not acknowledged. At the same time, the rewards can be exquisite: it is the daimon that helps us become the person we were born to be.
The idea of a daimon as external entity may present a challenge to Western minds, as the scientific materialist paradigm that permeates Western culture today does not typically include unseen entities, spirits, or angels. For the purposes of this short piece, I would like to propose that whether the daimon is considered an actual external entity or an aspect of a person’s mind, heart, or psyche does not matter. The separate entity versus part of oneself debate is a rich one that certain warrants its own exploration. My view is that these two seemingly opposite perspectives may be one and the same. When this question is examined in depth, it is actually quite difficult to tease out the difference between an “entity” that is “outside” oneself and an inner figure or aspect of one’s own mind. The daimon need not be understood as an “entity” in order to be worked with. It can be seen as an inner urge or creative force.
The daimon communicates with its partner in a variety of ways including psychological and physical “symptoms.” Therefore, paying close attention to various symptoms we experience and trying to sense what these symptoms may be attempting to express is essential to understanding the daimon’s pull. If one wishes to go even further and intentionally cultivate a relationship with the daimon, one way to do so is through accessing it by way of the imaginal realm. As this is an immensely rich and provocative topic in and of itself, I will explore the subject of the imaginal realm and how one can begin to cultivate a relationship with the daimon in a future post. For now, if the idea holds intrigue for you, I invite you to contemplate how your daimon may be attempting to make itself known in your own life. What a thrilling and terrifying possibility!
 Harpur, Patrick (2011). The Secret Tradition of the Soul. Berkeley, CA: Evolver Editions. pp. 94-97.
 Hillman, James (1996). The Soul’s Code: In Search of Character and Calling. New York: Random House. pp. 7-10.
 Ibid, p. 8.
 Moore, Thomas (1993). “On Creativity.” Sounds True.
 Hillman, James (1996). The Soul’s Code: In Search of Character and Calling. New York: Random House. p. 10.