Notes on Patrick Harpur’s Daimonic Reality, jotted down here as I read.
The discussion of the Neoplatonic “personal daimon” — a spirit that is both part of a person and active in the outside world — reminds me a great deal of Crowley’s “Holy Guardian Angel”. Also, in some traditions there’s the notion that each of us contains part of “God” or some higher connection; would the personal daimon be the Godhead, or is that another facet of a human?
Harpur’s talked some about mental illness and relationships to the daimonic. All I can think about is my OCD; while I don’t suffer symptoms any more, when I’m unmedicated I (and everyone else with the illness) have “intrusive thoughts” — thoughts that feel like they’re not coming from our Self. It’s not hearing voices. It’s thinking things that “I” would definitely not think. For people with OCD, those thoughts are often socially inappropriate or even shameful, and we don’t want to talk about them for fear people will think we really believe those things. It’s a huge source of stress.
Most people think of OCD as the compulsions. The stereotype is germphobic, extreme handwashing or cleaning. I have some of those (when unmedicated), but by far the worst is the obsessions/intrusive thoughts. The compulsions are a symptom of the obsessions. “My baby will die if I don’t knock on the counter three times every time I enter the kitchen” kind of thing. (Not one of mine, I don’t have kids.) The obsession is about the baby’s death, and the intrusive thoughts might be mental images of the baby’s corpse, or worse, “alien” thoughts about killing the baby. The person would of course be horrified by this.
So, to bring Harpur back into it, would he see intrusive thoughts as coming from a broken connection between the Self and the personal daimon? Maybe he’ll bring it up as I read.
The idea of believing something is metaphorically real but not literally real is a hard concept to wrap my mind around. I need to sit down interrupted and meditate on it for a bit.
I find myself wanting to experience the shamanic initiation, or an external quest as described in the book. Yet I need to be careful what I wish for. I’m too prone to madness as it is. I’m not certain I could return to myself safely. But still, I crave it.
I am a very vivid dreamer, but I don’t have what Harpur refers to as “big dreams”. They usually don’t say anything very deep. I’d prefer quality to quantity… On the other hand, I recently started lucid dreaming, and that’s something I need to explore further…
Final notes: excellent book, definitely recommended. I realize this isn’t very coherent to anyone who hasn’t read the book. Maybe I’ll review it properly at some point…