Speaking about Demonic power and ritual naturally raises the question of whether we believe in magic, supernatural beings, chi, the soul, psychic powers, and so on. In regards to hucksters trying to acquire money or followers by claiming paranormal or miraculous abilities, we side with James Randi: if their powers don’t show up in a reasonably rigorous scientific test, they probably don’t exist. On the other hand, science has not yet revealed definitive answers to every last detail about how our natural world works.
For example we can still only hypothesize about how life began. Also we have only a rudimentary understanding of the scale of interconnection between all living, dead, and inorganic parts and systems of our planet. And we cannot yet entirely explain self-aware consciousness. Does that awareness have any functional qualities beyond identity and introspection? Which living things positively don’t have it? What purpose does it serve outside of our own perceptions? Does it signify anything different than other evolved distinct features such as photosynthesis, venom glands, or the ability to regenerate limbs like a salamander? Why did we develop this quality so strongly while other life forms developed their various survival mechanisms?
For much of history, humans assumed they had a monopoly on self aware thought, but modern science has observed other species demonstrating they have some of that ability as well. Unfortunately we just don’t have the tools and knowledge yet to even test that quality in all species. We assume that lichen does not have any self awareness just because it doesn’t display any external behaviors that we can recognize as such. We can easily suppose that “smart” animals like dolphins or chimps might meet the criteria, but what about chickens — does their stupidity necessarily mean they cannot perceive themselves or have any empathy? Would you say that about a person with an intellectual disability?
Our self awareness gave us the concept that we exist consciously and independently, in some way markedly different from plants or animals (as far as we could perceive). Since we have bodies just as other animals do, and since we can lose large pieces of our body without losing our internal identity, it makes sense that early people got the idea of a soul that might exist apart from the body. It further helped them tell a story to explain and deal with their fears around death.
The majority of humans believe the world revolves around them as the protagonist in the story of life, so they cannot conceive of a world in which their character no longer even plays a part. Less egotistically, anyone who loves another person dearly cannot abide the idea that the character they love got written out of the story completely. We all want the beloved character, or our own, to somehow go on living.
Humans have no unique standing in this regard — elephants, chimpanzees, orcas, dogs, and many other animal species have demonstrated mourning for their dead loved ones. They can even stop eating and die from sorrow. Perhaps some of them long for the dead to come back, just as humans fantasize about meeting again in an afterlife.
Dogmatic atheists crow “souls don’t show up in any validated scientific test, so they don’t exist”. But behavior and electrical activity in the brain indicating self-aware consciousness does show up in human tests. Scientific observation can also document loving and compassionate behaviors that reflect empathetic awareness of others. Innate animal behaviors such as migration or mating patterns pass from generation to generation without any direct social conditioning, and we cannot teach human babies to become self aware — they just do.
These observations might lead us to decide that the soul does exist in the form of self aware consciousness. We could even, with some poetic license, propose that the hereditary nature of this trait makes it a form of reincarnation.
Before we get carried away with that though, does a human or other animal with lesser intellectual ability have a smaller or weaker soul, and how would that even work? What about a person clinically incapable of empathy? We tend to describe sociopaths as soulless, colloquially, but if we take it literally then the whole premise falls apart.
If higher brain function doesn’t prove or define a soul, then we must take a step backward to the mystery of life. We understand how the mechanism of life propagates, and how each individual instance of it eventually breaks down, but we still struggle to understand whether our self conscious identities even exist apart from a series of electrical and chemical reactions in the brain, or even in the gut microbiome.
Does life itself constitute a great meta soul from which we all draw a piece as our initial cells split and multiply? Perhaps our individual conscious selves have emerged from the original über soul in the same way that a drop of water falls from a cloud as rain, gathers on the ground with others to form a stream, running eventually toward the ocean, from which water will evaporate upward into the clouds, later to drop individually once again.
Whether any memory from previous droplets remains consciously accessible to any living individual remains open to speculation and hokum. Scientific testing can comfortably dismiss claims of talking to or channeling individual “past lives”, but so long as genetically heritable innate behaviors demonstrably exist, we cannot actually rule out the possibility of a subconscious continuum of connection to the larger, time-spanning soul of all life.
The laws of physics dictate that matter and energy can only transform and recycle, not spontaneously pop into existence or vanish; and we have no way to explain selfhood beyond the electrochemical activity in our bodies; therefore it stands to reason that when we die our self, our soul, returns to the system from which it appeared.
If we define ‘soul’ as merely a synonym for ‘life’, then the word serves no purpose, it gives us neither understanding nor tools for personal healing or growth. Merely existing and staying alive does not mean anything or inspire anything. But that word still might teach us something else.
Black Americans have long used the word soul to signify their shared experience within a society built on racism. It specifically refers to the amount of personal and familial resilience, character, and heart required to survive and thrive in spite of all obstacles thrown at them. This usage gets at a larger idea: that the more of an uphill battle we face, the more we have to choose how to live. Some people will simply float along in life, getting dragged around and down; while others will exert their willpower and drive themselves to greater fulfillment, setting a higher bar, really living.
We do not, however, want non-Black people to colonize that usage of “soul”. We only refer to it here because it illustrates an important quality of the word. For more general purposes we suggest thinking of soul as a universal life force, and choosing other words such as spirit or especially daimon (demon) to indicate a more impassioned or awakened condition. All life forms may have a soul, but not everyone actively feels the inspiration to improve, to turn their will to create real results in the outer world. We shall name that condition Daimonia.
Satanists, Thelemites, witches, and other practitioners of “magick” all use that same line about turning the power of will toward external outcomes as the definition of their practice. Demonkind diverge from Satanists in particular by emphasizing the value of using our power to the benefit of other people and living things, rather than merely for our own personal gain. And we diverge from Thelemites, and others whose magick requires superstition, faith, and fictional gobbledygook, by emphasizing that conscious choices can have “magical” results entirely in keeping with rational science.
Arthur C. Clarke famously wrote that “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” He meant that, for example, a cellphone or a gun might seem like sorcery to anyone who had never seen them before; and a technology far in advance of our own will seem magical to us as well, because we cannot explain it. Clarke’s friend L. Ron Hubbard wrote several books defining the conscious application of will toward perceived outcomes as a “technology”. Regrettably he also used those books to push a very pernicious and damaging superstition.
But we can see here the confluence of the ideas of soul, spirit, magic, and science. We don’t actually need faith to believe in Spirit or Demon powers, any more than we need faith to believe in gravity–because it only means believing in our own ability to change what we perceive, and how we live, no matter what social or biological systems formed our present state.
Carl Jung used the ideas of katabasis and the shadow as metaphors for psychological processes, not as literal descriptions of going to a tangible place called Hell, or physically blocking the light. Similarly, we enjoy using animals as symbols of some defining quality that we wish to embrace, rather than claiming the animal actually has magic powers of transformation or transportation to another physical world.
In other words, most of the tools and language of magical or spiritual practice can actually have surprisingly rational, valid applications in the real world, as long as we frame our language carefully and rely on the scientific method.
- We do believe in the soul, defined as the existence and process of life as a holistic system throughout the planet.
- By definition then we believe all living things have souls, though we do not have any reliable evidence that their individual self or conscious memory remains in any form once their body dies.
- Further we believe each soul is just a temporarily independent emission from the whole, like a water droplet. We look to the conservation of matter and energy as a model for this premise. This deepens the logical base for our value of compassion, as we share more than just “humanity” in common.
- We believe in magic, or “magick”, to the extent that our power of the will can have completely rational effects upon and outside ourselves.
- We believe in spirits and demons mainly as a poetic expression of ourselves as forces of will, and we believe in “Daimon” as a representation of our awakening to that spirit.
- The idea of the supernatural world, including angels, devils, ghosts, and gods, springs from fear of the unknown in the natural world, leading to fantastical storytelling. So we believe in the practical application of science to better understand reality.
- But the fantastical elements also have great beauty as facets of culture and the historical language of occult thought. So we believe in storytelling that has positive and constructive effects on how we see the world, and our aesthetic experience of life.
- Finally, and most importantly, we believe in you as the creator of your world and as an integral and valuable part of ours.