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Demons in Our Midst

Facing the Tyrant Inside and Out


Demons in Our Midst

Mad Tea Party

Mark Bryan © artofmarkbryan.com
By guest author Suzanne Duarte
© Suzanne Duarte (Reprinted here with permission from author) An earlier version of this essay was first published in Awakened Woman e-Magazine, December 22, 2004

When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they seem invincible but in the end, they always fall - think of it, ALWAYS. -- Gandhi

All that evil needs to succeed is for good men to do nothing. — Edmund Burke

Hell is empty, all the devils are here. — William Shakespeare

It cannot be an accident, or mere "coincidence," that the movie trilogy of J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings became box office hits during the George W. Bush’s first four years as the U.S. president. We needed those images of leathery-winged monsters with huge teeth and claws, of the pathetic Gollam with the vicious shadow, of the goodness of fellowship and the evil of greed for absolute power over the world. Why did we need them? I think we needed those visual images to remind us of the nature of evil and the existence of demons because, in our secularlized, mechanistic world, we had forgotten about them. We thought we were safe.

It took me a long time to recognize that truly demonic energies are operating in our world right now. I was as unwilling to acknowledge the demonic as the next person. "Demonic" was not a word in my vocabulary, nor was "evil." I thought that people who used those words were projecting and ought to look at their own behavior. However, personal as well as global circumstances have compelled me to try to understand these energies and how to combat them.

We live in a world where deceit, duplicity, and mass delusion seem nearly all-pervasive. We cannot rely on the mainstream media to tell us what we most need to know, the truth; we cannot believe the politicians; we can't trust our electoral process; and half the United States seems to be under a hypnotic spell induced by sub-rational mesmerism.

Our lives are increasingly being corralled by a maniacal, irresponsible administration that uses lies and fear to rationalize its assaults on our rights and freedoms, our economy and environment, and those of other countries. While a great deal of the rest of humanity is concerned about environmental crises, Bush & Co. remain in stubborn denial of the multitudinous ecological problems that threaten human survival. They protect ecologically destructive corporations, while encouraging Americans to spend and consume.

How do we keep our sanity in the midst of the bewilderment, paranoia and anxiety that seem to be intentionally generated by Bush & Co.? How do we continue to work for the good of the whole when grief and despair over all that is being lost threaten to overwhelm us?

Perhaps it is time for humanity to learn to deal consciously with the demonic within ourselves and in the world at large. And that begins with acknowledging that demonic energies do exist and do threaten all we hold dear, and life itself.

Modern Day Demonology

In Women Who Run with the Wolves, depth psychologist Clarissa Pinkola Estés calls the demonic "the natural predator of the psyche."* I have found her explication of the meaning of this phenomenon most helpful in my demonological research. She says the natural predator is "the most deceitful and most powerful fugitive in the psyche," and it "requires our immediate consciousness and containment." This "inner being" is "quite mad" and carries out "destruction without thought."

Of all the inner beings of our psyches, the predator is the most devious and most determined to escape notice and apprehension by consciousness. He is a dark force that is contrary to Nature and instinct, a formidable enemy of the light of consciousness and all that is good, wild, and feminine. The sole purpose of this "derisive and murderous antagonist" is to subvert cooperation, harmony, and the potential for creativity and conscious evolution.

According to Estés, the natural predator is an innate element in the psyche of all human beings. She speculates that this archetype developed in the preconscious human mind as the desire to overcome the laws and limitations of Nature, and gain power over the forces of life and death. This desire arises from an inflated sense of superiority, delusions of power, and the determination to dominate.

In myth and fairy tales, the natural predator is always portrayed as a dark man and/or a failed magician. He appears normal but is immeasurably destructive. His hatred and rage emanate from his failure to achieve the spiritual or magical power that he sought, a power equal to that of Nature or God. Black magicians have their power taken away and/or are exiled from the realm of the gods. As outcasts they suffer deep loneliness and continuous exile from redemption. They cannot generate their own light. The sun never rises in their consciousness; thus their jealousy of, and desire to capture and possess, those who have the light of consciousness and are able to redeem themselves through creativity.

Although I appreciate why Estés uses the term predator and find it accurate, I still prefer the seemingly archaic and mythological term "demon" because it connotes dark archetypal power that can take over the human psyche. Although “predator" is associated with predation by animals, animals are not demonic in the way this human archetype is—although humans have long projected their own demons onto animals, and still do! But animals don't presume to challenge Nature like humans do, so I use the term “predator demon” to connote a dangerous psychic phenomenon that can become contagious, as C.G. Jung observed and wrote about in his studies of evil.

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