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Transforming Demons into Light
by Paul Levy
Demons are what Jung would call "autonomous complexes." Due to trauma, parts of the psyche split-off and literally manifest as some "other," seemingly independent being with a will of it's own. As Jung points out, it is not pathological to have autonomous complexes, as we all do. What is important is our relationship to our autonomous complexes. Like a vampire, these autonomous complexes drain our life force and hide in the darkness of the unconscious, as they can't stand the light of consciousness. They rage violently at being seen, for to be seen takes away their omnipotence or autonomy. These demons will use any means at their disposal to trick us from seeing them as they are, for they are truly insubstantial.

Just like the Tibetan saint Milarepa, we must realize that there are no demons "out there." Our demons are nothing other than mirrored reflections of our own unembraced energy. When we realize this, the life force that has been held captive by the demons becomes liberated, and they then become allies and protectors of our true nature. This is true shamanic soul retrieval, for the demons stand in a secret compensatory relationship to the ego, holding exactly the part of us that we need.

These autonomous complexes force us to grow into the archetypal role of Alchemist. This figure symbolically transforms the marginalized and rejected "prima materia" of the psyche into the alchemical gold, which is none other than consciousness itself. To do this, we have to build a container around the demon, which means to anchor it to consciousness, so that it won't dissapear into the vapors of the unconscious. We are demanded to birth our demons into the light of consciousness. Art-making becomes true exorcism, as we name and objectify these unconscious forces. This is why Jung called the demonic the "not yet realized creative," as these demons hold our creative gifts. It is our own fear which makes them seem like demons. Lucifer means the bringer of light.

This entire process demands us to get in touch with our true genie, or genius. The word genius is derived from the word "daemon," which means "inner voice" or "guiding spirit." This is the inner wisdom voice of our true, creative nature. If we follow it, it will help us find our calling and genuine vocation. It will heal us. It will show us the way. It is the way. And this blessing is freely available to everyone.

But some of us turn away from this inner voice. We ignore it, not listening to it. We don't fully trust it. When this daemon is not honored, though, it turns negative and becomes a demon. We become self-destructive, turning this creative energy against ourselves in constant self-hatred. The closer we get to dispelling the demonic, the more cunning, elusive, and fearful it becomes. If we confront and wrestle with our demons, they force us to take a stand and step into our own power and monstrous totality. At a certain point we begin to realize that the whole ordeal is nothing other than the most brilliantly choreographed initiation process that we ever could have imagined. And we realize that a deeper part of us is imagining it! This is the point where we recognize that the demons are actually the source of true blessings, and like Milarepa, we welcome the demons into our home and invite them to stay for awhile and have some tea.

For more articles about dreaming, see