Sunday, January 29, 2012


Finding my daemon. This is so dumb, but I've been interested in the idea of a daemon, as in His Dark Materials. I've also been reading Gregory Maguire's 'Wicked Years' books which feature talking Animals, some of whom bond closely with humans.

I've been looking at websites that are very serious about the concept of identifying and speaking to a part of yourself that manifests as an imaginary animal companion. The advice they give you is to start listening for an inner voice commenting on your activities.

I have actually found it consoling lately to have silent conversations with myself, imagining that the other person is sympathetic and an ally. Someone who's always on my side and can help me figure out what to do. I think in psychology they call this 'self-soothing'.

They advise that you start imagining a different voice for this part of you, and then you try on different genders and animal forms to see which ones feel 'right'. I can't yet imagine a different voice apart from my voice but they say it can take time.

I did a stupid test which basically interpreted me as being very shy and withdrawn and suggested my daemon would be a rabbit or dormouse. This made me sad, because I remember being a confident, outgoing child, a leader among my friends; what has happened to me?

It would be good to have a daemon that would nestle in your lap and that you could pat, but I envisaged something larger and fiercer than a rabbit. Something that could defend you when you felt under attack.

The weird thing is that I look at Graham and go, "Is he my daemon? My familiar?" then I realise he isn't. That a pet is not the same as a daemon. I can't even get him to sit in my lap half the time, and I get the feeling he doesn't really give a shit about me except as a source of food. Although sometimes I worry that he is actually a Cat who chooses not to talk, and he has just been quietly judging me for my stupid cat songs and ridiculous cat-lady chatter.

Am I going crazy? Is this the start of being a proper Crazy Cat Lady?

Like I said before, I took the stupid test too (its flaws are a bit evident - must remember not to take these things to heart), and it suggested a swan or a koala. A SWAN OR A KOALA.

I think it was because I answered a bit all over the place and it couldn't pin me down, which surprised me a little because I thought I was more predictable than that, and had expected to come up with a dormouse or bunny. Because that's the thing, isn't it - a daemon in the books is more a manifestation of your actual personality than something complementary which you might need. Your daemon wouldn't be something big and scary that would defend you if you don't tend to put yourself in offensive positions, if you know what I mean. Lyra's polecat daemon reflected who she was more than what she needed. Which perhaps says something about the usefulness of a daemon - you find comfort in it, but it's really just you.

Still, I'm a bit worried about having a koala daemon. Would I have to carry it everywhere because it would mostly be asleep? When I was feeling defensive and in need of support, would it just sleep balled up, precariously balanced on a twig? Would it keep me awake at night with all its howling?
It's very true-blue of you to have a koala daemon. Does it suggest an inner tendency to sleep and eat all the time? (Don't answer that.)

I hadn't really considered native daemons; maybe I should think of some marsupials…

A swan would be a good daemon. They are loyal (they mate for life) and can come at your enemies with savage pecking and wing-flapping. But because of the books I tend to associate large bird daemons with witches.
Oh man, I'd love a daemon. My mind always went to the kind of native animals I encountered as a child. At first I wondered about a wombat, but they're a bit too shuffling and slow, and not quick-witted enough (which is how I vainly see myself). I think I might be quite well suited to a pelican - the Australian, white with some black kind, not the odd pink or brown ones you see in England. They're a bit scruffy and ungainly, but they have such power and contentedness when they're ascending a thermal.

Maybe for me, they're a way I'd like to envision myself, as opposed to how I actually am. This is the problem with the daemon - in order to work out which is yours, you need to see yourself clearly. I always wondered about the servants in HIs Dark Materials - did they have a dawning realisation at age 13 that their true nature is dog-like and they'd end up serving someone else?

By the way, I love your idea (and use) of an inner voice, Mel. I would call it self-talk (which can be self-soothing), especially if it reminds you to see things in a particular way, which it sounds like it does.
I did this test a few years ago. It said my daemon is a raccoon, which is madness because it's clearly a silver wolf. Or at least a hedgehog or something.

I guess a raccoon could be quite useful and fluffy at least.
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