Your Daemon, According to Carl Jung
Thomas Carlyle said that a person without a purpose is like a boat without a rudder. It’s true; very few things have as strong an impact on your happiness as having a goal. One way to find your way in this world is to get in touch with your daemon. Search deep within to find the spirit that’ll help you develop and grow into the very best version of yourself.
The story goes that Socrates was possessed by a demon who told him what his true vocation would be. The same happened to Goethe, who explained in his book Poetry and Truth that he had to thank his demonic creature for his poetic and scientific achievements. The world “demonic” and “demon” probably make you think of some evil, but what we’re talking about today is quite the opposite. A daemon isn’t malevolent, it’s a source of positive inspiration.
The concept of the daemon comes from the Greek tradition, which defined it as the highest source of inspiration and creativity. Metaphorically speaking, it’s where muses take refuge, the place where your inner voice resides. The person who took this term and integrated it into theories about psychotherapy was Carl Jung.
In his book, The Development of Personality, he argued that, if you want to discover your true vocation, you have to listen to your daemon. Jung believed that everyone has a private daemon that offers advice, ideas, and perspectives about where you should direct your attention and effort.
“When your Daemon is in charge, don’t try to think consciously. Drift, wait, and obey.”
What’s a daemon?
A daemon isn’t the same as a demon, though the Greeks translated it as such. On the contrary, it’s a being that you could think of as sort of a genie or a kind of divine companion. The Egyptians had a similar concept that they named Ba. Aristotle wrote that the daemon is a symbol of virtue and wisdom; the most enlightened essence of human beings; the place where your potential resides.
The problem with this entity is that it’s usually hidden. Everyone has a daemon inside. You come into the world with this presence tucked away in the depths of your mind. It contains your creative voice, your intuition, and your ability to innovate. However, the constraints of society often make it difficult for your daemon to feel free.
Upbringing, stress, anxiety, and an obsession with time and schedules force your daemon into a cage. Dr. James Hillman, one of the most important voices in Jungian psychology, makes an interesting point in his book The Soul’s Code: In Search of Character and Calling.
Waking your daemon requires self-knowledge. You’ll only be able to hear its voice when you get in touch with your roots. Achieving that connection has important repercussions on your happiness, which is where the term eudaemonia comes from.
The key to training your daemon
Carl Jung argued that sometimes your daemon wants things that no one around you understands. You might have an idea so revolutionary and innovative that it doesn’t fit with what’s going on around you. Your inner genie tends to be rebellious and might suggest contradictory, strange, and bold ideas. It’s easy not to pay attention to them because they often seem unfounded or impossible to carry out. Listening to your daemon probably seems challenging, but ignoring it has its own negative repercussions as well.
Rollo May, an existentialist psychologist and psychotherapist, believed that following your daemon’s lead, while difficult, can give you a very gratifying life. There are plenty of arguments for tuning into your daemon, but how can you go about it? Let’s see some of the keys to giving a voice to your wise inner spirit.
Get to know yourself and you’ll discover who you are
Your daemon isn’t interested in communicating with an insecure or flighty person. This inner voice is linked to the very essence of your being. You’ll only start to hear them when you truly know who you are. When you know yourself on a profound level, you’ll be able to receive those messages of personal growth.
If you’re the kind of person who goes through life without knowing who you really are, you’re not going to understand your daemon. It’ll be like they’re speaking to you in another language.
Your daemon wants you to be disciplined
When you’re in touch with your daemon, they’ll ask you to transform your monsters into muses. That means that creativity comes from daily discipline. The most creative people are those who know what they want, set goals to get there, and work every day on achieving their objectives.
The need for a calm and peaceful mind
There’s a pervasive idea in this society that a tormented mind is the best source of creativity. There are plenty of examples of that throughout history, such as Virginia Wolf, Vincent Van Gogh, Gustave Courbet, etc. That being said, these creative minds all met tragic ends. Your daemon, on the other hand, brings you happiness. The well-being you need to use your creative potential and live a meaningful and fulfilled life.
The most productive creativity, then, comes from a peaceful mind and a calm heart. As director, screenwriter, and artist David Lynch often says, practices such as meditation and relaxation are the best channels for innovation. Emotions such as anger or stress are just disruptive. They don’t nourish creativity.
Your daemon speaks to you through many different channels
Each individual must find the way that they’re best able to channel their creativity. That requires some exploration. Maybe you find inspiration in nature, or music, or sharing experiences with other people. Others prefer solitude, while others surround themselves with art and feel the ideas flow. Be open to new activities and practices that allow you to hear your daemon and the message it has for you.
Appreciate its presence
In conclusion, it’s always a good idea to be grateful for your daemon’s ideas, energy, and willingness to be your guide. At the end of the day, your daemon is part of who you are. Loving each and every bit of yourself is part of recognizing that you’re extraordinary and capable of making your wildest dreams come true.
“I’m not what happened to me. I’m what I choose to become.”
– Carl Jung –
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
- Hillman, James (1996)The Soul’s Code: In Search of Character and Calling. BALLANTINE BOOKS
- Jung, Carl Gustav, and Jorge Navarro Pérez. 2009. La vida simbólica: escritos diversos. Madrid: Trotta.
- Reynolds, F. C., & Piirto, J. (2005). Depth psychology and giftedness: Bringing soul to the field of talent development and giftedness. Roeper Review, 27(3), 164–171. https://doi.org/10.1080/02783190509554311