demons versus daimons and how world-building works

This post sort of rolls back on last week's post: Grimoires: A Brief Overview. Authors of grimoires often sought to make the arcane familiar in a bid to control more powerful supernatural creatures. The need to write down and understand the preternatural world stemmed from the theory that one cannot command that which one does not understand. In order to understand a thing, humans must name it, categorize it, and make some attempt to assimilate the thing--no matter how foreign--into a more prosaic conceptualization for the sake of our finite minds.

So it went with demons versus daimons.

In the Western Christian tradition, demons are equated with fallen angels. Demons are the epitome of free will run amok, meaning that bad things happen to those who use free will to rebel against God's supreme will. The angels warred, and the losers were consigned to Hell. These fallen angels, now called demons, form an infernal hierarchy that some consider to be a parody of the Heavenly hierarchy; although I believe the infernal hierarchy is less parody and more of a way for humans to wrap our aforementioned finite minds around this concept.

Language, as discussed in last week's post, gives us power. With both the spoken and written word, humans have a method by which we can record, remember, and communicate complex thoughts to one another. Demons, on the other hand, are spirit and lack the basic corporeal means with which to communicate. They have no tongue, lips, teeth, or vocal chords with which to emulate speech. Since there is power in the word (i.e. language), and demons are deprived of language through their spiritual nature, they must possess a creature with vocal chords in order to communicate with the mortal world. They retain the need to speak, to argue, and to influence the mortal world but can only do so through humans.

Daimons, on the other hand, are linked to the Graeco-Roman concept of daimones, (known as daemones in Latin). Apuleius's De deo Socratis identifies daimons as nature spirits. Just as gods occupy the natural sphere of ether, and mortals occupy the earthly sphere, so are daimons said to occupy the sublunary regions. Daimons can be either good or evil and are not automatically consigned to one aspect or the other, unlike fallen angels/demons, which are automatically assigned a chaotic evil designation based on their rebellion against God.

Daimons lie outside the scope of Christianity's narrow vision of angels and demons to reflect something akin to a different species, or entity, of supernatural creatures that rule the terrestrial regions. Proclus, a Greek Neoplatonist philosopher, indicated in his writings that daimons ruled fire, air, water, earth, and the underground region. This is in direct contrast to the Christian narrative, whereby the fallen angels, or demons if you will, are enslaved in the underground regions of the earth, far from the Heaven they sought to rule. Daimons, as rulers, see no need to conquer Heaven, whereas the fallen angels/demons seek to return.

So when I looked into the differences between angels, demons, and daimons for Los Nefilim, I wanted to step outside the normal Christian themes of angels and demons, which automatically conjure allegiances between good and evil. I wanted to move beyond those boundaries and into the more neutral realm of daimons.

So I asked myself a series of questions: What if there were three distinct species: mortals, daimons, and angels? How would the groups interact? What if one group (the angels) were the invaders of the earthly and sublunary regions? Would the daimons fight back for their existence? By what means would they fight their wars? And how were the mortals entangled in these affairs?

All of these questions were the seeds for the world-building that I did for Los Nefilim. As I answered each question, I developed and kept notes and created a new angelology and daimonolgy. In the end, my world-building became my grimoire for the Los Nefilim stories. Within Los Nefilim's world, I know the angels and their properties, the fallen angels and their ruling stars and angels, and of course the daimons--the old nature spirits that exist within the sublunary regions. These creatures, both the benign and the wicked, the natural and the supernatural, became characters in their own rights.

And that is how world-building works for me. One question leads to another until I've established a firm foundation for my mythology. Everything after that is just having fun.