Harnessing a Daemon

It has many names. A spirit, a genius, intuition, your daemon. 

Philosophers, poets and artists have all described how inspiration comes to them, often unannounced and fleeting.

Tom Waits paints it well,

“Excuse me, can you not see that I’m driving? Do I look like I can write down a song right now? If you really want to exist, come back at a more opportune moment when I can take care of you. Otherwise, go bother somebody else today. Go bother Leonard Cohen.”

Tom Waits

The word “daemon” is Greek, it means “to distribute destinies.” According to Carl Jung, your daemon goes beyond your subconscious, it’s your numinous imperative. Numinous being something indescribably divine, it’s like a transcendent force that propels your psychological well-being. This is a feeling, perhaps a guttural one.

With time and attention, we can get to know our daemon, harness it. In order to do that, you have to show up for it. Tom Waits pulled over at some point or another when he wrote ‘Ol 55. It’s a matter of recognition. It gets easier with journaling, creating, making music, dancing. Whatever your creative flow (or flows) may be, you have to show up and support them. Inspiration comes to us when we show that we’re ready, that we’re waiting.

Stephen King took this concept to the extreme when he wrote On Writing,

“Read and write four to six hours a day. If you cannot find the time for that, you can’t expect to become a good writer.”

He sets out each day with a 2000 word quota and won’t stop writing until it is met. The next thought may be, of course, he also doesn’t have a day job. But that’s fear based thinking. This is where eudaemonia comes in, which translates to “human flourishing”.

eu well daimon spirit

Plato’s Academy defines it as “the good composed of all goods; an ability which suffices for living well; perfection in respect of virtue; resources sufficient for a living creature.” Which leads to the idea that whatever it is your inner daemon calls you to do creatively, it must also fit into your vocation. These concepts work together sychronistically. Whatever it is you do to survive, it must also fulfill you creatively and be in alignment with your virtues. It’s a give-take relationship. If you’re not feeding your daemon, it won’t be inspiring you.

Happiness isn’t just pleasure or money. We’ve seen this countless times.

It’s finding the spiral of self-discovery in everything we do, recognizing and developing our gifts and expressing them out into the world and in our relationships. Eudaemonia goes beyond the typical concept of happiness. It encompasses more than what makes us content at the moment, it sees beyond that.

Harnessing your daemon, in a way, is harnessing your soul. That’s tricky. It’s sitting down and asking yourself difficult questions. What are your virtues? Are you living in alignment with your morality?

Charles Bukowski, always elegantly, describes it.

“People with no morals often considered themselves more free, but mostly they lacked the ability to feel or to love. So they became swingers. The dead fucking the dead. There was no gamble or humour in their game -it was corpse fucking corpse. Morals were restrictive, but they were grounded on human experience down through the centuries. Some morals tended to keep people slaves in factories, in churches and true to the State. Other morals simply made good sense. It was like a garden filled with poisoned fruit and good fruit. You had to know which to pick and eat, which to leave alone.”

Charles Bukowski

Part of harnessing your daemon is rising to it. Recognizing it. Having that conversation with yourself. It’s finding the divine force that pushes you to do whatever it is that makes you feel whole and opening up to it even more. It’s recognizing your mandala of life. What unfolded to bring you here. Tapping in to synchronicities and impulses.

This can be applied through whatever it is that allows you to let go of your egoic mind: automatic writing, dancing, painting. M.C. Richards found hers through pottery and poetry, but ultimately, “all the arts we practice are apprenticeship. The big art is our life.”

all the arts we practice are apprenticeship. The big art is our life

MC Richards

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