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What is a Dæmon?

This forum is for all questions and discussions pertaining to the dæmons of His Dark Materials.

What is a Dæmon?

Postby iorekbyrnison555 » Thu Oct 28, 2010 3:39 am

I know this sounds like a stupid, ignorant question, but I assure you that I've read all three books (and seen the movie, although it was terrible) but I still don't actually understand what a Dæmon IS. It's said to be one's soul, although what does this actually mean? Is it a personification of a part of your own personality? Or does it have a separate personality? What is your Dæmon actually made out of? Does it have a real animal body (because it doesn't eat). If dust is sin/consciousness, why is it dust that connects people to their Dæmon? Can a Dæmon take any form (Pan takes the form of a dragon at one point, though a small one; and this could just mean a lizard. But maybe they can take the form of mythical beasts. Can they take the form of humanoid mythical beasts? Why can't they take the form of a human, or a plant?) How is it decided what your Dæmon settles to? If servant's Dæmon settle as dogs, but then they change professions, the Dæmon doesn't change, does it? How does that really reflect their personality? Is there self-consciousness in Lyra's world about what form your Dæmon takes? Are the people in Lyra's world attained a higher level of consciousness because they are conscious of their Dæmon whereas we are not?
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Re: What is a Dæmon?

Postby JohnT » Wed Dec 01, 2010 5:49 pm

but I still don't actually understand what a Dæmon IS. It's said to be one's soul, although what does this actually mean? Is it a personification of a part of your own personality?

Pretty much. It appears to be 1/3 of a Pullmanian human being, which is composed of three parts: Physical body, spirit, and soul. The Dæmon is the soul. In Will's world (ours) they are an integrated portion of our consciousness (in other words, the sentience of the spirit and Dæmon are combined) and thus are not aware of themselves as semi-separate sentience.

Or does it have a separate personality?

Same personality mostly, though Dæmon seem to feel emotions more strongly than their humans- after all, they are a soul. Dæmon also have a physic link with their humans- other than sensing injuries, humans with Dæmon can sense what their Dæmon are doing and feeling, and vice versa. Furthermore, they appear to share a single intellgence; for example, if you were studying some hard topic, your Dæmon would be pretty much useless except for maybe basic tasks. In the Northern Lights, Pullman mentions how Lyra cannot hold a conversation at the same time that Pantalaimon is. Furthermore, it is mentioned that dumb people have dumb Dæmon, and vice versa.

What is your Dæmon actually made out of? Does it have a real animal body (because it doesn't eat).

This is never satisfactorily answered really. It says they are made of "atoms", but then it mentions those atoms being conscious, so maybe they are made of Dust? Certainly, as a conscious entity, they have to have some Dust. Since they can change shape (suggesting perhaps not baryonic matter) and yet still interact physically with the world, I don't really think there is an answer for what Dæmon are really made of.

If dust is sin/consciousness, why is it dust that connects people to their Dæmon?

Dust causes consciousness, so even children must have some (remember, Lord Asriel pointed out the child in the Dust-sensitive emulsion photogram?) Dust is NOT sin, that's the whole point of the novels. Since Dust causes consciousness, and both Dæmon and humans are conscious, they both contain Dust.

Can a Dæmon take any form (Pan takes the form of a dragon at one point, though a small one; and this could just mean a lizard. But maybe they can take the form of mythical beasts. Can they take the form of humanoid mythical beasts? Why can't they take the form of a human, or a plant?)

Not really answered, but there appears to be a physical maximum size Dæmon can take. Dæmon can also take the forms of mythical beasts; it mentions Pan and Roger's Dæmon taking the form of ugly gargoyles when Roger and Lyra get drunk. As to if Dæmon can take the form of humans- maybe they could, but don't want to? Never really answered.

How is it decided what your Dæmon settles to? If servant's Dæmon settle as dogs, but then they change professions, the Dæmon doesn't change, does it? How does that really reflect their personality?

The Dæmon is supposed to reflect your personality, which supposedly does not change after the Dæmon settles.

Is there self-consciousness in Lyra's world about what form your Dæmon takes? Are the people in Lyra's world attained a higher level of consciousness because they are conscious of their Dæmon whereas we are not?

Of self-consciousness, probably, but intellectually, probably not.
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Re: What is a Dæmon?

Postby mynameisd » Sun Dec 18, 2011 12:22 am

Hey, i am not certain what they are according to the book, however the concept of the Dæmon best described is like this;

Dæmon are a higher part of ourselves, if you imagine the Person as layers of skin in an onion, our conscious self is somewhere on the edge, whereas the Dæmon is within the core. They represent our subconscious mind, or the part of the brain which we hardly ever use, usually that is the right part of your brain or less dominant hemisphere. Having said that you can still have it in your left hemisphere. Some also call these The reptilian and mammalian brains(the main difference is that one is very logical whereas the other is creative). In something called Jungian archetypes we have three of such "Dæmon" they are called Anima(female aspect) and Animus(male aspect) then there is also "The shadow"- a personification of "negative" self. Everyone has a shadow, however you most likely to get a Dæmon of the opposite sex, which correlates with the book, there are exceptions of course and you could even have both.

In history Dæmon often appear as omens of your own deaths, thereby giving name to Doppelgangers,
sometimes they foreshadow people about the future, warning them of events that are to come.
sometimes they've led people to great victories, given great knowledge or assisted in creating art, in fact most prominent art has probably appeared by the help of these "Dæmon" which, in the end represent a more creative side of ourselves. Some people see them, some people hear them, some people go through their entire life without knowing they ever existed, as this mostly a privilege to certain individuals like Artists, Shamans, priests, Magicians and witches who often use drugs and occult rituals to contact these "higher forces" :D

Dæmon often manifest as gods, demons, faeries, whatnot(though these could be entirely seperate beings), ourselves, even animals of different sorts(which is the case in this book) but could might as well take shape of a kitchen fork. These "helpers" appear throughout human history in different cultures and with different names, for instance the Egyptians termed them Ka, whereas the Greeks gave them the name "Dæmon", which is where the author probably had his inspiration.
Who knows maybe his Dæmon made him write the books in the first place :)

If you want to know more details about the "Dæmon" phenomenon in life i suggest reading;
- The Dæmon by Anthony Peake.
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anima_and_animus
- http://www.egyptianmyths.net/ka.htm
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