The meaning of the dream symbol: Demons

In dreams, Demons may represent the seemingly paradoxical embodiment of our fears and desires. As such, demons are voices from deep inside ourselves, which appear in our consciousness when we are faced with moral decisions. These decisions usually involve the consequences of personal ethics. The struggle between a person’s symbolic demons and angels is a normal part of the checks and balances found within that person’s psyche. Moreover, theorists have put forth the hypothesis which claims, to be ‘wholly’ influenced by either good intentions (religious fanatic), or evil intentions (demagogue), may imply an unbalanced and abnormal psychological grounding.


In Greek thought demons, or rather daimones, were divine or godlike beings with their own special powers. A particular person’s daimon was also identified with the divine will and in consequence with the fate of that person. Later the word came to be used of minor gods, and finally of evil spirits.

Daimons symbolize a higher than normal degree of enlightenment which enables their owners to see farther and more clearly, and in a way which defies explanation. They allow the rules of logic to be set aside in the name of transcendent enlightenment which belongs not just to the order of knowledge but to that of fate.

Unlike the inner daimon which is, as it were, a symbol of the special relationship of its owner with a higher consciousness and which sometimes plays the part of a guardian angel, many primitive peoples regard demons as a distinct species. Their numbers cannot be counted and they hover everywhere for better or worse. Such peoples, as for example those in Indonesia, see the universe peopled with visible and invisible beings - living plants, the spirits of animals in human shape and those of humans in animals, demons dwelling in the seven depths of the Underworld and gods and nymphs filling the seven Heavens above, all able to mingle through the seven levels of the human world and in man himself, the microcosm within the macrocosm, all confounded in one moving polymorphous mass.

In Christian demonology, according to the Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, demons are angels who have betrayed their nature, but who were neither originally nor naturally evil. ‘But neither are daimones evil by nature. For if they are evil by nature they are neither from the Good, nor do they exist in the nature of things, nor, again, did they change from good, if they are always evil by nature...’. They are shown to be enemies of the natural world and opponents of whatever is.

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