Daimon

In the World of Isles every inanimate thing has a resident spirit, exactly as believed by primitive animists in many of Earth’s cultures. Many of these ‘daimons’ receive a divine cult, like Japanese kami or Roman genii, and others receive prayers and offerings on a less on-going basis.

The greater and more impressive or remarkable a thing, the more powerful its daimon will be. So a volcano-daimon is more powerful than a mountain-daimon, a mountain-daimon more powerful than the daimon of a hill, the daimon of a hill than the daimon of a field. The greater the apparent of character of a thing, the more active and motivated the daimon will be, so the daimon of a hundred-year-old bonsai tree is more active than the daimon of a potted parsley plant. The character of the daimon will resemble the apparent character of the thing, so the daimon of a hurricane will be ragingly and unreasoningly destructive, and the daimon of a fertile field will be kind to men.

A daimon is the spirit of a thing, no more substantial than a man’s soul, and located, if anywhere, in the thing itself. But sufficiently powerful and active daimons are capable of manifesting themselves as animals, people, and grotesques (e.g. fauns, or multi-armed, animal-headed weirdos with odd-coloured skin) in and near that which they are daimon of. If one of these manifestations be destroyed or killed, the daimon loses the energy invested in it, which can be a very significant proportion of its resources. Daimons can often also enter the dreams of those sleeping in or near that which they are daimon of (see World of Dreams), in which they always appear in an individually characteristic form, usually appropriate to their nature and the thing that they are daimon of.

Even without manifesting in a powerful form, a daimon can affect the world. The daimon of a volcano can control his eruptions, the daimon of a field, his fertility. The daimon of a forest can send game into the hunter’s path, or draw it off to safety. The daimon of a lagoon, strait, bay, or sea can bring fish into the fishermen’s nets or wreck their boat and drown them. Even the daimon of a tree or house can work mischief if harmed, or give assistance if pleased. Given that a daimon cannot be killed except by destroying the thing that it is daimon of, much of the activity of intelligent beings must be devoted to getting along with daimons.

An inhabitant of the World of Isles is very polite to the daimons of the things he or she must deal with every day. He or she gives a offering to his house daily, and regularly to the city or town in which he lives. Very frequent ceremonies are held in honour of anything which figure large in life—fields and bodies of water are handsomely rewarded for their bounty, volcanoes for refraining from explosion. A person will offer prayers and sacrifices to a city or house upon entering it, to a tavern or inn before carousing, to a ship upon boarding, to a sea upon setting sail, to a wind, to a road, to a forest, to an island….

Icons of a daimon in the form in which it appears in dreams, or in conventionalised form, with its name inscribed below, are set at the doors of houses and other buildings, at the gates of cities and towns, on docks and beaches, and so forth. Offerings of food and drink are set before them, and are eaten by birds, animals, and insects. Often bhang and coca are burnt as offerings before these icons, and some daimons appear as permanently stoned. Larger sacrifices are made, often by priests, on special occasions, usually in the temples or shrines of more-important daimons.

When a thing must be demolished or destroyed, such as when a ship is no longer seaworthy, a house has grown decrepit, or a tree must be felled for timber, the geist is propitiated and offered intoxicants in quantity, and the deed is done with merciful swiftness. When a beloved house or long-serving ship is thus destroyed a genuinely mournful wake is often held.

Manifest daimons are capable of begetting children upon, and of bearing children to, humans, flyers, merfolk, leshy, giants, and sprites. These children are of the kind of their non-divine parent, but tend to be outstanding specimens, and to receive gifts and favours from their divine parents. According to a wide-spread old wives’ tale, twins are the result of a woman coupling with a mortal and a daimon in the same night, and are believed to be lucky.

See mantis, World of Spirits, Helios, Pontus, Selene, Coryon, and Gaia.


Copyright © 1991 by Brett Evill. All rights reserved.