Demons and Combat – Redux

‘I’m into magic and I’m into myth,’ Marianne says, gesturing to the books that have by now fallen on the floor. Deborah picks one book up, a book of demonology, detailing nightmares and demon myths across five continents and fifty centuries.

‘Do you… believe… in things like this?’ she asks.

‘It’s not a question of believing, or of whether something is factual. Myths endure because they are true; what they tell us about ourselves is true, and sometimes myths were the way we instinctively understood these things before science and philosophy broke them down and explained them.’
(extract from Pandeamonium by Christopher Brookmyre)

Within conventional thought demons are viewed as malevolent supernatural beings, capable of possessing humans. This classification appears to be cross cultural, for instance Buddhism has the concept of evil spirits known as Mira, within the classic Indian tradition Ravana is depicted as a ten headed demon king and in the Vedic traditions, Rahu the demon is viewed as a demon summoned to empower a person. Another cross cultural aspect is that demons are depicted as grotesque, often gross manipulations of the human form.

The contemporary western occultist Aleister Crowley viewed inner demons as metaphors for certain psychological processes. This is the point at which we depart from the realm of the paranormal and instead venture into the internal territory of the human psyche. And it is not a huge departure for us to interpret demons as psychological STATES which we as martial artists can use to overcome feelings of fear and vulnerability. Development of the psyche is after all, a crucial element of becoming an effective fighter. In fact, if anything the psychological implications of demons as metaphors for fortitude and inner strength may actually assist our journey in the combative arts.

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