Yeatsian Arconology, pt. 5

[Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4]

At this point, it should be clear that in the Yeatsian material a person is a composite being and a variety of spiritual issues develop when that composite breaks down. A person is both a daimon and a ‘human’ soul (hereafter just called ‘human’) engaged in an often awkward dialogue with each other through the medium of a person’s life. Besides the fact that these two spiritual beings co-exist in a person, what do we know about them?

Mostly, we know them by the faculties they occupy. Whereas the daimon operates the mask and body of fate, the human operates the intellect and will. That language of operation is important, because the daimon and human don’t have those faculties on their own, but as a result of their embodiment (“the body is the organization of the present” according to the Yeatses’ spirits).

It’s appealing to think of these as two different species of souls. There could be sorts of souls that make good daimons and sorts of souls that make good humans. We could be looking at a difference in kind manifested in a suitedness to different tasks. If this were true, we could probably distinguish broad families of spirits that are good for each role, using the various accounts of spiritual beings found in accounts all over the world as a guide.

The daimon is abstract and precise in a way foreign to the churning ambiguity of intellect and will operated by the human. While the daimons often make use of human visages to communicate, they are characteristically exemplars of type, a mask rather than a proper personality. It seems that if they were truly of the same sort, they could operate as humans more effectively.

At no point in the material is there any indications that daimons get stuck like humans, which suggests a difference in kind right there. We don’t have accounts of daimons inflicting a kiss of death, but humans. The notion of the avatar of an age, akin to an arcon but inscribed into an era, being born of daimons, too, suggests that there is something that distinguishes the daimon from the human on a fundamental level.

I wonder, though, if the alternate case might be true, that the same sorts of spiritual beings occupy both positions, with the differences deriving from the way in which they are embodied in different faculties.

It explains how dysfunctional, one-sided spirits can become embodied and still manage to function. If a soul can play either side well, it can also play both sides simultaneously (and badly). If this is the case, then the description of the daemon being the opposite sex as is human can be unpacked as a symbol much like the lunar language.

The gendering suggests that the souls are of a common species even if differentiated in life. This suggests that the capacity of a soul to alternate its gender from lifetime to lifetime may refer to an alternation of roles between lifetimes: a lifetime as a daimon, a lifetime as a human, a lifetime as a daimon, and so on.

The distinction between arcons could be explained by their differentiation in embodiment. While the disembodied soul projects itself into the mask and body of fate of a victim in order to be reworked into form, the embodied soul projects itself into a new life in order to discover the character of its will and intellect. Whereas an arcon of form becomes a mask embedded in the world’s body of fate, the arcons of wisdom become the thinking and will of some bit of the world. There would be two or three tribes of embodying spirits after the fact, not beforehand.

This might allow us to make some sense of the peculiar account given by the spirits of the avatar of an age, that it is born, embodied, of a union between two persons and two daimons under specific circumstances (an act reminiscent enough of some Kabbalistic sex magic to have been modeled upon it). Here the notion of it being born ‘of daimons’ would refer to daimonic participation in the birth rather than a conception occurring outside of daimonic interactions with humans.

The trick to getting at how a soul becomes an arcon, though, requires paying attention to the details of the life through which they are born, in the same way as it is the initiatory moments and crises that define the shape taken by a soul. I may be running toward the end of this little series of posts, at least for now, but I want to take a moment to consider just a couple of ramifications of this.

This suggests that there is a subset of spiritualist work that is essentially artistic, assisting a spirit that has become stranded toward becoming an arcon of form. This is not the same thing as helping a restless spirit move on, but of providing that spirit with a subtle body that can take on a life within the ideas and images of humanity. It transfers the soul into a different chain of incarnations.

It also suggests that there is another subset of it that is essentially therapeutic, providing someone embodied in the world without a daimon with the tools necessary to draw to them the spiritual support necessary to create the dramas which the daimon could not. It entails preparing the person to project themselves into a different sort of afterlife, one in which their life becomes the vehicle for the support of human life in a more general fashion.


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