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THE WONDER explores perspectives, rituals, and observances of modern, naturalistic, Earth-revering Neopagan religious paths. Naturalistic Pagans embrace the world as understood by science (that is, without gods, magic, or the supernatural), and enhance our lives with myth, ritual and activism. Hosted by Mark Green (author of ATHEOPAGANISM: An Earth-Honoring Path Rooted in Science) and Yucca (formerly of The Pagan Perspective YouTube channel, now of the Magic and Mundane channel).

Named #6 in the top15 Pagan podcasts for 2022! https://blog.feedspot.com/pagan_podcasts/

Confronting Our Demons

August 16, 2021

Remember, we welcome comments, questions and suggested topics at thewonderpodcastQs@gmail.com



Yucca: Welcome back to the wonder science-based paganism. I'm one of your hosts Yucca, 

Mark: And I'm your other host, Mark.

Yucca: And this episode we're coming back to the nuts and bolts. We'd like to do episodes like this every now and then where we really get into the details. And we're going to be talking about confronting our demons and working with demonology and that whole area. Okay. 

Mark: Right. And to start with, we need to, we need to say you, you haven't tuned into the wrong podcast. This, this is still science-based paganism. What we're talking about is using the framework of Western demonology as a way to do powerful, personal work. That can help to remove impediments from your progress.

You know, things that you have a really hard time doing. They can help to calm or quiet, critical voices that, that pop up in your head. That's those are the kinds of demons that we're talking about here. We, we're not talking about literal invisible creatures from other planes because we don't believe in that stuff.

There's no evidence for it. 

Yucca: But, but the framework can still be really useful and functional building on what we were talking about. In our last episode, we talked about bringing some of that enchantment back, some of that playful, fun, because it really works for our brains. We think that way we think in stories we think in metaphors and yeah. We can use that very intentionally. 

Mark: Yes. And this is in some cases, this is more of, kind of the darker side of that enchantment that re-enchantment through use of our imagination process. One of the things that is really remarkable about our brains is that our brains can't really tell the difference between a vividly described story and reality.

And so if we go through a process that looks and sounds and smells like summoning the demon, it'll just like you've seen in the movies. Our brain can actually believe that yes, there is a being there that has characteristics that we can, we can summon, we can bind, we can negotiate with and we can reach agreements with in order to make our lives better.

Yucca: Yeah. 

Mark: So we're we're once again, we're not saying that those beings are real they're just in your mind, but just in your mind, isn't much of a, just in your mind is really a big deal.

Yucca: Well, they're, they're real in the way that Santa Claus is real, right? So not an actual man with a big beard and a belly at the north pole, but something that, that we can an idea that we relate with a personality that, that many people have a pretty deep relationship with. 

Mark: Right.

Yucca: And how many movies have you watched that, you know, weren't real, but you got scared, you cried, you felt those intense feelings.

And there's probably a scene from a movie or a book that you can call to mind that you feel choked up. Just, just thinking about it, even though, you know, somebody completely made it up and they did. Intentionally to make you feel the way that you feel about it. That was the point, whatever the, the scene was. 

Mark: Right. So what we're going to talk about today is a framework, a system, not the system, because. There are lots of different ways to get to the same sorts of emotional processes, but a system that can help you to reach an emotional state where a shift can happen. 

Yucca: Okay. 

Mark: And it doesn't necessarily happen during the ritual, but you may notice in the days following the ritual that suddenly.

That thing that was really bothering you just doesn't seem to be bothering you so much anymore, that, that things, things changed. So let's get into it a little bit and talk about what the sorts of things are that we might envision as demons. And then how we might, we might deal with them.

Yucca: Sure. Well, first of all, there's going to be different scales of what a demon is or isn't right. There could be specific. It could be about specific events. The of dreads that you have, or it could be something much long, much larger, like your anxiety or depression, things like that. 

Mark: Huh. Right. And it bears thing that is non theist pagans. We generally choose not to put human-like faces onto phenomena that we relate with in a ritual sense. Some of us do some of us use gods as symbols and archetypes so that, you know, Haiti's can become the master of the underworld. And we can relate to the idea of of mortality through that symbol.

But this process that we're talking about today is one where we're deliberate. We deliberately are putting faces on the. Elements of our lives that we want to see shifted and transformed. So,

Yucca: very specifically of ours, 

Mark: yes,

Yucca: this is not about. boyfriend or girlfriend or your something else. This is really about parts of our selves that we're working with. 

Mark: unless you are facilitating a ritual, that includes that. 

Yucca: Of course. 

Mark: And that can also be very powerful. I mean, if, because you, after all your you're the atheopagan right. You're the magical technician. It may be that you're the person that knows the process for how to work with this, but you're helping another person to confront their demon.

Yucca: Sure, but there's, there's consent in that process. 

Mark: Absolutely. There 

Yucca: That's that's where I'm trying to get at, because later on, we're going to get into some things, some terms that might be a little bit concerning if they were outside of the context of there being full consent. 

Mark: Yes. Yes. And we are big believers in full consent. That sort of thing. 

Yucca: Yeah, 

Mark: Well, it's one of our things. We have a lot of things.

Yucca: we do. But we actually it's. It's enough of one of our things that we hadn't a whole episode on it. 

Mark: Yes we did.

Yucca: And it's always worth coming back to and retouching on. So. 

Mark: Of course. You know, before we go further, I, I do want to mention that I wrote this process up into a blog post, which we will put the link to in the episode description so that you have sort of a guide for how to go through this process. And don't have to jot down all the notes in order to capture it from this podcast.

Yucca: Unless, of course that's helpful for you, but don't feel like you need, if you're driving or something now don't feel like you need to. 

Mark: Exactly. Yeah, you don't need to keep stopping the recording and then, you know, writing down notes or anything. So this, this information is available elsewhere in a written form. And I also want to mention that the, the concept of this was something suggested to me about twenty-five years ago by my friend, Alan Young, in an essay that he wrote about a pagan approach to demonology a.

Now his was less of a. Of a non theist science-based approach to demonology, but it was a very interesting essay and apparently he expanded it to a book at some point and then lost it in a computer disaster. So, I don't have the essay anymore and neither does he, I had asked him for a copy when when I thought about writing this.

In an atheopagan sense, but I really want to thank him for the concepts. Because I think that there's a real usefulness to using this framework for doing some of our so-called shadow work. So let's start with will, what are some appropriate things that might be useful to frame as demons that we would work with?

And I can think of examples, like. Addictions, 

Yucca: Okay. 

Mark: Blockages. Maybe this comes to mind for me because this tends to be the sort of thing that I have a lot procrastination just deferring, doing things that need to be done out of a sense of anxiety. Those sorts of things are really challenging for our lives.

They can really get in the way of our progress and they can be really hard to contend with. So this is a system that you might use to, to try to get some traction there. Are there other sorts of things that you can think of are you know,

Yucca: I mean, I love those examples. I think that, that, again, it comes back to scale. There might be some, some of your examples, right? At least sounds to me, like very kind of big things, but there might be some little ones too. Like the, the anxiety around calling someone on the phone instead of the email or some of that could be one of your more minor demons than something that maybe might be a little bit of a bigger deal. 

Mark: Sure. And a lot of people really don't like interacting over the phone. That's, that's something 

Yucca: That's a very personal example. 

Mark: ah, Okay.

Yucca: I don't, this is fine. We were, as we're recording, we're looking at each other's faces and so I can get your body language. And, but over the phone, there's just, oh, it gets my heart going. There's something about it anyways. So that would be a very personal example. 

Mark: sure. In any sort of. Just kind of nameless, dread, you know, most of us have things in our lives where we just kind of go, oh, I really don't want to do that. And it's the kind of thing where you have to stick it in the calendar in order to make sure that it happens. And then usually it gets bumped by a few days.

Cause you still don't want to do it. And then eventually the level of anxiety about not doing it. Points the level of anxiety about doing it, and then you, you actually do it. But that's not very efficient and it's super stressful. It's a very uncomfortable way to approach those sorts of things. 

Yucca: And then it just repeats over and over again. 

Mark: Yeah, exactly.

When you have to call your mother again. 

Yucca: Yeah. 

Mark: So, yeah. Those sorts of things. So all of those 

Yucca: more? On a kind of bigger level might be Fights leftover fights that happened years ago that still come back.

Mark: Great.

Yucca: had that, that fight with, I can think of one, another personal one, a landlord that I had 20 years ago, who ended up being, it ended up being a very terrible situation. He died 15 years ago, and yet, sometimes the arguments still comes back into my head. 

You know, decades, right? 

Mark: Yeah.

Yucca: that would be a candidate for personify, you know, to envision a name 

Mark: Mm.

Yucca: release. Like we're going to talk about. 

Mark: Yeah. And that can extend to familial kinds of issues as well. I mean, both of my parents are dead as well. But I still can have arguments in my head with my phone. 

Yucca: Yeah. 

Mark: And that is a sublimely un-useful extension of my time and my energy and focus. So it's those are the kinds of things that we can draw into bind into a magic circle and have a conversation with.

So let's talk a little bit about what the protocol is, what, what the system is for dealing with these. And the very first one is you need to conceptualize very, very clearly. What is this demon like? And also give it a name and a title and the name and the title are really important because in demonology knowing the name of a demon gives you control.

Yucca: true name, right? 

Mark: true name, right? Yes. In the, in the earth sea sense of things. 

Yucca: Yeah. 

Mark: and

Yucca: Dresden, if anyone got into those series, that, series. 

Mark: that, that, I don't know, 

Yucca: Okay. 

Mark: Same kind of thing I imagine. Yeah. So a name and the name can be anything. In the blog post, I made up one, which was Xer mocks, and another was Shan Tash. And, you know, just, they can be any of these. I suggested that unless the, the, the is or relationship with a person in most cases, he want to make it a name that doesn't sound like a human name, 

Yucca: Mm. 

Mark: Because you're not.

You're relating to this thing, even if it's the relationship with your father, for example, I would say that's a separate thing than your father himself,

Yucca: Yes. right? It's it's the relationship not, you're not going to be submitting your actual father or landlord or whoever it was. Yeah. 

Mark: Right, because it'll be really disappointing when they don't show up 

Yucca: Yeah. 

Mark: among other things. 

Yucca: Yeah. 

Mark: So, and the title is important because the title is the descriptor of, of what they're, what the issue is that you're working to contend with. So, you know, Shantesh thee the Lord. Procrastination for example gives you a good handle on, you know, what they're about, what their, what, what their, not only their name, but also what their function is.

Yucca: at the same time, it's giving it that little bit of different newness. That is what our minds are going to grab on to. Right. It's taking it out of the mundane into that kind of special space. 

Mark: Right. And if you can visualizing what they look like even drawing it, if you're an artistically oriented kind of person can be very useful. If you're not a visually oriented person or not an artistically oriented person, then, you know, imagine what the demon sounds like with their voices, like, or What they smell like?

Probably not what they taste like. 

Yucca: It depends on what the specific even is maybe 

Mark: I guess, 

Yucca: If maybe if you're, if this is working through some form of alcohol addiction or something like that, that might be a component, Right.

You might be imagining the taste of the, the throw up from your hang over the next. 

Mark: right.

Yucca: going gonna, but whatever's going to really make it vivid to you.

Whatever you're going to experience on a very deep level. 

Mark: exactly. Exactly. So the next step is the summoning. Anybody who has seen any of these movies about, you know, summoning demons knows exactly how this works. Now it may take you a period of a few days to prepare for it because you might want to develop pertinent sigils that describe the the demon and also some safety and protection symbols that you would intersperse there.

Yucca: And that's a topic that's actually on the list that we're going to be coming back to soon is talking about schedules and symbols and how to use those for another sort of nuts and bolts episode. 

Mark: Right, right. So let's say you develop 13 symbols or thirteens a nice number, but seven is another nice 

Yucca: Seven and nine are great. Yep. 

Mark: Yep. And they, they describe the issues that comprise the demon and also safety and protection. And when you are ready, then you ground and center and prepare yourself as you would for any ritual and create sacred space.

In your space and then draw, literally draw a magic circle. If you're doing it on like the floor of a room or on the ground, you can do it with salt or baking soda that can easily be vacuumed up afterwards. Or if you don't have very much room, you could just do it on a piece of paper. 

Yucca: Okay. 

Mark: And, you know, visualize where we're going to visualize the demon inside the magic circle.

After the summoning. So in scribe, the sigils around the outside and then call the name and the title of the demon three times. And it's traditional to ring a bell.

And now you imagine the presence of the demon inside the circle. You visualize what it looks like and what it sounds like and what it smells like. And if you have a hard, if, if you're not seeing it, if, if you don't feel like the demon is showing up, put some bait in the circle, something that will attract it.

Right. And 

Yucca: Your to-do list. 

Mark: yes.

Yucca: If it's the procrastination as your demon, put your to-do list there. 

Mark: Sure. Any, anything that, that, you know, makes the demons show up. Right. 

Yucca: Yeah. 

Mark: And so when the demon appears, then you want to greet it formally and respectfully by its name and title, because you're about to enter into a negotiation. But the first step after the demon appears is to bind the demon. You tell it that it can't leave the magic circle and it must cooperate with you to be free.

It has to make an agreement with you. So, you know, I bind you by the name of my mental health and my physical wellbeing. I bind you by the sigils of this circle to deal fairly and form a pact with it. Something like that, and then comes the meat of the ritual, the core of the work. And that is a conversation with the demon negotiating, an agreement about what they will do for you in exchange for being released.

Now we need to talk about consent here now, right? Because this is not a very consensual sounding process. But we're talking about yourself. 

Yucca: Yeah. 

Mark: You know, you, you are consenting to this by choosing to do this process. So you, you, as a, as a, as an an individual with agency, as a sovereign person, have the right to declare boundaries about how these little sub routines in your psychology relate to you, you have the right to say.

I'm not going to do this anymore. The way that you tell me to do it, I'm going to do it a different way. And we're going to make an agreement about that.

Yucca: Yeah, because fundamentally it is, it's still. 

Mark: That's 

Yucca: It isn't actually somebody else. And that's one of the reasons we were making that clarification earlier about if it is about a relationship with the person, it's the relationship. That is the demon, not the person, even though your image of them is still part of you, but just keeping those boundaries really clear, 

Mark: Very important. Really very important.

Yucca: this is your giving. You're envisioning it as something as a separate entity, but still somewhere recognizing logically, no, this is me. And so I have the power to do this. Right. I ultimately am the one who gets to decide whether this is happening or not. 

Mark: Yeah. Yes. I not only do I have the power to do it, but I have the right to do it. And those, those are, those are the two things that go into consent. Right. I have the authority to speak on behalf of myself and and I have the power to to make that decision.

Yucca: Yeah. 

Mark: So you have bound the demon in the circle. You can see the demon there in the circle that you've scribed on the floor or in the dirt, out in a nice natural place or on a sheet of paper, on a table top, if that's kind of the way that you need to work this. And so now is the compelling and bargaining.

And so you are. Negotiating with this demon, you can speak both sides of the conversation. It might help you to speak in a different voice when you speak as the demon imagining what the voice of the demon would be like. And if the magic circle that you have is large enough, you may you may actually want to physically move.

Between being in the circle, speaking as the demon and then outside the circle to speak your own part, the part of your, your essential self.

Yucca: And if you don't have that space, say you're working with a circle drawn on a piece of paper at the table. You could literally change between chairs or your body just shift which direction you're looking. 

Mark: Yes. Yes. And all of this is I should say all of this is very well-documented psychodrama technique from psychology the, the, the use of different chairs to speak as different parts of ourselves is Kind of a central element of Fritz Perls, gestalt therapy, for example. So this, this may sound like a weird thing to do, but actually it's a, it's a time tested technique for being able to work with the parts of ourselves that we have challenges with.

Yucca: Yeah. 

Mark: So once you've made your agreement, And that may take some time. You, you may go back and forth, but bear in mind, the demon is going to want to be let go from this magic circle, because if it isn't let go from this magic circle, then you can just walk away and go off into your life without it. And that's not what parts of our personality want to have happen.

So you have that leverage and eventually an agreement can be made. Once that has happened, then you can dispel the demon. And it's important to note, there's a difference between dispelling a demon and banishing a demon. Dispelling, a demon is sending it away from you. It's free, but it has to leave you alone until you summon it.

And in the blog, I suggested the following words. I dispel you. Shantesh the fear of completing my resume and send you from me until such time as I summon you three times, no fewer and no more fly for me and keep your bargain and that's so that you can have. you have a conversation with someone about this process or something, if you use the name of the demon, it won't invoke the demon, unless you use it three times in a row.

Yucca: And that's something that is very common in at least a Western European mythology. And we see that in lots of inlet, the lore of lots of books and movies that summoning that three times, you say it three times. And this process. We're talking about the steps, but the steps, one of the assumptions is that that if you're using this, you probably have some connection to this already because of the movies and the books and all of the media.

And so it's going to have a meaning to you because there's the cultural context. Where, if you're coming from a different background, there may be different rules or context that, that with careful thought you could apply instead of the specific rules that we're talking about. 

Mark: Right. Exactly right. I mean, there are people who are of particular ethnic derivations whose whose ancestors may have had different sorts of systems for for engaging. Imagine spirits or, or or demons or any of that sort of stuff. And they may do this a little bit differently in order to, you know, acknowledge their ancestry and, and have it feel right for them.

Yucca: Yeah. So as always, we're not saying this is the one way or the Right way. This is a way, but there is logic behind the way that we're describing. Yeah. 

Mark: right now having dismissed the demon spend, I would say a week or so, just kind of checking out. How things feel now, you, you can erase the magic circle clean up. Probably don't as Yoko was saying before we started recording, this is probably not the time to jump right on the phone with your mother-in-law or to go and, you know, have, have brunch with her or something.

This is powerful work. And it should not be undertaken lightly. And it's important that its logic be carried out precisely because the subconscious mind is tricky and it may sabotage the intention of the ritual if it isn't. So once you've done this, you can maybe take a shower or a bath, either eat a substantial meal, get yourself grounded back in ordinary reality.

In, in ordinary mind space so that the work considered into you, but also so that you aren't kind of floating six inches above the ground as you go off into the world and try 

Yucca: get in the car and drive somewhere. Yeah. 

Mark: Right, right. 

Yucca: So this whole process is a very intentional process. There's the preparation for it. There's the act, there's the doing it itself. So setting apart that time to take care of it and then the, your self care afterwards, Right, 

Mark: right. right. Then the next part of this demonology process is when you notice benefits. When you notice that things are better, it's probably a good idea to summon the demon back and thank them. Because that's the way that the adversarial relationship gets eased over time. It's not just that you have this leverage over the demon because you're able to trap them.

It's also that eventually you work out kind of a truce where they're just not as invasive in your life anymore. So it's respectful to that part of yourself. To go through this process, again, maybe a somewhat simpler version of it. Maybe you don't need to create new, new sigils. For example, you use the same ones that you use.

And, you know, thank the demon for what it's, you know, for releasing it's hold on you and for allowing a better, more functional way of being into your life.

Yucca: Yeah. 

Mark: So that's something that you could do a week, two weeks a month after the fact when you begin to notice that it's actually being somewhat easier to write your resume, it's it's being easier to pick up the phone and, and talk with someone. 

Yucca: Eating you up at two in the morning or three in the morning when you wake up and kind of go back to sleep. 

Mark: Right, 

Yucca: Yeah, 

Mark: right. You're not, not still, you know, wishing that you'd said that when really perfect reply that you only thought of two years after the conflict. 

Yucca: exactly. 

Mark: Yeah. When you feel. You're in balance with this part of yourself, you may want to do, you may want to banish the deans. And a banishing is a permanent dispelling of a demon, which is not to be undertaken lightly because many of the parts of ourselves started out as helpful.

Yucca: Hmm. 

Mark: And they just kind of grew out of control and turned very controlling and ended up being counterproductive. So you may want to keep the demon around as an ally instead. 

Yucca: Hm. 

Mark: If there's any chance you're going to need the assistance of that demon. Again, you probably just want to dispel it rather than banish it, but a formal banishing, if you need to do that is accomplished through the creation of a seal, which is a complicated sigil containing the meaning that the demon is to be banished forever.

And then you can carry that. In a wallet or a purse, or it can be put on your alter or focus and typically carrying or displaying the seal is required for a year and a day before the banishment is permanent.

So remember that there are a lot of different ways to ritually approach our needs. This kind of work will appeal to some people and not to others. And that's fine. But you may you really may find that there is some, there, there is some healing benefit to be had out of personifying. The, the aspects of ourselves that are hurtful and counterproductive and undermine our, our happiness and our effectiveness in working with them in this way.

Yucca: Before we, we finish up, I want to circle back around to the negotiation component because I think this is one of the areas where. If you don't have a lot of background in ritual work, if this is something that you're coming into for the first time, that there might be some tricky parts here because there's now it might actually be the critic that you're addressing in this, but there is that voice in us that often says, oh, this is silly.

You're making it up. And in this situation, You're literally having a conversation, right. You're having a conversation and you are playing both sides. And so that's, it is silly, but that's okay right there letting go of that, of what it might look like from the outside. And don't worry about that. You your job is to do the ritual and have it be meaningful to you and not worry that, you know, nobody's got a hidden cam rather that they're posting this on Tik TOK or whatever with right.

This is you having this interaction. And what comes to mind in this conversation might not be what you were expecting. But you can go ahead and still have that conversation. On the other hand, it might feel a little bit forced, but working through that is also going to help you work through the process itself. So, mark, are there any ideas that you have or advice for somebody who's doing this kind of internal role-play for the first time? Okay. 

Mark: Well to start with, I think you're most likely to end up in Kettering Xerox, the fear of looking silly. So you may want to start there. I mean, we all have multiple demons, right. And you know, you're, there is, there is this pernicious. Thing that, that all of us have at some level, which is repression in the form of or repression presenting itself as dignity.

So we don't want to do things that seem on dignified. But what it really is, is a way of keeping us from doing stuff that might be new and that we're not good at, or that feels silly when we first start doing it. And so. You know, particularly if you're new to ritual practice that really maybe, you know, the, the, the part of yourself that you want to that you want to contend with.

The other circumstance that can happen during the negotiation part is that the demon can say something to you that surprised you. Even though it, even though it comes from inside you, you may be very surprised that the direction that the conversation goes. And if you find yourself baffled by this and really without a response, you can dismiss the demon and come back to this later.

After you've had a chance to think about it for awhile, you know, don't, don't let yourself be put on the spot to cut some kind of a deal with this demon that you don't want to cut. Right. The good news is you are in control. You do have the opportunity to, to dismiss the demon until someone again, and.

You can think about, well, what, what is that very interesting, unexpected thing mean to me? How do I, how do I contend with that?

Yucca: And then you do have time to come up with that?

perfect response. 

Mark: Right, right. 

Yucca: Yep. And journaling journaling might be one tool to help with this process. That's another tool we should really talk about, but it's a it's a classic, but it's a classic for a reason. 

Mark: Yes. Yes. And I believe that there is that for exactly that reason, the the so-called book of shadows is a traditional magical ritual component. You know, when, when we do these rituals, what we're really doing is experimenting with our psyche and taking notes and rigorously documenting the experiments is.

It's a scientific approach, right? It's you know, okay, here I did this thing and here is the data on how I feel about it afterwards. And, you know, two weeks later, well, actually I got my resume done and I've got four interviews and, you know, something definitely shifted for me. So, journaling and keeping track of your progress is definitely a really good idea.

And it can help you to get more in touch with yourself.


Yucca: Well, this has been a really fun one. 

Mark: yeah. Yeah. I thought this was a fun conversation for sure. 

Yucca: Yeah. 

Mark: And as always, you know, we, we want to remind you that these processes are about being mentally healthier, being happier, being more effective. And. So, you know, be good to yourself in, in the course of doing this stuff. These, these are techniques for dealing with parts of ourselves that are, are challenging.

But one of the things that is easiest or rather that is best for improving our overall wellbeing is just to be kind to yourself. So keep that in mind. Well, this has really been a great conversation. Thank you so much Jaco. 

Yucca: Thank you, mark. 

Mark: And we'll see you all next week on the wonders. Science-based paganism.