Under The Spell

The offender always returns to the place of the crime.
It seems the same applies to supernatural writers, researchers in search of the unknown and people who had encounters with strange phenomena. We can’t explain our passion but we know we need to do this, there isn’t much choise. We’re under the spell.

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Writers and film makers taking the supernatural seriously get often asked why they pursue difficult projects rather than doing something where you could make money more easily. Even it’s true that genre stuff is supposed to be “profitable” which usually means that it is something which could be done for low budget but has a potential for high revenues. This might be the case for some horror pics with easy-to-grasp concepts however many artists who have a real interest in the otherworld (or simply asking questions about our view of reality) suffer. They choose the hard way. But these are the most committed people, they are prepared to work hard for a long time without knowing about their chance for success.

The same applies to researchers, philosophers and scientists. A profound interest in the otherworld is certainly not the best choice to make a career. We should think that the investigation of phenomena we don’t yet understand is science at its best, but the researcher is often being caught in the middle. They aren’t trusted any longer by the “serious scientific community” and they make often many enemies among the “believers”. They get in trouble with the powerful, become blacklisted by politicians and sinister organizations. The work of a researcher like Jacques Vallée who kept a diary for over 40 years and continuosly published interesting insights about the unexplained couldn’t be praised enough. There aren’t many of them but those who are interested in the otherworld are highly committed people.

If somebody had a weird experience in the woods, had a strange encounter or was somehow involved in strange events we would expect that this person would leave the place where it happened, move into a big city or even another country. But we know that people who had encounters with the otherworld are changed. They return either to the place or become reseachers, lecturers or help other people with similar experiences. They are obsessed in their own way.

Once touched by the otherworld we’re under the spell. Its a bit like becoming involved with the demonic principle. In the same breath we are drown towards the unknown as we wan’t to escape the otherworld. But the artist is dedicated to paint that picture. It might look for outsiders that the artist of the supernatural seems to paint the same picture again and again.

This is not the case. The researcher and the artist or writer and film-maker are sitting in the same boat; it is their quest for the unknown. And like a Tibetan monk repeating the same rituals the researcher studies similar cases again and again, and the storyteller is writing many stories but the stories are all about the same theme. People who had visionary experiences return to places or remember things at certain times every year. However this isn’t about repeating the same thing, it is always about progress, about deepening our understanding, even sometimes in very small steps.

There is an interesting question how much freedom people do really have if they take the challenge seriously. However the creative process itself can be an act of freedom. It’s a chance to redeem the demons. And it can be step forward to understand. The people drawn towards the otherworld or towards the fundamental questions about our reality were always a minority. It’s astonishing that a lot of people can watch endless hours of stuff about zombies, vampires, witches and never ask for one second what’s really going on.




We can’t explain why we are into a deeper reality. Perhaps this is something which couldn’t be explained. It is indeed like the demonic principle, something which works beyond our understanding. And if we look at people who had experiences with the paranormal or some encounters we can’t tell why they were chosen. Human history is full of people who had a very different background and then become changed through visionary experience. The only thing we know is that there are no simple answers, but it appears there must kind of a link between certain artists, researchers and visionaries. It’s like they had at some point in their lives seen, felt or heard the same thing, some sort of hidden reality and they got a call to tell the world.

The Demonic Forces

If we think of “demonic forces” or the “demonic element” or “the demonic principle” there are many phenomena applied to a mysterious force accompanying mankind from its earliest days.

First of all the demonic can’t be reduced to unclean spirits and shouldn’t be mixed up the “diabolic”.

Poets, philosophers and scientists describe the many ways the supernatural works in the world.

The most convincing and fascinating ideas come from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe who was in a way obsessed with “the demonic”.

If we look what Goethe has to say on the demonic in “Poetry and Truth” we get the idea that this is a complex and contradictionary force in nature:

“While the daemonic element can manifest itself in anything corporeal or incorporeal, and indeed is shown very remarkably in animals, its primary, most amazing association is with man, constituting a power not necessarily opposed to the moral world order, but crisscrossing it to the extent that one could be called the warp and the other the woof. There are countless names for the phenomena produced by this, for all philosophies and religions have attempted in prose and poetry to solve this mystery and to settle the matter finally, and may they still remain at liberty to do so!” (Goethe on the demonic, Book Twenty Poetry and Truth (p.598, Thomas P. Saine, translator))

Goethe is particularly concerned with the demonic principle when it emerges predominantly in some individual: “But they radiate an enormous strength and an incredible power over all creatures, even over the elements, and who can say just how far such influence does extend?”

Of course this wasn’t purely an observation by Goethe: The demonic man as a character was a popular idea of romanticism in the 18th century, as for example the “Byronic Hero” ( a kind of antihero with a strong ego and driven by demonic impulses which can become very powerful).

The demonic principle becomes later more a psychological thing like the daimonic forces in Jung’s psychological theories.

However the demonic as a universal force is not a psychological phenomenon. Goethe believed in these mysterious powers. As he says it produces phenomena which have countless names. It is something interpenetrating everyday society and individual lives.
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What are theses phenomena? Fortean phenomena present the demonic par excellence, but also a hidden pattern in events and longer term developments. Daimonic traces are everywhere. It’s particular their often ambiguous nature, neither entirely bad nor good, which underlines their demonic or daimonic nature.

„It represents the mysterious power which can be manifested not only in certain personalities but in things, events or entire epochs. In Poetry and Truth the author says “[…] this demoniacal element can manifest itself in all corporeal and incorporeal things, and even expresses itself most distinctly in animals“ (Quote from: The demonism of creation Goethe’s philosophy by Noclae Rambu)

This is a fascinating description however even Goethe wasn’t able to come up with a simple definition, even the mastermind sounds sometimes contradictionary.

We can only try to get a sense for the demonic. It is important to get a better understanding not only for unexplained phenomena.

Particularly in the creative world we often see a weird mechanism at work. Projects or work of art often develop in an unexpected and illogical way. Artists experience “daimonic activity” often in a dualistic sense: on one side the source of creativity is experienced as daimonic, on the other side there are often strange obstacles and challenges along the way. The best projects sometimes don’t work out and nobody finds a good explanation why it didn’t happen or why did it go wrong. It’s like there is a weird energy involved.

Of course this is wild speculation. But it is something like a feeling you get when you experience certain patterns over a longer timespan. Its something we often think is not fair or not logical or sometimes a bad intention leads to something good and -unfortunately – the best and well-meant intentions of our actions lead to disaster.

The “demonic principle” could be helpful to understand the interrelationship between fiction and true events, fiction and reality and how fiction could also have an impact on what’s happening in real life.

Sometimes it’s the demonic principle when we get lost in the woods (both in a literal and in a metaphorical sense).