The Demonic Forest

In my story the forest is infested with the mysterious forces as described in the last post about the “demonic (principle) which can manifest in men, animals and things even in whole epochs (corporal and incorporal)”.

Of course this is not a very original idea or something new but always worth to be told from a new angle.

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Is there anything we could do differently rather doing another “chilling story in the woods”?

As I have mentioned before I am strongly convinced that we should take the ideas of zones of the supernatural and places where the walls between our world and another otherworldly realm alongside our reality are thin and permeable very seriously.

The forest had always many different qualities in our culture in history. Of course the forest is one of the most positive forces known on this planet and everything should be done to protect any forest. The forest itself is not demonic but the demonic element can manifest in nature.

Therefore it is more about demonic places which could make a demonic forest. Cases have been mentioned before here about places which have a weird tendency of letting the same strange thing happen again and again. The demonic element here appears more like an invisible childlike supernatural force repeating the same trick.

The question what could be done differently, what could be told from a different angle is connected with the considerations about the “demonic forces” at certain places (the demonic principle is of course not something necessarily connected with a certain place but it seems there are notorious areas which have sort of a tendency for weirdness).

If we try to avoid stereotypes – for example the stupid killing demon attacking the wanderer – we can get closer to something which rings true to a lot of people.

If we look at most unexplained (supernatural) stories surrounding haunted forests it is more like something is teasing the victims. Even if we hear about dangerous close encounters most of the time the witness is confronted with an mysterious force neither exactly good or bad. However in the end a confrontation with the demonic element could result in a tragic ending. It’s like losing a game with an invisible player.

The mysterious beings in the forest – “The secret commonwealth” like the fairies – are described as paradoxical beings. They are not straight killers but they make people losing their wits.

It might be also a mysterious force behind the “notorious secret rituals in the woods“. Sometimes magic seems to work and perhaps somebody wants you to think that by performing magic you have supernatural powers. However we never had a clue what was really going on.

Our new angle could be something like to admit there are powers we could not reduce to something we know – the best stories or movies like Peter Weir’s “Picnic At Hanging Rock” don’t present simple solutions. They reveal a deeper truth.

“Picnic At Hanging Rock” is a story about the demonic par excellence. It’s disturbing because there isn’t some sort of massacre or any other horrible event revealed. The most frightening side of the demonic element is that we don’t get something bad we can cope with. The most unsettling idea is when we learn something happened which is beyond our understanding.

A “Demonic Forest” is in way like a “Poltergeist”. As soon as we have found a theory what’s going on the phenomenon does something which is like an unexpected twist. In Norway scientists try to understand the “Hessdalen Phenomenon” for a long time – mysterious lights appearing like Ufo’s in a valley again and again, but so far nobody really understood the phenomenon so far.

What the demonic principle can do to us is usually using our curiosity to lure us deeper and deeper into the forest. It needs our strong wish to understand. If we could not any longer understand what’s going on we are lost. Some people vanishing in the forest weren’t attacked by some entity but they lost control.

And perhaps the best trick of the demonic element is to make us believe it doesn’t exist.

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).