Issue 77 –
DISOWNED SELVES – Our Lost Heritage
Cultural Aspects of the Disowning Process: The Birth of the Demonic
Certain energy patterns are culturally disowned. Western civilization, for example, has created the seven deadly sins. Who among us has not been encouraged at one time or another to do away with pride, covetousness, lust, anger, gluttony, envy, and sloth?
Since the Age of Enlightenment humanity has disowned all the “darker” energies -the passionate, the irrational, the mystical, the unclear, and the paradoxical- and admired, almost worshipped, rationality, detachment, scientific objectivity, and clarity. In this way, we have negated much of the information available to us as human beings. We have also negated our anger, irritability, insecurities, and confusions in favor of balance, good humor, certainty, and self-confidence.
The disowning of “the seven deadly sins” results in a particular build-up of instinctual energies in the unconscious that we call demonic energies. They are among the major disowned energy patterns, and as a society we pay a particularly heavy price for their negation.
Traits associated with “the seven deadly sins”- sexuality, sensuality, and emotionality – are natural energy patterns. If, for a variety of reasons, these energies are considered unacceptable they become demonic. Further, it takes tremendous energy to keep our instinctual life buried, and the longer and more deeply it is buried, the more demonic it becomes and the more energy is required to keep it buried. Much of the physical illness and exhaustion that plagues us today can be attributed to disowning these energies.
Many of us harbor the profound fear that if we let these energies out, total chaos will prevail in the world. We wish to make it absolutely clear that we are not recommending that people “let these energies out.” Voice Dialogue provides us with a way to become aware of these powerful energies and learn how to gradually allow them to emerge in a safe environment. Demonic energies do not have to take over in this process. If, however, we do not allow these selves to speak to us, if we continue to disown them, they will build in intensity, they will be projected, and eventually they will break through into our lives and we will be forced to dance to their tune.
The word demonic is frightening to many; it conjures up visions of monsters, malevolent creatures, and images of Satan. Nevertheless, we use the word because it clearly distinguishes between a natural instinctual life and a disowned instinctual life that has become distorted. We work with the energies and voices of the demonic in order to help restore them to their natural, undistorted state. In this way, these energies can be used to support us in life as they were meant to do.
Working with demonic energies is one of the most difficult aspects of the Voice Dialogue process. Most of us – whether subject or facilitator – fear these energies and are reluctant to confront them. Our unconscious, therefore, is often our best means of confronting and dealing with the demonic. As we mentioned earlier, our disowned selves constantly communicate to us through our dreams and this is equally true of our demonic energy.
If we carefully study our dreams, it becomes abundantly clear that the intelligence behind the dream process wants these instinctual energies honored and embraced. The case of one woman, Agnes, clearly reveals this process at work. Agnes had done a great deal of psychological work and was aware of energy patterns – demonic energies in particular. She decided to learn more about her own demonic energies and what they represented in her life. Soon after making this decision she had the following dream:
It was early morning at the beach and I was with Tom. We went into the ocean and it was dark. We were embracing and rolling sensually in the water. Then the tide brought us back to shore. It was daylight again and we left the water. I went back to my hotel room. I knew he would follow. When I closed the door behind me I got frightened about what would happen next.
At that point, I called on an actress to help me. She went into the shower. I walked in so I could watch the shower on all three sides. She then told me that she was frightened and couldn’t finish this love scene with Tom.
Then we both decided to view an image of her completing it. After we visualized the lovemaking, Tom entered the shower and, as he closed the door behind him, he became a wild beast. He had a serpent’s tail, clawed bird’s feet, a beak with teeth, and claws on the ends of his wings. He devoured the actress, tearing and shredding her. He had cloven feet, like Satan, and after he consumed her they both disappeared.
This dream provides us with a clear example of how our energy becomes demonic. At first, Agnes experienced Tom sensually, but her control side feared this sensuality and gradually disowned it. So she called in the actress – that part of her that acts rather than experiences. But even the actress was afraid, so together they used their powers of imagination to distance themselves still further from the primary energy pattern of sensuality.
At this point in the process a remarkable transformation occurred: Tom became a monster. A few seconds earlier he was merely the embodiment of ordinary sensuality. However, as this energy pattern was more strongly denied, he changed from a naturally sexual being to a vicious Satan-like beast who shredded and devoured the actress.
This is how our energies become demonic: Our natural instincts, disowned over time, become distorted and threatening. Agnes’s dream was telling her that these energies needed to be examined and embraced, and if they were ignored they might well do her harm. Such dreams are compelling warnings from the unconscious that it is time to embrace a self that has been disowned.
It is possible to learn to honor an energy pattern without being required to live it. The Voice Dialogue process can allow Agnes to experience the total sensual continuum within her before it is able to sour and turn against her. Embracing her sensuality does not mean that Agnes must become sexually promiscuous. If Agnes had learned to embrace her sensuality in the first place, it would not have become demonic. Embracing our demonic selves does not mean releasing them in the world and living them out; quite the contrary, we have a better chance of controlling them when they are allowed expression in a balanced way.
But to express our demonic energy, we must learn to recognize it operating in our conscious lives, as well as in our dreams. As long as it remains unconscious, it is projected; thus, we believe our enemies are outside us. We do not know what is unconscious, because the unconscious is unconscious, so it is hard to recognize our projections. Thus, our “reality” is that we are good people living in an evil and chaotic world.
We cannot resolve this dilemma for you any more than we can resolve it for ourselves. We can, however, show you a process, together with a theoretical structure, for embracing our totality as human beings. We can try to create for you the sense of excitement we experience in the adventure of discovery when we begin to embrace our selves. It is easy to embrace the “goodies,” but it is not so easy to embrace the “baddies.” Demonic energy patterns are among the most difficult to embrace. Here, particularly for people with a spiritual orientation, the medicine is generally bitter.