As part of the Beginner's guide to Hellenismos, I would like to discuss an often misunderstood part of the Hellenic divine family: the daímones (δαίμονες). The word 'daímones' has its etymological origins in the word 'daiō' (δαίω) which means 'to divide', 'to distribute destinies', 'to allot'. For the Minoan (3000 - 1100 BC) and Mycenaean (1500 - 1100 BC), the daímones were seen as attendants or servants to the deities, possessing spiritual power. Later, the term 'daímon' was used by writers such as Hómēros (8th century BC) to describe an incorporial benevolent or benign nature spirit which provides wealth and justice to mortals. Daímones fulfill an important role in mythology and life: all aspects of life can be overseen by Deathless beings, without taking away from--or needlessly adding to--the portfolio of the Theoi.

Hesiod gives us our first glimpse into the nature of daímones as he writes about the five Ages of Man in Works and Days. In this standard work, he writes about the golden age of mortals, created by the Theoi when Kronos was still leader of the Gods. There humans lived like Gods, without sorrow and grief. They had all they desired and lived the perfect, ethical life. They died as if falling asleep and knew no pain. These mortals were called pure spirits. Even after this generation of mortal men ended, they continued to roam everywhere over the earth, clothed in mist and keep watch on judgements and cruel deeds. They became givers of wealth because that is what they knew in life and are considered guardians of mortal men. These are the daímones khryseoi: 'golden spirits'.

According to some ancient writers, the spirits of the Silver Age also became daímones: the daímones agryreoi. They were described as earth-dwelling fertility spirits who proferred mankind with rich harvests. They were inferior to the Daimones Khryseoi. The former resided within the earth, while the latter occupied the air.

Hesiod makes clear distinction between the Theoi and the daímones: the Theoi are Gods, the daímones are members of the Gold (and Silver) Age who gained immortality. Hesiod makes a clear distinction between the Theoi and all daímones. This differentiation is much less pronounced in the writings of Hómēros, where 'Theos' and 'daímon' are used virtually interchangeably. Especially through Neo-Platonics, comes the placement of daímones between the Theoi and mankind. They are less powerful than the Theoi, with lesser domains; more concerned with the daily happenings of life than the Theoi are, but they, too, are immortal, and deserve honors.

Important to note, too, is the destination made between daímones and heroes: similar in terms of power of the lives of man, but different in their identities, with the heroes having very pronounced personalities, accomplishments and cult worship, and the daímones having none of those. They are also not the same as the spirits of the (recent) dead, as these were considered baleful and frightening. Elaion views the daímones as a group of unidentifiable (nature) spirits who are incorporial and nameless. As such, we consider humans who died and recieved apotheosis--were raised to godlike stature--to be heroes. We consider minor Gods who are sometimes called 'daímon(e)s' are Theoi and feel They should be treated with that level of respect in ritual.

It should also be mentioned that Plato labeled the daímones (or some daímones, most notably those of the Silver Age) as dangerous spirits and eventually they became the demons of Christianity. Yet, neither Hómēros or Hesiod ever intended them to be so: all daímones were pure and Deathless; they acted as a policing force for humanity. Elaion ascribes to the view of Hesiod and Hómēros: the daímones are benevolent and helpful, incorporial, unnamed spirits whose sole purpose is to aid and guide humanity in living prosperous, happy, and ethically. We know that Hellenismos does have its evil spirits: the keres--female death-spirits. They are bringers of death, hunger, pestilence, madness and nightmares. They are, however, not to be confused with the daímones.

As mentioned in pasion, the daímones did not, and do not, recieve (state) ritual. We do feel, however, that they should be thanked for guidance and blessings. Elaion encourages members to do this during your Agathós Daímōn celebration on the second day of the month with a libation of (unmixed) wine and some words of gratitude.

Daímones are an important part of Hellenismos, but because they are so intangible--both in substance and intellectual pursuit--they seem hard to incorporate. Allow us to give examples of what we feel is the influence of the daímones instead of the Theoi, heroes, or any other spirit. It are the daímones who have us look one more time to check if there is a car coming, thus avoiding a collision. It are the daímones who still our tongue when we want to speak ill of someone. It are the daímones who hear our plea for a quiet night while our friends were scheduled to come over and suddenly everyone cancels. These little thing, the Theoi are generally not involved with, but the daímones hear our every day needs and grant the wishes of those whom they deem worthy.

We consider becoming aware of the influence of the daímones in our lives a very important part of practicing Hellenismos, and hope this entry in the beginner's guide will help to do so.