Possessed by a demon? Don’t chuck him out, he may be useful!

To my children,

Back in the day, Socrates had a daemon – a sort of guardian spirit.  It didn’t keep him out of jail (actually I think it may have got him into it) but it did tell him what NOT to do.  Thusly,

…a voice is present with me, a certain agency of God, somewhat divine…Now this began with me from my childhood ; a certain voice, which always, when it comes, turns me aside from that which I am about to do, but never impels me to do anything.

So a sort of compass that tells you the direction you shouldn’t go in – and nothing else. Useful, huh?

I too have a daemon. I’m pretty sure it’s not divine – it’s probably all the neglected bits of my brain putting stuff together and going ‘hey, how about this for a theory!’ – but for what it’s worth, it’s worth listening to.

It tells me when something is NOT a good idea.  I always listen – and then I often ignore it, being the sort of person who does what they want anyway, so there!  When this ends in disaster – as it usually does – that’s how I know it was right.  It told me not to take up with Mr Cheating Bastard.  Sometimes, it stops me telling certain people things I shouldn’t – and that’s an achievement, because I normally tell everybody anything.  It tells me not to follow my friends over cliffs (or on motorbike rides, or to rave parties, or ‘who’s a chicken’ scenarios).  Sometimes, it’s a party pooper.

Still, I have learned over this half century that if I get a ‘feeling’ something’s not right, I shouldn’t discount it.  Ok, I might go ahead anyway – but I’m going to keep my eyes wide and the back door open behind me.  This may not end well.  When it doesn’t, I’ll be ready.

I bet you have this daemon too.  In fact, I think everyone does (except real idiots – I do know a few of those.  People who date serial killers and invest their life savings in pyramid schemes).  So when you hear that feeble tapping inside your brain, and a small voice calling out ‘Erm…excuse me, but I just wanted to give you a heads-up…if it’s alright with you?’ – don’t shut the door in her face and pretend you’re not home.  Pause for a minute and think.  Is this cowardice…or is this instinct?  Most of all – trust yourself.

Cowardice never killed anyone, but ignoring your instinct, well.  Of course, in Socrates’ case, it was his instinct and not cowardice that got him executed – but then, his daemon wasn’t bent on self-preservation, but on doing the Right Thing.  Now it’s getting far too complicated, so I will leave you with this thought.  Which would you rather be, good or dead?

love, mum


  1. Ah, doesn’t leave me much choice, does it? My guardian spirit has been asleep on the job for a very long time. Often a decade later, I’ll “get” something. Intuition is an alien word in my mouth. But how do I exact just desserts – er, rewards – this way?

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