Daemons Are ForeverContacts and Exchanges in the Eurasian Pandemonium

Daemons Are ForeverContacts and Exchanges in the Eurasian Pandemonium

David Gordon White

Print publication date: 2021

ISBN: 9780226692401

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Abstract

Dæmons Are Forever is both a record of archaic contacts and transactions between humans and protean spirit beings (dæmons) and an account of exchanges, among human populations, of the science of spirit beings: dæmon-ology. Since the time of the Indo-European migrations, and especially following the opening of the overland and maritime trade and invasion routes known as the “Silk Road,” a common dæmon-ological vernacular has been shared among populations ranging from East and South Asia to Northern Europe. Unbound by exclusivist theological and institutional strictures, dæmons (some of them malign and properly demonic, and many of them feminine) have always traveled more lightly than the high gods of official religions, leaving their traces behind in a rich and varied corpus of myths, folk and fairy tales, works of art and fiction, ritual and scientific treatises, material artefacts, and accounts left by itinerants and immigrants, traders and invaders, demonologists and anthropologists. Through a set of five studies retracing Indo-European and Silk Road histories of changeling traditions, the evil eye, mirror divination, shape-shifting demons and fairies, and demonological technologies, the book explores the spread and transformations of a complex body of millennial dæmon-ological myths, rituals, and images. Methodologically, the author proposes that a “connected histories” approach to Eurasian dæmon-ology may serve as a model for situating history in its proper place, at the heart of the History of Religions discipline.