"Each person bears a uniqueness that asks to be lived and that is already present before it can be lived.”
“When the souls had all finished choosing their lives, they approached Lachesis in the order the lottery had assigned them.
She gave each of them the personal dæmons they’d selected to accompany them throughout their lives, as their guardians and to fulfill the choices they had made.”
-Plato, The Republic
A Prose Poem on the Dæmon
However, to say that this force enters at one time is not accurate, and we should correct ourselves on this point. Often, when a young man destined to take on such a burden looks back to even his earliest memories he recognizes the shadow of this presence. But it is not until the mysteries of time and direction have made it manifest, have given the dæmon birth, following the scattered tempests of its gestation, in all their horror and light, that he recognizes the memories, coupled with the thoughts and feelings that accompany them, as a prophecy of what will one day overcome him. Now he hears the voice, the voice that here dripped a tainted word in his unprepared ear, there hummed a forbidden melody while he slept; he hears the thousand broken poems of his childhood reach out for one another and form one unerring song of danger and longing, one tightrope of terror and beauty that extends beyond his furthest horizon -a tightrope he must walk alone. He recognizes this presence primarily in premonitions half unconsciously visited upon him during times of isolated play and wandering, for these children are often solitary according to their own choice and nature. The dæmon is a serpent that has always been there, coiled, calling, wrapped around the base of the spine, poison in the mouth of the shepherd; a cold omniscient ubiquitous eye in the back of a dream, a thin outline of bleeding black loss traced slowly around his fantasies of adventure and victory. He recognizes it pushing its protean forms through inner gardens he has tried in vain to keep holy through love and prayer. It is a spectre wrapped around the neck of stories his grandfather told him, the voice of an ineffable destiny moving through the trembling altar of his imagination.
Do you see these lonely children playing? Where are they? They are burrowing hiding places, creating new prisons of fantasy, dancing, as unwatched children do, in the dusts and dim light of our attics. They wear the clothes of the dead, costumes to their years, and the song life yearns to sing is unshackled. Come forth once more. Abandoned cars and rotting houses, useless in the utility weighed vision of adult fatigue, shelter their biology as the change takes hold. A sunken roof becomes the vaulted ceiling of the cathedral. Paint is mixed in the mind. Dusted records spin black, and the music we lost is heard again. Father! Father that the war took hold of and then took! Read the lost books of Thomas to me again! Cast thy voice out of the dark! It is here. At window sills they stand, watching night begin to clutch at day, and know they too change at night. They climb trees and in silence watch those who pass underneath, delighting in the leafy folds of the secret. Will I always be a stranger? Hidden under your city's bridges they trace the graffiti, shivering in backyard snow caves they speak, they reveal themselves, but only to themselves. The steps disappear beneath the street. It is lost, but I will follow; you my beacon. They are adorers of cupboards they can squeeze into, boxes with locks on them, hidden pockets in their clothing, things that appear to be one thing and are really another.
Philip Pullman has brilliantly recreated the dæmon in "The Golden Compass" and the rest of the "His Dark Materials" Trilogy.