Pullman: The Golden Compass (Film)

Pullman: The Golden Compass (Film)

The family and I (minus the youngest) are currently watching The Golden Compass. We made it about halfway through on Monday night, and will hopefully finish it off tonight. I find it occupying too large a portion of my thoughts and it is the subject of daemons that I want to get off my mind and on to paper.

If you have read the books (and I haven't), please feel free to correct me here as I am going on what the movie has told me so far: there are many parallel universes and in this particular Universe, the souls of people walk along beside them in animal form. These animals settle on a shape as a child moves into adolescence based on the personality that they are manifesting. These daemons then accompany the person for the rest of their lives, what happens to one happens to another. In one troubling scene, Nicole Kidman's character slaps her daemon (a monkey), and the mark shows on her face as well as injuring the daemon. The daemons appear to be an indication of character, the Gyptians have birds and Magisterium guards tend to have attack dogs.

Tuesday morning, I awoke with two realizations. The first is that I hate animal movies. Yes, I already knew this, but I have been successful in avoiding them for so long that it hit me full force – I hate to see animals suffer. Even if, as my kids pointed out, they are CGI. I think it is because my animals have meant so much to me, they have always been my closest and most loyal companions. When I see an animal suffer in a movie, it just tears at my heart. I will never watch Ol' Yeller. Just sayin'.

The second realization was that I cannot accept that these daemons are their Souls. My beliefs say that the Soul is a part of the Universal Whole and that it is at the Soul-level that we are all One. So how could the Soul be unformed at pre-adolescence, and, moreover, how could the Soul be twisted and cruel, as many of these daemons appear to be. The Soul does not take its direction from the Ego – as appears to be the case in this movie, it provides that small voice of courage and hope to the Ego and Heart.

I've been reading Jung's Memories, Dreams, ReflectionsMemories, Dreams, Reflections and perhaps it is with Jung that Pullman's sense of soul originates. Jung distinguishes between the psyche as the totality of all psychic processes while the soul is considered only a part of these processes, the 'anima' or 'animus' that connects the conscious mind with the unconscious (Wikipedia). This is very different from the Christian (and I guess, my) sense of Soul as something transcendent, something connected to the Divine, and would explain the changing, and sometimes twisted, nature of the daemons.

So what are the daemons if not the Soul? A reflection of ego? Definitely. A reflection of the personality? Maybe. Jung's definition of the soul? Probably. But not mine, not my Soul.


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