We all have an inner primitive. In some it is little more than a bundle of repressed desires and unfulfilled needs churning quietly just below the surface of their otherwise placid and well adjusted personality, never to see the light of day. In others it takes the form of a distinct alter ego, their own personal Mr Hyde complex complete with all the associated violence and self recrimination after the fact. In the pagan it is easily mistaken for some abstract totemic quality, to the religiously minded an inner demon that must be denied. And of course, those of a more rational mindset consider it nothing more than a mental aberration curable with pills and psychotherapy too.
In some cases it becomes everything above and more, a deep rooted alternate personality capable of taking any number or different forms. Hidden away like a bleeding ulcer within the fertile womb of our subconscious it begins to germinate, maturing upon the very aspects of ourselves which we refuse to accept and gaining in potency until it becomes large enough to assert itself as a distinct entity all of its own. An unwelcome ghost in our unwilling yet fully yielding shell, as well as the half blooded offspring of every life event we seek so desperately to escape from. Last Halloween I shared a personal ghost story. This year, you get to see inside my head.
You see, I am speaking from experience. I have struggled with my own inner primitive for as long as I can remember, only managing to bring him under control through a mix of magickal willpower and psychological trickery around my late twenties. I am no stranger to having what appears to be other creatures coexisting inside my head, be they alluring artistic muses or deliberately internalised thought forms used to get me through the day. My dark side became a seething ball of rage and fur, anger boiled down to its most primal of states and worn like a suit of armour when the need arose. Oh yes, it definitely had teeth.
Indeed, it was so obviously lupine in form that early attempts to self diagnose my disorder back before I was a practising magickian convinced me that the answer may lie with clinical lycanthropy. This is an actual documented mental illness with no supernatural basis whatsoever, despite what Hollywood would have you believe. All the symptoms seemed to fit. The small but noticeable physical changes which accompanied his bubbling to the surface, the increased strength, speed and truly remarkable ignorance to both pain and any notion of self preservation whilst tirelessly pursuing the object of my rage.
Having what to all intents and purposes seems to be a fully grown werewolf growling day in, day out at the back of your mind is far less fun than it sounds, and in truth the benefits of being able to shift into that persona for a while when threatened did little to make up for the damage such rage would do in my every day life. To claim that I was one of the earliest tulpamancers is perhaps a little hyperbolic. Yet I certainly took Grant Morrison’s talk of plex creatures from DisinfoCon to heart early in my occult career and realised the answer to my problem lay with his championing of a fractured but still operational multiple personality matrix.
Suddenly all the psychopathology was leached from the issue, and I understood what was really going on. I learned to take a measured degree of responsibility over the negative events which created my personal dark side, as well as the need for fantasy that helped shape its form, and started to view my inner primitive more like a psychological release valve for the purely primal instincts that truly dominate us all. I am no neoshaman by any means, yet I find great comfort in adopting an animist viewpoint when tinkering with the inside of my own head, even if I also recognise that it is memetics and not mythology that plants the seeds there.
So no, I am not suffering from clinical lycanthropy, nor has my spirit been merged, twinned or spawned from that of an animal. Only by finding a place for it in my life was I able to bring my blood soaked pet to heel, and to eventually learn enough control to put it to use. I know l may never be strong enough to dissolve it completely, as he has been my constant companion for just too long. But perhaps having my wolf on staff is not such a bad thing, because there will always be times when it proves invaluable to be able to retreat inside myself and let the darker, angrier part of me howl at the darkness instead.