Magic and daemons in Philip Pullman TV series

Silvertongue: Lyra and her daemon Pan star in the new series. © BBC

Do we all have animal spirits? His Dark Materials, a popular book series adapted for TV, is set in a parallel world where everyone’s spirit lives inside an animal companion called a daemon.

What’s happening

Philip Pullman’s trilogy of books, His Dark Materials, has been made into a TV series, which starts on Sunday.

The new series will tell the story of a girl called Lyra Belacqua and her adventures in Oxford.

It is not the old, English town we know though — the series is set in a magical parallel world.

Find out more

Each character in His Dark Materials has a daemon.

Similar to a patronus from the Harry Potter series, a daemon is an animal that represents someone’s personality, or even their soul.

When you are a child, your daemon can take any form. However, as you grow older it stays as just one animal.

Different animals can represent different qualities. For example, an owl is often a symbol of wisdom, while a snake could be cunning or sneaky.

Do we all have animal spirits?

Some say…

No. What a silly thing to say! Humans have high intelligence and self-awareness, which sets us apart from all other animals. We are not ruled by instinct like they are.

Others think…

Yes. For thousands of years, we have used animals to tell stories about ourselves. Just think of Aesop’s fables, like the tortoise and the hare. We use them to explain things inside ourselves because we are all animals at heart.

You Decide

  1. What animal would your spirit be?


  1. Draw what your daemon would look like and give it a name.

Some People Say...

“Argue with anything else, but don’t argue with your own nature.”

Philip Pullman, author of His Dark Materials

What do you think?

Word Watch

A series made of three books.
A world that runs alongside ours, but is different in some important ways.
A protective charm that takes the form of a guardian animal.
Stands for, means.
Has an extra meaning aside from what it is on the surface.
Knowledge gained by age and experience.
Using a sneaky type of cleverness to achieve your goals.
Knowing who you are and understanding your place in the world.
Doing something without thinking about it, based on a feeling.


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