The most reoccurring theme and powerful statements come with facing our own darkness. From the Alchemical Dictum to Joseph Campbell, Carl Jung, Psychology as a whole, enlightenment as a movement, and Nietzsche: the confrontation of our demons is where our salvation lies.
For the Buddhists, the story of Bodhisattva Siddhartha Guatama is a known tale about dealing with your demons.
The night before his enlightenment, the Buddha fought a great battle with the Demon God Mara, who attacked the then Bodhisattva Siddhartha Guatama with everything he had: lust, greed, anger, doubt, etc. Having failed, Mara left in disarray on the morning of the Buddha’s enlightenment.
Yet, it seems Mara was only temporarily discouraged. Even after the Buddha had become deeply revered throughout India, Mara continued to make unexpected appearances. The Buddha’s loyal attendant, Ananda, always on the lookout for any harm that might come to his teacher, would report with dismay that the “Evil One” had again returned. Instead of ignoring Mara or driving him away, the Buddha would calmly acknowledge his presence, saying, “I see you, Mara.”
He would then invite him for tea and serve him as an honored guest. Offering Mara a cushion so that he could sit comfortably, the Buddha would fill two earthen cups with tea, place them on the low table between them, and only then take his own seat. Mara would stay for a while and then go, but throughout the Buddha remained free and undisturbed. A quote that is a close relative to this idea is found in the Doctor Strange movie. “We never lose our demons, we only learn to live above them” - The Ancient One
Both of these imply, in my interpretation, we can never really truly get rid of our demons. There’s a dichotomy about the Bodhisattva story and the quote above as an extension of it: The story and the quote have value in the context of negative emotions and being able to rise above them and not entertain them. When it comes to major depression, addiction, debilitating anxiety and traumas we shouldn’t just accept them. We can accept that we are currently in that state and that we have experienced something traumatic, then we need to move on with figuring out how we destroy those demons. In essence, leaving us able to move on with our lives. Where this idea was first introduced to me and seminated my brain for years to come, is Illidan from the World of Warcraft series. This story has a lot of moving parts and connected events, for the sake of flow and simplification I’ve left out certain events and names. Illidan’s background is important to provide context for the title to make sense and for my archetype of self-development to make sense.
STORY OF ILLIDAN Illidan’s story starts when The Legion invades Azeroth. Through the meddling with their power source, the Well of Eternity, the night elf queen and the other highborn drew the attention of the Legion. At the time Illidan was already a powerful sorcerer. Amber eyed and restless, foretold he was a child of destiny. The queen’s greed for more power and wanting to summon a powerful demon she cut off the rest of the night elves from their power source, The Well of Eternity. Cut off from their source the night elves were unable to stem the Legion’s invasion. Until, Illidan’s brother, Malfurion managed to defeat the queen’s right hand Xavius and open up the Well, restoring the power to the Night Elves. Even with their power restored, the night elves alone could not match the power of the Legion. So Malferion takes it upon himself to seek help from the dragons to forge a weapon capable of destroying the Legion portal to Azeroth. Behind the scenes more insidious forces are sowing doubt and paranoia in Malfurion’s mind, convincing him he should be ruling. All the while Illidan’s in love with his brother’s girlfriend Tyrande and seeks to convince her to be with him. Tyrande’s mind is made up as her heart belongs to Malfurion, leaving Illidan ashamed, disappointed and insulted. From the shadows, a reforged Xavius twisted Illidan’s thoughts to turn on his brother in the next battle. With the dragon soul, the dragon’s weapon, arriving on the battlefield it looked as though the tide of battle would turn, though the dragon soul attacked indiscriminately demons and night elves alike. Due to Illidan’s recklessness on the battlefield, he is taken out of command. The demotion leads Illidan to have a crisis of faith about his destiny. Being ordered to get in touch with his brother Illidan opened a connection and landed in the middle of Malfurion battling Xavius. Xavius weaving a dark plot to turn Illidan on Malfurion by using his love for Tyrande shocked Malfurion. While Malfurion was processing his shock Illidan closed his connection to his brother. In his attempt to resolve his crisis of destiny and under the corruption of Xavius, Illidan decides to ally with the queen and the Legion.
Illidan having witnessed the power of the dragon soul, now corrupted as the demon soul, offers Sargeras a way to strengthen the portal by finding and using the demon soul. Pleased with Illidan’s plan and allegiance Sargeras burns out Illidan’s eyes to give him the gift of a new sight capable of seeing magic and energies in the world. Eventually, Illidan gets his hands on the Demon Soul and was finally able to put his real plan in motion. Illidan wanted to use the Demon Soul to turn the portal into a maelstrom which would suck all the demons out of Azeroth, stopping the legion’s invasion and saving the world. Sargeras having some doubts about Illidan’s intentions relays that he will open the portal if Illidan brings the demon soul to the Well of Eternity. Needing more power to fulfill his plan Illidan douses himself in water from The Well of Eternity, greatly boosting his power. Attempting to now fulfill his plan Illidan wrestled the magic of the Well. The same dark forces that had influenced Illidan’s brother now took control over his spells. Instead of reversing the portal they amplified it. In the heat of the battle, Malfurion manages to get control of the Demon Soul. Needing Illidan to help close the portal, they merge with the Demon Soul and start attempting to fulfill Illidan’s original plan. Though the dark forces, the Old Gods, would see Sargeras make it to Azeroth and free them, they attempt to corrupt the brothers with enticing lies. Malfurion manages to fight them back, however, Illidan is falling prey to their promises. Through his connection with Illidan, Malfurion can snap him out of it and together they reverse the portal. With the spells and power channeled into The Well it starts pulling apart its environment, sucking everything in, breaking apart the land.
In his desire to return what was destroyed, Illidan who still had vials from the original Well of Eternity found a lake nearby the night elf forces and poured these in so he could forge a new Well of Eternity. Illidan’s people were outraged that he recreated the very thing that had caused them so much sorrow and charged on him. In his fury, for their ingratitude, Illidan lashed out killing some of his people. Malfurion manages to subdue his brother and pleads for his life, resulting in Illidan being imprisoned. In his verdict of imprisonment, Illidan was now dubbed: The Betrayer. And sentenced for life. This concludes what was named as the War of the Ancients.
IIllidan sat seething in his cell, hatred oozing out of him. Any attempt to end his own life had been countered by the spells of his prison. He could not deprive himself of water or food either to free himself from this world. The vision of the Legion marching through the universe destroying world after world tormented him. At times leaving him screaming at his cursed knowledge, hopelessness, and helplessness. Trapped here, like an animal, while the universe is being destroyed and corrupted. Sometimes the madness of it all got to him and he would whisper to his weapons, the Twin Blades of Azinoth. Promising them sweet revenge by immersing them in Night Elf and demon blood alike. None would escape his scorn. “If only they would let me out, I will sow hate and discontent before I turn my blades upon the Legion.” He muttered under his breath, having attempted stabbing himself repeatedly with his weapons. The spell wards healing all his wounds as he inflected them. Maiev’s presence tormented him even more than the other Wardens. “Fools, all of them! Playing infant’s games while the Legion prepares to annihilate us all.” He screamed through his cell, throwing his Warglaives against the walls of his prison. Maiev saw no reason left in Illidan, only madness. “One day they will come to understand. The true nature of the darkness brewing in the universe.” Illdan said to no one in particular. Most times there was not a single soul in sight.
Ten thousand years after the Legion’s defeat Kil’jaeden, Sargeras’s right hand sends the Lich King Ner’Zhul to weaken Azeroth. Which marks the Legion’s return to consume the world. With the Legion sowing destruction, Malfurion is awakened from the Druid’s Emerald dream. Tyrande suggests freeing Illidan from his prison so he can ally himself with them against the return of the Burning Legion. Malfurion apposes Tyrandes suggestion fearing what Illidan is capable of. Not one to let such a powerful ally go unused, Tyrande frees Illidan against Malfurions will. Illidan is grateful for his release, even though it is in light of an other invasion of the Burning Legion. Because he once cared for Tyrande Illidan will hunt down the demons. However, he has not forgotten the injustice has people had done upon him and that fury burns brightly in him. Spending ten thousand years brooding Illidan still wants to prove to his brother the demons have no hold over him and that he is more powerful than their corruption.
Lead to the Skull of Gul’dan by Arthas the death knight, Illidan is provided with even more power. This is where the demon hunter absorbed the power of The Skull of Guldan and took on a demon like appearance. Now even further removed from his Night Elf heritage with his demonic powers. Using these powers as intended he destroys the Burning Legion lieutenants, saving the world in the process for a second time. Appalled by Illidan’s actions and appearance Malfurion denounces Illidan as his brother and orders him to exile. Illidan offers no resistance to his banishment, instead, he embraces his newfound freedom and power.
Kil’jaedan being displeased about the Lich King’s betrayal recruits Illidan to do his dirty work for him and kill the Lich King. To be able to kill the Lich King Illidan uses the memories he inherited from Gul’dan to find the Eye of Sargeras, a powerful artifact. Illidan uses the Eye of Sargeras to cast a spell that will take care of the Lich King, however, in the process it is tearing up Northrend, the northern continent. Maulfurion communicates with the spirits and has been given direction to Illidan’s location. Alongside with Illidan’s Warden Maeiv, Malfurion seeks to interrupt Illidan’s spell and serve justice. Malfurion confronts Illidan about the recklessness of his spell even though Illidan feels the end justify the means. Maiev is quick to sentence Illidan to death but is interrupted by Malfurion who finds out his partner, Tyrande, might still be alive after being swept away by a river. In his desperation to save his beloved, Malfurion recruits his brother. Confused by Illidan’s rescue Tyrande is forced to adjust her image of Illidan, no longer the monster she thought he was. Illidan offers to bury to hatchet between him and his brother. Malfurion is not one to let past transgressions slide, however, he is appreciative of Illidan saving his life and that of his lover. As a show of mercy, Malfurion’s verdict is banishment. Although Illidan is grateful for his brother’s verdict, he has failed Kil’jaeden and anticipates the repercussions to be painful. Escaping to Outland in an attempt to hide from Kil’jaeden, Illidan gains a following and sees an opportunity to establish a stronghold for his plans. Together they closed the portals through which demons were summoned and through which Kil’jaeden might track Illidan. They managed to overthrow the current overlord of Outland and so Illidan became its new lord. The Black Temple would play a pivotal part in Illidan’s plans. The Broken, to which the temple belonged, had allied with Illidan in hopes of taking their rightful place in the temple. Illidan’s plans superseded The Broken needs. Illidan’s victory did not last long as Kil’jaeden found him. In anticipation of this moment, Illidan had weaved spells that would send all his secret plans to the vaults of his mind where they would be protected from Kil’jaeden’s mind probing. Knowing he lacked the power to withstand Kil’jaeden Illidan pleaded for his life. Vowing to Kil’jaeden he was merely set back and that he was attempting to bolster his forces in Outland so he could destroy the Lich King. Kil’jaeden offers Illidan his last and final chance. Illidan can make out the doubt in his follower’s eyes. However, he is certain that if he had confided his plans in them Kil’jaeden would’ve figured out his true purpose. It was too big of a risk to tell them of his true plans.
Shortly after Illidan had traveled to Azeroth to deal with the Lich King. However, running into Arthas turned his plans upside down. Arthas proved the better of them both and defeated Illidan leaving him to die. Illidan’s followers find him and drag him back to Outland. Having failed Kil’jaeden again Illidan prepares for his wrath. Ultimately destroying the Lich King would’ve only appeased Kil’jaeden’s wrath, it was not a central piece for Illidan’s true plans. Illidan needed an army, he needs a few armies. He created fell orcs as fodder and turned his attention to creating something far more powerful. Both Night Elves and Blood elves that had sought out Illidan for revenge in the aftermath of the Burning Legion’s destruction. The Blood Elves were sent by Kael’thas to learn how to fight demons. The Night Elves in Illidan’s troop of aspirants had made it to the Black Temple on their own accord. Their hatred for the Legion united the once divided elves. Deep inside the Black Temple Illidan was forging a force capable of defeating the Legion. The process took the initiates to battle a demon, eat its hart and drink its blood. Illidan would then cast spells that bind that demon with the elf. To prove their worth, the elf is transported in their very own nightmare battling demons and the one now bound within them. Where they would either be consumed by their inner demon or learn to wield it. To those that understood how to embrace and use their inner demon the truth of the universe was granted. They could for the first time see through the universe, millions upon millions of worlds, teeming with life and glittering with promise. Then they saw the Burning Legion finding their way to these worlds, slaughtering everyone and destroying everything in their path. Any world that was able to halt the Legion would eventually crumble and be incorporated into The Legion’s armies. The madness of this destruction being on an incomprehensible scale. As the vision grew the initiates could see the multitude of possibilities, a complex fractal structure of near infinity. In every one of them, The Legion marched triumphantly. The horrors would not seize, driving the initiates to either claw out their eyes or pull them from their sockets. They now saw what The Betrayer had seen, and walked his path of recreated experience. They, at last, understood the weight of the truth.
The Betrayer would visit the surviving initiates during their transformation. His initiates now understood what they were really fighting, and why. Many of them were overwhelmed by the scope of the power and resources of The Legion, considering fighting such an unstoppable force impossible. Spurring them to consider what alternative they have, but to fight. The initiates bemoaned themselves for in their ritual they were blinded. Illidan reminds them that they can finally see everything. Illidan understood the power of this transformation better than anyone. “You must learn to control that which lies within you, or it will control you.” The initiates could see the ebb and the flow of energies all around them. They would all get their tattoos that would keep the demon bound within them. There were many more that would succumb to this process of transformation in the ultimate weapon: a Demon Hunter. While immersed in the process of creating his Demon Hunters, the Legion had started invading and establishing camps in Outland. All of that didn’t matter to Illidan as long as his demon hunters were coming along. They represented the most important part of his plan to strike back at the Burning Legion. All the while the politics and scheming behind his back were close to reaching its apex. Kael’thas had sided with Kil’jaeden. Akama, the leader of the broken, had allied with Maiv Shadowsong who was out to kill Illidan. Mapping out his plans in his thoughts Illidan would pace nine steps across his chamber floor and nine paces back, the length of his cell in which he was imprisoned for ten thousand years. Even with the war in Outland a lost cause, Illidan had not been idle. He had gathered all the ingredients, searched Guldan’s memories and interrogated thousands of demons to set the last pieces of his plan in motion. All the decades of dreadful dreams had eroded his sanity and driven him screaming from sleep. The knowledge of what was hidden in the Twisting Nether had been one of the worst torments of his long imprisonment. Illidan had his doubts if anyone else could have endured what he had to harness this power to their will. Anyone who had not mastered sorcery as he had would have been incapable of the feat. A powerful incantation sent his astral body through the Twisting Nether, jumping through portals on dead worlds following the trail of that which he seeks on Nathreza, the home of the dreadlords.
Illidan had found the location of what he was seeking, it was his turn to bring the war to The Legion. All that was left to do was prepare the ritual that would take immense power and masterful sorcery. Through Akama, Maiev had caught wind of Illidan’s whereabouts. Her blind hate for Illidan had left her open to Akama’s deception and his own agenda: the purification of the black temple. Akama had hoped that giving The Betrayer his nemesis would conclude his work in Outland, so the Black Temple would be returned to its rightful heirs. Caught by surprise of Akama’s betrayal and the overwhelming Illidari force, Maeiv is subdued and captured. Akama felt equally betrayed by Illidan’s deception and sheer recklessness. The portal Illidan was opening sucked up the souls of wounded and dying, fueling itself so it could grow more powerful. Akama had been left in the dark about what this portal was for, a greater scheme was unfolding. With the portal in place to a distant world, other portals opened up on the battlefield. Illidan’s most prized possession and the most powerful weapon was brought these portals: his demon hunters. If they had been on the battlefield during the portal opening they too might have been consumed by the powerful spell that consumed souls indiscriminately. Illidan was satisfied with himself, Maeiv had not been able to distract from completing his spell. In his mind, he made order from chaos by the force of his will. As proud as Illidan was he thought it foolish to read anything more into the patterns of random chance throws up. Slight doubt crept up in his mind as he surveyed his demon hunter force, a weapon he had spent a long time forging. Illidan dispelled his doubt about their capabilities and training and set forth on the task that had long been in the making. Standing in front of his demon hunter army, Illidan addressed them: “You were not prepared.” Thunder roared from the immense power gathering around the portal. “The enemy came into our world, their only desire to extinguish all life. They slaughtered our loved ones. They razed our homes, our cities, and our sacred places. You tried to stop them, and you failed. And so, you came to me, nothing remaining of you but rage and determination, and you learned that the things that once tormented you could give you power. Now you see that there is no sacrifice too great if it brings an end to the Burning Legion.” He could still sense some nervousness and doubt within the ranks of his troops. One of his demon hunters lost control over her composure. “ But… Lord Illidan, demonic energies course through our vein, they gnaw at our every thought. What makes us any different from the monsters we fight?” Some of the other demon hunter visages turned to snarls others seemed to match her honest but doubtful inquiry. Illidan sensed the divide within his ranks. While others were toiling in doubt, and others in fear, some felt the temptation to kill their master. The reward would be transcendence from this haunted form. The demon energy pulsed inside them, pushing dark notions further into their minds. Conquering and cleansing the universe of the foul disease of life. Intent to burn this universe down so another one could be born, remade, shaped in their image.
The murderous demon hunters that were on the edge regained control of their inner battles. Coming to the understanding that there were no other demons than themselves. At the precipice of their ultimate test, they finally understood what Illidan stood for, because of what he stood against. For all his gigantic flaws, Illidan was the only being who grasped what they fought, and he was prepared to do whatever it took to end the threat. His sole purpose had become their sole purpose, fully internalized.
“We will not sit idly like those on Azeroth, waiting to become the demons’ prey. We will take this war to The Legion’s worlds, and prey upon them!” Illidan’s final call out to them unleashed them on to the demons on this far away planet. Fighting their way through the Nathrizim city, Illidan and his force neared their target: the tallest tower in the city. The great archive of the dreadlords which contained countless secrets the Natharizim had obtained during their service to Sargeras. Fighting his way through the library Illidan found his way to what he was looking for. He destroyed the defensive wards and killed anything its defenses spawned. He finally found what he was after, the Seal of Argus. Not one to let an opportunity slide for some revenge Illidan destroyed and defaced as many records as he could on his way out. As he neared the exit he shouted for his troops to rendez vous with him and make their way back to the portal. They cut their way to the portal, fighting for every inch. When all resistance was cut down Illidan ordered his demon hunters through the portal. Speaking the words of unbinding the portal unraveled into a furious discharge of energy. A back blast that was directed into the Natherizim home world.
It was clear to his demon hunters that the difference between the demons and themselves was that the demons would stop at nothing to destroy their world. While the demon hunters would sacrifice everything to save it. As they assembled on the other side of the portal in Outland, Illidan saw it fit to address their triumph. “Today!” he began as his voice thundered across the plain. “Today we struck a blow against the Burning Legion the like of which has not been felt in ten thousand years. We have slaughtered dreadlords and ravaged their world. We have shown them that they are not immune to our vengeance. That they will be brought to justice and atone for their deeds. We have slain thousands and lured their armies into a trap that killed a hundred times that number. And we have this!” Illidan held the Seal of Argus aloft with both hands. “We have found the key to the home world of Kil’jaeden and Archimonde, to a place where The Legion’s commanders can be finally slain. We have uncovered the location of Argus. Today we put our feet on the path to ultimate victory. Today we found the means to cut off the head that guides our foe. We are taking the war to Kil’jaeden. We are going to teach him the meaning of defeat.” The demon hunters roared their approval as the realization of the weight of their triumph dawned on them. It was no longer about survival. The end goal blazed in their mind’s eye and they were hungry to be unleashed. There was still much left to do. The Legion would not take this defeat laying down. They were establishing more forge camps in Outland as his demon hunters closed portals and destroyed forge camps one by one. It didn’t stop The Legion in making their way to Azeroth to open more portals. Illidan was looking for more elements for the next stage of his plan. He had caught wind that word of his plan had spread, the Legion had figured out which elements Illidan sought out for his preparations. Unbeknownst to Illidan Akama had his own plans for Maiev Shadowsong and was fast putting these in motion. Back in The Black Temple,The Illidari council seemed hesitant about Illidan’s plan to open his portal directly to Argus. Outland, that once had been Draenor, had been shattered by similar forces in the past. Illidan grew weary of their lack of faith. At the height of his agitation, a council member informed Illidan that a pathway had been opened from Azeroth to Outland through the Dark Portal. The Burning Legion marched on Outland in force. Showing no signs of letting up on its troop flow after days of marching through the Dark Portal. In a twist of fate, the power around the Dark Portal changed as Azerothian armies poured out, orc and man side by side. Night elves besides Blood elves, the Legion had united old foes. The Stair of Destiny turned into an awesome battlefield. Although their prowess and courage could not be denied, the Azerotion force was vastly outnumbered at the Dark Portal. Illidan was unsure where this was all going, however, he could not let the Azerothian force fail. He spurred on a contingent of his demon hunters to secure the flank which was about to be overtaken, Pleased with the result of his demon hunters efforts, Illidan joined the fray. Bursting through the chest of the Legion’s commander, Illidan made a quick end to The Burning Legion’s leadership. He gave the signal to retreat which confused a few of his followers. “The Horde and the Alliance will never know we saved them here this day.” one of his lieutenant demon hunters stated in response to the retreat signal. “They do not need to know. It is enough that they are here.” Illidan replied with a smile that showed the depth of his satisfaction. The Azerothian force benefited him greatly in keeping The Legion occupied as he engineered its defeat.
It was time to find Kil’jaeden, to which Illidan needed his astral plane travel. Taking him through the Twisting Nether once more. Bringing a representation of the Seal with him that would connect Outland and Argus, allowing him to create a gateway. Once it was in place he would be able to link to the Seal. Illidan found himself in the throne room of Kil’jaeden surrounded by his court of demons. The energies and spells made him sluggish. All of a sudden Kil’jaeden’s burning gaze was upon him. En-warping Illidan he struggled against it but could not cast it off. Then as quickly as it came, the burning gaze passed on. Illidan noticed another presence, which must have turned Kil’jaden’s attention away from him. It was a being of pure light that enshrouded him, pushing him out of the throne room. The light was so bright it was painful for Illidan to behold. A roar of rage from within the throne room made it clear that Kil’jaeden had sensed it too. A voice spoke within his head. “Begone from this place. You cannot survive here. Not now.” The being undid the spell of trans-location it snatched him back so violently that Illidan crashed back into his physical form. Even though he had almost been found out he had completed his mission. The Seal of Argus blazed crimson in his hands. The gateway link had been set and he finally had confirmation of Kil’jaeden’s presence on Argus. The spirit journey to Argus had cost Illidan much strength. So much so he had zoned out, deep in thought, in the middle of a briefing with his Illidari council. His council was visibly concerned. The Alliance and the Horde had overthrown several of Illidan’s lieutenants and fortresses. Illidan’s hope had been a deluded one, the Azerothian force had not just fought the Legion but turned on his forces as well. Except for the Demon Hunters, the rest of the council hadn’t been shown the vision of the depths of the Legion’s true power. They were occupied with holding onto whatever power they had, that was fast slipping out from their grasp. Illidan didn’t blame them for seeing only the smallest details of the overall picture. Illidan was resolute in his purpose and shared it with the council. “We need to take the war to Kil’jaeden.” It didn’t seem like most of his advisers agreed with this purpose, ultimate as it was. Illidan recounted the vision that was shown to him and that he had shared with his demon hunters. It had been meant to convince him that the legion was invincible. That it was pointless to oppose the will of Sargeras. That the best thing they could do was join the Legion and have a say in the remaking of the universe. His mind had not crumbled though. He had remained who he was. He had taken what he had seen and used it to motivate himself through all the long centuries of opposition. Illidan outlined his strategy to the gathered council. “There is only one way of winning: to assault The Burning legion where it can be destroyed. The spirits of demons can only be destroyed in the Twisting Nether. Thus this is our only chance, however slim it may be. All we can do is stand and wait to die, or we can take the war to Sargeras and his minions.” Horror and wonder marred the faces of his advisers as they stared at Illidan. His demon hunters merely nodded in acknowledgment of the end game. Illidan ordered them to fill in the other demon hunters so they could prepare for the opening of the gateway to Argus. The rest of the council left him in the war room by himself. Illdan understood the doubts of his advisers and followers. It was entirely possible he was wrong. It was possible he was as insane as he had often been accused of. He entertained the creeping doubt in his mind. The doom filled thoughts and second guesses tormented him. Perhaps there was a way to win this war without all the sacrifices. If there was one, he had not found it, even though that did not mean it was not there. Betrayer. That was what they called him. That was how they would remember him. If they were lucky enough to survive and remember anything, it would be because he had saved them, and they would never know., That thought gives a moment of dour pleasure. Shaking his head to free himself from his thoughts Illidan got to work. He had divulged his plan to the council of using the souls in Auchindoun to fuel his gateway, it was now time to gather the power his portal required. The Soul Siphon was extremely powerful for an artifact. It held primitive sentience that was intended to devour whatever it encountered. It had been an arduous task controlling the soul siphon and keeping off scores of enemies. It had taxed him so that was taking weeks to recover, and even now he was not fully recovered. His empire was crumbling around him. He had no one to blame but himself. His overconfidence of going to Auchindoun alone could cost him and perhaps all who lived, dearly. His doubts proved strong as he attempted to not think like that. There must be hope, some chance of victory. Ironically enough doubt was a demon against which he had no defense. The petty scheming of his council no longer mattered to him. Being pulled into various Illidari council gatherings only worsened his mood seeing there was still much work to do to ensure the portal would be stable. He would only get once chance and nothing could go wrong. The pointless bickering of his council about matters that were no longer a concern to him won out over his composure. “Get out of my sight,” Illidan ordered, he could not afford to be distracted now.
He felt the impatience well up inside of him. This was not the time to allow himself to panic. Impatience leads to mistakes, mistakes he could not afford with such an intricate portal spell. He needed to focus fully so he could complete the link between Outland and Argus. To complete the ritual, he would have to travel back through the Twisting Nether to the throne room on Argus where he placed his representation of the Seal. Just like last time he could a sense a presence, however, he could not track it as it eluded his perception. He found what he was looking for and locked the spells into place. This process took his full focus, he needed to establish several anchor points for his spells to work. The last anchoring point connected itself to all the others forming a great pentacle, replicating the complex web of runes in his sanctum in Outland. Once his link was established he got swept away by strong magical energy. He emerged onto a plain of Light. Illidan recognized a naaru when he saw one, a being of pure light that reshaped itself in fractal patterns. This elder naaru had awaited him for a long time. Fearing a trap Illidan prepared powerful magic and interrogated the elder naaru. “Why are you here? Do you serve Sargeras or Kil’jaeden?” Illidan’s question seemed to amuse the naaru as it emanated gentle mirth. “I do not.” Although relief swept over Illidan he had to stay alert for any tricks meant to take him off guard. “Then what are you doing here?” Illidan continued his line of interrogation. “Waiting for you.” Its reply did manage to take Illidan off guard. “You knew I would come?” The naruu’s sparkles of light shifted around its form. “You or someone like you was bound to. The universe throws us champions in the face of those who would destroy it.” Illidan had his reservation about the naaru’s answer. “It could perhaps have picked a better one.” The words had escaped him in response. “I do not think so. You are what you are. All your days have forged you into that. A weapon aimed at the heart of a great demon.” Illidan left no beats between his replies. “So the universe has anointed me to slay Kil’jaeden.” “No. Your enemy is far greater than Kil’jaeden. Greater even than Sargeras and his Burning Legion.” Illidan was unsure of what could be a greater enemy than the Burning Legion. “The Void is more potent foe by far than the Burning Legion.” The naaru said as if reading Illidan’s thoughts. “It is the ultimate opponent of the Light. It will take all the peoples of Azeroth and Outland united to oppose it.” The naaru had sensed Illidan’s hesitance to accept this as truth. In response to Illidan’s doubt about the truth the naaru spoke, it blasted a bolt of pure light in Illidan’s empty eye sockets. Filling them with a golden glow. Illidan’s vision faded and he found himself on a battlefield. A golden glow surrounded his warglaives. There was a halo around his head, with his body glowing brighter than the sun he embodied the avatar of the Light. Illidan’s nature fought against the vision. He was a fighter, a killer, driven by darkness and his own desires as he was by any urge to do right. “You will defy death. I have seen this. Whatever you were, whatever you are, a champion of Light is what you will be.” The naaru’s voice was full of certainty. Illidan had been given a vision of redemption beyond any he had hoped for. “You will be a hero. But there will be a price. There always is.” He suddenly found himself back on Argus as the vision abruptly faded. As he stood processing what he had seen the naaru sent out a limb of light that touched Illidan on the forehead. It felt as if another tattoo was burned into his flesh. The power within it was clearly at war with the fel power contained within him. The naaru bid him farewell and vanished from his sight. The sensation of hope and a path of redemption washed over him. Illidan confided it to another part of his mind so he could focus on getting back to Outland through astral travel undetected by the demons around him. As he woke in his physical body in Outland he heard banging on the door of his sanctum. One of his council members stood before him. “Lord Illidan. You must come with us at once. The Black Temple is under attack.”
Illidan took stock of what was happening around the temple. He had hoped he had more time to complete his gateway pattern. Fate had forced his hand, he would have to be the anchor for the gateway himself. Illidan would not fail at this final hurdle. As he was preparing the spells another message from one of his advisers was urgently relayed. The temple had been infiltrated. Thoughts of betrayal and treachery flashed through him. He regained his composure and put his thoughts back on the task at hand. “Come to me now, my demon hunters.” Illidan’s call vibrated through all demon hunters and summoned them on a primal level. There would be no time to make a portal to Argus. However, there were more parts to Illidan’s plan he could bring to completion. As his demon hunters gathered, beckoned by his summons, he addressed them. “Illidari, my demon hunters, with countless worlds burning in the Legion’s wake, you answered the call. Yet these mortals in their ignorance, have come to destroy their own salvation. Our time is short. I will deal with these intruders. You must venture to Mardum and retrieve the Sargerite Keystone. Now go, but remember: should you fail, all worlds will burn.” With that warning Illidan opened the portal to Mardum and sent off his demon hunters as he prepared for these so called champions from the Alliance and the Horde.
Maiev had been released by Akama and was on her death march to execute Illidan as she ran into one of his demon hunters. The demon hunter did not wish to fight a fellow Night Elf and did not attempt to harm her. His only intent was to get past her to answer Illidan’s summons. The demon hunter tried to plead with an infuriated Maiev. He tried to convince her of his honorable intent of destroying the Legion. Maiev would not listen and kept up her attacks forcing the demon hunter to defend himself. In Maiev’s eyes, the demon hunter’s defense was a show of true colors, which strengthened her resolve to put him down. Maiev had proved the better of the demon hunter and struck him down. She noticed the steady pulse of the portal opening spell vanished. Maiev hoped she wasn’t too late and made haste to find Illidan before he fled forever.
Keeping the way open as a physical pole of the portal was a drain on Illidan. Holding it open took almost all his strength and all the power within the soul siphon. At least the demon hunters were away on their mission, which was small satisfaction to him. Illidan made his way to the top of the Black Temple. Not long after he sensed the seal on the summit gives way to Akama’s magic. A bunch of champions and Akama had come to cast him down. Illidan wouldn’t go down without a fight, even when he felt abandoned by fate and trapped by destiny. Much to Illidan’s surprise Maiev emerged on the summit. “Ah, my long hunt is finally over. All these years in Outland. Today, justice will be done.” She proclaimed. The battle did not wear on for much longer. Maiev struck a faithful blow to Illidan. Illidan looked up in disbelief. His time had finally run out. Between the mix of emotions, he felt a fleeting moment of sympathy for her. He forced his last words from his lips. “You have won, Maiev. But the huntress is nothing without the hunt. You are nothing without me.” Blackness swept over Illidan. Just for a moment, he had a vision of a sigil, the same the naaru had burned into his forehead. It blazed in lines of golden light for an instant, and then the universe went dark. The demon hunters completed their mission only to return to see their master had fallen. Seeing their master lifeless on the floor spurred the demon hunters to vengeance. Maiev faced the rage of the demon hunters. “You bear the mark of his corruption” She spoke to them. “And so the demon’s blood within you will be your prison.” As she cast the spell a green gem like material manifested around the demon hunters, imprisoning them in emerald stone. “Take them to the vault” Maiev ordered her fellow Wardens. “There they shall be with the Betrayer, forever.”
A Gul’dan from an alternate time line is banished for his failings to Azeroth. There he is to open a portal to the likes of which have never been seen so The Legion can destroy Azeroth. Kil’jaeden orders Gul’dan to the Tomb of Sargeras on the Broken Isles. Inside the Tomb lies a powerful portal that can transport the armies of the Legion in much greater numbers than ever before. Kil’jaeden would have his revenge and claim Azeroth. At the Tomb of Sargeras Gul’dan is confronted by Archmage Khadgar and Maiev Shadowsong, his powers prove too great even to them and with Kilj’aeden’s power, he opens the portal that enables the Legion to finish their Burning Crusade. From there Gul’dan makes his way to the Vault of Wardens, retrieving Illidan’s body that has stored away in the Vault’s depths. Gul’dan proceeds to take Illidan’s body and conducts a ritual to separate Illidan’s soul from his body. Illdan’s soul is sent to Twisting Nether. As Illidan roams the Twisting Nether, free from his corpse, he is contacted by his demon hunters.
Illidan attempted to keep the surprise out of his voice as one of his champions managed to find a way to contact him in the Twisting Nether. “There is little time. I entrusted the duplicitous Akama with the planning against the Legion. He alone knows every detail. You will need his council if you are to succeed. You must also regain the Sargerite Keystone to invade the Legion’s worlds. Find out where the Wardens hid it away.” Something seemed to distract Illidan. “We have attracted attention, I must move. You will not able to contact me like this again. The Illidari are now yours champion.” His most trusted Illidari make their way to the Black Temple to recruit Akama to their cause. Akama proves hard to recruit but eventually bends to the righteous cause of the demon hunters. Shortly after recruiting Akama the demon hunters retrieve the Sargerite Keystone. As the demon hunters chase down their master’s soul, they find out it has been stolen out of the Twisting Nether and put in Helheim. Gul’dan is preparing Illidan’s body to become a vessel for Sargeras’ spirit. The demon hunters enlist Khadgar to help put Illidan’s soul back after they slew its keeper in Helheim. They have to battle Sergaras’s essence attempting to embody the empty shell of Illidan’s body. The demon hunters and Khadgar fight Gul’dan and defeat him, whereby Guldan’s portal to Sargeras is destroyed. The blast releases Illidan’s soul from the prism it was trapped in, letting him enter his body. Illidan shook out his black wings in his demon form. It felt good to be back. He eyed Gul’dan with intense hate, grabbing him by the throat. Without saying a word he rips Gul’dan apart by unleashing powerful fel energy until nothing was left but Gul’dan’s skull. Illidan looked at the fel scorched skull for a second, then crushes it with a powerful clench of his demon hand. “You have seen what I have seen. You know what we face. Now mortals, follow me into the abyss.” Illidan was relieved that he was given a second chance to complete his mission and fulfill his destiny. Revenge boiled in Illidan’s blood. He was eager to see the ones pay who have toyed with him and his soul for all this time.
Illidan was done wasting time, he gathered demon hunters and champions alike and set out for the Tomb of Sargeras. Khadgar and the prophet Velen follow along with Illidan to strike at The Legion’s heart on Azeroth. Inside the Tomb they square off with Kil’jaeden’s avatar who they defeat, leaving Kil’jaeden’s essence to flee to the Twisting Nether. Both Illidan and the prophet Velen know a demon can only be killed inside the Twisting Nether and follow Kil’jaeden to his ship where they make sure he will never be resurrected. In Kil’jaeden’s final moments he manages to summon enough energy to address Velen while Illidan opens a gateway between Azeroth and Argus. “I was always envious of you. Your gift, your faith, your vision. I never believed that Sargeras could be stopped. Perhaps you will prove me wrong.” Kil’Jaeden said solemnly in the knowledge he could’ve never been what Velen was. With Kil’jaeden ship crashing down to Argus Khadgar transports Velen and Illidan to Azeroth. Illidan left the gateway open between Azeroth and Argus. As Argus appears in the Azerothian sky Khadgar can’t contain his horror. “What have you done?!” He yelled at Illidan. “Sometimes the hand of fate must be forced” Illidan replied confidently. His endgame was in sight.
Needing a way to get to Argus, Illidan boards the Vindicar. The Draenei ship could reach Argus. The prophet sets his crew in motion to take them to Argus as Velen gives his captain the order to take off. “Does he understand what you are truly asking of him? Do any of them?” Illidan asks earnestly. “We follow the path of the Light, no matter where it leads” Velen replied sharply. Illidan scoffs at Velen’s reply. “Your faith has always been your weakness.” Illidan had seen where the Light had brought him, it spoke volumes about Velen’s faith. Illidan continued: “When your closest allies fell to darkness, you didn’t stop them. When the Legion swept over your world and took your people… you didn’t make a stand. All you did was watch convinced you were following the Light’s will.” Illidan paused. “The truth is, you failed your people. Their blood is on your hands.” Velen pounds his staff unto the ship’s metallic floor, letting out a sharp ring. “You will never understand what I did to save my people.” Velen’s pain was apparent from his voice. Illidan understood the deeper truths to it. “The Light is holding you back. It’s time to forge your own path.” Illidan said knowingly. The battle on Argus raged hard as champions brought forth pieces of the naruu Xe’ra. Alongside Turalyon and Alleria Windrunner, Xe’ra the Light Mother one of the first naaru to be forged during the first ordering of the cosmos, her form is restored. Illidan looked skeptically upon the spectacle of the naruu assembling herself and emanating pure golden light. “We are blessed to be in your presence once more, Xe’ra.” Turalyon’s eyes shimmering gold in the presence of the Light. “Turalyon. You have found the Chosen One.” Xe’re spoke ethereally to Turalyon. Turalyon could not resist a disappointed frown at Illidan addressed as the chosen one. “Illidan. From birth, the light in your eyes held such promise for the future.” Xe’ere spoke to Illidan has he stepped forward. His memory of the previous naruu interfering with his life was no less fresh after his resurrection. “ I sacrificed that birthright long ago” Illidan replied, revisiting the memory of his amber eyes which were held in such high regard for a prophetic destiny as they were burned out of their sockets by Sargeras. His remark enticed some concern in Xe’ra. “Do you not wish to reclaim what was lost? To be whole again?” She replied to Illidan. Illidan had no illusions over his true purpose. “The Legion’s end… is all I seek.” Xe’ra was quick with her response. “My child. You have given so much, for so little.” Illidan glared, the words so little echoed in his mind. “Your true potential, your redemption lies before you. Let go of your shattered form and embrace the light’s power.” Illidan backpedaled as the golden light started encircling him. “I’ve traded my freedom for power before.” Illidan spat back venomously, recalling all the sacrifices he had made for the power he had sought out. “The prophecy… must be fulfilled.” Xe’ra’s agenda seemed to have little room for Illidan’s concerns or doubts. Golden constraints wrapped around Illidan, lifting him high up. Pulling Illidan closer to Xe’ra. “Your old life has passed. The Light will forge you a new one.” Her voice boomed with power. “It is not yours to take!” Illidan growled back, fighting against the constraints. “The Light will heal your scars.” Xe’ra announced as golden light starts filling up Illidan’s green fel tattoos. “I am my scars!” Illidans voice grew more demonic in his declaration. “The Light is your destiny.” Xe’ra pressed on with her energy. “My destiny is my own!” Illidan proclaimed as he entered his demon form and shot out fel beams from his eyes, blasting into Xe’ra with tremendous power. As Xe’ra’s form dissipated in a million motes of golden light, Turyalon can’t contain his shock and rage. “You’ve doomed us all! Betrayer!” Turyalon’s golden blade descending to Illidan’s head. Illidan catches Turyalon’s blad with his left hand, talons securely clamping around the blade. “Your faith has blinded you. There can be no chosen one. Only we… can save ourselves.” Turyalon retreats in disgust of Illidan’s rejection of the gift of the Light.
More determined than ever Illidan spurs on the demon hunter and champions to raid the Burning Throne Antorus. Located in the heart of Argus. There they find out that the Titans essence of the Pantheon is being corrupted, so Sargeras can create a Dark Pantheon. Battling through scores of Sargeras’s lieutenants and military strength Illidan with his demon hunters and champions frees the Pantheon from their torment. Sargeras his corruption of the planet’s spirit, the titan Argus, was already advanced too far for the Pantheon to contain. Aman’Thul, the Highfather of the Pantheon, bids the Azerothian force to fight the corrupted planet spirit of Argus. “Mortals, the time has come to fight, for the fate of your world.” The titans of the Pantheon were so severely weakened by Sargeras’s eons of torment that they could only assist Illidan and his force in slight increments.
With Argus defeated Illidan and the Azerothian force stands before the Titans of the Pantheon. “You have done well, mortals. We must gather our strength. We will use the last glimmer of Argus’s power to bind him here. The Seat of the Pantheon shall become Sargeras’s prison… and ours as well. The Prophet Velen could not fathom their sacrifice.”You would condemn yourselves to stop him?” He asked solemnly. “A sacrifice must be made” Aman’Thul replied, his tone of duty leaving no room for martyrdom. Illidan’s mission was coming to a close. “Our world must survive… no matter the cost!” Illidan stated. “Return home, children of Azeroth. Protect the final titan.” Aman’Thul ordered. Velen spoke out “Illidan… we’ve done all we can.” Illidan stood with his back to Velen, surveying the Seat of the Pantheon. “Every choice, every sacrifice has led me to THIS moment.” The Seat he was staring to, the empty throne of Sargeras. Once a titan of the Pantheon protecting the universe of darkness. “To face HIM once again.” Illidan continued, ruminating of the finality of his mission. “You… are not coming with us?” Velen said in total disbelief. “The hunter is nothing without the hunt. Did you not see this fate, Prophet?” Illidan replied smirking at Velen. “Fate? Our survival was never in fate’s hands.” Velen said with a knowing smile, conceding to Illidan’s last wish. “Light be with you, Illidan Stormrage” Velen stated his goodbye as he beamed back to the Vindicaar. Upon Velen’s return to the ship, Turyalon seeks him out. “Prophet… what happened out there?” Velen paused for a moment to reflect the weight of Illidan’s sacrifices. “ Illidan serves as the Dark Titan’s jailer. His sacrifice has ended The Legion. At long last, the Burning Crusade… is over.” Aman’Thul’s voice boomed over Azeroth. “Brother! Your crusade is over!” Sargaras could not believe his Burning Crusade had failed. “NO!” He screamed out in defiance as the Pantheon’s magic summoned him to his imprisonment. Illidan stood there on the Pantheon, burning with anticipation as Sargeras was transported aboard. “At last…” Illidan growled as his blades, the twin flames of Azinoth glowed more fierce. Illidan in anticipation of his end game had left a crystal that would bring closure to old wounds. Illidan’s voice vibrated from the crystal to his most loyal follower. “The moment that the way to Argus opened… the instant my gaze fell upon the Legion’s home world… I knew I would not be returning from it. I will face my destiny, whatever it may hold. Yet… I have left certain matters unsettled… old wounds that I would see mended. This crystal bears two messages. One is for my brother Malfurion, the other for Tyrande. I am trusting you to deliver them on my behalf, champion. When they have heard my words, leave the crystal atop Mount Hyjal, upon the shores of the Well of Eternity. You have witnessed echoes of my past, hero. I ask your help to put these final matters to rest.” Illidan’s faithful follower did as he was asked, making his way to Illidan’s brother first. Malfurion is skeptical of the crystal but agrees to listen. Once again Illidan’s voice came to life through the crystal. “Malfurion… Even in the womb, we grappled with one another. Struggle has followed us all our lives.
The teachings of Cenarius were always your path. I felt… another calling. It was power I sought… but not to conquer or rule. It was a means to an end… to save Azeroth from an unstoppable foe. You never trusted my intentions… though I suppose I did not make it easy for you. But now, as my fate becomes clear, I wish to quiet the strife that has long divided us. Even when the Legion is gone, new threats will arise. There is no one I trust to face them more than you, brother. You have spent a lifetime fighting for the dream of what Azeroth could be. Now you must fight for what it is. Take care of Tyrande. Listen to her counsel. She was always the best of us. The road ahead will be long. Whatever comes, bring honor to the name… Stormrage…” The words were difficult to hear for Malfurion. After all this time, and all the suffering Illidan had caused. Malfurion reflected over Illidan’s words. “ transgressions are… difficult to forgive.” Even with the mixed feelings of his brother’s past and recent actions, Malfurion was rooted in the present. “now is not the time to ponder personal regrets. We must see to healing the world, champion.”
As follows, Illidan champion sought out Tyrande and delivered Illidan’s crystal. The crystal vibrated as Illidan’s voice sounded as if he was standing right next to them. “Tyrande… long ago, you trusted me enough to defy Malfurion’s wishes and free me from my prison. But over time, that faith was lost. And like my brother, you came to believe that the choices I made had driven me to darkness. Know that every path I took led toward a single purpose: saving our world. I could abide by no half measures. No compromise. At those times when I faced doubt, I held true to one constant. One anchor. You. You have always embodied the best of Azeroth, Tyrande. Your faith. Your devotion. Through the darkest times, my belief in you never wavered. My fate, my duty, are now clear to me. I leave Azeroth’s defense to you… and to my brother. Take care of him, Tyrande. Though at times I wished your heart had made a different choice, in the end… I know it made the right one.” Illidan’s tone was much softer with Tyrande, tinted with tones of sorrow for what could have never been. Tyrande didn’t seem convinced of Illidan’s sincerity. “Contrite words. Yet I must wonder whether he truly meant them. After Illidan faced defeat atop the Black Temple, I tried to let go of my feelings… my distrust and bitterness. When I learned that he was alive, leading the fight against The Legion on the Broken Shore… I could not bring myself to speak to him. The time for talk has passed. It seems he has a duty to fulfill… as do we. Let us be about it, champion.” There was pain hidden in those words as well. Illidan’s follower left Tyrande with her contemplation and made his way to the Well of Eternity. “The Well of Eternity. I am not one for sentiment… but if anything embodies my commitment to Azeroth, it is the font of power I created so long ago. But enough dwelling on the past. The crystal I left for you to find holds not two messages, but three. The last is for you, champion. You have proven your commitment to Azeroth. Your dedication, your sacrifice, rivals my own. But more will be asked of you. So much more. Even now, enemies gather… and the shadows grow darker. From this day forward, the defense of our world of all we hold dear… rests with you.” Illidan’s sincerity clung to the air even as the words faded from the crystal. Archetype: Illidan’s story holds a lot of wisdom for people on a similar path of self-betterment. The entry to this path often starts the same way. A feeling of a certain searching: this call of destiny that we can hear whisper but can’t place it. A restlessness in the wake of these whispers, feelings and a deep knowing that we’re meant for something greater. This call to find out what that destiny is is apparent in Illidan. Which comes with its own struggle and strife, the innate desire to overcome being more powerful than weakness. The power of the Archetype is found in its perseverance and commitment to self-improvement.
Destiny: In this restlessness we often find our pure intentions cause unintended harm to those we love, our own environment and sometimes even ourselves. Even though the road to hell (our own caused chaos) might be paved with good intentions, it is our impatience and recklessness rushing towards our destiny that causes more harm than good. Alas, that seems to be the case the most when you feel the calling in your adolescence. As with Illidan, there were a lot of moments for him where he thought he had figured out his destiny and threw himself into it with reckless abandon. I think people that feel that calling of destiny and promises of great have the tendency to throw themselves into their THIS-IS-IT feeling. That same restlessness and insecurity are what drives many of us to guidance and mentors. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, though we’re quite often disappointed in either the advice given or the person when we’re looking to be enlightened about what our destiny is. Of course, guidance is quite useful in our formative years. But if we truly want to make good on our destiny, our path, we need to go internal. Only by going internal can we truly found what we’re destined to do, what our Divine Task is. We need to take ownership of what it is we think we need to do and subsequently set out to do it. Illidan came to his conclusions that no one was going to fight this war for him, at least not in the manner he expected. In the end, it’s always up to ourselves to do, act, think, create and live in alignment with our destiny and our Divine Task. The Sight: This mindset, this feeling of a greater destiny often leaves us as outsiders. It also brings with it a certain sight that is occluded from others. When Illidan’s eyes were burned out with the truth he was no longer able to look at the world as he did before. Knowing what he now knows, and the weight of that knowledge makes for a completely new behavioral pattern. There’s a tendency to see to the world in a very different way when you’ve come into an awareness of some fundamental truths. Whether that is about yourself, the society we live in or the greater universe as a whole. This knowledge, this “sight” leaves us often alienated and isolated, making it feel like an unfairly bestowed curse. Awareness is key here. As Illidan could see across the universe and the multiverse, so when our awareness expands we can now see things we couldn’t before. We can read people better, understand where they are coming from, why they behave in certain ways. More importantly, we start understanding ourselves better. Why we are thinking what we are thinking, feeling as we do and behaving as we do. Awareness is the first step in seeing and observing what is going and then tracing it to its root. From there we start to understand what to pay attention to. It was clear to Illidan what he had to go do now that he was aware of the Legion’s Burning Crusade. He paid attention to the movements of the Legion and managed to deduce where the Seal of Argus was stowed. Through awareness, we receive the clarity we need to act on our Divine Task. We are shown where our attention should be directed to. Truly seeing is expanded awareness. Expanding awareness is a major component in self-development work. If you’re not aware, how can you know what is going on with you and how that influences your environment? The short answer is that you don’t, you are occasionally shown glimpses. Those that don’t actively work on it hardly ever get to see the truth of why they are the person with all the implications that holds for how you experience life, the extended universe, and reality.
The Mission: He most certainly set upon the path of destiny, for Illidan as for most of us, it is the path of most resistance. It’s a path of fighting the root causes instead of treating symptoms. Illidan knows the truth, he is aware of the reality of the universe and The Burning Legion’s crusade. So when it is suggested to merely close the portals through which the Legion marches, he opposes that. Knowing the greater truth that it is just treating symptoms instead of destroying the cause. Once you understand the deeper truths about yourself, your destiny and the universe, there is no other alternative but to treat the root causes. This is Illidan’s mission, by extension, that is our mission. This is what the Stoics refer to as your Divine Task. Anointed to you by the gods, God, the universe, nature or the collective consciousness as your duty. That duty is in line with the highest good for all and the highest moral good, doing the right thing at all times. Illidan had the elder naaru make him aware of his anointing. It only confirmed his task to him, the higher purpose of it had eluded him before, now he was sure there were larger forces behind his Divine Task. So it is with us individually: Fighting the root causes of whatever manifestation they take internally, is where the inception of our Divine Task lies. From there it will be made clear how it is directed in the external world.
Relentless in his Divine Task, Illidan does drop the ball at times. A deeper introspective practice and a higher level of awareness make us able to assert what is worth the sacrifice. It also allows us to reflect deeply upon our behavior so that we don’t do “bad” through our good intentions. When clear(er) communication is behind the right intent we can side step a lot of unnecessary and intended harm. The question always remains: does the end justify the means? Which we should consider deeply.
The Darkness: In the world of self-development, there is a propensity of this painless and suffer-less way of enlightenment. This idea of all light and all love, no sacrifice and no toil is perpetuated strongly. I’m using enlightenment and self-development here interchangeably as one concept. For one implies the other. I acknowledge that there are levels to where people come from. If your childhood or life, in general, has been a smooth ride your opposition (darkness) will present itself in different ways. When you’ve had a rough and trauma filled childhood the darkness is obvious and ever present. Where we collectively tend to swing and miss is the burying of this darkness. From the Buddhist, the Stoics to Carl Jung, we’ve been advised to confront this darkness. Hell, when you’ve had a turbulent childhood, you know full well where those demons reside. In their arrogance, they don’t even hide. We, like Illidan, have been anointed to be our own Demon Hunters. The demons we must slay are the internal demons that keep us down. Fear narratives, anxiety, depression, self-limiting beliefs, self-defeating thoughts, nihilism, cynicism, shame, guilt, incompetence, unworthiness, bad habits, lack of self-control, the list goes on. Initially, we must accept that they are part of us and that they reside inside of us. However, we don’t need to settle for that. We can hunt them down and fell them one by one. The Power: A lot of references are made both by Illidan and his demon hunter aspirants about how this internal darkness is used constructively. This can come in many different shapes and forms. In the Warcraft lore, it is the slaying of a demon that fuels Illidan and his demon hunters. This is equally represented in our psychology, think about the empowerment you gain from overcoming fear. The longer you have been in the throes of a certain fear, the more powerful you feel in its overcoming. Not only does it make us feel empowered, but we also start understanding the need to share this empowerment with other people. We, in our hunting and slaying of our demons, become force-multipliers for other people. Like Illidan recruiting to share his power and knowledge with his demon hunters, so do we want to share our internal power and blueprint of knowledge with others. Recovered addicts helping other recovering addicts or current addicts overcome their craving/lust/addiction. Recovered trauma patients guiding and supporting other trauma patients. This is where our darkness, our curse, in its highest good becomes our most powerful gift. A Divine Service, as an extension of our Divine Task, the gift in the curse now used to empower others. To help them see the truth in themselves, the truth of the universe and divinity. Not all necessarily become this extension of Divine Will, but neither are they now fueling the chaos and darkness internally, which manifests externally.
In one of the most notable moments, Illidan puts forth a most captivating show of ownership. In the confrontation with Xe’ra the mother of light, he states that he is his scars. That is the end process of confrontation with our demons, the acknowledgment of how your scars have made you. No more hiding, no more burying, no more dismissing, no more lying. Full acceptance and embodiment of the past and the things that make you as you are. This ownership leads to the realization that we create our own destiny, that we can choose how we act and are at any given time. That we are not tied or kept prisoner by the past. Whether that is past transgressions, past failings, past traumas or past behavior. We are not victims of our past experiences when we reintegrate everything into our psyche, using it as fuel. Which brings us to the next part.
The Drive: Initially, the motivation and inspiration come from the necessity to do something about the darkness. What other alternative is there? To let The Legion march on with its Burning Crusade? What about us? What alternative do we have? To stay weak, afraid, anxious, incapable, always vigilant, hopeless and senseless? Or do we take actionable strides against our own demons? Once you understand the true nature of the alternative: hell on earth, there isn’t much deciding left to do. That initial push will aid you in driving out the darkness. However, just like Illidan, we will be faced with doubts, setbacks, pauses, plateaus and even resistance to our plans of self-development. Let’s hope none of our set backs are ten thousand years spent in isolation in the dark. However for most people with major depression that’s how every day feels. Our major counter force against these doubts, fears and opposing forces is action. However small and inconsequential it may seem, it will still enforce our larger plan: our Divine Task. All success or result is the end effect of an accumulation of action and thought towards your goal. We will have doubts, we will have fears, we will have set backs, we will plateau, however: as long as we keep trying to make the right decisions and actions despite all of these, we will come out of these even more empowered. This necessity to overcome will drive you to a self-disciple and self-mastery that will leave others in awe in your wake. Even during the hardest and darkest times, the discipline will take you were drive will not. Like Illidan, drained and battered from his exploits, his devotion to his Divine Task moved him to send out the demon hunters to Mardum, knowing full well he would not be able to repel the combined forces of the Alliance and the Horde in his weakened state. On our Path of self-betterment, self-development, and enlightenment we will find ourselves in a battered and beaten state. As tempting as it is to take the road of least resistance, we must remember we have answered the call of destiny, and we must see our answer through. When motivation fails us, we need to let discipline take the wheel. The only way to live free is to confront that which we fear, as much as it scares us. The Challenge: To do what is right, there will be challenging the common way or the status quo. Even a challenge of your superiors, mentors or leaders. In Illidan’s case, there was a challenge to the measures taken by his peers to close the portal and stem the Legion’s invasion. So as we became aware of our Divine Task we will often be lead to a more confrontational and challenging attitude, for we know the truth of a higher reality. We won’t just have to confront our leaders, mentors, and guides, but we’ll have to confront our own fears of laying forth these challenges. This is a part of doing what is right.
Redemption: We remember those we’ve hurt along the way in the wake of our becoming. Illidan’s final message to his brother and the one he holds more dear than anything does his redemption justice. For everything he has been through, the strongest forces never faded from his character. The desire to prove himself a worthy brother to Malfurion and a worthy lover to Tyrande. Although certain therapies and programs alike explicitly guide to ask forgiveness for the embodying of your demons, there is an alternative option. Living your life as you should, which is the act of self-forgiveness and an embodiment of proof for others you are worthy of forgiveness. When we are faced with the immense darkness of our actions, we often believe we’re not worthy of redemption. That what we’ve done on our path is too severe to forgive, which comes with the corresponding emotions of shame guilt rage, envy, self-loathing, and devaluing oneself. We should never take redemption or forgiveness for granted, however, we should do what we can to prove ourselves worthy of it. When the right thought meets the right action through the Divine Task and Divine service, you begin to forge yourself anew. A new you that is worthy of forgiveness externally and worthy of redemption. We at times fear the light at the end of the tunnel for it either being a false end (or even a false light) or that we are the false ones. Our unworthiness is a major component keeping us from the redemption that can only be embraced from the inside out. As Illidan finished his Divine Task he consolidated his redemption inside his psyche and sought to leave his past behind by making amends with Malfurion and Tyrande. Once you’ve entered your path, attempt to set things straight. Make your amends as you move forward.
The Opposition: Illidan was severely misunderstood, communication and trust were his major flaws. Letting his Illidari stay in the dark and consequently letting the council fall apart. Even letting the Black Temple fall. When we’re convinced about the righteousness of our cause it’s an easy trap to start looking at people differently. In a way that makes them subordinate to you and the cause. This is a prime example of how we can learn from Illidan’s flaws. We can make our Divine Task clear to people, take as much responsibility as we can muster to spread our message and goals in an understandable way. Even when we’ve done that: prepare to meet resistance and opposition. People will oppose your change, they will oppose your growth and self-development. It hardly ever is a you thing. You are embodying the light that shines so brightly the contrast is made painfully clear. This is a major factor why people fear the Light (the truth) because it creates contrast and demands a reflection through negative emotions. The less self-aware people are the more they will externalize those negative emotions, assigning them to you instead of a clear indication of something being awry inside. Knowing all this doesn’t necessarily always make it easier to navigate the resistance and opposition of other people. Especially when it comes in the form of friends and family. Those who are to supposedly support us unconditionally. Until they are faced with their own shortcomings and darkness. This is part of our Divine Task as well, not to act as a savior, but to be resolute in your mission and being. The path you are on will give you the strength to persevere over these obstacles and potential sabotage. The Message: Just like Illidan telling his follower that more of him/her will demanded, so will be more demanded from us. Self-development is a journey that has no end. The demon most certainly doesn’t have to be fighting the insidious forces gathering, but our own gratification. When we think we’ve figured it out and no longer practice our vigilance. When we take little slides down the slippery slope, figuring we don’t have to be as dedicated, or sacrifice as much, that we can rest and “enjoy” ourselves. This doesn’t mean we can’t be content and perfectly happy with where we are and how we are in a certain part of life, however, we shouldn’t become stagnant and so satisfied we let everything slide that got us this far. We shouldn’t completely stray from the tools that keep our demons at bay. There is no peak and there is no end on how developed and enlightened one can become. Our sanity, purpose, meaning, centeredness, and grounding is found in the process of the path. In all the things we do to maintain our drive and poise as we execute our Divine Task.
Hope: During the War of the Ancients, Illidan got demoted due to his recklessness, then failed in his attempt to close the portal on his own. Doing more damage than intended, needing Malfurion’s help to undo his original damage and then reverse the portal. Then being imprisoned for trying to do the right thing by attempting to restore his people’s power source. For ten thousand years feeding off of the vision burned into his memory. Failing to kill the Lich King, forced to escape to Outland. Even Illidan’s second attempt to go after the Lich King fell short at the hands of Arthas. Just when you think things are turning around for Illidan as he made progress engineering the Legion’s defeat his fortresses and lieutenants are destroyed by the Azerothians. Being so close to putting his Divine Task towards completion he is slain in his own fortress. There is no rest for the wicked as his body is taking, his soul is stolen and toyed with by the Legion’s puppets. How much stumbling, falling and sabotage can one man take? After his resurrection the flame of vengeance burns bright in Illidan, so bright he’s done with being Fate’s toy. After all, this Illidan still manages to fulfill his Divine Task.
This isn’t just about hope, it’s about internal fortitude and perseverance. His story is the perfect example of keeping the mission (your Divine Task) in mind. Through opposition, resistance, sabotage, obstacles, grievous wounds, countless failings and death, Illidan never gave up. There is a popular maxim that sums this up: “He who has a reason to live can bear almost any means of living.” Nietzsche had a profound insight into self-development, which is what his writing is mainly related too. Why would anyone without a why, without any hope, keeping going throughout all this punishment? Why would anyone keep going?
The truth (the sight) of Illidan’s vision, knowing the consequences of not doing taking extreme ownership of what part he can play in stopping the Legion kept him going throughout all those painful experiences. That is a powerful why, when the universe’s survival hinged on your perseverance. Without sounding overly dramatic, this is true even for you. Right now, in the universe, what you do reflects and ripples through the universe. Not only does the quality of your life hinge on your why, hope and perseverance, but the quality of the life of those around you does so as well. You are fully responsible for your slice of reality and the universe.
Illidan had his moments of doubt that plagued, even though at the beginning of his journey he was pretty low on hope, he was resolved. Resolved even in the face of overwhelmingly cosmically small odds of victory and success. His belief in his ability and the fact that there was no other option than destruction are powerful drivers. Once the naaru blessed him, he now had a reason to hope. Being blessed all the pain, suffering, work and darkness was worth it, now that there was more tangible hope. Illidan’s perseverance and sense of duty are a truly Herculean effort and heroic act.
How this reflects on to us is that we’re often too caught up in the short term gratifications and instant results that are so readily perpetuated by society. We might go years without feeling like we’re moving the needle on changing behavioral patterns, the way we think or how we feel. And yet, after some time the seemingly nonexistent background processes jump to the foreground in act of “completion”. All the work you did suddenly appears as a result. Not so suddenly as these processes are always running when we’re on the Path of execution towards our Divine Task. Which is to say, there is more than enough reason to hope that you can change yourself, your situation and how you perceive the world through perseverance and faith. Faith in that what you are doing is right and will eventually lead to that which you seek. Whatever that is you are attempting to change and develop about yourself. Realistically we need to think long term, when we do that we can subsequently take the tests the universe throws at us to see if we have the faith, perseverance and hope to be worthy of our results.
Our worthiness works both ways. To be worthy of our results, we first need to be worthy of our suffering. I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but look at how Illidan, in the end, was worthy of his suffering. He didn’t complain, he didn’t make excuses, he didn’t curse fate, he didn’t damn destiny ALTHOUGH he had his moments: it was not his default attitude. Which is the point here. He leveraged his suffering, he used it to build towards his destiny. Illidan didn’t pour on extra suffering or woe is me. He took all his suffering, pain and vengeance and put it into a constructive task: creating his demon hunters and finding Argus. We can utilize this channeling of energy, transmutation or alchemy of our suffering to building our own Path towards our dreams, goals, and Divine Task. This way you are worthy of your suffering, shouldering your burden, carrying your cross, all the while assisting others and making the world a better place. From being worthy of your suffering you will be worthy of the results of your perseverance, you will have your results and you will enjoy them all the more. So there is hope, all your suffering is not for naught, use it and let it lead you to your destiny: your Divine Task.
Enlightenment and Self Reliance: In the story that opens this article the Demon God (fitting title, right?) Mara, who attacked the then Bodhisattva Siddhartha Guatama with everything he had: lust, greed, anger, doubt, etc., fails and leaves.
The emphasis here should not be the Demon God’s failing, it is the resisting of the Bodhisattva Siddhartha. The notion that it’s normal we are run by our emotions, including the negative ones, is a half truth. There is a state above that. A state that accounts for emotion, recognizes it and then chooses to do with that emotion whatever is needed. This state is referred to as enlightenment, Ralph Waldo Emerson called it Self Reliance. The Stoics would call it Stoicism. Despite the common misconception of said state, it is attainable for anyone. We build this state, brick by brick, by resisting forces externally and internally. Emotions are important yes, however, our reaction to them and the way we behave (acting them out or not) is fully up to us. The more we resist the pull of the path of least resistance, temptation, instant gratification, short term weakness, desires and wants: the more we build self-reliance. We’re no longer tied to something external to us, or even internal to us. We are in control, we don’t dance to anger, pain, suffering, lust, pride, envy, jealousy, hate, misfortune and the likes.
Illidan was very self-reliant, even though he didn’t always manage to control his temper. The reality is that our self-reliance and enlightenment is a practice. We might not always be able to control everything, however, our aspiration should be to do so. Without tying a negative emotion to the occasional slip-up. Rectify yourself and move on. Throughout his entire journey, the Divine Task stood constant, which allowed Illidan to focus on that one thing. He was no longer temped by anything that didn’t serve him. Even in the face of immense adversity Illidan only relied on his internal fortitude and self-belief that he could fulfill his task. He had to resist doubts, fear, and the overwhelming odds of his Divine Task. When we reach a space of expanded awareness and being, we can resist acting on any emotion. We can resist entertaining an emotion or be overtaken by them. We can resist the hedonistic impulses that are a band-aid over a lack of meaning and purpose. We can resist all the short term and instant gratification temptations that are thrown at us. The very intention of doing so sets us on this path. Sophrosyne is an ancient Greek concept of an ideal of excellence of character and soundness of mind, which leads to other qualities, such as temperance, moderation, prudence, purity, decorum, and self-control. Used by the Stoics as a description and necessary means of the Path. This is the Path I keep referring to. For the Bodhisattva, it is the path towards Buddhahood. The Path of moderation, poise, decorum, prudence, temperance, and Self-control. The Path of resisting outside influences and subsequently internal influences. It’s not an end state as much as it is a practice. To be our highest selves and execute masterfully on our Divine Task we must practice diligently. Me in 2008: depressed, autism, suicidal. 2019: healthy, happy, drivenMy Experience I can only empower from my own experiences. Diagnosed with Major Depression Disorder at nine, diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder at eleven. Nothing was a smooth ride. My father an alcoholic with a bad temper, leading to my parents’ divorce in early childhood. Then he stopped picking up my sister and me on the appointed weekends. Completely discarding his role as a father, a leader and a guardian. Wrecked by abandonment, social anxiety, feelings of unworthiness, lack of confidence, suicidal tendencies and suicidal thoughts, my destiny seemed like it would be an early self-induced end. In my adolescence, my cracked psyche made it easy to fall into drugs, alcohol, porn, gaming, movies, books. Anything to take me away from this sordid state I found myself in. There’s nothing inherently wrong with gaming, movies or books especially if they are used constructively. However, for me, everything was based on escapism and my darkness often turned good things into something destructive. I would game, read or watch movies until four AM knowing I had to get up at seven AM to go to school. I just couldn’t bring myself to quit, knowing that when I did I wake up to reality. Reality at that time was hell, hell I was willing to escape from in any medium possible. These patterns of addiction are commonly found in people who went through something traumatic or have psychological issues due to underlying biological causes. My whole life and environment were high stress and high inflammation. To get a constant flow of dopamine hits that I was getting through my other abusive habits, I ate poor food. Chips, pizza, processed nuts, grilled cheese sandwiches, fries, ice cream, chocolate. All these gave me a short term satisfaction that all added up to keep my dopamine going so I wouldn’t be even more depressed than I already was. This instant and short term gratification hunting was a very destructive process. Making my depleted and dysregulated gut even worse. Add self-imposed sleep deprivation on top of that and it was no wonder I felt so bad and looked just as bad. At the time I didn’t understand the depth and implication of my destructive habits and how it furthered inflammation and stress inside my body. As I figured I was doing everything to stress down, in my own little destructive way. 2008, the picture reference belowAt eighteen I saw a picture of my overweight self and was exposed to the undeniable contrast and result of my destructive habits. Just like Illidan receiving the vision, I for the first time saw the truth. In hindsight, I wasn’t motivated at all to do the hard work I knew would come and make the sacrifices. I did, however, understand the need to do something, I saw to the core of the situation and saw where denying reality would get me. I ran the stairs for thirty minutes a day and started a strict diet. That moment of recognizing the truth in a forceful confrontation with reality set me on a path of self-betterment. Leading me to start strength training outside and completely overhauling my nutrition. The end result was that major depression cleared and my autistic tendencies were as good as gone as I hit twenty-one. That didn’t mean there wasn’t still plenty to work with. I had to overcome major anxieties that were predominantly social. Hyper-vigilance, paranoia, distrust, all nagging demons I had to contend with and found ways to slay them. As time wore on my nightmares faded, my crippling anxieties subsided and I was able to find more peace in daily life. From being afraid to leave my room to moving to Oslo (Norway). From avoiding social contact to becoming a personal trainer interacting with people daily. From being weak, incapable and severe anxiety about physical confrontation to becoming a Krav Maga Instructor and moving on to other martial arts (BJJ, MMA). From escapism, destructive habits and abuse to living a life full of purpose, meaning and drive. A decade of change physical, physiological, emotional and spiritual.This understanding of how biology influences psychology is how my Divine Task came to be. Making my full-time focus guiding and leading others to these internal practices through somatic (body/biological) and mental practices. My extensive time spent in self-development working my way through a major deficit in being has helped me tremendously to understand how human behavior, change, and self-transcendence works. This year I found a role model in David Goggins who’s life mirrors my own, with the difference of degrees. Physical abuse by his father, racism, death threats, depression, and obesity. He set out to overcome his self imposed limitations and decided to answer his calling by applying to the most prestige warriors in the United States: The Navy SEALS. What was once a broken, depressed and fat man eating his feelings away turned into one of the most relentlessly driven human beings on the planet. Setting world records, smashing limitations and changing the perception of what is possible for a human being. From the case of David Goggins, my own experience and Illidan, I don’t believe we need to live with our demons or even make peace with them. We need to get after them, relentlessly. This is the Art of Demon Hunting. Completely resolving these manifestations of darkness. For me that was autism, major depression and suicidal tendencies, for David Goggins it was depression and lack of discipline, for Illidan it was the threat of the Burning Legion and his sacrifices for the greater good. If I had accepted that I had to live with autism or major depression my whole life it would have driven me to end my life. Because that’s not a life worth living. For more on my experiences, integration, strategies, and tools, my upcoming book will highlight all of this. “Make no mistake about it — enlightenment is a destructive process. It has nothing to do with becoming better or being happier. Enlightenment is the crumbling away of… untruth. It’s seeing through the façade of pretense. It’s the complete eradication of everything we imagined to be true.” Relentless Demon Hunting, Sim www.simvandaele.com Social: @simvandaele