Ruth Wilson plays Mrs Coulter in His Dark Materials BBC One

His Dark Materials season 2: What are Daemons, Dust and Spectres?

All the weird and wonderful language explained in time for series two

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His Dark Materials season 2 returns to BBC One this Sunday (November 8 2020) with a second series.

The big-budget adaptation of Philip Pullman’s trilogy of novels follows the fortunes of young girl Lyra Belacqua and teenager Will Parry.

James McAvoy, Ruth Wilson and Lin-Manuel Miranda all star, alongside relative newcomers Dafne Keen and Amir Wilson.

***Warning: this may contain spoilers from episode one of His Dark Materials***

The cast of His Dark Materials on BBC One.
The cast of His Dark Materials on BBC One (Credit: BBC One)

Read more: His Dark Materials returns to BBC One: What happened in series one? Recap!

But what exactly do Dust, Daemons and Spectres all mean? Here’s our easy-to-understand guide.

What is Dust?

Dust is integral to the plot of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials and The Book of Dust trilogies.

Dust or Rusakov particles are elementary particles associated with consciousness.

It features in the multiverse written about in these trilogies and companion books.

Explorer Asriel is tracking the substance, which surrounds adults but not children.

In Lyra’s parallel universe, Dust is a source of great anxiety to The Magisterium church.

They believe Dust is the physical evidence of original sin.

Dust comes to us when we grow up and become corrupted by ‘knowledge’ and the wickedness of the world.

What is a Daemon?

A Daemon is a fictional creature in Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials.

They are the external physical manifestation of a person’s ‘inner-self’ that takes the form of an animal.

Lyra explains: “Pan is a part of me, and I’m a part of him.”

Lyra’s beloved Daemon is called Pan.

Like all Daemons belonging to children, he can take any animal form he pleases.

He usually appears as a snow white ermine, but first appears in the story as a dark brown moth.

He will settle as one animal when Lyra gets older.

Andrew Scott as Colonel Parry in His Dark Materials (Credit: BBC One)
Andrew Scott’s Colonel Parry with his Daemon in His Dark Materials (Credit: BBC One)

What is a Spectre?

Spectres appear for the first time in the second series of His Dark Materials on BBC One.

When Lyra and her new ally Will find themselves in a brand new world, they discover all the adult inhabitants have been killed by Spectres.

Spectres are malevolent spirits that can’t hurt children, but can kill you when you are an adult.

Spectres are everywhere but cannot be seen by children.

Only adults see Spectres and can get killed by spectres.

Lyra is safe from them, but Will is on the cusp of becoming a man.

Spectres “take your insides out” we learn from orphaned girl Paola.

She says: “You’re still alive but everything that makes you human is gone.”

The new world, called Cittàgazze, has been attacked and now there are Spectres everywhere.

At the end of episode one, we see an adult man left as a mindless shell by a Spectre.

What is The Alethiometer?

The Alethiometer, nicknamed the symbol-reader, is a compass-like device used to communicate with Dust and find out the truth.

Only six Alethiometers were ever made, and Lyra has one.

Heroine Lyra seems to have the ability to interpret the extraordinary device and discover a truthful answer to any question she asks.

His Dark Materials returns to BBC One: What happened in series one? Recap!
Lyra with her daemon Pan and the Alethiometer in His Dark Materials, returning to BBC One for its second series (Credit: BBC One)

Read more: Suranne Jones takes the lead role in BBC One’s new six-part thriller Vigil

What is The Magisterium?

The Magisterium is a religious sect which sees Dust as a manifestation of original sin and seeks to eliminate it.

Lyra’s evil mum Mrs Coulter works for The Magisterium and, in the first series, led secret, cruel experiments in the Far North that sever children from their daemons in an attempt to rid them of Dust.

In the second series, the ruling power round up any people who they see as a threat – including witch Katya.

In the books, author Philip Pullman crafted the Magisterium as an intimidating government-like body.

It has been likened to the Catholic Church.

Because of this, His Dark Materials has been banned in some countries.

In 2007, the Catholic League campaigned against the film The Golden Compass, based on Philip Pullman’s book, declaring that it promoted atheism and attacked Christianity, in particular the Catholic church.

His Dark Materials season 2 starts on BBC One on Sunday November 8 2020 at 8.10pm.

Are you looking forward to seeing series two of His Dark Materials on BBC One? Leave us a comment on our Facebook page @EntertainmentDailyFix.