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Intercision is a type of fictional operation in Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy that separates an individual from their dæmon. In effect, the operation separates the person from his or her soul, while (usually) leaving the person alive, though having the behavioral and cognitive characteristics often associated with the undead. The name of the procedure is derived from the Latin word inter meaning "between" and cidere meaning "to cut", in addition to this, "intercision" bears a strong similarity to "intercession", a type of prayer for others, further highlighting the negative associations of religion in the series.
In the novel Northern Lights, a method is developed by Marisa Coulter and the Oblation Board to remove the dæmon, and this method is known as Intercision. Because the church associates Dust with original sin and is aware that Dust is attracted only to adults, the motive for the use of this operation on children is allegedly to prevent them becoming sinful.
It is revealed that there are two different methods of achieving this in a controlled fashion. The first method is known as the Maystadt process. The details of the method are not revealed but it is indicated that the separation could not be done with the patient in a conscious state, and that it involved tearing a person and his or her dæmon apart, likely by physical distance (although this would normally result in the death of both). The second method developed to allow separation with the patient in a conscious state involves placing child and dæmon in separate cages on a kind of operating table. In between these two cages, there is a gap for a "special type of guillotine," to drop into, which has a blade made from an alloy of manganese and titanium. The falling blade severs the invisible link between child and dæmon. The results, as seen on Tony Makarios, are devastating as the child becomes a zombie-like figure who loses the will to live. Although Tony is found and saved by Lyra Belacqua and the armored bear Iorek Byrnison, skulking around some outhouses in the icy wastes of Bolvangar, he dies soon after they get him back to their camp. The operation carried out on an adult is less traumatic, and Lyra realises that many of the staff at the Bolvangar facility have been through the process, becoming dull and lacking initiative.
However, both the Church and Lord Asriel discover that Intercision has some side effects that could be used to their advantage. Whenever the link between a child and dæmon is severed a huge burst of energy is released. Lord Asriel is the first to realise that this energy can be used to open up the invisible doorways between the different universes and intends to use the operation on Lyra's friend Roger Parslow. In the event, the fatal separation of Roger and his dæmon occurs when an overhang of snow on which he is standing gives way while his dæmon is held captive by Lord Asriel's. In The Amber Spyglass, Mrs. Coulter is taken to a base at Saint Jean-les-Eaux by the Church to have Intercision carried out on her in order to harvest that energy to detonate Lyra using a lock of her hair.
In Northern Lights, Lord Asriel makes clear analogies to sexual genital mutilation such as circumcision of boys and girls and castration as being similar to intercision. In The Subtle Knife, the witch Ruta Skadi says:
“ … There are churches there, believe me, that cut their children too, as the people of Bolvangar did —— not in the same way, but just as horribly. They cut their sexual organs, yes, both boys and girls; they cut them with knives so that they shan’t feel. That is what the church does, and every church is the same: control, destroy, obliterate every good feeling. … ”