IN THE DARKENESS
I believe we can all interact with spirit. I believe this can help us in the moments of despair we don’t prepare for. Moments like the loss of a loved one or serious trauma. I believe that in some moments the only comfort that can be gained will come from spirit. I also believe there are those in spirit who offer us what we want in a way that is less than pleasant. I can’t feel comfortable promoting the interaction with spirit until I have brought awareness to the “darkness”. We can’t pretend it isn’t a thing. That only makes us unaware. It doesn’t make it go away. There is no short way to describe interactions with spirit. Spirit is not going to be found in words. It is found in the things we feel. The in-between stuff. Nothing will be a substitute for personal experience, but I hope to convey an understanding of darkness and how it is a thing to be respected and revered. Some lessons can only come from finding your light in the dark.
The story that follows is copyright material from a book I may or may not ever publish. I do not give permission for anyone to use any parts of my story for personal gain. However, I do hope you will share it with anyone you feel might benefit from reading it.
Not all signs from spirit are good.
It is summer 2017 and I am on the phone with my sister, we are bantering back and forth discussing an intense dream I had the night before. It was quite a distressing dream, it seemed so real. I felt like it meant something. What it meant I couldn’t be sure, but it just felt like something. You ever have one of those? A kind of nonsensical dream that linger with you long after you wake. The more than just a dream, type of dreams. Well, this one was a doozy. At the time, I was an avid believer who refused spirit. I spent my whole life that way. Knowing there was more than what we could touch and see but refusing to accept it. Seeing and refuting, this is my current relationship status with spirit. There is more to the world than what we can see, but only in theory. During this phone call, I have not yet had an experience I couldn’t convince myself wasn’t happening. I was very good at refusing proof. This is important because in a few short hours from this phone call I would be supplied with proof that I couldn’t explain away. An experience I couldn’t deny or avoid.
As my sister and I discuss the possible meanings of my dream, we arrive on the topic of our dead grandfather. We decide that the dream could have been a sign from “the other side”. As we reach this conclusion, I look out my sliding glass doors and see a butterfly. This was no ordinary butterfly. It fluttered about like it was on a mission. It appears its goal was to enter my home. It flew into the door a few times, thumping off the dirty glass, then frantically hovered in the patio for longer than seemed reasonable. The topic of conversation shifted to this bizarre bug behavior. It just stayed out there looking in on me as though it had something to say. The suggestion was made that perhaps this too was a message from our grandfather. As soon as the words were spoken, the butterfly flew off as though its message had been delivered.
The timing of it is the significant thing. This is the part of the story that can’t be articulated. This is always how spirit is I feel. The little things that can’t be explained. The “You had to be there” stuff. It is more than just a butterfly being outside then flying away. It is how I experienced it. How I noticed it, how it seemed to react to my thoughts, how it made me feel, then more importantly how I felt when the encounter ended. Often, we get stuck on the weird experience we miss this part. How the experience leaves us is just important as the acknowledgment of the experience. I couldn’t avoid the unreasonable feeling this flying bug was actually interacting with me. I knew it was illogical, but it just felt true.
This is a weird moment to work through. When your common sense tells you one thing, but you feel something in a way that you can’t make sense of or deny. The fight between the normal senses and the clair-senses; this is always uncomfortable. For a split second, I am filled with wonder and inspiration. That second faded quickly and that feeling of comfort transformed into something far more ominous. A feeling of deep despair in the pit of my stomach. A sense of impending doom that I couldn’t escape. It would be over a month before I would gain relief from that feeling. How could a butterfly provoke such a strong emotional response?
I have learned the hard way not to put too much stock into signs and symbols if I can help it. Unless I am actively engaging in mindful divination, I find it best to ignore signs until I can’t avoid them. This moment of the invasive butterfly was the beginning of that particular lesson. A symbol can mean anything. Symbols can inspire but they can also be a tool for manipulation. The butterfly is an omen of transformation for most. Many see it as a good sign. It is not uplifting for me. It is one of the most frightening symbols I encounter. When I see a butterfly and get one of those unavoidable feelings it is usually a warning. This is my meaning, not everyone’s meaning. Transformation is not beautiful. It is not inspirational. It is painful. It is horrifying. Sure, the result is beautiful, but the struggle doesn’t always reap benefits. Not everyone gets to the reward stage every time. The butterfly is not a happy symbol when I can’t avoid its message. The butterfly means to me that I should prepare because shit is about to get real. This is not the only butterfly I have encountered this way. Every time it happens, something is about to change. These events that promote change are not metaphorical. When I deal with symbols, there is someone in spirit directly influencing. Those interactions are not in theory or what-ifs, they are as real as we are.
Was the butterfly in this story my grandfather? Not likely, but who knows. Maybe it was a warning that I needed to change. I needed to wake up. My soul was not content, and I couldn’t avoid it any longer. When spirit needs something, it will find a way. That includes our own spirit. The several weeks that followed would be my catalyst for change. This was not beautiful. Not only was the reward not a guarantee but it also wasn’t the most likely outcome. At least, not from my perspective anyway. The crushing weight of hopelessness would be all I could find as the lesson I was about to learn could only be taught within the darkness.
I have always known spirit.
There was a woman who walked the halls of my childhood home. She would pace up and down the steps and back and forth in the hall as everyone slept. This woman did not live with my family. This woman did not live at all. I could see her. I could hear her. I could feel her. I could also convince myself she wasn’t real. I didn’t do this by thinking of her or explaining her away. I did it by ignoring her. I pretended I was somewhere else. “This isn’t happening” would be something I would repeat in my head. I was young and afraid. I grew up with people who believed in spirit but only the good kind. Except for my grandfather, I think he accepted both sides although he didn’t seem to hold fear. You would think having “believers” around would make it easier to discuss the topic of the woman in the halls, but it really didn’t.
You know when you just know something? Something you can’t explain but you just know. I felt this woman was “harmful”. This caused me fear. I knew if I said something, I would either get the response that there is nothing there or nothing will hurt me. Both were not helpful to me, so I said nothing. Looking back, I don’t think the woman held malice, but she did pose a threat. I believe she was sort of stuck there, almost as though she was bound to something that was made of malice. Something else that lurked in my family home.
I didn’t fear all spirit, some of these imaginary people I spoke to quite freely with no cause for concern. I just didn’t let myself believe that they were what they were. I avoided defining that. They weren’t imaginary, they weren’t real, they just were. Some provoked fear. Some did not look like people at all. What did I do when I encountered these spirits? I just hid under my blankets like any reasonable person would do. I am pretty sure that is self-defense method number one when it comes to “ghosts”, right? This was always effective for me. I would hide under the blankets, insist the moment was not the moment I was in, and then I would be in a dream somewhere else. This seems insignificant on the surface, but this is my foundation for controlling what some might call “astral travel.” This is when we take our consciousness somewhere other than our physical location. This is something I never knew I was doing, but after a lifetime of hiding from the spirits around me only to go find others in a “waking dream”, I am fairly comfortable with this assessment of the situation. What we are capable of is only limited by our ability to believe. You might be surprised to see just how far a little bit of belief will get you.
“Astral” is a place for hope and nightmares alike.
So why the double flashback? Well, that self-defense method was about to come into play again, only this time it didn’t work. This time, the spirit present came with me. The thing about “astral” is that it is not so different from the physical. Everything feels the same. When something hurts, it hurts. If something feels good, you feel good the same as you would in the physical world. It can be very difficult to tell the difference if you are not fully aware. Just like those intense dreams that feel real, at the moment you have no idea it is not the “real world”. When you wake, the memory of it feels so real, but your physical body is okay. This is so confusing. Having memories of experiences but having nothing to show for it; if that doesn’t make you feel crazy then you likely are a bit out of your mind. My number one coping mechanism for dealing with the things I knew could not be real, was to go somewhere else. You take that how you want to. There is no describing the experiences, it will always be a “You had to be there” moment.
Now, back to the butterfly. I went about my day and after a really bizarre sequence of events, I went to bed. I was tired, but my heart was pounding. Like a backup drummer who finally gets his solo, my heart was beating a tune that I couldn’t quiet. “Do I have anxiety?” I wonder to myself. What could be causing my heart to beat like this? I am tired, I need rest, why am I all amped up? My thoughts begin to race. A replay of the events of the day begins. Each moment was analyzed and overanalyzed to borderline obsession. I trace each feeling of the day back to its origin. How I feel about family, why certain things bother me, why I am the way I am. I pause my mind for just a moment and think “What am I doing?” This replay of memories is something I often encounter when I come across certain spirits. To me, this is sort of like snooping through someone’s text messages. A gathering of intel – so to speak. Our thoughts create a frequency, spirit understands frequency. This is the basis for telepathy. As I said, you might be surprised how far belief will get you.
Spirit is in the subtle things.
I feel the room shift. Something feels like something. That is not very helpful or descriptive but there isn’t a word for it. It just feels like I need to stop. Like I am not alone. Almost like in a movie when someone important walks into the room and everyone stops what they are doing. The feeling of silence. It feels like that moment. I think of the butterfly, and I open my eyes. Standing to my left is darkness. Not just the lights out dark but a figure, an outline of a silhouette, and it immense. The room is dark and still, I can see the shadow is darker. It is solid black, but that is unreasonable. Shadows are not solid. Shadows don’t move independently either. It just stands before me a moment before moving closer. It moves so slow, as though it savors the moment. I have never known a terror quite like this.
I quickly employ my favorite defense method: hide and deny. I throw the blankets over my head and try to think happy thoughts. This is not effective. I can’t escape. I can’t go anywhere else. I am stuck. All I can see is black. I bring my focus to the blanket that is over my head. “This can’t be happening” I repeat this over and over in my mind. As I do, I feel the bed next to me compress. Someone is sitting on the bed. I can feel it, the blankets have tightened, and the bed has moved. I can’t imagine that, can I? I feel the bed dip down and my own body shifts towards it. I can feel the bed is lower next to me. I tell myself I am not afraid. I know that is important, but the words are empty. I am filled with fear. I can see it, the shadow, my eyes are open, and I am under the blanket, but I can see it just the same. It is like someone has put a surveillance camera in the room and it’s hooked up to a tv in my mind. I see it next to me inching closer and as it does, I can feel that side of my body change.
Everyone talks about the temperate when they talk of spirit. They always say it gets cold. Well, there is a certain kind of spirit that does the opposite. Half of my body, the parts that are closest to the shadow, feel as though they are on fire. I am sweating so bad. I tell myself it is because I am under the blankets, and I am stressing myself out. I am having some kind of anxiety attack and I need to just relax. Snapback to reality is all. There is nothing to be afraid of, I am not afraid.
“If you are not afraid, look left.”
This voice I hear is not my own. It is deep, it is commanding, it is the voice of doom. It is not my voice. I can’t control it. I cannot avoid it. I cannot stop it. I also can’t understand what it is or why I am hearing it. It is now pressed up against my cheek, I can feel it heavy on my skin. Like someone intensely staring you face to face, you can feel their breath. I feel radiating heat coming from the area directly to my left. I am under the blankets but that doesn’t matter. The origin of the heat is not me or the blanket. I can’t hide from this voice. The blankets tighten around me, and it feels like I am being pricked by thousands of static shocks. I feel as though I am underwater but there is no water, only pressure. Every breath is labored. Every second filled with panic. I want to scream but can’t. I am paralyzed with fear. This can’t be happening.
These were just the first few moments of an attack that lasted over a month. This shadow came with me everywhere I went. There was no haunted item or location, I was the haunted item. The shadow was with me, and it wasn’t going to leave on its own accord. I felt the absence of all hope, when I closed my eyes all I could see was darkness and the shadow. Everything hurt. I felt continuous electric shocks and it was as though my blood was boiling. I shook constantly, not like a tremor or nervous tick, it was more. It was as though I was vibrating from the deepest part of my body. Nothing I felt could be understood or explained. Trying to articulate it sure did make me feel and look mental. What do you do when you are stalked by a shadow? Who do you turn to for relief?
There was no physical proof. Nothing that would provide me with reinforcements. This was not a few quick moments of panic; this was over a month of constant confusion and despair. A million moments that couldn’t possibly be real. That voice of doom never left. It wouldn’t silence. It never stopped speaking aside from when it would trick me into believing it was gone. It liked to do that. It enjoyed letting me think it was over, only to rip that hope away. It was so terrible, but I tried to function anyway.
I went to work and did my best to go through the motions. I was a waitress at the time, and I remember trying to hear the world around me above what only I could hear. Why didn’t anyone else hear this? How could it be so intense for me but not a single soul could do anything other than mock me? I walked to a table to take their order. The entire time the voice just said, “Iced tea.” Over and over and over again, it just repeated “Iced tea”. I couldn’t even hear myself breathe; it was so loud. When I asked the people at the table what beverage they wanted, they both said iced tea. This is the type of terror we are talking about. If I told you that a demon was taunting me and all he said was iced tea, I am sure you would not comprehend the gravity of the situation. My attacker knew this. The tactics used to cause me to unravel were beyond brilliant. The level of mastery at their craft is beyond measure. Their craft is destruction from within. They do this without leaving a shred of evidence.
Knowing things before they happen is not cool or fun. It is confusing in a way that promotes a feeling of hopelessness. This part we have seen in a movie. When the character experiences something and they can’t get a single person to understand or believe them. The panic it creates is self-made, but it is real and nearly unavoidable. It is not enough for most people to find horrifying though, unless it happens to you. Then you know this is far worse than most physical attacks.
That voice of doom would quote people before they spoke which left me with a lingering feeling of “Did you see that?” without a single person to validate the unexplainable things I would hear and see. It got to the point where I couldn’t tell if anything was really happening because I would get visions of events, I watch things happen in detail and then they would happen a few moments later. Which is the real one? These are the tools of the spiritual attack. The manipulation of thought and feeling, not the turning of heads and floating appliances.
How long could you endure that? How long could you experience the unexplainable without validation, without an ally? It is easy to say that it is not a big deal. However, the villain of my story knows every weakness of mine. Every fear, every desire, everything. Everything is fair game. It is a master of manipulation, and it responds to my energy, not my words. Nothing is hidden from it; it knows me better than I know me right now. I am not aware of my energy, I do not manage it, I don’t even fully believe it is real. That is my biggest disadvantage. How do you fight a battle you aren’t even sure you are fighting? If the me from today was faced the same exact scenario, it would play out differently. I would be afraid, but it would different. This is only due to my own awareness. I have no extra skills now, it’s just me. Just me and spirit, only now, I believe in both “sides”. I believe I am not alone – even if all I see is darkness.
There is an explanation for everything, right?
Of course, this is my imagination. Obviously I am suffering some kind of breakdown, right? I wish. I really wished this was the case. I did go to several doctors, and I told my story in great detail to them all. The only thing that came out of it was a good amount of discomfort on the part of the doctors and a feeling of amplified hopelessness for me. The issue is, I was not crazy. There was no diagnosis that fit. This description of that first encounter with spirit that I couldn’t avoid, this is just one moment of one night. The shadow and the feelings it brought with it, was with me every second of every day until I eventually found a healer who was able to offer some help. The “demons” people place in their scary stories are very real. Our understanding is a bit off in my opinion, but they are real just the same.
The word “demon” is a vast blanket term used to describe many different energies. Sort of like saying that all living things that are not people are the same. If we lumped plants, mammals, fish, birds, bugs, fungi, and everything that lives into one category; this would be comparable to the general use of the word demon. I don’t claim to have a full grasp of this topic. I have studied it intentionally since the moment I met that shadow and I have been a bit obsessed with the topic for most of my life. Still, the only thing I know is that I can’t possibly ever know anything for sure. There is always more at play than I am aware of. When I think I have an understanding, spirit reminds me I can’t know everything.
I believe there are more than just human spirits. I can’t believe there is only good and bad with a clear line between them. What happens when someone good has to do something bad? What happens when someone bad does something good? What is good for me might be bad for someone else. For a lion to eat, a gazelle must die. Who is the good guy in that scenario? If we hold this logic, it blurs the line of good and evil just a bit. Right is still right in my opinion, and I feel if it harms someone intentionally or if we are careless and it causes harm, it is wrong. I also believe that imposing on someone else’s free will is something that will likely result in a negative outcome. Everything else is situational.
I have tremendous conflict within myself about that shadow. It held nothing good for me. It was quite determined to destroy me. It made that inescapably clear and it almost succeeded. However, that experience was a catalyst for change. Change I needed. Without that life-altering spiritual trauma, I would not be who I am today. My path was taking me somewhere very different. Somewhere much darker. No, I wasn’t engaging in any kind of ritual or spiritual anything at the time. I was completely devoid of it all to be honest. I cared for nothing because I knew such pain such turmoil, I had to hide from it. I had to hide from myself. Sometimes if we are to combat the things of darkness, we require someone familiar with the territory. Sometimes the darkness comes from inside of us. Should I be thankful? Was that a blessing in disguise? It’s hard to be objective about it but in the moments when I can find logic and release the pain from the experience, I see that in the end, I benefited from unexplainable pain. I sure don’t promote that form of lesson learning and I hope that you can go about your entire life thinking this is a fabricated story. If you can, that means you will never be subjected to that sort of tough lesson. I prefer you not be able to resonate with this story. This is not an experience I wish anyone to fully comprehend.
It’s not like the movies.
What was so bad about it? It doesn’t sound all that scary. Movies make it seem way more intense, right? One of the last nights I spent with that shadow it said something to me that reinforces the idea that our perception is so harmful for the few that encounter this type of spiritual experience. It said, “There is no coming back from this. It’s not like the movies ya know.” I will never forget those words. Those words have kept me pushing forward. They caused me to keep clawing my way out of the void. No one gets to tell me what I can do. No one gets to tell me what I am capable of. Still, it was right. It is not like the movies. There is no one to help you. No one to lean on. No one to understand. If you want to heal from demonic possession, you have only yourself to turn to. Even putting it in writing is difficult to this day. Still, that is part of my story, and I won’t pretend it isn’t.
Spiritual experiences are usually personal.
Interactions with spirit are subtle, this is a blessing and a curse depending on the scenario. Not all spirit is harmful. I remember standing, shaking, unable to take a breath before speaking at my father’s funeral. I kept thinking I had no business to speak. No one would want to hear what I had to say. I began to panic and was a second from running out the door in dramatic fashion when I heard “Speak your truth even if your voice shakes.” Yes, I am sure I have seen it on a meme somewhere, but this voice was not mine and when I heard it, I was filled with a sense of calm. Strength from deep within my belly came forth and I went up and read from my paper the entire time with spirit telling me to keep going. Not a single person in the room knew what I was hearing, but without it, I don’t think I could have stood there and said what I needed to say.
This is a blessing of spirit. When spirit has something less helpful to offer, it becomes a waking nightmare. Just the same as spirit can promote calm and strength, spirit can also promote fear and anxiety. The damage these emotions can do is far more lasting than a flying chair could ever be. If your furniture is flying about and you are levitating on your bed, you also will have allies. People will believe your struggle. People will try to help. You will not be alone. This is what that shadow meant. The odds are stacked against you when recovering from something like a traumatic spiritual experience. Part of how we heal is when others empathize and validate our experiences. People do not like to entertain the topic of “demons”. We like to keep that stuff as fiction because it is too scary to be real. Areas of unknown are places we like to have the power. When we can’t know we like to feel strong. This is an area of not knowing and faith. This is not a topic everyone can embrace as truth. That is okay.
Going back is not the only option
For a very long time, it seemed as though there would be no coming back. No one would believe me. I would forever know this happened to me and no one will ever understand. I would know these nightmares are real and out there and I can’t do anything about it. I can’t heal because I can’t feel safe. I can’t feel safe because I can’t hide from shadows. This felt mostly true for a long time. While there were no people I knew already that would believe me, people that had experienced something similar; thanks to the internet, I have found people who have. Sure, some people have not fully come back to reality after experiencing something so unexplainable, but that is the misconception we encounter most often. It isn’t that these people are telling nontruths, it is that they can’t articulate their experiences in a way that is comprehensive to those who did not experience it with them. Trying to process even the surface information here is beyond difficult. It just defies all logic.
I still remember my irrational response once I was finally free from that shadow. I declared in hysterical fashion, “It’s all real, everything is real.” I spiraled down a rabbit hole of relief and panic. I could not find words that made sense to anyone, including myself. It was all far too unreasonable to believe but it was the only thing that made sense. Just like that butterfly, it wasn’t only seeing the butterfly it was the little things, the things that can’t be articulated. These things are how I knew I wasn’t just crazy. There are a certain number of coincidences that just become unreasonable. I surpassed that number by far and then stopped counting. There simply was no logic, no real-world explanation for it all. The shadow knew that even when the time came that it was “removed”, I would never be the same. The thing is, who I was shouldn’t be who I became. Going back wasn’t my best choice. I needed to be someone different.
We almost always have many paths we can take but this time there were only three. I could become consumed by the experience and then fall into the area of developing serious mental illness. I could get stuck in the trauma and try to make sense of it by questing to bring awareness or save others from a similar experience. Or I could heal. I could accept it and find a faith beyond measure. I could be okay with the fact that there will never be another person who can empathize, who will understand, who will comprehend what I went through. The third path was the least likely option. It would also be the path I took last. That is the funny thing about paths. We always talk about which one is our path. Like we can only choose one. Many times, it is like wandering a labyrinth. We take one path only to find it is not one we need, but the only way to know that is to make the wrong turn. As we backtrack, we learn more than we could have if we didn’t take that path. So, in the end, there really is no wrong path to take.
I did all three choices. I first became consumed. I didn’t sleep, I was paranoid, and rightfully so. I just learned “demons” were real and I had no protection or understanding. Then I wanted to fight. I wanted to save the world from suffering like I did. Only, this is not helpful because sometimes we must suffer so that we can change. Sometimes we have to learn the hard way. Sometimes we have to learn that there is great evil but there is also great good to match it. After a while, I could either go back down the road that ended with mental illness, or I could try to have faith. Finding acceptance is really the most difficult part of any trauma. The relief that comes after acceptance is worth facing those difficult truths though.
Spirit is right here with us all the time.
Where does that leave us? The world of spirit is not some other place. It is not far away in some distant dimension. There are both helpful and harmful spirits and we can learn something from all of them. The bad guys don’t simply hide in spooky graveyards or abandoned buildings. They can be found in the light and the darkness just the same. The damage they cause is not like it is in the movies. It is subtle and it is significant. The number one resource we have in preventing issues with spirit, is our own strength. Our own power, our own faith that we are enough. That we are equal. We do get to determine what influences our energy. I never paid attention to that. I also had to learn this the hard way. Some people just believe they are powerful, that they deserve to exist and are equal to all others. When we know this, our energy declares it. I did not know this. I refused to believe this. It took years of encounters and attacks before I would get the point. I didn’t learn some secret technique to defend myself. Although I have studied many beliefs and rituals, the best method of defense I have found, the most effective measure we can take, is ownership of our own energy.
The things of scary stories are real. This does not mean we must be afraid. They are not more powerful than we are. Every energy has an opposing force. For every evil, there is a good to match it. Spirit can feed on our energy. Spirit can manipulate energy to promote certain behaviors. Not all spirit can be trusted. If we work to maintain a healthy frequency, we are not a match for those in spirit who engage in this form of interaction. If we are aware and work to maintain a strong sense of self, we really reduce the odds of ever having an issue of spirit. Should the time come when we fail to maintain our boundaries, when we encounter a situation beyond our ability to remedy, spirit will be there. We are never alone. There are few things I know for sure, but this I don’t question. When we need spirit, spirit responds. We are never alone.