Last Tuesday on the After Dark With Dr. Mike radio broadcast, we were talking about fear, and I brought up a dream I had concerning the Devil. I had written about him in a July blog entitled "Fear".
"In one of the aforementioned dreams, in January of 2008 to be exact, I dreamt of the devil, hitchhiking near my neighborhood Walmart. He was disguised as a vagrant, slouched, damp and dark, holding a cigarette, hiding his fire behind its smoke. I recognized him immediately, driving past him in my carnivalesque dream car, his coal-black eyes quietly waiting for some response. Two nights later I passed this very same intersection in the "real world" to witness the very same man standing there, the cherry from his cigarette casting a dull red glow about his narrow eyes. It was one of those things where you have to mentally stop and ask yourself if you really saw what you thought you saw, but he was there, his thumb in the air, his dark eyes waiting for a response, and I knew not to stop for him.
That night, I dreamt of him again. He was sitting where I left him: cold, lonely, misunderstood and heartbroken. He was almost childlike in his hurt, like a schoolboy I wouldn't play with, his sorrow deep and yearnful. In that desperate emotional exchange, I knew instantly that I had allowed fear to betray this messenger, and myself. He had a gift of knowledge for me, he was only playing his part in a spiritual test, one I had failed. There was no way to go back and retrieve the information he would have given me. He had put on the tattered clothes our culture had chosen for him, displaying symbols cast upon him, like the people who have to dance humiliatingly about outside of establishments with signs bearing their sales. He was sad for me, and when I drove by the next night looking for him I was devastated to find him gone."
I didn't realize at the time, simply focusing on the others around the room ( James, Lu Valdaquez, Dr. Mike and Aaron ) that my anecdote would generate so much interest. Though despite my explanation in the "Fear" blog about not taking the Dark Prince lightly, I believe I jokingly, sarcastically, referred to either him or the experience as "really cool", which was simply the atmosphere of the studio. One listener immediately contacted Lu in response to my story, to tell her that he could help me understand the reality of my experience with "satan". It was a kind gesture, but how could one know my own personal reality, and my own nighttime communion with my Creator, who was teaching me about the generic human responses to good and evil? I thought of all the rationalists over time chanting the same "swamp gas" mantra when debunking UFO sightings. "We just wanted to inform you that what you thought happened didn't really happen the way you thought it did, even though we weren't there." Also, I didn't use the name "Satan", I said, "the Devil". I knew from what particular book that listener was referring to, and I had no interest in a heated religious debate.
After receiving an Indian name during my senior year of high school, one of my responsibilities was to pay special attention to signs, synchronicities, visions, animal totems, and dreams. All of them were evidence of Divine intervention, of communication, of clues which I soon began a game of connect-the-dots with until a larger view of existence and the human condition began to reveal itself. I was expected to catalog each of these events in order to form a greater relationship with my author. As much I respected and valued the pastor of my church, I had for some time no longer felt the need for a priest or any other "middle man" to assist with my uplink to God. I wanted direct contact, I wanted to decifer the symbols myself, I didn't want any information being watered down or translated by biased persons. I no longer cared how the Divine would appear to me, I was willing to accept it on its own terms, certainly not from the safety of any religion I was already familiar with.
So, it was, in 2008, a year after the formation of The SpiritChasers, that I began exploring concepts of divinity in other cultures. I had by then received several visions during my dreamstate and although most of them were wonderous, benevolent lullabies to my spirit, I knew there was more to creation and existence than light and warmth. I wasn't afraid to have my familiar deck of logic shuffled. I wanted to see the other facets of God, I wanted to peer into darkness with the understanding that the reality of life was also cruel, violent, visceral and cold. I was thinking about other states and planes of existence, other realms, when I came upon a passage in a book about the origin of Halloween, a period when "individual men might even be received into these realms".
This passage made me recall the esoteric White and Black Lodges from the television show Twin Peaks, populated by benevolent and malevolent beings respectively. Love opened the portal to one lodge, fear the other. A protagonist from the show, Special Agent Dale Cooper, ventured into the Black Lodge using fear as his key, in order to stop an entity who was attaching itself to human hosts like a parasite. I thought of demons and possession, viruses and pandemics. Had many of the evildoers throughout history been infected with a demonic sort of virus? Was there really a war being waged over possession of our souls? I thought also of a claim by William S. Burroughs ( carried further by performance artist Laurie Anderson ) in which he stated that language was a virus communicable by mouth. James and I met Mrs. Anderson on two occasions, Lou Reed standing with her on our first encounter, yet I was too awestruck to ask her to elaborate, and settled for autographs instead. She had released a book, "Night Life", which detailed a series of unsettling dreams she was attempting to decipher. I had by then a great chronicle of my own dreamtime, some of which even proved to be prophetic. So what would it take for one to actually "part the veil", to slip into an alternate reality? And what key would one need?
I began by playing a very disturbing video game every night before bed ( Silent Hill 2 ) in which a man begins to receive messages from his deceased wife. She writes that she wants him to meet her in their "special place". He finds himself stuck in an alternate dimension chasing after a woman who resembles his wife, while attempting to avoid hideous creatures which are reflections of his subconscious. In the Black Lodge, Cooper encountered doppelgangers who were evil reflections of their physical counterparts. I thus began to have a series of sinister dreams which others might refer to as nightmares, but I understood I was simply visiting another place. My key happened to be no more than curiosity, and the yearning to continue my spiritual development. I noticed that several of the heroes I admired in cinema encompassed the same archetype, from Indiana Jones to Dana Scully of The X-Files to D'anna Biers from Battlestar Galactica. Each were attempting to uncover hidden wisdom. I thought of the terminology of the occult and its reputation for darkness, a word which meant simply, "that which is hidden". As unsettling as the dreams were, they were still beautiful and somehow perfect in their savagery. The beings there simply were what they were for important purposes, and I valued the messages I received from them. It was here that the Devil appeared to me to teach me about fear, and to show me the many facets of good and evil, and how they were in truth hopelessly blurred.
I saw a great virus taking shape, one that had been uncovered during construction somewhere on the planet. Little rivulets of blood spread out on dirty tiles and I followed its pattern of infection to a cordoned off section of an empty building. I was being given the knowledge that there is such a thing as emotional viruses and it is possible to bring something back from my dream world. Pushing against a padlocked entrance I squeezed my way through a doorway and found myself in a familiar setting. I was standing near a neighborhood pizza parlor when I realized I was in fact dreaming. In "reality", I had never before eaten at this establishment, so I entered the pizzeria looking for evidence I could write down after I woke up. One of the employees had eyes which were set far apart. His co-worker had blonde hair shaved into a buzzcut and was laughing to himself. I left the establishment and looked back on the empty building from which I had exited. If I had stepped through a portal from one plane to this, was it also possible to go back? With this realization I awoke. I immediately scribbled down this dream, wondering if there truly was a doorway to another realm waiting for me near the pizzeria.
That evening, driving through a snow resembling the ash from the underground coal fire of Silent Hill, I pulled up to the pizza parlor. Directly across from it lied an abandoned building. I rushed over with my camcorder in hand, but the door was locked. There was no way to force my way inside. I peered through dirty windows and noticed an empty room at the far end of the building. Its walls were tiled and grimy with a dark red, rusty substance making bizarre patterns in the lines of grout. I went inside the pizza parlor and looked around for clues as to why I had been instructed here. On the menu above the counter I saw the name "James", my spiritchasing partner ( and also the name of Silent Hill 2's protagonist ). Directly under his name was that of his grandmother. A bit of synchronicity, but I still didn't know what to do with it. Just then a young man with shaved blonde hair burst in amidst a flurry of snowflakes, laughing to himself. I was momentarily startled by another employee shouting from behind the counter, "Order up!" His eyes were set far apart. I ordered a pizza for James and I, still unsure of what to do. The young man with the buzzcut eyes me as if he recognizes me but has to leave for his next delivery. Eventually I leave with my pizza, the abandoned building still beckoning me like James' doppelganger wife. I look up at the heavy snowfall in disappointment when two automobiles on the busy road to my left slide out of control and violently collide, instantly jarring me back to attention. A sudden fear courses through my veins like an emotional virus and I remember the key. I need a key.
Later that week, a special key was given to me, one which happened to be illness. There was a great flu outbreak in 2008 which, despite my precautions, I succumbed to. And despite a healthy immune system I began having the chills, always a sure sign my body was unable to stop a virus. That first night I lied under several blankets feeling completely displaced. The virus had taken away my concept of time and linear thought. Observing my face in a nearby mirror, I looked no more than a series of eyes, hair and teeth slapped together without meaning, unable to make sense of my reflection. My head thrummed with an odd vibration, as if I were very drunk, and I wondered if I was receiving some kind of signal, some sort of transmission. I surrendered to it, feeling completely rearranged, a burned-out hunk of carbon drifting through space.
Sometime during the night I cast off my blankets as the first of a series of fever dreams began to fire through my cortex. I floated in and out of what felt like an undulating organic mass as I tossed and turned on the layers of microfiber beneath me. Waves of nausea rose and fell as I shouted out for it all to stop. Suddenly, a sentence was projected before me.
THE DISCOMFORT WILL BE MOMENTARY
I couldn't tell if this was my own wishful thinking or if something was in fact attempting to communicate with me. The blankets became moist with sweat and I still couldn't shake the feeling that I was surrounded by organic walls waving with sentience. I felt like a sort of "astralnaut", recalling Tibetan masters who projected their consciousness outside of their bodies, astral voyagers who returned from dreamtime frontiers with new insights. Do we make such journeys every night, returning with amnesia, with information too complex for our three-dimensional minds to process, that we break our nocturnal excursions down into symbolic pieces of wisdom? I look upon the organic mass, trying to focus on specific features. I saw odd little balls with many arms forming like tiny self-portraits of the larger mass. My mind, my thoughts, my memories began bleeding out, carried away with the odd little balls in undercurrents I grasped at.
"What are you?" I remember asking, then laughed to myself after realizing I was attempting communication with a cold. And yet I felt it responding. I was inside the mother virus, and my infection had created a vehicle with which to enter its realm. Disjointed thoughts swirling about me, I saw the lyrics to a Christmas song I had been listening to a couple months prior flash past.
"What Child Is This?"
And yet with my heavy fever making a hash of the lyrics they became, "What Strain Is This?"
The virus responded immediately.
Why would my subconscious choose that word above all others?
Again I saw the odd little balls cartwheeling by and then as if I were tapping into an astral ethernet an explanation was downloaded into my system. This particular strain was a test strain created in a laboratory for the purposes of biological research. It would be weaponized, eventually, once it mutated into something stronger. The military was testing our resistance to it over periods of time, recording any environmental factors, and was quite pleased with the results.
I awoke in shock. Was this really happening? I thought of my hitchhiking devil. I thought of the pizzeria. It most likely had occurred. Whole schools were being closed due to this influenza virus, entire floors of company buildings shut down, postmasters were missing and a week after my infection I was still struggling to feel human again. I thought of Aboriginal tales of shamans being devoured and spit back up, of having their bodies disassembled and reassembled during vision quests. What was a vision quest except the search for spirit, for soul? In another dream I stumbled through an "employees only" type of door and bumped into two "construction workers" who hastily shooed me back out. I knew they were dream architects and I wasn't supposed to see what they were helping to shape for me next, one of them still whistling as he locked the door behind me.
After recovering from this flu, my body and my resistance felt stronger. After the bizarre dreamtime architecture I was able to glimpse, my spirit, my soul felt more resistant to darkness. And when our postmaster recovered, cheerily walking past my bedroom window, I was startled to find him whistling a very familiar tune.
These dark dreams concluded with a nocturnal visit to the stark concrete apartment complex near the highway I had grown up in. I was shown a series of incidents in my childhood which had caused me great pain, events where my mother passed an emotional virus on to me. I was assured that if I went back to our old apartment, and visited my old room, went into the closet I used to hide in, and pulled back the carpet, I would discover the blood stains from an old injury I had sustained which were still rich with the virus. I was shown a lock of hair which had been pulled from my scalp, a tooth which had been knocked out, and I was instructed to bury them. A week later I had the opportunity to take a one and a half hour trip back to my old neighborhood, and to visit my old apartment complex. I climbed the hard concrete stairwell I used to as a child and discovered a bag of dirty clothes waiting for me. Once more, I had no idea what I was supposed to do. Was I supposed to put them on? Perhaps someone had simply dropped them there on their way to the laundry and I was over-analyzing it. Then I thought of the symbology behind my wearing something that needed to be cleansed, and my instructions to bury that which no longer fit or served me. I smiled at the insight, and felt a terrific burden being released from me. On the way back to my car, from my old bedroom window, I heard the refrains to a song I used to listen to the same year I received my Indian name,
"The more you ignore me, the closer I get."
I never saw the devil again but I am very sensitive to his various darknesses emanating from others, like the radios in Silent Hill that begin to pick up static when one of the creatures are near. After a ghost hunt earlier this year at "Devil's Bridge", The SpiritChasers were caught in a game of cat-and-mouse with an enitity we could not see but toyed with us all the same. It was something heavy, walking on two legs, snapping branches as it paced back and forth below us. It was the only investigation were I ever felt in physical danger. It was the site of several accidents, murders and disappearances. I couldn't afford to allow fear to contaminate my experience, unlocking doorways of perception with different keys, I was then once more instructed to visit another location for more clues. So, camcorder in hand, this week I will once again set off in search of "that which is hidden"...
( While writing this lengthly blog, my television turned itself to Channel 4 for some unknown reason. And while we were in the radio station talking about all of this, a fan shut itself off, among some other odd occurences. I was also given the impression to run one of our radio interviews through an EVP filter to scan for a message we may have missed. )
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Thank you for reading.
- Christopher Allen Brewer, September, 2012