By persistent, popular request: exploring the realm of negative entities, spiritual hitchhikers, and energetic parasites.
"All the old cultures have the bad habit of turning truth into fairytales.” -Steven King, the Outsider
I used to be a devout atheist.
A lifetime of Catholic School—including four years as a double major at a Jesuit University— had thoroughly black-pilled me on the concept of organized religion. As a young child in Catholic School, I would pose existential questions to the teachers, priests and nuns like, “Who was God’s mom? Who made God? Where did God come from?”
Their response? I never got one. Not even an attempt. And certainly never any encouragement to keep seeking, to keep digging, and to keep wondering.
Instead, they would become instantly evasive, saying something to the effect of “God has always existed,” in a final, dismissive attempt to get me to stop with the existential curiosity.
Even at a very young age, I remember being a bit shocked and confused that these otherwise curious-seeming, intellectual, intelligent academics would just put up a brick wall in response to literally the most substantive, interesting question of human— and spiritual— reality.
As I got a bit older and approached the ritual of Catholic confirmation (it’s kind of like a back-up baptism, without the water), I noticed that these same authority figures would drop the brick wall pretense, basically responding with something to the effect of: “It doesn’t matter. It’s not the point. You don’t need to know that. Stop asking annoying questions and upsetting the others in CCD. Just get confirmed so you don’t end up in hell.”
As an adult typing this right now, I see immediate parallels to modern cult structures and behaviors. You know, the whole: “Just do it because I said so and stop being annoying with your curiosity and critical thinking,” vibe is very authoritarian and certainly designed to stop you from thinking— or speaking— for yourself.
Needless to say, I didn’t get confirmed. Yah, I was already a skeptical pain-in-the-ass at the age of 12. Despite coming from a family with a cornucopia of actual scandals— from drug use to extreme domestic violence to social workers and going hungry as a child— my not getting confirmed became a hilarious faux scandal, akin to the mainstream media’s attempt to distract from actual problems. At one point, my mother had the audacity to tell me that I was embarrassing her because I wasn’t getting confirmed. Without getting into the details, let’s just say: she had long before this won the gold medal in the Embarrassment Olympics. And I said as much.
The conversation ended. A victory for the game theory of pulling the mutually-assured destruction card.
Besides: from my point of view, I was simply using logic. If a promise to God (like getting confirmed) is a sacred covenant in the Catholic faith, it would be a mortal sin to break it or not believe it. The only other mortal sins? Suicide and murder. So, the casual nature in which all of the adults around me were treating this situation conflicted with their own religious rules and doctrine, and I wasn’t having the cognitive dissonance.
In other words: you can’t have it both ways. Either it’s a spiritual covenant of the highest order and utmost importance for the very safety of your immortal soul….OR it was a check-the-box, price-of-admission exercise that didn’t matter.
It literally couldn’t be both. Well, not if you wanted to be logical, it couldn’t.
As I continued to explore the world of philosophy and studied the history of religion (Jesuit universities require you to take copious amounts of theology and philosophy classes as a part of the core curriculum), I became increasingly cynical about the whole system of organized religion.
The “true believers” struck me as weak-willed and weak-minded, people that would rather be told fairy tales and live in a delusional mirage than face the hardcore, existential dread of human existence honestly and with courage. Likewise, I saw many of the priests and pastors and gurus of the world’s religions as cynical, narcissistic psychopaths craving attention, fealty, fascistic authority, worship and control— not to mention access to vulnerable individuals for the purposes of exploitation and abuse.
And don’t get me started on how they all treat women.
By my 20’s, I had a well-developed disdain for any form of dogmatic, fundamentalist or hypocritical set of beliefs. I blamed this paradigm for much of the violence and abject horror of our world, from the Inquisition to the Crusades to the Witch Trials to the Holocaust to the more modern jihads and holy wars against “infidels” that have literally brought cruxifixctions and beheadings back into vogue.
Religion really did seem to be the opiate of the masses, an excuse to commit horrific crimes and control the population. And I resented the fact that we all suffered as a result.
I was intellectually comfortable in my atheism. Evolutionary biology is a very compelling arm of modern science, and within this structure everything seemed to make sense and fit, philosophically and mathematically. Life was easy for me in this secular paradigm. I wasn’t sad or lonely or lost without spirituality in my life.
In fact, it was markedly more comfortable than the wandering exploration I now experience on a daily basis as a shaman. Way less dread. Way less wondering. Way fewer gaps in knowledge.
I believe there is a distinct inverse correlation between easy happiness and the gaining of existential knowledge. The seeking, the questioning, and the learning can bring a very heavy burden to the individual.
[My opinion? It’s all worth it. But that’s a topic for another post.]
But, in spite of all of this, my atheism didn’t actually last that long.
As much as I hated the dogma of the true believers, I hated dogmatic thinking of all kinds in equal measure. So, when new data came onto the scene— in the form of a harrowing, unforgettable demonic attack— I was forced, per my own rules, to go back to the drawing board.
After all: I wasn’t going to be a hypocrite. I got new information, and I had to take this in or be the kind of closed-minded person I had always made fun of.
In many ways this was the experience that brought me to you, writing here on Substack. It certainly sparked what would turn out to be decades of spiritual exploration and immersion, and is absolutely the inciting event that would lead to the creation of my spiritual practice: TOTEM.
So, you might be wondering, what exactly happened?
Well, simply put: a demon happened.