I think that one of the hardest things for me to deal with in all of this experience is that after the demon was gone, I still had work to do.
The first months after the de-possession were in fact the hardest time I’d had in years. The shock waves of coming to fully understand what I’d been through, figuring out who I was without all the demon’s games going on inside me, and what I wanted, was hard enough. But I had to do all of that in the midst of huge life changes because of the path that I’d taken (and that had lead to me successful de-possession) as well as the strongest demonic pressure I’d ever experienced.
The demonic phenomena that I experienced after my de-possession were much more extreme and in-my-face than anything I’d seen before. While the internal symptoms were fading, resolving as I worked through them and sifted myself from what had been demonic intrusion, externally I was being bothered more than ever. During the months following my de-possession, I experienced audible voices waking me almost every night, being touched by unseen hands, objects moving, visible shadows of figures, temperature drops and even the one instance of ectoplasm I’ve ever seen! (I didn’t believe that ectoplasm was real until then!)
For the first time, the phenomena were affecting the people around me – although that may have been the company I was keeping, who were very sensitive and already training in animism. I was very fortunate at this time to have the support of some amazing people, who gave me the space, time and energetic strength to get through all of this.
Why was this such an intense time? I think that after you rid yourself of the demon, there’s a period of testing. Do you really mean it? Are you really strong enough to live without them? Have you done all the healing you need to? The demonic energy hangs around, putting on the pressure, to see if it can get to you again.
Also, after you’ve lived with an alien energy inside you for years it takes some time to get used to being ‘alone’ again. The only sensation that comes close, and it’s a strange example, is after a woman has had a baby. For 9 months, another energy has been nestled within your own and now it’s gone. There’s a sense of space inside you. Of course, a baby isn’t trying to influence your mind or hurt you all that time, unlike a demon. When your demon is gone, the space inside you is less of a space and more of a ragged wound that you have to stitch up and allow to form scar tissue. I’m not sure if the energy system will ever completely lose the traces of that invasion and the wounds it leaves, and possibly it shouldn’t (more on that later).
After these difficult months passed, and then another year or so of improvement when I was suddenly finding that my life was my own, things settled down. It was easier to forget what happened, and to try and ignore the impact it had on me. But even after the first cascade of change following the de-possession, a complex process of recovery was going on.
I lived with my demon for years. Most of that time, I kept my eyes half shut. While I was certainly practicing spiritually, exploring various traditions and coming into contact with Spirit regularly, I wasn’t ready to see what was going on the other half of the time, the dark half.
I wasn’t around people who could help. They couldn’t even see what was going on. No one I knew believed in demons, as far as I know. I was coping, I was going through the motions of being normal; I was very, very good at hiding the darkness under my surface.
It was a matter of survival, really. Once I was a teenager, I knew without having to think about it specifically that if I started talking about the things I was experiencing, I would be labelled as mentally ill. I would probably be put on strong psychiatric drugs, maybe hauled off to a hospital. When you’re between that and ignoring nightmares, you keep on pushing your head deeper into the sand. Better the nightmares you know. Better not to hurt anyone else.
So what was it that changed? How did I come to understand what was going on inside me?
It all started when my Dad died. Until that point, I’d swung back and forth, trying to push away Spirit and then trying to embrace it, always hounded by my demons – literally! I’d learnt a lot about energy medicine, and about the sensitivity I had, but I’d not found a path.
When Dad died, it all changed. A dam broke and I couldn’t hold it all out anymore. I can remember the moment it happened; a normal evening about 3 months after I watched him die, and a wave of fear crashed through me. It was visceral; I was dying. I couldn’t breath. There wasn’t any warning.
I hadn’t experienced anything like this before, so sudden, so uncontrollable, so violent. My husband at the time called the ambulance, I looked that bad, and they took me in to check for a chest infection. Within days, though, I was having panic attacks every time I tried to eat anything. I couldn’t sleep; I couldn’t look my husband in the face, because his face wasn’t always his. I couldn’t look in the mirror.
I was no longer functioning, not by any stretch. I lost so much weight over the next three months. I couldn’t eat anything, I couldn’t take medicine; I was prescribed anti-depressants, but couldn’t take them. My husband called the crisis team a few times after finding me with a knife in my hand, in tears, frozen to the spot. I spoke to the nurses for the first time in my life about what I’d been seeing and hearing, about my nightmares, about the brief periods of spiritual elation I’d had over the years, and the words ‘bi-polar’ started to be cautiously passed around.
I was on the brink of throwing in the towel. It was a very close thing. I was only saved by a phone call.
I called a woman who practiced energy medicine and shamanism* who had trained under Alberto Villoldo in the Four Winds Society. I remember that she was driving when I called, and pulled off the road to talk to me. I told her everything that was happening, that I was going crazy and was going to end up in a hospital. She said the most important words anyone has ever said to me – you’re not crazy.
Then she told me to come and see her. And I did, and the rest is history. Within weeks, the panic attacks were over. I was on top of the fear, my physical symptoms were abating. She told me I needed to train in energy medicine with her, and I resisted the idea but not for very long. By the February, I was training with her, and by November the demon was out of me.
She wasn’t the one who told me about the demon. It took meeting a specialist in de-possession, who just happened to be teaching the protection workshop I went to that autumn, before I even heard the word demon. But by that point, I already knew; the night before I went to that workshop, I was woken up at 3 in the morning by a phone call of hundreds of voices whispering and laughing. There was a figure at the end of my bed all night. By the time I heard the word demon, felt the loathing it had for the workshop instructor surging through me, felt the nausea at the protective ceremonies, and heard it’s lies for the first time in my mind, I was ready to see what I was dealing with.
I saw it because I was finally in a place to deal with it. If I had known what was going on before that, I would have given up. With no knowledge, no support, no start at healing, no reclaiming of my power, I would have been overwhelmed by the truth, and I probably would have ended up in that hospital ward after all. Keeping my head in the sand all those years probably saved my life.