Let me preface this story by being completely up front and say that I do not care about religion or religious fulfilment. It has never played a big part of my life. Though it is true that certain members of my family are active participants in the church, I am not and never was. Whilst I was growing up and learning about the world around me, I learnt about so many different religions that believe so many different things. So much so that I thought that the idea of dedicating oneself to a single religious body would be akin to alienating oneself from so many different people and life experiences. In the end, I chose not to pursue religion, and instead I pursued the philosophies of the world instead.
That is not to say, however, that there are some aspects of my own life that only religion can explain. I have seen and I believe in many supernatural elements: demons, spirits, evil entities etc. A simple thought process would proclaim that with the existence of evil, there is an existence of holiness. However, I have always challenged the rules of religion and natural human behavior through my words, actions and thoughts. No matter what spiritual experience I had ever become subject to, I had always tried to focus on the real world around me that I can see, touch and smell rather than the unreal world that I cannot fathom. I place faith in the understandable rather than the esoteric.
As a man in his early 20s, three years ago, I was living day to day after graduating from University and returning home to adult life. Whilst I thought out what I wanted to do with my life, I was working the nightshift in a service station to earn and save money for what I wanted. As one can imagine, working the nightshift was quite a lonely time for me: I couldn’t spend time with friends as they would all be asleep whilst I was awake, and the only man who I spent time with and talked to was the only other person who worked beside me on the empty nights.
My co-worker, who was Polish, can be accurately described in two words: deranged, and Catholic. He had very odd ideas about life and the world around him, stuff that stemmed from religion, war and the philosophies of psychological studies. He would tell me stories about his life and the very odd and questionably true things he went through growing up such as a possession and subsequent exorcism, as well as blinding me with non-sequitur nonsense and mindless drivel as any co-worker would do. However, when it came to ideas about life, being, and mental illness, he would always relate it back to religion, his religion, Catholicism. He would tell me how his religion was the one true religion, and he would talk about the many people both small and large that Catholicism has helped in the past. How God has answered many people’s prayers and how the words of Jesus have helped many who suffered through mental illness. I mainly brushed off his words about religion, being a skeptic who looked more into the provable science of matters, and tried not to let his words on mental illness offend me too greatly. However, that never stopped him from trying to talk to me about his theories and observations. Many times, we’d have whittled away the hours at work discussing ideas such as evolution and life from a religious and scientific viewpoint, and oddly enough, a friendship emerged between us.
Nonetheless, my co-worker seemed adamant on trying to instill religious ideas unto me, although he never claimed he wanted to convert me. He would state that he was “…worried about my soul…” as he saw me as one of the few friends he had in this alienating part of the country, and he wanted to see me happy. On occasion, he would play music from his phone as we worked because there was no-one to stop him. However, this music would always be Catholic chanting and prayers sung in Latin that I could not understand. To me, it served as background music as we toiled through the night’s work. One day, he played a long, very monotonous chant that was different to the things that he had played before. Like always, I paid very little attention, as it was in Latin and I could not understand it. That morning; I finished work, I returned home and slept through the day, but I will never forget the nightmare that tormented me that night.
In this dream, I stood alone facing a gray wall that was centered in a forested area that I do not recognize. Upon this wall emerged a small, swirling, undulating circle of burning fire that grew to the size of the entire wall. From that circle, emerged a humanoid figure as they slowly stepped through the circle of fire and onto the grass. The figure stood at the height of an ordinary human being, but it was harshly emaciated. Its skin was as grey as refined lead, but it was far from metallic. It was completely naked, but it had none of the characteristics of human nudity as it sported no genitalia or areolae. Its face, in contrast, was quite humanoid: with eyes, mouth and hair, but the look on its face was horrifically twisted and locked in a frozen scream; its eyes and mouth stretched wide across its face. Its teeth were bared, its tongue hung out of its mouth, its eyes were devoid of pupils, and its face did not move from this frozen, terrified state. As I watched this creature approach me, its brethren emerged from the circle of fire behind it, looking far too similar to the humanoid figure that stood before me, and they all began to approach me slowly.
My mind knew exactly what these things are, and it told me thusly: “These are Demons”. Not the stereotypically cartoonish demons sporting horns and hoofed feet, these are true demons. These are the souls of the lost and never living; frozen in a fixed horrific scream from the torture that they endure in hell. They have been blinded by hell’s fire, and locked in a makeshift body as they walk in my dream like living gargoyles. They have shown themselves unto me, and I do not know the reason why.
Immediately I felt an emotion of pure dread. I felt threatened by these creatures that were walking up to me. I felt like I was in immediate danger, and I grew increasingly frightened, but in my situation, there was absolutely nothing I could do. In a dreamscape you cannot control your actions as you can in the real world. Thus, I watched in horror as these demons approached me, and then froze in position standing only centimeters away from me. The demon that stood in front of the others, gazing at me eye to eye, proceeded to dance. This dance, however, was not one of joy, but one of sadness and horror. The creature danced in strange, confusing movements; coiling and contorting its body before me. Its limbs spasmed and writhed as the creature moved in front of me with its face locked in that terrifying scream of pain.
Suddenly, I found myself at the edge of the forest, and I was staring at a symbol that floated in mid-air in front of the trees. This symbol, one of which is forgotten to me, also began to sprout forth a circle of fire that grew and grew, and from this circle emerged the colossal face of, what I can only believe, is Lucifer himself. His face was twisted and hardened by time. His teeth were black, rotting and pointed. His skin was crimson red, scorched by intense heat. His eyes were void, and he had gnarled, black, hardened growths protruding forth from his face and forehead. Lucifer howled at the sky, a guttural howl of pain, anguish and hatred, before turning his head down and staring straight at me, staring straight into my soul. I never felt more terrified inside a nightmare than when Lucifer locked eyes with me right then and there; but my dream would not allow me to run, it would not allow me to move, I could only stare, and fear.
All of a sudden, the dream began to warp and distort around me. It flickered between the face of Lucifer, and the sight of the demons emerging from hell to face me. The flickering became faster and faster, and the intense emotions I was feeling overwhelmed me until I could take it no longer. I emerged violently into the real world, springing up from my bed. Before my conscious mind awoke, my unconscious mind caused me to loudly exclaim: “Hail Mary, mother of god! Hail Mary, mother of god!” My conscious mind then awoke, and I ceased the repetition of such words, but I was all too frightened and unsettled by what my mind had shown me.
I went to work and told my Polish co-worker about what I had experienced. He smiled, and explained to me that the prayer he had played to me the night before was one of the strongest prayers of the Catholic religion. I’ll admit, I was shaken by his words, and I was very uncomfortable with the thoughts that entered my head at that very moment. Throughout the year to come, I became afraid when I went to sleep on certain days, because I was afraid that I will experience that horrific dream again. However, I never did, not in the three years since then.
However, one would think that an experience like this would bring me closer to God, but it didn’t. To this day I still see religion as being unimportant to my daily life. For a while I became concerned about my soul after this experience. There has been moments of judge and self-doubt that have driven me to become someone I wish I wasn’t, and there is this horrific, niggling thought in the back of my head, but I silence it because of how it interferes with my present life. I guess my thoughts on it all are: whether God does or does not exist, I shall continue living my life regardless, and put aside any religious guilt or stigma that may hinder my own personal progress. But many times, throughout my life, I wonder what this dream meant.
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