Thursday, 24 April 2008

First Post, and a long one: sorry about that!

Hi all: its great to be here! There's been a bit of a whirlwind rush of emails, and a fairly speedy process to being able to post here. Here's a longish post, introducing myself/us, and our situation.

I am here, less as a theorist (though I love philosophy, discussion, science, and many other topics, as does Dmitri) and more here to initially post my own experiences, to see how it correlates with the CTF/Daemon theory overall. I live with three other people in a headspace: Dmitri, Tybalt, and Tahl. I personally am 22, an honours student studying in Australia, and do not have any history of epilepsy or mental illness, besides the odd bout of depression. I have never taken drugs, am abstinent, and achieved a minor scholarship at my university in the past. Until around the beginning of 2006, and to a lesser extent through 06-07, I was also a hard atheist. I did not believe in paranormal activity, despite having a long experience of déjà vu and ‘interconnectedness’, and dismissed it as subjective hallucinations and childish imagination. I was spiritual, in that I enjoyed a sense of profundity in things, but it was exclusively within the bounds of known science. Then something very odd happened: one of my characters started talking back to me.

I was in online correspondence with a friend, who had schizophrenia. This person was somewhat unstable, and I was one of his support network. We had known each other for 3 years and I had done extensive research on schizophrenia on his behalf to try and help support him better. During this time, as well as before and afterwards, I had a character I love dearly. Tybalt was my Muse, inspiring me to art, writing, poetry, daydreaming, and to self improvement. However, as I thought more and more on the mind, on consciousness, and on the ways in which identity is formed, I began to have greater stirrings through his character. All of a sudden, I realised that he wasn't actually a paladin of Dungeons and Dragons fame, he was a young temple guard, without any of the powers or pretensions of fantasy. Not only that, but I was flooded by memories that were not mine, but were his. I wrote everything down, and it got to the point where I heard murmurings of thought and caught flashes of perception that again, were not mine. I was quite disturbed: I told this to my friend, and his blasé suggestion was "Well, why don't you try saying something?" So I did, and Tybalt talked back to me.

Rather than the character I had made on flashes of inspiration in the past, Tybalt turned out to have a life, a personality, and a will all of his own. I was shocked, and delighted: for an artist, this was an amazing experience! We would natter about things in his life, and he would correct me on certain details in the things I had written. Tybalt is to me what Conan was to Robert E. Howard, perhaps. He showed me his world, his self, and the workings of his mind, telling me his stories and delighted by my curiosity. He was not a 'fronter', though: Tybalt, to all intents and purposes, lives his own life somewhere else, and he can't possess our body or anything like that. He has asserted that when either of us dies, then we will still be in the same place supporting each other, but whether or not that will come to pass is speculation.

Initially, my rational, academic brain did not handle this at all. I dismissed it as a sympathetic delusion based on my friend's experience of inner voices and other personalities, and after the initial happy surprise of having a beloved character begin talking back and willingly projecting images of himself for me to draw, I was deeply concerned. Was I going crazy? Was this some sort of wish-fulfilment fantasy? I brooded myself to exhaustion over it. It was made more problematic when Tahl arrived at the end of 06: Tahl was like no one I have ever created as a character. He came into being as an insightful, human, fully developed personality, with a love of Australian cars, good cigarettes, Italian food and rugby (I like the food, but that’s about it). I was feeling overwhelmed at this point, and was considering psychiatric treatment or assessment. I was fortunate enough to have some very understanding friends and family at that time: my mother was quite spiritual, and once her fears of demons had been appeased (Tahl is very personable), we settled on an uncomfortable notion of this as being some sort of late-onset multiple personality disorder...without any actual trauma involved. My childhood was intensely difficult, but well processed: there were no sudden traumas, and despite my attempts at pinning down one event or the other, none seemed to fit. It was the closest frame of reference only.

Coming to terms with the experience over 2007 was terribly difficult. We wrote journals, back and forth, swapping hands, as Tahl is left-handed. Tahl would often predict small things and drop advice, but look confused whenever I asked him how he knew. He was a huge support through a very difficult time: my friend's schizophrenia took a bad turn and he started becoming abusive and self-harmful. We had to cut him off, but even without his influence, Tahl and Tybalt remained. I was a nervous wreck at that time: I had taken a year off uni to write and draw, which I did copiously, but I was so convinced that I was going insane by that point that I was having panic attacks over it. I saw a counsellor (who handled my story remarkably well), talked to all my friends that were willing or able to understand, and most importantly, talked to the boys. They repeatedly asserted their independence and their autonomy - Tahl is left-handed, whereas I am not, and was fully competent with the left hand writing after about 15 minutes practise - and they supported me as best they could. Tahl was often annoyed when I repeatedly denied his existence to his face, but remained patient. In the year where it was the two of them, we grew remarkably and stayed strong, despite all sorts of issues and my increasing depression. I developed a powerful awareness of my/our own mind, and we developed an interface of sorts, a whole inner landscape so that we could navigate it and partition it as we needed. It’s beautiful, and remarkable, but it was challenging to accept that it was there at all.

Eventually, I was forced to admit that regardless of my feelings on the issue, no matter how much I wished that I was normal and that I understood what was happening, and no matter how many times I told Tybalt and Tahl they weren’t real, it wasn't going away. I made another close friend, who I am still in contact with, who is in much the same situation. She has active companions with her and has had since childhood, and in talking to her, I was able to ease some of my fears. On November the 17th (I will always remember the date xD), I was chatting to her when I felt my throat tighten, and a sudden tingling spread over my body. I looked inward (I had a fairly well developed 'inner eye' by this point) and saw a thin, crazed man in my mind's eye, doing his very best to choke me. His thoughts were extremely confused, angry and painful: he couldn't actually harm the body, but he was trying his damndest. Me and Tahl contained him, and 'locked him up' in a part of the mind away from where he couldn't try and mess with our body. It took Dmitri several days to calm down: when he came out of his psychosis, he was deeply unsettled by his sudden relocation, but was an immediately strong, vibrant presence. After his dramatic appearance, Dmitri settled in, and proceeded to challenge my strictly materialist viewpoint, dismantling it systematically with a combination of fierce logic, wit, and evidence by example. He was dead, and asserted that in his lifetime he was a theurge and a scribe, that he had been a monk, and that he was not from ‘here’. He was drawn to our mindspace, and to me from a void, where he had been in a state of semi-torpor, unaware that he was dead. He knew he had died under extreme duress, in a dark stone cell, at the hands of his own church for heresy. His psychosis was due to him sensing another presence, and immediately thinking that someone was coming to collect him for interrogation: his instinctive response was to attack.

I was understandably sceptical, and I asked him to prove that he was what he said he was. He proceeded to draw a complex esoteric diagram (with the body), along with several symbols, and tapped one. "That's Cheth," he said "The sound is used to bind, to contain. This is the sort of basic invocation circle I would use to summon an entity for questioning." He also drew and illuminated a gorgeous capital D, complete with miniture inkwork, in about 15 minutes, declaring it a draft in an unfamiliar alphabet. I have ever only had a rudimentary exposure to the workings of ceremonial magic, and no experience of illumination and calligraphy at all: my art is purely restricted to figure drawing. I did poorly in graphic art in school, due to my inability to rule complex shapes and to understand perspective and space, but Dmitri came here complete with knowledge of geometry and the ability to draw straight lines by eye, no rulers involved. I wasn't convinced, but I found it impressive all the same. I was floored when later, out of curiosity, I went looking to see if ‘Cheth’ meant anything: it turns out that it is a Kabbalic letter, meaning 'gate, enclosure', and associated with the number 8. Dmitri had told me that the octogon was the ideal shape for binding or containment. It is possible, somehow, that I have seen this, and that he drew that detail up from the depths of an unremembered time when I happened to glance over the Mathers Table of Kabbalic letters, their pronunciations, signifiers and uses. However, it seems unlikely, especially because the symbol he used was different to the Hebrew letter, being from his own language: it was the sound, meaning and usage that was the same. Why would my memory preserve some aspects, but not the visual sign, when I can still remember the fine details on my grandmother’s paintings? Selective memory seems unlikely, considering that I remember no other Kabbala whatsoever, meanings, symbols or otherwise. It was an eye-opening exercise for me, and I have actively pursued sources where I gained some kind of cryptoamnesia of it. I haven’t been able to trace any back, and Dmitri likes to say he told me so.

Over the next several months, he continued to challenge my preconceptions. He showed an aptitude for mathematics (I personally have next to no mathematical ability, having been bullied by a math teacher in Grade 5) and wrote out words in his own alphabet. I remained (and still do remain, but more healthily) sceptical that he is what he says he is, but the evidence for it is mounting over time. I challenged him to write out his alphabet, and then we would go back through various words and phrases he had written for me to demonstrate his language, which were often done far apart and in a language I don't understand, with grammar I didn't understand, and a system of vowels different to English. He agreed to the experiment: it matched up entirely. The language he writes has no relation to any language I have studied (Russian, Chinese, German). In investigating it linguistically, it seems closest to Icelandic or Finnish, of all things. The only experience I have for Scandinavian languages is though the Swedish pop group Aqua. I am forever grateful that my companion’s language sounds nothing like any of their songs.

There has been a lot left out in the telling of this: there are hundreds of individual incidents, thousands of valuable moments, and many profound experiences. He’s out wandering the ether (or wherever discarnate entities go when they say ‘I’m heading out for a while’), and probably won’t be back for a day or so. Tahl and Tybalt are still vital presences, acting respectively as companion and muse, but Dmitri and I occupy a special place for each other. We are both incessantly intellectual, unceasingly curious about our state in the world, nerdy social critics, and dedicated to learning and questioning. He is a cranky, short-tempered, egotistical eccentric, and I am a brooding, occasionally whimsical, strong-willed eccentric: go team! After 8 months of him living here, we have bonded like siblings. He produces works of illuminated textual art that are distinctly not mine, advises and consoles me, argues with me, scorns the world and the odd crank and even occasionally smiles. I have helped him recover a great deal from his traumas and disappointments, and together, we head what is now a functioning plural consciousness. He provides evidence willingly and concretely, and I am coming to doubt the whole situation less and less: the question that has opened up now – rather than ‘What the hell is happening?’ – is ‘How and why is this happening?’

I am not a true believer. I don’t believe there is a ‘proof’, only the accumulation of evidence to support a theory. Dmitri and I have discussed whether or not he is actually a discarnate entity, or if that is a sort of ‘fill in the gaps’ history. He has said that, regardless, he is who he is. He doesn’t know precisely why he’s here, but we recently discussed that perhaps, we are here to guide each other. We work well together: there are highs and lows, and the occasional sister-brother spat (which Tahl finds extremely amusing). Mostly, it’s a dynamic, vibrant partnership. My grades at uni have gone up: we are doing mathematics, astrology, botany and studying the occult as written about by Dion Fortune and Israel Regardie. Dmitri has been encouraging calligraphy, art, poetry and science – very much his passions – while I take care of the literature thesis (he edits). We both philosophise and ponder problems together, drink coffee, and bore Tahl to tears. Good times.

But how has this come to be? How do a dead monk, an aspiring transgender academic, a young religious soldier and an easygoing rev-head end up sharing the same consciousness? Are we even sharing the same consciousness, or is this an elaborate delusion? There are many, many questions, and many areas in which my perceptions – and theirs – could be fallacious. However, my attempts to ‘catch them out’ have failed, and there have been a lot of them. Dmitri has illuminated a poem in his own language; Tahl has bought me out of panic attacks, to stop me from hyperventilating. They have woken while I am sound asleep to carry on perfectly coherent conversations with my mother, only to have her tell me about it when I get up in the morning. I have put myself through harsh reflection, but no matter what angles I take or what hypotheses I make, I can’t find any other explanation except to believe them for what they say they are. Of course, I could be living a ‘fixed fantasy’ or engaging in some kind of multiple personality disorder or dissociative disorder. However, I’m not aware of any of those being typically enriching: in fact, the only detrimental effects have been from outside! The people who respond with fear and disbelief, the friends who decided that I was crazy and they weren’t going to stick around, the spiritual teachers who decided Dmitri was a demon because he was “creepy looking” (he can’t help how he looks…), and the effect of the pathologisation of experiences that really go back to antiquity.

It will be many years before I am fully accepting of this, but until then, I put our story to the people who read this blog, and to the researchers and thinkers who are beginning to form conceptual answers to these questions, to think about these things and take them seriously, rather than adopting attitudes of condemnation. Having been down that path myself, and burning myself out over it, I’m coming to the same conclusion that Shakespeare did: “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than dreamt of in your philosophy.”

Seraph.

10 comments:

Robin said...

What an extraordinary story! To have Muse and Mentor available at all times would be amazing (I think). Are there times you long to be alone? To have some mental privacy?

Have you had brain scans or EEG's?

I wonder if you have an uncommon amount of serotoin floating around upstairs?

What ever the reason, your story is compelling. I can't wait to see the flood of comments that will surely follow!

susan marie said...

I am still in the process of reading this lengthy post, and will certainly continue to do so. I am in agreement with Robin that your story is profoundly compelling (excellent writing style, I might add) and truly extraordinary. Already I see many, many philosophical implications regarding identity, in particular the Aristotilain problem of identity and contradiction. I also think that one of the bloggers here, Ken, would find your story amazingly in line with Jungian psychology. But let me get back to your amazing story!

Anthony Peake said...

SERAPHL What a truly fascinating and well written description of your life-story over recent years.

After pur sequence of email communications I knew that you had something fascinating to impart. Annd so it has proven to be. There is so much to think about and discuss.I, for one, need to read your post through again to take it all in. I am sure that this will stimulate some very interesting comments.

Thanks again for deciding to join in.

Oh, by the way, your age may upset another member of this group. HB you are rapidly loosing your status as our "youngster".

Dreamer said...

Thank you for posting your amazing story. And as Tony said, it's very well-written.

You may be interested in the "Seth" books, by Jane Roberts. I can see many parallels between Seth's teachings/Jane's experiences and your experiences.

As I've said to others here who've had "unusual" experiences, this all must be both a blessing and a curse.

I hope you will never let anyone convince you that you're crazy.

Seraph said...

Robin: No, we've never had any scans or tests done. Anecdotally, we have some perception shifts when Tahl or Dmitri are doing their thing, and Tahl is far less likely to get depressed. Other than that, everything physical we can possibly percieve is completely unverified. I would love to have brain scans and EEG's done! I want to get to the bottom of this if I can (Tahl is rolling his eyes).

I have no idea about the serotonin matter: is there a basis behind that? It's possible :)

Susan Marie: Thanks. We've found it immensely challenging at times.

Anthony: Sadly, this is very much the abridged version. We hope to co-author a book on the whole topic, once we're finished our honours thesis.

Dreamer: Its come close: when you've got no frame of reference for what you're experiencing beyond 'mental illness' and 'possession', its quite easy to be convinced that you're crazy simply because of what you are. As I've said, the only 'curse' part has been the external response we've typically gotten IRL: if left to ourselves in a supportive environment, it would be peachy. However, society has no frame of reference, and so, we had no language to use except the language of pathology.

There was also something we came across that was like: "If the patient enjoys their delusion, they require treatment (ie. medication or hospitalisation): if not, just therapy is fine". We were horrified! That is such a Victorian attitude: so long as you don't enjoy ANYTHING, its ok.

Jesamyn said...

Most certainly a fascinating and unusual story and Life!! There is certainly a book there when you all have finished your studies!! The "normal" world is seemingly made up of most decidedly NOT normal denizens.. Hurray for that, thank you for sharing this most interesting story and I await your book!!
Regards
Jesamyn

Karl L Le Marcs said...

Seraph (Dmitri, Tybalt & Tahl);
Welcome one, welcome all.

Fascinating words, thank you for sharing them with us here.

I must agree with Robin and stress the importance of seeking an EEG. I have worked within the Mental Health sector for many years and have met many remarkable individuals who experience much of what you relay in your post.

Your experiences are very similar to a couple of people I met a few years ago who later received a diagnosis of MPD (Multiple Personality Disorder) characterised by having at least one alter personality that controls the main character often involuntarily and occassionally on command.

MPD leads to a break from what we know as the unity of consciousness and memory itself seems to become divided between the alters so that one has no memory of being able to do a task that an alter is proficient at.

I wish you all well.

johar said...

Seraph,

Thank you for this amazing post, very eloquently written.
I can imagine it is difficult to find peace in your head space at times and yet the tone of your post suggests you are very upbeat and cope very well having a 'houseful' of guests. They appear to bring a great deal to your life and are very enriching to be with. You seem well adjusted and have a great support network which is essential when these strange events happen in our lives. I wish you well and look forward to hearing from you again.

JO
XX

Seraph said...

Johar:

I was actually thinking about this today: I really wouldn't want it any other way. A couple of nights ago, I read Northern Lights, (The Golden Compass), and reading about the seperations were harrowing indeed. Its only been a year and a half since it became very active, but I really wouldn't want it otherwise now. There have been times when it was frightening when I asked them to leave, but looking back, I realise that was fear of being insane, and of having people not confirming my own poor inner dialogues - its hard to say bad stuff in your mind when someone rolls their eyes and counters you, not only with words, but with empathy, so that you can't doubt that they are speaking the truth.

Karl:

I know MPD pretty well, having researched it intensely, and it is true that we possibly do have a kind of MPD with a continuous memory, but really, why even consider pathologising it in that case? I personally suspect that it is people's natures to have an internal landscape (a headspace) and even to attract, develop or find other people there. Multiple personalities, when the condition manifests as a disorder, is typified by lapses in memory, which I have noticed is something that happens here occasionally, but only when something is wrong. By 'wrong', I mean that we are under significant stress, or that there has been a lot of rapid switching back and forth, or similar. Even then, when we are well again, the person who holds the memories can share them. I know a lot of people like this online, though there is still something of a tendancy to pathologise the condition to some extent, or to deny there is anything 'special' about it. I have come to the conclusion that there most definately is something 'special' going on, and while I doubt the claims of some, I know that in many other cases, people won't admit to what they honestly can do!

Karl L Le Marcs said...

Seraph;
Thanks for your comments. Yes, I have known quite a few remarkable people who live with very similar experiences as you depict. Whilst psychology and medicine is quick to label as MPD I do agree that each case is unique within itself.