You say we need to learn to trust. But what about all the creepy stuff involving evil spirits? What about succubi like the demon Lilith, who feeds off sexual energy, and demons that possess people and drive them mad? What about them? Should I be scared? Can evil spirits really threaten my life?
There is a great deal of misinformation, including wilfully embroidered stories, regarding the existence and nature of so-called evil spirits. We can’t deal with all that is claimed in a short response such as this, but we can illuminate some of what is involved. We’ll begin by offering a story that provides a useful metaphor.
Two hundred years ago, at the height of European colonial expansion, powerful nations sought to extend their economic domains. During this era explorers entered jungles no European had walked in before. Equally, the tribespeople living in the jungles had never seen white people before. A clash of cultures ensued. The Europeans discovered people they could dominate and resources they could exploit. Some tribes initially welcomed the new arrivals, but as more Europeans followed in the explorers’ footsteps, the tribes began to see the incursions as threatening their way of life. Some even saw the newcomers as a source of meat to be thrown into their cooking pots. On both sides threats proliferated, fears grew, and warfare broke out. All this resulted because Europeans crossed the threshold that is the edge of the jungle.
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When you cross the threshold of your inner world, something of the same process occurs. You are entering foreign territory—at least, it is foreign to your human you. For others, including incidentally your own spiritual self, it is where they live. It is their home. So you need to be aware that when you cross the inner threshold you are entering others’ natural territory. An attitude of respect is always useful in such circumstances. Some of the first wave of colonial explorers certainly maintained an attitude of respect, even humility, when they met native peoples. Unfortunately, this was not shared by the majority of those who followed. As we just noted, fear came to dominate interactions. And mutual destruction followed.
This is a crude representation of what happened when the initial waves of colonial incursions into the territories of native peoples occurred in many places around the world. Of course, the reality was much more complex than this. But it serves as a metaphor to convey something of the situation that applies when you, inhabiting the awareness of your human you, cross the inner threshold and seek to make contact with what inhabits the spiritual realms.
Everyone is initially surprised by what they find. Unless, that is, they have been well instructed by those who in traditional tribal communities are called shamans. Then they have information on what to expect. For everyone else, wherever they travel and whoever they find is a surprise.
Surprise naturally leads to fear. Fear is biologically bred into your human you and manifests in the self-preserving behaviours of fight or flight. Socially and psychologically fear manifests as fear of the new, fear of the unknown, fear of the stranger, and so on. Accordingly, that surprise triggers fear is unsurprising. Nor is it surprising that the human imagination, stimulated by that fear, conjures up tales of threatening places, of scary presences, and of evil spirits, all of which further evoke fear in others. This doesn’t need to be the response, but too often it is. And those false embroidered tales are passed on from one generation to another. Thus does a taboo come into existence.
So the first emotion you need to overcome when you cross the inner threshold and are confronted by new experiences is the emotion of fear. Fear will transform surprise into panic. And panic will make you turn around and not come back. This is why we have previously emphasised the negative impact of fear and proposed openness as its most useful replacement.
Let’s say, then, that you are not troubled by fear, or at least that you are able to set it aside when you encounter something new while meditating. What happens next? Is there really any danger? After all, we just presented a metaphor for incursions into the inner realm in which we mentioned that some living in the jungle felt threatened by the arrival of colonists, while others responded by throwing the Europeans into their cooking pots. Does this happen in the spiritual domains? Are you potentially some spiritual identity’s supper? The answer is, no. And yes. We’ll explain.
Your spiritual you cannot be eaten by anything on either the physical or spiritual level. Tales to the contrary are entirely imagined. As a spiritual identity you are part of the All that has manifested everything. Eventually, you will merge with that All from which you originally emerged. This will be done willingly and will be hugely satisfying both to you and to the All. Before then you will not be any other identity’s supper. However—and yes, we are aware of how many buts and howevers we are offering in this series of answers, entirely because reality is far more complex than human beings normally recognise—there are certain threats to the continued comfort of your human you in excursions into the spiritual domain. An extension of our metaphor will explain how this is so.
When the first explorers entered the world’s jungles they exposed themselves to viruses and creatures living in the jungle. Bodies normally develop immunity to viruses common to the environment in which they are raised. But when people enter new physical environments, their bodies may fall ill due to encountering bacteria to which their immune systems have not developed a response. Similarly, insects and parasites like leeches may attach themselves to the explorer’s body or lay eggs under their skin. Debilitating physical reactions result. In extreme situations, the body may die. All this is a natural danger when anyone enters a new physical environment. The danger is widely recognised, to the extent that travellers are advised to have inoculations before they visit new countries.
Are these dangers evil? Are bacteria and parasites evil? No. They are just using evolutionarily successful survival strategies. If a leech attaches itself to your skin and sucks your blood, or if a parasite buries eggs in your skin so when its infants hatch they have a source of sustenance, this is not an evil plot hatched against you. It is certainly not happening to punish you. It is just the way nature works. Furthermore, if you are savvy and take precautions, you can avoid the dangers and your body will not be fed on at all.
The same applies when you explore spiritual domains. Non-embodied identities exist that are parasitical in nature. But they do not feed on you at the level of your spiritual you. When you cross the threshold, you may unwittingly attract the attention of a spiritual identity that follows you back when you re-enter your normal state of awareness and attaches itself to you. It doesn’t attach itself to your body per se, but to the energetic self associated with your body. It does this to feed, just as a leech attaches itself to your skin to feed. And as is the case with the leech, there is nothing evil or inherently scary about this. Most people are not even aware that the parasitical presence is there, apart perhaps from some tiredness or lethargy, which are usually dismissed as resulting from too much busyness or stress.
The types of energy such identities feed on consists of intense and comparatively crude emotional and sexual energy. Ongoing worry, fear, of course, self-pity, and unrelieved sexual desire, are typical types of energy. Naturally, if one doesn’t manifest these emotions or energies there is nothing for the parasites to enjoy, so they either leave or are not attracted to you in the first place. This again underlies why we suggest you work on purifying your psychological makeup and transform negative attitudes and emotions into positive traits.
Is there anything to fear when you meditate? No. If when you cross the threshold you possess an open, positive attitude of mind, and have no fear or trepidation, then you are highly unlikely to attract the non-embodied equivalent of a leech. Even if you do, it cannot do serious damage. Where, in extreme cases, jungle viruses can kill your body, non-embodied parasites cannot and do not. Alternatively, discovering that you have such a parasite, and learning how to detach it and send it on its way, may be seen as another skill that it is useful to develop. In the same way that jungle explorers learned how to take care of their body through trial and error, so experience will teach you how to successfully and safely navigate previously unknown spiritual territories.
As regards the question about the existence of demons, they are products of human imagination. There does exist a class of spiritual identities that are mischievous and like to cause a little local mayhem. Mostly, these are deceased, non-embodied human spirits who have not moved on to begin the process of reviewing their just-passed life. Occasionally, they are a nonhuman identity who is being playful. Any person with mediumistic skills can send them on their way. In fact, just expressing that intent is usually sufficient. They offer no threat.
Those called succubi are exaggerations of the class of parasitical non-embodied identities that feed off repressed sexual energy. It is notable that the term succubus originally developed in the
Western world among monks who regularly crossed the threshold into the spiritual domain but were also troubled by intense sexual desires. They developed sufficient sensitivity to become aware that identities were feeding on their sexual desires—they were less aware that the guilt they generated regarding their desires was equally attractive to some of those identities. Because of their religious training, they identified the unwanted guests as demons rather than as the psychologically neutral parasites that they actually are.
Lilith is a personification of this religious projection. Throughout history, inner explorers have encountered parasitic identities. Over time, stories of their experiences were combined to form a mythological creature, Lilith. She doesn’t exist, of course, being a creation of the human mind. Previously, we observed that each religious and spiritual tradition has created its own cultural stream. Personifications like Lilith are a manifestation of a particular stream. She is a projection of human imagination, the fanciful embroidering of a relationship that has been expanded far beyond its actual circumstance. That a mythological character like Lilith is a human construction is underpinned by the fact that she is female and visits men. She doesn’t have a male equivalent who visits women. Why not? Because Lilith represents a cultural stream generated by men. Alert readers will remember our observation that cultural streams function as a conduit between the spiritual and human domains, and so may be used by non-embodied spiritual identities to communicate with embodied human beings. This is also the case with Lilith. We leave those who find this of interest to explore the implications for themselves.
We end by returning to an observation we have already made. After you cross the threshold, it is to your benefit to maintain an open attitude. But there is no benefit in being naive. Feel free to explore, yet remain pragmatic. And know there is nothing to fear.