Yesterday someone asked me an annoying and smug question at the zoo, regarding some of the stuff I wrote here about atheism, versus the “supernatural” experiences he knows I had. OK, so the smug question came from my brother, but that isn’t the point. My answer here is not meant exclusively for my brother. Since I have seen the same assumptions made many times, I’m answering this generically from the point of view of an atheist (who just so happened to be ambushed by a smug question at the zoo while very tired with a splitting headache, and sunscreen in the eye – which is really sore by the way)…
Firstly, what is an atheist? An atheist, to me, is not somebody who believes in nothing. An atheist is somebody who does not believe in a theistic god. If I am wrong, then maybe I am not an atheist in the true sense of the word. Does that make me agnostic instead? I really don’t think it matters. Science can never disprove the existence of something that you believe exists, even if it doesn’t exist… The burden of proof should lie with you to show me that it does exist, not the other way around. I am agnostic as to whether or not there is a god in the same way that I am agnostic as to whether or not there is a boogeyman under the bed. Last time I checked, probably some thirty-odd years ago, there was no boogeyman, but now, I really don’t know. There certainly isn’t any evidence for one, but I don’t lose any sleep over it.
So I had some “supernatural” experiences… Haven’t we all? I don’t want to spend all day writing this so I’ll stick to what’s relevant. (And repeat it even though I’ve written this before.) Like all supernatural experiences, this is purely anecdotal and can not be taken to be proof or disproof of anything at all.
So one day, some time after the death of my father, and having taken an interest in spirits and all things mysterious, I researched how to channel a spirit. I misunderstood what channeling actually meant… I don’t believe in channeling in the sense of automatic writing or any of that new age nonsense. I believe that’s all fake, but regardless, what I really wanted to do was summon a spirit (or entity of some sort because I really wasn’t sure if I believed in spirits or not). And the random girl I spoke to on the internet, whose name is not even a ghostly memory to me now, did give me advice that suited my purpose.
She told me to surround myself with “love and light” and so that’s what I did. I laid there in bed, for between two and three hours, and built and telepathically transmitted this love and light for all spirits to receive, and I called them from my light, to come to me like fireflies in the night. It’s hard to say how I transmitted that, but I imagined this great tower of white light shooting up way into the sky and I called them with a mental voice that I sent out before me. The most difficult part of this was to convince myself (and hence any receptive entities, I hoped) that this love I projected was real.
And it worked! Kind-of… I felt a presence. Whoop-didoo! A presence. Spine-tingling type of stuff, except it doesn’t mean anything. Is it my imagination? Is there really something there at all except my own wishful thinking? No idea. Don’t get me wrong… Feeling a presence is neat and if you are me, it is something that has happened many times over the years, sometimes at the most odd times and places. But that’s not what I wanted! Concentrating for two to three hours is exhausting, and so by the time I got the vague feeling that maybe something is there… I was not impressed. I wanted to see something there in the dark… preferably floating right up in the air in front of my face. Anything else was simply unacceptable. So I did what seemed the natural thing to do: I sent the presence one more telepathic message, “I’m tired now. Fuck off, I’m going to sleep”. Then I rolled over and went to sleep.
When I woke up the next morning, my mother, who slept in the next room, was frantic. She said that she had heard someone walking up and down in the passage, in the dark, but when she went to look, there was nobody there. Then after she went back to bed, she heard the intruder enter her room, and they then pulled the blanket off her bed. She had to shout at them to make them leave her alone. Of course, I was snoring up a storm and heard none of this.
Then my brother called. Apparently (and it must be noted that I did not speak to him, I heard this second-hand from mother-dear) he had been contacted by our deceased father in a dream who had given him the message that I should stop doing what I was doing and that it wasn’t him. I found this to be extremely odd because I’d had the distinct impression that the presence was female. But anyway, I thought it was pretty cool that my brother, who was staying miles away, somehow knew that I had made something supernatural happen, and forever more I would use this anecdote as proof that something supernatural must exist. I had to promise my mother that I would never do that again, and so I made the promise. (I broke that promise years later, but wait… I’ll get there eventually.) Case closed.
And then yesterday, the case was opened again, by Chris’ smug question, and assumptions. I didn’t see God. I didn’t see Jesus. Actually I didn’t see anyone or anything at all. I don’t know who the invisible person was, or why they pulled the blanket off my mother’s bed. For all I know, I may have caused it somehow… And maybe the things that moved around by themselves in the house when we were children was also somehow caused by me. The point is, I don’t know. I don’t know if there is an after-life, anymore than I know if there is a before-life. I don’t know if your dream means anything at all, but I was trying to “broadcast” telepathically awfully hard for a long time. Not that it is any more or less believable than the dead returning as ghosts, but, hey, maybe you received my telepathic signal?
If it was a dead person come back, and that person was able to pull my mother’s blanket off her bed, why couldn’t he or she pick up a pen and paper and write a message to us, the living? Something like “Hey you flesh and blood folks… It’s really nice here on the other side. We sit here under the Pearly Gates and eat these heavenly doughnuts that St Peter hands out all day. They’re all spiritual of course, so nobody ever farts or shits which is really dandy.”
But I do know that I certainly do not connect any of this in any way with God, Jesus, the anti-Christ, the tooth fairy or the man in the moon. Seriously, connecting every “supernatural” or unexplainable event with God is something you only do when you have been indoctrinated into accepting a god without question. But I have seen no evidence that this god I was taught about has anything to do with my “supernatural” experiences at all. In fact, I believe that this god and all other gods have nothing to do with reality whatsoever, and are just humankind’s invention, out of superstition at explaining existence.
In short, all I know is that there is some stuff that can not be explained. And that’s all anybody knows.
Oh, I nearly forgot… I mentioned that I did break that promise… the promise not to summon any other-worldly entities again. I have written about that before too, when at the end of my active addiction in Cape Town, as I lay in a pool of my own blood, on a matrass on the floor, trying to shift my position so that most of the blood flowed onto the floor rather than into the pool on the matrass, as I lay there with my left cheek broken almost right through, I detached myself from my agony, and decided to break that promise as I cursed the man that caused me my pain. So I made myself a telepathic beacon once again, as I called any entities that might hear me, to come to my assistance and curse Fabrice. This time I did not surround myself in love and light. This time I sent out a darkness as pure and black as the hatred in my heart, and I didn’t just call out into the night… I sent out a booming command, and if there is a god, he cowered in fear behind his cherubim as they danced on the unicorns horns. Knowing that I am descended from Charlemagne and a bunch of other kings, conquerors and nobles, I figured that there might be some merit in the way indigenous Africans pray to their ancestors, so I summoned up mine, and any and all armies that might still be loyal to any of them. Besides them, I also called the entity from the “haunted house” I lived in as a child, even though the problems it caused for me included nightmares (about it trying to reach me) right into my early teen years. Of course I have no idea if my curse did anything at all, but if curses do work, I cursed up a storm that night.
What is the point of my mentioning this curse again? Surely, if spirits can be summoned, and considering that this time I called with so much more motivation than the last time, with a powerful hatred and darkness 10 000 times greater than my contrived love and light from the previous spirit-summoning attempt, and also a real hatred, as opposed to a fabricated love, surely by now I would have had some kind of indication that my curse worked. But I have had nothing.