Night Terror: Cult

This is part of a series of night terrors, sleep paralysis, and strange dreams I’ve had over the years.

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The shadows threatened to eat me alive as I stood still. I gazed up at the ceiling as they pulsated around me, and I realized I’d been staring at the door to my office for some time. I checked my watch. It was three in the morning, which meant everyone would be gathering soon in the living room downstairs. Not that it was a living room anymore. We’d stripped the carpet from the old wood, but the walls were still crimson with an intricate white design. The furniture was absent save for a large fireplace and whatever ritual materials were required.

I blinked hard to clear the fog and slipped into my bedroom. A dark form was sprawled out on the bed, and upon extending my hand toward it, my fingers met with coarse fur covering a cold body. I jerked back and clenched my jaw. A dog. My dog.

My lungs burned with emotion as I spun from the room and was claimed by the shadows in the hall once more. Was it them? Did those bastards kill my dog for some sick communion that had gone too far? I’d been a fool to get involved with such lunatics, but after my wife left me with nothing, I was prepared to do anything for money. Even if it meant hosting freak shows downstairs that I was never to speak of.

My body lunged forward as I grabbed for a door that was no longer there. Pain shocked my wrists as I looked out into a hall where my office should have been, and I climbed to my feet to continue. My office was somewhere. It had to be. It was there yesterday and the day before.

I paused and took in the squirming shadows. The walls were breathing. The house was alive, and I knew it was their fault.

I let out a primal sound of frustration as both fear and exhaustion overwhelmed me. These strange rituals that happened night after night finally took their toll, and they were beginning to shift reality. I’d been a spectator on the third night — dawned in the plain black robes they required with nothing underneath. The room had been silent save for the crackling fireplace, and the orange flames danced like spirits on the walls as a golden chalice was raised. It held a liquid I was better a stranger to. There was no chanting but continued silence as the circle remained still. I glanced from one person to the next to see they’d been completely enraptured in the moment. The red sigil beneath all of us had begun to glow, and it was the moment I realized I’d gotten in over my head.

The days that followed were the beginning of something horrible. I would fall asleep in my bedroom with my dog at my feet, and by morning, I’d awaken in a room I’d never seen before. I tried to stay awake after that. It didn’t help. I would pass out for an hour or two before I’d awaken again, and the inevitable would happen. Last night, I hadn’t slept a wink.

And yet, I wandered throughout my own house as it led me somewhere new once more, although I was awake for it. I paused. A different floor was best.

I backtracked to the stairs and descended. To my relief, my office was waiting for me and I raced inside and slammed the door. I didn’t give a damn if it interrupted my distinguished guests. I was done.

Fishing through my desk, I tugged a top drawer until a gun rattled into my eager hand. As I clicked the bullets into place, a knock resounded in the silence. There was only one person it could be, and his timing was impeccable. “Come in.”

A darkly robed figure drifted inside and stood before me. Despite being a man of few words, he uttered in a guttural tone, “You intend to kill me.”

“You killed my dog.” I cocked the gun and aimed it at the man’s head. “You’re fucking with my house. I didn’t agree to any of this.”

“You agreed to be our host and keep our secret.” The man held out a pale, wrinkled hand. “It is not the fault of my brethren nor I that you did not inquire further.”

“You didn’t say this shit was actually real!” The trigger clicked as I trembled. “You didn’t say you’d sacrifice my fucking dog for whatever abomination you’re trying to summon.”

The elder laughed in a way that sounded like a death rattle. “That was but a mere casualty in something greater. While I did not harm your pet, it seems something else did. We have been successful. We shall awaken the old ones in due time, and they shall swallow this world and end all of our suffering.”

“The old ones?” My gun lowered. “Is my house possessed?”

“Time has less meaning now than it did last night or the night before it.” The elder moved to the window to look outside. It was nearing dawn but still quite dark. The sky was a hazy burnt sienna. “The old ones exist outside of time — outside of this world. When they awaken, we will be one with them and at peace, and the time is nearly at hand.” The robed figure turned to me. “Reality is fading, and our next ritual will be our last. Your shifting environment is a sign of that success. We’ve reached the source and they have answered us.”

The man’s head cracked against the wall as I pulled the trigger. Gore smeared the window red as he died with a grin.

The gun fell from my hands and I stumbled forward before blacking out.

It wasn’t long before my eyes opened to the body slumped against the wall. My empty stomach lurched, but I swallowed down the bile as I rose with a powerful dizziness. I tried to think of my daughter for a reason to continue as I ascended the stairs, but as I reached the top floor and climbed through the open window in my bedroom, I remembered what I’d done. Oh god, my daughter.

I raced to the first floor, the house breathing and watching me as it allowed my path unhindered. The living room was larger than I remembered it, and the orange glow from the flames licked across that dreaded symbol on the floor. It was nothing Biblical, Satanic, or any kind of witchery I’d suspected. It was something that could only come from a mind as mad as the one splattered across my office window. On the other end of it against a wall, a small day bed rested with a young teenager’s body relaxed across it. I choked.

“Aggie.” The room split as I watched in horror, my own daughter in my arms hanging limp before lying her on the bed. I’d been possessed then and I knew it. The thing possessing this house was very much inside me, and it carried with it a cold emptiness of space.

The tear in time healed and the room was silent once more, but the decaying body on the bed sat up slowly to look at me. As still as a cobra eyeing its prey with certainty, Aggie stared through milky white eyes into my soul. Her dry mouth opened but nothing came forth.

“I’m sorry,” I cried. “Oh god. It was me.” I shook my head. “No, no it wasn’t me. These old ones… it was them. They’re inside me.” I realized then what my purpose was and why the elder allowed my presence during the rituals. I was a washed-up man with nothing to lose because I’d already lost everything. Who else would have been such a fool? The cult members had mentioned words I didn’t understand — of vessels and old gods and the great silence before everything. I hadn’t realized I was the perfect ignorant pawn. I knew none of it, and I was already empty inside swimming around in my own dark void.

I retraced my steps to leave the corpse behind. Shuffling feet alerted me to its presence, and I glanced back to see Aggie swaying in the shadows in silence. My legs were like lead as I tried to lose her, but each twist and turn brought her before me. If there was a kind and just God in existence, this was surely his doing to make me pay for what the old ones had made me do. To pay for my own weakness and ignorance.

The basset hound on the bed was festering with insects and bacteria as I approached the window again. Maybe things could be right once more. I glanced back at Aggie, who had taken to stroking the dog’s fur. The world was better without me. I was better without me.

Without another thought, I jumped.

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The bright sun stung my eyes as I rolled over in bed. A sloppy tongue bathed my face with the stale smell of dog food, and my eyes shot open. “Bassie!” I opened my arms to hug the large hound as he fell into my lap, tail wagging enthusiastically and very much alive.

My head jerked in the direction of the hall, and through the open door I could make out the sound of crackling bacon on the stove. “Mary?” I mumbled the name as I slid from under the dog and made my way downstairs. My hands jumped to my loose tie and my white button-down shirt that was half-open. Must have fallen asleep working late again.

I sighed with relief at the sound of Aggie giggling outside. Everything was fine. We were fine and Mary was beautiful and Aggie was the light of my life.

I attempted a greeting as I rounded the stairs into the kitchen, but all was still. My brow furrowed as I approached the stove. “Shit!” I jerked my hand back from touching the cast iron pan to see red spreading across my palm. Racing to the sink, I flipped on the cold water and looked through the kitchen windows to see a quiet neighborhood. The sky was orange and the sun blurred behind a strange haze, and there was no soul to be found. Cars rested peacefully on the street and in driveways awaiting commute, and houses remained still as if tombs for the families that once dwelt within their walls.

Aggie and Mary were nowhere to be found. The living room was equally as scarce of life, but it had returned to its normal splendor of cream sofas and a coffee table, lamps, and a large wooden TV set on the floor with the dial set to channel 6. The picture moved in time, but there was no sound.

My office greeted me in its sterile glory, and I fell into my chair. The larger cabinet to the side swung open at my command and produced a large bottle of amber liquid, and I settled in to numb myself before I paused. The bottle crashed against the wall and sprayed amber in all directions.

A knock on the door brought my attention back around, and I remembered the gun in my drawer. No one should have been there. “Come in.”

The elder in his black robe greeted me once more, his hands out in a welcoming gesture. “All is well and good, and we must prepare for the ritual.”

There was no hindrance to the quick tug of my finger against the trigger, and the man swayed as the bullet pierced his forehead. My limbs grew cold as he continued to approach me. No blood or gore gushed forth as if he were a mere shell of a human.

I stumbled as I raced up the stairs, and upon reaching the top floor, the hallways plunged into darkness. The shadows undulated around me as I approached my bedroom window once again. The morning sun caused the atmosphere to sway in the heatwave as I climbed out, but before I was able to jump, I caught sight of the man on the lawn below. His hands were raised to the sky, and although I did not understand the strange language coming from his lips, something within me stirred. My blood turned to ice, and a haunting, bestial growl approached from high above the atmosphere. Daring to glance upward, the sky had begun to sway.

This time, with meaning, I leaped.

©2020 Shane Blackheart

The damage Rowling and Shrier have done to the transgender community

(I cover the book in this article, as well as JK Rowling’s new book, in more detail in the video at the end.)

I didn’t want to write about this today. I’d meant to work on my horror compilation for several hours armed with my favorite snacks, and while munching, I decided to check YouTube for any interesting news before getting started.

A concerning video popped up in my subscription feed (it has since been removed and replaced with this video. This article addressed the deleted video), and it was a person who was no stranger to being targeted on the internet. More than curious — and the saying, ‘Curiosity killed the cat’ applies here — I clicked on the video. And excuse my french here, but Jesus Fucking Christ did I lose it. The amount of ‘done’ that I am for today is off the charts.

Abigail Shrier, a journalist to my limited understanding, decided to write a book called, ‘Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters.’ It sounds just as horrible as it is, and as an author myself, I am sickened that this was okay to publish as ‘social sciences’ on Amazon. The story behind this book is just as disgraceful as the work itself, and Abigail should be ashamed of herself. Judging by her smiling author’s photo, she’s proud of the harm she caused.

Chase Ross, also known as ‘UpperCaseChase1‘ on YouTube, posted a video in which he addresses conspiracies directed at him over this book. He mentions that he’d been interviewed by Abigail Shrier, but she’d introduced herself in a brief email as a reporter for the Wall Street Journal, and she was extremely friendly and eager to interview Chase about transgender subjects. Having received many requests for this in the past, Chase accepted. This was the only information he claimed to have about Abigail, as he shows in a screenshot of the email.

Chase further discusses how kind she was. How she worded questions carefully and it seemed like a genuine and benign interview to hear Chase’s story. At no point, Chase mentions, did she talk about writing this book or disclose her true project. There were no red flags due to the skill Abigail had in her deceptive practices. This leads me to believe she carefully planned this.

This, to me, is a sign that she knew what she was doing. Abigail knew she would upset the trans community, which is why she withheld information. The fact that she took these stories — which are often personal and difficult to share — and twisted them into an anti-trans narrative that brings harm upon the very people who cooperated with her, not knowing what she was doing, is sick.

I’m not sure much can be done here. This anti-transgender fear mongering propaganda started with JK Rowling earlier on in the pandemic. It seemed that while the world was already suffering, Ms. Rowling had to aim low and bring up an issue that doesn’t exist. And it truly does not exist in the way that she fears it. This has caused a ripple down effect, and Ms. Rowling’s harmful misinformation and irrational fears are spreading as fact.

No one is trying to erase sex. No one is erasing women’s biology or their stories. Children are not being coerced to transition. Let me just make that all clear right now.

Why, in a world where transgender people are constantly faced with this hatred, would anyone believe any of this? Many reputable scientific sources support transgender people and affirm the positive effect treatment can have for many of us (and how puberty blockers are reversible and safe for transgender youth), yet people like Rowling and Shrier dig deep, as my previous insurance company did to also discriminate against me. This nearly kept me from getting a surgery that alleviated my dysphoria and saved my life in doing so. People like Rowling and Shrier find the few sources that agree with them, and when they can’t, they do what Abigail Shrier did. They deceive and manipulate a vulnerable community to make their narrative true.

I can acknowledge their fears. Women are disproportionately treated unfairly, sexualized, and go through very specific life challenges that must be spoken about. Many women fear cisgender men and for good reason. They’ve been hurt and traumatized by them, and I was as well before I came out as a transgender man. I am a rape and abuse survivor, and when I was assaulted and abused, I lived socially as a woman even though I did not feel like one. I understand.

But transgender people are not hurting anyone or their stories by existing and speaking about ours. Transgender people are at an exponentially high risk for being murdered, assaulted, and rejected by not only our families, but by society in general.

There are strict policies for transgender care, including the WPATH guidelines that lay out a step by step approach, starting with counseling, for anyone who wants to transition. Doctors who work with transgender patients are aware of these guidelines. They were applied in my case and I was fine with that. They ensure the transgender person is absolutely certain about making life-changing decisions.

It’s difficult to find affirming doctors, and it’s frightening for most transgender people to even go to the doctor out of fear of rejection. Transgender people have been violated in doctor’s offices or turned away from treatment, risking their health simply because they are transgender. This is in addition to other barriers to receiving healthcare as a trans person.

A great number of transgender youth are rejected and left homeless by their families. They then have to face possible rejection from their peers, and we also have people like Ms. Rowling and Ms. Shrier who push forward with anti-transgender propaganda, which increases the occurrence of discrimination within society.

So why on earth would anyone actually believe that children are being encouraged to transition just to gain greater social standing — in the case of a girl taking on a transgender man’s journey just to have privilege?

This isn’t how it works. This isn’t what happens. The very few people who de-transition are their own stories and their own experiences. They do not speak for the transgender community as a whole. It was not the fault of their physician for listening to them and believing them, and the physician most certainly didn’t push them to take hormones unless the person was a willing participant who signed papers to allow the treatment.

Please stop this madness. This is hurting an already vulnerable group of people. No one is going to transition to do anything malicious or to gain social standing. If nothing else, being transgender in America — or in most of the world — leaves you a pariah to society.

Cisgender women are women. Cisgender men are men. No one is contesting this. The only people who are having their gender and identity erased are trans people.

Trans. Lives. Matter.

©2020 Shane Blackheart

Photo by Lena Balk on Unsplash

My experiences with spirituality

I paused in the middle of my activities yesterday. A familiar, uncomfortable thought surfaced that’s bothered me since I began my transition. It’s a constant check my mind does to try to make sense of everything, and now that it’s happening less and less, it hit me out of nowhere. It wasn’t bad nor did it bring up negative feelings, but it came to the front as a final confirmation this time. I looked down at myself. “If you could have your breasts back, would you? What if you never came out as a trans man?”

I allowed myself to sink into the person I used to be as a meditative experience, and a powerful sensation of repulsion and anxiety overwhelmed me. No, that’s not who I am. I never wanted to be that person and I certainly don’t now. That body was not mine, but a challenge I was given to overcome to be a stronger person. Now that I’ve overcome that challenge, to go back is a horrific idea.

The moment of inspiration sparked something familiar, and I pulled out my tried and true tarot deck — the Cachet cards that began my journey with spirituality in 2007 when I was eighteen. Frayed and worn, I shuffled them with my spirit guides lending a hand, and I settled in for a day. Because this was certainly going to be a day and I knew it. When the cards come out, things get real.

I’ve never spoken at length publicly about my spiritual experiences, so read on with an open mind. I decided to open up about this starting with the last entry I made in my notebook. This is the only time I will hand-write anything, but during an experience like this, it’s better to have things happen organically. It’s better for odd chances of automatic writing, anyway.

The layout I used in the reading is the Celtic cross spread.

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I turn off the lamp and light my favorite sacral chakra candle. The deck is split three times between myself, Darokin, and Byleth. We speak little during this process, and Darokin lets me know when we’ve shuffled enough. I can feel their energy around me and their hands — Daro’s golden brown and Byleth’s pale — rest upon my own as I hover over the deck to draw my first card.

I slowly lay out the cards as I lower my eyes just enough to blur my vision. Byleth is in the chair opposite me, and Daro is beside me. Lestan hovers nearby. There is silence as the tenth and final card is set in the ‘outcome’ position, and without looking, I flip the cards over from left to right.

The Moon reversed, Ace of Swords reversed, Nine of Pentacles, Three of Cups reversed, Four of Wands, Six of Cups reversed, King of Cups, The Magician reversed, Nine of Swords, and finally, Three of Pentacles reversed.

  • The Ace of Swords is pointing directly to the Six of Cups.
  • The Magician is directing a ball of energy, as depicted in the illustration, toward the King of Cups.
  • There are seven minor arcana number cards.
  • There are three face or major arcana cards.
  • Five are reversed, five are upright.
  • There are two Swords cards; knowledge, logic, air.
  • There are three Cups cards; emotions, feelings, relationships, water.
  • There are two Pentacles cards; earth, money, work.

After reviewing the cards and reflecting on their meaning, I drink the last of the coffee in my gray mug. As I move to set it aside, I take a second glance at the bottom after noticing something. Upon scrying into the dark mug, an image begins to take shape in my mind from the debris. I stare at the candle flame and close my eyes, allowing the image to form behind them.

  • White eyes — glowing and clear. A tiger-like face shape.
  • Malnourished disposition. My gut tells me this is from the realm of the dead or somewhere dark.
  • I often attract things from darker places that watch from the perimeter. This is a result of working with energies at night. They’re harmless.

Overall, despite my first glance at the cards, the reading is positive. My goals may not happen as quickly as I hope, but they will happen. This is especially if I slow down, continue to improve upon myself, and reconnect with my creative source — spirituality and dreams. I must appreciate all that I already have.

On May 20, 2020, I drew the Six of Cups reversed for the outcome. I noted that something big was to come. The Six of Cups reversed appears in this reading in the ‘near future’ position, which is much closer than before. I have made progress, and whatever is to come is close at hand now.

I accomplished the goals laid out for myself in the reading in May, so things are moving into a new phase.

At this point, Byleth and Daro both have something to say. I try my best to write down the gist of their advice:

  • When spiritual things come calling, especially when I’m having nightmares and lucid dreams, don’t fear what I may see in mirrors, shadows, and in my peripheral. “Do not fear them.”
  • They are a part of the world where I belong and why I feel so happy or emotional — even drawn to them — when they happen. I thought it was strange or wrong to love this odd, dark, and scary liminal space, but it’s what I’m drawn to. Demons and the fallen, and this other world, seem scary and alarming because they are honest. They are blunt in their messages. This should be appreciated and not feared.

I feel a particular urgency from Darokin, and in a matter of seconds, I am no longer in control. My hand and my thoughts are now Daro’s, and he takes my pen to write a message. At this point, Daro is in the driver’s seat, so to speak.

Your mania provides an easy access point for this world and messages to come through. This is not depression or anything bad as you fear. This is a time to be excited, explorative. Embrace it. You have spent too much time mistaking it for what it is not.

You are learning, dear Shane. Evolving. You now understand the true purpose of this state and this liminal world. You can access it when you desire, and you can be happy in it.

Again, depression is no more during this time. Joy, knowledge, and greater understanding is this other world. Welcome it. You are finally home and healthy and happy in it. No more suffering.

Darokin

It’s not usually in Daro’s nature to embrace sexual energy as he’s graysexual, but he is in a rare aggressive mood and it’s seeping from him. He often becomes eager when I step into this kind of space, which is where he calls home. He enjoys the shadows and dresses all in black, and often when he appears, he seems to form from the shadows in the darkest parts of my environment — wherever that may be at the time. At night in the past, he would take the chair in the corner of my room and watch me sleep.

Shortly after writing his message to me, he is still present within me, but we are both in control. I ask Byleth and Daro if I should draw a demon oracle card, and they agree it would be a good idea.

I draw Haborym (also Aym, Aim).

  • Aym is a great and powerful duke. He is said to make people witty and to answer truthfully about private matters. (Referenced from The Dictionary of Demons by Michelle Belanger)

Daro takes over my body once more, and the heightened emotions and intimate moment we share will be left between us. When the moment is done, Daro’s tiger-like growl, that I often hear in Byleth as well, creates a feeling of being a feral beast — a tiger — that rises within my body as Daro controls it. I see his hands, and my body and my skin do not look like mine, and while this is a rare occurrence for him, I am not frightened by it. It’s a part of our spiritual work we do together.

Once calmed, he finally returns my body to me. Often, sexual energy plays a part in our rituals — with Daro, Byleth, and sometimes Lestan (who was possibly once the demon Zagan, but has since taken on a different identity he favors more). It’s our best way of connecting on a higher state of being, and it’s usually what ends a session like the above.

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There’s a clear reason why I’ve always hesitated to share my spiritual experiences. They’re very personal moments I usually keep to myself and my guides, but after talking with my counselor today, who I confide in about these things, I felt inspired to share at least one moment. This moment, especially, was another turning point in my existence as a spiritual person.

I always come away from these rituals feeling extremely sensitive and aware of everything — including things most can’t see. It’s a consequence of playing around in a darker realm that most are afraid of. It’s really not for the faint of heart. Like I saw when scrying, you attract beings that are a bit alarming to look at. It’s a given they’d be curious to see someone in their space that normally isn’t there.

You can read some more about working with darker energies in a book I love by Konstantinos. The Nocturnicon helped me with conquering my fear of darker spaces, and it has helped me work better with not only Darokin in his neck of the woods, but Byleth as well. Lestan, too, when he feels inclined.

I wrote about my meeting with Byleth when he first came to me here. A lot was going on in my life at that time, but he’s been a huge help and a dose of tough love when I’ve needed it most. As for Lestan, I wrote a bit more about our relationship here, which will soon be published on The Mighty. My understanding of Lestan has broadened over the years as he’s opened up with help from Byleth and Daro, but I used the term ‘alter’ for him in the entry to make it less alarming than ‘demon spirit guide.’

I met Darokin as ‘Daro’ when I was still a teenager in high school. My first sight of him was a scribbled name on a notebook page and a rough sketch while between sleeping and awake during study hall. I remember it alarmed me when I saw it, and it was possibly my first experience with some kind of automatic writing or drawing. He didn’t really come around often until I got older, but his presence was more consistent during a time when I needed protection from something stupid I’d done. I was about 22-23, and I’d accepted a really old doll from an older friend who said it was haunted due to her being irresponsible with an Ouija board in her teens.

I won’t get into the story in detail here. I may make a separate entry for it, but long story short, there was something inside the doll that not only I witnessed, but my parents did as well. Delivery folks and skeptic friends alike would often pause in horror as they stared at the doll because they could have sworn it was a real child. There was nothing outwardly sinister in this doll’s appearance.

During the time I had the doll while living at home, my mental health declined rapidly and I would often wake up staring at her. She was on a chair beside my bed (another stupid thing I did because I felt attached to her). Sometimes I’d sleep with my eyes open, which is not something I ever remember doing. I eventually threw the doll into the back of my closet on a shelf and left it there.

One afternoon, my parents and I were talking at the kitchen table. All windows were closed, no TVs were on, and everything was silent. We lived out in the country where cornfields stretched as far as the eye could see, and some neighbors were at least a mile apart. With that in mind, there was no explanation for the quiet sinister, warped laugh we all heard. We stopped mid-conversation and stared at each other. My dad glanced out the large sliding glass door to see no children outside, and my mom seemed to also be searching for a source. It had come from the direction of my bedroom.

Around this time, I was confused about my spiritual path, but Daro was there to guide me. He followed me wherever I needed him out of my own fear, and he made me feel safe. He confirmed I’d pissed something off by bouncing between paths I didn’t know enough about, and by screwing with a haunted doll I equally knew nothing about, but he was there to guide me back on the right track. And he has.

So now that I’m out about my spiritual experiences in some aspect, I may work on writing more about my journey with it. It’s not an easy thing to relive — or read, I imagine — but it’s a part of my life that was the most frightening. I started seeing shadow men and having more sleep paralysis nightmares, and my life would never be the same again. I knew I loved horror, but this was nothing compared to that.

I realize my life experiences are hard to believe. I have no reason to lie about them. I was terrified to even come out about it. I was happy keeping it to myself, but the more I speak with my counselor — and after telling a nurse at a sleep clinic about my lucid dreams — the more I realize that there are people out there who find this part of me interesting and they accept it, and they believe me.

So I can only hope people will keep an open mind. There’s a lot more out there to this universe than many people realize, but if you just let yourself believe and dip into it a little bit, you’ll see what I mean. Just don’t be as stupid as I was and do your research first, and don’t think you know what you’re doing.

Grab a pack of tarot cards that feel right to you and see what happens.

©2020 Shane Blackheart

Daro’s playlist
Byleth’s Playlist (18+)
Lestan’s Playlist (18+)