January 16, 2004


For me, it usually starts with music.

Not the kind you know is only an echo of some recently heard song �playing� inside your head, something you understand is actually your thoughts repeating the song to yourself, though it may start out that way. No, this music, once it becomes audible, is quite distinct from that; for one thing, I hear the music coming from outside, not inside, my head, as if an invisible radio is playing from within the walls or floor or some place well-hidden. There might even be a DJ�s commentary in the background, mumbled, indistinct, but adding to the impression that I am listening to an actual radio.

Except that the music is never right; the words or tune are always sinisterly distorted, repetitive and ominous-sounding, so that even the most harmless or delightful of songs soon turns to misery-making.

But it doesn�t end there. Rarely if ever does it harmlessly fizzle, sputtering away into nothing. Instead, it invariably escalates. Occasional bursts of melody become constant and nerve-wracking as songs change and deform and come back to haunt me, or certain phrases may be repeated endlessly, over and over and over, to the point that I want to scream and have to turn on a real stereo as loud as possible just to drown them out.

Then the jumbled, vague DJ commentary turns nasty, as recognizably human voices start calling me the worst names they can think of � whatever would be the most hurtful, harmful and insulting. Usually some variation on �Fatso!� or �Satan�s spawn!� This is not necessarily done at full volume. Very often, I have the sense that what is spoken is done so secretly, the way, on the old gameshow Password, the correct words were whispered to the TV audience, supposedly so the participants couldn�t hear.

For me at any rate, this secret exchange of information always gave me the sense that I alone was being given the answers, which is in fact what I believe they wanted each viewer to feel. But this is often how the voices sound now: as if they are passing along secrets or letting me know something no one else is privy to, even if it is only to insult or deride me. The Password quality of these exchanges is so powerful that I know, or feel I know, that what they tell me must be the truth, a truth given only to me.

While I have heard loud voices and once heard Japanese being spoken in the walls, a Japanese curiously enough that I could completely understand, though I speak not a word of the language, much more often do the voices take on this secretive quality. They may go on and on, but will do so as if careful not to be overheard. Which only adds to my disquiet, as I sense what is in fact true: that no one hears what I hear.

But my understanding is that they don�t hear it not because it isn�t real, but because the speakers deliberately pitch their voices in such a fashion as to prevent anyone but me hearing them. So naturally people will deny the reality of what I hear. It�s meant for me alone; they aren�t supposed to hear it! But I do hear it, I hear something, and after the first few years, when the messages were relatively benign, all I�ve heard has been nasty, abusive or downright dangerous.

There is a part, early on, in the movie LULU ON THE BRIDGE with Mira Sorvino and Harvey Keitel, where Keitel�s character is walking alone at night past a wall where it seems he, or the audience, can hear people mumbling and chattering invisibly. This struck a chord in me, because it wasn�t the movie-loud screaming that many people associate with �hearing voices,� but rather what is more common for me: the experience of hearing conversations or commentary as if from a room away or from behind some barrier, the apparent distance from the source of the sounds making it seem all the more possible that what I hear is real rather than �imaginary.�

But what struck me as I watched it, was how similar this was to my experience of hearing real sounds from unreal sources. In my case it is not just memories or fantasy or imagination, or at least it doesn�t feel that way. It feels, it sounds, completely real and reasonable, which is part of the dangerousness of it, because if the sounds are real, if the content of what is said seems reasonable, then shouldn�t I reasonably trust them to tell me the truth and instruct me how to act? If the little dancing red man from the BioHazMat sign seems completely real and credible, both as a being and as an authority, why then should I not obey his dictates or listen when he tells me I must immolate myself and here�s how�

The problem lies in the brain, as I�ve been told innumerable times and as I believe to the best of my ability, but how can I distinguish real human voices or the actual radio from ones that don�t truly exist? It is a conundrum that escapes my solving it every time, because I have no touchstone, no yardstick to measure a human voice or radio DJ against that would reliably tell me which ones are hallucinatory and which are not. The big question becomes, how can you distinguish between the real and the not so real when your brain, which is supposed to do the discriminating, is the one simultaneously creating the confusion?

Here endeth my 13th blog entry.

Posted by pamwagg at January 16, 2004 03:45 AM


For me the voices can be counted on showing up when I take long (24 hour +) bus trips on Greyhound - the effect is like a sensory deprivation chamber. Sometimes I can make a mental effort that summons the voices - I close my eyes and try to read really fine print, then proceed inward to the central sphere.

I know what you mean about being benign at first and then getting nasty, but I believe I can drive them back to benign when they get like that.
In shamanism it is taught that these spirits are energy, and are desparate, they want to go home, but they need food, from whoever has it. If you open wide and shine a bright light, you can become a becon for the spirits like a glowing jac-o-lantern on halloween - but you have to be careful.

Most of these spirits are pretty mechanical about the way they try to manipulate people - they use fear, the standard demon technology - and if you give in - by being afraid of dying, or afraid of being thought of in some derogatory way - then you are feeding them energy and reinforcing the "negative" things they say - they say whatever gets them your attention.

I tune through the voices like tuning a radio, ignoring all those nasty channels like they're just shock- jocks, and looking for something interesting to listen to. I tell them what I'm looking for, what I'm interested in: tell me a story about space, time, and freedom; tell me the magic words, etc.

The shamanism from 5000 year old Tajikistan says the voices are spirits of trauma, not only from our own lives but from those of our ancestors, and that they can be overcome, subjugated, and then become the shaman's spirit helpers. The very first task to become a shaman is to go to a high cliff and jump off. If there's any fear of death, you'll die. So after he completely gives up fear of death, or of anything else, he is ready to deal with the spirit world.

I hear so many people who come into contact with these spirits who are unprepared by shamanism training, and the spirits torture them because they are getting what they want, a way to manipulate your energy.
The dreamer must control the dream, not the dream the dreamer!

I took a girl with me once to the spirit world, through shamanic journeying, and it terrified her. She saw all the demons in the pit, jumping around, then she started seeing and feeling them all over her apartment. I called the professional shaman and said that I had made a mistake, I had "a girl who's afraid of death walking around in the land of the dead!"
Because that's where you're looking, hearers of the voices. The Kaballah called it the Klippoth, and the reason most don't hear it is because there's a bubble of protection around us, and outside the bubble is the Klippoth. ut some people's protective bubble is burst, usually of their own doing, like with me, and they do it without realizing the repercussions, but they venture out, into the universe, into nature, into thought, into mystery, away from the safe home of simple understanding that most people have, and they arrive in the Klippoth. But you have to be prepared, so that you can deal gracefully and harmoniously with the lost creatures there, minister to them as they were hoping someone would, teach them of the heaven inside themselves, enlighten them.

Posted by: ONDERDONK at January 20, 2004 10:10 PM

Hi, that last line you wrote was amazing, honestly, I can't even believe how indescribable it was. I love it. I love it. I just do. whoa.

Posted by: Andrea at January 18, 2004 08:46 PM

recently i had hallucinations where i not only heard voices but also saw real people say what they could not have said. i saw their mouths form the terrible words that made me feel worthless and weak. it threw me into such a state of confusion i couldn't speak to my parents when i got home. but they prayed over me and slowly talked me out of the funk. but i know what you mean, maybe. when you are hallucinating you just believe it. you are thrust into the 'reality' of it all.

Posted by: jimmy at January 16, 2004 12:26 PM

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