Where I've Been (The Abyss Stares Back)
“Battle not with monsters, lest ye become a monster, and if you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.” – Friedrich Nietzsche
My latest book, Hunt Manual: 21st Century Demonology & Forteana came out on Halloween of 2021. A few weeks later, I dropped off the map completely, avoided all of my social media accounts, phone calls from fellow researchers and even some family members, and retreated into a quiet desperation that deafened me for weeks. Firstly, I apologize to anyone that I left hanging. Thankfully I didn’t leave any plans unattended, but I did leave the friends and connections I’ve made without any answers. So I apologize for any lack of communication and lack of professionalism, and for those that have wondered what happened to me, here are some musings and explanations. I have big plans to continue my research, writing, and broadcast still – I’ve just had some existential horror to tend to over the last several weeks.
See, if there’s one thing I’ve taken the time to do in my life, I’ve gone to great lengths to capture my shadow. I’m being literal too, although I’m using a secondary definition of a shadow. Taking everything that a person’s physical shadow embodies and encapsulates, so too does a person’s own inner psychology have such a darkness.
What I will not take the time to do here is explain the extents of the shadow, because I’ve done that plenty elsewhere, but understand that darkness, negativity, and evil are all mutually exclusive with some loose ends intertwined. Philosophically and even epistemologically, lumping these three notions together uniformly is such a large fallacy that it borders on tragic. The separateness of these three notions is something I have become intellectually obsessed with lately, and has provided the largest extent of fuel in the process of writing my book, Hunt Manual.
Darkness represents an instinctual unknown; negativity and fallacy represent levels of understanding or operation that are demonstrably incorrect, yet done anyway; and evil is simply a byproduct of violent animals developing trepidatious self awareness. You can already see how the loose ends might find their ways to each other, but I think it’s also glaringly evident that these tools are meant for different applications. If we start equating fallacy to evil, we might as well be banging nails in with a screwdriver. I believe this sentiment—this staunch western emphasis on something “wrong” or “incorrect” being inherently evil—is one of the most toxic and disastrous mentalities that we bear witness to in the modern era. This is the heart of hating what you fear and fearing what you simply do not understand, and this sentiment leads the collective psyche of humanity by the nose today as it always has. This thought-form dangles the carrot over the edge of our evolutionary cliff like a Lovecraftian Old-One lording over the toils and triumphs of humanity with a haunting, godly indifference.
This thought-form, the collective shadow, the Abyss itself, is what I have sought to capture as of late. And the entire time, I did well to keep Nietzsche's words in my mind. I also heard sentiments like, considering the law of attraction, I would be letting evil energy and devils into my life simply with my research and current-leaning interests. I heard stories of other authors, some of which I’ve spoken with any many of which I haven’t, that experienced strange and unwelcomed occurrences in their life after embarking on dark research such as shadow work, demonology, or the paranormal. I took it all on anyway, because I was not afraid of the Abyss’s gaze. I still am not, although I would have to recommend a steadier, slower pace for anyone else that should take on the tasks of shadow work.
I was not interested in being wavered by the gaze. I was tired of turning away from it, only to feel the gaze continue to pierce my soul. I decided that I would concentrate my efforts, and I would either stare back with all the rage I had in me or I would perish. Sometimes it’s important to become a monster; so long as you’re already in the company of them, it will likely be your single chance for survival. Truly, the real issue here is, once you become the animal fit for survival, you gamble away your self-awareness. There’s a reason the Animal Kingdom does not pay mind to morality. It is not immoral, it is amoral, but this is only so because there is no human perspective held within this Animal Kingdom. Not usually. But if you look at the human’s evolutionary crawl, you look at its draws towards horror, violence, and domination that are as strong today as they ever were, you’ll be hard-pressed to ignore the fact that we are still battling the animal within us all. With our self-awareness, this animal becomes a monster. But it doesn’t have to be.
More often than not, however, we relegate it to the annals of monstrousness because we hate what we fear and we fear what we do not understand. If we have to act a certain way out of survival, we may not very well understand it beyond the mere levels of survival itself. And if we attempt to, we’ll likely be forced to reconcile some very uncivil aspects of survival with the semblances of the civil, modern life we currently live in.
And when it comes to monstrousness, I’m not always speaking about blind physical violence. Overall I speak about the ways we all lash out at each other when we feel our backs against the wall because of our past traumas and current circumstances. It’s much easier to see when we are being wronged than it is see if our own justifications have given us enough berth to become the villain. More often than not, the villain is made from a person that is seeking to right wrongs in such a way that is guided more by their trauma-reactions than it is by their grasp of morality.
So what does this really say about evil? It’s too much to unpack here alone, but I think you can see the direction I’m pointing in.
The direction is inward -- I wanted to come to know the plank in my eye that Christ had warned me about. I wanted to uproot the growth of my trauma and ignorance with wisdom and poise like the Buddha underneath the Bodhi tree. So, like Christ encountering Satan before his crucifixion or Buddha encountering Mara beside the Bodhi, I sought to encounter my own shadow—and not just parts of it, but it’s entirety, and how it related to the collective. Nothing was off-limits. I wanted it all. The paranormal, the Satanic, the delusional, the levels of abnormal psychology that can only lead to the most horrific true-crime tales, demonology and superstition throughout time. I sought it all in the name of the Divine, because I wanted to catch the contours of my shadow in the way that the alchemist seeks to document, categorize, and then eradicate the impurities of its subject.
As CG Jung writes in Answer to Job, “Job is no more than the outward occasion for an inward process of dialectic in God… What has all that to do with Job? Is it worth the lion’s while to terrify the mouse? … Job is challenged as if he himself were a god. The conflict becomes acute for Yahweh as a result of a new factor… the unheard of fact that, without knowing it or wanting it, a mortal man is raised by his moral behavior above the stars in heaven, from which position of advantage he can behold the back of Yahweh, the abysmal world of ‘shards’.”
Job’s story in the Bible remains deeply reminiscent of Christ and the Buddha’s own struggles, and Job did a damn good job keeping up with these other two names. While it is not an easy lesson to make bite-sized for Sunday school, there is a divine aspect to understanding the darkness around us, because before the darkness becomes evil it first represents impurity, un-refinement, and lack of finality. In other words, it represents a job un-started or un-finished, and the only proper thing to do in such a situation is to finish the job that you’ve started.
I was not seeking a glorification of my demons, I was not seeking to disprove morality, nor was I trying to gamble my own mental or metaphysical stability—I was seeking counsel with higher power to finish the job. And no, my job is not finished yet, and still I am trying to figure out what exactly the schematics of this job are, but what I have learned is why it is so important to not leave the job unfinished. I’ve seen the contours of hell, some of which I only saw after I began writing this book.
While I wrote this book of mine, one of my longest childhood friends died of drug-related complications, my longest-running romantic relationship fell apart, a couple different family members underwent some very serious and life-threatening surgeries, and I moved to a new state, into a less-than-desirable living situation, where my car’s transmission promptly went out on me and I was scrambling quickly to resolve my unemployment.
One might say that I called for the Devil and he appeared. And perhaps in a sense, I did. But unlike Faust or Solomon or Cain, summoning my shadow for my own personal gains, I steadfastly held to the luminary examples of Christ, the Buddha, even Job. Ultimately, I held steadfastly to the mindset of the alchemist – the mindset that understands acutely how important it is to learn what you are purging and how you are doing it. For if you haven’t yet learned these two details, then you have no purge process at all to speak of.
While writing the book, it seems my higher power begrudgingly gave me all that I was asking for. If I really wanted to lasso my shadow and force it into the divine light, I would be like Atlas shouldering the entire weight of my very own existence.
Well, I’m sorry everybody, but I shrugged from the weight. Nothing outwardly dramatic or impressive happened. I just imploded and gave up for a solid 10 weeks or so on the inside. Real stare-at-the-wall-and-drink sort of energy. God had left me, I felt cold and alone for the first time in a long time, and I was beginning to wonder if something had gone terribly wrong through my life’s ritual and ceremony. Because of my research and earnest efforts at shadow-work, I had already dedicated a great deal of time to understanding the terrible, lackluster, and selfish aspects of my own personality. My own honest pitfalls coupled with the weight of the death and tragedy around me, sealed with the neck-deep tide of my book’s research, I gave up. Like a man running from something for so long that his adrenaline fades and his legs collapse from under him, I collapsed mid-stride and found myself unable to move.
I knew that more than likely, I would find my way out of this, but that like someone rehabilitating an injury from over-exhaustion, I came to realize that I would need to rehabilitate my own psyche. This was not a total psychological overhaul, like an addict changing their life to beat their addiction, this was like someone laying in bed with a cast—able to do nothing but wait until the day they can take the damn thing off and walk again. Lucid as ever, waiting in the bed, doing their best to regain their energy back as quickly as possible – yet still at the mercy of time and the healing that it inevitably brings.
And if there’s one great lesson I have had deeply impressed in me, it’s that the psyche is much like a flower. This is a notion I have dealt with for years now, but by climbing out of the existential hole I was in, I was reminded with new and astonishing emphasis that sometimes time is the only remedy you will find. Like the flower using its time an energy to grow and prepare for the day it buds, sometimes we must simply work with what we’ve got, and keep the bigger process in our minds. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how crafty, preventative, or proactive you might be—sometimes life will knock you out and all you can do is wait to regain consciousness and wait out the ensuing headache.
So if you focus on negative things, will you attract negative things into your life? Perhaps, but it’s a lot more complicated than that, as I think I have mapped out here.
But the whole point of doing shadow-work is to A) do the work before the work does you, or B) do the work so the work doesn’t do other people. In other words, rein your shadow in because if you don’t take the time to save the underdeveloped parts of it and eradicate the dangerous parts of it, it will run your life and leech your free will.
While writing Hunt Manual, I made an active, conscious effort to grab the Devil by the horns so that I could match his anger and horror. I told him that I would not leave until he bowed down to my higher power. In one way or another, it took death and many other permanent goodbyes – the Devil is tough and his anger fuels him, but amidst all my anger and horror, I held humility and my higher power tighter than anything else.
And my grip was tight enough.
I scared the Devil and bent him to the divine will. And I’m no one special either, what I have done is something that every single human being can do, should they put in the time and effort.
But I have spent so much time at war that I am not sure what yet to do with my time of peace.
I suppose this is the next step for me.
So for anyone wondering where I’ve been or what happened to me, rest assured that I am back and looking to continue pursuing my passions. But like everyone else, I will always remain a work in progress.
You have my love, dear reader.