Existential Crisis & Death Anxiety

TL;DR: Severe death anxiety haunts me constantly, as does my scientist’s wiring, and the only way for me to address it is by seeing a spirit or something from the beyond with my own two eyes. Not via scrying, not via smoke, crystals, or tarot, not via divination. But by actually seeing a spirit that has condensed in this world to the extent that they can be physically observed, I would have proof in my mind that the beyond exists and death is not equivalent to destruction. Anybody up for helping me make a spirit manifest so tangibly?

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Throughout my life, I’ve experienced increasingly intense thanatophobia, the fear of death. The idea that nothing lies beyond this world, that we are all insignificant chemical reactions hurtling through space on a small sphere orbiting a medium sized star in an indifferent universe, terrifies me. I could really use some advice from you guys, but first, I feel that I should explain my views and cognitive biases, as well as the childhood sources of these, for reference.

When I was a young child, maybe 5 or so, I have a distinct memory, one of the only ones from that time, of my mom receiving a phone call saying that my uncle had died. I didn’t know him very well, but when my parents tried to explain death to me, I remember feeling extremely disturbed by the idea that someone can suddenly cease to be. Even more than that, I was disturbed by the fact that no one could give me a concrete answer on whether death is the end or not.

Not long after, maybe less than a year, my grandpa died of pulmonary fibrosis and nephrotic syndrome. I was in complete emotional shock that such a kind, loving person could suddenly just be gone, lost from our world forever. And again, I was incredibly disturbed by the fact that no one was able to give me a definitive, logical answer on whether death is the end, and if not, what lies beyond. I didn’t know the full extent of my mom’s grieving at that time, and my parents tried their best to talk be through it, but I don’t think that time ever left me.

The Formative Years

Fast forward to school time - I started in public school because my dad was an atheist (technically Anglican, but never went to church even as a child), and my mom was a non-practicing Catholic who hadn’t been to church since being a small child herself. Kindergarten went well, but first grade was a nightmare - the teacher was an idiot, and in being a child who could never suffer fools well, but was also emotionally sensitive, I didn’t fare well. At the end of first grade, we made the decision to move me to the local Catholic school because it had a much better reputation.

Catholic school in second grade wasn’t horrible, I’ll admit. I don’t remember much of it, but my parents tell me that I internalized a fair bit of the Catholic materials they make newcomers read. Unfortunately for me, I started rejecting Biblical texts because they had direct contradictions, didn’t make sense, and struck me as bigoted lunacy. Naturally, challenging Catholic teachers about the validity of Catholic teachings creates conflict, so I moved again to private school for third grade.

Third grade private school didn’t go well as the result of a horrible teacher who I remember very clearly - a butch French Canadian woman who liked disciplining students at every available opportunity. For someone like me who challenges things people say that don’t make sense, regardless of whether it’s politically advantageous or destructive for me to do so, that was far from ideal. So I moved yet again, and fourth grade at a new private school was essentially a repeat performance because I worked through the material too fast and caught my teachers unprepared.

Finally, at the end of fourth grade, my parents and I made the decision to leave school altogether and do homeschooling with a combination of teaching by my dad and private tutoring, plus art classes to make sure I got to socialize with other kids. We did that for three years, but decided that I would need to go to an actual high school in order to eventually apply to university. The local public high school has a reputation of high levels of bullying and low quality education, so we again decided that the Catholic system was a better bet. At that point, I hadn’t yet become completely jaded against religion, so I was amenable to the idea. I went back to the first Catholic school to do grade 8 and get oriented before making the transition to high school.

Transition to Atheism

Going into high school, I tried to have an open mind, but I increasingly found the pseudo-morality spewed in religion class to be childish and absurd. Ninth grade was uneventful, but tenth grade was quite something. My religion teacher and I had a tense relationship, as I had a habit of challenging her on a variety of Catholic teachings. Later in the year, she said to me privately that I ought to seriously consider becoming a theologian because I was able to critically evaluate advanced concepts in spirituality.

But regardless of my teachers’ efforts, I grew to have an increasingly strong distaste for Catholicism. “Who the fuck is God to tell me what is right and what is wrong?” was a thought that played out often in my mind. It was further bolstered by the fact that I was gay, although it took until the summer before university for me to come out of the closet.

I spent the majority of my undergraduate education espousing militantly atheistic views, a product of my incredible distaste for religion that I had gotten from high school. However, within me, I still had that existential dread, that fear, that lingering question. What was the question, you ask? It was,

If all of us die in the end, forever committed to the eternal void, then what is the meaning of life?

I came to the understanding that life only has meaning if it can perpetually continue. Note that for this discussion, I am using the word life to mean identifiable, self-aware consciousness. As I had taken on the scientific view that death is the end of all biological reactions, and therefore the end of the mind due to the mind being an emergent property of the biological brain, I realized that my purpose in life needed to become life itself, or more specifically, the extension of life.

I discovered a researcher, Dr. Aubrey de Grey, who gave lectures on what he called Maximum Escape Velocity. His theory was that one-shot immortality is probably impossible, but iterative immortality might be. So let’s say you have an 80-year-old and you find a way to get them to healthily live to 130. Now you have 50 years (130 - 50) to find a way to get them to live to, say, 190, which then gives you 50 more years to find a way to get them to live to 240, etc. So long as you are always working ahead of the clock, you will never die. I decided that I would do what I could to achieve this maximum escape velocity through my own research and intelligence.

Death is Coming Anyway

In working in the research space, I’m beginning to lose faith that we can work faster than the ageing clock that’s trying to kill us from within. This isn’t because I think it’s not biologically possible - quite the contrary. No, it’s because I’ve realized that science, and especially scientific funding, is incredibly political. Research is based on the number of papers you put out, not the viability of your idea for furthering medicine. I’m doing my best to work around the system, but I’m afraid that it may not be enough.

However, I have another problem. I have been drawn to the occult for a while, since perhaps the latter part of high school, but I’m wired like a scientist. I can’t take a leap of faith like some people. What if the face I see in the flames or smoke is just pareidolia? What if the energy I think I feel is just subconscious regulation of the release of endorphins and enkephalins by my brain? What if the award that flew off my wall was just the result of a nail that loosened over time or due to changes in the moisture of the wall? What if there is nothing beyond this world and all of it is being invented by me to comfort myself in case I fail and my death is inescapable?

Somehow, I need to see a spirit with my own two eyes, right in front of me. Not a shadow in a mirror. Not a bit of smoke from incense. Not from within a candle flame. Not in the context of meditation, TGS, or Rapture. But as a full-bodied, full blown apparition. Something like what another user around here posted once:

Asking me to do energy work, open chakras, learn to feel the spirits’ presence, etc., has limited usefulness I think, because I can’t really subconsciously believe any of this without the first critical step of seeing into the beyond.

Can anybody here help me see a spirit in this way? You have no idea how grateful I would be.

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I hate to break it too you mijo, but that’s not how spirits work. They operate on the subtler levels of reality never truly able to be one with this one, that’s why they seek magickians, so that they can feel the pleasures of this world, and in exchange they lend us they power and give us there knowledge.

And here i want to send this to you:

Hey i always ask people to pm me for stuff not because I’m a creep, but because i tried to commit suicide(I’m better now) and a close friend of mine succeeded, i find that when given the option to talk about what’s on there mind, they do. It really helps a lot of people and make them feel much better. And if you needed it you could ask me for my number because sometime you just can go onto a forum and really need a ear to listen.

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Say here! :blush:

Also true.

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Psilocybin mushrooms has been proven to significantly reduce death anxiety, depression, OCD, and generalize anxiety discord.

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Even if conjuration as shown in the photo is impossible, or at least exceedingly rare, what about people who have experiences of seeing a full blown shadow figure standing in the doorway? Or people who have heard disembodied voices of spirits speak to them in the night? It’s these kinds of experiences that I’m talking about and want to experience in hopes that it will cure my uncertainty of whether there is something beyond this world.

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But what if it’s just a hallucination? What if it’s group hypnosis? What if it’s just confirmation bias since you believe in the existence of spirits already?

I sympathize with your point of view, but you must understand that the path of magic demands sacrifice of the self, and it demands that we destroy beliefs and make new ones. You are operating under this idea that if you can have the proof here in the physical with your physical senses, that you will finally have the proof you need to pursue magic. It’s actually reversed. You must first believe in magic. You must use the mirrors, the smoke, etc. to build a repertoire of experiences you can use as proof. Then you can perform miracles in this plane.

Magic involves alchemy. It’s a process of purification and evolution of the mind and spirit. Without that inner work, even the results that prove magic to you will have no effect on your progress. You will stay where you are.

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Conjuration like that takes power. Power takes the build up of energy. You cant build up your power if you dont want to put in the work to obtain the power in the first place. It takes time, practice, patience. To build power, to feel this energy, you need a clear and uncluttered mind. Meditation is KEY, one of the best keys there are, to making spiritual contact of any kind. Look at any spiritual leader. They have spent countless hours in meditation and prayer.

Experiencing something, you need to get into the right state of mind. You will never be relaxed if you cant relax. The brainwaves of a person are different than a person experiencing anxiety, or happiness vs. sad. The brain is a complex machine. There is research into Insomnia, and how the brain operates. There are deviations, obvious, from a ‘normal brain’. Look at the medications we prescribe for psychological disorders, most all tweak brain chemicals, trying to reel the mind back into balance. All the while patients are experiencing symptoms, either feeling better or worse, and then there are the side-effects and complications of taking such medicines.

Most conjuring ceremony had the incense, the long drawn out rites, the fasting, the bathing, the purifying, the super specific times, openings, closings, circles, tools, etc. because they worked in lulling the mind to just the right state that the seer could see beyond and experience the spirit first hand.

Ive been pushing you to learn how to AP or Soul Travel xD I know, but that really helped me accept the proof of spirits and another reality. Though you’re not interested, I understand.

idk

How do werewolves factor into this, I wonder? Like in the book Morphosephram, spirits, and their existence, hinges on the ability to summon one forth and connect and eventually become it xD

Everything can be explained away expect what you experience first hand? xD Did you know even Eye Witness Testimony can be untrue (there is a really good Ted Ed talk on the subject as well. Im just lazy and didnt look up the video)? Memory is not perfect (obviously) and the eyes cannot always be trusted. Its how magicians get away with their magic tricks on the stage. Slight of hand. Hallucinations cannot only be visual, but also encompass every single sense.

Objective reality is a collective of subjective truths that we all experience and have decided upon. We trust it more because ‘everyone has seen it’ or its ‘normal’. What about the hundreds of posts and experiences here?

idk I am losing my point xD This is just thought-puke because I am super tired :confused:

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With respect, you’re doing the thing of insisting someone proves bacteria cause illness but you won’t look into a microscope because if they were real you should be able to see them, and the microscope might be a trick.

  • You are refusing to use the correct instrument to observe and measure the phenomena.

Get any modern laptop. Insist the internet’s not real. When people tell you to open a browser, refuse, because the browser might just be a clever videogame, and no-one can prove to you that what you see is created by other people.

Same thing. :+1:

Belief is a factor in magick, part of the structure, it’s not some woo-woo wishy-washy nonsense so you can deceive yourself, or a nice luxury that you can do without.

Why so? The Kybalion PDF, archived link.

“What about people who get haunted and didn’t believe?” Either the practitioner who sent the spirit/curse did, or, the discarnate spirit itself has enough psychic power to manifest and influence things in its own right.

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In response to your detailed historical account, OP, I’m going to try to provide you with my perspective. I first have to get out of the way that I’ve never really been in your position, because all I can remember is my own.

I’ll bring to your attention the concept of quantum immortality, because the world seems to work that way IME. Ya know how they say ‘it’s about the journey, not the destination’? That’s too many words, really, because roads don’t end, we just find different ways to mark them.

I remember dying thoroughly. Lots and lots of it- the uneventful, the peaceful, the spiritual, the violent and traumatic. Each time the way of death seemed to have an impact on how the consciousness processes the info; violent deaths were painless physically but incomparably loud and focused on the last sight during death. How much ‘you’ feel during death really is reliant on how connected you feel to the form IME, social media has made death a lot harder for some people. I also remember getting conceived, and what a womb looks like to a fetus (spoiler alert: really dark with random stretches of subdued color patterns).

The ‘experience magnitude’ scale gets a lot of interesting representation. Some people die like they sleep, unknowingly or intentionally, and some people sequence energy enough to understand their environment, knowingly or not. The universe is a reflex that our ripples are vying for real estate in, so if you need to overpower your historically-imposed limitations, you should probably seek an experience of a greater magnitude than a physical form of a spirit (if you unfocus your vision at the night sky, you can pretty much always see movement in it, look hard enough and you can watch Spirits in motion).

Brains are radios, so the idea of altered states shouldn’t be too surprising, focus-trances are fundamental practice. Your breath is the dial, and everybody is themselves, so really the only thing I know you can do is check your channels by varying breath patterns and locking your vision onto something. Sometimes Spirits show up as physical disturbances when you tune in right! :slight_smile:

You could also try to see if you can change something irrevocably or undeniably. A lot of people do this by setting very specific conditional magic, and then lose their cool when the conditions weren’t met. I realized people called the kinda stuff I was experiencing ‘magic’ when a shirt turned from blue to red right in front of me! It was like noticing more and more red in the shirt until there was no blue left, if I had to describe it! :slight_smile:

Anything can be pretty funky if you focus on in to it. The question is, what’s your threshold of what’s junk and what’s funk? AKA what is actually believable to you? Beliefs just change what you yourself can do.

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Alright, so lots of questions arise out of this. Thanks to all for responding! Here are my comments:

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I completely agree with this, but it does give rise to two questions that are relevant for my journey if you don’t mind answering them:

  1. Do you know of any particular discarnate spirits that have enough psychic power to objectively manifest independent of a medium in a way that is readily visible?
  2. Would you or someone else here being open to directing a spirit in that way as a strictly one time only working? Seeing something not from this world just the one time is enough for me to suspend any remaining doubts, I think.

This makes sense to me, but I can’t control my subconscious mind. Years of training and having the scientific method (collect evidence to support or reject the null hypothesis, which must be generated a priori) drilled into you will have that effect. That’s sort of the point of this - I’m asking for help in having an experience that will allow my scientifically inclined mined to suspend disbelief indefinitely. Does that make sense?

Also, I will take a look at the grimoire you linked to a bit later, so apologies if the answers to some of these points are in there. I would like to hear your firsthand opinion too, though. :slight_smile:

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Ah, now you’re speaking in a language I can understand! I wrote a paper on quantum immortality once; it’s an incredibly interesting emergent property of the many Worlds Interpretation (MWI) of quantum mechanics. Whether it applies to the macroscopic world is an open question, but I think there’s a decent body of theoretical evidence that suggests that it does.

How did you recover those memories of past lives and your experiences dying? I’ve heard of past life experiences from a variety of people, but am unclear on the methods. Further to that, how can you be sure that newfound memories are actually memories and not misencoded daydreaming? The alternative, non-esoteric view here would be similar to that of déjà vu, which is thought to be caused by the brain incorrectly encoding a short-term memory as a long-term memory and then re-recalling it. How do you determine this?

Of course, the very mundane explanation for this is that people can have a combination of aggregate protein “floaters” in their eyes and slight focal changes in the retina due to blood flow (the retina is squeezed by the blood vessels a little hit each time the heart beats). Based on this, looking into a blank surface like the night sky (ignoring stars) allows a person to become aware of these slight visual disturbances, but they don’t imply spirituality - they just remind us that our bodies aren’t perfect/our eyes aren’t steady-state like a camera is. How would you address this?

This is interesting. However, is it objective, or a glitch of the subconscious? For example, let’s take that shirt you mentioned. If I take a photo of it before and another photo after using a conventional camera, will one be blue and one be red? That would be quite the feat!

My threshold is objectivity, so to me, something is believable only if it objectively exists apart from my mind. Does that make sense?

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Then I would be clinically insane/schizophrenic, and if I can’t trust my own mind, all of these points are moot. For this, I will quote Descartes - “I think, therefore I am.” The one thing that I don’t need evidence for is the trustworthiness of my own mind, if that makes sense.

Of course, but this creates a catch-22. Belief for me requires observing successful magick, but to perform magick, I must already believe. If this is the case, then I suppose what I really need is to see someone else produce a miracle that I can see for myself. I guess my point is, I need a strictly one time experience to knock the doubt out of me and allow me to move forward.

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Not at all! I’m just very bad at answering PMs, but I promise I will very soon. I am very interested in astral projection and soul travel, but again, I need some way of demonstrating to myself that it’s not just me daydreaming. I need to know that the plane I’m projecting or traveling to objectively exists apart from my mind. Any ideas on how to do that?

To quote Descartes, “I think, therefore I am.” The only thing one can ever truly be sure of is their own existence in the present moment. Every interation away from this central truth adds uncertainty. For example, I am absolutely certain that my mind exists now. I am almost absolutely certain that my body exists as well, but not absolutely. I am mostly certain that what I observe in the nearby vicinity exists. But I am only somewhat certain that you exist because you are not in the nearby vicinity. Do you see what I mean? The further removed an objective truth is, the less certain one can be that it is indeed true.

I’m not saying that I flatly reject anything I haven’t seen myself - that would be ridiculous, and as a matter of fact, would make my job impossible because my research is based on other labs’ previous research. But I obviously believe something more if I can replicate it right before my eyes.

The threshold for proof is variable based on the claim being made. To make a simple claim like “cells exist”, simple evidence such as a picture of a cell under a microscope is sufficient. But to make an extraordinary claim like “discarnate intelligence exists”, extraordinary evidence is required - either incontrovertible proof from someone else, or direct observation myself. See what I mean?

I completely agree. However, as I mentioned to @veneficus, this produces a catch-22! Belief, at least for me, requires observing successful magick. Conversely, successful magick requires the sorcerer to already believe. Perhaps what I need is a strictly one-time incontrovertible paranormal experience to knock any remaining doubt out of me so that I can move forward in practice. As of right now, my mind during ritual consistently wanders to the thought, “am I just talking to myself and daydreaming?”

Is it, though? This is a philosophical conundrum I’ve struggled with for years, actually. In its simplest form, it is a version of the “if a tree falls in the forest, and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?” thought experiment. I think objective reality exists apart from what everyone has decided is real because of the existence of surprise. If I can be surprised by an experiment’s result, for example, and no one has commented on the experiment before/no one has an opinion yet, then how is that possible if all reality is is what we decide it to be? Idk, I think I’m typing a word salad, not sure if I’m making sense on this one.

They help a lot, which is one of the reasons I came to BALG, aside from getting great advice of course. But at the end of the day, I can’t be sure if those posts were made by people who were underslept, taking substances, or affected by diseases of the mind. I don’t mean that as an insult to BALG members, and I don’t think it’s true, but my point is that I can’t be sure. Does that make sense?

Not to worry, I suffer from thought-puke regularly - ‘tis an occupational hazard. :rofl:

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Also, just a quick note, @anon39410973, that I forgot to tag you on my reply last night… I shouldn’t be allowed to type when I’m that tired haha. Anyways, it’s this post that addresses what you said about spirits being more subtle than what I’m discussing. What’re your thoughts?

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its okay i do that all the time lol.

and on the other thing, im not saying its impossible at all just extremely rare, and most of it can be chalked up to hallucinations or your eyes playing games on you, but i am very open minded and always ready to change my opinions on things

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What you don’t want to admit, and understandably so, is that you have faith in science. You only think the path is not fruitful because of the politics that surround it. Here’s a more explicit example of your faith:

When you read his research paper, you became inspired. You felt that you might be able to accomplish something if you focused on iterative immortality. You then decided that you would apply your own intellegince and hard work to make it a possibility. Ergo, you used belief to construct a paradigm, and then you took action based on that belief.

You are right, you can’t take a leap of faith like some people. Unfortunately for you, those people are the ones getting results in magic, while you aren’t. Using that intellect you pride yourself on, which is the best course of action? Stay where you are with no results, or emulate those that got results and leap?

It only seems a catch-22 because you currently lack introspection and the courage to take that leap I mentioned earlier. The fact is that you are heavily entrenched in a belief system (paradigm) right now, but due to indoctrination and the state of modern society, you think you are being objective and sticking to facts. In truth, you are simply a material reductionist. You are in a state of crisis right now that can lead to either a state of depression, stagnation, or evolution. You are at this crossroads because you realize that your current paradigm doesn’t have answers for the questions you pose to the universe. This is progress.

The next step, the most crucial one, is getting off your ass and doing the work yourself. Magickal ascent will lead you to all the answers you seek and some that answer questions you never even realized you had. Nobody can walk that path for you or make it any easier for you. We have had to face our own trials and rise above them. You have yours. Rise above it and be a magician… Or continue this mental masturbation of yours and be left feeling unfulfilled.

Nice quote. Allow me to quote myself: “I do, therefore I become.” If all I did was think, I would simply exist, stuck in stagnation. Instead, I seek the truth, subject that truth to scrutiny and decide if it helps me be who I know I have the potential to be. I then act upon the knowledge I obtain. This process is a perpetual state of becoming. Who I am is not who I was yesterday. It is alchemy. It is magic.

Another thing to point out, is that you unfortunately are not telling the truth. If you truly trusted your own mind, you would not be begging for ways to short circuit the process in which trust in your mind is truly built. Do you know how many would-be magicians end up locked away medicated to oblivion because they dared to take risks that you are too afraid to take? Do you know the faith one has to have in their own mind to believe they are not crazy when society tells them they must be?

You say you trust your mind? Prove it. Not to me. Not to this forum. To yourself. Pick up a magical book of your choosing with a clear system of progression. Believe in it the way you believe in modern science. Become the master of your inner and outer world. Stop thinking and start doing. Stop being and start becoming. When you are ready to make that leap, you won’t be needing proof. You will have it.

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@veneficus by far the best response ive read.

I know this post is old but thank you for all of your insightful words. Seriously, I’ve struggled with what you addressed in this reply my entire damn life and being stuck in thought has led me to missing out on a large chunk of my life. That pisses me off so bad, I’ve lived with the thoughts that I was insane my entire life because I believed in magic. When in reality I need to pursue it whole heartedly and without caution. Thank you.

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