At about this point, things started to go downhill. There is a place called Hell, and I found it. It’s not far from here. Anyone can go there. It’s easy to get in, but tough as, well, hell to get out. I make light of this experience now and I guess in retrospect the whole concept and domain called hell is pretty juvenile to an expanded consciousness. But again, if you don’t know that, it is very powerful and can completely control your life.

It might be spoiling things a bit to explain how hell works before I share with you some of the experiences I had during my sojourn there, but it is necessary I think to understand the purpose of the place. It has a lot to do with your attention and where It is focused. The validity of things like higher planes and reincarnation and the spirit world may be open to question but if they were real things and had real functions, hell too would have a function, and it is this: It is designed to remove fear and guilt, the two titanic emotions that animate the gargantuan PR machine that created the franchise revolution called religion.

Hence the invention of hell in the first place; It would have saved time if the pontifical powers had told us literally what hell was about, but I guess maybe they don’t know and have, like everyone, their own personal hells to deal with.

Hell is a band much like the candy band, which means that while you’re in it, it is a realm, an endless realm. It is not much further than the candy realm – possibly the next layer out – and is filled with a substance much like maple syrup, only thinner. This is the outer perimeter of the Aetheric plane of energies, the last refuge of the ordinary mind before the gulf of the abyss and the far shores of the Astral Heavens. You may know it from dreams.

This psychic plasma reacts to emotions and forms the most frightful archetypal imagery. The more frightened you get, the more it reacts, like a demonic plasma coating your mind with super-glue ferocity. Once you’re in, you don’t leave until you’re clean, free of the instinctive control of fear, guilt and despair.

From our earliest meeting, our young psychic gang had all independently developed an insatiable interest in the Occult, and for my part at least it is a fascination that extended back to my earliest childhood. I guess it’s part of the same need to know about something or have some power that nobody else has so that when you are standing in front of the headmaster waiting for a hiding, you can still say to yourself; well I have the Arch demon Beelzebub on my side so you’re really a bit of a joke Mr so and so.

Our interest in demonology should not be confused with Satanism or any other of those other childish myths. We were not seeking something that was inherently evil, although we did entertain the idea of sacrificing our cat for a while. It was just about forces that are unknowable and powerful, forces we wanted to see and have in our gang. In fact, we quite liked the idea of controlling them, of imprisoning them with sheer willpower. I remember especially trying to summon what is popularly termed a Succubae. For those of you not in the know, a Succubae is a very powerful female sexual demoness. Five boys and one gorgeous sexual demon under our control, you can just imagine the permutations.

As far as religious implications went – All I can say is that I dropped my Christian ethos shortly after my brain formed. We played a bit with Ouije boards and ‘glassy glassy’. The latter I could never really take seriously of course because some guy would always move the glass and pretend that he hadn’t. At least two of us had a house poltergeist. Rene’s one was particularly virulent and would occasionally throw him about the room or eat the house. Point being, that hell was almost inevitable.

When you peer into the void, the void peers into you. The void is a big part of hell. If you can imagine hell as being a sphere with the centre of hell being in the middle, the void is the bit on the outside. In order to enter hell, you must pass through the void. Taking into consideration that hell deals with all sorts of fear, the abyss is the first scary bit. Have you ever started falling in your dream and awoken with a start just before you strike the bottom? That’s what it feels like entering that place. It is the most horrible, sucking, falling, vertiginous experience. The whole world falls away under your feet and in every other direction. In a second, you are suspended in absolute infinity.

What’s more, you cannot feel your body. In many cases, you cannot even feel your mind. It is all-permeating and interpenetrating. In fact, it feels very much like you have just died. When I first discovered this delightful place, I ventured in only tentatively. Fortunately, you don’t have to go into it fully to get the experience.

You can use far-sight to just project your mind therein. The room starts to darken, your body starts to dissolve, and you feel the sucking force dragging you down, down. Your stomach begins to spin and a feeling of inexplicable dread creeps through your body. And then it’s black and you’re falling, endlessly, through pitch. At this point, one generally screams and pulls out quickly, shaking and sweating. But you know the awful truth. You have peered into the void. It is with you, forever.

I started to get a little braver after a while, projecting my mind ever deeper. After a while, the void began to take on dimension, forming – to my perception – a grid above and below that narrowed to a vanishing point far off on the horizon. This is the beginning of hell proper and it is here – as you race over the grid toward an unreachable horizon – that all these grotesque archetypes form, rushing in at you with all the worst shapes your mind can form. I reckon this part is child’s hell because it is filled with all the sorts of things that hide under cupboards and beds and form the meat of low-budget horror movies; All mouths and spit and scorpions eyes and spiders fangs, devouring into your consciousness with wet, screaming gulps of puerile fear.

It takes a while to get used to them, but horror movies have never really freaked me out so eventually it just got irritating. Over several months, they began to thin out and look sheepish and eventually vanished. These are the things that you can summon if you’re into it but soon you realize that they are just distorted reflections of your own separated consciousness. Suddenly over these weeks, whole new modes of seeing were making themselves evident.

The planes that I desired to visit, the planes of light and make-believe, the planes of beautiful alien mathematics, would however temporarily depart, as if washing their hands of this suicidal infatuation we had developed with the unknowable.

Somewhere deep in hell’s neighborhoods, I entered the realm of madness, one of the final defenses of hell. Like hell, the folds of madness are many. Consider the state of mind experienced by a truly insane person. Now imagine downloading those states of mind instantly, but without obviously the context of a life lived within their minds. There are so many types of madness, so many different bad smells, each of them a state of feeling, seeing, relating, reasoning, each a distortion in the absence of the real.

Once, for an unimaginably long time, I wondered into a state where I existed in the present to such an extent that I could experience only the very tip of my consciousness. No memory, no language, no continuity, not even a sense of my own name. It created a feeling of permanent nausea. I would try to concentrate on anything – even a spot on the wall – and then my thoughts would just sort of unravel and I couldn’t hold them together. The unravelling is what created the nausea. I cannot possibly explain to you how scary this was.

Another time I entered into a state where everything in reality suddenly achieved the same consistency. The consistency had a horrible textural relation to cream pudding. It felt that if I had to move an inch, even a tiny bit, in any direction, I would just smear, like different flavors of melted ice cream, blending into each other. I could feel that throughout every fiber of my being and totally believed it. The result of it was a sort of cataleptic stupor in which I could not communicate, even to save myself; for fear that my lips would just dissolve into the otherness which was a part of me. It also created a feeling of sickness, of deep fear, in my solar plexus.

It was a scary time for all of us. We were the boys who wanted to scale the wall and then found ourselves prisoners on the other side of it. I guess in a sense hell continues, but it loses its infantile power and attacks higher complexes of ourselves. While we’re being a bit honest, I’ll admit that one neighborhood of hell would prove to be the hardest and most horrifying challenge to myself. You may think of it as the domain of fractured sexual awareness.

Travelling through a plane that was far beyond my level of emotional maturity, a place where even the simplest complexes exploded into vast, mental tapestries of meaning and significance, my insecurities about my own sexual nature ran riot. Right off the bat I got nailed by a Madonna complex. My insatiable – thin/pale – desire to please, created a scenario in which I knelt before a female image of purity and perfection; enter Jade.

As I travelled through hell however, the purity of this memory – this fair memory of a lost love that had departed to other realms – became fleetingly the image of the whore, who seemed to dog me always. In the absence of purity, corruption must exist. All that I did not wish to think about achieved its own life. I would see beautiful images becoming corrupted, wood becoming oil, a beautiful chaste woman taking on the guise of the whore. I may blame some of this on my mother, who was pure and sparing of affection, but that would make me a victim and not in fact the young hallucinogenius, he who rode the lake of his subconscious effortlessly and elegantly in an attempt to light the way for all mankind.

The result of this was that I became neurotic and obsessed with morality. My shadow self could of course not be suppressed for long – in these compressed realms of consciousness – and retaliated with all its might. I saw some terrible things, sickening things, images which I could not describe, even for this truth and reconciliation commission. Forever more, they have stayed with me, layering a filigreed network of scars in a sixteen-year-old mind. The hardest thing about escaping from that realm was not that I could not learn to ignore these images but that I felt so ashamed Jade might be watching me and judging me.

Could it be possible that before she had left, she had promised to meet me at another time? I tried to remember my last soft, silver conversation with her in the Pagoda, to tease hope from it. Maybe she was wasting away somewhere, consumed with love for this far, foreign soul, this wonderful boy from his tiny dimension; and she could see me, striving forth and holding her flag high, proving to her family, to her brother, who had tried to warn me on pain of death, that I was worthy of her hand. If only I had understood the danger and vulnerability, that she had exposed herself to, by reaching out to try and prevent this exact delusion from unfolding as it had, using even fear and cold rejection in a final effort to save me.

But I would not let go and by a strange and grim ultra-dimensional union, I believed that she shared with me my every private thought, my strength and my light. And so, I believed she saw the images of lust and indecency that bled away from me like a plague. My true nature revealed. It was a very difficult period. I was beginning to lose hope that she would ever return and in a continuously downward spiral of recriminations, I felt that she was deeply aware of this and disappointed in my lack of faith.