Once upon an average morn, an average boy was born for the second time.
Prone upon the altar there, he whispered up a prayer he kept hid inside.
The vision came, he saw the odds, a hundred little gods on a gilded wheel.
"These will vie to take your place, but Father by Your grace I will never kneel."
- Steve Taylor

I, unfortunately, did kneel. I was raised in a very average "Brady bunch" family. Mom had me and my sister, and Dad had my older brother and sister. I was very excited to have a new father (my biological father died when I was 3, of an alcohol related heart attack) and a new brother and sister. We did not live happily ever after. My brother, feeling jealous and angry at the separation of his family and having to come and live with a new family, took it upon himself to punish everyone else for this. He proceeded to torment my existence in every way he could. I was emotionally and physically abused by him until I was 13 years old. I had developed into a deathly insecure adolescent. I lived in my own fantasies and other realities that I had created. He couldn't hurt me there. I went to church every Sunday and most Wednesdays. I sang and listened but heard nothing; even there I was in my own reality. It was about this time that I had left the geek scene and entered the punk scene. Punx were the only people who ever treated me with respect and didn't run me down. I went from polo shirts to a blue mohawk and combat boots. This was 1986 in a rural cow town in Oregon. I was then tormented by everyone in town. My brother had been replaced. Because of my individuality I was shot, stabbed, and beaten. One day a friend of mine invited me to a party of sorts. This party consisted of some of my friends from school and two older ladies. It was described to me as friends sitting around and talking, drinking soda, eating chips and playing games.

The two older women were witches and the party was the gathering of a coven. I was then initiated into the practice of Wicca. If you don't know, Wicca is an ancient feminine dominated form of druidical magic. That is why I was called a witch and not a warlock. I progressed rather rapidly and became a practicing witch. My mind sank into a strange sort of delirium and dementia. It was obvious to me that insanity was the ultimate experience. If you die, it's all over. If you go insane, you pass through death without dying. This was my philosophy. I strove hard for it day and night. My practice of witchcraft took me to many new places, mostly through astral travel. It was a natural expansion of my fantasy world. I was all powerful and everything looked up to me in this world that I had created. The feeling of power is what keeps you going in witchcraft. In the real world I was nothing, in witchcraft I was something. I felt invincible. I was wrong.

One night I woke up due to a rather strong call of my bladder. This was one of those times when you lie in bed and switch from looking at the clock and then looking at the door trying to decide if you can make it until the morning without wetting the bed. I decided to get up and go to the bathroom. I then realized that my entire body was paralyzed from the neck down. In Wicca there are no drugs or alcohol. If you would be found using these things you would be expelled from the coven. I knew that I had nothing in my system that could cause this. The only explanation I could come to was that something spiritual was attacking me. I left my body and suspended myself above it. I then went into shock. Sitting all around me and holding me down were about 15 demons laughing hysterically. One turned and looked at me and spoke. It said I was the biggest idiot it had met in a long time. It said that I was taught what was right but went the wrong way, and now I was so deep into it I was going to hell and there was no way out. He then proceeded to make a deal with me. Two of them came to my astral body and turned me around. When I was turned around I found myself in Hell. There is no way to describe what I saw, felt, and smelled. I will never forget it. The faces. They returned me to my room and gave me the ultimatum. I can kill myself and become like them and torment instead of being tormented, or die and go to hell anyway. I chose suicide.

Just before they let me return to my body, I said under my breath, "Jesus, if you're there, help." There was a great flash of light and they were gone. I sat up and began to curse God. Why did he let me go through these things. I cursed him for about an hour while I cleaned up the vomit my body expelled during the experience. It was then that I, for the first time, heard the voice of God. He said only one simple phrase that stopped me in my tracks. "All I wanted you to do was ask." -C.I., Portland, Oregon