The Invisible War

by Joseph

Dear Joseph.

So I had kind of an intense meeting with my missionary friends a few hours ago. I’ve been very deep in thought since they left. I felt like I needed to write you about it because I shared a very personal experience with them, which I would also like to share with you.

After I shared it with the missionaries, they advised me to pray about it, naturally, but that has been sort of a hurdle for me as I’ve mentioned. It’s sort of a catch-twenty-two. I can’t pray sincerely until I’ve felt the connection prayer brings, and I can’t feel the connection prayer brings until I’ve prayed sincerely. So I would like your input.

A good five years ago at least, probably more by now, I had this experience I’m referring to. I told these missionaries about it for two reasons:

  1. The experience has given me certain theological questions that no self-proclaimed Christian has ever been able to adequately help me answer. They’re usually fun questions to throw out because they make people squirm, but these two missionaries had immediate, thorough, and completely relevant answers—things I’d never heard before but which seemed intrinsically true to me and which made perfect sense.
  2. The Mormon faith is established upon the experience of physical beings physically visiting a flesh and blood man. What I mean is this: If you tell a Methodist or a Baptist that God answered you prayer and has healed your cancer, they’ll believe you no problem. If you tell a Methodist or a Baptist that an angel came to you, in your hospital room and told you that God was healing your cancer, they smile politely and figure your morphine drip got a little high; But tell a Mormon that same thing and I feel like they’d have no hesitation whatsoever that such a thing were not only possible but may very well have happened.

So, the story, without getting into too much detail, is basically this:

On a hot summer day, I went into a bedroom to lay down and get cooled off by the air conditioning. I was laying there enjoying the cool air when I got the sudden urge to look at the corner of the room. I had the curtains tightly closed so I could get some shut eye too, so the room was very dark. Despite that, the midday sun made a soft glow illuminate the room pretty evenly. But when I looked into the corner as I was laying down I saw that it was completely black. In the blackness was the silhouette of a body, as though in deep shadow.

Only one thing was not in the shadow: the head.

I won’t go into detail describing the truly horrifying nature of what I saw, but I can safely say that it did not appear human besides having a head atop a vertical torso. Whatever this hideous thing was, it was staring at me with an evil grin.

As I tried to move, I found that I couldn’t—I was invisibly restrained. Though I couldn’t escape, I wasn’t scared; I was filled with some kind of inexplicable anger. After probably a minute of it staring at me and me staring at it, It’s head was lost in the shadow, the shadow was lost in the darkness, and then the darkness cleared away leaving behind the softly lit and empty corner.

As soon as it was gone, I felt like I could sit up if I wanted to and the anger in me left.

The missionaries, seemingly at a complete loss, probably a little shocked, haltingly suggested a possibility. “Perhaps,” they said, “in the same way that we had friends and people we knew and were close to in the pre-life, it might be possible that we also made enemies during the war in which a third of our premortal spirit siblings were cast from heaven when they chose to follow Satan instead of God.” They said sometimes the veil of forgetfulness gets very very thin and perhaps this was an encounter between an old enemy of mine and me.

Could that possibly be the case? I want to know your thoughts.

—Thomas


Dear Thomas,

“‘Perhaps,’ they said, ‘in the same way that we had friends and people we knew and were close to in the pre-life, it might be possible that we also made enemies during the war in which a third of our premortal spirit siblings were cast from heaven when they chose to follow Satan instead of God.'”

That was actually the thought I had as I read your story. Who would know us better—and would be most apt to tempt us with terrible efficiency—than those who were once close to us? I mean, the devil himself could do it, but we know there’s an army at his disposal undoubtedly made up of some of our friends who did not support Christ in the premortal council (as I wrote to you before).

I knew a blind man in Taiwan who had a similar experience to yours. Perhaps by sharing it with you, you can find some more meaning to your own experience.

This man (I’ll call him Timothy) was also meeting with the missionaries but he was just playing along during their meetings; he felt bad for wasting their time because he wasn’t actually praying or reading from The Book of Mormon like they had asked him to.

Prior to his meeting with the missionaries, Timothy’s house had been possessed to some degree by an evil spirit that his wife sometimes saw (remember, Timothy is blind). She only ever saw it in mirrors and all she would see was a head, the head of a woman in fact.

One day before his scheduled baptismal date that he was not planning on attending, he was buffeted by this spirit as he sat at home alone. He said the air smelled bad and the spirit was taunting him by saying dark things and laughing at him. At this moment of fear he decided to finally take the missionaries up on their invitation to pray. As he knelt down and asked Heavenly Father to remove the evil spirit, he said that he felt a sensation like electricity flow from the crown of his head down to his toes. Then a rushing wind swept through his home and the previous foul odor was replaced with a pleasant fragrance.

Knowing that Heavenly Father had really heard and answered his prayer—knowing that Heavenly Father was real—he immediately threw away the Daoist idols that he had previously been praying to. Needless to say, he attended his baptism the next day. The evil spirit never bothered him again.

The principle I want to bring up is this: when we talk of things of the Lord, a calm serene feeling comes upon us because the Spirit of the Lord comes and, though not visible, its presence affects our emotional state. These feelings of peace are then a spiritual quality at their root. Likewise, when we tell scary ghost stories or talk about evil things, there sometimes comes a different feeling that also is felt by all those present because it is also the presence of a spirit, but it is not the spirit of the Lord.

The negative feeling, or one of hatred, that you described feeling would seem to be that of the attendance of an evil spirit. The fact that for a moment the veil was thin enough for you to see this particular spirit seems to correlate to your heightened state of emotional disruption.

“I won’t go into detail describing the truly horrifying nature of what I saw, but I can safely say that it did not appear human besides having a head atop a vertical torso.”

There are different classes of spiritual beings beyond the veil of our perception but all around us. Those that pertain to a given level have knowledge and awareness of anything at their level and below but do not have a knowledge or awareness of anything above their level. This may explain why those who restrained you were less distinguishable to you while the evil spirit was not; the level you reside in given your life choices would place you above the evil spirit but perhaps below others. Beings who belong to higher levels are privy to those of the lower levels, but typically not vice versa, so perhaps you were being restrained by higher beings. (When I refer to higher and lower levels, I am referring to righteousness; in other words, perhaps good angels were also present.)

All of that said, the spirit world is still typically invisible to us. We are all beset by beings of light and dark, and, regardless of our spiritual level of attainment, we mortals are not normally able to see the things of the spirit world though they can see us.

“Behold, verily I say unto you, that there are many spirits which are false spirits, which have gone forth in the earth, deceiving the world” (Doctrine and Covenants 50:2).

When we do see them, spirits can appear deformed or hideous to us if they are evil because their true natures are manifest in their spirit body’s appearance, unlike those who have bodies of flesh and bone and can be hideous on the inside but not so on the outside. When such spirits were good, they would have looked pleasant and beautiful; however, as they began to lose their light and follow darkness, their appearance also became dark and foul (kind of like how orcs were once elves, [not to make light of this topic]).

But then there are evil spirits who can transform themselves into beings of light to try and deceive us. These are very powerful beings, like the devil himself. These beings, however, would not be accompanied by the feelings of serenity and peace that accompany a true angel of light, and this is one way you may detect them in their deception (for example, see Moses’ experience confronting such a being as found in Moses 1:12-15).

It seems as though in your experience, an evil and perhaps familiar spirit appeared to you and filled you with its feelings, as is the power of such a being. Since it was a being of hatred and anger, it filled you with hatred and anger. When it left you, those feelings left with it for they did not originate with you. There is the possibility that you first harbored the anger, which would have acted like a homing beacon for this spirit—seeking to make as many around you as possible miserable together. But I have not come to know you as a person who gets angry, so you will have to ask that question of yourself introspectively.

The key is to not allow such a being to have any influence over you. They will come to us all and tempt us to do that which is not right in the sight of God and drag us down to their level (a real possibility, even though our spirits are embedded in our bodies currently), but we must resist them and keep ourselves pointed towards that which is bright and beautiful. If you do slip down to their level, and you lose your perception and awareness of distinct beings of evil having joined their throng, do you think that when your life is over and you go on to the spirit world that your temptations will cease and everything will become illuminated to your view? It will not be so, and you will go on as you did in this life only more miserable, being as unaware as when you lived of the angels and demons who beckon you left and right.

If you have gotten your spirit to a higher level and died while there, you will find yourself as illuminated and aware of the spirits of good and evil as you were before you died, though enhanced by the fact that you are then exclusively a part of that invisible world. Hence, “…if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come” (Doctrine and Covenants 130:19). This then is another understanding of the differences between those of spirit prison and those of spirit paradise (please reread my previous letter on that subject if you need a refresher on that).

—Joseph

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