Hades – Prison section (the Void)
The Void is most likely within the Prison complex of Hades. It is a temporary venue.
Entering the Nearby Void.
The Void is our nearest afterlife neighbour. No tunnel is generally experienced between Earth and the Void; OBErs often pass into it directly through a kind of dimension wall. The Void appears to be close and adjacent to Earth.
Guides, generally masquerading as friendly but who turn out to be malevolent, can call to a spirit as it leaves the body to join them there. It is a short step for the spirit to do so, not involving a tunnel unless a short one is used to direct the NDEr to a specific position within the Void.
The Void can invade and change the nature of Earth’s surroundings to the NDEr. PMH Atwater 1 describes the start of her second NDE in these words:
I glimpsed a peculiar shift in my environment. My dining room below was slowly but surely merging into another kind of space coming down from a source past my ceiling.
These two spaces or dimensions of space were merging into each other, but I was not moving. I did not change position in any way. I was where I was, but the world around me was changing and shifting and becoming something else. My dining room faded from sight as this new space became more visible and more real. It was like nothing I had ever seen before. It encompassed me.
Atwater used the term ‘Void’ to describe the strange new reality in which she found herself. This same word began to appear in a number of portrayals given by NDErs who had been there, and who struggled to describe somewhere they had not known about previously. ‘Void’ seemed the most appropriate depiction for where they found themselves. It is now an accepted term within NDE literature.
What Is the Void?
The Void is a dark, unpleasant venue on the whole, to which only a few NDErs are taken, and we will not spend a long time describing it.
It appears to facilitate several processes:
This is not a rigid order of events. Furthermore, one or more of these steps may be missing in the experience of a particular individual.
Self Discovery in the Void
The initial purpose of the Void appears to be a season for the spirit to reflect. Pure thought exists there, enabling contemplation of one’s life. Emmanuel Swedenborg 2 described this process in the 1700s following his NDE.
Immediately following death, there is a period of self-discovery in which the social masks worn on Earth dissolve away and the true self is revealed.
Each soul then shapes their own situation to correspond with their real inner nature.
The second stage after death is where people learn the inward things that belong to their mind and their true selves.
Both of these stages facilitate a deeper understanding of oneself than is normally possible during the hurly burly of life on Earth.
To facilitate this reflection and re-integration of the soul, experience in the Void often begins in total darkness and might be described as ‘sensory deprivation’ if it occurred on Earth.
The Russian neuropathologist George Rodonaia 3, an avowed atheist, had his NDE in communist Russia in 1976, while lying dead in a morgue for three days. He had a prolonged experience in the Void, to his shock. We sense what the Void can feel like from his description.
I discovered myself in a realm of total darkness. I had no physical pain, I was still somehow aware of my existence as George, and all about me there was darkness, utter and complete darkness – the greatest darkness ever, darker than any dark, blacker than any black. This was what surrounded me and pressed upon me.
I was horrified. I wasn’t prepared for this at all! I was shocked to find that I still existed, but I didn’t know where I was.
The one thought that kept rolling through my mind was, ‘How can I be when I’m not?’ That is what troubled me.
An environment that lacks sensory cues has disturbed others too. The blank, impersonal darkness gets to them. Torment may be felt there as well. David A Smith 4 gives a typical description:
I went to where there was only darkness, and wailing and gnashing of teeth, void of all light and of any thing good. This tells us what it’s like to be totally severed from God, for God is light, He is all that is good. Where I was, there was no comfort, not of thought or feeling, there was only torment. I would have loved to have been somewhere with a little red devil with a pitchfork poking me. It would have been a relief to have had physical pain, and if there was fire there would have been light. Anything to break the darkness, but this place was totally void of God.
BJ McKelvie 5, a talented and proud non-Christian musician, found himself there after an attempted suicide because of depression. In the deep darkness, an angry voice spoke to him: ‘Those who commit suicide go nowhere. You’re not getting a second chance’. He concluded it was God who had spoken, and also that he would be in that place of dark nothingness for eternity. He despaired – ‘I was so alone, it was horrific.’
After a prolonged period of reflection in the Void, the next step is often to learn that evil exists and that one must choose against it.
Direct Experience of the Reality of Evil
Howard Storm 6, an Art Professor, had a distressing experience of the Void. A freethinker at the time, he considered faith in God absurd.
In June 1985, Storm lay in hospital, believing he was going to die. He mentally prepared himself for death. After saying goodbye to his wife, he eventually lost consciousness.
When Storm opened his eyes again, he found he was standing outside of his body, looking down at the hospital bed, with his wife crying at his bedside. He said that he felt no pain and that his senses were suddenly very acute. He tried to talk to his wife, ‘It’s OK. I’m here’, but she ignored him as she could not see or hear him. Frustrated and befuddled, he tried yelling at her, with no response. Very confused now, he was drawn by seemingly friendly voices from outside the hospital room calling his name and saying, ‘Hurry up. Come with us. We have been waiting for you for a long time.’ He followed the voices, supposing at first in his confused state that he was being called at last for his operation. The creatures, which looked like pale people, urged him to walk down the hallway, pushing him and surrounding him.
The hallway became very dark and almost foggy. With horror, he realised the malicious nature of his guides who became increasingly hostile towards him. Then they turned on him and attacked him savagely in the darkness, physically and psychologically.
These perpetrators of malevolence are called evil spirits or demons in almost all religions. These are deceiving spirits and often appear friendly at the start of the interaction to tempt the NDEr to follow after them, as they did with Howard, but they reveal their baleful nature progressively. They can vary from simple elemental spirits to powerful fallen angels. Generally invisible on Earth, they become visible in the afterlife. They serve Satan. Their activities are many and varied, but descriptions of these are only an incidental part of this book.
Storm’s spirit body was severely beaten, bitten and torn to pieces by many of those shadowy creatures, and though he managed to survive, he experienced severe pain. He says that his overall impression was of a process of ‘initiation’. Storm later said there were things these creatures did to him that he couldn’t even talk about. We note that the demons could not destroy his spirit body, but bashed and ripped it. It seemed to re-constitute itself continuously – although wounds were still visible for a while and a degree of pain was experienced by him.
We know that earthly physical pain is seated in the brain. This pain disappears at death as a person enters the spirit world. However, NDErs report that new and different pains inflicted on the spirit body in the afterlife can be felt, although the intensity of these appears to be significantly less.
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