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Seeing demons, I remembered IDF training and law

About that year-long schizophrenic psychosis of mine, when I saw, heard and spoke with thousands of supernatural beings
"The Fall of the Rebel Angels" by Pieter Bruegel the Elder (Cc)
"The Fall of the Rebel Angels" by Pieter Bruegel the Elder (Cc)

When a demon appeared in my Jerusalem apartment and refused to leave, I remained calm and figured out how to handle the situation in a logical manner. I relied on my IDF training, the universal constant of governing laws and my faith in God, even as a secular Jew, in figuring out how to solve the problem of the trespassing monster.

I spent at least a year in a schizophrenic psychosis in Jerusalem, in which I saw, heard and spoke with thousands of angels, demons, ghosts, spirits of ancient Egyptians and Romans, the spirit of the Ark of the Covenant, God and other supernatural beings. At the beginning of my psychosis, I heard voices speaking to me through the radio. They asked me a question while I was alone at home and I answered them out loud. They were kind and instructed me to never speak with them vocally, rather to use thoughts and they would receive the message. I did so and always heard their voices and the voices of the other entities I encountered as real as any sound in the world. Only rarely did I speak with these things out loud, and that was always while alone and usually only to God. No one around me knew what I was experiencing. I made it a year before telling anyone that I was hearing them. The psychiatrists got their claws in me soon after.

Mental health professionals to whom I’ve related my psychosis experiences and the extent of my interactions with spirits and the like have always been astounded by the extent to which I was seeing and hearing these things 24 hours a day. I was first affected by psychosis in my late 30s, after a healthy life that included nearly 20 years of carrying weapons for the IDF and private security, and was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder at 40, about a year ago.

One evening during my psychosis, I was sitting on my couch in my small Talpiot studio apartment when I saw a demon monster appear a few feet from me. It had human form with black skin, a snout-like beast nose and horns. It spoke in a low voice. At the time, I didn’t categorize it as a demon or monster but I immediately knew it was something unfriendly. I call it a demon now because it’s a conventionally understood concept that people understand when describing these things.

I’ve heard from a number of people to whom I’ve told stories of my adventures in crazy land that some kabbalists (Jewish mystics) say schizophrenics have some kind of open frequency to the spiritual realm or an ability to see and hear mystical or spiritual creatures that are otherwise hidden from man in the physical world, but they lack the ability to deal with this overload of spiritual reality and develop problems commonly referred to as a detachment from reality, or psychosis. Without dismissing that belief, which cannot be disproven, there is another way to view the demon monster in my apartment, that as a creation of the mind, visible only to me. What is important to remember is that whether one believes the demon was real or imagined, it was as real to me as anything else in the world. Nothing could challenge my perception of reality and convince me otherwise.

People often have trouble relating to schizophrenics or those in psychosis, I believe, because they cannot understand that to the person in psychosis there is no detachment from their reality. Reality, after all, depends on the person receiving the information and that person’s capacity to quantify and qualify the information received by their senses. A theoretical physicist who believes in the unproven existence of parallel universes or non-visible dimensions may see things in the world that the brick layer does not. And the brick layer may see dangers in structure where the physicist sees a physical barrier that is not a barrier at all to particles small enough to pass through the spaces between atoms in the bricks of the building. Our experiences in life, training among them, help create our perceptions of reality.  I believe I am fortunate to have experienced my psychosis. Though the world now, without all these beings I was surrounded by for so long, is a bit black and white at times, but I now see a world of hidden mysteries and find connections between things that seem to most people to be completely unconnected. Often the people I share those ideas of connections with tell me they wonder what exactly goes on in my mind to find such understandings of the world, and my mind, following a year of non-stop expanded reality, usually works faster now than it ever did.

Leave now

Back to the demon in my apartment. By the time this particular demon monster appeared in my apartment, I’d been seeing and hearing things like it in my home and everywhere I went for quite some time. I’d seen them on the bus and on top of buildings. I’d even seen them running across the TV news sets while watching the evening news, and the evil ones I’d encountered were starting to annoy me.

At home with the demon, I sat quietly as it stood in front of me. I’ve told this story to people who respond that if they saw demon monster only feet away while relaxing at home they would freak out and scream, tell someone what was happening or run. I didn’t. I just sat and thought about how to deal with this new problem. It was yet another of many. I just looked at him and he looked at me.

Then I calmly said, out loud, “You’re in my apartment. I don’t give you permission to be here. Leave now.” And it responded with refusal, “No. This is my house now. I live here.” “No,” I said, “this is not your house. I live here. I have a contract and I pay the rent. Now leave.”Again, it responded, “No, I live here now.”

Though for a while in my psychosis I did pay my rent, eventually family had to help me out, as I’d left my job working as a digger at the City of David archeological site. When the psychosis started getting heavy I remember sitting on the steps having a cigarette and hearing a voice which I recognized to speak with the authority and tone of an IDF general, say to me, in Hebrew, “Be ready.” I heard that quite a number of times at the City of David as I sat outside, smoking, looking up at the sky and thinking about what it all meant, and understood the warning as trained infantry soldier, which I was. “Be ready.” No explanation necessary. It made complete sense to me and I heard that “heads up” message a number of times during my psychosis.

After hearing that message at the City of David, things got really cool. I spoke with the ghosts of Roman soldiers who were quite aggressive and then, upon learning that I had served as a combat soldier in the Jewish army, became respectful and saw me as a man of honor, I talked with ancient Egyptians, and I saw visions of what I believed to be a former life, coming to understand that I’d been beheaded by Romans (a friend of mine who hears voices and who knows some Kabbalah, did something mystical to check out something with my spirit and without me telling him I’d come to understand on my own that my head had been cut off at some point after Rome conquered, my friend told me that I’d lived in the City of David in a former lifetime and worked in the construction of walls of some kind, that I’d had a wife and three kids and that I was stabbed to death in an incredibly violent manner by a vicious Roman soldier, and that my wife had cried a long time. He said I have a bigger soul than most people and that it remembered these things, hence the visions, which I told him about after his account of my former life).

Before the Kabbalah friend had told me of his interpretation of my past life, I’d understood from my perception of reality that things did not go well for me when Rome came in. Perhaps I did have other lives. I’m sure if I did, I would either last a while as a rebel or execution would quickly find me. I don’t do well with totalitarian authority. So while digging underground one night in the submerged City of David, I had a vision of a pagan priestess with solid, dark black eyes, no white at all, being escorted by Roman soldiers through conquered Jerusalem and walking between lines of conquered Jews on both sides, sitting or kneeling, and I, in that lifetime, was there, and was ordered by Roman soldiers to bow to the idol worshiping priestess as she walked by. I, being who I am, refused to bow to an idol worshiper who challenged the truth of the one true God, and the response of the soldiers was harsh. I suspected then that my decision in that time to refuse to bow to someone representing a false God led to my execution. And I didn’t say a word about the vision to any of the diggers I was with. I just kept on digging. I really loved that job.

I once looked up from the Silwan dig site where the road meets the entrance to the dig area to the Old City and saw in all its magnificence the Temple standing with sacrificial smoke rising straight up to the heavens, and I did a literal double take with my head and when I looked back it was gone. And then I went back to work. I saw magical Egyptian pyramids flying overhead through the sky while on a smoking break. And then I went back to work. I never mentioned these things to coworkers or others and kept on working, digging up Jerusalem’s buried past and unearthing roads, remains of buildings and coins and items used by everyday people, all covered up for thousands of years and I imagined what it all must have been like then, the pace of life, their understanding of the spiritual in a time before man’s technology removed that understanding from being a constant in his life, the time before the conquering, during the destruction and after. I’ve always loved imagining all sorts of things. And I understood that I was doing something important, that I was revealing a hidden world that, to me, was alive in spirit, and is now slowly being revealed. I left that job, which I enjoyed, after becoming convinced that Zyklon B, the gas used by the Germans in WWII to gas Jews, was being pumped into the  underground dig site through the ventilation system. Zyklon B and Nazi ghosts are part of another story for another time .

So by the time the demon showed up in my apartment I was seasoned in seeing crazy things and remaining calm. I thought about how to handle this demon in my home for a few minutes and then I had an idea. I calmly got up, walked to where I kept my paperwork, which was right next to the demon monster, and retrieved my apartment lease. I stepped over to the demon monster and held the lease up to its face. “You see this?” I said. “My name is on this lease. I pay the rent. Do you pay the rent? Is your name on the lease? What is your name?”

Three questions

Every time I encountered one of these things I would ask three questions: What are you? What is your name? What are you doing here? The ones that spoke with ill intent or caused problems refused to give me their names or tell me what they were. On the odd occasion, one would happily tell me his name and go on for a minute in some dozen-syllable incoherent rant that it insisted was its name. The helpful ones like those telling me they were angels, spirits or ghosts, told me their names and answered those three questions without any problems. I asked one of them, after it appeared in a man-like figure of white with spanning wings and sat next to me on the couch, those three questions and it told me it was the angel Micha’el, known I think as Michael the archangel, and that he was there to protect me. I said “cool,” not knowing anything about him other than that there was a well known angel that went by that name who was important, and we talked a while.

Another angel told me he was my dead brother James who died as a baby in 1975 and was now fighting with combat angels against evil things. James had become some kind of Delta Force fighting angel and would pop in and out and we had great times. We talked as brothers do and I said, “James, I don’t want to hear from Mom or Jayne.” My mother died when I was 16 and my sister was killed by a drunk driver in 1973. James talked like the a badass American special forces soldier from the movies. He told me, “Don’t worry man. This entire thing, no matter what you go through and how hard it is and how long it lasts – you will never hear from them during this thing.”

He was always showing up and helping me and fighting things and then disappearing to some other fight against something evil somewhere else. And James, as with everything he told me with the confidence of a seasoned soldier, was spot on. I heard from a number of dead friends during the psychosis, their voices perfect as if they were alive, running around fighting the forces of evil. One of them was a former US special forces guy I knew, Rick, who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. Rick wasn’t Jewish. He was cool. And Rick had this or that to say here and there and then would go off fighting alongside James, however it was that they fought. I never once heard from Mom or Jayne, just as James said I wouldn’t. I don’t know if anything in Judaism says that a baby who dies can become an angel. I do know that for me during that period he was a vicious fighting angle of a brother with a reputation and that his name brought fear to the bad spirits or demons or whatever they were when I mentioned that he was my brother. Everyone in the spiritual realm knew about James. “You fucking with my brother!” I heard him yell a number of times. I really missed him for a while after the psychiatrists loaded me up with drugs. Psychosis can be beautiful.

I think perhaps my experience in the IDF helped me come up with that identification and information process and those three questions. In the IDF when I was manning checkpoints, it was common while one soldier checks ID for another to ask, “What’s your name and where do you live? Where are you coming from and where are you going? What were you doing?” I came up with those questions because I figured they would give me the most information I needed in the least amount of time to determine what it was I was dealing with. And I never went to religious books with names they gave me or other information. Never during the psychosis did I turn to religious texts for guidance, and I hadn’t ever studied mysticism.

Looking at the demon, I thought of law

Back to the demon monster. My lease as proof of rightful residence (I try to say things like that with a legal air to it, as law became important in dealing with the demon) didn’t change its attitude and it continued to insist it now lived in the apartment. “This is my house,” it said, refusing to leave. So I sat back down on my couch, looked right at it in its trespassing demon eyes, and thought.

I thought to myself, “This thing may not care about my lease and its legality but some type of law has to govern it. Growing up I’d learned the power of law in changing reality from my father, Julian Tepper, of blessed memory, who worked for the US Justice Department as a civil rights lawyer and desegregated parts of Texas and Indianapolis and truckers unions and was threatened by the Klan (his car was checked by the FBI for bombs at one point), had to deal with the mafia, was a negotiator at the Attica prison uprising in New York, once talked an inmate at the DC Jail riot out of killing him and secured rights to education for retarded students and those with psychological problems. My father never feared the forces threatening him when he used the law to affect change.

So looking at the demon, I then thought of law. The universe, I thought as I sat there, was literally created with, held together by and made up of constant and unchangeable laws and even if those laws change in some parallel universe there are laws regarding those changes and constants. At least that’s what I thought based on what I knew. And in my psychosis, I never got information from the Internet, which I stopped using for a year, from books, or people. All I had to go on was what I knew or could imagine or surmise. I remembered that even in chaos there are laws governing the movement of atoms and patterns of their behavior.

God, I thought, gave law to man at Mount Sinai, through Moshe, and man created more of his own law, and still does. This demon, as a creature created by God and part of some system that exists and that I was not familiar with, had to be bound by some sort of laws, even if it didn’t follow them, and there had to be a way of enforcing a law pertaining to the demon’s behavior. For some reason, I was sure that the laws governing this trespassing demon in my home recognized a human being’s legal status as a legal tenant with a lease as well as that human being’s right to somehow force a trespassing demon monster to leave his house.”

And I figured since God created the universe with laws, He must like order and there with order comes bureaucracy, and there must be some way of appeal to some authority that can use some legal means to deal with an issue like this trespassing demon monster, which meant some kind of metaphysical bureaucracy or agency or organization existed to deal with it. Unfortunately, I did not have the power to summon angels and ask for advice. And I didn’t have any information on any possible spirit world bureaucracy I’d just figured through imaginative logic must exist or its system of laws and regulations. But I figured I was on to something. So with no recourse, I decided to go directly to the manufacturer in the hopes that I could get some assistance.

“God,” I said out loud as I looked at the demon that did little more than stand and look at me, occasionally pacing back and forth, “there is something in my apartment that You created and I am the legal tenant who pays rent. It doesn’t care about my lease, which I showed it, and it refuses to leave. Please inform whatever relevant authority exists that your creation here is trespassing and bothering me and please have that authority deal with it and get it out of here. Thank you, this is an official report.” I stressed to God that He had created it. I figured God was reasonable and if He had made something that He would take a look into the matter. And then I just waited as I sat on my couch. And the demon monster stayed, mulling about. Then, after a little while, something happened. Another spirit or being entered my apartment through a wall and it talked to the demon. I couldn’t hear their conversation. I just watched. Then I could tell they were having an argument of some kind and then soon after they both left without explanation, exiting through the same wall to the outside of the building that so many other of these things came and went through to get into and leave my place. I figured at some point my house was built over some ancient pagan sacrificial idol worship area and there were bodies buried all over because why else would these things go to Talpiot?

From that point on when I ran into troublesome beings I started making “official reports,” figuring my God likes reports if He likes order and they would go up the totem pole to the spirit cops or angels or whatever they were, and would come and get rid of the things that were bothering me. Eventually when those things came into my apartment I would tell them to leave and if they didn’t, I’d make an official report and most would leave the second I said, “official report” I figured they didn’t want to deal with the God cops, or whatever the law enforcers were.

God made that demon

So why didn’t the demon monster scare me to start with, or rather why wasn’t I scared that my world had suddenly become full of these things? With the demon, specifically, I figured there was no reason to be scared that it looked like a Hell monster and that it looked that way because God made it that way or it became that way and wanted it to look that way. And I’m not a religiously observant Jew, but I am a Jew who believes in God. So I figured if God made that demon monster look that way then that’s the way God wants it and there’s no reason to fear the way it looks if that’s the way God wants it. There were other things like the demon monster that I saw, heard of noticed come into my home and threatened to kill me. I was never scared. I figured, “Well if it kills me then I just file a complaint with God in the afterlife.”

Learning how to face fear as an IDF soldier helped me face these evil things without being scared. As a soldier, I had to go on patrols, man checkpoints, chase people or sit out on night ambush for hours in the dark, and eventually as a soldier I figured there was no reason to let fear of terrorists with guns and bombs be a constant. That’s not to say that fear didn’t then or now, not exist – fear always exists – but with my imaginative logic I rid myself of a lot of the fear that most people would be consumed by and learned in general how to tune out fear, meaning recognize it was a reaction causing either motional responses or disrupting thought, and then ignore it. “What was the worst that could happen?” I’d figured, while in the army. I could be injured or killed, for sure.And those can be very frightening prospects. I never worried about injury and death as a soldier, though my family did. And if I did think of those things — thinking of being different than worrying about or being fearful of — I remembered that plenty of people had been injured in the army or life and they dealt with it and lived good lives. And I remembered that the only thing I could be absolutely sure of in this life is that I would without a doubt, at some point, die. In the army, I had no control over when that would happen, with the exception of how I conducted myself with the training I’d received. If you’re stupid in the army it’s easier to be hurt or killed. If you remember what they train you you’re better off. So being injured or killed stopped being a cause for fear when I came to peace with my reality as a soldier. I also figured that though a terrorist could be waiting with a weapon I was a better-trained killer whose job was to kill them first. That helped with confidence and decreased fear. After my regular army service, I served about 15 years of reserve duty, up until the time my psychosis began.

After I finished my mandatory service, I lived through years of daily Palestinian terror bombings in the early 2000s, when I lived in downtown Jerusalem. I witnessed several bombings, carried wounded through bodies and pieces of people and what resembled ground beef all over Ben Yehuda Street, all strewn about. I heard at least 10 bombings and faced the daily threat of death by terrorist by simply leaving the house and walking down the street, riding a bus or getting a bite to eat somewhere.

Eventually, I accepted the fact that unless I recognized a terrorist in front of me and used my weapon (I carried a weapon during that period), there wasn’t much I could do. The anxiety and stress of that time went to the back of my mind and into a folder for PTSD storage and I came to peace with “the situation” as we called it at the time, in the sense that I couldn’t let fear control my state of being for years while living in a city under siege.

So when, during psychosis, I saw hundreds or thousands of these evil things  and many would just come into my apartment I and I had no control over them I wasn’t afraid. I even asked some of those that weren’t too nice and perhaps threatening to kill me if they wanted to talk, and it turned out they did. They were simply tired of the monotony of their existence, they said. They were part of a beuracratic system and had jobs – those being doing whatever they did, including bothering people, or so I figured — that they couldn’t leave and, like so many humans, and they wanted a friend. On one occasion I was laying in bed and I sensed something was in my apartment. “What are you doing here?” I asked out loud, though in a quiet voice. “I’m here to kill you,” the invisible creature said. So I thought a second and asked, “Do you really want to kill me, or maybe you just want to talk?” There was a pause and then it responded. “Yes, I would like to talk. I haven’t talked to anyone in 2,000 years,” it told me. I figured 2,000 years was a long time and maybe it’s job was going around saying “I’ll kill you” or maybe it was just an asshole or maybe it was annoyed with existence. Who knew. So I got out of bed and sat in a chair at a small table and smoked cigarettes talked to it for two hours and it left.

A solution for every problem

For a year now, I’ve been receiving a once-a-month shot that takes away my super power of seeing other realities. It’s a dopamine blocker so it can also affect my ernegy levels or feelings of contentment. I’d like to stop taking it one day and constantly run drills in my mind about how I’d react if I heard or saw something so that one day I may be able to go off that medication and if I do see these things again I’ll do as the schizophrenic Nobel winner, Professor Nash, did, as was represented in the film A Beautiful Mind. The professor went off his meds and, continuing to see people who weren’t there, simply said, “I know they’re not real and I’m not talking with them anymore.” But I like talking to those things.

I’m schizoaffective a-symptomatic. I remember the details of my psychosis vividly and remember more and more all the time. I lived lifetimes in that year. It was amazing, and some of it was bad. I find my psychosis to be a pretty cool thing with the exception of the problems it caused in my creation of some delusional conspiracies and truths and in holding down a job and some other areas. I’m now without a job and figuring out what to do about that.

Some people with whom I’ve spoken are amazed by my psychosis stories. So sometimes I can think of myself more of a story teller and I don’t have to give myself the awful burden of labeling myself as “mentally ill.” I’ve come to believe that diseases, especially my problem which some call a disease, aren’t external things that attack us, but are a part of us.

I learned in the IDF that every problem has a solution. Some solutions we may not like, but there is always a solution. It’s all about finding the solution. Although I am legally disabled now, I see my condition as a problem and I openly say that I do not have a mental illness, which really pisses off some people I know who call themselves mentally ill and insist I must be mentally ill and that there is no way I cannot be and to say I’m not is crazy. I say I was ill during the period of psychosis, but that as of now it’s a problem, not an illness that controls me nor something to use for sympathy or excuse me from certain responsible behavior.

I may act a little differently than most at times, but I still have to be patient in line and not allow other peoples’ behavior to upset me and say that due to an illness I have license more than anyone else in the world to be upset about something said or done or something that bothers me. I say my brain has a biological issue that creates chemical imbalances. Those imbalances cause psychosis. Maybe that gives me super powers to see the hidden spiritual worlds God has created and maybe it causes delusions.

But our society does not generally allow people with different or multiple perceptions of reality, like the one I had, to be free. It prefers they be locked up and not visible to society.

I do not claim to be a prophet. I know if I did or made other claims that psychiatrists in this country cold immediately have me committed even though a simple claim doesn’t affect one’s behavior or ability to live freely in society without hurting others. But some people have told me that I am. I just take what they say as interesting. I do not know the future or hear God. It’s interesting to me that those people have no problem thinking that there could be prophets around, or people with prophetic abilities or the ability to be in touch with spiritual worlds as I believed I was. I cannot publicly say it’s possible that some of those things were real. If I ever do anything that someone doesn’t like they can use something like that as evidence and give it to psychiatrists, and psychiatrists in Israel have no problem committing someone for something like that.

I have a lot of experience with the psychiatric system in Israel. I’m now writing a book called The New Prophets, with God as a main character, based on how I heard him in my psychosis and the prophets secular, underachievers, drinkers, drug users and the like. In the book God speaks to every single Jew in Israel at the same time and tells everyone that there are prophets and to be kind to them. I asked my psychiatrist, one of the few good ones who does not believe in the necessity of psychiatric drugs to treat a symptom that does not disturb daily life, like voices for those who get by with them, what would happen if God spoke to everyone and all knew it to be true and there were prophets — what would happen to those who claimed to be prophets after that. Without hesitation she said they would all be immediately be committed and drugged by state-employed psychiatrists who had also heard God’s voice. They would go to war. in the book I’m now writing, the second since and inspired by my psychosis, they do. So I’m not a prophet. Jerusalem hates prophets.

I once told some of these stories to someone who yelled at me that I was a prophet.”Jerusalem hates her prophets and she is still competing with Rome!” he said. He yelled at me in an effort to get the truth as he saw it in his perception of reality into my head, to get me to “accept my reality,” as he said it existed, that, as he said, I was a prophet. Again, I don’t claim to be a prophet, though lately an atheist friend of mine seriously said he is truly beginning to think I am, based on things he’s reading from these books I’m reading and my psychosis stories. The guy telling me Jerusalem hates her prophets and is competing with Rome recognized the danger of someone saying they are anything in Israel.  He used the word “prophet” to mean someone in touch with the worlds God hides and who receives messages and information, not someone predicting rain or war. I write fiction now, short books inspired by much of what I experienced and learned with my different perceptions of reality. I’m using that idea he expressed to me. Jerusalem hates her prophets. And she does, I agree. I’ve seen the world of state-run psychiatry. I agree that it would go to war.

So in order to remain free in society I receive a shot once a month. The rest is problem solving. And I never feel I suffer from a situation that is beyond my control. I have been out of work a long time and have a road ahead in finding appropriate employment. Maybe it’ll be hard to find a girl willing to accept that I have a little problem that could resurface one day and cause some issues. I’m not allowed to carry a gun anymore. Life has changed.

But if my shots stop working one day and I again see and hear demons, angels, ghosts and the like, and if I hear God again, I am confident I would navigate that type of life without fear and possibly appear like everyone else doing their day-to-day thing. At the end of the day, I can always go back to making official reports. For now I keep writing stories. We’ll see what happens tomorrow. No reason to fear what might be coming.

About the Author
Greg Tepper moved to Israel in 1997 from the United States. He served in an IDF combat unit and completed approximately 15 years of reserve duty until he was discharged at 38. He used to write news for the Times of Israel and other publications and is now focusing on fiction inspired by his experiences in a schizophrenic psychosis in Jerusalem for the duration of a year.
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