A Young Woman’s Experience with Archetypal Evil

A 24 year-old woman experienced the following events, which I am fortunate to share in her own words:

In the fall of 1972 my mother, a retired university professor, was making a relocation to live in La Paz, Baja California. She packed up her Chevy Blazer, and one of her freshman English students, Tom, and I went with her. We were driving down the route of the Baja 1000 which at that time was mostly unpaved, camping along the way. After several days we arrived at the town of Guerrero Negro (Black Warrior), which is on the west coast near Bajia Escamon—famous as the wintering place of grey whales. There are extensive salt pans attached to the bay. These shallow artificial lagoons cover miles and are enclosed by earthen dikes barely one car wide. According to a map we had it looked like we could drive out across the salt pans and get a look at the bay, so we gave it a try. Unfortunately, after going what seemed like many, many miles, losing sight of actual land, everything was flat and featureless, sun glaring intensely off ominous dark water all around. At times only inches of crumbly dirt was keeping the Blazer from falling in and all we could see was a thin straight lane stretching to the horizon. We realized the likelihood of achieving the destination of our side trip was pretty remote, also it was getting late. Luckily we found a place to turn around and did not have to back-up the whole return trek, which was spooky enough driving forward.

Finally off the salt pans, with the sun already setting, we drove up a small track away from the main highway, camping inland from Guerrero Negro. This area has truly unique lush and bizarre flora. Where we camped was surrounded by a thick forest of tall, weird desert succulents, many hung with moss. Reflected in firelight there was an eerie feeling of being watched by something other than plants. What better setting and circumstances to get into telling ghost stories? Second bad idea of the day.

Long after the fire burned out, all three of us were in our sleeping bags stretched out on the ground. I had a dream: I was standing in a road or plaza in front of some stairs leading up to a magnificent baroque cathedral. I knew this was part of the Camino Real, the church of one of the missions along the way. Suddenly a huge dark presence towered over me, a fierce demonic apparition carrying a sword. Soon many smaller black demons, some with wings and all armed, gathered around. Before I could assess the situation and what it meant to me, I heard bloodcurdling screams. Looking around, I saw Tom wrestling a large demon which had him pinned to the ground. The terrified screams were real. I began to wake up, but not all at once. The dream scene slowly transformed from the plaza in front of the church surrounded by an army of aggressive devils, to the multitude of attackers receding into the desert forest, some morphing into larger plants. Tom was still screaming and struggling with a dark cloud-like object hovering over him. Then my mother was reaching over to shake him awake. She said he was having a nightmare, but I wasn’t so sure. I felt the attack was very real and lay shivering with the most intense cold and fear I had ever experienced. It was too quiet and dark and I shook for hours until the sun finally came up, being watchful for anything that might still be lurking out in the bushes.

Later we were able to talk about this incident. Both Tom and my mom had been having a dream very similar to mine, but only Tom was attacked by a large, fierce demon warrior. In the months and years following I became convinced we experienced a manifestation of total evil, maybe something ancient existent in that place since before the Spanish. I came to the conclusion absolute evil does exist in this world, but also, by extension, does its opposite.

Of course it would be a very unlikely coincidence for three people to have a similar nightmare at the same time. This is even more improbable given the fact that the nightmares gave witness to the same basic event apprehended through three different perspectives.

The writer speaks of absolute evil, or what in Jungian psychology is also called archetypal evil. Archetypal evil represents a force in the universe that pursues pain, harm and destruction for its own sake. Chaos for the sake of chaos. The recognition of such a force is not popular in a society where spiritual reality is often denied or sanitized. However, for those who have teetered on the threshold of self-destruction—such as some alcoholics and drug addicts who have reached rock bottom and then some—this force is all too real. It has been experienced and known from the inside out.

Whether demons can reside in plants, perhaps parasitizing their life energy, is speculative. But what is not speculative is that this negative force does reside in the dark corners and forests of the human psyche. Its voracious appetite and devious ways are manifested at the individual and collective levels in unprovoked acts of cruelty, oppression and compulsive destruction. It is important to be aware of and to recognize this dimension of spiritual and psychological reality, lest life require that you personally and directly experience it for yourself in order to become more conscious.

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