For more information about Emanuel Swedenborg and his prolific, pioneering, multi-faceted life and work, including his remarkable spiritual experiences, go here.
Can Negative Behaviors Lead To Hellish Experiences? Yes.
An informative question and answer section that explains why — and why there is so much confusion around this issue.
“Although the great majority of near-death experiences are beautiful beyond description, some are not. For almost one in five people coming away from a near-death experience, the memory may be not of joy but of profound distress.”
“To date, research has shown that negative STEs (spiritually transformative experiences) are far less common than positive ones. In his initial study of 3,000 cases of STEs sent to the Religious Experience Research Centre (RERC) (formerly at Oxford; now at University of Wales Lampeter), Sir Alister Hardy (1979, p.28) found 4% negative. Somewhat later, using 4,000 cases at the RERC, Merete Jakobsen (1999, p. iv) also found 4% negative experiences. Recently, Zinzhong Yao and Paul Badham (2007, pp. 9,45-46) of the RERC found in studying 3,196 Chinese that 56.7% had religious experiences, but only 8.5% of them were negative. They compared this to a 1987 British survey which found 12% negative experiences (Yao & Badham 2007, p. 185). Regarding NDEs, in a monumental analysis of over 21 studies, Nancy Evans Bush (2006) found 17.2% of them to be negative. Also, most researchers of STEs feel that the numbers are under-reported because of the stigma sometimes associated with having a negative STE.”
— Ken R. Vincent, Ed.D., Scientific Investigation of the “Dark Side”
“P.M.H. Atwater studied over 270 child NDErs. She found that… 3 percent reported a distressing or hell-like experience.”
“Pim van Lommel estimates that frightening NDEs occur about 1 to 2 percent of the time. Kenneth Ring estimates it at 5 percent. Dr. Ring believes that negative experiences are usually truncated NDEs and often resolve themselves into the typical and much more common radiant and ecstatic NDE when the person meets The Light or has some other positive experiences. Jeffrey Long agrees that most frightening NDEs develop into the typical blissful, positive experience that is full of light and love. Long estimates truly hellish NDEs at less than 1 percent. He reports that people who have such an experience often reflect upon it later as the only way they could have learned something they needed to know in order to make a change for the good in their life.”
— Dennis Linn, Sheila Fabricant Linn, Matthew Linn, The Gifts of Near-Death Experiences
“In an article in Psychiatry journal, Bruce Greyson and Nancy Evans Bush (1992) identified three types of negative NDEs. 1) The first type is the NDE that is initially frightening but later turns positive, most often after the person calls out to God or God’s emissary. 2) The second type is a non-existent or “eternal void” experience — in other words, an existential hell. 3) The third type is a “graphic and hellish landscape and entities.” In her book Blessing in Disguise, Dr. Barbara Rommer (2000, p. 87-96) adds a fourth category of a frightening life-review.”
— Ken R. Vincent, Ed.D., Scientific Investigation of the “Dark Side”
“The most frightening things that I have encountered in my life were not from fictional books or scary movies, but from near-death experiences with hellish content.”
“It is often difficult for near-death experiencers to find the words to describe their pleasant experiences. It is understandable how even more difficult it would be for an NDEr to share an experience that was frightening or even terrifying. NDErs experiencing hellish NDEs are likely aware that they risk negative judgments from others due to the content of their NDEs…
“To study hellish NDEs, 26 NDEs containing at least some hellish content that had been shared with NDERF were reviewed. Consistent with the findings of other NDE researchers, our study found a variety of elements in the hellish content, including frightening or threatening beings, hellish landscapes, threatened or actual torture, and communications containing taunts or malevolence. This brief description of the content of hellish NDEs admittedly cannot do justice to the full range of horrific content or depth of emotional terror that is often present.”
“Hellish NDEs may describe landscapes, entities, or sensations that are unworldly, frightening, and suggestive of classical concepts of hell. Hellish NDEs are a relatively small percentage of all frightening NDEs. It is estimated that about 1 percent of all NDEs shared with NDERF are hellish.”
“The Less-Than-Positive Experience (LTP) is a spiritual wake-up call, causing the person to stop, look back, and review past choices. It can help him or her understand the consequences of those choices, reevaluate thought patterns and “glitches” in thinking or reasoning, and then make necessary changes where indicated. The LTP becomes the nexus point of that individual’s path, causing him or her to change their walk and direction.”
“Not only do I believe that it is the person who causes the LTP to happen, but he or she is also responsible for the type of imagery that occurs in the experience and the total content of it. In the LTP, we see what we need to see, hear what we need to hear, and feel what we need to feel in order to do those reevaluations.”
— Barbara R. Rommer, M.D., Blessing in Disguise: Another Side of the Near Death Experience
“The great majority of frightening NDEs are not hellish. They are frightening for reasons other than having hellish content. To help understand frightening near-death experiences, some assistance is available from the largest prior study of frightening NDEs, done by Barbara Rommer, M.D. This study reviewed dozens of frightening NDEs.
“Rommer believed frightening NDEs occur for three reasons:
“1. They provide motivation to the NDEr to reconsider prior choices, thoughts, and beliefs;
“2. They result from the presence of a less than loving mind-set immediately prior to the NDE; or
“3. They result from negative programming during childhood.
“From my review of scores of frightening and hellish NDEs on NDERF, I offer my speculation about the cause of frightening NDEs. I am in agreement with the first cause of frightening NDEs suggested by Rommer, but I am less certain about the last two.
“Changes in NDErs lives following typical NDEs are generally substantial and quite positively life-changing. These changes following NDEs have been called aftereffects. Consistent with the aftereffects of pleasant NDEs, Rommer found that frightening NDEs often result in substantial positive life changes, including a greatly reduced fear of death. Some individuals experiencing a frightening NDE even came to view it as a gift and perhaps the most important experience of their life. As with pleasant NDEs, changes following frightening NDEs may require many years to fully manifest. My review of scores of frightening NDEs leads me to be in substantial agreement with Rommer’s conclusions regarding the aftereffects of frightening NDEs… It is my feeling that this type of NDE may be among the most transformative of all, since it allows a person to see and feel the worst evil and the best good.”
“It is tempting to think that a ‘mean’ person will necessarily have a frightening or hellish experience, and a gentle, kind person have a blissful experience. Please believe me, that is absolutely not the case. Everyone has the potential of having an LTP.”
— Barbara R. Rommer, M.D., Blessing in Disguise: Another Side of the Near Death Experience
“Many near-death experiences are not totally frightening from beginning to end, but have parts that are frightening and parts that are pleasant. When NDEs have both components, it is more common for the frightening part to occur first. The early, distressing stage then eventually transitions into the later, and usually longer, more pleasant stage of the NDE.”
“Many prior NDE studies used the term ‘negative’ to describe NDEs that were frightening or hellish. I prefer a different label for the hellish NDEs I’ve studied. Personally, I call them ‘a walk through the Valley of Death.’ It is good to remember that most of these are just that, a walk through the valley followed by a new earthly life that may be made more positive by these brief glimpses of that place called hell. Also of note is the fact that there is historical literary evidence that past saints and holy men and women have experienced descent into hell. And although this brush with evil may be hard on them, it also often provides the grist for a deeper spirituality, one that moves them to greater spiritual wholeness. That is why I prefer not to think of these hellish NDEs as negative. Rather, they are frightening experiences that can lead to the same level of positive transformation as those NDEs that might be described as pleasant.”
“An important point is that I never read an NDE describing God casting the NDEr into an irredeemable hellish realm. My speculation on hellish realms described in NDEs is that beings likely enter hell as a result of very poor choices — likely a great many poor choices. I personally believe that the poor souls in hell have the free will to both make good choices and return to the heavenly realms that seem to be our real homes.”
“As with heaven, there are various hell realms witnessed by near-death experiencers. We can even see many manifestations of hell right here in the physical realm. There are people in prison, in the Bahamas, in mental institutions, universities, skid row, palaces, crack houses, all kinds of life situations. While hell realms can be seen outside all around the world as a manifestation of an inner hell within humans, hell realms in the spirit world are an even greater manifestation of inner hell within humans. Near-death accounts show that the hell realms in the spirit world are actually the spiritual/mental manifestations of spiritual conditions that humans create within themselves while on Earth.”
— NDE Researcher Kevin Williams
“Almost all who come into the next life think that hell is the same for everyone, and heaven is the same for everyone, when in reality there are unlimited variations in either case. Hell is never exactly the same for one person as for another, nor is heaven, just as there is never one person, spirit, or angel who is exactly the same as another.”
“Hell is a psychological condition which represents the hellish inner thoughts and desires within some souls. In hell, souls become uninhibited and their hellish condition is fully manifested. No demons are there to inflict punishment. Each soul acts out their own anger and hatred by warring and tormenting others.”
— NDEr Emanuel Swedenborg
“After death people gravitate into homogenous groups according to the rate of their soul’s vibrations much like throwing a small pebble into a threshing machine. It goes into the box that fits its proper size and weight. After death, we are sorted by the high or low vibrations of our soul. Everyone goes where they fit in! High vibrations indicate love and spiritual development, while low vibrations indicate debasement and evil. All one has to do is to love so unselfishly that their soul-vibrations rise high enough to fit into heaven.”
“In the spirit world, everyone lives in the kind of a heaven or hell that they have prepared for themselves while on Earth.”
“The hell of hells is knowing you were our own devil.”
“Hell is a spiritual condition we create by being away from God until we choose to return to God. Hell is a spiritual condition that is totally devoid of love.”
“The sufferings of each and every one of these beings are due to their own mental conceptions. In fact, their suffering in hell is an unbroken continuation of their own states of mind during life, which persisted even after the death of the physical body.
“Beings enter hell as a result of the sum total of their own life at the time of death. Whatever they brought to their lifetime — including all actions, thoughts, belief systems, desires, and habits of clarity or obscuration — all continues beyond the passing of the physical body.”
— NDEr Samuel Bercholz, A Guided Tour of Hell: A Graphic Memoir
“My experience showed me that there are characteristics common to all the beings of hell: they possess a thoroughgoing materialism, combined with nihilism to varying degrees, and attitudes of hatred, disdain, and utter lack of concern or caring for other beings.”
— NDEr Samuel Bercholz, A Guided Tour of Hell: A Graphic Memoir
“I had a descent into what you might call hell, and it was very surprising. I did not see Satan or evil. My descent into hell was a descent into each person’s customized human misery, ignorance, and darkness of not-knowing. It seemed like a miserable eternity. But each of the millions of souls around me had a little star of light always available. But no one seemed to pay attention to it. They were so consumed with their own grief, trauma and misery. But, after what seemed an eternity, I started calling out to that light, like a child calling to a parent for help. Then the light opened up and formed a tunnel that came right to me an insulated me from all that fear and pain. That is what hell really is.”
— NDEr Mellen-Thomas Benedict
“It was an experience I was not prepared for. I was presented with a terrifying sight that produced a feeling that literally rattled my whole being. I tried to cover my eyes to avoid looking at what had just unfolded before me, but to no avail. There was no way to avoid seeing or to hide from that which is ultimately, the reality. At my right, a few feet away, stood something that resembled a demon. It was not your average demon, but one made of cardboard. It looked absolutely ridiculous! I knew that whatever I was seeing was not real in the sense of being an individual consciousness. It was a product of my own mind. One part of me wanted to laugh at it; another part of me however wanted to scream in terror. I had never imagined a demon made of cardboard before, but it indeed had a terrifying effect on me. ‘So, you thought it was that easy, huh?’ the demon snarled, as it came bouncing towards me. ‘Oh, I know what this is,’ I thought. This is my fear manifested: This is my own loathing. This is my lack of appreciation for life and the people in it. This is a learned experience as I walked through life, becoming more and more engulfed in despair. The demon is showing me how I treat myself and others when I am affected by the feeling of fear. This is exactly the tone of voice that belongs to me, when I am being mean towards myself and others. Here it is, manifested as my own personal version of hell…”
— NDEr Malla
“I knew that I was going to be there forever… As I looked over my life, I thought about what a failure I had been. I had not been a good husband. I had not been a good father. I had not been a good teacher. The reason why I wasn’t is because I was always obsessed with what’s in it for me. I was not the great artist that I had hoped to be. I was just a mediocre artist, at a mediocre university. Everything looked so bleak and I was saying why was I ever born to end up in this place of horror and torment and now just abject hopelessness and loneliness? I knew that I belonged there. There was absolutely no sense that they got the wrong guy, or I’m innocent. I knew that the people who had attacked me earlier had been people like me. I’m not proud of this, I’m really ashamed if this, but there was a spiritual affinity between them and me. They were like soul mates. My only hope in this place was to somehow become one of them and no longer be their victim, but I didn’t want to do that either because I hated them, and I hated what they stood for, and I hated their darkness and their cruelty. “
— NDEr Howard Storm describing his visit to hell (24:00 – 25:37)
“With a sensation like the sudden flash of a whip, the veil separating life from death was ripped away, and my consciousness was pulled violently into the realm beyond life. Translucent bindings, like strings of light, first lassoed my legs, then seized my whole being, and I was slammed forward. I felt myself hurled down and down. There was no “me,” just a center of consciousness descending farther and farther… falling into untold depths.
“I was dead.
“I had no eyes to see. I had no ears to hear, no nose to smell, no tongue to taste, no skin to feel… no voice to speak. All I had was a memory of those senses and those sense perceptions.
“Yet, though I had no eyes, a world appeared before me. My consciousness expanded from the tiny strings of light and into a complete cosmos made of sulfurous gases. Here was an alternative world, thoroughly different from the earthly world I had left behind. My senses were overwhelmed by the unbearable odor of burning flesh and extremes of heat and cold beyond imagination.
“Amid these intense sensations, a second display arose in shimmering waves of agonizing pain— the images of contorted faces, writhing bodies and ghastly body parts, festering entrails, disembodied thumbs and noses, tormented animals of every kind, some of them ripped into pieces, and even ants and other insects whose extreme suffering was palpable to me. All of them — all of it — was a mass of unspeakable pain. With the constant mirage-like wavering of images, I could not discern anything as either real or unreal.
“Space had no ordinary dimensionality, no up or down, no right or left. Only the habit of direction was there to produce the continuous sense of falling, but without any place to fall.
“From within the chaotic shimmering emerged a being of sublime light. Was it male or female? I could not say. A wordless message was somehow conveyed to me: This is the domain of hell. You have been brought here as a guest, to witness and understand the suffering of beings of all kinds — particularly the suffering of human beings.”
— NDEr Samuel Bercholz, A Guided Tour of Hell: A Graphic Memoir
“I began to hear noise and what I heard was extremely distressing and eventually unbearable. As the noise grew in intensity, I realized it was voices, the countless voices of many, many souls, saying nothing, only weeping and wailing. It was the most anguished, pathetic sound I had ever heard. With every passing moment it grew until I imagined their numbers were in the millions. It was unbearable. I had to get out of this place. But how? I had no body and no voice. Finally, somewhere deep down in my spirit I screamed as hard as I could. I heard my own voice echoing on and on, ‘GOD, HELP ME!!!’ The next thing that happened was a gigantic hand came down and moved under me and lifted me out of that abyss. I was then taken up and up. The anguished voices faded and all was quiet…”
— NDEr Cathleen C
“I found myself falling down a very dark tunnel. Demons appeared around me, and, though I was spirit, they were going through the motions of ripping my flesh off. It was intensely painful. As I went deeper and deeper into Hell, I saw many prominent historical figures, and lastly, my father. My father turned to welcome me to Hell, and I was thinking that this was it for me. My life on Earth was over, and I’ve ended up in Hell. Getting out of Hell would not be a possibility. But suddenly I started to move away from them and began to go back up the tunnel towards my body. However, I did not return completely. I stayed apart from my body, watching the doctors work on it. They were trying to stabilize my vital signs and flush out all the drugs and alcohol so the toxins would not continue to ravish my body. I was horrified at the things they were doing but was glad that the demons were no longer tearing my flesh off. After what seemed like forever, my heart started to beat in a fairly reasonable manner and I was breathing with the help of a ventilator. As my vital signs returned, I was pulled towards, and then into, my body. At that point my awareness ceased and I returned to unconsciousness. I woke up about 10 hours later in the ICU. I tried to talk but was unable to because of the ventilator. Eventually the doctors reversed my condition and, mostly out of danger, I stayed in the ICU for another week. While I was there, they suggested I go to addiction treatment and also recommended I address what I had told them had happened to me when I had died. They did not believe there was a Hell.
“After that, I did go into treatment and now I have 18 years of sobriety. I became an Addiction Specialist, trying to help others learn to deal with addiction, so they would never have to experience the misery that I had… Before this experience I did not care about anyone. I was a nurse with no compassion (except when caring for people in hospice). Nowadays I care very much about my fellow man and try to help whenever possible.”
— NDEr Frances Z
“Near-death states show that once you leave your body in death, regardless of whatever comes next, you eventually find yourself moving to or present within an energy frequency you resonate with. What you find there corresponds for the most part to what you are capable of responding to, i.e., beings, shapes, forms, activities. These frequency realms resemble a ‘layer cake’ of many levels, each separated from the other by degrees of lighter or heavier vibrations. The heavier more dense vibrations hold what most people call ‘hell’ in that they consist of negative or lower forms of thought that reside in close proximity to the earthplane. Apparently you stay within this range of vibration for as long as it best serves your development as a soul. You do not leave until you have changed your attitudes, thoughts and feelings, and are ready for another opportunity to improve and advance. The faster, higher, more subtle vibrations are what most people term ‘heaven’ and they also are in close proximity to the earthplane. There is a sense of benefit here, as if one has found one’s true home. You leave whatever level of this positive, supportive domain you are in once you have further advanced as an awakened soul and are more unified in spirit.”
— NDEr & NDE Researcher P.M.H. Atwater
“There is no condemnation in hell, only the outworking of our own misjudgments, mistakes, misalignments, or misappropriations.”
— NDEr & NDE Researcher P.M.H. Atwater
Is There a Hell? Surprising Observations About the Near-Death Experience by P.M.H. Atwater (pdf)
Is the Afterlife What We Think It Is? A Challenge from Near-Death Studies
NDE Stories on P.M.H. Atwater
Near-Death.com on P.M.H. Atwater
“Dark entities with two horns and crooked teeth were running about. I was taken to this place screaming and fighting. There was lightning in dark clouds. A perpetual, fierce storm raged. There was the smell of meat burning. It did not take long to realize that I was in Hell. It was excruciatingly painful. I could hear other souls screaming and suffering. Needles were being poked into me and I was being badly tortured. I was made to lie on a bed made of nails. Blood was oozing from various wounds. I kept wondering what I had done in this life or past lives to deserve such punishment?
“As I experienced this horror, I began to have the strong awareness that my life had been very materialistic. Everything had been about me. When I met someone, I always asked myself “what can I get from this person?”.
“The truth dawned on me in Hell that my life on Earth was devoid of love. I was not practicing compassion or forgiveness towards myself or others. I had a tendency to be especially harsh towards people that I perceived to be lower than me in social or professional status or hierarchies. I remember feeling deeply sorry for the lack of kindness in my behavior and wishing I had done things differently.”
“I landed on the edge of a shadowy realm, suspended in the darkness, extending to the limits of my sight. I knew that I was in a state of hell, but this was not the typical fire and brimstone hell that I had learned about as a young child. The word purgatory rose, whispered, into my mind.
“Men and women of all ages, but no children, were standing or squatting or wandering about on the realm. Some were mumbling to themselves. The darkness emanated from deep within and radiated from them in an aura I could feel. They were completely self-absorbed, every one of them too caught up in his or her own misery to engage in any mental or emotional exchange. They had the ability to connect with one another, but they were incapacitated by the darkness…
“Sitting next to me was a man who appeared to be about sixty years old. This man’s eyes were totally without comprehension. Pathetically squatting on the ground, draped in filthy white robes, he wasn’t radiating anything, not even self-pity. I felt that he had absorbed everything there was to know here and had chosen to stop thinking. He was completely drained, just waiting. I knew that his soul had been rotting here forever. In this dark prison a day might as well be a thousand days or a thousand years.”
“The way out of these hellish realms is to have a willingness to see the light and seek love for others and God.”
“To escape the darkness, you must cry out to God. Then the light will appear.”
— NDEr Howard Storm
“As I lay on the ground, my tormentors swarming around me, a voice emerged from my chest. It sounded like my voice, but it wasn’t a thought of mine. I didn’t say it. The voice that sounded like my voice, but wasn’t, said, ‘Pray to God.’ I remember thinking, ‘Why? What a stupid idea. That doesn’t work. What a cop-out. Lying here in this darkness, surrounded by hideous creatures, I don’t believe in God. This is utterly hopeless, and I am beyond any possible help whether I believe in God or not. I don’t pray, period.’
“A second time, the voice spoke to me, ‘Pray to God.’ It was recognizably my voice, but I had not spoken. Pray how? Pray what? I hadn’t prayed at any time in my entire adult life. I didn’t know how to pray. I wouldn’t know what the right words were even if I could pray. I can’t pray!
“That voice said it again, ‘Pray to God!’ It was more definite this time. I wasn’t sure what to do. Praying, for me as a child, had been something I had watched adults doing. It was something fancy and had to be done just so. I tried to remember prayers from my childhood experiences in Sunday school. Prayer was something you memorized. What could I remember from so long ago? Tentatively, I murmured a few lines — a jumble from the Twenty-third Psalm, The Star-Spangled Banner, the Lord’s Prayer, the Pledge of Allegiance, and God Bless America, and whatever other churchly sounding phrases came to mind.
” ‘Yea, though I walk in the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me. For purple mountain majesty, mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord. Deliver us from evil. One nation under God. God Bless America.’ ”
“To my amazement, the cruel, merciless beings tearing the life out of me were incited to rage by my ragged prayer. It was as if I were throwing boiling oil on them. They screamed at me, ‘There is no God! Who do you think you’re talking to? Nobody can hear you! Now we are really going to hurt you.’ They spoke in the most obscene language, worse than any blasphemy said on earth. But at the same time, they were backing away. I could still hear their voices in the utter darkness, but they were getting more and more distant. I realized that saying things about God was actually driving them away. I became a little more forceful with what I was saying. ‘Yea, though I walk through the valley of death, God is going to get you. Leave me alone, the Lord is my shepherd, and one nation under God, and . . .’ Retreating, they became more rabid, cursing and screaming against God. They claimed that what I was praying was worthless and that I was a coward, a nothing. In time they retreated back into the distant gloom, beyond my hearing. I knew they were far away but could return.
“I was alone, destroyed, and yet painfully alive in this revoltingly horrible place. I had no idea where I was. At first, when I was walking with these people, I had thought we were in some foggy part of the hospital. In time, I realized we had gone somewhere else. Now I didn’t know if I was even in the world. How could this be the world?
“There was no indication of a direction to follow even if I had been physically able to crawl. The agony that I had suffered during the day in the hospital was nothing compared to what I was feeling now. The all-consuming physical pain was secondary to the emotional pain. Their psychological cruelty to me was unbearable…
“Then for the first time in my adult life a very old tune from childhood started going through my head. It was my voice, but it sounded like a little boy singing the same line over and over again. The child that I had once been was singing full of innocence, trust, and hope. ‘Jesus loves me, da da da . . .’ There was only that bit of the tune and those few words that I could remember. We had sung those words in Sunday school when I was a child.
“Somewhere out there in that vast darkness there could be something good. There is someone who might love me. I didn’t have any theological interest about what it meant. It was simply a spontaneous recollection from my Sunday school days: Jesus loves me. Jesus loves me. Jesus loves me.
“I desperately needed someone to love me, someone to know I was alive. A ray of hope began to dawn in me, a belief that there really was something greater out there. For the first time in my adult life I wanted it to be true that Jesus loved me. I didn’t know how to express what I wanted and needed, but with every bit of my last ounce of strength, I yelled out into the darkness, ‘Jesus, save me.’ I yelled that from the core of my being with all the energy I had left. I have never meant anything more strongly in my life.
“Far off in the darkness I saw a pinpoint of light like the faintest star in the sky. I wondered why I hadn’t seen it before. The star was rapidly getting brighter and brighter. At first I thought it might be some thing, not someone. It was moving toward me at an alarming rate. As it came closer, I realized that I was right in its path and I might be consumed by its brilliance. I couldn’t take my eyes off it; the light was more intense and more beautiful than anything I had ever seen. It was brighter than the sun, brighter than a flash of lightning. Soon the light was upon me. I knew that while it was indescribably brilliant, it wasn’t just light. This was a living being, a luminous being approximately eight feet tall and surrounded by an oval of radiance. The brilliant intensity of the light penetrated my body. Ecstasy swept away the agony. Tangible hands and arms gently embraced me and lifted me up. I slowly rose up into the presence of the light and the torn pieces of my body miraculously healed before my eyes. All my wounds vanished and I became whole and well in the light. More important, the despair and pain were replaced by love. I had been lost and now was found; I had been dead and now was alive.”
— NDEr Howard Storm, My Descent Into Death: A Second Chance at Life
“Lamenting my situation, and aching for another chance at life, it dawns on me that the void is a place of my own making. A representation of my apathy; a symbol of the wall I’d spent a lifetime building. Its bricks were ones I’d stacked to keep people out and my feelings in. A barrier of my own construction, built brick-upon-brick with each hurt I’d suffered. My efforts to protect myself had made me less…less real, less vulnerable, less joyful, as impenetrable as the coma I lay in. My physical self in the ICU had no idea how close she was to losing it all.
“When I finally realized the void was a prison of my own design, it split open with a thunderous BOOM! A bright light shone before me. The darkness was still there, but now it was behind and beneath me, being pushed back and down by the brilliant light. I was being pulled, drawn, as if by a powerful magnet, into the arms of a glorious spirit. Am I finally being rescued from this terrible place? Oh, let it be so!”
“The first-person glimpses of hell described in this book made an unforgettable impact like no other. It’s not that I perceived them as a scary warning to change my ways. Rather, the very ordinariness of hell was impressed on me — the recognition that the hellish inclinations of the ordinary mind are not reserved for exceptionally bad people. Above all, it was a lesson in the importance of kindness — a lesson almost too simple to seem significant, yet it holds the key to a happy life, and even to liberation itself…
“So the bad news is that hell exists — within our very minds. The good news is that even the worst hell contains the seed of freedom. Hell does not last forever…
“No hell is a totally forsaken experience, because within each kind of hell there is a Buddha — not a savior in the Western sense, but a manifestation of our innate wisdom — to awaken and guide us. In hell, a Buddha may appear as a subtle or formless presence. The same presence emanates sometimes as a female figure and sometimes as a male figure. To rouse us from our hellish stupor, whatever forms are needed will appear — whether peaceful and soothing, or wild and wrathful…
“At the meeting point of the hot and cold hells there resides the beneficent being whom I call the Buddha of Hell. His body is gray, and he holds fire and water in his hand. The textures that emanate from the fiery display and the glimmering water depict the path to liberation from hell. He offers the fire and water as signs of awakening so that beings can get to exit hell. It’s not seeing the fire and water that is the key, but rather experiencing the textures of the hotness of the flame and the coolness of the water. One ‘reads’ the fire and water by feeling the textures that they emanate, and the awareness of these textures provides a path out.
“The Buddha of Hell first appeared in a genderless body of light to greet me when I arrived at the juxtaposition of the hot and cold hells. His presence comforted me in my initial state of embarrassment and confusion. He took me by the hand and guided me through the various hellscapes, opening my inner eye to the extreme suffering caused by hatred, prejudice, uncontrolled anger, avoidance, self-destruction, and disdain toward sacredness.
“Through the Buddha’s hand, I felt natural compassion and caring for all the hell-beings. He was not a god who had created the beings or meted out their suffering, so it wasn’t really possible for the Buddha to save them; rather he offered his wisdom so that they could rise from this worst of all places to the higher realms and even to complete liberation from the rounds of all the realms. The Buddha of Hell, through his uncontrived nature, continuously touched each part of hell and left a mark there. Sometimes it was the mark of the bright halo that emanated from his gray form, sometimes his footsteps or handprints, whose texture all the beings could feel. Symbols of water might appear in the hot hells, and symbols of flames in the cold hells; other symbols included a Wheel of Dharma or a rainbow. It was possible for any of the hell-beings to stumble upon these marks, which would have the effect of casting doubt on their erroneous belief that hell is forever. The realization that a way out of one’s suffering is possible is truly the saving grace of hell.
“Unfortunately, beings in hell suffer from extreme aggression and tend to overlook the textures and signs that might lead to liberation. Hell-beings always want to escape, because everything is so unbearable, but alas, their escape attempts lead to further intensification of hell’s sufferings. Lashing out just causes more pain, and being quiet and internalizing everything just causes freezing. All attempts are a complete conundrum.
“Hell-beings try every which way to destroy themselves, but to no avail. Committing suicide in hell is just as hopeless as ordinary suicide, or perhaps it is worse because in hell, the result that follows lasts for millions of hallucinated years…
“These are some of the haunting images that have remained with me and, as strange and uncanny as they were, have enriched my life in profound and mysterious ways.”
— NDEr Samuel Bercholz, A Guided Tour of Hell: A Graphic Memoir
“Near-death experiences make it perfectly clear that God is not sending anyone to hell. We create our own hells — and heavens — by the way we live our lives, the thoughts we think, the emotions we express, the way we view and treat ourselves and others.
“Many near-death experiencers who report hellish or distressing experiences tend to be excessively materialistic, selfish and self-centered, and/or engage in brazenly self destructive activities. They also tend to discount, or feel disconnected from, God and other spiritual realities. This includes people who appear to be spiritually motivated, but are really using spiritual and religious trappings to pursue selfish and materialistic goals, such as acquiring money, power and adoring followers. In other words, people who tend to be overly focused on the material world and/or overly disconnected from their spiritual natures, appear to be more likely to experience hellish NDEs.
“Hellish and distressing experiences also seem to be related to our overall development, or lack thereof. Since it takes time and experience to grow from immature, self-centered children into mature, conscious, and caring adults, there may be a tendency for young souls to have their lack of development reflected back to them by experiences that are more dense, dark, and dramatic.
“Highly developed souls may also have dramatic encounters with hellish realms. These experiences may arise naturally, as momentary events or extended dark night of the soul experiences, wherein souls are purged of impurities by passing — inwardly and outwardly — through dark, frightening, and challenging states of consciousness and/or periods in their life.
“Whatever determines who has hellish experiences, one thing is perfectly clear: whatever we think, do, and feel in this world is magnified on the other side a hundred/thousand/ten thousandfold, so it’s important to develop and purify ourselves as much as we can while we are living on this side of the veil.
“What can be done if, for one reason or another, we end up in a hellish realm?
“We can remember that we are never alone; The Light, and legions of heavenly helpers, are always present, waiting for us to look up and ask for help.
“Along with asking for and receiving help from the Divine, some NDErs also report that hellish experiences are largely fueled by intense emotional reactions. To the degree that we can calm down; take a step back and observe; make a sincere attempt to understand, these experiences not only loose their power, but they reveal themselves to be servants of The Light. If we are brave enough to face and befriend them, they offer us pearls of great price.
“Finally, it’s important to remember that we are eternal beings made in the image and likeness of our Creator. While it’s true that we can scare ourselves (or allow others to scare us), we can’t be killed, maimed, broken, tormented, or held captive forever. It is our destiny to remember who we are, what our true nature is, and awaken from all dreams.”
Can Negative Behaviors Lead To Hellish Experiences?
Hellish Realms, Evil Spirits, and How Our Vibrations Create Our Experiences
Why It’s Important To Know About Shadow Issues And Work On Them
NHNE Pulse on Demonic Possession & Exorcism
What Near-Death Experiences Teach Us
How Near-Death Experiences Are Changing The World
The Formula for Creating Heaven on Earth
Examples of Hellish & Distressing Near-Death Experiences
• Howard Storm
• Jerry L. Hull, Jr.
• Ian McCormack
• Dr. Rajiv Parti
• Angie Fenimore
• Alon Anava
• Mellen-Thomas Benedict
• Jeremy Kagan
• Mickey Robinson
• Nancy Evans Bush
• Howard Pittman
• Faerie Tanya
• Dr. George Richie
• Ashli (includes two suicide attempts)
• Cathleen C
• Frances Z
Beyond The Darkness
By Angie Fenimore
Amazon Book Description:
A woman recounts her near-death experiences after her 1991 suicide attempt, in which she remembers a terrifying, hell-like world of psychic chaos, from which she was granted a merciful return.
Comments from NDEr Angie Fenimore
“Hell is a manner of suffering, and I was in hell long before I took my life. Where I went was just a manifestation of what I was already experiencing. I wanted so badly to just to end my life and to be done. And what I found was that I took all that with me, and it was multiplied, just intensified, beyond anything that we can even have the power of understanding in this life. And so, it was absolutely the worst thing I could do. There was no escape.”
“They were all kind of mumbling to themselves, completely self-absorbed, caring nothing about anybody else there or about anything but themselves. What was going on was that these people were reliving this worst experience over and over and over again, reliving this agony that they were in, this turmoil whatever it was, that had caused each of them to take their lives.”
Why did Angie write her book?
Excerpt (begins at 38:38 in the video above):
1 – “Suicide is not a solution. I don’t care what your belief system is, whatever it is, suicide is just not a solution because that’s just not how — look for the evidence around you — that’s not how it works…
2 – “It was seeing all these so-called positive near-death experiences where people go to a pillar of light, tunnel of light, all that, and I knew that’s not the only way that it can go. I felt completely, strongly that people need to know that it’s not always like that.”
Click here to learn more about Angie and her near-death experience.
More Videos of People Describing Hellish Near-Death Experiences
Howard Storm from Return From Tomorrow
“The plain was crowded, even jammed with hordes of ghostly discarnate beings; nowhere was there a solid, light-surrounded person to be seen. All of these thousands of people were apparently no more substantial than I myself. And they were the most frustrated, the angriest, the most completely miserable beings I had ever laid eyes on.
“‘Lord Jesus!’ I cried. ‘Where are we?’
“At first I thought we were looking at some great battlefield: everywhere people were locked in what looked like fights to the death, writhing, punching, gouging. It could not be a present-day war because there were no tanks or guns. No weapons of any sort, I saw as I looked closer, only bare hands and feet and teeth. And then I noticed that no one was apparently being injured. There was no blood, no bodies strewed the ground; a blow that ought to have eliminated an opponent would leave him exactly as before.
“Although they appeared to be literally on top of each other, it was as though each man was boxing the air; at last I realized that of course, having no substance, they could not actually touch one another. They could not kill, though they clearly wanted to, because their intended victims were already dead, and so they hurled themselves at each other in a frenzy of impotent rage.
“If I suspected before that I was seeing hell, now I was sure of it. Up to this moment the misery I had watched consisted in being chained to a physical world of which we were no longer part. Now I saw that there were other kinds of chains. Here were no solid objects or people to enthrall the soul. These creatures seemed locked into habits of mind and emotion, into hatred, lust, destructive thought patterns.
“Even more hideous than the bites and kicks they exchanged were the sexual abuses many were performing in feverish pantomime. Perversions I had never dreamed of were being vainly attempted all around us. It was impossible to tell if the howls of frustration that reached us were actual sounds or only the transference of despairing thoughts. Indeed in this disembodied world it did not seem to matter. Whatever anyone thought, however fleetingly or unwillingly, was instantly apparent to all around him, more completely than words could have expressed it, faster than sound waves could have carried it.
“And the thoughts most frequently communicated had to do with the superior knowledge, or abilities, or background of the thinker. ‘I told you so!’ ‘I always knew!’ ‘Didn’t I warn you!’ were shrieked into the echoing air over and over. With a feeling of sick familiarity I recognized here my own thinking. This was me, my very tone of voice — the righteous one, the award-winner, the churchgoer. At age twenty I had not yet developed any truly changing physical habits, not like the beings I had seen scrabbling to get close to that bar. But in these yelps of envy and wounded self-importance I heard myself all too well.
“Once again, however, no condemnation came from the Presence at my side, only a compassion for these unhappy creatures that was breaking His heart. Clearly it was not His will that any one of them should be in this place.
“Then — what was keeping them here? Why didn’t each one just get up and leave? I could see no reason why the person being screamed at by that man with the contorted face did not simply walk away. Or why that young woman did not put a thousand miles between herself and the other one who was so furiously beating her with insubstantial fists? They could not actually hold on to their victims, any of these insanely angry beings. There were no fences. Nothing apparently prevented them from simply going off alone.
“Unless . . . unless there was no ‘alone’ in this realm of disembodied spirits. No private corners in a universe where there were no walls. No place that was not inhabited by other beings to whom one was totally exposed at all times. What was it going to be like, I thought with sudden panic, to live forever where my most private thoughts were not private at all? No disguising them, no covering them up, no way to pretend I was anything but what I actually was. How unbearable. Unless, of course, everyone around me had the same kind of thoughts. Unless there was a kind of consolation in finding others as loathsome as one’s self, even if all we could do was hurl our venom at each other.
“Perhaps this was the explanation for this hideous plain. Perhaps in the course of eons or of seconds, each creature here had sought out the company of others as pride-and-hate-filled as himself, until together they formed this society of the damned.
“Perhaps it was not Jesus who had abandoned them, but they who had fled from the Light that showed up their darkness. Or, were they as alone as at first it appeared? Gradually I was becoming aware that there was something else on that plain of grappling forms. Almost from the beginning I had sensed it, but for a long time I could not locate it. When I did it was with a shock that left me stunned.
“That entire unhappy plain was hovered over by beings seemingly made of light. It was their very size and blinding brightness that had prevented me at first from seeing them. Now that I had, now that I adjusted my eyes to take them in, I could see that these immense presences were bending over the little creatures on the plain. Perhaps even conversing with them.
“Were these bright beings angels? Was the Light beside me also an angel? But the thought that had pressed itself so undeniably on my mind in that little hospital room had been: You are in the presence of the Son of God. Could it be that each of these other human wraiths, wretched and unworthy like me, was also in His presence? In a realm where space and time no longer followed any rules I knew, could He be standing with each of them as He was with me?
“I did not know. All I clearly saw was that not one of these bickering beings on the plain had been abandoned. They were being attended, watched over, ministered to. And the equally observable fact was that not one of them knew it. If Jesus or His angels were speaking to them, they certainly did not hear. There was no pause in the stream of rancor coming from their own hearts; their eyes sought only some nearby figure to humiliate. It would have seemed to me impossible not to be aware of what were the hugest and most striking features of that whole landscape, except that I myself had stared at them unseeing.
“In fact, now that I had become aware of these bright presences, I realized with bewilderment that I had been seeing them all along, without ever consciously registering the fact, as though Jesus could show me at any moment only so much as I was ready to see. Angels had crowded the living cities and towns we had visited. They had been present in the streets, the factories, the homes, even in that raucous bar, where nobody had been any more conscious of their existence than I myself had.
“And suddenly I realized that there was a common denominator to all these scenes so far. It was the failure to see Jesus. Whether it was a physical appetite, an earthly concern, an absorption with self — whatever got in the way of His Light created the separation into which we stepped at death.”
Computer Scientist-Engineer Experienced Frightening Near-Death Experience Of Hell, Glorious Vision Of Heaven
January 21, 2016
As his car raced ahead at high speed, he thought he heard a voice telling him to take his hands off the wheel. By the time he put his hands back on the wheel it was too late. The car was out of control, went off the shoulder, and hurtled into the freeway stanchion and a eucalyptus tree.
“Suddenly I awoke to find myself arising about 20 feet above my car, but bound in chains,” Rathbun recounts. “I struggled with all my might to break free, but it was totally useless.”
He could not imagine where he was. Then he began to fall. “The sensation of falling continued to grow as I picked up speed. It felt like an elevator in free fall. I could sense that my descent was quickening, faster and faster.”
He was not prepared for what happened next. “An extremely loud scream burst right beside my head.” The scream was so loud, it almost deafened him.
“It was a voice that was screaming like a jet engine… an angry defiant voice…
And I recognized what it now was saying…”
“He’s mine, he’s mine,” the voice screamed. “His name is liar, liar, liar, and I am taking him to the Lake of Fire.”
Down he went, descending into darkness and smoke.
He cried out amidst the onrush of gloom, “Why?”
Suddenly three scriptures appeared before him, written, but somehow also spoken. He says those three Scriptures are burned indelibly in his mind.
The first said, “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23)
The second said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever commits sin is the servant of sin.” (John 8:34)
Then a third spoke to him, “Be not deceived, God is not mocked, whatsoever a man sows, that shall he reap” (Galatians 6:7)
“As I heard the third living verse, I was stung right through the heart, totally rebuked.” Suddenly the remembrance of his secret sins flooded upon him in a convicting manner.
His willful sins, uncleanness, and defiance of God’s clear teaching flashed into his mind. “I could see a long, long trail of sexual sins. Worse yet, I could see how I had deceived myself.”
“I had truly deceived myself into believing that I could willfully sin, yet God’s grace would cover me.”
Now he realized he deceived himself, but had not fooled God at all. He felt God would not forgive him and he was about to receive the full payment for his disobedience.
“I became paralyzed by fear as a worse thought gripped my soul. It was a thought so tremendous in magnitude that human minds cannot comprehend it fully while on earth. I was going to hell for all eternity, forever and ever and ever.”
“No matter how long I could think, eternity was yet an infinite distance beyond that.”
He realized that God is perfectly just and he was about to receive that perfect justice, the fruit of his sin.
As he descended, the atmosphere became unbearable. “It began to get very warm and oppressive. I began to have trouble breathing; it was as if thick smoke was starting to smother everything.”
Then he heard a strange roar — people screaming!
“It was the worst screams you can imagine… thousands of people screaming… no… millions of people screaming.”
“The screams were so awful, that you couldn’t bear them. Just one scream alone would make the hair on the back of your arm stand up. But I was hearing millions of them,” he recounts.
“Everything was discordant and worse, everything was a scream of pain, beyond anyone’s imagination. It was screams of torment… screams of pain, screams of suffering, screams of obscenities, screams of rebellion, but most of all — screams of hell by the damned.”
Then he heard a new sound, as terrifying as the screams. The sound was caused by flames of fire, a conflagration beyond description.
“It sounded like continuing rolling thunder, or of flames consuming but yet not consuming. I had heard fire while living on the earth and had seen 100 foot flames incinerate hillsides in a few seconds, but the flames on earth were nothing compared to the sound I was beginning to hear.”
Suddenly, a very loud popping sound rang out, like gunshot being fired next to his head from a 30-30 Winchester or M80 firecrackers. The popping sounds rang out as he was about to hit the Lake of Fire.
Then things went dark…
• Can Negative Behaviors Lead To Hellish Experiences? (David Sunfellow)
• Is There A Hell? (PMH Atwater)
• The NDE & Hell (Kevin Williams)
• IANDS on Distressing Near-Death Experiences
• NDErs Who Experienced Hell (NDE Stories)
• Hellish & Distressing NDEs on YouTube (NHNE)
• Wikipedia on Hell
Other Videos & Resources
God and the Afterlife: The Groundbreaking New Evidence for God and Near-Death Experience
By Jeffrey Long, Paul Perry
Based on the largest near-death experience study in history, involving 3,000 people from diverse backgrounds and religious traditions, including nonbelievers, God and the Afterlife presents startling evidence that a Supreme Being exists — and there is amazing consistency about what he is like. Chapter 9 examines “Hellish Encounters.”
A Guided Tour of Hell: A Graphic Memoir
By Samuel Bercholz
Take a trip through the realms of hell with a man whose temporary visitor’s pass gave him a horrifying — and enlightening — preview of its torments. This true account of Sam Bercholz’s near-death experience has more in common with Dante’s Inferno than it does with any of the popular feel-good stories of what happens when we die. In the aftermath of heart surgery, Sam, a longtime Buddhist practitioner and teacher, is surprised to find himself in the lowest realms of karmic rebirth, where he is sent to gain insight into human suffering. Under the guidance of a luminous being, Sam’s encounters with a series of hell-beings trapped in repetitious rounds of misery and delusion reveal to him how an individual’s own habits of fiery hatred and icy disdain, of grasping desire and nihilistic ennui, are the source of horrific agonies that pound consciousness for seemingly endless cycles of time. Comforted by the compassion of a winged goddess and sustained by the kindness of his Buddhist teachers, Sam eventually emerges from his ordeal with renewed faith that even the worst hell contains the seed of wakefulness. His story is offered, along with the modernist illustrations of a master of Tibetan sacred arts, in order to share what can be learned about awakening from our own self-created hells and helping others to find relief and liberation from theirs.
Blessing in Disguise: Another Side of the Near Death Experience
By Barbara Rommer
Research suggests that 17.7% of near-death experiences are distressing or frightening. Dr. Rommer, a practicing internist, interviewed more than 300 real-life cases for this book. Explore the meaning of hellish visions. Witness their after-effects on peoples lives: the development of psychic or healing powers … changes in behaviors, habits, and careers … even the disappearance of the disease that “killed” the person in the first place.
Almost one in five near-death experiences are not peaceful suggestions of heaven. In a wide-ranging and far from gloomy look at “the other near-death experience,” Nancy Evans Bush gives the first comprehensive look at a fascinating but neglected topic: NDEs and deathbed visions of fear, emptiness, and even hell. A wonderfully readable book, grounded in thirty years of experience and research, Dancing Past the Dark: Distressing Near-Death Experiences is packed with first-person accounts, engrossing discussion and factual answers to a myriad of questions, both religious and secular, with practical suggestions for integrating such an experience or encountering one as a caregiver. Here are ways of thinking about the subject that will be new to many readers. What becomes evident is that to see these only as a terrible threat about death is largely to miss their point.
Pete Hulme’s Review of Nancy Evan Bush’s book Dancing Past the Dark:
Post 1: Summarizes what distressing NDEs are and what they mean
Post 2: Understanding these experiences in a cultural and religious context
Post 3: The Transition and Paths Forward after having a distressing NDE
To Hell and Back
By Maurice Rawlings
Evidence that not all near-death experiences are positive. Some patients spoke of going to hell rather than heaven during times when they were clinically dead.
My Descent Into Death: A Second Chance at Life
By Howard Storm
Although numerous studies and books have explored near-death experiences, the phenomenon has been viewed with caution by many Christian denominations. So it is intriguing to read a first-person report of such an event from the perspective of a pastor in the United Church of Christ. While visiting Paris on a European tour nearly 20 years ago, 38-year-old Storm, then an atheist and art professor at Northern Kentucky University, was stricken with an almost lethal attack of peritonitis. In this necessarily subjective but absorbing chronicle of what is essentially a conversion, the writer describes a descent into Hell, where he confronted his anger and self-centered personality. After praying for the first time, he was rescued by Jesus and brought to heaven for an extensive conversation with Jesus and various angelic beings on topics that include the Holocaust, God’s plans for the earth, angelology and, of course, what happens to us when we die. Blending traditional Christian theology with a doctrinal eclecticism more common to New Age philosophy, Storm’s book may appeal to readers hungry for reassurance, both about the possibility of eternal life and the meaning of our choices here on earth.
Beyond the Darkness
By Angie Fenimore
A victim of childhood abuse and a would-be suicide recounts her descent into a hell of terrifying visions and psychic disintegration on the other side of the grave and her return to life through religious faith.
A Land Unknown: Hell’s Dominion
By B.W. Melvin
A Land Unknown is an astonishing true story of one man’s incredible journey to Hell and back, truly, a must read for those curious about the near-death experience written from the Christian perspective.
Loved: A Transcendent Journey
By Mary Deioma
Loved: A Transcendent Journey moves you through the multidimensional landscape of the cosmos and beyond. Deep burning questions are asked and answered. Does God exist? Is there a Heaven or Hell? Why do we suffer? Is time travel possible? Can we change our destiny? What is the nature of the universe?
Experts from around the world share the history and current state of near-death experience (NDE) knowledge. They explore controversies in the field, offer stories from their research, and express their hopes for the future of investigation into this fascinating phenomenon.