Tal Brooke's Story

I was in the wilderness area of Andhra Pradesh, South India, and a disciple of one of India's most illustrious avatars (a top “guru”), when I received the photos, black and white, that had just come back from a photographer at one of the Indian photo shops. There I stood, looking at a very strange photograph of my own face, wondering if I had not been eclipsed by another presence when the photo was taken. I used a magnifying glass. My shock deepened.

Is that really me? I asked myself incredulously.

My face was grossly distorted—monstrous beyond normal limits. One eye, huge, globular, baleful, was four times the normal size. The other eye, a thin Mandarin slit, resembled the eye of death. The composite picture of both eyes resembled an ancient occult enemy staring up from the photograph. But for the horns missing, it was a powerful likeness to the Goat of Mendes, the Satanhead. I felt this was no accident, whatever the cause of it. A deep chill went through me.

Indeed, the abomination that stared up at me was a supernatural enemy I had encountered many years before. Suddenly my mind leapt back to my childhood ventures into the occult: A ten-year-old Tal Brooke consumed with precocious curiosity about things strange—talking to our London housemaid who also worked for a medium . . .  asking my parents for a Ouija board . . .  subscribing to a spiritualist newsletter . . .  reading books on hypnosis and trying it on people . . .  late-night walks through the cemetery . . .  blinding people from my roof with a mirror as they went to London’s Holy Trinity Brompton, off Brompton Road . . .  endless pranks and misdeeds . . .  feeling all the time like an outcast from God . . .  making papier-mâché masks of vampires and demons . . .  attending horror movies . . .  The Trollenberg Terror, The Quatermass Experiment, and dozens of others . . .  my parents distant and remote, my family dysfunctional. A deep feeling of uneasiness swept through my soul. I knew that I was caught in an inner war of faith. And what I longed for now more than ever was some kind of spiritual drama to turn my mind’s eye from the eye of the hurricane. I did not like what was happening to me and could not explain it.

As a member of a rootless unchurched atheistic family living overseas, my occult curiosity was growing by the day, starting with horror comics before age nine. On Saturdays I would take the double-decker bus along Cromwell Road to the Hammersmith Odeon to watch the youth matinee featuring ghouls, zombies and vampires along with serialized sci-fi films such as The Trollenberg Terror. I found it all fascinating.

We lived in London not far from Harrods during my boyhood years and sometimes I thought I detected them in the shadows of Hyde Park nearby—sinister forms in hiding—Vampires. My father, an American diplomat and a well-thought-out humanist was one day leaving for work. I asked him to bring home an Ouija board. Our housemaid had worked for a famous London medium and I was fascinated by her tales of the “other side.” Attempting to prove that such things were mere superstition, my father brought home an Ouija board that very night, an expensive antique. Strangely, as I played with it, I soon noticed spirit “presences” in my room.  A year later I had my first out-of-the-body experience. By age 12, I discovered the concept of reincarnation, and then became fascinated with psychic gateways and routes to higher consciousness as I went through my teens.

Hidden dramas often accompanied my walk home from my English school to Knightsbridge when it was already getting dark by 4 PM in the English winter. Our house, Number 9 Cottage Place, was off Brompton road, diagonally across from Holy Trinity Brompton. It was owned by an earl and layered with history and secret corridors, a perfect place for boyish intrigue. Sometimes the neighbors might glimpse a young boy scaling the rear walls while wearing a cape cloaking dark ghoulish eyes. Vampires—they had an almost irresistible fascination to me. Other times neighbors would spot me racing off on my bike toward the nearby museums or Hyde Park.

One of the attractions that the realm of vampires, ghosts and the supernatural held for me as a boy was that it was a welcome alternative to the bleak and boring materialistic naturalism of my parents and their sophisticated, worldly peers—enlightened people who did not need the “God myth.” I found that the drama of the supernatural seemed to offer something beyond “this world.”

We never went to church and rarely spoke of God. If we entered some church occasionally, it was all about history and architecture, but never religion. The majesty of Saint Paul’s or Westminster Abbey in London was limited to their rich history, nothing more. To show there was a rational system of ethics untainted by religion, my dad would quote Immanuel Kant, page and verse. To this day I have a photograph of my father walking down the streets of London with Lord Bertrand Russell, the famed Cambridge philosopher, mathematician, Fabian socialist and atheist. Among his many books was, Why I am Not a Christian. The Fabian Society’s liberal agenda was to secularize and de-Christianize Britain. What was good for the intelligencia was good for the plebeians. The prospect of late night horrors and strange occurrences I found preferable to the Formica thin alternative of a soulless and flat reality devoid of mystery.

No doubt the fascination I felt was very much what today’s estranged youth feel in their attraction to the alternative world of Harry Potter. Surely there is more than what I see around me, countless kids must be thinking. State run public schools have left generations bankrupt, with depleted knowledge and nothing to believe in.

My early interest in the supernatural can be insightfully illuminated by an observation made by GK Chesterton regarding the deep inner void left by atheism: when people cease believing in God, they don’t believe in nothing, rather, they will believe in anything. Sociologist Rodney Stark, a Berkeley graduate, elaborated by saying that skeptical unbelief in fact spawns irrational superstition, not the opposite. Stark noted that Christianity alone is the antidote that keeps the chaotic forces of the occult at bay, not atheism, which, he observed, opens doors to the irrational.

Then when I was twelve years old—two years after getting the Ouija board—I stood at a bookrack and discovered The Case for Bridey Murphy. I learned a new word: reincarnation. The book unfolded the amazing story of Murphy going from regressive hypnosis across the great divide to a previous life as a girl in Ireland. It was incredible. It occurred to me that if even one case could be substantiated, my view of life would be changed radically. It meant that I was old, for the age of our bodies was irrelevant to our spiritual age. If we reincarnated even once, who could limit the number of times it might happen? I felt a sense of relief.

By thirteen, I was reading Bram Stoker’s classic, Dracula, and could not put it down. By then we had just moved from London to Beirut and the vampire reruns followed me to Beirut’s downtown movie houses where Christopher Lee starred in such films as the Horror of Dracula. Over six feet five, Lee, as Dracula, towered over whimpering victims. He might rapidly scale the outside walls of the castle, fly off as a bat, shape-shift to human form, then hover outside some window requesting entrance. If the window opened, his fangs appeared and he quickly went to work drinking some poor woman’s blood as she fell into a trance. If anything interrupted or opposed him, evidencing the “strength of twenty men,” the Count would bear his fangs dripping with blood, his bloodshot eyes wild with fury. At the appearance of a cross, he would withdraw in horror.

In the Egyptian city of Alexandria at age 14—I suddenly felt this blissful sense of connectedness and total belonging. As we took a horse-drawn carriage through royal gardens, I had this overwhelming nameless emotion, a timeless yearning. Later in India I was told such signs in my early childhood indicated I was an advanced adept on the edge of remembering a former life.

When I was fifteen, another supernatural door was pried open. A friend of mine had a tonsillectomy. After the operation at a hospital he was left with a most peculiar and vivid memory. He had left his body for a time. Shooting out in an exuberant rush of energy, he had soared up into a stratosphere of sublime hues as the pandemonium below vanished almost out of sight. The “cord” leading to his body would only let him go so high—to the edge of the earth’s barrier—where he met a spirit that said he had been killed in Korea. Just then, my friend was yanked back inside his body. For days we both jubilated over his experience.

By college, I anticipated today’s New Age movement approaching, and felt that I could help turbo charge the process of “consciousness expansion.” Those of us on the mystical frontier had to boost human consciousness up the elevator shaft to its upper limits—‘till it reached “the ocean of being”—nirvana. It was a challenge that made the Orthodox Church on the corner seem dead, irrelevant and boring, as “unbelieving” pastors muttered platitudes to their sleeping flocks. We saw an obsolete faith that had fallen into the trap of worshipping a God outside of itself, when we knew that “divinity was within.”

Now my burning purpose, to finish the process of enlightenment, meant going to India where the mystical tradition was born. I had devoured thousands of pages of the great Indian mystics, from Sri Aurobindo, Ramanah Maharshi, Maharishi, Yogananda, the teachings of Ramakrishna and Vivekananda, on back to the ancient Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita. Once I graduated from the University of Virginia, I flew straight to India. Little did I know that I would meet a vampire of a different sort--a kind of vampire of the soul.

Landing in India

Getting off the plane I soon became immersed in the vast subcontinent of India.  I sought out the land’s top gurus, mystical power spots, and ashrams in the hope of finding the ultimate “cosmic catalyst.” After six exhausting months of wandering the subcontinent, I plunged into the wilderness. An article in Newsweek featured a modern miracle-worker, Sai Baba, who claimed to be God on earth, an avatar, whose miracles purportedly mirrored those of Christ and baffled India’s top scientists. Baba drew vast crowds and his following numbered over 20 million in India alone. Many of the greatest gurus and New Age teachers around the world went to Sai Baba just for his blessing.

The Figure in the Blood Red Robe, A Psychic Vampire

When I met this powerful figure in the blood-red robe, he literally embraced me in a private interview. He revealed that he had watched over me since my childhood and had drawn me from halfway around the world—confirming an earlier mystical experience of mine as a “foretaste” from him (a “prasad,” a gift). As I moved into Baba’s enchanted realm I began to see and experience things that seemed to obliterate all Western conceptions of reality. I believed I had finally found the ultimate truth to existence and was under one who was in full “God Consciousness.”

In less than a year I was helping oversee the Western contingent under Sai Baba as I became his right-hand man. I even joined Baba onstage at his massive ashram, Prasanthi Nilayam, to speak before crowds of thousands. I was a close disciple of great promise, envied by many, but it meant an unwavering walk and passing every “test.” I seemed to have an unstoppable faith.

Then two elderly Christian missionaries crossed my path. At first I was off-handedly blunt with their “narrow” vision of reality, their “meager” intellectual grasp of the big picture. But Ivan and Winnona Carroll had a depth of character, an invisible source of love that I had never seen before. They were humble, pure and reverent souls. The light within them was very different from the light that was in us, and I knew it.

The Carrolls had a deep burden for me. Occasionally I went over to their house for a meal or to stay the night. Unknown to me they had prayer groups all over South India praying for me—not for my enlightenment—but for my salvation.

Spiraling Downward

After two years on the fast track under India’s greatest god-man, I suddenly descended into unexpected darkness. I had out-of-the-body encounters with ancient evil forces, and then some very strange and disturbing episodes with Baba himself. All this happened while I was trying to transcend the “false dichotomy” of good and evil to become one with the godhead. I was not just a part of the divine (I was told), but I had to fully acknowledge that I was God.

But a still, quiet voice kept nagging me that I was committing the ultimate blasphemy.

After I spent two years in India with Sai Baba among his select disciples, in his chemical laboratory of transformation, the bottom line was that I encountered one danger signal after another. I kept smelling hell out of the back door. A million Indians would have given anything to fill my shoes. After two years with Baba, I had Indian Governors circulating my writings in different parts of India, I traveled among the elite, and I was one of a very few people in history to share a stage with Sai Baba, speaking in front of over twenty thousand influential Indian leaders who were just faces in the mob.

Yet in reality, I was nothing more than a captive soul in need of real transformation. As scales fell from my eyes, in time, I began to see that Baba’s outward divinity concealed a demonic presence, a psychic vampire, a soul eater. It was eating away at my soul—and the only authority on earth that fully explained it—was the Bible.

I had fallen into an ancient trap, indeed, the oldest lie in creation: “You shall be as God” (Genesis 3:5). Satan’s historic ploy was right there in Eden, and it caused the whole human race to fall. Sin and evil have reigned supreme ever since. Suddenly the reality of the living Christ that powered those two missionaries came back to hit me with the force of a freight train. “For there is no other name under heaven and earth by which we may be saved” (Acts 4:12).

Hope on the Horizon

In a hotel room in South India I knelt down in tears. After two years of bondage to a being who claimed to be God on earth, I realized he was no god, but one of the false Christs predicted in Matthew 24: “There shall come false Christs and false prophets working great signs and wonders.” Nor was I God, any god, or any part of the divine. I was but a mortal creature, lost in spiritual night and trapped by sin. I stood in the shadows of eternal banishment from the true God of all creation. And rather than finding the ocean of bliss, I had been blindly heading for unthinkable damnation.

I recalled that Bible verse uttered by the Carrolls, “For there is no other name under heaven and earth by which we may be saved.” That did it. I acknowledged Jesus Christ as the only true God-man ever to walk the earth (see John 1:1-3; 14). I then asked Him to FORGIVE MY SINS, AND BE MY LORD AND SAVIOR. Literally in seconds I emerged changed on the most fundamental level of my being. A weight left me that I cannot describe.

When my eyes met those of the Carrolls a few days later, we were “one in Christ” and I knew the greatest miracle of all—salvation—had taken place in my life. I have not been the same since. I also realized that I had fallen for the oldest deception in existence—“you shall be as God”—attired as the New Age promise.

Now it seems my boyhood dilemma has expanded over ever widening circles within the culture-at-large. Atheism is the governing worldview of a secularized America and you can go to jail as a teacher for leading prayer in public school class, breaking a commonly held freedom for over two centuries. You can lose your job for evangelizing at work. Wake up, the culture has changed. It has grown anti-Christian. And Christians who have been tolerated will find the masses turning against them as they shrink into the crevices. Secularism has marched forward, consigning the once dominant Christian foundation of our culture to the shadows. Vampires and the supernatural are entering through a vacuum left by a retreating Christian presence, now almost culturally irrelevant. The Postmodern church is filled with those who prefer blending in as chameleons rather than facing costly ostracism. It is a church without backbone that cannot possibly resist invading darkness.

On the other hand, people can wake up when things get too intense. That’s been my hope. I think there could be a new wave of Spirit-led soldiers coming out of this dark terrain, which was the case in my own life when, broken and reduced to nothing in a South Indian hotel room, at the end of a long sojourn through the occult wilderness, I gazed up at the light and truth of Jesus Christ, and it changed my life. I was ready, and nothing else could have gotten through to me. A strong-willed rebel by nature, I needed a shock wave, and it happened. There must be those who, robbed by the darkness, will emerge into Heaven’s light. Darkness cannot tolerate such brilliance, for Jesus Christ is the Light of the World (see John 8:12).

Tal Brooke is the currently President of Spiritual Counterfeits Project, Inc., (www.scp-inc.org), a Berkeley-based research organization. He has authored nine books, including One World and Avatar of Night, and his work has been recognized in Marquis Who’s Who in the World, Who’s Who in America. A graduate of the University of Virginia and Princeton, Tal has spoken at Cambridge, Oxford, Princeton, Sorbonne, Berkeley, the University of Virginia, and the University of Edinburgh.