Facing (And Embracing) Our Demons

Last Updated on June 25, 2022 by Jason Harris


A Life-Changing Dream

Major transitional events started in my life in 2012 when I was deployed to Afghanistan as an active-duty military physician taking care of patients with brain injuries. Due to events put into motion by this experience, I realized I needed emotional healing, much of it from ways I had been wired for decades.

As part of this journey, in the Summer of 2015 I started embracing my inner emotional world with compassionate curiosity. I talk more about this experience in “Discovering and Embracing My Emotions. Healing From a Mormon Paradigm.”

During this time of emotional awakening, I had an incredibly moving, transformative dream that still moves me reflecting back on it.

Journal Entry July 28, 2015

I just woke up at 520 AM having experienced the most intense, vivid and profound dream I have had in a very long while (at least for 15+ years).  

In it I was living in a smaller home with A.R., currently our EQ president (I am first counselor in the quorum) and with one other individual.  It might have been J.H., our second counselor, but I am not sure. It may have been more of a duplex or even “triplex” of sorts as I think there were a few other people that lived there in one floor above us. Anyway, underneath ¼ of our building there was rumor of some substance or something residing/living there that we were not to meet. The most unfortunate things happened to those that met it. The room “underneath” was also part of our dwelling, if that makes sense, we just never went there. There was some rumor that if one shook the hand of this individual or being living there, they would be changed in a very negative way, but we weren’t sure what that was.

At that point in the dream, when we (A., J. and I) started talking about it, somebody else we were talking to, it may have been J. but I don’t remember for sure, started to become possessed as we were discussing this topic.  I also felt a dark presence coming upon and paralyzing myself to some degree. I think it was from that “forbidden room.” I raised my arm to the square and commanded it to depart in the name of Jesus Christ and the feeling left and peace filled the home again. Several days went by.

During the course of the activities, I came home one day from errands.  I was without A. or anybody else as I entered the home. Upon entering, I encountered the feeling of the presence again.  As I entered one of the rooms of the home, I believe it was the room directly above where we knew this “evil” dwelt (or perhaps it may have even been in that room, I can’t remember for sure, you know how dreams are) I saw 5-6 short, thin, gnome like creatures. All of different personalities and temperaments and different skin colors (purple, red, blue, etc). I talked with them for a bit, but did not feel they were the darker presence I had felt, though I felt they were associated and worked with perhaps even for him.  I was friendly and loving with each of them and they were each kind back, though each of them had a different temperament as mentioned. They each had very large, cartoon like kind eyes in return.

Then in my dream in that room appeared the largest snake like creature I had seen in my life.  It was black and similar to a King Cobra in appearance but as large as an Anaconda. There were also a few tendrils that trailed from him. Imagine the Spiderman “Venom” creature in snake form… I think that would be the closest description, though doesn’t totally capture it. As the six or so “gnome like creatures” I had encountered started to walk away from me in that room, the snake (that is the closest thing I can think of to describe him) quickly surrounded them, slithered around them, yet in the most rapid fashion possible (was more of a rush than a slither) and struck them. They instantly turned into wooden dolls with blank emotionless expressions on their face (which had previously been filled with wide child-like innocent eyes and expressions), smoothly shaped throughout. They looked somewhat similar to the Russian dolls, but thinner. They were still of the same height they had been. After doing this, the snake like creature then transformed into a man right before my eyes.

He was short with darker hair. The most similar person I think I could describe him to in appearance is “Rumplestiltskin” from “Once Upon a Time.” I think there were a couple other “followers” with him observing all of this, but I did not see them clearly or notice them much. They were not a prominent part of my dream. The gnomes had been/were part of his party. I asked him what had happened to these friends I had just made (the gnomes). He told me not to worry, they were still there. I felt that their spirits had departed their body, but perhaps they were in the “room beneath” again.. though I didn’t know where they were.

We talked for a little bit, I don’t remember about what. He then walked forward and stretched out his hand to shake my hand, a sinister smile on his face. I felt he had sinister intentions. I greeted him with love and gripped his right hand and looked into his eyes. Our grips were firm but clearly tangible. There was a very brief moment where I feared that whatever I had heard rumored happening to those who shook this entity’s hand would happen to me…. That I would be “branded” in my right hand in this same manner and transformed, or whatever.  However, I was then filled with an overwhelming sense of love for this entity/man, and felt the power/protection of the priesthood protect and strengthen me as well. I felt love for this individual just as I had previously been filled with love for the gnomes.

I don’t recall exactly what was said afterwards, perhaps some expression of love from me towards him, even though I knew his intentions were not pure. However, I then felt the power, love and protection of God coursing through my body and protecting me even further as I had never felt it before.

He got a very confused look on his face as something very different was happening than what he expected. His eyes then began to turn green and his hand began to soften. Both seemed as if they were turning somewhat green and mushy. He tried to then pull his hand away from me as he realized that HE was the one transforming, not me. However, while still holding/shaking/gripping the right hand, I hugged him with my left arm and told him the love I was feeling towards him at that moment…. “I love you brother.”  At this point, his entire being started to turn into a green softer mushier type of body (but still in the shape of a man). I felt the most profound love, peace, protection and comfort I can recall feeling emanating from within me and enveloping me (and him). I then woke up and felt impressed to write this down, marveling at what it all might mean.

I am still exploring what it all might mean.  I will keep these interpretations to myself, as perhaps there is more than one valid interpretation and I don’t want to cheapen this experience… In writing this, I still feel much of the same love and peace that I felt at the end of the dream. 

The Dream’s Meaning and Significance

This dream uses symbolism and religious imagery and ritual I no longer literally believe in. However, this dream carries deeper meaning for me now than it did at the time.

I discovered Internal Family Systems Therapy (IFS) about two years after this dream. Dr. Richard Schwartz, who created IFS in the 1980’s talks about IFS extensively in his book: You Are the One You’ve Been Waiting For. IFS is evidence-based for improving emotional health and well-being. In it, we discover, explore, listen to and compassionately sit with and embrace various internal “parts” of ourselves.

Other names for similar types of therapy that can help us discover and heal these inner parts of ourselves include: “Inner Child Work,” “Ego-State Work,” “Parts Work” or “Shadow Work.” I have personally experienced much healing with these approaches with the help of my own therapist.

This dream has represented different things to me over the years. However, after discovering Internal Family Systems Therapy and some of these other therapy modalities, I have come to believe this dream primarily signified me embracing and healing inner parts of myself… parts I despised and viewed as evil and needing to be shunned and “cast out” earlier in my life.

This dream was about “loving my enemies.” My main enemies being parts of myself.

Casting Out Demons Doesn’t Work

We can try to shun parts of ourselves away. As I had been doing for decades in my own life. But the truth is, they will still emerge at some point. Often in ways we don’t recognize that can sometimes harm us or others.

Casting out demons doesn’t work. Not forever.

Based on my own experiences, I have come to believe a huge key to inner transformation and growth is not to shun and reject the parts of myself that I might not want to see the light of day, but rather to acknowledge them. To be compassionately curious about them. To embrace them in love (without fusing with them). To sit with them. And in doing so, they will often soften and transform. Or I will. It’s all very paradoxical.

Divinity Lives In Us

I believe Divinity resides within us. We are enough.

The incredible love I felt during that dream originated from inside myself. This love WAS transformative to other parts of my inner self. Both the experience of giving this love AND receiving this love. This experience was not transformative by moving me towards who I could or would become, but transformative by moving me towards who I already am.

I don’t believe in external evil spirits or demons running around to tempt and influence people. But I do believe demons exist within each of us. Shunned parts of ourselves. When we lovingly embrace them with compassionate curiosity, without fusing with them, major transformation happens and we become who we already are. Integrated and whole.



Each of us ARE.

Radical Grace. Radical Acceptance. Radical Love.

Jason Harris lived as an orthodox Mormon for forty years. He writes about his experiences leaving the Mormon Church and reconstructing a new World-View. He believes all religions and scripture are man-made, potentially helpful and harmful. He believes there is Divinity in all of them and everywhere.