Type of Spiritual Experience
Joan, who originally came from Dublin but who now lives in kent, UK. This incident happened in 1948.
A description of the experience
I was just eight years old at the time and we lived with my grandparents in Dublin. My dad had left us when we were kids. He left us a matter of months after my little brother died. We went straight to my grandparents. My mum wasn't doing too well. She was losing her temper with me a lot. She was hitting me about. She didn't seem to be able to stop. Somebody else always had to stop her. She just couldn't cope. My cousins also lived with my grandparents and one day one of them had a birthday. He was three months older than me and we were close. It must have been August time because his birthday is 31 August. He hadn't received a birthday card yet from his mum, who lived in England. He was upset. So I took some pennies that the gasman had left and bought him a present. I got a beating from my mum, as a result, because I had done something wrong.
My mum started beating me downstairs and she then dragged me upstairs. The bedroom was shut and she was knocking me about. It was a terrible beating. It was life- threatening because it gave me a collapsed lung. Suddenly I switched off to what was happening to me. I stopped thinking about me. I didn't feel that I was being badly beaten. I didn't have any conscious notion of the bedroom at all. Instead I was suddenly looking at my grandmother, who was an invalid, from up on a height. She was trying to get up the stairs to stop my mum from hitting me. She was trying to rescue me.
What I remember happening - and I have never forgotten it - was that I was looking down at her as she was climbing the stairs. I was above her head. I must have been around ceiling height, stuck to the ceiling or something. Physically I was back in the bedroom but otherwise I was up at the ceiling above the stairs. I can remember she had a long skirt on, which was what she normally wore. She had a coloured crochet shoulder thing around her. She was looking up to the top of the stairs and saying, 'Please stop! please stop! Someone stop her! oh, my God! She will kill her!’ She was holding onto the wall, on each side, and she was really struggling. There was a wall, and not a rail, at both sides of the stairs and she had a hand on each of the walls.
She was slowly lifting her feet to try to come up. But I knew she couldn't do it. She hadn't been able to climb the stairs for 16 years previous to that. I was very panicky that she would fall. I was worried something would happen to her. My cousin was trying to get up behind her but my grandmother was blocking him from getting past. She was a big woman and was blocking the stairs. He was also trying to come up to stop my mum from hitting me. All this time I was shouting to my grandmother, ‘please don’t climb the stairs!’ I don't know if she heard me or not. And I don’t think she even saw me but I can’t understand why. What I do know, however is that she never made it up to the top. I think she only came up about three steps, although I think my cousin did make it up. This all probably went on for five minutes or so.
I don't remember how the beating came to a stop and I don't remember coming back to my body. I don’t even remember seeing the room again until I woke up the next day. I was bruised and hurt and I couldn’t go to school. When I did go to school, a couple of days later, the nun thought I was quite ill and asked my mum to take me to the doctor. The nun was right because I had a collapsed lung.
The beating resulted in my being admitted to the hospital. From there I was put into a children's home. For two-and-a- half years I was in and out of this home. But I eventually learned to forgive my mum. She was having difficulties and she had a lot going on for her at the time. I really looked after her when she was in her old age.
I also think back on what happened a lot. It was all so real. It's never left my memory. I know it happened although I cannot tell you how it did. It's always been such a mystery to me. Everybody in the family knows about it because I told them. It's still talked about. But I don't know how it was possible for me to have seen her in that situation. Later on, when I heard of out-of-body experiences, I wondered, 'Could that have been what happened to me?' Perhaps it was, although I still don't understand it to this day.
The source of the experienceOrdinary person
Concepts, symbols and science items
Activities and commonsteps
Flagellation, beating and physical abuse
Overwhelming fear and terror
From Going Home – Colm Keane