Anton LaVey’s Near-Death Experience


“When I Died
by Anton Szandor LaVey

Death was the most unmemorable experience of my life. On the 22nd of February, 1995, I suddenly and without warning, stopped breathing while I was finishing my dinner. It appeared I had died. As a matter of fact, I had. Blanche immediately began to administer CPR, while a friend called 911. The fire department campe, along with the ambulance, and proceeded to bring me back to life, using electric shocks and other procedures. I had only been dead a short time, but was nonetheless clinically dead. After a semblance of life returned, I felt no sense of relief. In fact I felt no more than I did when I died. I felt nothing. In fact, I didn’t even know I had died until several days later, in the hospital, when I was informed of the incident. Someone said, ‘Died, you know.’ My reply was, ‘I’ll be damned.’

By that time, unbeknownst to myself, I had been conversing with hospital personnel for several days about many unrelated things, death not being one of them. Through my speech was fanciful, it was coherent and articulate. I did not talk like a man who had returned from the dead, but one who thought he was in Las Vegas or aboard ship.

I remember experiencing absolutely nothing at the time of my death, nor anything until I regained my normal thought process at the hospital. No lights at the end of tunnels. No profound exhilaration. No orgasm. No sensation of release nor relaxation. It was like going to sleep and trying to describe the moment you fall asleep. One says, ‘I feel asleep,’ not, ‘I remember falling asleep.’

After the gravity of the event sunk in, it was suggested that I had undergone a remarkable phenomenon; one not normally encountered in everyday life. Later, someone ventured that as a religious leader, I could capitalize on my experience. I had already started my own religion and unlike all the messiahs of the past, had clinical proof of my death and resurrection. My immediate thought was, ‘What experience? Experience, experience – I don’t truthfully recall any experience.’ I know my advisor must have been thinking, ‘What’s wrong with you? You should invent a good one. Think up something profound. I would.’

Try as I might, I cannot even remember details of the events leading to my demise. Everything I know has been related to me by others. It’s not as though I even remember the sensations or events immediately prior to my death. The activities generally leading up to the event are foggy, as are most activities earlier in the day. A memory cushion seems to prevail as to the entire day, as much as an unawareness of several days following my observable return to consciousness. There is no memory of everything going black in the middle of a sentence, or a spasm during swallowing. No surprises nor deviations from whatever I happened to be doing at the time. No remembrance of blacking out, seeing things blur, shortage of breath, strange shapes appearing, unusual ringing or sounds – nothing.

If the death experience is like that to those who look to it for some sort of significant event, I fear they are wasting their time waiting around and should accept their daily routines as far more eventful, however pedestrian, than anything Heaven or Hell or a conscious afterlife might have to offer.

It may be said that my own account is predicated upon my lack of faith, and that had I believed, things might have been different. To that, I can answer that I wanted to believe; to be able to see the future, visit with my past friends, torture my enemies, and haunt certain places. I’ll just have to see. Maybe next time …”

– from The Cloven Hoof, Issue 130

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