I think I can tell you when the first thing killed me: I was a young child and was (accidentally) overdosed on a prescription medication. I journeyed, and had visionary experiences so vivid and lucid that at least twenty years later... I remember. In that memory, I recall being attacked (and I think torn apart) by tiny creatures.
A few years down the line I had a violent allergic reaction to my own hormones and had to begin mega-dosing on antihistamines (see: Andicholinergic, specifically what plants cause that reaction, and take note: Antihistamines produce that response). This meant that whenever I had an allergy attack (which nearly always coincided with my menstural cycle), I essentially took a doctor-sanctioned flying ointment. My menstural cycle synced with the full moon. This, by the by, is when my lucid dreaming began.
Around the time Puberty really began to destroy my sense of self, I had another experience. A malevolent entity had been stalking around for a while, and Noob that I was, I didn't know how to defend myself. I warded, did cleansing rituals, but no book (none, not a single, damned, one) told me how to go -after- it, and make it leave me be. One night, it wormed it's way into my bedroom and attacked me. By the time things were all done, it was half-dead(er), and I discovered that I could eat the nasty things that tried to eat me.
The experience exhausted me to the point that when I finally got to sleep, I left my body. I discovered what "going out of the body" really meant. I walked in otherworlds, and met my Familiar-spirit, M. First of many guides and friends, not a one who had been alive for some time, who aided me on my dead road.
There were other events, but my memory is not the best about being linear, and sometimes I wonder if that's for a reason.
Not everyone can venture Out. There. I said it (again).
Variety is the spice and fuel of life. This world needs people who just, plain, CAN'T see the stuff that transpires beyond the oily surface of the mud-puddles. We, the people who cannot step back from the verge, NEED them. They need us. Our symbiosis is a beautiful thing.
Not everyone who can venture Out wants to go down the same roads. Some of us prefer taking the main streets, while others prefer the side-roads. Others don't mind walking a hard road, on foot... possibly naked, slathered in honey, armed with only a lit clove cigar(ette).
But most folks, well, they don't want to die. Death isn't an easy thing, it's not really fun, it's messy, complicated, and it hurts like hell. Dying, and living through it... that hurts even more, given the mental scars and difficulty articulating the experience.
They stop short of the door, halt at the gate, and turn back. POWER is terrifying. The gods are real. Magick is afoot. And magick is the domain of the in-between, and that limina is scary. That limina asks if it's to give. Blood for blood, power for power. Sacrifice brings fruits. Certain kinds of power ask far more than others. Far more than most people have in them to give.
I always resort to Lovecraftian ideas to describe the moment between plausible disbelief and dabbling, belief, and -knowing-. It is the moment the evocation goes too far, and the waters churn. It is the moment the Thing becomes physically material, casting shadows and disturbing incense smoke. It is the instant where you are jerked from your comfortable world of illusion, when the you-that-you-know is struck down.
Very few people are willing, or able, to sacrifice the ego. "Knowing" one reality for "being unable to deny" another. Very few can take the strain, which is why so many craft elaborate tales of personal greatness, with hollow cores. The Dead Road isn't for them, and that's a good thing. It's a narrow, treacherous, prickly, path... and we'd have a much harder go navigating if everyone was there, goose-necking at the sights.
Wand wave, wall feel and smudge all you like. Don't step through the door unless there is no other option in your soul, because doing so is sacrificing yourself.
It is the little death that turns the Shaman, the Witch, and the Wall-Walker half-ghost, wandering between worlds. Because someone/thing that dies, and still wanders our world IS a ghost. And like any good geist, our power to move, bend and shape exists in both worlds. We walk a crooked path, ambling between "light" and "dark", "left" and "right", "dead" and "living". We made sacrifices to be here; ourselves. Every time we cross into that world, or do something that comes out right, we've sacrificed a little of our "day world", for a little more of the Dead Road. We chip away at the ability to pretend that the other half doesn't exist.
I will go, I will sacrifice (myself to myself), and put my spine upon the soil. I will journey, and climb down the world tree. I will seem like I am dead, gone from my body, cold and refusing to wake until I return. I will wander the underworld, seeking out what the world above needs. I will rise from my little death, and bring gifts to you. I will be a ghost, a fairy, a vampire. The thing that dies and comes back, and needs more because of it. And when I have come back from the gloom, exhausted, and starving... feed my spirit. Be ALIVE, and jovial, and unconcerned with the monsters under the bed. Stop reaching for the gaping maw just beyond where the light falls.