Is there a literal gateway to the Otherworld?

 

“Gateways” to the Otherworld are a very common thing in literature and stories around the world. Everybody knows the stories of people who disappeared and maybe returned years later like famous Rip Van Winkle. I also remember some fairy tales and the classic legend of Orpheus.

However the idea of a gateway to the otherworld raises some fundamental questions. In the end of David Lynch’s legendary TV series “Twin Peaks” Agent Cooper disappears in the “Black Lodge” deep in the woods. Lynch doesn’t explain what exactly happened and it is one of the questions, which is left to our own interpretation

Most of the medieval otherworld journeys seem to happen on a psychic level. However there is word about St. Patrick’s purgatory where people literally entered the other world through a doorway in a cave in Lough Derg, Donegal.

I started my own investigation about gateways to the Otherworld very early during the research for The Forest Dark Movie project. In the picture below you see pictures, my notebook and my maps from an expedition to the Bavarian Forest, south east Bavaria.

 

My objective was to get some impressions at a place in the mountains where one of the famous prophets of the region received some of his visions (the region is well known for people who have premonitions about certain events in the future). If otherworldly vision is sometimes connected with places I thought there might be certain locations, which are somehow closer to the other world. It was a day in early October and the morning was misty and cold. The mist never lifted as can be seen in the picture. The place where the visionary received his troubling visions is named “Hennenkobel” in Bavarian and it was possible to identify that place. When I reached the site there wasn’t happening something really extraordinary. It was very quiet and not much light swept through the huge trees. I took some pictures and after a while I descended and walked back to my car. I wasn’t exactly disappointed, but was thinking that there is a problem. If we do research and investigate these sites we bring our knowledge as baggage. This might trigger the imagination, but also makes you even more skeptical. I didn’t even want to think something ridiculous. Later I thought it will be always a problem if you visit a place with a certain attitude. But what did happen was that the excursion and the images left a deep impression, which came up again and again when working on the movie screenplay.

Far from having an answer if there are literal gateways to the Otherworld I can say that there are places which have a  quality to leave their trace. They are somehow “strong places”, but much more investigation is needed to know how else they could work. I personally do not believe in some sort of “Star Gate” to the Otherworld but there are certain things I know and we should be very careful to play around at the gateways to the Otherworld. Jacques Vallees writes about a British medium and occultist, Dion Fortune, who mentioned in her book “Psychic Self Defence” the mysterious death of her friend Netta Fornario. She was found dead on a mountain in Iona with traces of terrible scrapes, in 1930. Researcher Jacques Vallees adds that there were reports of blue lights in the area at the same time.

The question about gateways to the Otherworld is not only if they literally exist but also if they can work both ways. What if something can come through the gateway from the other side into our world? It might be not necessarily some monster with tentacles but something, which takes possession of the mind or something which “plants” an idea in our minds.

If we deal with the Otherworld we might need to abandon our idea  of the distinct separation of mind and matter.

 

Sometimes the veil between our world and the other realms become thinner as usual. This must not necessarily happen at some place in The Forest Dark or at a certain time. As we know from the ecstatic visionaries the doorway can be opened at any place at any time in the Universe. And in the end everybody finally enters the door to the Otherworld.

 

From Pope Gregory’s View Of Otherworld Journeys In 600 AD To Jacques Vallees’ Interpretation Of Close Encounters

 

Today, I would like to propose a radical idea: we usually think of visionary dreams, near death experience, alien-abduction, ghostly apparitions and supernatural encounters in a forest dark as different things. They might be variations of the same phenomenon. Carol Zaleski offers us in her highly acclaimed book “Otherworld Journeys”, about medieval Christian return from death stories and modern Near Death Experience, a broader perspective. In her investigation of medieval visionary experience she informs us about astonishing insight of medieval scholars and writers about the nature of the Otherworld Journey.

Gregory The Great, the sixth-century-pope and spiritual writer whose dialogues helped to set the standards for medieval discussions of miracles and visions, surprises us not only with his deep psychological understanding but also a very differentiate view about vision: the fourth and final book of the Dialogues is devoted to “Last things”; here Gregory offers proof of the soul’s immortality.

However, Zaleski writes, “far from touting visionary experience, these monastic authors show themselves well aware of the delusions, “vainglory” and morbid  symptoms that can afflict the visionary. As a pastoral theologian schooled in classical and Augustinian epistemology Gregory distrusts visions, and as a contemplative he is persuaded that in its highest capacity the soul rises beyond images. Even at its most sublime, Gregory believes, visionary experience involves the activity of an intermediate mental capacity, in which divine illumination mixes with sensory impressions”.

In his Dialogues Gregory says, that “through images, Peter, we learn to appreciate the real significance of our situation” And Zaleskis explains to us: “Although they usually spare their audiences the epistemological niceties, medieval vision narratives follow Gregory’s lead in suggesting that what the protagonist saw, though real, should not accepted too literally. In his introduction to the Treatise on the Purgatory of St. Patrick, H. of Sawtry explains that Owen saw things “as if in corporeal form and likeness” simply because he was a corporeal and mortal man”.

There is a striking similarity between Gregory’s word and the comprehensive analysis of UFOS and close encounters by French researcher Jacques Vallees: again and again Vallees emphasizes that witnesses indeed had an experience which cannot explained away but we shouldn’t take the accounts of these events too literally. And he discovered the highly symbolic character of these modern visionary experiences.

The connection between these two persons from 600 Ad and the 20th century is an interesting aspect in investigating the otherworld in general: maybe we are always dealing with  the same phenomenon.

BUT this doesn’t mean that any encounter with the otherworld is just a mere psychic experience. It is a reality but an other reality hiding behind thousands of masks. There are more stunning similarities between Ufo-abductees and medieval travelers of the otherworld:

Again Mrs Zaleski says, that”the otherworld journey leaves its mark not only in conversion, austerities and other signs of reform, but also in long-lasting physical and emotional effects. Caesarius states, as if it were a commonly held opinion, that those who come back from the dead never laugh again. In addition the visionaries return to life afflicted (or blessed) with a variety of symptoms, some related to their illness, other of supernatural origin. Old wounds are healed, or new scars appear. Fursa bears a permanent burn mark on his shoulder and jaw from a flaming soul flung at him by a demon; Bede finds it quite wonderful that ‘what the soul suffered in secret, the flesh showed openly'”.

Again, these deep psychological and dangerous physical effects of the otherworld journey doesn’t apply only to the medieval return from the death story, but very much to the so-called abductees and victims of Forest Dark events like the story of Norwegian Olof who died after he rejected the queen of Elves deep in the forest.

TheForestDark will further investigate about these dangerous side effects of direct contact with the otherworld or the otherworld journey and report about previous events which happened in connection with the movie project.

See you soon again and be careful if you go out into the woods in the night!