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!








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