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Otherworld As Apocalypse: Another Dimension Or A Prospect For The Future?

Usually, we think of the Otherworld in a spatial way. As another layer of heightened reality or another higher dimension. However, there is also a temporal dimension here. Prominent examples are mythical stories about a magical past. Most of the fantasy literature uses mythical past as a concept. It is the premise of most fairy tales. The mythic past is often reminiscent of medieval times. Or it is the Golden Age. It is a reality full of wonders, dragons, wizards and magic. In some stories this mythic dimension is destroyed for different reasons. It is then replaced by a bleak and soulless reality. That is a very familiar idea.

However, there is another prominent idea. This is an idea about an darker otherworld which is replacing ordinary idea in the future. It’s simple the apocalypse. At a closer look the apocalypse is a much more complex thing as we usually think. If we refer to apocalypse most people associate some sort of catastrophe or doomsday. And most of the time apocalypse refers to Revelation to John, also called Book of Revelation or Apocalypse of John. This is an important book in the Bible.

The Book Of Revelation is indeed a doomsday vision. Total destruction, plague, the rising of monstrous creatures. It is in some ways like a feverish dream with fear and terror. The four horsemen of the apocalypse appear, which present conquest, war, famine, and death. The apocalypse in The Book Of Revelation unfolds as drama. Seven seals are broken and the destruction and annihilation of the world as we know it happens.

A new kind of reality follows the destruction of the common world, which is the hope of believers. This new world would be some sort of Otherworld. And that part of the vision is important for believers and it played a crucial role for the early Christians in the first century. It was a useful “tool”. However, it triggered also fundamentalism and radical movements.

The Apocalypse Is A Genre

The idea of the Apocalypse is much older as the Revelation of John and was indeed a popular genre. It appears also in the Old Testament. As a genre there are certain stable conventions. There is a narrator, a prophet who has a visionary experience. The core of the visionary experience is a sort of revelation, a sort of new knowledge what reality is about.

This is the real core of the term. The Greek verb “Apo Kalypto” meaning ‘uncover; disclose, reveal’. It is the UNVEILING. If the assume that the Otherworld is the “real world” and we live in the world of shadows (see Platons Caves) it makes sense that Apocalypse can be the future coming of the otherworld.

There is also a psychological interpretation of Apocalypse going back to C.G. Jung which was suggested by Edward. F. Edinger in “The Archetype Of Apocalypse“. He sees the idea of the apocalypse not just as a genre but as an archetype, something like a living psychic agency which floats at the bottom of the unconscious.

As a vision the apocalypse was very vivid at critical times as the first century B.C.. Scientists in a documentary series by network ARTE pointed out that it was then a problem when the Apocalypse not happened as announced. Early Christians expected to experience the Apocalypse in their lifetime. Some of them even embraced the burning of Rome as sign of the Apocalypse.

Some scientists think that the “failed delivery” of the Apocalypse was helpful for the rise of gnostic ideas. Here the Otherworld is not the coming of a new world in the future, it is more another dimension. It is the real world which is hidden. The gnostics tried to get closer to this hidden Otherworld with the help of rites and practices.

Both conceptions are alive through all the centuries. These ideas are not bound to a certain religion. They represent very fundamental and mythological ideas. Most people are familiar with it in some way. However, both the Otherworld as temporal and the Otherworld as a spatial dimension are simplifications. These are useful models and also useful in a political sense. Christianity and other religions developed these models further because they suited their missionary efforts.

What should we believe in?

If we look deeper into visionary experiences or even our most advanced models of higher dimension in modern physics it is more like the Otherworld and ordinary world are not separated. The Otherworld is right here and it is happening right now. Let’s remember the original meaning of Apocalypse: Unveiling. We don’t see it because there is a veil. For example in near death experiences, but also in Ufo encounters there might be cases where the witness says he was transported to another place but the coordinates doesn’t suggest any meaningful “travel route”. The witness could have been anywhere. The problem – or if we want “the veil” – is that our brain is not really fit to think beyond spatial and temporal dimensions. Thus, we will live on with these conceptions.

In stories, movies and in series we always use “portals” as gateways between our dimension and the otherworldly realm. There are both portals between spatial dimensions but some portals seem have a more temporal quality. Time travellers use portals too. In folk stories often somebody enters a cave and returns a hundred years later. David Lynch’s Twin Peaks – The Return series shows a perhaps more accurate or more sophisticated worldview. It suggests that our world and the dimension of the otherworld are interwoven in many and mysterious ways.

Will the apocalypse actually happen?

What about all these myths and belief-systems suggesting that there will be a doomsday event followed by a new world, sometimes sort of a heaven, sometimes more a hellish uncanny Otherworld? Of course, there is no final answer to this. It is remarkable how vivid, active and powerful the “archetype of apocalypse” is. It is one of the most compelling ideas. Apocalyptic visions seems to be as old as mankind. They occur often in visionary experiences. They have ups and downs. Around the end of the first millennium apocalyptic thinking was very strong. As for the end of the second millenium there was a peak of doomsday predictions. Same in 2012. The End times is always around the corner. Remarkable a climate change at the end of the middle ages and the beginning of modern times was also a period where the doomsday expectation where high. The doomsday fever was accompanied by intimidating sinister apparitions as the celestial phenomena above Nuremberg. The plague and the 30 years war literally erased populated areas. It was indeed apocalypse.

However, there was no new beginning, no relief, no heaven on Earth after that. Nevertheless, the world-view changed, it was the beginning of the age of modern science. Thus, there was indeed some sort of unveiling. Perhaps, there is literal truth in the coming of the Apocalypse. We might consider to think in different time spans as we are used to. The coming of the otherworld could be also seen as a constant process. As we look into deep space with sophisticated telescopes we learn about catastrophes of unimaginable dimensions. Whole galaxies collide, radio and gamma bursts might destroy many worlds, monstrous black holes are lurking in deep space. Of course, there will be a doomsday. But not a day. It could be sort of a transformation lasting for eons. It is good not to simplify. Maybe it has already begun and we can only see vaguely through that big veil what’s really going on or what is coming.

So, what about all these apocalyptic visions with a sheer incredible imagination? This is where most of this stuff comes from. From the psyche. We have apocalyptic dreams, we have visions, premonitions, revelations and sudden overwhelming experiences. It is even true that apocalyptic imaginary is a dominant theme throughout all times. Therefore, there is some sense behind the idea of an archetype of apocalypse. Perhaps we may never know but it seems like an unknown source is projecting these images from somewhere in space in time directly into our consciousness. The frequency and the intensity seems to change, but it is a bit like what Jacques Vallée said that there seems to be somewhere a projectionist creating these images. Who, what or where that source is we don’t know.

Peter Engelmann, July 13, 2022


The multiverse concept gained huge popularity over the last years. The idea that along our dimension countless other universes exist is an old one. It appeared in theoretical science for some time but even the Ancient Greek philosophers had already similar ideas. But it isn’t science in the first place, it is popular storytelling in films and series which accelerated multiverse concepts as new world views.

The Rise Of The Multiverse

The idea of parallel universes in films or series centres around the idea that there are several or countless universes which showcase different “possible” realities. Sometimes this universes are very similar, sometimes the show very different options or alternative realities different from our ordinary reality. Famous Malaysian actress Michelle Yeoh (Hidden Dragon, Crouching Tiger, James Bond) seems to have a special relationship with multiverse concepts in film and TV: She was an outstanding character in Star Trek – Discovery where she appears as Emperor Philippa Georgiou in the mirror universe of the Terrans. In the first place in the normal universe she was a Starfleet commander and mentor of Michael Burnham, the main character. Now, Michelle Yeoh is the lead actor in the successful movie “Everything Everywhere All At Once” where she has to face more than two different universes. The appeal of the movie is related to the old “what if?” idea: The heroine, a Chinese migrant, explores the other lives in other universes she could have lived but did not in her normal universe where she comes from.

What if our everyday reality is only a realisation of one of many options, and what if we could flip through different “timelines” of our lives as we flip through different TV-channels in the evening?

The concept of the multiverse attracts writers as audiences because it allows you to play around with different possibilities of one and the same thing. In Star Trek Georgiou is a positive figure in the “normal universe” but appears as a completely different character in the Terran parallel universe. The character changes over time and one typical aspect is the implication that the character in the parallel universe represents hidden aspects of the character in the normal universes.

Both in the movie and in the Star Trek series there are travellers between the different universes. In many of theses movies portals or hidden trapdoors allow the actors to slip through between different worlds. And it is also always an interesting question if and how the different universes interact. Another very common idea in storytelling is that something which happens in one universe can have an effect in another universe.

I think one reason why we embrace the multiverse concept is there is that ever present secret wish that we could change the course of our lives if we could go backwards in time. Avoid the things we regret later. Avoid the mistakes. Experience that one alternative possibility, that path we didn’t chose but is still in our heads. But we would like to have that backdoor too, which allows us to continue our normal lives.

Is the idea of the multiverse only a concept for shows to have more options in storytelling?

At the moment the question if the multiverse really exists is theoretical. Even there are news announcements from time to time about some “discovery” there is no definite proof all scientists would agree with. That’s something physicist Clifford V. Johnson said in a recent interview on the Science and Entertainment YT Channel.

Nevertheless there are numerous multiverse concepts in science. This seems like a logical development since we see an expanse of our idea of the universe. We discovered that our planet is not the only one and not the center of the universe, later we discovered there are countless of galaxies and we find more and more exoplanets every day. Why not having parallel universes? The other idea is the quantum multiverse. Quantum physics suggests these possibilities.

Evidence in a normal sense might be a difficult thing to come by. However, the concept of a multiverse is real because we can relate to it. Most people would agree that they only exist in our universe but for example dreams suggest sometimes different realities with different options. What would have happened if…? It is normal that we create that type of multiverse in our imagination. These are alternative universes which are very similar to our own. And then there are these countless mysterious stories all around the world. From people who vanished and suddenly where back. Maybe there are glitches in our reality where the boundaries between different universes are momentarily blurred.

There are many more ideas out there. What about a multiverse where time runs backwards Perhaps our laws of nature do not apply there? Or our logic might not work? Thus, the multiverse concepts are not so far away from the idea of the otherworld. Otherworld concept in different cultures are full of fantastic dimensions which work in a complete different way as our common everyday world.

As with the otherworld we should ask, where are these other universes? Are there far away or are they right here? Do they overlap with our ordinary reality? Or is it impossible to cross from one universe to another?

Again, contemporary science might not give us the answers we are seeking for. There are certainly yet many theories out there which might be proven some day. What we have is the imagination and the hints of a deeper reality. It is the idea of a deeper reality as represented in the outstanding series Twin Peaks – The Return. A multiverse would be a very helpful model to interpret the different interwoven timelines in David Lynch’s and Mark Frost’s masterpiece. However, there is an important thing here which makes a difference if we compare it to Marvel movies presenting a multiverse. It is not like different levels in a game. It keeps its mystery. A thing I am working on with the Forest Dark Movie project too. Keeping the true nature of the multiverse a mystery. Because this is what it will be for us. We might get to a more complex worldview in time. But we shouldn’t go for a reductionist model of the world. If we see it as a fantastic and mysterious world we might be as close to the truth as we can ever hope for.

Peter Engelmann, May 24, 2022


Premonition or a foreboding feeling is a common experience. There are many reports from witnesses when it comes to strange occurrences in the woods or mysterious missing cases. People tell that they had a certain premonition about something bad which could happen. Some have even a sudden feeling of panic. According to many experiences we hear over time premonition save sometimes somebody’s life. Most prominent are the testimonies of people which avoided a certain journey or avoided to to a certain thing. They avoided to board the Titanic or didn’t get on an airplane which later crashed. Sometimes they miss a train purposely and later the train has an accident. Mountain climbers avoid a climb on a certain day because they have a bad feeling. It’s hard to tell if these accounts are really true or if they were only coincidences. The “Final Destination” franchise used that phenomenon as a central motive.

However, what is for sure that these kind of feelings or premonitions exist in a way. Sometimes you wake up the morning and there is that anxiety and that certain feeling something has happened or is about to happen. It may just be a feeling but sometimes there is a truth in it when we look back at that day or that certain morning later. We knew something was going on. It could be life changing events as a war starting or more personal things like some news about a relative arriving later the day.

Prophetic dreams

Premonition happens on many levels. There are also prophetic dreams and the well known phenomenon of precognition. These experiences are not so much about a feeling. They are more distinct. It is about events of the future. These events are presented either in a symbolic way or as images which tell what will happen. Premonition can be about something which will happen very soon, even in next moment. But it could be happen in a distant future too.

This is of course an even more well known thing. Premonition leads to prophecies. The people who had that premonition or which had “seen” something are called prophets. Religious scripture established that model in our culture. It is obvious that this phenomenon dates much further back in times. Premonitions are visionary experiences. Shamans saw what will happen in the future during their otherworldly journeys.

A very typical thing are prophetic dreams. Very often people think what they dream will happen in some way in the future. These future events are often seen in a distorted or metaphorical way.

It is notable that so-called alien abduction accounts or near death experiences are also full about visions about events in the future. They are modern counterparts of the shaman’s journey.

Apocalyptic Content

Very often there is an apocalyptic content portrayed in these premonitions. There is a long tradition from religious scripture too. The archetype of apocalypse is established in the book of revelation. There is often a lot of material in modern “accounts” which seems somehow similar or borrowed from the book of revelation.

Modern prophets as the visionaries from the alpine region, from the Bavarian Forest or south-east Europe predicted World War I and World War II. There are many visions about an apocalyptic Third World War including nuclear doomsday scenarios. They often mention certain signs occurring as harbingers of the apocalypse. Nature is changed as for example the forest should be damaged or society is falling apart. Some of these reports or their originators are questionable. Often there is no documentation when something was said in the first place. Or the premonitions are vague like a lot of the famous Nostradamus predictions. They could be interpreted in many ways.

Emanuel Swedenborg

But there are well documented cases too like the Swedenborg visions. Emanuel Swedenborg was a philosopher, mystic, theologian and scientist. He lived from 8 February 1688 til 29 March 1772. The well known fire anecdote is not exactly a premonition. It was something he saw before the inner eye whereas a fire broke out in Stockholm on 19 July 1759 far away from where he stayed. Swedenborg was about 400 km from Stockholm in Gothenburg. During dinner he suddenly became agitated and told friends there is a fire in Stockholm. During that time there was of course no TV or telephone. News travelled slow. It is one of the best documented cases. Swedenborg was also ahead of his time in many ways.

Swiss psychologist Jung had a premonition in 1914 shortly before the beginning of World War I when he dreamed about rivers of blood in Europe. In more modern times psychics reported visions about climate change and disasters.

Stories about strange events in dark forests are full of premonitions. And the forest seems to be a place which is more common for people to have strange foreboding feelings, visions about the future and premonitions. A famous prophet in the Bavarian Forest, the “Muehlhiasl” received his apocalyptic visions at a certain place in the forest, the “Rabenstein”.

Shamans are walking and disappearing in the woods for the days to get visions about the futures. It is hard to tell what the truth here is. Do some people have a certain gift, a talent or a certain sense which allows them to see into other dimensions or into the future? It seems that nearly everybody has an experience with ominous foreboding feelings or some sort of premonition. Perhaps this is a very healthy instinct. It is more alive deep in the woods or deep in the wilderness. It might be a survival instinct.

However what does that mean in the end of the day? If we can feel or foresee potential events in the future our common model of reality must be wrong in some way. Is it all about superstition? Not necessarily. If we look into models of a reality which consists of many dimensions time is not what we think. Think of the Fifth dimension in Interstellar. “Through the darkness of future past, the magician longs to see, one chance out between two worlds, fire walk with me!” (David Lynch, Twin Peaks).

Peter Engelmann, March 31.03.2022

How Does The Otherworld Look Like?

Frankly, I believe there is no serious right answer to this. It is also true, that men tried to imagine the otherworld since the early ancient beginnings. Religious literature and art are full of descriptions of the otherworld. Artists used their imagination and talent to give us an incredible amount of ideas about what the otherworld might look like. The unknown authors of creation myths formed our ideas about mythical forlorn landscapes. People who had a near-death experience gave us numerous accounts of otherworld journeys.

In Christianity often heaven is a synonym of the otherworld. It is often depicted as a brightly illuminated paradise. However, this is only one of the endless ideas about the otherworld. Our idea of the otherworld is strongly influenced by Celtic culture. The Celtic Otherworld is a plane of another reality, a strange country or a higher dimension surrounding our ordinary world. It is more or less a kind of a mirror world hidden at a secret place. That otherworld has many names, for example Annwn (Welsh), Albios, Bitu and Dubnos in Gaul, or Tír na nÓg in Ireland. It is a place for myth and fantastic stories. The epic stories about King Arthur resemble that idea about the otherworld. For example the enchanted island of Avalon.

There are much darker ideas about the otherworld too. It can be Hades, the land of the dead, an in-between zone between the living and the dead, a bleak Netherland or simply hell. The otherworld, of course, is a constant theme in film and television.

We will find countless variations about ideas of what the otherworld looks like. Commonly the otherworld resembles somehow our own world. Reality might be different in the otherworld. There might be different rules in the otherworld. Wonders are possible in the otherworld. Time runs sometimes backward in the otherworld. Things are not what they seem in the otherworld. Nevertheless, the otherworld is familiar. It is a fairy tale landscape or a dangerous zone (the terra incognita where dragons live) but it is still a terrain we can somehow understand.

Which ideas are correct?

This is a critical question but there might no answer to this too. It is critical in human history, since the “right idea” about the higher realms is often connected with power. It is part of religious war to impress others with powerful images. However if we reflect about the otherworld there is no right or wrong. It is indeed important to ask much deeper and sometimes troubling questions. Is the otherworld a spatial thing? Where is the otherworld? Is the otherworld comparable to our reality? Is the otherworld really separated from our world? Maybe our world, our everyday reality is simply a part of the otherworld.

Dualism might be wrong

The Matrix Franchise is culturally very influential on how we think when it comes to “this world” vs “other world”. The “blue pill, “red pill” dichotomy is widely accepted. It means, that you have one choice between two sets of reality. Ordinary reality is “fake”. Behind there is a deeper reality which is the one and only right reality. What has been a memorable movie scene and cultish idea once is in the end an oversimplification. It is a reductionist dualism evading the fact that reality is much more complex. The otherworld is a complex thing that is perhaps impossible to understand in itself. We see the flipside in the abuse of the blue pill red pill idea by conspiracy theorists. The problem is as old as history. False prophets promise to enlighten audiences pretending to know the real world behind our “fake” world. However, there is no proof that there is any other world that is more real than our world and furthermore, nobody knows exactly what that world looks like.

There are signs of higher dimensions, higher realities, other worlds intermingling with our own. The otherworld is the very fabric of reality. In some moments it might be possible to take a glimpse into that fabric. Imagination is key. The otherworld is not strictly inside or outside too. We may have already stored images of the otherworld inside of us. In some moments we are able to remember these images. Therefore, there is no right or wrong here. The otherworld is not some distant country. It is right here and there in this very moment.

Virtual reality

The raising era of virtual realty can trigger a new and broader worldview. Even there are many new possibilities for deception we become more acquainted to a more complex idea of reality. There is one thing about virtual reality and that is that it is kind of reality creation. There is a creator making up these images but mixing them with real stuff.

Perhaps there is a similarity here: We might also create images on our own if we enter an unknown realm because otherwise we could not cope with that higher realm. The true nature of that otherworld is so different or so incomprehensible it would blow our mind in the blink of a second.

This is perhaps what visionary experience is about. We have countless accounts of visionary experiences as near-death-experiences, shaman journeys, drug-induced-experiences, experiences in meditation and extreme situation, supernatural encounters, dreams, alien-abduction-records. Even as we see that there is a cultural influence (the images resemble sometimes the culture in which a witness lives) there is no uniform “look” of the otherworld. It might be a product of individual imagination, a real outer realm or higher dimension which cannot be encompassed by the human mind.

The Projectionist

Finally there might be the projections from an outer source. The rich imaginary, the experiences which can’t be identified by some personal memory, the high strangeness suggest some sort of “projectionist”. Somebody who is creating otherworldly images. In 2001 the hotel or the 18th century suite is created by an alien entity which doesn’t reveal itself. In the story of Richard Clarke we don’t learn where Bowman actually has been.

Perhaps some otherworldly imaginaries (as experienced in near death experience or visionary encounters) are kind of a message. There is no proof here but if we learn to read the images of the otherworld from any source we know we might get a better idea about the otherworld itself in the end.

Peter Engelmann, February 13, 2022