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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A real Forest Dark story of our days? English boy living for years in German woods

Last year, a 17 year old boy, who calls himself RAY, appeared at the reception of Berlin’s town hall and claimed he had been living in the woods for years. He speaks  only English and his mind seemed crystal clear. He said he had been living in the woods for five years together with his father after his mother died in an car accident. Recently his father had died because he had injured himself when falling. Before the father died he told the boy to move North. A compass were found in the belongings of the boy as fresh clothes. He doesn’t have any clue about his own identity rather than the first names of his parents, “Doreen” and “Ryan” and his own birthday.  He couldn’t tell in which forest he was living with his father, neither which country he originally comes from. A police search in Southern Brandenburg – where the police suspected the body of the dead father – didn’t lead to any result.  There has now been six month of intensive investigation without any progress about the boy’s identity. Social workers from Berlin’s youth welfare department say it is an extreme unusual case. They have experience with made-up stories brought up by teenagers, but in all cases they tell the truth sooner or later.  Berlin’s newspaper TAGESSPIEGEL raised an interesting question: even  if they boy lives in a fantasy or finally a complex mental disturbance will be revealed, there must be somebody who misses him, siblings, friends, neighbors.

There are indeed very strange circumstances here. Even it becomes apparent that the boy invented the story, many questions will remain: there are huge forests in Germany but there is no wilderness in the middle of Europe like 600 years ago. And living for five years in a forest isn’t an easy thing. There are indeed people living in the forest even in our days. Last week a man died who lived for years in Berlin’s Grunewald, however he was with a tent and he was well known to the hunters and authorities. Living undetected for years in the woods seems very difficult and how did they survive the extreme last winters?

Whatever the result of the investigation might be, the forest has kept its mythical qualities in our days: in this case we read a story which sounds from another time. It seems that sometimes stories we usually would say are a thing of the past or folklore can suddenly erupt in our rational world of today.

BECOMING A DEMON CAN BE A GOOD THING (SOMETIMES)

In many countries in Europe people believe that in the cold and stormy winter nights the “wild hunt” is roaming the skies. It is better to stay at home at certain nights. There are 12 particular nights called in German the “Rauhnächte” between “Saint Thomas Night” till January 6, which are the most dangerous nights. It is the time of the longest nights of the year and our ancestors were simply afraid the sun might not return.

The “Wild Hunt” is the army of lost souls and hellish creatures and they are out hunting for more souls. In some northern myths it is Odin or Wotan leading the Wild hunt, sometimes it is simply the “wild hunter”.

Beware if somebody or something knocks at your door or even your window during one of these nights! If you are out and hear the army of ghosts avoid looking up. Because you could become mad, or worse, the curse can come upon you and then you become part of the “wild hunt”.

Modern scientists may say that certain weather-patterns triggered this kind of ideas. In middle Europe there are often strong west-wind drifts with lows and storms around Christmas. Not long ago previous generations had a different interpretation of weather-phenomena. The howling of the wind and the disturbing noises in the forest may have triggered the imagination.

There are also more disturbing theories and speculations. Some say that this is a time where the gates between our world and the other world are open. Malevolent radiation from beneath and from the skies is around.  Maybe. What I can tell you is that strange dreams are not the only thing that happens during these nights.

The people in the Alpine countries had certain strategies to protect themselves from the dark energies. One idea is to become the demon yourself. Till today there are huge celebrations with masks and with different kinds of demon-costumes, similar to the traditions of carnival which has also pagan origins. Fact is that traditions like this exist all around the world, think of Indian tribes or Voodoo ceremonies.

I think it is more behind these traditions rather than symbolically exorcising the winter demons (which is a common interpretation of the spectacle). By becoming the demon yourself for some moments you get more familiar with the demonic forces. Feel the demon and you know what you are dealing with.

This sounds to me a good ritual preparation for any journey into the OTHERWORLD. But what I need to know is how do I shift my role back again, what, if I forget that I am not the demon?

My guess is that our ancestors had the appropriate rituals to end the role play. The societies of the masked men in the villages, often called the “Perchten”, have a lot of strict rules and keep their secret knowledge. And not any one is allowed to play a demon or “Percht” during the long nights.

But what about modern men?

Aren’t we more vulnerable to become possessed? Without the right rituals the demons will play their game in The Forest Dark.