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.


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.





Aldous Huxley’s Mind At Large And The Filters Of Reduction

Sometimes I would love to see the faces in the wood, too, or just peek into the otherworld.

Wouldn’t we all like to see what the great shaman sees?



Aldous Huxley wrote in “The Doors of Perception” (from 1954) that “each person is at each moment capable of remembering all that has ever happened to him and perceiving everything that is happening everwhere in the universe. The function of the brain and nervous system is to protect us from being overwhelmed and confused by this mass of largely useless and irrelevant knowledge, by shutting out most of what we should otherwise perceive or remember at any moment, and leaving only that very small and special selection which is likely to be practically useful. According to such a theory, each one of us is potentially Mind at Large”.

Huxley, influenced by C.D. Broad, means that psychedelic drugs are thought to disable filters which block or suppress signals related to mundane functions from reaching the conscious mind. He explores the idea that the human mind filters reality, partly because handling the details of all the impressions coming in would be unbearable, partly because it has been taught so.

The suggested devices are so called psychotropic drugs, mescaline in Huxley’s case, but often magic mushrooms ( which can be found in the forests) are a popular drug.  In my research I learned a lot about the effects of dangerous short-cuts into the Otherworld.

But the dangers are not only there because of the toxic effect of drugs, which may send people straight to the hospital or into mental care.

There are some very interesting implications in Aldous Huxley’s words. He says that your personal reduction filter is there to protect you from being overwhelmed and confused by the mass of irrelevant information. True. Highly sensitive people, artists or writers will certainly agree.

I am afraid there are more reasons for the reduction filter to be installed in our mind. I would like to take the liberty to compare our minds for a moment with modern computers (of course they are not alike the human mind but I make use of it as a metaphor).

What will happen if you shut down the filters in your computer, for example the firewall or the virus-scan?

Your computer is becoming vulnerable, the doors opened to any kind of intrusion. It can become a zombie, remote controlled and abused for any kind of sinister operation as being part of a bot-net. You can get more easily deceived or anybody can spy you out.

Now think of the hungry souls eager to get enlightened or, more often, get redeemed.

Without the firewalls of the ego the soul may become an easy prey for any kind of demonic energy.

Philosopher and novelist Patrick Harpur gives us a pretty good idea about the nature of these forces. In his highly acclaimed book “Daimonic reality” he writes: “What the daimons in dreams seek is our ability, through reflection and pondering, through all our making and doing, to give shape to their dynamic shape-shifting; to order and discriminate their chaos; to body forth their ethereal volatility; to express their, not the ego’s perspectives”.

This might not only be true for dreams but even more for some kind of drug-influenced altered states. I think it would be even possible to overrun the natural barriers of the ego, making it a puppet (think of some of the religious prophets, who claimed they received word from god and became great preachers and inspired fundamentalistic belief-systems).

The Forest Dark is often a place where people not only find magic mushrooms but seek for extraordinary experiences. Sometimes they are not the same when they return home, if they ever return.

However there is more interesting thought in Huxley’s words. Of course, we should learn to overcome the limitations and many filters of reduction in a healthy sense. Huxley suggests that the mind is also trained in a certain way, which is certainly true. Since we are little children we are told what we should see and what we shouldn’t see.

The energy of reduction is a strong demonic force, too. Some people belief the crisis of the Western world is because we have become over-rational and loosing our imagination. Not only inside our brain, no, the soldiers of reduction seem to be everywhere, watching carefully. There are always people around who want to tell you the “right” interpretation of the world.

As much as we need reduction to survive – the sheer endless amount of information created in the internet will trigger new strategies of reduction – we need to stay alert, if we do not want to get manipulated. Yes, we need to fight reduction and the reductionist particular in our days, since the dark side of the force has been grown very strong and distract us more and more from imagination and – as Harpur points out in his book- leads us to depersonalization.

Nevertheless we have to know about the right rituals and prepare our journeys into the Forest Dark carefully and always remember the words of  the master about us living in a forest dark:

“The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far”.

(H.P. Lovecraft, The Call Of Cthulhu)