It’s very common that we encounter deep in the forest psychic forces which easily comb through our brain. They already know about our deepest fears and read any memory. What is happening in many stories reflects a lot of real accounts of close encounters both in UFO-sightings as in supernatural encounters. In the darkest places, there is not only telepathic reading of the mind, the strange entities are creating lively scenarios taken from the individual’s memories and driving the victim into madness.
Mind control and “cockpit” intrusion is a theme running through many books and films by Stephen King. The most elaborate description could be found in “Dreamcatcher” (Duddits). The individual human mind becomes the battleground and there is even a strategy to create a safe place where to store secrets in order to protect them from the alien entity.
King develops an interesting concept where we can see our mind as a non-material universe along the normal world. It’s like a building with storerooms with images of the past.
The “rooms” with the memories are always an interesting playground for evil entities. Another very good example is “IT”. Pennywise, the monster, has obviously the same abilities as an experienced psycho-analyst. He finds the weak spots. These dark entities skip through our memories like the files on a hard disk. When the psychotherapist needs years to bring back hidden or suppressed memories they act like a data reader. In a quick scan, they find what’s useful for them.
They have the ability to let these memories overwhelm the victim and they put you on a ride to the darkest corners of your life. They provoke reactions when the memories, for example, lead to a discussion and a fight inside a group of friends. The alien entities create also some sort of “fake news” or “fake memories” they mix with the real memory. They want to activate strong emotions like shame, guilt, and anger. In the end, there is violence and panic.
It can happen in a way that present reality mixes with images from the past. Places, situations, and people enter the reality like ghosts. A new virtual reality is created.
An excellent example is Adam Nevill’s recent successful forest horror novel and film “The Ritual” where the past overwhelms the group of friends in the middle of the forest. Somebody seems to know exactly about their backstories.
The concept appears also in prominent ghost house movies and books. Here is the house or the ghosts inhabiting the house are the mind scanners and creators of tormenting visions of the past.
In “The Shining”, the hotel knows everything about Jack Torrance and what he did to his son and his family. In the “Awakening”, written by Stephen Volk, the hero becomes overwhelmed by her past in a tragic way.
Is this just as convenient concept for any writer? Of course, it is a way which makes it easier to reveal backstories and there is also in my project an element where the forest triggers memories.
This comes not surprisingly since horror is always a road back into our childhood. Horror works best if the creator puts us back into the state of a child. Therefore we see in some stories these journeys back into the childhood but not necessarily. Also, traumatic experiences of adults are often the motive which comes up.
However, this is not something which came with fiction, fiction borrowed from reality. Alien entities that can read our minds are a very common experience.
It is a universal and archetypical experience with a long tradition. We see also similar images and stories which run straight through religious accounts, visionary experience, and modern Ufo-lore. A typical description is the grey aliens with their black impenetrable eyes looking directly into the human soul.
A very prominent motive is the light beam scanning the mind. The light beam originally often appears in a religious context and can be seen in many paintings in churches and illustration. Light beams are a central element in close encounters but interestingly also in visionary experience as out of body experiences. Light Beams scanning an observer are an element in records about dangerous lights in the forest.
Jacques Vallee found an example (in “Dimensions”) in Robert Monroe’s book “Out Of The Body”: “I suddenly felt bathed in and transfixed by a very powerful beam that seemed to come from the North, above 30 degrees above the horizon. I was completely powerless, with no will on my own, I felt as if I were in the presence of a very strong force, in personal contact with it. It had intelligence of a form beyond my comprehension, and it came directly (down the beam) into my head, and seemed to be searching every memory in my mind. I was truly frightened because I was powerless to do anything about this intrusion”.
Here we have all the key elements of this kind of paranormal experience of getting “scanned” by an unknown entity, which also happens in Ufo encounters a lot. There is often the mention of a cold intelligence, not benevolent but also not hostile in a common way. There is something very “technical” about this. Its as if the scanner is sort of a machine hiding behind different masks. Another good example is the Whitley Strieber experience in his book “Communion”, one of the most frightening books I ever read.
We see it also in the near-death experience. The traveler is often scrutinized and a “vivisection” of his character does happen.
Perhaps sometimes cultural knowledge and interpretation of anomalous experiences mix. The “reading of the past” of a person, of the sin or the guilt, is part of the Christian Beyond. When we are dying we will have to face last judgment. Thus, it is questionable what was there in the first place.
As Carol Zaleskis says in “Otherworld Journeys” the experience is often influenced by education. A Christian education with its rich world of images certainly had an influence on the interpretation of visionary experience, particularly in medieval times.
But one thing is for sure. The possibility that some “things” or entities have the abilities to look straight into our mind, data reading our innermost fears, is one of the terrifying aspects when the other world enters our world. Our very concept of survival lasts on the assumption that we can protect our thoughts and our memories. What if we can’t? What if there is right now some supernatural hacker sitting somewhere in a dimension close to our dimension and reading our thoughts like a remote controller? And even more, what if we are not any longer in control of our thoughts and our memories?
In the forest, there are places where a demonic twisting of the thoughts we already have can happen. In Algernon Blackwood’s masterpiece “The Willows” it’s not the physical assault which puts the forlorn heroes in deadly dangers. It is the intrusion into their minds because they stopped in the wrong place, where the veil between the dimensions is thinner. And sometimes there is somebody – the elder gods – sitting on the other side, waiting and listening, looking to find a victim.
There are more disturbing possibilities: What if “knowing somebody’s soul” is meaning more then scanning the mind? Could it mean there is someone out there even knowing about the souls’ past lives experiences and individual character? Sometimes we feel we meet the hidden screenwriter or director of our lives at certain points who doesn’t need a big scan of the mind since he already knows.