And there is no new thing under the sun
What we imagine to be ‘new and fresh’ in our world is just the result of a rehashing and recombining process; Making new patterns with the limited set of pieces already in play.
The truly ‘novel’ has a real task on it’s hands, if it wants to enter our world. The first hurdle for it, is to be actually noticed! How can we recognise something that we haven’t actually seen before?
‘Strange’ things can happen at intersections and boundary areas though and there are many tales of people who have had such encounters with the ‘other’. Of course, they are wholly unreliable, but then how could such an interaction ever be certain and predictable?
I’m late, I'm late, for a very important date.
The transition between the worlds is often heralded by a luminous messenger.
I enjoy the idea that there are other worlds running side by side with ours. And at certain times the boundaries between such worlds can become slightly more transparent. Doorways might open up for the unwary traveller.
The fallen grandeur of lost hope
Parallel to our world and interpenetrating at many places lies a strange land. It seems characterized by a fallen…
I remember ‘the Magic Faraway Tree’, read to me as a child, and the various worlds that intersected with ours through the hole in the cloud at the top of the tree. There was a definite time for each world to be close and to stay too long in that world was to risk being trapped and lost in that land forever.
In our ‘fairy tales’ and superstitions the ‘quarter days’ (Candlemas, May Day, Lammas and Halloween), were thought to be dangerous times, when the ‘other’ world was particularly close to ours. They are so called ‘fairy moving days’, where the Fae folk are abroad and the ‘wild hunt’ rides.
There seems a grandeur and yet sadness to these processions, for the participants appear cursed and to be forever restless, traversing from place to place till Doomsday; Never to find peace.
Tales of people having ‘strange’ encounters during a time or at a place when the veil between the worlds is thinner, are always mercurial and inconsistent, at least superficially. How could they be otherwise?
An observer can only translate the unknown into something that is known; An approximate analogue conjured by our minds as a ‘place-holder’. The ineffable translated into our ‘five senses’.
So we hear reports of the smell of cardboard, sulphur and cinnamon, or sightings of tiny little wrinkled old men wearing bobble hats. In a group of observers, all will have a slightly different take on what is happening. A consensus can spring up amongst people though, with one person observing and saying something and then suddenly everyone else can see it too.
This is further clouded by the possibility that it is not only our world that appears to have changed but also our consciousness as well. We are in an altered state and when we return to ‘normal’, a further barrier of perception is put in place. The encounter takes on the quality of a half remembered dream and all we are left with is the idea that something very strange happened, together with a memory of the strong emotions that accompanied it.
An interesting tale of just such an odd encounter is that of the ‘Wollaton Park Gnomes’.
On 23 Sept 1979, seven primary school children went for an early evening walk in Wollaton Park in Nottingham. These children were then approached by about thirty small vehicles each with a gnome driver and passenger. The vehicles did not seem to obey the normal rules of physics and were able to jump over logs and left no marks in the mud.
The children reported that there was no noise from the engines. This silence seems quite emblematic, like somehow being caught in a bubble. It is almost as though the sounds of our world are switched off and are replaced by those of a more ‘internal’ nature; Those buzzes, tunings, cracks, clicks and silent explosions we hear just on the edge of sleep.
I was struck by the primary coloured clothing and vehicles that the children reported. Green, blue, yellow and red. There seems to be something ‘elemental’ about this. (earth, water, air and fire). They are so reminiscent of an odd dream i had as a child: I had somehow met up with four little figures each fully decked out in one of these primary colours and they were wearing coloured ‘ludo playing piece’ hats! I was offered one of the hats and although it was tiny and thimble sized, if i held it on to my head it caused me to float in the air. A common enough flying dream I suppose, but this one really stuck in my mind.
Time appears to run at different rates in each world. Missing time is a common theme when looking at tales of an encounter with ‘the other’. Sometimes we hear stories of unwary travellers spending what seems like only one night gaily dancing with a faerie host, only to return to their own world and many years have gone by. Conversely a traveller could spend what seems like an entire lifetime in the other world, Only to be thrust back to their own world, often unwittingly as they had forgotten where they had actually come from. On return they find only an instant of time has passed and they must now pick up the pieces of their old life.
There is always an element of transformation involved in these meetings and a real difficulty to ‘fit back in’. Something fundamental has been dislodged and shaken.
The imprudent will often find that very different rules apply in these other worlds.
The ante seems to have been upped. When we hear that, ‘A man’s word is his bond’ we tend to take it with a pinch of salt, but if we give any credence to the tales that have come back to us, then within these boundary conditions, words uttered and actions undertaken definitely have binding consequences.
Whatever we say or do there, seems to carry real weight. All these stories of ‘Faustian’ type bargains appear to hinge on us being urged ‘Just say the words’. We need to voice permission to bypass the safe cocoon that protects us. Denizens of these realms cannot do what they like. We also must agree and be complicit, and this is where the trickery, word-play, riddles and mischief come in to it
Another common theme is the warning, not to partake of the food and drink in the other world. Eating and drinking is one of the most intimate contacts we can have with a world. It seals the deal. It could be interpreted as a form of consent that i now belong to this world; I am no longer a traveller here.
Transition between worlds
The motif of the transition between two worlds feels very resonant.
It is believed by some that the thoughts and emotions we have here in our normal consensual reality, become embodied forms in more ‘subtle’, so called ‘higher’ dimensions; Forms that can have an ‘independent’ semblance of life and can accumulate and gain ‘power’.
‘Food’ in another realm made from the forms found there, might therefor have a very different meaning to the food we use to nourish our physical bodies here.
Parallel worlds are not a new concept.
The Gnostics, two thousand years ago, posited that ‘in the beginning’ an anomalous ‘life form’ arose, separate from the much later ‘natural arising’ of man. This ‘race’ has a vast intelligence, for they are older than the hills and existed aeons before ‘man’ set foot on this world.
But they are also the lost ones; Outside the natural process. And there is a profound sadness and melancholy associated with that, despite their reputation for dancing, music and merrymaking
Their development has ‘been allowed’ to proceed with little guidance and we can see something akin to a ‘lord of the flies’ scenario. We also see the symbolism of Neverland, Peter Pan and the lost boys; An abandonment by the guiding and nourishing force.
Theirs is a reflected light; Borrowed and not their own.