I grew up in a house haunted by its seventeenth century builder. Voices, strange footfalls, shadows and even a few full apparitions went a long way to convince me at an early age that there was more to this world than met the eye (he actually seemed to have a certain fondness for me). I was even more sure of this when I went to college at a small rural university with a long history of paranormal events: the voice of a child heard crying in the chapel at midnight, a grey woman who screamed at passerby and so forth. One friend of mine admitted to having seen a gnome once, while another — a Christian very secure in his faith — prayed to see angels and got quite a bit more than he bargained for. He claimed that he not only began seeing angels, but demons and, as I recall, other things as well.
I believe very strongly in a greater world than we commonly imagine, populated by any number of strangenesses (fear my vagaries). Neither do we live in a Newtonian universe … but then it may be a pointless exercise to claim the obvious.
So … where do we live and with whom ?
Well, I don’t plan on writing a National Geographic style article on the supernatural, but I do have two things to say about this.
First of all, many people talk about a veil that separates us from an Otherworld: a veil that parts at certain times and is thinner in certain places. I think this is a somewhat applicable model that describes many experiences, but I don’t think that it is wholly accurate. This model presumes two fixed “realms” that meet at certain times/places, but my experience has been far more fluid — far more capable of ‘in-between’ states and places than this model suggests. The Other is always with us. The only veil is our own inability to engage with it, and the ability to do so is dependent on an abstract quality that the Gael call ‘firinne’ – Truth. This is far more than any sort of moral rectitude or convenient constancy of speech and thought. It is a transcendent virtue that determines every aspect of our capabilities. For fighters it wins fights. For seers it ‘parts the veil’ and for musicians it determines the quality of their music.
Secondly, I believe that anything can exist — anything. Our physical world is a manifestation or projection of Spirit, of mind and heart, divinity and principle. As such, there is more Spirit than physical matter and thus more essences than substances .i. “more worlds than are dreamt of in your philosophy”.
If I seem vague and merely suggestive, it is because there is only so much that I can say and admit to absolute belief. I can say that I believe in dragons, in Archangels or in gnomes, but what does all that mean? It would be more accurate to say that I believe in something called dragons, something else we call Arch-angels and gnomes in our limited understanding, but still more accurate is to say that I believe in possibility and leave it to what may happen .i. strange women appearing in my apartment and putting me to sleep.
The title of this post (Andomhain / Annwyfn) I drew from an article I read in the Zeitschrift für Celtische Philologie. It reconstructed a Celtic view of the Supernal, Visible and Underworlds based on Welsh and Gaelic words. It claimed that the Gaelic Alba was originally a word for the ‘Bright World’ above and Annwfn of Welsh tradition (See the Mabinogion: Pwyll) was basically An-Domhan: the deep or extreme world .i. the underworld. I have not experienced either of these, but I name this post that because such is the only evidence I have ever seen for a Celtic idea of an Otherworld.