When my son was two he saw faeries dancing along the wooded path behind our house in Canada. Now that we live in the Northern Isles of Scotland my daughter is seeing other things. We are renting an old farmhouse: a one storey, traditional house significantly altered to increase its space (4 beds, 1 bath, a large kitchen and sitting room). The original building is mid nineteenth century and the site boasts one of the few trees in the area.
Anyway, Saoirse, who turned two last May, came running out of the kitchen a couple nights ago terrified and refusing to go back in because she was ‘scared of the red dragon’. When mo bhean tried to convince her all was safe, Saoirse refused to go back in. Then when my boy tried to lead her in by the hand and show her that there was nothing there, Saoirse held back, glaring at the kitchen table as if there was something there. Now it wasn’t clear whether she was looking at the table, under it or out the large window that sits over the table, but she definitely was looking at something.
The island had a long standing reputation for … weirdness … and there were very many witches burned not a ten minute’s walk from my house. There are stories of local farmers who got in good with the local trolls – trows or trowies, as they call them here – and reaped significant financial benefit or were taken on long windswept flights across the island. The most recent reference that I have found to a sighting of the trows was in World War II, when a naval officer from England stationed here with the fleet stumbled across a group of them dancing on the cliffs of a neighboring island during a massive storm. I recall one evening when we were staying at a temporary rental out on a far side of the island; while preparing for bed I looked out one of the skylights in the washroom and had the very unnerving feeling that something was sitting on the other side looking back in at me.
Twilightening posted the following quotation from Thom Hartmann’s “The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight”
In ‘The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind,’ Columbia University psychology professor Julian Jaynes puts forth the concept that in prehistoric times (more than 7,000 to 10,000 years ago) people actually heard the voices of the gods. When they looked out into the natural world, they saw fairies, sprites, spirits and other entities. This was because, Jaynes posits, the two hemispheres of the brain were more fully connected, so that the auditory regions of the left hemisphere were directly connected to the hallucinatory regions of the right hemisphere (Wernicke’s and Broca’s areas) that, in modern people, are normally active only during dreaming or in schizophrenics. Because of this direct connection, Jaynes suggests what we now call hallucinations probably were a common part of the everyday.
I wonder if children under the age of four experience the same state of connection as described here, and that at certain times people reconnect the hemispheres of their brains in their waking life; or is this quotation just an attempt to render explicable a situation that is so much more primal and marvelous that it is unacceptable to the modern mind?