Sometimes the land shimmers and shows us something else
A vision of elsewhere that captivates and enchants in the old way. Leaving an imprint that will outlive our mind and become myth in some other world.
The black beach on Mull, officially named Traigh na Cille, looked out over a series of small islets, one being known locally as the Dutchman’s Hat. It’s old name is Bac Mor. As I studied the breaking waves and caught images of the interplay of light and dark sands I noted the shimmer on the horizon. The islet began to grow and split apart, occasionally subsumed by the ocean, sometimes lofted into the sky.
A sailboat drifted into the vision, warped and twisted into a Moorish mirage. Becoming something other than what it was, triggering my imagination.
This shimmer, bound in antiquity and old tomes, speaks of the other. A world unlike our own yet intricately shot through it. Caused by the diffraction and manipulation of light by particular atmospheric conditions, mirages are best known as a desert phenomena yet they can occur anywhere that heat rises. Even now as I peer across Morecambe Bay towards Peil Castle I can see a line of disembodied trees in a place that I know is flat and featureless. The light playing with my eyes.
Similar spectreal interplays can be forced by a camera lens who’s optical mechanisms can ‘see’ in a way we can only imagine, the inches wide diameter of the lens a world away from the millimetres of our own puny pupils. I occasionally make use of this to add mystery to an image, casting the backdrop as a magical, otherworldly place, one that cannot be seen by human eyes but is every bit as present and real as the distant mirage.
Sometimes though, just sometimes, we can be aware of some apparent ‘disturbance of the air’, a movement, a glimmer to the side of our vision that (usually) disappears as soon as we give it our full direct attention. For me, I need to be in a place for a while and in the correct ‘no mind’ state to sense these glimmers. And glimmer appears to be the correct old name for these otherworldly encounters. Putting aside logic, these can be seen as encounters with the others.
An edgy concept for sure, especially in our common sense world where mystery and magic have to be explained away by science and known measurable facts. If something cannot be explained then it didn’t happen. And what a sad state of affairs that is. A way of thinking that damages any sense of wonder and awe.
It’s interesting to note that efforts are now being made to explain the unexplainable through quantum physics. New insights into this and as yet unnamed theories perhaps will go some way to uncover the enduring concept of Underworld experiences. Every since humans were able to mark we’ve left behind evidence of a belief in something other than this one physical reality. Spirituality, religion, esotericism weave tales of the other worlds.
Long before the influence of any organised pathway our ancestors simply knew and accepted something other than this physical reality. Another one, a non-ordinary reality which sat alongside ours, or rather, is woven together with our known universe. A place into which we sometimes may deem to peer when the veil between worlds thins.
New world exotics
And now, maybe science is catching up. The Guardian made mention of mysterious matter which makes up 90% of the known ‘everything’ yet cannot be seen or sensed in the normal ways, but is every bit as real and physical as ‘stars and cars’. It is known to exist, it has to exist, however even the most cutting edge observational tools cannot find it. Dark matter is the name they’ve coined for this. And then of course there’s dark energy. Another conundrum.
Those of us who ‘know’, know. We don’t need to know why, or how. That glimmer which happens when the realms entwine and a gap is rent between the realities allowing a glimpse through the curtain is every bit as real as the mirage, the weave of light and the liminal space betwixt dream and awakening. A view into a parallel universe perhaps, or a warping into the multiverse that thrums alongside our own.
Japan has a word for it. Yugen is a concept that has been present in Japanese culture for centuries and is a term that embodies an indescribable feeling of beauty and wonder that is beyond human understanding. Yugen can be found in nature, art, music, and literature. It’s something that is felt, not seen, and is often associated with a sense of mystery and transcendence.
Yugen and the unseeable
The power of Yugen lies in its ability to make us feel connected to something greater than ourselves. It encourages us to see the world in a new light and to appreciate the beauty and mystery that surrounds us. It’s a reminder that there is still so much left to discover and explore.
As we attempt to explain the mysteries of the universe through science, we must not forget the power of the unknown and the beauty that lies beyond our understanding. Even when science gets the measure of the ‘new exotic particles that barely interact with normal matter’ there will be more. And we can be forever grateful for that. Curiosity thrives on the unknown, the unexplainable, the hidden in plain sight obvious unrealities.
Mysteries are all the better for remaining mysterious. As we venture deeper into the science of stuff Yugen will keep one step beyond our knowing - a fleeting ephemeral sense of ancient beauty and reverential unknowing. Chaos fractals that have no end.