Recently I found a biography of Superman’s creator who described the arrival, by bicycle, of a seven foot Tulpa to his home – a being created by thought.
It struck a chord with me having researched on Irish and spiritual storytelling traditions for a book called Angel Journey. Einstein advised imagination was more powerful than knowledge and the Irish word file, for poet, was also the word for seer.
We valued stories as much as we valued spirit. We saw medicinal, mythical, moral and magical properties in the tellers of the story and the story itself. The stories, spoken in poetic form, drove straight into, and were created from, the story mind of Ireland. Teller and listener became one. Character and narrator similarly fused to fashion a magical reality.
Early monks trying to wean us away from Celtic gods towards an unseen deity, needed the help of the visions. Then the monks themselves were woven into the fabric. The Brendan story. The Colm Cille story. The Patrick story. So many stories of wandering men, of many miracles conducted by them and befalling them.
There are moments of a supernatural nature, but that is not the important thing, the important thing is the discovery in the ordinary details as well at the extraordinary times.
The word vision in Irish has even become a name: Aisling.
Superhumanity, quest, crisis and key interventions are the very basis of Irish legend.
Secrets and stories, combined, are an unbeatable lore and lure for Irish people.
We are the first generation not to rely on storytelling in some form in the home, but our oldest citizens still have a physical recollection of fireside and lost times, magical comings and goings. My maternal grandmother believed in the banshee. Now such beliefs are regarded as silly by some and dangerous by others, put down to a lack of education and superstition.
But Yeats, our Nobel Laureate and most famous file, had belief in spirits and spirit world. If you were to describe him to a stranger you would describe a poet, but as a seer he spent the last years of his life perfecting his own Aisling.
A Vision was not only a poetic work, but a view on the life and death and afterlife cycles.
The Irish acceptance of the spirit world is easy to understand, given our strong storytelling tradition. It is this story mind-set that I think spiritual messages appeal. We connect readily with what is unseen.
We see no difference in our ancestral mind between the poet and seer.
Between what the poets say and what they see.