Gateways to other worlds

I sometimes wonder about other worlds. The idea that just a sliver away from us exists the land of faerie, heaven, or the world of the dead. It’s an idea that has been in our culture in this country for thousands of years. “This place is a thin place,” said a vicar – of all people – to me one glorious summer evening at The Willow Globe. He meant that the “other” world is close. It’s part of the Celtic tradition, absorbed and accommodated by Celtic Christianity, like Easter and Christmas. At the times between times, the dusk or the dawn, someone might inadvertently stumble through a gateway and find themselves … somewhere else. Somewhere where the rules are different. Midsummer Night’s Dream. Strange and Norrell. Tír na nóg. An entirely strange land, or a land with only subtle differences. Infinite worlds coiled and writhing round each other in space-time. The butterflies wing shattering another reality into being every time it twitches.

Glastonbury Tor is one such thin place. The fecund body of the earth mother.

Today I felt a message from another world, thanks to the fecund body of my best friend. We were upstairs in the Tate Modern, slumming it in the member’s area, with a bird’s eye view of London laid out below us. I put my hand on her belly, and through a thin, taut boundary of skin, so so close to this light filled stinking breathing laughing world, I felt an unmistakable kick. A good solid kick, right in the centre of my palm from the person inside her. She’s carrying a whole world in there. A dark warm fluid world of heartbeats and liquid and flesh. In it there’s a small person growing, kicking at the edges, testing the boundaries. Everything is on tap in there. Free heating. Free food. No need to breathe, we can do that for you. Just relax, roll around, that’ll put some bones in your skin.

Soon now this fecund body of my dear friend will flush her unknowing tenant out to join us here in this crazy world. Bright light. Independent breathing. Looming giants repeating themselves in booming voices. Noise! Smells! A different place with different rules. Clothes! Fuck this, put me back! I want to get back in! It’s horrible here. Waaaaaaah.

I wonder if that’s part of why it’s such a prevalent mythological trope, the rip into another world. We’ve all had a difficult transition from one world to another. Maybe we can expect another change. If we take that red pill, maybe we will be disgorged helpless and slimy once again into a strange world to sink or swim or know Kung Fu. If the priest dunks us in water maybe we will be reborn in Christ. If we walk through the fire maybe we’ll end up in a subtly different place or a subtly different body. The whale will eat you and there’s a city inside it. Rick will fire his portal gun. Gordon Freeman. Stranger Things.

This evening I went to a piece of immersive theatre I built 4 years ago with a couple of friends that has taken a life of its own. It’s about implanted humans who have been chipped from birth and are treated as subservient technology. The game is to encourage the audience to customise, humanise and play with their bio-tech, and then see if, after all that, they’ll kill it for a box of chocolates. It’s playing with layers of reality. The audience knows they’re actors. But we suspend our disbelief. And we trust the frame and our own experience that tells us this is fiction. And we joyously electrocute our synthetic human and yay chocolates, whilst other people in the audience berate us for our callous greed. But who knows, perhaps just a whisper away it’s real. If we walk through the wrong archway at dusk we might find ourselves in a reality where we’ve had a chip in our brain that restricts all higher cognitive function and we are being electrocuted for sweeties.

I’m sure I’ve stumbled through a few of those archways over the years as this place makes no sense. Here we are in this crazy experimental parallel universe where those things actually happened. Best make the best of it. If that stuff can happen, anything can happen.

The baby is due on 17th October. That doesn’t feel like enough time for us to fix the world before arrival, but maybe that’ll be the baby’s job as well as ours. I look forward to finding out, which I will as long as I’m careful what I walk through at dusk.

Here’s a shot of a guard guarding a guard I took today. At the time I didn’t think my blog was going to wander towards portals. But fuck it. That’s where it went. Oh wait! These are the portal guardians. Yes that’s it. Two worlds, one ancient one modern. Both struggling.  *burp* Yeah that’s why I’ve taken it. The photo  Definitely. To illustrate two realities next to each other. Fab. Tick. Realities. I’m off to bed.



Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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