Social taboos keep us dangerously silent
By KAREN CAVALLI
The taboo against speaking openly about encounters with otherworldly beings prevents us from thinking intelligently about them. As a result, we are holding ourselves back from collectively integrating these beings into our culture and our stories.
Contact with other worlds and their inhabitants can result in a spectrum of effects: on one end, gut feelings and hunches; in the middle, premonitions, dreams that come true, spirit voices and visits; and on the far end, the shattering of self and world view. Effects on the far end of the spectrum are more likely to occur when the experience involves either direct interaction with otherworldly beings or abduction by beings deeply unfamiliar or alien to us. For some of us in contemporary Western culture, these beings take the form of extraterrestrials; for others, they take the form of spirit-world inhabitants. Some of us may not encounter beings at all; the face of Spirit may manifest as random glimmerings, seeing an image or hearing words describing an event which then occurs in real time, or perhaps an odd feeling that something is up.
With all the varieties of effects, we all face the same taboo: that of speaking openly of encounters with otherworldly beings or gifts from other realms, such as premonitions and visions. A taboo against speaking openly of such matters keeps many of us silent or cloaked in anonymity. Fearful of ridicule, we hold our devices close but keep the Spirit World inhabitants at arm’s length. We tuck our encounters with them away, relegating them to a secret lifestream.
I did until I was 54. When loss stripped me of my outer-world persona, I felt there was little to lose and published an account of my encounters. When I began speaking publicly about my encounters in 2014, I discovered many, many people shared some version of otherworld encounters. They approached me with their hidden stories, feeling safe to speak openly. The people I spoke to then or had spoken to at an earlier point lived in the United States, Spain, India, China, England and the Caribbean islands. I was astounded. People seemed to have a rich life of Spirit, but one kept carefully hidden, under a blanket of silence.
I find that many of the individuals who have had extraordinary encounters are firmly grounded in the groove of their story; the tale is still everything. Few seemed interested in integrating the experience and moving on with their lives and the attendant changes. I understand this; I was stuck in the tale for many years. Like a person with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, the story looped over and over in my mind.
To move beyond the protective looping means to begin to approach a deeper taboo that lies beneath: excusing yourself from daily life. Our culture wants us to be productive. It wants us to be engaged and extroverted. It wants us interacting with others and fully functional at home, work and play. My own fear of not meeting that expectation kept me stuck in the tale for a long time.
When it seemed I had no choice but to move beyond the tale and enter unfamiliar, mystical territory, I envisioned having to give up a normal, everyday life. Given my upbringing and my cultural heritage, I had several scrims to pull back before I could see beyond the veil. It took me a while to realize my outer life needn’t change much while I employed subtle methods to draw back these scrims.
If you begin to acknowledge other worlds to which the mind and spirit may travel, a curious thing may happen: your mind in the form of active imagination will want to keep going to other worlds. On its own, it will become a traveler almost without you being aware of it. By granting other realms just a little bit of credence, subtle learnings will take place as you interact with this world, other imaginal realms and inhabitants in both.
In my own process, I have experienced finding solutions to creative problems. I stay open to these other worlds; I talk with others who are also thinking deeply about these worlds. Then something happens between my active imagination and my rational thought. In this way, I have solved creative problems and experienced visions of other realms and beings far more subtle than anything I experienced in my many years of otherworldly encounters.
Freelance writer Karen Cavalli has published extensively online and in print magazines and books. Her fiction and non-fiction have won awards. Cavalli lives and writes in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and her current writing project focuses on the hidden state of spirit in America. Contact: email@example.com