I don’t often talk about my personal experiences with the subconscious mind or what some would call mystical or spiritual activity.
The reason is that I’m a pretty sober and conscious guy who doesn’t dabble too much in vaguely defined mysticism or nonsense. My feet are very much grounded in reality, most of the time.
But having said that, I have had a small number of visionary experiences in my life, usually brought on by the change of consciousness that goes in hand with physical exercise and exposure to the elements. One such experience I had recently went like this.
I was doing dumbbell chest flies beneath an open sky one summer evening. It was about 9 pm, and I was wrapping up my workout.
I’ve got a little home gym set up out the back of my house. Homemade squat rack, bench, barbell and plates, two dumbbells, one kettlebell, a sandbag, and a bag of resistance bands. It’s a pretty Spartan setup, and that’s what I like about it.
But what I really love about my home gym is that it’s under the open sky in my garden. I thought about building a roof over it, but then I realized that I enjoy the open air. Even when it’s raining, and it usually is raining in Ireland, I still enjoy my outdoor workouts.
So there I was, doing chest flies looking up into the twilight sky when suddenly I had a visionary experience.
The sky was overcast with a thin layer of grey cloud, through which the rays of the low summer sun shone golden and rose-colored. These clouds suddenly began to open up like a yawning mouth, and the clear golden radiance of the sun pierced through. I blinked, thinking I was hallucinating. But it didn’t go away. When I opened my eyes, the sky was still split in two like an immense yellow set of jaws. Then a great dark bird descended from out of the golden gap in the firmament and flew down towards me. I looked closer and saw it was an eagle descending from the gate of the heavens to earth.
I kept moving the weights. I knew what was happening in the back of my mind. I knew it was a vision brought on by the strange combination of exercise, fresh air, little sleep, and whatever happened to be going through my mind at the time. I didn’t want it to stop, so I didn’t stop. I shut my mental chatter up and kept lifting the weights.
Then I saw, beyond the eagle and high above the gap in the sky, a great golden eye staring down at me. It was an eye of fire in the heavens, and it was watching me.
Then I knew exactly what my mind had dreamed up. I understood what was happening, and I even had the early intimation of what strange series of events had led up to it. At that moment, I knew enough to explain it in an entirely rational way, which didn’t actually detract from the experience at all.
After about thirty reps of chest fly, twice as much as I intended to do, the great eye closed, the clouds returned, and the eagle was nowhere to be seen. The vision had ended, and I was back in my own frame of mind again.
What I had dreamed up that evening was a vision of Father Sky, Dyeus Phter, the Indo-European Sky Father God who was believed to rule the heavens and judge human deeds by our far distant ancestors.
For about a year prior to this event, I had been researching the culture of the Indo-European and Proto-Indo-European peoples, from whom almost all Indic and European cultures and religions are descended. These were migratory peoples who tamed wild horses and used them to pull chariots across the grasslands of Europe many millennia ago. They used their superior technology and their thirst for exploration and conquest to dominate the lands they settled. Their expansions served to populate the lands of Europe, The Near East, and India with cultures and peoples who were uniquely related, though still very different on the surface.
My research into that fascinating subject mainly consisted of reading numerous books and research papers and watching a lot of Youtube videos. I indulged in the usual staples of Indo-European studies by reading articles by Bruce Lincoln and well-regarded books like “The Horse, The Wheel, and Language” by David Anthony. But I also consumed content by writers and filmmakers who take a different approach to Indo-European studies. English historian Tom Rowsell creates great videos investigating various aspects of Indo-European culture, religion, and genetics, and publishes his videos for free on his Youtube channel, Survive The Jive. American author Jack Donovan has done a lot of research into how the Indo-European systems of worship might be revived and made relevant to modern people.
The point of all that is to say that I had immersed myself in a particular field of study for about a year. I had psychologically primed myself to have some dream, hallucination, or vision inspired by that subject, and so it was no surprise at all when it finally happened. Imagine if you thought about nothing but Christmas for weeks and months at a time. Some people actually do look forward to Christmas that much. But if that were you, wouldn’t it be entirely inevitable for you to start having dreams, daydreams, and maybe even hallucinations about Christmas?
Well, I think that’s probably what happened to me.
While I was researching the Indo-Europeans, I was repeatedly drawn back to their system of worship, particularly the character who was probably the primary god of that people. Although we can’t be sure because we have no written records, they probably called him something like Dyeus Phter, and his name probably meant something like “Father God of The Daylight Sky.”
In other words, the main god of our very distant ancestors was a father who looked down on and judged his people from his kingdom in the sky. The sun was probably thought to be his eye or lamp, and birds were perhaps thought to be his agents.
The Sky Father is attested in many documented religions in various forms, almost all of which share some common characteristics. To name a few:
The Greek Zeus looked down on mortals from his throne on the top of a mountain. Eagles carried messages to Zeus, and he even turned into an eagle when it suited his purpose. Roman Jupiter is a direct result of Latin exposure to Greek worship, and his name literally means Father God. His symbol is the eagle, which was the totem carried by Roman legions on campaign in his honor. The Norse Odin spied on mankind from his high seat in his hall called hlidskjalf, which means something like “mountain-shelf gate,” which is probably a kenning or poetic nickname for an “opening in a high place.” Like an opening in the sky through which the father god can see things. An eye in the sky, if you will. Odin sent two ravens into the world to spy on mankind and report back, and he turned himself into an eagle to steal the magical mead of poetry. In Vedic India, there is a father god called Dyaus Pitar, who is said to have sired the other gods. His domain is the sky, and his name is almost exactly the same as the reconstructed name for the Indo-European Sky Father God.
Piecing together all these symbolic representations from different but related cultures, we can safely assume that the Indo-European’s main god, the one they worshipped above all others, was a father who lived in the sky and watched people using his solar eye and his bird-spies. He has the high seat above everything from where he can enact his master plan.
I was fascinated by this character as I was researching the Indo-Europeans, and He kept coming back to my thoughts even when I wasn’t reading about their religious practices. I think it was because I became a father myself during this time, so fatherhood and father figures were constantly on my mind.
Anyone who knows my work will know that I use the wisdom in old stories and myths to enlighten me and aid in solving my modern problems. I’ve never had the best relationship with my own father, and so I often look to stories of great father figures to offer me guidance. Who could be greater than one of the first and oldest father figures in history, one so compelling that his sons carried the culture of his religion across half the world? Who could offer us better guidance in fatherhood than the father of so many different gods, peoples, and cultures?
Think of it like this, and you might grasp the appeal of that story for me and men like me.
I am a father, but I also have a father, and he and I both come from a long line of fathers stretching back into antiquity who all embodied, in their own way, some aspect of what we call “fatherhood.” Beyond me, my father, and our fathers, there’s the ideal of fatherhood itself. The idealized form of fatherhood is embodied in the mythic character of the Father God, who rules in the heavens looking down on all of creation and judging what he sees.
He is a father not only to humans but to everything that exists. He looks down from his high seat to judge the earthly realm and maintain a view of the vast scale of universal events. Therefore, he is the ultimate expression of what we understand about paternal parenting projected onto the grandest scale we can imagine. So what better way could there be to come to terms with the idealized form of fatherhood than to study the origin story of so many Father Gods?
The idea of a Father in the sky is so compelling that almost every religion and culture I’ve ever studied has some form of Sky Father, and the cult of his worship continues even today in the Abrahamic religions. The god of the Old Testament is very Indo-European in character, even if He isn’t the product of Indo-European culture.
I’m certainly not the first to have had a psychological encounter with this Sky Father archetype. People have been recording their visionary experiences for thousands of years now, and it’s really no surprise that so many Christian saints, monks, and mystics have claimed to have had visionary events of dramatic significance. I won’t list examples as there are so many to choose from, but the Abrahamic myths are full of people seeing the face of God, hearing the voice of God, or meeting with God’s Angels. The Hebrews of Exodus even carried the living form of God across the desert in a tent called the Tabernacle, and their priests went inside to commune with God directly.
You might dismiss that as superstitious ignorance, but how else would a pre-scientific people comprehend a visionary experience except in terms of religion? Even I lack the proper words to adequately describe what I experienced without sounding too far out or nonsensical, and I’m a reasonably scientifically literate man of the modern world with a modern education. If I can’t come to terms with it, what chance did those guys in the Bible stories have?
We’ve been seeing, or claiming to see, strange and mysterious events which seem to transcend reality since probably we were able to communicate with each other. Sometimes the face of reality as we know it peels away, and the structure that lies beneath and behind everything reveals itself to us. Usually, we can’t comprehend what we see. Some people spend a lifetime thinking over what they experience in these moments of revelation. Some people actively seek out these experiences using drugs and plant medicines. I’ve got limited experience of these visionary events, but even I can attest to their power.
There’s even a large and growing industry these days for people who want to undertake vision quests and use plant medicine to forcibly induce the kind of spiritual experiences the mystics have been writing about for ages. I know someone who traveled across the world to South America seeking out just such an experience at significant personal expense, and he’s but one of a great many who go to the jungle to see the face of the being that lurks behind the curtain of reality.
Considering all these things, is it any wonder that the vision which unveiled itself to me was an eagle descending from the heavens surrounded by a giant burning eye? My fascination with the Sky Father doesn’t mean I worship him as a god, not in the sense that most of you would mean anyway. But when I find a pattern of behavior embodied in relatable form, an archetype, if you will, I always try to emulate it as best I can to help me thrive in my own life.
That’s why I’ve been so attracted to the stories and symbols surrounding the Indo-European Sky Father, and that’s why the vision that was revealed to me was of Him and His Eagle. Because I need to understand idealized fatherhood for the sake of my family. I need some high and noble standard against which to measure myself.
The brief vision was a wonderful experience, but if you were to ask me what it meant, I probably couldn’t give you a good answer. I don’t know if it “meant” anything at all. I only know that it was awesome to behold, and I feel privileged to have experienced it. I feel even more privileged to have some general understanding of the psychological conditions which combined to make the vision appear. Experience is one thing, but understanding is even greater. I think I understand what happened and what it might have to teach me, but as a friend of mine suggested, I’m probably overly rationalizing an inherently irrational experience.
As I already said, I consider myself a man of reason rather than emotion and intuition. I’m not very intuitive or “visionary” at all. I’m actually pretty slow and blunt. I’m smart but not sharp. But despite depending on reason and rational thought rather than intuition and emotion, I always try to keep myself open to experiences of the metaphysical. I know that human understanding is tremendous and can explain a lot of what we previously assumed to be supernatural or divine, but I still try to keep my mind open to the experience of those things that can appear to be divine when we encounter them, even if there’s a perfectly logical explanation for it.
Because experience and understanding must go hand in hand if we’re to be truly human. We know we’re smart. We know we can explain a lot of life’s mysteries away into cold facts. We know there’s a logical explanation for pretty much anything we encounter. But none of that understanding detracts from the sensation of awe and wonder when we pierce the thin veil of our reason. When the face of the world peels back on itself, like lips peeling back over teeth, and whatever lies hidden behind the facade of reality steps forth, we’d be wise to keep our minds open to whatever we see. It might be a fantasy or the onset of madness, or it might just be the unfolding of a great and rare insight into the nature of reality. You won’t ever know which if you don’t keep your mind open to the possibilities.
We must experience as much of life as possible and then try to understand it if we’re able. But understanding without experience leads to machine thinking. Machine thinking leads to machine minds and machine men. But I think we’ve got enough machines. What we need is more humanity, and humans combine the earthly with the supernatural, the human with the divine.
So what’s the point of all this?
I guess if there is a point, it’s something like:
Keep your eyes open, and occasionally the light behind reality will shine into the dark caverns of your limited understanding. The experience of this universal mystery will keep you human and prevent or at least delay your descent into mechanistic thinking.
And we’re all at risk of becoming more machine than human these days, with the ever-present and ever-increasing influence of technology in our daily lives. What was once a mere tool of progress has now got us trapped to the point that most people are entirely addicted to technology and the convenience it provides. Don’t think we can depend on the machine to such a great degree without becoming part machine ourselves. The more mechanized we become, the more humanity we lose. So keep your eyes and mind open to things you don’t understand, and hopefully, you’ll hold on to your human soul in this age of technocracy.
I’d be interested to hear if you’ve ever experienced anything similar. Have you ever had a vision like the one I describe here? Contact me and let me know using the button below.