Hamlet and Horatio

“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

Hamlet (Act 1.5, Scene 167-168)

Many of Shakespeare’s plays contain spirits, portents and other-worldly experiences which both mystify and intrigue audiences and readers of his plays.  In the play Hamlet for example, it is Hamlet’s father’s ghost, the dead king who appears, revealing to the prince the plot between his now bereaved and surviving wife and brother to murder him and usurp him from his throne.  The characters in the play have to come to grips not only with words from beyond the grave, but with the apparition itself which appears to defy rational explanation.

Similarly to the characters in the play, ‘reality’ is understood differently in accordance with our understanding and experience of it (which is further mitigated by social, cultural and spiritual/religious norms and mores).  For those used to other-worldly occurrences, such as myself, reality is a composite of material and non-material phenomena revealed through various events.  While my senses (sight, sound, taste, touch and smell) dictate to me what reality appears to be at a surface level, which is one expression of it, other events tell a very different story, as any reader of this blog would know.

How do we explain dreams, portents and visions?  How do we explain near-death experiences, out-of-body experiences, transcendental and mystical states of being and mediumship?  These are the things which reveal the complexity of living as an embodied being in a universe which can simultaneously both defy rational explanation and invite us to consider ourselves and our existence from an alternate psychospiritual perspective.

What was Hamlet inferring when he said to Horatio, “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”  Lived experience provides a credible argument and a frame of reference for other-worldly phenomena, as anyone who experiences them knows, and while such events can be challenging and confronting, and it might be tempting to dismiss them, it would be well to remember the law of otherwise in that things are often other than what they appear to be.

Michele T Knight Written by:

Dr Michele Knight is a Social Worker, Social Scientist, researcher and independent scholar. Her interest and research in the end-of-life has its origin in the lived experiences of her own bereavements, her near-death and shared-death events, the returning deceased and attitudinal responses to those experiences. Since 2006, she has been extensively involved in community development, support and advocacy in both a professional and community services/voluntary capacity in the areas of bereavement and grief, hospital pastoral care, and academic lecturing/tutoring. Her PhD, Ways of Being: The alchemy of bereavement and communique, explores the lived experience of bereavement, grief, spirituality and unsought encounters with the returning deceased.

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