Reflect or Reshape?

When my dad was diagnosed with cancer, he was keen to investigate both conventional and alternative medicine. As a consequence, he sent me off on his behalf to a course in ‘German New Medicine’.

The brainchild of oncologist, Dr Geerd Hamer, it looks upon cancer as a ‘disease of the soul’—and thus not only physical in nature but also psychological and spiritual.

The physical aspect looks back at a moment of trauma, usually a year or two in the past. The psychological component is about the words the person speaks over themselves at that moment of trauma. And the spiritual component of it looks at why those particular words were chosen and at long–term issues of forgiveness.

Ever since I did the course, I’ve got phonecalls from various people who know I attended, asking what the handbook suggests were the words that could initiate a particular disease. I’ve yet to have anyone disagree with what I’ve uncovered; in fact, mostly a dozen lightbulbs have gone on all at once for anyone who has asked.


According to Geerd Hamer, who looked at over 40 000 patients to formulate his theory, the words we speak over ourselves at a moment of trauma have immense power.

There is nothing new in the idea that words have power. In the first chapter of Genesis, God creates the heavens and the earth by the power of the spoken word.

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In The Silmarillion by JRR Tolkien, a tragic episode in the history of Middle Earth is mentioned. A group of elves, forced into exile and betrayed by their kin, find that their only option for survival is to cross the Helcaraxë—the Grinding Ice. This broken, shifting ice-pack shrouded in clinging mists which were impenetrable to starlight formed the perilous bridge between two land-masses.

From the moment I read this scene, the idea fixed itself in my mind that this part of the story was not really fiction—that once upon a time, this really had happened and that this episode came more from deep ancestral memory than the wilder corners of Tolkien’s imagination.

But then—who were those elves? Where was the Grinding Ice? When had it taken place?

From time to time, I get these little pokes at the back of my brain when I’m reading. A tiny whisper that says to me: real, not fiction. I used to dismiss these thoughts. I would ignore the recurring idea that the enchanted winter of CS Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe really did take place, that the bridge of birds in Chinese folklore was the same as the necklace Brisingamen from Norse mythology and that they were both a stairway of ‘stars’ that circled the Earth as ice-rings now surround Saturn.

Because I have an interest in names and have long noted a connection between a writer’s name and characters (sure there’s Lewis, from the Welsh for lion, but there’s also George Lucas and Luke Skywalker; Tolkien and Tóki, a name which seems to be cognate with Earendel, Tolkien’s self-admitted source of inspiration; Catherine Fisher’s fisher-king in Corbenic; and most incredibly of all, Toni Morrison’s repeated use of names unique to the Morrisons of the Hebrides when she is Afro-American and Morrison is her ex-husband’s name), I tend to collect obscure fragments of knowledge to do with names and myths.

After a while, the accumulated weight of evidence all pointing in the same direction within fiction—and fantasy in particular—the names used in them for both characters and places, the storylines, the peculiar similarity of so many independent fantasies was overwhelming. And all indicated the mid-sixth century. During my investigations, I was extraordinarily fortunate: I made two errors that balanced each other out.  However, I’d also asked so many questions of friends, acquaintances and relatives for so many years that by the time I worked out an exact date, they knew to ring me straight away when Catastrophe was aired. It was a television programme and, as my sister said when she rang me about it, it quoted just about every piece of literature I’d been asking questions about over the previous decade. Incredibly, it mentioned the exact date I’d calculated from evidence within certain fantasies.

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The Deeps of Time

One day I’m going to sneak four words past my editors. I’m not sure how I’m going to manage it because so far they’ve caught me out every time. They delete the four words and almost invariably add a comment: ‘What on earth does this mean?’

I figure that, if they have to ask, then I haven’t managed to convey the sense at all. Yet as far as I’m concerned the four words make one of the most striking phrases in all literature. Dulcet and fragrant, honeyed, caressing and achingly beautiful: they appeal to all the senses. If only I could convince my editors they form an unassailably glorious combination… But no, foiled again!

The words aren’t mine. They’re a quote from the opening chapter of JRR Tolkien’s The Silmarillion. Perhaps I’m influenced by a halo effect; that chapter is utterly exquisite in describing angelic immortals who are given power by the Creator to body forth the cosmos and give shape to history through their singing. A dark theme distorts and deforms their symphony when one of the immortals uses it to weave corruption into the fabric of the universe. But the Creator takes even this damage and reshapes it to even greater magnificence than before. The chapter ends with mankind being established in ‘the Deeps of Time and amidst the innumerable stars.’

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Julia Caroline Gollasch
VMI Publishers

Unlike many people I know, I consider allegory and fantasy to be different—cousins but not twins. I love a good fantasy but I cordially dislike allegory. So, consider this fair warning!

I don’t understand why some people like The Pilgrim’s Progress so passionately. It’s too serious, too plainly didactic. It’s like an undressed parable. It’s been stripped of the cloak of mystery that a parable wraps around itself, it’s been shorn of subtlety and generally misses both humour and irony. Perhaps that’s an unfair assessment. But that’s the way it comes across to me.

Fantasy can also be very earnest in tone but in general, it has the shifting light and shadow of a fairytale. The kindly woman by the wayside may turn out to be a witch or a warrior. In allegory, such uncertainty is rare. One thing you can be sure of: both Faithful and Giant Despair will live up to their names.

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