How long have people been traveling across realities? Are Mandela Effect concepts strewn throughout folklore, legends, and literature?
I believe so, and some are related to mirrors.
Mirrors as Portals in Folklore and Fiction
In Alice in Wonderland, and Through the Looking-Glass, the title character accesses an alternate reality by moving through a mirror (looking-glass) as the entry point. (Previously, she’d journeyed through a rabbit hole.)
However, author Lewis Carroll wasn’t the first (or last) to speculate about mirrors and reflective surfaces.
In folklore, water – smooth, reflective lakes and ponds, as well as the sea – has often hidden amazing realms not known in this reality. From Greek and Roman legends to Arthurian tales (the Lady of the Lake, and more), we’re reminded of alternate worlds as close as a reflection.
On the other side of the world, in the Asian art of feng shui and interior design, mirrors may “extend space” far beyond their physical depth in this reality.
In some traditions, people cover mirrors after a death in the home, so the departing spirit won’t be trapped inside the mirror.
Many haunted locations – including The Myrtles Plantation (Louisiana, USA) and the Driskill Hotel (Texas, USA) – have ghostly mirrors, as well.
- The one in the main hallway at The Myrtles is like many of its counterparts, with recurring handprints (from the back) that returns no matter how often they clean, resurface, or even replace it. Also, a picture of me standing near that mirror – photographed by researcher Margaret Byl – showed a reflection with a chandelier that wasn’t there at the time.
- The Driskill Hotel’s famous “Maximilian” mirrors are backed with diamond dust, not just silver or silver-colored paint. The mirrors face each other, in pairs, and many people have reported seeing alternate, similar worlds in them. (If you’re looking for ghost stories related to those mirrors, that’s the tip of the iceberg, but a discussion would take us off-topic.)
If you can stand the commercials and the silly sound effects in a video clip, “Ghost Adventures” star Zak Bagans talks about mirrors and matrixing. [Link.] It’s a good, short clip, with a skeptical slant. However, I’m not sure Zak was aware that the mirror he’s pointing at – the famous one at The Myrtles – was installed in 1980. It looks old, but it’s not from an era – usually 19th century or earlier – so common to mirrors with ghost stories.
And then there are scrying mirrors – used to see into (or contact) “the other side” or foretell the future – that have black glass, not silver. According to legend, even Nostradamus used one. So, the portal concept isn’t limited to mirrors with easy-to-see reflections.
If you like creepy mirror stories involving alternate realities, the horror movie, Mirrors, is one among many that exploit this concept.
My point isn’t about mirrors and whether some are portals to alternate realities. (I’m not convinced that they are, but I won’t wholly reject the concept, either.)
Instead, I’m talking about the long-held idea that an alternate reality is almost always nearby, and might be “hiding in plain sight.”
In other words, I don’t think the Mandela Effect is new. It didn’t pop up yesterday, or 10 years ago, and I certainly didn’t invent it. (Shadow and I just gave it a name with a reference to recent history.)
In fact, if you study folklore, you’ll see that many tales describe travel between realities. Some are clearer than others.
Changelings are part of a particularly dark concept from the past, in which faeries have swapped places with humans. The faerie looks (mostly) like the human he or she replaced, and the human has been sent to the world the faerie is from, as a replacement in that world or reality.
In some ancient traditions, shamans are able to access alternate realms, worlds, or realities at will. However, most contemporary tales talk about each shaman being granted passage to just one spiritual realm, not free travel across all of them.
The Rev. Mr. Robert Kirk (1644 – ?), author of “The Secret Commonwealth,” wrote about visiting an alternate reality. He described it as a faerie world, and the topic has fascinated folklorists and others, for centuries. I’ve put a question mark at his death date because many believe he left his tired body on a hillside, and actually slid back into the reality he’d been talking about for many years.
What interests me about Kirk’s story isn’t just the world he described. It’s that something in his story resonates so deeply with people, that – despite at least hundreds of similar tales – modern-day scholars still argue whether Kirk’s work was fiction or nonfiction. (And then there are the astonishing number of people who insist that the world of Avatar is real, but that’s another topic for another day.)
Then there are tales of doppelgangers, with two of the same person showing up in the same reality. According to some folklore, seeing a doppelganger predicts that one of them (usually the one whose home seems to be in that reality) will die. Is that because two of the “same” person in one reality is a glitch, and the simplest solution is to delete one? I’m not sure, but it’s worth considering.
In more recent pop culture, everything from Star Trek episodes to the entire Sliders TV series and Sliding Doors (movie), one Eureka season, and shows like Awake are among projects that use the concept of alternate realities.
Are these fictional accounts popular because, at times, we’d like to escape our current reality? Or, does the concept of alternate realms – whether actual worlds or holodeck creations – resonate with us because we know alternate realities exist… and we’ve been there?
I believe the Mandela Effect isn’t new. I think it’s been an issue for centuries, perhaps as far back as the start of recorded history, or even earlier.
However, I think past generations and cultures explained alternate realities in terms of magic, shamanic travel, or even faeries.
The idea of a mirror as a portal is just one example, but it’s one that seems to linger. Maybe there is something unusual about mirrors, and maybe some do show us another world.
Then again… maybe it’s all folklore.