Keeping the Mystery

snowdropsI’ve seen a lot of people recently talking about the need for proof, evidence and fact when related to Spiritual experience. There was something about this need for fact and evidence that was getting me down, and I just couldn’t put my finger on why. Then, whilst I was away on holiday I was reading a book that included the character Dion Fortune. The book was called The Chalice and was set in modern-day Glastonbury. It was a Glastonbury ghost story, and a great yarn to boot. In the book I found one of the characters feeling the same way as me, and he expressed it beautifully. He simply said, “Don’t destroy the mystery”. Simple.

See, to me, the Mystery is the Quest – be that for the Grail, the Awen, Faerie, Earth energies, it is The Quest. Would I REALLY want complete proof about UFOs? Nessie? Bigfoot? Ghosts? The Afterlife? …. Gods? If proof was found the Mystery would die, and it is The Mystery that has inspired poets, artists, musicians, songwriters, sculptors, writers, to create such wonders as to live up to its power. Yeats, Blake, the Classical Pagan Philosophers, Mozart, Shakespeare, Leonardo were all inspired by the Mystery. Although not in their league I understand the artist’s need for the Mystery.

If I want to experience the Mystery, I need to remain open to it, But when it feels like you are surrounded by the noise of people demanding proof, evidence, fact, it is easy to lose the Voice of the Mystery. It is delicate, like a fresh leaf in Spring that unfurls before the end of Winter’s Frosts. Preserve the Mystery, feel it, experience it, love it, but never set out to destroy it


  1. frog November 7, 2008 at 1:10 pm - Reply

    I think the statement for the need for proof is a smokescreen for those who don’t want to believe. “you can’t prove it – it can’t be real then” – as if reality makes things “real”.

    But life, like nature, isn’t one or the other – and to me there is a beauty that we can’t explain everything – and like a good conjurer – perhaps we should be able to just sit back in awe and just say “wha.. huh?”

    Keeping the Mystery alive….
    BB Frog 😀

  2. Little Swallow November 7, 2008 at 2:15 pm - Reply

    While I definitely agree with the adage “keep the mystery alive”, I also firmly believe that one should never give up one’s ability and responsibility to find reason. This does not necessarily equate to “proof”, but in some cases, it may. I guess my point is that it’s a delicate balance between the two.

  3. cymraes November 7, 2008 at 7:02 pm - Reply

    You are, without a doubt, quite right!

    Where would we be without a little mystery?

    For example, I know you, not well, but we have met, but where, and when I leave to you to remember…

    mysteriously yours,


    ps Love to your good Lady wife.

  4. Kay November 8, 2008 at 8:46 am - Reply

    I trouble is, I think, that as human beings we quite arrogantly believe that we are the supreme intelligence. Many of us can’t accept that some things were never meant to be nor can be explained away or even simply understood by us, nor should we want them to be. If they were, what a dull and unfullfilled exsistance we would all have !
    However, just sometimes, in very rare moments, the mystery reveals itself to us, and that is turly wonderful & magical.

  5. treegod November 9, 2008 at 6:34 pm - Reply

    I like this quote;

    “The possession of knowledge does not kill the sense of wonder and mystery. There is always more mystery.” Anais Nin

    I guess for me spirituality is about my own personal experience, not about an objective proof of it. I don’t have to justify my own personal quest to anyone, because it’s mine, it’s personal. Not yours, not ours, not theirs. It’s mine.

    Not everything has to be objective or explainable. But nor do we have to stop explaining things nor objectifying them. This is part of the mystery of being human.

  6. neina November 9, 2008 at 9:44 pm - Reply

    Beautifully said. Also, I believe sometimes the mystery cannot be destroyed; for example, science has brought us knowledge about the moon – hard, scientific data about orbits, minerals, its origin, shown that there are no ‘lakes’ there, et c. But still, the moon keeps its mystery, keeps us spell-bound on moonlit nights. I love that the Mystery, being mysterious, cannot be destroyed.

  7. paulmilne November 10, 2008 at 2:03 pm - Reply

    Yes, it’s a bit sad. And so limiting, what “they” accept as proof. As if the only validation for an experience is if it can be plugged into and replicated by the “scientific method”. The physical sciences have an important place in their lives, but there are some things they cannot describe, because it is not “in their remit”, if you like. Things like spirituality, emotions, love. Just because you can’t do an experiment to replicated the feeling of falling in love that will be consistent in all circumstances, doesn’t mean the experience doesn’t exist.

    Damh, you just have to feel a bit of pity for people who have such limited world views.

  8. Winter Muse November 11, 2008 at 4:38 pm - Reply

    Fabulously written – keeping the mystery is important. I love to watch documentaries and I know that when I see the explorers, scientists hunting for the proof of existance of something like you said as ‘Nessie’ or ‘Bigfoot’ or whether they can find the ‘Ark of the Covenant’ there is part of me that is interested in their search only. I know that I really hope that they never find proof of existance or not I am sure most the secrets are well hidden and will not be found until the time is right. We need to keep the mysteries just as they are.

    Without the mysteries in our lives surely there would be no reason for us to then have faith in what ever our spiritual path is…

  9. Minxy Mimi November 12, 2008 at 2:45 pm - Reply

    That is a wonderful way to look at things, and I am surprised I didn’t think of it before. Some things explained would not be as interesting as when unexplained!

  10. Eala Serenarian November 13, 2008 at 2:21 pm - Reply

    I completely agree. I thrive on the mystery and find it a little disconcerting that there are those who wish to find proof for everything. I agree with Winter Muse in that there is an innate need to search within the human psyche. Let us hope that the mystery remains elusive.

  11. Oakdaughter November 16, 2008 at 7:25 pm - Reply

    I absolutely agree that we should ‘keep the mystery’.
    How awful it would be if we knew everything to be just so. We all know boring ‘know it alls’, we would become the same.
    To walk in the wilds and ‘sense’ what is there is the joy. We can try to access those instincts which have become choked by the pursuit of evidence. We can listen to the voices in the trees and to the song of the Nettle; taking the mystery away would ruin the experience.
    Blessings and thanks for ‘being’ Damh,

  12. treegod November 17, 2008 at 9:25 am - Reply

    What’s the difference between mystery and ignorance. How can we keep the mystery without falling into ignorance?

  13. damhbard November 17, 2008 at 9:49 am - Reply

    Very easily. The Mysteries I refer to are Spiritual Mysteries where the main connection is through the senses, intuition, emotion. If proof is presented about these then I’m sure that would be addressed, but until proof is found either way, we can get on with exploring them to our hearts content.

  14. treegod November 17, 2008 at 10:31 am - Reply

    I agree, it’s good to see mystery as a very real and profound experience and not as an excuse to bury your head in ignorance. Explanations and explorations should be sensitive and heart felt. The human heart’s knowledge I think is a light at dawn revelation rather than a neon exposure. Gentle awakening rather than harsh probing.

  15. Shakti November 17, 2008 at 12:02 pm - Reply

    Hello, Dahm. I´m Shakti of the Earth Sanctuary. Would you care to give your definition of “spiritual Mysteries” ?? 😀

    (PS.- Just to indicate context, I am a member of OBOD, and a Druid.)

  16. Andy aka Spicy Cauldron November 19, 2008 at 12:22 am - Reply

    Yes and no. It’s a fine line we must tread, learning as we go but at the same time working to maintain a sense of the sacred that the mainstream secular society has lost. Another great post, Damh. Thank you! z

  17. Michael Bark November 21, 2008 at 12:13 pm - Reply

    Excellent post, and some really fine comments to match. 🙂

    Personally I think we need to explore the unknown, i.e. mysteries, with every means available. There is nothing wrong with knowing the hows and whys. The rainbow is still a beautiful, King Arthur still inspiring.

    I find it hard to advocate a blinkered while sitting here in front of a computer in joyous communication with you all. 🙂 And I believe in no boundries between what should be explored and what shouldn’t. As we all understand here, one discovery , or an unwillingness to discover, can set off a chain of events whose results are as varied as the colour of a petal.

    If you understand my meaning. 🙂

  18. Bradley December 10, 2008 at 10:01 am - Reply

    I remember some 20 years ago I was on a quest to find out
    if God did exist and I met this women called Sarah Salaman who was traveling the road with her two kids trying to reach anyone who would listen. She made many a fine argument and after she moved on I carried on my search.
    I was sitting with 3 friends in a pub one day, we were saying to each other that if God did exist then why cant we be given proof. We left the pub and some 100yards away something caught my eye in a mound of sand. As I got near I could not resist the temptation to cross over the road and investigate. There was a small piece of white plastic sticking out the top, I pulled it out and it was a bag.
    Inside the bag were a few books, they were all about finding God etc…Was this the proof I wanted.
    I think I prefered the mystery and I left my search to find God a long time ago.
    Now I look around me and I see in nature the great things that are at work here.

  19. Phil December 13, 2008 at 7:15 pm - Reply

    No proof is required if the beliefs are “for your own use” – it’s when someone tries to turn them into a world wide god business intent on claiming that it, and only it, is the truth, the way and the light that proof becomes more important. Even a little bit of fact to back up the wild fantasies would be useful.

  20. damhbard December 15, 2008 at 9:11 am - Reply

    I absolutely agree Phil. Luckily the evangelical Pagan is a VERY rare thing.

  21. treegod January 17, 2009 at 1:55 pm - Reply

    I’ve just written a blog with a similar subject to this one. If you want to see, it’s just here;

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