Experiencing the Angelic Realm

In this excerpt from Proof of Angels, Ptolemy Tompkins shares how we experience the spiritual world.

Posted in , Apr 4, 2016

Proof of Angels

A few years ago, I took my stepdaughter Evie snorkeling for the first time. She was eight, and though she’d put a face mask on before, she’d never had a chance to look below the waves in an area that was really populated with sea life. We were in the Bahamas, floating in the water by what looked like a pretty humdrum chunk of rock. Evie pushed and fumbled at her mask, getting the water out of it and blowing through her snorkel so she could breathe. When she was finally comfortable with her equipment, she lowered her head beneath the water.

 Kaboom. The reef was swarming with fish—parrot fish, triggerfish, and swarms of little black-and-yellow sergeant majors that were all around her, investigating her completely without her knowledge. I’ll never forget the look in her eyes when she brought her head back out of the water and the uncontrollable smile that formed around the snorkel in her mouth. She had thought she was just bobbing about by a barren rock, when in fact she had been immersed in a whole other universe of color and light and life.


Imagine: the world, changed in an instant from a place of fear and uncertainty and emptiness to a place of wonder and beauty and overwhelming numbers of beings, invisible but present all the same. Imagine a helmet like the ones old-fashioned divers used to wear: one that covers the entire head like a fishbowl. Then imagine that this helmet is made of a magical, glass-like substance, one so thin and unobtrusive that it lets just about everything through.

It never gets dirty, never gets wet, and is absolutely transparent to light and penetrable by air. Essentially, it’s as if this helmet isn’t there at all. Except it is. And the one thing this helmet blocks out—the one thing it keeps the person wearing it from experiencing— is the spiritual world. Everything else gets past these helmets. But that one thing—that singular, all-important part of the world, without which the world isn’t really the full, complete world at all, but only half of it—doesn’t make it through.

Sometimes, if the light and the circumstances are just right, you can catch a glimpse of the helmets on the heads of other people as they pass by you in the street. Sometimes the helmets other people wear are so obvious—so completely visible—that it seems laughable that they themselves could fail to notice that they’re wearing them. But then, just as often, most of us fail to notice that we ourselves are wearing one.

What kind of a world do we see when looking through these magical, spirit-filtering helmets? We see a world in which the earth is just the earth, where good things and bad things happen, where there is happiness and sorrow, where people are born and people die. Yet somehow, none of this seems to mean all that much. We see a world in which every- thing is relative and essentially insignificant, but complaining about this fact, or even bringing it up, seems silly.

Along with having no real purpose, the world seen through the glass of this helmet has no real justice either. Some people do “good” things, and others do “bad” things, but these are really just words we have cooked up to try to make sense of things that we actually can’t make any sense of. Bad people often do very well in this strange, pointless world, while nice ones have to bear up under all manner of pressures and struggles.

One of the strangest things about these helmets is that, even when we become aware that we’re wearing them, we can’t simply take them off. They can’t be wrenched off with our arms or shattered with a sledgehammer. They are extremely stubborn, extremely resilient.

At least, they are most of the time. But sometimes moments come along when these helmets seem to disappear all by themselves, with no effort on our part at all. Suddenly they are just . . . gone.

 In moments like this, we find ourselves looking around at the world as if we’d never seen it before. Those moments are what Proof of Angels is about.

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