The Second Sight, or an dara sealladh, is one of the more curious, but constant cultural phenomenons, in Celtic lands and those places where Celts have settled around the world. It is the sixth sense, the ability to see and perceive, images or knowledge of events, of death to come, either near or distant. It most associated with Gaels of Highland Scottish or Hebridean ancestry, but is also known throughout Ireland and Scotland. Modern science, in an attempt to classify the phenomenon, describes it as the paranormal perception at a distance in time and space and the parapsychologist place the Second Sight along side ESP, or extra sensory perception.
A frequent vision seen by those with the Second Sight is a premonition of a death shortly to occur in the community. This can take the form of seeing an apparition of the person, his wraith, no matter how far away the person might be. There are also reports of those gifted seeing lights around the person that is fated soon to pass over.
Sometimes the Second Sight concerns more mundane occurrences, such as the sure knowledge that comes to those gifted of a future outcome or occurrence. This is not a case of luck or coincidence, but rather the complete, certain and accurate knowledge, of an event in the future or even a case of just 'knowing' where something that has been mislaid is.
The Second Sight is called a 'gift', but is not considered so by those afflicted with the sense. The episodes come on them not of their own choosing, but in spells which they have no control. The burden of knowing where death will call among friends and family, or just the burden of knowledge of the nature of people, or their never to be realised dreams, etc., often makes those with the sense solitary by choice. They will often seek to live in wooded cabins, or seashore or mountain homes, places where they do not have to discourse with people, just to escape episodes of the Second Sight. They live lonely lives of solitude, deep in thoughts and knowledge of how mysterious life really is.
Sarah Pearl Tweedy, born in 1883 in southern Illinois, had the Second Sight. Her family left County Cavan early in the 1700s for Colonial America. This photo take circa 1905.
Science only now is perhaps providing some explanation into the Second Sight. As leading physicists develop theories into quantum physics, into String Theory, or of multiple universes and dimensions no further away than our finger tips, perhaps some explanation into the Second Sight can be understood. Perhaps in the population among certain people, in Scotland for instance, some families have long had abilities perceive these things, to have access to time and space, not as a linear progression, but access to the entire flow of events.
The Second Sight is thought to be hereditary and it 'runs' in some families. As is often the case in genetics, the Second Sight may skip one or two generations, and then return, like some regressive trait for hair colour or shape of ears. The phenomenon is much too authenticated to pretend it does not exist.
While this is so, here in the 21st Century amid a society based on consumerism and values taken from a very material world, instances of the Second Sight seem to be waning. The massive intrusion of media, the incessant TV and radio programs, Cell phone signals, satellite communications, computers and more, could very well make the all too fragile links to the other world to frayed and cloudy for those with the Second Sight to perceive their reality anymore. Only in rural areas in Scotland and Ireland, and in the Southern hills and uplands in the United States, where so many Irish and Scottish settled, are there still reports of people with the Second Sight.