Let’s start with the definition. Hiraeth is an untranslatable Welsh word that describes a longing for a home, a place, or a feeling that no longer exists or never existed.
It’s a homesickness for the places from your past you can’t return to or even those you’ve never been to. Hiraeth can also mean nostalgia for your past self, the people who are long gone, or the emotions you used to feel.
But it can also describe a sense of yearning for imaginary places, feelings, and people – for example, the ones you read about. Sometimes, it feels as if you suddenly take a glance into your previous life and connect with the people and things that existed long ago – or, at least, could have existed.
Hiraeth is a perfect example of a comprehensive term that is impossible to explain with just one or two words. And everyone who is familiar with this rare word puts their own meaning into it.
The Hiraeth of Old Souls and Deep Thinkers
Old souls and deep thinkers are among those people who know what Hiraeth is better than anyone. These individuals are more prone to feelings of nostalgia and unexplained sadness.
According to the ideas of New Age spirituality, old souls are believed to be more intuitive, better connected with their inner self, and more likely to remember their past lives. If you relate to these beliefs, you could regard Hiraeth as a connection to your previous reincarnations.
In this case, it’s a feeling of longing for the places that were your home, the people who were your family, and the things you did in your past lives. It’s just one way to view this emotional state.
If we go with logic, a person with an old soul’s characteristics translates into a deep-thinking introvert. It’s someone who is highly contemplative, a dreamer, and an abstract thinker.
Such people are prone to feeling pensive or sad for no obvious reason. They think about their past often and immerse themselves in fantasy worlds.
No surprise that they may sometimes feel an unexplainable yearning for imaginary places and people. They also have the habit of overanalyzing their past, so they can feel nostalgia for the home they used to live in or the experiences they used to have.
All these are examples of Hiraeth.
When Can You Experience Hiraeth?
We all have felt this emotional state at some point in our lives, but most of us had no idea that there was a name for it. The best example of Hiraeth is the feeling you get when staring into the starry sky.
It’s an unexplainable longing, but you don’t know what or who you long for. The stars in the sky look so distant, and yet, it feels as if they are calling you. Is it some kind of lost homeland trying to reach out from a faraway galaxy or is it the stardust speaking inside you and reviving your connection with the universe?
I’m sure that you are familiar with this feeling, even though it’s difficult to explain. You can also experience Hiraeth while looking into the sea or the ocean. The boundless surface of the water, the reflection of the sky, and the unreachable horizon.
What is there beyond it? It’s the lands you’ve never stepped on, the lights of the cities you’ve never seen, and the foreign air you’ve never breathed.
This is when you start to feel an inexplicable yearning for the places you’ve never been to and are not sure they even exist. Maybe they are just a product of your imagination.
Have you felt this emotional state? If yes, then what is Hiraeth for you? I’d love to hear about your experiences.
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