One of the places I was fond of visiting when I lived in South Carolina, and one that often stirs memories that I equate with the song “Scarborough Faire” (along with the ruined abbey in Shropshire and the old plantations in Charleston) is Mepkin Abbey.
Mepkin Abbey, interestingly enough, is a Cistercian abbey just like the ones outside Shrewsbury were. Only it’s active.
I remember once going there and having a very informative talk with a monk there about the breakup of the abbeys in England. He mentioned something I hadn’t thought of before: the wool trade. I do know that Henry VIII liberalized the wool trade by breaking the Cistercian monopoly on wool, but I had always considered that to be a secondary consequence of his decision to break with the Catholic Church and that his divorces and remarriages were the catalyst for all this. But I digress…
Anyhow, it’s fascinating that two Cistercian abbeys figure into this, and that I had meaningful conversations in history with the monks at Mepkin Abbey. This doesn’t prove anything but it does put it in the “weird when you think about it” category.
It seems that song may have been what caused me to remember that abbey from that earlier life in my previous one when I heard its faux-medieval lilt some time after moving to Hereford (it had only been popular in its current setting around Yorkshire since the 1890s and would have taken a while to get that far south, but I think it’s reasonable that I could have heard it).
I think this isn’t the first time I’ve remembered past lives. I can’t remember a specific moment when I said “A Ha! I remember now!” back then, but I have the general sense that I was in that abbey near Shrewsbury and that I knew damned well why I was there. I think I may have decided that my decision to not become a soldier all those centuries ago was the wrong one.
I think that’s why I joined the Shropshires instead of going into a regiment out of Herefordshire or Somerset like I’d expect myself to. I can’t prove it but really feel that’s the answer.