No Memories In A While

I find it strange that in the last little bit, I’ve had no memories of any of my apparent past lives.

The most recent flicker of anything was that of having been a sailor around the year 1848, but admittedly I haven’t found anything at all to support that other than a very hazy image of a large multi masted ship on the ocean, someone in a white uniform on a rat line, and the vague idea of it being that particular year.

I have, however, plotted a visual chart of the (human) lives I’ve remembered so far and the coincidences/synchronicities between them that I could recall.  What I’ve plotted out so far is really interesting!  I’ll post that soon enough.

Stranger Than I thought…

Apparently, the part of France William fought in was only 31 km from the part of France John fought in.

John was killed at Houplines, in Nord in July 1915.  From there, eastward just past Lille, is the town of Bouvines where, in July 1214, William Longespee, together with his half-brother King John and their ally, Otto II, fought the French forces led by King Phillip II.  The Anglo-German coalition, incidentally, was defeated.

I had no idea these places would be so close together, or that the dates were only just a little over 700 years apart.  

Furthermore, I’m frankly surprised that both the memories and locations all sync with a historical figure of some prominence; my previous life I was pretty well respected among intellectuals and fans of the genre I wrote in, but not really a major historical figure by any stretch; in the life before that- the first life I remembered- I was just a farm boy from Somerset.

This also leaves some strange questions.  What happened in the almost 7 centuries between my time as William and my time as John?  Why did I go from the Earl of Salisbury to a farm hand who probably made a living picking hops, yet still have these strange, tangential things in common?

Maybe I was merely obsessed with William Longespee or King John in my life as John Harris, and tried to emulate them by joining the army and proving myself in an act of valor; it could be that as John, I visited his grave in Salisbury and heard the story of King John’s troops at Bouvines. 

That doesn’t explain my memories of being in a ruined abbey as John and remembering a similar abbey (though probably not the same one) in its active days hundreds of years before.

I just have a hard time believing that this was me, even if memories and circumstances are telling me that this is a distinct possibility.

Possible Past Life Identified?


No sooner had I made a post on a forum I often browse asking for help identifying my life in the Middle Ages, when I found a possible match:,_3rd_Earl_of_Salisbury

*Linked to both Somerset and Shropshire.
*Took refuge in a Cistercian monastery that is now in ruins:
*Buried at Salisbury Cathedral.
*Fought in a war in France

Still not sure if this is “confirmed” though. I want to hold out for a more precise match before I say that was me.

Rather interesting how the places all line up though.

This is getting very strange.

Possible Match?

I found another church, this time in England, and here’s the cool thing: among its accents are a dark variety of marble called Purbeck marble, which are used in the columns.

It’s Salisbury Cathedral, and although the screens I remember separating the nave from the aisles are long gone, they would match the architecture very nicely:

It’s possible what I saw wasn’t along the nave but in one of the chapels, but that would cast doubt on my theory that this is where my wedding was held.  It would, however, explain why I remember there being a complex of these columns with something like a canopy overhead.  Still, my memories seem to have me waiting at a doorway in the screen, as if waiting to enter the Nave, so I’m a bit confused by what I’ve seen.

I need to see pictures of the chapels in Salisbury cathedral to really be sure.

Still, it would be interesting if Salisbury Cathedral did turn out to be a match, considering its proximity to Yeovil where I would later be born in the 19th century.

Another theory I’ve had- and this is borne out somewhat by wrought iron screens in a small part of the Nave at Canterbury Cathedral (I can’t find a good picture, but if you go to their website and look back at the Nave from the Crossing in the 3D view you can kind of see them)- is that the church I remember was built with pilgrimages in mind and that the screens with their narrow black columns were there to control the flow of pilgrims through the sanctuary.

I feel like I’m hot on the trail.  The information in this term’s art history textbook has been of great help in directing my search.  Interpreting what I saw in a brief flash of maybe 1 seconds’ memory will be difficult but I’ll see what I can do.

EDIT: Found a photo of the Trinity Chapel in Salisbury Cathedral.  While my gut says “this isn’t exactly what I saw,” this is probably the closest match I have seen to date:

Visual Reference (Pt. 2)

The black columns I remember in the church or chapel or cathedral I recall from the Middle Ages were similar in their context (that of the interior structure) to this:–Paris.JPG

There was a structure like this and all but a portion of it set aside for a doorway had a low-lying screen.  The difference is, I recall that structure being a screen that separated the aisles from the nave, and I remember standing there, as if waiting to proceed into the Nave.  I was male, and wearing a close-fitting outfit of finely-made but tough fabric that had a good bit of crimson.  It was about what you’d expect a knight or other fighting man to wear on a state occasion: something flashy but practical that was nice enough to wear in a chapel, but tough enough to wear in a sword fight.

Sainte Chapelle is a chapel built in the High Gothic, which supports my thoughts that this was some time in the 13th or 14th century.  I’m a bit astonished that I’m finding the best examples of the sort of architecture I’m looking for in France rather than England.  Perhaps the abbeys near Shrewsbury were not where I was a monk, but merely reminded me of an abbey somewhere in France; or perhaps the features I’m looking for once existed in England but were scoured from the land under Henry VIII and a succession of reformers that followed until the 17th or 18th century.

That’s the difficulty with reconstructing memories from the Middle Ages: you have just enough in the record to learn a lot about the general gist of how people lived, but there are huge holes when it comes to specifics.  If I can trace this life to anyone who lived in the Middle Ages, I will have pulled off something truly remarkable in the way of historical research.

The Nautilus


The nautilus is what scientists call a living fossil. It is a very primitive cephalopod, a relation of squids and octopi. A little over a hundred million years ago, most of them evolved beyond the need for shells, but the little nautilus didn’t have to change a whole lot; it’s almost the same way its ancestors looked when dinosaurs roamed the earth.

To think the sea once teemed with such creatures, some in large sizes and with magnificent, long, swordlike shells.. Now all we have are the broken and colorless shells of these early cephalopods. I have to wonder what sort of amazing colors their shells might have been before fossilization left us blank casts of them. The sea really lost some of its splendor when the rest of the cephalopods evolved away from the need for shells. Then again, they’re a remarkable order in their own right and might even replace us one day, seeing how adaptable they’ve been.

Sometimes I wonder about where I was when creatures like these were the dominant life form, if my ideas about reincarnation are correct. Does the soul have a definite age? Was there some spark of being that would some day become me there, in that primordial sea? What was I? A curled ammonite? A gracile orthoceras? Or perhaps I was only a humble little trilobite grazing on the detritus from their meals. Or perhaps, the thought or wavelength or big steaming ball of dukkha that became me hadn’t broken through into existence yet.

I’ve had intuitions- and vague ones- of lives as creatures in the Pleistocene (as an ant and a mastadon) and the Devonian era (as an early sort of bony fish). But I don’t really trust these intuitions because I have no memories I can trace. For now, I consider my disposition in pre-human times a mystery that will probably never be solved.

Still I wonder… Where was I when the seas teemed with colorful shoals of creatures like these? Was I there?

Can’t Stop Writing

I tried, but I can’t put it down.  I can’t walk away.

Maybe my writing is too intellectual, or too derivative, or too this or that…  I still do it.

If I quit writing I’ll have lost my voice.  I’m not very good at expressing myself in spoken words; in fact I stumble when I try, or say things that I don’t mean, or string words together awkwardly and don’t always get through to people.

When I write, at least I can get my ideas down and people can kind of follow my logic on things.  It’s my one release, my one option, my one way out of the shell of awkwardness I live in.

I can’t stop writing.  I may as well stop breathing if I did that.

A Visual Reference

To give some idea of the narrow aspect of the columns I recall in that unknown church in the Middle Ages, I found a good reference to columns that look kind of similar:

These are at the Benedictine abbey in Moissac, France.  I do know that these columns are not the ones I saw as these are in the cloister; the columns I remember ran along the aisle next to the Nave, and did not run to the floor but came to a low screen or fence-type divider with a few doorways in between.  Also, they were black; whether this was black stone or stone painted to appear black, I am not sure.

Still, the image should give some idea of the narrow aspect of the columns I remember, and might help jog someone’s memory if the place still exists.  Personally, I’m doubtful that the place was real and if it was, I’m doubtful it still stands in a form I would recognize, but you never know.

Trouble Getting Motivated

My writing has ground to a halt.

I don’t know what to do with my life.  I’m worried my writing might be too intellectual.  And I know that sounds egotistical but I’ve actually had people say that to me before, usually people expecting a light story suddenly put off by the complexity of what I write about.

I can’t write light material any more.  The last time I was able to do that was a cheap novella I wrote in 2007-10.  Something changed in me.  I was pretty much an avowed atheist in that period and I was so sure in that.  Then in the summer of 2010, I had some experiences that basically started the ball rolling on this whole past life thing.

Learning about a possible past life as an accomplished writer is either a profound revelation, or the height of spiraling delusions.

But even if I am not delusional, I am misguided.  I thought learning about a past life where I was successful would help inspire me; instead, it gave me a false hope that I might “get back on the horse” and take off on a sharp upward trajectory now that I found my “true name.”  No.  Far from it.  I’ve actually had terrible luck lately.  I had a publisher back out on me when I brought up money, for one thing (he didn’t know about the whole past life mess).  I had a really difficult month with issues in my classes and at home, sleep deprived and overworked, sometimes reading up to 200 pages of history and sociology texts a night. 

But worst of all is the realization that past life success does not guarantee success in a current life.  I keep hurting myself with these lives by getting too attached to things I no longer have, and I keep ending up badly depressed because of it.  

I’m not entirely over my life as John either.  As I piece together what happened on 25 May 1915 at the Battle of Bellewaerde Ridge, I find more questions than answers.  I remember details that aren’t in “Magnificent but Not War,” like how the Germans defended positions with passive defense once they broke through the line near Railway Wood.  But as far as the specific details, those have not surfaced in the part of the book I have read.  It makes sense; historians have long said that the German offense at the Second Battle of Ypres was strong, but that they didn’t do enough to exploit their gains when they broke through, and that the KSLI and KRRC at Railway Wood did not come under particularly heavy fire compared to the PPCLI.  Although I am almost certain that this is because they relied mainly on passive defense- traps, barbed wire, and a few more gruesome tactics- I cannot prove it.  There’s a theme park over part of the battlefield, and Railway Wood is off limits for digs because it’s the site of a mine disaster and therefore a war grave.  Everything I remember is buried forever.

I’ll get over my life as a writer, and I’ll get over my life as John.  But for now, I’ve hit that inevitable low point when I realize, once and for all, that the person I was is gone and I can never be the same person again.

I have only a single online course over the next month, then a month and a half break before classes start again.  I say that’s good timing because I’m going to need some time off.

Will update when relevant.  I’m burned out and genuinely depressed, and have been for weeks, but only now do I realize it.  Usually that’s around the time it starts to get better so here’s hoping.


There is a Zen Buddhist text about a monk who was reborn as a fox for five hundred lifetimes, until he realizes what’s been going on.

And of all places to remember a lifetime as a fox, I can positively trace several features to closely matching the Daruma Ji temple, a very holy place for Buddhists in Japan.  If not for the fact that all the details so far add up very well, I’d think I was losing my mind at this point.

The fox may not be a past life of mine at all, but a memory of something else I knew, long ago in one of my lives, and half forgot.

I know the story is supposed to be allegorical, and I don’t literally think I’m the monk in the story.  This is just the latest in a series of really weird coincidences, since this story is about someone remembering past lives not necessarily because of enlightenment, but perhaps because of having done something bad.

Maybe I did something really evil when I was John, or in the life before.  Maybe remembering past lives is karma for the war; then again, I think I remembered past lives when I was John too.  Maybe this was the only way I’d ever see myself as I truly am, including faults that I find more and more profound as I take an honest look at myself.

Once again, my attention is drawn to Buddhism.