Not Good…

I’m experiencing emotional numbness and signs of anxiety while not feeling overtly anxious.

This could be a sign I’m about to have another really nasty flashback.  The emotional numbing sometimes builds to a head and when the dam breaks, I often find I’m back on the Western Front, unable to escape the images burned into my soul nearly a century ago.

It’s hard to describe.  I’ll feel very drowsy, disconnected for days on end, and I’ll have a difficult time concentrating or feeling any sort of love, pleasure, or joy.  But I’ll feel the urgent need to have emotions, the same as you’d feel an urgent need for any bodily function if you had a blockage somewhere in one of the many ducts and tubes.  Sometimes I’ll have outbursts of anger or frustration, but they’ll feel artificial and not entirely like they’re part of “me.”  

I just want it to get over with.  Maybe it’s not related to the war, maybe it’s something else entirely, but it’s not going to be pleasant.

The Meaning of that Dream…

I had a dream a few weeks ago (I think I made an entry about it) where I walked through an alternate Yeovil- one as it would be if two world wars hadn’t happened- and saw it much more intact, and closer to how John would have remembered it.

The part of the dream that really struck me, though, was when I came to the square where the Yeovil war memorial would be, and in its place was a giant, ancient myrtle tree.

Today in an art history class, we were discussing the Venuses of Titian and Giorgione and it was mentioned that the myrtle is a symbol of Venus.

Suddenly, a possible meaning of the dream clicked.  That myrtle was the distinct opposite of what stands there now.  Rather than a cold stone in the spirit of Mars, God of War, this was a living thing, ancient and beautiful, in the spirit of Venus, Goddess of Love.  I sat in its shade and was very content.  If I was aware of this memetic symbolism, it didn’t click consciously.

Another possible meaning for the myrtle comes from the Welsh lyrics most commonly set to the tune “Cwm Rhondda,” which I believe to have been John’s favorite hymn during his adult years in the Welsh Marches.  The title of that particular setting is “Wele’n sefyll rhwng y myrtwydd” (Lo, between the myrtles standing).*  The meaning of the myrtle in Christianity is apparently that of the Gentiles who converted to Christianity, so the symbolism would have a lot of power in Europe.

Now, I could digress into Neoplatonism and try to string the two meanings together, but right now I’m not in a good state for such intellectual gymnastics.  And yet, if this is anything but the product of 29 years of absorbing Christian and Greco-Roman religious memes and conflating them through common conventions, it’s tantalizing to think about because it’s the first time I’ve seen any hint of the divine in this.

I would feel very blessed if the Divine Feminine came to me in the guise of Venus in this life.  I am waiting for something a little less ambiguous but I’m listening.

* I should note that John was probably more familiar with an English language version of the hymn and though I’ve found evidence of the Harris family in the Welsh Marches going back hundreds of years, I have no reason to believe that he actually spoke Welsh.

Heard On My Commute Today…

Today, on the Max Blue Line between Sunset TC and Washington Park, I overheard the following snippet of conversation:

“…a really prophetic guy.  He lived a crazy life.”

I turned to where I heard the conversation and sure enough, the guy was reading a copy of The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch.

At first I wanted to leap up and say “Hey!  That was me!” but I don’t know that for sure… and even if I did, no one would believe me.  I spent the rest of the day feeling just a little bit more melancholy than I had when I woke up this morning and had weird, restless dreams when I took an afternoon nap before tackling homework.

The tide has come and taken my sand castle away.  I’m left with nothing to do but build another.  If that was me once upon a time, I can be proud but that’s about it.

I went through this with John and William too… I’m still letting go.  I’m still in denial that I can’t have what I had back then and I’m trying to reckon with how I can turn these memories from a liability into an asset.

I’m leaning strongly toward a road trip to the Bay Area once the weather warms up so I can confront these feelings once and for all.  I don’t think it’s doing me any good to wonder and ruminate.

Age At Recollection

I sometimes wonder why- or if- I didn’t recall past lives at an earlier age.

Nearly every case I come across that’s uncovered even half the details I’ve uncovered was a case involving a child, or someone who had known since they were a child.

But I had no clue.  I had a vague sense of being displaced, living in the wrong culture, location, and era, and massive waves of deja vu for medieval and Victorian items, but it was easy to write it all off as something vague and inconsequential.  If I talked about past lives as a young child, nobody wrote it down or remembered (I’ve asked).

Then there are the places I gravitated toward.  I don’t know what to make of that.  I think the strongest case for having been John Harris and William Longespee comes from the way I wandered around England looking for something that I couldn’t put a finger on, but that could have just been the absent-minded wanderings of a lonely Yank in a faraway country… or could it?

Then there’s the fact that the life I suspect I lived before this one ended in 1982, and this life began in 1984.  Basically, I exited during a sort of “Pax Americana” where the culture, technology, and aesthetics were all in a period of stasis.  There was very little difference, culturally speaking, between the America of March 1982 and the America of March 1992.

I look at photos of the man I may have been, and I can’t help but notice how much of the tacky decor in that little apartment in OC looks just like the sort of thing I saw in dens and living rooms everywhere in my childhood.  I grew up with similar music, lived to see Reagan’s farewell speech in 1989 (he was on every channel and made me miss my cartoons), and I was surrounded by the same ideas, same clothes, and same cars.  For me, the change was so gradual that I barely noticed, and I could be forgiven for forgetting that I had lost two rather inconsequential years from a decade when change was a dirty word.

It’s also worth a note that, much like Phil, throughout my life the times I haven’t had a cat were the exception rather than the rule so there was very little change there.  I think part of the reason I don’t want to hear from that thing that contacted Phil is because it apparently had a habit of giving cats terminal cancer, and I’m in no hurry to lose my pal.

But it wasn’t Phil’s life I remembered first.  In fact I had no idea who Philip K. Dick was until I came across a joking reference to him in 2007 (someone made a crack about him having a cameo as the voice of God so I looked up his Wikipedia article).  I had never read a single work by him until the second half of last year because honestly, I was put off by the Christian imagery.  It was John’s life that came through first, and I didn’t remember that with any clarity until I was 28.  There were plenty of signs it was lurking just below the surface in hindsight, but it seems weird that it didn’t come up sooner.

I think the lack of clear recollections before I was solidly an adult (well, age-wise at least) is one of the reasons I still have doubts about my experiences, even if I can kind of understand why I didn’t remember.  That on top of the severely stressed state I was in when the memories of WWI finally came through have always left me unsure if there is anything to this.

I wish I could find more adult recall cases.  Apparently we’re invisible, and part of why I’m having a hard time tracking down information and confirming memories is because most of the reincarnation researchers out there are only interested in children.

Life Goes On

A little over a week ago, I made a post I’d been balking over for a number of months asking for help confirming memories of a possible past life as Philip K. Dick.

I’ll be honest, I expected one of three things to happen:

1. I’d be swamped by negative comments from PKD fans and random strangers.

2. I’d receive a “cease and desist” letter from the Dick estate.

3. I would pique someone’s interest (possibly a white-knighting skeptic who assumed I had nefarious and deceptive ends) and they’d out me as “that writer who says she was Philip K. Dick.”  Any prospects for a career would be cut short because, as I’ve admitted multiple times, my writing is okay but not that good..

So far, though, nothing has really changed.  I suppose it’s a blessing in a way because I’ve been able to go about my life as usual so I guess that’s good.

It’s still a bit disheartening because I check my e-mail every day hoping someone knows something about the apparent memories I had.  Without those, I can’t say one way or the other if I was him (or at least if I was legitimately mind-linking with whatever essence of him remains in the collective unconscious).

Attention really is a two-edged sword, isn’t it?  If I don’t get enough, I can’t get the answers I’m looking for but if I’m insistent and get enough attention, it just might be the wrong kind of attention and I don’t want that.  I’m not using all the tools at my disposal for that very reason.

Life goes on as usual, and that’s neither all good nor all bad.

My Relationship With The Divine Feminine

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what the Divine Feminine really means for me.

My relationship with my mother in this life is less than happy. She has a very stunted idea of what it means to be nurturing. She loves talking about how she fed me and changed my diapers, but when I needed someone to tell me it was going to be okay, instead I got someone who ridiculed me, ignored my emotions entirely while making hers all-important, gave me a “well, that’s life” speech, or catastrophized my feelings into yet another sign of a mental illness I didn’t have. I have a mother, but I don’t have a Mom.

That could be where it comes from in this life. I never felt attracted at all to the white-bearded patriarch of Calvinism because I had a father I frankly trusted a thousand times more than the severe, secretive, restrictive, vindictive, fickle, and cruel deity that reminded me more of my mother’s unstable, narcissistic, victim-blaming attitude than of a truly loving father. Like my mother, the Calvinist God gives you a lot materially, then expects you to love them even when they set you up for failure and then make your life miserable when you inevitably stumble. That’s not love. You can’t pull the wool over someone’s eyes about what love really is if they’ve been truly loved by someone, or what a good father is when they’ve already got a good father.  My mother didn’t have a good father; maybe that’s why she finds it so easy to embody all the worst traits of the Calvinist God.

For a few brief but happy years I thought I’d found a goddess to fill the void, in the goddess archetype of the witch. I practiced an eclectic religion derived from British Traditional Witchcraft for a while and it was really fulfilling, at first. I observed the Sabbats, drank mead around a campfire, danced naked in the forest under a full moon, and had a grand old time howling back at the coyotes in the Ouachita National Forest one Yule.

Granted, there were other signs that led me to think this was the right path. The most prominent was a trip I took in 2005 to the New Forest. I’d been through once on my way to the National Motor Museum in Beaulieu but I felt drawn to it somehow and vowed to come back and give the region a better look. Later, I found out that the New Forest had been the wellspring of the Pagan revival in the 20th century. Later still, I realized from the photos I had taken that I wasn’t looking for the sacred grove of the New Forest Coven, but for WWI memorials and for John’s home… my home. I never found it because I didn’t know where to look, and if I’d gotten as far as the Somerset countryside instead of stopping in the New Forest, I might have found it.

In the end, the romantic theatrics of the circle, the chalice, and the blade lost their luster for me when I recalled what happened to me on the Western Front in a life before this one. To paraphrase Sir Edward Elgar on his own great disappointment, my heart was incapable of any tender feeling of religious devotion after that. I can’t even listen to Pagan music any more without feeling jaded, which is a shame because I discovered some talented artists and bands in the Pagan community, like S.J. Tucker.

And yet, the curious thing I’ve seen is that throughout several- though not all- of the lives I’ve lived, I had some sense of the Divine Feminine, and it makes me wonder just how deep the tendency runs within me and why.

In the 13th Century, I was a devout Catholic at a time when Mariology was becoming increasingly popular, and I embraced the Epicurian virtue of the Troubadours while never once straying in my belief. I even was supposedly the subject of miracles involving Mary, but whether there is any truth to this or it is merely a romantic invention from Flores Historiarum, I might never know for sure even if I do remember because I might be inclined to distrust my memories.

On the off chance I was John Dowland (which is highly speculative since it’s based on a lot of “ifs”), I was even Catholic at a time when it was an unpopular choice.

For a very long time I was a Protestant of some sort. That was almost certainly my religion in the 18th and 19th centuries, and for much of the 20th (unless I discover that John was a member of one of the many secretive Pagan groups in England at the start of the 20th century).

Now, I cannot be sure I was Philip K. Dick and I’m forever in doubt that I even possibly could have been him. But if I was, then that adds something to it because Phil was a Gnostic, a believer in a true god and in a female figure, whom the Gnostics often call Sophia. For him, Sophia was always a dark-haired girl, the image of his sister who died in infancy. But there was also a maternal, nurturing aspect to her. Both aspects can be clearly seen in the character Zina in “The Divine Invasion.”  Incidentally, like me, Phil also had a rather unhappy relationship with a less-than-nurturing mother.

So what am I to make of this? If I took the lazy, a priori argument I could say that because I’ve believed across lives, it must be true because it fits my conception of truth, and I have been worshiping the same mother goddess this whole time. But I also believed in other things in past lives and in my younger years in this life that I no longer believe are true. I’ve been led astray by a priori arguments and I’ve believed in things that didn’t serve me, and to my detriment.

And yet, there’s no doubt I want to believe. I hunger for a solid reason to believe in a nurturing mother goddess, because that’s exactly the shape of the void in my life. That’s why I cry real tears when I hear Schubert’s Ave Maria. That’s why I still can’t listen to S.J. Tucker without feeling like I’ve been robbed of something I used to feel when I heard her music. That’s why my eyes and ears are still open to whatever divine force would have me.

So far, none have called, and I have no memory of Phil’s experience in 1974 which could possibly mean that the events of early 1974 were not a divine revelation, but a mental break or a ministroke after all. It could also mean that the Philip K. Dick who was born in 1928 literally died on February 20, 1974 to be replaced by an entirely new being in the same skin, a transfiguration by divine grace which would make my soul nothing but undesirable leftovers cast off during that transfiguration.

Or it could also mean that I was never him and I’m full of shit for ever thinking I was him in the first place.  Occam’s razor would certainly favor that conclusion, though it would also require me to ignore an increasingly dense cluster of weird coincidences and circumstantial evidence as if they meant nothing which, though rationally defensible, becomes difficult when the circumstantial evidence all points one direction.

Perhaps I’ll never know. Phil spent his remaining 8 years trying to figure out what was going on, and never did come closer to an answer when he died of a stroke at the age of 53. I might spend another 80 years and die of old age, having come no closer. There are some things a human lifespan is just too short to do, and working out what the truth really is behind all the smoke and mirrors is one of them. But I’d like to think that one day, I’ll know for sure if there really is a cosmic mother looking out for me.

Also, The 18th Century

Some topics that recently came up on a reincarnation forum I post gave me some thoughts on who I was in the late 18th century.  This is why I mentioned in my previous post that I thought I was a preacher.

I don’t think I was born in the Americas, but emigrated there while a teen or a young adult.  I had a flash of a city by the sea, perhaps in Western England or Wales but it could have been Portland, England.  I also suspect I may have been a Nonconformist (non-Anglican) because when I scrolled through Portland on Streetview a while back, the non-Anglican churches seemed to stand out for me.  I could have been there in a different life, I’m not sure.

If I was a nonconformist in the American colonies, then I was almost certainly sympathetic to the Revolution, though whether or not I fought or served as a chaplain, I don’t recall.

I now believe I may have been born much earlier than the speculated date of ca. 1750, though.  It seems I left England around that time and had been in the Americas for some years by the time the Revolution came.  I now think I may have been closer to the same age as General Washington (who was born in 1732).

I’m getting close to remembering something I can actually research on this, and I’m fairly excited.  It’s a reasonable guess that I probably survived the Revolution because the next life I remember has me as a young man around 1830.  And if I lived in New England as a preacher in that particular time, there’s a good chance I can trace who I was because the American colonists inherited the English propensity for fastidious record keeping.


A brief look at Wikipedia articles on 18th Century America and Christianity in early America shows that it was a hot bed of activity for nonconformists.  In fact, a large part of New York state (where I strongly sense my memory from the 1770s was from) was known as the “burned-over district” during the Second Great Revival.  It’s possible I might have taken part in that movement.  One of the things to come out of that movement was the doctrine of postmillennialism, which interestingly enough, according to Christian ethics professor John J. Davis was a doctrine that fell out of favor in the years following World War I.  The churches I grew up in during this life, not surprisingly, were ardent about premillennialist doctrine.

Wasn’t Me

I tend to be cautious about past lives, especially famous ones.  It’s extremely easy, once you’ve remembered one life that is identifiable, to start wondering if every person you identify with from every era might have been you.

Not everything passes the smell test for me.  There are a number of past lives I’ve ruled out, or now believe to be unlikely based on evidence.

Some lives I’m fairly sure I’ve ruled out:

William Blake (18th century poet, English)

While my verse can occasionally take on a blakeish tinge, I can easily identify with his spirituality and empathy, and he’d be a fine compliment to Philip K. Dick, ultimately my memories seem to place me elsewhere, in the northeastern US (possibly as a soldier, preacher, or military chaplain), around the 1770s.

Ludwig Van Beethoven (composer, German)

I look like him when I scowl, I have a similar temperament, and I have at least one other past life that was obsessed with him.  But while I’ve dabbled in music (and written brief riffs that are vaguely Beethovenish), I’ve never mastered it, and his life would contradict the timeline I have the best memories for, plus I’ve never had any attachment to 19th century Vienna.

William Henry Fox-Talbot (photography pioneer, English)

This one is weird in that I have a circumstantial case for it.  My photography is similar in many respects, the name “William” appears a lot in previous lives, the name “fox” could be read as a synchronicity, and he just happened to live in Lacock Abbey, which was built by none other than Countess Ela, widow of one William Longespee (the abbey is home to one of only two likenesses of Longespee in stone).  However, once again, the timelines are conflictory.  My memories of the 1840s are not of being gentry, like Fox-Talbot, but of being working class.

Another life I have previously suspected was that of William Shakespeare (yes, another William).  I’ve been through Stratford-Upon-Avon, I’m a writer and poet, and I have a background in theatre.  However, I now feel that if I was anyone of note in that era, I have a better case for having been John Dowland.  This is not because of the music he wrote but because of some unusual circumstantial links between him and Philip K. Dick.

Phil once wrote a story under the byline “Jack Dowland” and referenced him often.  The title “Flow, My Tears The Policeman Said” is a direct reference to Dowland’s song “Flowe My Teares.”

Phil once wrote letters to the authorities begging his case eloquently when he felt he was under scrutiny; whether or not he was aware that John Dowland had done the same centuries earlier, I’m not sure.  I do know that I had considered doing the same at one point in my life but felt it was excessive considering my relative lack of involvement in anything really fishy, though perhaps it’s wise to be just a little paranoid these days.

Once again, however, the relative lack of musical ability and of verifiable memories makes me reluctant to name Dowland as a strong candidate for a past life.

Interesting Find…

Today, at the Max stop at Pioneer Place (on top of an Epoch Times newspaper vending machine) I found a brand new copy of Frank Herbert’s Dune, still with the sticker from Powell’s on Burnside.

Since it looked like it was going to rain (which would ruin the book), the owner of the book couldn’t be found, and I’ve never read Dune (at least not in this life), I held onto it, but if the owner of this book happens to see this journal I won’t deprive you of it.  It was kept safe and dry in my back pack all day so no worries.

If I can’t find the owner, I guess I’ve just added Dune to my library.