My Experience with Ecclesia Gnostica

I attended service at a local Gnostic Church today. I think I’m going to become a regular.

I have never heard a priest or minister of any denomination perform the Eucharist with such energy or conviction! The congregation was small- there were seven of us counting the priest and his lay server- but the people were interesting, erudite, friendly, and engaging and there was a vibe similar to what one would have expected of the earliest churches in ancient Rome. It’s in a small home chapel in an unassuming house just off of NE 60th, a part of town not known for much in the way of touristy stuff.

Best of all, I can be myself and all that implies, and all of the experiences I have had to date are regarded as valuable and worthy of sharing and even an asset to the community.  I can talk openly about John and everything his life taught me about the essence of our condition and that is such a relief!

Also, they need qualified priests and servers and that’s kind of an ambition of mine. I really do feel like I’ve found a home here.

Recent Developments

Lately, although my mind certainly has been on past lives (in particular my life as John), I’ve been bereft of anything but the briefest flickers of memory.

Instead, what I’ve had in the last month or two have been dreams and visions that seem to point to the Book of Daniel, a book of the Bible I hadn’t paid much attention to until now.

All I remember of the first dream is that I saw so much flashing, from the Old Testament through to the present day, in such a short time. The name “Daniel” came to mind; I think some (but not all) of the events described in the Book of Daniel may be linked to it.

There was an intervening spirit throughout these ages that broke the surface like a whale breaching the surface of the water, still reflecting the illusion on its wet skin but distinct enough that it could be seen. It moved, and was gone, amorphous, slippery, somewhat camouflaged, very much like what PKD called Zebra (but it was not one of the beasts that arose from the sea in the Book of Daniel because it was not linked to an earthly kingdom but rather, stood in opposition to them).

Then yesterday, I had a vision of five signs arranged in a tableau that I’m still trying to interpret, if indeed it means anything other than the random noise of an overactive imagination.

Across the top of the tableau were four signs which I understood thusly:

  1. A man drinking from a bottle, which I understood to be a reference to Thomas 28: “Jesus said, “I took my stand in the midst of the world, and in flesh I appeared to them. I found them all drunk, and I did not find any of them thirsty. My soul ached for the children of humanity, because they are blind in their hearts and do not see, for they came into the world empty, and they also seek to depart from the world empty.But meanwhile they are drunk. When they shake off their wine, then they will change their ways.”
  2. A bull or a ram, which I took to represent the fertility cults of the ancient Near East, such as the endemic religions of the Babylonians.
  3. A flaming Torah scroll, which I took to mean the Logos.
  4. A dove, which I took curiously to be the dove of the diluvian myth and not the dove of the Holy Spirit.

The fifth sign was at the bottom, as wide as all four of the others taken together.  It was a cracked stone slab with the word “KING” carved on it, which I somehow took to represent Nebuchadnezzar as he appeared in Daniel.

The juxtaposition makes no sense, and I’m still trying to figure out why I keep referring to Daniel, a book I really don’t know what to make of.  To literalists, it’s a one-to-one account of lives and prophecies of the captivity of the Jews in Babylon; to Bible scholars, it’s one of the earliest of a genre of apocalyptic writings, the same tradition as the various books of Revelation (yes, there is more than one but only one made the final cut).  One thing that stands out to me is a repetition of the meme of a holy person in captivity who gains the favor of a king by interpreting their dreams; that meme is also seen in the Joseph story in Genesis.

But as far as Kabbalistic or Gnostic interpretations, I’m still trying to find resources.  If any of my readers can point me toward one I would be most grateful as these dreams and visions have me in an odd place.

EDIT: I took a few moments in Gimp to mash up some images and show the tableau more or less as I saw it, though the images as I saw them were more stylized:

tableau

Relief

I may no longer have to sell my story.

I’ve got a phone interview for a job as a copywriter in a couple of days.  If I pass the phone interview the next step will be a face-to-face.

This would be a very good job for me, the sort of honest work that I can actually do easily and enjoy.  I would actually be making money with words I write.  Even better, I’d actually be making a steady income with words that I write.

This is an entry-level position, but it’s a small company poised to grow big.  If I can get this I’m fairly confident I’ve got a leg up on a career as a copywriter, a job that pays well enough that I could finally have a good life and not have to struggle month-to-month.

I’m unsure of what to do except prepare myself for either the sort of job I’ve wanted for years, or a painful disappointment if I can’t get it.

I may still go public about John at some point, but if I can just get honest work doing what I do well, I can put it to rest until I’m really ready.

I really hope I get this job.  I’ve gone far too long without a break.

Memory Fragment

I remember a book from some time in the Middle Ages, I think it was my own book.

One particular page had the text coming down to a funnel shape, as if blooming out of a large red flower at the bottom of the page.  Up either side of the page were bean poles or tall straight saplings with green leaves over them.  The top of the page had a cloud from which a face representing the winds came.

I wish I could remember what this book was.  Such a stunning book!  If it ever even existed it’s probably long gone by now.

Going Public?

I may go public about my memories before long.  One of my upcoming books will be based on my memories from WWI and I may decide to openly state that it’s based on actual events.

I’ve been giving this a lot of thought for a long time.  I stalled on it because of my suspicions that I had been Philip K. Dick.  Now that I no longer stand by that claim, I no longer feel like my abilities as a writer are overshadowed by past life claims.  As far as I am aware, writing novels was something I learned in my current life.  I can own my talent as something built through practice and effort, and not through an eyebrow-raising claim of a famous past life.

However, I still value how this might be perceived and I intend to handle the matter with integrity.  Even though I am in too much debt to turn down proceeds from my book, I have no intention of becoming rich from it; I feel that there is a distinct ethical difference between taking care of myself the best way I know how and using my claims to get rich.

In the highly unlikely event that this book is extremely successful, I will give any share of any proceeds I don’t need to maintain my current working-class standard of living to charities that work for world peace, give help and solace to those whose lives have been disrupted by war, and help low-income transfolk.

I do not intend to set a date or announce the title of my book on this particular blog unless someone is stupid enough to try to rip me off by claiming to be me; the purpose of this blog is not and never has been to hype my books.

I am still unsure about this.  It’s a huge risk and a huge commitment.  I’ve gotten some positive feedback from friends but it’s been mixed.

It will be a while before the book I’m planning to do this with is actually ready, so I’ve got time to think about it.

Tonight’s Dinner

Now and then, I like to have a nice meal with my fiance.

Tonight was a special one.  Steak and ale pie, lentil soup, and blood orange shandy.

Having backed off the vegetarian diet for the time being I’m trying to vary my diet as much as possible and I’ve been drawing a lot of inspiration from historic and Old World diets.  Since shandy and steak and ale pie aren’t the healthiest things, the lentil soup was a nice compromise to round it out with something wholesome.

Very satisfied with how this worked out.  OK, I kind of cheated by getting the pies and the soup pre-made, but they were the good gourmet stuff from Trader Joe’s.  For the shandy I decided to go with Czechvar (also known as Budvar or “the real Budweiser” but for copyright reasons they call it Czechvar here) and blood orange soda because fizzy lemonade wasn’t as easy to find as I’d hoped.

Also, I finished ad-hoc edits on one of the books I’m writing my past life experiences into.  It was an older manuscript I had that described my time in London, but I added past life material and I have to say, a lot of the stuff I did in London just makes more sense now.

19th Century Biscuit Tins

It seems that I may have kept my cigars in a biscuit tin after all.

Remember the ornate tin box I often described keeping my cigars in, the one that had been engraved with my mother’s (and my) initials that she’d used as a cheap jewelry box before I inherited it?

I don’t know if I’ve recorded this here or not but I think it may have been like this:

Crawford’s Biscuit Tin, Undated.

I have no idea when tins like this were commonplace, and the initials would have to have been engraved by someone in the family, but it’s interesting to think that perhaps I’d been keeping my cigars in a biscuit tin all along.

Still, if the tin belonged to my mother, then it may as well have been the most precious thing in the world.  Of all the people I knew in that life, it is my mother I remember most clearly and miss the most.

For Future Reference

This is probably nothing but I’m saving it for future reference because it’s rather interesting.

I found a person named Clyde Starr who had spent time in California, but he wasn’t a 19th century English sailor; he was, however, a Doughboy in the 41st Infantry Division of the American forces in WWI:

http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=3636823

Saving this just in case it’s more than a funny coincidence.  Somehow I don’t think it is but I’ve been caught off guard before.

Playlist for a Long Lost Tommy

My life from 1877 to 1915 is rather interesting in that it’s the first life I remember clearly in which a large body of the popular songs from that era are still remembered somewhat.

To that end, I’ve compiled a playlist of songs from the 1910s and earlier that, for whatever reason, struck me as songs I knew during that life.  I only fact-checked these after deciding whether or not they resonated with me on a personal level and I’ve confirmed that all of these songs were extant and widely-known in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, though some songs are much older in their origin.

I went with a mix of period recordings and more recent recordings.  In some cases (such as “Drink To Me Only With Thine Eyes”) I just really liked a particular artist’s rendition.

Lavender’s Blue

When I was a child in my current life, my mother had a tape of the Burl Ives version of this song and my natural reaction every single time was to cry because it made me profoundly sad!  It always vexed my current mother, who thought that I cried because the sounds of the instruments hurt my ears (WTF?!?).  I now believe this may have been a lullaby that my previous mother sang to me in Victorian times as I still feel very sad when I hear it.  The song’s origins are uncertain but are probably from about the time of the English Restoration.  Its current “lullaby” version is from about 1805.

The Trees They Do Grow High

Another song that probably originated in the 17th century, this one probably in Scotland, though by the time Cecil Sharp did his survey of folk songs in Somerset it was already a well-established tune there.  When I first heard this song it resonated with me but it could simply be tragic tone of the lyrics.

Drink To Me Only With Thine Eyes

An old chestnut, this one with lyrics by Ben Johnson after an earlier poem by Philostratus.  I first heard it as part of a compilation album called “Top Hits of 1776,” though I much prefer Paul Robeson’s version.  The same album also contained a song called “How Stands The Glass Around” which felt familiar but is not included in this list as all the sources I’ve seen suggest it was out of vogue by the 19th century.  By contrast, “Drink To Me Only With Thine Eyes” remained a popular folk standard through the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries.  I am reasonably confident that I was familiar with this song during that particular life.

Harry Champion- I’m Henery The Eighth I Am

This song- a signature tune for Harry Champion- was another one that stood out for me since my present life’s childhood.  I remember once, around age 12, hearing Herman’s Hermits version the song on the radio in my father’s garage and for once, it clicked for me that their version of the song was sung faster than it should have.  In the back of my mind I always carried a slow music hall ballad version being sung in a beer-soaked chorus in a smoke-filled pub.  I was excited when I discovered Harry Champion’s version because it’s sung at exactly the tempo I thought it should be!

I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside

I first heard this song in my current life around 2007 as a snippet at the end of Queen’s song “Seven Seas of Rhye.”  I was living in Las Vegas at the time, in a long-distance relationship with the man who would later become my fiance.  He came to visit and we drove out to Mt. Charleston for the afternoon; one of the albums he brought was Queen 2.  I had wondered about the snippet of the older song at the end for a very long time as it sounded so familiar.  When I discovered that this was a popular music hall song before WWI I felt sure I had known this song on many a carefree holiday to Weston Super Mare and Blackpool.

The Boy I Love Is Up In The Gallery

Not much to say about this one except I first discovered it while looking for songs from the English music halls.  It was apparently made famous by Marie Lloyd.  I simply chose the best-quality recording I could find of it.

There’s A Long Long Trail A’Winding

This song, published in London in 1914, is one of only a handful of songs from the actual war years that stands out as one I knew particularly well.  The version I’ve chosen is a gorgeous two-part harmony recording from the later half of 1915.

It’s A Long Way To Tipperary

I actually owned several copies of this song more than six years before my memories broke!  The “modified” date on the file I have (which is actually Albert Harrington’s version and not the John McCormack version linked here) is June 28, 2006; the metadata is lost on another version I have, by the Red Army Choir, but I seem to remember getting that one much earlier (around 2004) and actually listening to it while I was in England, though the loss of metadata makes it hard to prove.  Still, it’s probably the only song on this list I have more than anecdotal evidence that I’d enjoyed the song before I’d realized I had a past life.  It apparently was a prewar music hall tune that became very popular with the soldiers so it would have been well known by pretty much every soldier by the Second Battle of Ypres.

Le Temps de Cerises

A French tune from the 19th century, “Le Temps de Cerises” has been perennially popular in France.  I first heard this song in a movie and it stayed with me in a big way, but I had initially assumed it was written for that movie.  I now think it’s likely that I heard it in France in 1915 (specifically, I believe I heard it in Armentieres).

One’s Own Grave

Today, I designed my own gravestone.

I probably won’t need it for a while, but since being rushed to the hospital I’ve been thinking about how fragile our bodies are and how easily they can give out on us with very little warning.

The design I came up with is a bit unconventional for this day and age.  I went with a coffin-shaped slab like the ones I saw marking medieval burials in many English churchyards.  Where the long-stemmed cross would be, I placed an Ankh-like cross based loosely on one found on a Cathar coin from medieval Languedoc.  Along the edge is an inscription in blackletter characters that reads, in the best Latin I could muster:

“(my name), uxor (my fiance’s name), Flos Auctorem, rerum gestarum, custodes fidem gnostici, obiit anno (year). In vita priore erat comitas sarisburensis. Nosce te ipsum.”

“(My name), wife of (my fiance’s name), Flower of Authors, Scholar of History, Keeper of the Gnostic Faith, died in the year (year in Roman numerals).  In a prior life she was the Earl of Salisbury.  Know Thyself.”

The self-given title “Flos Auctorem” is both a reference to my name and to Count William’s epitaph which calls him “Flos Comitum.”

To me, it’s the perfect mix of demi-histrionic boasting worthy of someone with one foot still in the 13th century, a clear statement that I believe in my own spiritual immortality, and a certain grim finality that says “She’s dead.  Deal with it.”

I have a strong disdain for the twee sentimentality of today’s funeral markers.  I guess that’s fine for some people but I really don’t want my family erecting something with crying angels and sappy pseudo-religious poetry, or QR codes that no one will be able to read in 100 years, or a picture of my classic Citroen as if that was all I had to remember me by.  I just want something outlandish in its extreme anachronism, enduring in its design, and dignified in its execution.

Hopefully I won’t need it just yet.  Yes, I’ve contemplated suicide but never seriously enough to try it, and the idea of dying of a heart condition now, at the age of 31, scares me shitless because I’m simply not ready for that.  I already know what happens when you die when you’re not ready and it’s extremely unpleasant.  I don’t want to go through that again.