No Such Luck

Wouldn’t you know it?

The HEMA school I was interested in either re-scheduled their Achille Marozzo classes to Tuesday nights, or I misread their schedule multiple times over the course of over a year chomping at the bit to take this course.

Either way my fiance and I didn’t get to go.

We went downtown instead.  We stopped at a big record store over on Burnside where I bought a couple of things (a compilation album of short works by Ralph Vaughan-Williams and a box set of Hector Berlioz’ Grand Messe des Morts, which figures into the novel I’m working on, along with a record cleaning kit).

Then we went out for burritos and came home.  I’m listening to that box set of the opera Aida I bought the other day right now.  It sounds magnificent for a used album pressed in 1962 and left to languish in a thrift shop.  Definitely an asset to my collection.


Tomorrow, I’m going to a HEMA school in the southwest of Portland to see if I’m up to learning longsword technique.

The technique they teach is actually Achille Marozzo’s 16th century longsword technique, though Marozzo did preserve a lot of information from earlier eras.

I’m not getting my hopes up about becoming especially good at this since I’m about 8 centuries out of practice and in a very different body, but I’ve been burning with curiosity about HEMA since the early 2000s.  Now I finally get to try it, and I’m very excited.

Incidentally, at least one of my friends into HEMA remembers a medieval past life too.  I guess once a knight is never enough.

Losing My Soul

I have to admit something: I’m losing my soul to fear, like so many people are these days. Mine is second-hand fear- the kind that fearful people instill in others by hostile words and actions- but it is no less toxic. Just like second-hand cigarette smoke, it can eat away at you.

I’m losing my soul wondering how long before insane politicians and their hate-filled followers decide I’m inconvenient to them.

I’m losing my soul contemplating whether to flee the country or arm up for a fight that might never come.

I’m losing my soul questioning the value of free speech in the wake of so many people yelling “fire” in the proverbial theater.

And one day, if I were to wake up a soulless, seething mass of hate like millions of others, who can I really blame but myself?

I couldn’t stop the reactionaries from blowing smoke, but I didn’t have to inhale their hate second-hand and react to it like I’ve done.

And I speak in such glowing terms about how I want to enter the clergy and be above it all! No. Old habits die hard.

I once thought those who found solace from their bad habits in faith were tragic people. I still think that, even though I’m one of those people now.


Today I went by the Goodwill and searched through the vinyl.

I bought three items. First was a copy of Joan Baez Vol. 2, mainly as a common record that I kind of like but wouldn’t be too upset if it got ruined while testing my new turntable.  This copy was once owned by one Lt. W.D. McCabe Jr. (US Navy) around 1963 and if he is still alive and wants it, I will give it back.  Otherwise, your record is in good hands, Lt. McCabe.  Happily the turn table works fine and I can enjoy this album for years to come.

The second I bought was Faure’s Requiem and Pavane, on the Seraphim label.  I love Faure in this life, possibly for the first time.

The third was the real treasure.  It was a box set of Solti conducting the Rome Opera House Orchestra and Chorus in a performance of Verdi’s Aida.  It’s on the RCA Victor Red Seal label.

Interestingly enough, the cashier who rang me up was also named Aida!

Memory Fragment

I just had the first fragment of Jack’s life I’ve experienced in a while.

It was a sprig of holly in the corner of a Christmas card.  I had the feeling that they were real leaves, and that I was a child, pasting them in the corners of cards friends and family had sent us while my mother hung the finished cards near the mantle.

I wish I could dial into this memory more, but it was brief and elusive.  These memories of Jack’s childhood have been so few and precious.  The war overshadowed so many tender moments… I just want those tender moments back.

Bought A Turntable

I just bought a Sony PSLX300USB turntable.

I had a $150 gift card from my mother that she sent me for my birthday back in mid-June that I’d been holding onto, so I decided to look for the best turntable under $150. The Sony model came up and got decent reviews.  Sony’s usually good value for money so I decided to give it a chance.

The only down side: it doesn’t have a 78 RPM setting (I’d have to shell out a bit more for a nice option like that).  But with 33 and 45 RPM settings that still leaves a lot of really great recordings from the 60s and 70s that I can play!

I’m going to start building a new record collection.  Rather than trying to re-build the one I had in my last life, I want to buy the sorts of records I like; that will, of course, include some titles I liked in my last life (especially some of the classical titles like Beethoven’s symphonies and Wagner’s “Parsifal”), but it will also include some stuff I’m pretty sure I didn’t have, like some obscure prog and old-school reggae.

I got into prog rock in this life, through my fiance.  Our courtship was a very musical one, as courtships tend to be with me (this was true in my last life as well), and we often exchanged songs to express how we felt about each other, or shared songs that we enjoyed.  My fiance was more into prog than I was, and I soon discovered Yes, Genesis in their early years, King Crimson, and then more obscure bands like Aphrodite’s Child.

I’m still my own person, after all, with tastes that have remained similar but have nonetheless evolved… but the tactile ritual of playing a vinyl record and relaxing on my couch will be a nice, relaxing, grounding experience putting me in a familiar and comfortable headspace.


Thoughts Upon Serving My First Mass

Today I served at the altar for my first real mass.

Here’s what I got from it: I’m learning quickly and I seem to be a natural at this.   All the same, I was overwhelmed and a bit taken aback by the enthusiasm I got from the congregation.  They complimented me on my energy and presence… Except, it wasn’t MY energy and presence they felt.  I was a conduit for something far greater and the praise for my skill in serving felt just a bit inappropriate, though I was gracious about it.

I have a strong sense that I’ve done this before, in other lifetimes.  I can’t remember when or where, but the motions, the actions, the words and the energy are all there, coming back to me as if it were only a few short years ago.  It’s funny, I have a character in my stories, a 12th century canon and mystic from Hereford, and although he is entirely a fictional character, his essence seems like it came from somewhere very real.

I wish I could remember where this character, so close to my own heart, came from.  I wish I could remember serving at the altar in centuries past.  I wish I knew how I missed my chance to transcend this world when that good life was done.  Today’s homily was about purity through non-attachment rather than aversion; perhaps aversion was my great weakness?

Or maybe I never did it before.  Maybe I just have a natural instinct and enthusiasm that comes from someone eager to find a new area of focus.  At least, it seems to be helpful, for what it’s worth.

101 Years Gone…

Today, I took communion on the 101st anniversary of the end of the life I once lived as John William “Jack” Harris.

The service wasn’t for him really; it was a practice mass to get me ready for this coming Sunday, when I’ll be serving at the altar for the first time in our church.

All the same, I was very grateful to have some way to spend that day other than ruminating.  And I’m happy to say that I’ve really begun to properly heal.

It’s strange really.  That was more than a century ago, but I carried that hurt deep within me in some inaccessible place for so long.  And now, a little less than four years after it all came back to me, I’m starting to finally recover.

My psyche is almost as “normal” and “well-adjusted” as it’s been in hundreds of years.  I’m not subject to wild ups and downs any more.  I still get anxious and depressed but I don’t get white-hot rage any more, and my derealized states, like I had in this life and my last one, have become less and less common.  I still get panic attacks every now and then, but I haven’t really had one since my job situation stabilized nor do I really expect to, unless I have a major trigger.

I’m finally getting on alright.  I suppose it’s never too late to heal a very old wound.

I still have one last act on this journey.  I still want to travel to Europe and see the places I saw during the war as they are today.  I want to put the cold hard fact that it was over a century ago and subjective experience of actually being there together at last.  I want to attend the Last Post at Ypres in particular.

When I do finally go back to Europe to put that business behind me, I might end this blog, or I might keep it.  I suspect I will remember other lives in time, or confirm other details, so it wouldn’t make sense to delete it or shut it down completely. It will be a turning point in the life of this blog, though, and it will be an ending of sorts.

I haven’t decided if I’m going to chronicle my journey into Gnostic priesthood here or if I’m going to start another blog.  I suppose I’ll give it some thought.  It is, after all, a continuation of the path I’ve been on.

The Empire Never Ended

Make no mistake, the spirit of Nero is alive and well in our world.

You may be asking yourself why I’m worried about what’s happening in Russia or Kazakhstan.

Well, there are a number of factors:

1. Vladimir Putin and his policies have a lot of fans in the US and Europe, both among ordinary people and among politicians. Apparently, according to my father’s observations, there are some Alt Right-affiliated groups here in the US right now that have pledged their allegiance to him and have his portrait up in their meeting halls. There is a very good chance that we could soon fall under his sphere of influence if the Alt Right has their way. Even if we are not directly under their influence, if even a few countries outside the former Soviet Union follow suit, we’ll have a situation where these sorts of policies have become the norm globally, and that’s not good.

2. Fears of terror attacks are at an all-time high, so much so that people are willing to consent to all kinds of stupid laws under the guise of their own safety. Already we have extrajudicial kidnappings, espionage, and murders. How long before a major terror attack causes that to mushroom into even more problems? In a novelette I wrote last year, I predicted that some time in the 21st century, a General Religions Act would be passed in the US which would basically outlaw everything but mainline Protestant, Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Jewish groups. It would be touted primarily as a means of punishing Muslims, but it would be enforced arbitrarily against groups considered inconvenient by the state.

3. The church I am involved in has services in a home chapel. Services in homes are precisely the sort of thing that is being targeted in the former Soviet republics.

4. The Gnostic tradition includes many groups that are the subject of the sort of conspiracy theories very popular among the Alt Right. Among my acquaintances are a host of esoteric types, and although I am not a member of an esoteric group (my church is exoteric, meaning we have no secret initiatory orders), I am concerned that paranoia will eventually spill over. My lot’s thrown in and I’m not going to assume that any anti-Esoteric movement is somebody else’s problem.

Let me be clear: I’m not going to cut and run. I am done running. I will take whatever consequences come my way for the path I have chosen and, in the spirit of those who came before, I will be faithful and steadfast against all threats. But I would much rather not have to worry that these sorts of policies might become the norm globally.


I suppose I would be remiss to not post some sort of follow-up on the job I’ve been working.

I had been stocking shelves, but I wasn’t able to keep up with the pace required of that job. I was bumped down to maintenance, which is basically cleaning, repairing, and fixing minor code violations ad hoc.  In a word, a janitor.  And yes, I had to take a pay cut although I don’t know what that rate will be exactly (ball park maybe $0.20 less per hour, I’ve been told).

But there’s another side to this.  First, they gave me this other job because they liked my work ethic and didn’t want to have to fire me for how terribly I was doing in the job they initially hired me for. And I have to say, I’m actually doing really well in this job; it’s so slow-paced that I’m actually able to get a lot done with the level of effort I put into it.

Also, as much as I was appalled by it at first, there was a moment yesterday when I had been sent out to sweep the loading docks and I had to laugh.  In what may have been my last life, I made the remark that a science fiction author in America was regarded as “something on the level of a janitor.”  I said it with such a sneer in my voice, such contempt for the job.  Well, here’s my helping of humility.  I’m a science fiction author and a janitor this time around.  And when I laugh at that, it feels like I imagine the way a Buddha laughs.  Life is a joke, and this is the punch line.  And I’ve found enough tranquil detachment that I don’t feel the least bit downtrodden.

Actually, I smile a great deal more than I used to.  First of all, I’m much happier as a woman.  I never knew how much gender dysphoria was dragging me down until I began my life post-transition. I’m stealth enough that a lot of my coworkers- and certainly all of the customers- have never known me as anything other than the smiling, cheerful, always helpful and hard-working woman they see.  They never knew the wheezing, grunting, griping, bitter, frustrated man and I am completely free of any negative impressions I might have given them if they’d seen me in that fractured, false, and deeply troubled personality.

Second, being able to confront some of the past life memories that led to my bad attitudes was probably just as helpful as the gender transition.  With the personality crash that came with the gender dysphoria (a common feature of that condition), I had a chance to completely rebuild myself from the ground up and I have to say, I’m glad I took that opportunity.  I’m glad I saw value in the insights I’ve gained through my work with past lives.  If nothing else, I can smile because I know that whatever happens, it can’t be half as bad as some of the terrifying shit I’ve seen.

Third, I’ve  reached a point of spiritual equilibrium, so much so that my work actually plays well with my ascetic tendencies.  And so when I frame it as a quasi-monastic lifestyle, a regular rhythm of life with honest labor, reading, writing, and apprenticing in holy orders, I find that the work is strangely satisfying.  And even in my labor, I’m often in a state of light meditation.  I’ve discovered a Zen-like sweet spot where I can be so into what I’m doing that I’m able to meditate simply by getting my job done.  And so I’m out there sweeping floors with a tranquil smile, and people smile back, and the boss is really impressed by how much I get done and how eagerly I jump in but really, I’m just getting my Zen on.

Finally, I’m happy because I can appreciate this job. I went for so long without one.  For about three years while living in Arkansas with my fiance, we had what might be called “stable poverty.”  We had just enough money to support ourselves without help from family, and it was really nice.  But then we moved to Oregon, I lost my job, had my big breakdown and flood of past life angst, and things went to hell.  And I had to rely on family and student loans to survive, along with the existential dread of wondering what I was going to do once those things were gone.  But now, I’m back to the level of being able to support myself and I have to say, it’s really doing wonders for my confidence.  They say that being able to go back to work is helpful for people recovering from a traumatic experience, and for me it’s definitely proving true.

Maybe one day I’ll make it as a writer, or an academic, or something of note.  Until then, I’m doing well and finding myself quite literally better off than I’ve been in centuries.  I’m poor as dirt, but for now I’ve got everything I need and for once, I can appreciate how good I have it.