Stunning Discovery

scan to about 28:50 in and take a look at that recruiting poster.

It is a vivid, colorful variant of the famous “Lord Kitchener” poster.  One detail I’ve remembered about the day I decided to re-enlist was the poster being in more than just black, white, and red like the usual version.  It had a full-color portrait.

The one in the documentary is closer to the commonly-seen one.  However, it does have an interesting detail: it specifically calls for ex-soldiers up to 45 years of age!  This tells me a little bit more about why I made the fateful decision that would bring an otherwise-unremarkable past life to an early and violent end.

Just on a whim though, I did another search for variants of this poster after I found this documentary.  I did not expect to find this full-color variant which is without a doubt the poster I saw that day in September 1914.

One of the things that always bothered me was that poster.  I had remembered it in full color but an initial search failed to turn up any such poster.  It was always the classic one that has been reproduced innumerable times.  This was one of the details that had always cast a shadow of doubt over the first memories to break in late 2012.

Every time I think I can’t confirm anything else, a new detail like this pops up.

Incidentally, I’ve been reflecting a great deal on exactly why I made the decision back then.  What I remembered was that Lord Kitchener reminded me of my father, and that I probably felt like I ought to do this.  A sense of what might be termed filial piety, I suppose, but in a uniquely British context.  I have little doubt that my father (who, according to what I’ve read in the official records, outlived me by about four years) wanted me to enlist and that it was out of a near-religious respect for him that I was initially moved.

On the other hand, I remember my “Gethsemane moment” too.  I remember wrestling with the idea and ultimately subscribing to the myth that I was destined to put everything on the line and either become a sacrifice or a gentleman by the end of it all.  This does not exclude the above but was probably an exacerbating factor.

Another factor I seem to remember was not having much of a civilian life to begin with.  I remember taking diction classes to learn to speak in a posh dialect and getting nowhere with it, though I had my eye on jobs waiting on the well-to-do as a means of learning the ins and outs of high society from an accessible spot.  It didn’t work out; after a while I began to miss the security and structure the army gave me.  Once again, this is not to the exclusion of either of the above but adds fuel to the fire.

There had to have been some reluctance, though.  War was declared in July, and I could have re-enlisted earlier in the summer.  Instead, I waited until the big recruitment drives at the end of the Summer.  I had a memory of being in love with a woman named Anne and although it can’t be confirmed, it is rather interesting that after the war, my brother Albert probably married a woman whose middle name was Anne, if the grave in Yeovil is indeed my Albert.  I don’t believe I was Albert myself because the poster was definitely in Hereford when I saw it.  I very likely left her without a sweetheart and that couldn’t have been an easy decision for me, since I remember us being head-over-heels for each other.

Nonetheless, I have a feeling that by the time I traveled to Nuneaton (which I have since learned, at the time, was a staging area for the Regular Army of which I was a part), I was completely sold.  I had fewer reasons to stay in Hereford than to march off to the front.

Fewer reasons, perhaps.  But I did have a choice and I still carry a burden for that.  I made the wrong choice, and now, 101 years after that life ended, I’m still dealing with the fallout from that, trying to make sense of where it all went wrong.

Now This Is Strange…

I had a brief memory flash of serving in India during colonial times.

Now, I know for a fact that Jack (the life I lost in WWI) had served most of the Edwardian era in Secunderabad.  However, the flash I had was of going into arid hills with a band of soldiers to hunt bandits.

According to a quick scan of search results on Google, hunting bandits in arid hills sounds more like the 19th century.

I am pretty sure that I was a soldier in my mid-19th century life, but could I have been in India during that time as well?  That would be two lives, back-to-back, as a British soldier serving in India.  I’d had a strong feeling that I had been to India in that life before, but after I discovered Jack’s tour of duty in Secunderabad I had nixed that.  I hadn’t considered that I’d been there in two subsequent lives.

That would explain why the flowery trappings of British Victorian orientalism seem so stuck in my head, in some deep place that I can’t quite see.  Two lifetimes of that is enough to make a deep impression.  Every time I saw some fragment of that cultural phenomenon while I was in England in this life, it gave me weird feelings.  The Royal Pavilion at Brighton was downright eerie in that respect, with its orientalist whimsy bordering on madness, stylized banana leaves all around in places where they were really not needed.  In some part of my mind, I see flashes of dark, smoke-filled rooms with dim lanterns and brightly-colored fabrics all around.  I smell a hit of exotic spice.  But this isn’t a place I’ve been necessarily; it’s a cultural construct of a place I thought India might be all those ages ago and it’s still there, in my mind, a dated and ego-dystonic construct born of Imperialist naivete.

I wish I could remember something more, something concrete that I could track down and confirm once and for all.  What did I do as a soldier in that earlier life, and what went wrong that saw me drummed out and turning to the seafaring life?

Thinking of doing a past life regression again soon.  It seems that earlier life has come through pretty clearly in regressions and dreams, so it’s probably not very deep in my subconscious.  Exactly why this life in particular would be so close to the surface is anybody’s guess.

Longsword

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.

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.

Philip K. Dick Is Dead

The thing that no one ever tells you about making a famous past life claim is that when you mention it in public, it’s bound to overshadow any other past life claims you might have.

I began this blog as a journal of my recollection and recovery from a life on the Western Front in 1915 that came to a very violent end.  At the time I didn’t even realize I had memories of a life after that (in fact I had assumed that I simply “slept” for the better part of 69 years before coming back in mid-1984).

Dealing with one past life became an excercise in making sense of it in the context of several other lives that came to light.  Phil just happened to be one of them.  But the more I learned about Phil, the more I became convinced that if I dug deeper into his life I’d find the key to everything.  And just like everything else past life related, I duly recorded it here in as much detail as I could think to record, hoping to turn this into an extension of my past life’s exegesis.

I no longer think the key is there.  All I can gather is that if I was him, my experiences in 1974 either never really happened (since I have no memory of them) or I was too ambitious in my interpretation of what they meant.  I also learned just how deeply flawed I was as a person in that life, and still am in this life.  I grant you, there’s still a lot of good there.  I just wasn’t the prophet people made me out to be.

Dealing with all this has been frustrating and exhausting.  Nobody I knew would ever believe me, so I’m having to come to terms with the fact that any apology I could make now for not being the husband and father I wanted to be would be too little too late and I’d inevitably get treated like a psycho for even bringing it up.

I also proved that I’m a better writer than I was.  My attempt to knock out something like I wrote back in ’63 or ’64, a trippy sci-fi novel about 60k words long, took longer to complete (9 months from the first page of the first draft to publication) but it was also much more refined than what I was churning out back then.  It also had a much more British flavor (flavour?) that made it feel more like Neville Shute.  My friend who is open-minded about my experience but remains skeptical about reincarnation says I’m selling myself short to compare my work to Phil’s and I’m inclined to agree.

Furthermore, for what it’s worth, I feel closer to my WWI life than I do to Phil.  I can talk about Phil more easily in the third person than I can with Jack.  I remember more of Jack’s life and I remembered it sooner.  I feel more at home in England than I do on the West Coast of the US (though I do like it here on the West Coast).  I feel closer in every respect to Jack and I feel the loss of that life much more in the long run even if I did feel some sense of loss for my life as Phil.  And I still cry for Jack’s mother.  I was born having cried all I’m ever going to cry for Phil’s mother (not to seem cold; I simply made peace with that in my last life).

That’s why I kept this blog up and why I intend to keep updating here until I can at least say my goodbyes to Jack, and possibly to England.  But I’ve already put Phil to rest.  I already said my goodbyes to that life last summer.

That’s why I’m troubled about what to do about all these posts on my blog about Phil that seem to be getting so many views that it’s really overshadowing my whole intention behind starting this blog in the first place.  “I want to know” and “The Mysterious Jeanette Marlin” seem especially popular.  On the one hand I’m not monetized on this blog (and never will be), so I have nothing to gain by keeping them up.  On the other hand, I feel like if I delete them it will seem as if I haven’t got the courage to stand by my claims.  I do.  I consider it pretty likely I was him.  I just don’t want them to overshadow what this blog was about in the first place.

The war really hurt, it tore a deep psychic gash in my being that has lasted for more than a century across several lifetimes.  Phil was only one part of that story.  Now I want to finish that story by going back to the beginning of that disturbance and making peace with what happened in France all those years ago.  And I invite the reader to join me moving forward with that rather than dwelling on posts about a life that I no longer feel needs any attention.

A Brief Note

Barring some big development (which I don’t foresee happening) this will be my last post about having possibly been Philip K. Dick in a previous life.  I’m shifting the content of this blog back to a broader view of theology and metaphysics, toward tracking down possible identities for earlier lives (especially my seafaring life in the mid 19th century) and toward coming to terms with the life I lost on the Western Front in 1915.

I’ve spoken to people who knew me, I’ve been to places I knew, and I’ve written a brilliant science fiction novel (currently in the running for an award) to prove that I still have it when it comes to weird genius.  I’ve gone about as far as I can go in making amends for my past mistakes and making sense of myself in the context of who I may have been, and I feel I’ve turned a corner and need to move on.  To dwell on it any longer would not serve me.

I’m shifting gears in my life, shaping up to be somewhat more of a scholar than a novelist, and I think that’s just fine.  I’ve already gotten further in my education in this life than I have in any other life I remembered and it’s time to get serious about being an academic at this point.  Phil fell back on his writing because he couldn’t finish college; I am fortunate that I don’t have to do that.

If all goes well, I hope to become a medieval historian.  My dream is to work as a historical consultant for film and television which is both lucrative and exciting.

This doesn’t mean I’ll stop writing; I feel that writing fiction is still very much a part of who I am.  I really want to use my studies in medieval history to write straight-up historical fiction; my last published work had some elements of historical fiction and it went over extremely well.  The well of my inspiration runs deep and I find that the more I study, the deeper it runs.  If I can make a career out of my work, so much the better!

What can I say?  I’m evolving.  An eye toward the past can tell me a lot, but the number one takeaway is that I don’t have to follow the same path in every life.  I’ve had many professions, I’ve been male, female, and several shades in between, and I haven’t even always been human.  Being the possible reincarnation of an author who famously struggled doesn’t make me obligated to struggle the same way or with the same things.

For this reason, unless I have more memories or unless something incredibly relevant comes up (like some really shocking synchronicity), I don’t intend to mention Phil again.  I’m free from the burden of being him in the present even if I was him in the past, and I think that’s ultimately a good thing.

I Didn’t Need That

The street I live on takes on a strange feeling in the evening, especially when it’s damp and cold.  Some details about it seem to remind me of Armentieres but I can’t put a finger on what it is exactly.  Most of the time I can ignore it but it’s always there at the back of my mind.

The last thing I needed, then, was for some random asshole to set off a large fire cracker not far from me while I was walking to the store.

That was more than three hours ago; my hands only just stopped shaking.  Just when I thought I was over being spooked by things like this, I got a painful reminder that part of my mind is still there.

Hopefully Christmas won’t be ruined for me.  My mood has taken a nosedive.

Reflecting

Sorry for my relative absence, I haven’t been terribly well lately but I feel like I’m improving somewhat as I’m no longer in searing abdominal pain and my appetite is returning slowly but surely.  I was literally one day from going to the doctor when I started showing signs of improvement; I might still go to the doctor if I have any significant downward turn or return of symptoms.

Assuming I’m right about having been Philip K. Dick in my previous life (there is forever a shadow of doubt which I have elaborated on to great length elsewhere), I would have been 87 years old today.  For some reason my birthday this year has had more resonance with fans than last year, or so it seems.

It doesn’t help though.  I meet 87-year-olds occasionally, and if I could have stayed active the rest of my life, like Bradbury (who finally broke into mainstream fiction and script writing), I could have left a bigger, better legacy.  I could have lived to go from Cassandra to living prophet, and I could have possibly had some pull, as a public figure, in the outcome of things like the 2000 elections or the run-up to the Iraq war, or the rise of the technological dystopia I predicted back in the 1960s.

Instead, I’ve been bumped back to Cassandra status and I’ve been feeling so helpless lately.

Perhaps in desperation then, I took part in a ritual on Monday to summon an angel said to bring to light solutions to questions of a civic nature.  My query, of course, was what my best contribution to helping the world could be.

The angel in the vision was a beautiful one.  She had two forms; one was that of an eye in the center of a majestic whorl of wings.  The other was that of a beautiful black woman, full-figured with a round face, who was dressed and groomed like a Nubian queen in a flowing robe of purple, like a Madonna icon, but who carried herself with the enlightened humbleness and sure-footedness of a Boddhisattva.  She was the very image of wisdom, beauty, nobility, and benevolence.

Most of the vision felt like I was trying too hard; the images were beautiful but meaningless as far as I’m concerned.  I think my concentration was broken by my general illness and hunger. But the initial vision was one that seemed genuine since my query hadn’t been about past lives.

I was back at the house in Point Reyes Station, stepping out the door.  This was after Anne and I had separated, around 1964-66.  I know this because had my little VW there in the driveway, waiting for me.  I was wearing a button-up shirt.  I had a letter in my hand and put it in my shirt pocket.

I was frustrated at first to get a scene from any past life, because I hadn’t asked for that; much less for a past life where I was an addict, perpetually broke until my last few years, a terrible husband, and a terrible father (at least in my estimation).  I took the letter to be more symbolic than literal, a reference to the later verses of the Hymn of the Pearl which seem to be an ongoing theme in my reflections on that life.

I initially rejected the apparent message of “keep doing what you’re doing” because I still feel like I’m in a rut repeating a slightly less tragic version of the same life.  I don’t want to be that any more.  I want to be a living saint because the world needs living saints.  I feel like that ship sailed in 1982 and I came home from the ritual in low spirits.  My physical illness got worse and at one point I was in the right mind to die, which is to say thinking of how to make it easier for my fiance and thinking of returning to the true light instead of returning to this world of pain.

Today, the illness finally seemed to break somewhat, and without searing abdominal pain to keep me from sleeping on it, the thought occurred to me that I need to keep prognosticating in my writing, even if it seems like I’m beating my head against the wall.  I need to take care of myself, so I don’t die at 53 with so much work left to do.

A friend who has read my book about queer academics caught up in the machinations of a ruthless dictator from the world of corporate raiders put it best: “It seems your days as Cassandra weren’t altogether misguided after all.”

Perhaps this life is my chance to actually make a difference with my predictions instead of being recognized too late.   At least, I have nothing to lose by trying.

Details and Corrections

Since I was posting from my phone while half-awake, I’m posting this for more details on the likely grave of Jack’s brother, Albert.

The image was found via Billiongraves.com.  I searched the same cemetery on Findagrave.com and got no results.  Billiongraves even had a photo though for copyright reasons I won’t post it.

It’s a two-part headstone. On the left it reads “In loving memory of a dear wife and mother, Harriett Ann Harris, who fell asleep 30th Oct. 1971, age 93 years, at rest.”

On the right it reads “Also of Dear Dad Albert James Harris, peacefully, 21 Sep. 1975 Aged 96 years. Re-United.”  I had misstated his age as 93.

There’s something else interesting. Notice the name of the woman he married, Harriett Ann Harris. I remember having a sweetheart named Ann!  I’ve even written it down in earlier entries.  This begs some interesting questions for sure… Was I Albert? Did he marry Ann when I didn’t come back from the war? Or is the name only a coincidence?

Disturbing Thoughts

I have to confess something: I haven’t been able to bring myself to look at the Exegesis again for some months now. In fact, I pretty much stopped around the time I got serious about finishing my most recent novel because that novel was a way of getting some disturbing ideas out of the way.

It has to do with two aspects I encountered in the text of the Exegesis that, when taken together, create a very disturbing possibility for my existence.

Part of it, of course, is the fact that he mentions seeing scenes of World War 1 more than once, albeit very briefly. Clearly it was worth mentioning but admittedly, I am terrified of what I might find if I do somehow come across any specifics.

The other part is the way he described the passage of time. Essentially, time to Philip K. Dick was illusory, composed of layers upon layers in which “accidents” changed the image slightly without actually moving time forward. In this way he believed he was able to simultaneously see a life in ancient Rome and a life in Fullerton California (though whether this was a divine vision or just the effects of post-dental work painkillers on an already neurotic personality we’ll never know for sure).

It’s not comfortable to think of what that view of history would mean in my case on the off chance he was right, because it would mean that not only was I John and Phil and Thomas, but apparently still am. What’s more, there’s a broad feeling (not just from me) that the world is on the brink of another war, and a small note in the Exegesis marking 1914 as the date of one of these “accidents” that “make it appear time has passed.”

This led me to a wild and hair-raising thought: suppose the reason I remember John’s life but not that of Thomas was because we were at a different point in the cosmic fractal that corresponds more closely with the “accident” that occurred during John’s life than that which occurred in Thomas’ life? But if that were the case, then why would I have had any memories of Phil’s life? Perhaps that’s why my recollections are stronger during the Marin County years (consider there was another assassination that shook the world in 1963 when Phil met Nancy and some time thereafter we got involved in an unnecessary war).

Maybe Phil was wrong, even if he did remember John’s life. Maybe his memories were as piecemeal and fragmented as mine and he just never thought to try to trace them to anyone because the means to do that didn’t exist. In 1974, there was no high-speed Internet, HD digital imaging, click-through browser-based satellite mapping services, streaming video, and websites like http://www.CWGC.org. Maybe it never occurred to him to piece that together and just assumed it was a spirit memory. But the disturbing thought that history really is repeating itself with only the natural mutation of a fractal set to distinguish this reality from a hundred years ago is both mind-boggling and terrifying in its implications.

It doesn’t help that today, it was announced that the US had authorized air strikes against ISIS/ISIL should they advance on the city of Irbil, as well as humanitarian aid for refugees. During the speech, as Obama mentioned atrocities against Christians and women, his voice pitch went up and his speech became awkward, as if extremely nervous. I couldn’t help but think of the way German atrocities were seized upon as a pretext to war in the same way a hundred years ago. There has been no formal declaration of war but this is officially an active operation. Keep your ears to the ground.

All the usual players- Iraq, the United States, Germany, Russia, China, Japan, and Great Britain- are increasingly standoffish and it’s only a matter of time before something big happens. If these hostilities boil over I hope I am of more use to the cause of peace than I was in 1915.