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.

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New Discovery

So I found a biography of William Longespee on Wikisource, copied from “Dictionary of National Biography 1885-1900.”  It confirms that I was a bit of a yes-man in those days and did some regrettable things, but it also seems to be full of useful facts.

I’m still going over it but one interesting fact stands out: Count William did hold a possession in France, the castle of Pontorson in Normandy.

Pontorson, incidentally, is VERY close to Mont St. Michel, which now gives me a valid excuse to go there when I can get to France, though I have wanted a reason to go there for many years now  Sadly, I can find no mention of the castle so it seems it is no longer standing.

So I did own land in France… but only a castle on the very edges, which I no doubt had lost by 1215.

Akinator

So I played with this online thing called Akinator, which is basically a web game that tries to guess which character/person you’re thinking of.

It turns out that while it guessed Philip K. Dick within 20 questions, it could not, after about 70 questions, guess William Longespee (though it did guess Richard the Lionhearted… so close!).

Sort of puts Count William’s reputation in perspective I suppose.  Few people outside of avid medievalists and readers of historical romances seem to know anything about him.  I don’t know whether to be frustrated at being so obscure or filled to the brim with smug hipster satisfaction at having been a “kind of obscure” medieval statesman.

Recent Discovery

It occurred to me that William Longespee and John Harris share yet another weird coincidence.

Not only were both defeated in battle slightly less than 701 years apart, but if the date of 1176 for Count William’s birth is correct then they were also born approximately 701 years apart.

This strengthens, but does not prove, my thought that the two had been parallel lives somehow connected to each other or perhaps the dichotomy between them was a temporal illusion.

Unfortunately, an exact date or location for Count William’s birth cannot be found.  I suspect that the sources citing his birth place as Woodstock Manor are basing their assumption on the disproven theory that Rosamund de Clifford was his mother (his mother was actually Ida de Tosny based on documents from the period).

Bitter Irony

Reconstructing what I was like in the 13th century- someone who was trying to advance in the cutthroat world of medieval politics- builds the picture of an opportunist albeit a very idealistic one.  Someone who played carefully by the rules and never rocked the boat.  Someone I couldn’t really relate to nowadays.

And now I think I know what changed me.

At the Battle of Bouvines in 1214, King John was risking everything to maintain and expand his territories in France.  The future of Europe was at stake.

If we had won, I would have been in a prime position to advance from an Anglo-Norman earl to a proper Norman duke.  Every nobleman in England aspired to one day hold land in France.

701 years later, I finally became a landowner in almost precisely the part of France where I’d fought for it so long ago.  That’s what we called it back in 1915 when you were dead and buried.

What a bitter irony.  I’m starting to think there is more to this Karma thing than meets the eye.  Apparently, you can get spanked by it pretty hard.

Epiphany

After digesting what I’ve found about William Longespee, I can now say that what he reminds me of in myself is not a positive trait.

He was a habitual pleaser who gave deeply of himself and put up with way more abuse than he had to.  That’s exactly the way I was before my transition.  I had been stuck in that same fucking rut for 8 centuries.

The whole thing with remembering past lives was a direct result of this trait in me.  In 2012 I was rooming with a selfish, manipulative person who never treated me in a civil way once he had the upper hand on me, and I still tried obsessively to be his right hand man… even if it meant forcing myself to remain a man.  One of the things I will never forgive him for was his negativity when I revealed to him that I wanted to transition and the way he used my vulnerabilities against me when I was done putting up with his bullshit.

He did worse.  I found out after he’d moved away that the roommate he had pretty much guilted us into agreeing to take on without even putting on the lease had been selling crack out of our apartment.  It turns out, I was in a situation that was starting to look an awful lot like the Santa Venetia years.

But our relationship was not always this way.  There were times when he and I seemed to be very good friends.  This was back when I was living in Vegas, at the start of my paranoid gun nut phase.  He seemed like a good person to have on my side because he seemed business-minded, I bought my first gun from him, and he was also a sadist who catered to some dark, self-endangering fetishes I had before I gained some confidence.  We joked, we played games, went out for tamales, we commiserated by phone on a regular basis when I was stuck in Arkansas, and he even helped me move to Portland.  I thought I’d really managed to get in good with a real rogue who could help me when the shit hit the fan, and at one time he trusted me to have his back if it came to that.

Still, in hindsight, there was a lot of negativity about him.  Everyone was an “asshole” or an “idiot,” and he always had choice words for easy targets.  He kept having good business ideas and then not following through with them. He was pretty open about some of his more warped ideas too, and he told me some things that kind of scared me even though I’m reasonably sure in hindsight that he was full of shit.  Also, I kept getting followed by clean-cut men in unmarked Crown Victorias after I started hanging out with him in Vegas;  I later learned that there was indeed a reason for that fact which I will not discuss here.

Now, I’m not suggesting that this guy was King John in a previous life (pretty sure he wasn’t), nor am I suggesting that William Longespee was into edgeplay because he had a wounded psyche.  But I am suggesting that the same reason I put up with this guy is at least in part the reason Count William didn’t join the barons’ revolt until the very end when it didn’t really matter because King Louis of France had arrived.  He put his lot in with people he found useful because they found him useful.  That’s exactly what I did to myself.

For that matter, that’s what Phil did too.  He tolerated major assholes because they tolerated his addictions, even fancied them his friends, then got burned in 1972 when his house was trashed and his manuscripts got stolen.  Also like me, Phil was under surveillance (except in those days it was gold-colored unmarked Plymouth Valiants in his rearview if memory serves).

I broke a pattern 800 years old by this gender transition.  I finally transgressed into territory that forced all of the superficial people out of my life, and although it was a devastating experience it seems to have been a karmic jackpot.  I’ve pretty much been dealt a hand that forced me to either stop being a useful idiot to bad people or die, and I’m better for that.

I just hope I remember this lesson next time around.

Strange Thoughts

I thought I’d just collect some of the strange half-baked thoughts I’ve been kicking around concerning this string of past lives as a whole, especially to how they could relate to some of the weirder aspects of Phil’s life.

*I’ve established that it is definitely possible that Phil might have seen John’s life based on statements in his letters and in the Exegesis (though I’ve yet to find clinching proof).  However, the only other phase of himself Phil was able to identify with lived back in 45 AD, and lived a life parallel to his.  John Harris lived a life parallel to William Longespee’s and may or may not have identified Longespee as some other phase of himself.  Longespee was completely hidden to Phil (unless I somehow find the mention of “William Longsword” Johnathan Lethem seemed to recall).  I’ve been trying to put together some model of the topology of the best-documented of these lives to see if I can make some sense out of who can see who and gain some sense of our relative temporal positions (which I suspect are non-linear).  However, I can’t really think of a good model to reflect that at this time.

*Phil once said, during an interview in Metz, France, “The police once told me that I was a crusader, and they had no use for crusaders.  Unfortunately they didn’t tell me what I was crusading for.”  Wouldn’t it be just perfectly Phildickian if “Crusader” here was injected into the conversation as a weird metaphysical pun considering an earlier existence as William Longespee, himself a crusader?

*There’s a thread of Freemasonry here that puzzles me.  There is a masonic lodge named after William Longespee or his son. Phil was involved for a time with the Rosicrucians, an offshoot of Freemasonry (he wore a Rosy Cross pendant at Metz if you look closely at the video).  In this life I have a number of family members involved in Freemasonry, and masonic symbols figure into some coincidences in my life.  So far, John’s life is the only one I can’t find a thread of Freemasonry in yet.  I am unsure if the rolls of Masonic lodges from 1914 would be accessible for public research.

At any rate, this thread of Freemasonry bugs the hell out of me because it’s too prominent to ignore, but it seems quite odd considering I’ve never had direct dealings with the Freemasons myself.  Also, the lack of apparent freemasonry in John’s life is a bizarre departure from the pattern.  I can hear the conspiracy theorists salivating even now…

*I find that while I can keep my promise not to use my claims to promote my work, past lives and Phil’s work have both become such a strong influence for my muse that I think it’s inevitable that I’ll be found out.  Now my concern is that I might have already said too much or told the wrong person, or gone out on one limb too many with my books while trying to push past my comfort zone.  Honestly, while the prospect of being someone who writes like Philip K. Dick excites me, the prospect of being “that insane fangirl who thinks she’s Philip K. Dick” makes me cringe.  Something tells me the deal was sealed when I started talking about it openly, though.  Maybe the deal was sealed the day I found John’s grave.

It’s a raw deal to have something happen that I have to keep discreet about, even though that event is probably the most significant thing that ever happened to me.  I feel I have to walk the line between the caution to omit certain details and the audacity to tell details too fantastic to seem true as plot devices in my stories.