Emotional Baseline

Since I haven’t had any new memories or confirmations in a while and I want to keep this blog alive until I can travel to France and get some closure, I’m probably going to be sharing a lot of my own thoughts and memories from my current life in a more candid way than I do on Facebook.

I’ve never mentioned this before, but when I say that a piece of music that may be from a past life feels familiar, there are a few songs from my present life that I think of when I need a frame of reference for feelings of familiarity.

One of them in particular is a song by the Spanish band Mecano called No Es Serio Este Cementerio (this cemetery is not serious) from 1986.  This is a song that I’ve probably been exposed to regularly since I was about 3 years old (about the earliest I can remember in my present life before the memories become sparser and less clear).  It’s a song from my era that I’ve heard frequently because not only was it on Spanish TV when I lived there as a toddler, but my father bought the CD and I’ve had an .mp3 of it for more than 12 years.

Then there’s one from later in my childhood, that came out around 1993.  “Will You Be There?” had all the ingredients of a favorite childhood song: it was Michael Jackson first of all (back when a new Michael Jackson video was an event that you gathered around the TV for).  It was the theme to a movie about a little boy and his orca friend.  It was even easy to play the main melodic riff, which made piano class fun when our teacher transcribed a simple version and handed it out to the class on roughly-xeroxed sheets.  This song takes me back to my old bedroom, the desk with the light-up globe and a nice red-bound set of Children’s Brittanicas.  Back when I was an avid reader of “Ranger Rick” and would go out in the back yard and catch toads under the dog house, only to stumble on the occasional snake.  But the snakes didn’t scare me; I was a kid in love with nature and brimming with intellectual curiousity.  It’s a happy, safe, comfortable place this song takes me to.  If any song can make me feel even a little like this, it stands out for me.

There’s one song here that predates my current lifetime, but its significance in my life is so profound that no other song in the world makes me feel quite the same way.  The song is “And You And I” by Yes.

A bit of background: I first heard this song as an incomplete cover version that my husband had shared on an online message board we both posted on and ultimately met each other through.  We bonded over that song.  The Yes album it’s on “Close to the Edge,” was one of only two albums I bought while in the UK (the other one was a copy of an opera by Janáček).  I had never really paid progressive rock all that much attention before, but “And You And I” was my gateway drug and my husband is the one who got me hooked.

This is why, even though it’s from Phil’s time, the date doesn’t run the risk of being a confounding factor because it’s so deeply associated with my current life.  As far as I can tell, Phil was never all that into prog, and neither was I until I met the man I eventually married.  This is our song.

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.

Training For A Different Position

It’s times like this I’m sad that our church is too small to pay its clergy; I would much rather do this for a living. On the other hand, it weeds out the gold diggers. You’re left with a few very passionate people.

I went in for training in serving during the Eucharist. Anyone familiar with a Catholic mass would probably recognize most of the elements involved (though we differ sharply in our interpretation of the rite’s significance and incorporate elements of the Eastern church as well).

I find I’m picking it up quickly and really enjoying the work far more than my day job.

It’s a strange sort of situation though. I never thought it’d be me doing this, let alone getting as into it as I am. I guess having that contemplative moment and a space where I can really embrace a part of myself that I denied for so long has helped me center a bit more, which is a welcome change.

But it’s more than that. You come out of it feeling that it’s more than the sum of its parts. Maybe that’s the emergent Ruah at the heart of the Mystery, or just an experience of ecstatic liminality tickling some lobe of the brain… but who’s to say they aren’t essentially the same thing? Who’s to say that rather than a ghost in a machine, we aren’t really a ghost through a machine, an essentially mechanical conduit through which a tiny sliver of the Divine manifests in some beautiful, elegant uplink, like connecting from a terminal to the cloud?

I find I’m less bothered by such questions with each passing day though. I love it because it’s a thing of beauty, especially the uncanny bits that aren’t simply knowing when to kneel and when to get this cruet or that censer.

By the way, a question for my readers: who would like me to spin off these posts into a separate blog chronicling my journey into the priesthood?


Ever Closer

As of today, I am formally recognized as a lay server in a Gnostic church. This is the entry level of minor orders and the first step on the path to priesthood.

This has been a really fascinating journey so far, and yet it’s only just beginning.  I still have many years of service before I can enter the higher orders of the church.

After I had taken communion, I had a vision of millions of candles all lit around the world; they weren’t lit for me, but for the Church Universal, which is greater than any building, denomination, even greater than Christendom.  They were the candles of every thoughtful, joyful, hopeful, and compassionate soul that was praying to something higher than its own ego.

It’s funny; for most of my life I never really felt the need to be part of something bigger than myself. But the deep and personal understanding that I already am, and have been since long before the day my thread of consciousness first differentiated itself from the Pleroma, really puts everything in a new light.

I still get upset, impatient, irritable, angry, and all these things that come with ego; but that ego seems to be less in conflict with the bigger picture, and I find that life has become objectively easier since I started paying attention to how pointless it was to be itching for a fight all the time.

And deep below it all, running like a river of light, there’s a thread of timelessness that I feel in every act, every swing of the censer, every hymn that is not laced with glibness and legalism, to the dawn-land where ancient myrtles grow in the place of cold stone war memorials.  I have seen that land beyond sight once in my present life, in a dream I have spoken of often, and now it no longer feels so painfully far away.

In me now, the myrtle grows.

Entering Orders

While it has been overshadowed by the unfortunate events of the last day (and by people trying to turn it into a sectarian conflict before the bodies were cold), I do have some happier news I want to share.

I will be made a lay server in Ecclesia Gnostica on June 26. This will mark my formal entry into the lower orders and, with luck, my eventual entry into the priesthood.

It saddens me that this comes at such a turbulent time but I see it as a challenge to remain steadfast to the plan that has been laid so easily before me; the light yoke is often harder to take because it seems too light at times.

Back From California

Got back last night from a long, wild, and very therapeutic drive from Santa Cruz to Portland.

In Santa Cruz I saw sea otters, sea lions, and whales for the very first time.  The boardwalk there was also wonderfully nostalgic, like something from Blackpool in the old days.

Passed through San Francisco, my second time across the Golden Gate Bridge and into Point Reyes Station.  Did some beachcombing at Drake’s Beach, and got some of that lovely bleu cheese at the Palace Market.  Helped an old lady (perhaps I knew her long ago?) park her truck.  Then it was off to Petaluma for a stop at In N’Out burger.  Not once did I feel the least bit sad though; long as these places are still there I can only feel happy about being there.

The van I was driving developed an exhaust leak and I got very sick driving into Humboldt County.  Luckily our rommate had a CO monitor so we kept an eye on the levels.  We tried to get the van fixed along the way but nobody would do it, so we took our chances and pushed on into Portland the next day, stopping every 100 miles or so to air the van out.

The new roommate is settling in nicely already.  I like this guy; he’s that perfect mix of responsible and bold enough to take a risk, he loves animals and plants, and not much gets to him.  He knows about my eccentricity and really doesn’t care as long as I’m fair with him.

In all, a very good week and a very refreshing break from the ordinary.