A Connection?

As I mentioned earlier, my memories of past lives hit during a celestial event known as Pluto Sextile Chiron.

This is interesting, because I discovered something else tonight.

First a bit of background: In his “Exegesis,” Philip K. Dick references Asclepius or Asklepios- the ancient Greek god of healing- extensively.  He conjectured that Asklepios had contacted him.

Tonight I found out from this page, about the recently-excavated ruins of a temple of Asclepius, that Asclepius fits into the sort of myth behind Pluto and Chiron.

Asclepius, a son of Apollo, was a god of medicine in ancient Greek mythology. We are all familiar with Asclepius in a way, since the symbol that is used for medicine, the snake entwined staff, was the rod of Asclepius. According to mythology, Asclepius was brought up by the mysterious figure of ancient Greek mythology, the centaur Chiron, who raised Asclepius and taught him about the art of medicine. Because Asclepius used his powers to bring people from Hades (meaning resurrecting them), the God of Hades complained to Zeus because Asclepius converted many people from humans to immortals. The result was for Zeus to kill Asclepius with thunder.

As many of you know, Pluto is basically the Roman equivalent of Hades.  Here we have an asteroid- playing the role in the celestial drama of the teacher of Asclepius- in sextile with Pluto, a planet playing the role of the eponymous god of death.

It’s one hell of a synchronicity that this is the astrological alignment that ultimately led to me thinking I may or may not have been Philip K. Dick in a previous life.  I’m still not sure it means anything (in part because it was not Phil’s life I remembered on or about 8 September 2012) but it’s rather interesting.

Warm Reception and Synchronicity

As word about my latest novel gets around, the reception gets warmer and warmer.

Everyone involved in the promotion process has been helping spread the word, as have a lot of my friends.  One review has been posted to Goodreads so far, and it’s a five star review.  An online writing circle I’m involved in even named it book of the month for March. Also, I’ve had a number of follows on social media over this.

I don’t think I’ve gotten this much interest in a book since 2010 with the first book I published, and that was pre-transition.  This book is the first thing I’ve published that could finally eclipse my earlier work.

But will it be my big mainstream breakout success?  Probably not.  It might cement my reputation in the niche genre I write in, maybe, but I’m a long way from becoming the next overnight success story.  Still, if I can become a big fish in a small pond, it can only be a step in the right direction (if my previous life’s work is any indication).

On the other hand, it has gotten some very small amount of mainstream attention, and the premise and cover art alone are attractive to readers.  That’s a powerful asset since I suspect my last couple of books lacked that same appeal.  It’s possible this could be a sleeper for a while, then find its second wind as more readers discover it.

By the way, there have been some strange synchronicities going on of late, most of them involving Philip K. Dick.  One of them I can’t explain in detail because it would require telling about my book, but it involved Godric of Finchale in which the word “Valis” appeared in a review for a book about St. Godric.  The other was last night, when I was trying to find a link to the ad bumpers from the beginnings of the chapters in “Ubik” and the first result in my search was a passage from the Bible about Jesus praying at Gethsemane.  I can’t help but think about my last I Ching reading, something about an ablution being made but a sacrifice being yet to come (meaning loosely that preparations had been made but the final important undertaking is not yet fulfilled).  In light of the Gethsemane verses, the imagery of sacrifice and ablution becomes just a bit ominous.

Also, a friend recently had clocks around her house stop working, and I was reminded somewhat of the poltergeist activity after Bishop Pike’s son committed suicide, but I was assured that they weren’t all showing the same time when they froze.  Still, even my fiance had to admit that the synchronicities were starting to get creepy.

No pink beams of light, xenoglossy, or hidden messages in Beatles songs yet though.  I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt that I could be reading too much into this.  On the other hand, part of me worries that by trying to get back to my previous life’s work, I may have inadvertently triggered something really big that I have no way of stopping now that it’s been set in motion.  Time will tell.

100 Years Ago Today

A century ago today, a boat filled with raw recruits, too wet behind the ears to be Old Contemptibles but serving alongside them as Kitchener’s Army had not been formed yet, arrived at Le Havre, France.

I remember nothing of that day.  There was an episode during my childhood that I’ve always suspected was a sign that some vestigial memory is still there though.  I was about six years old watching the familiar shoreline of Charleston Harbor disappear from view, growing further and further away from the stern of a large tour boat.  I was so afraid I would never come back and never see my home again, that no amount of reassurance would console me.  I cried so much that day, I shook, I was terrified.  I was so upset that my parents threatened never to take me on a tour boat again and I was forced to re-live the incident when my mother brought it up for my doctors later that week.  I’ve suspected for a while now that this episode had something to do with a buried memory of that ferry to Le Havre but I cannot prove it.

What haunts me to this day are how many things I’ve half-remembered, or that seem to make eerie sense when I consider a past life in the war as a possible explanation.  I found proof this past week that I had told the bully beef and crackers story before my memories broke, by the way.  It’s an e-mail I sent in December 2010 that has an early draft of my one realistic novel that I’ve never been sure how to market (it was originally a NaNoWriMo project).  Later drafts don’t have that story as I completely re-wrote the ending, so this proves (to me at least) that this last meal in the UK was not just a confabulation on my part.

Then of course there’s the wandering looking for a village that I knew I would recognize as soon as I found it, and the photos I took of WWI memorials, and my skill with a rifle, and my life-long hatred of large flies, my early awareness of mortality and suffering…  All of these things are just stubs that seem meaningless on their own but in the context of the memories I’ve had, my entire life suddenly has the feel of a ghost story.

What other inexplicable things about me, things I’ve said, done, reacted to, or taken an interest in, might be linked to things about John’s life?  How many things- like the ferry to Le Havre- have been invisibly shaping my life and my emotional reactions all this time from just beyond the horizon of conscious memory?

A century later, I’m doing the exact opposite of preparing for war.  I’m relaxing with my fiance listening to prog rock albums with our big audiophile headsets.  But am I really through letting go of that life?  A century later I’m still coming to grips with a decision I made that cost me my innocence across two successive lives.

Another One…

Another weird coincidence involving Buddhism and a possible past life of mine has surfaced.

There was my discovery of the Wild Fox Koan (with the potentially useful admonition “don’t forget about cause and effect”) after recalling a possible past life as a fox near a Zen temple.  Then there was the group of Buddhist monks who made sand mandalas at Salisbury Cathedral around the time I had a flash of insight that my experiences following John’s death were actually compatible with what was taught in the Bardo Thodol.

Here’s another one.  It seems that very close to Philip K. Dick’s former high school, Berkeley High School in Berkeley, CA, there’s an institution called the Dharma College, a sort of Buddhist think tank apparently.  And the street it’s on, Harold Way, was very nearly re-named “Dharma Way.”

So Phil went to school near, but not on, a street nearly called Dharma Way…  and when you consider Phil’s erudite but troubled life and the double meanings of the phrase “Dharma Way,” well, it seems downright fitting.  You could say he spent his whole life “near Dharma Way,” but not on it.

File this under “interesting.”

More Coincidences

These coincidences may mean nothing, but I will record them just in case.  Forgive me if I go into “Paul is dead territory,” as my fiance likes to say.

First, a straightforward coincidence: Philip K. Dick attended a high school called Berkeley High School.  My parents met at a high school by that same name in the late 70s (albeit in a different state).  Unless, between lives, I somehow saw their diplomas, I can’t see how this would be anything more than coincidence.

Second, a curious and very roundabout coincidence with Gnosticism involving John’s life.  John spent his late childhood and young adulthood in the tiny village of East Coker.  East Coker was the subject of a poem by T.S. Eliot, which starts with the line “In my beginning is my end.”

Verse 18 of the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas (one of the Nag Hammadi Codices) reads as follows (emphasis mine):

The disciples said to Jesus, “Tell us, how will our end come?”

Jesus said, “Have you found the beginning, then, that you are looking for the end? You see, the end will be where the beginning is.

Congratulations to the one who stands at the beginning: that one will know the end and will not taste death.”

Perhaps it’s just another meme being half-understood and repeated with no mind to meaning.  Lately I’ve been very aware of these memes but unable to discern a clear meaning from them, if indeed there ever was one.  I don’t want to lapse completely into making connections that aren’t there but I suppose it can’t hurt to note these coincidences for future reference.

Why I Don’t Believe in God (Yet).

There are several beliefs that I do not hold, but dearly wish I had a solid reason to believe them.

Sadly, a single and benevolent god was one of those casualties, and quite some time before I had past life memories or any sort of unusual experiences.  For a while I embraced a transcendental view in the trappings of eclectic Pagan worship and forged a fairly solid cosmology based on the model of mushroom mycelia (thank you, Terrance McKenna).  But as far as believing in a literal, all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving god, I didn’t see much in the world that I couldn’t distinguish from cosmic indifference if I thought about them logically.

The past life memories are one of those things.  The way I see it, if the collective soul of Buddhism could just as easily explain it without the need for a god, then Occam’s Razor shaves us toward the Buddhist hypothesis.

But every so often, it’s not so clear-cut.  There are some coincidences- or synchronicities if you like, and although they don’t tell me anything on their own, they’re pervasive, across lives like really solid memes.

Why do rice paddies, Cistercian Monasteries, and intense religious themes run through most of the lives I remember?  Why would I be conceived near a road called “Dorchester Road” in two separate lives?  Why would I remember the same abbey at two points in history, one as an active monastery and one as a ruin?  Why would I have a life as a monk, one as an animal held in veneration, and one as a modern-day scholar of religions that I can locate and approximately date (or in some cases, precisely date)?

And what’s with the initials?  I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this, but my birth initials are JAH.  Now compare that to my initials when I was John, which are JWH.  One is shorthand for the Judeo-Christian God, and the other is very close to the abbreviation YHWH if you consider that Y and J are often transliterated interchangably from Hebrew.

The initials I had don’t always add up that way; they didn’t in my most recent past life for instance; all you get when you type out the initials of my previous life is typewriter diarrhea.

That’s what really makes using Occam’s razor difficult here.  There’s enough going on to say that I’ve found the footprint of some influence, but I can’t say that calling that influence “God” is the best idea.  Also, the coincidences are kind of weak at times (like the initials), but at times they’re solid themes (like this overarching theme of asceticism or proximity to asceticism).

Then there’s the possibility too that this is grandiose self-deception.  That thought has been heavy on my mind since the themes started shaping up with my memories of being John and being that nobleman who became a monk.  It just sort of exploded from there, with the abbey that I saw at two points in history.  Did I just go off my rocker at about that point and launch myself into a fantasy world?  I look back and I read my own work and I wonder if I’m crazy.

What’s going on here, then?  That question hangs over everything I do nowadays.  I’m still waiting to find the answer for myself, since nobody seems to have an answer that works that I’ve found yet (though I’m still looking).  I’ve been hit with some really heavy questions about the nature of pretty much everything because of this.

It was the song “My Sweet Lord” by George Harrison that inspired this post, incidentally.

Coincidence?

Exploring the maps and streets via Google’s services, I can’t help but notice something interesting.

As a child in the 1880s, I would have been in England, in Somerset, near East and west Coker, and there was a highway called Dorchester Road running through town.

As a child in the 1990s, I was in South Carolina, near a Somerset Beach, a ways down from Coker College (where I briefly considered going to school in the 2000s), and near a highway called Dorchester Road.

This is… wow.  I’m actually floored by this.  I want to say “this can’t be accidental” because this is where my parents in this life came from.  Even though I was born in the midwest, my parents came from the South Carolina Lowcountry, a region where so many of the names of places were carried over into the New World.  They met and were married there, and we even moved back to that region between 1988 and 1994.

In all likelihood, I was conceived within a few miles of a “Dorchester Road” in both lifetimes.

Has anyone’s jaw dropped yet?