Category Archives: “Our deeply strange existence”

“Sex is one of the nine reasons for reincarnation…” Henry Miller and a strange tale…

“Sex is one of the nine reasons for reincarnation. The other eight are unimportant.”

Henry Miller

Good old Henry Miller – he could always be relied upon to bring sex into everything. And I love the quote! But it is a red herring, folks. This post is purely about what may – or may not – have been an experience of reincarnation. I will, as ever, be most interested to have your reactions.

Responses to last week’s  X Files post have been intriguing: it generated several purchases of my book “Wisps from the Dazzling Darkness”, and a number of emails telling, very privately, of readers’ uncanny, inexplicable, but undoubtedly real experiences. But no-one was prepared to leave an account of one of theirs publicly in a comment  – thereby validating my own feeling that such matters are so productive of private unease that public exposition is for most of us, a step too far.

It took me a long time and a prolonged period of enforced leisure, to decide to go public with some of mine, for the period 1970-1999. A major motivator was a lifetime’s accumulated knowledge of how common paranormal experiences are, but how little validation our mainstream society offers them. As a rational, sceptical (in the open-minded sense of the word) person, I wanted to add some experiential evidence to that vast body of knowledge which demonstrates that we do not, never have, and never will, live in a universe totally accessible or explicable through the application of rational analysis alone.

 If – as contemporary scientists seems to be telling us– we only have measurable access to 4% of what’s going on, how can they be so arrogant as to dismiss what probably goes on in the 96% of energy in our universe which we cannot measure at all, as yet?

In the previous post I said: “And in my next post, I’ll share one of my own weird stories. You show me yours, and I’ll show you mine!” Well, you did share some of yours, albeit anonymously. So, being a woman of my word, here is one of mine – an extract from the section on Reincarnation – from “Wisps from the Dazzling Darkness”. It would be good if this time, you could share a story or two here. Be anonymous! Call yourself Henry Miller if you like. If you do, I promise not to think that he is communicating from the Other Side…

Lecce, Italy

Lecce, Italy

Lecce, Italy: September 13th 1986

In the Atmospheres section, I set the scene for our 1986 trip to Italy, describing the Apulia Region where we found ourselves as ‘a corner of Italy which was full of atmosphere, some of it quite uncanny.’ In less than a week, we had two experiences which were quite out of the ordinary.

This first one took place in Lecce, known as ‘the Florence of the South’, on 13th September. I still recall what happened very, very clearly. We were on a bus trip with a voluble female Italian guide in her thirties, determined to cram as much local information as possible into the heads of the ignorant Brits in her charge. As a result, not helped by the heat, we reeled off the bus somewhat brain damaged for our hour’s ‘free’ lunch break. As usual, everyone on the bus meekly shuffled behind the guide to the appointed watering hole. As usual, we did not. This was our first sight of Lecce and we wanted some quiet time on our own to enjoy it.

The bus was parked in a dusty square, next to a big old church. I looked all the way up the spire, noticing an empty plinth at the top, and thought “Where’s the Archbishop?” I recall being instantly startled by this thought, as though it belonged to someone else’s brain – after all, I’d never been to Lecce.

Nevertheless, very shortly afterwards, we found him. There was a stone restorers’ yard in a narrow street we wandered into, round to the right of the church. In it, lying on his side, was a rather battered looking statue, his verdigrised copper covering cracked and peeling from the wear of many centuries. “There he is – it’s the Archbishop!” At the same time as I recognised the statue, it felt again like someone else’s thought. I wondered if the heat was getting to me...“Mad dogs and Englishmen….”1

I loved Lecce on sight; it felt uncannily familiar. Missing out on lunch, I took Ian on a fast trot round the immediate area we were in, finding my way around with no difficulty. I pointed out a sunlit terrace above a street not far from the church, where I used to sit at a table and write, feeling that I was a man then, and a writer. Ian almost had to drag me by the ear back to the bus, since I was most reluctant to leave.

I have long felt a strong affinity with Renaissance Italy, despite having never visited the country before. Some day, I’d like to return to Lecce and see what my reaction is then. But I’ll make sure it’s mid-winter, so that I can’t blame a heat-addled brain for bringing me one of my life’s more peculiar experiences!

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ENDNOTES:

1 “…Go out in the midday sun “ Mad Dogs and Englishmen Noel Coward song (1931)

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wisps-from-the-dazzling-darkness

900 words Anne Whitaker 2016

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

What do we know, anyway? Not a lot…

In my view, we all need to be humble in measuring what little we actually know against the vastness of what we contemplate. We need all the help we can get in our attempts to make sense of a vastness which a great and respected scientist has not long ago admitted may be beyond our comprehension. (He could be wrong, of course!) We need to co-operate with one another, as we all go about honing and sharpening the particular lenses through which we look out at mystery.

Reaching for the Moon...

Reaching for the Moon…

We need the perspectives of rationalist, reductionist science. But we also need the perspectives of those non-rational dimensions of the ceaseless human journey towards understanding where we came from, why we are here, and what, if anything, it all means. The great myths, the great religions, the arts – all these also give us a partial glimpse of  The Big Why.

So my Really Big Why is this:

WHY can we not learn to respect each other’s different lenses/disciplines, instead of – as so often happens – descending irrationally to the primitive level of the tribal carnivores from which we have slowly evolved over the last 100,000 years, and taking up fundamentalist, tribal positions – in which the futile attempt to declare only one lens right and all others wrong, is doomed forever to utter failure?

An example of a body of knowledge which seems to attract such fundamentalist irrationality is the great and ancient art and science of astrology.

It has combined those realms of logos (reason) and mythos (imagination, story-telling, creating of metaphors which help us to live with our deep flaws as humans, as well as celebrating our wonderful creativity) for at least six thousand years, since, in Arthur Koestler’s vivid words from The Sleepwalkers”:

“Six thousand years ago, when the human mind  was still half asleep, Chaldean priests were standing on their watchtowers, scanning the stars.”

So I found it most refreshing, as a life-long appreciator of the wonders of science, to have read Lord Rees’ admission that we may never be able to decode the universe. But let’s pool all our knowledge, shall we, on both sides of the current mythos/logos divide, to enable us to  concentrate on what unites us – rather than what divides us.

Reaching for the Moon....

Please note: comments on this post are welcome, but abuse and ranting have no place on this site and any such comments will be deleted.

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400 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2015
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

A ‘Time Slip’ Tale: Mediaeval church music 1980s to 1990s

Everybody knows the secular holiday of Hallowe’en. But not everybody knows it derives from a holy day,  All Saints’ Day on Nov. 1, which is followed by All Souls’ day on Nov. 2.

The root word of Halloween – ”hallow” – means ”holy.” The suffix “een” is an abbreviation of “evening.” It refers to the Eve of All Hallows, the night before the Christian holy day that honours saintly people of the past. All Saints is a celebration of the communion of saints.

The religious connotation of today thus fits well with the third of my series of Uncanny  Tales. This time, I am offering what is only a fragment – but a very vivid, intermittently repeated fragment during approximately a decade of my life from the 1980s to the 1990s. I am curious to know whether any of my readers have had similar experiences  – vivid, but fleeting. Do tell!

St Paul on All Saints' Day

St Paul on All Saints’ Day

When Ian and I were on one of our walking trips up in Northern Scotland, driving in lovely remote places, or pottering about at home, plain chant religious music from around the mediaeval period would occasionally come on the radio, or Ian would be playing something of that type and period from his extensive music collection.

I would suddenly, without warning, experience a kind of consciousness “shift”. Feeling my bare feet on the stone flags of a big church or cathedral, I would actually be there, in some religious capacity, feeling deeply connected to the music and its spirituality. This “shift’ would last only seconds, then I’d be back in my own time.

When they came at first, these episodes were very vivid and ‘real’. But gradually they got wispier and less substantial over time, disappearing over a few years, never (so far) to be repeated.

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This account is an extract from my memoir “Wisps from the Dazzling Darkness” – an open-minded take on paranormal experience – now published as an ebook and available  HERE.

Dazzling Darkness

Dazzling Darkness

“…. I was immediately taken by the compelling nature of your words, the honesty, the authenticity and the simplicity…..Your work is incredibly important because you address these issues very clearly and simply and with grace…” ( charty at fablefoundation.com)

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400 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2014
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

 

Oh no – not more Tudors!! Reincarnation Tales for Hallowe’en (ii)

I was in my twenties; about to leave my lecturing job, my flat in Bath, and return to the Outer Hebrides to “ be a writer”. A few weeks previously I had met artists and astrologers Gloria and Seamus. Since their delivering of one of my greatest ever shocks, in the shape of an unsolicited and stunningly accurate horoscope reading, we had become friends. They intrigued me, as well as being warm hearted, kind people.

They subsequently introduced me to their friend Jake, an author and expert on astrology amongst other Arts. Seamus had joked that we had to be careful of Jake – he was rumoured to be into all sorts of occult practices.

None of this meant much to me, since I still fancied myself as a Marxist intellectual at the time, and was a member of the local Communist Party in Bath – not an association which was of any duration! It would be accurate to say that my life was in a strange state of uncertainty, confusion and flux  that summer.

One balmy summer’s evening Gloria, Seamus and I fetched up at Jake’s house in a small country village in Somerset. It was a very old house, pre-Tudor. Jake was supposed to be there, but wasn’t….I don’t recall why. I had the flu, and was feeling pretty low in spirits. We all sat by the big open fireplace and had some wine. I began to feel very shivery and unwell. Gloria escorted me upstairs to Jake’s bedroom, where I lay down on the double bed and dozed off. It was a dimly lit room.

I have no idea how much time passed – I woke, and became aware that a stout man wearing a chain of  office of some kind was standing at the foot of the bed, regarding me. From paintings of the Tudor period, I recognised his clothing as that of someone of some standing. I felt that I had been judged, and harshly.

The next thing I remember was having staggered off the bed and out of the room. I felt as though I was standing on a balcony, being presented to a crowd below who were yelling unpleasantly up at me. The man with the chain of office was there beside me. My hands felt bound.

The next thing I knew, I was screaming. Gloria and Seamus came rushing upstairs, half  carrying me back downstairs again beside the fire which had been lit. Someone thrust a hot drink into my hands, and my experience split.

On the one hand, I was aware of  where I was in the present. On the other, I felt as though I was in a cart, bumping over cobblestones – a man, dressed in a rough white tunic right down to my ankles. I was tied. A name came into my mind which I couldn’t quite understand because it seemed so peculiar:  Chiddoch ? Tyburn? It came to me that I was going to be executed. Seamus was shaking me.
“ Scottie, Scottie! Where are you ?” I gradually came back to the present. Seamus and Gloria gently but insistently got me to give an account of what had been going on.

“ We’ll have to call you Spooks from now on, Scottie,” chuckled Seamus. He had rather a warped sense of humour. “ This is a weird house, and Jake is a weird guy. I’m not that surprised you’ve had a weird experience here.” Shortly after that, they took me home – I lived very near them in Bath – so shattered by what had occurred that I have no idea to this day how we got there. None of us had any transport.

Jake came to see me the next day, presumably having been informed by Seamus that I’d had a strange experience in his house. I wondered if  he had discovered as yet how much of his whisky Seamus had drunk. He insisted on my giving him a detailed account of what had happened, although making little comment.

Viking Ship

Viking Ship

Before leaving, he gave me a chunky silver ring, more suited to a man’s hand. It had a viking ship on it and was rather too big,  but I liked it. I wondered why he had given it to me, but did not ask, finding Jake somewhat intimidating. He had once refused my hesitant request for him to read my hand.
“No” he said. “ If  I did, I would then know everything about you. You wouldn’t like that, would you?”

I continued to be shaken by the experience I’d had. And by the name…Chidioch Tyburn?…you couldn’t have made it up. I probably had, said the dominant inner sceptic, rather challenged and rattled by my inability to make sense of  a vivid and very disturbing occurrence.

Meanwhile, in the real world, I concluded discharging my remaining duties as an English teacher as the end of the college term and my imminent departure to the Hebrides approached. One evening, I was flicking through some poetry
anthologies, to see if I could find something gripping to do with my increasingly restless -0- English students.

Ah yes, here’s a poem about execution, I thought. How very appropriate, considering several post-adolescent males in that group whom I could cheerfully have strangled. “Lines before execution” ……that should do. And then I noticed the name of the author. Chidiock Tichborne.I read the poem, my hands shaking. It was written to his wife by a young man about to go to the gallows – on the night before he was executed.

The next day, I went to the public library and looked up the name in an encyclopedia. There it was! Chidiock Tichborne, born in 1558, was a party to the Babington Plot to assassinate Queen Elizabeth 1 and restore England to Catholicism. He had been taken from the Tower of London and hanged, along with other members of his group, on 20th September 1586. Reading this, I felt very cold and very shocked.

To this day, I do not know quite what to make of the experience. Perhaps I had read the poem at some point in the past before visiting Jake’s house, and memory had retained the name and a sense of the period in which the poem had been written. Perhaps this had somehow got caught up in  the atmosphere and ghostly residues clinging to an old house, and my mind had picked up on those, temporarily disturbed as I was by a mixture of impending change, flu and too much alcohol?

I had no recollection of ever having read the poem before, but my ability to retain names has always been poor, even when I was young. Perhaps it was a genuine reincarnation experience, in which time had somehow “slipped” and I had re-experienced brief but intense snippets of a former life?…or even someone else’s life ?

I left Bath, returning briefly to the Hebrides that summer, but couldn’t stand living with my parents again – I have no doubt the feeling of relief on my departure was mutual. In October I went to stay with a writer friend in a village just across the Tay estuary from Dundee, Scotland. Life was a difficult struggle, and one day the following spring I became convinced the viking ship ring which I had worn ever since leaving Bath, had brought me bad luck somehow.

This strong feeling, which I couldn’t shake off, embarrassed me, a person who didn’t believe in something as irrational as luck of any kind.

One bright and blustery day, I got on my bright yellow ladies’ racing bike and cycled to St Andrews. Standing on some cliffs close by St Andrews, buffeted by wind, I had a very strong intuition to slip the viking ring off, and throw it into the breakers. The ring, a little too big, normally slipped off easily from my middle finger where I always wore it. On this final occasion, I could barely manage to haul it off. When I finally did, blood was trickling over my knuckle.

Without delay or ceremony, I hurled it into the foamy sea, immediately feeling a great sense of lightening and release. Life did gradually improve from that point on…..the sceptic, of course, put it all down to co-incidence.

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This account is an extract from my memoir “Wisps from the Dazzling Darkness” – an open-minded take on paranormal experience – now published as an ebook and available  HERE.

Dazzling Darkness

Dazzling Darkness

“…. I was immediately taken by the compelling nature of your words, the honesty, the authenticity and the simplicity…..Your work is incredibly important because you address these issues very clearly and simply and with grace…” ( charty at fablefoundation.com)

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To read the third Uncanny Tale, click HERE

1500 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2014
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

 

Reincarnation Tales for Hallowe’en i) : Beware the noonday sun – uncanny events in Lecce, Italy

The first in this series of four posts on the intriguing topic of Reincarnation can be found HERE

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Lecce, Italy: September 13th 1986

This first one took place in the mediaeval town of Lecce, known as ‘the Florence of the South’, on 13th September 1986. I still recall what happened very, very clearly. My husband Ian and I were on a bus trip with a voluble female Italian guide in her thirties, determined to cram as much local information as possible into the heads of the ignorant Brits in her charge.

As a result, not helped by the heat, we reeled off the bus somewhat brain damaged for our hour’s ‘free’ lunch break. As usual, everyone on the bus meekly shuffled behind the guide to the appointed watering hole. As usual, we did not. This was our first sight of Lecce and we wanted some quiet time on our own to enjoy it.

The bus was parked in a dusty square, next to a big old church. I looked all the way up the spire, noticing an empty plinth at the top, and thought “Where’s the Archbishop?” I recall being instantly startled by this thought, as though it belonged to someone else’s brain – after all, I’d never been to Lecce.

 Lecce, Italy

Lecce, Italy

Nevertheless, very shortly afterwards, we found him. There was a stone restorers’ yard in a narrow street we wandered into, round to the right of the church. In it, lying on his side, was a rather battered looking statue, his verdigrised copper covering cracked and peeling from the wear of many centuries. “There he is – it’s the Archbishop!” At the same time as I recognised the statue, it felt again like someone else’s thought. I wondered if the heat was getting to me…“Mad dogs and Englishmen….” (01)

I loved Lecce on sight; it felt uncannily familiar. Missing out on lunch, I took Ian on a fast trot round the immediate area we were in, finding my way around with no difficulty. I pointed out a sunlit terrace above a street not far from the church, where, feeling that I was a man then, I used to sit at a table and write . Ian almost had to drag me by the ear back to the bus, since I was most reluctant to leave.

I have long felt a strong affinity with Renaissance Italy, despite having never visited the country before. Some day, I’d like to return to Lecce and see what my reaction is then. But I’ll make sure it’s mid-winter, so that my rational self can’t blame a heat-addled brain for bringing me one of my life’s more peculiar experiences!

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footnote: 01 ‘Mad dogs and Englishmen/….Go out in the midday sun.’  Mad dogs and Englishmen Noel Coward song  (1931)

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This account is an extract from my memoir “Wisps from the Dazzling Darkness” – an open-minded take on paranormal experience – now published as an ebook and available  HERE.

Dazzling Darkness

Dazzling Darkness

“…. I was immediately taken by the compelling nature of your words, the honesty, the authenticity and the simplicity…..Your work is incredibly important because you address these issues very clearly and simply and with grace…” ( charty at fablefoundation.com)

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To read the second Hallowe’en Tale, click HERE

500 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2014
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

Do we come back ? Some thoughts on Reincarnation in the week of Hallowe’en…

When I first came across this quotation, it made me chuckle…trust Henry Miller!

“Sex is one of the nine reasons for reincarnation. The other eight are unimportant.”

Henry Miller

Definition of reincarnation: “(in some beliefs) the rebirth of a soul in a new body.” (p 1216, The Oxford English Reference Dictionary, Oxford University Press 1996)

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In Nature’s great cyclic pattern, from the tiny to the vast – gnat or galaxy – the same basic stages apply: seeding, germinating, sprouting, flowering, ripening, harvesting, dying back in preparation for the new. This can apply to a life cycle of a day, and to one of millions of years.

They all hold another factor in common: as modern physics has taught us, nothing that dies, being composed of energy, can ever cease to exist. It merely changes form. Death is a change of  state, not an ending.

Thus modern science validates what humans have held intuitively to be the case from the beginning of our sentient, conscious awareness of ourselves in relation to the universe of which we are part. All cultures across the globe share beliefs that the souls of humans (and all beings, eg in Buddhism) continue in some form beyond physical death.

Only in the narrow, brief context of western secular materialism – over the last two hundred and fifty years or so – has it been believed by some that physical death is the gateway to nothing at all, that life is a random pointless accident in space and time.

Thanks to the meticulous work of the Society for Psychical Research for over one hundred years, and indefatigable individual researchers like Professor Ian Stevenson, as well as many other reputable people, a very large body of experiential evidence is available which appears to support claims since antiquity that one life is not the sum total of our soul’s journey.

I am by nature sceptical in the true, open-minded,  sense of the word. I am happy to read and hear about other people’s experiences – but the empiricist in me demands proof via my own experience in all spheres of life, especially those which lie beyond the range of what our consensus view defines as “ordinary”.

The two stories and the fragment which follow over the next few posts have remained vivid in my memory. They do not provide proof of reincarnation, since a less unlikely explanation is that I was somehow ‘tuning in’ to residues of other lives, rather than experiencing former ones of my own. Nevertheless, they remain intriguing. Over thirty years later, in the case of the first one, and twenty in the case of the second, I still don’t quite know what to make of them!

I would be interested to hear my readers’ views on this great subject which has challenged humans for millennia…do tell!

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ps. To read the first of the uncanny tales, click HERE

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500 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2014
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

“Wisps from the Dazzling Darkness” : an open-minded take on paranormal experience

Wisps from the Dazzling DarknessTalking publicly about experiences which many people have but few are prepared openly to admit, seems to a natural sceptic like me to be a useful exercise in showing respect for both the rational dimensions of life and those ‘other’ dimensions which send the reductionists into a lather of (non-rational!) fury.

In Wisps from the Dazzling Darkness I offer my account of thirty years’ experiences of atmospheres, dreams, ghosts, mediumship, mystical experience, poltergeist phenomena, prediction, premonitions, reincarnation and telepathy. I also attempt to provide an explanation for those experiences by setting them in the context of contemporary scientific research which is open to the idea that we may live in a multi-levelled universe which is not only stranger than we suppose, but stranger than we can suppose….

Praise for “Wisps from the Dazzling Darkness” – extracts from a selection of public comments on the serialised version (2010-12)

Submitted on 2011/10/21 at 9:37 pm by charty at fablefoundation.com
I came across your site quite by chance…. I was immediately taken by the compelling nature of your words, the honesty, the authenticity and the simplicity…..Your work is incredibly important because you address these issues very clearly and simply and with grace. Discernment is the key to making it thru the challenges of the next decade….you are really helping us all by your work and I salute you for it!

Submitted on 2010/09/23 at 12:53 pm by rob at robpurday@yahoo.com
Hi Anne thanks for opening this space – in fact, in an age of dire scepticism and ‘Trollery’, creating a safe space for people to talk about their experiences is essential, when we lack cultural endorsement …. Looking forward to more!

You can download a free two page sample from Wisps from the Dazzling Darkness as a PDF (66KB) and if you like it, why not buy the entire book (126 pages) for $5.00? Just press the Paypal button below and I will send you the PDF by email.

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350 words copyright  2014
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page