To write one line a man [or woman] ought to see many cities,
people and things…. One must be able to think back the way
to unknown places…to partings long foreseen, to days of childhood… to nights of travel… and one must have memories
of many nights of love, no two alike.
Ranier Maria Rilke
Past Lives, Fate and Destiny
Between where we are, and where we are going, the path of destiny is paved with many lives, countless experiences, loves found and lost, homelands dear and haunting. As growth rings imbedded within a tree trunk reflect seasons of plenty and lack, soul memory is secreted within our cells, and determines our strengths and weaknesses. We are led toward our fate by unrealized influences...until we bring deeply obscured memory into awareness.
The revolutionary Sixties Era seeded change. Now ordinary human beings in increasingly large numbers have come alive to out-of-the-box possibilities, and are hungry for expanded consciousness. We are no longer at the Dawning of the Age of Aquarius...we are in it and moving forward.
In a fated way, our present Twenty-First Century configuration of astrological influences mirrors aspects that have not been seen for five hundred years. What was then, the age of Renaissance and Reformation. Now as before, we experience a tidal wave of social, cultural, religious, ecological, financial and political change. Spiritual awareness is flooding the consciousness of everyday human beings like you, and me, and awakening humanity to metaphysical realities not bound by time and space.
Yet even as old forms are fading away, individuals and cultures desperately attempt to hold on to antiquated paradigms. It is futile. A revolutionary new era is already in the birth canal and pressing to throw aside restrictive doorways. Cultural Creatives are alive and well on Planet Earth, no longer merely blowin’ in the wind, but establishing a firm foot-hold on tomorrow.
From nations to individuals, as we awaken to our bigger story we are no longer at the effect of past experiences, but reclaim our will and integrate all of our past and potential selves into the now. Especially in this accelerated time of planetary evolution, spontaneous past life regressions are not unusual, and déjà vu experiences are common. We visit places which we believe we are seeing for the first time, only to have the startling realization that we’ve walked on this foreign soil once before. During a psychic reading, through the eyes of the reader we may learn of past lives and sense the timeless existence of our soul. But commonplace personal discovery of our other selves, which spontaneously arises out of focused inner awareness, totally blows our mind.
Thirty years ago - the first time I experienced past life recall - as usual I sat in a peaceful contemplative state in the early morning and wrote in my journal. Only possible before my girls woke up! Seemingly unrelated to the words on my page, suddenly the distinct smell of salty ocean spray wafted over me, a highly unlikely scent in San Antonio, Texas. At the same time, I experienced immense feelings of loss and despair. Led purely by intuition, I bolted to the World Atlas, and flipped the pages. Immediately, I was riveted by the coastline of Wales, a place I had never been.
In past life recall, I saw through the eyes of a young girl who felt as if she were me. Energetically catapulted through time, in my minds’ eye I imagined her plunge from craggy cliffs to the rocky shoreline below because the man she loved had abandoned her. Collecting myself, doing research over the next few weeks, and relating the powerful past life message to my Twentieth Century life, I recognized similarities. Once we re-call a pattern that somehow lives inside our psyche, we can change it, decide differently, live our life not from blind instinct...the seduction of familiarity...but from conscious choice. The possibility of a repeat was scarily present in my life! But this was not a fate I would again embrace.
I asked myself: Was this really a past life? Carl Jung would suggest that I identified with an archetype — The Waif, lost and lonely. Or, that the memories tapped in to the collective unconscious. And then, maybe this experience be re-collect-ing ancestral strains held in mitochondrial DNA. No matter the source, as in dreamwork, the image or symbol which comes to us, in some way informs our current life circumstance. ( Read: Other Lives, Other Selves by Roger Woolger, and Many Lives, Many Masters by Brian Weiss)
Once we have opened the door to unconscious possibility, dreams, visions and awareness floods in. The memory of myself as Annie, a jewish suffragist living in New York City early in the Twentieth Century, came to me at a time of wondering if my mother and I would ever heal our relationship. As in The Waif life, a physical sensation alerted me to past life awareness.
Within my imagination, I heard the clip clop of horses’ hooves, and saw through the eyes of Annie as she rode in a horse-driven black carriage to her much beloved mother’s funeral. Through soul memory, I experienced Annie’s beautiful relationship with her mother, and the enormous feelings of love and respect which they shared. I was able then, to look beyond the conflict with my mother, and know (within my cells) how deeply I did love and respect her. What a relief to feel love where there was resentment and bitterness!
Years later on a trip to visit my daughter in Manhattan, after lunch in what I referred to as Greenwich Village - just The Village my New Yorker daughter gently corrected my embarrassingly uncool outsider language - we wandered the tree-lined streets of Lower Manhattan. Without warning as we stood on a picturesque street corner, a powerful déjà vu experience washed over me. An extension of the Annie memory, with more real-life, physical, New-York-state-of-mind information, unfolded in my head. It felt familiar and warm like I had finally come home. Stunned, I looked around and tried to get my bearings, then turned to my daughter and asked, “Where’d they put the rivers?”
She looked at me with alarm. I recovered and explained, “Oh.... I’m sorry... I’ve been here before. There were once little tributaries that wound through this area.”
A bit fey herself, my daughter went along as I babbled about my Suffragist Annie life, how grateful I was that Eleanor Roosevelt had come along in my bone-weary later years, and picked up the banner for Women’s Rights. “Eleanor was here. She had a house. We met there. Do you mind if I try to find it?”
Eventually soul memory and intuition led me, and my good-natured daughter, to an apartment on 10th Street which bore the plaque, Eleanor Roosevelt Residence. Research in the Jackson Library verified the diversion of small waterways, and landfill to make way for construction in Lower Manhattan. And yes, Eleanor did hold salons and meetings to further the cause of The League of Women’s Voters, right there in The Village. I remembered what the entrance hall looked like: black and white Italian terrazzo tile, airy ferns and tall tropical plants, ornate but simple iron stands in the corners with tall marble busts of famous people I didn't recognize then...or in my memory. I have no idea if that is really what the foyer looked like. But I can see it clearly, even as I write. So, no wonder I have always felt at home in NYC! No wonder I have always felt a burning need to affirm human rights.
But it didn’t stop there. I even went so far as to request, and pay for, official birth and death certificates. But because I am uncertain exactly where this early 1900’s Annie Leibowitz (spelling uncertain because I only felt what my name sounded like!) was born and died, the precise spelling of her name, much less her full given name, no records were found. And...I know it's bizarre...but I feel sad about it. As if I searched and searched for a dear relative's grave...but failed to find it.
There was yet another Anna life, set in Jerusalem when Christ walked on the earth. As an Essene teacher, equal in the spiritual community to men, the sacred role of women was never in question. My modern day self had always felt the nagging heretical belief that something was missing from the accepted Matthew, Mark, Luke and John Gospel accounts of Christ’s teaching. Not until years later, when the Nag Hammadi Codices were first discovered and then translated, could I read the extant gospels for myself, and learn of Christ’s reverence for Mary Magdalene and the Feminine Face of God. History has long denied The Magdalene’s true place in the apostolic community...until now.
In small and large ways, past life recall filters into understanding, and sometimes answers quirky questions. Because of the very real memory of the Annie and Anna lifetimes I have realized why, as a young girl, I kept feeling as if my sister’s name, Jo Anne, should have been mine and not hers. If these memories can be trusted...and honestly, they feel more true than some of my childhood memories as Sandy Foster...once upon a time, I answered to derivatives of this familiar name.
For years I kept my own past life journey of discovery to myself, and never attempted to use hypnosis to regress a client into past life recall. Then one day, a client took us there. This fragile young woman suffered miserably from the break-up of her marriage, and feared that she wouldn’t be able to put food on the table for herself, and her two daughters. Hoping to provide relief, in guided meditation I asked her to move into her body, and find the place which held her fear. I could see that the process was working, her eyes moved beneath closed lids. Her face filled with emotion.
When I asked where she was, she said, “In a dungeon.”
Assuming dungeon was a symbol for desperation, I asked, “What brought you here?”
In a lonely and faraway voice she answered: “I’m a boy. A beggar. An orphan. It’s winter. London is so... cold. I’m hungry. I stole a loaf of bread. They caught me and threw me in the dungeon with all these other people. I’m going to die here.”
My client - from a San Antonio Hispanic family - had zero context in her current lifetime for spinning a Dickens’ tale, but that’s where she was. Over a series of sessions, exploration of her tragic past life story healed her deeply rooted fear. Then she was able to rationally view her current life circumstance through adult eyes, in the here and now, uncontaminated by ancient pain.
With my clients I’ve shared many such experiences of past life recall, each with transformative results. Another woman had survived corporate America when many others in her lifelong career with one company had been fired, or asked to take early retirement. A woman who had successfully broken through the glass ceiling, in her thirty year career she had skillfully maneuvered to a singular place of authority and influence. Self-composed, smart, attractive, often noticed by men and loved, yet no relationship lead to lifelong partnership. Much of our work through the years revolved around strategizing her position in the company. Until one day as she considered how empty her life might feel following retirement, she allowed herself to wonder: "Is it me? Do I push men away?"
Soon afterwards, my client was transfixed and enthralled by a History Channel feature about England’s Virgin Queen, Elizabeth I. The documentary described Elizabeth’s impeccable forty-five year reign, the monarch’s decision to choose devotion to her country over the love of a man, the prosperity of the country under her rule, and the loneliness the queen experienced because of her choice. As the final death scene unfolded, and Queen Elizabeth I realized all she had lost by devoting her life to her country and sacrificing a personal life, my client shared how stunned she felt as she burst into gut wrenching sobs that took a while to calm to sniffles. At that moment, she completely identified with Elizabeth and felt her pain as if it was her own. In fact it was. She embodied the pain Elizabeth must have felt.
So...it’s a sad story and anyone could cry. Only these were tears rarely shed, absolutely out of character. We are talking about Ice Queen here! Then following her remarkable emotional explosion, long-forgotten memories began to surface. Even as a child she was mesmerized by Elizabeth I. When I questioned her to see if perhaps someone in her family had loved Elizabeth and taught about her, my client went into detail to explain why this never could have happened in her family. She was baffled and couldn't come up with a logical explanation for how her very young self could possibly have known details from the monarch’s life. Yet she recalled creating an elegant Elizabeth I costume for her favorite childhood doll. It was years later that she learned that the historical details were perfect. From the high collar, to voluminous gem encrusted (she used stones from her mother's costume jewelry) silk skirts, right down to the doll’s hair...which she scissored short and colored red.
My client’s substantial emotional response to the History Channel’s tale of Elizabeth I, totally confounded reason, and motivated her to explore the mysterious connection whose archetypal imprint had possibly influenced the direction of her life all these years. She had been living as a powerful Virgin Queen. And yes, she accepted the life she had lived. The accomplishments that had come to her because of her single-mindedness. So she toyed with moving ahead as Elizabeth had done by continuing with her accomplished career as a man-woman in a man's world.
But then, as she seriously considered the idea that The Virgin Queen was simply a powerful archetypal symbol that had unconsciously motivated her psyche all these years, she wondered if maybe she might still open the door to other possibilities. Knowledge of her deep unconscious had given her a powerful choice and her reality completely shifted.
Now she came to sessions with her briefcase stuffed with at least a three-inch stack of Match.com profiles to work through. For two years she speed dated. Then fell in love and married. The last time we had a session they had been married for seven years, she had retired and they were building their dream home. The energy tied up in the Virgin Queen archetype was stripped bare...and transformed.
Experience has shown me the countless, and often subtle, ways our present-day lives follow patterns which lie unnoticed within our psyche. Awakening and consciously re-member-ing who we are, we direct our fate and shape our destiny. Rather we truly experience past lives we have lived, archetypes and myths we identify with, or ancient recall from ancestral roots, our bigger story lives deep within us all, just waiting for discovery that can profoundly inform our future. Who needs Netflix and HBO? This is the stuff of fiction.