Then there are the believers. Past life regression goes back quite a ways. Back to ancient India and the Upanishads (ancient, sacred texts that form the final part of Hindu religious thought...‘Upanishad’ is a sanskrit word that literally means to sit at the feet of a master to receive instruction). In the second century BCE, Patañjali (Hindu scholar, Yoga Sutras of Patanjali) described past life regression as prati-prasav ("reverse birthing"). Accumulated Karma from past lives burdens ones soul, and prati-prasav helps address current problems via past life memories. It's commonly used these days in some forms of yoga.
Past life regression therapy regained popularity in the 1950's. It was in 1952 that a famous and controversial regression happened. Virginia Tighe, an American housewife, was taken back in hypnotic regression by amateur hypnotist Morey Bernstein. When he took her back to the time 'before she was born', he found himself talking to an Irish woman named Bridey Murphy who lived in Cork, Ireland, back in the 19th century. Bernstein wrote a book about the experience, which became a bestseller. However, the facts presented by Bridey Murphy were never checked. The skeptics got involved. None of the dates given by Murphy checked out...there were no records. Instead of continuing to look into the "facts" presented by Murphy, they looked back at Tighe's life. Among many discoveries was the fact that as a child in Chicago, Tighe had lived across the street from an Irish immigrant woman named, Bridie Murphy Corkell. Scientists believe that Tighe's supposed past life was actually a fictional account created by memories from her childhood. The regression had been proven to be a hoax.
So...do past lives exist? Is hypnotic regression legitimate? To be (in the past), or not to be (in the past)...that is the question. (hehe) Do I believe? Yes, I do. I would like to learn a bit more about my personal past life history. I've been told by several that I have been with members of my family through other past lives. One person told me I was an older sister to both my mother and father in a past life. Whether or not they were during the same life, that I don't know. Actually, it is supposed to be very common for us to find the same people through each life. The relationships may be different, like mine with my parents. Some of my close friends might have been related to me, too. Another common occurrence is for a persons gender to change.
The more I share about experiences I've had in my life so far, the more I know I have a lot to learn. I'm intrigued. Have I ever been through past life regression hypnosis? Yes, once. It's my reason for writing this post. I would definitely like to have another go. I'm very curious as to what I would see. Would I see the same thing, or an extension thereof? I think I would like to see if I can get some validation, because what I saw has left me with a number of questions.
It was 1985, or so. I was about 21 years old, and going on my first weekend event with the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronisms). It was an 'Arts & Sciences' event. My roommates, Sherry and Michelle, told me a bit of what to expect. It was to be a great first event for a newcomer to the group. A co-worker of Sherry's would be joining us, as well. I had not met her prior to the trip.
Events usually took place over a weekend. Our destination was a state park with camp facilities. I think it operated primarily as a summer camp. There were several bunk houses, a main hall, infirmary, etc. Wasn't a huge place, but people had a bed. It was a good thing that we would be spending our nights inside. Since it was winter time, it was freezing outside. The first night (Friday) we checked in and laid claim to our beds. We ended getting into the infirmary which was the best set-up. It was very late, so we bundled up in the blankets we brought and sat up talking. It was during the night's conversation that I learned that Sherry's co-worker was studying hypnotherapy with her main focus being regression therapy. I was completely intrigued, and proceeded to play 20 Questions with her. Eventually, we all succumbed to fatigue and crashed.
The following day was a lot of fun. After the early breakfast in the main hall, we perused the tables artisans had on the large stone front porch. Lots of great medievally based wares. Everything from hand loomed, embroidered, and screen printed fabrics, to hand made swords. Savog, a long time society member who was knighted and had his own household that I would later become a member of, bought me some handmade and printed fabric adorned with the figure of a knight on horseback and a damsel, which I still have to this day. Saturday night at events is the big event when the feast takes place, so there is lots to be done in preparation in the kitchen. I searched out the Feastcrat (the woman heading up the planning of the feast festivities and food), and volunteered some time in helping get things together. After that I just did some walking around. Some observing. I felt transported back in time. Yes, SCA members select their own period of history to emulate, so there are people from many different periods socializing with one another...one of the only times you would see something like that. It was the costumes, the old English being spoken, everything of an anachronistic nature. We were surrounded by modern conveniences (lamps, a lot full of cars, camp water fountains and garbage cans, etc.), but they kind of dissolved away into the background. Pure escapism at it's best. By that point I was killing time on my own taking it all in, and then Judy (Sherry's co-worker) appeared. Since we had rolled out of bed so early, the day was still young. It was just shy of noon, so we had a few hours to kill. It was then that she brought up the subject of past life regression again. She asked me if I would like a regression session, free of charge. She had been glad to meet someone as interested as I was about it, and she would look at it as more experience for her. I was thrilled. The main thing we needed was a relatively quiet place. It wasn't that easy to come up with a location, but we settled on her car. We had driven down in her car, and it was quite roomy. The passenger side seat reclined, and it just seemed like the only choice available for a closed environment.
After swinging by the infirmary for a couple of things (a couple of blankets and some crystals Judy always carried with her), we hopped in her car. She moved it to the far side of the parking lot to the farthest point from the bustle of activity. Not only was this going to be my first regression, it was going to be the first time that I had been hypnotized. I was experiencing a little nervous excitement, but Judy took me through some relaxation exercises and that ended pretty quickly. Sufficiently calm and relaxed, Judy began the hypnosis. She used a technique using a staircase and the numbers 1 through 10, the top most stair being 10. With each stair/number, I descended the staircase and entered more into a hypnotic state. For a minute or two I stopped hearing her all together. The best way I can describe hearing her voice again was like someone turning up the volume on a stereo. It started off faint, and gradually gained in strength until it reached the proper volume. At that point I was pretty much hypnotized. (Judy would later tell me that she was surprised that I entered hypnosis so deeply for a first timer. It's quite common for newbies to hypnosis to not go under very deeply, or at all the first time or two.) At that point, she said that I had reached the bottom of the staircase and there was a path before me. From that point on she didn't really lead me much. She let me describe things. Don't get me wrong, Judy would ask me things like "What do you see?", but not things like "Do you see a house?" I remember what I saw during my 'state' quite vividly to this day. What follows is a Reader's Digest version, rather than a blow by blow account.
Once Judy tells me I'm at the head of a path, I see it. There is nothing to either side just darkness. She tells me to start down it, and then I just start moving forward. Kind of a steady drifting motion. A moment later, I'm moving down a dirt road. Green fields roll away from me to either side and the road is lined with roughly constructed stone walls. 'Ireland' pops into my mind. Everything is uncommonly vivid. The colors, the sounds. I can hear birds and thunder. The sky is full of clouds. It feels like I'm there, and not there...I feel ethereal. (I don't know if that makes any sense whatsoever.) The visuals on how I'm moving can be described best as being like the smooth, floaty motion of a steady cam with a filter on the lens that makes everything look more vibrant. I continue moving along the road, catching sight of trees and bushes here and there. Then I notice a small structure off to my right.
A small stone cottage type of building. It has a thatch roof. I feel myself moving towards it. There's a set of double wooden doors that are standing open. I move toward and through the open doors, a strong scent of fresh cut wood filling the air. A man wearing a leather apron over his non-descript clothing is sitting on a stool by a work table carving on something. The floor is covered with wood shavings, and the room is filled to the brim with things that say 'carpenter' to me. I see wooden bowls, and small pieces of furniture. The man looks quite fixated on his task. He has long-ish hair that is pulled back, a moustache and small beard on his chin. He looks to be young...somewhere in his twenties. I really sense his attention to his project. Then someone else enters the room. A young woman with long brown hair. She looks angry about something, and starts shouting at him and waving her arms. He is startled and tries to calm her down. She rushes out into the torrential rain that is now falling, and he goes after her. I move out the door to follow, and they are gone.
After several moments of not seeing anything but green grass, I hear Judy's voice tell me to go into the future. To move forward 15 years. Everything kind of goes black, but it feels more like a fade from one time to another. I then move into a huge room. It has a high ceiling of wood above, and all of the walls are stone. There are a couple of small windows high up on the end walls. The walls themselves are covered with pieces of artwork, but I can't make out what any of them are. One wall has a huge fireplace that looks big enough for a person to walk into without stooping. A fire is blazing away. Two huge wiry haired dogs are snoozing in front of it. To the center of the room is a bulky and long table, surrounded by chairs with candles down the center of it's surface. At that point, I notice a figure seated at the opposite end. I move toward them and realize that it is an older version of the man I saw from before. He has quite a bit of grey in his hair, and he seems slightly thicker around the middle. Judging by the room and his appearance, he seems to have become a bit more affluent. I get a sense that he is concerned about something, and notice him pouring over some papers on the table in front of him. I move to his side. A moment later he looks over where I am, but not at me. Someone has entered the room and he looks to be very spooked. Then a look of absolute fear covers his face, there is a bright white flash, and I come out of hypnosis. I just sit bolt upright in the seat. In a way, it felt like I had been yanked out. I startled Judy. She hadn't started the process of bringing me out, and couldn't fathom what had caused me to "snap out of it".
To say that I have questions...well, that would be an understatement. Who did I see? Was the man me? During the course of the regression, Judy had been surprised that I was so vocal with what I was seeing. She had enjoyed taking me through it, and I think she was as intrigued as I was. As I mentioned towards the beginning of this post, I do believe in the subject of past lives. Did I genuinely see images from my past? Judy took me through the experience at an SCA event that was filled with people in Medieval garb. I have a very creative imagination. Could my subconscious have been at work, creating a world from the sources stated in the concept of Cryptomnesia effecting past life regression? Maybe, but I can't say for sure either way. I think I'll have these questions until I'm able to do some research in the form of another regression, or two. See if I can get some more solid information (names, dates, places, etc.) Who knows? Maybe I won't revisit the same person and place again. I do think it's very possible that I tapped into some memories from my far away past, but even as open minded as I am I'd like to see some more solid facts/proof on it. I do have my personal set of beliefs, but on the whole I don't believe or disbelieve something until it's proven to me one way or the other. My opportunity to have more sessions with Judy ceased to be a possibility when I moved out of the house I shared with Sherry. The cause for my departure wasn't my doing, I just didn't feel comfortable with my roommate situation at that point. It is now roughly 25 years later, and I still have yet to do any follow-up. I'll go through another regression when the time is ripe.
I have had many experiences during the course of my life thus far, and they have all shaped my belief system. Life is supposed to teach us, and we are here to be taught. I believe that we keep coming back until we have achieved everything we are supposed to. Is it destiny? I think there are some things that are predetermined, but on a big picture level, how does one learn if they don't have the power of choice? We have our own paths, but every path has forks. It is up to each of us to decide which way we go.