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The Forces of Destiny brings together three of the most fascinating mysteries of all time: fate, reincarnation, and astrology. In this highly original and illuminating book, Penny Thornton compares beliefs about fate, death and rebirth from a variety of esoteric traditions with the discoveries of the New Science, and the literature on the Near Death Experience.
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Extracts from the book:
'Where are you?'
'It's dark . . . very dark. I'm frightened . . .'
'Are you alone ? Why are you frightened ?'
'I've done nothing wrong... they're going to burn me. I don't want to die. I'm frightened.'
'Why are they going to burn you?'
'They say I'm a witch. But I'm not. I've done nothing wrong!'
'Where do you live?'
'In the village.'
'What's the name of the village ?'
'Maresfield. It's not nice. Nobody likes me.'
'What's your name ?'
'Mary... Jowett. I DON'T WANT TO DIE !'
The wracking sobs and the thick country dialect make the impact of these statements chillingly real. And, indeed, it is all too real for Mary Jowett as she lies shivering on the floor of a dark and acrid smelling prison in 16th-century Sussex. However, this is no actor rehearsing her lines, but, middle-aged staff-nurse Jane Kirby reliving a traumatic scene in her past life. And, a far cry from a 16th-century jail, Mary is comfortably seated in a well-padded arm chair in the drawing room of an English country house; by her side is a tape-recorder, and gently leading her into the recesses of her far memory is psychotherapist, Dr Michael Hopwood.
The technique of hypnotic regression - whereby an individual is enabled to reach an altered state of consciousness in which he can apparently relive a past life - has become an increasingly popular method of exploring reincarnation. This method certainly has its limitations and its critics, but, as I will show later, it also has tremendous therapeutic value.
I hoped that by regressing people to former lives, they might be able to provide the date, time and place of their birth thus enabling me to set up a chart for that life and compare it with the present horoscope. Since I was not a hypnotherapist myself, my first task was to find a qualified practitioner to undertake the regression work for me. As luck, or synchronicity, would have it the ideal person was right on my doorstep. Michael Hopwood and his wife Jean had been friends of mine for some years, and although I knew Michael to be a psychotherapist with a strong spiritual leaning, who had, earlier in his life, been on the psychiatric team at Guy's Hospital, London, I had no idea that he had been exploring hypnotic regression in his psychotherapeutic work. We discussed the project at length and agreed that I should not be present at the sessions in case this made the subjects feel as though they must perform for me.
However, because I was going to write about regression, and since we needed to find the best way to elicit certain information, we both felt that I should undergo a series of hypnotic regressions first. Thus, on 19 November 1987,1 placed myself in the hot seat.
Michael began to count slowly backwards from twenty: 'Nineteen, eighteen . . . ten alpha, nine alpha, going deeper and deeper . . . (his voice becoming stronger and more resonant) three alpha, two alpha, onealpha . . .alpha .. .alpha . . . alpha. 'I had practised meditation for many years and was thus not surprised to find that I had automatically entered a state of consciousness where I felt still and calm but mentally crystal clear.
To begin with, Michael suggested that I went back to a period in my childhood. I found myself at the age of thirteen on the threshold of adolescence noticing for the first time that my body was showing signs of womanhood. What I had not been prepared for was the vividness of the recall and how I was able to review the experience in such sharp detail; I also gained insight about the conflict I was experiencing at that time between wanting to grow up yet being frightened to leave the safety of childhood behind. Michael then took me back beyond birth 'to a time where it would be useful and creative for you to remember'. My first foray into the distant past found me in Venice - a place I have never visited - in 1740. 1 had the curious sensation of running lightly over the rugs on polished floors which moved underneath my feet as I ran. I was eighteen, in love and dressed in pink. My name was Angelina.
Despite the flow of information from my first past life, I emerged from the session feeling that I had simply been fantasizing. A week later, we tried again. This time, Michael urged me to let go of my reservations, dismiss the observer-scientist in my mind and let myself flow with the experience.
This time, after a faltering start, where I 'saw' nothing but a huge black void, I let my mind take me into a book I had been reading about Avalon and the sorceress, Morgan La Fay. I felt myself peering into a lake; it was night and the full moon's reflection hovered nervously across the surface of the water. I was using the lake as a scrying glass to peer into the future. From then my life as Sarah unfolded. The period was 1263 AD, I was 25 years of age, and had been born at midnight on 2 March. In this 'past life' I bore five sons, was married to a Duke and was confidante to the King. I had a degree of difficulty remembering who the King was, however - Henry or Harold!
I remained deeply sceptical about this past life, which seemed to contain more fantasy and wishful thinking than truth - at least in the historical, fact-finding sense, although I was surprised and pleased to find subsequently that my birthplace, Carno, did indeed exist, and Henry 111 was on the throne of England at the time - perhaps his friends called him Harry! But although I was disappointed not to be able to believe in this 'past life' as such, I discovered the experience had enabled me to touch on some areas that I find difficult to deal with in my present life - most notably my fear of rejection and my fear of being wrong. Also there was a moment in the regression where an angel had given me a beautifully bound book with the words 'knowledge is power' written on the frontispiece; he also gave me a blessing which I found exquisitely reassuring. Thus I felt I had gained from the experience, though not in the way I had anticipated, and looked forward to the next session.
The theme that knowledge is power came through in another life as a fifteen-year-old page called, Martinus - once again in Venice, but this time in 1482. In this life I was party to all manner of skulduggery and was eventually smashed to pieces by a stone slab for my troubles. My master, Marcus, was clearly a member of a powerful secret society much concerned with political intrigue. Under hypnosis I talked about sacred geometry, scrolls concealed in tombs, magical ceremonies -even astrology. A fascinating story containing, perhaps just a few seeds of my present life.
Those who know me well were not surprised to learn that I had been a nun in one of my past lives . . . Actually, Sister Ursula was rather jolly (Italian, once again) and a first-class cook. In yet another life I was a rather lonely witch, called, somewhat appropriately, Moira. But perhaps the most impressive of all the lives was that of Anunka.
This regression was the only one where I felt completely within the time and space of that lifetime. I was, somewhat predictably, a priestess, but I really felt the heat of the 'Egyptian' sun and the weight of the gold around my neck and on my head. I spoke with some authority about my life and gave my date of birth as the 'month of the turtle' and 'on the Moon's day'. However, the real impact of this sojourn into the distant past occurred when Michael pressed me to tell him what year I was living in and what gods we worshipped. I became extremely angry with him and impressed upon him that the time period was thousands and thousands of years ago: 'long before what you think of as Ancient Egypt'. I told him I was living at a time when 'men were gods'. I described men as 'giants' and told of how we were able to live on different levels of reality 'moving between worlds'. I informed Michael that I was in a time and place 'on which the legends of Atlantis and the Garden of Eden are based.' Asked, by Michael, what happened to this Utopia, I tried to explain that there was an 'energy shift. . . levels (or worlds) moved out of alignment... we lost our ability to be as gods.' I was adamant that it wasn't because of some misuse of power (which is generally believed to have caused the downfall of Atlantis) but because of some energy shift.
What intrigued me about this pronouncement, was that it felt absolutely true. At the time I thought that 1 had genuinely accessed some real knowledge. Nevertheless, I still remain doubtful that it was one of my past lives as such. The point I want to put across, however, is that the validity of the experience need not be measured in terms of whether or not I am the reincarnation of Anunka. In this altered state of consciousness I found something of value and came away enhanced by the experience. And who knows, maybe we did indeed, in a far-distant past, walk with the gods.
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