By Nancy Poitou, M.A., M.F.T. ©2000
Published in Exceptional Human Experience: Studies of the Unitive, Spontaneous, Imaginal Vol.16,No.1, 2000
It was August 11, 1986 the day I awakened. It had started about eight months earlier with some minor pre-cognitive visions that I had passed off as coincidence. I had never believed that I had any psychic abilities or was capable of having them, and, although my therapist had told me several times I was very intuitive, I didn’t believe her.
In the fall of 1985 I was camping at the beach with a group of friends. Anna (not her real name) and I had become close friends in the last year and she was sitting across the campfire from me. Something seemed so familiar about this moment, I guess deja vu would describe it. A vision of us as Native American Indians sort of floated through my mind. I said to Anna, “I think we were Indians in a past life.” As soon as that statement left my mouth, I wanted to pull it back. Although I had been reading books on metaphysical subjects for years and believed in reincarnation, I was certain I would never know anything about my past lives. I did not believe anyone could access past life information except through someone with special abilities such as Edgar Cayce whom I had read a great deal about.
Reincarnation felt right to me. I had always had trouble with religion. Something in me had always been repelled from a very young age by the idea of a minister being the intermediary between myself and God. With a history of recurring depression I often wondered how past lives may have created my personal hell. I would think, “I must have been a terrible in past lives, to feel this way now.” But in that moment at the campfire I thought my creative mind was getting a bit out of control and I regretted my mouth following up on it. I had heard of others who believed they were so-and-so in a past life. I thought they were delusional, weird eccentric folk who had to gain some sense of self worth through some imaginary past life as a way of blaming the past and avoiding the present.
I had not yet met Lily who I was to meet in May of 1986 when this began. Lily a professional clairvoyant became my teacher in the esoteric sense and meeting her quickened what had already begun. The second incident I recalled of this particular past life happened after I met her yet I still had not recognized it as such.
One evening Anna had come over for a barbeque dinner. As we were eating the chicken, she pushed a plate in my direction and said something about “Do you want some more of this?” This seemed to trigger a memory. I saw her, but she was an Indian woman, and, as I blinked my eyes and stared, it was as though I was seeing a picture laid over her. She looked the same and different at the same time. There was a dwelling behind her. I set my chicken down abruptly. Now I “knew” she was my wife.
Anna caught me staring and rubbed her face, “what? have I got something on my face?” she asked. I looked down at my own body and saw a man’s brown skinned arms and chest. Muscled upper arms and hairless chest. I could see the tips of my black hair on my chest. I had some type of animal leather pants on. I thought, “This is it, my creative mind has now jumped the track!” This did not compute. My mind froze like a computer screen when there is some kind of glitch in the system. I went into shock and could not process the scene so I repressed it.
I suddenly became very quiet and felt a slight internal tremor. This had the same feeling as a memory, as the flashbacks of childhood I had begun to have in the last year. But while in therapy I had at times felt so overwhelmed that I thought I was going crazy. On this evening I was convinced. This did not make sense. This did not compute. This was some figment of my imagination. This could not be real. Forget it. And it was forgotten--until August 11th.
On August 11, 1986 I wrote in my journal, “I believe I recalled a past life today.” I was getting ready for an appointment and while walking through the living room a series of flashbacks happened. I saw the same scenes I had seen with Anna and, also some new pictures: a young six year old Indian boy running. The soul of my son is now reincarnated in my younger brother. I saw his limp, body on the ground and felt a horror beyond what I could imagine. He had fallen from a height onto some rocks and was unconscious. He lived less than 24 hours.
I knew I was the son of a medicine man, and yet I felt paralyzed. I was in shock. My father had trained me in his art but I felt I could never live up to his legacy. My training was unfinished when he died during a trance. He had at least died for a good cause, fighting the evil spirits. But I did not feel ready to do what he could. Any confidence I had was gone. My son was dying and I could not save him. I failed him, my wife, my father and our tribe.
My wife blamed me and herself. She barely ever spoke to me again. The pain of the loss of my son was compounded by her refusal to talk to me about it. I kept feeling if she would just get angry at me that would be better than the frozen silence between us. I was depressed for the rest of that lifetime. I never recovered.
I reeled from the flashbacks. My head was spinning. I felt disoriented. But somehow this time I got it. Trying to get a handle on this intense experience I sat down at the kitchen table. The internal tremor had hit and I was visibly shaking. On the table was a newspaper. There in front of me were two articles about recent archeological digs and their findings regarding the Anasazi Indians of the southwest. Although the articles didn’t say much about the Anasazi Indians theyhad disappeared some eight or nine hundred years ago. The article was saying that they may have come to the region as far back as 3,000 years ago. Synchronicity or coincidence, something hit me. I could only think that this felt right. We were Anasazi. I was still shaking. Some part of me had a kind of blissful “ah-ha” feeling. It was as though I had touched eternity. I had contact with my eternal soul. There was some sort of shift within, and I awoke.
I was never the same after that moment. Perhaps it was the recognition of a deep grief that had never been resolved. I knew this was real now. I was not losing my mind. The two previous memories came back to me now and it all made sense. I could no longer deny what was happening to me. I had not yet spoken to anyone about it. I went to my appointment and returned to find a message from Anna. I returned her call, to discuss the details of an upcoming trip we were taking. I was tempted to say something to her about it but refrained.
Within a few minutes she called me back again to ask me if everything was OK. I had apparently sounded distracted in the short previous conversation. I replied that something was going on with me but I wasn’t sure she would want to hear it. (Anna was a born-again Christian and though we had reconciled our differing beliefs, I thought this might be too much for her to accept.) Anna asked me why and I told her she might think I was crazy. She humorously stated that I had nothing to worry about since that was an established fact.
I told her that I had a past-life memory that involved her. She seemed to want to hear about it, stating that she was more open-minded about my beliefs now than before. I began to tell her and I began to cry. I said that I could be totally wrong about this but my emotional state led me to believe it was real. Anna asked me what I thought it meant. I said I felt that it seemed that we were currently working out some of the feelings we were left with from that previous life time.
I went to see Lily that day and although she could not also see that lifetime, she validated my memory, saying that she could tell that I felt it quite deeply. Lily had been psychic all her life and had received past-life memories of her own.
Of all the past life memories and Exceptional Human Experiences I have had, my memory of being an Indian still haunts me. It seems to have the biggest emotional charge and it was the beginning of an amazing spiritual adventure. For the next couple of years I white-knuckled a wild ride of having awakened the Kundalini. I’ve experienced lucid dreams, out-of-body events, clairvoyance, spirit guides and more past life memories.
Kundalini unfurled and I saw amazing things that made the mundane world pale in comparison. Kriyas rocked my body and the fire burned up my spine. I couldn’t believe my life. But now I understood it. I knew it. I was living in two worlds. I would spontaneously see other people’s past lives. I even met people who recognized me from past lives.
I was undergoing a transformation no one could see or understand except Lily. Small talk seemed irrelevant. Concerns seemed petty. I was overwhelmed and felt as though the ground beneath my feet was constantly shaking. The light and colors around people showed me their true nature. Since this all began I daily see beautiful bright lights of colors that did not exist to me before.
My world turned upside down. I could no longer see my world in the same way. I could no longer be “unconscious.” Everything made a difference. Nothing was inconsequential. We are all souls on a physical journey and each has his or her own unresolved spiritual issues. I can no longer buy the “optical delusion” (Einstein) that we are separate from everyone and everything. The magnificence of the universe was thrust upon me.
On that day in August my universe was changed by my recognition of the fact that I was not going crazy. What I was experiencing was indeed real. I have not been the same since. It is one thing to believe and have faith and another to experience and “to know.” To recognize and validate my experience was to touch my eternal Self and the hidden potential of every one of us. This experience was a turning point, I could not go back.
At times when I tell the story of this particular past life I am overwhelmed with emotion. Some people say the death of a child is something you never recover from and I know this to be true. Even though the soul of my son is now reincarnated in my younger brother, whom I am very close to, this knowledge did not dissolve my long standing grief. The personal sense of failure surrounding that life lessens as I work to resolve the feelings. Various painful aspects of the issues connected with that life have at times been triggered. Now I can connect these feelings with the past and forgive myself.
Realizing the depth and breadth of our spiritual journey through many lives has connected me with the nature of the soul and its relationship to other souls as we travel through time. We meet again and again but are unaware of our previous encounters as friends, lovers and family members. Before this I was cynical and was dealing with depression by putting one foot in front of the other. I had adopted the bumper sticker philosophy, “I feel much better now that I have given up hope.”
Today as a therapist I am trying to give hope to others. I often talk to depressed and suicidal clients about not giving up. If they are open to a past life perspective I relate to them the futility of suicide as an escape. If they balk at opening up to and working through the pain, I remind them, “you deal with it now or you deal with it later.”
It will not go away when you die, and enduring emotional pain until death thinking it will end the suffering is an illusion. Until it is dealt with, it will continue to haunt you until you are ready or are forced by circumstances to recreate the issues and feelings in another life.
Years later I remembered my death in that life time. I was ill and people were coming into my dwelling to say good-bye. I was glad I was dying because I thought my misery would finally be over. Though we all desire to escape such pain I know today that there is no escape, only delay.
As I facilitate past-life regressions and soul retrieval, my clients are amazed at their own potential to remember. These memories are closer to the surface than is generally believed. They are also surprised to see how elegantly their current issues and emotional challenges fit their past life memories. I do not even use formal hypnosis, but induce a light trance state. The past of hundreds or even thousands of years ago is closer than we think. Even before my past-life memory my brother used to draw pictures of Indians of the southwest.
My feelings were triggered again recently while watching a show on the Anasazi and their rock dwellings. The narrator commented that a wall had been added later to prevent children of the Anasazi from falling off the cliff dwelling onto rocks. This pierced my ancient heart to reawaken the grief of the accidental death of my child. Will it ever be over? I don’t know, but it is an amazing sensation to experience such strong feelings that originated thousands of years ago when I was a different sex and color. How much racial and sexual discrimination would be transformed if all of us had this type of Exceptional Human Experience? How many would be more motivated to resolve relationship conflicts?
Unfortunately, though I gave it my all, Anna eventually shut down and shut me out once again in this lifetime, choosing not to communicate whatever distress was behind her pushing me away again. We no longer have contact. Well there’s always another life and, another chance and in another lifetime, we will meet again.
The biggest gift this and subsequent experiences and memories gave me was not so much the information. With the experience of many memories from many different lifetimes I awoke to my true Self. For I am not a white female therapist in the 21st century, nor an Anasazi male, nor an ancient Egyptian, nor a shepherd from Judea, nor a Franciscan Monk, nor a Chinese rice farmer. I am an evolving soul that originated from a divine spark that is one with all life.
Past lives are but the journeys this soul has taken in physical form to develop will through effort, love-wisdom through experience, and intelligence through discernment and choice. The path to this change in identity was disorienting, blissful and traumatic but the meaning gained has been worth it. I stand on the firm ground of being, of the Soul Eternal. I have the privilege of serving the soul in the role I play as psychotherapist (servant of the soul) this time around, coaxing the souls who sit in my office to awaken and honor their own journey and see its meaning.