AN INTRODUCTION TO PAST LIVES
Three years into working for my first advertising agency, I jacked it in because it was immoral.
I really didn’t think the world needed another chocolate mousse. Nor did it need a new canned rice pudding. And the world definitely didn’t need another pungent pink soap, this one called Exotica, packed in glossy black paper. Classy.
I left Adland to join my father’s company, shipping weapons and hazardous cargoes around the world. The irony isn't lost on me either. For the first few months, I did the paperwork for cargoes of radioactive material being moved across Europe.
Then it was time to move to Australia to take over the Sydney office from my brother, Nigel. We would spend a few months working together, giving him time to teach me the ways of Australian trucking and shipping, before he returned to the UK leaving me at the Ozzie helm.
Before leaving for Australia, I decided it would be interesting, maybe even beneficial, to spend time on an ashram in India. Sai Baba’s ashram to be exact; a vast baby pink and blue garrison, muscling alongside Puttaparthi town in the desert of Andhra Pradesh, South India. And, for the record, a 5 hour trip from Bangalore, in the somewhat misleadingly named "Lugsuri Bus". This listing boneshaker stopped in every village on the way to pick up more people, chickens, sacks of supplies and to be chivvied by determined packet peanut and chai sellers. I left my Bangalore hotel in the early hours clean, fresh and dressed in ironed clothes. I staggered through the ashram’s main gate, head to foot in dust and street filth, with heat-stroke.
But say what you like about mendacious gurus tapping the gullible for their life savings, this Sai Baba fella spoke a lot of sense. His philosophy was love. Not the naughty, nooky goings-on that Osho encouraged, but kindness towards others. Love All. Serve All. And it all started with purifying yourself of bad thoughts, emotions and actions.
Sai Baba said his ashram was the ‘great washing machine’. I didn't know any of that before I got there. All I knew was my brother, Freddy, had stayed at the ashram a few years earlier, returning a paragon of meditative calm. I figured I could get me some of those sweet vibes too.
Somewhere in my mind, I figured it might even help with an on-going problem. On closing my eyes at night, ghoulish faces and bloodied figures lurched and loomed into my mind’s eye. Dripping, red, gory, deformed. On and on they’d go. A relentless procession, one figure followed by another and another.
As if that wasn’t enough to make me sleep with the bedside lamp turned on, when the ghouls weren’t poking their noses into my sleep, I also saw ghostly eyes staring at me, maybe 9-10 inches away from my face. Unlike the technicolour ghouls, the eyes were black and white. Just staring. I would see the eyeball and the eyelashes and just one side of a face and nose. They moved slowly. Sometimes the eyelid closed and opened, very gently, very slowly. Just watching. It might have even been beautiful.
When the eyes came to visit, so too did the hands. Hands reached out of the darkness, like a child grabbing for sweets. One hand. Or two hands. Always in black and white. Sometimes with the cuff of a robe around a wrist.
But what do you do? Who do you talk to about seeing ghouls, weird eyes and hands at night?
At best I put it down to an overactive imagination. At better than best the eyes and hands belonged to spirits trying to contact me but it seemed a rather pointless pursuit, just staring and reaching.
Years later I read a highly respected psychic saying that hands and faces belong to lower astral beings who fancy giving you the beady eye. They’re just taking a look. The ‘lower astral’ plane is the closest to ours, vibrating at a very similar speed to our world and so it is relatively easy for them to get literally, "in yer face". Really, one shouldn’t let these guys come in that close. Because they are ‘lower astrals’ they’re not necessarily that positive. I didn’t know this then. Now I know not to hang about in the lower astral, but rather head straight for the higher vibrations.
As fate would have it, before heaving on the backpack for India, Freddy, suggested a weekend trip to see his godmother, Chris, who was a Sai Baba follower. Anna, a friend of hers, also a follower, was staying too.
That night, my brother and I stayed in two single beds, in the same enormous, flowery wall-papered room in this grand country house that could have been straight from the set of Downton Abbey. Our massive room was off the low lit hall crammed with oil paintings of ancestors. I was terrified and asked Freddy if we could keep the light on all night. To me, there was nothing abnormal about this as I’d been doing it for some time now, too scared to sleep with the light off.
Over toast and jam the following morning, Chris and Anna asked if we’d slept well. Freddy said it was OK but it would have been easier without the light on. He was trying to be funny. I was stunned when Chris and Anna jumped on this, wanting to know why. I mentioned the ghouls in a rather off-hand way. This, I discovered, was cause for alarm.
Being spiritually experienced, they knew that something was up, far beyond zealous imagination or fear of the dark. They knew faces and figures were probably something to do with past life memory. They were so concerned they contacted their friend Mitzi.
Mitzi knew everything there was to know about past lives.
She became my life-long friend. She was my rock, my teacher, my confidante, my supporter. She was my mother, my grandmother, my friend, she was everything to me.
A Samaritan, a person of beauty, grace, kindness and such love. Not just to me, but to anyone who had the fortune to know her.
Her voice on one of our many phone calls was everything anyone wanted to hear, "Hello darling, how're things? Tell me all?” Every call ended with her, “God bless you my darling.”
Mitzi, was about 5’ 2”, with a tiny build but oh so, poised and strong. Everything about her shone. There were her strong hands with every finger ringed by ruby, diamonds and gold. Her twinkling eyes would look up at me, so positive, never judging. Her pale grey hair was always arranged in a theatre-ready chignon. There was the time when I met her in London with my then boyfriend and she walked into a pizza chain wearing a black fur stole. It was pure, refined, elegance.
I'm fairly sure she told me she once danced naked down Piccadilly one evening. It's only now I question whether that actually happened. But it doesn't really matter because Mitzi was the first person to say have fun and enjoy life. Her point was to enjoy things and this was coming from one of the most elegant people I've ever met.
She had been an artist’s muse, eventually marrying Tony Brandt who is considered one of Britain’s most highly respected Masters. They lived in a converted church at the foot of Pen y Fan in the Brecon Beacons, Wales. Tony had converted the church himself. The nave had been turned into a cathedral for his giant oil paintings. They were so immense Tony used a platform to work on them and they were then hung on huge chains. In the centre of the room, there was a 10' x 10', I'd guess oak table, topped with painters' brushes standing to attention in huge pots. Dramatic didn’t describe the effect when I walked in to see the room for the first time.
But it didn't stop there. Apart from the pictures, platform and painter's brushes, there were two golden thrones, with matching footstools. One for Tony and one for Mitzi. For all the operatic grandeur, they had a seriously badass stereo system rigged up in the nave. I didn't know this until one evening when Tony was working on a picture and Mitzi suggested a little light opera. Tony spun round, "Ah, yes, Meesh, good idea," and disappeared behind a canvas.
DOBLY 11. NO MESSING. Jeez, that stereo had muscle.
I'm no opera-goer but the little church surrounded by green hills and quiet sheep, boomed out the most beautiful sounds all the way to heaven.
I loved them both.
Even though Tony scared me a touch. He was clever and I worried I wasn't up to his standards. He didn't suffer fools gladly but he was always very kind to me. Besides you've got to love a man who decorated his bathroom with gold wallpaper and was filmed for a documentary about him and his work, right there in the bath explaining that's where he had his ideas.
Mitzi never once failed me. She got me through anorexia, repaired a difficult relationship with my father and saved me from self-destruction, even suicide.
The last time I saw her she was in her gold and plum coloured bedroom with a wide window out onto the Brecon Beacons, a tad frail, at 93 years. Tony had already died. I stood to the right side of her bed and said, “You’re an angel, you’ve come straight from heaven,” and I truly meant it. Every word.
She shrugged it off with a little upward turn of her mouth, so true to Mitzi and said, “Oh don’t be silly, darling.” The next time I was in the same room as Mitzi was at her cremation.
Mitzi ‘gave’ me many, many lives over the twenty years I knew her. I say ‘gave’ as being told a past life and how it’s impacting your present life, is a gift.
It’s information that helps you understand why things are happening and why you are behaving in ways that aren’t the norm for your character. She never charged me. Instead, Mitzi taught me a great deal about past lives. I’m the first to say I still can’t answer all the inevitable questions but I’ll do my best to convey what she taught me, giving it the diligence she’d expect from me and that I owe her.
There is a difference between believing in ‘life after death’ and believing in reincarnation.
Some people believe only in ‘life after death’; our souls continue after our physical pulse stops. Reincarnation is the belief that we are born again into this world; the soul not only continues after death but also comes back to earth in another physical body. This business of dying and then returning repeats again and again and again.
The theory behind reincarnation is that we repeatedly return to this, the physical plane, to learn. These lessons are not necessarily straightforward. Of course, we need to learn about kindness, but we may also need to learn and understand self-worth, standing up for ourselves, knowing what’s right and wrong, or just following our intuition.
Ultimately, we learn to the extent that our souls are perfected. We no longer carry feelings like greed or envy. We are empathetic, understanding and forgiving. We just exist as we are meant to; pure love.
Think ‘Dalai Lama’ and you get a whiff of what we’re meant to aim for. Put like that you start to see why we have to return so many times.
When we are ‘on the other side’, in spirit, we choose the lessons we want to learn in this life and the circumstances for that learning to occur. For example, I chose my parents because I needed to learn something that would help give my soul a good clear out. My parents provided the ideal ‘environment’; lessons directly related to them, lives we’ve had together, and their personalities ensure that I learn from them, perhaps about understanding authority or finding my voice. Equally, my parents provided the springboard for learning in more indirect ways, by providing an upbringing, education and knowledge I needed. And they showed me by example the likes of generosity, fairness and honesty.
I firmly believe some people are incarnated to teach others. For example, a child who is mute and deaf may have chosen to come here to teach someone else something they needed to learn. That isn’t to say it’s a ‘ticking off’ or punishment, so much as helping them experience something they might not otherwise get the chance to. That's a truly selfless incarnation. Respect to them.
Some people with disabilities are very experienced souls who have come here to face some of the toughest lessons on earth. When I see people with disabilities I always think to myself that they are very high souls who are probably in their last life here on earth. And again, respect to them.
I have learnt that a sign that a past life memory could have come into present consciousness is how a situation can suddenly change, for better or worse.
Where you’ve really liked someone, suddenly you hate them. Or vice versa. Where you’ve not noticed someone, suddenly you’re obsessed with them. Where things have been going well, overnight they turn to rats.
It seems that something in this life, in the here and now, can trigger a memory. Or, as is more likely, the powers that be have put two or more people into a situation today, to sort out something from the past. A trigger, a word, clothing, food, smell, anything, can put one or other of you straight back into the memory of the past. One or other of you may start to behave irrationally and differently.
You know when you think, “I don’t know what I’m doing”, or “This isn’t like me” or “I don’t feel myself”.
Well, those can be signs that you are subconsciously remembering and acting out a past life or a fear from a past life is making you irrationally avoid something in this life. It’s about subconsciously remembering things from a past life, frequently unaware that you are doing so. These sudden changes are surprising and disturbing to deal with.
In addition, it seems there are times when groups of people who have been together in the past, re-group in this life and subconsciously act out what they did in a previous life. It seems that this can quite frequently happen in the workplace today although those people may have lived in the same village or committed the same atrocity in a previous life.
What I also came to find is that sometimes you can tap into a group memory that maybe you haven't lived through yourself. There may be such a vast subconscious group memory of an event that one’s own soul appears to link into this. It feels like it might be a past life but it's not.
The staggering effect of being ‘given’ a past life is how it can bring about almost immediate change. As Mitzi relayed a life to me on the phone, I would feel quite literally physically lighter. It's a hackneyed expression but it did feel like a cloud lifted off my shoulders. Almost overnight, entire situations would change. Where I'd been afraid of someone, it just disappeared. Where I couldn't face something, I could. Things that got on my nerves, melted away.
It wasn't always this immediate. But I think the fact it did happen so quickly on occasions goes to show the terrific power that past lives have over us and how dealing with them brings about positive change. At the very least, knowing what happened in the past can help you understand the present on a much deeper level and so aid much deeper healing. That sounds really up itself but there's no other way to say it.
To put some of this into perspective, when I went to Australia I developed totally irrational fears about my father. Virtually everything he did made me angry. I wanted to stay away from him. I couldn't look at him.
I’ve never disliked my father but there I was, fearing him and getting irrationally pissed off about the slightest thing.
Not long after I was 'referred' to Mitzi, she wrote to me with the first lives I would receive over the years. Some of them were about past lives between my father and I. The extraordinary thing was that almost overnight my feelings changed.
Not only did I feel positive about my father again but the effect went a million miles further than before. I found virtues in my father that I had not noticed previously. Just one example is I found he had amazing gifts for forgiveness. He was the easiest man to apologize to because he didn't make it embarrassing.
I will always be eternally grateful to Mitzi for healing my relationship with my father. When he eventually died in 2010 there wasn't any bad feeling between us. Had he died with bad feeling between us I would have been heartbroken.
But Of course, 'past lives' aren't a quick fix. You have to do the work beforehand. You have to live out the karma; the life can help bring it through, cleanse and move on.
In my case that meant moving onto a stream of lives coming to the fore. As one life cleared, another took up residence in my psyche. One after another came thick and fast for Mitzi. There was no order chronologically. They seemed to be pertinent to exactly what I was experiencing and feeling at the time. Or maybe that is a chicken 'n' egg situation.
Mitzi was the first to say that we shouldn’t live our lives in the ‘past’.
Everything that we are today is a sum of those lives and the first port of call is the present. However, for some of us, the language of past lives is a way to help understand and deal with the present. It’s not to everyone’s liking. And sometimes, Mitzi would say that an issue was not anything to do with a past life at all but totally rooted in this life.
I can’t prove past lives but there are books that do. Roger Woolger and Brian Weiss have written extensively about it. In “Beyond the Ashes”, Rabbi Gershom wrote about cases of reincarnation from the Holocaust.
Believing in reincarnation brings with it a whole bunch of pressures. If we foul it up in the present life, we have to do it again in another life.
If we commit suicide in this life, we’ll have to come back and face it all again. There’s no let out clause. Often, I think it would be easier to believe that when we peg it, that’s the end of that. If that was the case we could get away with murder in this life and on death, there wouldn’t be any repercussions. Wouldn't that be easy?
Perhaps now, it’s best to read what someone who knew more about this than I do, had to say about past lives, karma and recurring patterns. Over to you, Mitzi.