Tyne Cot Cemetery

Tyne Cot Cemetery

Blood-red the berries the yew trees bear,

Flesh-soft amid the shining dark, yet the fruit falls

Uneaten and ignored, for few birds feed here.

Bone-white the headstones, rank-on-rank,

Shoulder-to-shoulder, some named, some not,

Yet all cared for tenderly, with offerings

Of flowers, crosses, letters and the like.

I did not weep; I could not.

For to begin, one could never make an end.

Instead, I tuned it out, I numbed my soul,

Silenced the internal howls of horror,of grief

For a generation wiped carelessly from the earth,

All hopes and dreams and loves gone, lost,

In a sea of endless mud and politicians’ lies.

October 6th 2017,

Tyne Cot Cemetery, Ypres, Belgium

This poem appeared in The New European last week.

“I have lived before….”

If you heard someone say this, what would you think? That they were deluded, mad or just a bit strange?

I used to be quite agnostic about the idea of Past Lives until I visited a healer to try and get at some of the causes of my persistent and life long depression. I took a friend with me, and was pretty unconcerned about the whole deal really. I’ve worked with various healing systems over the years; indeed, I have worked as a healer myself. I do firmly believe that it is possible to transmit healing using the hands and by prayer.

However, I really wasn’t prepared for what happened.

Without warning or without any sort of suggestion from the healer (he’s actualy quite a famous chap, in this field, and well-respected) I began to relive a previous death. It was as spontaneous as that. One minute I am sitting relaxing on the couch, my friend Claire sitting with me and holding my hand. The next, I am in a filthy dugout amid the trenches circa 1916; I can feel the rough serge of my uniform trousers rubbing as I run for the doorway. I can hear the pounding of distant guns and I know that there’s a shell heading this way. Other soldiers are standing and sitting around, faces pale and blank and scared, but I don’t make it to the door before the shell hits.

I lose consciousness and wake to darkness and intolerable pain. I’m lying pinned to the mud, a beam or something from the roof holding me down. I can’t feel my legs any more, and my head is a mess. I can just about move one arm and I bring it to my head. It feels all wrong. Parts of my skull are missing. I can feel my own brain. I vomit. I know I am dying. I can hear groans in the darkness. Others are lying there injured and dying too. I have a thought I should speak to them but the words won’t come. Then I dip in and out of consciousness, wanting to be rescued, but knowing I won’t be and that’s it for me. I’m half conscious when the final shell hits and blows us into the mud.

I wake sobbing on the couch. I’ve been narrating what’s happened as I saw it in my head. I am distraught. I feel I have failed my men; I should have shouted, got them out, anything. In the mud of the Somme, my bones and flesh mingle with theirs; we have no grave but the mud, like so many from that conflict.

The healer talks, his voice soothing. My friend holds my hand still as if she’ll never let go.

I move forward. I return to my 20th century body and come back properly, cried out and with a pounding headache. The healer tells me my ordeal is over, that that life is gone. I argue. The souls of the others are not at rest; I can’t rest till they do because I failed them. The fact that there was nothing I could ever have done is irrelevant to the man I once was(and inside I still am).

That night, I headed to bed and sat brushing my hair at the mirror and watched in astonishment as my face changed. I saw my last face, the young soldier, a junior officer, and watched as it melted into another and another and another. The faces melted and merged and changed, through centuries and millenia. I saw my face back into almost prehistory before I could take in how old my soul is.

That night I dreamed. I dreamed of a great swimming pool, filled with warm and healing waters. I swam in it and the others who swam there were my old comrades, and as they swam, they were restored. I looked at my body in the dream and saw it change as my face had changed, and knew I was becoming something else. I climbed reluctantly out and said goodbye to my old friends and woke in my own bed, feeling strange but cleansed and renewed.    

I know some will read and think, “She’s insane!” but I’ll tell you something more. That was a turning point for me. I still suffer from depression. But it no longer feels random. It feels as if it’s part of a long life and that those memories will always pop through. I’ve had other flashbacks to other lives. It makes some sort of sense of how I feel about a lot of things, including World War 1. I’ve always wept at the Two Minute silence even before this exeprience. I became hysterical when I first saw the fourth and final series of Blackadder(a comedy series set in the trenches of the Somme) which was before I had this past life recall. A couple of years ago I also discovered that my great uncle died on the Somme in 1916. However you choose to interpret my experience (genuine past life recall, or the product of a vivid or even deranged imagination) it had a powerful and lasting effect on me.

So, I say to you,

“I have lived before….”

(please take time to listen to the Youtube clip linked below; I usually cry when I hear this song)