by Ivan Granger
How do we really know we have lived before? The concepts of reincarnation and past lives are almost taken for granted within the metaphysical community, but even those who believe in these ideas occasionally ask themselves if it's just wishful thinking. Afterall, who can really claim to remember past lives? You might be surprised.
Many people go through a difficult time in their teenage and early adult years, but my moods were extreme, and I couldn't figure out what was wrong with me. I would swing from mild depression to panic attacks so extreme that I would skip school or, later, call in sick to work. I felt like death surrounded me.
As I entered my early twenties, I began to overcome the worst of my anxieties, but they were still there. I had just learned to grit my teeth and get through the day as best I could.
Michele Anderson and I first started dating about that time. Early on, Michele told me that she was psychic. I was intrigued, on the one hand, but on the other . . . I guess I didn't know what to think. I had read and seen enough to believe such things were possible, just not in anyone I knew. Not normal, everyday people.
She hinted a few times that she saw me fighting in the American Civil War. I shrugged the comments off. When dating a psychic, one must expect the occasional odd statement. Actually, I've always had a mild interest in history, but it was really the period of the American Revolution that held my attention in history books, not the Civil War. The Civil War always seemed, well, depressing to me. I tended to avoid reading about the period.
Then an interesting series of events occurred. I was going through a rough week, and I went to get a massage -- something that felt comforting. As I was on the table having my abdomen worked on, I suddenly burst out crying. When the massage therapist asked me what was wrong, I started talking about the Civil War!
I described myself as a young captain in his late twenties struggling with the crushing responsibility of leading young boys into battle.
Thankfully, the massage therapist was willing to see where this would lead, so he kept me talking.
Needless to say, this was not your typical back rub!
When I told Michele about the experience, she had me sit down and do some deep breathing exercises to help me calm down. As my breathing became more rhythmic, I started to feel the same flushed, floating sensation I felt on the massage table. Recognizing this, Michele went into an intuitive state and started asking me questions.
I talked at some length about how little the doctors seemed to know.
(Michele regularly hears words during her psychic readings. Some of them she's never heard before.)
I shook my head to her question. I was coming back into my normal state of awareness. I felt like I was just waking up.
Later that evening, we pulled out my Websters Unabridged Dictionary to see if the word "grip" was used in connection to stomach ailments. Sure enough, we found:
Michele and I talked about all this further during the next few weeks, but after a while I began to question the whole experience. Did I make it up? I certainly didn't try to make it up, but could I have done it unconsciously, drawing details from a movie or book?
There was one element that made me uncertain about the reality of this Civil War memory more than anything else. At one point I had mentioned a wooden cannon. I mean, obviously the idea of a wooden cannon was absurd!
And then I stumbled across a picture that made me catch my breath. In Bruce Catton's book The Civil War, I discovered a photograph of a wooden cannon! It was called a Quaker gun, a roughly carved log painted black to fool the enemy into thinking you had more cannon than you did. Of course, Quaker guns never actually fired; they just had to look like cannon from a distance.
That was all the convincing I needed.
Now, you can explain this experience in many ways. You might choose to view it as something like a dream -- unresolved tensions and emotions working themselves out by telling a story in my mind (just with some startling coincidences). Or, you might choose to see it as a genuine past life memory, which Michele managed to glimpse before I did.
The truth, though, is that it probably doesn't matter. Although I believe the experience to be an actual past life, what is most important is that recalling it helped me to begin the process of facing my fears. It gave me a framework in which I could understand the panic attacks, why I carried a low level dread around with me even when I was basically okay. There's something interesting that happens when a fear becomes more defined: You discover it has boundaries. It has limitations. It no longer seems all-powerful. Recognizing this gave me the courage to overcome them.
Ivan Granger is a database designer and computer consultant in Colorado. He has been Michele Anderson's partner since 1990.
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