I'll be dealing with the topic of reincarnation here; but in this piece, I'm not concerned about whether the "past lives" I've been told about were real. What I want to demonstrate is a phenomenon I'm sure is real: some human minds being able - if only at times, and imperfectly - to make direct contact with other minds. "Reading" them, picking up details. It's because of my certainty on this point that I can also accept the possibility of other, more disturbing, kinds of mind-to-mind contact.
Many years ago I consulted a number of psychics by mail. Some of their responses contained fascinating parallels. In every case of parallels, I must have received and read one before the other. So even if one psychic was making everything up, the other must have been unconsciously "reading" my memory of what I'd been told.
The psychics couldn't plausibly have been in contact, had never seen me in person, and hadn't been given any hints of what I might expect or hope for.
I'll call two of them A and B. (I don't remember in what order I received their responses. But one was in New York, the other in England.)
They both said my last life was a female incarnation in 19th-century England - and mentioned a sea captain as having been important in that life. A said he was my uncle; B said that after my first husband's death, I married a retired sea captain. They could have been picking up the same image and interpreting it differently: a beloved uncle might have lived with me after he retired.
While I hadn't mentioned it to the psychics, my longtime favorite film was "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir" - in which an English woman in the late 19th century falls in love with the ghost of a sea captain.
Psychic A said my name in that life (before marriage) was Katrina Moorehead, and my uncle's name was Lewis. It was unclear whether she meant it as his first or last name, but that was the spelling.
I looked up the name "Moorehead," and discovered its original spelling was "Muirhead." It means "end of the moor."
In my real, present life, my mother had a first cousin named Kathryn Moore (nee Morrissey), and the two cousins had an uncle whose surname was Lewis.
What I'm going to say now is more of a "stretch." But if a psychic can pick up knowledge of someone's past, might he or she be able - inadvertently - to access the future as well?
Psychic A told me that in my 19th-century life, my uncle took me on a trip to France, and I stayed there for a while. I married a French man whose first name was Adrien, we went back to England together, and he worked in my family's business.
I didn't give much thought to that. Neither France nor the name "Adrien" meant anything to me at the time.
But considering that some details she mentioned matched my favorite film...
Years after I'd received that reading, "Highlander: The Series" became my all-time favorite TV series. I've written a great deal of fan fiction based on it, some as recently as this year. The star of "HL:TS" was Adrian Paul. And more than half the show's episodes were set, and filmed, in France! (I never had romantic fantasies about Adrian Paul, but I admire him as an actor and director. And I have seen him in person at conventions.)
I remember that when I first received A's reading, I did try briefly to imagine what "Adrien's" surname might have been. A French name...
I let my imagination drift, and thought of - and rejected - two names before giving up. I rejected them because I realized I'd recently heard them in other contexts.
But...both names I'd thought of had begun with the letter P!
On to something else, including a psychic I'll call C.
The only relevant tidbit C gave me was that she saw me as a monk in the 15th century. I think that when an American says that, without further elaboration, it can be assumed she means a Christian monk in some part of Europe (rather than, say, a Buddhist monk in Tibet).
Psychic A saw me as an Italian priest assigned to clerical duties at the Vatican in the 1500's (16th century). She said I was influenced by an uncle who was also a priest, and both of us had deathbed visions of Jesus.
Psychic B saw me as an Italian woman in the 1600's; she said my father was a painter of church frescoes.
So in the same rough time period, two of three psychics saw me as a European cleric performing monklike duties. At the same time, two of three psychics placed me in Italy and mentioned an older male relative connected with the Church.
B may have thought I was female because she mistook a priest's cassock for a woman's long dress. And both A and B may have seen an older man face-to-face with a conventional image of Jesus; one thought the man was having a "vision," the other that he was painting Jesus.
Psychic B didn't mention a life between (going backward) the ones in England and Italy; Psychic A did. She described a male incarnation in the U.S., in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. She said my name was Harry Brewster, and I had a brother named Charlie. My employer and best friend - who became my brother-in-law when I married his sister Theresa - was named Joseph, and my only child was named for him.
In my real, present life, my father was named Joseph. My maternal grandfather was named Harry, and a beloved cousin was named Charlie.
"Brewster"? No connection...except for the fact that my mother had told me several family stories having to do with her father's beer drinking! I didn't think of that as a possible connection until recently.
"Theresa"? There's no present-life connection. But...Psychic A saw this as my "life before last," with the names Theresa and Joseph being significant. In the Italian incarnation she saw as my "life before last," Psychic B gave my name as Teresa and my husband's as Giuseppe (Joseph).
Now I'll go on to mention Psychics D and E. (Again, I don't remember which of their responses I received first.)
D said I had a male incarnation in a specific province of China in the 10th century A.D. I no longer remember the name of the province, but I looked it up at the time and learned it was on the coast.
Going further back, he saw me as "the wife of a Carthaginian statesman" at the time of the fall of Carthage, which he wrongly placed in the "first century B.C." (It was actually the second century B.C.) He also said I was "fluent in a number of languages" in that lifetime.
E seemed to think he (or she - in this case, I didn't know) was dealing with "genetic memories" rather than past lives, when I couldn't possibly have had ancestors where he claimed. But he described two lives - going back in rough thousand-year jumps, which was also what D evidently tried to do.
First, a life in "a seacoast region of Asia, a thousand years ago."
Then, in the "first years A.D.," a life in "a coastal region of North Africa" during which my people, whom he described as a "nomad tribe," suffered a "major military defeat." He mentioned that "the lot of women was difficult," seeming to imply that I was a woman. And in a brief reading, he included something that might have been taken for granted: that I "spoke a language no longer spoken today." D also felt it necessary to mention the concept of language.
Despite the whopping difference between a "nomad tribe" and Carthage, I think the parallels here are startling.
Possible collusion between psychics? The idea seems farfetched. There were many psychics advertising in those days (I'm guessing the Seventies), and they probably received many requests for readings. Can we picture them constantly checking with their partners-in-fraud to find out whether they had clients in common, then getting their heads together to draft responses that would have parallels, but wouldn't arouse suspicion by being too similar? They'd go nuts! And there would have been no reason for them to go to all that bother; whether or not their clients liked the readings they received, the psychics had already been paid.
Moreover, there are some features of the responses I received that can't be explained by collusion: the "sea captain" references' reflecting my love of the film "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir," and the inclusion of names of my real-life kin.