My favorite part of the witching work I do is past life retrievals. Its some wyrd work, to be sure. While I have no idea how other retrievalists discover their talents, what training they’ve had, or techniques they employ, I can tell you that I got here via a winding road that began when I was a small child. I’ve always remembered parts of my previous life as a WW1 soldier in France.
Throughout my formal education, I bounced between colleges and majors, studying creative writing, religion, philosophy and psychology, anthropology and history, and for something completely different: historical costume design. I finished with a Bachelors of Science in Interior Design, so I know a fair amount about the history of art, architecture and furnishings, too. Ultimately, I had something like 60 random extra liberal arts credits that you might think were a waste of time and tuition. Au contraire! Spirit guided me along the circuitous path, even when I knew not why. Why is any of that important? You’ll see…
What truly kicked off this journey for me was my Reiki II energy training. Quite by accident, I discovered that I have a knack for healing through time and space. Moreover, while I’m channeling Reiki, I can “distance view.” Learning that praxis was like getting the keys to a time machine! Then in 2012, I made a pilgrimage to Sirius Rising Festival in Sherman, New York, where I took an hour-long workshop on how to do retrievals led by Donata Ahern, who was delightfully stern. She came in, told us all in no uncertain terms that we were capable of doing this miraculous thing, laid out a script we’d follow, said YOU SEE THIS THING NOW, and so I did–in shocking, full visionary detail. I recently connected with her via FaceBook to thank her for that life-changing hour.
Now, thanks to Donata, I both teach other witches how to do this work, and help my clients to tackle their current life issues by rediscovering lessons learned in previous lives. While we are there, I send Reiki to aid in healing and understanding old “karmic” issues when they occurred. I call these sessions, going down the rabbit hole. Down there in the between, I’ve met amazing people, felt all their triumphs and downfalls, fallen in love, had my heart broken, seen life-affirming, consciousness-expanding, mind-blowing things! I only wish there was a way to video what I see and feel for you, or take you with me…but wait…I can write their stories.
Care to take a trip with me to medieval Scotland? It all begins with the deep breath in…take in the air that connects us to all life, through all times, passed from all peoples…in and out, deeper and deeper…we are connected…
I sit across the table from my client with incense burning, candle alight and a psychic blend oil on the third eye and each palm. She is an academic professional, most likely of European descent, just for interest. It is noteworthy that at least 50% of the time the previous life I retrieve is a different gender expression, and of an entirely different race, heritage or sexual orientation. It is my understanding that soul groups do travel through lives together, but are not at all bound by genetic lineage, culture, religion or anything else. They also trade relationship roles; mother in one life, husband in the next; taking turns as incarnated and spirit guide for each other.
I begin the flow of Reiki healing energy down through my crown chakra, to my heart, and flowing out through my hands. I attune a small quartz crystal to be an open conduit of healing for my client, and awaken it to amplify and record the session. My client’s arms rest on the table, palms up. I place the quartz in her right palm, and my attuned amethyst crystal in her left palm. I rest my hands on top. This forms the physical bridge over which I send my consciousness to link with hers, connecting us as I follow the flow of Reiki moving through my hands.
“I begin this session with an intention and a prayer, calling to all our guides, gods, angels and ancestors to guard and inspire us. Show us the way! Keep us safe and healthy as we journey together. We seek to retrieve the past life that holds a lesson needed in her current life. We ask that the lessons be revealed in a way that is gentle and correct for her at this time. I offer myself as the conduit, guide my words so that they are most meaningful, and of most benefit, harming none. Blessed be.”
I push Reiki healing energy through my hands, breathing deeply, willing my descent into a meditative state. This is how I unfold the journey in my minds eye: I see myself crossing the bridge of our hands to meet her spirit within her body or energy field. I approach her on those banks, and we take hands like school children might to skip off to play.
“Hon Sha Ze Sho Nen, we connect.”
As we turn, I visualize the thread of her spirit’s journey like a river, and we board a boat together.
“Hon Sha Ze Sho Nen, we go back.” (I see the symbol.)
I see us flowing back through time, descending into a deeper trance state.
“Hon Sha Ze Sho Nen, we go back to the beginning.”
I visualize my client at the moment of her birth and look into her tiny face.
“Hon Sha Ze Sho Nen, we go back before the beginning.”
I move backwards with her into the void, the betwixt and between, to before she merged with the flesh in this current incarnation. It is usually around this point that I am no longer aware of my own body, except that it is the heavy anchor to which my floating consciousness is tethered; it is a state of ecstasy to be so unbound.
Meeting Our Guides
I stretch open the void, like opening the curtains on a wide window and allowing it to be deeply black. I call to see the element that guided the lifetime that we will retrieve.
Is it earth, air, fire, or water? Its like spinning a pinwheel that has the colors and elements on it. Then I let go of the edges of the void and whichever element snaps into the foreground is the one I follow. Fire flares brightly into prominence.
Which of the zodiac signs of fire where they born under? Aries, Leo or Sagittarius? Usually, I visualize the sign’s animal or symbol on that wheel, then I snap the void again, and Leo the Lion roars with power.
Spirit guides of that Leo lifetime, will you work with me? Show us the way! I work with the guides of this middle world of matter: plant, animal, mineral.
Was there a plant guide? A branch of a white flowering tree appears. As I am searching to see if it has thorns or not, and I am just settling on Hawthorn, my client who is a witch in her own right, says “I see Hawthorn!” I completely agree. Hawthorn is strongly associated with the Fae in Celtic cultures, protection, death and transformation, and with Beltane, therefore fertility.
Was there an animal spirit guide? A small bird swoops in. This was not as clear, rather wild and simple looking, with a red head/face and beige on the back feathers. I call him “red bird.” He looked a lot like this robin image I found afterward.
Was there a mineral guide? GOLD! Chunks of raw, bright gold flare into imagery right away and with some force.
I ask them to help us understand what lesson of that life my client needs at that time; to take me back, and I follow red bird back into the void to find the long line of lives, standing in what looks like a cue. I find my client in the middle of that line, knowing that her future lives (like grey shades) stand before her, and then I pass down the line of those that lie behind her.
Meeting Bearnard Branagh
Who will meet us today? Step out into the light!
I always focus first down at the ground into a pool of light. Within a moment or two feet step out of line and into my vision. Sometimes there is hesitance, and sometimes it seems like a scuffle among the lives to gain my attention. In this case, rather quickly, a heavy leather pair of men’s boots appear, mid-calf, brown leather, worn and rough, rather primitive in design.
Ok. I feel a strong male presence in those boots, solid, rooted, pleasant, authoritative.
I work my way up, taking in the details of his clothing and physique. He is wearing a pair of rough woven breeches in an earthy, darker brown color, tucked into the boots. I’m guessing a wool, but its not much finer than burlap, though softer. Moving up, there is a woven tunic, of thick, soft wool. The tunic goes to mid thigh, and the sleeve to mid forearm. There are thicker bands to make hems, and a round neck hole, down to a slit at the throat, and slits at the hips. The tunic is belted with a thick leather belt attaching at a metal ring. He wears a leather pouch and a knife attached to his belt in a very utilitarian fashion.
The man is of average height and stocky, small paunch at the belly, but over-all very powerfully built, like you might imagine the dwarves from The Lord of the Rings books. He has dark hair, cut shortish, dark chest hair visible at the collar, and a reasonably well-groomed beard that is a few inches long, both are streaked with some grey. I’d place him between 35-45, in the prime of his life. He is wearing a torque style Celtic necklace, like a semi circle of twisted bronze metal with two knobs at the end, that lays around his neck. He has green eyes and a very pleasant demeanor. I can tell that he is a relaxed, confident, satisfied person who is in good health and is a person of authority.
Put us into your landscape; where do you live?
Now we have the birds eye view of the geography in which he lives. Between this and the hint of the clothing/jewelry, I’m guessing that we are in the highlands of Scotland that are so beautiful and distinct. It is definitely a high rocky, mountainous moor, with a silver loch nestled in the bosom of the green valley. There is a village on the hillside, sheep and other beasts are grazing around.
The village is a smattering of about 20 low-slung buildings of stacked stone, wood beams and thatch. Very quaint, but rather primitive. I zoom back to try and pin point a general location and all I get is that the sea is some distance to the north and west of what I’m viewing. I’m guessing we are in the early medieval period, 600-1000? Give or take a century! (All those extra anthropology and history classes I took in college come in somewhat handy these days.)
Take us to where you work; what occupation keeps you busy?
Now I’m inside a building, looking over his shoulder as he works. It is a workshop/barn made of stone, with heavy timber structure and thatch roof, dirt floor. There is a round forge with a kind of metal hood over it that leads through the roof. He works with metal, but as I look more closely, I see he is more a farrier than an armorer. Horse shoes are shown to me, and I know there are large working horses there. Also, the metal and leather parts to what look like carts, plows, crates, barrels. These are farm implements.
What is your name?
This can either come screaming through in perfect clarity without me asking, OR is a highly tricky process. I am rarely clairaudient, meaning I can’t “hear” voices. Mostly I am clairsentient (I just suddenly know things), clairvoyant (I see things like watching a movie I can somewhat control) and empathic (their emotions are flowing through me like the musical soundtrack to the “silent” movie.)
When it comes to names, I only have my own symbol set to use for translation, but I know when its in a language I don’t speak, and often my guide will “break the fourth wall” and just tell me what it would mean in English.
In this case, I got a clear “B” and then an “r” sound, two syllables. I ran through a few options that didn’t seem to stick. Bernard flashes to mind but with the English inflection of BER-ned. I saw a flash of a spelling and it was a lot more letters that is strictly necessary, so I’m pretty sure they are trying to show me Gaelic; though I doubt this person I’m retrieving is literate. These are the guides trying to convey the information visually. Sometimes I see carvings on gravestones, or I’ll see words written down on documents. It is much fuzzier when they can’t read or write themselves.
Now that I’ve done some research I find that the Gaelic spelling is Bearnard, and means “strong and brave as a bear.” Bernard is also the patron saint of mountain climbers, which will prove to have an interesting correlation, as you will see. We agreed that I’d call him Bearnard. Later in the retrieval, the surname “Branagh,” flares into mind without my asking for it, which tends to happen a good bit, and I love it when it does because that is a good indication that they are interacting with me with enthusiasm, rather than my mere probing. As I research Branagh as a surname it looks more of an Irish name. <shrug>
Bearnard, take me to your home; where do you live?
We move quickly through the door of the barn, and we are in a courtyard formed between that work building and stable and the cottage beyond, which is set into the hill side. I can see the mountain rising high up behind the cottage, which is two story on one side, with a roof slanting down to the one story section. There is a kind of lean-to shelter beside the house for livestock and implements, I think. There are sheep about, and other animals wandering free around, like geese.
Into the cottage we duck through a small door, and his plump and smiling wife is by the hearth fire, with his two, teen-aged sons. He is filled with love and happiness for them all; this is his pride and joy. She was wearing a tunic of woven fabric, with a sleeve that was fitted to the wrist, and belted at the waist with a leather girdle-like belt. She wore an apron-style over-dress of a darker color. Her hair was streaked grey now and pulled back with a muslin cap that had the chin ties hanging down, untied, but she flashed an image back of her maiden-self and she’d once had red curly hair.
The cottage was constructed of rough stone, and wood timbers, with thatch roof and a stone floor, with scattered thresh and at least one sheep pelt as a kind of rug. Upon entering, there was a large stone hearth with the metal racks and a pot for cooking over the fire. A chimney rose through a loft above. There was one cabinet with a work surface that served as a cooking area, and a rectangular wood table with benches. The boys had a ladder that rose up behind this kitchen area and they slept in that loft where the heat of the fire rose up to warm them. The rafters and thatch were pretty rough up there, and there was obvious nesting birds and such. They had hooks in the beams were they hung their few clothes.
Behind the main living area, set back further, like an “L” floor plan, was the sleeping area for the adults, with a low wood bed frame and what appeared to be a lumpy stuffed mattress and furs and woven blankets. I saw a wooden storage chest. All the ceilings were low. The front of the cottage had two small windows with heavy wooden shutters that enclosed them, but no glass that I could see. It was a cheery place and his emotions are full of accomplished pride; he is king of this manor!
The two sons were wearing ratty woven tunics. The younger had a bowl-cut of straight chestnut brown hair and was shorter and stockier, like his father, and had a more sullen demeanor. The older boy was lanky and lean, energetic and devil-may-care, with a shock of curly red hair that he’d shaven close over the ears and back, leaving a kind of rat-tail lock on the right side that was braided with beads, or shells or some decoration. Both had leather strap belts and closures on their garments.
Bearnard, show me something that you prized, where were your passions expressed, your joys?
He unwraps from a scrap of suede-like material a beautiful broach/pin used for securing the blue/green tartan cloth at his shoulder. It was a bronz-y patina and was intricately created as a work of art. He was an artisan who took great care in his work.
Show me the hard lesson of this life. What was the pain, the difficulty that taught you the most?
We are now at the bedside of his elderly wife, who’s silver hair is loose on her shoulders, wet with sweat. She is pale and suffering from a fever. The hardest thing was to lose his wife to this illness late in their lives. The boys are now men with full beards and gathered around her at the end. I flood the scene with Reiki energy, hoping to bring a sense of peace and acceptance to the family.
When I asked him to move me forward to his own end, I see him as a kind of long, grey bearded fellow with a walking staff and his hood thrown over his head like The Hermit card image, or a Gandalf looking fellow. He would walk alone in the highlands, climbing, and there was a cave like place he would visit in the rocks.
Normally, I ask them to show me both how they died, and I sit with them, a midwife to their death, watching as their Spirits rise and find their way into the between. I’ve accompanied folks through every manner of death, but they are shown to me, as with hindsight, with a detached acceptance. What their spirits do next will be the subject of my next article…stay tuned!
I asked Bearnard again about his crossing over, and again I was at the cave. He stubbornly refused to show me anything more. This time I see his adult sons laying him to rest there, laboring to stack stones around his body, which they’d arranged respectfully on the cave floor. My first thought was that this seemed a divergence from what I understood about the burial rituals of that culture, but the sons merely said that this was a sacred place for their father, and they were honoring his wishes.
He fills me with an understanding that while this was a harsh life in some ways, it was an abundant, content and secure life full of love and pride, as well.
I give my client the chance to ask questions of Bearnard before we close, and as she is a busy professional, she asks him how he made time for his creative work. He shows me that it is winter, the snows are piled against the cottage and he does small detailed jewelry work at the table by the hearth fire. He conveys that in his life, the dark times of year are when nature imposed a rest and break upon them. That all HE had to do was honor that and work with what limitations he had. We receive that message as you have to build that time into your life, whether it is convenient or not; that rest and reflection needs its place in the cycle.
We work our way back out of the trance state, returning the way we came, with gratitude offered to each guide. I conclude the session with a three card tarot spread. The middle card represents the aspect of my client’s current life to which the retrieval is speaking. The left side card is the advice brought forward by Bearnard, and the card to the right is how she should use that lesson to move forward in this incarnation. I won’t share those cards, but lets just say that they spoke clearly to what we’d just seen and were of great significance to my client, affirming what she already knew. It was a touching and emotional reading that leaves me humbled and grateful, like always.