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Don't Go Near The Water!

By John  Townley

My daughter Deirdre, born in ’65, was afraid of the water from the first time she was put in the bath. She was simply terrified of getting even a few drops on her face, and the usual rolling around and splashing in the tub that most kids enjoy was simply out of the question. Funny, one might say, for a kid born under Pisces, the sign of the fish.

 During her first few years, I was building a major multi-track studio in downtown New York City, the first of its kind, and like so many others in the music business of the time, I was intrigued by all varieties of the generally ineffable, from the psychedelic drug experience to spiritual beings, reincarnation, and mythical Atlantis. Hey, did I know you the last time around? Maybe we were friends, lovers, who knows? The problem was, you couldn’t just take anyone’s word for it, and rationally or methodically researching it was a sometime thing at best. Like, how could you really tell?

 One of the most popular ways was consulting various seers who claimed to pull things off the astral plane to see what they had to say. They are a dime a dozen today, but were fairly hard to find at the time. Through a friend, I ran across the Rev. Ellen Resch (who later presided over my second marriage) who did just that, including paint little, colorful pictures of people’s auras. I would bring friends to get readings and write down her take on who might have known whom in past lives. Not much to go on, but maybe there was some traceable consistency that could somehow be tested by cross-checking of some sort, so it was worth the time and experience.

 Of course, my friends soon became sorted into who had known each other from my last, Scottish lifetime, a classical Roman one before that, Atlantis even earlier, and so on. Did they fall into sets this time around? It kind of seemed like it. The old Scots had a distinctly rough, individualistic bent, the Roman ones seemed to be more slick and organized, the Atlanteans decidedly more ethereal, but details were sketchy at best. One set included that my close friend Susannah and my daughter DD (her nickname) were supposed to have been two of three sisters in that Scottish existence who got in trouble for witchcraft, but of course I didn’t ask either of them about it. Spreading that around would preclude any kind of checking.

 One evening at home I was playing with my daughter (then just three) and when I called her by name, she said distinctly, “I’m not DD, silly, I’m Dorothy.” Fun pretend play, maybe it’s the Wizard Of Oz she was into. “So, Dorothy, where do live?” I asked. “In England, with my sisters,” she replied quietly. “What are you doing there?” I pursued. “We have to go to the witch house, and that’s in Scotland,” she volunteered. I was floored. As far as I knew, this child didn’t know of either country, much less that they bordered on one another. But upon my next question, she was DD again (silly Dad!) and had nothing further to say on the subject.


 Like a navigator, I had two points to triangulate a position, but no real idea how to get a third, so I just let it be, waiting for some opportunity to gather something else even vaguely relevant. The opportunity came perhaps six months later, in San Francisco, when Susannah had gotten thoroughly three sheets to the wind and I saw a spontaneous opportunity to spring an experiment. Out of the blue, as a total non sequitur to the rolling conversation we were having, I offered, “DD tells me you were sisters in Scotland and you were witches.” Susannah turned on me like she’d been struck by a bolt of lightning and screamed, “Yes, that’s right! And I got hung and she got away with it!” and broke down, sobbing with anger. Some triangulation, I wasn’t exactly looking for that

 Still and all, it was a start, and in the meantime DD had a little more geography under her belt, so next I thought I’d broach the subject to see if I could get more. When I brought it up, she seemed to think the idea of being Susannah’s sister was fun, but nothing further came out about Scotland, though she did kind of get the idea of having a previous life, some other place she’d once lived. So, a little frustrated, I asked her if there was anything else she could remember, maybe further back. Just relax and think. She thought a bit, and then said yes, she was coming across the ocean from Spain to the New World (her phrase). What did she do when she got here? She thought a bit more and then said she didn’t think she actually got here. Did her ship sink and she drowned? Yes, that must have been it, she agreed. And that was all, no more.


 But, the very next morning, she suddenly had lost all fear of the water, took to bathing gleefully, and soon became a great swimmer, like a fish. Go figure. This kind of experience much later became touted as “past life regression” and all kinds of personality changes perhaps dubiously attributed to it. But in our case, it just happened, a surprise to everyone each step of the way.

For more interesting material on children’s memories of past lives, see

Life Before Life: A Scientific Investigation of Children's Memories of Previous Lives

by Dr. Jim Tucker


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