After the Fact: Abracadabra


It was advertised as “Non-Hypnotic Past-Life Regression.” Well, it sounded like an entirely fun thing to do of an evening, so my friend Lorraine and I signed up for the class. If the instructor hadn’t been such a hunk, we probably would never have bothered going a second, or third time. As it was, I’m surprised we weren’t asked to leave the class: we were not “model students.” Maybe some of you feel like you have been around before, but it’s not something to which I’ve ever subscribed. And, after listening to some of the dead-serious conversations (no pun intended) after class, I was even more convinced that I’d déjà vu-ed the whole syllabus. Not one woman in the class thought she had been, in a previous life, a scullery maid in King Henry’s kitchen or a yak-whisperer for Genghis Khan, but there were three who claimed to have been Cleopatra.

To put this in some sort of context, it occurred several years after publication of a mostly-fictional account of the life of Bridey Murphy, a 19h century Irish woman, reincarnated in the person of a Pueblo, CO housewife. It made popular the notion that, under hypnosis, anyone could go back and back and back through history to reveal hidden “previous lives.” Although I’m not sure why anyone would want to do that: I’m having a seriously difficult time, sometimes, just getting through this life that I have right now.

But, to get back to the story: I was less than wildly enthusiastic about an up-coming birthday that year, so, as a cheerer-upper, Lorraine suggested we host an event, something totally outrageous. Thus was born the “Come As You Were” masquerade party. Tall and willowy, Lorraine looked (and still does look) a lot like Lauren Bacall. If she wasn’t Cleopatra in a previous life, it was Cleo’s huge loss. We didn’t have a barge, but people all up Wadsworth Blvd. stared in total disbelief when my convertible sailed by, Cleo in the passenger’s seat, holding on to her asp.

What, for some, is a serious belief was, for us, seriously entertaining.

One particularly astute friend sent the following thought to my e-mail: “A Roman emperor once wrote that everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact; and that everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.” Magicians, of course, count on the latter. Truth is all smoke and mirrors. Or, in contemporary parlance, truth can be photo-shopped. All politicians, I’m convinced, are magicians. “Now you see me, now you don’t; I’ve come and gone” as the song goes in a Burt Reynolds-Dolly Parton movie. Any time there’s an “off year” for elections, chances are slim that you’ll see your representatives in any of the homecoming parades.

Over the years, I’ve taken a number of classes and workshops that were far from “mainstream.” Some were inspiring, like Dr. Wayne Dyer’s “You’ll See It When You Believe It”, and some were mind-growing, as Dr. Rocco Errico’s class on understanding the Aramaic language of the Bible, but all have enriched my life in some way, even if only for the laughs. And for the amazing people I’ve met along the way. There’s something to be said for writing your own curriculum.

And speaking of “along the way:” I didn’t think I would have been a scullery maid in that previous life unless they had dishwashers in the castle. So, I dressed as Anne Boleyn.  Before she lost her crown. And the head underneath the crown.

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