Zelda G. Knight, Ph.D.
In 1995, Dr. David Edwards presented an article in the Journal in which he discussed the case of “Marian” and her processes of healing and growth through spiritual emergence (Edwards, 1995a). From the perspective of transpersonal psychology, Dr. Edwards’ colleague, Dr. Zelda Knight, now adds to our knowledge of “Marian,” focusing on two of her past lives that involved traumatic sacred initiation rites and the effect they have had on her insights and growth. On page 99 of this issue of the Journal, Dr. Janet Cunningham discusses similar difficult initiation rites, those of the ancient Egyptians.
Transpersonal psychology has developed a particular approach to psychotherapy – transpersonal psychotherapy – which seeks to incorporate and expand upon the assumptions and methods of traditional mainstream psychotherapy. Its principle assertion is that the experiences of non-ordinary states of consciousness – transpersonal experiences – have healing potential. Collectively, such experiences inspire an inner process Grof (1980, 1985, 1988) termed “spiritual emergence.” Spiritual emergence is an intensive process of psychospiritual transformation in which individuals experience a dramatic shift from an identity based solely on the personal self to an identity based on a spiritual and expanded sense of self. Under optimal conditions this may constitute a form of healing.
There are various types or varieties of spiritual emergence; one is past-life experience. This is the central concern of this article. Past-life experience is often interpreted as evidence for or against the concept of reincarnation. However, research and the experience of hundreds of past-life therapists has shown us that a belief in reincarnation is not a necessary prerequisite for the occurrence of a past-life story since this experience may often occur in psychotherapy despite the disbelief or doubt of both client and therapist (Knight, 1995, 1997a; Woolger, 1987, 1993).
The theoretical position of this article is that, regardless of their source, past-life experiences are viewed as healing stories of the unconscious in which psychological realities, dilemmas, and conflicts are expressed within both the collective and the personal unconscious. Within this context, past-life experiences are not questioned as to their literal occurrence. Rather they are recognized as having the potential to articulate an inner process of transformation: The release of blocked emotions, the recovery and reemergence of lost or alienated aspects of the psyche, and the connection to a spiritual dimension within. In short, as modes for spiritual emergence, for a movement towards integration and wholeness.
Past-life Experience in Transpersonal Psychotherapy
Past-life therapists regard past-life experience as having a dynamic role to play in the process of psychotherapy, and they particularly acknowledge its power as a healing tool and a channel for personality transformation. For example, Woolger (1987) states, “I have come to regard this technique (past-life regression) as one of the most concentrated and powerful tools available to psychotherapy short of psychedelic drugs.”
The central concern of past-life therapists is the facilitation of conditions in which their clients may develop not only an expanded consciousness, as is the goal of traditional therapies, but a deeper sense of the transpersonal-spiritual dimension within the psyche. Jue (1993) asserts that this transpersonal quality of past-life work “enables a therapist to help a client explore deeper parts of the psyche.” Snow (1993) adds that the process of past-life work is at heart a profoundly spiritual one. From within this therapeutic framework of past-life work, Denning (1993) states a fundamental philosophical assumption about the nature of the psyche and humanity itself: “Man is a spiritual being with unlimited creative potential, endowed with the capacity to know who he is and where he is going.”
Inherent in these statements is the notion that individuals have the capacity for healing and transformation. This notion is no different from conventional psychological thinking. However, the emphasis for transpersonal past-life therapists is that the psyche was once in a state of spiritual unity before the process of individuation began. The process of individuation is regarded as Jung’s (1961) central concept to describe the psyche’s journey towards integration and completeness. This journey is, effectively, a return to that self which forms the original matrix of one’s life.
This paper is based on a case study of a woman who will be referred to as “Marian.” It focuses on two of the past-life experiences that emerged spontaneously during her transpersonal psychotherapy and that involved sacred initiation rites. Other aspects of Marian’s case have been discussed by Edwards (1995a, 1995b).
At the time of these sessions, Marian was a 53 year old twice-divorced woman, and a mother of three adult children, one of whom was married. She had not remarried and was not involved in any romantic relationship. Marian was living alone; she was reading for an Honors degree at the local University.
In the beginning of 1991 Marian began her therapy with “Mike” (Edwards, 1995a, 1995b). Once in the therapy room, Marian spontaneously entered into a non-ordinary state of consciousness. She began to experience a wide spectrum of intense emotions and bodily sensations. These somatic sensations, often uncomfortable and at times extremely painful, would usually focus on a specific body part such as her solar plexus or brow. In due course, the story behind the bodily pain would emerge. She would then start to experience various images or say words that arose from her unconscious. Often, if the session was a bodywork/regression session, a past-life story would then surface. These past-life scenes were mostly traumatic.
The emotional pain of these scenes would often cause her to sob deeply with grief, loss and hurt, or to scream out in pain and torment. She would also experience and relive painful, early, biographical memories, as well as relive other biographical experiences that involved the themes of betrayal, humiliation, sexual abuse, and rape.
The intensive past-life experiences often came to her as images and then later as bodily sensations. The past-life stories were psychologically rich and diverse, spanning millennia, from ancient cultures to more recent societies. In the various past-life stories she was male or female, young or old. The stories were sculptured by various psychological themes that seemed to be playing out in her personal life complexes. Some of her past-life scenes were filled with immense grief and loss, abuse, brutality, and cruelty, and yet, there were some scenes of heroic gallantry and romance. Nearly all her past-life stories, however, centered around her being the victim. She never experienced herself in the reverse role as “the victimizer” as described by Woolger (1987).
In the regression sessions she encountered other transpersonal experiences such as “spirit guides” or “spirit beings” (as described by Grof, 1988), and Kundalini energy or Shakti rising up her spine. Sometimes this energy would focus on a particular “chakra center,” such as her solar plexus, heart, or brow. She said “It is what flows between them, connects them with each other and unblocks, heals, cleanses, and releases energy in them.” She also had several experiences of entering the “place of potential.” This was similar to Grof’s description of the “metacosmic void” (Grof, 1988). Marian said that, guided by an “inner wisdom,” she journeyed into non-ordinary states of consciousness that “healed” her and gave her a sense of clarity, a holistic vision of the future, and a deeper meaning for and direction in her life.
The two short past-life scenes discussed below are of Mila, a woman, and Damon, a man, and seem to be placed centuries ago. Both emerged spontaneously at one session, and both were very traumatic and difficult for Marian to experience. In them, Mila and Damon experienced painful but sacred initiation rituals that allowed Marian’s transformational spiritual awareness and growth to be unlocked. Brief excerpts of the sessions and quotations from Marian are given, with Marian’s permission.
Mila: They’re pressing on me. They’re pressing on me there. (wild sobbing)
Therapist: They’re pressing on you here, on your head, hmm.
M: (wild screaming sobs)
T: O.K. Let’s find out what it is that’s pressing there.
M: (gasping, wailing sobs)
T: Let yourself see, let yourself see.
M: (screaming, gasping sobs)
Marian reported that “there was immense pain for this past-life character as well as anxiety and uncertainty about what may happen during the initiation. Mila did not realize at the time how forceful it would be, and found the pain of it was overwhelming. It’s unbelievable. I can’t tell you how sore it is. It’s worse than the worst toothache you can imagine, or the worst headache you can imagine…But I was mostly just aware of enormous pain…it was just excruciating.” Marian explained that this pain related to the activation of this sixth (brow) chakra center or “third eye” by the Kundalini energy.
T: Are you ready to see what it is?
M: (whimpering sounds) An initiation.
T: An initiation, hmm. Who’s being initiated?
Marian explained that “Mila was a woman who lived and worked in the temple and learned, from an early age, about spiritual practices and had knowledge of healing.”
T: Are you being initiated into womanhood, or into something else?
M: It’s the seeing. It’s the seeing
T: You’re being initiated into the seeing, hmm.
M: (whimpering sounds) They press there — here. (She indicated the brow area.)
M: It’s so sore (deep sobbing).
T: Who’s pressing, who’s pressing you?
M: The senior priestesses.
Marian said “as they pressed down it felt as if an energy came into my brow from outside of me.” She knew that “it wasn’t a torture or anything. It was a ceremony that I had to go through to open up that understanding, to open up that eye.” This opening of the third eye was through the (Kundalini) energy that had focused on her brow and had brought about a deeper awareness and wisdom as well as insight. After this she continued to dialogue with the therapist:
T: How did you come to be initiated? Did you want to do that, or did they choose you, or what happened?
M: I’ve always been in the temple. I was brought up there, trained for this (wailing cries — wild sobbing). Oh, the pain, the pain, the pain (gasping, screaming sobs). Chanting, chanting. They say the chanting will help to take the pain away. They’re all chanting.
The chanting was experienced as “beautiful.” She saw a group of people coming toward her with “big bowls with petals floating in them.” They washed her head with water and then “anointed” her head with oils. Over the next few minutes she felt a throbbing pain in her head, and felt vulnerable although much less fearful. The chanting of the priestesses soothed her discomfort. After this there was a time of silence for about two minutes.
As the past-life story continued, Mila was conscious of the “beauty and loving care of the priestesses.” Mila was then “marked with a deep green dye at the center of her forehead or at the place of her third eye.” She observed that this mark was the same mark that each of the priestesses carried on her forehead. It was the mark of acceptance and membership into the spiritual community of priestesses and it made her feel that she belonged. Her pain lessened suddenly, and although still a little anxious and unsettled, she began to listen to instructions from the priestesses to remain quiet and “get used to the sensitivity” in her brow.
Immediately after the session and while still in the consultation room, there was a discussion between Marian and the therapist regarding the past-life image of Mila. Marian felt that the past-life experience was about the need to get back in touch with her own intuitions and inner knowing. She said:
I learnt that as a women I am valuable, that I have power, and that my spirituality is important to me…I am a woman, and Mila reminds me of my own spiritual power as a woman…I have understood more about myself, not just on an intellectual level but on a bodily level as well…I have fully experienced all the pain around the third eye opening, and I have now been able to step aside and allow the potential of my spiritual awakening to become a reality, to be a healing.
She felt that she could rely on her own inner wisdom in her daily life and contact with people. In this regard, she felt that she had reclaimed a part of herself once lost, forgotten, and repressed. “This came about through the Kundalini which opened my heart and brow chakra.” Mila represented a huge “spiritual opening” and growth of insight and awareness into Marian’s sense of self, potential, and inner strength. The Kundalini energy opened up her knowledge of her “ability to be a healer, a wise person, a therapist.” Again, in Marian’s words:
I found that the experience of the Kundalini energy healed the wounding in this life, the sense that I was a helpless victim. In my marriages I felt worn down by the emotional abuse. My second husband humiliated and used me. And I could not speak out to him. I had lost my own sense of self, my own inner strength. I felt shut away…I felt helpless. The Mila regression connected me again to my own strength.
T: What is your name?
M: (trembling breaths) Darion.
T: Darion. How long ago was this, Darion? When did you live?
M: (gasping breaths) About 6000 years ago.
T: 6000 years ago. And what were your people called?
M: The Eolians.
T: The Eolians?
T: The Eolians, hmm. And how did these beams come into your head? Were you doing some special training or did they just come?
M: Mmm. I had to go and stand in the place, stand in the place.
T: Were you training to be…were you a man or a woman?
M: A man.
T: A man. Darion. And were you training to be a priest?
M: Mmm. I had to stand in the special place and be exposed to the beams of light (sobs deeply). It’s sore, it’s sore there.
Marian remarked that Darion experienced an enormous amount of intense physical pain and felt anxious, fearful, and distressed. He did not know if he could take the pain any longer and was worried about his survival. Beams of light continued to focus on Darion’s head with such intensity that Marian became unconscious for one minute during this part of the session. When she was conscious again, the scene of a ritual in a temple re-emerged.
Marian said, “It was terrible. It felt like some huge force coming beaming into your head and everything’s going to burst apart.” Darion could not control the power of the beams of light and he felt no control over what was going on. After the “initiation that all the priests had to go through in order to have their third eye opened,” the other priests took care of him, and gave him “special things” to build up his strength so that he could “continue with the initiation process.”
After this past-life experience Marian felt vulnerable and physically weak. She felt as if all her “chakra centers” were exposed and that the Kundalini energy was moving through her body but concentrating on her brow chakra. The experience made her feel scared and unsure of what to expect. For a while she lay on the mattress and surrendered to the energy flow, sensing that it also connected her to her heart chakra. She experienced pain, loneliness, and sadness, and had visual images of being torn apart and exposed. In the next few minutes her breathing patterns changed, alternating between short rapid breaths and small trembling breaths. This lasted for three minutes. In the following minutes she experienced “huge amounts of Kundalini energy” again, and described this experience as “like huge streams of energy coming through my hands, and my fingers, and clearing and cleansing and releasing the pain.” She experienced this energy as “healing” and transformative. Marian explained that once the energy had opened up her brow and heart chakras, it became a healing energy in that she felt that the blocks at her brow had been opened, purified and released. She realized that she had moved into a deeper sense of intuition and inner wisdom.
After the session Marian said that “it was pretty uncomfortable” (the pain of the light penetrating Damon’s forehead), but that it was also healing in that she could channel the energy through the brow chakra and feel it opening and releasing her into a deeper spiritual wisdom. “The opening of the third eye was experienced as an opening to my own inner wisdom.”
This past-life experience of Darion also connected Marian to another kind of pain, women’s pain. “It wasn’t a specific scene or a specific memory. Just it felt universal and ancient.” She said “It was unlike the Kundalini energy but would come sort of pouring in and cause that kind of anguish about women’s pain…and I would scream…I felt it from a bodily level.”
She experienced the Kundalini energy as healing her past memories and hurts of sexual abuse and sexual inadequacies as a woman. (These sexual abuse memories occurred in many other sessions and reflected her negative experience of marital sexual intercourse in which she felt degraded, helpless, and worthless). In this regard, Marian explained that the Kundalini energy activated and released previously repressed memories of past experiences of sexual abuse. This energy was experienced by her as “healing” in that she could reclaim her sexual power and wholeness. She knew that she didn’t need to feel such pain any longer but could let it go as she felt she was and is a whole sexual person.
In considering both of these experiences, Marian explained that to her:
In both Mila and Darion there is a reliving, a remembering of a lost spiritual part of myself…Mila and Darion represent a huge spiritual opening and growth of this insight and awareness…I see Mila and Darion as stories that invite me to get in touch with my own intuitions again.
These past-life scenes are the matrix out of which Marian is drawn into a process of spiritual awakening and healing. As previously described, Mila and Darion were both part of a ceremony that catapulted them into a process of transformation. At the core of this ritual of initiation is the spiritual knowledge and power of the priests and priestesses who knew about certain sacred technologies, and how to direct, use, and control them in such a way that Mila and Darion were recipients of spiritual energies and forces from outside of their bodies.
The “third eye” or brow chakra of both Mila and Darion was painfully activated by these powerful spiritual energies. These energies seemed to have overwhelmed them both. Darion felt as if his head would split open; he felt anxious and uncertain. At one point during the initiation he became unconscious; such was the power of these energies. Mila, too, experienced intense physical pain and often cried out in agony. But it was not experienced as a torture, rather as a powerful sacred process which had the intention of initiation into a deepening spiritual wisdom and empowerment. It is suggested that the images enact an ancient spirituality (gnosis), and age-old healing arts and practices that are hardly known today but which openly functioned during the Asclepiad tradition (Achterberg, 1985; Houston, 1987; Kerenyi, 1960).
Part of these extraordinary initiation ceremonies in temples involved other unusual and supportive rituals. Mila’s head was washed with water carried in large bowls with flower petals floating in them. She was then anointed with oils. All of this was done in an atmosphere of sacred sounds of chanting and caring verbal instructions from the priestesses on how to cope with the experience. Feeling sensitive and vulnerable, Mila was given a mark on her forehead which was a mark of acceptance into the spiritual community. This was another unusual aspect of the ceremony that denoted communal recognition and approval of the spiritual process and of Mila as an initiate. Darion, too, was helped by the priests, who brought him “special things” and supported and encouraged him verbally.
On the personal level, Marian’s experience of these two past-life scenes, which portray the Kundalini energy’s metaphoric opening and activation of the third eye, seem ultimately to be concerned with her psychological healing and spiritual empowerment. Her transformation was, like Mila’s and Darion’s, rooted in the experience of the Kundalini energy. In this regard, the images of Mila and Darion both activated the unusual spiritual forces or energies in Marian. She too, like Mila and Darion, experienced the power and force of the Kundalini energy enter her body and activate a whole spectrum of emotional and physical experiences. As the Kundalini energy penetrated her brow and heart chakras, she was pulled into a deep transformational process that opened up the experience of healing, and a reconnection to a forgotten encounter with an ancient part of herself that had been lost, unspoken, and unaffirmed.
As her heart chakra was activated by the sacred energy, Marian was launched into the painful and traumatic process of confronting her years of repressed painful memories of sexual wounding and grief which had left her feeling degraded, powerless, and inadequate. Yet, she bravely faced her pain as she experienced in this session other images of being ripped apart and exposed, and of being in a “bottomless pit of endless pain and anguish.” In so doing, she found healing.
The heart chakra, as a metaphor, is described as the transitional or transformational center which relates to the transforming of a situation of emotional pain into a situation of healing. In this light, Marian not only experienced a release of repressed biographical memories, but she also experienced a transition from a situation of emotional sexual grief to a situation of healing: “I found that the experiences of the Kundalini energy healed the sexual wounding in this life—the sense that I was a helpless victim. I had lost my own sense of self, my own inner strength.” She reconnected to her power, and her lifetime of hurts and sense of helplessness shifted to a sense of wholeness and strength.
After the Darion scene, Marian experienced “huge amounts of Kundalini energy” which felt to her “like huge streams of energy” washing out or cleansing and purifying her pain around these specific sexual memories. A similar experience occurred after the Mila scene and the unblocking of painful memories: Marian experienced channels of healing energy pouring into her heart, absolving and purging the emotional pain, and leaving her with a sense of well-being and peace.
Moreover, Marian experienced a psychospiritual awakening that involved a deepening awareness of both her value as a spiritual woman with power, and her belief in spirituality as an important component in her life. She said, “I learnt that as a woman I am valuable, that I have power, and that my spirituality is important to me. I am a woman, and Mila reminds me of my own spiritual power as a woman.” In this context, both of these past-life scenes represent a powerful archetypal process of accessing spiritual wisdom, knowledge, and insight: “Mila and Darion represent a huge spiritual opening and growth.” Darion was forced to stand in a certain place, exposed to the energy forces, while Mila’s head was pressed down by the priestess which activated the brow chakra and the process of initiation into a deepening spiritual wisdom. It is suggested that the experience of Mila and Darion initiated Marian into her own process of, and access to, a spiritual dimension within. The experience of the initiation of Mila and Darion allowed Marian to encounter her own spiritual power.
The “remembering of a lost spiritual part” of herself was the culmination of the emergence and reliving of biographical memories of victimhood, abuse, degradation, and deep sexual grief. It seems that these memories were activated by the spiritual force of the Kundalini energy, the healing power of which led to a process of purification, and was a testimony to a courageous spirit. Such images show how her pain was embedded in the collective story that reaches back into the history of the human struggle to find wholeness, meaning, and spiritual connection within a patriarchal society governed by values of domination, separation, and oppression, and in which sacred technologies and sacred rituals of initiation are still not fully honored and accepted parts of the culture.
Twenty months after these scenes an archetypal image of a woman called Anita emerged during Marian’s therapy sessions. Marian said, “Anita is a priestess, a woman of great dignity and power who oversees a temple in which ancient healing arts are practiced.” This figure of Anita was thus a figure of empowerment, who called Marian from a life overwhelmed by pain and victimhood to a role of powerful effective leadership. Anita also played a role in the purification process because “in her temple all pain can be faced, all wounds can be tended and healed.”
However, twenty months earlier, when the Mila and Darion experiences had emerged, Marian had experienced repeated past-life scenes of powerlessness. At that time, Marian was still alienated from the power and dignity of Anita. It was impossible for Marian to claim her own power, but the experience of Mila and Darion was the beginning of the reclamation of her power as represented by Anita. Anita is the final story of a more powerful reclamation of Marian’s inner wisdom, healing, and dignity as a woman.
This personal healing of her sexual wounds and the reclamation of her spiritual power, through the activation of the sacred encounter of the Kundalini energy, draws attention to the intimate relationship between spirituality and sexuality. The image of Darion and Mila, and the painful process of the awakening into a spiritual dimension of life, had given Marian access to inner resources that assisted her in facing all the trauma of the desacralization of her sexuality. In her abusive sexual relationships, sex had been dislodged from its spiritual source and reduced to an experience of pain and powerlessness.
The repeated desecration of her sexual body and sexual being during her lifetime, which resulted in the alienation from her spiritual wisdom and feminine power, is a testimony to the patriarchal idea that spirit(uality) can be separated from the body/sexuality. In this respect, spirituality was once rooted in the wisdom of the body; the body was spiritualized. As described by Metzner (1990, 1993), the emergence of patriarchy saw a split in consciousness between the Masculine and the Feminine, and there was a subsequent process of splitting spirit from nature. When this split occurred, the body became a source of evil that needed to be transcended and its impulses subdued. The body was no longer understood as a source of spirituality; spirituality was no longer viewed as embodied. There was a gradual alienation of the body/sexuality from spirituality and spiritual experience. On the archetypal level, Mila and Darion are metaphoric images that seem to represent a time when spirit was not split from the body. These images tell of an ancient time when spirituality was embedded in the physical body, and the body was the source of wisdom. Mila and Darion’s bodies were understood to house a deeper knowing or spiritual insight. They were initiated through the body into a spiritual awakening and power. Although the experience of the opening of the brow chakra or third eye in both past-life scenes was experienced by Marian as intensely physically painful, evoking feelings of fear, uncertainty, and distress, Marian had the sense that it was a necessary part of the process of spiritual initiation and awakening. She knew she had to endure the pain in order to have the third eye opened, to “open up that understanding, to open up that (third) eye.”
Moreover, these past-life scenes of an ancient ritual of spiritual awakening and empowerment represent a vision of positive and strong community support, affirmation, and validation for this ancient spirituality and spiritual practice. Both Mila and Darion were supported through an intensely physically painful process by their respective initiators. Darion was assisted by priests and given “special things to build up his strength,” while Mila was lovingly supported by chanting priestesses. Nowadays there is little community support for a spirituality of this kind; it is not part of the dominant patriarchal Judaeo-Christian ideology.
These past-life scenes of Mila and Darion are concerned with a belief that both the archetypal Feminine and Masculine, and thus men and women alike, were once initiators of spiritual power and transformation. Spirituality and its practice was not the realm of the Feminine or the Masculine only; spirituality concerned both the Masculine and Feminine consciousness, and the male and female connection to a sacred spiritual wisdom and knowledge, grounded in the body.
Whether or not these scenes are a literal remembering of a prehistoric spirituality, it is as if a spiritual knowledge and practice is re-emerging today from the personal and collective unconscious of “ordinary” people such as Marian. In this regard, the images are visions of a lost and unaffirmed spirituality in which both the Masculine and Feminine equally participated.
In addition, it seems that Marian’s experiences of the sacred ritual of spiritual initiation of Mila and Darion activated not only her personal painful memories of sexual abuse and degradation but the collective unconscious of the archetypal experience of women’s pain and wounding. In this respect, it is evident that the legacy of sexual and other forms of abuse is deeply imprinted on the collective psyche of women. This level of the psyche reflects the historical predicament of women, and the historical forces that shape and transform a woman’s life even in the latter part of the twentieth century. Marian’s pain and humiliation is captured in the archetypal story of women’s pain. Several years later Marian stated:
Every step that I have taken seems to be a step towards my own healing process and growth while at the same time being part of a greater planetary healing and transformation process. The cleansing and purification, the experiencing of deep pain and grief, the balancing of Masculine and Feminine energies within myself, have been part of my own journey, while at the same time contributing towards an emerging and radical change in the way we all exist on the planet (Edwards, 1995b).
As she says, Marian’s spiritual awakening and healing as embedded in these past-life scenes of Mila and Darion seem to represent the archetypal journey of the collective planetary healing process. From this point of view, Marian’s experience of these two scenes is a vision of a renewal of the power, wisdom, and beauty of ancient spiritual practices, and a spirituality that is embodied in a vision that remembers a more holistic spirituality that preceded the split of nature/body from spirit. The images are representations of the spiritual possibilities latent within the human psyche, and envision an alternate way of being that looks forward to the future possibility of the historical and cultural healing of this split.
Jung (1929) said that “image is psyche.” Image is the expression of the psychic situation and thus all reality is ultimately mediated through the imaginal dimension of the psyche. It is apparent that Jung’s position was ultimately oriented towards a recovery of imaginal metaphoric meaning of psychological life and experience. For him, psychological life was rooted within the poetic tradition, a position, perhaps, in which transpersonal psychology may best find itself. The value of transpersonal psychology is that it invites a response to psychological life and transpersonal experience that is essentially imaginative, although it does not seek to banish entirely the possibility of literalism from transpersonal experience. Perhaps we will be able to keep the fruitful tension alive between literalism and metaphor without losing the richness and vibrancy of psychological life.
From the psychotherapy sessions described above, we see that Marian’s psychotherapy process is a story of great courage, pain, abandonment, sexual grief and loss. Yet, it is also a story of healing and an initiation into a profound spiritual awakening, empowerment, and transformation, a confrontation with the depths of her own soul. The experience of past-life images and scenes collectively resulted in an initiation and healing transformation which included the fostering of a deepening journey of spiritual awakening and the recovery of lost or forgotten aspects of her psyche. In the light of the above, we can see the ways in which past-life stories and images, as bridges to the unconscious, can contribute to the process of spiritual emergence.
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