In this article, Isa Gucciardi tells us of her strange personal encounter with what may have been a parallel universe.
Isa Gucciardi, M.A., C.Ht.
There has been much discussion of the possibility of parallel lives, but this concept appears to be poorly – and variously – understood by the different investigators who have looked into the matter. There are some past-life researchers who hold that “past” lives are really occurring in the present at different dimensions of reality. Quantum physics supports the idea that time as a linear concept is just a way of talking about reality and proposes that all time is present now. Some transpersonal psychologists venture so far as to say that multiple personality disorder-type manifestations are really past/parallel life “bleed throughs.” That is to say, when a person begins to exhibit personality structures vastly different from the commonly held one, the new or different personality structure can be that person’s parallel life manifesting itself in the “wrong” dimension. Dream researchers have proposed that some individuals who return in dreams to the same time and space again and again populated by the same, or logically-evolving, set of characters are living a parallel life as they sleep.
Given my own personal experience with one particular set of psychic phenomena I can only refer to as a parallel life, I think all of the above classifications point to the possible truth of the matter. I can only relate my own experience and try to demonstrate the different ways the nature of this experience emerged into my waking consciousness. But even discerning the patterns between the various possible sources for these phenomena is a work in progress; my mind is open to further interpretation and I would be appreciative if those reading this essay have insight to provide.
The first conscious inkling I received about this parallel life was two letters I received when I was about 15 years of age. At the time, I had no idea how I had received them and I did not understand their contents, nor did I recognize the return address. They arrived within a week of each other in my mail box, addressed to “Miss Elizabeth Edwards,” the name I had been given at birth. At the time, I was using a nickname, and I only used “Elizabeth” in formal circumstances. No one called me Elizabeth in daily social interaction.
The address was absolutely correct even though I lived in a place called “Alwin Terrace” which many people incorrectly wrote “Alwin St.” or “Alwin Ave.” The two letters were on cards – one was on a birthday card although it was not my birthday – and they both said the same thing: “Thank you so much for the beautiful cloth. It was so lovely to see you. We hope to see you again soon. The family sends its greetings.” The return address was hard to read, but the name “Guinea” or “Guyana” was in it. The handwriting was like that of a school child, but it was clearly an adult who was addressing me in both letters.
At the time, I was puzzled about the letters. I asked my friends and my family if they had sent any cloth to Guinea or anywhere else on my behalf. The letters sat on my desk for a long time, but they became increasingly disturbing to me as I could not figure out what they meant. I wondered if someone was playing a prank; I wondered if some strange person had got my address and would do something odd to me. I finally threw the letters away, trying to put the matter out of my mind. But I never forgot them.
Years later, I spoke with various psychics about these letters. One said, “They were mail from a past life catching up with you.” Another said, “You are doing good things even though you may not be aware of them.” I found both answers unsatisfyingly cryptic. Whenever I met people from Africa, I would quiz them about types of cloth and ask leading questions, but I never found anyone with any connection to those letters or any in-depth knowledge about cloth.
As time went on, the matter of the letters receded to my “back burner” and I even forgot about them for years at a time. I only started to reconsider them again when I began to have the same type of recurring dream at the age of 40. In these dreams, I had one black child and one white child, and in the dreams this seemed like the most natural thing in the world. But often, I would be worried about something happening to them, or they would be in some danger in the dream. Or I would dream that I was part black and part white, or that I was black. In some dreams I was the only white person in a place where there were many black people, always tall. Some of the women were plump, but most people were tall and thin, with long limbs and distinctively-shaped heads. A few of the women wore brightly-colored wrapped dresses and sometimes they had a turban-like brightly-colored cloth on their heads. I did not recognize the place, but the ground was hard-packed and flat. It was hot and humid some of the time, but not always. The images would repeat themselves over and over as I slept, but I never managed to ask where I was or who these people were. In the dreams, I knew where I was and who these people were, so it never occurred to me to ask them. Only when I awoke would that information escape me, and I would be left with a sense of foreboding about the children or puzzlement about the frequency of the dreams.
In my waking life, I was born into a family of white southern racists. The family had owned plantations “before the war” (meaning the Civil War) and they felt the world just had not been right since. For some reason, even as a child I had never bought into the racist rhetoric and practice of my family. I never saw black people as anything but people with black skin, but my family managed to add all kinds of assumptions and assign all kinds of qualities to a person just because their skin was black – or just because their skin was white. Ultimately, I became completely alienated from my family members, and a large part of this alienation grew from my refusal to buy into the family’s way of marginalizing other races in order to give itself illusions of grandeur. My children have friends who are black but I do not have many black friends. I have had almost no contact with Africa or South America, although many years working in the field of language translation brought me into contact with many, many different cultures.
So, this sense of puzzlement I had about my dreams was all the greater as I had no strong connection to black people or “Guinea” or “Guyana.” Finally, an event which made me stop in my tracks and really investigate these emerging patterns happened. I was driving in my car and a song I had never heard came on the public radio station. It was by an African group, and I guess it was called “Mama Afrika” as that was the overriding chorus throughout the song. I don’t remember all the words, but it was basically a lament for Africa, a longing to return to what Africa meant to the singer/writer of the song.
I was suddenly overwhelmed by wracking sobs. They seemed to come out of nowhere. I had to pull the car over, and for about 15 minutes, my body was convulsed with deep, wrenching movements and sobs, and I could not stop the wailing that came from my chest. I tried not to think that I was losing my mind, and tried to give myself over to the experience. In any case, I had no choice but to give in to the experience because it was as if it was controlling me – I had no illusion that I could control it. Wave after wave of sorrow and loss ran through my mind and my body, until finally the experience subsided and I found myself sitting in my car, late for an appointment. I had no words for the emotions I had just experienced, I had no contact in waking reality for any of the feelings, and I could not succeed in thinking my way through what had just happened. I just felt profoundly exhausted.
The sense of exhaustion stayed with me for several days, but no understanding of the event emerged. Finally, I decided to see if I could gain any information from self-hypnosis. As a hypnotherapist, I was well-skilled in this technique. In hypnosis, the names “Lettie” or “Lottie” came to me as I tried to lift the veil on this experience.
After hurtling through space, as if in a tornado contained in a tunnel, I found myself at the entrance to a hut with the same packed-earth floor I remembered from my dreams. There was smoke, or the smell of smoke, and I thought there must be a fire in the mud-brick fireplace, but I did not see any. The area was deserted.
I looked around outside and finally turned back to the darkened interior of the hut, where an old woman in a kind of dark brown or maroon shift emerged from the shadow. She was smoking some sort of pipe – perhaps corn-cob. She was very thin and I could see the sinews of her arms. She pulled up a stool to the fireplace, her back to me. I started to talk to her, and she looked around and said, “Oh, it’s you.” I could not tell what language we were speaking, but we seemed to understand each other without any problem. I asked her where everyone was. She said, “Gone.” I asked her where, and she turned and glared at me. After a long silence, she said, “Didn’t you know, they took everyone away.” “Who took them away?” I asked, and she hurled around and started spitting insults at me. Somewhere I got the information “the soldiers,” or “the men.” She continued berating me, and said something like, “Do you think your cloth will do anything for all of this?!” Then she turned her back on me and looked at the cold fireplace and would not speak anymore. I felt stunned and confused and I looked around. I was aware of a group of 6- or 8-year-old children looking at me and whispering from behind a wall as I emerged out of the hypnosis.
As of this moment, I do not have any definitive understanding of these phenomena, but I am quite convinced they have all emerged from the same crystallization of experience. There are many ways to interpret this crystallization: A Jungian would say that I am searching for contact with my shadow self, a Freudian would say this relationship with “Lettie” or “Lottie” is a compensation phenomenon given my birth family’s racist leanings. But none of these interpretations explain the letters or the undeniable, overwhelming sense of grief, which had no root in my current life experience, that I felt in the car in response to that song. And if it was merely a past-life flashback, how explain the letters?
I was quite psychic as a child and as a teenager, and I may have been able to cross over the barrier between the two lives more easily and frequently. For this reason, I might have been able to bring presents from this reality into that reality and deliver information from one life to the other (such as my address). I do know that I feel a deep and abiding affection for the black woman whose name is “Lettie” or “Lottie,” a woman I have never met in waking life. I feel her in my heart almost as though she were closer than a sister to me. And I have a great longing to be with her, and I have a feeling of dread that something terrible may have befallen her.
Within the last few years, I have given myself over to my psychic abilities more than I have before in my adult life, and through my work as a hypnotherapist, I have been coming into contact with more and more levels of reality. Perhaps this is why I am now becoming aware of the effect this parallel life is having in my “regular” life. I will continue to explore this dimension of parallel lives more extensively and see what further connections I can make.