Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist

The Reluctant Sceptic

I once met a woman who believed that she'd been a priestess in ancient Egypt. She was prone to vivid flash-backs, in one of which she had seen a pharaoh sitting in judgement with his crown askew. The specificity and oddness of the skewed crown convinced her that the vision was true. She also believed that her lover from that time was with her still as a spirit guide- and she had accordingly set up a psychic consultancy in their two names.

I knew another woman who remembered many past lives- in all of which she had committed suicide (she described one of them vividly). She believed that this time round she would break the jinx and escape from the cycle of reincarnation. She also believed that she had been appointed as a "guardian" of the human race. Exactly what this implied was left a little vague but it made her a person of considerable importance on the inner planes.

Thousands, millions, of our friends and neighbours hold similar beliefs. There are the Otherkin, for instance, who believe that they are really fairy-folk. There are the alien abductees.

I don't mock. I am sincerely interested. I am even a little jealous. I like to hang out with such people and hear their stories. But I'm always left wondering what there was in their experiences that makes them so sure.

I have been an occultist, I have done inner planes work, I have had glimpses in dreams of what might just have been earlier lives, but I have never allowed myself to be convinced by any of it. The imagination is a powerful force and as a writer I have some insight into how it works (and tricks us). I know enough about ancient Egypt to construct a very convincing romance about it (full of odd and specific images) but I never mistake the happy accidents of story-telling for authentic memories.

So are these dwellers in other realities less sceptical than I am, or have their mental adventures- dreams, memories, imaginings- really been of a different order?

I leave the question open. I'm a Fortean. I think the accepted account of "reality" is itself a fiction (a group hallucination perhaps) and full of holes. And I like the idea that we live in a multiverse in which realities - many, many different realities- co-exist and interpenetrate. But before I commit to an outlandish theory I require evidence- and I'm not getting any. I haven't even ever seen a ghost (and I would so like to.) Sometimes (given the circles I move in) it seems like everyone has been given evidence but me.
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