"Should you find yourself sitting in a ghost's lap in a crowded restaurant, as I once did in the grill room of the Savoy Hotel in London, it is better to have a companion who can warn you if you talk to it too loudly, otherwise you are liable to startle the waiters." The speaker is Joan Grant, the author of a series of wonderful historical novels, starting with Winged Pharaoh (first published in 1937) that were based on her "far memory" of what she believed to be her previous life experiences.
In the incident at the Savoy, she felt that the ghost was lonely so she signaled for his ghostly friends to come and join him. Half a dozen turned up and "seemed so solid that I was surprised no one else saw them." When she left the restaurant, she noticed a little brass plaque behind her chair, stating that the American impresario Charles Frohman had regularly dined at this table before he was drowned on the Lusitania. "I suppose [the table at the Savoy] was a kind of heaven for a fragment of his personality."
This is a sample of the marvelous personal anecdotes that enliven the pages of Speaking from the Heart, a collection of previously unpublished writings of Joan Grant edited by her granddaughter Nicola Bennett, together with Jane Lahr and Sophia Rosoff. The book was published by Overlook Press in 2007, but - though I am generally on the alert for anything new by or about Joan Grant (who died in 1989) I had somehow managed to miss this treasure until Jane Lahr contacted me recently.
We learn a good deal here about Joan's full experience of "far memory", about how she and her last husband "K" (psychiatrist Denys Kelsey) practiced past-life therapy, and Joan's theories about the survival of multiple aspects of an individual after physical death. She was quite Egyptian in her insistence on the survival of a "supra-physical" body as well as the soul, and the possibility that a living individual can have more than one of these vehicles. A true pharaoh of Egypt, as I recall, was credited with having as many as 14 kas. It is "fun" to change your energy template, Grant informs us.
"Another advantage of having more than one active, current supra-physical [body] is that it makes it easier to appear in two places at once." She gives a personal example. She was worried about a woman who was scheduled to undergo a caesarean, an operation considered highly dangerous at the time. Although she could not be with her, she thought of her intently just before the procedure. Later the woman's husband thanked Joan profusely for the visit his wife said she had made, slipping in through the french doors from the hospital garden so as to be unobserved by the nurses, comforting her to the point that her fears dissolved and she slipped gently into a state of natural sedation. Joan waited some time after the birth before telling the mother that her visit was not an ordinary physical event. The woman responded, "Thank goodness I didn't know you weren't solid! I should have been simply terrified if I'd known I was seeing a ghost."
Joan's was a way of personal experience that fueled both creative and healing work. She changed her mind about a number of things. Once a firm believer in the lost continent of Atlantis, for example, she came to believe that this was a myth that gave structure to impressions of many different past-life situations. "The cuckoo has no nest of its own; it lays its eggs in the nests of other birds. Atlantis has no past of its own; so it lays the burden of its mythical doom on the the future."
She noted that ignorance of history leads to a clustering of "past-life memories" around well-known cultures and periods. I find this very frequently, when people try to sort out when and where in time events in a dream or journey are unfolding. I am forever encouraging people to do the detailed research required to nail down the facts of "past-life" impressions. Such research can provide very useful confirmation of the objective validity of a sighting or "far memory".
There are indications here that Joan Grant experimented at least a little with what I find to be two of the most rewarding lines of exploration of our relations with a family of counterpart personalities, living in different times and dimensions. "Two personalities in the same series communicate with each other through their Integral - the Spirit." This suggests that at the hub of many lives, playing out in different worlds, is a higher self that may operate outside time and may facilitate contact between personalities living in different times. We want to try to ascend to the perspective of that higher self, with its view over many times. And we want not only to understand how the legacy of past lives may work in our present lives - and may be healed, when seen for what it is - but how we can reach back across time to heal something in the life of a previous self.