|Taverner as Freud: a misguided book cover|
In his first session with the wild driver, Taverner says, "If chance brought you to me, you are probably in my line." In his effort to solve the mystery of what is driving Black, Taverner asks him about his dreams, and finds that they glow with an "oriental light." He is inspired to show the airman paintings of Egypt, and Black recognizes scenes from his dreams in the ancient images.
Taverner is encouraged to follow one of his basic procedures. When confronted with behaviors and mental states that have no adequate cause in the current life of the subject, he probes for a possible past life context, "getting the record of the previous lives of his patient by those secret means of which he was master."
Black was in a recent airplane crash. Dr Taverner concludes that the trauma "had the effect of hypnotizing him, and he got into that particular part of his memory where the pictures of previous lives are stored."
The woman Black is seeking may have shared a past life with him in ancient Egypt. The question now is whether she can be found - and what will happen if she is. The violent urgency of the airman's need to find his love from a previous life cannot be contained. He is in imminent danger of killing himself on the road if nothing can be done.
"These attractions that come from the past," Taverner observes, referring here to past lives, "know no barriers. Black would drive that car through the Ten Commandments and the British Constitution to get at her. He will go till he drops."
Coincidence comes into play again. A listless young woman is brought to see Taverner in his consulting rooms in London. He prescribes rest at his nursing home in the country, where she encounters a ghost of the living: the etheric body of the man who has been seeking her.
Black is discovered in a car wreck close to the nursing home. The extrusion of his etheric double has left him close to death; so much of his vital energy has left his body. Taverner saves Black by leading the girl into the emergency room. At this point, the airman's etheric body rejoins the physical one. As the girl stays with him, holding his hands, he begins to revive. He eventually recovers, and the lovers who knew each other in Egypt are able to marry, reunited in their current lives.
This is a summary of a story titled "The Man Who Sought", in Dion Fortune's collection The Secrets of Dr Taverner.
It raises many interesting questions. I have no doubt that our current dramas and relationships are connected to stories that played out - and may still be playing out - in the life experiences of personalities in other times. What triggers memories of those other lives, other than something like the airman's trauma?
How do we balance, and help others to balance, the legacy of a past life with the needs and obligations of the present one? Can karma and past-life connections be mediated a different way, perhaps by taking all of this up to the level of a Greater Self? How can we be sure that the past life is truly that of a contemporary individual, as opposed to the obsessive memory of an obsessing entity?
I shall leave these questions hanging for now, though they are central to my own work and are addressed, in part, in my book Dreamgates. I am content, for now, to continue describing the practice of Dr Taverner, modeled by Dion Fortune on her early mentor, the mysterious Anglo-Irish mage, Theodore Moriarty.