7 women

I did this beautiful exercise once with one of my therapists: reconnecting with my inner child. The first time I had tried something of the type, I had been unable to picture something. Unlike the Shaman accompanying me, I remained in the dark, with images of my childhood friend popping up. The second time however (with a different therapist), the experiment went more succesfully. It started out a bit like the first, with ego-generated cartoons and projections clouding my vision. But the therapist pushed me on, asking me whether what I was describing felt right. He was obviously seeing things I was not. He asked me to focus harder and try again…

Eventually, I saw her: this wild creature trapped in a dark cave, hiding herself from me. All I could make out were her intense blue eyes and presume her hair was dark. She did not speak. Yet I could sense she mastered untold powers. The therapist asked me whether I could lead her out, give her a taste of freedom. But I could not. I was tired and the way back was too steep. Eventually, a beam of crystal white energy pierced through the wall of the cave blinding us both, before engulfing us entirely. I felt relieved… And that was it.

This experience is very different from the visions I unwillingly received during so many years of my searching for better health (mental, spiritual and physical). The visions are so much more real and come with such vivid emotions. I have come to associatie these emotions with six women, women who were objects of history, women who suffered atrocities. However uncomfortable to recollect and difficult to write – brace yourself – what I saw were women who were envied, hated, betrayed by their first and deepest love, verbally persecuted, belittled, pestered, raped in the most atrocious manners, or with using repetition, exploited, mutilated, beaten, whipped, branded with a hot iron in the most intimate places, tortured physically and psychologically, drugged, made to eat shit, burned alive, buried alive, forced to self-abort, forced to kill their newborn, sterilised.

I could draw you a precise picture of the room in which one of them was locked and chained to a bed, and after a failed attempt at escape, the basement. The filth, the anger, the resignation, the pain, the disgust, the unrest, the shame, the hunger… I have seen and felt fragments of them all, and also the persisting alertness in case an opportunity to escape would arise, the scheming, the manipulating. Or I could tell you about the woods and meadows in which two would meet their lovers, but then I would also need to tell you about the insufficiency and the anxiety of living in secret and distrust.

I do not know who these women are. The easy answer would be that they are my past, that somehow they are me before I was born here. After all, there were no monsters, no outlandish creatures and no surreal events there. Only humans, only events that I have come to realize have been part of our history since the beginning of times and continue to be in most parts of the world. I can even link the characters in the narratives with people in my current life and oftentimes whenever new images would move to my consciousness in their presence, I could tell they were affected by them too, as though the cloud of information enveloped us both.

But the mind works in mysterious ways and a number of mysteries linger. For example: why do I associate each woman with one of my chakras and why are their stories so similar – like some sort of curse? The first is African and I see her feet dancing in dust, then buried alive. The second is an Egyptian queen surrounded by water who commits suicide. The third a Celt with deep red hair walking in lush green fields and burned for witchcraft. The fourth, a slave on an island off the coast of the US. I cannot remember how she died. The fifth, a Native American mute who died of a slow illness. The sixth an African American maid, who did not survive a car accident. Of course, they cannot be reduced to these brief sketches. In fact, what I am leaving out is almost more important than what I am telling, since it is there that surface the striking similarities between their lives. It is there that the overall pattern – call it fate or plight – that brings these women together becomes perceptible. And it is not just the six of them who are linked. I have sometimes connected their traumas to me, as though theirs were extreme exaggerations of my comparatively superficial ego wounds. So, is that what these women are: subconscious narrations of my self?

Another peculiarity is the selection of locations and periods. No Latinos, no Asians, no Eskimos, only Africans, ancient Egyptians, Celts, African-Americans and Native Americans. Why? I belong to none of these cultures and I have no knowledge of my ancestors having lived in any corresponding country. However, since I was little, Egypt has been a promised vacation destination of my father’s, my mother has lived in Africa, I myself have lived in Ireland and also in the United States. Could that explain it? Or is it the other way around? Was I the one being pulled to these destinations because they were somehow imprinted in me? After all, I have Dutch roots, have lived in Italy and have a strong affinity with Indian medicine, but none of these cultures ever transpired.

As with so many of the frightening and surreal mysteries I have lived through, I might never elucidate them. Maybe the visions were just a figment of my imagination, maybe my body talking to me, maybe a form of insanity or brain malfunction, maybe the result of parasite-generated chemicals. Or maybe it is Mother Earth crying through me? What is reassuring is that it has been a few years since I have been troubled by these women. What is less reassuring is that I feel like I am still carrying a part of their burden and with it, the knowledge that their pain came from deep inside of me, slowly, unwillingly, over many years of personal development and attention, as though there were a reason for it.

The stories of these women are so dark and heavy that anyone would much rather never have felt them. But then they would also have missed out on their determination. These women have something like a sense of duty or a higher purpose – call it a mission – in front of which almost no pain and no humiliation, no matter how great, can stand. Their passion, their courage and their sense of reason are not things I can just sweep under the rug. They did not survive what they did and I did not survive them for that to happen. These women are fighters. These women are like others. These women are also like me. And their message is clear: connect – connect with your true self. No matter how hard or ugly. Connect.

Maybe then will we be free.

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