In his article relating to his newly published Encyclopedia of Angels1, (Llewellyn Journal, 01-19-2009), Richard Webster recounts a recent visit he made with his wife to the Lac d'Annecy in the French Alps. His reason for going there was that he had heard of a delightful legend concerning the origins of this lake: that it (and a second one) had been formed by the copious tears wept by an angel who had been called back to Heaven and could not bear the thought of leaving that part of France. I like Webster's Spirit Guides and Angel Guardians2 very much, and so I shall now buy his new Encyclopedia of Angels; I just slightly regret the fact that I did not have access to his writing when I fell in love with the Lac d'Annecy at the age of sixteen, because I would have appreciated the angel legend just as much then as I do now!
At the time I had been invited by my half-French godfather, who was my mother's cousin, to spend the summer vacation with his French wife and their family in their holiday home, right on the edge of that beautiful lake. I was due on my return to England to embark upon my studies of French and Spanish for what we call in the UK "Advanced Level." These are the examinations on which university entrance is mainly decided, and the French Romantic poets formed an important part of the syllabus. I swam in the lake daily, and while I was lying in my cousins' garden drying off in the sun, I learnt by heart (among other things) Lamartine's poem "Le Lac," which moved me to so many tears that I am now wondering, Richard, whether I might not almost have formed another lake! This poem is autobiographical, and in it the bereaved poet is mourning the loss of his beloved and wishing that he could make time stand still for ever on the days that they had spent in bliss rowing a boat together on the lake. (The lake to which Lamartine was referring was in fact not that of Annecy, but the nearby Lac du Bourget, so I wonder whether that is the other lake formed by the angel's tears?)
Looking back now, I suppose that my interest in "true love" dates from that summer. Nowadays most sixteen-year-old girls will probably have already been dating boys for a while, and many of them will no longer be virgins, but things in upper-middle class England were different in 1956. Besides, I was painfully shy, over-protected by my Catholic mother and all girls' school, and almost the only boys I knew were my three younger brothers. Music has always been of enormous importance to me, and I was passionately in love, not with "the boy next door," a pop idol, or a movie star, but with the great English composer Edward Elgar. I read books about Elgar, felt jealous of his wife Alice (partially for whom my husband and I later named our daughter) and—for some reason I no longer remember—I felt even more jealous of Dorabella of the Enigma Variations, whose book gave me the impression that she had also been in love with him. I listened to Elgar's music whenever I could, and bemoaned the fact that my French cousins had never heard of him (which meant that in France I had to content myself with gramophone records of Beethoven quartets—a love that has never left me either). And I thought I would never get over the fact that Elgar had died six years before I was born. I did eventually get over it, of course (and nowadays I have the good fortune of living not very far from the charming cottage where he was born and am able to walk the lovely hills that inspired much of his music), but it took rather longer to deal with my conviction that the ever-elusive, one-and-only, "Mr. Right" would never appear since I was so unattractive that "HE" would fail to recognize me.
The interesting thing is that I never for a single moment doubted "HIS" existence. Was this the fruit of a young, over-fertile imagination, or was it the stirrings of a "knowing" that lay deep in my subconscious? Is there really such a thing as a "one-and-only, true soul-mate," or are soul mates simply people who come into our lives at different stages for our learning? Or are both of these true? And if there does exist a "one-and-only," does meeting him/her always entail "living happily ever after," or are such meetings more often than not unbelievably painful and frustrating? I have explored these questions—and more—in my book, Souls United: The Power of Divine Connection3.
As a Woolger-trained Deep Memory Process (or past-life regression) therapist, many of the people who have come to me for help have been suffering from problems caused by love—either the lack of it, the loss of it, or frustrations in an ongoing relationship. After all, sexuality is a vital part of the human condition; without it we would cease to procreate! One might wonder how being regressed to a previous life could help in such circumstances, but I personally never cease to be amazed at the revelations that are so often forthcoming in these therapy sessions. Frequently over our many lives we become trapped in repeated patterns, and becoming aware of these patterns can help us to escape from them. Very often, when the therapist takes a client into the "Bardo" (the in-between life state following a death), characters from his or her present life are identified, and the past life events that have just been re-lived shed light on their present behavior. Equally often, in the "Bardo" state, a spirit guide or other wise being gives clarification and useful advice. The possibilities are endless, and I am endlessly grateful both for my own learning that has come from practicing this therapy, and for the transformations that I have seen take place among some of my previously very troubled clients.
I am grateful, too, to all the clients, friends and acquaintances who permitted me to write up their painful or joyful experiences, because I feel sure that there are many other people who will find themselves able to identify with one or other of these stories. That was my reason for writing this book: not in order to help you to find your soul mate (other books do that4), but rather to help provide an understanding either of the nature of your relationship, or of the reason for your being in the situation you are in and to make the most of it. It is my belief that there is a good reason for everything, whether or not we are able to find it now, or whether we shall have to await our next return to the "Bardo." Some of the characters in my book have found the reasons on their own, others have the help of a "dearly beloved," one or two are still struggling. But all of their stories are interesting, and all of them combined demonstrate a large part of the wide, fascinating spectrum of human experience and behavior. So I wish you happy reading! Oh, and by the way, if you still want an answer to the question, "What is a soul mate?," I am confident that you will find it in my book.
1. Encyclopedia of Angels, Richard Webster, Llewellyn, 2009.
2. Spirit Guides and Angel Guardians: Contact your Invisible Helpers, Richard Webster, Llewellyn, 1998.
3. Souls United: The Power of Divine Connection, Ann Merivale, Llewellyn, August 2009.
4. Soul Mates: Understanding Relationships Across Time, Richard Webster, Llewellyn, 2001.