Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Past lives? ... Jack and Jill went up the hill

This morning I started thinking about an online discussion I read a few weeks/months back. It was about this woman who thought her child remembers a past life.

She said that her child was talking about things that he/she couldn't possibly know about, that sounded as though they were based on historical fact. Part of her evidence was that he/she knew the word "pail" and its context, and how would a child be aware of that? (Hence the title of this post :)).

Kids pick up words and context: that's what their brains are most adept at in the early years. It's how they learn language, largely: we don't sit and teach them each and every word, its meaning & usage, one by one.

For the rest, she was fairly vague. But I think it is more probable that influences such as television programmes and books would be incorporated into a child's imaginings than he or she is remembering a past life. I'm not even thinking in terms of documentaries: programmes such as Blue Peter often have historical pieces, and even cartoons can have historical flavouring/language, which a child might pick up on. Examples might be Maid Marian, Dave the Barbarian, even some episodes of Scooby Doo! :D (I'm not saying these are necessarily accurate sources, of course. :)) Children soak up more information than many people seem to give them credit for. Even when they don't appear to be paying attention, you can find they've drawn more from it than you might expect.

Most books of nursery rhymes will have a particularly well-known set of verses and probably illustrations of a pair of accident-prone children with their bucket.


Some time ago I watched this programme which had Toyah Wilcox going through regression to revisit a past life. Her memories were very clear to her of being an anchoress.

"In the middle ages an Anchoress was a woman who lived in a small, sealed room inside a church; she would have visual access to the Sanctuary and to Holy Communion. Usually there was also a small side window at which she could converse with visitors, receive foods, etc. Usually an Anchorite was rather a mystical and wise sort of person, steeped in prayer."

Toyah seemed very much convinced by her "memories" as they were so specific and an anchoress is quite an unfamiliar term. She was very emotional as she recounted being forced into seclusion (which would not really fit with being an anchoress, as it would be a religious choice of a hermit-type lifestyle, not something someone would be forced to do. After all, what wisdom and holiness would you expect from someone walled up against their will & screaming to be set free?) So it all seems pretty powerful.

Up until the point you are told she actually had a part in the Anchoress, a 1993 film.

Her explanation, when reminded of this role, (which she had apparently forgotten), was that perhaps she had been drawn to the role because of her past life.

Or maybe her imagination just went to town.

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