Past life story

A reiki session with photographer Mark Tearle surfaced an historic Apache story which illuminated Mark’s present-day feelings and motivations.

The story arrived as a jumble of images, sounds and emotions. At first, they seemed random, but gradually resolved into a coherent narrative.

The first was like a video clip.  Mark was terrified.  He was running, panting and checking back over his shoulder for pursuers.

Next, I saw the village he had fled, which was a collection of Native American tipis.  I felt the warmth of a vibrant community, and saw him dancing in a low squat stance with a group around a bonfire, accompanied by a drum beating.

I voiced the rhythm:  chum-tika-te-te-chum-tika-te-te-chum-tika-te-te.  Startled, Mark exclaimed that one of his favourite songs began with the same beat!

Then, I understood that this village had been attacked by “the others.”

“Attack on the Village” (October, 1885) Harper’s Weekly

When it seemed safe, he had returned home, only to find everything burnt. Smoke was still rising in various places where the dwellings had been, everyone from his community killed or taken.

Heart-broken and alone, he collapsed in grief.

He lay there for a long time, shattered, the passage of time measured by the rising and setting of the sun.

Little by little, through his haze, he came to see the reliable cycle of nature as a message from the spirits of his departed people.  They showed him that life persists, in spite of everything.

This truth gave him courage and a reason to live, in the face of overwhelming grief, guilt and loneliness.  As the sole survivor, he felt he had a responsibility to remember his people, and honour their memory.

First, he painted their images and stories, but he realized it was important for the stories to be more durable than the village that had burnt, so he began to carve images in rock. Planning, gathering materials, creating and retelling became his raison d’etre.

I noted how this drive to observe, document and create played out in his life through his passion for photography.  He seemed deeply moved by this connection, later reflecting, “Our session opened a door for me, a door into my spirit or soul. I always seek to understand things, and your “diagnosis” about my sense of beauty and creativity helped me to understand my creative impulse without diminishing the sense of wonder at the mystery that is creation.”

I heard a name, and struggled to say it.  Was it his name?  Paw-chee? Patchi?!  ….Apache?!!?

I asked Mark if he knew anything about the Apache. It turned out that he had read of their history and ways. He shared a series of recollections, including that the Apache had lived in the desert in the south-west of America and were forcibly resettled to Florida wetlands.

After our session, I googled Apache.  I discovered that they had indeed lived in tipis.  I also found an article, Petroglyphs, Pictographs, Rock Art: Mysterious Images On Stone by Jay W. Sharp.  I emailed a link to Mark with a note, “I feel you were compelled to remember your people through art, like this.”

He replied, “Many thanks for sending me the piece on rock art, it has given me much to reflect upon. I felt a physical rush when I saw it.”

Since being attuned as a reiki master, I find stories such as this appear regularly, though not in every reiki session.  They seem to appear as needed, to support the recipient with insights into life patterns and / or motivations.