stubbed out her cigarette, removed her spectacles and slung a
pillow onto the arm of the sofa in her Toronto townhouse. Then
she stretched out, wiggling her arms, shoulders and legs in
search of the most comfortable position.
Roger Belancour-tall, balding and withdrawn-sat on a chair
facing me, his clasped hands resting on the back of the sofa. In
a kindly, avuncular fashion, he waited for Aviva's scrawny frame
to shrug off the last tics and twitches.
The delay left me restless. It seemed we had been talking for
hours about the voices, the mysterious voices, and I was
impatient to hear them for myself. I leaned forward to scrutinize
Aviva's face. All was still. Her slippered feet pointed daintily
towards the ceiling. Her brow glistened in the oppressive
humidity of the July evening. She looked delicate, vulnerable,
and completely at peace. In repose, her sharp features had
As I studied Aviva's impassivity, Roger began to address her
supine form in a somber monotone that fell on my ears like a
"Your key phrase is to go down to your most suggestible level of
relaxation and when you hear that phrase from me you will be at
your most suggestible level of relaxation and be able to go
deeper from there."
Still she lay there, motionless.
"Your key phrase
." Roger repeated the induction. Then he
started again. And again.
The suspense was intolerable. To distract myself, I examined the
painting on the far wall. It was an extraordinary piece, at odds
with the domesticity of tubular furniture and blue drapes which
framed sliding glass doors leading on to a narrow backyard. The
painting showed six gaunt and scantily-clad people languishing in
a dark cave. Their wretchedly thin arms stretched beseechingly
towards a crack of light in the distance. I remained absorbed by
this depiction of torment until a change in Roger's phrasing and
intonation swiftly returned my gaze to Aviva's face.
"Are we at a level where we may talk with the guides?"
For the first time, her lips parted.
wish," she answered drowsily.
Roger glanced at me and smiled modestly as if to suggest that a
dialogue would soon begin. He leaned over to a tape recorder
which stood on a table behind the sofa and pressed the "record"
button. Then, turning back to Aviva, he asked to speak to
Russell. They had told me about Russell.
"Russell," Roger asked politely, "could you give us some
information about our visitor's guide?"
I stared unblinkingly at Aviva and waited. My stomach leapt as
if to straddle the long pause between question and response. When
her lips parted once more, her voice was barely recognizable.
Gone was the high-pitched jocularity with the pronounced
Australian lilt. Her enunciation was now unequivocally masculine;
the English accent was unmistakable. This was an entirely
different Aviva, strangely assertive and uncompromising. This was
a voice which claimed to belong to Aviva's guide, a discarnate
individual who had lived as a sheep farmer in Yorkshire during
the last century. Speaking with all the conviction of a separate
being, "he" was about to divulge the identity of the non-physical
personage who was directly responsible for my welfare. My
"The guide is a female."
"Her name?" asked Roger.
"Filipa-in her past life. This is what she is known and goes
by." "And would she be willing to give her charge some
information pertaining to herself as to her past life and what
nationality she was?"
"She says she has been with him many lifetimes; and he with her.
They have alternated roles. Her last lifetime was in what is
known now as Greece from the years 1718 to 1771 on the Greek
calendar which is five days different from your own."
I was flabbergasted. Aviva's eyes remained closed and her body
was immobile, save for the face muscles and larynx. Some part of
me wanted to reach out and shake her limp arm and demand: "What
are you saying?" But a saner, more settled corner of my psyche
knew that Aviva was no longer consciously in our company. Who,
then, was this austere character called Russell? Had I really
lived in eighteenth-century Greece with a woman called Filipa
whom I had known, perhaps even loved, over many lifetimes? It was
all so instantaneous and overwhelming. But there was no time to
be speechless because Russell had already moved on to other
things and was demanding that I answer him.
"Have you no curiosity," he inquired, "as to whether you may be
a soul or an entity?"
I was expecting this. Roger had explained beforehand that the
"guides" who speak through Aviva had insisted that there were two
types of human beings on the planet: souls and entities. Souls
were said to be created from desire while entities were born of
knowledge. Apparently, the two types differed fundamentally.
"Yes, I do," I replied apprehensively. "Will you please tell me
which I am?"
"I would ask," Russell responded, "which do you think you
Mildly intimidated, I was not about to be drawn into making a
choice. Aviva, whom I had met only a week earlier, had invited me
to "observe" the guides because she thought I might be able to
help her understand the state of garrulous unconsciousness in
which she was now enveloped. An observer I wanted to remain.
Besides, I knew very little about the concept of souls and
entities and had difficulty with the idea that the human race was
divided into two streams. I told Russell as much.
"Yes, I know," he intoned sympathetically. "It has been rather
poorly explained to you. You are, in fact, an entity...You have
reasonable power as an entity. You have, in part, begun some
forward development, although not on a conscious level. Most of
your forward development has been on what you would term a
subconscious level. You have never been a soul. You were always
an entity created from knowledge, from the pool of knowledge
which has been spoken of many times in many sessions."
My befuddlement knew no bounds. Yet I was ready to believe. My
father was a retired Baptist minister and my mother, a staunch
Christian whose psychic ability left her fretful lest God be
displeased by her involuntary visions, had recently become a
Jehovah's Witness. Fundamentalism, naturally, had dominated my
childhood. But I had followed a spiritual path of my own and had
come to accept reincarnation as integral to the life process, a
requirement of human evolution.
Initially, I had been merely intrigued by the proposition that
we return to Earth to inhabit different bodies. In time, I
concurred with reincarnation theory, which states that both
sexes, a variety of races, and ever-changing roles and
relationships are often experienced over a succession of
lifetimes in order to learn the lessons of life. The more I
studied ancient beliefs and the work of modern reincarnation
investigators and past-life therapists, the more enthusiastically
I responded to a statement of Voltaire's which still strikes me
as eminently sane: "It is no more surprising to be born twice
than it is to be born once."
Later, I became fascinated by the innumerable references in
scripture, mythology, metaphysical literature and, most recently,
medical research testifying to unseen presences with whom contact
could be made. Russell's invisible yet almost tangible presence
confirmed in practice what I acknowledged in theory-that we are
attended by disembodied intelligences who inhabit a non-material
universe. As for the soul entity question, who could say whether
Russell was right or wrong? But I was glad, even relieved, to be
hailed as an entity, if only because I would rather have been
created from knowledge than desire.
The ramifications of this encounter were staggering. While there
was much more exploring to do, it seemed that I had stumbled upon
a treasure-trove of metaphysical insight, a resource which could
yield untold information about life beyond the grave.
Having read about spirit guides such as Seth, I had been
perplexed by the trance state in which mediums were said to relay
the teachings of these unearthly beings. Now I was witnessing
this strangely enticing phenomenon and was having difficulty
remaining emotionally detached. No matter how impressive Aviva's
self-surrender might be, I told myself the evidence of my eyes
and ears must be distrusted. Clearly, the struggle was to keep my
head, to remain objective
and hope that this promising El
Dorado would not turn out to be fool's gold.
Roger broke into my ruminations to ask whether I had any
questions for my guide. Although he felt that Filipa would be
unable to speak directly through Aviva on this occasion, he
assured me that she would soon be able to talk with her own
voice. Russell volunteered to act as intermediary in the interim,
explaining that guides first had to "learn the energies" if they
wished to communicate through a human "vehicle."
"Filipa says," offered Russell, "that she would be most
delighted if personal contact were to be made with her. She says
your knowledge and your self-discipline and your style of thought
processes make you what she calls a good candidate for
communication on a direct level. Then you could receive direction
"How should I make this direct contact?"
"She suggests that if you put aside the same particular moment
each day on the earthbound plane to establish thought control
patterns upon herself, this would be a good start. For one who
has contact with a guide has a more open resource for control of
his or her own destiny. This would also offer new companionship
and she says that there is much instability of companionship in
These words were instantly unnerving, as I had long experienced
some difficulty in sustaining romantic relationships. I had
barely learned of my guide's existence and now she was
identifying this source of personal concern. (Was this apparent
weakness, I wondered, already undermining the life I shared with
Rachel, my live-in girlfriend?) Silently, I speculated whether
Filipa had intimate knowledge of my dealings with others. Though
I believed I had some very good friends, perhaps some of my
friendships were more flawed than I realized. Whatever Filipa's
words were meant to suggest, her immediate recognition of my
vulnerability was unsettling, to put it mildly.
"She feels," added Russell, "that she can become the old sock of
Warming to this remark, I requested some information on the last
relationship we had shared on Earth.
"She says this was, for her, during the immediate past life in
Greece. You were a male and she was a female. You were to be her
suitor. However, you both transgressed in the eyes of the
community. You were sent from the village and did not return. She
says she did not wish for this to happen. However, the village is
more powerful than the one."
The village is more powerful than the one. The phrase was
sonorous, poetic, and conjured images of Greece. Ten years
earlier, I had composed most of my first novel on the Greek isle
of Siphnos. I loved Greece, its culture and its people, and I
could readily imagine that I had once incarnated in that richly
atmospheric land. Sitting on the floor of Aviva's living room, I
found myself breathing the air of a bygone era, roaming parched
valleys and ancient crypts. I imagined Filipa's dark eyes and
long black tresses.
So magnificently seductive was the moment that I wanted to merge
with the reverie. But the skeptic inside screamed in protest,
demanding that Filipa's credibility be established before the
dreamer was granted any further indulgence.
Could Filipa tell me, I asked, when I arrived in Canada and from
whence I came?
"She says your concept of time is quite different from her own
and that she has not had to work with earthbound time since her
departure from the earthbound plane. It is difficult especially
when there has been virtually no contact of a spontaneous nature
between herself and her charge. She does not understand what you
mean by the term 'coming to Canada.' She says you were born on
the earthbound plane and have not left the earthbound plane in
this lifetime. What do you mean by 'Canada'?"
I was charmed by Filipa's lack of geographical knowledge. After
all, if she hadn't lived on Earth for over two hundred years, her
ignorance of Canada was quite understandable.
"She asks," Russell inquired, "was this a known place when she
was last on the earthbound plane?"
"No," I conceded. "That's an interesting point because Canada
was only formed as a nation in 1867."
"She departed the earthbound plane many years prior to that. She
says that in tiny places like Theros, where you and she lived, it
was difficult to learn of the outside world. Information could be
gleaned only from those who passed through the village, usually
from the Black Sea en route to larger centers."
"Theros? This is where we lived together for a while?"
"Is this an island? Or the name of a community?"
"This is a village. It is, she says, only five days' walk from
the Black Sea."
Of course, I reasoned, peasants living in the eighteenth century
would have measured all journeys in walking time. Once more, I
was tempted to follow the images that sprang to mind. But the
skeptic within was impatient with such impetuously romantic
forays into the old world. First, I needed to ascertain whether
Russell and Filipa truly were who they claimed to be. Without
knowing quite how to go about it, I pushed Russell for such an
assurance. His reply was warm and considerate.
"I feel that if you wish earthbound verification of the guides
this course of questioning you have chosen with Filipa is your
correct course. However, at this stage, I'm afraid the poor girl
is a little flustered. She's an excitable young lady and she's
deeply intrigued but I do not think she has fully understood what
you were asking of her tonight
I have a feeling-and I will
explain to her-that she is being asked to deliver physical proof
of her relationship to you
She says that she is still not
over what you might call juvenile fascination."
She's not the only one, I thought, as my imagination cavorted in
the dust of a remote Greek village. Such was my enchantment that
I barely heard Roger invoke the practiced refrain that brought
Aviva back from the trance state. I was visualizing secret
liaisons with a raven-haired beauty. I was re-living our betrayal
and, finally, my despair as a group of wrinkled elders in black
smocks ordered my banishment. The village is more powerful than
I wanted to believe. But my years as a journalist had bred such
caution that the dispassionate observer continued to agitate me.
I knew that I must not allow emotional vulnerability and
spiritual aspiration to influence my judgment. Non-attachment was
regarded as a pearl of great price by the spiritual masters.
Non-attachment was the state of mind I strove to achieve.
I was still wrestling internally when Aviva's eyes flickered
open and Roger helped her struggle groggily into an upright
position. Clearly disoriented, she reached awkwardly for her
spectacles and sank back against the sofa, eyes closed, for
several minutes. When Aviva opened her eyes once more she sighed
and stretched her arms and I told her that she looked as though
someone had just woken her up in the middle of a deep sleep.
"That's very much what it feels like," she said languidly. There
was no trace of Russell's English accent, nor of his supreme
self-assurance. It seemed all that remained from her sojourn in
another state of consciousness was a dry and rasping throat. When
Roger brought her a tall glass of water she gulped down its
"You get very thirsty," she went on. "Coming back isn't much
fun. It's as if I'm being dragged very swiftly up a mineshaft.
Or, as you say, it's like hearing an alarm go off when I'm dead
to the world. And I am dead to the world, believe me. I'm not
conscious of anything I say once Roger puts me out. And I don't
remember a thing afterwards.
" A few minutes of quiet recovery ensued before Aviva spoke once
"Well," she said, "did you meet your guide?"
Roger and I smiled knowingly.
"Well?" Her eyes were wide with inquiry.
"Apparently," I said, "my guide is a Greek woman who was last on
Earth in the eighteenth century."
"Greek!" Aviva exclaimed, lighting up a cigarette. "Whatever
next? It's getting like the United Nations around here,
Copyright 2001 Joe