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UPCOMING HISTORICAL FICTION NOVEL BY DEBORAH A. BOWMAN –Or is it fiction? Based on years of research and factual information obtained only during a past-life hypnotherapy regression. ANNIE’S STORY: BLESSED WITH A GIFT
Annie lived a long time ago, the mid-17th century, in fact. Even though I didn’t become acquainted with her until late in the 20th century.
I was attending the Advanced Hypnotherapist Certification Course offered by The National Guild of Hypnotists. Annie came to me in a past-life regression, or rather I should say, I became Annie.
The class exercise began as something quite different, and the results were totally unexpected by the small, close-knit group I had been studying with for months. I’m sure the Professor was surprised as well; but then again, perhaps not. As a practicing Hypnotherapist for years, maybe he had seen this sort of thing many times before.
I had agreed to a class demonstration in “age” regression to help me cope with extreme claustrophobia. I had timidly admitted to my Professor and fellow classmates that my older brothers had locked me in closets as a child, especially the small wooden closet beneath the stairs where even a child could not stand upright. The darkness was oppressive, overwhelming—thick enough to take your breath away. Ah, the tribulations of a younger girl to two boys with active imaginations in an old restructured log house that lent itself well to ships’ brigs, castle dungeons, and secret passageways!
When the Professor attempted to take me back to these early memories under hypnosis, however, I flew right past them and WHAM!—like hitting a brick wall—I was in someone else’s body, crushed in a pitch-black hole, surrounded by wood and earth. At first, I thought I was buried alive in a coffin. Then I realized I was practically doubled in half with my knees pushing the air out of my lungs in a space half-again too small for me under rough wooden planks.
The seasoned Hypnotherapist handled it all so skillfully, so carefully, as he calmed me and allowed me to look beyond the enclosure to see what was happening. I was hidden beneath the floor of a tiny cabin for safekeeping from a group of soldiers (thumping boots above my head) by a Priest (Father Ian or was it Reverend John?) and his house-woman (housekeeper) Hannah.
My mind seemed to separate as I remained “Debbie” within the confines of my mental self, but I seemed to know these people intimately on some other plane of existence deeply embedded in my subconscious. Under hypnosis, this other self was surfacing and taking over. One part of my new self knew him as Reverend John; a more significant part called him Father Ian. Months later I would learn the reason for this duality—a little secret I shouldn’t have known.
I felt the rough homespun against my skin of a plain lace-up gown. It was tight around my neck with long sleeves and a heavy full skirt. I immediately sensed what I looked like—short in stature, stocky limbs, chubby cheeks, light eyes, and wispy reddish brown hair, so fine it barely covered my pale scalp. Not that it mattered since all women and girls wore white-trimmed caps that covered the entire head and tied neatly beneath the chin, but somehow the laces of my cap were always undone and that was frowned upon. Was I a woman or a child? It seemed I was both, but then again, neither. I was different.
My hands and feet were either oddly shaped or I had limited use of them. I stumbled and limped when I walked, especially in the ill-fitting shoes I wore, and I had to concentrate to use my hands and stubby fingers to grind herbs into poultices, salves, and medicinal teas as Granny had taught me. “Who was Granny?”
Granny told me I was a beautiful sprite like one of the faeries from our native Highlands. She described my eyes as filled with light and love for all creation. She said my special healing gift and my ability to communicate with animals and ethereal spirits came from the auld country.
People laughed at my dwarfed appearance and my sluggish way of talking. I laughed at myself too, except when wee bairns [Scottish Gaelic for “babies or children”] threw rocks and clods of dirt at me or the good-people of the village shielded themselves from the evil eye when I passed near them. They kept their distance when I entered one of the small hovels to help the sick and dying. I did not understand why everyone was afraid of me.
My conscious mind of the late-1990s, however, realized that Annie was mentally slow, stunted in growth, and lacking in social and emotional development. At first, I thought she had Down’s syndrome, a birth defect which retards growth and mental acuity, but I would soon learn the true story of Annie’s life.
She was so innocent and childlike. Surprisingly, from memory or perhaps precognition, she knew intricate rituals and formulae for medicines and potions using flowers, herbs, and roots, including the recognition, cultivation, and harvesting of the plants. She talked to the animals, creatures, and faeries of the forest, which she called “her friends or little people” and communed with the gods and goddesses of the spirit world. I was confused by Annie, but couldn’t help loving this precious soul who seemed to be me. I wondered, “Did Annie live in a fantasy world or suffer from hallucinations? Was she Schizophrenic?”
In reality, Annie couldn’t read or write, nor could she tie a simple bow, but the young woman/child was an incredible savant, reciting songs, rhymes, recipes, and medicinal incantations from her Granny’s Grimoire [Old French, but used globally for “Wise Woman’s Book.”] She was a natural healer, blessed with a special gift from the Spiritual Universe.
I instantly became protective of this little imp inside of me—for I was now a part of her; and she, a part of me. I may have come out of the hypnosis session with marked relief from claustrophobia—I could finally ride in an elevator—but more importantly I had been given a mission and crusade. I wanted to know why Annie was deformed and ridiculed. Mostly, I wanted to know if Annie had truly lived.
She seemed so real. Later, I verified facts through research that I had learned only through hypnosis, and many of these facts were 100-percent accurate. Spooky, yes, but oh so compelling!
Hence, began a quest that has spanned years and opened the floodgates of my repressed subconscious memories. I made amazing discoveries about a time in American history that many generations have tried to eradicate or conceal. I was fascinated, appalled, shocked!
This Foreword is my story; the book that follows is “Annie’s Story,” written from dreams, visions, online and textbook resources, travel to Massachusetts and Nova Scotia, research of the time period and the theory of past lives. I have given myself the freedom to tell the story as historical fiction, using as much factual information as is available. Some historic events and characters have been fictionalized to present the storyline as my imagination perceived it.
I never found conclusive evidence that Annie lived, but I did find evidence that she could have lived and an explanation for her existence being cleansed from all church and legal records. I also suspect that I may have discovered factual information that ties her lineage to one of the most disturbing and inhuman times associated with the British Colonies in North America.
Nameless, lonely graves are scattered throughout the empty fields and forests of New England. I believe I was once Annie, and she is in one of those unmarked burial plots. She lies hidden beneath the soil of an infamous hill. I shudder and will not pen its name.
This story of love and faith, coupled with the treatment of different people (now called “special” people) begs to be told. “Annie’s Story” is about an unusual girl coming-of-age in Colonial America, who is “Blessed with a Gift.”
Deborah A. Bowman, Author
This summer I have committed myself to finish a historical fiction novel that has been on the back burner so long that not only has the pot burned through, it has rusted into decay. The story, however, begs to be told.
It all started in a certification course I attended on Advanced Clinical Psychological Hypnotherapy. An age regression experiment without forethought or coercion turned into a past-life regression, if you believe in such spiritual phenomena, which at the time I most certainly did not!
Now I have to accept that such hypotheses could have merit or maybe it’s a story whose time has come, and it has floated down through the centuries, landing and taking root in my mind. Whatever the case, the story and characters who have lived with me for so long are demanding to be set free.
I have lived this story a thousand times in my dreams and imagination with the sequence of events never altering. Should be easy to pen upon paper, right? Well, maybe not.
Since some actual historical facts entered my consciousness–like the name of a town that I didn’t even know existed; the ancestry of a forgotten family that lined up perfectly with the events of the story; or the older gentleman, a tour guide, in a seaport of renowned antiquity telling me the words I needed to hear to verify my research.
This, of course, has led to more research, more corresponding facts, and a whole world of possibilities. Maybe too many possibilities.
Hence, has been my dilemma for not merely years, but decades. Every time I start to put pen to paper or watch words come to life on a blank lit screen, I wonder “what if?” and “what have I left out?” I always end up going back to the proverbial drawing board.
“But not this time!” I declared. I’ll just get the story down and iron it out once it’s all on printed bond paper, doublespaced, of course. Yet every time I look into the mirror, who do I see looking back at me? Myself or my character, a former version of myself? It deepens your beliefs on spiritual matters, but it also leads to more questions with no answers or perhaps, too many answers.
What I really wanted to share in this blog today is the writer’s mind, the writing process. Those who do not write believe that being a fiction writer is such an easy task. After all, you can make up a story anyway you choose, go off on a tangent, change your mind in midstream, develop the plot as you go along. Not so, my dear friends. There has to be logical correlations, realism, and realistic emotions, dialogue and conclusions. The words do not miraculously appear on the page in the correct order with the right terminology. Writers agonize over adjectives (are there too many or not enough?); change nouns and verbs and subjects of clauses and prepositions; and the most grueling of all, “Will the readers ‘get it’?” “Will someone else understand what I’m trying to say?”
Writing is grueling and rewriting even more so, but it’s the most glorious, inspiring expression of self that can be released from your soul! I wouldn’t trade my need to write, to create, to express, for anything else in the world! Even if no one else ever reads it…
This poem is from the last meditation we experienced at the Silent Retreat. I can see in retrospect I have come a long way. Now I am going to take a break for a couple of weeks to go to the beach and to visit my mother. I will miss you all, but have a lot to look forward to when I return to catch up on all your inspiring postings.
God/ goddess doesn’t want me to think of dying.
My time is not yet.
It seems I’ve been trying
To find the treasure I did get.
“Annie’s Book, Blessed With A Gift”
Is the one I’ve waited so long to sift
Through the research of past-life regression.
Yet it’s the one that holds the key
To the catharsis that is draining me.
I hear a whisper of a suggestion
That this manuscript will release and heal me.
In silence, I will be free!
HAVE A WONDERFUL, HEALING SUMMER!