Let the force be with you and thanks for the memory
It's really funny how some memories, however far distant they may be, have the power to resonate throughout your life.
Maybe not as 'in your face' traumatic recollections that keep you awake at night but in more subtle ways that are hard to define until you really practice some serious self-analysis. That's when you realize that things that are happening to you today may have in some mystically hidden way been influenced by past events; events that were completely out of your control. I call it The Memory Matrix.
It's like there is a personal shadow force stalking all of us lurking in the deep recesses of our minds and souls.
Maybe you feel the same.
When I played in folk-rock bands for a living, long before I wrote thrillers and YA fantasy, I remember messing around with ouija boards and other esoteric or spiritual pursuits. I suppose I was like a lot of people, desperate to discover if there was more to existence than just one lifetime and eventual death.
This led to a great deal of research into metaphysical matters as well as science â€“ but that is another story.
I recall being in Edinburgh with a girlfriend staying in the apartment of a school friend of hers. The two girls were insistent on having a Ouija board session so I was outvoted (although secretly enthusiastic). Some time before this I'd come to the conclusion that I could influence the movements of the glass (not by pushing and cheating) but by mentally sending out streams of thought messages. I could even close my eyes and do it.
On this occasion I was wrong.
We attracted a 'presence' that I can only describe as terrifying. She told us her name was Mary Tyler and she claimed to have been a witch who had been murdered near Cardiff in Wales in the seventeenth century. The glass whizzed around the board and the language was medieval. I have never heard such foul and vile outbursts and it takes a lot to shock me. She claimed, amongst a litany of other things, she was wedded to the Devil. I will spare you the unprintable dialogue. Even though the glass was spelling this diatribe it felt as if we could hear her voice.
I pulled my hand away but the girls continued. Something told me this just wasn't a good idea but the two girls were utterly transfixed, almost hypnotized.
For reasons I cannot explain I picked up my guitar and began to play an old folk ballad from the seventeenth century called 'High Germany' (about a girl who dresses a man and follows her lover to war).
This proved to be some sort of catalyst as if this (presumed) spirit form could actually hear me. There may be some other explanation to do with auditory impulses impacting on some kind of spiritual membrane (I've always retained an open mind about the rich tapestry of spiritual beliefs) but when this sort of thing is happening there isn't much time for logical discussion.
The song seemed to heighten the presence of Mary Tyler who declared that she had possessed the body of the other girl. The effect was shocking and instantaneous. She shook and she wailed and she cried, unable to remove her finger from the glass (which was hurtling around almost to the point of shattering).
I stopped playing and pushed the table, board, and glass over. The girl who was possessed was having hysterics and it took a long time and a few tranquilisers to calm her down.
'That was all your fault,' my girlfriend said to me later.
If you hadn't sung that weird song none of this would have happened.'
I thought about arguing but then what was the point?
I was never able to understand her strange logic and I thought better of trying at that moment.
I am certain that those type of recollections influenced me years later when writing books such as˜The Immortality Plot, Bodyswitch or The Vanishing..
And, that was not the last time I was to come into contact with Mary Tyler –but that's yet another story.
All I say to myself was: 'Thanks for the memory.'
PS: Diverging: What's the most memorable book you have read on Kindle?