Moon in Pisces

We develop over our life’s time, no matter how long or short, knowledge of how to be ourselves within our circumstances. What happens to those hard won insights when we have died? Even if we were artists, leaving behind the corpus of self-expression, what happens to all that experience carved into our bodies and minds? Does it all dissolve, as if it never happened? Is there some depository of psychic awareness, a pool of accumulated wisdom, where the initiated go for consultation and renewal? Is this how we gain insight in trance, tuning in to that collective energy? In my early barely pubescent teens, playing with witchcraft, I tried to tune in to my Aunt Marie’s spirit, she who had been so influential in my understanding of the spiritual. She, her after energy, never said a word that I was aware of as being her. Maybe that doesn’t matter. Maybe in the afterlife pool of energy individuality is no longer maintained. Though there are plenty of people who claim more direct communication with individual ghosts, of those they knew in life and those only met after their passing into some liminal nonphysical state.

Celia believes when she dies there will be nothing left of her but her physical remains. She has arranged to have even that burnt to ash. Marie was also cremated. Her ashes were given to her long-time significant other, Helen, who had a potter friend create a discreet but beautiful urn for Marie’s remains’ safe-keeping through Helen’s travels. Celia would like her ashes scattered someplace beautiful of my choosing. I can remember her in some private special setting instead of a cemetery plot public and impersonal among the crowd of tombstones.

Maybe like the Dalai Lama we all reincarnate. The new children with our souls who would be attracted to our old possessions, have traces of our memories, are never searched out and identified. Our new forms are never discovered. Memory traces fade into vague deconstructed dreams. We are surprised, perhaps, along the way to feel such strong attraction to objects, ideas, people, pets, previously unknown yet somehow known forever. That may well be. Here and now, though, I am simply me, my accumulation of experiences, attractions, fantasies, inchoate yearnings. Whether any of these are carry-overs from previous incarnations makes no difference in the here and now. It would only matter if, like the Dalai Lama, others were searching me out to find that soul knowledge from the past.

If it’s like that Hindu thing of karma based incarnation, ascending or descending along the scale of lifeforms based on past-life behavior, housecats seem far superior to humans as a reward for good conduct. Were you some brave and beneficent hero in your previous days, dear Pandora? Do you deserve your pampering and regal independence as payment for keeping your karma clean? Had I best attend to improving my ways or risk return as some crippled, ugly, unwanted beast? Or do we do that to ourselves in real time by denying our true good fortune because it wasn’t the fortune we thought we were seeking?

I wonder what became of Aunt Helen. She was an artist, a painter, rather ethereal in manner, always caught up in her project of the moment, more there than in the room with the people she really did love and enjoy. Without Marie’s loving emotional support, she went off to Europe ostensibly to join in the kind of bohemian community where she belonged, could find inspiration and audience. I’ve never heard of her since, nor seen any of her work online, where today everyone seems to converge. Maybe she just never connected with the ‘net, preferring to stay in her old ways, comfortable because familiar. She wouldn’t need to make a name for herself to pay her way. Marie, several years the older of the two, made sure Helen would be materially cared for should she outlive her.

Helen had been not much more than a street kid artist in bohemian Greenwich Village, New York, when she and Marie met. The story is they met in some dyke bar in the Village on a cold night back in the late 60s. By the time I knew them, they had been together forever, and still obviously entwined. It was beautiful, their unconscious graceful dance, sentimental, endearing.

From all accounts, Marie was a shrewd investor, like her maternal grandfather, my great grandfather whom I have only known through Marie’s stories. She was his favorite grandchild, the only one who had lived with him and her grandmother. They had raised her for several years until she was commanded to her mother’s side to help out with her brothers. Granddad Fitzpatrick left his favorite descendent a decent material legacy from which to start her own investing. I don’t know how she would be doing in this crazy world today, but probably she would be fine. She was quite conservative in many ways, despite her decidedly counter-culture lifestyle. She would not have gone for hare-brained financial schemes or underhanded practices. She was more of the do well by doing good socially conscious investment sort. She kept up the farm, Lady Bountiful to all the crazy artists who stayed there for their chosen times. Celia, independent as she was, did accept Marie’s bounty for the time she and Danny, and for the first year or so of my life, I lived there. Later, Celia dutifully paid off the mortgage that Marie privately financed for our house over all the years until Marie forgave the balance in her Will.

Celia’s third-generation American working class background, Danny’s part patrician, part Southern military traditions, I only got the fall-out and the DNA. Ain’t that America in the 21st century, mongrel traditions and heredity. Yet here we are, each our individual answers to all those variables. Each unique coming together of all that past into now, collectively creating what will be. So, if this is the bright, shiny future, where are the flying cars and federation of planets we promised us?