‘ALREADY FRENCH IN OTHER CENTURIES’
When I had taken the decision, at the end of 1971, to go to Auroville (in theory for a year only, but in reality probably to settle there), just before my departure in July 1972 I instinctively did something very unexpected, and to say it frankly quite weird: refusing even the presence of my young companion at the time, I took my little old Renault ‘4L’, and I went touring the very well-known castles on the river Loire. Without at all knowing why. But I was feeling it was important, necessary that I do that, before leaving France for a potentially very long time.
It was really weird, I felt I was like doing a pilgrimage, and yet I couldn’t understand in which way it was a pilgrimage: I had visited those castles only once, a long time before, as a little girl still, during a stay in France with my parents and older sister, in between two stays in Africa.
Of that prior visit I had kept only a grandiose, but vague memory. What for heaven’s sake was making me, when I had so little time left before leaving for Auroville, suddenly drop my preparations and, stopping everything else going on in my life, rush out upon the roads of Touraine (the area around Tours) and visit one after the other, systematically, all those high places of the French architectural and historical heritage?!? Quite conscientiously, but in a kind of trance-like state I had never experienced before, during several days I went from one castle to the next, without any other emotion but a strange, inexplicable and yet acute nostalgia, somewhere deep in me. And then when it was done, life started all over again, and very soon my adventure traveling to India and spending my first years in Auroville made me forget this astonishing episode lived between parentheses, so to say.
It is much later that all this came back to life again in me, following the resolution I had taken of going to the source of a very annoying and appalling problem the reason of which I couldn’t figure out, but which was going against all the spiritual development, however real it was, that had happened in me almost as soon as I had arrived in Auroville, and particularly since 1975.
Not finding the origin of the problem in this lifetime, I had started suspecting that its origin may very well lie in another time-period, so I had called upon a lady friend of mine in Auroville to help me go into the trance state necessary for finding out that other time-period.
Lying comfortably in her home upon a mat right on the floor, with her discretely sitting next to me, I allowed myself without difficulty to go into the trance that her neutral voice simply counting backwards soon started inducing in me.
And I found myself suddenly being a young lady who waited, standing, in a castle, her shoulders resting against the high windows which, I knew it, were part of the back wall of the castle, with water under it all. I was in the room in the angle, the last one on the right as seen from my position; this room, and the one next to it on the left, weren’t lit, but were receiving some light and muffled sound from the party going on in the huge room situated still more on the left, after the grand staircase which led to this first floor where all this was happening.
I was a regular in this castle and those parties, but I lived elsewhere, in another castle nearby, a less important one.
I was beautiful, I knew it, but I was not a coquette or a seductress; I was as always dressed with a nice-fitting gown, but that night there was something especially beautiful and refined, that I was aware of more than of the rest: one of those opening out high collar (I liked them so much more than those ‘fraises’) which went up and out around my neck and framed my face in such a pretty way, a high collar in rigid muslin, with delicate precious stones set here and there into it, in colors matching those of my dress.
I was beautiful, and yet my heart wasn’t at peace and I wasn’t happy. Standing there in the dark, I was leaning against the windows because I was waiting, and time was passing, and the one I was waiting for wasn’t coming to our date.
I was so sad to witness once again how in spite of my being beautiful, he preferred to me the more seductive women, the more exciting, more provocative ones; the true love I had for him he didn’t care about; and most of the men I could see the life of were just the same as him.
Gradually the bitterness that was rising up and up in me turned into a sort of desperate rage, and a decision got taken, a vow, that was like a curse: If to count in the eyes of men, to keep their attention, it was necessary to play that game, that game of sex and seduction, well, they would see what I was capable of, and how I would change!!!
And deciding not to wait any longer, I left the place, with hard hurrying steps, not taking the grand staircase where I would be seen, but the small spiral staircase which, at the other corner of the room, was going down the angle turret; in a few moments I was at the bottom, and going out discretely on the ground in front of the castle, I was getting into my carriage waiting there in the night, and I was going back home.
A new life was starting for me – not just in that lifetime but in quite a few others too: the strength of the vow I had uttered had been such that this unfortunate decision had perpetuated itself even when it had no reason any more to. Having become a subconscious influence in my being, it nevertheless remained a powerfully active influence, imposing on me too often a behavior I abhorred and was ashamed of, for it seemed to ineluctably negate all the inner progress that had otherwise happened in me.
Still lying down on the floor, my eyes closed, in that kind of no-time that had enabled me to access that lifetime and that precise moment when this terrible decision, so totally contrary to the truth of my being, had been taken, and with all the intensity of suffering that not being loved can give, there was no doubt in me about that moment I had just lived in another time-period: everything had been so real, so simple, so natural, there was no reason to doubt it; but on top of that, as soon as it had started, I had received the precise information of the place where this scene was unfolding: I had heard quite clearly that name, pronounced directly and distinctly in my consciousness by an unknown voice: “AZAY-LE-RIDEAU”.
My friend, as we had agreed, had kept the contact with me by asking me questions from time to time, making me describe the room where I was, the castle as a whole and its other rooms, as well as its exterior and the environment around it. An important detail: that specific castle I had never visited in the present lifetime, neither with my parents nor during my individual ‘pilgrimage’. It was totally unknown to me; I was able to answer my friend’s questions about the castle only because my consciousness was there, in that other body which was as familiar to me as the body waiting next to her, lying in trance, and lending me its voice as much as it could for answering the questions whenever my friend was asking one.
After a moment of inner concentration to bless that young woman who was also me, and to call upon her and upon myself the healing of our shared problem, I made the small sign agreed upon with my friend, she again counted backwards, and my consciousness rose back slowly to the surface, to this contemporary reality.
My friend was waiting eagerly for that, and she told me excitedly:
‘You know, this castle, I know it very well, at least from outside: I grew up in that area, it is exactly the way you have described it!!! If ever you go back to France it might be worth it to try and check if the inside too is as you said!…’
And she went rummaging through some papers, then came back triumphant with a postcard in her hand:
‘There, just look, see for yourself, isn’t that incredible?!’
Yes indeed, it was the aerial photo of the place, quite easily recognizable, where I had just spent a long moment in another time-period. To see it with my own eyes did feel strange, I must admit!!!
I didn’t think I would have the occasion to go back to France so soon, but a few years later it happened, and I took the opportunity to go at last see Azay-le-rideau in this lifetime:
An impression, as soon as I arrived, of great familiarity. To be there was as natural to me as being home. Remaining alone on purpose, and especially without a guide, I went up the grand staircase to the first floor and straight to the last room on the left, which was indeed just the way I had remembered it; with some emotion, I walked towards the back wall and, turning around, leaned against the high windows again, putting myself in the same position as had been mine in the scene relived in that other time. And I stayed like that for a long while in silence, connecting myself inwardly to that other me who had made the wrong choice that was still affecting both of us; and, strong with the experience of my present lifetime and of the real secret of Love, discovered thanks to the direct contact with the Divine in myself and in everything there is, I gave that secret, that vibration of true Love, to the young woman of long ago so as to heal her pain and to annul, dissolve at last her so unfortunate vow.
There was only one detail missing: I couldn’t see anywhere the small spiral staircase through which in the past I had gone out. Staring really hard at the other wall in front of me, I realized it was covered in wall paper… ah, in the extreme-right corner, one could see what could be interpreted as the outline of a door; but there was that big, dark red cord that meant, like in museums, ‘forbidden to the public’; what to do?…
I am usually very respectful of rules and regulations; but that time I waited for all the groups of visitors to be gone, and when at last alone, I walked right over the red cord to see better what was hidden in that wall; there was indeed a door; oh joy, when I tried, it did open; and there, under my bewildered eyes, was my spiral staircase, in the angle turret.
Closing softly the door behind me, I slowly went down those stairs, my throat tight with emotion, one stone step after another, and I found myself outside on the ground, almost expecting my carriage too to be there waiting for me after all those centuries!…
It so happened that someone I knew since very long, now old and sick, was in a hospital near Paris; in spite of a rift between us before, I had gone to visit him there prior to my little ‘special Touraine’ trip; he was better, so I had left him with others taking care of him, so as to at last do the long expected journey to Azay-le-rideau. Curiously, during the whole time I spent there quietly on that day in that castle ‘unknown’ and yet so intimately known, I had felt the presence with me of that person, with whom I always experienced a particularly strong link; that link, I was glad about that, was harmonious again since my visit to the hospital.
Going back in the afternoon towards Paris, that same night I called for news about him; his wife told me that actually the better-ness had been only apparent and temporary: he had finally died very peacefully, during my absence; the exact time she indicated corresponded, I noticed for myself inwardly, to the moment when I was accomplishing my ‘pilgrimage’ in Azay-le-rideau. It would seem that an ancient karma had truly been dissolved at that moment, through that whole set of circumstances, for since then the problem which complicated my life so much gradually disappeared, coming back only with the ever diminishing strength of a mere habit being more and more forgotten.