My sister said she felt like she had forced Nada’s family to repeat an unresolved trauma and it was weighing on her. For the next few years she tried to put the whole experience behind her. The family had given her a few souvenirs: a bracelet, a gold necklace, and a picture of Sara. Finally Heba put them down. She went to college in Lebanon a few years later, and Sara showed up at her door unannounced to invite Heba to her wedding. My sister didn’t go. For almost a decade, Nada only appeared as a character in a fascinating story, nothing more.
Then, in 2015, in Los Angeles, Heba discovered past life regression therapy, which uses hypnosis to help people recall past life memories. The idea, practitioners say, is that as you deal with trauma in this life you may be able to find the root of the problem in patterns or recurring characters from previous lives. Heba realized that there were people all over the world, not just from our small town in Lebanon, who also believed in reincarnation. She was quickly certified in past life regression and, after years of trying not to think about reincarnation, found solace in her ability to heal.
On the other side of the country I started a journalistic career and was ambivalent about Heba’s new profession. I wondered why I had taken her experience with Nada so soberly without going into it. Questions tormented me: How do I explain something I don’t understand? Are someone else’s memories enough evidence that they have a soul reborn? It wasn’t until last year, when my sister and I were living under the same roof again, that I began to really reconcile our worldviews.
Before that, living alone in recent years meant I could carefully curate my life and only interact with people who shared my beliefs, mostly fellow journalists who gave priority to evidence-based facts. I thought I was open-minded – until I had to discuss politics and spirituality with my family at the dinner table.
Last December, during the great conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn, for the first time in 800 years that the two planets were incredibly close to each other and visible in the sky, I joined Heba and our pandemic capsule for a ceremony at a friend’s house. We sat in a circle, drew cards from an oracle deck, and wrote down our thoughts and hopes to manifest our goals for 2021.
It was new and refreshing to me; it felt like much needed talk therapy after a year of isolation. And my oracle cards were on point. The first said “growth” and mentioned leaving behind outdated relationships, beliefs, or systems. However, the beliefs that I had to let go of were not the spiritual ones.
I still have questions – lots of questions – about past life regression therapy, but I support Heba and her work. Some of my closest friends have become their customers. She has repeatedly offered to have a session with me, but I think I don’t believe in therapy enough to be drowned. And if it does, I’m afraid of what I would discover. This life has been challenging enough at times, I don’t know if I could bear the memories of another.
I also drew a second card that evening: “Borders”. Heba and I looked at each other. The map showed the symbol of a red jaguar with fangs outstretched. When my friend read the card aloud, I was amazed at how elegantly it contradicted my struggle to be independent from my family while accepting it. The jaguar “has a healthy sense of boundaries and respects magic and the unknown,” it said. I may not be ready to face my previous lives, but at least I am more open to wider experiences in this one.