Metatalktail Hour: If I were a carpenter, and you were a lady ... September 24, 2022 2:50 AM   Subscribe

So ... just based on your innate skills, talents, interests, and preferences, and other odd little clues and coincidences that have popped up along the way this trip around, you are pretty sure that in a previous life, you must have been _______.

For this week's chat, let's do a Metatalktales wherein you tell us tales of your past life, or maybe your other-dimension life, or who you are in dreamland. Orrr just tell us how your week has been, what you've been doing, what's on your mind. (just no rhymes-with-trolly-picks, per favore!)
posted by taz (staff) to MetaFilter-Related at 2:50 AM (74 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

I don’t know about past lives. But, back when I was in my thirties, I was told by someone who was deeply into such things, that I had a very old soul. I didn’t exactly grasp what that meant, or what it implied, but it definitely wasn’t meant as a criticism.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:00 AM on September 24, 2022 [3 favorites]

A couple of decades ago, I was desperate enough for relief from my fibromyalgia to go to a reiki master. While she was doing the reiki treatment, she told me that in a past life — in England, she thought — I had fallen onto railroad tracks and a train cut my arms off; that was why I was in pain in this life. She didn't tell me anything else about that life, so I have no idea what I was supposed to have been doing before my untimely accident.
posted by bryon at 5:06 AM on September 24, 2022 [5 favorites]

I think I’ve been a sailor in many past lives and I think I’ve drowned before (I know nothing about sailing and can’t understand wind). I also, for some reason, think I’ve been a very mediocre cook in Britain before. I’m a mediocre cook now.
I used to think that I had a talent for spotting other people’s past lives because sometimes I get very, very strong images and feelings. A couple times I’ve thought I’ve seen someone’s past image overlaying their current body. But who know what our brain synapses are actually doing. It’s probably just as likely that I’m projecting.
posted by gt2 at 6:39 AM on September 24, 2022 [3 favorites]

In high school I started a joke religion that was like the one-electron theory but for people, where reincarnation can go backwards in time and there's just one soul pinging around. Which means I'm pretty sure I've been all of you weirdos.
posted by nebulawindphone at 7:44 AM on September 24, 2022 [17 favorites]

Even since before covid I've lead a somewhat monastic lifestyle, and for a long time I've felt a strong affinity with the standard depiction of St. Jerome (I especially like the Albrecht Durer ones). Add to that that there's somehow a strong mutual attraction between women who went to catholic school but then became too feminist to really call themselves catholic, and I end up wondering if I was a catholic monk for a lifetime or two. But probably a heretical one because I'm a staunch atheist now.
posted by LionIndex at 7:45 AM on September 24, 2022 [4 favorites]

Based on things that have interested me since I was a child, I'm convinced I was some sort of witch/magickal person/healer in a past life, and in other lives a monastic. Mad scientist and artist lives probably, as well. I think I've always had a cat. My family were dog people until I adopted my first kitten at age 9, of my own initiative, and persuaded my parents to let me keep her. I've had cats ever since.

I've never had any inkling that I've ever been a high-born person in any of my lives. I'm sure I've had way more lives as a peasant than as a noble or a king/queen/chief.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 7:47 AM on September 24, 2022 [1 favorite]

Maybe an actuary? I’m pretty mathy.

Went to see my pcp yesterday about my post covid fatigue, and she ran a few tests which of course are all normal. Like, it’s not great when you’re kind of hoping your CBC suggests leukemia or something, you know? And it didn’t seem like she really had any insights on what might help my recovery. Sigh.
posted by obfuscation at 8:33 AM on September 24, 2022 [2 favorites]

I also have some romantic notions of a monastic life. Vita contemplativa! What's not to love (apart from those vows of obedience and poverty and the whole organized religion aspect). I went to Mont-Saint-Michel for a vacation once, a destination picked by a friend. While she spent her days exploring the salt marshes and mudflats, I went to the abbey twice, once at night, with the light show and the organ music, and once in daytime, paying for the special tour in French, guided by one of the monks with extra keys to the "secret" crypts. What a place! It's easy to see how people might get all sort of ideas here. And of course I pictured myself in a past life in that scriptorium, copying and illuminating those beautiful manuscripts. I bet I could learn to be good at this; I always liked arts and crafts in school and I'm a fairly patient person. But I'm sure it's all more tedious than I imagine.

(While I was there, another one of those Catholic church scandals broke - a fresh discovery of baby corpses in one of those Magdaline Laundries in Ireland. That shakes you out of the revelry pretty fast, a sharp reminder how these communities can be rife with abuse).

I also like to think I would have made a great bard/minstrel/troubadour. I have a good memory for text, and a good voice for reciting. I feel I would have killed it at some minor noble's court, dramatically lightened by the flames of an open fire, my booming voice filling the Great Hall, old and young, Lords, and stable hands, and kitchen wrenches alike, hanging on my lips and holding their breath while I tell of heroic deeds, glorious victories and gruesome fates. But then again, I'm not very muscial, I would surely suck at courtly intrigue, and probably wouldn't enjoy the whole beggar/propagandist aspect of it all. I suspect the day-to-day life of a bard is probably more about currying favour than reciting poetry.

Still, I can't help feeling a bit wistful sometimes, that, modern attention spans being as they are, and with all the competition of modern media, bard is no longer a viable career path.
posted by sohalt at 8:58 AM on September 24, 2022 [5 favorites]

I know this one!
The Old English Sheepdog breed standard says the skull is 'capacious and rather squarely formed, giving plenty of room for brain power.' OES move with a bear-like shuffle but are famous for their nimbleness afoot. Regular exercise is required for these strong, able-bodied workers. Equally famed are their many fine housedog qualities: watchfulness, courage, kindliness, and intelligence. Great with children, OES make patient, protective playmates. *They are sensible watchdogs known for a loud, ringing bark.*
posted by bleep at 9:29 AM on September 24, 2022 [4 favorites]

I went through a phase in my late teens/early twenties where I enjoyed going to the many "Psychic Fairs" that were around--i.e. a group of individuals who claimed to have intuitive powers, ESP, etc. and did Tarot readings, wax readings (poured melted wax into water and then "read" the shapes that appeared). Along with folks selling incense (sooo much incense!), rainbow things, etc. I liked doing past lives readings. In each one I was told that I was some sort of peasant, or monk, or laborer which I was fine with. I had a body that was sturdy and mostly did what I wanted, I liked physical labor and activities, so that all seemed to jibe.

But, all those physical things I did took a toll on my body. Various physical and mental traumas led to my gaining a ton of weight and I have spent most of my adult life either very overweight or on some plan or other to lose weight. I have lost 100lbs multiple times, and then gained it back plus.

So now that I am in my early 60s and have osteo-arthritis in most of my joints and am toting around extra weight again on two titanium hips, my dream-self is thin, and agile, and can still do the things I enjoyed. It is sometimes a shock to awaken to the real me.
posted by agatha_magatha at 9:35 AM on September 24, 2022 [1 favorite]

I was once told by my therapist that most people that have backgrounds like mine usually end up in a mental hospital or in prison. So, all things considered, this is the best of all possible worlds for me.
posted by SPrintF at 10:00 AM on September 24, 2022 [8 favorites]

The past is an illusion. In reality, there is only this moment, now, in which I have written this comment and you are reading it. How did we get to this place? Why would I write this? How did you come to be reading it? Where did this coffee come from? It is unknowable. A meaningless question. We simply are. Meanwhile, in a nearby parallel universe, we are not. We constantly strive to get to this moment, but it is unreachable. Which is the better universe? That one is easy. It's the universe where Baby Yoda is a DJ.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:10 AM on September 24, 2022 [5 favorites]

In my past life I was a talentless ambitionless lazy schlub. So for this life, I figured why change...
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:31 AM on September 24, 2022 [5 favorites]

Given my love of spinning, butter churning, and touring house museums, I was definitely a colonial housewife or pioneer of some kind.
posted by Melismata at 10:38 AM on September 24, 2022 [1 favorite]

... probably Catherine the Great... OR Francis of Assisi - Bull Durham
posted by Iris Gambol at 11:45 AM on September 24, 2022 [3 favorites]

> a joke religion that was like the one-electron theory but for people

hello I wish to subscribe to your church newsletter, fully understanding that I have already have done so
posted by miles per flower at 12:31 PM on September 24, 2022 [10 favorites]

I had a dream in which there was an exciting and new form of natural disaster: think a combination of natural nuclear reactors and volcanoes, such that you could have periodic radioactive eruptions. I was caught in one of them (and in its immediate aftermath), and ended up trapped in the ruins of a theater with a bunch of other people trying to do triage, and find a safer shelter, and not track radioactive material into said safer shelter with us. A great deal of Geiger-countering ensued. Given that I actually have worked with radioactive materials (primarily beta-emitters) a fair amount, the lab equivalent is generally tedious yet a little tense - you don't want to hear the count rate speed up as you move the pancake probe past anything, particularly anything that isn't your gloves. In this dream, it was realistically tedious yet also terrifying, an interesting and unpleasant combination!

Anyway, F---, I do not recommend dreaming about radioactive volcanoes, it is not restful.
posted by ASF Tod und Schwerkraft at 1:06 PM on September 24, 2022 [5 favorites]

In high school I started a joke religion that was like the one-electron theory but for people, where reincarnation can go backwards in time and there's just one soul pinging around.

Did you perhaps read Andy Weir's short story The Egg and just forgotten having done so?

...I had an odd dream once - it was thin in some details, but extremely vivid in others, and it had that kind of dream logic and backstory where there are some things you just KNOW are true in this dream. And the reason why this stayed with me was mostly backstory; all that I really did in this dream was just sit on a hillside with a girl talking, but I just knew I was an orphan, and the girl sitting on the hill beside me was too, and we were about 13 or so and I just knew we lived somewhere or somewhen where there was some looming threat of war. Also I was a boy, and I have never dreamed I was another gender any other time. We were at our orphanage talking about this looming war threat, while watching some of the younger kids playing further down the hill - and we were scaring ourselves talking about it, and then hugged each other for comfort. There were enough "oh, this was just a dream" details to make me unsure about it - the hillside I dreamed about was one of the hills near my grade school, and the tree I dreamed us sitting under was the same tree I sat under a lot as a kid as well. But that sense of "shit's about to go down", that protectiveness I felt toward that girl, being an orphan, being a boy...I have no idea where that came from and it's always made me wonder.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:47 PM on September 24, 2022 [4 favorites]

If you lean sardonic, Saki's Laura goes through 3 lives in a very short time or 1700 words.
posted by BobTheScientist at 2:26 PM on September 24, 2022 [3 favorites]

Claudius (Oliver) Proenneke Petronius Merman Grant-Hardy.
posted by clavdivs at 6:19 PM on September 24, 2022

I dreamt of baseball the other night. The fields so green, the horizon looked like a sky light.
posted by clavdivs at 6:22 PM on September 24, 2022 [2 favorites]

well, i don't really know about my past lives, but seeing as you've referenced "if i were a carpenter" i would like to link to bob seger's 1972 version, long before he was well known outside of michigan

i remember hearing this on the radio back then - he got hits in detroit and outstate, but nowhere else
posted by pyramid termite at 8:01 PM on September 24, 2022 [2 favorites]

Build it they might come.
posted by clavdivs at 8:13 PM on September 24, 2022

I had one of those dreams a few weeks ago that started with me waking up as myself, but in another universe. I was in a truly lovely house at the edge of a body of water. The house was almost hotel like, there wasn’t many personal touches. It was early morning, the sky was starting to get light, and I could feel the pull of my sleeping self and the dream I was supposed to be having. I fought it, fascinated by this other me. I wasn’t worried about getting trapped, I never do. I was concerned that I could screw up my other self’s life so I touched nothing, just looked at the house and wandered outside onto the wide, huge dock that lead down to the water. I could see glittering cities a distance away, the water that was completely flat. As I walked closer I saw a group of people dressing in strange scuba like gear. One looked up and smiled. “Don’t worry, we’re almost ready to go.”

The water at the end of the dock began to glow. I looked down and watched the doors about 20 feet under water slide open, reveling a beautiful planet of storms below us. I realized I was in a space habit, and we were drifting around, studying the universe.

And that’s when I snapped back into a normal dream.
posted by lepus at 8:51 PM on September 24, 2022 [6 favorites]

If I believed in past lives, I'd believe that I was some kind of sea creature in the past. Because when I am in the sea, I feel at home. And all my best dreams are of being in the sea.

A mamal, or a bird, probably. An otter? Or a penguin.

In other news, I've spent the past few weeks being sick. A couple of weeks of what was probably flu, a break of 3 days feeling normal, then my husband came home from work with a sore throat that developed into full blown misery within hours.

I followed him 12 hours later. I think this is Covid, but he tested negative. The only way I can get tested is to go to a clinic which is miserable, expensive, and potentially exposes people. So I'm not going to bother. If we had access to paxlovid in this country, there might be a reason to get tested but as it is?

Just realised my comment is a bit of a downer.

Good thing of the week: watching Extraordinary Attorney Woo, which suits me down to the ground. I'm not as visibly autistic as she is, but it's a long time since I've watched a show and seen a character I identify with so strongly.

It's a lovely show. Recommended.
posted by Zumbador at 9:03 PM on September 24, 2022 [7 favorites]

An idiot? I don’t think I survived in my past lives. Probably due to poor planning.
posted by JustSayNoDawg at 9:17 PM on September 24, 2022 [3 favorites]

Be easy on your past selves. They might've been poisoned, and that's hard to anticipate.
posted by Iris Gambol at 10:23 PM on September 24, 2022 [2 favorites]

I was a goat. Not sure how or why I know this, but I’m pretty sure.
posted by tavegyl at 12:49 AM on September 25, 2022 [1 favorite]

I was a lawman in the Old West. Had an old dog. Also had a specially made gun; seven shooter, not a six shooter. My wife died in a tragic accident leaving me to raise our daughter by myself.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 2:37 AM on September 25, 2022 [2 favorites]

A Wurundjeri person of the Kulin nation who lived around Birrarung, pre-colonisation. I belong to that Country.
posted by Thella at 3:01 AM on September 25, 2022 [2 favorites]

I don’t think I survived in my past lives.

Nobody did.
Nobody ever can.
posted by Thella at 3:03 AM on September 25, 2022 [5 favorites]

I must be a new soul, because I have no special idea who I would have been. Practically speaking, if the me that does exist had existed earlier in the timeline, a convent would have been the only safe place for me; I had some vision problems as a youngster that required twentieth century medicine, and I wouldn’t have made a very useful bride.

In The Years of Rice and Salt, which is the only world I’ve spent time in where past lives are a thing, the tells are not necessarily who you are so much as who you are drawn to. And I could point to a few people, people I got to know in a manner fueled by instinct rather than pure happenstance.

Zumbador, that show has been keeping me company during chores these last few weeks, and I’m completely twitterpated!

nebulawindphone, I too would put a twenty in the basket at your church. Wouldn’t that be nice, to believe that everything that separates us and keeps us at odds will make sense in due time?
posted by eirias at 4:59 AM on September 25, 2022 [2 favorites]

Honestly, I don't even know who I am in this life.

I don't mean that facetiously, either. I notice that my own concept of who I am as a person doesn't really match the way other people see me, which seems to infer that I have an inaccurate idea of who I actually am. I am pretty sure that this is true for everyone, really. Ok, I was probably a pedant in a former life.
posted by Literaryhero at 6:24 AM on September 25, 2022 [7 favorites]

i don't know who he was but there was a sculpture made of the bloke
posted by lalochezia at 8:20 AM on September 25, 2022 [1 favorite]

I have avoided drowning 3 times, so I believe the sea doesn't want me.

Literaryhero, it's certainly true for me. And most people see a part of me that reflects their own view of themselves and the world, as I of course see them.

If I had previous lives, I probably died in infancy or early childhood a lot, and did farm work. I love animals, farms, countryside, and feel at home with them. I'm more apt to consider what I need to be doing in this life to proceed on some spiritual journey. Many lessons are offered, few of them comfortable or easy. it would be nice if they carried forward.
posted by theora55 at 9:03 AM on September 25, 2022 [3 favorites]

Setting aside the fact that I have never been especially athletic, the talents that contributed to my accomplishments as a land use economics consultant and, weirdly though to a lesser extent, bassoon player would make me an excellent free safety (defense position in American football). The through line is the need to understand everything about what is happening, particularly among the purportedly more glamorous players: the clients and the public, the instruments carrying the melody, and the offense, respectively. Success entails supporting or thwarting them as needed, often in ways that are completely unanticipated and require skills that would also apply to the other side, like understanding PR techniques, playing lyrically, or implementing QB misdirection tactics.

  • From consulting comes a sensitivity to distinguishing actual issues, opportunities and motivations from what is being fronted. Like safeties, consultants roam the field of play and must anticipate (and counter) others' strategies in real time. Responding requires intense focus, speed and strength.

  • From playing bassoon comes the mindset of maintaining constant awareness of all of the sections, in part because composers and arrangers often fail to write separate parts for my instrument, pairing it up with others instead. And just as the bassoon is the deepest member of the woodwind family, the free safety is the deepest member of the defense: the last bulwark undergirding the shrill or interrupting an attempted big pass or run.

    Plus, I think I might enjoy tackling.

  • posted by carmicha at 9:59 AM on September 25, 2022 [2 favorites]

    A person who lived in Shanghai for some time, before 1950. I've always been fascinated with certain very specific parts of it, even as a child. I have an almost compass like navigation for a certain city not too far away, so maybe I was from there. A person into such things said that city was a 'spiritual home' for me.

    I'm very solitary, so I imagine that I worked alone and met lots of people one on one, like a detective, a messenger or something.
    posted by Ms. Moonlight at 11:00 AM on September 25, 2022 [1 favorite]

    It is a truth universally acknowledged amongst my friends and family that my fear of boats and water is due to me having died on the Titanic a few lives ago.
    posted by The Adventure Begins at 11:37 AM on September 25, 2022 [1 favorite]

    oh no, Greg_Ace might be my patronus...
    posted by supermedusa at 1:19 PM on September 25, 2022 [2 favorites]

    ehh, sounds like work.
    posted by Greg_Ace at 2:43 PM on September 25, 2022 [5 favorites]

    I think I was a tree. Possibly an oak or a hickory, somewhere in Missouri or Mississippi.
    posted by amtho at 4:20 PM on September 25, 2022

    A tarot reader told me that I had committed suicide in all my past lives and that the goal of this lifetime is to not kill myself and that I had never lived to be any older than 36. She also said that in this life the food co-op I was working for would go out of business and I would be a massage therapist or the like. Well, I'm 69 and have not offed myself. The co-op did not go out of business and is still open and I retired after 36 years at the co-op and have not been massaging anyone except my cat, Baby Goat. No comment on former lives.
    posted by a humble nudibranch at 4:45 PM on September 25, 2022 [2 favorites]

    I think I was a tree.

    What sort of sins does a tree have to commit that causes them to come back as a lower life-form (i.e. a human)?
    posted by Greg_Ace at 4:49 PM on September 25, 2022 [2 favorites]

    Not a clue who I was in a past life (I was once told by someone with certain sensitivities that I was an old soul who had made several trips around. Contrary to a very mean narcissist I knew who it seems "has a lot more work to do") I do know that I LOVE harbors, seashores, sea towns, anything marine related. Given my sassy nature, I was probably a serving girl in a harbor. Just call me

    Dreams wise: I actually keep a dream diary. Lately I've been having work related dreams, but even though I work in a supermarket, I end up having to climb mountains and rocks and navigate through wilderness just to get from department to department!
    posted by annieb at 5:50 PM on September 25, 2022

    I have no current theories about past lives, but this reminds me that when I was a little girl I used to tell my mom that I'm pretty sure I was a koala in a past life because I used to like sleeping (and still do) with my arms and legs wrapped around a pillow, like a koala hugs a tree. I actually still use my pregnancy pillow for this very purpose.
    posted by If only I had a penguin... at 8:34 PM on September 25, 2022 [2 favorites]

    Based on strange affinities and obsessions that have, in theory, nothing to do with my own life, I would have to guess I experienced combat at least once. Trench warfare seems to have been involved. The absolute grief I felt when reading about WWI as a kid was extreme, especially for an American (in that we got off pretty light, and the war doesn't really roost in our popular imagination). I feel like I died down there, or something.

    It's also possible I was alive sometime in the midcentury, based on super weird dreams that feel like they come from someone else's '50s-era childhood. Especially combined with my aesthetic compulsion to recreate the 1970s in my living spaces. Considering when I was born, though, I must've died relatively young. Somehow I don't get the impression I've ever lived to be truly old. Instead it feels like I've maybe had multiple cycles of early deaths, and that this is the cycle where I'm supposed to live long.

    I like this explanation for my disastrous mental health a lot more than epigenetics and/or trauma, lmao. Thanks for a great question.
    posted by desert outpost at 9:50 PM on September 25, 2022 [1 favorite]

    Somewhat unfortunately, I suspect alternative-universe me might have become a drummer. The skill I seem to have with the highest talent/effort ratio for so far is playing drums. I'm absolutely nowhere near a professional on anything, but I've never met drums that required more than a few minutes to play well enough to impress non-percussionists. Compared to the thousands of hours I've spent on instruments I actually do claim to play and the decades spent learning how to barely succeed at my actual profession, it's slightly frustrating.

    I'm guessing it's unlikely to be the result of a former life or similar. More likely a combination of childhood memories, possibly genetic influences, and spending my formative years palling around with musicians. (My dad was a professional studio/gig drummer that you've never heard of. I spent some time as a teenager hanging out with a few percussionists you might possibly have heard of.)

    I recently moved apartments and randomly put some drums out in places where it's easy to pick them up while walking past. I should have done that years ago. Two minutes on the djembe next to my desk is a fantastic break between zoom meetings. I'm debating whether bringing something into my office would be too annoying for the neighbors.

    I wish I could believe in reincarnation. Some version of that would be very high on my list of ideal universes that aren't inconsistent with observation. I'd take it even if it means inevitably spending millennia as a subsistence farmer, a beetle, or a single-celled organism, depending on who you happen to think participates. I know some systems have hierarchies that explain why humans are on top and mostly become new and luckier humans. I'm not entirely comfortable with the extrapolated ethics of that world view. (I don't claim the world I do believe in is any more ethical.)
    posted by eotvos at 10:51 PM on September 25, 2022 [1 favorite]

    On reflection, I'm not sure being a subsistence farmer, averaged over most most of history and most of the world is actually less fun, day to day, than the much fancier historic roles that get recorded. It doesn't sound all that appealing to me, personally. Even less fun than hunter-gatherer or nomadic herder. But, perhaps those agrarian past lives explain why my shoulder hurts for absolutely no reason today.
    posted by eotvos at 11:17 PM on September 25, 2022 [1 favorite]

    In my previous life I was a spoiled house cat. Or at least I should have been one. Sleep all day, be served all my meaty meals but be a picky eater and only eat the ones that please me, slap things that annoy me, demand affection but then get annoyed and leave when I don't get it in exactly the right way, and chase bugs for entertainment.

    The only one of those I get to do in my current life is chase bugs, and those are of the software variety.
    posted by cgg at 7:34 AM on September 26, 2022 [2 favorites]

    Every single career or personality test I take says I should be a scientist. (Yes, I am an INTJ, why do you ask.) So I think in a previous life I was probably also a scientist, unless I was stuck in a society that didn't have science or had the wrong type of body to be allowed to be a scientist, in which case I was probably frustrated.
    posted by BrashTech at 8:20 AM on September 26, 2022

    I come from a long line of people highly (overly) fond of trying to find a connecting thread and a lesson from absolutely everything that happens to/around me. In another life, where I didn't end up a secular humanist with nagging anxiety about speaking to other people, I would probably have been a minister.
    posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:27 AM on September 26, 2022 [2 favorites]

    Did you perhaps read Andy Weir's short story The Egg and just forgotten having done so?

    Ooh, I've never seen this before (and the "egg" twist never occurred to me!) but I love it.
    posted by nebulawindphone at 9:22 AM on September 26, 2022

    I have no current theories about past lives, but this reminds me that when I was a little girl I used to tell my mom that I'm pretty sure I was a koala in a past life because I used to like sleeping (and still do) with my arms and legs wrapped around a pillow, like a koala hugs a tree. I actually still use my pregnancy pillow for this very purpose.

    By this logic, one of my exes had a past life as a slowly rotating starfish, and another as one of those swimming pool blanket winders...
    posted by nebulawindphone at 9:25 AM on September 26, 2022 [1 favorite]

    If we're going by "I have a weird affinity with this time period/place/lifestyle/etc.", then I could make an argument for being one of the "ladies" in a bawdy house in New Orleans' Storyville district, or a hippie girl who joined a commune in upstate New York.
    posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:33 AM on September 26, 2022

    Growing up, I knew I was mostly German (including my mother having emigrated from there as a child), and a bit English, but never particularly identified with either place. Over and over, what most drew me was Scotland, and Scandinavia as well. I had no particular reason for that, but just felt like there was a connection to those places, and specifically to those places in the long period of the so called Middle Ages. Many years later I come to find via an uncle's genealogy research and my father's dna test that yep, there is a big connection to Scotland in his maternal line and lots of Scandinavian ancestry, via the Scandinavian people who settled in Scotland and Northern England (so much of a connection that he gets full mitochondrial DNA matches with people in Norway, for example.) So, if I were to envision past lives, then Scotland in the Middle Ages is what I would think, or Scandinavia in the early Middle Ages.
    posted by gudrun at 9:55 AM on September 26, 2022 [1 favorite]

    I have avoided drowning 3 times, so I believe the sea doesn't want me.

    I have also had relatively close calls with drowning, at ages 9, 18, and 27. By god, I have avoided the water at ages 36 and 45.
    posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:37 AM on September 26, 2022 [4 favorites]

    A monk, but probably not a very good one.
    posted by jquinby at 12:04 PM on September 26, 2022 [2 favorites]

    When I was thirteen. I had a dream, I went through a tall, standing cabinet in the kitchen, of military housing, in Germany, ( where I lived.) I went down and around the basement storage cages, and then down and down in a circular walkway until I ran out of down and was on torchlit cliff dwellings with ancient people.

    I often dream in institutional bathrooms, like laboratory settings, like abandoned unclean areas, dwellings which are like mazes, yet familiar, as if I have been there many times. I have dreamed this enough, I need to remember to wake up inside this dream and get to the essence of it.

    I dreamed of landscapes where I routinely crawled underground in dirt, and out into completely open areas, water, cliffs, the natural world in sandstone. I traveled this route many times, a system of dirt tunnels, unmarked which I knew. So maybe I was a rodent or a reptile in another life. These dreams were vivid, detailed and I traveled often to the place where they were. I did spend a lot of time hiking in Southern Utah when I was a young woman. But this series of dreams did not happen there, and there was no one I have ever known in them. I think it odd to have the same dream landscape again and again and have never been there in real life. I know they are dreams.
    posted by Oyéah at 9:50 PM on September 26, 2022 [3 favorites]

    In a former life -
    Because of the preponderance of doppelgängers that I seem to encounter (and I don't get out much but I see one every couple of months - then again I lived in Brooklyn for years and now Berlin - and there's a good flow of people from the latter to the former) I often wonder about the notion - the notion of familiarity, of feeling you 'belong' or you are 'among your clan.' And I don't really have that anywhere, nor any notion of where that would be, who they would be.
    In my early twenties I did a lot of yoga and there was one period in particular where I was going every morning, and every morning put my mat down opposite this specific person and every morning after the 'warm up series' and before things got serious, this other yogi would burst into flame. I mean, it was a hallucination, loosely speaking, (of Kali-ma/Shiva - of destruction and rebirth. At least that's how I saw it at the time, I really needed a rebirth and there it was...) but it happened none the less and I always kind of felt it burnt away a bunch of past lives. I have no idea which, but I left that period changed, different.

    A dog I used to take care of, that lived with us and was a pretty terrible companion but also a Bodhisattva. Of this I am sure, that their duty in this life was to get me to pull my head a little further out of my ass (a chronic, likely hereditary condition) in preparation to having children. I will confess I looked for and continue to look for 'his' reincarnated being in the years since but with no luck.

    Which brings up the next point - the fuck is the afterlife anyway? After an unsuccessful stint in the Christian church that started in childhood and came to a screeching halt at 14 or so (a year or two after XXXX clocked me in the back of my head with a rock one afternoon after leaving chorus practice. Her mom was the 'leader.' There was never any animosity between us, I was friends with her sister who was in my class yet she - felt the need to bean me - I bled and was completely flummoxed. I like to think I kept the rock (which was, admittedly, a good throwing rock - the size of a small potato or a lemon, perfect for a 12 year old girls' hand) but now I'm not sure...)
    After a number of friends and acquaintances have died in the last five - ten years (some very suddenly and surprisingly - starting with my dog-friend 18 years ago) I've decided to believe in an afterlife. Of some nebulous kind. Because I can. Because why not. Because it does service and fends off the, well, the void. I imagine it's like a cocktail party that I'm happy to be at. I don't know if it ends, but it burbles along indefinitely. Then at some point, you're called to go back down, give it another go.
    posted by From Bklyn at 8:14 AM on September 27, 2022 [3 favorites]

    I imagine it's like a cocktail party that I'm happy to be at. I don't know if it ends, but it burbles along indefinitely.

    So then not so much an afterlife, but more a sort of après-vie...
    posted by Greg_Ace at 9:00 AM on September 27, 2022 [5 favorites]

    If all these lives are getting recycled, where are the new “souls” coming from? Does that mean (statistically) someone here was a dinosaur in a past life? Are there, now, more ensouled beings on the planet than there were in the past?

    Perhaps it’s time for some Vril Conservation efforts.
    posted by JustSayNoDawg at 10:53 AM on September 27, 2022

    I don't even know who I am in this life, much less past lives.

    In other news, I am on my way to Chicago for work, I think my eighth flight this year (none by choice). In-flight vodka is not a good substitute for gin, but its functional, as opposed to aesthetic, effect, is acceptable.

    And my boss just emailed that a report I produced is "perfect", so I'll be riding that high for a few days.
    posted by Gorgik at 11:33 AM on September 27, 2022 [3 favorites]

    It is a truth universally acknowledged amongst my friends and family that my fear of boats and water is due to me having died on the Titanic a few lives ago.

    When I was a kid I obsessively read about the Titanic and my mother felt sure this meant I had died on it. I remember asking her why I would have to have DIED--couldn't I just have BEEN on it, and died later, like, of being kicked by a horse or something? And she was like you just don't understand reincarnation.

    Reader, I still do not. But I do think about the Titanic a lot, even 40-odd years later--rather more than is strictly necessary, I suppose.
    posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 12:46 PM on September 27, 2022 [5 favorites]

    Sometimes I think that in a past life I must have been a very beautiful and cruel woman, a real mean girl princess type, and this life I'm living now is all about me learning my goddamn lesson.
    posted by Ursula Hitler at 4:27 PM on September 27, 2022 [3 favorites]

    Bear. Definitely a bear. I have a strong drive to gain weight and hibernate. A diet of salmon, berries and honey sounds great.
    posted by jzb at 7:38 PM on September 27, 2022 [7 favorites]

    Plus the occasional hiker for dessert.
    posted by Greg_Ace at 8:23 PM on September 27, 2022 [4 favorites]

    Undistinguished agricultural worker. Before that I was on a farm. Before that, a peasant. A villein. Then before that, a serf. Then an unsuccessful cottar! Then a peasant again.
    posted by Phanx at 5:45 AM on September 28, 2022 [2 favorites]

    The older I get, the more I accept that essentially I am a labrador retriever puppy. I want to greet everyone with HIHIHIHELLO, play, and eat things, then nap, then play, then be distracted by a butterfly or my nose, then nap, then eat, then snuggle, then say HELLOHELLOHELLO to people, then run away.
    posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 8:58 AM on September 28, 2022 [6 favorites]

    I would be a simultaneous hummer and whistler of melodies-with-basslines and/or 2-part counterpoint. Provided the universe I pop up in needs such people.
    posted by Namlit at 2:21 PM on September 28, 2022

    I definitely have bear DNA. I have told this tale before. Once after work and no sleep, whilst I still had a TV, I got home from work, the kids were with their dad. So nearly falling asleep I sat down in the big chair and flipped through some channels, suddenly I was bolt upright in the chair, but I had flipped past what caught my attention. Going back, there it was; grizzly bears catching salmon in a brisk, low, waterfall. Big, flippy, tasty fish!
    posted by Oyéah at 4:29 PM on September 28, 2022 [2 favorites]

    I started my working life as a boatbuilder, then drifted away from that after 20 years for reasons. I've spent the rest of my working life (so far) in education, but still think about going back and have recently applied for a couple of jobs back in the marine industry. I sometimes think I was maybe a sailor or boatbuilder in a past life and my soul keeps trying to return to its roots.
    posted by dg at 4:53 PM on September 29, 2022

    DG there is a boatbuilding school in Maine.
    posted by Oyéah at 12:52 PM on September 30, 2022

    Well, I've done jobs before that I felt had a long commute, but a 26-hour flight each way is just a (non) bridge too far for me ;-)
    posted by dg at 8:38 PM on October 3, 2022

    posted by Oyéah at 5:05 PM on October 14, 2022

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