There is something wonderfully comforting about the concept of soul angels - beings of serene and pure intent - being available to guide us in our daily lives. We live in times of such uncertainty and rapid change that the touch of the divine, no matter how light, feels uplifting. Jenny Smedley's book Soul Angels is both comforting and inspiring.
Jenny Smedley, who lives and works in Somerset, UK, has a rather unusual life story. At a time when Smedley was suffering deep depression and recurrent nightmares, she saw the popular American singer Garth Brooks on TV and immediately felt a mystical connection to him. Amazingly, her depression lifted.
In her search for answers Smedley underwent regression therapy. This led her to a past life where, as a young woman named Madeleine, she had been married to Brooks, only to be cruelly parted by disapproving relatives. The young man was sent to war; Madeleine, heartbroken and distraught later took her own life.
It says something for Smedley's persistence that she overcame numerous obstacles to meet face to face with Brooks. She says that their reunion, after 300 years, brought healing and changes to them both. She went on to be a columnist, radio and TV presenter and author of a number of books. Smedley is now well known for her work in past life therapy.
The belief in reincarnation is quite widespread in the world, particularly in Eastern religious traditions. Even in the West, where reincarnation was once considered rather mysterious, perhaps even self indulgent, the research of Brian L Weiss, MD, and others like him have shown that regression therapy can be beneficial, particularly where symptoms cannot be explained medically.
Soul Angels has a number of fascinating case studies where past life trauma manifests as unusual phobias or chronic, incurable pain. Particularly intriguing is the case of Georgina, a successful corporate executive, who suffered from debilitating migraines all her life. A regression led her to a past life in medieval England where she had been a village medicine woman and midwife. It was a rather primitive and isolated existence, as the villagers feared Georgina's talents and abilities.
When one of the women she was assisting died in childbirth, her angry husband later attacked Georgina, bashing the left side of her skull with a rock. Georgina claims that healing the trauma associated with this brutal death also healed her migraines.
No one could explain Sally's phobia of leaves, which had plagued her since childhood. Under hypnosis she was able to tap into a particularly horrific memory of being on the run from a group of attackers in a forest. She hid in a leaf-filled gully but was unable to escape the inevitable. Accessing this memory brought her freedom from this unusual phobia.
Such stories lead one to wonder what lies unrevealed in our own past. The history of our world contains wars, plagues and numerous personal tragedies. The other side of the coin is the possibility of tapping into the knowledge and expertise gained in happy, successful lives. Smedley argues that past life recall is the key to reuniting body, soul and mind.
Life is a journey is a familiar truism. Smedley's belief is that our origins are angelic and this life journey is a return to divinity. It is not a lonely path. She has coined the term "soul angels" to describe our divine helpers who nudge us along the way so that we keep to the correct path.
"We are masters and makers of our own destiny. We are much more powerful than we ever know," she writes. I find this viewpoint rather appealing.
Nicola Silva is a journalist and writer based in Sydney