Inundation Zone of Proposed Dam

   He felt certain that he had tapped into the memory of a previous life, which opened up immense possibities. If this were true, he reasoned, then each person has a soul that remembers not only previous times but also recognizes places that still exist, an eternal soul, perhaps, and if so, then it followed that nothing in the universe actually falls totally into oblivion. It was possible that the subconscious could remember because the past and the present and the future are part of one consciousness, as if time were an ocean, and the individual mind could connect with other parts of that vast consciousness.
   He became more and more excited, and even though he was an atheist and always considered himself a rational man, priding himself on his forethought and discipline, he decided to go to a hypnotist for a past life regression. The experience of being hypnotized at first struck him as awkward, slightly embarrassing, and even a little dangerous since he was giving another person almost absolute control, but he couldn't resist finding out the truth, so he made an appointment with a hynotist that his ex-wife had recommended, a Dr. Browning, who had a reputation for helping people who were trying to quit smoking.
   Justin drove to a house on a county island, surrounded by tall pine trees, the natural setting as inviting as a forest. He was ushered into the house by a woman in her late fifties, who stared at him coldly for a moment and then led him upstairs to a loft above the garage with a view of the midsection of a pine tree.
   "Have a seat on the couch," she commanded. "My husband will be here shortly."
   He wondered if making the client wait was standard procedure. In his case it wasn't working; Justin had the urge to dash back down the stairs and out the door. Instead, he looked around the office. It was clean, decorated in the Southwestern style with paintings of Native Americans curled up next to big clay pots, a room devoid of any paraphanelia intended to mesmerize, as far as Justin could tell. Suddenly Dr. Browning walked in, apologizing for being late.
   He was an older gentleman, with bulging white eyebrows. "I just have a couple of questions before we get started," he said. "Have you ever been hypnotized before?"
   "No," Justin replied.
   "What do you expect to learn from this experience?"
   "You'll probably think this is silly, or maybe not--I don't know. Recently, I've had feelings like I've lived before, and I was hoping that you might be able to regress me back to that time, if that's possible."
   "Do you believe in reincarnation?"
   "I'm not sure."
   "Are you religious?"
   "I'm not sure what that means."
   "Do you consider yourself a Christian or a Buddhist or a Muslim?"
   "No. Really, I don't believe in any particular religion. Usually, I find my spiritual strength in the 'church of nature,' so to speak. In fact, that's where I first had these feelings. I was near a creek and I felt like I'd been there before. I felt like an Indian woman who had lost someone she deeply loved. And I have never wanted to be a woman, if that's what you're thinking," Justin grinned.
   "I appreciate your frankness. What you're asking is not easy, and if we are successful you might not like what you find. Every life contains a certain amount of pain, as I'm sure you know."
   "I'm willing to risk it."
   "As long as you understand that there is an element of risk, or at least the possibility of some unpleasantness, I'm going to go ahead and start the process of hypnotizing you. You realize that I'm going to record this session. Is that all right?"
   Justin was a receptive subject, going under right away. After regressing Justin back to his birth experience, the hypnotist asked him to walk on the trail next to the creek again, but this time in his previous life. He asked Justin to describe what he saw. Justin described the huts on the ridge and women at the pounding stone gossiping and laughing. One man was making a spear, another a trap, while others appeared to be gambling.
   "Tell me what happened to you," the hypnotist said.
   Justin described the meeting place on the ridge above the huts. With rocks that formed a natural semi-circle where people could sit, the meeting place had always instilled fear in her because terrible judgments were made there, often at night when the fire gave an unearthly glow to the elders, and now they appeared to be discussing her, judging her, deciding what to do with her. Her young husband had been killed by white settlers as he was trying to steal mules from a farm which had once been part of the tribe's hunting grounds, and she had not been able to overcome her grief, avoiding or becoming angry at the other members of the tribe who tried to help her. She didn't want to believe that her husband was dead. She was slowly starving, weeping if she ate anything, and wandering off into the woods for days by herself, which was terribly risky because of the animals. It was becoming difficult for the tribe to keep sending men out looking for her.
   She refused to speak when the elders talked to her. She just stood with her head down, tears welling in her eyes. They talked to her sympathetically, and in the end decided that she should be taken to the clan nearby so that she could recover in different surroundings, away from her husband's grave where she had spent so many hours, completely inconsolable. Relatives in that clan would take care of her as long as she didn't run away. If she disappeared again, they would have to let her go.
   He remembered that she followed her brothers down the trail toward the valley to a large village at the base of a hill, next to a stream. Her brothers left her with an aunt and uncle, two kindly old people who made her feel at home. At first she worked away from the tribe at a pounding stone with one mortar on a ridge overlooking the village. Soon, however, she was working with the other women.
   He recalled that one morning she got up early to get water from the creek and saw white settlers crawling up the ridge. Her screams awakened the village just before the white men began firing their rifles into the huts. A few of the Yokut's men were able to arm themselves and attack from hiding places in outcroppings of rock on the hillside. She ran toward the battle and grabbed the rifle of a fallen white man and shot another one in the face before she was hit with a rifle butt and lost consciousness. He couldn't remember any more after that even though he wasn't certain she had been killed.
   The hypnotist woke him gently from his trance. "Do you remember what you just told me?" he asked.
   "Yes, I do," Justin replied. "I can't believe it. This is incredible. Why don't more people know about this?"
   "'This' meaning reincarnation?" the hypnotist asked.
   "Yeah. Imagine if everyone knew they had lived before and would live again. Wouldn't that knowledge eliminate a lot of horrible problems?"
   "I doubt that everyone is ready for this. You weren't ready until now, and how old are you?"
   "I doubt that we could force anyone to do this. They have to be ready for it, like you. Anyway, realizing that you have an eternal soul doesn't necessarily mean that you will be a better person."
   "Yes, but don't you realize what power you have to do good? The white racist would realize that he could have once been black. The sexist would realize that he was at least once a woman. The homophobic would realize that he might once have been gay, or might be in a future life."
   "Yes, but prejudice is a type of power that very few people are willing to give up."
   "But what if this became an accepted practice. Children could be regressed before they could become prejudiced!"
   "You mean they would go to their hypnotist like they go to their dentist?" he laughed.
   "Why not?"
   "You are not only a receptive subject but extremely brave! Unfortunately I don't have time to change the entire world right now. I have another appointment," he said with a warm smile.
   Justin thanked him and left the office, pondering the significance of reincarnation for many days afterward, without telling anyone, not even his ex-wife, who was really the only person who would listen.

Take the next path.
Take a similar path.
Meet a mountain lion.
Meet the Page of Cups.