Monday, December 28, 2009

I Remember The Granite Castles...

When I was about three years old, I lived in a small town on Vancouver Island. Life in my town was quite provincial, to say the least. It was a pretty little town, but it was not a hub of cultural activity. Every night my parents used to put me to bed at around 7:00 or so, long before I was ready to go to sleep. I used to lie in my bed and remember walking through a castle made of blocks of granite. On the walls were large hunting tapestries, and I remembered looking up at the tapestries and admiring them. The hallways were lit by candles in wall sconces. I would spend hours walking through the walls carefully studying the tapestries. But of course, I was in my bed in my small town on Vancouver Island, and I can assure you that at the age of three, I had never been in a granite castle. And I had never seen a hunting tapestry, but I very clearly remembered them.

My memory of the hunting tapestries was very vivid, and I could recall the details in them, and the wonderful colors. They had fascinated me and I would study the shapes of the people and the animals, and the scenes they portrayed. I had memorized them by heart, and I could pull them out of my memory banks whenever I wanted, and visit with them from my little bed in my small town. It never occurred to me that I should not be doing this. They were memories of objects that I loved, that had been my companions for hours on end, and I can still remember them.

When I was about 15 years old, I was looking through my father's bookcases, and I found a book called "The England of Elizabeth" by A.L. Rowse. The book described Elizabeth life -- society, culture, politics, religion, art, cooking, and so much more. As I read the book, I had the warm feeling of familiarity, as though I had lived the life the book was describing. The book became like a friend. And then I got to the part about the tapestries.

According to the book, tapestries provided insulation for granite castle walls. They were used in medieval castles and manor houses, where the high walls had only a few narrow doors and windows. By using tapestries specially woven to hang between windows and over doors, it was possible to cover entire walls of bare stone. Suspended a foot or two from the surface of the wall, tapestries reduced condensation and drafts, as well as provided some insulation against the cold. The most popular subjects were hunting scenes, tournaments and battles, Bible stories, mythology, and legend. There were also tapestries of the outdoors, fields, gardens, flowers and woods. The book went on to say, "Both Henry VIII and Cardinal Wolsey had had a passion for collecting tapestries. Wolsey bought hundreds for Hampton Court, and on his fall, Henry took his entire collection from him -- no wonder that the acquisitive king left some 2,000 at his death." ... A.L. Rowse, "The England of Elizabeth".

How does one explain something like that? I have no idea. All I know is that, as a child, I remembered these wonderful works of art. I used to lie in my bed in my small town on Vancouver Island, and wander through the huge, candle-lit granite halls of the castles, looking at the beautiful tapestries hanging there. I remembered every detail of them, and I remembered them as surely as if I had seen them the day before. For Christmas, a very dear friend gave me the whole set of A.L. Rowse's books "The England of Elizabeth", and once again I can wander through the pages at leisure, reading about life in the Elizabethan era, and remembering...

18 comments:

kenju said...

Jo, those who believe in reincarnation would say you were having past-life memories. For a memory of that type to be so strong in one so young, I believe that has to be the explanation.

Marlene said...

My brother, too, had very vivid and detailed memories of 'the farm he came from' when he was three years old. While I remember his 'stories', he has no recollection of them today.

nomore said...

Those were the Beautiful Dreams and beautiful Memories ! It makes this Beautiful posts Guess..... Happy New Year !

PhilipH said...

What superb works of art! We have a large Bayeux tapestry hanging above the main staircase at Mellerstain plus smaller works in other rooms. Such workmanship and skill. Wonderful stuff.

Dorothy said...

This was a fascinating account of the power of one's memories and I love knowing that tapestries also had a purpose..insulation..

Great writing.

Dorothy from grammology
grammology.com

Pauline said...

perhaps you have inherited the memories of your ancestors much the way you've inherited eye color and personality traits... the world is an odd, strange and fascinating place.

C Hummel Kornell a/k/a C Hummel Wilson said...

With such vivid memories of the details one would suppose that you had, indeed, experienced them first hand. I tend to believe that all things are possible. Our 4 year old granddaughter tells very detailed stories about her other father and mother and about a little sister (she only has a brother). We all listen as she tells her stories and they are repeated in the same manner each time. She makes it clear that this is her "other" family and that they live on a farm. When questioned or challenged she sticks to her guns telling everyone that these stories are true. Perhaps she is experiencing a past happening or perhaps she simply has an over active imagination. Whatever, she believes and that's good enough for us.

Jo, thanks so much for your kind words about my artwork. You are really a very nice person. Have a great day.

TC said...

I believe in deja vu but not reincarnation if that is possible? I have no explanation but yours seems vivid and beautiful.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

It's quite obvious that you were there in a former incarnation. I believe that we are born remembering, but that at some point the business of learning all that our present life requires becomes so demanding that we forget.

I had similar childhood experiences, and the memories seemed even more real to me than my present life. I remember my frustration at being unable to convey my thoughts because I couldn't talk yet. I also had the ability as a small child to leave my body at night and fly but lost it when my mother assured me it was not possible. At some point, I gave up and submitted to this incarnation. We all do because we have to, but how wonderful that you are able to find comfort in tangible evidence that your castle and tapestries really existed, just as you remember them.

Brenda said...

That sounds like a fascinating memory. I have had some dreams before that were very detailed and very lengthy. I thought maybe I was time traveling.

cat said...

The mind and memories are very strange and wonderful things. I have memories that I cannot account for from this life, but I don't believe in reincarnation, personally. I guess I will find out eventually though.

ivan said...

Elizabethans were most cool. The King James Bible and Shakespeare.
And shipbuilding and technology. The beginning of modern times.
Who could ignore the Elizabethans. Not of my tribe, but we somehow (through cultural osmosis?)have roots there.

Kitty Moore said...

Wow - that is totally fascinating Jo! I guess there are some things that we simply cannot find logical explanations for.

Have A Very Happy New Year!

Kitty x

Alicia said...

Great story. I don't know why you remember all of that, but at least its a beautiful memory!

Katy said...

Such are the mysteries of the soul.

Lay said...

I totally believe that it is very possible... You should read many lives many masters by Brian L. Weiss, it changed everything for me!! Have a wonderful new year!

Land of shimp said...

Perhaps it is genetic memory, or glimpses of a life lived long ago. Maybe as a tiny child, your soul took flight through time in a dream, and brought those images back with you.

I love the unexplained and intriguing, it makes life so much more interesting. The great mysteries of what we truly are.

I don't think it is going to come as a wild shock to you that I also have an unexplained affinity for this particular period.

Happy, happy New Year, Jo.

Paula Slade said...

Such a lovely and cherished remembrance of your childhood Jo. Thank you for sharing.