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4-year-old recalls ‘past life’ 9/11 experience

DODo we reincarnate after we die ? Image Credit: PD – Leandro De Carvalho

A mother on TikTok has shared the remarkable recollections of her young daughter’s alleged past life.

While the concept of past lives and the idea that people can remember who they used to be remains a highly controversial topic, some researchers have documented tantalizing evidence suggesting that there may be something more to the phenomenon than a child’s overactive imagination.

One intriguing example of this can be found in a video posted on TikTok by Riss White – a mother who was responding to a post asking for stories of children’s past-life recollections.

According to White, on September 11th 2018 she had been browsing news articles and memorial pieces about the 2001 terrorist attacks when her daughter seemed to recognize the twin towers.

Hey mom, I used to work there,” she said, pointing to an image of the North Tower.

When White asked her when that was, the four-year-old replied “before.

What she said next however would chill her mother to the bone.

She said that one day she was working and the floor got really hot,” said White. “So she stood on her desk because the floor was too hot. And she said that her and her friends were trying to get through the door but they couldn’t open the door so she jumped out of the window and flew like a bird.

Of course it’s possible that the girl had somehow picked up references to the events of 9/11 from somewhere else, but it seems unlikely that she would have understood it at that age.

Could she really be the reincarnation of someone who died that day ?

You decide.


The Strange Tale of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel

By Brent Swancer

SINCE the dawn of time, since humankind became aware of our own mortality, there have been those who have sought to stop the inevitable approach of death. The search for immortality has become a common theme of obsession in many stories throughout history, from ancient Chinese emperors seeking elixirs of life to those looking for the actual Fountain of Youth, it seems as if there are no limits to the lengths people have been willing to go to live forever. Yet while it all seems like it must surely be purely a mythical dream with no basis in reality, there have also been those who have been claimed to have actually achieved it. One of these was a man who lived in the 15th century, who through ancient magic and alchemy supposedly found the secrets to life eternal. The man known as Nicolas Flamel was born in 1330, going on to live in Paris and become a scribe and manuscript seller. He had two humble shops in Paris, and married a woman named Perenelle in 1368. This all seems fairly mundane for the most part, and indeed in life Flamel was not much talked about, but after his death he began to draw to him all manner of strange stories that catapulted him into a larger than life figure with myriad mysteries

Nicholas Flamel

It was in the 17th century, hundreds of years after Flamel’s death in 1418 that stories of Flamel’s secret, mystical life began to do the rounds, painting him to be far more than just a humble scribe and bookseller. It was claimed that he in fact had been deeply into the mystical arts of alchemy, an interest which had turned to an obsession starting with a dream. The story goes that one night he had a vivid dream of an angel, which came to him showing him a book and proclaiming “Look well at this book, Nicholas. At first you will understand nothing in it – neither you nor any other man. But one day you will see in it that which no other man will be able to see.” In the dream, Nicholas had reached for the book but woke up before he could touch it. Over the coming days the surreal dream lurked in the back of his mind, only to come crashing back to him with the arrival of a mysterious stranger at his shop.

The man came in off the street with a book that he said he needed to sell for money, not particularly strange considering Flamel’s line of work, but what was strange was that he immediately recognized it as the very same book that the angel had been holding in his dream. Flamel immediately purchased the book and brought it into his study to examine it. The cover was an ancient looking, ornate worked copper adorned with arcane symbols and designs, and opening it showed that it was apparently authored by “Abraham the Jew, prince, priest, Levite, astrologer and philosopher.” This was followed by a litany of warnings to the reader of the book being cursed for those who were not worthy to read it, followed by pages and pages of cryptic text, designs, illustrations, diagrams, and symbols, all written in an unintelligible hodgepodge of Greek ancient Hebrew, and other languages, most of which he did not understand and some which he had never seen before. Flamel apparently knew enough to recognize that the book had something to do with alchemy, and he suspected there were profound secrets within the book’s pages, but at the time these eluded him. So began his obsessive quest to decipher the book.

Flamel allegedly went on to make understanding the book his life’s work, feverishly spending all of his available time scouring Paris for clues and locked away in his study hunched over it. He would spend around 21 years doing this, slowly unlocking certain bits and pieces of the manuscript, yet it still eluded him. He then decided to take a journey to Spain, where many Jewish exiles lived at the time, to see if he could find more answers there. It was some time during his trip to Spain when Flamel would supposedly meet a Jewish scholar and sage by the name of Maestro Canches, who identified Flamel’s book as being a copy of the original Book of Abramelin the Mage, one of the greatest masters to have ever studied the mysteries of the mystical Kabbalah. This book was said to have been lost long ago, but that it would always find its way to a person who was destined for its secrets. The sage translated the few pages Flamel had brought with him, before agreeing to return to Paris with his to help with the rest of it. Sadly, Canches would die before it was completed, but Flamel had learned enough to continue decoding the manuscript himself.

ACCAccording to the tale, Flamel took three years to finish the translation, in the process unlocking its vast magical powers. For one, it is said that he learned the secret to creating the legendary Philosopher’s Stone, the key to the coveted art of transmutation, or turning base metals such as mercury into gold, an ability long sought after by alchemists. Interestingly, during this time, it seems that Flamel became suddenly and inexplicably rich, suspected to be through the use of alchemy. He and his wife began giving massive amounts of money to various philanthropist projects, as well as making donations to the Church, with no one able to figure out where all of this money was coming from. King Charles VI of France even ordered an investigation into Flamel out of suspicion, but there was nothing found that could account for this wealth and no sign of any shady dealings.

Historical records indicate that officially, Flamel died in 1418 at the age of 88, after which his house was ransacked by people who would steal the Philosopher’s Stone and the Book of Abramelin, but it was never found. In the early part of the 17th century, a man named Dubois claimed to be a descendant of Flamel, and also that he had inherited some of the secrets and could fashion gold from lead. When the powerful Cardinal Richelieu heard of this, he tried to extract the secret from Dubois, finally resorting to imprisoning Dubois and stealing the book, but he was apparently never able to understand it, and after that the whereabouts of the book are unknown, lost to the mists of time. The 17th century also saw various texts suddenly appear to talk of Nicholas Flamel’s alchemical prowess, with books supposedly written by him appearing as well, to the point that he became legendary and served to fuel the massive popularity of alchemy at the time, even referenced in Isaac Newton’s journals to “the Caduceus, the Dragons of Flammel.” In the meantime, rumors began to swirl that not only had Flamel managed the feat of transmutation, but had also harnessed the secrets of immortality.

ALAlthough Flamel had supposedly died in the 15th century, stories began to appear that all was not as it seemed. Besides various alleged sightings of Flamel long after he should have been dead, in the 17th century, an archeologist named Paul Lucas was in Broussa, Turkey, sent by King Louis XIV on a fact finding mission. While he was there, Lucas made the acquaintance of a wise philosopher who told him that Flamel and his wife had harnessed the secrets of immortality through the use of the Philosopher’s Stone. According to this philosopher, with the secrets of the Philosopher’s Stone a person could live for thousands of years, and that there were those out there who had managed to achieve this, including Flamel. Lucas was told that Flamel and his wife had both achieved immortality, faked their own deaths and funerals, and then moved to India, where they still lived. Although Lucas was skeptical at first, he started to believe when the philosopher described the Book of Abraham and how Flamel had come into its possession. Had Flamel really managed to beat death? No one really knows.

Flamel would remain a fixture of the alchemical world into later centuries, mentioned in various works of fiction and even making his way into modern pop culture, appearing in the best-selling novel Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and its film adaptation, as well as its spinoff film Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. Of course considering that Flamel never was really known as an alchemist until books published centuries after his death, there is the argument that these were nothing but myths dressed up around a real historical figure in order to sell books, the manuscripts attributed to him written by someone else, the whole of it embellished at best and pure fabrication at worst. It leaves us to wonder just how much of any of it is based in fact, just where myth ends and reality begins. Nicholas Flamel certainly did exist, but was he ever an all powerful alchemist who found the secrets of the universe and of eternal life? Or is this all just lore and legends? Is he just a historical figure draped in myth, or is he perhaps out there right now, still just as vigorous and alive as ever? It is hard to say, but Nicholas Flamel has definitely made his mark upon history one way or another.


The Strange and Amazing Life of Aloha Wanderwell

By Brent Swancer

THROUGHOUT history there have been those particular individuals who were larger than life and who inspired fascination and wonder. Among these have been the numerous explorers of our world, who devoted their lives to pushing out past the boundaries of our understanding and past the dark borders of what we know to bring back tales of high adventure and intrigue, their lives reading like something out of an Indiana Jones movie. One such very special, courageous, and unique individual was a woman who lived a life that seems almost unreal, trotting about the world in a whirlwind of adventure, discovery, romance, and at times tragedy.

The woman now known popularly as Aloha Wanderwell was born Idris Galcia Hall on October 13, 1906 in Winnipeg, Canada, but moved to Europe at an early age when her step-father, Herbert Hall, joined the Canadian Expeditionary Force and was transferred to different posts around England, Belgium, and France with the Durham Light Infantry. In 1917, Hall was tragically killed in combat during fierce fighting in Ypres, Belgium in World War I. Idris would move through several boarding schools before being enrolled in a convent school in France, where she was thoroughly miserable. Idris was an adventurous sort, who wanted to go out and see the world, so she felt caged and confined in those convent walls, perpetually looking out towards the horizon and daydreaming about the wonders and strange lands that lay out beyond it. In 1922, when she was just 16, she would grasp at this wanderlust and take an opportunity that would change the course of the rest of her life.

IDIdris Hall, AKA Aloha Wanderwell

It began with an advertisement in a paper that Idris came about by chance, which read “Brains, Beauty & Breeches – World Tour Offer For Lucky Young Woman. Wanted to join an expedition… Asia, Africa…” She couldn’t resist the siren call of this ad, and immediately applied for the expedition, which happened to be led by a Walter “Cap” Wanderwell, who had actually been born in Poland as Valerian Johannes Pieczynski. It turned out that the expedition was part of a “million-dollar wager round-the-world endurance race” that had started in 1919 and which was being carried out by two teams driving Ford 1917 Model Ts in a contest to see who could log the most miles and visit the most far-flung countries. Although Idris first joined on as a mechanic and French translator, her charm and good looks soon made her the face of the expedition, and she was featured heavily in promotional material and the travelogue documentary film the team was making along the way.

Joining the ambitious expedition in Paris, Idris was soon whisked off on the journey of a lifetime. From between 1922 to 1927, she would travel 380,000 miles across 80 countries, in the process becoming the first woman to circumnavigate the globe in a Ford 1918 Model T, along the way producing films of their travels, during which Idris picked up the stage name “Aloha Wanderwell,” despite the fact that the two were not married at the time. They produced many films during this time, and Aloha also found herself heavily involved with photography, editing, and cinematography, working as much behind the camera as she did in front of it. She even managed to film other momentous historical occasions, such as filming the first aerial circumnavigation of the world when they came across the planes in Calcutta in 1924. However, it was far from glamorous most of the time, the journey a grueling, often dangerous one. During their travels they drove through dangerous war zones, food riots and hostile mobs in Germany, across treacherous terrain that often required them to tow their vehicle by oxen through swamps, mud and rivers, through arid deserts where the two almost died of thirst, all the while dodging dangerous wilds animals, bandits, and hostile natives, barely escaping death on various occasions.

Of course, being cooped up in a car together over hundreds of thousands of miles and almost dying together numerous times can bring people together, and Aloha and Walter found themselves falling in love, despite the fact that he was separated but still technically married at the time. However, when they returned from their fantastic journey they ended up getting married in California, having two kids, and also releasing a documentary of their exploits called With Car and Camera Around the World. They were launched into fame as intrepid explorers, soon starting their next adventure, venturing through Africa from 1926–1928, and then setting their sights on South America in 1931, where they meant to fly into the uncharted jungle realm of the Mata Grosso region of the Amazon basin in search of the missing explorer Percy Fawcett, who had vanished while searching for his mythical City of Z.

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ALOHAAloha on the road

They flew into the remote, unexplored region aboard a German seaplane, which at one point ran out of fuel and came down on an isolated stretch of the Paraguay River. They would luckily receive help from a little-known tribe called the Bororo, who were up until then uncontacted. The crew would film the tribe, becoming the first outsiders to ever do so, and gained the tribe’s trust enough that when Walter went to try and get to civilization for help, he left Aloha behind to live amongst them. She would learn their ways and film them in their daily lives and rituals, eventually making it all into a 32-minute silent documentary called Flight to the Stone Age Bororos, still considered by the Smithsonian Institute’s Human Studies Archive to be a very important anthropological study and resource. She would live with the mysterious tribe for months before Walter returned and they were able to return home in 1931. They never did find any trace of Fawcett, but it had been quite the adventure of a lifetime once again.

The couple by this time were world famous, and they planned to have many more adventures, but these plans were cut short by tragedy. At the time Walter was renovating and repairing a 110-foot yacht called The Carma, in order to sail it to Tahiti and document their planned voyage around the South Seas, but it was a trip they would never take. On the evening of December 5, 1932, Walter was on the yacht in the harbor near Long Beach, California, his children sleeping below deck when a stranger came aboard requesting to see him. What happened next is unclear, but people nearby heard gunshots and ran to the yacht to find Walter Wandewell slumped over dead, shot in the back. The mysterious stranger was never found or identified, and although a disgruntled former employee of the Wanderwells by the name of William Guy was suspected, he was later acquitted, leaving the murder unsolved. At the time it was major news, sparking much debate as to what had happened and who the killer was, as well as scandal and even some people suspecting Aloha herself. One researcher of the case has said:

The list of possible killers with a motive would have made Agatha Christie’s head spin. It could have included husbands, boyfriends, jilted women, jilted business partners, an agent of a foreign power, rogue police, and Aloha herself.

ALOAloha and Walter Wanderwell

No one would ever be charged with the crime, leaving it a perplexing mystery that has lingered to this day. In the wake of this tragedy, Aloha went on to marry a Walter Baker in 1933, while continuing her adventures, ultimately travelling over 500,000 miles through six continents in Ford vehicles, as well as making over a dozen films, including To See the World by Car, India Now, and Explorers of the Purple Sage. She would gain nicknames such as “The Most Travelled Girl” and “The Amelia Earhart of the Road,” giving lectures and writing extensively of her travels, including her autobiographical travelogue Call to Adventure!, eventually settling in Newport Beach, California before passing away in 1995 at the age of 89. Much of her work has been painstakingly preserved and her films remain important additions to various archives, educational institutions, and museums. Aloha Wanderwell lived enough for several lifetimes, doing, seeing, and experiencing things most people can only dream of, things that are like something straight out of and action-adventure movie, and she stands tall as one of the more fascinating figures from history.