Manuscript help, book reviews and author interviews
” Spirits have stories to tell. One must know how to listen” from Bhangarh to Bedlam
Deepta Roy Chakraverti’s anthology is unique. It includes non-fictional, paranormal accounts of the author’s own experiences. Written in a gripping manner, the narratives connect instantly and it’s very difficult to put the book down. Deepta’s accounts take the reader into the fascinating, yet bone chilling world of spirits or trapped souls if one may call them that. The locations are diverse- from the ruins of Bhangarh in Rajasthan and the alleys of Puri in Odisha to Bedlam in central London. The reference check on all locations confirm the authenticity of what the author is trying to tell.
For centuries there has been a heated debate about the existence of spirits and the validity of pagan rituals that honour them. As quoted in the book, “Pythagoras believed in the immortality of the soul. So did Plato. So did many brilliant men in more recent times, like Sir Olivet Lodge, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sir Ernest Bennett……..”
Deepta’s book introduced me to Wicca, a twentieth century pagan tradition, that gives prime importance to the elements of nature. The Wiccans believe that everything in the universe is encompassed within it’s own divinity. Wiccans pride themselves in the belief that they have the ability to contact the spirits of the dead. According to them this leads to a higher level of spirituality and acceptance of that what is different. Commoners and skeptics have called it witchcraft and history is witness to the alienation suffered by many followers of paganism.
The foreword by Ipsita Roy Chakravarti, Deepta’s mother and teacher, is eloquently written. Ipsita is a Wiccan priestess based in India. She released her autobiography Beloved Witch in 2003. A second book titled Sacred Evil: Encounters With the Unknown was released in 2006, and it chronicled nine case studies during her life as a Wiccan healer. Her insights into the shift from matriarchal society to a patriarchal one are interesting. The deft writing style captivates and is an apt introduction to the pages that follow.
After reading the anthology, my interest was piqued and an interview with Deepta added to my unforgettable reading experience.
Excerpts of the interview…………..
On early years and Wiccan learning from Ipsita -“Wiccan knowledge, as I have learnt from Ipsita, is not something which can come only with pages from books. It is something which follows the old gurukul system, and the ancient tradition is imparted by absorbing the ways of old from the Wiccan Teacher. It is a philosophy and a way of life. The way we think and behave. Wicca is a blend of something which is very ascetic and at the same time, very beautiful. Ipsita has taught me, like she teaches her students in the Wiccan Brigade, how to live with strength and dignity. To have a sense of oneness with something greater than all of us. Perhaps the Divine, or perhaps Nature, or maybe a bit of both.
Something that Ipsita has taught, is that there are many sides of every phenomena, or happening, and it is for us to have an open mind. Perhaps that is why psychical research is so interesting for me – to be able to see the oneness in science and mysticism. For we believe that there is no quarrel between the two. It is lobbies with vested interests who create a divide for their own very commercial interests.
Ipsita’s Wiccan training has also time and again spoken of how, like many of the ancient traditions of the world, we believe that physical death is not the end. The spirit lives on. Be it Sri Aurobindo, who spoke of the ‘physic vitale’, or Thomas Edison, who is believed to have created a Spirit Machine to communicate with the other world, or Conan Doyle who was immersed in spiritualism, or be it modern day research at the top universities in the UK and Germany, this belief that the spirit is eternal is something which is part of the Wiccan belief system.
Sadly, in our part of the world we are still so steeped in superstition, that in many ways it is still the Dark Ages. Our women are still branded “daayans”and killed in rural India, while lobbies with vested interests prey on the gullible”.
On psychic experiences -“Encounters with the other world for me, do not happen at will. It is not like a switch which I can click on or off. Rather, other dimensions perhaps choose to manifest or give signs at their will. These interactions are like one has with “real” people and can be both good, and bad. At times one can sense their sadness, and feel their suffering which can linger through the centuries, such as I remember from Bhangarh’s Sooraj Bai. Or there can be trapped energies of those who are bound to a time and a place and choose never to leave, such as I felt at the site of Bedlam in London”.
A highly recommended book!!! It’s not about whether one believes in spirits or not. It’s about always having an open mind towards different and opposing perspectives. Warning though…… if you are feeble hearted like me, don’t read at night, no matter how difficult it is to leave the book. I had to sleep with the lights on for a couple of nights.