Past life memories of Elgar – an interview with author Ann Merivale

elgarAnn Merivale is a highly trained regression therapist who studied with renowned Jungian psychoanalyst Dr. Roger Woolger. She’s also author of several books including: Souls United, Delayed departure and Discovering the life plan. Perhaps her most intriguing work is the upcoming Life without Elgar charting Ann’s personal past-life regression journey. A journey inspired by her inexplicable emotional attachment to the composer Sir Edward Elgar and in which she unearths memories of being Helen Weaver. Ann is definitely a multi-faceted woman, embodying not just this life, but others that have gone before. I managed to catch her, for a few moments during her hectic schedule, for a conversation on Elgar and past life memory.

Me: You describe an ‘unusual attachment’ to Elgar from about the age of 16, what kind of attachment?  

Ann: In the first section of the book I describe the start of my journey into classical music from the age of about ten and indicate how my passion for Edward Elgar differed from my love of, for instance, the works of Haydn. In the case of Elgar it was more than the music that I was so mad about: I felt as though I really knew the man himself and I quite literally believed that I would never get over the fact that he had died six years before I was born!

Me: Did you automatically think about regression therapy or did that come later?

Ann: I was a good Catholic then – and for many years after as well – so it naturally never occurred to me that I could actually have known him. The desire to do this particular regression only came to me really strongly in 2012, but of course that’s all recounted in the book.

Me: Can you give us a sneak peek into your regression discoveries? 


Ann: An interesting point about it is that, even though I had by 2012 been working as a therapist for fourteen years and had also had numerous regressions myself, I was still firmly convinced that I couldn’t have actually known Elgar during that lifetime. (I had ‘silly’ reasons such as “impossible dates” with which to support this belief.) So when my colleagues at the meeting I was attending in France got me to utter the names of all the women who had been important in Elgar’s life and I started coughing uncontrollably the moment the name Helen Weaver passed my lips, their conviction about what this indicated came as a huge shock to me. If shock is the right word! The more I thought about it afterwards, the more the discovery made sense of the feelings that I had had for almost longer than I could remember. I didn’t have a cold at the time, nor had I had one particularly recently, and Helen Weaver is thought to have had TB when she left her fiancé for New Zealand. In the book I have talked about how my teacher, the distinguished Dr. Roger Woolger, specialised in working ‘from the body’ and the efficacy of his methods, so the sudden violent coughing was enough to convince my well trained friends that Helen’s “possible TB” had been a reality and that I was now reliving some of her experience. After that, under their skilled guidance, a lot of the life unfurled before my eyes. I am a very visual person (which incidentally is by no means essential for regression), but even more important were the feelings and emotions that came to me so very clearly. There has been much speculation among Elgar experts about Helen’s precise reasons for breaking off their engagement and emigrating, and these became crystal clear to me, which is why I felt so strongly that I had to write about it.

Me: The way you write about it, the structure of the book, is interesting. Why did you decide to tell your story that way?

Ann: That is another rather interesting question. I already had in my mind the seeds of another book, and following this regression I gave it the title LIFE WITHOUT ELGAR and Other Tales of a Journeying Soul. I intended to make Helen Weaver’s story just one section of a much longer book, and that idea remained in my head for the whole of another year. I was, however, busy at the time finishing THICKER THAN BLOOD? – A Fresh Look at Adoption, Fostering and Step Families (now, I’m glad to say, at last in the 6th BOOKS pipeline) and so I wasn’t wanting anything else to interfere with that. But then, in May 2013, I went to a talk at Plas Gwyn in Hereford, where the Elgar family lived from 1904-11. The bottom section of this large, attractive house is now owned by my friend Timothy Day, a fellow member of the West Midlands branch of the Elgar Society, who from time to time generously opens his abode to interested people and provides delicious teas following fascinating talks and discussions. Immediately I was home from that May meeting, a series of letters between Helen and Edward started writing themselves in my head, and these continued coming so thick and fast over the following few weeks that my long-standing adoption book project got temporarily but firmly put aside. The very next week I was again in France for a meeting with my Woolger friends, and so I read them one of the letters from Elgar that I had just completed scrawling on paper. Their response was that this topic deserved a small book of its own, and I was gradually won round to the idea. Incidentally the original book that I’ve mentioned above has not been forgotten – in fact I have already started writing it – but it has changed its title to WOMAN THROUGH THE AGES. (It is a book aimed at showing, through my personal past-life experiences, the different roles of, and the different attitudes towards, women through history.)

Me: Can we expect to discover something new about Elgar and his relationship with Helen Weaver?

Ann: Well, I don’t want to say so much here that people feel no need to read the book, but I will say that I have attempted to give to the lie to those who have claimed over the years, or who claim now, that the subject of Variation No. 13 of the Enigma Variations (probably his best known work apart of course from Land of Hope and Glory!) is Lady Mary Lygon. For reasons that he never made clear, unlike for all the other friends whom he ‘described’ in this marvellous work, Elgar simply put asterisks rather than a name to this Variation, but I am far from being alone in my belief that he never completely got over his heartbreak over Helen – except perhaps until he was over seventy and met Vera Hoffman, whom I believe to be his twin soul. However, despite what one of my colleagues has kindly said in his endorsement, I am not claiming to have been ‘channelling’ Elgar. But I do sincerely believe what Helen ‘wrote’ in the “imagined correspondence” part of the book (which is the middle section) to represent her true feelings on a very painful subject.

Me: On the wider topic of regression, how can regression therapy help people in this lifetime?


Ann: My final chapter is entitled Healing. When we are unable to cure physical, emotional or psychological problems that have no immediately obvious cause, their roots are often found in a previous life, and once one has seen their origin and relived the trauma, it becomes possible to let go of them. I never, in my work, cease to be staggered at the ease with which troublesome symptoms can disappear following regression, and often no more than a single session is required for someone to experience extraordinary transformation. It’s absolutely wonderful to see and I shall be eternally grateful for my initiation into this amazing work.

Me: I’ve heard we reincarnate with the same souls.

Ann: Yes, indeed we do! Both in my first book, Karmic Release, and in the aforementioned ‘Woman’ book which I shall get properly stuck into after completing a tiny book of Tales from the Galápagos, I recount lifetimes in which I was acquainted with the people who are closest to me now. Often we need to come together again in order to pay outstanding debts or to complete something previously unfinished. At other times we come together repeatedly simply through long-standing love and affection; it is always good to have the support of people who understand us well. I personally find the whole question of ‘karmic relationships’ absolutely fascinating!

a8a772fefb8d47589518376cd46874f4Me: It is fascinating. I’ve had regression therapy, but also think I’ve had past-life memories spontaneously occur, especially while doing yoga or Qigong, is this possible?

Ann: I believe you totally, Alex, because this has happened to me too. Ever since my conversion in 1991 to belief in reincarnation, I have progressed from someone who believed myself to be “unregressable” (see my July blog for OMBS!), to someone who gradually got better and better at discovering past lives in regression, to someone who didn’t necessarily need to be regressed in order to find out something I wanted, or felt I needed, to know. Last year, for instance, I felt a really strong need to go to Myanmar (wrongly called Burma by the British), even though my husband was disinclined to make another big trip only a few months after we had been to Ecuador. So I arranged to go with a close friend and, soon after making the booking, I got a strong hunch that there was a ‘shadow life’ that I needed to discover in that country. For some inexplicable reason I sensed that it had been in the area of Mandalay and, as soon as our little group (of six women with a wonderful female Burmese guide!) had arrived there, the most painful memories started flooding in. By the time we had moved on to another part of the country, I had an entire, shameful, story, and it was lucky that I had Peg as my companion rather than my dear mathematician husband because, although she is not herself a past-life therapist, she shares my spiritual beliefs totally, and so was very understanding and able to be a great support while I was going through it all. But I won’t tell you that ‘shameful story’ now because I have already written it up for Woman through the Ages!

Helen’s book Life without Elgar is available here. Ann’s donating from sales of the book to the Elgar birthplace museum check them out here.

So here’s to a happy present life! That way, if we have another after this, they’ll be something pleasant to remember. Personally, I’m off to do some Qigong, (maybe I’ll get rid of these sniffles), then a cup of green tea. Just realised that if I’m ever regressed to this lifetime, all I’ll remember is tea, naps and…no, basically that’s it. Happy memories.

Big love to you!


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