When I first travelled by chance to the Greek Ionian island of Kefaloniá , I was stunned by its natural beauty.
As the author Louis Bernieres writes, the colours seem more vibrant there than anywhere else in the world.
The colours, the smells, the atmosphere and above all the beautiful hills, mountains and seascapes overwhelmed me and woke something deep inside.
It was there, inspired by its cliffs, its ruins and azure seas, that I finally realised I needed to write.
The source of inspiration opened up in me and since then, has resulted in one début novel and a sequel on the way.
But it was not until several years later that I discovered why I truly felt so at home there. Why the sight of certain hills and crumbling acropolis walls over 4000 years old nearly made me weep.
I had lived there before.
On my first visits to the island, one of the places that impressed me most was the landscape around the port of Sámi.
The view of the port, like a sapphire jewel enclosed by rounded hills, with Ulysses’ island of Ithaca in the background is breathtaking.
Above the port of Sámi, spanning two hilltops covered in olive trees, lies the ancient acropolis of Kyátis.
It takes a steep climb (or car ride) in the sweltering heat on winding narrow roads along the rocks and boulders of the hills to get there.
In the first years when I visited Kefaloniá, I only visited the south part of the ruins, with its ancient olive trees, its breathtaking views of the sea and the island of Ithaca in the distance.
I was very impressed. I had no clue yet there was much more to discover.
The southern hilltop is the first one you reach by car when you try to find your way along the winding roads.
On the way, you pass the ruins of an ancient village, with the still-recognisable features of little stone houses being encroached upon by olive trees. The only living things you will meet here besides the trees and grass are the goats and insects.
The silence has an otherworldly, serene quality.
The entire wall of the ruins of the ancient acropolis of Kyátis is about 3,5 kilometres long (about 2,2 miles) and spans the northern and southern hilltops.
The walls of the ancient acropolis were built in the Mycenaean period, roughly 1600 – 1100 BC, by the people Homer describes in his books.
They were a warrior race that mysteriously disappeared and preceded the ancient Classical civilisation we usually think of when we think of ancient Greece.
They built their cities in the same style of close-fitted, smoothly hewn rock and left behind artwork and jewellery that can still be admired today.
It was the Mycenaean people of ancient Same that built the walls of the great acropolis of Kyátis.
Though a large part of the walls has been destroyed in earthquakes and sieges, their old splendour can easily be imagined by looking at the parts that are still partially standing.
On the northern hilltop that is part of the ancient acropolis you can find a part of the wall towering overhead, though most of it has gone long ago.
The smooth stones still fit together like the stones of the temples of the ancient Mayans, fitted together perfectly without the use of mortar.
It was when I first visited the acropolis wall on the northern hill, on my third or fourth visit to Kefaloniá, that it happened.
I had approached the wall, thinking how impressive it must have looked when it was still whole, all those centuries ago.
It made me a little sad to see it in its current state.
That’s when I felt it.
There were people there.
But I could not see them.
All of a sudden, I felt surrounded by a multitude of people.
They appeared to be rejoicing.
I could hear their voices in my head as one.
”Welcome back! So happy you are home!”
Tears sprang to my eyes.
I could feel their love, their joy at seeing me swirl around in waves.
Then they were gone.
The experience left me a little shaken.
I had never felt the presence of spirits around me this strongly. And so many of them!
The fact that they welcomed me like a long-lost relative, along with feeling so at home on the island quickly made me realize. I had a past life there.
Now I also understood why the story of the siege and fall of Kyátis, when I had first read it, had made me so angry. I had lived it.
Much later, when I was back home, I was listening to a song by the Greek singer Pantelis Thalassinos. I felt compelled to dance to it.
As I was alone in my living room, I gave in to the impulse and began to move to the music. I found myself doing something that reminded me of a Greek circular dance. I felt so free, so alive, so sensual and safe in expressing my feminine energy in dance. Suddenly I knew.
It was the Sámi past life coming through.
I took a little time to connect to this past life. I discovered she was a Greek priestess. As a young girl she had been called Chará. Chará means happiness. An apt name, as she was bubbling over with joy and happiness. No wonder the people at the walls had greeted me with such enthusiasm!
When the Romans had laid siege to her city in the first century BC, she had fought to the last, and unlike many who had been carried off as slaves, she had died fighting. I had a little talk with her to help her forgive them and let go of her anger so she could be free to dance and sing again.
She is dancing in the other world now, happy again to be with her people, Chará of the beautiful acropolis of Kyátis.