Though William’s daughter Mary was not the eldest child, she is the one who first captured my imagination. She appeared, of all the children, the one who’d lived an ideal life for her time. She’d married well, bore ten children (all surviving to adulthood), never remarried when her husband of ninety-one left her a widow, and survived him six years to die at eighty-eight. Her life seemed nearly featureless to me, except that between the ages of eighteen and forty, she’d born a child, on average, every two years. In this family, which had such a variety of challenges to be surmounted in war years, Mary mystified me.
I sought, therefore, some distinguishing talent that would play two roles. First, it would have to give her extraordinary advantages over her countrywomen. Second, it would generate a conflict that would affect the span of her life. In the seventeenth century world, where she is subject to Puritan laws and beliefs that condemned blasphemers and deviants, that could likely be a paranormal gift. Thus, Mary, the clairvoyant came to be.
Paranormal gifts always have carried both positive benefits and negative challenges for those born with them. I explore some aspects of that duality. While Mary can see what others cannot, she has the advantage of avoiding and thus prevailing over possible adversities. The downside is that she may have no control over this ability. It is more than extra-sensory; it is extra-personal, so to speak. Some of us have clairvoyance. Many friends have told me stories about presaging dreams that come true years later, communicating with others across great distances, and coincidences that smack of some divine synchronicity. These experiences are more common than we think and may be a trait of all humans.
As I had experienced all these phenomena, I once volunteered to be a subject in a scientific experiment on clairvoyance at Washington University; the experiment consisted of guessing the control’s series of playing card suits and denominations. I tested as average among the subjects who had similar claims to my own. I’ve done my best here to make Mary’s gift above average, but the reader will have to be the judge of that. My model for this superior function comes from psychics and shamans that I’ve worked with in the past. They are a legion of such intelligence we do them a disservice if we leave them to languish like Cassandras.
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