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March 21, 2012

Seeing Double – Was I a Twin?

by Val Reynolds

TwinsThis is the story of Althea Hayton, a counsellor from St Albans who, after many years of soul-searching, had come to the conclusion that she had shared the womb for part of the time with a twin. She discovered me over the internet, because she knew that talking therapies could not access the areas of her life that were pre-verbal, pre-birth. And indeed my approach, myth-a-drama, enabled her to not only to heal this issue, but as a result of that experience, she found her life work.

This is her story.

“It started with the insight that I may have once been a twin, and that was why so many tiny details about my life that had always puzzled me, were always on my mind. I was very concerned with the life of the unborn child, thought a lot about death and dying and was never happier than when I was with one other person engaged in deep intense conversation at an empathetic level.”

She took part in a nine month programme I offered, the Ritual Theatre Group, and as a result was able to re-experience being small, being angry and very powerful in that anger. About half way through the programme, and after much planning, she created a special ritual to release her lost twin.

She claims that “there has never been a more intensely emotional, cathartic and cleansing experience in my whole life than that day”.

Unable to function normally for some days as she planned the ritual, she planned every detail. Every day for two weeks before the day, she wore a chiffon turquoise scarf that she loved and had bought for herself – for her, turquoise is the colour of dreams. She also took up a wide beige Indian cotton and made that ready, with some white card labels with ideas – ‘strength’, ‘dreams’ and ‘creativity’ written on them – to hang about the necks of the other group members.

A special ritual about the lost twin 

She thought for a long time about music, then picked her favourite piece part of Bach’s Double Violin concerto. With a blindfold from a plane trip, a shallow meat tin and some matches, she was ready. The ritual, although involving other group members slightly, was a very personal thing. She sat inside a womb shape on the floor made with cloth, barefoot and blindfolded with the two scarves. One of the group members was nominated by the group to touch her gently from time to time – in the darkness of the womb, she was there with the tiny companion known only by touch.

The music played until, suddenly, the group made a terrible noise with percussion instruments – the catastrophe that took her brother away. She reached out, taking control, touching them one by one to make them quiet, in order to heal a sense of helplessness that had haunted her all her life. In the silence, the violin concerto played on. She stepped out of the womb and took off the blindfold, putting labels on group members to represent the gifts that her little companion had left. That didn’t work very well – she had to do this alone.

So to the strains of the music, she danced with the two scarves. As the music faded to silence, she came to the meat tin on the floor that contained a painting she had done of Kali, representing her negative anger, vengefulness and destructive power. She tore the picture into pieces but kissed every piece, forgiving and accepting all the negative qualities. Then placing the pieces back in the tin and covering them with the scarf, she carried it outside and set fire to it.

Later, she tipped the ash in the dustbin – they no longer had any power over her. Later, at home and still stunned by the experience, she knew that a final act of letting go was required. In a cleansing ritual, she gathered up the piles of papers she had accumulated over the previous twenty years about the unborn child, putting then into a black sack for recycling. Now, finally after more than fifty years, she has found peace.

She says: Since that amazing day, which has allowed me to put actions and images to a vague sense of something that had haunted me all my life, I have not looked back. I entered into a totally new phase of my life with ever rising energy and increasing focus. Within two years I had walked enough of my healing path to a point where I was ready for action. What happened was way beyond my expectations! I decided to write about womb twin survivors in 2002 and have since then created two anthologies of articles and stories about womb twin survivors and a major work detailing my eight year Womb Twin research project.

In 2007 I set up a non-profit organisation to help womb twin survivors and I now give seminars and workshops for womb twin survivors in various countries. Without that wonderful opportunity to express in the Ritual Theatre Group the grief and despair that had been within me all my life and say a loving farewell to my twin brother, many hundreds of womb twin survivors would not have been helped in the way they have. I didn’t know I had it in me, but myth-a-drama helped me to set it free.

Althea’s story will be featured in the book I am currently editing Ritual Theatre: Theatre of Healing to be published by Jessica Kingsley later this year in which I describe how I have helped hundreds of people like Althea heal issues that nothing else would work for. Most of my clients feel blocked, that some part of them is locked away. Myth-a-drama is based on drama therapy and brings together the healing power of drama and myth. It works for many reasons and enables participants to work directly with the unconscious patterns deeply buried within then. But most importantly it is enormous fun, and the fun aspect is why it is so accessible, liberating and enjoyable.

Guest Contributor: Claire Schrader

Web Links

For details of  Althea’s new book “WOMB TWIN SURVIVORS: the lost twin in the Dream of the Womb” published in March 2011 go to

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