Animal Psi
Thoughts on Mind and Matter

Some Past Life Memories

There’s quite a bit of new activity in the reincarnation research category of the Psi Encyclopedia. This piece by Jim Matlock discusses patterns that can be found in the research. Karen Wehrstein has contributed an entry on adult memories, and another on claims to have lived as a famous person.

There’s also a fascinating case study about detailed memories of a life as a sixteenth century Spanish woman, written by Stephen Braude, who for once finds it quite impressive, even though being a regression case it wouldn’t normally be considered particularly evidential. Karen is working on case studies, including two well-known and unusual Indian cases: Sharada-Uttara and Sumitra-Shiva, which will be uploaded shortly. And Erlendur Haraldsson has contributed an entry on a particularly detailed Lebanese case that he investigated, Nazih Al-Danaf, and plans to write other articles in the coming months.

I should also mention that Matlock and Erlendur have co-authored a new book, I Saw A Light and Came Here: Children’s Experiences of Reincarnation, published by White Crow. I ordered it from Amazon, and it came just today, so I can’t talk about it in detail, but it contains a number of unfamiliar cases, and a lot of what looks to be interesting analysis.

That’s the bulletin part of the post over. I’m going to hand over now to a lady called Adri D, who got in touch recently to describe her own past life memories as a child. I quite often hear from people about their experiences, and am always glad to get them, but I thought this was especially interesting, and she’s happy for it to be shared here. Thanks Adri.

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Adri D writes: When I was a young child, from about the age I could start talking until I started school (approximately), I spoke frequently about my "other family", especially my other mother. I often commented when seeing my mom do something that my "other mommy didn't do it like that" - for instance, things she did around the house, the way she prepared food, and really all matter of things. Also, I couldn't accept my name – I was insistent that my name was Jennifer.

Extended family thought it was quite funny, definitely chalking it up to imaginary friend-type talk, and admittedly I was a bright and imaginative child. However, I would often become frustrated and annoyed with the way things were done in our household and the rules my parents lay down; at other times I expressed benign surprise. My parents tolerated it and took it lightly, but did not encourage the talk.

As I got older and, I suppose, more used to being a member of my own family, the talk and references faded. However, it took me a very long time to accept both my first and last names, and I despised revealing the information to people as a child. It just felt so wrong to me. I still have vivid memories of feeling that I had another family, (even though I don't actually consciously feel that way any longer), and somehow knowing things about them. I also remember feeling that I was from someplace else, and indeed belonged somewhere else – and in fact I still feel that way, at age 38! I had cousins from Alaska who would come down and visit every couple of years or so, and Alaska became in my mind the place where I might be from. This is definitely something that I may very well have made up – I don't think it’s Alaska itself that is very significant, or perhaps even the name Jennifer, but rather this very strong feeling that I was from somewhere else, that I had another name, that I WAS someone else! 

(I do still very much want to visit Alaska, and I'm preparing for a spiritual journey there.) 

I fully admit this could all be the workings of my imagination, and have never really made a big deal out of it. I learned about the eastern belief of reincarnation when I got interested in Buddhism and certain New Age concepts as a teen, but never made any connection to my own experience and memories until I first heard of children who remembered past lives via a book I had found in my university library while searching for books on Theosophy, (I was a philosophy major, it was VERY dry) and immediately I thought to myself in a very calm way, "oh my God, that explains it."

I told my mom about it the next time I was visiting. Although we are Catholic (at least in upbringing) she has an open mind to these things, and so do I. It truly sobered her to hear the stories of the kids who'd been studied, and she revealed that she had found my talk of another life and family very creepy, and it disturbed and hurt her. She said she never encouraged it, and was relieved when it stopped. My mom is a very content woman spiritually and doesn't feel the need to research things and get too philosophical. But she definitely thinks that if anyone came out of womb yammering on about their past life, it was me.

Another perhaps odd thing about me is that I was always prepared for disaster, especially in the night. I had significant insomnia and night fear as a kid, and would lie awake for hours, listening. I would also sometimes sleep in my shoes, and sometimes my school uniform, and I would be very worried that someone would find out, but it helped ease my anxiety that I would be able to escape the house all ready to go, in case the need arose. One night when I was about 9, we actually did have to evacuate, because our next-door neighbour's car port had gone up in flames for some unknown reason. When I heard my parents shuffling around before coming to get my sister and I, I was calm and ready for action. 

Reincarnation has never fascinated me all that much – one might think it would, but in fact I can't even get through books or television programs about these kids who feel that they remember a past life- they just can't hold my attention! Not entirely sure why. (I have no qualms about accepting the possibility of reincarnation on anecdote alone, though my favourite after-life possibility is post-death survival of personality leading to a transition into complete union with God).

That being said, plenty of other topics that you address on your blog do interest me very much. I have always been a keen seeker, and consider myself to be quite psychic, intuitive, and sensitive. I’m a very late bloomer, evolving into each new stage of life very slowly and cautiously. I feel that if my memories really are indicative of a past life, it was a life in which I died young. In my most transcendent moments, and in certain dreams, I even feel sometimes that I can actually remember things from OTHER lives – it’s just a quality of feeling that arises when I think of certain dreams or visions.

I had this very strongly once when some military planes in formation flew over our city in salute, the morning of our suburb's annual air show - when those planes flew overhead I had a terrible, transcendental dizziness, and I actually peed my pants I was so scared. I was shaking for hours afterwards. It was one of the most terrifying moments of my life, but I cannot explain why, and obviously I never thought consciously that I was in any danger. A very strange experience indeed.

I’ll conclude by saying that it's not anything I feel I'll ever need an iota of "evidence" for, and certainly I would never feel I had to convince anyone of this. I have opened up about it with different people and everyone has found it very easy to accept. For other friends of mine and people I know that feel that they have experienced stuff like ghostly and alien encounters, precognition, telepathy, and communication or contact with the dead, there also seems to be this calm acceptance and not a hint of needing to prove it to oneself or anyone else.

In terms of "dyed in the wool skeptics" and people who have a very materialist view of reality, I think that this might have a lot to do with their spiritual constitution. Some people are just not cut out for experiencing the world this way, and they get intensely annoyed whenever anyone starts talking about anything that they term "woo" because it's like everyone is speaking a language they know they'll never understand.

I deal with a lot of people from Taiwan in my work, and they have a complex spiritual worldview that I find very interesting. One girl was explaining to me that whether or not you will have any kind of sensitivities or aptitude for spirit communication is something you are marked with at birth, and that's just who you are or are not. I thought that was very interesting. 


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Thanks for this article Robert. Nice! I hope that PSI Encyclopedia articles concerning reincarnation include some of the more recent examples of possible reincarnation, e.g. James Leininger in addition to the older examples which are now getting a little 'long in the tooth'.

Although Adri D writes of her non-book-worthy intimations of a previous existence in a rather vague way, I think that they are probably more typical of fleeting memories that many of us may have in which we feel an affinity with some other place and time. I myself feel an attachment to one or two periods of time during the Victorian era and on into the 1920s. Perhaps many of us with English genetics feel this same affinity as evidenced by the popularity of Masterpeice Theatre and other BBC television productions commonly set in that time period. I feel as if I could easily live then, and considering the way our society and culture is now, I actually think that I would 'fit in' better then than now.

I like Adri D's soft gentle account of her remembrances really because she describes them with a kind of vagueness and it is more about her feelings rather than her memories. This rings true to me, probably because that is how I 'remember' possible past life experiences of mine. As a child I actually do remember those low-flying formations of planes during the 1940s. Perhaps Adri D had a prior life during the Second World War when those low-flying planes generated much anxiety and people fearfully slept in their clothing so that they could leave at a moment's notice. - AOD

Thank you for sharing your story, Adri. I found it most interesting and balanced.

When my now 33-year-old son was two (and he was not much of a talker at that age) he would mention how he and his brothers stored their guns in the attic. He had no brothers, we never had a gun in the house - not even a toy gun - nor did we have an attic! One time as we drove past an old farm house in a neighboring town, my son, strapped in his car seat, shouted out, "I used to live there!"

A few years ago when we were driving past this house, we recalled the story and decided to go have a peek at the house. It was set back off the road, over a train track. It was now a "gentleman's farm" and sold wheat it grew. That was our excuse for visiting. But imagine our surprise when the caretaker, to whom we were total strangers, invited us to see the inside of the house! What are the chances? My son was curious as we walked through, but nothing seemed particularly familiar to him at that time.

Mildly intriguing and entirely pointless story:

A few years ago a memory came back to me - from this life, not a previous one. But it leaves me wondering...

The memory is from when I was in kindergarten. (Not sure if you have that in the UK. It's the year before we begin primary school, so i was no more than four or five. I remember drawing a house - two stories, very suburban, and very different from the apartment buildings I grew up in. Two boys stood next to me, one telling the other to watch me, that I spent all this time drawing a house and that I would scribble all over it.

In fact, I did this time and again. I would draw the same two story house, then scribble all over it. (No compulsively, but frequently enough.) As I explained to the boy, "That's the fire." I then began to scribbling on the left hand second story window and said, "It starts in this window." I remember the feeling of explaining something that has happened. I didn't have any feeling of being in it - no fear or emotion, just something that happened. I also remember thinking it was odd that they didn't realize what I was doing.

Years later, after reading Old Souls, Tom Shroder's book about Ian Stevenson, did it occur to me that just maybe...? It would explain why I would at lot, even if it opened up other mysteries.

A fatal fire would fix things in the memory! I seem to remember reading a modern American case of this kind, with details that I think were verified - possibly in one of Carol Bowman's books.

Young children's drawings might be a window into past lives, as in the Leininger case. My wife tells me about repeated imagery in drawings made by my daughter in her infancy, that seem to recall the Spanish Inquisition! Fortunately a matter of pure speculation, and in most cases best left alone.

Unfortunately, both parents are gone so there was no one to ask about my house-scribbling fire pictures. But another moment of weirdness comes to mind. I visited a medium three or four years ago – something I’ve done a few times as informal research. This one wasn’t very good. Some hits, some misses, not ‘wow factor’ anywhere. Then he said something like, “They’re sorry about the fire.” I said, “What fire? There’s never been a fire.” He got a puzzled expression. “They say there was a fire.” He insisted, showing the only conviction he had during the whole session. I paid no attention to the details he said next – because I have never been affected by a fire. Now… I wonder… hmmm.

I recall an account on Reddit of "creepy things children say" where a small child casually came out with a description of being sexually assaulted and murdered. I hope that one was fake, and if it wasn't I hope it WAS a past life because otherwise that very surprised parent needed to do some investigating.

That lady says:

"I can't even get through books or television programs about these kids who feel that they remember a past life- they just can't hold my attention! Not entirely sure why. (I have no qualms about accepting the possibility of reincarnation on anecdote alone)"

I'm the same! I'm not so much interested in the evidence for reincarnation simply because I see no reason why it shouldn't occur. I'm more interested in all the philosophical stuff. What it all means.

Materialists assert reincarnation is an "extraordinary claim", as if this is something that everyone agrees with and no-one could dispute. But I do dispute it. Essentially it's only an extraordinary claim should materialism be correct, but I don't think materialism can possibly be correct.

If materilaists say that reincarnation is opposed to what science says, then this is absolute nonsense. Unless one assumes materialism, then the fundamental science of physics completely leaves out consciousness in its description of reality. But, that being so, it is preposterous to say that physics rules out consciousness surviving or reincarnating. No, the extraordinary claim charge is parasitic on some flavour of materialism being true. But, quite independently of all the evidence for a "life after death", materialism is simply untenable, and that's all flavours.

About the case study about detailed memories of a life as a sixteenth century Spanish woman, written by Stephen Braude, he forgot a very important reference that explains the case:

Well said, our Ian! You're certainly on top form today. :)

Materialist commenters take note; Vitor's provided reference includes detail, discussion rather than proclamation from on high, and brings up points the person actually made.

Though on further thought, when it talks about obscure details only found in specialised books, were those details found in the museum displays? Was it possible to check that? Not arguing that reincarnation was the case there, but something else weird might have been, or it might be possible to prove fraud if one can trace where the info came from.

Excuse my spamming, but I want to share this before I lose it; just today I found this relevant autobiographical comic:

Your posting, Chel, is a remarkable coincidence. Just the other day - the day that cartoon appears to have gone up, I think - I was recounting to someone an incident exactly like that described in the cartoon. Only in my case it had happened in a dream. Basically 2 years ago I had a dream that really struck and stuck with me as it involved meeting someone who looked straight into my eyes (inside the dream - a very unusual experience) and who looked at me with an expression of confusion and bewilderment, wondering what I was doing here, "as if he knew me from some other time or place". The dream grabbed my imagination as it made me wonder if there could be someone out there in the real world who had had the same dream.

Well three months later the events in the dream played out in real life when I met an online friend in person for the firs time in circumstances identical to those in the dream, but the expression of recognition in the real life version came from me, not the other person, as he reminded me so much of an existing friend. So I appeared to "simply" have had a slightly muddled precognition of a real event..not unusual for me. But I only told the person involved about it for the first time a few days ago, and then today found your link to a remarkably similar incident. The timing, as well as the content, is intriguing.

Huh, that is odd. Glad I could be of assistance!

Not exactly a non sequitur: I came across this interview with Anthony Peake a couple of days ago and it surprised me.

It surprised me because I don't usually get on well with Anthony's ideas: I tend to find them fragmented and seemingly directionless. But this one made sense. For the first time ever I felt on the same page and that his ideas were coming together in a manner to which I can relate. My only problem right now is juxtaposing his 'Groundhog Day' version of Nietzsche's eternal recurrence with Ian Stevenson's findings on the subject of reincarnation.

Ant thoughts, anyone?

Yes Julie. Personally, I'm not OK with the theory of eternal recurrence. It seems like hell, to me. And the idea that deja vu is memory of a previous existence, is likewise a hellish concept. I think the whole idea is a terrible concept. The thought that it is impossible to escape this mad cycle of existence (if that's what it is) makes me feel psychically claustrophobic. Which makes me think; are these theory's only proposed by those whose life has been a fruitful one? Or, by those to whom everything appears to be going tickety boo, at the moment?
I have my own theory as regards deja vu, but would like to hear what you have to say, first.

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