I have been here before,

                                    But when or where I cannot tell;.

                           I know the grass beyond the door,

The sweet keen smell.

                           The sighing sound, the lights around the shore.

                           You have been mine before,------

                                    How long ago I may not know:

                           But just when at that swallow’s soar

                                    Your neck turned just so,

                           Some veil did fall, -----I knew it all of yore!

                                                               -------Dante Gabriel Rossetti,

                                                                              “Sudden Light.”


         *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *

Interest in reincarnation is steadily growing and more people are becoming curious about what they did in their previous lifetimes. There is much more information about past lives in the popular press, and this has made people desire to seek out their own backgrounds. A number of film stars and other personalities have now expressed a belief in reincarnation, and this has also created interest. As well, all people who have been regressed to their previous lives talk about the experience, and this creates more and more interest, also.

People were conducting past-life regressions for almost a century before the sudden upsurge of interest in the seventies. A Spaniard called Colavida began experimenting with age regression in 1887. Dr. Mortis Stark is believed to have been the first to experiment with taking people back to their past lives. This was in 1906. How- ever, it is possible that he was not the first. The father of hypnotic regressions was Lieutenant-Colonel Albert de Rochas (1837—1914) who was a prolific author and psychic investigator. He first published his findings in 1911, but had been conducting research for many years prior to that. He performed countless past-life regressions, but was constantly frustrated by his inability to scientifically prove the veracity of the often detailed accounts of past lives that were told to him.

In his book , Successive Lives, Colonel de Rochas described his experiments with his cook, Josephine. She was an excellent subject and provided detailed accounts of two previous incarnations. In one of these, she was a man named Jean Claude Bourdon, who was born in Champvent and had been in the Seventh Artillery regiment at Besançon. In her next life was a woman named Philomène Charpigny who married a man named Carteron. It was obvious that she knew nothing about either of these people and Colonel de Rochas spent several months checking out and con-firming the details that she had provided. Although everything checked out perfect-ly, to de Rochas’ chagrin, it was not considered proof of reincarnation.

One of Colonel de Rochas’ best subjects was an eighteen-year-old girl named Marie Mayo. In one life she recalled the death of her husband in a shipwreck and how, in despair she had thrown herself from the top of a cliff into the sea and drowned. She also remembered a life as Charles Mauville, a clerk in Paris during the reign of Louis XVII. He was a murderer and died at the age of fifty. In another lifetime she was Madeleine de Saint-Marc, the wife of a French nobleman. Colonel de Rochas went further than usual with Marie Mayo. One year later, he regressed her again, and found that she gave exactly the same details as before..

Colonel de Rochas thought deeply about his past-life regressions and came up with four hypotheses to explain them. The first possibility was that the person was simply dreaming. However, de Rochas doubted that people could dream of several completely different previous lives. The second suggestion was that the person subconsciously gained information from his or her parents conversations. Again, de Rochas felt that this might explain one previous lifetime, but could not explain the several. His third suggestion was that the person had learned a number of histor-ical facts as he or she grew up, and used these to subconsciously create a past life. His final suggestion was that the person had actually lived in the past, and consequently, every bit of information that was provided needed be verified for more accuracy.

Colonel de Rochas played a major role in creating interest in past-life regressions. Unfortunately, he made one major mistake. He insisted that when he made longitudinal passes down the clients’ bodies, they would go back to a past life, but when he made transverse passes they would progress into a future life. Other leading researchers of the day denied this, but Colonel de Rochas stubbornly insisted that it was so. This disagreement caused many people to dismiss the concept of reincarnation.

Since the time of de Rochas, many people in different parts of the world have in-vestigated past-life regressions. In Sweden, John Björkhem (1910-1963) conducted hundreds of regressions and was able to verify many of the discoveries afterwards. Dr Alexander Cannon, a British psychiatrist, did his best to disprove the concept of reincarnation, but changed his mind after conducting more than a thousand hypnotic regressions. In Russia, Varvara Ivanova, conducted research on past-life regres-sions and came to the conclusion that we have to face the same problems again and again until we learn the lessons and master them. More recently, the writings of Dr. Edith Fiore, Dr. Bruce Goldberg, Jeffrey Iverson, Dick Sutphen, Dr. Helen Wambach, and Dr. Brian L. Weiss have all played an important part in increasing public awareness of the veracity of past-life regressions.

Edgar Cayce, the “sleeping prophet,” helped to increase interest in reincar-nation. Over a period of twenty-one years, he gave some 2,500 “life readings” of people that included details of their past lives. This was initially an embarrassment to Cayce, who was a devout Christian, and read the entire Bible on a yearly basis for forty years. The Association for Research and Enlightenment (ARE) is now dedicated to studying the findings that Edgar Cayce made. The fourteen million words he spoke while in trance were recorded on more than 90,000 typewritten pages. The index alone is stored on more than two hundred thousand cards. Some years ago, I was privileged to see them when I =visited the ARE in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

Undoubtedly, the most famous case of a past-life regression is that of Bridey Murphy. In 1952, Morey Bernstein, a young Colorado businessman, was experimenting with hypnosis and thought it would be interesting to see if it was possible to take people back before birth and see that memories could be found. Interestingly enough, it was a book on the subject by Dr. Alexander Cannon that sparked his interest. The person who agreed to be regressed was Virginia Tighe, a young married woman. (In the best-selling book that Morey Bernstein wrote about his findings, she is known as Ruth Simmons. This was done to protect her privacy.) She proved to be an excellent subject and in six tape-recorded sessions regressed back to a life as Bridey Murphy in nineteenth-century Ireland. She was born in County Cork in 1798, the daughter of Duncan and Kathleen Murphy, and her full name was Bridget Kathleen Murphy. Her father was a barrister and she had an older brother named Duncan, and a younger brother who died as a baby. Until the age of fifteen she went to a school run by a Mrs. Strayne, and her brother later married Mrs. Strayne’s daughter. Although she was a Protestant, Bridey married Sean Joseph MacCarthy, a Catholic, and they had two wedding ceremonies, one in Cork and the other in Belfast. Her husband was a lawyer, who later taught law at Queens University in Belfast. Bridey had no children and died at the age of sixty-six after falling down a flight of stairs.

Unfortunately, no records of births, marriages, or death were kept in Ireland until 1864, the year Bridey died, and these details were not able to be verified. However, the stores that Bridey mentioned all existed. The quaint Irish brogue that she spoke in contained numerous words that are no longer spoken, but were in common use at the time. For instance she used the word “brates” (a wishing cup), “lough” (a lake or river), and “flats” (platters). She accurately described the furniture, coinage, kitchen utensils, dances of the day, books, and even the new street lighting in Belfast. Although people have tried to disprove her story, it is hard to deny the incredible amount of accurate detail that came through during the regressions. To finish off one session she performed “The Morning Jig,” and correctly gave a comic yawn at the end.

One detail the skeptics seized upon was Bridey’s description of a metal bed as it was thought that they were not used in Ireland until 1850. However, research then showed that they had been advertised as far back as 1802. Gradually, the skepticism faded as more and more details were verified. William J. Barker, a reporter on the Denver Post spent three weeks in Ireland and became convinced that the essential facts were true. He wrote a 19,000-word report on the case which was published as a twelve-page supplement in the newspaper on March 11, 1956. Later editions of Morey Bernstein’s book contain an additional two chapters by William Barker which outlines the evidence he found and refutes the ignorant suppositions of the reporters who claimed it was all a hoax)

Morey Bernstein’s book, The Search for Bridey Murphy, sold more than a million copies and later became a highly successful movie. It also started a reincarnation craze, described by Life magazine as a “hypnotizzy.” The book was serialized in more than fifty newspapers. A documentary movie was made, and a long-playing record of one of the trance sessions sold tens of thousands of copies. People wrote songs on the subject (“Do You Believe in Reincarnation,” “The Love of Bridey Murphy,” and “The Bridey Murphy Rock and Roll”), held “come as you were” parties, and even invented cocktails on the theme.

Twenty years later, the famous “Bloxham Tapes created almost as much interest. ArnalI Bloxham was a Cardiff hypnotherapist who had regressed people for more than twenty years. He was a reputable man who had always believed in reincar- nation. He served as president of the British Society of Hypnotherapists in 1972.

Over the years, he had built up a valuable collection of more than four hundred tape recordings of the sessions. Jeffrey Jverson, a BBC television producer, heard about them quite casually at a party in 1974. He was always searching for interesting subjects and paid a visit on the elderly hypnotherapist who agreed to cooperate in a television documentary. After listening to the tapes, Jeffrey Iverson selected the ones that he thought could be verified. Two of Arnall Bloxham’s best subjects, Jane Evans and Graham Huxtable, agreed to appear on the program and be regressed to their past lives. Graham Huxtable regressed to a life as a seaman on a Royal Navy frigate that fought against the French. Jane Evans regressed back to seven different lifetimes. In three of them, the detail was incredible. The earliest of these was set in York, three hundred years B.C.E. In that lifetime she was called Livonia and was married to Titus, who was tutor to the youngest son of Constantius, the governor of Britain.

Her next major lifetime was also spent in York, in 1190, she was called Rebecca and was married to Joseph, a rich Jewish moneylender. Anti-Jewish feelings were strong and the family was forced to flee after bandits broke into the house next door and killed the inhabitants. Unfortunately, they had waited too long and were only able to flee as far as the castle of York. Finally, they found refuge in the crypt beneath a church. Soldiers found the family and they were all killed.

Her last major life was spent as a young Egyptian servant, named Alison, in medieval France. She was a member of the household of Jacques Coeur, a wealthy merchant prince. She knew all about his intrigues and his fall from grace, after the king’s mistress died. There were rumors that Jacques Coeur had poisoned her, and he was eventually arrested and imprisoned. Before this happened, he gave Alison some poison and she killed herself after he was arrested.

All of these exciting accounts created huge public interest when shown on Jeffrey Jverson’s television documentary More Lives Than One. This was also the title of a well-known book he later wrote on the subject. Again the skeptics came out in force, but although they were able to provide possible alternatives for many of the stories, there were vital incidents that had no explanation.

For instance, at the time the documentary was made, no one believed that there were crypts beneath any church in York, let alone the church that had been so identified as the one where Rebecca and her family had sheltered. The actual crypt was discovered only after the television program had been shown.

My first researches into soul mates were done as part of my hypnotherapy practice. Most of my clients wanted ...............

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