reincarnation

Crone’s Corner

July, 2019

My Soul’s Journey

I believe that I have a soul that chose to live this life that I am living right now. This soul was a part of the Great Divine, the One True Source and Center, The ONE…you can call it whatever you like…when my soul was part of that Force, it was given the task of learning what it would feel like to be a woman, the youngest of 6 children, a sister, a daughter, a college graduate, a divorcee, a happily married wife, a battered woman, a molested child, a gardener, an herbalist, a professional woman, a sports fan, a quilter, a Witch, a Pagan, and every other subtle little nuance that comprises who I am and it chose my life to be born into.

When my mom got pregnant with me, my soul was ensuring that I would be and experience all of the things that my soul was required to learn about when it was with that Force and then when it was sure, I was born. During the birth, my soul suffered great pain and trauma from the delivery, after all, a small baby confined in its mother’s safe and warm womb being thrust down a narrow birth canal and smooshed all to creation and back and then thrust into a cold, sterile environment to be met by a doctor with really cold hands – that’s traumatic! Well, the trauma of all that caused my soul to start to forget that it was here on a mission from the Force to learn all of those things.

So, while I was learning how to speak and to communicate with the world around me, I started to forget that I was a soul in this body. I learned how to talk, but I forgot what I had to talk about…so I started to live and to learn and to meet people and to experience everything that there was to experience in this life. And some times I would get a feeling of deja vu and wonder… “Hmmm, was I here before, did I already experience this?” which serves as a confirmation to me that I’m right about my thoughts about my soul being here for a reason.

So I am learning and experiencing everything here and now and when I am done learning and experiencing and my soul has reached the end of its journey here, the soul will need to report back to the Force in order to share these earthly experiences and bring them back to the Force for the greater good of all. That’s when the end of the world happens; when all of my soul’s work here is done. When my soul’s mission in living this life is complete, my soul with reunite with the Divine Force, the One True Source and Center, the Divine Light, and it will start to heal from all of the pains that it has experienced when it was here in this shell.

Maybe some day, my soul will be required to be born into another life for another experience. Who knows? Probably me, but I forgot it! 🙂 But I think that there are a finite number of souls in this world, they continually reincarnate until they have learned all that they must learn for the Greater Good of All. They continue to come back here to experience life’s lessons and bring them back to reunite with the Divine. When all of the experiences have been lived and learned, there will no longer be a need to come back here. THEN, and only then, do I believe there will be a true end to this world, as we know it. That is not to say there won’t be something better, free of all of these soul lessons and pains and aches, some better place, some better ways and we will all be experiencing them. I believe that I will be one of those souls that returns not for experiences any longer, but to help those who must still come back and learn, I will come back time after time after time to lend a hand, to share love and understanding; those are the two biggest emotions that I know.

I believe that souls are learning their lessons and those lessons that were already required have already been learned. The shift is coming from a place of understanding and already knowing what is about to happen…like deja vu…I can’t quite put my finger on it, and it feels familiar.

***

About the Author:

Shirley Lenhard has been a practicing Witch and a Pagan since 1983 and lives in New England with her husband. She is employed full time in the legal field and has her Masters Degree in Psychology from the University of South Florida. Shirley looks forward to living her best possible life by giving back to the Pagan Community and has created the Facebook group “Pagan Plannertarium” where she provides a safe home for fellow pagans to have discussions about their path and to get free planner stickers and layouts. Shirley is a past writer for Llewellyn Publishing and The Peace Paper.

Multiple Souls

June, 2018

(Photo by Florian Klauer on Unsplash)

 

This document is intended as a commentary on, and companion to, Wendy’s Division of the Soul class. I have called my text ‘Multiple Souls,’ because I believe it is equally valid to say our identity is closely associated with inner spirits. Where we draw the boundary of identity depends on the circumstances. On spirit journeys we encounter deeper levels of ourselves, but we also have to deal with other entities in passing. Some of these are completely independent, others are partly integrated with the soul, partly independent of it.

Please bear in mind that this is lore, not information. It isn’t necessary to agree or disagree with all or part of it. Lore is like ore; you must dig it out for yourself, melt it down, refine it, and shape it into the tools you particularly need. This is, in fact, my lore, my ore. It fits my needs, but it goes without saying that it will not and cannot fit all of yours. If you can make use of it, do so; for the rest, take it as entertainment.

The rest of this text serves as commentary on Wendy’s document.

Many Hindu and Buddhist traditions teach that the everyday personality dissolves when Brahman or nirvana is realized. The Craft attitude to this, I believe, is that it doesn’t explain why we find ourselves in phenomenal existence, on this plane, at all. What is it for? When a witch has an experience of the deep self, with access to memories of past lives and a sudden understanding of this life and its limitations, this seems to be a living, growing entity, absorbing the lucid experiences it receives from life after life. This we call the root soul. Each life begins when the root soul sends a shoot up to Middle-earth. A baby is born. The extension of the root soul that comes awake at this moment is called the bud soul. The bud soul looks out on its outer world. But behind it, looking on silently from the inner trunk, is the dream soul. The dream soul can go down and up the trunk, down to the root soul, and in fact does so at death. It is usually quiet during waking, but helps us weave our dreams at night, providing access to inner spirits in the field of the sleeper’s imagination.

The dream soul is in communication with the root soul. It is called the dream soul (by Michael York) because its journeys up and down the inner pillar generally start from dreams, in particular lucid dreams, when we know we are asleep and dreaming. The bud soul (called by York the life soul) watches over the body during these journeys. But it can also travel from the waking state, from a peculiar state of awareness called lucid waking. At such times, the experience of Middle-earth continues but additional senses are added to it, so that other levels of the inner pillar shine through, as it were, our ordinary perceptions. Journeys down the inner pillar frequently contact old, forgotten memories and bring some of these to the surface of consciousness when the dream soul returns.

Like a tree, our inner trunk has tree-rings, containing memories, feelings and viewpoints from past experiences in this life. When we journey inwardly, we acquire the freedom to experience the world as we once did, at different ages. We also recover the freshness of early experience, along with early enthusiasms. In the course of his or her inner journeys, the witch begins to live life from all the experiences of this lifetime, and even, in time, from far memories of past lives. This anticipates the work of integration of this lifetime’s experiences into the root-soul which is largely accomplished in the period of rest and recuperation between lives.

The dream-soul is that portion of the root-soul that is projected into Middle-earth at the start of a new incarnation. It is not the whole root-soul, but is the part chosen to deal with the circumstances of the new life. It selects its new bud-soul from the elementals round about, and the latter serves as the elemental of the new body, much as a dryad is the elemental of a tree or stand of trees. It interacts with the bud-soul from time to time, especially when returning from a spirit journey, and the part of the bud-soul so affected will accompany it back down to the root-soul at death, leaving only the original body-elemental to stand by the grave. In pagan times offerings were made to this elemental, and it still retained some connection with the dream-soul, sending the etheric portions of the offerings down to the Summerland. As graveyard offerings have largely ceased, the connections between the two souls are not kept up, and in time the bud-soul forgets its incarnation as a human and goes into nature as a local genius. The Buryat Mongols say it takes about ten years for such an elemental (called by them the suld) to forget its once-human existence.

The bud-soul also serves to relate the dream-soul to the physical and social environment in Middle-earth. The bud-soul employs language and engages in audible as well as mental talking. The dream-soul communicates in images and feelings but is usually silent, looking out on Middle-earth through the eyes of the bud-soul.

The ancient Balts and other peoples assigned a special tree to each person throughout life. The tree had to be tended with care, for if it died, it was believed the person would die also.

Between lives the root-soul enjoys the company of its generic family, as well as a special family of souls, called in this tradition the witch-family, who have agreed to reincarnate together and help each other to evolve. Some of these souls are reborn at the same time, while others stay in the Summerland and help their witch brothers and sisters from the Other Side. When we encounter one of these witch brothers or sisters we feel especially close to them, perhaps closer than to many generic family members. Eventually the root-souls of a witch family have absorbed all the experiences and lessons necessary, and are ready for transmutation. As a group, the witch family travels to the Sun and there receives a body of light. This is described in both Tuscan witch tradition and in the Prasna Upanishad. This concludes the tutelary relationship with the Watchers and elementals. Thenceforth, the soul of the witch will be a special sort of elemental that is balanced in all four etheric substances, air, fire, water and earth, and their attendant powers. One can still visit Middle-earth on occasion, but it is no longer necessary to reincarnate. The bud-soul is carried within the body of light and can be used to generate a temporary material body for this purpose.

This is as far as I can see, or imagine, our future. We want to grow, develop to the point where we will be of use to the gods, or, probably, the daimones or demigods. Many ancient initiatory systems describe our ultimate destiny as becoming a daimon or demigod ourselves. I don’t think this is particularly important; for myself, I am more interested in what work I will be doing. Perhaps I will pay back the help I have gotten along the way by guiding a mortal after me, or by guarding his or her home. Or perhaps I am being trained, through various lives, to do some special work for the gods. This is where I stop speculating; I am content to wait and find out.

Death as a Teacher

December, 2017

Death is a life teacher because it is unavoidable.  It makes life that much more precious to know that your death is around the corner.  It can teach you about what is important and what is not.  It can jolt you into an understanding of how each moment is fleeting.  It destroys the illusion that things remain the same forever.  Death is also present in every experience of change that you have because there are always losses associated with it.  Whether the change is good or bad, self initiated or a surprise, it creates a hole in the reality you have constructed.

-Hyemeyohsts Storm? from “Lightningbolt” 


Death is considered one of the “20 Great Teachers of Life” in indigenous teachings shared by Hyemeyohsts Storm. Most shamanic practitioners believe that our spirits are everlasting; they remain in energy form when we die and we are reincarnated into a new life. In traditions that connect with past lives for healing purposes, it is imperative to see life, death, and rebirth on a circular continuum that has no beginning or end. I believe we come to earth with a mission each time we are reborn. It is our job as humans to remember what the mission is and learn and grow while we are here. Though death is a natural part of life, most of us in North American society are taught from a very young age to fear and even fight death–as if such a thing were possible!  At some point in all our journeys, our illusion that we are immortal starts to crumble. But what if we raised children from the very beginning to see death as an ally?  

In my experience working with children, they are natural psychopomps in a lot of ways.  Psychopomps have been present in all shamanic traditions since ancient times. These people know how to guide departed souls through the spirit world to merge back into the Great Mystery we all originally came from. I am not necessarily suggesting that children be encouraged do this work without guidance from knowledgeable adults, but in a world that is so death phobic, many children with the ability to commune with spirits are unfortunately left to figure this out on their own. This need not be so: There are many shamanic practitioners that can train children properly if parents remain open-minded and are willing to seek these people out.

In my work with children and families, I openly explore death and dying most commonly from three different angles: moving through grief and loss of a loved one, moving through transitions and changes in life with more grace and acceptance, and helping the spirits of departed souls move on to the great round.  Children often speak to me of seeing spirits because they know I will take them seriously.  Other times, children are naturals at creating rituals to support grieving and loss. I notice that healthy, well-adjusted children often move through life transitions with ease.  Many children are curious about death–even if they are afraid to talk to most adults about the topic. One of the reasons we created grieving ceremonies in our book, “The Magic Circle,” was to address this gap in guidance that is out there for children.  In the book, we introduce the topic in simple terms children can understand and then we offer a ceremony that involves building a descansos.  This excerpt is from that book:

We all experience loss in life. Sometimes a pet or a loved human dies. It is often hard to lose someone we love and with his/her death can come many feelings that are maybe new and hard to go through. Emotions such as: sadness, anger, loneliness, confusion, denial, fear and anxiety are all normal during the grieving process.  Grief is a word that describes the emotion of deep sorrow someone feels at the loss of something or someone. Those feelings of missing the person are natural. Grief sometimes feels like it will go on forever when we are in it. Grieving is important because it helps us to transition into the next phase of life without the person we love. People grieve in different ways; there is no one right way.  Although it is healthy to go through the grieving process, holding onto grief long-term is not good for us.  Many people don’t allow themselves to grieve because they are afraid of all the feelings that come with it.  Some people are uncomfortable with death.  Other people feel that ending their grief means they will forget the person they love.

 

It can be helpful to remember that letting go of someone or something that is important to us is not the same as forgetting; we can still keep their memory our hearts even as we carry on living. Letting go bit by bit in an honouring way as a part of our grieving process can bring peace.

 

This ceremony may help you to answer some of these questions as you work with your descansos.  A descansos is a memorial put up by mourners when someone dies.  In Mexico, it is common to see ones like this by the side of the road with objects that remind mourners of the person they love.

Thankfully, society is now beginning to see the need to discuss death and dying practices.  Death Cafés are cropping up in cities all over the world and people want to know how to live, die, and grieve well; in fact, people are often surprised to learn that the three are all interconnected.  Unsatisfied with the big business of pharmaceutical and funeral companies and what they have to offer, more people are looking to cross over in ways that are reflective of the way they lived.  They want to be able to talk about death and dying in intimate, meaningful ways.


A lot of shamanic practitioners (myself included) are working in the realm of death midwifery. Reach out for support. If death makes you feel uncomfortable, I recommend reflecting on the following questions for some time to work through these issues:

Do you fear or embrace death and death as change? How come?

Have you ever held onto something that actually causes you pain because of this fear? If so, what is the cost of this in your life?

What has death shown you to be of greatest importance in life?

Have you learned to trust death? Why? Why not?

If you knew you were going to die in a year, what would you do now that you are not currently doing?

How does the natural world embrace death and change?  How is it a part of natural cycles?

What has grieving losses fully taught you about moving through transitions in life?

***

 

About the Author:

 

 

Jennifer Engrácio has been a student of shamanism since 2005. Jennifer is a certified teacher who has worked with children in many different education settings since 2001. She is a certified shamanic practitioner, reiki master, and lomilomi practitioner; in addition, she runs Spiral Dance Shamanics. Originally from Vancouver, Canada, she now lives in Calgary, Canada with her life partner.

Engrácio participated in self-publishing three books that are now available:

The Magic Circle: Shamanic Ceremonies for the Child and the Child Within”
“Women’s Power Stories: Honouring the Feminine Principle of Life”
“Dreaming of Cupcakes: A Food Addict’s Shamanic Journey into Healing”

For Amazon information, click image below.

For more information go to: www.spiraldanceshamanics.com

Greetings from Afar

October, 2009

Reincarnation, the Key to History

Bacically, “Reincarnation” is the idea, or belief that each of us live many lives on earth and that in any given life we are what we have made ourselves in former lives, or, are in some way continuing some task or goal that we have undertaken previously. Many, especially those who subscribe to the so-called “Eastern Religions”, believe this to be under the law of cause and effect otherwise known as karma. In this view, our blemishes we have indulged and made a part of our personal self, our strengths and talents we have earned and unfolded. Similarly, what happens to us in life, if we believe in an ordered universe, and not in chance, is also of our own making. In other words, we are ourselves, and from day to day and from life to life we are making ourselves into what we will one day become, in this and in future lives, or, we are already molded to a certain type of existence, for good or ill, for some very specific purpose.

There are rather telling arguments against the notion that we inherit ourselves from our parents. Souls are attracted to parents with whom they have a type of psychic connection, previous association, or a deep and intimate relationship.

Seen in this manner, incoming souls select from the gene potentials of their parents-to-be that which is necessary to express what their selves already are, modified by the cumulative experiences of past existences. There is no chance involved. Thus the ten children of a large family will be ten different people, talent-wise, character-wise: ten different souls coming to birth, each with his or her own characteristics. There may even be a wide diversity in appearance. But, all are there, within that particular family, because it is in some way relevant to their further development, or to some goal which they, most often subconsciously, seek to attain.

Likewise, spouses are sometimes drawn together across long distances, sometimes spanning continents and oceans, vast differences in culture, background and language. The same applies to groups of people, otherwise, seemingly unrelated, who come together for apparently no reason and for no discernible purpose, only to discover that there is, in fact, a purpose, and that it is a “common cause”. In many cases, through regression therapy, interpretation of dreams and wakeful visions, these causes, and the relationships of the past can be recognized for what they are, and traced through the combined efforts of all involved, through a long chain of incarnations which can extend for literally thousands of years.

This type of connection to past lives would also tend to explain why some individuals have a propensity to certain traits and characteristics, talents, trades and professions. In some three hundred case studies conducted by myself and my collegues, to date, we have discovered that this type of “patterned” behavior is true in almost eighty (80%) of those examined, with regard to profession, trade and personal behavior. We have found the pattern to be near total when dealing with spouses who are psychically connected through prior incarnations, with the propensities growing stronger in relationship to the length of association.

Two cases in point stand out immediately. In the first, the current husband and wife seem to have shared a minimum of 12 known incarnations, with the possibility of several others that are recallable in fragmentary form. In all cases, the man (unusual in this case, there has been no gender shifting noted between incarnations, as is common to around fifty (50%) percent of known cases) has always followed some form of trade or profession which centers around engineering, usually military engineering or construction, while the woman seems to have made a career of having great numbers of children, and being constantly pregnant (their average family numbers 9 offspring surviving to adulthood, from incarnation to incarnation, and has been considerably larger).

The second case that comes instantly to mind is an individual who has been married, in the current incarnation, six times, and each spouse can be readily identified with a similar spouse in a previous incarnation. The fact that this particular individual is fifty-four (54) years of age, still alive, and that none of the women in question are particularlly angry or irritated with him speaks for itself. This party has undergone regression both jointly with three of his former spouses, and each has undergone separate regression therapy sessions, substantiating this chain of events, which seems to be following exactly the same order in each incarnation. This individual is a Naval Officer by profession, and has, apparently been involved with seafaring in some respect in each of his incarnations.

As an example of the “group incarnation” theory, I and my colleges have performed regression sessions on four individuals, and taken testimony from seven others, which substantiates the existence of at least one group which has incarnated together, repeatedly, for a known and measurable period of approximately 1,800 years, involving some twelve known locations, time periods and cultures. This group is tied together by a series of interlocking relationships, rather like an extended family, and pursuant to two highly visible and definable goals. The verification of this group comes, primarily from the fact that, prior to meeting each other, in this incarnation, quite by “accident” they were literally scattered across four continents, six different countries, and six language groups. Although they have no common history or culture, they are each familiar with historical events, in great detail, in distant lands, which have been historically verified, including names, dates, places and activities with regard to the three most recent incarnations of this group… information that one member might have, in any given situation, but all members could not possibly have, in each given situation. Further, this “group” is dependent upon a proper “pairing” or “mating” system within the group, and in each case in which this order was not achieved, the incarnation self-aborted, with each member being deceased before the age of forty, and the next incarnation beginning within a period of ten years. This group seems to have “found itself” rather late in this incarnation, with several of it’s members being in their mid-forties, however, the “pairing” has, in fact, taken place, or is beginning to, with several rather unusual, but extremely successful matches as a result. It is interesting to note that each individual in this group had had several unsatisfactory liaisons prior to the current “pairing”, and had always felt that “someone was out there”. Collectively, this group still suspects “missing members”, but, as time passed, individuals are “located”, generally finding the group rather than the reverse, and always, seemingly by accident.

There is also a case to be made for the fact that certain physical characteristics, or at least the residual hints of them carry over from one incarnation to the next. It is in this manner that individuals who have known each other in the past, especially those who have known each other intimately, are able to recognize each other in the present, and to somehow “find” each other. This could be something as simple as a mannerism of habit that is readily discernible, or the tone of the voice. In some cases, it appears to be a literal physical resemblance, in a general sense. This tends to produce the effect that is commonly expressed as de ja vu when referring to physical things, but in people produces the impression that one has met the other person before, or recognizes them somehow, but has a definite knowledge that this is an impossibility, or… the incident which most have encountered… meeting a stranger on the street, and wondering, literally all day, where they have seen the person before… when… it was, in fact, in a previous incarnation.

All this presupposes that there is an enduring part that lives in each person, something that survives and gradually unfolds through repeated reimbodiments, something within… a higher self or reincarnating ego… in which is stored the wisdom of experience. Evolution, thus, is the process by which the potentials of this divine essence may unfold. We humans have unfolded that which makes us human; we are at the human stage of our evolution. The animals have unfolded that which makes them animals, and so forth.

Human races are like streams. The individuals of the race are coming and moving constantly… at a constant velocity… being born and dying. The substance of the race is coming in and going out without pause. Yet the race retains its stamp, its marked characteristics. While the race may change slowly, rise to power and sink into obscurity, it retains a certain individuality. There is no such thing as a pure race. All the world’s races are mixtures to some extent or the other. The difference lies solely in the degree of the mixture. In the last two centuries this mix has been even further augmented; in recent decades, many cultures have been altered even further. In the long ran such mixtures will constitute either our real strength or our weakness.

It is obvious that in the most distant past lives we were what we now call the ancients. When we look back these older peoples it may seem strange to us, with different customs and life-styles, yet they must have been very much as we are, and as pointed out, many very basic patterns have, in fact, carried over from one incarnation to the next. Ancient peoples had their loves and hates, their trials, responsibilities, and problems; and they did the best they could with what they had.

If, as science maintains, our evolution is genetic, from parent to son to grandson, one would think there would be a continual rise in civilization. But instead we find all cultures are born, rise to a zenith, then gradually decline, die, or are overrun by another people that may be far less civilized. Why these ups and downs of civilizations? When a civilization is born or a nation emerges, it attracts to itself those souls that have the karma and those particular abilities to express. When it is time for pioneering, those types come in: hardy souls like those in the United States who worked their way across the wilderness. The administrators come in at the appropriate time by karma — the law-givers, artisans, artists, the military — and creative efforts begin to flower. In time the nation reaches its zenith of power and influence. The citizens no longer have to struggle for their ideals and freedoms. They may suffer from a surfeit of worldly things. A new type of soul comes to birth, softer, more effete. Gradually the seeds of decline set in, and in due course the nation will ebb away and sink into obscurity.

Every stage in the unfoldment of a civilization offers opportunities for the development or expression of the souls coming into incarnation. Souls with great creativity will naturally be drawn to eras when they may express that creativity, unless karma prevents it for one reason or another. In each era people express what they are, and thus each age assumes the tone and characteristics of the people in it who are expressing what they are. If the preponderance of souls is primitive, it will be a primitive age, and so forth. An age is the people living in it, and the destinies or karma they are working out. The great souls of the Periclean Age in Greece are what made the Periclean Age.

Mankind consists of a wide variety of souls. We have those who are perhaps below the norm, even depraved…  some of these may in the past have been involved in violent or otherwise traumatic experiences. There is the great run of average people, which includes most of us. Then the forerunners, who are geniuses in a variety of fields, science, literature, the arts. And above these are those developed in an all-round fashion: the Goethes, Schweitzers, von Humboldts, Einsteins and Tellers and a host more who may be said to have had a world view of human and terrestrial life. There are spiritual philosophers such as Plato, Pythagoras, and Plotinus, to name a few from our Western tradition; and others in all parts of the world whose ideas have affected their own and succeeding ages in a profound manner. Above these are the world teachers, those superb examples of human evolution: Buddhas and Christs, who represent what each of us may one day achieve in the far, far future, in the course of many incarnations of evolution… in the spirit of the words of Jesus that, “These things that I do, ye shall do also, and even greater things.” It is difficult to imagine what the fate of mankind would have been if these compassionate ones had not given of their essence for the sake of us all. There are many types of souls connected with the human race.

Reason would dictate that civilizations simply cannot continue to rise and rise, for very good reasons. Relatively large numbers of the human race may have been willingly involved in violent and cruel acts; they may have sowed seeds of violence. Now these human souls (who may have followed their cruel leaders) will reincarnate, and when they do, they bring with them the traits of their pre-existence. If civilizations continued to rise and rise, where would be the place for these types of souls with different, and sometimes violent characteristics? That, it would appear, is one of the primary reasons that the world is fragmented at times: here a high civilization, there more violent types expending themselves.

The Western classical world, for example, had its flowering first in Greece, then in Alexandria, and finally in the Roman Empire. As Rome declined the light of civilization gradually died, culminating in the onset of the so-called Dark Ages, a period which, by comparison with what had gone before, was dark indeed insofar as human achievement, education, artistry, and creativity were concerned. From civilization into abject ignorance, where is the evolution in that?

Reincarnation sheds a wonderful light on this subject, because at every stage in the development of a nation the souls come in whose destiny is such as to fulfill the destiny of the nation at that point. This applies also to its decline. In the decline of Rome some of the Caesars were actually depraved. Of course Rome was so well built that it took a long time on the way down, centuries.

Evolution from the theosophic point of view extends through repeated reimbodiments, not only for human beings, but for animals, plants, even atoms and worlds. It is not scientific heresy to describe the sun as eventually dying. The only heresy might be asserting, as we do, that the sun will in time be reborn, with its worlds visible and invisible, just as a human being has his visible and invisible parts. For this is a living universe, and we humans are living parts of it.    Although there is a finite number of human souls belonging to the family of man, only a relatively small number is in incarnation at any one time. The vast majority are undergoing their after death states, which may last many, many times longer than the years spent in incarnation. From age to age the population of earth varies considerably though within certain limits. At present, souls appear to be crowding in, which may continue for a while. At other times large portions of the earth may lie fallow and mankind be reduced in numbers. Along with this, there is the regular incarnation of “new” souls… those who have not previously been incarnated, but are only now being formed into the essence which makes the “soul” a human entity.

Because of these different factors, one must be very careful not to stand in judgment upon peoples whose life-style may seem to us to be lacking in many of those comforts and other niceties which we consider necessary today. They may indeed be living in what to us might seem to be a primitive condition; but we must not fall prey to the erroneous presumption that they are somehow genetically inferior to ourselves. This is simply not true. One has only to read some of the books written by Laurens van der Post about the Bushmen of the Kalahari desert in southern Africa to realize that in spite of their primitive life-style, in all the qualities that make human life sane and beautiful — such as honesty, generosity, kindness, and a sense of humor — these people, in most cases, are wonderfully civilized, in their own way. It is not necessary to own a large home and drive frenetically to work every day in an expensive automobile to be civilized!

Mankind is very, very old indeed, many millions of years. Human civilizations stretch back into legendary times. If we would study comparatively the myths and epics of mankind and give some credence to them we would find these old accounts describing civilizations on continents now sunken. They contain many types of suggestive material that should be taken seriously; not always literally, but the spirit of them, the essence. These legends are the only memory we have of these older periods obscured by intervening catastrophes, natural and human. They have survived with all the races by oral tradition. Any written records would have been destroyed in the often violent periods that have intervened. H. P. Blavatsky held that the old myths were designed by spiritual teachers, adepts, who wove into them the teachings of the ancient wisdom. They may therefore be interpreted on many levels.

If our universe is a living being, and our sun and earth also, we then see ourselves as children of the living cosmos, blood of its blood, life of its life. If man enshrines a divine spark, we can truly believe we were present when the earth was born and the morning stars sang together, as it says in the Book of Job. We would realize that hierarchies of beings superior to us… form the inner fabric of the cosmos. Without their guiding and sustaining influence, nature would become a meaningless chaos.

Each human being is a deathless entity which, over the course of many thousands of years, has been building for itself more stately mansions — to use the imagery of the American poet, Oliver Wendell Holmes. And to quote from the English poet laureate, John Masefield, “These eyes of mine have blinked and shone / In Thebes, in Troy and Babylon.” The substance of history is the souls of mankind that appear again and again, reaping and sowing from life to life, from age to age.

Do You Really Think We Will Live Again?

Reincarnation intrigues people. It is as if their souls know something their minds don’t quite understand. But proof is a matter of individual conviction. When I first heard about reincarnation I knew it was true. It answered questions that were deeply troubling: Why are some children born to poverty or abuse while others have every advantage? Why do good and decent people have such a hard time? How can a loving God be so cruel, so unjust? I worried about death: Is it the absolute end? Are heaven and hell everlasting? Are unbelievers eternally damned?

The idea that we have lived before and will live many times ended my nightmares. The explanation that we are what we are and where we are because of our thoughts and actions in the past made sense, and convinced me that there is justice in life, and purpose. I began to realize that the situations people find themselves in are opportunities for growth, for developing understanding and improving their lives.

Henry Ford believed in reincarnation:

When I discovered Reincarnation it was as if I had found a universal plan. I realized that there was a chance to work out my ideas. Time was no longer limited. I was no longer a slave to the hands of the clock. There was time enough to plan and create.

We all retain, however faintly, memories of past lives. We frequently feel that we have witnessed a scene or lived through a moment in some previous existence. But that is not essential; it is the essence, the gist, the results of experience, that are valuable and remain with us.

These “results” become part of our spirit of which Krishna speaks in the Bhagavad-Gita (2.11-13):

Those who are wise in spiritual things grieve neither for the dead nor for the living. I myself never was not, nor thou, nor all the princes of the earth; nor shall we ever hereafter cease to be. As the lord of this mortal frame experienceth therein infancy, youth, and old age, so in future incarnations will it meet the same.   Krishna here speaks as the self or spirit within each individual that uses a number of souls and bodies to express itself. Interestingly, each of these bodies, souls, and spirits is pursuing its own evolution through a process of repeated embodiments. When we examine the processes involved we become aware of various aspects of reincarnation.

Consider our bodies: these marvelously complex organisms are composed of innumerable living and evolving beings, held together, guided, and used both by a dominant soul and a spiritual overshadowing intelligence. At death, when soul and spirit withdraw, these various elements disperse and reembody in whatever organisms attract them.

As humans, our consciousness is centered in our reincarnating ego and this ego is the vehicle of expression of our divine and spiritual selves. Now the three parts of our constitution — our body, built of astral-vital-physical components; our human soul, consisting of mental and emotional elements; and our immortal spirit — work and evolve together during our sojourn on earth. This evolution consists, at this time, of unfolding and refining our thoughts and feelings so that we can better express our spiritual qualities of compassion, intelligence, imagination, and willpower. Considering this, we begin to understand how important each life is, and how the lessons we learn, the good that we do, enrich and contribute to the advancement of every part of ourselves.

I wonder if those who do not want to return have any idea what that would involve? But why don’t they want to come back? Do they dread being born again into this cold, cruel, violent world? Or is it because they feel snowed under with problems? Even a casual study of karma and reincarnation helps us understand that our problems and those of the world were created by ourselves, and can be solved only by ourselves. Immersed in our troubles, we are immersed also in their solutions, could we but see it. When an individual endeavors to take responsibility for his life, he becomes increasingly aware of the consequences of his motives and actions and feels impelled to change what is selfish and unkindly to what is for the general good.

Change is one thing we can count on: nothing stands still. Think how we change, in appearance, personality, outlook, size, and shape. After death changes continue: when we return our soul will be enlarged, transformed through the integration of our life’s experiences and our spiritual aspirations.

Of course, many of our present problems and temptations are karmic consequences of encounters left unresolved at the end of our previous life. But now, thanks to the blessing of forgetfulness, we are free from emotional involvements and better able to resolve such disturbances. Oliver Wendell Holmes caught this idea of the soul’s progression in his poem “The Chambered Nautilus”:

Build thee more stately mansions, O my soul!

As the swift seasons roll!

Leave thy low-vaulted past!

Let each new temple, nobler than the last,

Shut thee from heaven with a dome more vast,

Till thou at length art free,

Leaving thine outgrown shell by life’s unresting sea!

How about the people who fear coming back as somebody else? That is not possible. We are ourselves — forever. When an incarnating soul returns earthward, it is attracted to parents and family with similar traits and abilities. The embryo then draws from its parents’ gene-pool the qualities that are inherently its, whether or not they seem to be similar to those of a family member. Because of this, in our next life we will be much like what we are now, but enriched and refined by the lessons we are now learning. Refreshed by our after death experiences, we will come back ready and able to carry on where we left off, and to face challenges that will help us unfold our spiritual potential. Benjamin Franklin put this clearly in his epitaph:

The Body of B. Franklin,

Printer

Like the Cover of an Old Book,

Its Contents Torn Out

And

Stripped of its Lettering and Gilding,

Lies Here

Food for Worms,

But the Work shall not be Lost,

For it Will as He Believed

Appear Once More

In a New and more Elegant Edition

Revised and Corrected

By the Author.

This “return” into earth life occurs sooner for those who have made little psychological karma, or later for the more developed and spiritual who need time to assimilate their spiritual aspirations.

As to the concern that we will come back as an animal: that is not possible either. (For detailed information see “Like Attracts Like,” Sunrise, June/July 1985.) Once we have developed self-consciousness we cannot go backward. This idea came from taking figures of speech literally. As was the case of the American Indian: when he spoke of becoming a wolf or an eagle or a mole, he did not mean he would become that animal. He meant he would become as clever and family-oriented as a wolf, as farseeing as an eagle, or as close to the earth as a mole so as to fathom her secrets. Humans cannot revert to animals; animals cannot become humans overnight or for a long, long time.

There are, however, psychological and physical exchanges going on all the time. Our atoms, for instance, are constantly transmigrating: whenever we smell a rose, listen to music, think of a friend or caress our pets we exchange life particles and forces. Then too, our souls continually “migrate” from one state or condition of consciousness to another, from sleep dreams to waking awareness, from surface thinking to deep concentration. And this continues after death. These exchanges can be mutually beneficial or harmful, depending on the quality of the energy generated. Knowing this, the wise consider it a duty to think and live harmlessly and in the most kindly manner possible.

Another question often asked: What happens to what I loved and worked for? Will that be lost when I die? Nothing is lost. The knowledge we gain, the skills we develop will endure through our postmortem interlude and in future lives blossom in increased proficiency and power. Plato referred to this, explaining that all knowledge and wisdom are memories of former existences. And as these develop and unfold in the present, new personalities are shaped to express the characteristics and needs of our inner and outer conditions. Shakespeare said the same thing, reminding us that an actor in his time plays many parts, identifying himself with and becoming for a few nights’ performance Hamlet perhaps, and then Macbeth, King Richard, or Prospero. As the actor knows he is playing these parts, so our permanent self knows, even though it may be unable to convey this knowledge to the temporary “mask” or personality.

And the big question: If we lived before why don’t we remember? Henry Ford was sure we do retain memories of past lives, but being unfamiliar with the processes of reincarnation, we are not able to recognize them. Buddhists think character is the sum of our past. Theosophical teachings explain these ideas — telling us that memory is stored in the higher part of our nature, glimpsed on occasion, and seen clearly at the moment of death. When free of earthly entanglements we see in retrospect the causes, interrelations, the purpose and justice of all that occurred in the last life.

But how about the people who are sure they remember? Whether they are picking up scenes and events from the earth’s astral atmosphere and identifying with them, as imaginative writers often do, or whether particular incidents of a past incarnation were so indelibly impressed on their souls that they do remember, it is difficult to tell. Theosophical writings explain that when a person’s life ends in violence, or is cut off “before its time,” the soul may return soon after to reestablish its balance, retaining some memories from that too brief life.

Another type of “remembrance” is what the Tibetans call tulku when, under certain conditions, a high lama may, a few years after his death, incarnate in the body of another. The Associated Press carried the story of 5-year-old Simon Heh, of Tibetan-Chinese parents living in Victorville, California, who recognized a Tibetan monk traveling through the area as a friend from his last life. Startled, the monk, Geshe Tsepel, thinking the child could have been Lobsang Phakpa, an elderly lama he had studied under as a boy and who had died in China in the 1950s, wrote the holy leaders of his home monastery in India. Not wanting to influence their decision Geshe named five former monks who could have reincarnated as Simon. Upon examination the leaders determined that the child was indeed the reincarnation of Lobsang Phakpa. On January 3, 1993, the youngster was honored in an ancient ceremony that marked “the beginning of his spiritual journey toward becoming a lama.”

Assuredly, all living beings existed before their present appearance on earth. Origin, an early Church Father, explained that human souls pre-existed in the spiritual world within the ambiance of the divine before they incarnated on earth. Plato went further, explaining that souls not only existed in the universe of being before entering this realm of experience, but that when freed from the bonds of its limitations, they return to that former abode to rest and assimilate their earthly experiences. After a time, they sail forth again invigorated and ready to face the ordeals by which they gain knowledge of life and behold visions of heights they will one day attain.

How many lives will we live? In Richard Bach’s Jonathan Livingston Seagull, the wise gull expresses a view that may hold a seed of truth:

Do you have any idea how many lives we must have gone through before we even got the first idea that there is more to life than eating, or fighting, or power in the Flock? A thousand lives, Jon, ten thousand! And then another hundred lives until we began to learn that there is such a thing as perfection, and another hundred again to get the idea that our purpose for living is to find that perfection and show it forth. The same rule holds for us now, of course; we choose our next world through what we learn in this one. Learn nothing, and the next world is the same as this one, all the same limitations and lead weights to overcome.

©2009 by Dr. J. Lee Choron: All rights reserved unless specifically granted by the author in writing.

To Live Again

December, 2008

Growing up a Roman Catholic in a pre-Vatican II world, one of the last things that ever entered my mind was the very concept of “reincarnation”. I’d heard about it of course but it simply wasn’t something that I gave much thought  and even less credence. It was an alien concept. That changed dramatically one Saturday afternoon in the late fall of 1970.

Apparently this isn’t the first time Sherry, my late wife, and I were/are together. When we were growing up we were raised by our grandparents. Her dad was a career Marine and my dad was a Ford Motor Company exec. They traveled all the time so they gave us over to Papa (my grandfather) and Mama Carrie (her grandmother). Now we were the youngest kids of youngest kids. Our grandparents were all born in the late 1870s to the mid 1880s. Papa was born in 1881 and Mama Carrie was born in 1886. That put us a whole generation, almost two generations closer to the 19th century than other kids our age. We grew up hearing about things that happened then from people who were there and remembered them instead of reading about them in history books. We grew up thinking of it as being “our” time and “our” place far more than the time and place that we were in. After seeing something else that I’m attaching here we both became convinced of it.

Now this is where it gets strange. Papa had been in the Spanish-American War. He was one of the first doctors… very first… to be in the Army Medical Corps. It was organized for the Spanish-American War. Up until then there were no doctors who were actually in uniform. They were all civilian “contract physicians” until 1898. In any case… here’s where it gets strange…

When we were teenagers Papa still had one of his old blue uniforms from the Spanish-American War in his closet and Mama Carrie had a whole bunch of her old dresses from that time in hers. The whole thing started when our High School scheduled a costume party for Halloween and we were right up to the last minute and didn’t have any costumes figured out. We wanted something that would complement each other as usual.

Well, we dug around in our grandparent’s closets until we dug out all of those old clothes and… with their permission… wore them to a school costume party.  I wore Papa’s old uniform and Sherry wore one of Mama Carrie’s old dresses. When we were dressed we came out and showed ourselves off to Papa and Mama Carrie to get them to fix anything we hadn’t done right in putting them on. Papa almost passed out when he saw us. The look of shock on his face was something that we had never seen before. He turned as white as a sheet. With thirty-six years in the army – they didn’t make you retire back then until you were sixty-two years old no matter how many years you had in – and a lifetime in medical practice it took a lot to shock Papa.

He didn’t say anything for a long time – it was almost like he couldn’t. We just thought it was the old memories coming back. It was to a point but we didn’t understand just what that “point” was until the a little later. Finally he just started muttering “Well I’ll be damned, I’ll just be damned” under his breath. His eyes were as big around as saucers.

Then the old man got real quiet, and left the room, but he never took his eyes off of us while he was leaving. When he came back, he had a box full of old photos. It was the kind that are made on the thick cardboard backs and all of them were from the Spanish-American War period or the War in the Philippines. He must have dug in that box for an hour before he found the picture he was after.

What he showed us made us almost pass out.

He showed us an old, faded picture of a couple who looked exactly like us… I mean EXACTLY like us. They were dressed exactly the same way and in exactly the same pose that we had used to show off for Papa and Mama Carrie just a few minutes before. They looked enough like us to BE us or vise-versa. It was like looking in a mirror at ourselves. It’s hard to explain still. It WAS us.

The next afternoon we all loaded into Papa’s little ’49 Ford and we took a trip to one of the neighboring towns… to the cemetery. He took us directly to a big granite monument… it stood over six feet tall.

We both came down with a case of cold chills and thought WE were going to pass out AGAIN. Papa just stood there and eyed us like we had two heads, looking back and forth between us and that big tombstone. He had known these people before they died. They had been close friends but he hadn’t though of them in years until he saw us that Saturday evening dressed up for the party. I will always wonder what went through his mind.

If you read the birthdays on this epitaph closely you’ll see something else that really got our attention…

I don’t have any photos of this. I wish that I did. You have to see this to fully understand it. But… here is the inscription that is on that monument. It’s in a place called Indianola Texas. There’s no town there any more, just the cemetery.

IN LOVING MEMORY

Of

OUR PARENTS

Major James Lee “Jimmy” Masterson MD AUS (MC)

Dec. 4, 1845 – Jan. 11, 1901

Emily Marie “Miss Emmy” Fields Masterson RN

Sept. 11, 1848 – Jan. 11, 1901

Died in field service with the Peking Relief Expedition

There was never in their lifetimes,

Not a single minute’s span

That the two were not together;

This woman and this man.

From the time that they were children

To the time that they grew old

They stood beside each other

In the wind and rain and cold.

From a far-off land called Texas

To the forests of Vermont

To the shores of distant China

They cast a single lot.

The Major healed their bodies

While Miss Emmy held their hands;

And they raised a loving family

In a dozen different lands.

So pay good heed what love can do;

How long that love can last.

And know that God can give us

Both a future and a past.

Know that God can give us

Loving families and friends

And God on high can give to us

A love that has no end.

For there is no one beneath this stone

No earthly shells lie near.

Their bodies lie across the waves

Their hearts are buried here.

From All of Us:

Josephine, Emily, Kimberly, James, Timothy, Grace, William, Norris, Doris, John and Samantha Masterson

The Mastersons had been killed in China during the Boxer Rebellion. They were part of the International Relief Expedition that went to relieve Peking under General Chaffee and Admiral Sydney.  Their bodies were never recovered.

If you look closely at that epitaph you will notice, except for the years of our birth, Sherry and I have the same birthdays  as Major and Mrs. Masterson and there is exactly the same amount of time between us.

Now it gets stranger still. We really didn’t pay any attention to it at the time. Papa and Mama Carrie pointed it out to us later. All the time we were getting all dressed up in that old uniform and that old dress, it was just like a “habit” for us. We knew what we were doing. Sherry didn’t even look while she was using a button hook to fasten the buttons on a pair of high-topped shoes and I never down while I was buttoning the fly on the uniform’s trousers (no zippers back then).  The thing is, clothes from the 19th century are a LOT different from the clothes we wear now. We shouldn’t have had any idea what we were doing, Sherry buttoned the detachable collar onto my shirt without any trouble at all, and helped Sherry into all of those petticoats and bloomer just like I’d always done it. We had seen Papa in his uniform before for parades on Veteran’s Day (he still called it “Armistice Day”) but neither one of us had ever actually seen him put it on. Neither one of us had ever seen Mama Carrie in any of those clothes except once or twice in old photos. There’s just no way that we should have known how to do any of that, let alone get it completely right the first time.

We kept that old uniform and that old dress. For the next thirty years any time we attended any kind of “costume” function we were “The Major and Miss Emmy”. That “dirty-shirt blue” uniform of the “old army”, one of the last ever worn in combat by a US soldier, and a “matching” blue velvet dress with antique white lace trim are still hanging in my closet today.

Yes, I believe in reincarnation. I have for some time.