This is a post about the past-life memories of adults, which we may define as those in which the main memories come at age 10 or later. Children who speak about previous lives typically begin to do so between 2 and 4.
Reports of adult past-life memories started to surface early in the 20th century, at the same time that children’s memories began to be recognized in Europe and the United States. In a 1960 review (https://med.virginia.edu/…/uploa…/sites/267/2015/11/STE1.pdf), Ian Stevenson reported having found reports of three adult cases with enough detail for the previous person to be identified (researchers consider these cases to be “solved”). Additional adult cases, both solved and unsolved, appeared throughout the 20th century. In 1979, psychologist Frederick Lenz made a special study of them. In his book Lifetimes he showed that dreams and altered states of consciousness were very common with adult memories and also that triggers or cues were very important with them. Writer D. Scott Rogo followed up Lenz’s work with a smaller sample of cases and confirmed that these factors were important. Rogo described his findings in The Search for Yesterday. In 1989, I published a study of the subject’s age in relation to whether the initial memories were cued in a series of 95 solved cases and showed that cuing is more prominent the older a subject was at the time (http://jamesgmatlock.net/…/Age-and-Stimulus-in-Past-Life-Me…).
Adult past-life memories may be at least as common as children’s memories, but they are much less often veridical (demonstrably factual) and solved. There are several reasons for this. Children’s cases tend to be much richer in the variety of signs of reincarnation they include, and children tend to say more things and to name names more often than adults do. Dreams and altered states of consciousness in which adult memories appear are also given to distortion, as I showed in another post for this group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/965923533422836/permalink/1081701878511667/). There are about 1700 solved children’s cases in the collection at the University of Virginia and several hundred have been published. In contrast, I know of only 10 solved adult cases that like the children’s cases occurred spontaneously (that is, unprompted) in waking, dream, or meditative states.
As I said earlier, I define an adult case as one in which the main memories emerged at age 10 or later. By the “main memories” I mean either the most abundant memories or the memories that allowed the case to be solved. In the great majority of the solved adult cases, there were some memories, or behaviors, or phobias, etc., that came in early childhood also. That is interesting and seems to indicate that the memories were close to the surface of conscious awareness from early in life, even though the psychological conditions weren’t right for them to emerge strongly until later.
Next I’ll summarize the 10 solved adult cases with published reports that I know about. These cases come from both Europe and Asia. I’ll present the European cases first, in the order that they were published. Notice the roles of the common features I have mentioned: dreams or other altered states of consciousness; cuing; and childhood precursors to the main memories that emerged in adulthood.
One of the cases from the early 20th century was self-reported by Giuseppe Costa, an Italian man. As a child, he responded to a painting of Constantinople (now Istanbul) and the Bosporus that hung in his family’s living room. A series of disjointed images came to his mind, but he didn’t know what to make of them. He was keenly interested in arms, fencing, gymnastics and horseback riding. When he was 10, his father took him to Venice for the first time. He had the sense of having been there before and that night had a dream which strung his childhood memories together in a coherent sequence, although he still wasn’t sure what they meant. When he finished high school he joined the army, an occupation with which he felt a sense of familiarity. A few years later all this fell into place when he visited a ruined castle. He reacted to it very strongly and while he was there experienced a vision in which he heard his past-life name: Ibleto. Ibleto di Challant it turned had built the castle and later had gone on a crusade to Constantinople in the 1300s.
Another early European case is that of Laure Raynaud, born near Amiens, France, in 1868. It is not clear when she first had memories of a previous life, but she retained them into adulthood and talked about them to all who would listen. She could not remember her name but was sure she would recognize her house if she saw it. At 17 she decided to become a healer and this became her profession. When she was 45, she went to administer to a man in Genoa, Italy. As soon as she was in Italy began to have a feeling of familiarity with the country. She described the house of her memory to one of her hosts in Genoa, who recognized it and took here there. It fit her memories in all details and being there triggered a new memory, of having been buried not in the church cemetery, but in the church itself, something that turned out to be correct for the wife of a former owner of the house, who had died of a mysterious illness in 1809.
As a child toward the end of the 19th century, the German Ruprecht Schulz used to point to his temple with his finger as if he were about the shoot himself, but he had no imaged memories of a previous life and never spoke about one. He was in his 50s and in a situation in which he had to withdraw money from a wall safe night after night. He began to have the sense he had done this before, and asked himself when. Suddenly he saw himself as another man, doing a similar thing, in another location. By putting various clues together, Schulz eventually figured out he had been a shipping magnate who had killed himself when he discovered he was ruined. He had been five weeks old at the time of the man’s suicide, making this an instance of replacement reincarnation.
A.J. Stewart—an adopted name—was born in England in 1929. From early in life she had strange memories her parents could not comprehend and dismissed, of having lived in a castle and dying on a battlefield somewhere. She felt a strong longing to be in Scotland, but did not go there until she was an adult, midway through a career as a playwright in London. She felt immediately at home In Scotland and resettled there. New memories were evoked when she visited castles and sites associated with King James IV and she came to identify herself with him. Then in 1967, when she was 38, she was persuaded to visit the Flodden battlefield, where the Scots had been defeated by the English in 1513 and King James IV had been killed. On the night before she went there memories of battle and death resurged and once there she was able to lead the way to the spot King James IV had died.
Jeffrey Keene was born in Connecticut in 1947 with a mark on the right side of his face. As a child he had a dream and played at soldiering in ways whose significance only became apparent in adulthood. He had a strange and striking experience at a Civil War battlefield. A palm reader told him he had died there, although he felt that this was wrong. Indeed, as he put the pieces together, and identified his memories with the Confederate officer and later General John B. Gordon, he realized that he had only been wounded. One of Gordon’s wounds was to the right side of his face, in the same place as Keene’s birthmark. After the war, General Gordon went to into politics. He served in the Georgia legislature and as governor, dying in 1904. Keene had other memories, also from childhood, of another life after Gordon’s and before his own, but this remains unsolved.
Angela Grubbs was born in a suburb of Atlanta. She experienced a series of dreams and visions, during meditations or when she was exhausted or ill, beginning in childhood and continuing into adulthood. The dreams and visions centered on a married woman with two children who had lived early in the 20th century in Lexington, Kentucky. During one of her visions, she heard the name of her daughter and then asked herself for her name and that of her husband. These names allowed her to track down the family, first through a genealogical search online and later in libraries, court records and a church in Lexington. Many of the details of her dreams and visions turned out to be accurate. Interestingly, a cluster of memories in adulthood began when she was 28, the age at which the woman had died in 1923.
Yael Shahar was born in Texas but now lives in Israel. From childhood she experienced dreams of having died in a Nazi concentration camp. These dreams continued and became more insistent in adulthood. She remembered the number assigned to the prisoner and this allowed her to track him down, confirm her memories, and fill out his story.
The first of three Asian adult cases was contributed by an Indian writer, Krishnanand, who tells of witnessing a 10-year-old Indian boy without a history of seizures convulse and fall to the ground following a lecture on the virtues of right living. While in trance, the boy led the way to what he said was his home, recognized the woman who came to the door as his wife, and answered questions sufficient to convince her of his identity. He indicated the place where the previous person had secreted some money. When the woman left to get refreshments for her visitors, the boy emerged from his trance without any awareness of what he had said and done.
As a young child, a Turkish Alevi boy, Suleyman Andary, had some vague memories of having lived before. He said he had resided in the village of Gharife, where he had had an olive press. However, fuller memories did not begin to come to him until he was 11, prompted by an incident with his grandmother. When this woman visited his home and asked to borrow a religious book, Suleyman refused to let her have it. Pressed to explain why, he suddenly recalled that in the previous life he had not allowed religious books to leave his house. After this he made an effort to remember more about the former life and succeeded in bringing forth new details. Among these were the name of the previous person, Abdallah Abu Hamdan, and that he had been the mayor of Gharife. When he was 13 Suleyman was taken to Gharife and there led the way to Hamdan’s house and made additional statements as well as recognitions of people and places.
Stevenson also studied the case of a Thai woman, Pratomwan Inthanu, who at 20 while meditating recovered fragments of two lives that ended in infancy. Her memories surfaced quickly, as images, sense impressions, and voice-overs that gave the names of people and places related to these lives. She travelled to the designated locations, where she recognized people, found her way around unaided, answered test questions, and acted in other ways like younger subjects, but her memories were much less robust overall. Pratomwan’s verbal memories (of names), although extensive enough to permit verification, were relatively few and there were no noticeable behavioral memories or physical signs related to the previous lives she recalled.
Besides being less rich than children’s cases often are, and more likely to come in altered states and be cued, adult memories often carry the same emotional intensity that comes with children’s memories. There is the same sense of identification with someone who lived in the past, the same sense that one lived before as this person, who was a different person than who one now is, but is somehow continuous with onesef. In several cases there is also, importantly, the sense of unfinished business, and it appears that this is the key thing that keeps the memories close enough to conscious awareness for them to be retrieved in adulthood. In these latter respects, adult past-life memories are very similar to those children have.
I have focused on adult memories that arose spontaneously in waking, dream or meditative states but which provided enough information and were accurate enough to be solved. In a chapter in Ervin Laszlo’s The Akashic Experience, Stanislav Grof describes two adult cases with apparent identifications that arose during LSD sessions. I also know of 15 solved cases that have emerged during age regression under hypnosis in adulthood. Interestingly, in 13 of these 15 solved regression cases, there were also spontaneous memories of the same lives, usually from childhood. Although having some childhood precursors is not necessary for memories to emerge in adulthood, it certainly seems to be a very strong factor in them.
You can read more about the cases I summarized in the following places: Giuseppe Costa, Laure Raynaud, Ruprecht Schulz: Ian Stevenson’s European Cases of the Reincarnation Type. A.J. Stewart: Stewart’s Died 1513-Born 1929. Jeffrey Keene: Keene’s Someone Else’s Yesterday. Angela Grubbs: Grubb’s Chosen to Believe. Yael Shahar: Shahar’s A Damaged Mirror. Suleyman Andary: Stevenson’s Cases of the Reincarnation Type, Vol. 3: Twelve Cases in Lebanon and Turkey. Pratomwan Inthanu: Stevenson’s Cases of the Reincarnation Type, Vol. 4: Twelve Cases in Thailand and Burma.
Krishanand’s case appeared in a 1968 publication, Reminiscences, published by the Krishnanand Shanti Ashram, and is not readily available in libraries or online booksellers. I will scan it and post it for this group.
This post previously appeared on my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/965923533422836/permalink/1478330848848766/