Advice for Parents of Children Who Report Memories of Past Lives
By Jim B. Tucker, MD
A little boy named Joey talked a number of times about how his “other mother” had died in a car accident. One night at dinner
when he was almost four years old, he stood up in his chair and appeared pale as he looked intently at his mother and said, “You
are not my family—my family is dead.” Joey cried quietly for a minute as a tear rolled down his cheek, then sat back down and
continued with his meal. His parents—and their dinner guest—sat stunned.
At the University of Virginia Division of Perceptual Studies, we have investigated over 2,500 cases in which young children
reported memories of past lives. Parents frequently ask us for advice on how to handle their children’s statements. While each
case has individual differences, we can offer some general guidance that may be helpful.
First, it is important to know that these statements do not, by themselves, indicate mental illness. We have talked with many
families in which a child claimed to remember another set of parents, another home, or a previous death, and the children rarely
show mental health problems. These statements are generally made by children whose development appears to otherwise be just like
that of their peers. They can occur in families with a belief in reincarnation or in families where the idea of reincarnation had
never been considered before the child began making the statements.
When children talk about a past life, parents are sometimes unsure how to respond. We recommend that parents be open to what
their children are reporting. Some of the children show a lot of emotional intensity regarding these issues, and parents should
be respectful in listening just as they are with other subjects that their children bring up.
When a child talks about a past life, we suggest that parents avoid asking a lot of pointed questions. This could be upsetting to
the child and, more importantly from our standpoint, could lead the child to make up answers to the questions. It would then be
difficult or impossible to separate memories from fantasy. We do think it is fine to ask general, open-ended questions such as,
“Do you remember anything else?” and it is certainly fine to empathize with a child’s statements (“That must have been scary”
when, for instance, a child describes a fatal accident).
We encourage parents to write down any statements about a past life that their children make. This is particularly important in
cases where the children give enough information so that identifying a deceased individual that they are describing might be
possible. In such a situation, having the statements recorded ahead of time would be critical in providing the best evidence that
the child actually had experienced memories from a previous life.
At the same time, parents should not become so focused on the statements that they and their children lose sight of the fact that
the current life is what is most important now. If children persist in saying they want their old family or old home, it might be
helpful to explain that while they may have had another family in a previous life, their current family is the one they have for
this life. Parents should acknowledge and value what their children have told them while making clear that the past life is truly
in the past. We do not recommend that children undergo past-life regression hypnosis.
Parents are sometimes more upset by the statements than their child is. Hearing a child describe the experience of dying in a
painful or difficult way can be hard, but both parent and child can know that the child is safe now in this life. Some parents
may be comforted to know that the vast majority of these children stop talking about a previous life by the time they are five to
seven years old. This is the age at which children become involved with school and also the age at which they lose their memories
of early childhood, and the talk about a past life fades along with those memories. Very rarely, the memories will persist into
adolescence or adulthood, though with much less intensity than during the younger years. In many cases, however, as children get
older they do not even remember that they ever talked about a past life.
Overall, parents often find children’s claims to remember previous lives more remarkable than do the children, for whom the
apparent memories are simply part of their experience of life. The children then move on from the memories to lead typical
Blog from OpenCenter.org reprinted by permission of the author
Jim B. Tucker, MD, is Bonner-Lowry Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences at the University of Virginia.
He is continuing the work of Ian Stevenson at the UVA Division of Perceptual Studies with children who report memories of
previous lives. His first book on the research, Life Before Life: A Scientific Investigation of Children’s Memories of Previous
Lives, has been translated into ten languages. His most recent book, Return to Life: Extraordinary Cases of Children Who Remember
Past Lives, tells the stories of recent American cases. His website is JimBTucker.com.
He will be featured at the A.R.E. Headquarters Conference Many Lives, One Soul: Reincarnation, Life Before Life, and Your Soul’s
Plan from Sept. 26-28, 2014, in Virginia Beach, Va., with a presentation entitled, Return to Life: Extraordinary Cases of Children Who Remember Past Lives.
The Way of Knowingness: The Intuitive Path to Your Spiritual Destiny
A new book by Kim O’Neill
Renowned author, psychic, and angel channel Kim O'Neill takes you on an amazing soul growth journey sharing astonishing new insights on ways to unlock the secrets of your destiny, bringing you total peace and a deep sense of purpose, happiness, and fulfillment in her new book. Below is an excerpt from Chapter 3: The Five Guiding Principles:
Issues represent all of the different forms of human experience on the earthly plane. An issue is best described as a necessary learning experience that helps an individual evolve emotionally and spiritually.
Simply put, resolving your outstanding issues is paramount in allowing you to improve the quality of your life. You can easily recognize the issues you are currently working through by examining the apparent problems or patterns of turmoil in your life. There are some issues that remain so painful for us that we carry them from lifetime to lifetime, attempting repeatedly to resolve them. Other issues can be easily worked through without much anxiety or suffering…
If your childhood was traumatic, remember you purposely planned that situation as part of your destiny in order to evolve to a higher level of enlightenment. It might be said that those people who exposed you to their toxic dysfunction when you were a child have been your very best teachers.
You deliberately picked those troubled people because you expected them to behave just as they did at their existing levels of enlightenment. Keep in mind that although you most likely suffered many wounds, it was a very strong and courageous decision on your part to plan something so distressing, especially knowing that in your most formative years you would be utterly dependent on those from whom you would experience the greatest adversity. Think for a moment about all of the spiritual wisdom and maturity you gained from those impossible relationships and how you learned what not to do from them. And if you’ve already learned everything you had intended, you’ll blessedly never be exposed to those issues again!
After I had been dating my husband, Britt, for several months, we started to talk about our respective histories, which included some painful memories of past relationships and the fact that both of us came from troubled families. I described how my alcoholic father had brutalized my mother verbally and physically throughout my childhood. Britt’s eyes filled with tears as he warmly embraced me, and then he murmured, “What a wonderful teacher he must have been. I can see why you chose him as a father. You were very fortunate.”
Very fortunate? I thought Britt was nuts! I was aghast that he said such a thing about a man who had traumatized my entire family. What could I possibly have learned from a man I could never respect or depend on as a father? I was fortunate to have a father who rejected and abandoned my brothers and me from the time I could remember because he was so consumed with destroying my mother and himself? Having endured emotionally painful therapy for some time to heal from these childhood wounds, I should be grateful to this man?
Britt saw my shocked expression, and before I could stutter a reply, he explained softly, “Don’t you understand? You chose him as a father because you knew he would behave exactly as he did. You must have had some issues that you needed to address, and your father fit the bill perfectly. You’re the person you are today partially because of that turmoil.”
His statement rang true to me, and I began to listen more openly. I started to see things in a very different light. We discussed the idea that because of the absence of my father’s love, I had no feelings of security or consistency as a child. And due to my father’s drinking and abusive behavior, I grew up in a war-zone environment that was characterized by ongoing financial hardships, fear of the sporadic beatings he gave my mother, and the awareness that at any time he might decide to make good on one of his frequent threats to kill her.
Britt helped me recognize that I didn’t have to respect, admire, or even like someone who had a purpose in my life as a teacher. Spiritually speaking, it was my father’s responsibility to me to act the way he did, and then it was my responsibility to myself to transcend the adversity and learn from it. So what was I able to learn from my father?
The early heartache of his neglect, rejection, and disinterest in me began the process of independence and empowerment that I am so proud of today. His abusive behavior toward my mother taught me about setting boundaries and helped me to understand the emotionally crippling effects of low self-esteem. In addition, as a result of moving beyond this difficult time, I was able to develop the determination to address my subsequent issues with less fear and unwillingness.
Upon further reflection, I realized that I also learned what not to do. In my interactions with other people, particularly children, I always try to remember that every human being should be treated with dignity, respect, and consideration. Although my old wounds are healed and I’ve never been happier or more at peace, I can still vividly recall the terror of cowering from a parent gone berserk because of a combination of anger and alcohol. The memory of those early years helps me to share a heartfelt sympathy and compassion for those who have endured similar experiences.
Even in therapy, I hadn’t considered that my suffering could have been a precious opportunity to learn from my father, who was destined to be one of my most valuable teachers. Britt taught me, with his greater maturity and wisdom, that traumatic or disturbing issues can always be reframed as positive learning experiences as long as I am ready to become a willing student.
Kim O'Neill, voted Houston's Top Psychic by Houston Press Magazine, is the author of How to Talk with Your Angels, Discover Your Spiritual Destiny, The Calling: My Journey with the Angels, and new book from 4th Dimension Press, The Way of Knowingness: The Intuitive Path to Your Spiritual Destiny. For over two decades, Kim has conducted private channeling sessions for an international list of clients, including business, media, political, and religious leaders, and fellow psychics, and established seminars and workshops designed to help people transform their lives and develop greater spiritual awareness. Her Web site is Kimoneillpsychic.com.
My Introduction to Edgar Cayce
By John Van Auken
I first read about Edgar Cayce when I was sixteen years old. My father, a naval officer, had been transferred to Virginia Beach, Virginia—home to the headquarters of the Edgar Cayce Foundation and the Association for Research and Enlightenment, founded by Edgar Cayce in 1931. The book was The Sleeping Prophet by Jess Stearn, a journalist and author of more than thirty books, nine of which were bestsellers. But it wasn’t until I got into college that I really began to study Cayce’s work. The professor of my writing class assigned us to write about a mystery, and since my mother had told me the mysterious story of Bridey Murphy, I thought that would be a good place to begin my research for this paper.
Bridey Murphy was the alleged name of a woman’s past life in the 1800s as an Irishwoman who died and reincarnated in the United States 59 years later. The book was The Search for Bridey Murphy by Morey Bernstein (published in 1952; it became a movie in 1956, starring Academy- Award winning actress Teresa Wright). It was the fascinating story of housewife Virginia Tighe (called Ruth Simmons in the book and movie), who, while under hypnosis, recalled (or virtually relived) her apparent past life as Bridey Murphy. Tighe’s hypnotic story (recorded on cassette tape) began in 1806, when Bridey was eight years old and living in or near Cork, Ireland. She was the daughter of Duncan Murphy, a barrister, and his wife Kathleen. At the age of 17, she married barrister Sean Brian McCarthy and moved to Belfast. Tighe told of a harsh fall season that caused Bridey’s death and of watching her own funeral. She described her tombstone and the state of being alive after her death—or more precisely, after her body’s death—in 1864. She said that she did not feel pain or sadness. Then, somehow, she was reborn in the Midwest of the U.S. in 1923. In this life, she had never been to Ireland and did not speak with even the slightest hint of an Irish accent—except when she was under hypnosis and “reliving” the Bridey incarnation! Then she spoke with an Irish brogue. In Bernstein’s book, he referred to Edgar Cayce and his remarkable abilities, explaining that he had investigated Cayce and could find no deception or trickery in his process. He thought that, as impossible as it may seem, the volumes of detail coming through Cayce on past lives couldn’t be anything but valid. Reading this, I decided to write my paper on the mystery of Edgar Cayce. Because it contained so many examples of Cayce’s readings on past lives and the karma that affected people’s present lives, I chose to use the best-selling book Many Mansions by Gina Cerminara. I got an “A” on my paper. But more than that, I developed an appetite for the Edgar Cayce information on past lives and karma.
Over the years, I read most every book about Edgar Cayce that there was. And though the initial “hook” that got me into the Cayce volumes was reincarnation and karma, it was the mystical, magical spirituality that filled his discourses that ultimately became my soul’s meat and potatoes. My soul and mind were being nourished by his spirituality. I could not get enough of his wisdom and stories, even though it was thick with King James biblical language and Christian terminology and concepts—things I had long ago deemed inadequate and often prejudiced, even racist and sexist, with a terrible history of violence. But Cayce’s perspective on Christian concepts was so open and so expansive, so beyond church dogma, doctrine, and historical acts, that I couldn’t get enough of it. His teachings included Buddhism and Hinduism. In fact, he taught that any faith that teaches the brotherhood and sisterhood of all humanity and the oneness of God was carrying the true message. In my twenties, this was exactly how I felt. His views found a receptive, responsive place within me. And the organization that built up around his work was open to all people from varying backgrounds and beliefs. They were “normal” people, not cultists, not living on the fringes of life, but quite a spread from our society. Now, after more than forty years of working with the Cayce material and concepts, and practicing them in my daily life, I have gathered together some of the key elements of his spirituality in this book. I’ve also added the wonders discovered by science—wonders of the outer life and outer reality, as well as wonders of the inner, unseen life and realms. And in writing this book, the material has reignited that flame of excitement that I had in my early twenties when I first encountered these ideas and their vast expansive vision into the purpose and meaning of life—of soul life. I truly would never have gotten to the awareness, vibration, and peace that I enjoy today, not to mention the quality of people I share my life with, without having studied and lived this material. I hope you find the light and inspiration that I found.
John Van Auken
is a director at Edgar Cayce’s A.R.E., and is one of the organization’s most popular speakers, traveling throughout the U.S. and abroad to address audiences on the body-mind-spirit topics found in the Edgar Cayce readings. He is an acknowledged expert on the Cayce readings, the Bible, ancient prophecies, world religions, meditation, and ancient Egypt. John conducts seminars in the U.S. and abroad, and is a tour guide to the many sacred sites around the world. His latest book, Edgar Cayce on the Spiritual Forces Within You is now available for purchase at ARECatalog.com.
For the Love of Animals, Part 1
By Jennie Taylor Martin
Read Part 1 |
I was born the youngest of seven children. This was in the 1960s when large families were not uncommon. Though we struggled financially, we always had pets. More specifically, we had a family dog, and I had mice, turtles, and a bird (cats, rabbits, gerbils, and guinea pigs would come later). My mom knew I had a passion for animals, and in spite of my family’s financial situation, she always supported my love for animals by allowing me to have pets and taking me to the zoo as often as we could manage.
Shortly before my ninth birthday, my dad died. It was sudden and unexpected, and it put our family on a completely different path. Wherever we were headed before, we weren’t heading that way anymore. I was young, but I understood what had happened. I knew my father was dead. I had a concept of heaven from church—I attended Sunday school each week and went to vacation Bible school during the summer. I felt confident that my dad was in heaven.
But what I wanted to know was, do animals go to heaven too? During that time period in my family’s life, while staying over my aunt and uncle’s house, my young brain was trying to sort out what I believed and what I still questioned, so I asked my aunt, “Do animals go to heaven?” Her reply was, “No, they don’t.” I adored my aunt. I admired her, and I respected her. But her response broke my heart and called into question my young faith. I told her how I felt about it. “If animals don’t go to heaven,” I said, “then I don’t want to go there either.”
Flash forward several years, and as a teen I started reading books of a metaphysical nature, like Richard Bach’s Illusions. My mom and I had the same taste in spiritual material, but though she was aware of Edgar Cayce, I didn’t find out about him until my mid-20s when, under synchronistic circumstances, I ended up working at A.R.E. in the Membership Department. It was 1988 when I first read There Is a River, and that’s when my spiritual studies really began to take off.
At the same time, I had become a volunteer at the local zoo that my family had visited for all those years of my childhood. My love for animals would always be a part of my nature, and no matter what I read or studied, in the back of my mind were my aunt’s words and my desire to prove them wrong, because I wanted heaven, but I wanted the animals too.
Back in the 1980s, the Cayce readings were not yet in electronic form. If you wanted to research the readings, you had to either read books and other materials by authors who had done the research and published their works, or you had to physically go to A.R.E.’s library and look them up directly. There were no published works on Edgar Cayce and animals that I could find.
It was only natural that I began to research what the Cayce readings had to say about animals. I wanted to know everything. What was their nature? Did they have souls? And, of course, did they live on beyond death? My research started at the beginning with this reading:
“Spirit pushed into matter—and became what we see in our three-dimensional world as the kingdoms of the earth; the mineral, the vegetable, the animal—a three-dimensional world.” (Edgar Cayce Reading 262-114)
This reminded me of the creation verses in Genesis but with an added depth. Seeing the animals as a spiritual kingdom and an expression of spirit as it had “pushed into matter” was an interesting concept for me. I wanted to understand this better, and I also needed to know what was meant by kingdom, so my research continued. I found more with this reading:
“In the material world, where we find expressions of the physical and of the spiritual, we find Mind. Yet what is known as the Group Mind—or that of the plant kingdom, the mineral kingdom and the animal kingdom...returns (as its Destiny) to the Creative Force which is its author, its maker. MAN—the free will agent...makes his Destiny as to whether his Mind...is one with or in opposition to the Creative Forces.” (Edgar Cayce Reading 262-80)
This concept of a Group Mind sounded to me like what we call animal instinct. I did not feel that this meant animals could not also be individuals, but rather I was reminded that animals are full of innocence. As this reading seems to indicate, that’s because animals are always in accord with the Creative Forces. Whereas humans—with free will—can act in “destructive” ways that are against the Creative Forces, this reading seemed to be saying that animals cannot.
Elephants at Amboseli national park against
Mount Kilimanjaro Source: Wikipedia
Animals are living in accord with natural law, or the Creative Forces; that is, unless they are under the influence of a human’s free will. And yes, a human can teach a dog not to pee in the house, and yes, a human can teach an elephant to perform in a circus, but these are unnatural behaviors brought on by the force of a human’s free will (for better or for worse) and not in accord with the animals’ Group Mind (i.e., instinct or natural nature).
Because of humans’ free will, which can be used constructively or destructively, animals are dependent upon us for their wellbeing. As was stated in the book of Genesis, we have dominion over animals and the earth. But since we have free will, it is our choice of how we wield it—for ill or for good, in discord or in accord with the Creative Forces.
Excerpt from an article published in the Jan-Mar 2014 issue of Venture Inward magazine. A.R.E. members can read the entire article in the online member section at EdgarCayce.org/members.
Read Part 1 |
Jennie Taylor Martin is the marketing director of A.R.E., and a former director of the PETA Foundation to Support Animal Protection. Out of love and respect for animals, she chose to commit to a vegan lifestyle in 1996. She is currently writing a book on this topic and welcomes stories of experiences you’ve had with possible animal reincarnation and or with animals and the afterlife. You can write to her at ARE@edgarcayce.org.
Edgar Cayce’s A.R.E. blog offers opinion pieces from contributors with a wide variety of backgrounds. These opinions are valued and create points of discussion. Opinions expressed in our blog may not necessarily represent the opinion of A.R.E.