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Past Life Recall Experiences (PLRs)


Memory or recall (either spontaneous or hypnotically induced) of a prior life or previous existence, often suggestive of or evidentially consistent with a previous life incarnation.  – Nancy du Tertre

Past-life experiences, or PLEs, can be defined as reported experiences or impressions of oneself as a particular person (other than one’s current life identity) in a previous time or life. – Antonia Mills & Steven Jay Lynn 

Impressions, that individuals report, in which they have experienced themselves as a particular person with an identity (other than their current life identity) in a previous time or lifespan.  – Dr. Jim Tucker & Antonia Mills

Reincarnation is the best--even though not the only--explanation for the stronger cases [of Past-Life Experience] we have investigated. – Dr. Ian Stevenson

A hypothetical existence prior to the present one, especially for those believing in reincarnation; a previous incarnation. – Dictionary.com

Phenomenological list of experiential and transformative elements

(Spontaneous and under hypnosis)

  1. Xenoglossy (ability to speak a language unknown to speaker)
  2. Birth marks/scars/congenital malformations related to significant or fatal wounds of past life
  3. Similar choice of jobs, hobbies to past life
  4. Inexplicable knowledge of places, locations, buildings related to past life
  5. Preference for unusual foods, tastes, fashions similar to past life
  6. Phobia linked to problems/manner of death in previous life
  7. Recognition of family members/friends/favorite toys or objects from past life


          Bernstein, Morey (1989). The Search for Bridey Murphy. Doubleday.

      Bowman, Carol (1998). Children's Past Lives: How Past Life Memories Affect Your Child.  Bantam.

          Bowman, Carol (1998). Children's Past Lives: An Intriguing Account of Children's Past Life Memories. HarperCollins Publishers Ltd.

          Bowman, Carol (2003). Return From Heaven: Beloved Relatives Reincarnated Within Your Family. HarperTorch.

          Denning, Hazel (1998). Life Without Guilt: Healing through Past Life Regression. Llewellyn Publications.

          Leininger, Bruce (2010). Soul Survivor: The Reincarnation of a World War II Fighter Pilot.  Grand Central Publishing.

          Mills, Antonia (1994). Amerindian Rebirth: Reincarnation Belief Among North American Indians and Inuit. University of Toronto Press.  

          Newton, Michael (1994). Journey of Souls: Case Studies of Life Between Lives. Llewellyn Publications.

          Pasricha, Satwant (1990). Claims of Reincarnation: An Empirical Study of Cases in India. New Delhi: Harman Publishing House.

          Pasricha, Satwant (2008). Can the Mind Survive Beyond Death? In Pursuit of Scientific Evidence (2 Vol.). New Delhi: Harman Publishing House.

          Semkiw, Walter (2003). Return of the Revolutionaries: The Case for Reincarnation and Soul Groups Reunited. Hampton Roads Publishing.

          Semkiw, Walter (2011). Born Again: Reincarnation Cases Involving Evidence of Past Lives, with Xenoglossy Cases researched by Ian Stevenson, MD. Pluto Project.  

          Stevenson, Ian (1980). Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation (Second Edition, Revised and Enlarged). University of Virginia Press.

          Stevenson, Ian (2000). Children Who Remember Previous Lives: A Question of Reincarnation.  McFarland and Company.

          Stevenson, Ian (1997). Where Reincarnation and Biology Intersect. Praeger.

          Stevenson, Ian (1997). Reincarnation and Biology: A Contribution to the Etiology of Birthmarks and Birth Defects Volume 1: Birthmarks. Praeger.

          Stevenson, Ian (1999). Old Souls: The Scientific Evidence for Past Lives. Simon and Schuster.

          Stevenson, Ian (2003). European Cases of the Reincarnation Type. McFarland & Company.

          TenDam, Hans (2003). Exploring Reincarnation: The Classic Guide to the Evidence for Past-Life Experiences. Random House UK.

          Tucker, Jim (2005).  Life Before Life: A Scientific Investigation of Children's Memories of Previous Lives. New York:  St. Martin’s Press.

          Tucker, Jim (2008). Life Before Life: Children's Memories of Previous Lives. St. Martin’s Griffin.

          Wambach, Helen (1984). Life Before Life. New York: Bantam.

          Wambach, Helen (2000). Reliving Past Lives: The Evidence Under Hypnosis. Barnes and Noble.

          Weiss, Brian L. (1988). Many Lives, Many Masters: The True Story of a Prominent Psychiatrist, His Young Patient, and the Past-Life Therapy That Changed Both Their Lives. Fireside.

          Weiss, Brian L. (2005). Same Soul, Many Bodies: Discover the Healing Power of Future Lives through Progression Therapy.  Freepress.

          Weiss, Brian L. (2012). Miracles Happen: The Transformative Power of Past Life Memories. HarperOne.

          Woolger, Roger (2010). Healing Your Past Lives: Exploring the Many Lives of the Soul. Sounds True Inc.

Prominent Past-Life Recall Researchers

Carol Bowman


Dr. Hazel Denning (1907-2006)



Dr. Erlendur Haraldsson



Dr. Antonia Mills




Dr. Hemendra Nath Banerjee (1929-1985)


Dr. Satwant Pasricha


Dr Walter Semkiw


     Audio:  http://www.coasttocoastam.com/guest/semkiw-walter/6342

     Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RSWPi0PP8Ic

Dr. Ian Stevenson (1918-2007)



Dr. Jim Tucker


     Video:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YLKT5UsKoqM

Dr. Helen Wambach (1925-1986)



Dr. Brian Weiss


     Video:   http://www.youtube.com/DrBrianWeiss




The Division of Perceptual Studies, UVA Medical School              http://www.medicine.virginia.edu/clinical/departments/psychiatry/sections/cspp/dops/home-page

The Past Life Center http://www.childpastlives.org/

Institute for the Integration of Science, Intuition and Spirit http://www.iisis.net/

Past Life Regression Academy http://www.regressionacademy.com/

The National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS) http://www.nimhans.kar.nic.in/

Past Life Regression Academy Singapore http://plracademy-singapore.com/

The Division of Perceptual Studies, UVA Medical School http://www.medicine.virginia.edu/clinical/departments/psychiatry/sections/cspp/dops/home-page

The Past Life Center http://www.childpastlives.org/

Institute for the Integration of Science, Intuition and Spirit http://www.iisis.net/

Past Life Regression Academy http://www.regressionacademy.com/

The National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS) http://www.nimhans.kar.nic.in/

Past Life Regression Academy Singapore http://plracademy-singapore.com/

The Division of Perceptual Studies, UVA Medical School         http://www.medicine.virginia.edu/clinical/departments/psychiatry/sections/cspp/dops/home-page

The Past Life Center http://www.childpastlives.org/

Institute for the Integration of Science, Intuition and Spirit http://www.iisis.net/ 

Past Life Regression Academy  http://www.regressionacademy.com/

The National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS) http://www.nimhans.kar.nic.in/

Past Life Regression Academy Singapore  http://plracademy-singapore.com/


Individual Case Examples


This case is one of the oldest past-life recall cases on record.  It involves a well-documented 19th century case of a nine-year-old boy, born in 1815, named Katsugorô who was the son of a farmer living in the village called Nakano-mura.  In 1824, Katsugorô told his sister that he believed he had had a past life.

According to his story, he remembered being the son of another farmer in another village.  Katsugorô stated that he had died from smallpox in 1810 at the age of six. Katsugorô could remember dozens of specific events about his past life, including details about his family, such as the exact names, personal appearance and facial characteristics of his “former parents,” and the village where they lived (he recognized his former “home” and knew that the tobacco shop and nearby tree were not in existence during his previous life) even though he had never been there. Katsugorô remembered the time of his death, his burial (he said he was buried in a jar which was buried on a bill, and remembered the sound the jar made as it fell into the hole in the ground) and the time he spent before being reborn. He also had memories of a conscious existence between his previous and current lives.

The facts he related about his previous life were subsequently verified by an investigation.  A farmer called Hanshirô from the town of Hodokubo-mura heard the news and decided to visit Katsugorô’s home.  He was able to confirm much of the boy’s information including the fact that he had lost his son Tôzô at the age of six due to smallpox. According to Hanshirô, Katsugorô’s physical features were very similar to those of his dead son.




James Leininger

This is one of the most famous past-life recall cases in the United States.  It involves the story of a young boy named James Leininger.  James was born in 1998 and grew up in Lafayette, Louisiana.  Even as a toddler, he began to tell his parents stories about his memories of a past life as a World War II airplane pilot named James. At the age of two, James started to experience vivid nightmares that would make him scream out from his sleep.  One night, James’ mother heard her son cry out from his bedroom.

“Airplane crash!  Plane on fire! Little man can’t get out!” he said.  His mother ran into his room and found him struggling.  She said, “He was lying there on his back, kicking and clawing on the covers, like he was trying to kick his way out of a coffin." 

James suffered from this recurring nightmare four to five times every week.  After another similar nightmare, his mother commented: “He was lying there on his back, kicking and clawing on the covers, like he was trapped in a plane.”   James was crying out: “Airplane crash!  Plane on fire! Little man can’t get out!” 

When asked who the little man in the plane was, James replied he was the “little man.”  When his father asked him who shot his plane down, he responded by saying it was the Japanese. When asked how he knew it was the Japanese, he said “The big red sun.” 

While looking through a book, the two-year-old James pointed to a picture of Iwo Jima in the Pacific and said that was where his plane was shot down.  He also remembered that his plane had taken off from an aircraft carrier called the “Natoma” and recalled a man named Jack Larsen who had flown with him.  James’ father was subsequently able to track down the real Jack Larsen and learned through him about the life and death of Lt. James McCready Huston Jr.  James’ father learned that only one pilot died during the Battle of Iwo Jima – and that was Lt. James Huston from the VC-81 fighter squadron, who was shot down at the age of 21, on March 3, 1945, during a special strike mission against shipping in Futami Ko Harbour at Chichi Jima, according to declassified aircraft action reports.  Huston had volunteered for the mission, the 50th and last mission he would have flown before returning to the United States. He was the only pilot from the Natoma Bay who was shot down at Chichi Jima.

The “previous life” name was even more intriguing to James’ father because his son had frequently signed his name as “James 3” on his crayon drawings of World War II planes – suggesting that after James Jr., he would necessarily be James III!




Uttara Huddar

This case is one of the extraordinary cases documented by Dr. Ian Stevenson and involved xenoglossy, or the ability of the subject to speak a language unknown to her in her present lifetime.  Uttara Huddar was born on March 14, 1941 and lived in the city of Nagpur, India.  Around the age of 32, she became increasingly aware of a kind of alter-ego personality named Sharada who would take over her entire consciousness.

Strangely, Sharada, spoke a foreign language which was unknown to Uttara.  There are three major Indian languages which derive from a common ancient root language but are quite different:  Hindi, Bengali and Maranthi.  Bengali speakers do not understand the other two languages, nor do Marathi speakers understand Bengali or Hindi.  Uttara could only speak Marathi, the language of her parents.  However, when she was taken over by her past life personality of Sharada, she could only speak fluent Bengali, a language that Uttar and her family members did not understand.  Sharada stated that she lived in Bengal, which is over 750 miles from Nagpur. 

As her past-life personality Sharada, Uttara showed a marked preference for Bengali food, clothing, and customs.  Sharada provided the names of her family members in Bengal to investigators, which were factually verified through Bengali genealogic records.  Uttara had no knowledge of these family members from a past incarnation. More amazing is that Sharada, the past life personality, was not aware that she was dead.  Rather, she acted as if she was still alive, transported though time from the ninetieth century to the present.

Sharada accurately stated that her father’s name was Brajnath Chattopadhay and that he was a priest at the Kankalini Temple near Bardhaman, also called Burdwan, in West Bengal.  The existence of this little- known temple was later verified.  She claimed her mother’s name was Renukha Devi and had died when she was two years old.  Her father remarried a woman named Anandamoyi.  Sharada said that a maternal aunt named Jagadhatri Mukhopadhaya, who lived in Saptagram, raised Sharada after her mother’s death.  That was why Sharada had spent most of her childhood in Saptagram, in what is now West Bengal.  Sharada stated that when she was seven years old, she was wed in an arranged marriage to Vishwanath Mukhopadhaya, an Ayurvedic physician in the town of Shivapur.  Her husband moved from village to village on a pony to see his patients. Later, when Bengali interviewers again asked Sharada what her husband’s name was, as a gesture of respect typical of Bengali women, she would not speak her husband’s name, rather, she wrote it in Bengali.

Sharada also claimed that she had been bitten on a toe of her right foot by a cobra, which was the last incident that she described in her lifetime, but she did not seem to realize that she had died from the snake bite. Interestingly, Uttara’s father confirmed that his daughter had suffered from a severe phobia of snakes from the age of six.



Jennifer & Gillian Pollock

This is a classic case of documented past-life recall involving twin British girls who recall past lives of being their two older sisters, Joanna (eleven years old) and Jacqueline (six years old) who were both killed in a car crash.  Gillian (the elder twin by ten minutes) and Jennifer were born in 1958 in Hexham, England, one year after the accident that killed their sisters.

The girls’ father was convinced that his two deceased daughters would be reincarnated into twin daughters.  He became convinced that this was true as he noticed that the younger twin, Jennifer, had the identical scar in the same place above the right eyebrow as the younger, dead daughter Jacqueline.  Jennifer also had a brown birthmark the size of a thumb in the identical spot as Jacqueline on her waist. Gillian liked to comb people’s hair, especially her father’s hair, a habit exhibited by the deceased sister Joanna.  Like the deceased sisters, the twins also often held hands as they walked together.

Although the family had moved away from the town of Hexham in the early sixties when the twins were only 4 months old.  When the family returned for a visit two a half years later, the twins seemed to immediately recognize the location of the school (even though it was hidden by a church, they said it was right around the corner) and also of the playground (which they said had a slide and a swing).  They also immediately recognized their old house. 

When the twins were four years old, their father decided to test them when he took out some old toys belonging to his deceased daughters and put them in front of the twins.  Jennifer immediately recognized two dolls, accurately announcing that the dolls’ names were “Mary” and “Suzanne” – the same names given to the dolls by Jacqueline.  Then she told her sister Gillian that the little washing machine was hers.  The twins actually began discussing the car crash – an event they supposedly knew nothing about.  This was very disturbing to the girls’ mother who was a Roman Catholic and disapproved of the notion of reincarnation.




Inoka Sriyani

Inoka Sriyani was a Sri Lankan girl with a documented past-life recall as girl in the neighboring town of an 11-year-old girl who died in motor boat accident.


Captain Robert Snow

Captain Robert Snow was an Indianapolis police captain, Commander of the Homicide Branch, with 30-years of experience on the force, who underwent hypnotic past-life regression and was later able to confirm, by reading 17,000 pages of the preserved diary of the artist, 28 specific tape-recorded facts about his past life as James Carroll Beckwith, an artist who painted a portrait of a hunchbacked woman and died in 1917.




Nancy du Tertre

Nancy du Tertre, contributor to this reference page, had a past-life recall experience she was able to partially verify. She participated in a group guided meditation, of which she was skeptical, figuring she would imagine a past life of one of her favorite historical persons such as Queen Elizabeth 1 or Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine.

However, when she looked down at her feet during the meditation, she did not see dainty, jeweled, pointed shoes.  Instead, she saw (to her dismay) dusty, buckled tall black boots. She realized, after seeing herself in a military uniform, that she was a Confederate officer from Texas by the name of John Ford.  S/he was surveying his property—some kind of a ranch with lots of cattle. S/he knew that s/he was married, being born in the early part of the 19th century and dying toward the last decade of the century – around the time when the first cars were on the road. S/he felt he had died at a very old age and not in any kind of violent way. Nancy wrote down all the details after the meditation finished.

Never a fan of American history, Nancy had only been to Texas once in her life – for two days. She knew almost nothing about the State of Texas or its history; she was uninterested in warfare and did not know the difference between officer ranks. She also thought the name “John Ford” was too common to verify exactly. 

One month later, she searched the internet for “John Ford Confederate Officer Texas,” and only one John Ford came up. His full name was Lt. John Salmon (R.I.P.) Ford—one of the most colorful and famous people in 19th century Texas history and founder of the Texas Rangers. Ford was born in 1815, remarried after the death of his first wife, and died in 1897 at the age of 82 after a stroke. The gas-powered car in America was developed in 1893, so the first cars would have been seen on the road around 1897, the year Ford died.  He was a doctor, lawyer, newspaper owner and editor, superintendent of a school for the deaf, politician, spy, county cattle and hide inspector, historian and author of his own memoirs. A Texas Ranger who fought warring Indian tribes, he also fought in the last (successful) battle of the Civil War on behalf of the Confederate Army. Seeing him survey a large herd of cattle in Texas would have been quite accurate.

There were other similarities between Ford and present-life Nancy du Tertre. Her career path has been circuitous and varied in similar ways: she has owned several businesses including a newspaper (owner/editor like Ford), a printing company, a French porcelain factory, and a health related nursing home facility (Ford was a physician and worked with the deaf).  Like Ford, she is also an attorney, historian and author of several books. Both had run for political office. And, one interesting coincidence is that his middle name was “Salmon” and Nancy’s mother’s middle name is “Truitt,” French for “trout.”





Additional Perspectives on PLRs

There is no existing “scientific explanation” for Past-Life Recall experiences. The best explanation for seemingly inexplicably accurate recollections of a prior life is reincarnation. However, reincarnation is not a scientific explanation.  It is (at least to date) only a religious or spiritual belief.  That is why researchers in this field have been careful to say that Past-Life Recall cases are “suggestive” of reincarnation.

The evidence in support of the Past-Life Recall experience is similar to evidence in a court of law that is circumstantial, as opposed to direct.  Some of the strongest circumstantial proof involves cases of xenoglossy where the person suddenly starts speaking or writing in a language he or she does not know and to which he or she has never had any exposure. Other strong circumstantial evidence exists in cases where the person is able to accurately and verifiably provide specific information, such as names of relatives, towns, geographic anomalies, toys, dates, and so on pertaining to a previous lifetime, that were not within his or her present-life sphere of information. 

Further, Past-Life Recall evidence is anecdotal and does not lend itself to research using the scientific method.  We cannot “replicate” death and rebirth in the laboratory.  However, neither reincarnation, nor the belief that we live only one life, are “falsifiable” ideas, in the language of science philosopher Karl Popper.  In other words, scientists cannot prove that Past-Life Recall does not exist or is incorrect, because the theory is not falsifiable or refutable.

There is mounting evidence from Near-Death Experience survivors to support the notion in Past-Life Recall cases that the soul/consciousness exists independently of the physical body.  Additionally, work done with psychic mediums and paranormal investigators is yielding data consistent with the idea that the soul survives the body.

On the other hand, there are many “scientific explanations” given to dispute the idea that Past-Life Recall cases are indicative of reincarnation.

1.      Past-life recall most often occurs in cultures or countries where reincarnation beliefs are prevalent. 

This argument does not explain why Past-Life Recall cases exist at all within cultures and countries not subscribing to the notion of reincarnation.  It does not explain why Past-Life Recall often occurs in families where the parent(s) have religious beliefs strongly opposed to reincarnation.

2.      Past-life recall induced through hypnosis is simply the result of suggestion or implanted false memories by the hypnotherapist.

While there is always the possibility of suggestibility in hypnosis, this would not explain the specific, verifiable data given by the client about a past life, or knowledge that could not have been obtained during hypnosis or elsewhere in the client’s life.

3.      Past-life recall memories are most common when a child is between the ages of 3-6, and influenced by parental comments, religious and cultural beliefs.

Studies have shown that children with Past-Life Recall were not more suggestible than children without such memories.  In fact, children with verifiable Past-Life Recall were actually significantly less suggestible than children with no Past-Life Recall or unverified Past-Life Recall. (Haroldsson, 1997).  

4.      Past-life recall is simply wishful thinking, fantasy or a way to retrofit current issues into a past life format.

This raises the chicken-or-the-egg question. However, this disregards the data that the most common age for Past-Life Recall clients is between the ages of 3-6, when most children are simply unaware of the more complex emotional desires, phobias, and wishes of an adult.

5.      Similar birth marks, congenital deformities, and scars are merely coincidental.

This argument ignores the fact that such birthmarks, congenital deformities and scars that are not explainable in terms of genetics, appear in nearly a third of all cases of children with Past-Life Recall.  (Stevenson (1997)).


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