Extract from Chapter 1 of The Book of the Soul

© Ian Lawton 2004

March 30, 2004. I am lying on the couch of one of Britain’s leading practitioners of hypnotic regression. His name is Andy Tomlinson, and he is going to attempt to take me back in time. Way back in time, into a past life. Neither of us knows where this will go. Never having done this before, I am not even sure if I will make a good subject. But here we go anyway…

A: Be aware of what you have on your feet.

Some sort of tights. With shoes.

A: Just be aware of those shoes, the color of them, what they look like.

Black with some sort of a buckle.

A: Do they look new or old, how do they appear?


A: Be aware of what other clothes you are wearing. Describe them to me.

Sort of billowy trousers. With stripes.

A: Are you aware of what color these are?

Green, maybe with gold stripes. The jacket matches, with billowy arms on it.

A: Just be aware of the clothes you have on the top part of your body.

Some sort of a white shirt, and then the jacket.

A: This jacket, perhaps it has a color or a texture?

The same as the trousers. Shiny.

A: Do you get the sense that you are a man in this life?


A: Do you get a sense of whether you are a younger or an older man?

Late twenties, early thirties.

A: Just be aware of those things that are around you, and describe them.

It’s like the central market area of a town. It’s daytime.

A: What sort of things are they selling in this market?

Food, clothes and cloth and things.

A: How are these other people dressed that are in the market?

Some the same as me, some not so well dressed.

A: Are you carrying anything, or with anybody?

Don’t think so.

A: As you are aware of this market around you, and all these busy people, just be aware of what feelings or thoughts you have at this moment.

Quite proud. Perhaps even arrogant.

A: Do you have a different social standing than all these other people?

Not all of them, but most of them.

A: What is it that you’ve come to this market for? Is there something you’ve got to do?

I have some sort of official capacity.

A: Tell me a little bit about this official capacity that you have.

I’ve got to read some document out or something, I’m not sure. I think I might have to read something out to the people around the market.

A: Go to that point when you’re reading the information out to the people, and tell me what’s happening?

I don’t think it’s very good.

A: How are you feeling about that?

I’m hoping it’s not something to do with religious persecution, but I think it might be.

A: What, some sort of execution? Go through the things you’ve got to read out, tell me what it’s about… Is it about an execution?

No. I don’t think so.

A: You’re stood there in front of everybody, and they’re all stood around you, looking at you, and you’ve got something to read. Just go through it slowly, bit by bit, the information you’ve got to read to them.

I think I’m laying down a list of rules or something.

A: Is there a penalty if people don’t follow these rules?

Yes, big time. Torture or death.

A: What sort of rules have they got to follow?

It’s all to do with religion and heresy. And I’m feeling very pompous about it.

A: Is there any specific aspect of these rules that you can tell me about? Is there a particular religion they’ve got to follow?

It’s Catholicism.

A: And if people deviate from Catholicism, this is where the torture and death comes in is it?


A: And you’re reading this to everybody?

Yes. I think it’s just the start of it.

A: Are you aware of what country you’re in?

It’s Spain.

A: There are some people around that have got other beliefs and religions, aren’t there?

Yes. And we’re not prepared to tolerate that.

A: The job that you have, is that connected with the Church in any way, or do you just have to read out things?

I think I’m only reading the stuff out. I’m not in the Church. I might be in the civic administration or something, I’m not sure.

A: And what’s the reaction of all the people after you read this out to them.

They’re scared. A lot of them aren’t very happy, but they’re scared.

A: Yes, because they know about the torture and the death.


A: Do you tell them how they’re going to be tortured?

No, I think it’s been happening in other parts of the country, and it’s just come to wherever I am now. So I don’t have to tell them about it… they know.

A: When you’ve finished reading this to them, what happens?

I’ve done my job.

A: Your job was just reading things out, wasn’t it, you’ve done your job?

Yes. I can’t see anything else at the moment.

A: How are you thinking about things. Do you agree with it all?

I don’t think I do, but I don’t think I’m allowing myself to be honest, because I’m too busy doing my job.

A: OK, when I count to three we’re going to go to the next significant event in this life, and I’d like you to tell me what’s happening. One… two… three… now. Just move into that significant event. And as you get awareness of it, just explain what it is that’s happening.

I think I’m in the shit.

A: What’s happening?

I think I’ve finally denounced what’s been going on.

A: You’ve got involved in some way, have you?

Yes. I stood up and said that what’s been going on is wrong.

A: And what’s happened to you?

I’m suffering the same fate as all the other poor buggers.

A: OK, just describe whereabouts you are at the moment.

Not sure I want to go into this.

A: OK, but what does it look like all around you?

I think I’m in a prison.

A: Is it a light or dark place, what’s it like in this prison?

Dark and not very nice.

A: Just be aware of whether there are other people in the place where you are. Or are you by yourself?

[Sighs] Well, I’m in a cell. And I can hear other people being tortured and stuff. I know that’s going to happen to me as well.

A: What sort of sounds can you hear?

Not good.

A: Screams?


A: You know it’s something that’s going to come your way, don’t you?

Yes [sighs].

A: Just be aware of what clothes you’re wearing right now.

Pretty much the same stuff as I had before, but very ragged. Posh clothes still, but ragged. I think I’ve been here for a little while. I’ve already been roughed up a bit.

A: Just be aware of whether you’ve been hurt in any way.

I haven’t been tortured yet. I’ve just been roughed up.

A: That was when you were arrested, was it?


A: How did that happen?

I think I must have stood up in public.

A: And someone grabbed hold of you and took you here, did they?

Yes… but it’s worse for me because I was in authority before and helped to bring it all in… so for me to stand up now is… much worse for them.

A: So they were pretty quick about grabbing you, were they?

Yes… and they’re going to be that much harder about trying to… get me to retract. It’s going to be more important for them to get me to retract if they can… so I’m scared shitless at the moment… but I also know that I’ve got to do what’s right.

A: Whereabouts in your body do you carry this scaredness?

In my chest.

A: Have they given you anything to eat in this cell?

[Wry laugh] I don’t think I’m very hungry!

A: No. You’re just waiting for something to happen, aren’t you?

Yes. I don’t think it will be very long.

A: OK. Go to that point when you become aware someone’s coming for you. Just go through it very slowly, bit by bit. Is it a noise you hear? Do you see someone?

I can hear them coming down the corridor. The keys jangling.

A: Do you hear any voices?

Yes, there is a bunch of them, they are coming to get me.

A: And it’s rather dark, isn’t it?


A: Are you able to see a vague outline of them… do they become clearer as they come closer?

Yes. They’re all wearing uniforms.

A: What sort of uniforms are they wearing?

Some sort of blue tops and white trousers… dark blue, I think, the tops.

A: Do they have any metal on them anywhere?

Yes, gold buttons and stuff.

A: Do they say anything to you as they open the door?

Yes. Come on you, you’re coming with us.

A: And do you offer any resistance, or do you just go with them?

I just go with them.

A: Describe where they take you. Do they take you down the corridors?


A: And you’re following them. Is there two of them in front, or one?

One on each side of me. One ahead, and a couple behind.

A: Are they holding your arms?

Yes. I mean, I’m handcuffed anyway. I think my feet might be shackled as well, they’re dragging a bit… not sure.

A: And what happens next?

[Big sigh] To start with they take me to see the people who are in charge of the whole thing.

A: Tell me about that encounter.

Not good.

A: How many of them are there?

Three, I think. There might be a load of other hangers-on, but…

A: And how are they dressed?

There’s one serious one. He’s got all his Catholic regalia on. Purple, I think. Lots of big chains and crosses, some big high ruff collar, I think, something like that.

A: What about the other two?

Just subordinate. I suppose they’ve got the same, but not as ostentatious.

A: And what do they say to you?

[Big sigh] How long have I held those views?

A: And what do you say to them?

I’ve always held them, but I was too afraid to speak out before.

A: And what do they say back to you?

I think they’re trying to argue with me intellectually, to make out that I’m being stupid… I know that I have to defend my position, and in fact it’s a much easier one to defend than theirs is, from an intellectual point of view. So that’s what I do, and it’s not very difficult.

A: How do you manage to defend your position?

Because it’s the right one, so it’s easy.

A: And what do they say to you once you’ve defended your position?

They’re very upset because… I’m making them look a little bit foolish so they don’t like it.

A: And what happens then?

They get rid of me as quick as they can.

A: Do they say what’s going to happen to you?

We all know what’s going to happen to me.

A: And do they give you an option of changing your views?

Yes, they did say we’ll see how you feel about this after a period of time… you know where.

A: So they’re going to torture you to try and make you change your mind, are they?

Yes, if they can. And just for the hell of it anyway. It’s a sport to them.

A: And what’s the expression on their faces as you’re about to be taken away?

Very mixed. They’re scared by what I’ve just said to them, deep down, but they can’t really show it. So they have… on the surface… to keep their veneer of control and correctness.

A: Do the same guards that brought you take you away?


A: And whereabouts are they taking you now? You know where you’re going to go, don’t you?

No. I think they’re going to give me another night in the cell just to think about it, and get very scared about it, that’s their way.

A: Another night of listening to the sounds of other people?

And knowing that I’ll be next, yes.

A: That’s part of the torture, isn’t it?

Of course.

A: And as you go through that night, and listening to those sounds, does anything change inside you? Or are you still of the same mind?

Well, I’m still scared shitless but know that I’ve got to do the right thing. I’m praying for strength.

A: Let’s go through to when they come for you next. And tell me what happens.

It’s the next morning. I haven’t slept. I think they’ve got me chained to the wall anyway, I’m not even sure if my feet are on the ground.

A: Are they going to do this thing inside your cell, or are they taking you to somewhere else?

No, they’re taking me to where all the equipment is.

A: When you enter this place with all the equipment, just describe what it is you first become aware of.

I’ve seen it all before anyway.

A: What is there?

You don’t want to know. The usual stuff [sighs].

A: Just describe it for me, what the usual stuff is.

[Sighing throughout] Racks… there’s people hanging around the walls in here anyway, just been left there to hang… there’s clamps for holding your hands so they can pull your fingernails out… and toenails.

A: Are there any of those things that you fear the most?

No. I know they’re all bloody awful… what I don’t know is how long they’re going to try and do this for, how long I’m going to be conscious, and how many days I might have to put up with this for.

A: What’s the first thing that they work with? Feet, hands, rack?

[Big sigh] I’m not sure I want to go through this.

A: Just go through it slowly, bit by bit. Just be aware of what you can smell, what you can hear. What sort of smells are there in this place?

I’m not sure that reliving this is going to help me.

A: OK, we’re going to put an energy around you right now, golden energy. This golden energy means that you’ll be able to recall one or two aspects of what it is that happens to you. And it will give you protection, there’s no need for you to go through and relive the emotions and the body sensations that went with it. So just go through it slowly, bit by bit, the first things that they do to you.

[Sighs] The nails… the fingernails.

A: Do they start with one hand or the other?

Left hand.

A: Do they pull out the nails one by one?

[Sighing heavily throughout] Yes. They do the first one… they ask you if you’ve had enough after each one, obviously. Actually I think the first time they did the whole hand, without even stopping, one by one, because they know damn well you’re not going to give in just after that first one… even though it hurts like hell. After the first hand is finished, they give you the chance to say something.

A: And then they started the second hand?

Yes. They do the same.

A: They stopped at every finger did they, and asked you the same? Or did they do the whole hand?

I think they do two or three, and ask, and then the last couple.

A: Did you change your mind?

No, no. I haven’t changed my mind all the way through.

A: And when they finished with the nails, what did they do next?

[Big sigh] They’re not in a hurry with me… it’s more important for them to drag this out over a period of time, they think that’s a better chance for them to get me to change my mind… they know if they do it too quick it will be much easier for me to just go with it and then die.

A: So how do they drag it out? Do they just leave you for a while, having done the nails?

Yes, I think that first time they just did the nails and then took me back…

A: Took you back to the cell?


A: We’ll just move things on to the next time you went back, what sort of things did they do then?

That was the rack.

A: Whereabouts was your body being held?

All four corners.

A: Is that the hands and legs, or…

Ankles and wrists. They’re clamped.

A: What are they clamped with, is it metal or…

Metal clamps. The table’s in two halves… and they rotate a wheel to pull the two halves apart.

A: And how did they know when to stop.

[Sighing heavily throughout] When you pass out... they throw a bucket of water over you, and do it again.

A: Do you recall how many buckets of water were thrown over you to revive you?

[Big sigh] At least two or three.

A: Your body was getting very weak at that point, was it?

Yes… yes.

A: Is there anything else that was done to you before you got to the point of taking your last breath?

No, this wasn’t it. [Big sigh] They didn’t stop there… I think they had two or three goes on the rack, and then I passed out… maybe they couldn’t even bring me round again… I think I must have come round back in the cell again. Whatever else they did after that, I’m not sure I want to remember it… I just know it wasn’t good.

A: There’s lots of pain.

[Slightly incoherent] It didn’t go on for weeks, thank god, but it must have been days, I guess.

A: Went on for days but it seemed like weeks?

Well, it seemed like an eternity. But it wasn’t weeks, it was only days I think.

A: OK, go to that point just before you’re taking your last breath in that life.

I hardly know who or what I am any more anyway… I’ve been knocked around so much… my body’s just broken… completely a ruin.

A: Go to that point, just before you take your last breath. Are you conscious at the time, or are you unconscious of what’s happening to you?

I’m just so grateful it’s all going to be over… and that I’ve held firm.

A: You know you’re about to die, don’t you?

Yes! I want to die [wry laugh].

A: You want to die…

Of course I want to die! I don’t want to carry on going through this any more.

A: Are you in the middle of being tortured, or are you in the cell?

No, I think they’re doing something to me but they’ve just stopped, and I know I’m going to go now…

A: OK. Just go to that point where you stop breathing and your heart stops beating, and just be aware of whether you stay with your body, or you leave it.

I leave it… I’m in a hurry to get out [wry laugh].

A: And do you miss your body?

No, I’ve left it behind. It’s an incredible release.

A: And are you able to reflect on that life. Are there any thoughts or feelings that you take away at the point of death?

Yes, I’m proud, enormously proud. Proud that I had the guts to stand up, even though I knew what was going to happen to me. Proud that I was given the strength to take what came to me without recanting.

A: Yes, your body went through so much in that life, didn’t it?


A: It took incredible courage not to give in to all that physical pain.

Yes, but… I was given help, wasn’t I?

A: Do you have any regrets, thinking back on that life as you leave that body, any regrets that some aspect of that life could have been different?

I don’t know if there was something that I could have done much earlier… I think I must have had a position of some influence… could have influenced things in terms of not letting them get out of hand in the first place.

A: OK, just be aware you’ve left your body behind you… perhaps you can look down at the scene below you and describe it in some way?

The people who do the torturing are… strange people, because obviously the job they have to do they have to be pretty ruthless and unpleasant… but they’re saying, privately, they admire that I stuck to my principles… I know all of them do, inside, even the cardinal or whatever he is.

That was an exact transcript of the session, which lasted for over an hour. In fact we continued on into the afterlife, after I had died, to check out any lasting karmic problems that may have arisen from what I had been through. My hypnotized – or perhaps ‘higher’ – self insisted that there were none, and that all of us in this drama knew what we were doing and what roles we had to play. I did ask for forgiveness from the many other people that were tortured at that time because I had failed to act any earlier, but it was impressed upon me that to have done so would have been incredibly difficult, and may not have made any difference anyway.

Does this prove that I have lived before? Not in the slightest. Could it easily have been assembled in my subconscious, from my imagination and from historical information I already possessed? Of course. There are no real details in there that I would not have already known, and there may even be some aspects that an expert on the Spanish Inquisition – which I am not – would be able to spot as incorrect. Given that I come out of it reasonably well, was it all just a big ego trip? Possibly. But if I tell you that the most recent past life I was regressed into in a separate session was that of a very poor, simple farmer, who did nothing of note other than love his family, hopefully this possibility is reduced.

Was I genuinely in trance? Yes, because although I was sufficiently conscious throughout that I remembered what had happened, it took some hours for me to return to normal. Did Andy effectively make the story up for me with his questioning? As you can tell from the transcript, most of the session was led by his questions, although I suspect that was mainly because I was not a particularly good subject, and needed plenty of prompting to remember things. But, in any case, you can also see that most of the information did come from me, and on a few occasions I even contradicted him when he appeared to be leading me in the wrong direction. Did it feel real? Yes, something you would understand better if you heard the recordings of my deep sighs as I recalled some of the more unsavory aspects of that life, despite my having been instructed not to feel them too deeply because we were primarily engaged in research rather than therapy. Do I personally believe it was a genuine recall of a past life? On balance, yes, I do, even if some aspects may have been inserted or distorted by my imagination.

Postscript (added 20/9/06)

A couple of nights ago I was just drifting off to sleep when I started musing on whether there might really be any karmic connection between this past-life narrative and my current life. This is not something I have paid much attention to in the intervening years, but it was in part prompted by a certain feeling of 'openness' following a thoroughly enjoyable lecture to a most receptive audience. In any case, I was in the 'between' state of semi-sleep when I felt prompted to try to produce a name and a date. I have never made any great claim to being personally open and aware, and on the few occasions when I have come up with specific information of one sort or another it has not usually checked out. Nevertheless, I tried to go with the flow, and received a strong impression of a 'p'. After a few attempts at further clarification this became the name 'Pizarro', followed by the first name of 'Andrea'. The date then came too, in one swift burst, as '1472'.

Given that this appeared to be an Italian name, and I had assumed that my former life was in Spain - although I now realise without any great historical justification, given the geographical spread of the Inquisition - I was not overly convinced that this meant anything. Indeed, although I made the effort to get out of bed to scribble the information down, I did not attempt to check it out until the next morning.

My low levels of anticipation were reinforced when I entered the full name into a search engine, and it returned no results apart from those annoying, mostly US, genealogies. Attempts to eliminate these with the addition of 'Inquisition' too met with failure, However, when I removed the first name, I was pretty astounded to see the name of 'Francisco Pizarro' cropping up all over the place as the leader of the Spanish conquest of Peru. And further investigation revealed that he had been born c. 1475, with one source quoting 1471. The first name was clearly wrong, as were the details of his life and death, and I did not feel that this was who I might have been. But could I have been a relative? Unfortunately it turned out that his brothers were fellow conquistadors called Gonzalo, Juan and Hernando, and none of them had died under torture either.

This is as far as I have been able to take any investigation at present. However it is worth pointing out that I have absolutely no conscious recollection of learning about these historical figures, either at school or at any time since. So although it is not impossible that this information was merely the result of cryptoamnesia, I think it unlikely. The only elements of the Spanish conquest of the Americas that I consciously recall are the exploits of Bishop Diego de Landa in the Yucatan, who I read about as part of my research into ancient Mayan texts.

This new information hardly constitutes the sort of 'obscure and verifiable information' that I insist on when compiling evidence in support of Rational Spirituality - at least not unless further investigation were to reveal something more concrete about an Andrea Pizarro. But nor on balance do I think that this extra information came to me by normal channels. So I hope it is worth recording as an example of how even those of us who feel we are not particularly open may be able to surprise ourselves if we relax, and let information come through when it wants to.