Extracted from The Little Book of the Soul

© Ian Lawton 2007, 2010

The main argument used by skeptics when discussing past-life regression is similar to that for children’s past-life cases. They suggest that subjects are constructing narratives from normally acquired information that they themselves have forgotten they learned, which is formally called ‘cryptomnesia’. In other words they rarely suggest deliberate fraud, but they do suggest delusion.

In this context another fascinating case study is provided by the ‘Bloxham Tapes’, which were the subject of a bestselling book and BBC television documentary in the 1970s. The star was a Welsh housewife dubbed ‘Jane Evans’, who recalled impressive historical details of a number of different lives. In the most striking she was the wife of a children’s tutor in Roman Britain; a persecuted Jewess in twelfth-century York; and a maidservant to a wealthy financier in fifteenth-century France.

The investigators took great care to establish what the sources of normally acquired information might have been, and to show that most details Jane recalled for each life could only be found in various obscure reference works. However they overlooked one major source, and that was historically based fiction. Indeed skeptics were able to show that her Roman life was closely based on a historical novel, despite her use of strange accents and strong apparent emotions while in trance. So it’s clear that we need to tread carefully.

Nevertheless it turns out that Jane’s French life can’t be explained in the same way, despite skeptics’ claims. In fact it’s arguably one of the strongest cases on record because, for example, she recalled the financier having been given a ‘golden apple encrusted with jewels’. The existence of this piece was subsequently traced by a local historian to contemporary court records, written of course in medieval French, which hadn’t been accessed for centuries. Such obscure information surely wouldn’t appear in any work of fact or fiction, nor in any other normal source.

The same is, of course, true of the most obscure facts in Ramster’s cases. But these remain so poorly recognized outside his native Australia that few skeptics have even heard of them.

Yet even if normal explanations fail in these strong cases, could the alternative paranormal explanations that we rejected for children’s past lives apply this time round? Again some sort of universal memory seems unlikely to be able to account for the depth of emotion felt by Cynthia and Gwen when they were reunited with their former surroundings. And while on the face of it possession again appears to be a more feasible solution, neither woman showed any of the unusual behavioral traits normally associated with this. Again, therefore, the recall of individual past lives seems the most likely explanation for these two cases – and perhaps for many others as well.

We’ve spent some considerable time on the stories of James, Swarnlata, Cynthia and Gwen. But this is because our second key proposition, which stems from them, has significant and far-reaching implications:

souls have many lives, not just one

So far so good. But is there any evidence that can help us to really understand what happens after we die – that is in the time between lives? And does this evidence show a continuity across many lives that reinforces our conclusion concerning individual soul memories?