Pamela Wollenberg, a 20-year-old girl from Harvey, Illinois, in a previous incarnation the daughter of a Scottish nobleman, killed herself in a leap from the tower of her castle.
Ruth MacGuire, who now lives a peaceful life in an abandoned inn in Connecticut, found memories under hypnosis of earlier lives as a Puritan girl dying of consumption before reaching America, and as a British officer's wife, raped in a bloody Hindu uprising in India.
June Volpe was a belle of Atlanta before the Civil War and, as Elizabeth Simms, was killed by her son on a new plantation in Florida. She now lives the quiet life of a Pennsylvania housewife.
These are just a few of those who have been...Born Again.
Reincarnation was never anything I considered until a strange experience in 1991 knocked me sideways. Unbidden, spontaneous, and dramatic, it changed my life and made me question many things. Unfortunately, I still don't know what to make of reincarnation, having neither the faith to believe nor the confidence to deny.
In the early seventies, I read a good many of Holzer's ghost stories, but I don't remember BORN AGAIN so I thought I'd take a listen. Overall, it is worth a listen, mostly for the questions it provokes rather than any which it answers.
The book is largely made up of stories from female subjects. Unfortunately, there is a heavy reliance on hypnosis. Much has been written about the perils of this approach, particularly regarding expectation and suggestion. (Weiss' popular works are similarly problematic).
The science of memory has advanced greatly since 1973, and we know a little more about the way memories are stored and retrieved. Many things may seem to be true memories which may in fact be something else, from forgotten information, imagination, or fantasy to confusion, neurological disturbances, or even dissociation. In that so many things may be at play, it's hard to discern what is or is not a past life recollection, or even if there is such a thing.
The skeptical Schermer-Nickell-Randi crowd would find much to mock in this book, especially in the case of June Volpe. Hers is not a case that weighs in favor of reincarnation, nor is "A Tale of Two Katherines." In the latter, a woman experimenting with planchette and board is led to believe she is the reincarnation of Katherine Parr.
Another Tudor queen? Seriously? Once again, there is the impression that people recall only "special" lives which may be based on vanity or fantasy. (Judy Hall addresses the "queen" phenomenon in her work, with an interesting theory).
The final case in the book, from a male subject, is more interesting and varied. Overall, it is more suggestive than the two mentioned above.
Ian Stevenson's work is mentioned, and his study of children is fascinating, if far from definitive.
It is natural that we wonder why a certain child has a disability or deformity and another has perfect health. Are such things "deserved" based on past life actions?
Holzer is of the mind that child prodigies carry over abilities from previous existences. I was a child prodigy in music, but have never attributed this gift/curse to paranormal circumstances. It may be that such things cannot be explained.
Perhaps the late Roger Woolger's view was the most useful: the meaning of the "reincarnation experience" is for the one who has it. Its literal truth is not important.
I wish you well in your present existence. As for the rest, who can say?
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