Curt J. Ducasse

C. J. Ducasse

(1881-1969), French-born, highly respected Professor of Philosophy at Brown University. Awardee of the Carus Lectures prize (American Philosophical Association). Contributed to the "Journal Information for Philosophy and Phenomenological Research", "Causation", "Immortality" (Edited by Paul Edwards), "Philosophical Dimensions of Parapsychology" (edited by James M. O. Wheatley). Ex-student of Josiah Royce. Pursued a career in philosophy but retained a strong interest in logic - so much so that he took the initiative to create the Association for Symbolic Logic with its Journal of symbolic logic. Among his many important papers on survival are "How the Case of The Search for Bridey Murphy Stands Today" Journal of the ASPR 54: 3-22, and "What Would Constitute Conclusive Evidence of Survival After Death?" Journal of the SPR 41: 401-406. His books included "A Critical Examination of the Belief in Life After Death", "Paranormal Phenomena, Science and Life After Death" (Monograph), "A Philosophical Scrutiny of Religion", "Nature, Mind, And Death", "Truth, Knowledge and Causation", "Philosophy As a Science: Its Matter and Its Method" and "Philosophy of Art".

A Critical Examination of the Belief in a Life After Death - Part 5

Chapter 24: Regressions to the Past Through Hypnosis

1. An experiment in New York in 1906 | 2. De Rochas' hypnotic attempts to bring back consciousness of earlier lives | 3. The "life readings" of Edgar Cayce

 - Curt J. Ducasse -

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          A FEW of the available cases of spontaneous apparent memory of an earlier life were cited in the preceding chapter. But various attempts also have been made to regress by appropriate commands the consciousness of a hypnotized subject to a time earlier than the birth or conception of his body. We shall now consider some of them.

1. An experiment in New York in 1906

In February 1906, in New York, the writer was present at two experiments in regression to the past through hypnosis. The subject was a young woman whose name he does not now remember, and he long ago has lost touch with the young physician, Dr. Morris Stark, who conducted the experiments. But the writer recorded in shorthand at the time the whole of both experiments and still has the typescript of his notes. The girl was familiar with the idea of reincarnation and understood that the experiment was to be an attempt to regress her consciousness to a time anterior to that of the birth or conception of her body. Besides the two sessions the writer recorded, there had been another at which he had not been present, but the seeming success of which had suggested the desirability of a shorthand record. The name, "Zoe," mentioned in the session of Feb. 25, had been obtained at that earlier session. The difference between the tone and the manner of the Zoe personality and those of either the Roman or the Egyptian personality was most impressive.

In the record of the two sessions there are hardly any items that would lend themselves to verification by objective facts and that yet could not plausibly be supposed to have been learned by the subject in a normal manner at some time and subsequently forgotten. Hence such correspondence as may obtain between the statements of the entranced subject and historical facts is hardly evidence of reincarnation or even of paranormal cognition. And the dramatic form and the contents of the subject's statements can most economically be credited to the mythopoeic faculty-stimulated on that occasion by the commands given under hypnosis - which at other times normally gives birth to novels and other works of fiction. The most economical interpretation, of course, is not necessarily the correct one; but, when no item of evidence rules it out, it is methodologically the safest. Accordingly, the record of those two sessions - which antedates not only the recent "Bridey Murphy" experiment but also the publication (in 1911) of De Rochas' Les Vies Successives in which he relates his own experiments in regression through hypnosis - is presented here essentially as an interesting concrete sample of the sort of material sometimes obtainable under deep hypnosis when the subject is instructed to go back in time to a life anterior to his present one.

The notes of those two sessions are as follows:

Q. Tell us what you see; where are you now?

A. It is very warm. I am walking out somewhere, the sun is hot, I don't know where I am. It is all growing dark.

Q. The picture will clear up in a minute.

A. The sky is very blue and the sun is very warm, it shines through my sleep. I am walking along the water. The water is very blue and the ships are in the water. I don't know what I am doing here.

Q. What is your name?

A. My name, I don't know. It is very beautiful, not a cloud in the air, there are beautiful trees and plants and a great many people.

Q. How are they dressed?

A. They wear loose, beautiful gowns, not like others I have seen. Their arms are bare, they are talking.

Q. What language?...

A. Who are you?

Q. I am a friend of yours.

A. The city is on hills, it hurts my eyes. I live over there. It is getting so warm. Had I not better go home? It is by the water.

Q. What is the name of the water?

A. It is some bay, I don't know the name. The city is in the distance. It might be a river, but I think it is too large for a river. There is a large building here, all open. There are a great many flowers and inside the floors are marble in blocks, some of them are of different colors.

Q. What year?

A. I don't know, I shall have to go and ask some one. There are little statues around. There are wings to the building, people sitting there are looking over the water. Steps lead from the wings to the ground. Back of the building there is some more water. There is a little bridge and you pass over the bridge to go home. It is an arch. I think there must be something very beautiful here; so many of the people have flowers in their hair. It is some feast. They are playing games. One side there is a sandy court. Men are running and jumping over a barrier. The others are looking and cheering. No women out there. I don't find any one I know.

Q. How are you dressed?

A. just like the others. I have a white robe of some kind, it is clasped on the arm by a gold clasp, a bracelet. My hair is tied up some way. Why did you not speak to me about that before? My hair is all puffed up some way behind. My arms are bare.

Q. What sort of material is your dress made of?

A. It is soft wool of some kind. It looks a little bit coarse, but is very soft ... It is not a feast, just a place where people come for pleasure. The men are doing something else now, jumping and running; they take off their robe when they run.

Q. Who is the emperor, what is his name?

A. I don't believe I know.

Q. Ask some one.

A. I shall see if I can find some one in the building. Is it not curious I don't know?

Q. What is your father's name?

A. He is dead.

Q. What was his name when he lived?

A. It sounds like a silly name, I only know one of his names, Prato, that was the name we called him in the house.

Q. How long has he been dead?

A. About 7 years.

Q. How old are you now?

A. Why, I think I am about 29, I must be because I live in the house over there, and it is my own house.

Q. Are you married?

A. Yes.

Q. What is your husband's name?

A. I will think of it in a minute. They are waiting for me over the bridge. There is a man in the house; he is one of the slaves, I should not speak to him.

Q. What sort of a looking man is he?

A. An ordinary looking man from the mountains, they bring a great many. My husband brings several home every year.

Q. Is he black or white?

A. Oh, white.

Q. What is the name of the country from which he comes? A. I don't know. It is east somewhere from here. He does not come from the west. Of course he is darker than we are. The east, that is where the war is. My husband is a general, he is away from home.

Q. Do you know your husband's name now?

A. I can't think of his name.

Q. What is the reason you don't remember things?

A ... You stay with me won't you? Some time you seem to go away from me and then all grows dark.

Q. Who am I.

A. I don't know, just a voice. They are waiting for me, my litter is over the bridge. Don't you think it is beautiful on the bridge? It seems to be a road, a beautiful highway. Oh, I know the reason I could not tell you the emperor's name, we don't have one, we have ten.

Q. What are they called? Consuls?

A. They do not call them by that name. The people are very dissatisfied. Of course that is a secret, you must not tell that, you are just a voice. They are talking of a war against the Government. There is one of the most wicked ones, his name is Appius, there is a great deal of talk about his crimes, he does as he pleases. He overrides the authority of the generals over the army.

Q. Do you know who Christ was?

A. No, who was he?

Q. What is your religion?

A. We have many Gods.

Q. Have you temples or churches?

A. Each God has a temple, shrines in the houses. We have household Gods. The road is paved up, then we go into the city; there are four slaves. I like black slaves. We go through the streets. You are coming with me are you not? I know all the streets' there are shops and temples and houses. We go through the principal part of the city and come to some beautiful houses. Many of my friends live there. I have one of these houses. Will you come in? The house is very beautiful. You cannot go with me now, because I am going up to my rooms, and you will have to stay here.

Q. Where do you get the black slaves from?

A. From across the sea to the south, we pay more for them than for the others.

Q. How much do you pay?

A. I never buy the slaves. I think my husband said he paid for those who carry my litter 1000.

Q. 1000 what? What is the name of the money?

A. Sesterces. I am tired. I am going to have my hair dressed. My husband is away to the war, I have not thought of his name yet.

Q. What day of the week is this?

A. About the 5th day.

Q. What is the name of that day?

A. I don't know. I can't tell, I have forgotten so many things. That poet is coming in, Marcus, with his silly flowers in his hair. He is coming to bore me now. I want to talk to you. He comes afternoons and reads odes to me. He is harmless. 1 think he is very lazy. I don't care for his poetry.

Q. Getting suspicious of you, knowing the name of the poet and not that of your husband.

A. He is away so much ... I am going to have my hair dressed. Wait for me. (She shakes and moves her head) ... Here I am; I had to wait, I have so much hair; it is blue black, it comes almost to my knees. The girls dress it.

Q. White girls?

A. Yes, I would not have those Nubians dress my hair. My hair dresser is a very pretty girl. My husband bought her for me. I like her very much.

Q. What is her name?

A. I think it is Ena. I have four girls; one has the care of my jewels, another has my robes and Ena dresses my hair. She is the only one that does not pull it. She puts the filets (P) in it. I think four is a nice number. You can get on with four very comfortably. Now that I am dressed, we will go out where the flowers are. We will sit out there, there is a fountain. Everything is very pretty I take so much pleasure sitting here, except when Marcus comes. The sun is very warm, let us sit a little out of the sun. I have never been ill.

Q. How long have you been married?

A. About five years. (A pillow is put behind her.) Why did you not let one of the girls do that? It does not seem as though I was married very much. I have no children. I have a very good time in every way. Life is a very beautiful thing.

Q. Do you remember your husband's name now?

A. I don't seem to be very much interested in my husband. I don't want to ask any one my husband's name.

Q. Ask Marcus whether he has ever written any ode to your husband.

A. He says that he does not write odes to Flavius.

Q. Do you ever hear from him, do you get letters?

A. One of the soldiers comes, from Sextilius; that is my name that is his name too. What do you care about names? ... just look at him, look at him, look at his lovelorn face! Who takes Marcus seriously?

Q. What does your diet consist of? What do you have when you arise in the morning?

A. We have fruit, pomegranates and honey and cakes of barley. We eat fish. We have different meats. A great deal of some kinds of fowls.

Q. What is the name of those fowls?

A. I don't believe I know. At the feast we have, oh, so many things. Flavius never gives a feast; he does not like to attend. He only goes because he must go. I love to go; there is music, flowers, wine, fragrant wine, very sweet. They have grapes in this country and the wines are sweet and very good. We have fowls of different kinds. They serve them with all the plumage on. They put them inside the skin after they are cooked. The table looks beautiful. Flavius is much older than I am.

Q. What are these birds served on?

A. Gold and silver dishes of different workmanship ... One of the ten is Appius Claudius. The Government was not always with these ten, formerly we had one ruler; now there are ten.

Q. How do the ten dress?

A. In purple.

Q. What do they carry?

A. They have a sign of their office, it is a short ... with a ... tip. Appius rides through the streets in his litter. He controls the others. You must not tell any one what I say, my husband would be very angry.

Q. What is the name of your country? Italy?

A. They don't call it that way, the name is something else

I had better send Marcus home, he can go and sing odes to some one else. Put the pillows around me. I will go to sleep; you will not mind if I go to sleep? I am so tired. I don't know why. There are clouds; where are you ... You have taken me somewhere else. You are taking me across the water, we are going south (she laughs) I did not know I could come so quickly. (She looks sideways and laughs.)

Q. What is the matter?

A. I am not dressed well, that is why I laugh. You should not be here.

Q. What is your name?

A. I am Ula.

Q. Ula what?

A. I forget what name ... Ula Desthenes. You should not be in here. I should not talk to you, where are you?

Q. I am simply a voice.

A. No one is allowed there but we of the temple.

Q. What is the name of the temple?

A. I don't know.

Q. What does it look like?

A. It is not white, it is a different color, red and blue and different colors, and the main color is a sort of a yellowish. It is higher than the other parts of the city. We never go outside. You should not be here.

Q. How old are you?

A. Eighteen.

Q. What is your religion?

A. We worship our mother. She is the mother of everything, everything in the world, the Great Mother. We attend to the temple.

Q. Tell me your duties.

A. We must deck the altars with flowers, we serve at the ceremonies.

Q. Describe the ceremonies.

A. There are priests who officiate at those ceremonies, but we never see them at other times. They wear beautiful robes, incrusted with jewels. On the back is the sun in jewels. We all wear a gold circlet on the head. My robe is white. The priests wear circlets, but not like ours, more like the sun. I don't know everything. The priests come here at the ceremonies and we help them, and we have flowers and something that we bum. It must be some kind of incense. There is chanting and the people are outside, they cannot come where we are. They look on from the distance at the ceremonies. While I have been here a long time, I have not tended the temple long. My father and mother are dead. I have always been here ... We must never ask questions, we are told.

Q. Who teaches?

A. One of the older ones, an old priestess.

Q. What name is given to you, what are you called?

A. I don't know, the other ones are called priestesses, but we are not, we are just maidens, we serve.

Q. Are you married?

A. Oh no, never. How can you speak of such a thing. I am afraid to speak of such a thing in the temple. They tell us that we would incur the wrath of our Mother, we might die.

Q. What becomes of you when you die?

A. We go to the underworld, and we go through so many places in the underworld! There seem to be dangers; it is not pleasant, but we have to go there, everybody. Then we are told that we go somewhere else after the underworld.

Q. How long do you stay in the underworld?

A. There are two places, we don't stay very long in the first underworld, only so long that we are not afraid any more. There seem to be seven grades of dangers that we must pass; it is more like trials, something you must pass through. You go down to the underworld, and then you are taken by some God who leads you. If you pass through them all with brave courage in your heart ... You have something to take with you to help you, something you are given, either a word you can repeat, or something, and if you remember that, you can pass. When you reach the seventh gate, according to the way you passed, you are very happy and you dream in happiness, or else you are very miserable, it depends upon the seven gates and how you passed.

Q. What do they give you when you die?

A. I know what it is, something to hang around your neck, some sort of a charm and they make it in the temple, a word or some words in a case, written in a little piece of parchment and hung around the neck of the dead, and no one dies without that, so that they may pass the gates of the underworld. There is a name for the first underworld, it is Amenta.

Q. After you pass through the underworld and the other place, what becomes of you?

A. You may come back. They tell me that one must be very good or one comes back as a very evil person.

Q. Do you come back in the forms of animals?

A. I think they tell me one does if one is wicked.

Q. What animals are there?

A. There are cats. Some are painted in the temple. They do not mean cats, it is some God. There are tall birds with long red bills. They stand motionless all day in the reeds. I am not so tired here.

Q. What do the buildings look like?

A. Flat, with soft colors. There are a great many people in the streets. I can see them all from the windows here. I can see the river.

Q. What is the name of the river? Is it Nile?

A. That sounds like it. It is a sacred river, a beautiful river.

Q. How long ago is this, what year?

A. I don't know how to say what year.

Q. What day of the month?

A. I don't know what you mean.

Q. How do you designate time?

A. Why, there are men who count time from the stars, but I don't understand about it; from the stars and the moon. It is very warm.

Q. Have you change of seasons?

A. Summer all the year round. Are you not afraid they will find you?

Q. They cannot see me. Is it not strange to you to hear a voice?

A. Strange things happen in the temple, the gods speak, we are forbidden to tell. They can make the dead speak.

Q. By what means?

A. They have a good deal of magic. I never see those things, there are some secret ceremonies where the priests are and there is that by which the dead can be made to speak, or they say so, I don't know.

Q. Do you believe it?

A. Yes, I have seen some very wonderful things. They bring the dead to the temple, a dead king or some great person. There is a place, not where our Mother is. This is a great place divided into a separate temple. The temple of our Mother is connected with the other by an underground passage. They bring the dead man there and lay him so that he is very near the gods in the inner shrine. They lay him there by the gods, and in the night they come, the priests, and they walk around in a circle and sing something, a chant that it is forbidden to hear. One of the older priestesses told me this, that is strange, something that no man may hear. They draw a circle with a sacred wand; the temple is very dark, there are no lights in it. They go inside the circle so that those outside may not hurt them, the dead, or something that might hurt them. Then they chant. I am told that upon the dead man comes a flame, a tongue of flame, from the gods, and then they may ask the dead man if he has a burden on his mind to prevent him from passing on. This is only when people die suddenly, when the people are not old but die suddenly in battle before they have had time to say parting words. After this flame comes, the dead man speaks, they say he does, and they remember what he says, and after they have recorded it so that they can give his message, they say "be gone" and he goes. They must remain a long time in the circle, because those outside will hurt them. The next day the dead man may be embalmed. Before that, he cannot go, he would remain chained. That is why they have this ceremony. This is never told outside the temple, those in the street don't know. It is a secret. Something dreadful would happen; I don't know of any secret ceremony, one of the priestesses told me ... There are big flat boats when the kings go out.

Q. What is the name of your King?

A. Why, we call him Ra. They are building his temple in the desert over there, the slaves work there all the time. I am very tired.

Q. How do the people travel?

A. They almost always walk; they wear different colored robes, drapery. They don't wear very much. They have carts in the streets with bullocks. The soldiers ride horses.

Q. Do they have any locomotives?

A. They don't have any locomotives (shakes her head) what are those things? You seem to be always behind me Ra is the sun. Potas is a God of the underworld.

Q. How are you dressed?

A. I have a white robe, very rich. We have different robes, jewels on our arms, anklets. We have something on our feet and sometimes walk barefooted.

Q. Is your King's name Rameses?

A. Yes, that is why I said Ra.

Q. Has he any other name?

A. There was a Rameses before this one, he has a great many names, ceremonial names, I cannot remember now.

Q. Do you ever see the Mother?

A. (She motions yes)

Q. What is her name?

A. Isis ... I am very tired ... (She awakes)

FEBRUARY 25, 1906.

Q. Zoe, Zoe, how do you do? Good morning, how are you?

A. I can't see, who called me by that name? It is long since any one called me that, it was Zoe. Where do you come from? You speak a dead tongue... something ... it is confused. Those were happy days in the streets. I have been called nothing for so long.

Q. What country is this?

A. A warm country. Zoe, it is good to hear the name again. The wife of Dedro.

Q. How old are you now?

A. That I forget. I am too old to be alive. Everything is gone, nothing remains but sorrow and hunger; I have had a hard life. Do you remember Metha, years ago, she used to tell me tales. She was a good old crone. Did you know me when I was young? Do you see my wrinkles? Oh, what a change (she shakes her head). I was not bad to look at, was I? My eyes were bright, and I laughed in the street. I was often hungry.

Q. How old were you when you were married?

A. I was very young. Dedro is dead, my children are all gone; I had twelve children, all gone. An old woman sits alone in the sun and thinks, thinks. It is very little profit.

Q. What religion do you follow?

A. Oh, there is a religion, but I know very little about it. The lords govern this realm, the highest one represents the God ... You gave me something, you gave me a gold coin, the only one I ever had.

Q. Was I alone?

A. No, you rode in some sort of a cart, and there were horses, you drove through the streets. I kept it, I never spent it, though many a day I went hungry, and then Dedro came, and he had something, some little saved, he had some business. I had better take Dedro, so they said, so I married Dedro.

Q. Do you remember the marriage ceremony?

A. We have none, what do they care about us? He comes, he takes us and that is all. He often beat me, yes. There is nothing to tell, just a hard, bitter life... It is very warm, the buildings have flat roofs. Mountains way off. You can see the snow in the distance. The plain stretches in sand for miles.

Q. What is the name of the city you live in?

A. It begins with S. I think I can tell you in a few minutes. It is like Saraban, but that is not it. Some great man built the city, I don't know his name.

Q. What is the color of the skin of the people?

A. Pale, no color, rather yellow, but clear. Their eyes are set like mine, slantwise. Our hair is dark. My curls, that was something unusual.

Q. Have you heard of Shinto? What is your god?

A. The god is the sun. We have a temple built up high in the city, the city is built tier after tier. In the temple dwells the Lord, and in the higher temple dwell the priests of the sun. There are many other gods, but the sun is the Lord of all.

Q. What is his name?

A. The Sun God. We know nothing of the temple, they rule the country with a rule of iron, they are oppressors.

Q. What becomes of you when you die?

A. We go to an underworld, we meet our ancestors. If we have revered them, if we have fulfilled our duties, we are passed through happily, if we have not, some fate overtakes us, some punishment. If we fulfill our duties we go to some happy place after the underworld, where we meet them again. I know nothing more.

Q. Do you ever come back to this earth?

A. No, not that I know.

Q. What animals do you use?

A. The camels carry things. There are also little shaggy horses. They don't look like any horses ... Who are you? Why do you ask me this question?

Q. What is your age, 70, 80?

A. As old as that, 86 I think.

Q. Can you tell the names of some of your children?

A. There were eight girls and four boys. Two boys died. Sina is the youngest, a girl; how hard it is to remember. And Boro, he was my eldest.

Q. Go to sleep; clouds, back, back, back, back. The clouds are going up, what do you see?

A. I don't know where I am. It is dark. The sun is shining now.

Q. What are you, a man or a woman?

(She looks herself over several times.)

A. Why of course, I am a woman.

Q. What do you see?

A. A room I am sitting in, on the floor.

Q. Are there any chairs around? Do you know what chairs are?

A. Whatever they are, there are not any here. I am sitting on a rug. There are cushions.

Q. How are you dressed?

(She looks herself over)

A. Why, I am not very much dressed. (She looks inside her hand, at her arm, etc.) How did I come to be brown? My hand is brown. My arm is bare and covered with bands of some description and a sort of a gauzy shirt and anklets, and that is all.

Q. What is your name?

A. My name is Rella.

Q. Is it a Turkish rug you are sitting on?

A. I don't know what a Turkish rug is. It is very warm. My features are oval, dark eyes, dark brown hair. I dance, there are some others here.

Q. How old are you?

A. I am very young, 16, Rella the dancer.

Q. Are you married?

A. No. I live at a court. There is some monarch, but not a very great monarch, there are others as great as he, and I live here at the Court of Naobas.

Q. Ever heard of Turkey, Persia, China, japan, Hindustan, Arabia, India?

A. No, India is more like it. We live in the North of our country.

Q. What is your religion?

A. We have a God, the Lord Ganga; he is in the other world.

Q. What becomes of you when you die?

A. We go on to other worlds, there are many ... There is a palace and a great pleasure garden, the pleasure garden slopes down to the river.

She awakes.

2. De Rochas' hypnotic attempts to bring back consciousness of earlier lives

In a book, Les Vies Successives, (Paris, 191 L) Colonel Albert de Rochas (1837-1914) describes experiments, most of them made by himself, with some nineteen persons in whom what he calls "magnetic" sleep was induced, and whose consciousness was then apparently regressed to various ages down to the time of birth, then to intra-uterine life, then purportedly to life as discarnate spirit, and then, still farther back, to one or more earlier lives. Also, prima facie progressions of consciousness to ages future to the hypnotized subject's age, and even to future incarnations.

In these experiments, age regressions were induced by means of longitudinal passes, and age progressions by means of transverse passes. But an incident in one of the experiments led De Rochas to remark that, "apparently the mode of magnetization, that is, the direction of the passes, has no great importance" (p. 80, note). He does, however, hold to the idea of a magnetic fluid and of the efficacy upon it of the passes; also to the existence on the subject's body of areas, e.g., the wrists, on which pressure has conjugate hypnogenic and hypnopompic effects; and of a point (the forehead at the root of the nose,) the pressing upon which has mnemonic effects. He seems to overlook or underestimate the fact that such pressings and passes constitute modes of suggestion, and appears to assume that only verbal suggestion is suggestion at all.

In the sixth experiment with the first of the subjects on his list, Laurent, in 1893, De Rochas hit accidentally upon the possibility of regressing the subject's personality to earlier life (p. 57); but it was not until eleven years later (1904) that, having regressed an 18 year old girl, Josephine, to the time of her birth, the idea occurred to him to continue the longitudinal passes (p. 67). This brought forth purported consciousness of the intra-uterine period and of a discarnate period preceding conception. De Rochas says that further deepening of the trance then resulted in manifestation of a personality whose nature at first puzzled him - that of a man who "would not say who he was, nor where he was. He replied in gruff tones, with a man's voice" (p. 68). Eventually, however, this personality declared himself to be Jean-Claude Bourdon, born in 1812 in the village of Champvent, district of Polliat, where he died at 70. He gave various details of his life, but subsequent inquiry turned up no evidence that such a man had lived in Polliat at the time stated.

This experiment was what led De Rochas to subsequent attempts to regress the consciousness of his subjects to earlier lives. Deepening Josephine's trance while the Bourdon personality was manifest brought out the personality of a wicked old woman, who said that she was born Philomene Charpigny in 1702, that she had married a man named Carteron in 1732 at Chevroux; and that her grandfather, Pierre Machon, lived at Ozan. De Rochas states in a footnote that families by the names of Charpigny and Carteron did exist at Ozan and at Chevroux, but that he found no positive trace of Philomene herself (p. 74 n). Additional deepening of the trance brought out that, in anterior lives, she had been a girl who had died in infancy; before that a bandit who robbed and killed. Then came the shamefaced avowal that, in a life anterior to that bandit incarnation, she had been a big ape!

The attempts to progress Josephine to later ages in her present life brought out various episodes. Those relating to dates near enough to admit of verification - for example, foreseen employment as a salesgirl in the Galeries Modernes at Grenoble - did not come to pass. When progressed to the age of 32, i.e., to 1918, she sees herself back at Manziat where her mother lives. There she is seduced by a young farmer, and has a child who eventually dies. De Rochas then progresses her to the age of nearly seventy when she dies; purportedly then reincarnating first as a girl, Elise, who dies when three years old; and then as Marie, daughter of a man by the name of Edmond Baudin, who runs a shoe store at Saint-Germain-du-Mont-d' Or, and whose wife's name is Rosalie. When progressed to the age of sixteen in that life she says the year is 1970. This means that her birth as Marie would have occurred in 1954.

It would of course be interesting to inquire now at that place whether such a child was in fact born there in or about 1954 to parents of that name and occupation; also, of course whether in her life as Josephine she was indeed seduced in 1918 at Manziat and had a child there. De Rochas gives the seducer's name only as Eugene R, stating in a footnote (p. 78) that he had made inquiries which revealed that a man of that name, born in 1885, son of well-to-do farmers who were neighbors of Josephine's mother, was actually living there in 1911, and that he and Josephine, being of the same age had made their first communion together.

The non-fulfillment of the "Galeries Modernes" episode, however, makes all the more improbable that the later ones of the Josephine life, and of the reincarnation as Marie, have turned out to be veridical. But if hypnotic progression in 1904 to rebirth as Marie Baudin in 1954 should turn out to be corroborated by existence now of such a girl at the place named, this, so far as it went, would lend some weight to the hypothesis that the purported regressions to earlier lives are really this.

De Rochas declares that, by means of passes, one certainly can regress the subject to earlier ages of his present life: "It is not memories that one awakens; what one evokes are the successive stages of the personality" (p. 497). He also declares certain "that in continuing these magnetic operations beyond birth and without need of recourse to suggestions, one makes the subject go through analogous stages corresponding to preceding incarnations and to intervals between them" (p. 497). He adds, however, that "these revelations, when it has been possible to test their veridicality, have not in general corresponded to the facts" (p. 498). In case No. 8, where ten earlier lives are described by the entranced subject, numerous anachronisms occur. And in cases nos. 10, 11, 13, where details susceptible to verification were mentioned, the attempt subsequently made to corroborate them failed to do so. Thus, although the idea of reincarnation evidently appeals to De Rochas - and certain peculiar features of some of his experiments, to which he points, suggest it - he is on the whole far from fully convinced that the regressions under hypnosis which he relates really are regressions to earlier lives of the persons concerned.

In the absence of definite verification of the details they relate, the most plausible explanation of the facts appears to be that they are effects of suggestion and/or of stimulation of the mythopoeic imagination in the trance state. One feature of De Rochas' cases, which also points to this explanation, is that in almost all of them the purported earlier lives of those French subjects are likewise lives as French men or women; which, of course, especially for persons of simple minds, and who had never read much or travelled abroad, would be the psychologically easiest and most natural kinds of earlier lives to imagine.

3. The "life readings" of Edgar Cayce

A few words may be added concerning the accounts, purportedly of earlier incarnations of many persons, given by the late Edgar Cayce while in a state of trance. Cayce, who died in 1945, was a farm boy, born in Kentucky in 1877, who had only a grade school education and was a persistent Bible reader. He did not care for farm work and eventually became a photographer's apprentice. It was accidentally discovered that, while in hypnotic trance, he had the capacity to diagnose, and to prescribe often successful treatment for, the illnesses of persons who desired him to do this; and to do it even when the person was far away, provided the latter's name and the place where he was at the moment were given to Cayce. In the course of time Cayce, who had become able to put himself into the state of trance, gave many thousands of such "health" readings. After some years, however, it was found, again accidentally, that while in the trance he could also give what came to be know as "life readings." These purported to report one or more earlier lives on earth of the person concerned, the name he or she had borne then, and the actions or experiences in those past lives which had as remote consequences in the present life certain features of body, mind, or character, and certain special abilities. Although in these readings the persons concerned were generally entire strangers to Cayce and far away at the time, his delineations of their present personality and vocational capacities was often surprisingly accurate. Dr. Gina Cerminara, a psychologist who made a study of the records of these readings, states that obscure historical details mentioned in the accounts of earlier lives of some of the persons who had "life readings" - including "the names of obscure former personalities ... in the locality" have been verified by looking up historical record(1). But, in the absence of citation of specific cases where details of an earlier life were given - as in the cases of Katsugoro, of Alexandrina Samona, and of Shanti Devi - and where careful verification of those details was made and is on record, the mere statement that such verification has been made does not constitute for us empirical evidence that the Cayce "life readings" really describe past incarnations of the persons concerned. And, although correct delineation of the present character and abilities of strangers at a distance would require clairvoyance of a high order, such delineation in itself has no relevance to the matter of rebirth.

(1) Many Mansions, New York, Wm. Sloane Associates, 1950, p. 301.

Under these circumstances, the chief importance of the Cayce "life readings" in connection with the question as to the reality of reincarnation is the suggestion it affords that the hypnotic trance may be a means of bringing back in certain persons memories of presently verifiable details of earlier lives of their own; and possibly a means of arousing in exceptional individuals retrocognition of the lives of deceased persons, such as Cayce's "life readings" purportedly constituted, but with presently verifiable details(2).

(2) In 1943, the present writer had a "life reading" of himself done by Cayce. According to it, in his preceding incarnation, his name had been jean de Larquen, and he had come to America from France as an intelligence officer associated with Lafayette. Such inquiries as he has been able to make have brought no evidence either in the United States or in France that any one ever bore that name.

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Contents | Preface | Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11 | Chapter 12 | Chapter 13 | Chapter 14 | Chapter 15 | Chapter 16 | Chapter 17 | Chapter 18 | Chapter 19 | Chapter 20 | Chapter 21 | Chapter 22 | Chapter 23 | Chapter 24 | Chapter 25 | Chapter 26

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