Principles of Reincarnation


From independently researched reincarnation cases, the following principles are observed:

Physical Resemblance from One Lifetime to Another

Facial architecture, the shape and proportions of the face, can be consistent from lifetime to lifetime. Physical habits, such as postures, hand gestures and the type of jewelry worn, can also be consistent from lifetime to lifetime. Even poses struck in portraits and photographs are often uncannily similar from one lifetime to another.

Ian Stevenson, M.D., who died in 2007, was a psychiatrist at the University of Virginia. In his life Stevenson compiled and studied approximately 3000 cases involving children who remember past lives in detail. Dr. Stevenson traveled to the scenes of the contemporary and past lifetimes and to verify the details provided in these past-life accounts.

Two key Ian Stevenson cases with image comparisons, which show that facial features can remain the same from one lifetime to another, are those of Suzanne Ghanem and Daniel Jurdi. Place your cursor on the Monsour | Ghanem image to enlarge it and your arrow keys to scroll up and down on the image.

Consistent facial features across lifetimes are also observed in many other Ian Stevenson cases, though image comparisons are not available. The John B. Gordon | Jeff Keene reincarnation case also dramatically demonstrates how facial features can remain the same. Images for the Gordon | Keene case are provided below.

Body types can be consistent from lifetime to lifetime, though the size of the body can vary. An individual can have a slight physique in one lifetime and a powerful one in the next. One can be short in one incarnation and tall in another, though facial features, postures and gestures, appear to remain the same.

The Soul's Energy Template or Hologram

How can physical appearance remain the same from one lifetime to another? The answer to this question is unknown, but I hypothesize that the soul projects an energy template or hologram into the developing fetus, which tissue is shape around.

The principle is similar to how orthopedic surgeons use electrical current to shape bone in severe fractures. This energy structure not only helps create physical appearance, but it also can be used to download information and talent into the developing body and mind, which can explain child prodigies.

Of course genetics does play a part and it is the interaction of the soul's energy template with one's genetic inheritance which results in appearance. An individual who incarnates into a different race will have physical features that are consistent with that race, though proportions of the face will still be consistent from one incarnation to another. Family resemblances also occur due to genetics, though the soul's energy template can influence facial features.

The existence of an energy or spirit body that reflects our physical appearance is supported by observations made in the field of Instrumental Trans-Communication, in which spirit beings communicate to human beings through electronic devices, such a televisions, telephones, etc.. When spirit beings have transmitted images of themselves from the spirit world, they are observed to have spirit bodies that resemble their physical bodies when they were alive.

On Beauty

On the subject of beauty, it appears that any particular facial architecture can be perceived as beautiful or handsome. The perception of beauty largely depends on factors such as complexion and physique. For example, a woman in one incarnation may be tall, thin, have wonderful skin, a perfect smile and a toned body. Due to these factors and their effect on her appearance, this woman may become a celebrated fashion model or beauty queen. In another incarnation, this same woman, with identical facial architecture, may be born with a coarse complexion, a stout body and crooked teeth. This woman would now be considered ordinary appearing, by observers.

The point is that any facial architecture may be perceived as beautiful or unattractive, based on these variables. I believe that we can alternate being attractive and ordinary, from lifetime to lifetime, based on the lessons we are to learn in a particular incarnation.

Change of Religion, Nationaliy, Race, Ethnic Affliation and Gender across Incarnations

A very important observation made in reincarnation research is that individuals can can religion, nationality, ethnic affliliation, race and gender from one lifetime to another. Most wars are based in differences in these cultural markers of identity. One of the most powerful reincarnation cases that demonstrates change of religion, nationality and ethnic affiliation from one incarnation to another is the Anne Frank | Barbro Karlen reincarnation case.

Anne Frank was persecuted and died in a concentration camp as a Jew, while Barbro was born into a Christian family in Sweden. If the German people at the time of WW II knew that one could be born Jewish in one lifetime and Christian in another, then the Holocaust could never have happened.

Similarly, when Jewish Israelis realize they can reincarnate as Muslim Palestinians and vice versa, Protestants can reincarnate as Catholics, Islamic terrorists know that they can reincarnate as Christian Westerners and Shiites know they can return as Sunnis, then violence based on these different affiliations will be mitigated.

In addition, reincarnation research shows that in approximately 5-10 percent of cases, a soul changes gender. This percentage was reported by Ian Stevenson, MD, in his large series of reincarnation cases in which children had spontaneous past life memories. This percentage has also observed in a series of approximately 2000 reincarnation cases that I h ave studied.

Even in these cases where gender changes, facial architecture still can remain the same, as demonstrated in the Louise Vanderbilt | Wayne Peterson and Charles Parkhurst | Penney Peirce reincarnation cases.

Overall, most people maintain the same gender from one lifetime to another, and it seems that our soul as an innate masculine or feminine quality. Those who are innately masculine tend to reincarnate as males. Those who are innately feminine prefer to return in a female body. We all switch gender periodically, to learn what it is like to be a different gender. If a soul changes gender and is not prepared for change, it is possible that gender disorders, such as transexualism, may occur.

Personality Traits

Personality traits appear to persist from lifetime to lifetime. One’s way of approaching life and the way that others perceive you remains consistent. Some of our personality traits are positive and we carry them with us to our benefit. Other personality traits can be detrimental and can cause suffering from one lifetime to another. It appears that part of our evolution is to smooth out the rough spots in our dispositions.

As an example, consider a person who is an extremely aggressive by nature. A benefit of being aggressive is that the person accomplishes his goals. A negative aspect is that other people may be hurt by an aggressive approach. The goal for an aggressive person over the period of one lifetime or more would be to take in consideration the feelings of others.

Though personality traits remain consistent, physical and mental illnesses do not seem to persist from one lifetime to another. Ian Stevenson did note that an individual who dies from a traumatic wound can have a birthmark or scar at the same location in a subsequent incarnation.

Penney Peirce noted that in her prior incarnation as Alice Cary, Cary had died of tuberculosis. In her current lifetime, Penney had lung problems as a child, which she speculates may be related to Cary's illness. Still, Penney did not have TB and specific illness due not seem to carry on from one incarnation to another. It may be possible that past life physical and emotional traumas may have some effect ont he soul's energy template, which seems to underlie the physical body.

Individuals who are chemically dependent or have a psychiatric illness in a previous lifetime do not appear to carry these disorders over to subsequent ones.

Innate Talent and Child Prodigies

Spiritually and intellectually, we seem to pick up where we have left off. Our hard earned achievements in spiritual, intellectual and artisti pursuits are retained—they are a part of us. As such, efforts in advancing ourselves are never wasted and we build upon our endeavors from lifetime to lifetime. Child prodigies can be explained by reincarnation, as the soul appears to be able to download information and talent into the developing physical body and mind.

An example of how talent and concepts can downloaded from the soul involves the Paul Gauguin | Peter Teekamp reincarnation case, as Peter unconsciously replicated sketches done in his previous incarnation as Gauguin.

Though talents can come through from one lifetime to another, conversely, if the soul needs to take a different path in a particular lifetime, talents may at times be blocked.

Though we seem to have a similar level of spiritual maturity and intellectual advancement across lifetimes, we can trade off being poor and rich, famous and unknown. We take turns being placed in and out of the spotlight. Our status in life seems to be determined by the karma we have created in past lifetimes, as well as by the lessons our souls have set for ourselves to learn. Still, there is the pattern that powerful souls come back as powerful souls, great artists come back as great artists and those who have made an impact in the past do so again in subsequent lifetimes.

Writing, Communication Style and Voice

Just as personality traits remain consistent from lifetime to lifetime, a person’s manner of expression seems to be similar from one lifetime to another. In the case of John B. Gordon | Jeff Keene, a formal linguistic analysis by a university professor was done which indeed demonstrated that writing structure can remain the same from one incarnation to another. Some variation in writing style, of course, will be observed due to differing customs of various eras. Still, consistencies in modes of expression and in content are observed. Just as portraits allow us to see how one’s appearance is the same from lifetime to lifetime, historical documents, diaries and other available documentation allow us to study writing style across incarnations.

It will be interesting to see if qualities of voice remain consistent from one incarnation to another. In the case of Rosetta Pampanini | Charity Sunshine, opera singing was a vocation in both lifetimes. Recordings exist which would allow us to compare voice and singing style from one incarnation to another. If you have expertise in opera singing and would left to help us analyse recordings of Pampanini and Charity Sunshine, please contact IISIS.

Xenoglossy: Knowing an Unlearned Language & Perservation
of the Personality Within the Soul

In the preceding paragraphs, it has been stated that elements of personality, such as character traits, linguistic writing style and talents can be conveyed from one lifetime to another. More extreme examples involve xenoglossy cases, where the past life personality emerges intact in a contemporary incarnation.

Xenoglossy is the ability to understand a foreign language that has not been learned in the contemporary lifetime. In addition to the recovery of a language from a past lifetime, in some xenoglossy cases, the entire past life personality emerges and essentially takes over the body of the contemporary personality. These cases demonstrate that the soul can retain past life personalities intact within it. The xenoglossy case of Sharada | Uttara Huddar dramatically demonstrates this phenomenon.

One way to image how the personality is preserved is to see ourselves as a bubble that is a minature version of our soul. When we incarnate, our bubble is expressed from our soul. Our bubble contains our soul's energies, qualities and experience. After our incarnation is completed, the soul resorbs the bubble that is us and retains our bubble within itself forever. We are part of our soul, but we retain our individuality developed during our life on Earth.

In the cases such as Sharada | Uttara Huddar, the Sharada bubble, which has resided in the soul since its incarnation ended, emerged from within the soul to express itself through Uttara, a soul bubble that has incarnated.

Split Incarnation

Independently researched reincarnation cases, including many studied by Ian Stevenson, MD at the University of Virginia, demonstrate that a soul may animate more than one physical body at a time. I term this phenomenon "split incarnation." I refer to two people from the same soul, who are incarnated at the same time, as "splits". A dramatic and compelling set of cases that illustrate split incarnation involve Penney Peirce. Other cases may be reviewed at the IISIS section entitled, Split Incarnation.

How does split incarnation work? Though we don't know for sure, we can imagine split incarnation as similar to how a mirror can split a beam of light into two or more beams of light. Similarly, the soul can project more than one beam of light, or more than one energy template, into physical incarnation at a time. This idea is illustrated in the Introduction to Split Incarnation.

We can also imagine two splits as two arms of a human being. Each arm has its separate existance, yet both arms are controlled by one brain or mind. In split incarnation, we can see splits as appendages of the soul.

The bubble analogy used above to explain how the soul can retain past life personalities within it can also be used to better comprehend split incarnation. We can imagine split incarnation as the ability of the soul to express more than one bubble of itself, at a time, into physcial incarnation.

Relationships Renewed through Reincarnation, Soul Groups
and Your Destiny or Life Plan

People appear to come into life in groups, based on shared karma and emotional attachments. Couples often come back together and entire family units can recur. When an individual reincarnates, other members of that person’s karmic group will be present. Identifying members of the person’s karmic group is another important criterion in establishing a past-life match.

How do we connect with our karmic groups? The answer, it appears, is destiny. In analyzing past-life cases, it is observed that we all have a predetermined destiny or life itinerary which brings us to the people we are supposed to spend time with.

To better understand how destiny works, let us use the analogy of a journey. Think of your life as an extended vacation that you plan in advance. You decide who you want and need to see, where you want to go, and what activities you would like to participate in. You coordinate your itinerary with the people you are to rendezvous with. You, your karmic friends, and loved ones all agree to the plan before you are born. Once you come into life, destiny ensures that you meet up with your karmic soul group. The settings for karmic affiliations can be our families, work life, and recreational pursuits. These settings are stages on which we play out the karmic dramas of our lives. This casts a new light on Shakespeare’s phrase, “All of life is but a stage.”

We meet up with different karmic groups at different points in life. When we get the urge to take a new job, travel to a new city, or take up a new recreational pursuit, many times this is a part of our destiny being played out. New venues bring us to karmic groups we need to be with.

Free Will

If this is true, one must question whether we have free will. It appears that though we all have a predetermined itinerary that we are committed to honor, we have free will in what we do along the way. Indeed, growth and human evolution could not occur without free will. Some people may have a more structured itinerary that limits diversionary treks, while others may have a less structured game plan. Either way, we have free will along our destined paths.

Deja Vu

Karmic groups provide insights regarding déjà vu experiences. If we meet up with people we have known in past lives, it is not surprising that we may have a spark of recognition when we meet. Since people have consistent patterns of behavior, we may recognize these traits and idiosyncratic reactions when situations recur. Finally, déjà vu may occur if we recognize an event that is part of our itinerary. We may become aware of a road mark along our predetermined path.


If reincarnation is accepted, abortion can be viewed in a different way, as reincarnation conveys that the soul exists before conception, rather than being created at the time of conception.

Abortion does remove an opportunity for a soul to incarnate into a particular family, though the soul can be reunited with that particular family through other means, such as through proximity or destiny reincarnation cases.

An very interesting case that relates to the issue of abortion is the Ian Stevenson reincarnation case of Pertti Haikio | Samuel Helander. After he died at the age of five, Pertti was able to contact his surviving sister, Marja, telepathically from the spirit world. Marja was pregnant and was contemplating having an abortion. From the spirit world, Pertti told her not to have an abortion, as he wanted to reincarnate to her. As a result, Marja continued the pregnancy and it appears that Pertti indeed was reborn as her son Samuel.

Spirit Being Involvement and Synchronistic Events

In many independently derived reincarnation cases, including cases researched by Ian Stevenson, MD, spirit being involvment is observed in establishing or solving reincarnation cases. Ian Stevenson reported that "Announcing Dreams" often occur in reincarnation cases, where a soul announces or predicts its upcoming incarnation in dreams, conveyed to those who will be friends or family of the soul in its next incarnation.

Another example of a soul planning its next incarnation involves the reincarnation case of James Huston, Jr. | James Leininger. In this case, James Leininger as a small child reported to his parents that he had been watching them before his birth. Little James told Bruce and Andrea, his parents, that he has observed them at the pink hotel in Hawaii and determined tha they would be good parents. Bruce and Andrea indeed had stayed at the pink Royal Hawaiian hotel several months before James was conceived. No one had told little James about his parents stay in Hawaii before his birth.

Spirit beings appear to be involved in solving reincarnation cases by guiding individuals to locations where past life information will be found. This occured in the reincarnation case of Carroll Beckwith | Robert Snow, pictured in the image to the right, as Police Captain Snow appears to guided to an art gallery in New Orleans where he discovered an essential clue to his reincarnation case.

In some cases, what appears to be accurate past life information is given directly by spirit beings though mediums. A medium can be defined as a person who has the ability to perceive spirit beings and can convey information from these spirit beings to human beings. Well known mediums include James Van Praagh and John Edward, who have built careers on their ability to contact deceased relatives for clients. A new medium who I personally have had very good experiences with is Felix-Lee Lerma. Van Praagh, Edward and Lerma remain fully conscious when they work as mediums.

Trance mediums go into a meditative state and allow spirit beings to take over their bodies so that spirit beings can speak directly to a client. Trance mediums usually have no memory of what occurs during sessions. One of the best known trance mediums is Kevin Ryerson, who has been featured in four of Shirley MacLaine's books. Compelling cases solved by a different trance medium are featured in the reincarnation cases involving Penney Peirce.

Another feature that is observed in past-life research is that synchronistic events and symbols are observed in contemporary times which seem to reinforce past life connections. It appears that spirit beings can communicate with human beings by orchestrating such symbolic events. Though firm conclusions cannot be based on such synchronistic events, they do seem to occur in reincarnation cases.

Attraction to Specific Geographic Locations & Geographic Memory

Individuals are often attracted to geographic settings of past lives. In many cases, people are observed to gravitate to places where they have lived before. Individuals may reside in these areas or visit old haunts on vacation. In some cases, it appears that the soul is simply nostalgic for familiar settings.

In other cases, the soul may direct the individual to a specific place to trigger a remembrance of the past lifetime or to facilitate a spiritual awakening. The cases of Robert Snow and Jeffrey Keene illustrate how guidance to geographic locations can lead to revelations regarding past lives.

In addition, when people arrive at past live locations, memories of how to find specific locations, such as past live homes can be stimulated. For example, in the Anne Frank | Barbro Karlen case, at ten years of age, Barbro was able to lead her parents from their hotel to the Anne Frank House without directions, even though she had never been to Amsterdam before.

Past Life Memories

Memories of past lives can have a profound effect on the individual who has experienced them. Memories can occur spontaneously or through past-life regressions. In a past life regression, a therapist guides a person into a state of deep relaxation. The subject is coached to go back in time until former lives are experienced or remembered.

Memories, whether spontaneous or experienced through regression, are subjective. It must be conceded that past life memories can be inaccurate, which is why so many people believe that they were someone famous in a past incarnation. This issue is discussed in the section Introduction to Independently Derived Reincarnation Cases.

On the other hand, past life memories retrived spontaneously or through regression can be accurate. Spontaneous past life memories which appear to be accurate were observed in many Ian Stevenson reincarnation cases in which children remembered past lives at an early age. Spontaneous memories which were historically validated were also observed in the reincarnation cases involving Wayne Peterson, a retired US Diplomat and Director of the Fulbright Scholarship Program.

Past Life memories retrived through regressions which appear to be accurate were observed in the Caroll Beckwith | Robert Snow reincarnation case, as well as the compelling xenoglossy case of Gretchen Gottlieb | Dolores Jay, which was researched by Ian Stevenson, MD.
As such, past life memories should be veiwed with some realistic skepticism, but past life memories can also convey accurate reincarnation information.


In sum, from lifetime to lifetime, individuals seem to have the same facial features, personality traits, talents and even linguistic writing style. People reincarnate in groups, with souls we have known before. Reconnecting with souls we are supposed to share time and experiences with appears to be orchestrated by destiny. Destined events can be facilitated by our own souls or by the intervention of spirit beings.

An observation that is very important from a societal point of view is that religion, nationality, race and ethnic affiliation can change from one incarnation to another. As most wars are based on differences in these cultural markers of identity, evidence of reincarnation can help create a more peaceful world, as we realize that we are all really universal souls.

When we see ourselves as universal souls, we understand that we are all brothers and sisters who are evolving together through lifetimes on Earth.

IISIS: Institute for the Integration of Science, Intuition and Spirit
Article by Walter Semkiw, MD, from Born Again and Return of the Revolutionaries