Children Remembering Past Lives…

By Celia Coates

A few days ago my next door neighbor, Carol Bloom, and I stopped to talk outside our homes. She has just retired and she told me about her retirement party and I told her about starting an on-line magazine. When she asked me what it was about, I paused and then began with, “Well, it’s not everybody’s cup of tea.” I’ve found it’s a good idea to give people a chance to back away from the subject of the multiple dimensions of reality since information about the non-material side of life can be unsettling or irritating or thoroughly alienating.

But Carol did not back away and we kept talking. She told me about a small unsolved mystery in her own life:
“I was about three years old and living with my parents, Shirley and Leonard, on Rosalind Street in Rochester, New York. It was a two-family house and my father’s parents lived on the first floor and we lived upstairs. I remember the sunporch with daybeds and windows on three sides where I often played. Sometimes when my mother called my name I would answer by exclaiming, “I’m not Carol. I’m Doney, Doney McKelly!” The “o” in the name Doney was pronounced like the “o” sound in doughnut. Then I would say words that I can only convey phonetically: “Cumphrey, cumphrey, miternbe.” The “r”s in both words were said with a slight roll or trill. My mother did not pay much attention to this and I think she just saw me as a creative kid.”

A number of years ago while I was travelling in Ireland, I asked several people if these words meant anything to them. I thought it might be Gaelic. No one knew what I was talking about!

There have been many times when remarkable and unexpected conversations begin after I describe WINN Magazine. Sometimes people welcome a chance to find out more about what they’ve experienced, to learn about events they know are real even though they can’t explain them. In cultures that accept that we have more than one lifetime, what three-year old Carol was saying might have been treated as important for her family. Carol herself remembers it vividly and has wanted to know what her experience might mean.

There are parents in this country who cannot overlook what their children say because of the strong emotions and troubling behaviors that come with the memories. Author Carol Bowman was led to explore children’s past life memories when her son suddenly developed an intense fear of loud, booming sounds. Chase was five years old when he became terrified during Fourth of July fireworks that he’d always enjoyed before. Bowman felt helpless to comfort her son and was puzzled by the sudden development of such fear in her otherwise happy child. It turned out that the booming sounds had triggered images, feelings, and sensations of dying during the Civil War. In this lifetime he is white, but in his memories he was a black soldier, an important part of the event and a detail that was completely unexpected. ( and (

Sarah, Chase’s older sister was also troubled by a past life. Her memories were of dying as a child in a fire that destroyed her home. Bowman found that exploring the memories and talking about what her children remembered helped them to move beyond their life-disrupting fears. You do not need to believe in reincarnation to help childen who are struggling with the intrusive images and troubled feelings that can accompany these experiences. Exploring what the child is saying with respect and gentleness can be a remedy. It’s understandable that parents might dismiss the accounts, or scold their child for making things up, or become alarmed that this talk reveals mental illness, but allowing the story (if there is more to the story) to come forward can result in children being able to leave the memories behind them.

Although this is a common phenomenon around the world, few children have memories that include information that can be verified. Ian Stevenson, M.D., a psychiatrist who headed the Department of Perceptual Studies at the University of Virginia, spent decades researching children’s statements along with possible supportive evidence. His pioneering book on the subject, TWENTY CASES SUGGESTIVE OF REINCARNATION, was published in 1966. As with most studies about phenomena that are not generally accepted as real, it called forth skeptics who have criticized Stevenson’s research methods. Although healthy skepticism is always necessary, some people with fixed beliefs just announce that something can’t be true and never examine the evidence. It’s best to judge Stevenson’s work for yourself and to look into the research that has been done in recent years. Jim Tucker, M.D., a child psychiatrist and neurobiologist continues Stevenson’s work at the University of Virginia. (

One of the most clearly substantiated cases is that of a little boy who began having severe nightmares about fire and a crashed plane when he was only two years old. James Leininger did not grow out of his night terrors as his parents had been told, and instead his frightening memories continued to unfold. He was able to name people, describe places, and identify events that have been traced and shown to exist. In fact, he later met men who served on the Nautoma Bay, the ship he was based on as a fighter pilot in his previous life during World War II.

Carol Bowman has written that, “The parents standing close by are rocked by the truth of the experience – a truth powerful enough to dislodge deeply entrenched beliefs.” Bruce Leininger, James’ father, had a hard time accepting the reality of his son’s memories. As a devout Christian it was very difficult for him to believe anything other than that we die and go to Heaven and that’s where the soul stays. He knew that there was no fraud or fakery involved with his son’s extraordinary experiences, and he had to rework some of his views.

Children’s past life memories have the power to change their lives and the lives of their families. If we can open our minds to what their experiences can teach us, we can change our perspective on reality too.

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Judith Sellers says:

    As one of those people who is not very sensitive to subtle energies, I appreciate your advice that parents, though they may be skeptical, give respect and credence to the statements of their children (and of others) and maintain open minds, whether it be about memories or current experiences. There are definitely people in all cultures and sociological groups who perceive and participate in the universe differently from me. There are both common and less usual ways to ‘see and be’, but none of them is ‘the right way’.

  2. trudy summers says:

    I agree with the previous comment about respecting and being open to others’ experiences, realizing how there are myriad ways of perceiving the mosaic of “reality”.

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