The Transmigrating Soul

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''The principle point of the Druid's teaching is that the soul does not perish, and that after death it passes from one body into another.'' ~ Julius Caesar, writing about the Celts.

Some say the Druids were following teachings they had picked up from Pythagorus (570 - 495 BC). Pythagorus wrote nothing down and his teachings can only be gleaned from fragments. Although associated now with mathematics, he was originally most famous for being the knower of what was the fate of the soul after death. It is said that once when he saw men beating a puppy he intervened to get them to stop saying ..'' it is the soul of a man who is dear to me, which I recognized, when I heard it yelping.'' 

In turn, Pythagorus is said to have been an initiate of the mystery schools of Egypt and Babylon (and also previously of the Eleusinian mysteries), and perhaps even a Zoroastrian. Frank Higgins, in Ancient Freemasonry, claims Pythagoras traveled on through Persia to India eventually where he studied in Brahmanical schools in Elephanta and Ellora. (Link to a nice post on Pythagorus). Even if Pythagorus did not go to India, he would have encountered Indian gymnosophists in Persia or Egypt. So, thus Pythagorus may have developed his understanding on transmigration from the Indian tradition, where it has long been an accepted doctrine of faith. Back to details on India in comments. There's a lovely short book I mentioned here  where Peter Kingsley imagines the connection between Eastern and Western thought, via Pythagorus, who was the first sage to use the word philosopher.

Theories of reincarnation occur throughout the world. Almost too many to mention. I will just go through a very few here in this post. Transmigration was there in Greek philosophy, including neo-Platonism, and in early Christianity. In 553 AD reincarnation was declared a Christian heresy at the Second Council of Constantinople. However, ''Cardinal Mercier (1851-1926) of the Roman Catholic Church, an eminent scholar and theologian of the conservative Christian Tradition...(argues that reincarnation)...   “cannot be shown either to be impossible or even to be false” (Link).


“Say, Lord, to me…say, did my infancy succeed another age of mine that died before it? Was it that which I spent within my mother’s womb?…and what before that life again, O God my joy, was I anywhere or in any body?”  ~ Confessions of St. Augustine


Reincarnation seems to have been included in some aspects of Judaism, especially among kabbalists. Gilgul meaning cycle or wheel, relates to transmigration. Having said this reincarnation is not a central tenet of Judaism per se, and is only one of differing explanations for what happens to an immortal soul.

Taoism holds with continuity. '' There is birth, there is death, there is issuing forth, there is entering in.'' ~ Chuang Tzu (3rd century BC) Taoist understanding of reincarnation is slightly different in that they do not seek an exit from the cycles of existence, like the Buddhists do, but rather to flow continuously and enjoy the wonder of nature and life.

“A cluttered mind is the very seed of transmigration. Depending on the karma being planted, we harvest the corresponding transmigration; he who feels corresponds; he who is the cause, becomes the effect. This is the Law of Tao. No man is able to antagonize it. Those who wish to free themselves from Transmigration cycle should become the Tao itself.”

  • Master Ma Hoo Yang, Patriarch Master of the West School of Taoist Alchemy

Among Native American tribes, belief in reincarnation is more prominent in Northern areas, right up into the Arctic, and less so in the South and along the Pacific. This has been suggested to be because of the influence of Siberian shamanism (via Inuit) upon northern tribes. In most shamanic traditions the soul consists of parts, some of which incarnate or are reborn, and others of which go to different places, above or below, including back into the earth.



In general Islam does not hold with reincarnation of the soul, although some Sufis lean towards transmigration. 

People have often asked me: What does the Sufi say about reincarnation? My silence at times and my 'yes' and 'no' at times have made it vague. Some perhaps thought that I did not believe in it and that if I did not believe, then the Sufis do not believe, naturally. This is not the case. Every Sufi is free to believe what he or she understands as right and what he or she can understand. One is not nailed to any particular belief.

 People in the world wish to make things rigid, things which are of the finest nature which words cannot explain. When a person describes the hereafter, it is just like wanting to weigh the soul or photograph the spirit. I personally think that you must be able to realize yourself what the hereafter is. You must not depend upon my words. Self-realization is the aim. 

In fact all things are true to a certain point, but when compared with the ultimate truth, they fall short in proving themselves existent. Things appear different from every different plane from which you look at them, and when a person standing on flat earth asks a person standing on top of a mountain, "Do you also believe something?" the person cannot tell much. The questioner must come to the top of the mountain and see.

~ Hazrat Inayat Khan


In truth, these words of Hazrat Inayat Khan would best describe my inner feeling on the question of transmigration or not. At present I do not know, because I am not capable of knowing. That is not to say that some time it may be different.

Being honest, I have no memory of having had past lives. Having said that I can have a clear memory of a vivid dream that I forget five seconds later, so not remembering past lives is of little consequence regarding proof for me. And also being honest I do have memories of atmospheres of places that I could never have been in this life, moments when I am transported to a different place and time. That, however, could be due to my very active imagination which can produce strong sensations. Or it could be actual memories. I don't know.

Later I will include some of my personal evidence for being inclined towards holding faith with transmigration. Still, I will admit it is an article of faith - I cannot say I have definite proof. One thing I often find unusual is that in stories of transmigration the remembered past lives are usually glorious - that of Emperor, Queen, Chief, Captain, and so on, and never of toilet cleaner. 

Here I am not exploring the existence or otherwise of an immortal soul. I am presuming there is a soul. Another article of faith. Some theories of reincarnation - for example, the Buddhist theory - do not hold with the existence of a soul (refer to Anatta). Instead, ultimate realisation for Buddhists is of the Non-Self, rather than the Self. Still they hold with reincarnation, believing that impressions (refered to as Skandha) reincarnate. These are like skeins of experience, or impressions made on the consciousness. Having said that the Tibetan Buddhist have an intricately complex theory of reincarnation that seems to involve far more than the transmigration of mere impressions. 



So, over time I will use this space to add any explorations that arise within me or in my field of experience regarding transmigration. And I welcome input of thought and experience from others.



Among my personal trove of 'evidence', if it could be called such, for transmigration, is the experience of my children's souls before their conceptions. The oldest appeared not to me but to a yogi in a cave in the Himalayas, where my husband and I were staying. This yogi asked me what i intended to do after I left India and I said I wanted to go to South America. He replied that the spirit of  a child was visible nearby me and would be incarnating very shortly in my body. I laughed at the time as I had no intention of that, but within 6 weeks I was expecting my first child. My second child, my daughter, came to me before conception. She appeared in the form of a very clear, very sweet and feminine voice, asking if she could come now. I had to laugh as it was quite humourous of her, as she must have known that my first child had been quite a bundle of energy and I had held off having more children for a good number of years. So, her question was in the tone of someone who had been patiently waiting but now had one eyebrow raised and her arms crossed. I said yes and she was concieved within hours. My third child, always the honest, open boy, simply announced his imminent arrival as I walked over a bridge that spanned a lake connecting northern and southern Ireland. And his spirit spoke truth. Upon their births each child had so much ''history'' already in their expressions, constitutions, natures and so on, that my children have thus far been my most convincing evidence regarding the immortality and transmigration of souls.

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  • Was thinking about aspects of this again this morning. Asked a friend recently what they believed - they are a sincere Catholic, but very well-read and very learned in philosophical matters and open to mysteries - and they do not believe in reincarnation. Was thinking today how what one believes makes for a different possible attitude while here. 

    If there is no belief in reincarnation, then one might be more determined, urgent, self-reliant, present, on the postitive side. Also hankering, despairing is possible. This one and only chance, things slipping by, unfulfilled or ambitious, or grasping, or excited. Many more, just giving examples.

    If there is belief that you are coming back it could make one weary, apathetic, overly accepting of circumstances, fatalistic, Bored. Passive. Or on the positive side, philosophical, detached, spacious, a sense of infinite possibilities.

    Just passing thoughts, The main idea is that what one believes to be possible MAY determine the mood or atmosphere one cultivates within.

    • what about  ;  The Second Coming which  is a Christian and Islamic belief regarding the future return of Jesus Christ after his incarnation and ascension to heaven about two thousand years ago.


      In the New Testament, the Greek word ἐπιφάνεια (epiphaneia, appearing) is used five times to refer to the return of Christ


      • return from heaven of Jesus, the Messiah, to raise the dead ...etc

      wouldn't that qualify as "reincarnation" , technically speaking ..... ;)



      note : i don't personnaly believe in that theory ....literally .... but more metaphorically ( astrotheology )...' but that is not the point here


      Second Coming
      The Second Coming (sometimes called the Second Advent or the Parousia) is a Christian and Islamic belief regarding the future return of Jesus Christ…
      • I had forgotten I knew that word - Parousia - found it a fascinating word at one point. Also had forgotten about the second comings, haha. There are others - Maitreya is the future Buddha to come, the White Buffalo Calf woman who will one day return, I'm sure there are loads of others, i just cannot think of them. Brings to mind the dying and rising God - and the archetype within ourselves of dying and being reborn at various times. I often get the card Inanna in divination - a card which I didn't really like, to be honest, the descent into the underworld ( such a weird thing happened exactly as i wrote that, I mistyped ''into'' and a new tab opened up in front of this page that said ...


        haha...incognito into the underworld...never saw that message before.

        But yeah, just on the second coming and so on, it's kind of funny that there was that discrete time period when there was a lot of religious beliefs being laid down (Axial Age) and that really we are still hugely influenced by that time still. 

        Confucius and Lao-Tse were living in China, all the schools of Chinese philosophy came into being, including those of Mo TiChuang TseLieh Tzu and a host of others; India produced the Upanishads and Buddha and, like China, ran the whole gamut of philosophical possibilities down to materialismscepticism and nihilism; in Iran Zarathustra taught a challenging view of the world as a struggle between good and evil; in Palestine the prophets made their appearance from Elijah by way of Isaiahand Jeremiah to Deutero-Isaiah; Greece witnessed the appearance of Homer, of the philosophers – ParmenidesHeraclitus and Plato, – of the tragedians, of Thucydides and Archimedes. Everything implied by these names developed during these few centuries almost simultaneously in China, India and the West.

        — Karl Jaspers, Origin and Goal of History, p. 2
        Or even that there was a time a couple of thousand years ago when world prophets emerged, and generally there have not been movers and shakers of that order for millenia. Anyways, maybe silly thoughts... :)
        Dying-and-rising deity
        A dying-and-rising, death-rebirth, or resurrection deity is a religious motif in which a god or goddess dies and is resurrected. "Death or departure…
        • you could also  add THE RETURN OF THE ANNUNAKI apparently ... according to some  old prophecies


          anyway ,

          Jaspers described the Axial Age as "an interregnum between two ages of great empire, a pause for liberty, a deep breath bringing the most lucid consciousness". It has also been suggested that the Axial Age was a historically liminal period, when old certainties had lost their validity and new ones were still not ready


          sound familiar ....  when you look at today's state of the world....


          according to Jaspers' concept, new ways of thinking appeared in Persia, India, China and the Greco-Roman world in religion and philosophy, in a striking parallel development, without any obvious direct cultural contact between all of the participating Eurasian cultures.


          mmmhhhh.....  reminds me of :

          The morphic fields of social groups connect together members of the group even when they are many miles apart, and provide channels of communication through which organisms can stay in touch at a distance and "through time" (i added this one )


          • Studies Show Humans Can Communicate Telepathically With Another While They’re Dreaming


          Rupert Sheldrake 's Morphic Field and the 100th Monkey Theory


          The more thoughts, ideas and actions arise concerning a specific topic or field, the more powerful the morphic field becomes. Which in turn attracts more thoughts and interests from individuals, who then add to this virtual field or abstract thought construct.


          FlutePlayer.jpg Rivers of Babylon



          The 100th Monkey Theory tells us how the behaviour of an entire group of individuals can change when the critical mass is reached.


          see also : 

          The Real Meaning of Egregore

          An empire is defined as "an aggregate of nations or people ruled over by an emperor or other powerful sovereign or government, usually a territory of…
          • The return of the Tuatha de Danann is another. Out from the fairy  mounds some day...seems we are a species always waiting for returns.

            It is a liminal time now, for sure, and I am a fan of Sheldrakes morphic field theory. I wonder will people grow more comfortable in the modern world with using the word God, or an equivalent, from the point of view of exploring and developing philosophy - it's odd how uncomfortable it makes the people of this time to even say God, it brings up such resistance. Or will we go more and more towards materialism and scientism, transhumanism, and so on. Eternal life with AI. 

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    • Like :)

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    • Thanks for sharing these personal insights Noct, they stimulate further speculations in me and also bring up some memories. I smiled at the thought of your reaction about Isis, as a kid, the lovely confident honesty of childhood. Also interesting that your initial reaction to reincarnation was not to like it.  Being honest, I would say it is somewhat disturbing when one hears of it first. Maybe some find it exciting...don't know. You got to hear of it in childhood, whereas most who are not born into the automatic faith in it, hear it as seekers, perhaps young, but they have to an extent deliberately set out to find out something. It is different to hear it spontaneously out of the blue. It is a reasonable reaction to be wary of it - the thought of having all the forgotten past lives is kind of heavy. A weird veil drawn over so much secrecy and obscuration from our own inner worlds.

      For me I do not mind coming back, as I quite enjoy it here, although God knows there is plenty of suffering. Even nowadays i find myself saying if I know I will not get to do something, that i will try to do it next life...haha. At least it stops hankering, lol. In fact in olden times, people used to have transmigrating debts...they would borrow now to pay back in next life. Cheeky move.

      I am glad to hear about your sisters having similar pre-conception stories, i did not hear about it from my sister or sisters in law, or friends, so i never mentioned it, no point in giving people another reason to think the looney farm might be a good option for is good to know about others experiencing it.

      Yes, the stories of children in India with very domestic stories have been the most convincing for me, it makes me think of the difference between a toddler in a place where the culture would accept their memories and the culture where a child would be considered odd or even ill to have such memories. Because infancy and toddler-hood would be the time when one is most likely to remember and if there is no acceptance that must feel strange and uncomfortable. Then again childhood is such a strange time.  Also lack of cultural faith in transmigration would make a small child inclined to suppress the memory quickly. Even that is an odd thought...what a thing to impose on a child...a very early bind. I do remember childhood being a long time of not telling how one truly felt as people might think you ''bold''.

      Which reminded me of  atime when I was young in school - all girls Catholic school, so religion permeated everything - and one day in religion class - I can't remember what the subject was - but i suddenly blurted out loud to the nun, ''No, No, that's not the way it is. There is not enough room in Heaven for all the souls who have died since forever, so we have to keep coming back until we are good.'' This was extremely unusual for me to speak out as I was very shy and quiet in school. Anyways the mighty wallop with a ruler on the hand that  I got immediately after saying that and the sniggers of the other kids shocked me into silence for many years.

      About the clinging to the past - yes, that is a thought that has occured to me too. Like one could end up building a very strong narrative about one's present life that includes former lives and gives a more settled sense of material permanence and attachment. In that way then if transmigrating is so, it would be lighter to not remember. Having said that i think the soul does remember all it has experienced, even if it never comes to consciousness. And that guides us and leads us towards certain inclinations, like, spiritual seeking and appreciation of quiet and peace, and so on. How some will delve deep into esoteric matters whereas another will think it is silly or false or boring. For example I love the drone of Tibetan chanting in monasteries, but if others hear it they often don't like it at all. 

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        • Hahaha..yes that would freak me out alright. But then again you know how easily I can be freaked out, your job would be no challenge to you! Actually, you did not mention that dream to me, or else the old memory is worse than I imagine - cool! - although not cool that i am a nerd in dreams too... damn 

          Yes, i do like this place, this earth, although I can see the advantages of not being trapped in the inevitable suffering of life. Occasionally i get strong ''check out'' thoughts, but meh, those are reflections of dark personal currents and I  try to skip past them. In Autumn I cry because it reminds me it  is one less year to see the leaves. What a fecking sap.

          Do you ever end up in different time periods in a dream? Like recognisably older times? 

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            • I mixed up a poem and a prose story, although it was both your dream reminded me of...the poem is the Song Of Amergin, which doesn't directly mention transmigration, but tells of ''I am'' and the essence of many things. Amergin was a Milesian. 

              Here is one translation, though there are many...

              I am the wind on the sea;
              I am the wave of the sea;
              I am the bull of seven battles;
              I am the eagle on the rock
              I am a flash from the sun;
              I am the most beautiful of plants;
              I am a strong wild boar;
              I am a salmon in the water;
              I am a lake in the plain;
              I am the word of knowledge;
              Iam the head of the spear in battle;
              I am the god that puts fire in the head;
              Who spreads light in the gathering on the hills?
              Who can tell the ages of the moon?
              Who can tell the place where the sun rests?

              The prose story is one of the main accounts of transmigration in Irish mythology. The story has generally been Christianised, and is told as a conversation between Tuan Mac Cairil and the monk Finnian who converted him to Christianity. Tuan shocks Finnian with his long story of how he can remember back through many lifetimes...and his body has moved through lives as many different animals. The bird's eye view of your dream reminded me, as when I heard the tale as a child I had the impression that Tuan was standing on a cliff telling it (though as it turns out it was his cliff side view in some of his incarnations that enabled him to see history and time evolve). I am going to put in the story in a separate post here as the link I have is quite long and it probably won't fit in this text box. I will link to it. 


              The Tale of Tuan Mac Cairil
              This summary of the tale is taken from here - The Story of Túan mac Cair…
            • Gosh, full on dream for a young person with the different species of human, that's kind of like a transmigration experience. Will link later when not on phone to old Irish poem that describes transmigration in a poetic way that somehow reminds me of your description, not same but has echoes. White robes interesting too, I recently got given white robe in dream and next day a white shawl arrived in post for me from my sister. Told her about dream and she said oh it's because she is super wise, jokingly. It's a funny colour, white robes, my initial response was this is completely impractical haha, but yeah weird that both experience that. Although mine only recent. Hmmmm.... Wondering now
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