(Chapter 9 of the original Book of the Soul)
© Ian Lawton 2004 & 2008
We must now turn to certain complexities related to the nature of the soul and its behavior that I have so far ignored, and here we find that there is sufficient disagreement among our pioneers that their views cannot be reconciled. So we need to pick our way carefully through the evidence to see what conclusions we might draw.
As a preliminary, we know that Michael Newton’s subjects report they divide their soul energy, leaving some of it behind in the ethereal realms even when they are in incarnation. In Destiny of Souls he goes into some detail on this issue, and his subjects report that if we were to bring all of our soul energy into incarnation we would ‘blow the circuits of the human brain’. Nevertheless, they also indicate that the word ‘divide’ is somewhat misleading because the soul acts like a hologram, so that if a part splits off it still retains its essential ‘wholeness’. The amount of soul energy taken into incarnation varies, with more experienced souls typically using only about a quarter, while less experienced souls can take as much as half or even three quarters. It is for this reason that especially more experienced souls can choose to lead parallel or multiple lives at the same time, and this is one way of speeding up our development – although they report that it is far less commonplace than many researchers assume, and that it is so draining that souls do not often try this experiment more than once.
Newton’s subjects also insist that although we are advised about the amount of energy likely to be required for any life we are about to choose, the decision of how much of our soul energy to use rests with us, although possibly with some outer limits, and we can sometimes take less than we need – for example, because of our desire to continue concurrently and as much as possible with other learning activities in our real home in the ethereal realms. Such misjudgments of soul energy requirements can lead to difficult and draining lives. Even so, when we return to the ethereal realms we must reunite with the remainder of our soul energy, and this process takes place with or without assistance and at the time of our choosing. Most souls reunify their energy when they return to their soul group, but some may do it earlier to allow swifter reorientation, while others may delay it somewhat so that the experiences of their last life remain dominant during the initial life review. Whenever they do it, they all report that as soon as the process is complete they feel a huge surge in their awareness, accompanied by an intense feeling of wellbeing.
We should not assume, however, that everything in the Newtonian garden is rosy. We know his subjects report that if the characteristics of the ethereal soul and physical brain are not well-matched this can have a huge bearing on the subsequent life, and he regards this as a prime source of mental illness. And when we refer to mental illness now, we are not just talking about the more commonplace psychological problems treated by hypnotherapists that may or may not relate to past lives, but to serious disorders. This is not intended to be a treatise on mental illness, for which I would be totally unqualified. But the subjects we are about to discuss by definition take us into these realms. So, for example, Newton suggests that a soul struggling to retain some degree of control over an aberrant brain may give up at some point, leading at least to a dissociated personality. On the other hand, we all know that many brilliant and exceptionally gifted people often teeter on the brink of insanity. Have they perhaps brought too much of their soul energy with them into incarnation, so that their brain struggles to handle the incredible insights they possess?
In this context Helen Wambach provides a fascinating case study of a young child brought to her who would not speak and shunned any sort of physical contact. She was clearly autistic. But at the same time she could read and showed a high degree of mathematical ability, even though she had not been taught either of these skills. Although Wambach was unable to hypnotize her as such, based on intuition and a great deal of patience she developed a telepathic rapport with the girl, at which point it became clear that she felt like an adult trapped in a child’s body, and was rejecting the experience. In any case, once she had been able to make someone else understand her predicament she seemed to get better. Intriguingly, when she started school she seemed to forget her previous skills and returned to being a normal child. Wambach implies that she was remembering too much of her adult experiences from past lives, and in Newtonian terms we might argue that her reduced amnesia resulted from bringing too much of her soul energy into incarnation.
Other therapists such as Roger Woolger discuss the extent to which we are made up of multiple secondary or sub-personalities, this being a cornerstone of Jungian psychotherapy. At their most severe these can manifest in multiple-personality disorders, in which each personality dominates the subject one at a time and claims no knowledge of any of the others; or in the contrasting condition of schizophrenia, in which the subject remains terrifyingly aware of the multiple voices or selves within them that they cannot control. Our pioneering hypnotherapists offer two explanations for such sub-personalities, and although they are not mutually exclusive most tend to favor one over the other. On the one hand they may be aspects of the one self that derive either from the current life only, or from various past lives as well. But on the other, more worryingly, they may represent other earthbound spirits that have to some degree possessed the patient.
Edith Fiore was the first of our pioneers to take possession seriously. As she reports in The Unquiet Dead, from her earliest use of hypnotherapy she had sometimes found her patients slipping into other apparently ‘external’ personalities, but she assumed these were all aspects of their own selves deriving either from the current life or from past lives. However, she started to rethink when she came across historical accounts of possession – which exist in most religious and shamanic writings in one form or another, although sometimes alluding to demons rather than human spirits. She then studied more modern sources as well, such as spiritual psychiatrist Carl Wickland’s seminal 1924 book Thirty Years Among the Dead, and Arthur Guirdham’s 1982 study The Psychic Dimensions of Mental Health.
Fiore did not give up on other methods of therapy after this discovery. As a number of her detailed case studies show, she went through all the normal therapeutic channels, and past-life therapy as well, with most patients. But as she became more experienced she recognized that in certain cases possession was the most likely explanation for a patient’s problems. Signals might be verbal, with patients saying things like ‘that’s just not me’ or ‘I feel like two different people’, or reporting having conversations inside their own head that felt like someone else was talking – especially if these dialogues involved confrontation. Other signals include sudden mood swings, especially under the influence of alcohol or drugs; significant loss of energy, because a possessing spirit always saps energy from its host; a marked reduction in the ability to concentrate; and loss of memory, perhaps forgetting why they were doing something because the possessing entity temporarily took over and instigated the activity, or worse still suffering from complete memory blanks over whole segments of time. And although she reports that some cases of possession stem from childhood – so that the two or more personalities have been merged for a long time and the patient is less aware of the distinction – one of the most distinguishing features of possession is when an adult patient reports a sudden and complete change in their personality that they simply cannot explain. This is markedly different from the symptoms normally reported by patients for whom past-life regression, or other more conventional therapies, would be more appropriate.
We know that there are a number of reasons why souls might fail to enter the ethereal realms proper after death, and remain trapped in earth’s denser intermediate plane instead. Fiore expands these to include not realizing they are dead, or at least nonacceptance of the situation, after a sudden death; a sense of injustice, or of unfinished business, and other strong unresolved emotions such as love, fear, revenge, hate and jealousy; intense attachment to particular people or places; an assumption that there is no life after death so they must still be alive, or a belief in hell that prevents them from trying to move towards the light; and cravings for earthly pleasures like food, sex or alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.
Such trapped spirits may just wander around for many years before finally listening to their guides and moving into the light. Or, as we have seen, some might eventually resolve to enter a new unoccupied fetus without any proper interlife experience, probably condemning themselves to a somewhat repetitive experience. But, according to Fiore, some may be sufficiently confused or even destructive that they take an alternative route and, either soon after death or even after many years of lonely wandering, decide to enter another body that already has its own soul in occupation. She suggests that sometimes the possessing spirit’s intentions are benign, thinking they are helping their host – and this is especially true of spirits that possess children from an early age. But more often their motives are entirely selfish, and may even be positively aggressive – for example, when revenge is involved. Whatever the background, Fiore emphasizes that the situation is always a negative one – for both intruder and host – even when it might appear otherwise. As we might expect, she also indicates that possessing entities always seem to be somewhat spiritually immature.
Apart from the distinguishing signs of possession already mentioned, she also emphasizes that because the intruders remain in their astral bodies they retain all the physical problems they had when they died. These are usually transmitted to their host to a greater or lesser extent, so that a variety of physical symptoms whose cause is apparently unknown may arise. Their emotional attitudes and general mental state are also retained, again crossing over into their host – so if, for example, the intruder was intensely depressed and suicidal, these symptoms will come out in their host. From this perspective possession can be confusing because it can cause many of the same symptoms as patients’ own past lives – for example, problems of a sexual and relationship nature, with weight, or with alcohol, tobacco and drug cravings. She even insists, perhaps with a little too much zeal, that anyone who indulges in these cravings is almost certainly possessed.
From the host’s point of view, the reasons they were vulnerable are varied. Fiore reports that some people’s auras, which are effectively designed to protect us from possession and other negative energies, have an inherent weakness that makes them more easily penetrable than others – in exactly the same way that some people’s physical immune system is generally weaker than others. But auras can also be weakened by particular activities or events, including traumas such as the death of a loved one, accidents or operations that require hospitalization, any other periods of intense emotional turmoil or depression, and excessive drinking or drug-taking – which then represents a cause rather than an effect. Moreover, as soon as one spirit has successfully entered the aura is further weakened so that the subject is even more vulnerable to attack – which is why so many people are multiply possessed. She also points out that people who experiment with séances, Oiuja boards and automatic writing without the proper spiritual protection are explicitly, even if unintentionally, opening themselves up to possession – as to some extent are mediums and clairvoyants, even though they are sometimes attempting to help the very spirits that might end up possessing them. On top of this she suggests children’s imaginary playmates are often confused spirits that can end up possessing them, while sometimes people can effectively invite themselves to be possessed by a loved one that has just died through their extreme grief and refusal to let go.
Fiore applied the finger-raising technique often used in hypnosis to get her patients’ subconscious minds to disclose whether or not a possessing spirit was present – although often these signals could be manipulated by the intruder so that she had to persevere. Her approach was to point out the real condition of the intruder by addressing them directly, and to emphasize that they had loved ones of their own waiting to take them into the light. By being extremely sensitive to the intruder’s confusion and fear – rather than aggressively asking them to leave, which would probably only result in them possessing someone else – in many cases she found that one or two sessions would achieve release and the cessation of all negative symptoms. But especially because multiple possessions were common – in one case more than fifty spirits were present – she found that some intruders were more persistent than others, the most stubborn sometimes taking many sessions just to emerge, as if some sort of delayering was required. In fact she found that the spirits of former family members or other close associates of the patient were the hardest to release, and that these cases usually appeared to involve past-life ties as well. She even suggests that such cases may involve the repayment of a karmic debt, although it will come as no surprise that I have my doubts that something as destructive as possession would ever be planned, so that at best they would involve repetitive interactions between relatively inexperienced souls only.
Fiore concludes that most cases of multiple personality and schizophrenia, and many cases involving other psychiatric or psychosomatic disorders, can be attributed to possession. Indeed, she found that once she started using spirit-releasement therapy more than seventy per cent of her patients appeared to have at least one possessing spirit, and most more than one. She indicates that the extent of possession can vary widely, the implication being that ordinary people might not even know they have a problem because most of the time they are strong enough to keep the possessing spirit under control. On the other hand, although she reports that she tried as hard as possible not to subjectively influence her patients, she does not rule out the possibility that at least in some cases the apparent possession may have been a complete fantasy – which might even have been brought on by her mere suggestion that the patient should try spirit-releasement therapy.
In an attempt to keep all this reasonably in perspective Fiore also emphasizes that the common symptoms of possession, such as lowered energy and memory loss, are by no means exclusive to this phenomenon and can easily arise from other more prosaic causes. Moreover, when we meditate we often talk to our own higher self, or perhaps our guides, as if we are having a genuine conversation with someone else; and we also know that the souls of loved ones who have passed on can attempt to make some sort of telepathic contact with us on occasions. Fiore is clear that none of this should be mistaken for any sort of possession. However, her insistence that these conversations and contacts will be overwhelmingly positive in nature, or at least identifiable as benign, is no great help – inasmuch as it is clear that some possessing spirits would tend to hold themselves out as benign, and if we are at all confused in ourselves it may not be easy to be objective about what is really going on in our heads. More reassuring, perhaps, would be to take general comfort from the fact that possession may be nowhere near as common as Fiore suggests, and I will return to this issue shortly.
The only other one of our pioneers who has really concentrated on possession is Shakuntala Modi – albeit that, like Fiore, she does not rely exclusively on spirit-releasement therapy and only regards it as another option in her therapeutic toolkit. In Remarkable Healings she does not indicate why or how she became involved in such therapy, and she does not explicitly mention Fiore’s work, but she nevertheless confirms pretty much every aspect of it.
Having said that, Modi also goes considerably further in a number of areas about which I have some major concerns. She suggests first that spirits reside in different parts of the body, and that literally hundreds can reside in variously shaped layers. Second, that they can enter even when their host is still in the womb, or by contrast that the spirits of aborted or miscarried fetuses can themselves act as possessors. Third, that animal spirits and those from another planet can sometimes act as possessors. Fourth, that in cases of a close relationship from past lives, especially one involving intense usually negative emotions, the spirit might possess their victim over many lives. Fifth, that even rock music and video games can weaken our auras. Sixth, that people with too much compassion, and especially those who are spiritually experienced themselves, are some of the most vulnerable potential hosts – a pretty depressing conclusion that if true would act as a serious disincentive to two of the most honorable motivations we can have. Seventh, that actively refusing to believe in the phenomenon of possession itself can act as a trigger to make it happen – even though one might expect the exact opposite, inasmuch as it is normally an explicit fear of something that attracts it and turns it into physical reality. And eighth, that many possessing spirits could not even find the light to go into, even though they wanted to – although apparently they could easily find it as soon as she asked them to simply ‘look up’.
On top of this, Modi’s statistics make even grimmer reading than Fiore’s – indicating that, from a sample of one hundred patients, ninety-two were possessed, eighty-two of them by more than one spirit. These statistics are made worse by the following observation:
Even when I work with so-called normal people, almost all of them find one or more human spirits inside them, even though they did not have any obvious physical or emotional problems.
I can only suggest that if possession were a virtual certainty for most of us it would be a devastating indictment of incarnate life on earth, suggesting a massive restriction of personal responsibility and free will. But there is even worse to come from Modi concerning the extent to which possessing spirits have usually been demonically influenced by Satan himself, an issue to which we will return shortly.
In Deep Healing Hans TenDam makes it clear that he too believes possession is a genuine phenomenon. He refers to it in terms of attachments and obsessions, which are effectively the same except that obsessions are the more aggressive but less prevalent of the two. He appears to confirm many of Fiore’s main findings, although he does not discuss how commonplace the phenomenon might be.
As she reports in Between Death and Life, Dolores Cannon’s subjects have a completely different take on the matter. They agree that possession can only occur if there is an imbalance in the host’s energy field or aura. But one insists that the possessing energy is that of elementals or nature spirits rather than of human spirits:
These cases of so-called ‘possession’ are generally caused by someone who has allowed themselves to become seriously imbalanced, leaving a vacuum in part of their karmic energies where other energies can enter in. These are usually disorganized energies, for the energy that constitutes your souls and your body are not the only energies there are. Some of the superstitious terms that used to be common in your language – earth sprites, water sprites, elementals, and various things like that – referred to collections of loosely organized energy that usually are connected to certain physical characteristics on the earth. Because of the type of energy they are, they’re attracted to certain physical situations….
They don’t do it on purpose; it is just an accident. And the violence that ensues is because they are not as organized, in energy terms, as the human soul is…. There are things that they do out of mischief, but things like this generally happen because of an imbalance in the energies…. Possession is a reality; however, elementals are drawn and not invaders as such.
The solution to the problem, according to this subject, is to meditate to restore an energy balance that will automatically expel such disorganized energies. Moreover, when questioned about the influence of alcohol and drugs in opening people up to possession, this subject reported that in fact they do not tend to lower our protection, and that such cases were rare. Meanwhile, another of Cannon’s subjects describes possession as involving rather more general negative energies:
People who are presumably ‘possessed’ are actually examples of those spirits who have a particularly bad dose of negative energies attracted to them. It had gotten strong enough to start influencing them on the physical plane. These spirits when they cross over will have to spend quite some time in the resting place to rid themselves of this.
The only other one of our pioneers that makes anything more than a passing reference to possession is Newton. In Destiny of Souls he tends to go along with Cannon’s last subject, indicating that to the extent the phenomenon exists at all it involves nothing more than the attraction of negative energy in general – with neither human nor elemental spirits playing any part:
My subjects do not see the devil or demonic spirits floating around earth. What they do feel when they are spirits is an abundance of negative human energy exuding the intense emotions of anger, hate and fear. These disruptive thought patterns are attracted to the consciousness of other negative thinkers who collect and disseminate even more disharmony. All this dark energy in the air works to the detriment of positive wisdom on earth….
In all my years of working with souls, never once have I had a subject who was possessed by another spirit, unfriendly or otherwise…. Even those who came to me with conscious beliefs in demonic forces reject the existence of such beings when they see themselves as spirits.
To be clear, while we have seen previously that Newton accepts there are such things as earthbound spirits, he does not accept that they can possess other people. To back this up, he emphasizes that when patients have come to him believing they were possessed, in most cases their fears proved completely groundless – while in a few they had misinterpreted an attempt to contact them made either by a loved one that had passed on, or occasionally by some other disturbed spirit that had some sort of unresolved issues.
What are we to make of these clearly differing views on possession? I do not automatically reject Cannon’s first subject’s suggestion regarding elementals and nature spirits, but I do not believe it can be used to explain away the apparently human spirit possessions discussed in detail by Fiore and Modi. So we are really left with the evidence of these two, and to a lesser extent TenDam, against that of Newton – although the silence of our other pioneers on this issue might be taken as implicit support for his position. Newton clarifies his skepticism further with this important observation:
Our physical world may have unhappy or mischievous spirits floating round, but they do not lock in and inhabit the minds of people. The spirit world is much too ordered to allow for such muddled soul activity. Being possessed by another being would not only abrogate our life contract but destroy free will.
I have already indicated that I find this an extremely persuasive argument. After all, personal responsibility and free will are the main themes of this entire book. By contrast, in her afterthoughts Modi tends to blame many of societies ills on an ever-increasing spiral of often-demonic possession, and personally I do not find this attitude at all helpful. Nevertheless, I cannot in all conscience completely reject the huge volume of evidence for possession that Fiore and Modi have collated. Their spirit-releasement sessions produce levels of detail that are just as impressive as those from past-life regressions – often including the possessing spirit’s name, how they died, why they failed to move into the light and why they were able to enter the body of their host. Moreover, in many cases it appears that their spirit-releasement therapy has been just as successful as its past-life counterpart – which this time I am not prepared to dismiss as a mere placebo, as I was with supposed progression therapy.
The real issue that bothers me is their conclusion that possession is relatively commonplace. This I think must be an exaggeration, caused partly again by the fact that therapists’ patients, troubled as they are by varying degrees of psychological and psychosomatic problems, are not representative of the general population as a whole – however much Modi might argue that even apparently normal people are usually possessed. Added to this, I have little doubt that in concentrating on spirit-releasement therapy, or at least providing it as an alternative in their toolkit, they may have subjectively influenced at least some of their patients – a possibility that Fiore readily accepts.
Above all, if possession was as common as Fiore and Modi make out, surely our other pioneers would have inadvertently been faced by at least some cases that were so definitive they would not have been able to ignore them. If so, surely they would have included such an important phenomenon in their reports of their work; or, at the very least, their therapies should have been generally less successful than they often proved to be. One might argue that in fact they were sometimes facing cases of possession without realizing it, and that in getting the possessing spirits to talk about their unassimilated traumas – which they then mistook for their patients’ own past-life experiences – they allowed them to escape into the light anyway. This could be true in a few cases. But such an argument would ignore the linkages between past lives and interlives that patients so regularly uncover – patterns that are far too individualized and consistent to represent a mish-mash of the experiences of various external spirits. This is especially proven by the fact that past-life memories repeatedly involve connections with other key souls known to the patient in both their past and current lives – which, at the very least in cases of supposed possession by an unconnected spirit, could not relate to an intruder.
On that basis I am inclined to conclude that possession by earthbound spirits may well exist as a phenomenon, but that if it does it is nowhere near as commonplace as its main proponents suggest. This means that most of us are still in complete control of our lives, and should not worry about the ‘conversations’ we all have in our own heads from time to time. These might be with our higher self or guides, or indeed with elements of sub-personality at least from our current lives – but provided they do not cause intense feelings of disruption or lack of integration they are all part of life’s rich tapestry.
I would also suggest that even those unfortunate people who might be possessed, and who might fail to repatriate their possessing spirits by therapy, would be automatically rid of any intruders when they died – so that they could not influence any future lives. This would certainly be the case if they entered the ethereal realms proper, because I cannot conceive that an intruder would be allowed to remain attached to them there. But I would also expect it to be the case even if they were themselves sufficiently immature and disoriented that their own soul remained trapped in the intermediate plane alone before reincarnating – because, after all, a possessing spirit’s main desire is normally to have a physical body to inhabit. The only exception I would make would be if, in the latter case, the two souls were linked – so that when the former host’s soul reincarnated without any sort of planning the intruder, rather than choosing a body of its own, might decide to keep a clearly repetitive cycle going via possession. But I would expect such possession across multiple lives to be far rarer than even the normal phenomenon.
As for protection against possession, it can do no harm to indicate that all of its proponents recommend the ‘white light’ approach. This is a simple exercise to repeat daily that strengthens the aura by imagining the light energy of the ethereal realms flowing into the solar plexus, and pulsing throughout the body to form a protective shield that cannot be invaded by unwanted guests – be they earthbound or elemental spirits, or simply negative energies.
Let us now return to Modi’s insistence that demonic possession is rife. She reports that at its least harmful this involves Satan’s demonic followers tricking earthbound spirits into following them to hell after death – although in some cases they go willingly because they want to share Satan’s power, or because they are angry with God. Here they receive intensive and specific training in the arts of aura entry, general disruption and incitement to commit acts of evil – needless to say under threat that if they fail they will be punished severely. But in many cases demonic entities supposedly envelop these unfortunate spirits and enter possessed hosts along with them, where they can then be perceived as black blobs of energy. Even these can still, however, be repatriated into the light – albeit sometimes after much cursing and blaspheming.
Modi provides endless details and case studies to emphasize how common demonic influence is on the phenomenon of possession. She even goes into great detail about the mechanisms of various astral ‘devices’ that are used to penetrate hosts’ auras and keep them in demonic bondage. In fact she reports that seventy-seven out of her sample of one hundred patients were demonically infested – seventy-one of them by more than one demon – and boldly states that ‘the facts lead to the conclusion that demons are the single leading cause for psychiatric problems in general’.
I will readily admit that, whatever I might have felt about possession in general, I found all this demonic material completely nauseating. Doubtless there are those who might suggest that such an intense reaction was caused by me being demonically possessed myself, and this material is so insidious that even I considered that possibility. But to place all this in perspective I had to bring myself back to the findings of the vast majority of our other pioneers, whose subjects have stated repeatedly and categorically that any concepts of Satan, hell and demons are entirely the products of human imagination – a conclusion that is to some extent supported by Modi’s own admission that her patients perceive their demonic possessors in whatever form their preconceptions dictate. As we have seen, that is not to say that in concentrating on such matters we might not, at least to some extent, bring them into nonphysical reality. But if that is the case then the last thing I want to do is assist this process, and I would argue that the more people reject such notions the less psychic nourishment we provide to them.
One of Cannon’s subjects sums this danger up succinctly:
These evil creatures, as you call them, are indeed real to those who would create them in their mind. There are those who do not believe in such and therefore they do not exist. However, it would be wrong to say that they are not real to the individuals who believe in them, for indeed they are real. It is that ability of yours to create what you wish that is even more important now than it was previously. It is essential that you be aware of this power, this ability to create what you will. For in so doing you have the very real choice of creating that which would be good or that which would be evil. It is entirely up to the individual as to the reality they create.
But even this ability to create demonic influences by thought projection may not stretch as far as genuine possession. It is no surprise that Newton categorically states that he has never come across a case of demonic possession, because he does not even accept the validity of human spirit possession. But Fiore makes exactly the same statement, which is pretty strong stuff given that to some extent she, like Modi, specialized in spirit-releasement therapy for a number of years.
I have little doubt that Modi’s motives are entirely beyond reproach. But I cannot escape the conclusion that, at the very least as far as the issue of demonic possession is concerned, her work is subjectively influenced by her Christian beliefs – and that it may have similarly influenced her patients via telepathy or some other mechanism. She insists that all the terminology she uses belongs specifically to them, that she tried not to influence them, and that they came from a variety of religious backgrounds. But when we find that at least in the case studies she reproduces they consistently name the beings of light that come to help them as Jesus, or the archangels Michael, Gabriel, Uriel or Raphael, we must wonder about the degree of objectivity involved.
Of course, in coming to this conclusion I am again laying myself open to accusations of double standards. I accepted Modi’s findings about past-life and interlife regression, and to some extent about human spirit possession, but I am rejecting them in relation to demonic possession. This is despite the fact that I accept it may be possible for hellish interlife experiences and other negative – even demonic – influences to be effectively created by the power of individual or collective thought and expectations. And despite the fact that her evidence for demonic possession arises from exactly the same sessions as for normal possession, often with the same patients and using the same regression methods, and is provided in abundance. She emphasizes that if we deny the reality of the all-pervasive demonic influences in our world we are only serving their purpose by aiding them in their subterfuge. On that basis, if I am wrong I am actively helping such influences to proliferate. But in that case the majority of our other pioneers would be wrong as well. That is, of course, a possibility. But I can only call it as I see it – in this case with a heavy dose of personal intuition.
We are all, of course, a mixture of many sub-personalities. Any one of us will have had periods when, for example, the rebellious or indignant child, the misunderstood adolescent, or the successful or failed businessperson or lover resurfaces as the dominant personality in our adult life. And clearly the number of our potential sub-personalities is significantly increased by our different past-life experiences. These only represent a problem if for some reason they become sufficiently separated from the main body of our personality, or indeed soul, that they are not properly integrated.
Modi’s research has led her to the conclusion that the soul can actually fragment into many pieces, which means that we can effectively be self-possessed. Her reasoning is that severe traumas can cause the personality at that point to split off from the main body of the soul, ready to rear its head again as an effectively externalized sub-personality in either the current or a future life. TenDam seems to support this analysis, adding that in more extreme cases the sub-personality actually portrays itself as someone else entirely, making it a ‘pseudo-obsessor’.
But Modi goes further and – apart from her suggestion that Satan and his demons can possess soul fragments as well, which I will ignore – she insists that they can become lodged with other people. She argues that the predominant causes of such fragmentation are, as usual, intense emotional, sexual and physical traumas, but that it can also arise from intense love or compassion. In most cases the fragmentation involves an exchange of soul parts between the two participants, and even when the situation that caused it was benign the loss of soul integrity is not a positive outcome. Accordingly, she regularly attempts to retrieve and reunite all the fragmented soul parts of her patients during therapy, while at the same time repatriating those fragments belonging to other people with their rightful owners – obviously at a distance, and without them being consciously aware of the process. And she reports that fragments can be located by following the ‘silver cord’ that still connects them to the main soul – an idea similar to that of the cord reported by near-death experiencers that attaches their soul, or at least their astral body, to their physical body, and which if broken would precipitate physical death and prevent them from returning to it.
Is this idea of soul fragmentation a sound one? The basic idea of energy interchanges is there in much spiritual literature, including James Redfield’s best-selling The Celestine Prophecy. We all know that some people are so selfish and self-obsessed that they tend to be energy takers, draining the energy from others around them, while others are liberal energy givers – sometimes too much for their own good unless they have perfected the art of replenishing it from ethereal or other sources. Most of us are somewhere in-between, sometimes giving our energy to others and sometimes taking it from them. Newton echoes this point:
We can lose shards of positive energy to people whom we give it to voluntarily, or by others who drain it out of us with their negativity. It takes energy to erect and maintain defense mechanisms to protect ourselves. A subject once said to me, ‘When I share my light with those I think worthy of receiving it, I can recharge it faster because it was given freely.’ One of the best ways we revitalize our energy is through sleep.
As an avid taker of siestas, I totally agree with Newton’s view. But can these energy interchanges ever become so intense that we leave a small part of our soul with someone else, to such an extent that it actually fragments? Most of our pioneers, even including Cannon and Fiore, do not mention this idea. But somehow – and this time I will not even bother to attempt to defend my apparent double standards, given that the idea comes primarily from Modi’s research – my intuition tells me that such fragmentation should not be summarily dismissed. It seems from her case studies that although the exchanged soul fragments cause some ongoing disruption for their hosts, they do not act as possessing spirits, so personal responsibility and free will are usually maintained. Their influence appears to be more subtle, causing us to retain links with the other person that make it harder to let the memory of them or their activities go than it perhaps should be. To this extent they are perhaps not unlike TenDam’s concept of attachments, as opposed to his more aggressive obsessors. I am less sure about the idea of soul fragments remaining attached to but at the same time somewhat detached from their own soul, although again I do not dismiss the idea completely.
So I do not necessarily reject the idea of fragmentation as it applies to our current lives. But, just as with possession, I would argue that our own soul fragments would not remain separated after death – whether they were attached to others or not – provided we enter the ethereal realms proper. After all, if we reintegrate with that portion of our soul energy that we left behind, we – or at least our guides – would hardly be likely to allow other fragments to be scattered all over the place. On this basis I would not expect us to retain fragments belonging to someone else either; and, for the same reason, I would expect these to be automatically repatriated if they died before us. Again, the only exception whereby I could conceive of fragments remaining separate, and ready to interfere again in a future life, would be if a confused or immature soul remained trapped in the intermediate plane, or perhaps entered the ethereal realms but simply slept all the way through, before reincarnating without any sort of planning. But I would expect even this to be a relatively rare occurrence, if it happens at all.
When Modi and to a more limited extent TenDam discuss soul fragments, they are made out to be something far more concrete and supposedly integral to our soul than mere energy interchanges. If they are right, and they may be, I have argued that at least in most cases these fragments will be reunited with their originating soul after death. On the other hand, it may be that their assumption that these fragments are effectively irreplaceable is incorrect. It certainly seems to me that we can lose energy to other people, but still replenish it from other sources so that our soul’s essential integrity and strength is not violated. In this context, we know that intense negative emotions – which at heart derive from negative energy interchanges – can, if they remain unassimilated or unresolved, do immense damage, whether in this life or future ones. From this perspective, instead of concentrating on pulling lost fragments back in, I would suggest that we might be better off visualizing ‘cutting off the ties that bind us’ to past situations, so that these essentially regressive energies no longer hold any charge for us. Accompanying this, the white light visualization that I mentioned earlier can then be used to fill any gaps in our energy field that might have been created by others selfishly taking our energy from us, or by us giving it freely and then to some extent regretting it because of subsequent events.
Another concept related to possession is the ‘walk-in’. The idea is that an incarnate soul can actively decide that they no longer want to remain in their physical body, and therefore relinquish it to another. The clear difference from possession is that this process involves a complete exchange, so there is no multiple occupation of one body.
It appears that Cannon is the only one of our pioneers to support this idea, which she first encountered when one of her subjects claimed under hypnosis to be a recent walk-in. The subject reports that this phenomenon is becoming increasingly common because, in not going through the normal memory-blocking process of childhood and adolescence, the replacement souls bring far more spiritual wisdom from the ethereal realms into incarnation – which is apparently important at the current time. She also indicates first that the exchange can take place either during an experience that brings the subject close to death, or even when they are merely asleep. Second, that the subject will not be consciously aware of the agreement, but all the planning will have been done previously during sleep periods, and their subconscious self will be an entirely willing partner in the exchange. And third, that the replacement soul will be aware of the departing soul’s current-life memories and life plan, but not of their past-life memories – and although it will not work out their karma per se, it will fulfill their important obligations.
Another subject confirms that walk-ins do take place, but stresses that the replacement soul does in fact take on the departing soul’s immediate karma – which it must then work through before it can begin working on its own karma – and that for this reason the two souls will be closely connected. They also stress that the replacement soul must be sufficiently experienced that they do not need the lessons of childhood and adolescence, and can handle the relative lack of spiritual amnesia.
The only other pioneer to even mention this concept is again Newton, but he is absolutely adamant that it is a complete falsehood:
If this theory is true, then I must turn in my great-guru white robe and gold medallion. Not once, in all my years of working with subjects in regression, have I ever had a walk-in soul. Also, these people have never heard of any other soul in the spirit world associated with such practices. In fact, they deny the existence of this act because it would abrogate a soul’s life contract. To give another soul permission to come in and take over your karmic life plan defeats the whole purpose of your coming to earth in the first place! It is deluded reasoning to assume that the walk-in would wish to complete their own karmic cycle in a body originally selected and assigned to someone else.
As we have already seen, he is also adamant that the process of attuning our soul energy to our human brain is a lengthy and complex one, and not something that would go consciously unnoticed by an adult who suddenly found themselves playing host to a completely new soul. Indeed he argues that it would drive them insane.
What are we to make of this disagreement? Cannon’s subjects both report that, inasmuch as the soul being replaced has had enough of that life, a walk-in is far preferable to suicide because the physical body remains as a useful vehicle for another soul. This seems to imply that there is a shortage of appropriate bodies for experienced souls, which is unlikely. But I also find this argument somewhat unconvincing in that other subjects of hers, and indeed those of most of our other pioneers, report that it is the breaking of the life contract that makes suicide so frowned upon – not the killing of the physical body per se. And, as Newton insists, a walk-in would clearly involve exactly the same breaking of the contract even if the physical body did not die. I have previously accepted most of Cannon’s subjects’ reports, so again the accusation of double standards can be laid at my door. But, again, I can only call it as I see it.
On a slightly different topic, several of Cannon’s subjects also report that exchanges can occur even with young babies, although in these cases clearly the main advantages of walk-ins are lost. The idea is that the newly incarnated soul may realize it has made a bad decision – perhaps because it cannot adapt to that particular human brain, or because another key player in its life plan has suddenly and unexpectedly died – and agree to an exchange. However, they also accept that in some cases no soul replacement is found – which seems to contradict their previous suggestion about a general lack of appropriate bodies – so that cot death supposedly ensues. Newton provides somewhat more support for this type of exchange arrangement, indicating that in just two cases he has come across a soul who reported they came in after another soul had pulled out – but he stresses that both exchanges occurred before birth, and indeed before the eighth month of pregnancy. Moreover, while discussing overlapping lives TenDam gives details of a few cases of what appear to be walk-ins with young children who were ill almost to the point of death, although in these cases the replacement souls were, by contrast to Cannon’s supposed adult walk-ins, relatively immature and had had no interlife proper – indeed their previous personalities had only died after the child they had taken over had already been born. Personally I am generally more open to the idea of these much earlier exchanges.
[This section was of course written before I conceived of the idea of the Holographic Soul - IL]
Some people argue that any idea that the soul exists as an individuality in its own right, with its own choices and control, is mere illusion in itself – and an illusion founded on excessive ego at that. It would appear that this was a major concern for the Buddha, who went to great lengths to avoid the question of what actually reincarnates so as to lessen his pupils’ attachments to ego. Buddhist teachings often seem to involve paradoxes involving flames, such as whether the flame from one lamp remains the same flame all night long, or whether if the flame from one lamp lights another that is the same flame or not. The solution appears to be that these are both the same flames and different ones all at the same time. His successors’ ongoing confusion ultimately resulted in the Buddhist doctrine of ‘no-soul’, whereby there is supposedly no such thing as an individual soul that reincarnates, nor any notion of individual karma that is carried forward, although it does contribute to a more generalized group karma. Such reasoning may have been useful to people who were trying to escape from the bondage of a strict Hindu caste system, under which only the souls from the highest class could attain release from the earthly karmic round, but personally I find it totally misleading in a modern context.
The corollary to this view, that belief in the continuity of an individual soul is based on ego, is that it goes against the idea of the fundamental unity of everything in the universe. Yet virtually all worldviews that involve reincarnation agree that, despite the fact that we have split off from the Ultimate Source, our purpose is ultimately to reunite with it. So surely this essential and underlying unity is not denied. Indeed, there is a dualistic element to any intelligent spiritual worldview that accepts we are individual souls, but also merely parts of the ultimate oversoul, all at the same time.
In addition, of course, all the research we have considered so far has led us to the conclusion that, as individual souls, we retain an individual identity and individual memories – of past lives and interlives. Even though possession may sometimes occur, these memories can be seen to be our own by the consistency of their patterns and connections as they relate to us as individual souls. And without this concept of genuine individuality the whole idea of soul growth would have to be thrown out of the window.
Again one of Cannon’s subjects has something to add that is relevant to our discussion of soul individuality, and that is the idea of ‘imprinting’. He had already recalled several past lives in sessions with Cannon when she asked him if he had had many lives on earth. His response took her by surprise:
This is my first physical life, my first true incarnation on this planet. I have had imprints from many others and been assistant to others. However, this is my first true physical incarnation on earth.
When questioned further, this subject went on to suggest that any soul can experience any of the lives that have been lived by any person on earth, fully and completely, by accessing the relevant akashic records. This is, of course, a substantiation of the idea of tapping into universal memory. He explains that the primary purpose of this is to provide a soul that has never incarnated on earth before, or at least not for a long time, with a reference point and cultural background; this then prevents them from being overwhelmed by the experience to such an extent that it hampers their learning processes. He seems initially to imply that this is a method used by souls that have incarnated on other planets, rather than completely new souls. But later on in the session he also seems to imply that this method is used quite regularly by many souls to accelerate their learning by using other people’s experiences; for example, if they are going to be a leader, they might experience the lives of certain leaders from the past to assist them. But he qualifies this by adding that not everyone makes use of imprints, and it is entirely a matter of choice.
This subject indicates that the experience is so ‘real’ that there is no way to distinguish it from a genuine incarnation, which is presumably why he recalled various imprints as his own past lives in his initial regression sessions with Cannon – although this does not explain why he subsequently developed an awareness that this was his first non-imprint incarnation on earth. But there is one serious distinction, which is that the imprint is used for experience only and has absolutely no ‘karmic charge’ – which is exactly what we would expect. So imprinting is no substitute for genuinely experiencing the life itself – in just the same way that future-life progressions are not genuinely experienced. He also suggests that imprinting explains both parallel lives, and the idea that many people can experience the same ‘famous’ life when regressed.
So what are we to make of this added complexity? The first thing we can say is that none of our other pioneers mention the idea of imprinting at all. We might argue that, if imprints have no karmic charge, they should not and would not be revealed in regression therapy anyway. But what of our other pioneers who, like Cannon, were not concentrating exclusively on therapy? Should we not expect someone like Newton to have at least come across the idea if it is as common as Cannon’s subject suggests?
Cannon’s subject might, of course, be talking nonsense. But my overall feeling on this issue is that imprinting would certainly be possible, inasmuch as many of our pioneers’ subjects report accessing their own akashic records as a virtual reality experience during the interlife. So if souls were sometimes given permission to access other soul’s lives, I can see why it could be useful in certain situations. Nevertheless I would not expect imprinting to be a widespread explanation for past-life memories, because it does not figure in the research of most of our pioneers.
Just to further confuse the picture, Modi reports that sometimes her patients have appeared to recall past lives that they subsequently realized were not their own, and resulted from what she calls ‘cross-talk’. They have explained to her that there are seven godheads, masters or oversouls beneath the Ultimate Godhead or Source, and that souls are connected to their own godhead by the ubiquitous silver cord – although this time it is performing a somewhat different function. On that basis they can tap into the memories of other souls within that godhead, and because important or interesting lives resonate more within the godhead they tend to be picked up more often.
Again, I do not completely reject this idea, although I suspect there would have to be many more sub-groupings into different godheads than Modi’s patients suggest in order for all the souls in the universe to be properly organized. She also suggests that cross-talk should have no emotional impact, but then somewhat contradicts this with her sole example which is that of a female patient suffering from guilt and depression, who initially recalled Eve’s life with Adam as the source of her symptoms. These were then apparently relieved when she was regressed into the interlife and realized that Eve was one of the counselors helping her to plan her current life, and that she had merely tapped into her feelings. Moreover the incorporation of a famous biblical figure makes it, for me, rather unconvincing to say the least. Indeed, even if both of them were historical rather than just mythical figures, the idea that someone of Eve’s status would be still sitting on planning councils, still suffering from guilt about her failing of Adam, and then allowing that guilt to be felt by another soul in her charge, seems somewhat preposterous.
We have covered a variety of contentious subjects in this chapter, and I readily accept that my conclusions on each are colored by my overall spiritual worldview, which more than anything insists on the supremacy of the individual soul and its control over its own actions and destiny. But in most cases I also attempt to take into account the context of the majority view of our pioneers. Nevertheless, I have had to apply considerably more personal speculation in this chapter than in most others, and for that I do not apologize because it is unavoidable if I am to express any definitive opinion on these arguably unresolved but important issues. At least I hope I have been successful in my attempts to differentiate between the underlying facts and my personal interpretation of them – so that people can make up their own minds about what are sometimes rather disturbing phenomena.
Newton, Michael, Journey of Souls (Llewellyn, 2002): soul energy division, chapter 6, p. 85; multiple/parallel lives, chapter 10, p. 155; conflicts between soul and brain, chapter 13, pp. 230–48;
Newton, Michael, Destiny of Souls (Llewellyn, 2003): more on soul energy division, chapter 4, pp. 116–24; more on multiple/parallel lives, chapter 4, p. 119; more on conflicts between soul and brain, chapter 3, p. 77 and chapter 4, p. 93; no cases of spirit or demonic possession, chapter 3, pp. 74–6; energy interchanges, chapter 4, p. 118; no cases of walk-ins, chapter 3, pp. 78–9; souls pulling out from womb, chapter 9, p. 387.
Wambach, Helen, Reliving Past Lives (Hutchinson, 1979): autism case study, chapter 1, pp. 3–5.
Woolger, Roger, Other Lives, Other Selves (Bantam, 1988): sub-personalities, chapter 3, p. 67; multiple personality disorder and schizophrenia, chapter 9, p. 214; Buddhist thought, chapter 3, pp. 75–7 and chapter 12, p. 333.
Fiore, Edith, The Unquiet Dead (Ballantine Books, 1988): background to possession therapy, chapters 1–2; historical attitudes to possession, chapter 3; why souls do not move on, chapter 5; symptoms of possession, chapter 6; case studies, chapters 7–11; how possessing spirits gain entry, chapter 12; signs of possession, chapter 13; further thoughts, chapters 17–18; white light protection, chapter 15, p. 138; no cases of demonic possession, chapter 1, p. 4.
Modi, Shakuntala, Remarkable Healings (Hampton Roads, 1997): spirit possession, chapter 4; demonic possession, chapter 5; soul fragmentation, chapter 6; statistics, chapter 10, pp. 570–82; cross-talk, chapter 3, pp. 135–7.
TenDam, Hans, Deep Healing (Tasso Publishing, 1996): attachments and obsessions, chapter 8, pp. 213–22; evil and demonic influences, chapter 8, pp. 222–4; sub-personalities and pseudo-obsessions, chapter 3, pp. 61–71.
TenDam, Hans, Exploring Reincarnation (Rider, 2003): more on sub-personalities and pseudo-obsessions, chapter 14, pp. 305–19; overlapping lives and child walk-ins, chapter 14, pp. 320–1; Buddhist thought, chapter 2, pp. 26–7.
Cannon, Dolores, Between Death and Life (Gateway, 2003): possession by elementals, chapter 10, pp. 158–63; white light protection, chapter 10, pp. 164–5; demons as imaginative constructs; chapter 10, p. 166; walk-ins, chapter 15; souls pulling out from baby, chapter 15, p. 227 and chapter 16, p. 229; imprinting, chapter 14.