Magickal Compendium – Past Lives

Your past lives are not dead and gone. They are a living part of your greater identity. Just knowing this can change your life. You see reality in a new, expanded way; you no longer fear death; and you understand so much more about your self, your relationships and your current life. Even before you know about them, your past lives are a strong influence in your life. This influence is usually positive – but sometimes it can also be negative. The golden key that heals those bad effects is finding out about the past life when the problem began. Past-life therapy has shown beyond doubt that this can resolve an amazingly wide range of issues. As you get to know about your past lives, you’ll also be bringing in all their positive effects. Your past selves have great gifts for you – the many prizes you won through experiences and tests that you passed along your soul path. It’s invaluable to know about this positive side of your history as well.

Who Believes In Reincarnation?

The answer to this question is that almost every culture in the world throughout recorded history has believed in reincarnation – with one big exception. In the Western world, belief in past lives turned into a forbidden treasure. For the last 1,500 years the people of Christendom have sought it, hidden it and even died for it. During this time Westerners largely forgot that the benefits of past-life awareness were part of their natural birthright. For centuries, people in Europe suffered far more than they needed to because this knowledge was kept from them. Those who did believe in reincarnation were viciously persecuted. As part of this control, the Church hid some key facts from the public. But in our modern age of literacy and freedom of information, we can now dig up that buried knowledge. Some of the clues have always been there in plain sight. It’s now obvious that the Bible is full of signs of belief in reincarnation. Writer Joe Fisher said ‘Reincarnation teaching in the Bible is largely taken for granted, cropping up here and there as a fundamental rock.’ The Essenes, the Pharisees, the Nazarenes and the Egyptian Therapeutae all actively taught about reincarnation. In later centuries the early Christian Gnostics saw themselves as the direct continuation of the real teachings of Jesus – and reincarnation was central to Gnosticism. It was also important to early Christianity. St Augustine and other renowned Church fathers both preached and wrote about reincarnation as a significant part of Christian faith.

How the Dark Ages Really Began

So what happened? One man alone was responsible for changing the nature of Christianity – and he wasn’t even a member of the Church. It was the Emperor Justinian. The stage for this was set when, in the early fourth century, Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire. From that time on it slowly and steadily turned into an instrument of state control. Heresy – which comes from the Greek word for ‘choice’ – was upgraded from being a belief that did not comply with established doctrines and was a mere sin to a serious crime that was punishable with death. The widespread belief in reincarnation made it difficult for this new state-controlled Church to establish real authority. Knowing how rebirth works, people could take responsibility for their own salvation. They didn’t need a priest to intervene for them. In their freedom, they were a direct threat to the Emperor’s power base of orthodox Christianity.

The Emperor’s New Law

So the Empire struck back. In AD529 Emperor Justinian closed the University of Athens, a major stronghold of reincarnation studies. The scholars fled for their lives. Many of them found refuge in Sufi centres further east. Then, in 553, Justinian made reincarnation a heresy. From that time on, anyone who said they believed in it would be executed. Pope Virgilius and most of the Bishops were strongly against banning the belief in reincarnation. But the Emperor pushed it through anyway. He did this by calling a Council consisting only of the Bishops who would support him. The Pope was potentially more of a problem. So Justinian had him arrested and put into prison. While there, the Pope desperately tried to issue a document protesting against the new rule, but it didn’t work. The Emperor freed him only after he’d reluctantly signed his name to the anti-reincarnation orders. On his way home, the Pope died in Syracuse – probably murdered by Justinian’s henchmen. These events were the start of the true Dark Ages. The centuries that followed were stained by the blood and charred by the fires of the Holy Inquisition. Belief in rebirth had to go underground to survive. During the Renaissance it popped back up for a while through the influence of Cosimo de Medici, Duke of Florence. But within a few years the Church had stamped it down again. Thoughts of past lives were once more erased from the people’s minds. For nearly 400 years after that, knowledge of reincarnation lived on only in the secret worlds of mystics and occultists such as cabalists, alchemists and the Rosicrucians.

The Underground Revolution

And there the matter quietly remained until the late nineteenth century. During that time, a new interest in spirituality began to blossom. Esoteric groups sprang up like mushrooms. One of the most influential was the Theosophical Society, set up by Madame Blavatsky in New York in 1875. Theosophy brought Eastern thought to the West – and that included the concept of reincarnation. Rudolf Steiner created the Anthroposophical Society in 1912. He said, ‘Just as an age was once ready to receive the Copernican theory of the universe, so is our age ready for the ideas of reincarnation.’ In the decades that followed, this statement proved to be something of a prophecy.

The Watershed: Bridey Murphy

In the first half of the twentieth century, belief in past lives was growing in the new spiritual underground. At that stage, however, people were still mostly unaware of it. Then in 1956 Morey Bernstein published The Search for Bridey Murphy. This book burst reincarnation belief into the mainstream. It was about a woman who’d been regressed to a past life in Ireland in the eighteenth century. She recalled that life in great and specific detail. A raging controversy blew up over it. Certain members of the Church and traditional psychologists were determined to invalidate the book. But when reporters went to Ireland to investigate, they found that many details from the regression were historically accurate. As a result, Bernstein’s book hit the bestseller charts. Reincarnation became the new craze. People gave ‘come as you were’ parties, drank ‘past-life’ cocktails and sang ‘It seems that we have met before’.

How People Created Past-life Therapy

By the 1950s, conventional psychology was happy about using regression. It was a good way of taking patients back to when their problem began. Of course, they were only meant to go back to an incident in their childhood. But to the discomfort of psychotherapists, clients would often go back to past lives to identify the origin of their issues. In those days, if professional people said they took past lives seriously they’d lose their credibility, their reputation and probably their job as well. So they tended to keep quiet about it. But as the second half of the century unfolded, some brave pioneers began to buck the trend. They were the psychiatrists and psychologists who decided that their patients’ problems really might have begun in a past life. Many of them wrote ground-breaking books about how they discovered the importance of past-life memories. The public gave their resounding approval to these books – and past-life therapy was born. Highly qualified people such as Professor Ian Stevenson embarked on thorough investigations into the whole subject. The evidence that these pioneers have produced is solid enough to prove both the reality of past lives and the validity of past-life regression.

New Frontiers

The boundaries of past-life therapy are now expanding to include future lives, and memories of the between-life worlds. It’s also become clear that during a regression we can get in direct touch with our higher guidance. In the Western world, we’ve had to rediscover reincarnation completely. In some ways this is a good thing, because it means we can start afresh. Belief in rebirth may be as ancient as humankind, but this may be the first time in recorded history that reincarnation, regression and the value of past-life therapy have been so thoroughly investigated. As a result, there is now a growing awareness of past lives, and the many ways they can help us to understand ourselves, solve our problems and transform our lives. The tale of how reincarnation belief was banned and then restored in the West is a dramatic one. It’s a saga full of heroes, villains and other colourful characters.

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