The mysterious cases for reincarnation.

Dr. Ian Stevenson, the searcher for old souls
Dr. Ian Stevenson, the searcher for old souls

“I WILL IF YOU WILL!” Mickey signaled to Lana as they walked along.  “Let’s do it.”

Mickey Piezenski and Lana Jo Luttrel decided to spend what money they had left in the carnival tent of Madame Edna, Reader and Advisor.  Madam Edna did not play herself up to be a predictor of fortunes, but as a conduit that helped people understand their whole lives, past, present and future, or any other lives they might have had.

Shortly after they went through the flap in the tent, Mickey and Lana found themselves in a pseudo-parlor.  It was shabby.  Flea-bitten.  Madame Edna had tried to make her parlor and herself look elegant and mysterious, but it was apparent that she, too, was flea-bitten.  She was definitely working on a small budget and had tried to make do in all areas, with items from thrift shops and, yes, flea markets.

There was something about Madame Edna, however.  She was all-knowing.  She gave off strong vibes of confidence.  She knew exactly what she was doing, what she said could be taken to the bank, and, oh, she did accept tips.

The young women sat across the small table from the heavy set, overly made-up Madame Edna who was dripping in paisleys and fake jewels.  Sparkly, she was.  She worked her magic with various props she had spread out on the table and even inspected the palms of their hands a time or two.

Mickey and Lana were courteous enough to stifle their giggles until they exited back outside through the tent flap.

“Can you believe it?”  Lana asked.  “She said I had once lived a life as a pioneer woman and that I had given birth in a covered wagon.  Then, that I had lived a life as a man who went down with the Titanic, and that is why I don’t like to go into the water—to this very day!”

“And I lived in ancient Greece, and I was also a sharpshooter in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.”

The girls were startled to hear a voice behind them.  Madam Edna, who was short on clients for the moment, had stuck her head through the tent flap and spouted an afterthought, “I know it is hard to accept, but reincarnation is real.  Please read about the cases of Ian Stevenson and Joe Keeton and remember the things I told you.  Have a pleasant afternoon.”  She pulled her head back through the tent.”

Mickey and Lana avoided making eye contact with each other.  They were afraid of a tidal wave of giggles.  It wouldn’t take much provocation.

“Pardon me.”  A lady in a pink smock approached them.  “I couldn’t help noticing you have been to see Madam Edna.  She is my favorite attraction.”

The girls stared at the woman blankly.

“Oh, I don’t work for the carnival.  I am with the Jaycees.  I just volunteer out here every year when the carnival comes through.  I serve as an information hostess.  Have you ever heard of Stevenson or Keeton?”

The young women shook their heads.

“Ian Stevenson was a professor of psychiatry at the University of Virginia School of Medicine.  He was among the world’s leading researchers on the subject of reincarnation.  He shied away from attention, but he really got into his work, investigating all aspects of each case, and wrote a book—you might try to find a copy.  It will make a believer of you.  His classic book lists twenty best possible cases for reincarnation, and have facts to back them up—meticulous research.”

“We will do that.” Mickey responded with a smile.  “Who was Keeton?”

“Keeton was a caterer in Liverpool, believe it or not.  He became a hypnotherapist and he regressed over 9,000 people.  He concluded that most of these past life experiences people related are usually just a result of their own hidden memory.  Yet, like Ian Stevenson, there are a few that he believed had merit as possible true cases of reincarnation.”

“Why?  Lana asked.

“Well, the facts of their past lives were able to be verified.  Keeton’s favorite case was that of Ray Bryant.  Ray Bryant was a journalist for the Reading Evening Post.  He had heard of Joe Keeton and his cases and in 1981 he decided to interview him.  He thought he would do a series of articles on the subject of past lives.  To make it more interesting, Ray decided to be regressed, himself.  He spent over 100 hours being questioned under hypnosis.  He found that he had had several previous lives:  one as Robert Sawyer a nineteenth  century farm boy from Essex, one as an 18th century coachman, Wilfred Anderton, and one as a little girl who died at age eight.”

“This is getting interesting,” Mickey admitted.

“Then, under hypnosis Ray Bryant remembered his life as an infantry Sergeant in the Crimean War.  They kept notes on every detail that Ray Bryant told them of his life in the infantry.  Bryant was having trouble coming up with his name, but finally he pulled it up.  It was Sergeant Reuben John Stafford.  Researchers, searching for information about another person’s past life chanced upon Sergeant Stafford’s military records.  His details of military life were backed up—to a tee—by letters written to family members from a soldier to his family.  They were hidden away from public view in a museum.”

“That is pretty convincing,” Mickey agreed.

The lady kept on talking, “Bryant appeared on a show hosted by Arthur C. Clarke, who had gotten wind of the interesting case.  The show was filmed at the museum of Stafford’s Lancashire regiment.  The museum director, Colonel Bird, quizzed Bryant about details of the regiment.  He answered all questions to Bird’s satisfaction.”

“Wow.”  That was all Lana had to say at the moment.

“After getting out of the infantry, Stafford went home to his wife, Mary.  After she died, Reuben went through a miserable depression.  Under hypnosis, Bryant found himself at the dockside in Milwall.  A curious Bryant later located Reuben Stafford’s death certificate on record.  He died in 1879 of drowning, a probable suicide.  Bryant even visited the cemetery where Stafford is buried.  He felt drawn to the place.  Oh, dear.  I have gone on long enough,” the lady said as she turned to go.  “Still, Madam Edna may be more authentic than anyone would ever believe.  Before she fell on hard times, due to unscrupulous promoters, she moved in high circles.”

“Now that you mention it I think I even saw her on an old TV talk show.  Could that be possible?”  Mickey asked.

“Yeah, that was her, I’m pretty sure.  And don’t forget, Henry Ford and Thomas Edison, were both believers…”  The lady’s voice trialed off as she walked toward a busload of people arriving from Alabama.



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