JANUARY :: We share more of our favourite haunted locations, further frightening experiences, and some possible fascinating evidence of the paranormal.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

It's in the Cards :: Revealing Past Life Memories

Is it in the cards? Using Tarot as a past-life tool
© Ghost & Girl
 "I do not set my life at a pin's fee;
And, for my soul, what can it do to that,
Being a thing immortal as itself?"
 ~ William Shakespeare (Hamlet)
Ghost hunting and past life regression share a common purpose: To find evidence of life after death, and to prove the immortality of the soul. 

As our collective interest in the paranormal has grown, so too has our curiousity about reincarnation and past lives. If one already believes that the soul lives on after death, then it doesn't seem too much of a stretch to believe that that soul may occupy many vessels over the course of time. 
But if we have all lived before, why don't we know about it? Why is it that with rebirth our past life memories are mostly forgotten, and what can we do about it to get them back?

There is a lot of information out there (and by "out there" I mean on the internet, obviously) on reincarnation and past life regression, most of it based purely in faith, and completely untested, of course (at least objectively). As our last post pointed out, even the undertaking of "accepted" methods of regression such as hypnotherapy can lead to only further questions being raised about the nature of past lives and our ability to remember them (assuming, of course, they're the real deal in the first place). 

Hypnotherapy is probably the most popular method of past life regression. It places the participant in a transient state of consciousness through which they are able to unlock and reveal the so-called memories of past life experiences.
But not everyone has access to credible, affordable professionals. So, in lieu of hypnotherapy, what other options are available to the rest of us for obtaining information about a past life?

Past life memories are not relegated to just the deepest, furthest recesses of our mind, if the literature on the topic is to be believed. Past life memories can be unconscious, such as rampant dislikes that have no apparent source; physical, such as becoming ill as a result of certain tastes and smells; intense emotional reactions to people, places and events that have no explanation; certain dream events; and "spontaneous recall", a deja vu, or other trigger event that throws one into reliving their past life.

Many of these memories are uncontrollable; for example, one cannot control when a spontaneous recall might happen. Besides hypnotherapy, lucid dreaming and meditation are offered up as alternatives for people seeking to discover the memories of their past lives.
Reading past lives is also considered one of the "hidden teachings" of the Tarot. I have been using Tarot as a decision-making tool for almost a decade. I read only for myself. Tarot is a means by which I am able to clear my mind and focus on the problem at hand, the cards suggesting the choice I should make. I then have the option to follow the cards, or not.

Past Life Spread: Eight cards laid out in succession in
a single column, with cards four and five crossed in the centre
© Ghost & Girl
I have never before used Tarot as a means to discover a past life. Since I simply do not have the time, nor the patience for lucid dreaming and/or meditation, and because I keep a Tarot deck handy and was curious to see what it might say, I did it - just this one time.  
First, I removed The Fool from my deck of Tarot cards. Like I would a Significator in a normal reading, I held The Fool in my left hand and placed my right on top of the remaining deck. I then focused my thoughts on reincarnation and, in particular, the random dream I had recently wherein I was a young man killed by Vikings on a beach (mentioned in our first post on reincarnation). I then imagined myself as The Fool, walking backwards, moving through time in reverse, before placing the card back into the deck and giving it a good shuffle.

I split the deck (not everyone who reads Tarot does this, but I have always split the deck), placing one half to the left of the remaining pile. The reading came from the remaining cards on the right. Eight cards were laid out in succession in a single column, from top to bottom, with cards four and five crossed in the centre.

The cards (and an interpretation of their meaning) is as follows:

Nine of Coins
The Suit of Coins (also called Pentacles in some decks) represents people who deal in the economy; professionals such as accountants, bankers, lawyers etc. The people this suit mostly represents are those from the middle and upper classes of society, or people who want to belong to these classes. The coins represent the element "earth", which means being grounded in the material and physical world. The Nine of Coins suggests someone who has "made it" professionally, and who no longer has any financial concerns or worries. They have accomplished their goals.
If I attempt to relate this card to the aforementioned dream with the Vikings, I know that in this dream I was referred to as a "scribe" in the employ of a very important person. My skills were so desired that it was suggested I could do even better than this, if I so chose to do so.
Eight of Wands
The Suit of Wands is undeniably phallic, representing the element "fire" and masculine force. This suit represents someone who is creative and has drive, energy and enthusiasm; who uses their talents and imagination to their full potential. The Eight of Wands specifically refers to a rapid change in circumstances that brings about success for this particular individual. 
In my dream, I knew that I was of low-birth. I could tell by my manner, from my dress, and in the way certain people referred to me. I had obtained my employ as a scribe through hard work and determination.
Five of Swords
The Suit of Swords represents the growth and development of the conscious mind, in particular those events, conditions and attitudes that are difficult and challenging. There's generally stress and suffering involved here, but without it one cannot reach their spiritual path. The Five of Swords represents the double-edged nature of the sword itself: One side signifies defeat, misfortune, betrayal and loss; the other the boundaries one must face and accept. It also represents great change, brought about by distress or loss.
I remember that in my dream, even though I was in the company of two other individuals, I felt sad and alone. I didn't feel that I would leave behind anything of substance if I were to die. I wasn't married and I had no children, nor any family that I could think of. So, whilst I was obviously good at what I did, the prospect of my death didn't seem to be such a great loss. I was replaceable.
Knight of Coins & Ace of Swords
These two cards represent a pivotal moment in this past life where two energies, forces or people came together, and whose interaction was life-changing. Card four (Knight of Coins) represents the first of these two, it being overlayed (or overpowered) by card five (Ace of Swords). The Knight of Coins suggests an individual who has the spirit of adventure, but who is also practical and material. The Ace of Swords indicates a new beginning through triumph.
In this dream, I was on a return journey with my two companions, although I could not tell you where I had been, nor where we were going. We had been travelling along a coastline when we saw the approaching longboats, and attempted to hide amongst the ridges and grasses, not far from the water's edge. But when the boats came to shore, we realised we could not hide from the Viking invaders, and so we ran, but we could not outrun our pursuers.
Ten of Swords
This card represents how I, in my past life, felt about the aforementioned "critical situation". The Ten of Swords refers to a period of trials and tribulations coming to an end. Once the mess of the old has been cleared away, a new cycle will begin. It represents a painful, yet clean break from the past and its pain and suffering.
This dream ended with death, which is often described as a release from the pain and suffering of life. The card also refers to a "new cycle", which may be indicative of future reincarnation.
Seven of Coins
The Seven of Coins indicates that an individual gained rewards from their time and effort to a particular job, or task. It represents a job well done, growth and good fortune.
This card may represent spiritual growth in the afterlife, prior to being reborn; that the mistakes made in this past life will not be repeated in future lives.
Six of Swords
The Six of Swords represents a new phase after a major upheaval, and that the troubles of the past shall be forgotten. It represents a time of integration and reintegration after intense suffering, and usually refers to a journey over water.
To me, this seems a fitting card to end a past-life Tarot spread. It is indicative of a cycle of "coming and going" that is evident in reincarnation belief. The journey over water is particularly striking to me: The presence of Vikings suggests someone of European origin. In this current life, I am Australian. That's a lot of water crossed between lives.
I am not an ardent believer in reincarnation, although I am open to the possibility of it. Completing this Tarot spread appeased my curiousity, although only momentarily. Like the idea of reincarnation itself, and the various methods of past life regression, it raises new questions and curiousities - ones that I doubt will ever be answered.
At least, not in this life.

NOTE: If you intend to undertake a past life Tarot reading for yourself, you should follow-up this spread with another, three-card spread once you've had time to consider what the cards are revealing to you. Place all cards back in the deck and shuffle well. Then lay out the three top cards horizontally, from left to right. The first card reveals to you how you should honour the memories of your past life. The second, how to put the wisdom gained from your past life into practice; and the third card is for looking forward into this life, and what matter(s) need your attention. Because what's the good of a past life if you can't learn from it, right?

For more information on past life memories and regression techniques, try these links:
Three Ways to Remember Your Past Lives
Past Life Regression
Past Life Regression Exercises
Have You Experienced Past Lives? An Exercise
Types of Past Life Memories
Using the Tarot to Access Past Lives

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Past Life Regression :: True experience or mere suggestion?

Khepri, Egyptian God of rebirth

Past life regression is a process that involves hypnosis or deep meditation techniques in order to recall what practitioners believe are memories of past lives or incarnations.
The question, however, is whether these "recollections" are indeed past life memories, or simply a matter of suggestion. Are they evidence of a true experience, or simply  mere fantasies brought to life?
I have actually undergone a "past life regression", and yet I'm still not convinced as to the answer.
Many years ago I booked myself in to see a professional therapist. By way of a disclaimer, I was already a firm believer in reincarnation, and felt that I had had many past lives prior to seeing the therapist, yet I decided to do it anyway as I was curious to see how regression therapy worked. Even more than that, I wanted to discover if, under hypnosis, I would be able to recall specific dates or names (geographic or other), in order to carry out my own research to validate my previous experiences.
Yet whilst being a believer in reincarnation, I must admit that I was sceptical of the entire regression process. I often wonder if this niggling doubt affected the outcome of my session.
My past life regression happened like this:
The therapist was a lovely, older lady who carried out these regressions in her home. The house reminded me of my grandmother, both warm and welcoming, so I had no problem reclining in the chair whilst she talked me through the first phase of the regression: relaxation.
It was during this stage of the hypnosis that I was asked to walk down a winding stone staircase into a hallway, and then stand in front of any door. I then had to enter that door, through which was a room of wood panelling. A study. It was dark in this room, apart from the lighted candle I was holding, dressed in a white smock, I could feel the cold wooden flooring beneath my feet. I told the therapist my name was Josephine - the first appearance of a possible past life, which had not been a happy life at all. I knew that I had been married with two children, that my husband was a rogue and had many a mistress. The therapist fast tracked me to the end of this life. My family was struck by the plague. My two children died in my arms and I openly cried during the regression session.
The process of walking down a winding staircase and selecting a door was then repeated, several times, and behind each door was revealed to me another, apparent past life.
The first 45 minutes of the session revealed no dates, nor any specific name/surname combinations that would facilitate further research to prove, once and for all, the existence of past lives. However, the final fifteen minutes of the regression were, for me at least, the most revealing.
As I walked through the final door, I found myself in a sandy alleyway in Egypt. I explained  to the therapist that I was a priest of the god Amun, before going on to explain several everyday events in my life. This included the existence of a young nephew that I treated as if my own son. This life was not glamorous; it was one that involved hard work and much loneliness.
It became apparent during this final regression that I had a great aversion to black snakes (specific to this colour only). My reaction was not one of fear, per se, but of superstition. I knew that black snakes were a dark omen.
It was particularly interesting to me that Egypt featured as the location in this final regression, since I had studied Egyptology at University. Even more than that, though, my interest in Egypt was focused on the religion of the Ancient Egyptians, even though in my current life I would not identify as being a particularly religious person.
Yet whilst there were certainly correlations between my interests in this life and the past life regression, I remain unconvinced that the regression experience I had was not brought about by some kind of suggestion, either by the therapist, or by my own subconscious.
In truth, I believe that the evidence of our past lives is all around us, and we don't need to engage therapists to discover them. Deja vu is a phenomena experienced by most people; that sense of familiarity and conviction that the current situation that one finds themselves in has actually occurred before.
Why is it also that certain people seem to be drawn exclusively to certain periods in history?
Or why the sense of “home” is found somewhere other than the town, city or country one was born in?
Or why  people seem to excel in certain subjects but fail in others?
So, whilst my own past life regression was not a convincing experience for me as a whole, I'm disinclined to dismiss the results of it entirely, and write them off as nothing more than simple fancies.
What I believe is that certain past life experiences leave an emotional imprint on our being, and then, occasionally, reveal themselves to us.


Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Children who Remember :: A personal experience with reincarnation

Painting depicting Reincarnation
"I am confident that there truly is such a thing as living again, that the living spring from the dead, and that the souls of the dead are in existence." - Socrates

There have been numerous cases of children remembering another life. From the moment they can talk, they begin to describe people, places or dead relatives of whom they had not known in this life. They insist they were someone else, some going so far as to recall their death.
Children who remember their past lives without any prompting are very matter of fact when talking about it.  Past-life memories, particularly those in children, are a phenomena with far-reaching implications for every person who is curious about the truth of reincarnation.
I've experienced this phenomenon myself: One day whilst driving home, my son, who was about 3 years old at the time, blurted out, “Mummy? You are Breena”. I looked at him in the rear-view mirror as he was looking out the window. He continued: “You were Bree-nah. But you had long dark hair. Why did you cut it? Can we go back? I miss our dog. Do you remember him mummy?” I replied, “I am not Breena. My name is Laura", but this made him a little agitated, reiterating: “No, Mummy. You were Breena before, not now!”. He went on to describe in detail, a round dwelling where we lived and what we wore, what we ate and a dog we owned. He never described a father figure or any siblings.
I was shocked, to say the least. I had to pull the car over to compose myself as it dawned on me his descriptions mirrored a dream I had had, many years prior.
Initially, I thought my son had called me "Breanna", as I had not heard the name "Breena" before. It was only later that, upon investigation, I discovered that the name Breena is a real one, old Irish Celtic in origin, and means “dark haired” (my son had said I had had dark hair), or “Fairy Palace”. My son made a point of correcting me, pronouncing it “Bree-nah”.
Roundhouse Dwelling
Then not that long ago, our family visited a Neolithic site, which consisted of roundhouse dwellings and a museum devoted to this period in history. My son, who is now 7, was absolutely fascinated by it. Whilst he has never mentioned Breena again, on this occasion he made note of "remembering" certain artefacts that he was being shown, and commented that “it was different; not that exactly”. When  queried about what he had meant, he shrugged his shoulders and replied, “You wouldn’t understand”.
Roundhouses, such as the one in the picture above, were built from the Bronze Age, throughout the Iron Age, and into the sub-Roman period. How is it possible that a child the age of seven can identify and familiarise with them, and other artefacts from a period in history he couldn't possibly know anything about?
There seems to be a growing number of cases in the public sphere these days of children that seem to recall, in astonishing detail, the lives of people who have lived before. Some are able to recall these events well into adulthood, whilst for others the details fade with time. It makes me wonder if this is something we all can do in childhood - if, perhaps, those fears, fascinations, and wild fancies have less to do with imagination than, as adults, we'd like to believe.
Of course, I’m sure many children (especially as they grow older) are influenced by what they read and see on television. But when your child describes in detail a life they couldn’t have possibly made up, you do have to wonder…

For anyone interested in reading about the past lives of children, I suggest a visit to Carol Bowman’s Forum where you can share your own experiences, and read those of others.

Monday, 15 September 2014

A Case in Point :: Reincarnation & the Cathar Perfect

The Cathars were a Christian sect that lived in Europe between the 11th
and 14th Centuries, and who held a  strong belief in reincarnation, one of the
many facets of their religion that made them so unpopular in Rome, and which
would ultimately lead to their demise.

"Kill them all. God will know his own."
- Arnaud Amaury, Cistercian Abbot, 13th Century

In our last post, Recycled Souls, we considered the Hindu and Buddhist belief in reincarnation and past lives. It is not particularly surprising to hear of cases of reincarnation amongst societies such as the Hindus of India, the Buddhist Sinhalese of Sri Lanka, or even the Dalai Lama of Tibet. These are, after all, present, existing religions and cultures, and if we were to consider the "evidence" for past lives from these alone, there'd be undeniable proof of it.
Yet, that is not how we consider the world, or the people in it. One's willingness to accept, well, anything is strongly influenced by one's cultural impressions and societal pressures. Perhaps it is no wonder, then, that in a non-Hindu, non-Buddhist society, reincarnation and past lives remain on the fringe of what is considered acceptable belief. The claims of same are few and far between, and those that are brought to light are generally viewed with caution and suspicion.
However, there are some (in)famous reincarnation claims. Take, for example, the case of reincarnation made by Dr Arthur Guirdham in the 1960s and 1970s. Dr Guirdham, a British psychiatrist, was working in a mental hospital in Bath when he encountered a female patient suffering the terror of a recurring dream that Dr Guirdham was astonished to discover resembled his own - one that had haunted him for more than thirty years.
Upon further investigation - and without the aid of drugs or hypnosis, it is said - the woman went on to reveal to Dr Guirdham the details of her past life as a 13th Century Cathar, a life which she had shared with Dr Guirdham, when he was known as Guilhabert of Castres, a Cathar Perfect.
Over time, Dr Guirdham came to know other patients in Bath who also claimed to have lived past lives as Cathars, with Dr Guirdham supposedly substantiating their claims through historic references. Dr Guirdham went on to write and publish a series of books that spurned a cult following, inspiring many from the UK to travel to the Languedoc in south-west France, lands that were once home to the Cathars. Previously a forgotten medieval Christian sect, Dr Guirdham's claims of reincarnation thrust the Cathars into the spotlight more than 800 years after their annihilation by the Church in Rome, and not necessarily for all the right reasons.
But who were the Cathars, and what were their thoughts on reincarnation?
In his book The Perfect Heresy: The Life and Death of the Cathars, Stephen O'Shea writes about the Cathar Christian beliefs, and why they were so at odds with the Christian Church in Rome:
"The god deserving of Cathar worship was a god of light, who ruled the invisible, the ethereal, the spiritual domain; this god, unconcerned with the material, simply didn't care if you got into bed before getting married, had a Jew or Muslim for a friend, treated men and women as equals, or did anything else contrary to the teachings of the medieval Church."
What was important to the Cathars was how one chose to live their life. The consequence for failing to follow 'the good' was plain and simple:
"It was up to the individual (man or woman) to decide whether he or she was willing to renounce the material for a life of self-denial. If not, one would keep returning to this world - that is, be reincarnated - until ready to embrace a life sufficiently spotless to allow accession, at death, to the same blissful state one had experienced as an angel prior to having been tempted out of heaven at the beginning of time. To be saved, then, meant becoming a saint. To be damned was to live, again and again, on this corrupt earth".
So, the Cathars, although Christian, had a strong belief in reincarnation. Whether or not they believed one could remember the details of a previous life is unknown; however, there is the distinct impression that a Cathar, no matter their status, had no control over whether, or how, or when they might be reincarnated, which begs the question: How was it that Dr Guirdham and his Cathar patients all came to be in Bath at the same time? Even if reincarnation is possible, the chances of this occurring seem remote at best.
So, why then, the Cathars? Dr Guirdham and his patients could have lived previous lives in a multitude of cultures, societies, and religions stretching right back to the first humans, but they didn't. Was it pure coincidence that the doctor's claims of past lives were rooted in a religion that harboured a core belief in reincarnation? In this writer's opinion, probably not.
What is most interesting about reincarnation, from my perspective at least, are those cases that appear from time to time outside of those societies, religions and cultures from which we expect it. It poses the question that if one has no previous knowledge or belief in past lives, and has no comprehension of what it means to be reincarnated (such as in children), then where does this sensation of having lived before (and all the ideas and memories attached to it) actually come from?

Curious to know more about the Cathars? Try these links:
Cathars & Cathar Beliefs in the Languedoc
Cathar Country

Or read this book (highly recommended):
The Perfect Heresy: The Life and Death of the Cathars by Stephen O'Shea

Dr Arthur Guirdham's Cathars:
Reincarnation: Fact or Fallacy?
UK Mind Manipulation: Research Update - Bailbrook
Books by Dr Arthur Guirdham at


Monday, 1 September 2014

Recycled Souls :: Reincarnation, Rebirth & Past-lives as Life After Death

The Buddhist Wheel of Life is a pictorial
representation of the Buddhist belief in the
cycle of birth and rebirth.

"For those who remember their past lives, rebirth is a clear experience. However, most ordinary beings forget their past lives as they go through the process of death, intermediate state and rebirth." - Dalai Lama
During our recent summer/winter hiatus from G&G, I had the most vivid, frightening dream. It was a dream that hijacked another, mundane, meaningless dream. A dream that could constitute a nightmare. In this dream I had been a man, running for my life on a cold, lonely beach at dawn, pursued by a frightening enemy. Just as the morning sun began to creep above the horizon, I suffered my fate - slaughtered by an organised band of twenty or so Vikings.

I woke from this dream at the moment of my death. I had never dreamt of this before, and Vikings have never constituted a specific historical interest of mine, so to dream of them in such a vivid, frightening manner seems to me rather random.

Just like the dreams I've had since early childhood, where I am laid out on a table, my stomach sliced open and disembowelled. The pain and the horror of the event is so overpowering that everything else in the dream is irrelevant. What matters in this dream is not who I am or what I may have done to deserve such a punishment. The purpose is to relive the pain and the horror of it, over and over again.
I'm certainly not the only person on the planet to be haunted by dreams that seem to relive a moment from a life that is so far removed from my own that it leaves behind a plethora of questions, mostly about life, and death, and life-after-death.

Have I had fleeting glimpses of a previous existence, or are these dreams merely fantastical imaginings conjured by an over-active brain?
Once-upon-a-time, I would never have considered the possibility of a past-life. I was brought up to believe that death brings with it a patient wait for Judgement Day, upon which my one-and-only existence would be scrutinised, and my one-and-only eternal soul either ascended into Heaven or damned to the fiery pits of Hell. I had one chance to get it "right"; stuff it up and I'd be paying for it for the rest of forever.

But, of course, life experience has taught me that neither life, nor death, are quite so simple. A belief in reincarnation, of being repeatedly reborn into new skin and a new experience, has been the cornerstone religious belief of millions of people for thousands of years. Who am I to say it is wrong, without first truly considering its possibility?


"Carnate" means "of flesh", so to "reincarnate" is to "re-enter the flesh".

The two major religions in the modern world that believe in reincarnation, rebirth and past-lives are Hinduism and Buddhism. However, these beliefs, whilst similar, are not identical.

Hinduism is the oldest religion in India: Five thousand years and counting. It is still practised today, by over 80% of the population. A belief in reincarnation is at the core of Hinduism, wherein the soul is eternal and reincarnated many times, as human, animal or plant. Each existence provides the opportunity for experience, and therefore to evolve spiritually. Reincarnation ends only when the soul has no further lessons to learn, at which point it "graduates" from physical birth.

The Himalayan Academy defines it thus:

"At death the soul leaves the physical body. But the soul does not die. It lives on in a subtle body called the astral body. The astral body exists in the nonphysical dimension called the astral plane, which is also the world we are in during our dreams at night when we sleep. Here we continue to have experiences until we are reborn again in another physical body as a baby. Each reincarnating soul chooses a home and a family which can best fulfill its next step of learning and maturation. After many lifetimes of following dharma, the soul is fully matured in love, wisdom and knowledge of God. There is no longer a need for physical birth, for all lessons have been learned, all karmas fulfilled. That soul is then liberated, freed from the cycle of birth, death and rebirth."

Hindus believe in previous lives regardless of whether or not they are remembered - some remember, but most do not. The importance is not in the remembering; it's the undisputed knowledge that one has lived before and the current existence in which they find themselves offers important lessons to be learned. Each life, or existence, is one step closer to spiritual fulfilment; one cannot go "backwards" on their journey.

The Buddhist belief in reincarnation is somewhat different. In fact, some Buddhists argue that reincarnation in and of itself is not a Buddhist principle at all, since Buddha did not teach it. However, the idea of being "reborn" is a powerful aid in the Buddhist teachings, as it gives cause for its students to heed their lessons - a form of social control, if you like. The Rev. Takashi Tsuji, a Jodo Shinshu priest, described it as follows:

"Fear of birth into the animal world must have frightened many people from acting like animals in this life. If we take this teaching literally today we are confused because we cannot understand it rationally...A parable, when taken literally, does not make sense to the modern mind. Therefore we must learn to differentiate the parables and myths from actuality."

But reincarnation is a core belief in many Buddhist societies. Take for example the Sinhalese, the Buddhist majority in Sri Lanka. The hierarchal construction of their society deems men to be greater than woman - physically, mentally, and spiritually. Therefore, a Sinhalese woman's defining aim is to ensure she adheres to the social constructs of her society, so that she may be "reborn" as a man, which will bring her one step closer to spiritual enlightenment.

Buddhism is also the major religion in Tibet, and the Dalai Lama writes quite extensively on the subject of reincarnation, stating that if there is no reincarnation then "we would also have to accept that the world and its inhabitants come about without causes and conditions".
It is interesting to note that belief in past and future lives was already present amongst the indigenous peoples of Tibet when Buddhism first arrived to the region, so perhaps it is not such a surprise that reincarnation plays an important role in the Buddhist life they have since adopted.
However, the evidence of past-lives in the form of remembering them is not limited to people who identify as being Buddhist, or Hindu.

"The world just doesn't work as we think or assume it does. The cases I have examined don't come under a normal explanation of how we perceive the world." - Dr Jim Tucker, M.D.
In 2004, the parents of James Leininger came out with claims that their young son had vivid memories of his past-life as a WWII fighter pilot by the name of James M. Huston Jr., who was shot down over the Pacific by the Japanese in 1945. They claimed that from an early age their son would wake from terrifying nightmares, screaming that a plane was on fire and he couldn't get out. Young James took to writing his name as "James 3", and seemed to have knowledge about the workings of military aircraft far beyond his years.
The story of James Leninger has become one of the most compelling and fascinating claims of reincarnation in modern times. Born and raised in the USA to successful, professional parents, his life could not be more different from the Hindus of India, or the Buddhists of Tibet, and yet here he was, a child of pre-school years, displaying evidence of having lived before his present life.
But James' story isn't exactly unique; in fact, in recent years there have been a number of children who claim to remember their previous lives as somebody else. Investigations have been made, and books written on the subject, such as Thomas Shroder's Old Souls and Dr Jim Tucker's Return to Life. Whilst not entirely convincing, they do present a fascinating argument for further investigation into past-life claims, particularly outside of communities and religions that already harbour such a belief.
Not everyone has the fortune (or misfortune, depending on one's perspective) to remember a past-life and death; however, there are means by which the unenlightened can apparently retrieve the details of their previous existences. 
Hypnotic past-life regression is a popular method through which one may be able to discover and relive a past-life. This service is offered by certain hypnotherapists and psychologists as a means to assist in the relief of emotional stress and trauma suffered by their clients, something that may have been brought about by the experiences of a past-life, and/or death.

Meditation and psychic readings may also reveal the details of a past-life, such as in the form of a specialised Tarot Reading.
There is also the possibility that dreams are a means through which our past-lives are revealed to us. Therefore, dream interpretation and the practice of lucid dreaming may also be powerful tools in unlocking the secrets of a prior life. 
Whilst I don't necessarily believe my dreams of Vikings and violent death are past-lives being revealed to me via the mechanics of REM sleep, I do find it a fascinating possibility, one that I am curious to explore further. I mean, who wouldn't? Life is so fleeting, painfully short, and I can appreciate that there is comfort in believing there has been much before, and yet even more still to come.

Do you believe in reincarnation and/or past-lives as a form of Life After death? Why, or why not?

Curious to discover more? Try these useful and fascinating links:
Alliance of Religions and Conservation: What do Hindus believe?
Kauai's Hindu Monastry
The Wheel of Life: An Illustrated Journey through the Bhavachakra
The Wheel of Life: Samsara, Birth, Rebirth, Liberation
Reincarnation in Buddhism: What Buddha didn't teach
His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet: Reincarnation
Parents think boy is reincarnated pilot
10 Interesting Cases of Supposed Reincarnation
New book reveals children who believe they have been reincarnated
Eckankar: Reincarnation and past-lives
My Psychic: How to remember past-lives
wikiHow: How to Remember your past-lives
And these books:
A Celebration of Demons: Exorcism and the Aesthetics of Healing in Sri Lanka by Bruce Kapferer
Return to Life by Jim Tucker
Old Souls by Thomas Shroder