LOCKED WITHIN by Paul Anthony Shortt

1 12 2014

Locked WithinWhat is locked within is memories of past lives.

Nathan, our hero, is haunted by dreams in which he half remembers, sometimes fully remembers, dramatic events that occurred during previous lives, but is unaware when the book opens of an organised group called the Reborn who remember clearly, and benefit from the experience gained during, their past lives. These Reborn are in a war against another, very different, group whose aim is to prolong this one life (as they see it) indefinitely, as vampires or whatever, and who will do anything to achieve that goal.

Needless to say, Nathan gets caught up in the battle which takes place in his home-town of New York, a battle which is just one small part of the on-going war between Good and Evil. And like all reluctant heroes, he has to make painful choices regarding his personal life.

Being a great believer in reincarnation, I loved this particular urban fantasy world with its reborns and its horrifying “soul-eaters”, and would welcome a sequel, preferably featuring Nathan and the witch Candace as partners. I always have difficulty identifying with male protagonists, even one as sympathetic as Nathan, though in this case I was certainly helped by the fact that the earlier self Nathan most closely identifies with himself is a woman, a warrior named Marjorie. We are even there with him while he as her is being gang-raped – and I mean gang literally: she is captured and raped by a group of ruthless professional thugs.

Reincarnation in action - male to female to male

Reincarnation in action – female to male to female to male …

Candace, who only has a very minor role in this book, but on the other hand is still very much alive, is just my cup of tea.


28 03 2014

Past Lives Present Dreams coverDenise Linn was one of the first to popularise the whole modern (and I suppose by that I mean Western) approach to reincarnation: learning how to recall one’s past lives and perhaps also undergoing past-life therapy either by oneself or with the help of a professional past-life therapist. She is a writer and lecturer to whom many (if not all) more recent writers on this topic are indebted.

This does not mean that I, or any other student of reincarnation, is going to agree with everything she says. Personally, I take issue with her on several points.

Let’s start though, as she does, with her being knocked off her motorbike by a man in a car who then got out of his car, aimed a gun at her, and shot her. Miraculously, she survived. But the Near Death Experience she describes in detail changed her life, and led directly to her subsequent studies with teachers and gurus as diverse as Zen Buddhist monks, a Hawaian shaman, a Japanese Grand Master of Reiki, and a wise old Native American named Dancing Feather.

The best part of the book is perhaps the chapter on How to Recall a Past Life, which includes a section of Past Life Clues under eighteen different heads ranging from Childhood Games to Food Preferences to Books and Movies, and of course including Déjà Vu Experiences, Personality Traits, Fears and Phobias, and Dreams (as in the title). (If it had been me writing, I would have at least mentioned aptitude for particular foreign languages, which I consider one of the most significant clues.) In the same chapter there is a section on Visualization Technique with a whole series of “different methods that can help you make a successful transition”. Of these, I particularly like the “time tunnel”, the “river of time” and the ‘room of doors”; the method she calls the “mists of time” was new to me as she sets it out but I have tried it and it works – rather more abruptly and completely than the others, so it should be approached with caution (don’t do it alone first time!). This is followed by an actual script you can either record and play back or get someone to read to you while you set about making the transition.

All this is fine, and as I say, indispensable reading even if much of it has been copied and repeated by other authors.

Where I have trouble is with Denise Linn’s concept of changing the past, a form of past-life therapy she seems to particularly favour. Something that happened in a past life is having a traumatic effect on your current life? Then change it. You weren’t drowned, you survived – you didn’t have an abusive step-father, you had a very kind and loving one – and so on. “I believe that you can actually change the past,” she says, but continues “if this is too much for you to accept, then imagine that you are changing the images that are stored in your brain …”

And then there is the problem of Future Lives. Predestination, and its corollary, possible foreknowledge of the future, is a subject on which the great philosophers of the past have disagreed and modern philosophers still do disagree. I obviously cannot begin to go into it here. I would just like to quote one more line from this book and then leave you to read the whole thing for yourself and make up your own mind.

“The future,” she says, “is as malleable as the past.” Surely it should be much more so? No one has any trouble with the concept of planning the future, it is the concept of planning the past which is difficult to grasp – or to swallow.

Gauguin quote

13 04 2011

“When the physical organism breaks up, the soul survives. It then takes on another body.” (Paul Gauguin)

To which I really should (!!) add the painting: “D’ou venons-nous? Que sommes-nous? Ou allons-nous?” (Click on the image for detail)

ONE WINTER’S DAY IN JUNE by Stephen J Willis

31 03 2011

I came across this very original short story  on the ShortFiction.co.uk site. It has a fascinating Past Lives theme.

ONE WINTER’S DAY IN JUNE by Stephen J Willis

Schopenhauer quote

20 03 2011

Were an Asiatic to ask me for a definition of Europe, I should be forced to answer him:  It is that part of the world which is haunted by the incredible delusion that man was created out of nothing, and that his present birth is his first entrance into life.

Arthur Schopenhauer

OLD SOULS by Tom Shroder

8 11 2010

For forty years, Dr Ian Stevenson travelled the world investigating the “claims” of children who recalled their past lives. I put the word claims in quotes because the vast majority of them never claim anything. They simply have a problem because as they see it their home isn’t their real home, or their family their real family. Often the parents find these claims upsetting, even infuriating, and forbid children to mention them ever again. Others, either out of curiosity or in an attempt to prove the child wrong, investigate, visiting the town the child says he/she lived in and the family the child says he/she was once part of. And the child is proved right, again and again, recognising and naming people and places and showing an otherwise inexplicable knowledge of the private life of the family and the dead person.

Tom Shroder is an investigative journalist who was commisioned to look into the work of, and write a book about, Dr Brian Weiss, the specialist in hypnotic regression. At that time, he was a total sceptic. However, during the course of his investigations he came across an article about “a Dr Ian Stevenson, identified as the Carlson Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Virginia Medical School […] What astonished me was that Stevenson wasn’t claiming to have investigated jsut a handful of such cases, but hundreds of them – more than two thousand, in fact, from all over the world.” He tried to find books by Stevenson, managed to get hold of one, read it, and knew that that was what he wanted to investigate next. “How in the world, I wondered, could I have never before heard of this man’s work? How was it possible that a rather flimsy case of hypnotic regression was the basis for a best-seller, while hundreds of cases of the spontaneous production of verifiable memories took a day at the librrary to discover? And, finally, I wondered this: Why am I writing about Brian Weiss and not Ian Stevenson? It would take a decade to set this right.”

This book is the fruit of that decade.

If you, too, are of a sceptical turn of mind, then after reading it you may well still not believe that reincarnation actually occurs, but you will no longer be able to simply dismiss the notion out of hand.


2 11 2010


No, don’t listen. Keep going. Everything depends on getting to her on time.

A heavy fog was rolling in. He stumbled, then righted himself. He took the corner.

On both sides of him were identical colonnades with dozens of doors and recessed archways. He knew this place! He could hide here in plain sight and they would run by and –


The voice sounded as if it was coming to him from a great blue-green distance, but he refused to stop for it.

She was waiting for him … to save her … to save their secrets … and treasures …


The voice was pulling him up, up through the murky, briny heaviness.


Reluctantly, he opened his eyes …

Josh Ryder is an American press photographer who was badly injured in a suicide-bomb explosion in Rome, and ever since has been suffering from what he calls “jerks” back into the past.

He lived in fear of his own mind, which projected the fragmented kaleidoscopic images: of a young, troubled man in nineteenth-century New York City, of another in ancient Rome caught up in a violent struggle and of a woman who’d given up everything for their frightening passion.

When the story opens he has returned to Rome, eighteen months later, now not as a press photographer but as a representative of the Phoenix Foundation, an organisation which specialises in investigating the claims made by children to be, or at least to have memories of being, someone else.

The elderly Professor Rudolfo and the young Professor Gabriella Chase are excavating a tomb where, it is believed, the last Vestal Virgin was buried alive in the fourth century AD. One morning, early, Josh joins Professor Rudolfo in the tomb, and sees for the first time the skeleton of the long-dead priestess. In her hands, she still clutches a wooden box. And in that box are six precious stones, the “memory stones” that reputedly hold the secret to uncovering our past lives. Suddenly, Josh experiences a powerful jerk back to the fourth century and, to Rudolfo’s horror, starts desperately clawing his way into a blocked tunnel that leads out of the tomb by another route.

Then an intruder comes down into the tomb and the elderly professor, trying to prevent him from stealing the gems, is shot. Josh, of course, who was there at the time (but stuck in the tunnel and unable to wriggle back out), becomes a prime suspect.

The story is a thriller, and none the worse for that, but the depiction of living in two (three!) different worlds simultaneously is very convincing, as also is the way in which people who have known each other in previous lives meet again in the current one.

If you know little about reincarnation, this book will be an eye-opener for you. Even if you are an expert, you will not feel let down: the author knows his subject.

I must add that I particularly like the quotations at the head of various chapters. It is amazing how many of the most eminent people believed that they had lived before and would live again. Three examples from this book:

As the stars looked to me when I was a shepherd in Assyria, they look to me now in New England. (Henry David Thoreau)

Finding myself to exist in the world, I believe I shall, in some shape or another, always exist. (Benjamin Franklin)

The tomb is not a blind alley: it is a thoroughfare. It closes on the twilight. It opens on the dawn. (Victor Hugo)


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