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Return of the Revolutionaries: The Case for Reincarnation and Soul Groups Reunited
Walter Semkiw


My story begins in 1984, when I was in my medical residency and living in Chicago. A friend suggested that I have a session with a medium who was working out of a local metaphysical bookstore. Being a skeptic by nature, I never had even considered going to a psychic before. It had been a dreary winter, though, with little to do but study, and I reasoned that a session with a medium might break the monotony.

During the session, the medium went into a meditative state or trance and in doing so, allowed spiritual guides to talk through him. These guides told me about family issues with surprising accuracy. The guides then told me about two past lives, one of which was during the American Revolution. They gave me the name of who I was supposed to have been and told me that if I researched this person, I would see myself. In 1984, I dismissed the session. It would not be until 1996 that I would revisit the past-life information provided to me. At that time I did research on the person who was identified as my prior incarnation. That person was the second President of the United States, John Adams, and I was quite shocked to realize that I did see myself in him. I was even more surprised to recognize his entire family and closest friends reincarnated among members of my own family and friends.

In seeking information on reincarnation, I encountered a number of other people with similar stories, though there were variations in how people learned about specific past lives. Though the means by which past-life identities were derived varied, the independently researched cases showed common features with cases that I had studied and delineated. As a result of these independent cases, I have divided my book into two sections. In the first, cases that were discovered and documented by other people are reviewed. The second section involves a series of past-life cases that I have researched stemming from the American Revolution. What is exciting is that these cases from both sections reinforce each other. Cases derived by various means and studied by a variety of different people lead to the same conclusions regarding the manner in which reincarnation occurs. These principles of reincarnation are summarized as follows:

1. Physical Appearance
Facial architecture, the shape and proportions of the face, appears to be consistent from lifetime to lifetime. Physical habits, such as postures, hand gestures and the type of jewelry worn, can also be consistent from lifetime to lifetime. Even poses struck in portraits and photographs are often uncannily similar from one lifetime to another.

Body types can be consistent from lifetime to lifetime, though the size of the body can vary. An individual can have a slight physique in one lifetime and a powerful one in the next. One can be short in one incarnation and tall in another, though facial features, postures and gestures, appear to remain the same.

At this point, I would like to comment on the subject of beauty. It is my contention that any particular facial architecture can be perceived as beautiful or handsome. The perception of beauty largely depends on factors such as complexion and physique. For example, a woman in one incarnation may be tall, thin, have wonderful skin, a perfect smile and a toned body. Due to these factors and their effect on her appearance, this woman may become a celebrated fashion model or beauty queen. In another incarnation, this same woman, with identical facial architecture, may be born with a coarse complexion, a stout body and crooked teeth. This woman would now be considered ordinary appearing, by observers. The point is that any facial architecture may be perceived as beautiful or unattractive, based on these variables. I believe that we can alternate being attractive and ordinary, from lifetime to lifetime, based on the lessons we are to learn in a particular incarnation.

Of note, my reincarnation research shows that in approximately 10 to 20 percent of cases, a soul changes gender. Even in these cases, facial architecture still remains consistent. Overall, most people (80 to 90%) maintain the same gender from one lifetime to another, and it seems that our essence has an innate masculine or feminine quality. Those who are innately masculine tend to reincarnate as males. Those who are innately feminine prefer to return in a female body. I think, though, that we all switch gender periodically, to learn what it is like to be a different gender. For my group of cases, it has been a great advantage studying a historic group from the American Revolution, as portraits are available for many people involved. This has allowed for the comparison of appearance from one lifetime to another. The advent of photography will make this analysis possible on a more widespread basis.

2. Personality
Personality traits appear to persist from lifetime to lifetime. One’s way of approaching life and the way that others perceive you remains consistent. Some of our personality traits are positive and we carry them with us to our benefit. Other personality traits can be detrimental and can cause suffering from one lifetime to another. It appears that part of our evolution is to smooth out the rough spots in our dispositions.

As an example, consider a person who is an extremely aggressive by nature. A benefit of being aggressive is that the person accomplishes his goals. A negative aspect is that other people may be hurt by an aggressive approach. The goal for an aggressive person over the period of one lifetime or more would be to take in consideration the feelings of others.

Though personality traits remain consistent, I have observed that physical and mental illnesses do not persist from one lifetime to another. Individuals who are chemically dependent or have a psychiatric illness in a previous lifetime do not appear to carry these disorders over to subsequent ones.

Spiritually and intellectually, we seem to pick up where we have left off. Our hard earned achievements in spiritual and intellectual pursuits are retained--they are a part of us. As such, efforts in advancing ourselves are never wasted and we build upon our endeavors from lifetime to lifetime. Similarly, talents can come through from one lifetime to another, but conversely, if the soul needs to take a different path in a particular lifetime, talents may at times be blocked.

Though we seem to have a similar level of spiritual maturity and intellectual advancement across lifetimes, we trade off being poor and rich, famous and unknown. We take turns being placed in and out of the spotlight. Our status in life seems to be determined by the karma we have created in past lifetimes, as well as by the lessons our souls have set for ourselves to learn.

As discussed at length in the Prologue, religious affiliation and ethnic background change from lifetime to lifetime. A soul can be Christian in one lifetime and Jewish or Islamic in the next. This casts new insight regarding conflicts based on religious or ethnic differences.

As a correlate to personality similarities, I have noticed that many times there will be a similarity in the way that a person chooses to identify themselves by name, from one lifetime to another. More specifically, the cadence and inflections of one’s chosen name are often similar from one lifetime to another. Of course, our parents give us our name at birth, but as we mature, we choose what version of our given name we wish to be known by. Some choose to use a middle name rather than the first name, others prefer a nickname or to use initials. The example of American writer and historian, Mercy Otis Warren, is presented in a subsequent chapter. In her Revolutionary lifetime, Warren chose to identify herself by three names, not just by her first and last name. In our contemporary era, Warren is identified as another leading intellectual who also prefers to use a three-word moniker, Barbara Marx Hubbard. In the prologue, Marianne Williamson was identified as the reincarnation of Abigail Adams. Silently say the names Abigail Adams and Marianne Williamson to yourself and see if you don’t perceive a similar rhythm and cadence.

Since personality traits appear to be consistent from lifetime to lifetime, they may reflect a fundamental character of one’s soul. Each of us seems to have a unique set of energies, and the way that we choose to identify ourselves, using the possible permutations of our given names and initials, may reflect our energy qualities too. As such, I think of one’s chosen name as a sort of energy signature, which tends to be consistent from lifetime to lifetime.

3. Writing Style
Just as personality traits remain consistent from lifetime to lifetime, a person’s manner of expression seems to be similar from one lifetime to another. Some variation in writing style, of course, will be observed due to differing customs of various eras. Still, consistencies in modes of expression and in content are observed. Just as portraits allow us to see how one’s appearance is the same from lifetime to lifetime, historical documents, diaries and other available documentation allow us to study writing style across incarnations. Formal linguistic analysis has been utilized in studying one case in our series and in the future I believe it will be regularly used as a tool to help delineate past-life cases.

4. Karmic Soul Groups
People appear to come into life in groups, based on shared karma and emotional attachments. Couples often come back together and entire family units can recur. When an individual reincarnates, other members of that person’s karmic group will be present. Identifying members of the person’s karmic group is another important criterion in establishing a past-life match.

How do we connect with our karmic groups? The answer, I believe, is destiny. In analyzing past-life cases, I have observed that we all have a predetermined destiny or life itinerary which brings us to the people we are supposed to spend time with. To better understand how destiny works, I use the analogy of a journey. Think of your life as an extended vacation that you plan in advance. You decide who you want and need to see, where you want to go, and what activities you would like to participate in. You coordinate your itinerary with the people you are to rendezvous with. You, your karmic friends and loved ones, all agree to the plan before you are born. Once you come into life, destiny ensures that you meet up with your karmic soul group. The settings for karmic affiliations can be our families, work life, and recreational pursuits. These settings are stages on which we play out the karmic dramas of our lives. This casts a new light on Shakespeare’s phrase, “All of life is but a stage.”

We meet up with different karmic groups at different points in life. When we get the urge to take a new job, travel to a new city, or take up a new recreational pursuit, many times this is a part of our destiny being played out. New venues bring us to karmic groups we need to be with. If this is true, one must question whether we have free will. My belief is that though we all have a predetermined itinerary that we are committed to honor, we have free will in what we do along the way. Indeed, growth and human evolution could not occur without free will. Some people may have a more structured itinerary that limits diversionary treks, while others may have a less structured game plan. Either way, we have free will along our destined paths.

Karmic groups provide insights regarding déjà vu experiences. If we meet up with people we have known in past lives, it is not surprising that we may have a spark of recognition when we meet. Since people have consistent patterns of behavior, we may recognize these traits and idiosyncratic reactions when situations recur. Finally, déjà vu may occur if we recognize an event that is part of our itinerary. We may become aware of a road mark along our predetermined path.

5. Past-Life Symbols, Synchronistic Events, and Anniversary Phenomena
A common feature in past-life research is that symbols from a prior lifetime are found in the person’s contemporary incarnation. For eleven years I worked for Unocal 76, also known as Union 76, an oil company whose slogan is “The Spirit of 1776.” The company name and slogan reflect my participation in the American Revolution as John Adams. We shall see that others who contributed to forming the American nation, including John Quincy Adams, his Vice-President, John Calhoun, and the great explorer, John Charles Fremont, also worked at Union 76. Another feature we find in past-life cases is that of symbolic synchronistic events. In William Barnes’ book, Thomas Andrews, A Voyage into History, Mr. Barnes relates how he came to uncover his past-life as Thomas Andrews, the designer of the Titanic, who died on the ship. Appropriately, William Barnes was born on the anniversary date of the Titanic’s sinking, 41 years after the tragedy occurred. In many of our cases, we will observe similar anniversary phenomena.

6. Attraction to Specific Geographic Locations
Individuals are often attracted to geographic settings of past lives. In many cases, people are observed to gravitate to places where they have lived before. Individuals may reside in these areas or visit old haunts on vacation. In some cases, it appears that the soul is simply nostalgic for familiar settings. In other cases, the soul may direct the individual to a specific place to trigger a remembrance of the past lifetime or to facilitate a spiritual awakening. The cases of Robert Snow, Jeffrey Keene, and Dianne Seaman illustrate how guidance to geographic locations can lead to revelations regarding past lives.

Guidance to specific locations may also be involved in setting up anniversary phenomena and symbolic events, such as will be observed in my own case. For example, Marianne Williamson came to speak in San Francisco on Valentine’s Day, 2002, in a synchronistic manner, which led to my meeting her on this symbolic day. In another example, a conference in which I first presented my reincarnation research to a group of past-life regression therapists took place in Sturbridge, Massachusetts, a site symbolic of my lifetime during the American Revolution.

7. Memories
Memories of past lives can have a profound effect on the individual who has experienced them. Memories can occur spontaneously or through past-life regressions. In a regression, a therapist guides a person into a state of deep relaxation. The subject is coached to go back in time until former lives are experienced or remembered. Memories, whether spontaneous or experienced through regression, are subjective. Alone, these memories provide only weak evidence of reincarnation to those who have not experienced them. Memories, though, when supported by objective facts obtained through historical research and corroboration, provide compelling evidence of reincarnation.

Ian Stevenson, M.D., a psychiatrist at the University of Virginia, has compiled and studied thousands of cases involving children who remember past lives in detail. Dr. Stevenson travels to the scenes of contemporary and past lifetimes and attempts to verify the details provided in the past-life accounts. Dr. Stevenson's books, such as Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation, are essential reading for those who wish to understand reincarnation and human nature.

Having reviewed these principles of reincarnation, let us now turn to three independently researched cases from Return of the Revolutionaries. Robert Snow, Jeffrey Keene and William Barnes have written books regarding their past life sojourns and they have been kind enough to allow me to include their stories in Revolutionaries.

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