20 Wildly Vivid Stories of Past Lives That’ll Make You Believe in Reincarnation
Kim Kardahsian-West recently made headlines for the most unexpected reason—she and her family believe her 9-month-old son, Psalm, is the reincarnation of her late father, Robert Kardashian Sr.
The evidence was so compelling, we couldn’t help but dig for more fascinating cases of people’s past lives. Keep reading for 20 stories that will have you rethinking reincarnation, if you didn’t already believe.
When Kim Kardashian-West and her husband, Kanye West, were expecting their son, Psalm, via surrogate, a blind medium in Bali told Kim the baby would be a reincarnation of her late father, Robert Kardashian Sr. “She had no idea,” Kim told E! News. “No one on my crew knew that I had a surrogate, that I was pregnant with a boy.” The eerie encounters didn’t stop there.
After Psalm was born, Kim asked her baby nurse to watch him while she went out of town. The nurse brought Psalm to a baby shower, where a guest said to her, “Please tell their mom this is a family member of hers reincarnated.” Psalm is also left-handed, like Robert. “So my whole family, all the time, thinks it’s my dad and is just so emotional and close to him,” Kim said.
Before he died in 1987, Tibetan lama Dezhung Rinpoche III told two of his students he would be reborn in the Seattle area. Four years later, a boy named Sonam Wangdu, later known as Trulku-la (Tibetan for reincarnation) was born in Seattle to a Buddhist mother. His mother had graphic dreams before and during her pregnancy.
In one, she and her son were flying in a special compartment of a plane. They landed at an auditorium where her son would give Buddhist teachings—and in came the Dalai Lama. In 1996, at age 4, Trulku-la made national headlines as he prepared to leave his mother in Seattle and study in a monastery in Nepal with 38 other monks. He was renamed after his past self, Dezhung Rinpoche IV, and has remained in Nepal ever since, studying and teaching the dharma.
For the past 50 years, a team from the University of Virginia has collected stories from people who remember their past lives. One such story came from Ryan Hammond, an Oklahoma boy who began screaming and begging his mother to take him to the house he’d “lived before.” “Mommy, I’m so homesick,” he said.
Ryan described his previous home as a mansion in Hollywood with a huge pool and many cars. The next morning, his mother checked out a stack of library books about Old Hollywood, including one with a scene from the 1932 film, Night After Night. “Mama,” Ryan said, pointing at an unnamed man in the scene.
“That guy’s me! The old me!” His mother contacted professor Jim Tucker, M.D., the director of the UVA past lives study, who identified the man in the book as actor Marty Martyn. Dr. Tucker interviewed Ryan, his mother and Marty’s daughter, who confirmed over 50 details Ryan recalled about his past life, including the specific location and contents of Marty’s home.
In another Dr. Tucker case, a boy named Lee told his family his middle name was Coe and his birthday was June 26, neither of which were true. He talked about a life in Hollywood, where he wrote movies and had a daughter named Jennifer. He also said he died at age 48.
As his perplexed family listed off movies he might have written, Lee brightened at Gone With the Wind. Sidney Coe Howard wrote the movie’s screenplay. His daughter’s name was Jennifer. He was born on June 26, 1891, and died on August 23, 1939, at age 48.
When Sam Taylor was 18-months-old, he looked up at his father as he changed his diaper and said, “When I was your age, I used to change your diaper.” Several years later, Sam’s father brought home an old photo album from his deceased parents’ house. Upon seeing a photo of his late grandfather’s first car, Sam pointed to it and said, “That’s my car.”
As a test, Sam’s mom brought him a photo of his grandfather as a young man, surrounded by people his age. “There I am,” Sam said, pointing to his grandfather. That’s when he said “bad men” turned his sister into a fish. Sam’s grandfather’s sister was killed and left in a body of water, a story Sam’s parents never mentioned around the toddler.
At age 2, a Louisiana boy named James Leininger woke from a nightmare and screamed, “Airplane crash! Plane on fire! Little man can’t get out!” He said he was named James in his past life, too, and that he once flew off a ship called the Natoma. He had an uncanny knowledge of WWII aircrafts. With a little research, his parents discovered the USS Natoma Bay, a WWII aircraft carrier with a pilot named James “Little Man” Huston.
Huston died in combat over the Pacific. Meanwhile, their son continued having nightmares and talking about his plane crashing. They contacted a past life therapist, who told them to listen to James’ fears and reassure him he was safe. The therapist’s advice worked and James’ dreams subsided. In 2009, his parents wrote a book about his experience called Soul Survivor.
When Luke Ruehlman was 2, he started naming everything from his toys to bugs he saw “Pam.” He told his mother when he was a girl, he had black hair, and pointed out pairs of earrings he used to own. Finally, his mom asked him who Pam was. “He was like, ‘Well I used to be, but I died and went up to heaven and I saw God and God pushed me back down,” his mother said.
“When I woke up, I was a baby and you named me Luke.” When she asked her son how he died, he told her in a fire, and made a motion as though he was jumping from a window. He said it happened in Chicago, a city the Ohio family had never visited.
Luke’s mom searched online and found a woman named Pamela Robinson, who jumped to her death during a fire at a Chicago hotel in 1993. The family later appeared on an episode of the TV show, Ghost Inside My Child, on the Lifetime Movie Network, where Luke correctly identified Pam amid a mix of random photos.
Gillian and Jennifer Pollack
In 1957, John and Florence Pollack suffered the heartbreaking loss of their daughters, Joanna and Jacqueline, in a car accident. The next year, Florence gave birth to a set of twins, Gillian and Jennifer, who shared remarkable similarities with their deceased sisters. Like Jacqueline, Jennifer had a birthmark on her wrist, and another on her forehead similar to Jacquline’s scar.
Despite the fact that John and Florence left their old neighborhood when Gillian and Jennifer were 3-months-old, the girls recognized nearby landmarks whenever they went to visit. They asked for toys their sisters used to have. And they were terrified of cars. In the face of oncoming traffic, Gillian and Jennifer would scream, “The car is coming to get us!”
Patrick Christenson was born with a slanted birthmark on the right side of his neck—in the same location as the chemotherapy scar his brother, Kevin, acquired before he died of cancer 12 years prior. Much like his late brother, Patrick also walked with a limp and had a nodule above his right ear and clouding in his left eye.
When he was 4-years-old, Patrick asked his mom if she remembered him having surgery, and pointed to the nodule above his ear, where Kevin was operated on. When his mom said no, Patrick clarified he didn’t remember the procedure itself, because he’d been asleep—much like Kevin was during his operation.
Arthur Flowerdew grew up with visions of a city he’d never seen, in the desert with a temple carved into a cliff. While watching a BBC documentary as an adult, he recognized Petra, Jordan, as the city he’d always pictured.
In 1979, Arthur joined archaeologists and a BBC film crew on a journey to Petra, where he pointed out landmarks he had never been to, including ones that had yet to be excavated. Passing by a guard station, Arthur stopped and said that was where he was stabbed by a spear and killed.
When Semih Tutusmus’ mother was pregnant with him, she had a dream with a bloody-faced man who told her his name was Selim Fesli. A man by that name died of a gunshot to his face and right ear in a neighboring Turkish village one year before Semih was born.
As soon as Semih could talk, he informed his mom that his real name was Selim Fesli. At age 4, Semih walked to the late Selim’s house and told his widow, “I am Selim, you are my wife, Katibe.” He listed the names of their children and details of their life together. Semih even recalled the name of Selim’s killer.
Retired Assistant Fire Chief Jeffrey Keene of Westport, Connecticut didn’t know why he felt so emotional when he visited the site of the Civil War Battle of Antietam in Sharpsburg, Maryland. The words “not yet” reverberated in his head. When he flipped through a magazine about the Civil War, the same words jumped out at him on the page.
The quote was attributed to Confederate General John B. Gordon, who repeated it while he held his troops back at the Battle of Antietam. In a study by Dr. Walter Semkiw, M.D., a reincarnation researcher and psychiatrist, Jeffrey discovered he also had birthmarks in the same places where General Gordon was injured in battle.
Dr. Walter Semkiw
The same doctor who studied Jeffrey Keene began his career in reincarnation when he recognized a significant overlap between himself and John Adams, the second president of the United States. As a medical student at the University of Illinois in 1984, Dr. Semkiw visited a medium who told him that in a previous life, he wrote something on parchment paper that was responsible for “securing the ideals of humanity.”
The medium also encouraged him to study the life of John Adams, because doing so would allow him to see himself. Dr. Semkiw ignored the medium’s advice until 11 years later, when he heard a “booming voice” emphasize his need to study John Adams.
In independent research and visits to almost a dozen different mediums, Dr. Semkiw realized he and Adams bore physical resemblance and shared several personality traits, including a “bluntness that can be abrasive at times.”
Actress Shirley Maclaine has always been open about her New Age beliefs. In her book, I’m Over All That, Shirley described in vivid detail experiences she had in her many past lives. In one instance, Shirley recalled living as an “androgynous being” who was divided into two forms, a male and female.
“Slowly, my body began to separate into two vibrations—one yin and one yang,” she said. “I directed my soul to enter the female side of my seperated body. From then on, I felt as a human being that I would always look for my other half.”
Duminda Bandara Ratnayake
Duminda Bandara Ratnayake started talking about his past life as a monk and following the rituals and restrictions of monk life at age 3. The boy said that he once was a senior monk at Asgiriya temple, an hour away from where he lived in Thundeniya, Sri Lanka.
He talked about owning a radio, and said there was a pain in his chest when he died. Venerable Mahanayaka Gunnepana, a late monk from the Asgiriya temple, fit Duminda’s description almost perfectly. Instead of having a radio, though, he had a gramophone, which the modern boy might not have known the word for. Duminda also remembered driving Mahanayaka’s red car, which few monks in the region had.
Nazih Al-Danaf shocked his parents when he told them of his many “weapons” when he was 18-months-old. He regaled them with tales of a mute, one-handed friend and the red car he owned. He said he died because people shot him. Erlendur Haraldsson, Ph.D., professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Iceland in Reykjavik, traveled to Nazih’s home in Lebanon to investigate.
Nazih led Professor Haraldsson to a home in a town 10.5 miles away, where a man named Fuad Assad Khaddage once lived. There, Nazih spoke to Fuad’s widow. She confirmed that details Nazih shared with his family matched Fuad’s life. Among a series of test questions the widow asked, all of which he answered correctly, Nazih identified the family member who built the fence around her house.
After a school field trip to a temple 145 miles away from her hometown in Sri Lanka, Purnima Ekanayake became convinced she once lived and worked as a male incense maker in Kelaniya, the town across from the temple. She said her male self died in a car accident.
Purnima’s father and his brother-in-law went to the town, where they learned about a man named Jindasa, an incense maker who died after a bus struck him on his bicycle. Purnima joined her family in Kelaniya, where she identified Jindasa’s wife and daughter, and knew the name of the school he attended.
The strange trail of birthmarks on the left side of Purnima’s chest and ribs matched the placements of the bruises and fractures found on Jindasa’s body in his autopsy.
On a visit to the British Museum in her native London, Dorothy Eady became so transfixed by the Egyptian galleries, she kissed the statues’ feet and cried to her mother, “Leave me here, these are my people!” From then on, Dorothy had recurring dreams of Egyptian scenery. When she saw a photo of the Temple of Seti I at Abydos, she told her father, “This is my home! This is where I used to live!”
As an adult, Dorothy married an Egyptian man and moved to Cairo. The couple had a baby named Seti, after the 19th dynasty Pharaoh. Dorothy was known as Omn Sety, or Mother of Seti. Before their marriage ended, Dorothy’s husband saw her wake in a trancelike state and write pages of hieroglyphics in the middle of the night. According to Dorothy’s “automatic writing,” she was the reincarnation of a priestess named Bentreshyt, who killed herself after she became pregnant with Pharaoh Seti’s child.
She said Pharaoh Seti visited her in her dreams. In 1956, Dorothy became the first woman to join the Antiquities Department in Abydos, one of Egypt’s oldest cities. She used her past life memories to find the Temple of Seti I garden, which archeologists had yet to excavate, as well as a hidden tunnel at the north end of the Temple.
Ma Tin Aung Myo
Ma Tin Aung Myo was a Burmese girl convinced she was once a Japanese soldier who fought and died in World War II. She told Ian Stevenson, a psychiatrist from UVA, that the man she used to be was from Northern Japan and had five children. She was terrified of airplanes; in her past life, machine-gun fire from an aircraft killed her.
As a soldier, she ran for cover from the plane but was struck by a bullet in the groin, where she had a small birthmark. Ma Tin said the plane that killed her had two tails, which fit the look of a Lockheed P-38 Lightning, the Allied planes used in the Burma campaign. This was the most significant indication her past life memories were real. She also preferred sweet curries and raw fish over traditional spicy Burmese foods, and complained of the hot Burmese climate.
Shanti Devi’s parents dismissed their 4-year-old’s claims about having a “husband and children” until they became extremely specific. Shanti talked about the food she ate with her husband, the clothes she wore and described his appearance. He was light-skinned with a mole on his left cheek and reading glasses.
He owned a cloth shop in front of the Dwarkadhish temple in Mathura, 113 miles from Shanti’s home. By age 6, Shanti detailed to her parents how she died in childbirth. A few years later, she told a relative her husband’s name: Pandit Kedarnath Chaube. The cousin wrote a letter to Kedarnath listing Shanti’s claims, all of which matched his description, and he agreed to meet.
Kedarnath came to Shanti’s home in Delhi, where she accurately described the place in his house where he hid money and the location of a well she once bathed in. She cried when she saw Kedarnath’s son. In 1937, Mahatma Gandhi appointed a committee of 15 people to study Shanti’s case and go with her to Mathura.
When she visited Kedarnath for the first time, she directed the driver with ease and navigated through his house as though she’d been there her whole life.