A Site for the Expansion of Consciousness

Heather: From time to time I feature other authors, researchers, and hypnotherapists on my blog. Today I am very excited to have Dr. Joseph Mancini on PLR Institute.

Dr. Mancini is currently a Clinical Hypnotherapist specializing in Spiritual Hypnotherapy and certified by numerous international and national certifying bodies.  He also has a Master’s in Organization Development, which he uses for executive coaching and corporate training on various leadership topics.  In addition, he had worked for over 20 years as a Clinical Social Worker and, with his Ph.D. in Literature from Harvard, had taught, for 17 years in various universities, an array of literature and literature-and-psychology courses.  He has published articles in his various fields of study and has authored two books on past lives and past-life regression.

Heather: Dr. Mancini, thank you for joining me today.
First, of all, let me say Congratulations on your new book Ending the Endless Conflict: Healing Narratives from Past-Life Regressions to the Civil War.  Can you share with us how you first became interested in past lives?

Joseph: Well, nearly 40 years ago, when I was an assistant professor of literature and starting to get a bit bored with the limitations of that profession, a friend of mine introduced me to the Seth Material channeled by Jane Roberts, who passed over in 1984.  I was blown away by what Seth said about past lives and other alternate selves, though it took a bit of time to integrate into my world view these phenomena that were so undermining of my limiting beliefs about the Universe (or, as Seth would call it, All That Is).  (Along with other metaphysical texts, I have been reading and re-reading Seth’s works for all the succeeding years and have used his concepts in my writing, including my two books.)

And, back then, as if Spirit knew that I needed some personal evidence of the reality of past lives, I had an experience that I would later—decades later—incorporate into my new book, Ending the Endless Conflict.  I met a woman who in many ways was decidedly not appropriate for me; yet, she displayed psychic traits that vastly intrigued me, given how new the concept of past lives was for me at the time.  We lived about 30 miles apart; and, one night, I got a phone call from someone with a slightly southern accent who called me “Jason” and asked me to “ride” over to her place as soon as I could.  Finally recognizing the voice as belonging to this woman, and always ready for an adventure, I rode my “horse” down to her place where she greeted me at the door in a flowing negligee that could have been worn by women from long ago.  Today, I would say that she was in a deep and abiding trance as we talked; I gradually discovered that “Ellie” and I were lovers during the Civil War.  The next morning, we were out of the trance—I, too, had gone into a trance during the experience—but, unfortunately, we did not speak about what had happened.  Frankly, I wasn’t sure whether the woman was psychologically stable; but, today, I would characterize her basically as being undisciplined, ungrounded in her access to the other world.

A couple of weeks later, we went to Cape May, where, just after dark, we strolled along one of the main routes into the town, the one bordered by Victorian houses.  Suddenly, the woman leaned her ear against one of the wooden gate markers at the beginning of a semicircular, grassy driveway of one of those mini-mansions.  She told me that she was hearing the creaking of wagon wheels, the snuffling of horses, and the gay banter of several people; then she started to approach the house.  Realizing that she was again in trance and back in the Civil War era, I quickly guided her away from the house before we were seen.  Back at the motel where we stayed, we again made love as “Ellie” and “Jason.”  Sadly, I soon grew tired of being tacitly and unfavorably compared to Jason and ended the relationship, never to hear from her again!

While I was in the midst of writing my book on regressions to the Civil War, I consulted a trusted psychic who confirmed that the woman and I were, indeed, paramours during that era.  Readers of this interview can consult my book for further details about “Ellie” and “Jason” and the healing potential for this incarnation of my knowing about that past life.

Heather: Can you tell us a little about your new book?

Joseph: Oh, sure.  As indicated from my last response, the book has a very personal dimension.  In fact, as I explain in the Preface, I started the book during a difficult time in my life and found that it provided a healing for me, not only of my then despair, but also of my not-quite-resolved issues from my Vietnam experience many years ago.  Taken by a friend to Gettysburg, I visited one of the battlefields, none of which I had paid attention to on my two or three visits to the town.  As we traveled up the road to Culp’s Hill, I saw the regimental markers that I took for tombstones.  I was overwhelmed by the thought of the immense carnage and suddenly had the idea that, with my hypnotherapy training, I might be able to offer some healing to present-day individuals who had past lives during the War.  And, somehow, the regressions might bring some healing to those past-life selves as well (since all lives are actually going on simultaneously in the Spacious Present and thus are not ended, despite our common perceptions created by the time-space continuum).

The governing metaphor of the book is found in the ancient Hindu story of the blind men who encounter an elephant for the first time.  Each of them, in contact with only one part of the elephant, declares that he knows fully what this new creature is.  For instance, the one touching the trunk believes the elephant to be snake-like, while the one holding a giant ear declares the creature to be bird-like with huge, heavy wings.  None of the blind men is willing to make room for the experience of any of the others.  This overconfidence in the rightness and totality of any one view to the exclusion of any others divided the North and the South, even before the start of the Civil War, and, very sadly, continues to this day in our fractured and polarized political and social worlds.  Gary Gallagher, a University of Virginia historian whose work I very much admire, talks about four interpretive traditions found in traditional histories of the Conflict; these traditions each tend to see the War, an Elephant in itself, through one lens and minimize or outright dismiss the others, thus creating dissension among historians and common citizens that never ends.

What I discovered in doing the regressions is that each person, living back then or today, is an equally complex Elephant, a creature of multiple dimensions.  These facets include different parts of the conscious or subconscious selves, as well as the alternate selves that make up the vastness of the Soul, such as past lives, future lives, parallel or probable selves, and counterpart selves—all of which factor into the stories in the book.

However, when the individual does not recognize or accept his/her multi-dimensionality or that of others (individuals or groups), trouble prevails, including physical, psychological, and spiritual sickness and even non-productive conflict and ultimately war.  Lack of awareness or dismissal of one’s multiplicity can lead to the polarization (inner war) of opposite sides of oneself, to the rejection of alternate selves and the resources they can provide, to the projection of those rejected parts (the Shadow) onto others whom the individual can dismiss, hate or even kill.  The consequent reduction of the complexity of the self leads to the stereotyping of the self as good and the other as bad—all of which creates hostility between inner parts or between the self and the other.  Being one-dimensional robs the self of the resources necessary to deal adequately and compassionately with a world ever growing in complexity.

In each of the thirty-four stories recounted in the book, the individual suffers and often causes others to suffer because of his or her failure to see the self and the other as complex human beings.  Just one quick example: in one case study, Natalie (pseudonym) believed she would not be a combatant but instead be a domestic of some kind in her past life; for she abhorred violence and could not watch the war movies her soldier-husband frequently watched after his tour in Iraq over 10 years ago.  They were well polarized in this dimension of their relationship.  Well, Natalie was in for quite a shock when she encountered her past-life self: she was Raymond, a drummer boy who eventually morphed into a vicious killer of the enemy, who survived the War, but could not quite integrate his former brutality into a conception of his peace-time self, that is, until just before his death, when I helped him do just that so he could die at peace with himself.  In her current life, Natalie had not accepted her capacity for betrayal of others and, like Raymond with his brutality, could not integrate that trait into her conception of herself.  So, Raymond’s being able to finally assimilate all his parts, shadowy and otherwise, helped her begin to accept her inner diversity and finally understand the basis for her betrayals.

While that was an amazing healing, more was to come.  Having been in Vietnam, I explained to Natalie that the reason her husband could not share with her much about his Iraq tour is that, given her disgust with violence, he did not feel her to be a comrade, one who would not flinch from his story and thus could listen with compassion.  She went home and cautiously told him about the regression; to her utter surprise, he immediately began to tell her what he had not been able to tell her before.  Now, having listened to his wife’s own war story, he could trust her, open up to his new comrade, and therefore begin his own healing in bringing his hell home to his now compassionate fellow soldier.

There is so much more to tell, but I have to restrain my passion for this project that helped heal me as well.

Heather: I’ve been reading your new book and find it fascinating. I’m pleased to see how busy you are. I remember your wonderful radio program and your previous book The Present Power of Past Lives: The Experts Speak. Any other projects in the works?

Joseph:  Thank you, Heather.  And I remember the equally fascinating interview I did with you for that book!

As for new projects, I am certain I have at least one more book (and maybe more) gestating within me.  But I am not clear on the topic.  I have contemplated a sequel to Ending the Endless Conflict—I have one more regression I did involving a nurse working around D.C. during the War, as well as the names of several other willing participants.  I also have been toying with the idea of doing a book on regressions to the American Revolutionary War.  But I think I want to do something else first, possibly a book of interviews with practitioners who work with dreams from different interpretative traditions, e.g., Jungian, Gestalt, Shamanic, Sethian, and others.  I also plan to do some online teaching in the next few months (check my website for details at www.lifetransforminghypnotherapy.com) on Working with Crystal Skulls, Accessing Alternate Selves for Healing, and Approaches to Dream Interpretation.

Heather: If someone was interested in learning more about past lives where would you suggest they start?

Joseph: I actually would start with my first book, The Present Power of Past Lives: The Experts Speak. As one prominent reviewer on Amazon said about it, the book could serve as a text for a course in the topic.  In it, I speak to twelve experts in the field of past-lives, covering just about every venue in which accessing past lives is important.  The books written by these individuals will further explain what they synopsize in their interviews.

I also urge individuals to make sure that they have a spiritual context in which to understand fully the notion of past lives and related issues.  They can do this by researching a metaphysics that can account also for some of the strange phenomena that pop up during regressions.  As I mentioned earlier, I have found the Seth Material to be absolutely invaluable in guiding my understanding of our multi-dimensional reality.  In The Present Power, I comment on what the experts say through the massive lens of Seth’s metaphysics, including a chapter on what Karma is and is not (It is not a time-bound, cause-and-effect, eye-for-an-eye, deterministic phenomenon; it is rather a series of free choices embodied in contracts among souls for the enrichment of all concerned).

Heather: Has past life work changed your life? If so, how?

Joseph: It has made me less fearful and more powerful because it has expanded my sense of who I am as a multidimensional soul having physical experiences.  I think the notion of a one-dimensional soul with one body, one life, is productive of great fear, recognized consciously or not.  You have one chance to grow, to get it “right” before you are judged as worthy or not—my gosh, how scary!  Having grown up Catholic, that’s what I was taught, yet always pushed against.  The one-life model also robs the individual of all the resources that are waiting to be accessed in his/her other lives, resources that include skills, perspectives, and experiences seemingly alien to the person as he/she normally perceives the self.  Moreover, the one life model keeps us from maximum empathy for others, especially for those very much unlike us; but, if the soul of each of us is multi-dimensional, then each of us is very likely to be deeply connected to alternate selves like past lives that are very different from how we ordinarily see ourselves: e.g., the macho male is soulfully connected to a very feminine woman in another time or place.

Heather: You must spend a lot of time and energy on your work. What do you do to recharge? Do you have a creative outlet?

Joseph: That is a very interesting question, Heather.  I would say first that my work—the individual and group sessions, as well as the writing—can be tiring; yet all that also recharges me, makes me feel expansive and even joyful, especially when I see a client or a reader of one of my books blossom in some way, psychologically and/or spiritually.  Yet, like everyone else, I need downtime, especially near water.  I love taking out my Hobie, pedal-driven kayak; someday, I will get another of Hobie’s kayak sailboats, which will be even more relaxing.  I also like to see plays, amateur and professional, and have tossed around the idea of writing one myself and having it produced.  Ah…if there were only 36 or more hours in a day!

Heather: Thank you again for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk with me today. Where can our readers find out more about your work?

Joseph:  They can always check out my website at www.LifeTransformingHypnotherapy.com and my blogsite at www.ExplorationsinSpirit.com.  If they want to be on my mailing list, they can contact me through my website or by emailing me directly at soulsrvr@erols.com.  I would also like to hear from individuals who have a strong interest in or a strong repugnance to the Civil War and/or the American Revolutionary War.  They could become participants in one of my future books!
I want to thank you so much, Heather, for this opportunity to share my work with your readers!

PODCAST:  To hear Joe talk about his new book on a podcast, visit Path11 Productions here

My Newest Book!

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The Civil War is still with us!

It exists in our stereotyping of self and Other, in our polarized thinking, and in our unwillingness to see the presence of the Other within ourselves and in our groups.

In Ending the Endless Conflict: Healing Narratives from Past-Life Regressions to the Civil War, Dr. Joseph Mancini takes the reader on multiple journeys to the Civil War, the main source of the polarized thinking that haunts America today. By investigating the Civil War, past lives of seventeen individuals living today, Dr. Mancini provides the potential for healing on both the individual and collective levels. He shows how insistence on one-dimensional, stereotyped perspectives about self and Other; failure to acknowledge and integrate the shadow side of the psyche; inability to hold seemingly incompatible perceptions together while staying grounded; and profound lack of empathy for warring internal dimensions and alienated external selves—how all those limitations created intense anguish for both the present and past-life personae.

In the pages of Ending, readers will meet captivating Civil War personalities, including

  • Gregory, a young slave who flees Union invaders only to find freedom more onerous than slavery;
  • James Matthews, a Negro soldier who fights for and is ultimately betrayed by the Union Army;
  • Jen, a Confederate, White girl who is more connected emotionally to Negroes than to Whites;
  • John Roberts, a Union doctor who abruptly leaves the battlefield to care for peopleback home;
  • Edward Fitzgerald, a Confederate doctor who treats a Negro Union soldier and then deserts to treat both Negro and White communities on the home front;
  • Anna Beechum, a Confederate wife who fears her husband has deserted and,consequently, makes a home with her former slave;
  • Margaret Ann Tanner, a Confederate wife who copes with the difficult home front by “turning a blind eye”;
  • Ruby, a naïve, Confederate girl who sleeps with a seductive and callous Union Officer;
  • Elizabeth Fisher, an emotionally fragile, Confederate girl who sleeps with a Negro slavewho is consequently murdered;
  • Carlita Mendez, a young, Hispanic, Confederate woman who gives up most of her love life because of fear of loss;
  • Joe McIntyre and his brother, two very young, idealistic brothers who eagerly join theUnion ranks, but soon face unexpected horrors;
  • Raymond Banks, a Union Drummer Boy who becomes a combatant and turns into a brutal warrior;
  • Amos Adams, a Southern young man who surrenders his power to choose his own            destiny;
  • Theodore Charles Woodruff, a Confederate, young man who faces his killer Shadow andbecomes a creator of life;
  • John Morrison Oliver, a dedicated, fierce, Union soldier who becomes a General, findshis heart, and reaches out to his former enemy;
  • and an unknown, Union scout, who becomes a combatant and is a Counterpart Self to another, Union scout in a reconnaissance balloon.

A final, past-life personage, Robert E. Lee, is accessed, not as his actual self ,but rather in terms of his still “living” worldview by one of his descendants.

Besides illustrating the sometimes overwhelming tragedy of those past lives, the stories that unfold are themselves fascinating windows into the era’s many cultural aspects, domestic and military, including, among others, slavery, Northern as well as Southern racism, Southern and Northern concepts of honor, and the hopes for, as well as the horrors of the War for both sides.

The underlying metaphysics for this work are spiritual concepts voiced by Seth, that “energy personality essence” channeled by Jane Roberts, the “grandmother” of most of today’s spiritual thought leaders. With the help of the Seth Material, spiritual phenomena like Past Lives, Counterpart Selves, Future Selves, Parallel Selves, and “living” worldviews—all encountered in the regressions—are explained. Sacred Contracts between individuals, ghosts, and spirit attachments are also part of the mix of fascinating topics.

In addition, Ending includes an account of the author’s own past life during the Civil War. His writing the book also becomes the means for his full healing from his Vietnam military experience that had eluded him for decades.   This material is found in the Preface, in several endnotes, in the PostScript, and occasionally in the main body of the book.

All of these purposes coalesce into a timely, informative, powerful, and immensely engaging work.

Praise for Ending the Endless Conflict

Ending the Endless Conflict is an inspired work. The trauma of war stays with us, whether it is from a current-life experience or from a previous life. I learned this some years ago when my five-year-old son vividly recalled his traumatic death on a Civil War battlefield and, after talking about his memory, had a physical and emotional healing.   Joe Mancini has found a path to healing deep, complex, psychological and emotional wounds of war, through his own experience in Vietnam and from the past lives during the Civil War uncovered by his clients. This is a fascinating, well-written and well-researched book.

–Carol Bowman, M.S., is the author of Children’s Past Lives and Return From Heaven.


Ending the Endless Conflict: Healing Narratives from Past-Life Regressions to the Civil War by Joseph Mancini Jr. is a fascinating book that explores the concept of reincarnation in ways that, to my knowledge, have never been explored before in such depth. This book will be a valuable addition to the field of consciousness exploration and have a timeless relevance for all readers. As we share in the stories of those who participated in this real-life study, we are led to understand the healing power that can come when we seek to understand the interplay that exists between past-life events and our present lives. I highly recommend this book and have no doubt that, if you read it with an open mind, you will be as deeply affected by these stories as I was.

–Richard Kendall is one of the ‘New York Boys’ who attended Jane Roberts ESP Class in the 70s and is the author of The Road to Elmira.


Many years ago, the spiritual teacher, Seth, predicted that humans would eventually transition to a higher state of consciousness in which we would meld mind and imagination in a ‘higher intellect.’ According to Seth, this potentiality is latent within us now; and he recommended hypnosis as one way of tapping into it. In Ending the Endless Conflict: Healing Narratives from Past-Life Regressions to the Civil War, Dr. Joe Mancini explores the ways in which hypnosis can allow subjects to access past incarnations to address present-day hurts and apply the healing wisdom of the higher intellect. Dr. Mancini demonstrates his masterful command of Seth’s teachings while bringing them to bear in a practical setting. He relates to his present-day clients with enormous respect, sensitivity, and insight; and the accounts of their Civil War era incarnations are highly engaging. Ending the Endless Conflict is a compelling and thoughtful exploration of the power of hypnosis for healing and of the untapped wisdom that resides within us all.

–Joyce Kilmartin, Ph.D., M.B.A., MTP., is a former corporate consultant and now a transpersonal coach and counselor in Barrington, R.I. She is also the author of Worldviews in Transition: Applying Three Models of Human Development to the Seth Texts, as well as the creator of the blog, “Seth Says: Worldly Advice from Out of This World.”


Ending the Endless Conflict is a must-read for anyone who feels drawn to the American Civil War. Dr. Joseph Mancini does an outstanding job of documenting the culture and society of the North and South while he walks the reader through his personal search as well as client stories with regression therapy. In addition, Dr. Mancini explores the healing process that can take place by sharing how these memories continued to influence his clients’ current lives. Whether you view these stories as past lives, analogies, or archetypes is less important than acknowledging that we, as Americans, continue to be affected by this devastating time in our collective history.

–Janet Cunningham, Ph.D., is President of the International Board of Regression Therapy (IBRT), author of 12 books and CDs, Certified Regression Therapist, Trainer, and owner of Two Suns Press/Heritage Authors.


Joseph Mancini, Jr., in his study described in Ending the Endless Conflict, has done more than merely regress each participant back to his or her Civil War former life to learn how it has affected the current one.  More importantly, he created a template, a path to healing for them, and for all those who have been affected by war, whether it be the Civil War, Viet Nam, or any other war.  It even provides a ray of hope for those who knew not what to say when their warriors returned home, hope that there is a way for the barriers of silence and guilt to be lifted.  Dr. Mancini opens the door for us so that necessary conversation can take place, not only about the past, but also about the present; as a result, both individual and collective healing are possible.

–Nancy L. Eubel, M.B.A., MCHt, CCH, Rt, is author of Mindwalking: Rewriting Your Past to Create Your Future.


In Ending the Endless Conflict: Healing Narratives from Past-Life Regressions to the Civil War, Dr. Joseph Mancini, pens stories in a flowing prose that easily transports the reader back to that devastating Conflict. His addition of relevant historical facts augments the very real stories of the featured individuals and offers a poignant backdrop to their plights. Through the descriptions of his interactions with his clients, Dr. Mancini creates a wonderfully accessible approach to understanding the complex way that past, present and future lives overlap; in so doing, he shows the individual how to alter his or her reality at any given point in time to promote healing on many levels. This book is an extremely thought-provoking, literary work that is difficult to put down; as such, it is one of the most enjoyable books I’ve read in quite some time.      

         Kim Starzewski, Metaphysical Journeyer and Director of Data Mining.


Ending the Endless Conflict does far more than provide a fascinating glimpse of life during the Civil War through the eyes of those who actually experienced it.  These past-life regression experiences offer a priceless look at the link between the past and the present.  Joseph Mancini, Jr., also reveals many enlightening spiritual truths.  He writes, for example, “The material world then, far from being a place simply of Karmic suffering, is instead the arena for enhanced opportunities for personality and Soul growth and, ultimately, for the enrichment of All That Is.”  This is truly a book worth reading!

–Josie Varga is the author of several books including Visits to Heaven and A Call from Heaven: Personal Accounts of Deathbed Visits, Angelic Visions, and Crossings to the Other Side. 


This thoroughly fascinating book, Ending the Endless Conflict, shows us how to access the depths of our experiences in past lives in order to heal and to have fuller, more fulfilling lives now. Though Dr. Mancini focuses on regressions to lives lived during the Civil War, the lessons gleaned from these stories can be applied to all of us who have an open mind and a desire to raise our awareness about our life’s decisions and our Soul’s journey. I’m lucky to have had the benefit of doing past-life regressions with Dr. Joe, and I can attest to the benefits of the method described in his book. I highly recommend it.

–Cyd Rowley is an artist, jeweler, and spiritual seeker.


In Ending the Endless Conflict, Dr. Joseph Mancini, Jr. has created a book rare in its chronicling of past-life regressions to the Civil War.  Instead of merely regressing each participant back to his or her life during the War, he went on to discover how each former life has influenced the current life. Very thorough in his analyses, Dr. Mancini has shown how the regressions could help with the emotional healing of the present individual. Referencing the work of many experts to provide historical contexts, he also has included metaphysical references for spiritual understanding. Anyone with an open mind regarding reincarnation will learn from this remarkable book much about the Civil War and about healing through regression.

–Roy Hunter, DIMDHA, DAPHP, is a Certified Hypnotherapist, the published author of several hypnosis textbooks, and the editor of The Art of Spiritual Hypnosis.


As a hypnotherapist with an interest in past-life work, I found Dr. Joe Mancini’s book on past lives during the Civil War to be not only a compelling read, but also an in-depth study on how our present-day life, emotions, and choices can be, and are, influenced by our past-life experiences. Through these stories, we are taken into the shadows of racial prejudice and war, perils of the past that continue to haunt us today. With great eloquence, Dr. Mancini teaches us how we can learn from our Soul’s experiences so that we may live a better life today, not only for ourselves, but also for all of humanity.

–Linda Baker is an R.N., Master Alchemist, and author of three books, including            Soul Contracts.


I urge you to take a mindful stroll through Ending the Endless Conflict: Healing Narratives from Past-Life Regressions to the Civil War by Joseph Mancini, Jr. This is a terrific, multi-tiered book, which mixes scholarship, history, anecdotes and esoteric knowledge. Such a thorough and grounded grasp of concepts both spiritual and historical is rare in the field of reincarnation studies. Dr. Mancini adds weight to this Soul subject by adding historical perspectives on the Civil War, along with individual stories from past-life personae who actually lived through it. Moreover, I found the many names of the Civil War, which Dr. Mancini cites, particularly thought-provoking, for events and conflicts are, indeed, often colored by biases and short-sighted perspectives. History can thus be slanted and swayed, and thus even be essentially re-written.  Because he understands his subject well, Dr. Mancini skillfully guides the reader easily through the multidimensional historical and spiritual discussions he presents. Highly recommended.

–Stephen Poplin, M.A., CCHt., is the former, International Director of the Michael Newton Institute, and author of Inner Journeys, Outer Sojourns.


Joseph Mancini’s new book, Ending the Endless Conflict: Healing Narratives from Past-Life Regressions to the Civil War shares a rich collection of healing journeys made possible by using the powerful hypnotic technique of past-life regression. This book will open eyes and soften hearts as it reveals that we are so much more than we think we are. My hope is that the focus on the carryover of Civil War trauma into present lives will somehow help heal the continuing divisions that persist between the North and the South.

–Jack Elias, CHT., is the author of Finding True Magic: Transpersonal Hypnosis & Hypnotherapy/NLP, and Director of the Institute for Therapeutic Learning.





Hi, Everyone,

I am delighted to announce the publication of my new book,
The Present Power of Past Lives: The Experts Speak.

It is now available on Amazon!

In late 2013, I conducted a series of radio interviews on globally-based VoiceAmerica with experts in the field of past lives, past-life regression, and the expansion of consciousness. Based on those interviews and with additional materials, my book starts with my practices and tips for helping a client achieve a successful past-life regression and finding an appropriate regressionist.

After I interview three of my clients about the healing that past-life regression can provide, I discuss what Karma is and is not. In contrast to a time-bound, cause-and-effect mechanism that tends to focus on what amounts to predetermined punishment for transgressions committed earlier in the present or in a past life, I see a pattern of freely-chosen contracts/choices made with others to try out a different path.

Following the chapter on Karma are ten other chapters devoted to the different contexts in which practitioners have accessed past lives. See the Table of Contents below.

Through the text and Endnotes, I comment on what is presented in the interviews from the point of view of Seth, that “energy personality essence” channeled by Jane Roberts from 1963 to her death in 1984.

Making this perspective even more concrete are the interviews with two of Jane’s ESP students, Rich Kendall and the late Lawrence Davidson, who share what it was like to have Seth comment on several of their own past lives.

This book will appeal greatly to followers of Seth, those interested in the expansion of consciousness, those curious about past lives and related matters, and novice and experienced practitioners of past-life regression.

I hope you will purchase and read the book and, if you like it, write a review of the book on Amazon.


Table of Contents
Preface 13

Introduction 23

Chapter One: The Nature of Past-Life Regression and
Participants’ Stories 37

Chapter Two: Karma: What It Is and Is Not 57

Chapter Three: Past Lives and The Seth Material, Part 1: 70
An interview With Rich Kendall

Chapter Four: Children’s Past Lives: 89
An Interview with Carol Bowman

Chapter Five: Past Lives and Attached Entities: 111
An Interview with Greg McHugh

Chapter Six: Past-Life Regression and Shamanic Journeying: 130
An Interview with Dana Robinson and Shana Robinson

Chapter Seven: Past Lives and Soul Contracts: 151
An Interview with Linda Baker

Chapter Eight: Past-Life Regression for Intact Groups: 169
An Interview with Janet Cunningham

Chapter Nine: Past Lives and Natal Regression: 187
An Interview with Tim Simmerman-Sierra

Chapter Ten: Past-Life Regression to Capture Lost History: 205
An Interview with Joanna Prentis and Stuart Wilson

Chapter Eleven: Edgar Cayce and Past Lives in Atlantis: 225
An Interview with Nancy Eubel

Chapter Twelve: Past Lives and Life-Between-Lives: 241
An Interview with Dee Chips

Chapter Thirteen: Research on the Positive Effects of
Past-Life Regression: 259
An Interview with Heather S. Friedman Rivera

Chapter Fourteen: Past Lives and The Seth Material, Part 2: 275
An Interview with Lawrence Davidson

Postscript 288

Appendix I: Further Tips for Having a Productive Past-Life Regression 291

Appendix II: Grounding Exercises for Spiritual Journeying 295

Appendix III: Comparing Shamanism to Past-Life Regression 303

Appendix IV: Images and Words from Dr. Janet
Cunningham’s Book, A Tribe Returned 318

Bibliography 323

Guest Bios 332

Host and Author Bio 344

Chapter Notes 347



Seekers of expanded consciousness will revel in Dr. Joe Mancini’s compilation of cutting-edge work and key practitioners in the field today. As a talk show host, he takes the reader on a journey into other dimensions that offer new ways not only of healing ourselves, but also of recharging and reconfiguring our minds, hearts, physicality and spirituality. He dares to lead us into our own natal experiences, past lives and life between lives. He explores the Seth Material’s perspective on Karma, time and space and leaves the reader empowered with choice. This is a powerful book for novices and professionals alike!

Barbara Lane, Ph.D., CHt., is a past-life researcher and has regressed thousands (of people). Her work has been featured on TV, radio and in newsprint. (For over a decade, she served as hypnotherapist at George Washington University’s Center for Integrative Medicine in Washington, D.C.) Her most recent book is Celebrity Past-Life Clues: A Closer Look into the Past Lives of 50 Famous People.


This remarkable book, heavily influenced by the Seth material by Jane Roberts, is a must-read for anyone with an interest in the concept of past lives and their influence on the current existence. With a Harvard Ph.D. and other impressive degrees and certificates, including a specialization in Spiritual Hypnotherapy, Dr. Joseph Mancini Jr. has become a unique explorer into the past lives—and the implications of those lives—of many people. In crystalizing the concept through his own knowledge and the expertise of twelve practitioners whom he interviewed as host of a very popular radio show, Joe opens our own insights to a spectacular degree. This book is one-of-a-kind and not to be missed!

–Lynda Madden Dahl is Co-Founder of Seth Network International and author of eight, Seth-based books, including her Living a Safe Universe series.


Dr. Joe Mancini, Jr. takes the reader on a very interesting journey into not only past-life regression, but also, among other topics, Soul Contracts, Children’s Past Lives, Life-Between-Lives, Edgar Cayce’s Atlantis—all glossed through the perspectives of the Seth teachings. His book is a fascinating blend of interviews, case histories and even helpful hints about experiencing a past-life regression. Those new to metaphysics and professionals alike will benefit from this material.

Katherine Zimmerman is an internationally known author and speaker, Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist, Reiki Master, and EFT Practitioner. She is the Director of the California Hypnotherapy Academy, a former guest lecturer for the University of California Medical Center, Davis and a conference presenter.


Through interviews with experts in the field, Dr. Joe explores a fascinating array of topics related to past-life research and past-life regression therapy, ranging from natal regression to the Interlife to the true meaning of Karma. Encompassing both personal accounts and professional perspectives, Dr. Joe delivers the equivalent of a full-length course in a single volume. Best of all, Dr. Joe locates these conversations within the framework of Seth’s teachings on the nature of reality. In so doing, he makes a substantive contribution to the body of secondary writings that support and extend the Seth Material.

Joyce Kilmartin, M.B.A., MTP, Ph.D. is a former corporate consultant and now

a transpersonal coach and counselor in Barrington, R.I.; she is also the author of Worldviews in Transition: Applying Three Models of Human Development to the Seth Texts, and the creator of the blog, “Seth Says: Worldly Advice From Out of This World.”


For any reader new to metaphysics, Dr. Joe Mancini, Jr. has done an excellent job focusing on a number of intriguing topics within spiritual counseling, hypnotherapy and past-life regression. Using the Seth Material and Past Lives as a helpful lens, Joe interviews experts who discuss important areas that do not typically receive a great deal of visibility. Topics include, among others, Soul Contracts, Attached Entities, Natal Regressions, Shamanic Journeying, Edgar Cayce and Atlantis, and Life Between Lives. Plus he offers a helpful discussion about the research into the positive benefits that can come from exploring one’s Past Lives. I heartily recommend this book to those who are eager to learn more about these fascinating topics.

Peter Wright is a Santa Barbara-based, Board-Certified, Past-Life Regression Therapist with 24 years of experience in this field.


I’m delighted and honored to review Dr. Joe Mancini’s marvelous achievement, The Present Power of Past Lives—What the Experts Say. Dr. Joe is a modern day “psychic archaeologist,” whose broad talents include his first-rate ability to help people access not only their past lives, but also their future, probable, and parallel lives while under deep hypnosis. We are all multidimensional beings; and, indeed, Dr. Joe’s subjects reveal a rich tapestry of vivid, past-life experiences, many of which allow the regressed the opportunity to explore their own inner landscape and permit the regressionist, Dr. Joe, the opportunity to balance their inner and outer spiritual needs as necessary.  Dr. Joe’s work offers unique insights into consciousness explorations via various hypnotherapy modalities as accepted means of assisting people who wish to explore their “past.” I feel that we owe Dr. Joe a debt of gratitude for bringing us, with the help of other experts he interviews, to the cutting edge of this exciting field. Go Joe!

–Ron Card is a retired photojournalist and a Seth presenter and practitioner who has read and applied the principals and philosophy of the Seth Material for over forty years.


As a practicing, certified, clinical hypnotherapist who specializes in past-life regression, I found Joe’s book not only insightful, but also compelling and greatly enjoyable.  Dr. Joe’s book lovingly furthers the conversation on reincarnation and the very real potentials for healing and learning in the present lifetime by including a wealth of perspectives from first-person experiences of past-life regression.  The Present Power of Past Lives—What the Experts Say is accessible and coherent, and is presented in a practical format, which is of use to both the clinician as well as lay explorers of consciousness.

Jeff Ennor, CCHT


Joseph Mancini’s new book is an exciting array of eclectic therapeutic disciplines. Comprising a broad selection of inspiring, thought-provoking information, this book appeals to a broad, avid readership for both the curious professional and the spiritually-oriented reader. Using the “Seth” material and past-life regression as the focal point, The Present Power… introduces some of “the worlds beyond our ordinary space-time reality,” e.g., prenatal regression, earth-bound entities, between-lives material, soul contracts and group reincarnation. Shared in the format of radio interviews, the amassed information is easily understood and has a nice flow. Curious professionals can glean a number of valuable techniques for expanded exploration. This book contains also an excellent section of clarifying notes interspersed with Seth material, as well as the therapeutic perspectives, beliefs, and findings of those professionals interviewed. Mancini’s book is a most welcome edition to the expanding field of transpersonal regression therapy.

–Albert Marotta, MA., CHt.


This book is one man’s journey through the fields and valleys of his intellect and intuition with the Seth material and his Self as his guides—as he explores the minds he meets and tries to answer metaphysical, psychological and practical questions for himself and all of us, questions concerning how the existence of simultaneous time and past and future lives expand our present awareness and identities, and greatly impact our present experiences.

Barrie Gellis is a teacher, poet and one of the original New York Boys in Jane Roberts’ Elmira ESP Seth Classes in the 1970s. Among Barrie’s 4,000 poems is the poetry book, Outside Is A Secret Key.



The Fisherman


Hi, Everyone,

I haven’t posted here for quite some time because I have been engaged in writing two books on past lives.  But, when I realized that Father’s Day is just around the corner, I felt an inner push to publish here an autobiographical story about my relationship with my father who passed over in 1987 at the age of 77.  I wrote this story not long after he left this world and made mostly stylistic changes over the next twenty years or so.  It has been published online in a couple of men’s web-based magazines.

This is a story about my discovering my father’s complexity, about gaining insight into who he was beyond being my father.  It is about my growing out of the constrictive definitions of myself and him that I later realized I–not he–had put on both of us because of my then limiting beliefs.  I had to get bigger and help him get larger than those constraining beliefs would allow.  Ultimately, the story is about opening the heart in the face of pain and stereotyping of self and other.

I hope you enjoy it and allow the story to stimulate you to a wider awareness of your own father.

I love you, Pop!


August, 1975      


I am putting on his clothes again.

Years ago, similar mud- and blood-stained pants, bottom-rolled into cuffs, hung like two big balloons around my legs. A blue, hooded sweatshirt with ripped elbows, like this one now in my hands, had drooped in a pregnant way on my stomach. He was still alive in his clothes when I wore them. How could I make room for me?

“Here, wear these, too,” he says now. “So your mother won’t have to wash yours.”

“I won’t get dirty.”

But he pulls the pants off the hook from the back of the basement’s door and dumps them on top of the sweatshirt he had already thrown to me. A door slams shut upstairs, sending air billowing down the cellar steps. “Shit!” I say; “I left it open again—she’ll be blowing.” Hunching his shoulders forward and shaking his head, he flips both hands over into empty, outstretched palms.


Two hours ago, after coming down from Cambridge, I had taken off my shoes outside the door on the second-floor landing and tossed them against the shopping bag propped near the entry. It was filled with empty tin cans my mother had thoroughly washed out. He would be late taking the bag on his daily trash run to the fifty-gallon cans in the back alley. Her muted “Damn you!” filtered through the door’s thin, wooden panel. Feeling the rebuke intended for him, I stooped to arrange my loafers neatly beside the brown rubbers lying on several sheets of the Providence Journal. The yelling stopped. I rapped, heard her click open the lock, and then walked into my mother’s too fervent smile. Her plump arms enveloped me. When I was five, my nose against her perfumed and powdered neck, I had gazed just below my chin and imagined falling into the dark hole between the swells of her flesh. Now she drew back, her hand patting the red, Harvard insignia on my jacket. “Wait’ll you see what I got you. The olive oil was on sale, so I bought you a gallon. And Nick says, ‘Hi’; he sliced some nice cutlets for you. And guess what? There’s homemade macaroni drying on my bed and a meatball gravy I made last night—don’t forget it like the last time.”

He was standing behind her then.

I looked over her shoulder at him. “And I got salami and proscuitto and soft loaves from Crugnale’s for you two to take to the ocean,” she went on while he stood silently beside the stove, fingering a plastic bag filled with tubes of glue, a salt-water lure, and rawhide shoelaces. Above the old Tappan on a knick-knack shelf he had built, I used to leave my straight-A reports from Providence College. My mother would say, “He told me he’s proud of you—his father made him leave high school and work on the farm.” He looked away, then pressed the bag, his own gift, into my hand as I came up and brushed my bearded check against his slightly stubbled one.

A half hour later, my sister Anne told me the yelling had started when my mother found a Playboy under the T-shirts she had carefully folded into his second bureau drawer. “Remember the time,” I said to Anne, “when we couldn’t figure out how we’d ever been conceived?” “You mean,” she said, “because they didn’t sleep in the same room for years supposedly because she couldn’t stand his snoring?” I didn’t tell her that at fourteen I had still wondered about that even after his buddy, Ernie, sitting beside me on a battered rowboat at Fort Getty, had explained about the transparent balloon he had unrolled over his thumb. Then he had chuckled, “Ask him,” as he jerked that covered thumb toward his buddy, fifty yards away, who was watching the rod tips and munching an apple.


“Go get the lunches,” he says now, “and I’ll get the gear together.”  I climb the sixty-two steps to the third floor—I counted them once on one of many such trips I had made for him. Lighting one of my Benson & Hedges, I recall the Camels he had chain-smoked until he found out about his angina and switched to cherry Lifesavers. My mother would tell my sisters and me, “Don’t give him an attack.” “Go help him,” she would say when he worked around the house, laying linoleum in each of their bedrooms or building pine shelves to store canned goods. And I would go. Occasionally, I would hand him an awl, a C-clamp, or the ripsaw he always had to identify for me. Mostly, I just sat, jiggling my leg, or stood, shifting from foot to foot. There had been one more message: “He needs you to go to the ocean with him. To relax,” she would say.


From age five, every Saturday and Sunday, even sometimes at night. For twelve years. At seven, I tried to tell my mother I couldn’t go because I had to keep using the bathroom; she simply stuffed more napkins into our lunch bags. In the car, I would hand him one of those half loaves of bread filled with potato-and-egg omelet that my mother sent with us until his weight became another threat; munching them kept us from having to talk during the long drives to his favorite spots. At Matunick, Beavertail, Fort Coney, and other places, in order to go home earlier, I timed myself with his cast away from me and then liberated the bait crabs, one or two of which would always crawl sideways, insanely, back to the bucket. In another place, for hours in the pelting rain, I stood with a rod sideways, cow-like, against the gusts, feeling invisible in a tent-like, borrowed poncho. Or, at still another place, upon the water where it lapped against the barnacled pilings, my cone-shaped shadow lay undisturbed, except for an occasional plop from a sinker dropped by some red-haired kid on a family outing.


                        Now he counts two- and three-ounce sinkers into a bucket. He doesn’t notice me return with the food from upstairs. They are store-bought sinkers, somehow different from those he used to make—as I would look on nursing a headache—with a stinking, portable, gas stove and various molds. Now I linger just outside the threshold with the two, neatly-folded, lunch bags. And with her note crumpled in my shirt pocket: “He’s still upset about his father.” Zippering his soiled jacket, he pulls the white bucket, bristling with sand spikes, off the cluttered workbench and negotiates the already-rigged rods through the doorway. Only the “Sunday Ones,” fresh from Church, he always said, went with ties, jackets, green-metal tackle boxes, street shoes, and already-rigged rods. His thinning hair, more white than gray, curls untrimmed down a neck much paler than it was during past summers. As he ascends the wooden stairs to the screen-door, the clicking of his leather soles seems to rap out his erratic heartbeat.




The screen door to the backyard now whirs and pops back shut. My fingertips touch the blood-stained clothes. I throw the pants aside and begin to lose my hands in the sweatshirt’s softness. I hold my breath and plunge my head through the opening. But I still sneeze. Maybe it isn’t the salt. Maybe it’s the sawdust yellowing the bench and cement floor, or the mold and lint of this one place safe from my mother’s vacuum.


                        The sneezing had started five years ago, in Dong Ha, South Vietnam, eight miles from the border with the North. Even fresh laundering by mama-sans could not rid my fatigues of the mold that smothered everything. A five-minute bout of whole-body sneezing stretched my lungs to the limit as I lay on my cot in the hootch that housed the Bird Dogs, the Colonel’s field escort. When my chest stopped heaving, I inserted the tape into the recorder and pushed the PLAY button. It was his first message. It began with his own sneeze, a cough, and a gargle and then his demand, “Shut the damn door!”  Then another shuffling sound and he began the already prepared script: he told me about the twenty-pounder he nearly lost at Beavertail—“Joey, it was so-o-o beautiful!”—when a Sunday One crossed his line; and he chuckled about how Anne’s son wasn’t yet baiting his own hook—“He’s squeamish about blood like you were once”—and he sighed about how the price of crabs had climbed twenty-five cents in one season. He ended, “Take care of yourself. Love, Dad.”


I did my best. Four months into my tour, wrapped in a bandoleer and fingering the safety on my M-16, I helped the Bird Dogs escort the Chaplain on a clanking APC to Quang Tri, eight miles away. As the vehicle jerked to a halt, the spotlights of the descending chopper illuminated Tiny’s face. He had done this before. Our jungle boots soon clomped on the corrugated iron pad as we smashed our steel helmets down on our bobbing heads, defying the chopper’s whirlwind. Six pairs of mud-caked, boot soles faced us out of the chopper’s black hole, stacked on top of one another.

Our boots, I thought, we’re running toward our own boots!

                        Ahead of me, at the other end of the canvas stretcher, Tiny pulled me into position. The door-gunner had been shaking his head, his helmet slipping over his Army-issue glasses. “Damn bad luck to have ‘em in here! Get ready.” Then, with a grunt and grimace, he bent down and lifted the long shadow attached to the boots selected for us: it bounced twice on our canvas trampoline. Earlier that evening, Tiny had pushed aside the blanket isolating my section of the hootch. “You sly bastard, give me some,” he had said, pushing his mess dish into the steam rising from the small pot. I had reached into the pot and lifted out a half dozen white Rigatoni, dropping them onto the plate and then dripping tomato sauce on them.   My mother had written, “I hope the gravy won’t spoil with no icebox there.”

“Where?” “Into the freezer.” But it wasn’t cold there. Tiny left me staring at the boots. They were dirty brown, not green and polished black like mine. And they were laced with laminated string, not with rawhide like mine. With a magic-marker in hand and label tags in his teeth, the attendant dismissed me: “That’s all.” It was 2:00 A.M. I was neither asleep nor awake. I had to look. Beyond the boots. I saw my mother, who had scrimped to buy an expensive steak, watch the butcher grind it into coarse, white and red shreds. And, sometimes, she would supplement the hamburger with what he would bring home from the ocean. But when he skinned and gutted them on the cellar sink, they never looked like what lay on the canvas stretcher. He had been a more skillful meat-cutter. An hour later, back on my canvas cot, I stared at a pregnant spider on the two-by-four above me.

There was nothing real for me to cry about.

“Father,” I said to the legs clutching the beam.

                        “Father, Father!”


I flew home in January, 1971. I was allowed to keep my combat boots and duffel bag that served me well as a laundry case. But it would hold more than dirty clothes. When my newlywed wife went to work, I stuffed our kittens into the bag, their invisible, furry bodies thrashing it into odd shapes. Suspended from the bedroom door, the pregnant bag swung slowly from side to side. Plopped on the bed and scratching a five-day beard, I listened blankly to their cries. A month after my wife left, taking along with her the tortured animals I had given to her instead of a son, I watched him on the Matunick beach pull a four-foot scavenger out of the surf and past my combat boots. Unhooked, it quivered its gills and ground its harmless sandpaper teeth. He was re-baiting when I grasped its sickle tail. I wound my arm into a whirlwind that knocked off my cap as sea-flesh thwoped against rock. “Hey, that’s enough! It’s dead.” Its shredded snout pointed at his sneakers. “I know,” I panted, “I know.”

I was waiting for someone to die. A kind of exchange. His brother’s wife died of a brain hemorrhage on Holy Saturday and was buried the day after Easter. I had known her, five years older than I; and I cried a little. Three years later, my girlfriend’s dog, Ollie, was run over by a car and dragged himself to her porch’s stone landing where, for two hours, he slowly dribbled saliva and blood. “He was like a person to me,” she sobbed over her uneaten dinner. I had known Ollie and cried harder. But neither of them was the one.

Then, two months ago, his father died.



August, 1975    


                        The sweatshirt reaches only to my navel now, and my elbows poke through the holes. Splotched with sea-stains, the pleated pants lie where I dropped them to put on the sweatshirt; one leg is draped over the rubber, knee boots thrown into the corner. He’d found the boots in his father’s toolshed under the rakes and hoes. A legacy. He’d taken them, but did not wear them, these boots his father had worn for years when he would work isolated in the manure of his quarter-acre garden, burgeoning with escarole, broccoli, green beans, and those huge Italian tomatoes my mother called “beefeaters” and used in her sauces. “My father said they were for you,” he would mumble to her, dropping the bag on the kitchen table and then stepping down to his place in this cellar.

I draw the trousers to my waist and notch the belt in the first hole. My ankles gleam white beneath the cuffs. He’s getting smaller.


June, 1975

                        When my mother called me in Cambridge two months ago, she said, “Go to him. He’s at your grandmother’s.” But I stopped first at my mother’s, soothed her, and went to the cellar. Still on the stringer, their puffed lips and gills oozed bubbles and blood into the dark, cast-iron well beneath the faucets he had installed. I turned the spigot, but some of the blood had already coagulated on their scales. Grabbing one of my mother’s discarded terri-cloth towels, I used it to grasp the collapsed tail of the one left hanging over the side. It belonged with the others. But it slipped out of the towel. In the way that he had taught me, I tightened my thumb and index finger around the gills and flapped it into the tub.


As I parked my car, I saw him through the windshield, sitting alone on the stone steps, his hands lying lightly on his knees. At my approach, his head popped up like the bobbers he had abandoned after switching from fresh to salt water. He hadn’t changed his clothes. Behind him, through the screen-door, muted voices hummed.

“I’m sorry,” I said.

A hand lifted and dropped back into place. I sat heavily on the stair just below him and drew my hands around my knees. The shadow of the towering pine his father had planted at the edge of the garden before I was born twenty-seven years ago draped over us like a black arm. From the tomato side of the garden, the odor of fresh manure wafted around us, slowly obliterating the smell of sea-grass wedged into his sneaker’s sole.

The pine’s shadow deepened with the coming of twilight. Only the chirping of crickets and the scraping of a bottom shifting its weight disturbed the shared silence. I lit a cigarette. Through a crack just below the filter, smoke wisped away. I flipped it in a long, sparkling arc toward the darkening grass. A tiny coal that illuminated something, a scene nearly forgotten:


The ash had glowed brighter as he sucked on the Camel clamped in his lips just inches from my seven-year-old hair. From behind me, his left arm had twined under my enveloping sweatshirt, and his right hand had slipped over its smaller image as I clutched the rod. “Throw!” he said. On the monstrous wharf at Fort Coney, with his head near mine, I threw, rewound the line, and threw again and again until he let me go and I cast on my own, teetering to and fro on my short legs. He smiled down at me, “You see. You can do it.” A few years later, in the cold, pelting rain at another place far from the parked Chevy, I saw the fruit of twelve hours of casting and waiting. “How many should we take home to Mom?” “All of ‘em!” I said, tears mixing with rain pellets on my flushed cheeks. Soon, under the weight of twenty-seven “white-chinners,” strung, higher on his side, between us on a dead pine branch, I stumbled over into the mud. “I don’t care if I get dirty,” I said, my gleaming eyes fixed on his. “I don’t care!”


                        The coal ashed out. Sitting now on the stone stair below him, I could not hold him. I rocked slowly back and forth.


Two days later in the living room where the wake had been held according to his father’s instructions, the family waited for the undertaker to come and screw down the casket’s lid. Sitting beside my mother on a funeral parlor chair, he fingered the still-folded handkerchief on his knee. Ten feet away, I was being introduced by one of his sisters to a stranger leaning on a cane: “This is my brother’s son. They used to go a lot to…Fort Getty, right?” She had turned toward her brother. But he continued to stare at the lacquered pinewood mirroring the bright gold handles. Her head returned. “We’re proud of this one, our oldest nephew,” she gleamed at the man with the cane. “He goes to Harvard.”

On the walls hung several of her other brother’s paintings. My aunt patted the man away and followed my eyes. “Did you know that, thirty-five years ago when your Pa first started at the Coro factory, he won a scholarship to the R.I. School of Design to fashion jewelry? He dropped out, I think, when your older sister was born.” His eyes seemed as lacquered as the wood. When I didn’t nod, she whispered, “Did you go with him to the ocean two days ago?” My head slipped sideways and back. “Going there was the only thing that made him feel alive…feel himself…after Pa sent him to work on the farm at sixteen.”

I excused myself and went out to the yard where the tree dropped its Mackintosh apples down into the escarole and broccoli popping out of their side of the garden. I climbed into the main crotch, my leather soles slipping on the bark. A fat apple near my face bounced on its twig in the light breeze. On the tomato side of the fenced-in garden, as though tearing its roots from the manure that nourished it, the pine arrowed up into the blinding sunlight and into the wind that, in contrast, swayed the apple-laden branches down onto the dark earth. Once, years ago, he and I had watched his towering father turn his back to us, step over the chicken wire, and begin mulching the soil, his knee-booted legs protected from the manure. Raising me then into these branches that now brush my face, his son had supported my stealing of the biggest apple, and then, hands linked, we had slipped quickly towards the waiting car.

The wind picked up and pushed an apple against my cheek. Sap-stained from my climb, one hand clutched the trunk as my Sunday trousers slipped on the bark. I pulled with the other until the twig snapped its leaves back into the limb above. As the undertaker’s hearse pulled into the driveway, I rolled my lips away from my teeth and crunched hard into the red and white flesh.


I was to help carry his father. Waiting while the family knelt on the velvet stoop next to the casket and then were escorted out to their cars, I watched him, the oldest, waiting for his turn. My mother, holding the lacey handkerchief to her cheek, went up alone, parted her lips, touched his face, and then turned and walked toward the door. I turned away before her face sent a message. It wasn’t my turn.

It was his turn.

His rising took hours. He hitched up his trousers; he hunched his shoulders; his fingers tugged at the edges of his coat. As his lower jaw began to go flaccid, saliva touched his lip. His eyes traveled from the foot-end to the name-plate and back again and then to the edge of the opening. He straightened his arm out until his fingers touched the gleaming handle and then walked themselves up to the head cushion. His index finger began to lift above the others. I swam miles to reach him. One arm reached round him from behind while the other slid down his extended arm rigid like pinewood. I felt my stomach press into the small of his back and send him forward the last few inches. That hand that had sawed a straight cut and cleanly slit gills wavered on the plastered eyes.

“Pa,” he cried, “oh, Pa!”

                        I held on to him.

We were united, one. Three of us…and one more. It loomed behind me, pressing into my spine. I had to look. Beyond the arms. In that coffined, withholding face, I saw the battered scavenger, Ollie who was a person, my hemorrhaged aunt, boots with laminated laces. And him.

And me. Fingered by that shadow summoning my inconceivable son.

“Throw!” I screamed to him without a sound. “Cast it out!”

But his sobs banged him against the sparkling handles.

I had to break this, pull away, and take him with me. I had to help him. It was my turn.



August, 1975


Now, two months later, I am taking him with me in my Rabbit.  On its sloping hood, he had set the bucket of sand spikes and waited for me to emerge from the cellar. Unlocking the driver’s side, I get in, reach to open the passenger door, and stuff the gear he hands me into the backseat. But he sets the lunches between us and extends the rods from the rear deck and between our seats to the dashboard. With legs half extended, he sits where I have always sat in his Chevy.

“Where’re we going?” I say. He hunches his shoulders. “How ‘bout Fort Getty?” I say. His lips curl inward. As I turn the wheel, my borrowed trousers tighten around my crotch, and my forearm stretches out of the sweatshirt. I am getting bigger.

His hand lifts to shield his eyes from the sun streaming through the windshield. Unlike his Chevy’s narrower one, split by a bar into two sections, this windshield affords us unobstructed visibility. With one hand steadying the wheel, I grab the lunches with the other and fling them into the backseat. My hand returns with the broad-brimmed, red wool hat an ex-girlfriend gave me. I nudge his knee with the brim, my hand hiding under the crown. He takes it, looks blankly at the sweatband with the red-lettered words, “You are mine, forever,” and plops it on his head. It falls over his ears. Only his recently acquired, black-rimmed glasses stop the hat from dropping over his eyes. Immobile, he sags into the backrest, the hat with its collegiate look wiping out years of his life. After a minute, he takes it off and smoothes back into place the hair that had stuck to the wool and then flips the hat into the space where the lunches had been, just as he would throw back one of those flat ones he would catch, his erstwhile keen eyes watching them flap slowly away through the water or bury themselves in the sand.

I reach back to a bag and pull out a sandwich wrapped in several layers of waxed paper and foil. I hold it in the air over the rods between us. But the back of his head has no mouth. Recalling how he would do it, I partially unroll the wrapping to form a cup for the dripping ketchup soaking into the white Italian bread. My teeth rip out a huge semicircle from the soft bread and proscuitto. I swallow it in lumps. She always told me to chew my food.

“Ma…,” I say to the unobstructed windshield. “Ma…can be a real…bitch, can’t she…it took…guts…balls…to keep that Playboy…good for you!” The words, like sinkers, arch over the rods between us and drop into him, the accompanying hooks pulling at, twitching his shoulders.

And I dare to upset him, to take his erratic heart into my hands, to rip it open to reach him. And me.

“You know….” I say, and his head begins to pan towards me.

“You know…you…you know…I hated you.”

My sounds sink again into his gaping mouth, hooking down with them his nose, eyes, whiskers, cheeks, ears, everything until his face is effaced and there is nothing but water.

Everything drowns, even my own eyes.

And the salt lodges in the corners of my mouth, and I am lured into his heart, ripped open by my astounding hook.

“And…and…I love you,” I whisper, choking now on the red bubbles oozing slowly to the surface from my own heart wound.


The windshield starts to clear. As I unhook my fingers from his wrist, he draws his sleeve over the dribble from his nose. I brake slowly for a red light. But I have to plunge deeper: to our roots and the manure feeding them:

“And you hated him—he did to you what you did to me.”

His jaw pulsates. He says to the windshield, “I guess he did the best he could.”

In my invisible currents, something stirs. I bob now just below the surface: “It wasn’t good enough,” I say, “not for you, not for me…you made me invisible…dead…and I…I wanted you the same way…you should’ve told him…like I just did.” But there’s more—from him—and it comes from a greater depth, its sickle tail slicing to the surface, its teeth gleaming like no sandpaper could.

“I can’t talk like you…I didn’t go to Harvard.” His lips draw back from his teeth: “I…I…I ain’t…I ain’t you.”

                        “The light’s green,” he repeats.

It takes years for the wrist he has been jabbing to switch from first to second gear. It shreds from the arm. I am not him. I am nobody. I am eaten.


“Go to the end of the road and park near the wharf.” I obey, as he searches the white caps beyond the wharf’s solid bulk. “Maybe there’ll be a few left to catch,” he says; “Nobody’s here.”

Yes, I say to no one, nobody to hear any more.

As he shoulders the rods and lifts the bucket, I drop the lunches and the cake-box of worms into the bloodstained cooler. I walk in his steps to the wharf. At the edge of the walkway onto the wharf, he waits for me and then reaches into the cake-box, pulls out some squirming seaweed, places my rod on the planks, and walks to a distant position on the wharf.

Nearby, the three uneven pilings are still steel-cabled into their mutual embrace. I drop my exposed ankles over the wharf’s edge and search inside the cake-box. I stretch a worm out of its tangle and lay it coiling on a plank. After carefully threading the hook through its mouth, its tiny pincers clutching the steel shank, I wipe the blood on my sweatshirt, cast the rig, light a cigarette, and wait.

After a few drags, I flip the butt, tasteless, into my cone-shaped shadow undulating on the surface. It hisses, whirlpooling its white body. Food for the blind. Just beyond and below my shadow, something flashes, catching the sun. We couldn’t go anywhere without them: her lunches of loaves bulging with coldcuts and mozarella, of thick pizza without cheese, of homemade pepper biscuits, of polished Delicious apples with their tiny yellow spots. They fed us and choked us. Like trousers and sweatshirts. Like rakes and hoes in a jewelry designer’s hands. Food for the hungry blind. A long slender shadow swims just below a trough and stupidly jabs the butt into bits of tobacco and paper.

Reaching out to the cooler, my bared forearm snakes into a bag and feels out an apple like the ones he and I used to bring home from Sunnydale Orchard in Scituate’s pine-covered hills. Once, when he had refused me one from the bushel carried between us, I nearly broke my seven-year-old teeth on a pine cone I had angrily snatched from the stand’s decorations. I leave the apple in the bag. I am sick of apples.

The line tugs my finger. My rod curves toward the water as I swing upward to set the hook. When I turn the crank, the drag on the reel unwhines some of the line I take in. Whirlpooling itself against my pull, the shape soon loses its darkness to the sun. I reach beyond the teeth into the gills and flap it into the cooler. The styrofoam bounces along the planks. I can hear, coming towards the cooler, the far-away clicking of his soles.

I have seen this before in another cooler. I couldn’t cry then. I can’t cry now. The footsteps rap his heartbeat closer. I will not look beyond the cooler. I will not wipe my blood fingers on his trousers. I am not expiring flesh in a cooler, or Ollie on the steps, or boots in the freezer, or my aunt into the ground, or plastered eyes in pinewood. Or him.

I am only me, totally alone in my shadow.

Nearly behind me, his footfalls stop, and I see another shadow merge with that of the pilings supporting the wharf. Then a long thin shadow splits away and moves toward my own.

He coughs. My drowned eyes swim over the cooler to his soles and up towards his shoulders leaning against the cabled pilings. One arm is hidden behind his back; the other points, palm outstretched, to the dead fish in the cooler.

“You see,” he says. “I told you they were here.” I nod, squinting in the noon-day sun. He pushes himself off the barnacles, and his worm-stained finger touches my shoulder: “How ‘bout taking off that sweatshirt and putting this on.” I look up into the hat’s red-lettered sweatband.

“It’s warming up, Joe.”

I touch his soiled finger with my own.

“Yeah, Dad, it is.”


On September 24, 2013, on my Voice America radio show, “Explorations in Consciousness with Dr. Joe,” I interviewed Dr. Janet Cunningham about her experience with an intact group past-life regression that she had facilitated for individuals who shared a past-life as members of a Native American Tribe.

Check out the show here.   A Tribe Returned

In her book, A Tribe Returned (available at http://www.amazon.com), Dr. Cunningham described how she created this regression process to bring healing to the individuals today who had experienced in that past life a massacre orchestrated by U.S. soldiers.

Below are images that furthered the healing process for the reincarnated tribe members and were painted by two of them, Mrs. D. and Orazio Salati (who was nicknamed “Roz”).  They are printed here with permission; but they may not be reproduced in any form without the expressed, written permission of the copyright holders.

CAUTION: The painting called “The Massacre,” Image #5, is very vivid and may be disturbing to some viewers.

Before you look at the images, meditate for a few moments on these words recorded in A Tribe Returned that were channeled through Dr. Cunningham from Chief Silver Eagle, her father in that lifetime—Dr. Cunningham read them on the show.

“’The spirit of every person lives within their heart, and the spirit must be nurtured, supported, loved, and cared for…and must be freed.  The spirit within each one of us comes into the body to express itself, and it is important that the chief contribute to helping the person express this spirit, and it is important that the chief contribute to helping the person express his spirit.  So the chief must be able to see into the person, and the chief must be able to feel what the person feels.  In doing so, the chief can contribute to the unfolding of the spirit….In the process of becoming attuned to the spirit, one moves to the heart…to see moves the heart to feel, moves the heart to know.  I am being taught to see into the heart, and I am being taught to feel another’s heart, and I am being taught to listen and hear what one’s heart says.  And if I can learn how to do this, I can help others in their spiritual quest.’”

Earlier, Silver Eagle told his reincarnated daughter, “’Now you must allow yourself to feel the memories…and with the feeling, the creativity floods open.’”

And when talking in the book about the present day anguish of individuals who had been soldiers participating in the massacre, Dr. Cunningham says, “Several had created a hell for themselves in their current life.  Is that how it works? I wondered.  The punishment is no longer necessary.  Let’s stop the persecution, the self -blame, the self punishment…'”stop creating hell and start creating heaven!'”

Image #1: Silver Eagle—Mrs. D.  Permission given by Dr. Janet Cunningham

Silver Eagle-Mrs. D

Image #2: Running Deer by Orazio Salati ©1994

Running Dear


Image #3: Silver Eagle by Orazio Salati ©1994

Silver Eagle


Image #4: Souls Passing in Chaos by Orazio Salati ©1994

Souls Passing Over in Chaos


Image #5: The Massacre by Orazio Salati ©1994

The Massacre

Image #6: Souls Passing With Guidance by Orazio Salati ©1994

Souls Passing Over with Guidance


©2013 Joseph Mancini, Jr.

In Episode #5, Past-life Regression and Shamanic Journeying, of my radio show, “Explorations in Consciousness with Dr. Joe”, my guests, Dana & Shana Robinson, shamanic practitioners and teachers, discussed with me a unique workshop we did combining the modalities.  We mentioned a number of grounding exercises for any kind of spiritual journeying, but we did not have time to add more to the list.  So I am sharing a whole bunch more here.  May your journeys in Spirit be expansive and useful to this incarnation!

To be ungrounded to a degree is not a problem as long as you are in a safe place where you do not need to attend to your body and your surroundings to be safe.  This place may be, for instance, a chair, bed, couch, floor, patch of ground in a space where you will be undisturbed and protected.  You would use this kind of ungrounding to go on a spiritual journey, to focus on writing or playing music or other such activities.  But a substantive part of your consciousness should stay with your body consciousness so you can return easily to full groundedness.   Those who make proper use of the somewhat ungrounded condition know when they have chosen to be ungrounded to accomplish a specific purpose, and they have the means to return safely and at will to a grounded condition.

Being Ungrounded means (in varying degrees):

  1. You are not fully in your body; much of your consciousness is somewhere else.
  2. You are not in the now; you are either back in the past or far in the future.
  3. You are emotionally upset—sad, angry, frustrated, etc.—and not open to what else is going on around you that could calm the emotion.
  4. You are obsessed with thoughts (usually of the worrying kind) and feel compelled to do certain actions, often repeatedly (like over-eating or smoking)—once again, you thereby lose awareness of what is going on around you in the moment.
  5. You are doing something that you are not focused on.
  6. After a spiritual journey, you are feeling dizzy, confused, unbalanced, irritable, nervous, outside of yourself, unfocused, forgetful, overwhelmed, lacking organization, sleepless, chronically anxious, overly hungry, and suddenly very tired.


To Ground:

  • Get sufficiently grounded BEFORE you go into trance or shortly thereafter.

Do the grounding cord exercise described in #3 below.  Doing so is not to constrain you but rather to remind you that, while you remain incarnated, you cannot do your mission fully or make use of the fruits of your spiritual journeys unless you bring them back to the material world.  The grounding cord can “stretch” to allow you to go anywhere in the realm of Spirit and stay tethered to this Earth and this incarnation.

  • Orient to your immediate physical context.

When you arise out of the altered state of consciousness, no matter where you are, do not attempt to get up and walk; simply and slowly look at every THING, seeing ALL of its details and even saying aloud the name of the thing.  Look behind you, as well as up and down.  You can also attune to what you hear, smell, touch, and even taste in your environment without moving very much at fi   Go into Nature:

  • Go into Nature

Hug a tree:

Open up all your senses in finding and embracing the tree.  Do a full-body hug by standing up next to it, wrapping your arms around it and letting all of your body touch the tree.  Or sit down in front of the tree, wrap your arms AND legs around it.  Bring home a piece of bark or branch that has broken off the trunk to remind you to ground.

Pay attention with all of your senses (you can do this anywhere, not just in Nature):

What do you see?  What do you hear?  What do you smell?  What do you feel (touch)?  What might you taste?  If one is available, work your hands into the dirt/loam in a garden.

Sink roots into the earth:

Sit or stand and concentrate on your feet touching the earth—this works best when you are barefoot and are safe to be so.  Imagine roots emerging from the bottom of your feet and sinking into the Earth until they meet and join the energies arising from the center of the Earth.

Send a grounding cord into the earth:

This is similar to the previous exercise, but, instead of using roots growing from your feet, use a white or golden cord or beam of light that at one end is attached to your crown chakra while the other end is sent down along the spine through all the other chakras, exiting out the first chakra, and then down to the center of the earth where it is anchored in the iron crystal that is the core.

  •  Stomp your feet/Exercise

Stand up or sit down and either march vigorously in place or stamp your feet hard onto the floor/ground without hurting yourself.  You can also jump up and down in place for as long as you can without injury.  Or do some steady exercise so you can feel your muscles operating, but do not overdo it.

  • Pat/gently slap your body:

Either you or a friend can rapidly pat your body all over (even your head if you do so with care) so you can feel your body more intensely as the blood is brought to the skin.

  • Use your feet to push against something:

Find ways you can use your feet to push without hurting yourself, i.e, doing knee bends, pushing again a platform on a gym machine, getting up from a chair repeatedly (using mostly your legs), using a recumbent bike with a high resistance setting, etc.

  • Drink lots of water:

Doing so reminds the body of its connection to an earthly resource, to its essential component, to its origin in material life.

Among many other benefits, water “is essential to the functioning of every single cell and organ system in the human body” and thereby grounds us into our fleshly state.

“A decrease of as little as 2% in our body’s water supply can have harmful effects and cause symptoms of dehydration, such as daytime fatigue, excess thirst, fuzzy memory, difficulty focusing on tasks and simple math, lightheadedness, and nausea.”

  • Eat certain foods:

Eating anything after a spiritual journey helps the body speed up its metabolic process, which is very grounding.

You can eat comfort food, including chocolate, but not too much!

Of course, always eat in moderation, but certainly enough to sustain yourself appropriately.  If you do not, you will get ungrounded.  Chronically overweight individuals and overly thin individuals are NOT very grounded.

Eating meat, especially red meat can help ground you.  But you can also eat root and red vegetables like beets, potatoes, radishes, onions, turnips, peanuts, carrots, garlic, and cherries, red cabbage, red currants red peppers, red plums, red strawberries, tomatoes, watermelon and so on.

  • Envision red, the color of the base chakra, and thus lower your vibration:

Concentrate on all the red you may find in what is around you.  Imagine red coloring your feet and what they are standing on.

  • Send excess energies out of you:


Write about EVERYTHING that you have experienced on your journey; let the paper contain and hold those energies for you, so you know you will not lose anything important about the experience if you shift your attention onto earthly activities.

Make/imagine a box or tool to hold the energies:

Direct the energies into a physical object like a box or a wand so that they are apart from you but available for your use.

Send the energies deep into the earth:

Direct the Earth Energies to dissolve them or hold them for future use.

  • Take a shower:

Take a shower while imagining (or simply intending) that the excessive spiritual energies flow out of your energetic field.

  • Distract yourself from the spiritual journey

Do something mundane or analytical, like balancing a check book (but later check again what you have done).  Do not do anything that will ultimately hurt you if you are not fully attentive to the activity.

  • Be with others:

Go outside of your inner world and connect with others who know nothing about your journey and talk about non-spiritual topics.

  • Get rest by sitting or lying down for a period of time.

Feel yourself gradually and deeply sinking into a big, fluffy chair or bed, imagining either one as “holding” or “cradling” you in its embrace.

  • Use certain yoga position:

Choose those positions that stimulate and let go of energies, especially in the root chakra.

  • Use chakra balancing:

Focus on aligning all your chakras with each other.  You can do this in various ways.  One way is to see, sense, feel or imagine a golden bean of light fixed at one end to the crown chakra at the top of your head.  Send the other end, the moving end, down your spine through all the other chakras and out through the root chakra to the ground.  Feel energy moving up and down this beam of light.  This process reinforces the connection of the upper chakras with the lower chakras.

  • Listen to and/or utter the sounds associated especially with the lower chakras:

Listen to the sounds made by crystal bowls and metallic, Tibetan singing bowls:

These bowls should be attuned to the lower chakras, especially the root chakra called Muladhara.  Use also music that is tuned to the keynote of C, such as Brahm’s Symphony No. 1 in C Mnor; music with strong base sounds is excellent, such as Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man.

The keynote of the Root Chakra is C; the keynote of the Sacral Chakra is D; the keynote of the Navel or Solar Plexus Chakra is E.

Utter the sounds associated with the lower chakras:

Root: Sanskrit Letter LAM (“A” is pronounced “AH”)

Sacral: Sanskrit Letter VAM (“A” is pronounced “AH”)

Navel: Sanskrit Letter RAM (“A” is pronounced “AH”)

If you utter in sequence (one way and then the other) the sounds of all the chakras, you can align the chakras to each other and get grounded also in that way.  Here are the other chakra sounds:

Heart: Sanskrit Letter YAM (“A” is pronounced “AH”)

Throat : Sanskrit Letter HAM (“A” is pronounced “AH”)

Third Eye: Sanskrit Letter AUM (OM)

Crown: Sanskrit Letter NG (as in “king”)


If any of my readers know of other grounding exercises for spiritual journeying, please let me know and I will consider the appropriateness of them for inclusion in this blog.

  ©2013 by Joseph Mancini, Jr., Ph.D., CCHt, PL.t., L.B.L.t., C.R.t., M.S.W.

 & Shana Robinson, B.A., co-author of Shamanism and the Spirit Mate

Shana’s website and email, Shaman Tracks

Joe’s Website and Email


In Episode #5, Past-life Regression and Shamanic Journeying, of my radio show, “Explorations in Consciousness with Dr. Joe”, my guests, Dana & Shana Robinson, shamanic practitioners and teachers, discussed with me a unique workshop we did combining these spiritual journeying modalities.  We did not get a chance to directly compare the modalities, though listeners may have grasped on their own many of the similarities and dissimilarities between these methods of spiritual journeying.  But we want to share with you more directly what we came up with.  May your journeys in Spirit be expansive and useful to this incarnation!


When looked at closely, Shamanism, especially Core Shamanism as formulated by Michael Harner, and Past-Life Regression (PLR) are more similar than most individuals at first would imagine.  The differences are most often a matter of intention and emphasis.  What we present here is not meant to be complete, but rather to be suggestive and stimulating of further expansion of awareness on the topic.

NOTE:  While different practitioners have somewhat different ways to facilitate PLR, especially in the way they do inductions, endings and manage change in the past life, what is presented below is from the perspective of what could be called a Core or Basic form of PLR that is germane to most or even all forms.

NOTE:  A traditional shaman is called that by others once they have experienced the results of a shaman’s healing practice or divination.  Shamanic practitioners are those modern individuals who can and do journey, but are not per se shamans. The shaman and shamanic practitioner engage the spirits in many ways. The focus of this comparison is limited to spirit travel – the journey, and does not include a discussion of other practices, such as depossession and extraction.


  • Both modalities use a sonic driver:  

In PLR, the voice of the facilitator guides the journeyer.  As Milton Erickson once said, “My voice goes with you.” The voice provides an anchor to the current reality while simultaneously leading the journeyer   into another. The facilitator modulates his/her voice to relax and sometimes calm the journeyer and also to signal that it is time to come back to ordinary reality.

In Shamanism and Core Shamanism the shaman and shamanic practitioner are typically accompanied by a drumbeat and/or the shaking of a rattle, although many other modes of percussive sound have been used from winnowing fans to rice pounding.  Changes in tempo and rhythm are employed to demarcate the various stages of the journey.

  • Both modalities employ an Altered State of Consciousness:

In PLR, it is imperative that the journeyer move beyond the limits of his/her conscious mind, so that the subconscious can be more easily accessed, programmed and, in deeper states, queried for information. In PLR, relaxation and concentration on the breath are used most often to enter the trance state, though focusing on strong emotion, repeated phrases, and body sensations can also become ways to enter a trance.

In Shamanism and Core Shamanism, the shaman and shamanic practitioner decisively enter an altered state of consciousness to go into non-ordinary reality, using the sound of rattles and/or drums.

  • Both modalities include the presence/possibility of guides:

In PLR, the journeyer has the option of taking a guide along with him or her; this may be in the form of an animal spirit (often that of a pet who has passed over), a spirit once human (often that of a beloved relative who has passed over), or an angel or guide.  In some forms of PLR, the journeyer may meet an archetypal figure, like an Inner Mate, Great Father, Great Mother, Protector, etc., along with historical figures like Mother Mary, Jesus, Buddha.  These archetypal figures can provide information and also help in changing the past life.

In Shamanism and Core Shamanism the shaman and shamanic practitioner often have power animals, guardian spirits and teachers to help him or her.  They will stay with him/him for varying lengths of time over the course of a lifetime, providing him/her with their differing “medicines” or powers.

  •  Both modalities bridge and travel between realities:

In PLR, the journeyer, most often with the help of a facilitator, travels to and enters into “the other world.”  The journeyer travels to lives that seem to be from other times (though all past lives are simultaneous with each other and the present incarnation).  Sometimes, the journeyer goes back to lives spent on other planets or in other systems of reality.

In Shamanism, the journeyer moves from material, ordinary reality into non-material, non-ordinary, reality.

  •  Both modalities involve shape-shifting, merging:

In PLR, the present individual often merges with (sees through the eyes of) his/her past-life personality, experiencing first-hand what that personality experiences from moment to moment.  In some cases, after connecting with a talent or positive trait of the past-life personality, the journeyer can “bring back” that ability into the current lifetime and use it here.

In Shamanism and Core Shamanism, the shaman and shamanic practitioner may shape-shift into their power animals and sometimes into their Teachers while on a journey.  Doing so helps the shaman and shamanic practitioner take on and use the abilities of those spirits with whom they merge.

  • Both modalities use some kind of portal as part of the protocol:

In PLR, the journeyer often goes through a portal, such as a door or gate, to access the other world; but these are not necessarily precise locations in the other world, for the facilitator and even the journeyer can suddenly discover or even create a portal.  (The idea is that every place or point is a gateway to every other place.) The portal may be different each time the journeyer enters the other world.  Even when such a portal is not used, there is very often some marking of a transition, of a crossing over, as when a journeyer floats in a boat traversing the space between banks or moves down a river past different landscapes.

In Shamanism and Core Shamanism, the shaman and shamanic practitioner must know his or her destination.  He or she begins with an established ordinary reality starting point.  Then, directional movement, to the accompaniment of a sonic driver, is used as the prelude to passage through a transition zone.  When the shaman initiates a downward movement, it is through the starting point of a hole that leads to the transitional tunnel that ultimately passes into the Lower World.  An upward movement from the starting point of a “high place” leads to an encounter with the transitional membrane, which, once breeched, is the portal to the Upper World.  These are signposts or markers that indicate a precise location for the shamanic journeyer.  Using the same starting point to pass through the tunnel or the membrane leads to the same “drop off” place in the other world, and allows the journeyer to learn the geography of the other worlds.

  • Both modalities allow the journeyers to encounter independent spirits.

In PLR, the journeyer may meet some projections of his/her subconscious, but most of the entities he/she encounters are also real, and independent in that they have lived their own separate lives on the Earth.  In some cases, enough information about the past-life personality is gleaned for the journeyer to find evidence in historical records of the prior existence of these personalities (especially true of children’s past lives as reported by Dr. Ian Stevenson and Carol Bowman, CHT).  While it is said that the current person has lived before as these personalities because all share the same soul; nevertheless, it is also true, paradoxically, that each is also distinctive from the others and on its own journey.

In Shamanism and Core Shamanism, the spirits the shaman encounters are real, independent spirits, and are not figments of his/her imagination or projections from his/her subconscious. They occupy a separate, non-ordinary reality.

  • Both modalities focus much on bringing back “knowledge” to enhance the current lifetime.

In PLR, the journeyer goes to a past life to acquire knowledge about what beliefs, practices, talents and physical characteristics the journeyer has accepted, for various reasons, to carry over into the current life.

In Shamanism and Core Shamanism, the shaman and shamanic practitioner work with power; power is energy, intelligence, love and ethics.  The shaman stands in the center moderating power relationships with Power Animals, Teachers, Spirits of Nature (mineral, plant, non-human, etc.), Spirit Mates and Ancestors.  All of these relationships can be the ground for healing and provide wisdom for those in the material world.

  • In both modalities, it is important for the witness or facilitator to tend to and help elicit the journeyer’s full experience, but the witness or facilitator must not push his or her own interpretation on that experience.

It is important that the facilitator of the PLR journeyer not push her or her own agenda/interpretation either while the journeyer is in trance or when the debrief occurs.  The job of the facilitator is to help the journey unfold through suggestions that are consistent with the journeyer’s needs; if the journeyer does not take a suggestion, the facilitator must simply drop it.  During the debrief, the facilitator must ask many questions to elicit the meaning of the experience for the journeyer; only after the journeyer has explored all of his own analysis does the facilitator offer other ways to look at the journeyer’s experience.  But, indeed, the journeyer has the final say about the interpretation of his own experience.

For the shaman/shamanic practitioner, the person who is engaged with the spirits, either on a journey or in divination, experiences the spirits communicating through the language of his/her personal metaphor.  It is an individual revelatory process. Therefore it is entirely up to the journeyer to come to an understanding of a divination or journey since he/she is the recipient of the information. A facilitator may ask questions to help clarify, but may not offer interpretations since the language was in the vocabulary of the journeyer, not the facilitator.

  • In both modalities, the journeyer may be aware simultaneously of the material and the other world (i.e., attention to surroundings).

The PLR journeyer is likely to be aware of both worlds at the same time, though the material world will most of the time feel far away or even uninteresting.  For instance, a PLR journeyer may be lying in an office chair in trance while hearing lawn mowers bellowing outside; yet, the journeyer can stay in trance and not be bothered by the harsh sounds.  The PLR journey may also need to scratch the itch felt on his/her body.  And, when the journeyer is in one-to-one relationship with the facilitator, the journey is always aware of the voice of the facilitator.  This kind of divided consciousness points to the fact that what we experience as our greater identity shows up in many dimensions (beyond merely two) at the same time.

For the shaman and shamanic practitioner, it is possible to have a foot in each world, ordinary reality and non-ordinary reality. A dramatic example is from the Northwest Coast where various traditional groups of specialized shamans form “spirit boats” to travel to retrieve guardian spirits for patients. During these healing ceremonies, the shamans are aware of both ordinary and non-ordinary reality as they pole their boats to the other world, effectively traveling simultaneously in two realities, acting out the journey. At a point in a given spirit boat ceremony, certain shamans have to be very connected to the material world as young boys shoot burning bits of cedar into the air which the shamans must dodge to avoid injury in both realities – an injury that could imperil the success of their mission.

At the other end of the continuum, most core shamanic practitioners lie quietly and have little interaction with the material world beyond a vague awareness of a need to scratch or shift position. Attention can shift between the two realities as exemplified by a hypothetical journeyer having the awareness of a stone under his/her back while engaged in conversation with a Power Animal or Teacher.

  • Both modalities may help create physical, mental, emotional and physical healing, sometime instantaneously. 


  • Use of Movement and Sound:

In Shamanism and Core Shamanism, during the journey, the shaman and shamanic practitioner may sing, dance or act out the journey.

In contrast, during the journey, PLR journeyers usually are not physically moving but, instead, are lying down or sitting motionless (though some movement may play out in the person’s body as he/she experiences what is going on for the past-life self).  While PLR journeyers listen to the sound of the facilitator’s voice, the only sound they usually make is to vocalize what is happening to them in the past-life and to express any emotion that comes up for the past-life persona and/or for the journeyer himself or herself..

  • Landscape of the other world(s):

When shamans and shamanic practitioners visit the other worlds, there are three main, structured landscapes: the lower world (where many of the power animals reside), the middle world (which is this world AND its non-ordinary aspect), and the upper world (which is where many of the wisdom teachers reside).  Beyond these fairly structured cosmic zones, core practitioners (especially Michael Harner) have encountered Interworlds: one between the Upper and Middle World and one between the Lower and Middle World.

In contrast, the inner world for PLR journeyers is not so clearly differentiated, though there is often a strong sense of the middle world in other times and places and also a sense of a realm called the Interlife where the spirit goes after death in a past life.  This Interlife is where soul groups, Elders and other such beings reside, and where the soul goes for rest, schooling, and preparation for the next incarnation.  Soul guides and angels move all over the worlds that the past-life journeyer visits.

  • Degree of interaction with the material world (reporting to an ordinary reality facilitator, or following instructions of an ordinary reality facilitator) when in an altered state of consciousness.

In both traditional and core shamanism, the journeyer is connected to the material world via the drum or sonic driver which facilitates the shift in consciousness and punctuates stages of the journey. As the Siberians would say, the drum is the “horse” that transports the shaman to and from the other worlds. But, once transported, the shaman is typically on his/her own.

For some traditional shamans, however, there is an established cosmography, and coaching from elders is known to occur when novices are beginning to learn the non-ordinary ways of the other worlds. An example of this is the Huichol who instruct their children in travel to the Land of Peyote during the drumming and journeying.

Also, some core shamanic practitioners will choose to speak a journey to a trusted facilitator during a Harner Shamanic Counseling session. However, a core practitioner, especially during a journey for soul retrieval, will not speak during a healing session with a client to avoid the possibility of inadvertently revealing information of a past trauma and exacerbating a client’s condition.

In contrast, while some well-practiced PLR journeyers can take themselves on a journey to the other world, they are most often guided by a facilitator who is in the material world.  The facilitator gives suggestions about where the journeyer may want to go, takes the journeyer from scene to scene, and calls in spirit guides and angels, if necessary, to assist the person, especially when the person wants to change the path of the past life to create a different ending.  However, the facilitator never forces the journeyer to do anything and cannot control the journeyer’s inner world or any helpers that appear or are summoned.

In one-on-one sessions, the PLR journeyer also speaks aloud to the facilitator. However, when the PLR journeyer is engaged in a group session, he/she will not usually talk with the facilitator.

  •  Use of Drugs:

In Shamanism, the traditional/indigenous shaman sometimes uses psychoactive drugs derived from sacred plants and mushrooms to initiate a journey. This is done in the framework of very strict preparatory rituals that honor the plant and its spirit. These shamans recognize that the power of the plant is tied into the power of the place where it grows and the place where the shaman lives. Most modern individuals who learn Core Shamanism do not use drugs to do their journeying, except possibly when they are taught by an indigenous, traditional shaman in a culturally specific context (which constitutes a step away from Core Shamanism). For the most part, in the case of modern Western shamanic practitioners, drugs and/or alcohol will not assist in the shamanic journey and are not used.

In contrast, the PLR journeyer is never allowed to use any kind of drug during his/her journey to the other world.  Drugs, particularly synthetic and hallucinogenic drugs are seen as distracting, ungrounding, even damaging to the process, especially because most facilitators do not believe, as shamans do, that there are guiding powers in some kinds of drugs derived from natural sources.

  •  Original and main intention of the journeyer:

In traditional Shamanism, the shaman’s first intention is usually to go into the other worlds to seek knowledge and healing for the sake of another or for the community, though he/she may also journey for self-healing.  Self-healing in a traditional environment often comes in the initiatory process wherein the shaman-to-be overcomes an illness with the help of the spirits. Having overcome the initiatory illness, the new shaman has the basis for compassion for healing work that moves into the community. In Core Shamanism, the shamanic practitioner may spend somewhat more of his or her journeying on self-healing and self-discovery, though it is consistently reported that the experience of journeywork is heightened when working on behalf of others.

In contrast, the PLR journeyer’s first intention is usually to seek knowledge and healing for the sake of him/herself; however, a by-product of going to a past life in which the journeyer had a relationship with someone with whom he or she has a connection also in the present life is that some of the knowledge accessed may benefit that other person in the current incarnation.

  •  Connection to community:

In traditional Shamanism, the shaman is very much tied to and integrated into and supported and nurtured by the community while the core practitioner may be somewhat isolated.

In contrast, the PLR journeyer is not necessarily tied to a community; if he/she is connected, the community is not seen necessarily as supportive of the person’s journeying to a past life.

  •  Training and Initiation:

In traditional Shamanism, the training of the shaman is often rigorous, involving physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual challenges that may be dangerous.  The notion of a formal initiation is central to this process.  In Core Shamanism, the initial training is much less rigorous on all levels and initiation is usually not formalized, at least for those who do not go far into the process; for those who do, the training is more likely to approach that of traditional shamans, especially if the training is of duration or expanded to include culturally specific techniques which, again, is a step away from core practice.

In contrast, the PLR journeyer does not have to go through a major set of challenges to be ready to journey, though practice in relaxation and having substantive ego strength is much preferred.  The journeyer, ho wever, may experience in the session challenges to his emotional, mental and spiritual, though not usually physical, orientations.  Such experiences may constitute very deep, but non-formal initiations into Expanded Consciousness.

  •  Use of and relation to nature:

While both modalities may make use of Nature, Shamanism and Core Shamanism are much more intimately tied to the natural world from animals, plants and insects to landscapes and other elemental spirits. Each of these beings has power that can inform the shaman and shamanic practitioner in ordinary and non-ordinary realms. The shaman and shamanic practitioner usually treat the nature spirits (and others) with much respect and forbearance in order to build relationships with them and have them as dependable allies for journeywork and healing.  As a means of connecting to the power of various nature spirits, the shaman and shamanic practitioner will sometimes embody the natural being, moving rhythmically as it does and perhaps dressing in a mask, costume or a skin if it is an animal.

In contrast, the PLR journeyer may pick up information from symbols in the natural world, and may have the spirit of a passed-over pet with him/her, but, generally speaking, the natural world is mostly a setting, albeit an important one.

  • Attention to a life actually lived in the past:

In PLR, the journeyer has more of an awareness of specific places and times, opening up to sensations of the past-life persona as it moves through various scenes of its actual life.  The journeyer is encouraged to experience and relate many sensory details of what the past-life persona is sensing, doing, feeling, saying and hearing, including any physical restrictions on the self and in the environment.  The journeyer merges to learn very often about the negative beliefs that hold the person back from what he/she wanted to achieve in the past life, so the person in the current incarnation knows what to avoid. The point is to become aware of an actual history, complete with successes and failures.  Sometimes the journeyer can go back to visit the life of his or her ancestor, and, with the permission of the ancestor, change something about the lineage.  Or the journeyer can bring back information that he or she will use to change his or her present life, a change that can have an effect on the ancestor’s life, since all lives of everyone are simultaneous with each other and therefore are not actually over and thus can be “adjusted.”

While it is not an overriding mandate, the traditional shaman and core shamanic practitioner can be actively interested in lives from the past especially when engaging the ancestors. Accessing persons within given lineages can bring forth talents or troubles, and the shaman follows both paths to bring about balance in the past, present and future.  Many traditions, particularly those in the East, look to the ancestors for guidance and special assistance on a daily basis, maintaining a strong connection through a very thin veil. Some may even feel that they are continuing or actualizing an ancestor’s calling to the point where he/she not only is part of a lineage, but also perhaps a re-expression of an ancestor. This is based on the concept of the multiplicity of the soul in which, in this oversimplified explanation, one of the esssential soul parts is the ancestral soul shared by many ancestors over time.


If any of our readers have detected any other similarities or dissimilarities between these spiritual journeying techniques, please let us know and we will review each one for possible inclusion in this blog!

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