Thursday, August 21, 2008

Guest Blogger: Jan Scarbrough

The winner of Jan's book is Judith Leger. Congratulations, Judith! Send me your email and snail mail info and I'll pass it along to Jan. Thanks for participating!

Reincarnation -- Whether You Believe in It or Not, It Makes a Good Story

“Dr. Brian Weiss will be on Coast to Coast AM, an overnight radio show that I get on a local Clear Channel station, Wed 08.27. His topic is Past Life Therapy.”

Several years ago, I had my palm read at the state fair and was surprised to learn I had known my ex-husband in a former life. That was a new concept for me, and I wasn’t sure I believed it. However, when I began to explore that ill-fated marriage, I started to wonder “what if?”

Wondering “what if” is the catalyst for many novels. What if the palm reader was right? What if I had known my ex in a previous life, but what if our relationship had ended happily ever after instead of in divorce? The result of the palm reader and my own imagination is Tangled Memories, my book from The Wild Rose Press.

Before I began to write it, I researched the idea of reincarnation, “to be made flesh again.” Wikipedia defines it as “a doctrine or metaphysical belief that some essential part of a living being (in some variations only human beings) survives death to be reborn in a new body.”

As part of my research, I heard Jenny Cockell speak when she came to my hometown. Also from Wikipedia: “Jenny Cockell is an English author who in the mid-1990s came to fame for her book about reincarnation called Across Time and Death: A Mother's Search for her Past Life Children. In the book, Cockell discusses her "past life memories" of life as Mary Sutton in early-20th century Ireland. The book chronicles Cockell's research into Sutton's life and Cockell's subsequent ‘reunion’ with Sutton's children, some whom accept Cockell as the reincarnation of their mother.”

Jenny had discovered reincarnation as early as four years old when she began envisioning her past life. My heroine Mary begins to have dreams and waking visions of her past life when she marries my hero. As the plot develops, Mary is helped by a psychologist who hypnotizes her.

From Tangled Memories, a conversation between Mary and the psychologist:

“Our concept of the past is sequential. It's possible your past is affecting your present.”

“What do you mean? My childhood?”

“No, a far memory—of times long ago.”

I frowned. “That's crazy.”

“When we've done past life regressions, we've discovered the human can communicate historic data graphically and accurately. The person hypnotized has never been exposed to this historic information.”

I considered Anthony with growing trepidation.

“Another thing we've found is that you're probably interacting with many people who were important to you in the past incarnation. People seem to be reborn in another time frame, seek out each other and explore their relationships once more.”

“You don't believe that stuff, do you?” My question held a sense of self-doubt.

Anthony sat back and shrugged. “It doesn't matter if I believe it or not.”

As he favored me with his quiet, confident look, I shifted uncomfortably. “I don't understand why this is happening to me.”

“Because something was left unfinished.”

After writing Tangled Memories, I discovered several books by Dr. Brian L. Weiss based on his experience as a psychiatrist and healer. “In his first book, Many Lives, Many Masters, he vividly describes the insights of a young patient named Catherine. She came to important realizations about the circumstances of her life today and the intricate thread of previous beings within her experience. Through Time Into Healing contains numerous case histories which illustrate the healing potential of past life regression therapy, and it provides several techniques for eliciting past life recall.”

You can learn more about Dr. Weiss at His Frequently Asked Questions provide insight into past lives with questions and answers such as these.

Why do we reincarnate?
“I think everybody reincarnates because we have many lessons to learn, lessons about love, compassion, charity, nonviolence, inner peace, patience, etc. It would be hard to learn them all in only one life. Also, some people come back voluntarily to help others.”

Do all souls reincarnate?
“I think that sometimes you have to come back. If your learning is not finished, you find yourself being born into another lifetime. There may be some choices involved, however, but apparently there are limits to the choices. Highly evolved souls do not have to come back but often choose to reincarnate to help as teachers.”

Do souls reincarnate immediately?
“Reincarnation is not always and not usually immediate. The in-between state may last a long time. Also, our soul is far greater than our physical body. It is not limited by our constructs of space and time.”

Do I believe in reincarnation? I don’t know.

Unlike Jenny Cockell I have had no such vivid visions about past lives. I have gone to past-life readings with psychics and mediums, but I have never been regressed. In one past-life reading, I learned that my present husband Bill and I have shared lives together. Recently a medium told me that my mother and I chose to come into this life together. At times ours was a turbulent relationship, but before she died, my mother and I had reached a friendship and understanding.

As a writer, I like the idea of reincarnation. It provides terrific motivation for my characters. Writers always go back into the character’s past to find his “back story,” his reason for behaving the way he does in the book. It’s fascinating to think that back story can be from back farther than our childhood.

Maybe my current love of horses is because, as one psychic told me, I was once a medieval knight riding into battle. Whether that’s true or not, it’s fun to think about.

Do you believe in reincarnation? Have you experienced any dreams or visions of a past life?

Jan Scarbrough


Jan is giving away a copy of Tangled Memories. Just leave a comment answering her question above. Winner selected Friday evening.


Blogger said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8:38 AM  
Blogger Lynda Hilburn said...

Welcome, Jan! This is such an interesting topic. I do past life regressions as part of my hypnotherapy work and am always fascinated by what comes up! Thanks for blogging today. I'll check back in tonight when I get home from work.

8:43 AM  
Blogger said...

Hi Jan and Lynda,

This is a very interesting subject for me - Many years ago, I was having this dream over and over about being shot at by arrows and I was running through a woods, I was a woman with very long red hair, that's about all I could tell from the dream. A few years later a tarot/palm reader told me about a past life I lived as a woman named Elizabeth with long red hair and I was a bandit! Freaky!!

Later, I had a past life regression with different lifetimes that came up, but felt very intense - don't know if I blindly believe it all - but I do think there is something to it and I do believe, like you, that it is lessons we have to learn and each lifetime teaches us something (like not to steal or you'll get an arrow in the back! LOL).

I love the idea for your book - I also love to hear how writers come up with the ideas for their books. We writers are a different lot, for sure, and when our imaginations get away from us - look out - magic happens!!

Best of luck with your book and thanks for having a great guest, Lynda!


8:45 AM  
Blogger Lynda Hilburn said...

Hi, DeNita! Thanks for stopping by. I think everything about reincarnation is interesting. I especially love the notion of simultaneous lives. Whoa. have a great day!!

8:49 AM  
Blogger ManyMusings said...

I just tried to leave a comment and the post didn't go through.....
I am trying again.

I wanted to let you know that I AM a believe in the reincarnation theory. To me it offers a sensible solution to many questions. I don't believe that any one person can learn in one lifetime all they needed to learn and grow.

There was a time when I wasn't so sure about that though. I have had 2 experiences with memory that have strengthened that belief.

My first experience was a recurring dream. For years during the month of July I would have a short dream that would plague me every night. I saw a young girls of about 3 riding a bicycle on a sidewalk. In the dream I could see the back of her only however I could always feel on my wrists the plastic tassels from the handlebars. I could see the homes around me and a pair of adults I assumed to be her parents. They were smiling and clapping. I could see and feel in this dream but I could never HEAR anything. The dream ends with a large green pick-up type truck rounding the corner and jumping the curb. It was on the sidewalk heading for the girl on the trike. Then I wake up. I went so far as to ask my father if I had witnessed anything like this as a child but he didn't believe so. He also didn't think I had seen anything like that on the television either.
My neighbor at the time suggested that I may be remembering the last moments of a past life. I wasn't so sure about it then but I knew my children would never have a red trike! (And they never did either!)
After accepting this as a possibility, the dreams ceased and I never had the dream again. The last dream about that I had over 14 years ago. BTW- I was born into this life in 1972 and believe the dream time period was in the 1950's or 60's.

The latest incident that further strengthens my belief began about 3 years ago. This time the memories did not come to me in dreams but while wide awake. I first hear a name. The name "Ronwyn" (My assumed spelling.) It was spoken with a heavy accent like a burr. Maybe Gaelic or something, I don't really know. That was all I got at first but then over the following weeks and years I began to remember other things. I remember the love of a man, a small stone round house (kind of like a broch or dun on a little smaller scale) and being surrounded by trees and hills, I remember that my father was possibly Welsh and mother Pict. Though I can not yet remember other names or places. I think Ronwyn was born in 823 and died in 857. She was murdered as was the man she loved. He died defending her and their home. Their home was destroyed and burned. She practiced the old religion and healed with herbs and such. People feared her for some reason.
Since I have seen photographs of northern Wales as well as from the Isle of Arran and both have a terrain and landscape that is alarmingly familiar to me though I haven't ever traveled outside of the United States. The buildings and castles do not feel familiar to me but the land itself does.

I am still ever trying to recall more of her memories for life seemed to be full of love and hate, happiness and sadness, passion and more.... There is some reason her memories are resurfacing though I haven't discovered the reason yet.

So as you see, I do believe in reincarnation and these are the reason why I do.

I very much enjoyed reading your blog and look forward to being able to read your book as well!

Michelle St. Clair

9:11 AM  
Blogger Margay Leah Justice said...

This is a very interesting question. I am a believer myself because I've had instances where no other explanation is viable. The most vivid of this was a dream I had when I was younger - I don't think I was even in my teens yet - but I had this dream about sitting in some type of stands outside amid a crowd of people and I was in this beautiful long dress of lavender when this man rides up to me on a horse. He is totally sheathed in metal (I didn't know at the time that it was armor) and he stuck this long pole-type thing out at me (a lance, I would later discover) and I tied a lavender scarf at the end of it. Then he rode away onto a big field. There were other parts of the dream that aren't as vivid to me as that was. A few years later, I was watching Ivanhoe on TV and there was a scene in the movie that reminded me of my dream. The reason I find this significant is that I had never seen or read anything about the medieval time period before that movie, so I didn't even have a basis for understanding what had happened in my dream until I saw that movie.

9:52 AM  
Blogger Jan Scarbrough said...

Margay, Michelle and DeNita,
Your stories are fascinating. I envy you those past life dreams. They are much like my heroine in Tangled Memories. All I know for sure is that I'm very comfortable with my husband, who is supposed to be my son in one life and my daughter in another, and that I love horses and the middle ages. Maybe some day I'll work up the nerve to be hypnotized and find out if I can remember anything from my past lives.

Thanks for stopping by!

3:09 PM  
Blogger Margay Leah Justice said...

Jan, funny you should mention that. Back in the 70s I think it was, my aunt was in to all sorts of new age stuff (doing astrological charts and stuff) and one thing she experimented with was doing past life regressions on her friends. She did one on my mother and when my mother described to me later what she had seen, I nearly fell off my chair and said, "Mom, do you know who you were? Laura Ingalls Wilder!" Some of the details were just too intimate to have come from watching a tv show. I always thought about using that for a book someday.

3:25 PM  
Blogger Judith Leger said...

Hi Jan, Great blog! Loved your except too. Makes you wonder, doesn't it?

I do believe in reincarnation and I wonder sometimes if I too am reincarnated. I dream alot but I wouldn't say any of those dreams would be considered a past memory.

Thanks for posting!

Judith Leger

3:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

reincarnation is somthing i belive strongly in, i never had a past life experence but i love history

when my eldest was 3 years old we was going past a garage and he turned round and said i deid here and there was lots of blood

when i was having my midle son he was very upset he told me that he had a baby and that it hurt and he died

my son sees sprits too when watching those sorts of programmes on tv he used to tell us what they was wearing and what they looked like before the spirtlish did

sorry for spelling mistakes (dyslexic) but loves to listen to books

3:39 PM  
Blogger Renee Ryan said...

Hi Jan,

Interesting subject and some unique comments to go along with it. I've never thought about reincarnation, not seriously, but I see it's a hot topic. Thanks for the insight.


3:46 PM  
Blogger Susan Macatee said...

Hi, Jan and Lynda!
I love the theory of reincarnation. Not sure if I believe it or not, but I find it intriguing. It's also a great fiction element. I've used it in three of my stories so far. My published short vampire romance, Eternity Waits, my upcoming time travel romance and a ghost story I'm currently working on as part of a Civil War anthology. It's so much fun to play around with a character's past life!
Great post!

4:17 PM  
Blogger ManyMusings said...


Wow, your mom must be fairly young if she had been Laura Ingalls Wilder in a previous life. I don't think Ms. Wilder passed away until 1957.

4:24 PM  
Blogger Maddie James said...

Hi Jan. Great post and subject! I know we've talked about this before. I do believe and have inklings of things in my own life that feel, well...just lead me to believe there is more. I've enjoyed reading everyone else's stories. And Tangled Memories is on my list of must reads, and very soon! Thanks so much for sharing.


4:31 PM  
Blogger Renee DeMarcus said...

Hi Jan!

Wow, your novel, Tangled memories sounds so fascinating. I can't wait to read it.

I'm working on a reincarnation story just now too, in part because of a similar experience I had with a psychic.

Oh, and I sooo love your cover!

:) Renee

4:31 PM  
Blogger Dina said...

Hi Jan, I believe in reincarnation but have not had any personal things to confirm. It's just the feelings you have sometimes, perhaps meeting someone and you "know" you've met them before, stuff like that.

4:51 PM  
Blogger Magdalena Scott said...

Hi, everyone. Extremely interesting topic!

I highly recommend Jan's "Tangled Memories." It is a marvelous book.

I do still feel sorry for... Well, I can't say. You'll just have to read it!

5:39 PM  
Blogger Jan Scarbrough said...

Thanks to everyone for your comments. I never thought about reincarnation until having my palm read at the fair. I must admit using it as a topic for Tangled Memories has been fun.

7:06 PM  
Blogger LadyVampire2u said...

I think I have to believe in reincarnations simply from all the unusual dreams uniting me with things from the past. The most significant link was with this one dream I kept having of myself inside a narrow passageway painting hieroglyphics inside some Egyptian pyramid. I chisled the scenes and letters before painting them in.
I used to think they were only dreams until I realized some part of me could read these symbols and connect with them even though I am not Egyptian by blood and was never taught to read the hieroglyphic language. As a little girl, the first time I went to the museum in my city that contained Egyptian diaplays I started reading the scenes and explaining them to folks who were clearly shocked. So far I haven't seen an actual carving or painting that I might personally have done but then I've never traveled to Egypt and have stuck around the US. In part that might be me being a little nervous about reawakening too many memories. It's bad enough I get the life-like dreams all the time.

2:25 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

yes, I do believe in reincarnation. I have had a few past life regressions and they have helped me understand why I am the way I am. It also helped to clarify my purpose for being here this time around.

For example, I had one memory come forth in which I was a native American Indian father. My baby daughter, who is actually my son in this real life was stolen and tortured as she was raised by a white man. I was killed by the white man. So happens that the white man in that life is my ex in this life. This explains why I have such a love for Native Americans, and an over-protective concern for my son. I stopped feeling guilty for the poor relationship my son has with his father once I realized I didn't cause it and I can do nothing about it. That's between them to work out.

Thanks for giving us a chance to chime in on this topic. Love to have your book.

12:20 PM  
Blogger Jan Scarbrough said...

I don't know who might read this, but Dr. Brian Weiss will be on Coast to Coast AM, an overnight radio show that I get on a local Clear Channel station, Wed 08.27. His topic is Past Life Therapy.

6:37 PM  
Blogger Caffey said...

Hi Jan! First I must say that this is such a beautiful cover. It really so pulls out the characters and the feel with the colors and more. Love it!

I actually haven't read much at all with reincarnation before. And I've haven't seen much written about it either that I'm aware of. So I'm is it one thats not a theme written as much? I do love something new, and too reminds me of reading legends where I learn so much about them for the first time, from reading romance ebooks. So I'm actually looking forward to reading this as well as learning more about whats written on this. Without having any experiences to share on this, I did so enjoy reading the post and the posts here on their experiences!

9:46 PM  

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