6 Common Traits of Reincarnation

Have we been here before?

It is rare for someone to delve into learning about reincarnation without coming across the name of Dr. Ian Stevenson and the in-depth research he carried out on reincarnation. Dr. Stevenson traveled for over 40 years, investigating 3,000 cases of children around the world who recalled having past lives. His meticulous research pointed to many common links and presented numerous arguments that reincarnation does indeed exist and we are all involved with this cycle.

Background on Dr. Stevenson?

Dr. Stevenson’s began researching reincarnation in 1960 when a case of a Sri-Lankan child remembering a past life was brought to his attention. Travelling to Sri Lanka, he thoroughly questioned the child and the child’s parents. Not only this, he questioned the people who the child referred to as being his parents from his past life. This led to Dr. Stevenson’s conviction that reincarnation was possibly a reality and the publication of two articles in the Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research about this particular case.  From this point onwards, Dr Ian Stevenson dedicated his work to studying cases of reincarnation. Reincarnation had been pretty much ignored by science in the past, but the more cases Dr. Stevenson discovered, the greater his conviction that reincarnation could be scientifically quantified.

Dr Stevenson kept in depth records of all cases he encountered and through these we are able to see patterns that repeat themselves, time and time again. Some of these are detailed below.

“I did not begin when I was born, nor when I was conceived. I have been growing, developing, through incalculable myriads of millenniums… All my previous selves have their voices, echoes, promptings in me… Oh, incalculable times again shall I be born.”
– Jack London

6 Common Traits of Reincarnation

1) Prophetic Dreams

There are numerous accounts of people experiencing prophetic dreams where someone who has died appears to a pregnant, or soon to be pregnant woman, to tell her that they will be reborn to her. Relatives also have these dreams and tell the woman of the messages they received. Dr. Stevenson found these prophetic dreams to be particularly prolific in Burma and among the Indians in Alaska.

2) Recognisable Marks

In some cultures Dr Stevenson visited, newborn children where checked for recognisable marks to determine if someone that was previously known to them had in fact returned to them. This was incredibly common in cultures that believed in reincarnation, especially the Tlingit Indians and the Igbos of Nigeria. Further to this, many tribes in West Africa would make marks on the body of the deceased so that they would be able to identify them when they were reborn.

3) Remembering a Past Life

The most common shared occurrence of reincarnation is the actual remembrance of a past life from a child. Children usually begin talking about memories of past lves between the ages of two and four, with these occurrences dwindling between the ages of four and seven. Most children that Dr. Stevenson studied, spoke about their past lives with deep intensity and feeling. They are confused about whether their past lives or their present one is in fact the real one and experience a kind of ‘Double Existence’ when, at certain times, one life is more prominent than another.

“Finding myself to exist in the world, I believe I shall, in some shape or other, always exist.”
– Benjamin Franklin


This is why it is common for a child to speak about a past life as if it was their present. For example, “I have a husband and three Children and live in a small house on a farm.” Almost all cases are able to recall events leading up to their deaths in those lives. These Children also believe their past parents to be their real ones, rather than the parents they have in this current life, and they wish to return to them. In cases where the previous family has been found, details from both parties line up in a way that far surpasses coincidence.

4) Social Status

Say for instance, a child is born into a very low class family after they were a member of a higher caste in a previous life, they may feel uncomfortable and out of place in their new family. They display behaviour aligning to these past social statuses such as refusing to wear cheap cloths, or expect to be served or waited on. Stevenson has documented many examples of these occurrences.

5) Birthmarks or Defects Corresponding to Wounds on the Deceased

In 895 cases of children who said that they remembered a past life,  309 (35%) had birthmarks or birth defects that corresponded with a wound inflicted on the deceased party, usually a fatal one. In cases where a deceased person was identified by the details of the past life, a close correspondence was nearly always found between the birthmarks and/or birth defects on the child and the wounds on the deceased person.

6) Present Life Phobias

Dr. Stevenson also found that in 35% of cases he investigated, children who died an unnatural death, developed corresponding phobias in their present life. For example, if someone drowned in a past life, then they would have a fear of deep water in their present one. If someone had been shot, then they were presently unusually afraid of loud noises or bangs. If someone dies in a road accident then they would be over nervous about transportation vehicles in their present life.


“The soul comes from without into the human body, as into a temporary abode, and it goes out of it anew… it passes into other habitations, for the soul is immortal.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson


These are just 6 of the common occurrences Dr. Ian Stevenson found during his 40 years of research. Although most of his research was carried out in countries where cultures believed in reincarnation, many people residing in countries where belief is not the norm, have shared some of the above experiences. It seems common among Children to speak of past lives and many Parents report these unusual conversations where their children describe complex accounts, offering information that they could not have known before hand.

With a shift in consciousness, the percentage of adults that believe in reincarnation is on the rise and research conducted by the likes of Dr. Ian Stevenson is aiding to open minds that would previously never entertained the idea before.


What are your experiences or beliefs in reincarnation? Let us know your thoughts below…


Further Reading

Dr. Ian Stevenson’s Reincarnation Research

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