Carlos S. Alvarado, PhD, Visiting Scholar, Rhine Research Center

Dr. Jim Tucker

Dr. Jim Tucker

Drs. Jim B. Tucker and H. H. Jurgen Keil just published a paper about birthmarks in reincarnation-type cases: “Experimental Birthmarks: New Cases of an Asian Practice.” Journal of Scientific Exploration, 2013, 27, 269-282 (available here).

Dr. H. H. Jurgen Keil

Dr. H. H. Jurgen Keil

Abstract

Experimental birthmarks involve a practice in several countries in Asia in which the body of a dying or recently deceased person is marked with a substance, most often soot, in the belief that when the individual is reborn, the baby will bear a birthmark corresponding to the mark. This is usually done with the expectation that the rebirth will occur in the same family as the deceased individual. A field study was undertaken in Thailand and Myanmar (Burma) to examine such cases. Eighteen cases were found in which a baby was born with a birthmark that corresponded to a marking made on the body of a deceased person; in six of these, the child also made statements that the family believed were related to the life of the deceased individual. Possible etiologies for these cases are explored.

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In addition to conventional explanations, the authors consider various possible explanations for the birthmarks. They consider “maternal impressions” but conclude that not all cases may be thus explained. They also write: “Another explanation is that experimental birthmarks represent a phenomenon of consciousness. There are two  types of consciousness-mediated processes to consider. The first would be the one in which the prayers and wishes of the mourning family effected the development of the birthmark . . . The other consciousness-related explanation involves what the villagers believe: that there is a continuation of the consciousness of the deceased individual in the child born with the birthmark . . . Whether these cases represent a psychosomatic phenomenon, a consciousness-mediated one, or some other process, they at least deserve more study.”

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