Eternal recurrence October 18, 2017

Some months ago I was randomly flipping through a book published in 1924 by psychiatrist Carl Wickland M.D. “Thirty Years Among the Dead”.  According to the blurb on the inside sleeve jacket:

Carl August Wickland (February 14, 1861 – November 13, 1945) was a psychiatrist, a paranormal researcher and a non-fiction author. Wickland was born in 1861 at Liden, Norland Province, Sweden. His father taught him cabinet making in his youth. Later he studied watchmaking. In 1881 he arrived in St. Paul, Minn. after having emigrated from Sweden the year before. He married Anna W. Anderson in 1896 and they moved to Chicago so that he could attend Durham Medical College from which he graduated in 1900. He became a general practitioner of medicine and specialized in researching mental illnesses. In 1909, Wickland became chief psychiatrist at the National Psychopathic Institute of Chicago. He continued in that position until 1918 when he and his wife moved to Los Angeles, California. Wickland, in collaboration with his assistants, Nelle Watts, and Celia and Orlando Goerz, wrote and published in 1924, Thirty Years Among the Dead a book that detailed their experiences in abnormal psychology. Wickland believed that the doctrine of reincarnation was incorrect: The theory of reincarnation can undoubtedly be traced to early stages of mankind when departed spirits took possession of the bodies of sensitive individuals and lived and acted through them, thus seemingly indicating reincarnation. But in reality this was only spirit obsession or possession.

The book provides first-hand accounts of interactions between what are described as discarnate earth-bound entities and the living, citing hundreds of cases of what the author terms ‘spirit possession’, which after being cast out by various means result in the hapless human host returning to a normal temperament.  In reading through Wickland’s accounts, there are a number of consistent themes which emerge from the narrative accounts, one of which is reincarnation, a spiritual belief-system influencing millions of human beings past and present.

When embodied, and prior to physical death, these spiritual beings believed that after death they would reincarnate (be reborn in human form) so they could continue learning life lessons which for whatever reason they didn’t learn the first-time round.  This endless recurrence, according to them, would continue for however many lifetimes it would take for them to perfect themselves.

According to information received from them after physical death however, and as recorded by Wickland, what appears to have happened is that after their death they realised that this belief was a fallacy because try as they might, they could not ever reincarnate.

This ensued great lamentation from all of them in the light of what they now knew; they had wasted their time and they wanted others not to do the same as they had done.  Many of them had lived lives focused on materialism, indolence and self-centredness and with little if any thought of spiritual or related matters.  Now in eternity, they realised they should have focused on living lives of love to others and love to God.

Since experiencing my own bereavements, I’ve become acutely aware of the passing of time and of the reality of how little time we as planetary dwellers do have to live out our lives as embodied beings.  Why are we born, why do we die, and why do I feel that what happens in between those two events is of critical importance to the individual?  Why is it of critical importance to me?  And if it is of critical importance to me, is it of critical importance to others?  According to Wickland’s record, it is, especially if one believes in reincarnation.  Why do I constantly feel that death is trying to teach me how to live?  And why do I feel that this is something deeply and profoundly important to my spiritual well-being and impending spiritual destiny?

Perhaps the following statement offers some insight, “This planetary life is only a preparation for a much greater life” (pers. com. Philip W. Groves, 16 December 1998).  Aye, there’s the rub.


Michele T Knight Written by:

Dr Michele Knight is a Social Worker, Social Scientist, researcher and independent scholar. Her interest and research in the end-of-life has its origin in the lived experiences of her own bereavements, her near-death and shared-death events, the returning deceased and attitudinal responses to those experiences. Since 2006, she has been extensively involved in community development, support and advocacy in both a professional and community services/voluntary capacity in the areas of bereavement and grief, hospital pastoral care, and academic lecturing/tutoring. Her PhD, Ways of Being: The alchemy of bereavement and communique, explores the lived experience of bereavement, grief, spirituality and unsought encounters with the returning deceased.

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