Now then, as most of you know and as I tell my students enquiring about past life regression in hypnosis… I am not sure where I sit on the subject… My thought process is such that if I do not wholeheartedly believe in something, I do not feel that I should do it with other people… I think you need congruence to do things effectively and do not think I would be congruent because i am not sure what I believe on this subject.

I have experienced and heard a variety of arguments for it, against it and in favour it’s therapeutic applications and those that think we have enough to deal with in this life… That is not what I am discussing today… With regards to past life regression, here is a fabulous question (inspired by my wonderful pal Ellie Blunt) that is sure to get your moral thermometer fluctuating…

If you had a hypnosis session for past life regression and subsequently discovered that you had lived a past life, if you then went and verified the information that was elicited from that session, knowing that loved ones from that past life were still alive, would you contact them?

Hmmm… Would you be worried about them thinking you were a crazy? Or would you expect them to embrace it and appreciate your story?

Well Jenny Cockell did all those things in that order described above and then wrote a book about it that was mentioned in this hypnosis article in the Independent newspaper. 

The intriguing article states: 

Twenty years ago, Jenny Cockell travelled from her home in the UK to Malahide in Co Dublin. She was visiting for the weekend and she instantly started to recognise places in the local area.

“I noticed things that had changed — like the builder’s yard being replaced by a supermarket and the old jetty being updated to a nice new concrete jetty,” she says.

It was a homecoming of sorts for Jenny but the strange thing is that she had never set foot in Malahide before that first visit in June 1989. Her vivid memories came from what she says is her past life as an Irishwoman called Mary Sutton, who actually died 21 years before Jenny was born.

One of the places that Jenny felt compelled to visit during her trip was the small house where Mary had lived with her husband and children up until the 1930s.

“I knew the house was grouped with a few other houses, opposite a boggy meadow. When I walked to where I thought the house was, there were just ruins there. I had got there just in time because the ruins were only there for a short time afterwards until a development was built on the land.”

Jenny still didn’t know what the family’s surname was. It was only through writing to a local man who remembered them that she pieced together that the woman concerned was called Mary Sutton.

Jenny then went and wrote about her experiences in a book she titled: Journeys Through Time, she says that first started to get flashes of past lives during her early childhood:

I started talking about these memories before I turned four and I thought it was what everyone experienced,” she says. “I had tiny fragments of dozens and dozens of memories but there were four past lives that came through the strongest and the memories of Mary were the strongest ones of all.”

The most vivid of all the memories was Mary’s death in 1932, at the age of 35. She had died in the Rotunda Hospital, soon after giving birth to her eighth child.

“I remembered feeling so upset and guilty at leaving the children,” says Jenny. “There was this sense of wanting to see what had happened to them and make sure they were alright.”

As a child, Jenny drew a map of the village where Mary lived. She had a strong sense that it was in Ireland but had no idea whereabouts it was.

“I got out my school atlas and looked at a map of Ireland,” she recalls. “Again and again, I was drawn to this place called Malahide.”

So then came the morally chalenging stuff I asked about earlier… Because it was when Jenny got married and had children that she started thinking about tracking down Mary Sutton’s family in Ireland… She says:

I wanted to make sure that if I traced the family, I had every detail right,” she says. “I was afraid that I might find a family quite similar but that it mightn’t turn out to be them.”

In early 1988, Jenny was put in touch with a regressionist who agreed to put her under hypnosis.

“I didn’t think hypnosis would work,” she says, “because despite all expectations, I’m actually quite a sceptical person. It was a frustrating experience at times and I wasn’t comfortable with it until it confirmed that some of the details were spot-on.

This is fascinating, isn;t it? I hear many of these kinds of things and have seen this happen in sessions I have witnessed… many sceptics believe the unconcious mind picks up this kind of information throughout life, however obscure the link…

Jenny actually visited Ireland after further thought and wanting to progress further. Just after that trip, she made the connection to the Sutton name and further investigations revealed the first names of some of the children.

I did worry for a long time about contacting Mary’s children,” she says. “I was concerned that by approaching them, it might do some harm. But ultimately I thought I would make contact and leave the decision to them on whether they wanted to talk to me.”

Jenny put adverts in Irish newspapers and was contacted by John, one of Mary’s sons.

“I did feel awkward talking to him — what should I say?” says Jenny. “He gave me the details for his oldest brother Sonny in Leeds and I spoke to him on the phone.

At this time, a TV producer in the UK was interested in making a documentary about the story. Before Jenny met with Sonny, the producer interviewed them separately to get their recollections.

‘There were nine pages of information that matched with Sonny,” says Jenny.

“It was important that there was independent research by a third party but for me, this was less about proving reincarnation than it was about finding what had happened to the family.”

I am not being sceptic here… But I am guessing there would be a good case for some written cold reading type stuff here, no?

It turned out that most of the older children had been placed in orphanages and that the youngest daughter had been adopted. Only five of the siblings were still living when they reunited in the 90s.

Unsurprisingly I’d say, not everyone was fully convinced that Jenny was the reincarnation of Mary Sutton.

Sonny accepted me as Mary, mostly because there were things that I knew that he said, ‘How can you know that?’

“Some of the girls couldn’t quite see it as reincarnation and I said they didn’t have to look at it that way. I think, instead, they saw it as their mother working through me.”

Jenny remained in contact with Mary’s children and was particularly close to Sonny up until his death in 2002.

There are of course sceptics who remain unconvinced by Jenny’s past lives.

It makes for fascinating and stimulating discussion, does it not? 🙂