Or, maybe, Julius Caesar or William Shakespeare or Marie Antoinette? Discussions of past lives are often met with a bit of a smirk. Do you really believe? And the answer is, “Yes, I do.”

I look at past life information in a number of different ways. It serves as a teacher; it explains talents, predispositions and interests; it illuminates personal archetypal patterns; and it expands our consciousness beyond the three-dimensional being we are at this moment and, thereby, enhances our soul growth.

Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reincarnation) tells us that the word "reincarnation" derives from Latin, literally meaning, "entering the flesh again.” If you accept past lives, you believe, like a solid majority of the world, that reincarnation -- the concept of a soul recycling throughout different lifetimes wearing a new robe of flesh on each occasion for the purpose of soul growth and soul balancing – is real. Thus, depending on how many spins of the karmic wheel you have had, you are an old soul with many experiences or a new soul who is still learning the ropes on a soul level.

The beauty of reincarnation is that each of us has had a chance -- via different lifetime experiences -- to sample genders, ethnicities, body types and sexual preferences. We have known hunger, abundance, slavery, love, war, plagues, happiness, murder, children, rape, travel, prison, societal strictures, hard-scrabble living, idyllic lives and the like. In other the words, the whole panoply of life has been played out by our souls. In one lifetime, we have loved this one and hated that one; in one of the next lifetimes, we have taken the opposite point of view in order to learn from all points of the spectrum.

Clearly, the soul is a profound teacher. We have all been one of the bad guys – murdering, plundering, raping – and we have all been one of the good guys, too. The karmic wheel is forever turning and our soul is choosing what adventure to have next in order to develop our compassion, sense of service and, ultimately, to understand the oneness of us all. And if we really come to understand the oneness of us all, there would be no need for war and we would mitigate religious hatred.

For the record, I know I was not Cleopatra. I do know I have had multitudinous lifetimes in ancient Egypt experiencing a bit of everything, frequently a slave as well as a scribe. I also know I flubbed one of my initiations in the Pyramid and my fears called forth a myriad of snakes. I think you can still hear me screaming.

Like dreams, I often read past life information as symbolic. What I have gleaned may or may not be accurate, my soul knows the truth. But it does tell me that my soul has carried forth, day in and day out, lifetime after lifetime. That makes me feel stronger, more resilient and accepting that all things are possible because, after all, the soul is eternal.

And if we accept that the soul is eternal, the idea of death becomes less scary and mysterious. It becomes, instead, the great shape shift or as Chief Seattle said, “a change of worlds.” I like that.

Author's Bio: 

Adele Ryan McDowell, Ph.D., is a trsnspersonal psychologist and higher consciousness teacher who likes looking at life through the big view finder. She is the author of Balancing Act: Reflections, Meditations, and Coping Strategies for Today's Fast-Paced Whirl and a contributing author to the anthology 2012: Creating Your Own Shift. You can learn more at www.theheraldedpenguin.com and www.channeledgrace.com