One of the most amazing books to be published in recent years â€” Journey of Souls (Llewellyn, 1994) â€” continues to find new readers and attract a growing audience among those curious about who they are and where they came from.
Journey of Souls is a case study of patients seen by Michael Newton, Ph.D., a certified Master Hypnotherapist in California. They came to him with many of the usual complaints unrelenting fear, an inability to cope with certain situations, pains that don’t seem to go away Dr. Newton, a self-professed atheist with no interest at all in new age things, did straight hypnotherapy. No past-life stuff. Until he was forced to confront the possibility that reincarnation is true.
His groundbreaking book takes the reader to that place between lives where we meet with members of our soul groups, consult with our teachers and make concerted efforts to choose an appropriate life and situation to help ourselves grow. In a special interview that included Edge Publisher Gary Beckman and his wife, lnsiah Vawda-Beckman, Dr. Newton told us he would have been the first one to laugh in your face if you had discussed the journey of souls. Now, he takes it seriously, and his discussion of the subject merits keynote status around the world
When did the cases you documented in Journey of Souls take place?
Michael Newton: Journey of Souls was written over many, many years. I began as a very traditional hypnotherapist. People would come to me and want me to do their past-life regression, and I would say, very uncuriously, “No I’m sorry. I’m a traditional psychotherapist. Hypnotherapy is my specialty. I do not do past-life regressions.”
So they thought I was being a little narrow minded, but I explained. “I’m not a new age person, OK? You’re talking to the wrong person.
This man came up tome once and asked for an appointment so he could be placed under hypnosis, because he had this pain in his side for as long as he could remember. He said, “The doctors think I have a psychosomatic problem here. X-rays show nothing.”
I said, “Do you feel it might have happened in childhood?”
He said, “Yes. I think it did. I must have done something as a small child I don’t know what it is, but I’m carrying that memory.â€
So I placed him in deep hypnosis and we worked for quite a while. I was getting nowhere. Finally, out of frustration, I just asked him, “Go to the source of this pain.â€
The next thing I knew, we were on the fields of battle in World War I. So being the skeptic I am â€” he’s dying in the mud, in his mind â€” and I’m asking him about his regiment I want to know what’s on his arm patch, and what day is it?
“July 1, 1916.â€
And he’s a British sergeant and he’s being bayoneted. I just couldn’t believe it. I said, “My God, am I in the new age?” I didn’t know. So I just did with him what I would have done with anyone who had injured themselves in childhood and I deprogrammed this. After I finished asking him a lot of pointed questions, because I’m an amateur historian, I wanted to see if he was telling me something that really made sense. Then he left. I was just stunned and bewildered. I checked my history books and checked those dates, places, times, regiments I even wrote the British Ministry to check on it. And they wrote back and said, “Yes.â€
He called me a few weeks later and said, “I’m fine. No more pain. Thanks so much.â€
With that case, I began to do more and more research,
Now, there are many past-life therapists, but I don’t know of anyone who specializes in the work that I do. And I didn’t either, in the beginning. What was really the breakthrough for me is that when people who are hypnotherapists work with past-life regression, most of them do not think about the life between lives. They skip over it. They think This is just a bridge from one life to the next. There’s nothing there. Many of those who have experimented with it have been unsuccessful because their patients aren’t deep enough.
The only reason I had the particular case lam going to tell you about work for me was because I had a very somnambulistic person who went very deep, very quickly.
This lady came to me with the presenting problem of depression. She said she couldn’t connect with anyone. “I have no friends,” she said. “I don’t know what it is. I cry all the time. I miss people.”
Again, I thought this was a traditional case of depression. So, again in a sense of frustration, I told her, “Go to the source of this loss of companionship, either individually or in groups.â€
When I used the word â€œgroup,â€ it was a trigger word, later realized how important that word is for people who are describing the spirit world. And she started to cry. Her eyes were closed, but she was pointing at my office wall, and she said, â€œThere they all are.”
And I’m saying, â€œWho?â€
And I’m thinking, are we talking about a bridge group? What’s going on here?
And she said, “No, my soul group.â€
We had just finished one lifetime, and I hadn’t taken her to the next one, and she was in between lives. That case was my first breakthrough. Again, I was stunned and I couldn’t believe what she was telling me. I asked a lot of questions and brought her out of hypnosis and analyzed the tapes. After that case, it took me a long time to figure out how to take people into the spirit world, what it is you need to do from a hypnosis standpoint to get people very deep. And, they have to know that you know what you’re doing. Most people in hypnosis are very protective about this aspect of their immortality. If they think you are just stumbling around and that you don’t really understand what they are telling you, they won’t. Most people are not like this lady I spoke about who just wanted to unload her trauma. Most people are very cautious.
It took me years to really unravel the puzzle and I didn’t tell anybody what I was doing. People from various associations, like the Association for Past Life Therapies, were very upset with me. I gave them a keynote speech last year and they said, “You worked for all those years and didn’t tell any of us what you were doing?”
There were 29 cases in the book but they represent thousands of cases, really. And I’ve documented everything. Checked. Crosschecked, didn’t want any bias. I didn’t want anybody telling me what they thought, or about their research. Later, I found there have not been any books written in this kind of detail about life between lives.
I have found that most therapists call me and say, â€œI’ve been working in this field for years but I still can’t get anything but fragmentary information. What am I doing wrong?”
My first question is, “How long are they in hypnosis?”
“Well, you know, the usual, 45 minutes, one hour.”
I said, “You can’t work in my field. First of all, I have to have three hours. This kind of work cannot be done in one hour.â€
They say, â€œThat means you only see two people a day. I can’t make a living doing that.”
I also tell them their patients aren’t deep enough in hypnosis. I have to take them very deeply into the theta state. Alpha will not work. You can take people into past lives in alpha, and you can get a lot of information on the subconscious in alpha, but I have found â€” and this is my own opinion â€” I have to take them to the next level down to reach their super-conscious minds.
How did it affect you when you discovered this? Was there a sense of knowing on your part that you had hit upon something important?Â Newton: I had chills when I had that first case I could not believe what was happening.
You’re looking at somebody who is truly an atheist. I had no beliefs in anything. Nothing. Except survival. And that when this life is over, it is over. Into oblivion. Maybe that is why I was chosen for this work. You couldn’t have had a more skeptical person. So I was relentless with my questions.
In time, working with more and more people, what I found was this: It did not matter whether they were deeply religious, a true, fundamentalist Christian, a Buddhist, or an atheist or any philosophical persuasion in between. Once I had them in deep hypnosis, they all told me the same thing. It’s the consistency of reports that caused me to continue my work and finally write the book.
When it was all over, I have acquired, I hope, spirituality. I’m not a religious person, per se, but spiritual. I have come to an understanding that there is order. Nothing happens by accident. We choose our own bodies for certain purposes in life. I get very sad when I see our drug-infested culture, because when you are on chemicals, alcohol or other drugs, the soul shuts down. It’s imprisoned. It cannot function through the mind. I see so many kids who want to escape from reality. And, of course, that’s the very reason that they’re here â€” to deal with reality, to deal with the problems of life and learn from them.
Some people feel the whole idea of reincarnation is abhorrent to them. They say, “This life is so hard and I’m in pain all the time, and to thinkÂ about having to do it again is just too overwhelming for me. I don’t want to believe it. I cant believe it. I won’t believe it.” So you have people who want to end it all. I’ve had people who have committed suicide in past lives. If a person who commits suicide could only understand that the minute they die and cross over, they will know instantly that they’ve done something incredibly stupid. At that time, the amnesiac barrier is gone and they have full knowledge of their immortality. They realize they’re going to have to come back and do it again, and not only that. They’ve left many people who loved them deeply.
So if this book helps people who are not interested in a traditional religious path and are looking for something that makes sense to them, then I will have set out to accomplish what I intended to do.
It’s been an interesting three years.
Some might say that what takes place between lives should remain a mystery. Why are you being allowed to give details?
Newton: I ask myself that question a lot. What role do I play in this? First of all, I think I was selected to do what little contribution I have done because of my skepticism and my strong academic background. Iâ€™ve spent years studying philosophy, psychology, history and archaeology. I came into this with enough knowledge in other areas without being clouded by having a belief system that would have contaminated my studies.
The other question is, why are people like me able to get information that perhaps a century ago would have been impossible? I’ve asked my clients this when they were in the spirit world. We are in an age that is very different than any other age in history. We have a population problem in the world that is overwhelming. The next century is going to be horrible if we continue on with this uncontrolled propagation. Add to that the drug culture. There has never been a time in which so many drugs were available to so many people in so many areas of the world. I believe those factors, as well as the environmental concerns that exist as we end this millennium, have led the “powers upstairs,” if I may use that term, to loosen the amnesiac block to give us more hope.
There was a period of time, about 5,000 years ago, in which people had much more of a sense of their immortality than we do today. I’ve questioned people very carefully who have lived in the stone age, the Neolithic era, Paleolithic era, even up to the time of Babylonia and early Egyptian culture. And when I question people about their lives in those times, they had a sense of the hereafter. They had a true sense that they were just here temporarily and that they were going back to a place of love and kindness where there was no judgment or criticism of who they were.
We somehow lost this, and I’m not blaming Christianity or any religion. But by the time of the Middle Ages, it seemed like we had just shut down. You could argue, why is amnesia there in the first place? Why can’t we all be telepathic? It would be like going in to take an exam with all the answers taped to your wrist wearing a long-sleeved shirt so the teacher couldn’t see that you were peeking every so often to get the answers. What good would the examination be if you knew the answers before you came in?
And how would your life be affected if you had all the knowledge of all of your past lives? I think there are a number of reasons for amnesia.
So what about my work? If people have amnesia about past lives, and life between lives, am I going against the rules of the game by releasing this information? I have had little to no success with the young. I don’t even work with those under 30. I also have found that if people aren’t supposed to know certain things, I might have them in the spirit world and they might see nothing but blankness. They might talk about certain things or say, “My guide doesn’t want me to know this.â€ And I respect that.
So, you see, they’re monitoring me. And I’ve had a number of people who were in great pain and they were allowed to look at all the issues involved. So I think there is a lot of selectivity involved.
Remember, each of us selected this body for a purpose, and our guides and masters gave us help in selecting this body. We are who we are because we’re here to learn certain lessons.
A lot of people look in the mirror in the morning and say, “Why am I me? How did I come to be this individual?” That’s the soul talking.
It seems the information by those who have reported near-death experiences seems to compare favorably with what you have found.
Newton: There have been many NDE reports, the whole business about bright lights, tunnels. The thing about the NDE is that they’re only clinically dead for three minutes. I work with people for three hours and I don’t have somebody in physical trauma. These reports do give a glimpse of the spirit world. I am able to take people a lot further.
Journey of Souls speaks frequently about the value of personal relationships. Can you elaborate on the value of connecting with others?Â Newton: I mentioned the woman who was depressed because she missed her soul group so much that she could hardly function. Most people are not like that woman. They are here in bodies, surrounded by friends and loved ones who they are associated with in the spirit world. The most obvious ones are our spouses, people that we love most deeply. Usually they are a part of our inner circle, which on average is five to eight souls. These are our brothers and sisters, our wives and husbands, sometimes a parent, maybe a favorite uncle, maybe your best friend in high school. Then there is a larger group, which also is peripherally involved with our lives.
I see this all as a huge stage play. You are the major actress. And you are supported by many other cast members, who are major actors and actresses in their own right, and you play a supporting part in their lives. It’s all interconnected. When we come into our lives and screw up relationships, and we do not value friendships, we do not take love seriously. Then we are self-destructing our purpose. One of our major purposes in life is to give and receive love. That can be a deep, physical and mental love connected with a spouse, but it can also be a kindness to other people whom you may not even know very well. And a respectfulness of their beliefs and the way they function even though it may be different than your own. Part of it is the Golden Rule. It’s all part of lesson learning.
What has information from the spirit world told you about soul mates, the idea that there is only one person out there for us?
Newton: I get questioned about that a lot. Here’s what’s interesting. Say somebody has been married three times and she is in her 50s. I often find that the first marriage was with the person they had intended on a soul level to stay with. But it’s OK, because it’s all part of learning.
I have found that soul mates can take many shapes and sizes. It does not have to be your spouse or the person you are most deeply in love with. I find that soul mates can exist on many levels â€” best friends, relatives with whom you feel a very close connection, people you work with.
I wrote about the first time I saw my wife. I almost fainted. I could not believe it. It was like we had always known each other, and we had, but it was the first time I had seen her on Earth. And she felt the same way. There is that old adage that the soul is reflected in the eyes. I’m sure you have looked at someone in their eyes and felt, “There is something about this person that I am connecting with, but I cannot figure it out because I never met them before.â€ It doesn’t have to be a love relationship, but just someone you meet as a friend. You might just be sitting at an airport.
There’s often something behind that feeling.
What have you learned about one soul that is present in more than one body?
Newton: This is the concept of duality of souls, which is very complicated and many people are confused by it. And they mix it up with twin souls, which is a concept I totally reject. The division of souls is voluntary. The idea is that if I incarnate in two or more bodies during one chronology of lives, I will then accelerate my learning. Our teachers and guides discourage this because they believe it fractures our energy too much, but they will let us do it if we want to attempt it. I have had many clients who have done this. After they do it a few times, however, they see that the wise counsel behind working with one body at one time.
A part of our energy stays behind in the spirit world and never leaves when we incarnate. That’s how, upon your passing, you can see your mother who had died 30 years before you even though she has already reincarnated. A part of her â€” all of us â€” is always there in the soul group. And that brings up the confusion about ghosts and people who leave behind bits and pieces of their energy when they pass over. It’s like a hologram.
The whole thing about inhabiting more than one body is that there is always 100 percent of your energy. No more. If you have 30 percent of your energy in one body, 30 percent in a second body and 30 percent in a third, you’re going to have less energy than someone who is completely in one body.
I asked a client once, ‘What would happen if you brought 100 percent of your soul’s energy into a body and didn’t leave anything behind in the spirit realm, and you weren’t in another body?” You know what he said? We’d blow the circuits of the human brain.
Why do you reject the twin soul concept?
Newton: It pre-supposes that at the origin of the creation of your soul, you were divided, and that you will not meet the other half until all of your incarnations are finished and then you will be rejoined with yourself, so to speak None of my research has ever indicated that any of that is truth. As a matter of fact, it’s diametrically opposed to the concept that our closest souls are the ones we are supposed to be working with.
What about walk-Ins?
Newton: Let me tell you why I don’t believe in the precept of walk-ins. And this is just my personal truth. We sign a contract when we come through to work with this body until it gives out Now, if you commit suicide, that’s a voluntary action. Are you going to tell me that halfway into our lives we’re going to say, “Gee, this is too hard. I’m going to check out and let some other soul come in and finish this life for me. I want to leave and go back home.â€
Walk-ins make no sense to me. What about the daughter who’s in a coma, and her soul is gone and a more powerful soul is going to somehow come in and take over? No way. The body may be in a coma, and the soul may be out and roaming around, waiting to come back if the body regains consciousness. It’s not trapped. But it’s not going to let some other soul come over and finish the life. That’s just not the way it’s done upstairs. Souls are signed for the duration of the body.
It may be that there is a spiritual awakening and one might explain that as though it were someone else, someone different, coming in.Â Newton: That’s a very good explanation.
One more question In that regard: What about a soul that wants to come in but does not want to come in until age 10 or so, skipping Infancy?Â Newton: It doesn’t work that way. Everybody starts at the starting line. Now, there are variations of when the soul joins the fetus, some in the third month, some in the ninth month. Late corners, so to speak, right at the moment of birth.
I had one woman who told me, “I’m not one of those late corners. I like to get used to my body while I still have all of my soul memories.
And, of course, I get involved in some lectures with the abortion issue, Well, if this is true, then the soul knows that the baby is going to be aborted so there’s no point in the soul ever coming in. Well, its always a tricky issue to address. The best way I can handle this is to simply say, that I have never found a soul that joined the body before the three-month period, because there’s not much of a body for them to work with. I don’t believe the soul is there before the 90-day point. After that yes, souls do know if the baby is going to live or not.
I had a woman write me after hearing me on the Art Bell show. She was a nurse who worked in a maternity ward. And she said to me, “Are you going declare that stillborn children are soul-less? Are you going to take that away from the parents?” She was very angry.
I called her and said, â€œYou have to understand that I’m not playing God here. It could well be that the soul would come into the body of a stillborn child in order to teach the parents a lesson. I wouldn’t know unless I were working with that parent exactly what the reasons were for the joining or non-joining of a body by a soul. I cannot make a definitive statement about that. I can only tell you about my research and what I’ve been told. More often that not, if it’s known that a child is not going to survive, there’s no reason for the soul to join the body.â€
Now, if the soul is on a TWA flight that crashes off New York, in a body of a 4-month-old boy, what is the purpose there? That child never had a chance? The purpose was, for the few weeks that he was alive, he gave love to his parents. There was a lesson there, and he volunteered for that assignment, however short it may have been. Everybody volunteers for their work on Earth. People who died in Auschwitz. They were all volunteers. I’ve had many, many clients who had been through the German death camps. It’s always tough working with them. Everyone of them knew in advance what their challenge in that lifetime would be.
Can you give us a sense of the spiritual hierarchy â€” and I don’t like that word, but what coordinates everything?
Newton: I had a friend I went to undergraduate school with in Tucson. I gave a speech there and he sat in the front row, wearing a hat that read, “Resist Authority.â€
He said, “Michael, I don’t like hierarchy.”
I said, â€œWell, Joe, what’s your take on all of this?”
“First of all,â€ he said, “you know I’m an oblivionist. When life is over, it’s over. And secondly, I haven’t been able to sleep at night after reading your book.”
And I said, “Why is that, Joe?”
“Because it makes it sound that if this were true, I’d be going back to military boot camp training.â€ Joe is smiling, having a good time with me.
“OK. Joe. If I told you that you couldn’t go to oblivion, upon death, and had to make some choice, how would you like it to be upstairs?â€
He said, â€œI want to sit on a cloud with a harp. That’s all I want to do.â€
I asked him one last question. I said, â€œJoe, I know you pretty well. I know it wouldn’t be long before you’d be pretty bored playing that harp.â€
And the whole crowd laughed and he didn’t say another word to me after that. Itâ€™s not a true hierarchy. We use the word, but you know what my clients say? They say, â€œI cannot express in English how beautiful this is. It’s not like going to he principal’s office when I talk with an elder. The first thing they say to me when I come back from a life is, â€˜Welcome. How do you think you did?â€™â€
So if you can think of some really benevolent teacher you might have had in the fourth grade, that’s the concept of those who help lead us in the spirit world. Itâ€™s not a military hierarchy or a corporate hierarchy or a religious hierarchy. Itâ€™s based on love and compassion. Itâ€™s how you would treat a very small child in your family. It’s non-judgmental. It’s encouraging. Let’s talk about the lessons you learned. How do you think you could have done better? What can we do to help next time? What kind of body would be most helpful in getting over this particular problem? They’re like counselors. I cannot convey the beauty of what awaits us.
Many of us sense that we are in an amazing time of transition on this planet. Do you get a sense from your clients that we share a collective mission or purpose, as well as an individual mission to accomplish in our bodies?
Newton: Yes, very much so. There are souls who refuse to incarnate on Earth. They believe it is too tough here. They think we’re a savage planet. They’ve been here a few times and they’re not coming back. They go to other planets. The thing about Earth is, you learn very profound lessons here. If you can get through it, you’re very strong. People who have survived all of their incarnations to become ascended masters are very, very powerful, because Earth is such a tough school.
I believe there is a collective consciousness. Around the world, when you think of all the millions and millions of people who are searching and trying to do good in their lives and to help other people, certainly there’s a collective energy. I don’t have all the answers as to how this affects everybody, but I believe there is a vibrational force, and I also believe it is coming from the spirit world.
You focus almost exclusively on lives souls have led on Earth. Have you been given much Information on off-planet lives?
Newton: Some of my information on that is detailed, and I’m going to write another book and talk a little more about that. I swore I wouldn’t write another, but in a couple of years I will probably come out with one last one to refine some issues.
What often happens regarding information on life on other planets is that when I get in the middle of these conversations, my clients say, â€œWhy do you need to know this?”
And I say, â€œWell, it might help others understand the full ramifications of incarnations, not necessarily just on Earth.â€
Most of the time they will say it is not necessary that we know this. They will tell me a few things and then they will stop short and say, “I can’t remember any more” or “something is happening and I’m seeing nothing but blackness.â€ Then I know there is a guide there somewhere who’s telling me to back off on that line of questioning. I am curious about that and do want to know it myself, but it’s not something that comes pouring out There are people who have never incarnated on any other planet than Earth. A lot of people.
Are you continuing your hypnosis sessions on clients, collecting more and more information?
Newton: I think I have learned all that I am going to. I wrote the book, thinking I would retire and slip into anonymity. But oh boy. I’m in my mid-60s and am in semi-retirement. I still see two or three clients each week. Itâ€™s a long waiting list It’s at least a year or two long. And I may never get to some of those people.
Are you planning to share information with hypnotherapists about your methods?
Newton: I am frequently asked about that. I have given one or two lectures to large groups of hypnotherapists. I plan to do more training, but I have been so busy with this book, doing radio shows, magazine articles, television, and my energy level is not high right now.
I promise to leave a legacy by training others. But I have to add that I am going to be extremely selective. I want this individual to have a solid academic background in psychology, not someone who just works with stop-smoking and weight loss. I want a hypnotherapist, not hypnotist. I want someone who has worked years in this field, with hundreds of hours of proper hypnosis training. I won’t accept anything less.
I’ll probably work with small groups, because I don’t have time to do it individually. And it will probably be done through hypnosis associations that will have done the screening of potential students for me.
It will be done, because I’m giving out fast and I want someone to take over for me.