Hypnotherapist Michael Newton, author of Journey of Souls, returns with a more detailed examination of life between lives
“The sacred truths of our etheric history can be recovered today because we are able to circumvent the conscious mind and reach the unconscious, which was not immersed in the River of Forgetfulness. Our higher Self remembers our past triumphs and transgressions in a selective way, whispering to us across time and space.” — Destiny of Souls
Dr. Michael Newton’s blockbuster hit Journey of Souls (Llewellyn, 1994) intrigued many readers with its revealing look at possible answers to the eternal question of where we go when we die. It introduced a brave new world that exists for souls who are between lives — a place where we decide the grand experiences we will have in a human body and what we hope to learn by doing so.
Readers couldn’t get enough, their appetites about life between lives whetted but not quenched by perhaps the first documented use of hypnotherapy to explore life behind the veil. Dr. Newton, who has developed techniques to take clients so deeply with hynosis that life between lives can be recalled, responded to calls by readers for more information by releasing a follow-up book from his numerous sessions with souls of varying maturity.
The result, Destiny of Souls (Llewellyn, 2000), offers a detailed look at many aspects of soul life only hinted at in his first book on the subject. It explores how individual souls look in their infancy, how souls are healed after traumatic brushes with violence and evil on the earth plane, and much more on the group dynamics of souls in the realm of life between lives.
Dr. Newton spoke with The EDGE by phone from his home in California.
You identify yourself in the book as a messenger, a reporter of information that you receive from clients. How has this information shaped your view of reality?
Michael Newton: I began almost 40 years ago now as a traditional psychotherapist, but I was not a religious or spiritual person. In fact, I was an atheist. All these years of working with people who have explained to me what the other side is like have given me a real spiritual feeling.
Although I had studied a lot of philosophy and thought about various religions of the world, I didn’t have a core belief system. I was caught up with organized religions, which had rather rigid doctrines about certain things, so I studied Buddhism and other Eastern religions, looking for a spiritual view that I could accept. I found that both our conduct in life and the way in which we need to behave toward others are very important messages. I was missing that connection with God. Why are we here? To be quite honest with you, I didn’t believe in an afterlife. I felt that when life was over, it was over.
I would say that my clients have given me a great gift. They have helped shape the spirituality that I feel today, and although I am not a religious person, I hope I’m spiritual.
I think what I have come to understand is that regardless of whether we are deeply religious in a traditional sense or have no religion at all, our immortal being transcends the human condition. In a sense, it transcends the human body. Our minds display the positive energy that governs who we are, and it also transcends time and space. For me, this shows a higher spiritual authority. One of the things I think that I have learned that has been very important in my own life is the great sense of order in the universe, that nothing happens by accident.
Speaking about the purpose on earth, one case study you offer in Destiny of Souls explores the idea that perhaps our purpose in coming to Earth is to unify all humans and all races and all nationalities.
Newton: It is the principle of unity. It’s an important one. We are sent to Earth, a very difficult school, in order to learn that lesson. Regardless of our race, color, creed and what part of the world we are from, we are in a sense all one. Until we learn how to live with each other and to be tolerant of each other and to be kind and helpful to each other and to understand that we all have the same concerns in life and to do what we can to make the world a better place, we haven’t really learned that lesson. We’re going to keep coming back until we do learn it.
The principle of unity is an important one, and it’s no accident that we’re in this very diverse cultural milieu here on Earth where we are confronting the issues.
I like how you occasionally seem to crack open the doorway about the Ultimate Source. You say it doesn’t stay open very long. What have you learned about the Ultimate Source from all your experiences with your clients?
Newton: When I am at lectures, my audience will often say, “Well, when do we get to talk about God? So, when do your clients see God?” What they see potentially is “a great presence” — that is how they describe it when they are between lives, but they see that presence primarily when they are in front of their Council, the wise beings who are a step or two above their guides, who are assessing the life they have lived and where they think they would be best suited in the life to come.
In the new book Destiny of Souls, I do talk about the presence, which I didn’t in the first book because Journey of Souls was an overview. Journey of Souls is a long travelogue that takes us from the moment we die to the time when we are reborn, and it’s divided into very easy, readable chapters, but there is a lot of information that I only touched on that I go into great detail in with the new book.
One of those is this very thing we are talking about, the presence. What my subjects say is that this is as close to God as we get, and they view the presence as a collective. I find this very interesting. I ask them, “What is this to you? What are you talking about when you talk about this Higher Presence?” When they are at their council meetings, they see this powerful energy source, which seems to clarify everything that is going on with them.
They sense it more than they see it. It’s a more powerful energy source. It’s a feeling. They have a feeling that it’s a collective, that it’s a group and not a single individual. So perhaps it would be more fair to see it as a step or two above their council members, and who knows how much further up the ladder we need to go until we get to the Ultimate Source. Of course, I can’t answer that question. This is as far as I can get, because I’m working with people who are still incarnated — and they only know so much.
The part I liked particularly in Destiny of Souls is where it speaks of the origin of the individual souls, that there is almost like a sun-like yellow presence from which these little individuals come.
Newton: I think it’s important to note that I have to wait quite a while between clients who are that advanced to be able to talk about that. My average client gives me a lot of information about the spiritual world, but it’s only the very advanced people who can talk about some of the things we have just talked about. Everyone sees the presence, but in terms of origins and sources, that comes best from those who are very advanced, who are nearing the end of their incarnations and getting ready to be teachers themselves. So it’s a question of taking thousands of clients over all these many years and collating those who have spoken about the element of the Source and the consistency of their reports, which is incredible to me.
All your case studies seem to be pretty consistent.
Newton: This is the reason I wrote both books. The first one came kicking and screaming into the new-age movement when I wasn’t even doing past-life regression. Then I had a great discovery that when we die it isn’t just a hazy limbo between lives. This information has very much affected me.
I feel very much in awe of that fact that someone of my background should be privileged to receive this information. One of the things that I am starting to do now, toward the end of this year and next year, is to begin to train others through the various hypnosis societies around the country, because I am getting close to 70 now and I want to leave a legacy and I want to be sure that the techniques and methodology that I have used is recorded and train younger hypnotherapists to take up the torch and go far beyond where I have been. In the next century, I am looking forward to doing that, and I am anxious to begin to train people who are skilled at regressions to do the kinds of things that I do.
You can do so much for clients with this kind of therapy. I don’t want to take away from past-life regression, because it is helpful for people to know where they have been and where they might be going. However, unless they go to the place between lives where these experiences are analyzed, where the really great therapy comes from, they miss out on true opportunity to heal. Some may skip over that and consider it a gray area of limbo, when, in fact, the greatest riches in terms of understanding who we really are come from our memories, analyzing ourselves between lives, with members of our council and guides and soul mates. As a therapist, the best work is done in these areas where people can see who they really are, regardless of the kinds of bodies that they have been in. I think from a therapeutic standpoint, this is very, very important.
You have strong feelings of the idea of soul memory on human thoughts.
Newton: It’s interesting about soul memory. I divide it into three categories:
- Conscious memory, which draws what it needs from the subconscious mind. We see this in our myths and our folklore, and we see this in terms of flashes that we get in our day-to-day lives. It’s there and we don’t know why we know it. We cannot prove it scientifically, but we just have very strong feelings. This kind of memory is manifested by our conscious egos, and it is very adaptive to the physical world we live in.
- Then we have an Immortal memory, which comes through the subconscious mind. This is also greatly influenced by our body, its our past-life memories and things that flash in our minds even without hypnosis. We’re meditating or driving along on a lonely highway and looking at the white line in front of us, and suddenly, we’re in kind of a shallow alpha state and something pops into our psyche that tells us a little bit about ourselves.
- The third category is what I call Divine Memory. To me this is derived from our higher, super-conscious mind. It is our soul, and this represents conscience, intuition and imagination expressed through the subconscious and the conscious mind.
An interesting concept that relates to Divine Memory is that a percentage of our soul memory remains behind when we incarnate. Do you think that’s connected to the Divine Memory?
Newton: I do. It’s very interesting. Some clients are able to see that and they recognized it. Shirley MacLaine calls it the silver cord, the connection with our higher spiritual self. I think what’s interesting is that people who recognize that a part of them is anchored to a very, very spiritual place may not be able to articulate why they feel that way, but it’s because regardless of the life they are living, a part of them remains behind.
Something else that’s kind of interesting is when people say, “Well, how do our guides and guardian angels reach us when they want to tell us something?” There are different ways. In my new book, I talk about how souls come back and comfort those who they have left behind. The way in which they touch the minds of human beings who are still living is quite similar to the way our guides do this. Sometimes a guide will go to an urn or jar or someplace where we leave a piece of our energy behind when we incarnate in a body. Our guides will envelope that with their own energy outside of earth’s astral plane, but it will nonetheless reach the individual whose fingerprint is represented by that very specific vibrational energy. That energy is theirs and theirs alone. It’s fascinating!
You indicate that we have choices both here and in the spirit realm. Why is that something you emphasize?
Newton: Choices are extremely important because we are not set in such a mold that we do not have personal volition to make changes. I think this is what’s important about our understanding of karma.
Free will is a very important aspect of our coming through in various bodies. We speak of choice and we are talking about free will. If we did not have the right to make mistakes, we wouldn’t learn anything. If we didn’t have free will, we would not be responsible for our actions.
Sometimes people have a tendency to say, “Whatever I do doesn’t matter.” They are kind of fatalistic and believe everything has already been pre-determined. This is a very wrong assumption, and I think it is damaging. Sure, we can be fatalistic about the things that happen to us in our life that really hurt. We also can say, “Well, these are things that we have to go through and they’re not going to go away, and it’s just part of being human.” That’s a very healthy mental attitude. You have to understand that one of the aspects of our lesson is to be in a particular body in a particular time and place and to go through what that body is going through and to cope with it and to bear responsibility for our actions. One of the reasons that we have amnesia is so we don’t get caught up by our past-life mistakes.
We can take a fresh approach to our lives. I think one of the best examples is that of a card player. You’re dealt a hand — whether it’s poker or bridge — at birth, and that hand can be played a number of different ways depending upon your talents, depending upon who you’re associated with. It’s just like all the aspects that go into a game of cards. How do you play your cards? There will be consequences that will result from your playing a certain way. If you weren’t free to do this, the card game would have no meaning. We learn through trial and error.
This is a very important subject that you bring up, this whole idea of choice and free will, and it’s very much a part of our lives.
The case studies also pointed out the idea of not being afraid to make change in one’s life. I think that that goes along with the whole discussion on choice.
Newton: It’s very important that we not be rigid in our approach to things, to always be open to change, that’s a very good point.
When we’re on the other side looking at what we want to do, it’s often not the same path that we followed before.
Newton: Absolutely true. It’s also true when we go over there that we’re going to look back and we’re going to review what we did in this body, and a lot of times there is role playing that goes on with our soul companions. We re-stage the whole play that we had on earth with many of these soul companions who had supporting roles (our spouses, brothers, sisters, parents, etc.), and we will review what we did. We will even take different roles for others who were associated with us to see ways in which we might have done better. It’s all very flexible, and it’s all intended for learning.
Every time I read one of your books, I think of the potential value of doing a life review at any stage of one’s life, long before we have a life review when we’ve completed this incarnation. Just for myself, I think back over my life and the choices I’ve made.
Newton: My wife is one of these people who says, “I never look back,” and I suppose in one way it could be healthy: Why dwell on the past? Well, I’m a historian and I love the past, so I dwell on the past all the time. I think about the times when I was young and what I did in certain circumstances, and I’m always reviewing. I’m always looking at what I’m doing now compared to what I did before. To me, it’s a wonderful way to keep in touch with your progress.
I have a dreaming question for you. In Destiny of Souls, you talk about how some souls who have left their bodies are able to meld and actually place themselves into the dreams of loved ones who may be grieving their loss. I’m curious if you think people who are adept at lucid dreaming now might be ones who are able to do advanced dreamwork in their life between lives?
Newton: It’s hard to correlate that in a scientific way, but it’s possible that those who are adept in this life at things like lucid dreaming may be able to meld their vibration easily with others. There are souls who are very adept at interfacing with human dreams. They may create the dream, or they may connect with an existing dream. These are ways in which departed souls reach back and connect with those whom they love. There are some who seem to be more skilled than others at doing this.
There are different ways in which spirits work with incarnated beings, and you might be a type of spirit who works through sensing or touch. For instance, I mentioned the case of a wife who came back to reach her husband through the rose bed in their garden. In that case, there was a spirit who preferred to work through the beauty and smell of a rose rather than using a dream.
There are different ways in which spirits do this. I explain how some will work through children. Children are very receptive to reaching the troubled minds of adults. Frequently, a younger person is chosen as a conduit to reach a family member.
You have a belief about angels that may not be popular.
Newton: Because I am not a religious person, I don’t think of angels in a religious sense. For me, the word guardian angel, which I used to laugh about when I was much younger, before I began all this work, is an appropriate term when we are talking about our guides. Our guides are in a sense our guardian angels. These are our teachers.
We talked about super-conscious memories and the conscious mind. When a spirit crosses over into the spirit world after death, he may see his guides coming toward him with the great halo of light, especially around the head and shoulders. It is that upper part of their energy that it seems people focus on. One could look at the way angels are drawn in the religious sense and see that halo and wings. Perhaps that is a metaphor for what we actually see when we cross over.
I think angels are a very nice part of our culture. They embody benevolent spirits who are here to help us. In the religious sense, angels have never incarnated. They are messengers from God. I happen to believe that angels are guides who have incarnated many, many times. Essentially, they are messengers from higher sources.
Your work exploring life between lives has led you to some conclusions about evil.
Newton: People have the feeling that we’re born evil. This goes back to what we were just talking about in terms of possession, that somehow there is an outside force that we have no control over.
One of the ways in which we can deal with evil is to think, especially with these horrible serial killers, that they were born that way, that a satanic force may have occupied the mind of this person even before they came into their bodies. I think that’s a way of preserving our humanity and it absolves ourselves of responsibility. We’re talking about the Hitlers of this world. People ask me about this, using Hitler as an example, because he certainly is the personification of evil in the 20th century.
I would like to point out that if anyone studies the early life of this man — and I’m not offering excuses for Hitler — it is clear that he grew up in Austria with an extremely cruel father who beat him regularly. This man grew up a very, very disturbed person. He was a sensitive artist in that environment. I think that rather than being born evil, people are created by the society in which they live. Practicing evil satisfies the cravings of disturbed people.
Studies of serial killers show that the excitement of inflicting pain on others without feeling any remorse satisfies the emptiness they feel within themselves. Evil is a source of power and strength for psychopathic personality and inadequate people. Hate takes away the reality of a hateful life. So in other words, if life isn’t worth living for you, why not take it away from somebody else.
When I’m asked, “Well, then, apparently you don’t believe in hell,” that’s the truth. I don’t. There is no such thing in my mind. If there’s a hell, it’s Earth. When people cross over into the spirit world, regardless of the type of life they led, they are taken into a heavenly place. What happens to them there, depending upon what they have done on Earth, varies with each soul.
Their state of mind can create a period of solitude.
Newton: Not only that, but they can be taken to places where their energy can be remodeled and reshaped. I was once asked, “Do you think a Hitlerian person would ever come back to earth?” I don’t believe it would. I don’t believe that soul would be sent back to Earth. They would go to some other physical or mental world. They just simply couldn’t adjust and be involved with that kind of evil. This is my own feeling.
I also talk about the hybrid soul in the new book. Hybrid souls have incarnated in other worlds before they come here, and for one reason or another, they are coming to earth. Earth is very different from where they come. They may have come from a very gentle world and now they have come to a world where they are going to learn a lot of very different kinds of energies. This is hard on them, and some choose not to ever come back after they have been here for a time or two.
This goes back to our discussion of free will. We even have free will in the spirit world. I’ve had clients who have said, “I have a close friend who refuses to return to Earth, because they can’t cope with human, physical bodies, so they go to other places.” I can understand that.
You might also say this: There are souls who have such difficult lives that they may ask to wait 1,000 years before they come back again, for quiet reflection and so on. It varies, depending on the kind of soul I am working with.
Speaking of the hybrid souls coming from other realms other than Earth, do you have any information about whether some souls are created just for those environments, whether some never come to Earth?
Newton: Yes, absolutely. I do. In a case like that, I would never have any contact with them unless they’ve incarnated on Earth or if they have been in a soul group where they’ve been on other worlds and have come back to the soul group. People in soul groups generally all go to the same place. They are a certain type of soul and they are learning certain types of lessons, so it’s quite possible, but it’s just that I wouldn’t have a client.
Your case studies indicate that there are soul groups that may have distinct purposes, like the ones who protect others, transforming and healing ones, the planetary healers. Do you think that soul groups have a common purpose distinct from each other.
Newton: One thing I ask a client is, “If I were a stranger walking into your soul group, what would be the most defining common denominator that I would learn from your people?” I’m told, “Oh, we’re very tenacious fighters, or very analytical, quiet, and reflective.” Many souls can visit an intermediate area of independent studies where they can now branch into their specialties — to work in different areas of creation or concentrating on healing or whatever.
Keep in mind that within every soul group, there are different character types. Each member is not cut out from the same formula. There is usually a very courageous, tenacious survivor in the group. There’s a fun-loving, humorous jokester, a very thoughtful, calculating one, and there could be more than one of each. There are serious souls, there are risk-takers and innocent souls who are very patient and are not risk-takers. Each helps the others with their strengths.
Going back to evil, has your work demonstrated that everything we do on this planet is forgivable in the afterlife?
Newton: All I can say is that when I have a client who is crossing over and going back into the spirit world, and when we discuss any involvement with wrongdoing of some sort, I ask about this area of forgiveness. They are least forgiving of themselves.
Forgiveness is all over the spirit world, not only with their guides but with their council members. That’s not to say that they are just let off the hook. Certainly there are some long, serious discussions about behavior. It’s not a question of punishment. If it was extreme behavior, it’s a matter of redressing one’s karmic lesson and learning from those mistakes.
Many times I hear from people similar to a client I had two days ago who said, “I really was a terrible person in the 15th century. I lived in China and I was a high priestess for one of the emperors and I could pretty much do what I wanted, and I found the power to be extremely exhilarating. I had great abilities to help people, and I became corrupted. It has taken me 500 years — and I’m not quite back yet — of turning my physical existences around. I was doing very well before then. My energy has become clouded from that life in the 15th century, and now it’s getting clearer again. I may need a few hundred more years to expunge everything.”
When we speak of forgiveness, forgiving ourselves can become the most difficult challenge. When I take a client before a council, I say “What is the first thing that you say to these people?” The client will say it is “a great feeling of regret that I did not live up to my potential.”
Somewhere in the new book is the comment that life on earth will eventually not last, that it is a temporary experience.
Newton: I certainly do know about worlds going into nova. Nothing is permanent in our physical world. Our planet is about halfway through its lifespan. We may have another five billion years, but during the last part of it, it is not going to be livable for the bodies we inhabit now.
You could go around the universe and look at young, middle-aged and old worlds and say, “Well, I wonder if the souls have now moved?” What I understand from my clients is that this is absolutely true. I’ve had clients who have been on worlds that have gone into nova. They say they were young souls when they went there, and by the time it became uninhabitable, they had to move. Then the question was, where would they move to?
I don’t want to give the impression that the average client has had this experience. Average clients have only incarnated on earth. Once in a while, though, I’ll get a client who has had just what we’re talking about. They have been on a world that is no longer habitable, which is another reason why they are finishing up on Earth. They are what I refer to as the hybrid soul.
Earth is not a permanent place. There’s going to come a time when we’re going to have to move to some other place, yes.
Are there any keys to understanding life and how to live it that you have gleaned from your study of life between lives?
Newton: I do a lot of meditation. You and I have talked a little bit about solitude in the spirit world. I think there is great value in detaching from our bodies enough in order to go inward. I think time spent in deep contemplation about who we are and why we are here, and how are we treating the people around us, is very valuable. How could we be doing better at what we are doing? Am I helping others enough?
Whether it’s meditation, or prayer, or projecting our minds outside of our bodies, and taking long walks in the mountains or along the beach, that is all key. We could spend a lifetime with distractions — toys, boats, cars, and yes, we’re here to have some fun, too — but we would never really learn who we are. I think that is a very important aspect of living.
There are some people who may look at your first book and second book and say, “Why should we have this information? Do we really need to know it?”
Newton: That’s a valid question. Let me just say that I have some very strong feelings about this. There are clients who either are unable to go into hypnosis, or once in hypnosis, they are unable to go into their past life. Or once in their past life, they are unable to go into the spirit world. Why are these blockages in existence? Why are there people who I can take into the spirit world who will only see about half of what the average client has? Why has their amnesia been so strong?
I think the key to understanding all of this is the fact that there are times in our lives when apparently self-discovery is very important and our guides don’t particularly want us to go into the exam room having all the answers taped to our wrists and wearing long-sleeved shirts so we can peak when the proctor isn’t looking!
The larger question is why are people like myself able to do what we do? And could somebody have written the book I have just written a century ago? Those are interesting questions. Yes, I am using hypnosis and I have developed techniques, and if the techniques were known a hundred years ago, would some facilitator have been able to do the same thing?
I feel that in the last 25 years, all of us, in whatever capacity, are bringing spirituality to the population at large because of two factors:
- One, never before in human history have we had this many people on Earth. We are an over-populated planet. We’re like rats in a maze in some major cities of the world. This causes a kind of insanity.
- The other thing is the drug-infested cultures all around the world. We’re not going to get rid of drugs. They’re a means of escaping from reality. Drugs like alcohol are here to stay, but they have made it worse in terms of imprisoning souls in bodies.
For these reasons, I believe the barriers of amnesia in the last 25 years have loosened a little bit. That’s what I am told by my clients. They are being allowed to know certain things in order to keep their sanity. Books like mine are a means of showing people that there is a better life and you do not have to be a religious person to believe that, and that by knowing there is order and purpose for your being here, it makes life a little easier to bear.