The Most Unusual Cases Of People Who Claim To Be Reincarnated

Depending on the life someone led, reincarnation could be seen as a blessing or a curse. It would be easy to dismiss the idea of reincarnation as ascientific and belonging solely to ancient belief systems like Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, newer religions like Sikhism, and fringe cults like that of the Greek philosopher Pythagoras. After all, even the existence of the soul has been cast into doubt in our modern, materialist, monist, highly jaded world. And yet, contemporary fiction abounds with concepts like multiverses that portray alternative lives and paths. What else are such stories except secular reincarnation fantasies divorced from spirituality?    

But much like multiversal versions of the self, reincarnation seems impossible to prove. The facts of past lives get forgotten, after all, while their imprint remains in the soul moving into its next life — this is the standard tenet that religions espousing reincarnation believe. Past-life regressionists and others, however, claim that hypnotherapy can help divest the actual, day-to-day facts of former lives and bring them into the conscious mind. But of course, disbelievers would call such memories wishful fabrications.

So what could possibly convince any of us that reincarnation is at least possible, if not true? Children, perhaps, citing names and facts related to former lives without any knowledge of them? People knowing languages they've never learned? People who can recount specifics of deaths known only to eyewitnesses? All of those things and more have happened, and the people who've experienced such things swear they've lived before.

Dorothy Eady, Egyptian priestess

Our first alleged reincarnation features Dorothy Eady, born in London in 1904, who at the age of 3 fell down the stairs and was pronounced clinically dead at the scene. An hour later her parents found her playing in her room, a changed person. Some sites like My London state that Dorothy's accent and speech were different, and all accounts state that she kept talking about wanting to "go home." One year later her family visited the British Museum in London, and as The New York Times recounts, she started kissing the feet of the museum's Egyptian statues. When she saw a picture of Temple of Seti I in Abydos, Egypt built in the 13th-century B.C.E., she wailed, "Where are the trees? Where are the gardens?" 

In her 20s Dorothy married an Egyptian, moved to Abydos, and renamed herself "Omm Sety," or "Mother of Seti." Dorothy claimed to be the reincarnated Egyptian priestess Bentreshyt. At age 12, per The Business Standard, Bentreshyt became a "consecrated virgin of Isis [the goddess]," but nevertheless began a sexual relationship with Pharoah Seti I. When she became pregnant, she says, she committed suicide.

Dorothy became a translator for the Egypt Exploration Society despite never having any formal Egyptological training. At one point the chief inspector of Egypt's Antiquities Department put her story to the test and asked her to locate wall paintings in the Temple of Seti I that were undisclosed to the public. Dorothy knew exactly where each one was. She also discovered the gardens that she swore she'd seen as a child.

Uttara Huddar spoke a language she didn't know

Our next case not only involves memories of a former life, but a full-on personality and knowledge swap between a living person, Uttara Huddar, and her supposedly former self, Sharada. Like other cases, it's been heavily researched and documented, mostly notably by reincarnation researcher Ian Stevenson.  

As Psi Encyclopedia recounts, Uttara was born in 1941 to a well-to-do family in Nagpur in the Indian state of Maharashtra. She spoke Marathi, had two M.A.s by the age of 30, and was unmarried. After dealing with some physical illnesses, she started talking about needing to find "a place where she thought she belonged." As Reincarnation Research explains, an alternate personality who named herself Sharada started emerging with Uttara. Sharada didn't speak Marathi, but a 150-year-old dialect of Bengali that Uttara didn't know. 

As Reincarnation Research continues, Sharada had vast knowledge of Bengali customs, geography, dress, and foods, and had no understanding of modern technology. She remembered being bitten by a cobra on her toe, and apparently began reenacting the events that led to her death, i.e., going outside a collect flowers at night and then being bitten. Uttara's mother, Manorama, had also had dreams while pregnant of being bitten in the toe by a cobra. Most startlingly, researcher Dr. R. K. Sinha found a genealogical tree belonging to the Sharada in question and asked Uttara to name the people in it. She correctly identified each person by name.

Ryan Hammond, reborn Hollywood talent agent

Looking to the recent past, we've got the case of Ryan Hammond. In 2015, at the age of 10, Ryan made the rounds at news outlets and interviews for swearing that he was Hollywood actor and agent Marty Martyn, who died in 1964. Much like our other cases, Ryan at a young age started talking about needing to return to where he used to live, saying "Mommy, I'm so homesick" again and again, per Reader's Digest. His mother, Cyndi, said that Ryan was "like a little old man who couldn't remember all the details of his life. He was so frustrated and sad." Cyndi decided to show Ryan books about Old Hollywood. When Ryan saw a scene photo from the 1932 movie "Night after Night" he bellowed at the screen, "That guy's me! The old me!"

NBC News says that Martyn's Hollywood life involved some typical glamour, sunbathing, fancy cars, going to the beach, etc. While anyone could arguably guess such items, Psi Encyclopedia says that Ryan went into eerily specific, completely correct detail about a full 47 points regarding Martyn's life, many of which were not widely known. The list includes things like Martyn buying a dog for his daughter at 6 that his daughter didn't like, having a Black maid, coming across Senator Irving Ives at a specific location in New York City, not letting anyone drive his green car, and much more. Ryan also said that his former address had "rock" in it. Martyn lived at 825 N. Roxbury. 

James Leininger, World War II fighter pilot

A lot of alleged reincarnation cases involve war and the horror of dying in combat. Out of the potential death-by-war reincarnation stories available, the tale of James Leninger remains one of the most compelling. As ABC News described in 2005, his story began like many others on this list: as a child having apparent flashbacks. Leninger didn't just go through an airplane phase as a child, he obsessed about planes. He started having a recurring nightmare and would wake up screaming, "Airplane crash on fire, little man can't get out!" With some intervention from a therapist, James' former life came to the forefront.

As a case study from the University of Virginia's Division of Perceptual Studies outlines, Leninger eventually identified highly specific information about his former life that was later corroborated: being an American fighter pilot during World War II, the name of his aircraft carrier during World War II (Natoma Bay), being shot down by a Japanese fighter pilot, the full name of a military friend (Jack Larsen), and details about his crash itself. He even said that he flew a Corsair and that Corsair tires get flat when the plane lands. As for his place of death, Leninger cited Iwo Jima in the Pacific Ocean. As the Telegraph says, later investigation into Leninger's claims revealed that one, single U.S. fighter pilot died at Iwo Jima: James M. Huston, who was scheduled to go home after one, last mission.

Syrian boy solves his own murder

Before rounding out our list, we should say that there are thousands upon thousands of documented cases like the ones described in this article. The above-mentioned Division of Perceptual Studies at the University of Virginia has analyzed over 2,500 such cases over the 50 years. The aforementioned researcher Ian Stevenson, for his part, compiled 20,000 pages worth of material on reincarnation cases, which have been bundled into a two-volume book. 

For now, we'll end on a less well-documented, but stand-out case centering on a Druze boy in Golan Heights, an Israeli-occupied part of western Syria that borders the Sea of Galilee. As Druze believe, Druze only reincarnate as other Druze. And in the case of the unnamed boy, he allegedly identified his own murderer in 2023. 

As Wall Street Insanity recounts in full, the boy told village elders at a young age that he was killed by an ax blow to the head in his former life. He'd been born with a long, red birthmark on the head, the kind of prominent birthmark that often comes up in reincarnation studies as related to past physical trauma. The boy led the elders to the village where he claimed he'd lived, identified his killer, and said to him, "I used to be your neighbor. We had a fight and you killed me with an axe." The boy then directed the elders to the spot where he'd been buried, where they found a split skull. Ultimately, the accused man wound up admitting the crime.