In 2010-11, author and past life specialist, Joanne DiMaggio, conducted a research project combining past-life regression and a form of inspirational writing she calls Soul Writing. With the help of fifty volunteers, ranging in age from 23 to 81, DiMaggio regressed each to the past life that was having the most impact on them now. After the regression—but while they were still in an altered state of consciousness—she placed a pen in their hand and a journal on their lap and instructed them to ask their soul for information about that lifetime that eluded them in the regression. While they wrote, she also wrote, asking her Source for information she could share. The results were astonishing.
In 2006, I enrolled in Atlantic University and began a three-year Masters in Transpersonal Studies program. Since I was a professional writer, I opted to follow the creative writing track and within that curriculum took a class mentored by Henry Reed that reintroduced me to the Edgar Cayce readings on inspirational versus automatic writing. Intrigued by this topic, I used it as the subject of my culminating project (thesis), and initiated a research project on inspirational writing as taught by Edgar Cayce. I called the process “soul writing” and used the research in my thesis as the basis of my book, Soul Writing: Conversing With Your Higher Self (published by Olde Souls Press in August 2011).
That research rekindled my enthusiasm for the endless possibilities of what could be acquired when doing stream of consciousness writing. The ability to write in an altered state of consciousness is a powerful tool in soul development, and, as I discovered, in past life recall.
I have been doing soul writing for over twenty-five years, but when I sat down to think about its origins in my life, I realized this ability first emerged when I was just nine years old. As a child I wanted to come up with a secret code so that I could write messages that my parents could not read. When it came time for me to create the code, I asked the Divine for help in designing an alphabet known only to me. With pen and paper in hand, I was confident that my prayer would be answered. Suddenly, to my delight I began writing strange looking letters that ultimately formed a new secret alphabet.
Fast-forward some twenty-five years and I am in a calligraphy class at my local community college. The instructor is explaining the origin of handwriting and pulls down a chart illustrating the first alphabet. I stared at the chart for a long time, sensing it was oddly familiar but not sure where I had seen those letters before. And then it hit me. It was my secret alphabet. I was flabbergasted. Before I could consider how the instructor knew “my” secret code, she announced that the chart was of the Phoenician alphabet dating back to 1000 B.C.! Somehow, someway, when I put out my request to the heavens for a secret code, I pulled in that ancient alphabet. The question then became—was it floating around in the collective consciousness or had I known it first hand from a previous life in that time period?
In college, I had another experience with soul writing that was equally startling. As a history major, my area of specialty was eighteenth century American history. I wasn’t a particularly disciplined student, so I’d always be in a panic on exam day when I realized I was not prepared. But something miraculous always happened to bail me out. I’d sit at my desk and revert to my childhood habit of closing my eyes, saying a prayer and asking for assistance. When I did, the pen would fly across the paper, expounding on the subject confidently and without hesitation.
Once I was called into the office of an especially demanding professor to discuss a paper I had written about an obscure delegate to the Constitutional Convention. “You have the most uncanny feel for the eighteenth century of any student I ever had,” he said as he returned my paper.
Needless to say, I was taken aback by his comment, but in a split second its truth permeated every part of my being. I did have an uncanny feel for the eighteenth century—more so than any other time period in history. The way I experienced writing about life in the American colonies was vastly different from the way I wrote about a different era and country. It was only eighteenth century American history that caused my pen to take flight. An “uncanny feel” indeed.
As a teenager I was an insatiable student of reincarnation, but I did not put two and two together that those earlier writing experiences had anything to do with my own past lives until I was in my early thirties and bought a subliminal writer’s programming tape by Richard Sutphen called, “Start Writing Now,” to improve my commercial writing skills. As I listened to the recording, Sutphen suggested creating a vivid fantasy in which I was successfully expressing myself in words. He suggested the movie was real and asked me to play the role, play the part and experience every detail in my mind.
When he said to “begin the visualization now,” my mental movie began. I saw a woman who appeared to be around twenty years of age with long, straight black hair that cascaded down her back. She timidly stood at the top of the stairs, dressed in a loose-fitting long white cotton shift with a white lace-trimmed nightcap on her head. With only a candle to illuminate her way, she cautiously began to descend the stairs. She looked a bit nervous, as if she did not want anyone to discover her roaming the house at such a late hour.
When she came to the bottom of the stairs, she lit another candle on a nearby desk. She pulled out the chair, slowly seated herself, pulled out a journal that was tucked in the folds of her skirt, and reached for a quill pen. The moment she began to write, the pen that I had poised over my own journal began to move.
“This summer was especially beautiful. The flowers in the garden were resplendent in their color and fragrance. I so enjoyed walking among them. It kept the memory of him ever near to me. I could feel his presence. I could hear his voice. Such a comfort in these difficult times of separation. I know in my heart he is mine. He has always known in his that I am his. There is no denying it to each other. But there is always that pain . . . I am alone in the garden just as I am alone in this life. A prisoner of my emotions . . . Would that times be different.
This went on for another four pages until the writing stopped, then a hesitation, and then a date was written: September 7, 1793.
1793? What in the world is this? It read like a sophomoric historical romance novel. I knew I didn’t write like that. I had never written like that. Thinking it a fluke, I played the tape the following night and once again, there was that same young woman at the top of the stairs, wearing the same clothes, carrying the candle as she gingerly walked down the stairs, seating herself at the same desk, reaching for the same quill pen, and once again commencing the writing. And as before, as she wrote, so did I.
“Breakfast was quiet. Some disturbing news arrived last night . . . I did not hear it all as I was busy with our son, but I knew it was a serious discussion as my beloved was pacing the floor most of the night. Even I was unable to console him . . .”
Again, four pages describing in great detail an event in the life of this mysterious woman. This time the diary entry—for lack of a better term—was dated April 30, 1794. The following night, the same thing happened, with a journal entry of May 8, 1795.
And on it went. I received several more journal entries over the course of the next few days. The final one was dated June 1, 1798.
What had I stumbled onto? The writer’s subconscious programming tape was not developed as a past life tool, but after these journal entries, I could not help but wonder if in fact I was that woman on the staircase who did her clandestine journal writing in the middle of the night. I did not have to wait long for an answer. I received that confirmation the very next night, when the journal entry was directed at me. Rather than reflecting something that occurred 200 years earlier, it was dated that very night: December 16, 1990. I soon realized that my past life aspect was communicating with my present life personality.
I was stunned. The entry turned the tables on me as the writer because instead of me initiating contact with my soul, this time my soul was writing to me. Some past part of me was resurfacing and using the written word to paint a picture of a life that existed two centuries years earlier. I finally understood that I could go into an altered state of consciousness and use this form of writing to access past life information. These were details about myself that came from my soul, not stories given to me by psychics, tarot readers, astrologers, channelers and mediums who wanted me to believe they knew more about my past lives than I did.
Knowing I am the sum total of all my previous incarnations, I recognized that the essence of who I am, what issues I faced, lessons I learned, and any unfinished business I incurred from my first incarnation to my present life was contained within my soul’s memory. By getting in touch with that aspect of me through soul writing, I could tap into that storehouse of past life memories. Using the writer’s programming tape, I had stumbled on a way to submerge my current personality (conscious self) and invite my past life aspect (subconscious self) to emerge, and through writing, record events from “her” lifetime in “her” own words.
With that as my intent, I began a nightly ritual of meditation, visualization, and prayer. At first I received information in diary format, but the dates skipped around in no particular order. Each entry contained a fascinating peek at my prior lifetime, but provided no cohesive storyline for me to follow. At some point, however, the dizzying time hopping stopped and the writing became more focused, giving a chronological accounting of events over a six-month period in that life. The process took years and I ultimately ended up with a 600-page manuscript, as yet unpublished.
I became so caught up in the drama of my karmic story and its ramifications on me in the here and now that I did not give much thought to the process I was using to acquire that information—that is, until I read Frank DeMarco’s book, Chasing Smallwood—Talking With the Other Side. Frank was the co-founder of Hampton Roads Publishing Company. He is now retired and writing his own books. We met at The Monroe Institute, and during the course of our conversation, I discovered we both were talking to the other side via writing in an altered state of consciousness.
I bought all of Frank’s books, anxious to learn more about his process and how it was similar or dissimilar to mine. Everything he wrote was thought provoking, but it was Chasing Smallwood that really captured my attention. In it he described how early one morning he found himself sitting at the kitchen counter, drinking coffee and writing in his journal. He was moving between his normal consciousness and an altered state in which he was able to allow “someone else” form the words. That someone else turned out to be Joseph Smallwood, a nineteenth century American who was a Union officer during the Civil War—and as it turns out, a past-life aspect of Frank.
As a result I included a segment about using soul writing for past life exploration in my thesis as well as devoting a chapter to it in Soul Writing: Conversing With Your Higher Self. When it came time for me to consider a sequel, I realized that using soul writing to acquire past life information was the direction I wanted to go.
Because of my experiences writing my past lives, I wanted to test the theory that this was something anyone could do. I knew it was too ambitious to think I could teach soul writing in the morning and then ask participants to have a conversation with one of their past life personalities in the afternoon. After all, it had taken years for Frank to be able to do this. I only had done it once and then quite by accident. Being a past life therapist, however, as well as an avid practitioner of soul writing, I wanted to find a way to combine the two and design a research project around it. I decided that rather than having volunteers take on the more advanced level of carrying on a conversation with their past life aspects, I would divide the session in two distinct but related parts. First, I would conduct a traditional past life regression. Once that was completed, I would ask participants to remain in an altered state of consciousness, but to sit up, take pen and paper in hand, and through soul writing ask for any additional information that would either expand on what they received in the regression or clarify some unanswered questions. In this way I could prove my theory that you could obtain past life information directly from your soul without the need or influence of a middleman.
To add to the uniqueness of the research project, I included a technique based on the work of Sharon Van Raalte, whose research method was described in Transpersonal Research Methods for the Social Sciences: Honoring Human Experience. In it, Van Raalte said her research attempted to introduce a shamanic approach as complementary to the work of contemporary psychiatry. She described how she studied the effects of shamanic journeying at a distance on behalf of some of the clients of a psychiatrist colleague. I was intrigued by this “companion mode of healing” and decided to apply it to my own research. Therefore, at the end of the regression session, I would lead my volunteer subject into the soul writing portion. While they were writing, I meditated and asked my Source to provide me, through soul writing, with additional information that would expand on what they had received in the regression. So while they were writing, I would be writing as well and then we would each read aloud what we received. My goal was to attain additional insights to clarify any gaps in the regression. I had no idea if it would work, but in theory, it sounded plausible.
I enlisted the help of 50 volunteers (43 women; 7 men) who ranged in age from 23 to 81. When the sessions were completed, I created a statistical breakdown of the volunteers I used in the study. Of these:
- 88 percent said the session impacted their life in any way.
- 78 percent said they were able to make the connection between their past life and their current life.
- 76 percent said that the soul-writing portion explained, expanded or clarified the information they received in the regression.
- 72 percent had no pre-conceived notion of what lifetime they were going to visit.
- 68 percent said they received further insights into their past life in the days following the session.
- 68 percent said they felt the two of us were connected to the same Source when doing the soul-writing portion of the session.
- 66 percent said they wanted to explore further what they discovered.
- 42 percent had never been in an altered state of consciousness before.
- 34 percent had never undergone a past life regression before.
The regressions spanned lifetimes from the first century to the early twentieth century, with the biggest block—34 percent—occurring in the 1800s. Nearly 60 percent took place in European countries; 35 percent were in the United States; and the remaining 5 percent occurred on other continents.
Several clusters of soul groups came forward. These individuals described the same time period, similar surroundings, and life changing events, even though they did not know each other in this life. Some experienced spontaneous healings when they discovered the origin of their physical karma. Many recognized individuals in their present life as having played a similar role in previous lifetimes, which ultimately added to the understanding of their relationships today.
Quite a few had “ah ha” moments as they made the connection between the two lives. This happened most often during the soul writing session when they—or I—received information that explained an event or a relationship that was unclear in the regression.
The results of this research project are in my second book, Your Soul Remembers: Accessing Your Past Lives Through Soul Writing, published by Rainbow Ridge Books in October 2013. This first volume book contains 25 of the 50 regression and soul writing sessions.
Certainly there are many therapists who use writing as an element in their work. This has been true for at least the last century, but I believe using it in quite this way is another story.