How would you react if your young child suddenly pointed at a picture of an early 20th-century home and exclaimed, “That was my house?” Or if they happened to catch a glimpse of a WWI documentary on TV and shouted: “That’s where they killed me!”
Would you want to investigate their claims or simply push it far from your mind, pretending it never happened?
There are well-known cases of children remembering past lives, including two-year-old James Leininger, who had nightmares about being a WWII pilot, and four-year-old Ryan Hammons, who remembered being Marty Martyn (a dance director and manager of motion-picture actors) in a past life. And of course, stories of reincarnation are not limited to children. Several adults claim to have been someone else in a past life.
Are these stories legit, or are there people pulling the strings behind the scenes for the sake of fame? Read the eerie stories on this list and decide for yourself.
Related: 10 Fascinating Theories To Explain Déjà Vu
10 “This Is My Ship”
When William Barnes was four years old, he drew a ship with four smokestacks. He showed the drawing to his parents and told them, “This is my ship, but she died.”
Soon he started insisting that his family call him “Tommy”’ instead of William, and he wouldn’t stop talking about two brothers and other family members. None of what he was saying made any sense to his parents, and the situation escalated when William started having non-stop nightmares about a huge ship, freezing water, and steel slabs falling on top of him.
The nightmares continued, and it was only at the age of 25 that William sought help. He underwent hypnosis, and during the session, he could hear himself arguing about “the ship’s design.” As soon as he awoke from the hypnotic trance, he told the counselor, “My name is Tommy Andrews.”
Soon the fragmented pieces of William’s nightmares started forming a complete picture. He became increasingly convinced that he was the reincarnation of Titanic designer Thomas Andrews. William Barnes was born on the date the Titanic sank, and during hypnotic age regression sessions later in his life, he spoke with a heavy Irish accent while detailing the sinking of the ship and how he died on the deck.
William now has his own website on which he details his experiences and presents proof of his claim to reincarnation fame.
9 Two Past Lives
A three-year-old Thai boy named Dalawong became the focus of many studies and articles after he claimed to have had two past lives, one in which he was a deer killed by a hunter and then another one as a cobra when he was reincarnated after his death.
While he was a snake, Dalawong found himself in a life-or-death fight with two dogs. The dogs’ owner intervened and killed the snake—aka Dalawong—but not before the slithery reptile bit him on the shoulder. The dog owner, Mr. Hiew, took the dead snake home, cooked and ate it, and shared some of the meat with a friend. That friend would become Dalawong’s father.
Fast forward to three years after Dalawong’s birth, the young boy recognized Mr. Hiew at a party taking place next door to his own house. He became instantly angry and tried to find a weapon to attack the man. Dalawong’s mother was stunned at her child’s anger and forced him to tell her what was happening. He related the snake tale to her, and when she confronted Mr. Hiew, he confirmed that he had indeed killed a snake a few years prior and that he had a mark from where the snake had bitten him on the shoulder.
Before this incident, human Dalawong and his family had never met Mr. Hiew.
8 “Why Did You Let Me Die in That Fire?
In 2014, the parents of four-year-old Andrew Lucas began suspecting that their beloved boy may be possessed or have some kind of ghost inside of him. This happened after Andrew started crying almost non-stop and asking why his parents let him die in a fire. When his mother, Michelle, asked him what fire he was talking about, Andrew started telling her little details of what was his past life as a U.S. Marine. Eventually, Michelle used these details to uncover the story of U.S. Marine Sergeant Val Lewis, who died in a bomb attack in Lebanon in 1983.
Because the details of what happened to Lewis and the story Andrew told her were so similar, Michelle decided to take the issue to the reality TV show Ghost Inside My Child. During the show, Andrew was given several photographs of military men to look at, and he immediately zoomed in on an image of Lewis.
Afterward, Michelle took her son to Lewis’s gravesite in Georgia, where Andrew laid flowers in front of it. He also ran to another grave and pointed to the name on it, saying, “That’s my friend.” It turned out that grave also belonged to a Marine.
7 Toddler Recalls Past Life Murder
A very unnerving story caused an uproar in 2014 when it was reported that a three-year-old Syrian boy had pointed out where his past life’s body had been buried after he was murdered. He also pointed out the murder weapon.
The boy, who belongs to the Druze ethnic group, has a long red birthmark on his forehead, which according to Druze beliefs, is related to how a person died in a previous life. This belief was seemingly substantiated by the boy, who told his parents that he had been killed by an ax to the head in his previous life, hence the birthmark.
The elders of the village the boy stayed in took him to the home he lived in during his past life, getting the location from the details the boy gave. Eventually, standing in front of the house, the boy remembered the house, the village, and his old name. The man whose house it was, had gone missing four years earlier, according to locals. When the elders quizzed the boy about this turn of events, he told them the full name of the person who had killed him when he was the man who lived in the house. He then led the elders to the spot where the body was buried, and sure enough, they uncovered a skeleton with a headwound that correlated to the boy’s birthmark as well as an ax.
When confronted by the elders and locals, the killer confessed to the crime soon after.
6 Past Life During WWII
During her pregnancy, When Daw Aye Tin had a recurring dream about a Japanese soldier who told her he would be coming to stay with her and her husband in their Upper Burma (Myanmar) home.
She gave birth to her daughter, Ma Tin Aung Myo, on December 26, 1953. When her daughter turned four, she started talking about her “real home of Japan” and how much she missed it. She also made it known that she was afraid of planes and didn’t like English and American people.
Eventually, it became clear to When Daw Aye Tin that her daughter had lived before. Details provided by Ma Tin Aung Mao as she grew older included being a male soldier stationed in Nathul during WWII and running a small shop to provide for her children. She was killed when the Allies attacked, and a soldier shot at her from a plane.
5 Reincarnated Lama
In 1996, four-year-old Sonam Wangdu was just another happy boy who loved watching Batman and Spiderman cartoons as well as Power Rangers. However, Sonam was anything but an ordinary child. He was recognized and revered by the Buddhist community in Nepal and Tibet as a reincarnated lama.
At the time, the boy was living in Seattle, but it was decided that the boy would travel to Katmandu for his formal education and that afterward, he would live in a monastery. He was given the name Trulku-la which means reincarnation in Tibetan. He was believed to be the reincarnation of the beloved lama, Deshung Rinpoche III, who taught at the University of Washington and co-founded the Sakya Monastery in Seattle.
Rinpoche was believed to have been the third reincarnation of the original lama, Deshung Rinpoche I, who lived in Tibet. Deshung Rinpoche III also told two of his students that he would be reborn in the Seattle area after his death.
Trulku-la had already had his enthronement ceremony two years before leaving for Katmandu and would be separated from his mother for the first eight years of his education. His mother, Carolyn Lama, had no qualms about seeing her son go off without her because she knew that he was special, and she only wanted the best for him.
4 A City of Dreams
When James Arthur Flowerdew was 12 years old, he began having strange dreams. These dreams were blurry and vague when they first started, but over time they became clear pictures. As he continued to dream, he saw a stone city carved into a cliff and various temples inside the city. He also saw a rock shaped like a volcano situated on the fringes of the stone city. Arthur didn’t know what to make of these dreams and tried to ignore them.
On one particular day, Arthur visited the beach with his family. As he was playing around with pebbles and bent down to pick them up, a vision slammed into his head. It was the city of his dreams. So intense was the vision that he could smell dry desert air. Dropping the pebbles made the image dissipate, leaving Arthur at a loss for words. He revisited the beach a short time later to see if the vision would happen again, and as soon as he picked up the pebbles, it did.
He saw more details the second time, such as a stone passage and military barracks. For the first time, Arthur started thinking that he may have been a soldier in this dream city and had been killed there by a spear. Arthur never had any explanation for his experiences. Many years later, when he was an old man, Arthur watched a documentary about the ancient city of Petra in Jordan. He instantly realized that this was his city of dreams, and he became convinced that he had lived there in a past life.
He contacted the BBC, who arranged an interview between Arthur and an archaeologist. The archaeologist was flabbergasted when he discovered how much knowledge Arthur had of the ancient city without ever having been there in his current life.
Eventually, the Jordanian government invited Arthur to visit Petra. Arthur found his way around the city without the help of a guide or map and pointed out sites that hadn’t been excavated yet. He talked about a military barrack where he worked with a check-in system for guards, and even provided facts about the area that experts were not aware of.
3 My Life as a Monk
In 1987, three-year-old Duminda Bandara Ratnayake started talking about the Asgiriya temple and monastery in Kandy, saying that he used to be an abbot there. Duminda was born in 1984 to Sinhalese Buddhist parents and was the second youngest of three brothers. He talked about the temple non-stop and also told his mother that he had owned a red car, taught other monks, and died in a hospital where he was taken after experiencing sudden sharp pain in his chest. He also “recalled” having had a pet elephant.
The little boy soon started wearing his clothes in the way of a monk and visited a Buddhist temple twice a day. He also began reciting stanzas in the Pali language. His mother began fearing that her son would want to leave his family to become a monk.
By age five, Duminda’s interest in going to the temple waned somewhat, but by age six, his mother had permitted him to go to the monastery when he turned seven. At this point, he also didn’t want to go to a school with girls and didn’t want women, including his mother, to touch his hands. When the abbot of the Malwatta Temple died in 1990, Duminda randomly exclaimed that he had known him well.
It seemed that Ven. Mahanayaka Gunnepana, who died of a heart attack and owned a red car, could have been Duminda in a past life.
Gunnepana also had an elephant.
2 “I Am Anne Frank”
Barbro Karlen was born nine years after Anne Frank died. From a young age, she insisted that Barbro wasn’t her real name and that her family should call her Anne instead. She also told her parents that she knew they weren’t her real mom and dad. At that point, Barbro’s family wasn’t up to date with the Anne Frank story and thought that Barbro was losing her mind. They carted her off to a psychiatrist, thinking that she was somehow lost in a fantasy.
By age twelve, Barbro wrote a book of poetry that would become one of the most popular books in her native Sweden. She went on to write nine more volumes. However, she couldn’t shake the feeling that she wasn’t who everyone thought she was. But she stopped talking about it after she realized who Anne Frank was and that people likely thought she was insane.
This was despite the trip to Amsterdam with her parents at age 10, during which they visited the house of Anne Frank. Barbro knew exactly how to get to the house and that the steps outside it had been changed. Her parents were stunned. Once Barbro entered Anne’s room, she felt an overwhelming fear but refused to leave. She knew that there had once been pictures on the wall, placed there by Anne, and when she told her mother this, the older woman finally understood what her daughter had been trying to tell them for years. She was Anne Frank in a past life.
Barbro met Anne’s cousin Buddy Elias years later, and he told reporters he believed that she was the reincarnation of Anne.
1 “The Floor Got Really Hot”
In March 2021, Tik Toker Riss White gave her account of what her daughter told her a few years ago. It was September 11, 2018, and Riss was looking at 9/11 memorial posts on social media. One of the posts had a striking image of the Twin Towers, and when her then-four-year-old daughter saw it, she said to Riss, “Hey mom, I used to work there.”
Riss, feeling slightly uneasy, asked her daughter when this was, to which the young girl simply replied “before.” She went on to tell her mother that during one morning at work she had to get up on her desk because the floor got really hot. She and her friends had tried to escape the hot floor by leaving through the door, but the door wouldn’t open. She then jumped out of the window and “flew like a bird.”
Riss was shaken and still can’t make sense of what her daughter told her. She also confirmed that the young girl had never been told about 9/11.