Priest returns as son of woman he loved?

Hernani Guimaräes AndradeImagine browsing through a friend’s library of books on psychical research and coming across a volume whose cover featured a voluptuous female, cloaked in purple, with one shoulder tantalisingly exposed and a hand resting lightly on a pregnant bulge. One’s reaction might well be that this is a Mills & Boon romantic novel that belongs in a different collection and to slip it quickly back on the shelf. Even a surreptitious delve between its covers would do little to dispel that initial conclusion. We should not judge a book by its cover, of course, but in the case of Reborn For Love, which tells the story of an unusual case of apparent reincarnation in Brazil, it is not only the cover’s artwork which sends out confusing signals.

Hernani Guimaräes Andrade (right) – who was President of the Brazilian Institute for Psychobiophysical Research at the time he produced this work, and in whose Proceedings it was first published in 1995 – is clearly identified as the author, yet over half of its pages are not written by him: they were penned by one of the subjects, referred to throughout by variations of the pseudonym “(Mrs) Dona Marine Waterloo”.

And since she is an educated Brazilian woman with a flair for writing, the account reads very much like fiction at times, particularly her extensive use of quoted childhood conversations which are clearly constructed from memory rather than having been recorded verbatim.
Fortunately, the accuracy of these quotations is not important: their purpose is to capture the essence of an unusual love story between a young girl and a much older priest, whose identity is also hidden behind a pseudonym, “Father Jonathan”.

He taught at her school, where many of the girls regarded him as ugly. Most readers will struggle to understand the attraction between the two —a strange, chaste and almost unspoken ‘affair’ which ended when Father Jonathan was moved to another post. They lost touch apart from an occasional letter and Dona Marine gave little thought to him as she became an adult, married and started a family. It was her husband who drew her attention to a radio news item one day which reported that Father Jonathan had been killed in a road accident.

Guy Lyon Playfair
Guy Lyon Playfair, the book’s editor, and a portrait of Allan Kardec, whose research inspires Spiritist teachings.

It is at this point that Andrade’s book begins to live up to its promise, which is to provide compelling evidence for reincarnation. (Guy Lyon Playfair, who edited and revised this English edition of Renasceau por Amor, says he has “seldom come across such a persuasive case in any area of psychical research”.)

What transformed a schoolgirl’s crush into a case worthy of parapsychological investigation was a series of paranormal events in the Waterloo household, immediately following Father Jonathan’s passing on 30 May, 1972, and then statements made by her young son, “Kilden”, who was born more than seven years after the priest’s death.

As a Roman Catholic, Dona Marine gave no thought to the possibility that Kilden could be the reincarnation of the priest when he was born, but she was forced consider that possibility when her young son began making statements about how he had died in a previous life. He also insisted on being called Alexandre (his second name) which was also (confusingly!) Father Jonathan’s name. When his mother began to consider that her son might be the priest reborn she wrote to Father Jonathan’s sister, who confirmed the details given by Kilden about how he had died. Kilden even identified “himself” and others in old photographs and gave other details about Father Jonathan’s life that were confirmed by those who knew him but were unknown to Dona Marine.

Having allowed the main subject to tell her story, Andrade – several of whose 21 published papers and books are on rebirth, including    Reencarnagäo no Brasil—explains how the case was brought to his attention by Luiz Antonio Brasil and how they set about investigating it.

One of Brazil’s most respected psychical researchers, Andrade regarded this as a very strong reincarnation case and when he takes over the narrative from the subject, discussing and dismissing alternative explanations, the book begins to have far greater appeal for a parapsychological readership. It does, however, become repetitive, as he quotes again large chunks of the subject’s literary testimony. Some of Andrade’s statements about the modus operandi of reincarnation will also be a step too far for most other researchers, however open-minded.

His views reflect, one suspects, the Spiritist philosophy, based on the teachings of Allan Kardec, with which Andrade would have been very familiar. For example, he assures us that six years is the average “intermission” period between one life and the next in children who appear to recall a past life, whereas “for normal people who do not remember past lives, the intermission time is approximately 250 years” – a finding he credits to Karl W. Goldstein.

Andrade suggests that his own Biological Organising Model (BOM), which offers an explanation of how a discarnate spirit interacts with the ovum at an early stage in the reincarnation process, could also be used to explain the appearance of connected paranormal phenomena occurring in advance of that rebirth.

Donna Marine Waterloo’s detailed story is a useful reminder that, although books such as this need to be evidence-based to satisfy a scientific readership, the events they describe usually happen to ordinary people and have a huge impact on them, transcending the cold facts and even transforming their lives.

Reborn For Love sets out to demonstrate the existence of a soul which not only survives death but also is able to incarnate again, and to show that love can be a major factor in determining where that rebirth occurs. It may not satisfy everyone in that respect but it is clearly an important piece of a very complex jigsaw puzzle.

This review by Roy Stemman of Reborn For Love by Hernani Guimaräes Andrade (Roundtable Publishing, London, 2010. 174 pp. £10) was first published in the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research [Vol 74.4, No 901] in October 2010.


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