The Boy who Lived Before

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This programme in the main sought to evaluate the evidence behind the claims of a previous life on the island of Barra made by a five year old Glaswegian boy. His mother stated that at the age of two, ever since he could talk he repeated claims to everyone that he had had another mother and father and he used to play on the nearby beach with his black and white dog and other brothers and sister. Cameron claimed that small aeroplanes landed on the beach besides their white house.

Family, neighbours and school friends learned about his Barra family and that Cameron had tragically witnessed his father being run down by a car because his father did not look right and left at the road side. So confident were Cameron’s claims everyone had to be informed that Cameron had not been adopted by his Glasgow family.

One of Cameron’s earliest comments to his mother Norma was that he had dropped through apparently from Barra, the remote island of the Hebrides, two hundred miles away and then he had found himself with his new mother and new six year old brother Martin in Glasgow. Cameron’s account became more detailed as he grew older, which included him recalling the name of his Barra father as Shane Robertson.

For Cameron these apparent memories were a living reality. This is exemplified by the fact that one day at his nursery Cameron was found to be terribly distressed as he was apparently hit with the emotional shock of losing his Barra mother whom he missed terribly and presumably the shock at gaining a new family. He told his Glasgow mother that she would have liked his Barra mother.

Ian Watson, Cameron’s uncle dismissed Cameron’s claims at first but over time became convinced about the boy’s apparent previous life experiences. Norma, Cameron’s mother did not believe that Cameron had unconsciously taken this information unconsciously from stories or television by the age of two. Norma could not account for how Cameron had this information about Barra and her other older son, Martin had not.

The verdict of the educational psychologist was that Cameron’s experiences did not fit into the usual pattern of imaginary friends and that for her, Cameron was an unusual case. The psychiatrist Dr Jim Tucker, the Director of Research at the University of Virginia in the USA was interviewed. His aim was to determine whether there was a rational explanation for Cameron’s beliefs or as he put it, “were there strange forces at work?” In this context it was stated that he and other researchers were aware of over 2,500 children who had reported memories of past lives, some used great emotion as they recounted events, others reiterated past memories in a very matter of fact manner.

The second child referred to in the programme was named Gus Taylor who was from mid west America. Gus said that God had given him a card to come back and that he was his own grandfather in his past life. Gus’s parents, Cathy and Ron Taylor said Gus had never known his grandfather. One day when he was having his nappy changed by one of his parents he said “I used to change your nappy.” I think it reasonable to suggest that this is an unusual thing for a baby or small toddler of nappy age to say.

When tested with old photographs the child Gus pointed out his grandfather, he went on to point out his grandfather’s first car. This appeared to be interesting evidence. Gus’s parents said that they were shocked speechless when their son spoke of his sister from his previous life, stating that she had died “because of some bad guys.” They said that their son, Gus had no knowledge that this relative had been murdered and dumped in the San Francisco Bay, as this had never been discussed.

Interestingly, this American family were southern Baptists and reincarnation is not part of Baptist teachings. Their son Gus said “I used to be big, now I am a kid again. I came through a port hole to be here.”

Significantly, there are parallels between the apparent claims and terminologies used by these two youngsters as they apparently arrived to take up a further incarnation. The following descriptive phrases are interesting as their choice of words described what they sensed or understood regarding their return to live another life; returned through“a port hole,”or “dropped through to return” and “God gave me a card so that I could come back.”

A first impression might be to dismiss these remarks as childish nonsense. However in some respects there are similarities with the apparent highly personal idiosyncratic symbolic visions that are apparently malleable to thought and emotion and meaningful to both near death experiencers and those who have experiences of angels. I would suggest that a reoccurring feature inherent in various forms of transformative psychic experiences is that people see or recall that which they need, expect or can understand this often affects the psychic vision or experience which arranges itself in a way that is meaningful and understandable to them at a very personal idiosyncratic level. Consequently, the above phrases describing apparent experiences were meaningful to these two people.

The programme then returned to evaluate Cameron’s apparent past life memories. Cameron was taken to Barra for the first time in this life by his mother and Dr Tucker despite the fears of some of Cameron’s family and friends. It is possible that they thought a “return” to Barra would further fuel his apparent memories of the place. Emotionally he was very excited to “return” and appeared to immediately recognise the place. As he disembarked from the plane at Barra he said “You see I told you it is all true.”

The local historian, Cameron MacNeil of the Heritage Centre helped them find a white house bordering on the beach, in northern Barra, owned by a Roberston family who had owned a black and white dog, there had been sons and a daughter and rock pools nearby on the beach. This family had had holidays in their home in the 1960’s and 1970’s. However, this historian could find no record of a Shane Robertson being knocked down by a car.

At this point I would like to make a few comments, the first is that the historian would have been looking only at the Barra island records for a car accident involving a male pedestrian of that name. His search would have therefore been limited to the name Shane Robertson and an accident on the island of Barra.

If we start with the premise that this boy did live before it is interesting and possibly more understandable that Cameron’s possible past life recall should focus on his exciting summer holiday home rather than the more mundane home of day to day activities. Hence he believed the accident was in Barra rather than elsewhere, as Barra was the focus of his memories.

I suggest if Cameron had lived before he might have witnessed a man being knocked down elsewhere and confused this apparent memory of the death of a male with later memories of losing his father later in that life, I would like to have asked the surviving sister had any brother been particularly close or alike, in order to explore this possible memory mergure to have occurred?

In the programme Cameron was taken to the house of the Robertson’s that appeared to fit the boy’s apparent memories. The boy was reassured by his mother that he did not have to remember, in order to take the pressure off him. After initial excitement the usually chatty Cameron became strangely subdued in the white house besides the beach that fitted so many of his memories. For example the fire was the same but he remembered different furniture, this was also found to be accurate. Cameron remembered the window that he used to look through in order to watch his brothers, sister and dog play on the beach. Trying to understand the change in Cameron’s mood, his mother wondered if he might have thought that his Barra mother might still be there. He said he understood that she would not be there but that it made him sad in a way to be in that house “again”.

Upon returning to Glasgow Cameron’s mother, Norma visited a local genealogist, Ruth Boreham who discovered that a Gillie Robertson was a surviving member of the Robertson family. Cameron was interested to know that his ‘past life sister’ was still alive. As a result of this information Cameron and his mother visited Gillie Robertson who kindly showed them photographs of the Robertson family on the beach besides their white house with their black and white dog. Cameron and his mother learnt that the father was not Shane Robertson but James Robertson. The surviving sister Gillie Robertson and Cameron’s mother discussed the similarities between the names James, Shane and Shamus.

Gillie Robertson was asked if her father was knocked down by a car and passed on, presumably they were looking to verify Cameron’s belief that he saw his father being knocked down by a car, her answer was “no.” She was also asked if she knew of a child who had passed on, her answer was no. Presumably they were trying to see if the child who had passed on might have been the present day Cameron. My suggestion is that he may have passed on at a later age and become the present day Cameron and only retained childhood memories as they may have been happier. I believe it would have been interesting to have asked more questions about her brothers and their lives. The interval between a claimed former life and the present life can vary, obviously if Cameron was an adult when he passed on rather than a child there would have been fewer years in the interval between that life and his present life.

It is interesting that many of Cameron’s memories seemed to be verified by the visit if not all, such as the white house besides the beach, the name Robertson, the black and white dog, the brothers, the sister, the fireplace, the window, the rock pools and apparently the small aeroplanes that used to land on the beach. It is also interesting that the visit affected Cameron emotionally from excitement to depression.

Dr Jim Tucker said from his experience when a child gets the opportunity to “revisit” the place of their apparent memories it helps them to put the memories in perspective and then to let them go. It is significant that memories of former lives in children often disappear as they grow older.

The visit to Barra appeared to give Cameron a sense of closure. Consequently not everything from Cameron’s memories was verified in this trip which left the investigation somewhat inconclusive. Cameron’s mother stated that a short while after their trip to Barra her son’s previously persistent memories of Barra troubled him no longer and his mother found him to be a remarkably changed child who has become notably much calmer. I found this to be a reasonably interesting programme which looked in some measure for evidence to support two children’s apparent memories of a former life.

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