Reincarnation or Just Ancestral Facets? Ever wonder, as I have, how people who believe in reincarnation reconcile the individuality of every person, the uniqueness of the spirit?

I have nothing against those who believe. Really. But I just never could quite feel that within one’s person there might be spirits of a distinctly different one.

Now, I am sure I got that a little wrong, my understanding and defining of actual reincarnation. But no matter, as I’ll never quite be able to believe that I was once of another time and place completely unrelated to my own genetic material.

But when it comes to that genetic material, its a different story for me. You see, I have always been deeply intrigued by ancestry. (Probably like a lot of people, especially when you see the online business of it.) I’ve wanted to learn more of the lives of age-old relatives, and then admire (or admonish) the stories that preceded my ending up being here.

At the same time — and this is going to be really hard to explain — I felt from a very young age something very powerful which has stayed with me.  Standing in my front yard as a little girl, I came upon an unusual sensation (not mere idea) that somehow each of us has a unique spark. It seemed related to my ponderings of the physical universe in the starry night sky, but which I “saw” in front of my eyes in daytime that day. 

I am told this is akin to a “waking dream,” whatever that is.  (Probably unlike the 3-year-old child experiences of a lot of folks.) Though at a loss for how to express it, I saw that day, or I should say felt and sensed, at that young moment of my life, what seemed very sacred. That we each have some purpose, or at least some very individual “stuff” that no one else has.

I never thought much on how ancestry and the intense experience I had connected, until maybe college, when one hears of just about everything.   I definitely turned my nose up at the concept of reincarnation.  But I did start to defend what was my forming belief that maybe, just maybe, we have an ancestor or two coming more strongly through our personality.  (I had always imagined a connection, after all, with my Great-Grandma Vizzini, whom I never met but who apparently shared my asthma and fiery spirit — despite having a daughter and granddaughter of different temperament.)

Then last year I traveled to Sicily and southern Italy, with my goal being simply to stand on the soil where my mother’s ancestors came from.  I was transported to a time and place and sense that spoke deeply to me, especially visiting two cemeteries so old that the bones of a family are intermingled with those of the rest of the village after time (a necessity in Europe).  The whole experience was exhilarating and further life-changing.  I feel I carry a little of the island and the mainland with me most days, now, with fleeting sensations of the sun and sand and land and food and even new-found family.

For sure, I can say reincarnation in classic form does not speak to me.  I know strongly that in my blood and in my bones, however, I am definitely pieces of the people who preceded me, many facets that have informed my nevertheless own unique spirit.


Image Courtesy of the Author “Sicilian Cacti”



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    Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 1 Aug 2013
    Published on All rights reserved.

APA Reference
Miles, L. (2013). Reincarnation or Just Ancestral Facets?. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 26, 2015, from


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