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Observations placeholder

Woolger, Dr Roger - Other lives, Past Selves – A former life as an impoverished Dutch painter



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Other lives, past selves [A Jungian Psychotherapist discovers Past Lives] – Dr Roger Woolger

Susan was thirty-four, a professional painter, who sought out therapy with a confused bag of complaints about her marriage, feeling bad about her mother, whose home she had moved away from, and the notion that it was all connected to a past life fragment as a painter in Holland she had glimpsed. As she told her story I was struck by how terribly rigid and tense her shoulders were.  lt was as though they were held two or three inches higher than necessary.

During the introductory part of my focusing procedure she had great difficulty in letting go, so I offered to massage her neck and shoulders. When she agreed, I worked a little on her very tight trapezius muscle and her neck encouraging her to pay attention to any images that arose.

Very soon she slipped into a male life as an impoverished Dutch painter during the seventeenth century. The painter had a wife and a very young baby whom he could barely support. In his obsession with finishing a certain painting, he severely neglected both wife and baby even when the baby became sick. To his horror, the baby grew worse and died and, to cap it all, his embittered wife deserted him. The key scene in our work was as follows:

TH: Where are you now?

SN I'm wandering along the canals. I can't find my wife. She's left me for good.

TH Where do you go now?

SN I think, back to the house. Oh, no! I don't want to go back there. (Her shoulders begin to tense up very noticeably.)

TH Breathe deeply and go back to the house and see what happens,

(At this point Susan shot up from lying on the couch to sitting position, grabbed her neck, and screamed.)

TH: What just happened?

SM O God! I hanged myself. (Sobs deeply.)

For a short while we worked on releasing the death experience and the shattering emotions connected with the loss of wife and child. But this was not all. When asked where she found herself next she spontaneously began re-experiencing her birth in this life-with the cord wrapped around her neck!  Full understanding came moments later when, as a baby, she looked up at her mother, having survived this second trauma:

SN I know why I'm here.

TH Why are you here?

SN To be close to my mother (sobs). I know who she is now.

TH Tell me who she is,

SN She's the baby who died. I see that I’ve been trying to make it up to her all these years.

The source of the experience

Healer other

Concepts, symbols and science items


Science Items

Activities and commonsteps



Psychological trauma