Affirmed by: Ahtun Re in a Ryerson-Semkiw Reincarnation Research Session
Preface, Headings & Commentary by: Walter Semkiw, MD
Preface: An individual, who prefers to remain anonymous, has had experiences that provide a compelling argument that he is the reincarnation of actor, car enthusiast and racer James Dean. This past life case has been confirmed in a session with Kevin Ryerson.
In addition, Ahtun Re, the spirit guide channeled through Kevin who has demonstrated the ability to make accurate reincarnation matches, revealed that another individual, Jaden Smith, is also an incarnation of the soul of James Dean. The phenomenon of one soul animating more than one body is called parallel lives or split incarnation.
In addition, Ahtun Re affirmed that Will Smith, the father of Jaden Smith, is the reincarnation of Rogers Brackett, who was a mentor to James Dean. On this page, the story of the older incarnation of the soul of James Dean, who wishes stay anonymous, is presented. Some names have been changed in the following true account. The author cites what I call “Principles of Reincarnation” from my books, Return of the Revolutionaries and Born Again.
“I sent Dr. Semkiw that email,” I told my partner, Freddy.
Perched on a bar stool in front of our cook top, Freddy watched me attempting to caramelize the limp onions inside the sizzling skillet, an art I’d not yet perfected over the twenty-two years we’d been together. “Do you think you’ll hear from him?”
I stopped stirring and looked up. “If Walter Semkiw tells me I wasn’t who I think I was, then he’s not following his own rules.”
“You mean if he says you’re wrong, he’s wrong?” He pointed to the skillet. “Um, those are burning.”
I turned down the heat, resumed stirring, and smiled up at him.
Pressing “send” on that e-mail to Walter was one of the most difficult things I’ve done—and I’ve had to do many tough things in my life: coming out to my conservative Catholic parents; putting myself through college and graduate school; quitting smoking; sending a beloved dog off to sleep forever.
Yet this e-mail seemed somehow just as profound.
It was 2009, and after reading Return of the Revolutionaries (Hampton Roads Publishing, 2003), I decided to follow Dr. Walter Semkiw’s outline for determining past-life matches. I found many remarkable parallels between what he hypothesized and what I’d been living with.
Innate talents and personality. Check. Phobias. Check. Facial architecture. Check. Scars. Check. Attraction to geographical locations. Check. Anniversary phenomenon. Check. Karmic relationships. Check.
But for this to make any sense, I should start at the beginning.
My Early Life
I was born in the early 1960s, and from my first day home from the hospital, my three-year-old sister refused to call me by my given name. Instead she called me “Tinnie.” Even today, there remain pages in our crumbling photo albums that bear images of me as an infant or a toddler, under which Tinnie is written in my mother’s careful hand. (My sister, now in her fifties, still has no idea why she chose this moniker but recalls being adamant.) We lived with our parents in a modest, 1920s, single-story Spanish home a couple of miles west of Burbank and several blocks north of Griffith Park.
Past Life Passion: Automobiles
As a two-year-old I displayed an unusual obsession with cars (a passion that still consumes me). At an age when most kids are learning what makes “dog” different from “cat,” I innately knew the difference between a Pontiac and a Dodge, and a Chevy from an Oldsmobile. The only cars I initially confused were Cadillacs and Packards: both two-tone pastel sparkling behemoths with Dagmar bumper guards, hooded headlights, and dual exhausts rumbling out the back—much like my mother’s bright-red 1956 Ford Crestline.
I was also transfixed by antique automobiles, and I collected calendars each year from a local business that featured Stutz Bearcats and Stanley Steamers and Pierce-Arrows and my all-time favorite: the sleek, coffin-nosed, supercharged Cord 810, made in Auburn, Indiana.
Many little boys back in the era of The Andy Griffith Show wanted to be firemen or astronauts or policemen or doctors. I wanted to be a race-car driver. So instead of stuffed animals I slept with toy cars, and on many nights I secreted my mother’s lazy Susan from the china cabinet to use as a steering wheel. In bed after lights-out, I growled like an Indy car racing through its gears, and I spun out on phantom curves. Twisting that wheel in my hands gave me ineffable pleasure, even if the careening road in front of me was only in my imagination.
Geographic Memory & Emotional Reaction to a Past Life Location
Then in 1967 something happened that I’ll never forget. My grandparents purchased twenty-odd undeveloped acres in California Valley, a vast plain bordered by rolling hills that separated the western coastline of San Luis Obispo from the state’s central farmlands.
Nanny and Papa were excited to show us the place, so one weekend—with my father’s new Dodge Dart packed with pillows, snacks, and suitcases—we headed north from Los Angeles to explore the area.
Halfway to our destination we lodged in Taft at a bland roadside motel whose only memorable feature was a swimming pool with a turquoise fiberglass slide.
The next morning we headed north again.
Everything went smoothly until we turned west from Highway 99 onto Highway 58, and the topography changed from a monotonous four-lane road into a two-lane highway pointing toward a range of humped-up, barren foothills.
We came to those hills and I began feeling carsick. Then a panic started building inside me until something erupted inside my head and I begged my parents to stop the car. I can still remember sitting cross-legged in the roadside gravel, crying inconsolably as my mother and sister urged me to sip some 7 Up and eat Saltines (my usual cure for motion sickness, which they believed I had), while my taciturn father smoked a cigarette in the driver’s seat and my grandparents’ Cutlass idled just up the road, brake lights pulsing red.
Later that day, after our caravan stopped at a diner for lunch, I ordered my favorite dish: fried chicken. But the sight of the bone and gristle sticking through the cooked flesh made me nauseous again, so I left the meal untouched, and I haven’t been able to eat chicken on the bone since . . . a lifelong reminder of a long drive into Central California.
But as I pieced together decades later, my distress on that day was probably more than simple motion sickness from traveling a winding road.
Something had ignited my panic.
Comment: As we will learn, the panic reaction described was due to the author, as a child, being very near to the site of where James Dean died in a car crash. A similar reaction occured in the: Reincarnation Case of John B. Gordon | Jeff Keene
School Days, Hot Rods & Dr. Porsche
My childhood was filled mostly with what one might expect: elementary school, where I excelled in my classes (especially writing and art) and played basketball and practiced the clarinet and dreamed of the day when I could earn my driver’s license. I also read books: In addition to the Hardy Boys mysteries, two that stand out are Boy Gets Car, by H.G. Felson (Random House, 1960), featuring a young man in the 1950s who builds his first hot rod from spare parts, and Small Wonder, by W.H. Nelson (Little, Brown, 1965) about Dr. Ferdinand Porsche and the history of the Volkswagen.
In middle school I continued my music studies and tried to squelch the growing attraction I felt to boys my age. And then in high school . . . well, everything changed in high school.
But before I delve into that, let me backtrack to my father.
A highly intelligent man and a gifted football player and boxer, he’d abandoned his hopes for a professional athletic career after marrying my mother and fathering two kids. He was built like a heavyweight prizefighter, and he had a lightning-quick temper. I was terrified of him, as were my sister and presumably my mother—a stay-at-home mom who loved her children but took a large slice of each day to assuage her depression with home-baked cookies, Rocky Road ice cream, and long naps.
My father and I were as different as two people might be, and he told me more than once that if he hadn’t known my mother so well, he would swear I was someone else’s son . . . and I wished I had been.
In the arena of our tiny Spanish house, I was an unwilling matador, doing everything possible to avoid, rather than engage, the bull’s wrath.
My First Car
On the condition that I pay for my own car insurance and gasoline, I got my driver’s license the day I turned sixteen. (I’d secured my learner’s permit six months prior and spent weekend nights racing a friend’s Fiat 124 sedan through the suburban LA hillsides. My friend was eighteen, so he was “the adult” in the car. I can’t believe we didn’t meet with disaster!) My first car—I shared it with my sister—was a 1960 VW Bug, which I bought after scouring the local classifieds, test-driving various offerings, and then getting the cash from my mother who borrowed it from our grandparents. It cost $550—about $2,200 today.
Can you imagine trusting any sixteen-year-old to shop for, and inspect mechanically, a vehicle that would be driven by both your teenagers? But such was my expertise with cars. That VW stayed in our family until it was stolen years later, but the significance of this purchase only recently dawned on me.
At seventeen I fell in love with my best friend, Mario, yet I still carried on intimate relationships with women with the hope that my attraction to men would falter and vanish. But it didn’t, and it took me another ten years (and a broken wedding engagement) to come to terms with this.
Finally a senior in high school, I quit my garden-care and odd-jobs business and began working thirty hours each week with the intent of buying a faster, more stylish car. I also saved money by shopping for necessities at thrift stores, purchasing what my friends referred to as “old-man shoes” along with pleated-front trousers, narrow-lapelled, speckled-wool sport coats, shirts with French cuffs, and a 1950s chrome cigarette case, which was always tucked into my coat’s breast pocket. On one excursion I even found a zippered-front, fire-engine-red Windbreaker with a high, pointed collar. At the nearby army surplus store I bought sailor tops and mailman pants and a heavy old navy pea coat. I knew I looked eccentric, so I wasn’t surprised when one of my girlfriends and I were named Most Unusual Dressers in our high school yearbook.
I turned eighteen. And as an adult I finally had the confidence to cast aside the religion I was raised with to begin searching for a spirituality that made sense to me; years before, my father had suggested reincarnation as the explanation for my strange ability to identify cars, reasoning that perhaps there had been a lifetime that I’d just recently returned from.
The idea stuck in my head—especially since the notion of a past life was so far outside the box (or rather, the vault) my Joseph McCarthy–loving father usually thought within.
Rebel Without a Cause & Past Life Recognition
Then one summer evening after graduating from high school, my good friend Polly asked if I’d like to accompany her to see Rebel Without a Cause. “No, thanks,” I replied, laughing. “Not interested.” And I wasn’t. For some reason I still don’t understand, I had assiduously avoided seeing any of James Dean’s movies.
“I guarantee you’ll love it,” Polly urged. “If we hurry, we can make the seven o’clock.”
Reluctantly, I agreed. And when the curtains opened and Lenny Rosenman’s blaring, discordant brass intro segued into that sexy sax solo, there was Jimmy with his toy monkey lying in the middle of Franklin Avenue, hands tucked between his knees for warmth.
My breath caught.
That’s me. And those . . . are the clothes I wear.
Then halfway through the film I realized, That’s my red jacket!
So I waited for East of Eden to make its way around to the revival movie house (these were pre-VHS days, not to mention DVD or streaming), where I was awed by Dean’s impassioned portrayal of Cal. Then I watched Giant. It was just okay, but Jimmy as the young Jett Rink was as lurchingly charismatic as his portrayal of the same man as an unhappy middle-aged oil tycoon was sad and disconcerting.
Soon after, I wandered into a Crown Books and found the bio James Dean: A Short Life by Venable Herndon (Doubleday, 1974).
Past Life Talents, Personality Traits & Appearance
On those pages I learned that the young actor had a strained relationship with his father . . . like me. That he was terribly nearsighted . . . like me. That he played the clarinet and recorder . . . like me. That he’d been good at basketball . . . like me. That he was artistic and bisexual and loved to draw and smoked cigarettes and listened to classical music and was obsessed with cars . . . like me. We even looked alike . . . at least enough that on Halloween that year when I donned jeans, a white T-shirt, and my red Windbreaker (and a whiplash neck brace), one of the guests at the party remarked, “He’s more James Dean than James Dean.”
And Jimmy had been on his way to compete in a car race when he was killed . . . not long before I was born.
Could . . . it . . . be?
One evening I was studying for a college test with a woman who let me know she was psychic and had self-trained as a Rosicrucian—a mysterious spiritual belief system I knew nothing about. She believed in reincarnation, so I told her my theory. “No,” she said after falling into a light trance. “You’re being tricked by an entity who’s flattering you. It’s very dangerous, and there are those on the other side who are waiting to see how you handle this. Go home and throw away everything you have that’s associated with Dean, send this entity on its way, and don’t look back.”
I followed her advice because she had been correct about a number of things I hadn’t previously known: She told me my grandmother had suffered a miscarriage in her twenties and my grandfather kept a picture in a box of his childhood best friend; she also said this friend died young. All true, as I discovered soon after—and enough to scare the hell out of me about some earthbound entity persuading me to believe I had once been James Dean. So I gave away the few objects that were Dean-centric—a Sanford Roth calendar, the bio by Venable Herndon, and my beloved red Windbreaker—and I didn’t look back.
For the next twenty-odd years I also didn’t give Jimmy another thought. I was too busy building a life together with Freddy and working full-time and subjecting myself to the travails of college night courses while pulling myself, an inch at a time, toward my goals: I wanted to be a social worker or a therapist and work within the LGBT community.
Principles of Reincarnation
But then I read Dr. Semkiw’s book Return of the Revolutionaries. I’d continued to be interested in reincarnation, because nothing else about the afterlife made sense to me . . . especially considering that business about identifying cars when I was two. So I began inserting my experiences into Dr. Semkiw’s schematic for identifying past lives . . . and the more pieces of the puzzle I slipped into place, the clearer Jimmy’s face twisted—once again—into focus. For example:
Attraction to geographical location: The house where I grew up is about four miles from Warner Bros. studios, where Dean lived and made his films.
As mentioned before, our home was a 1920s single-story, stucco Spanish home with archways and a clay-tiled roof . . . a fraternal twin to the house in Santa Monica (twenty-nine miles away) where Jimmy grew up until his mother died and his father shipped him off to Indiana. My parents’ home is also within walking distance of the old Pickwick Stables, where Jimmy boarded his horse, Cisco.
In high school and college my favorite place to relax and take dates had been the Griffith Park Observatory (where much of Rebel Without a Cause had been shot, a film I hadn’t yet seen), and I spent summer nights and weekends zooming along Mulholland Drive with the car’s top down, the same street where Jimmy raced his MG and Porsches.
But the most startling example of this geographical attraction phenomenon occurred when Freddy and I moved, in the late 1980s, into our first apartment in Sherman Oaks, less than a mile from Jimmy’s old house on Sutton Street. And the day? September 30th—the same day Jimmy died thirty or so years before, after leaving his home in Sherman Oaks.
Did I have prior knowledge of his address in Sherman Oaks? No. And remember: This happened in my “Dean-free” years. It was only decades later that this information became available via the Internet, so you can imagine my surprise when I discovered this four years ago and saw how close we’d lived: only eight-tenths of a mile away! The Herndon bio I’d discarded twenty-five years earlier only briefly mentions his living in Sherman Oaks, while omitting any address; and considering the city encompasses more than nine square miles of densely populated housing, we could have easily chosen an apartment considerably farther away. I confirmed this: Just recently I repurchased the Herndon bio to check if it listed any address that I’d subconsciously filed away, but it does not.
Facial architecture / physical resemblance: I was never as good-looking as Jimmy, but our faces bear enough similarities that people have remarked about this throughout my life—even into my fifties (Walter Semkiw can attest to this). His left eyebrow sits lower than his right, as does mine. We share the same nose, cheekbones, and jawline, and an identical smile line just above the left side of our mouths—and only on the left side, not the right. And strangely, his index and ring fingers curved markedly inward, just as mine do. Finally, Jimmy was nearly blind without his glasses, and I have also been terribly nearsighted since fourth grade, the only member of my family to be. Contrary to what you’ve seen in his movies, Dean was not blond; his natural hair was quite wavy and almond-brown colored, exactly as mine was before the gray set in.
Past life birthmark: But what I consider the greatest physical evidence of my connection to Dean is what the late Dr. Ian Stevenson, in his landmark book, Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation (University of Virginia Press, 1980), spent much of his life investigating: scars people bear as a result of traumatic/fatal injuries in previous incarnations.
I have an arcing birthmark on the left side (parietal bone) of my head that my dermatologist could not explain; but if one is to abide by Dr. Stevenson’s theories, this birthmark is a result of what the coroner’s examination, dated October fifth 1955 (body processed by Martin Kuehl, Kuehl’s Funeral Home), stated: “. . . the left side of the face was damaged much more than the right . . .” from being smashed into by the front left of the oncoming car. In addition, my neck has given me trouble since my teens (Dean’s primary cause of death: broken neck), and this became so painful two years ago that I finally consulted my doctor, who ordered X-rays.
He opened the examination room door clutching the films. “When did you have your accident?”
I stifled a smile, suspecting this was coming. “Never had one.”
“I hope you’ve given up contact sports.”
“Never played them.”
Phobias: That experience as a panicked, carsick child holds significance. When I looked up California Valley on Google Maps, I saw that Highway 58 is the road closest (about 20 miles, as the crow flies) to Highway 46 where Dean was killed, and the topography and appearance of that two-lane road are just as Highway 46 looked in 1955, before it was straightened and widened in 1959.
Additionally, I didn’t learn to swim until I was twelve because I was terrified of the public swimming stadiums where my mother took me each summer for lessons. One time I even hooked my fingers into the chain-link fence so she couldn’t drag me inside to the treacherous pool, where I was convinced I would drown.
So you might imagine my shock while reading David Dalton’s James Dean the Mutant King (Chicago Review Press, 2001), which relayed the incident when Jimmy was tricked by his frat brothers at UCLA into diving into the university’s Olympic-size pool and swimming down to touch the drain. Once he’d swum all the way down, the idiot pranksters opened the drain valve and Jimmy was pressed onto the pool’s bottom; then, even after closing the valve, he needed to be pulled to the pool’s surface by a lifeguard, who also revived him. He’d come that close to drowning!
When I read this account, I felt like I was waving hello to myself.
Innate talents and interests: I’ve mentioned music, but I also became an author, which Dean reportedly wanted to be once he “settled down.” With regard to reincarnation theory suggesting one’s talents build from one life to the next (explaining, for example, child prodigies), I believe some of the success I’ve enjoyed as a novelist is an extension of Dean’s success as an actor. In order to create believable (and engaging!) characters in my books, I insert myself into the mind-set of each—young, old, male, female, rich, poor, good, evil—so that, in essence, I talk and walk and think and move my characters with words just as Jimmy did with his face and body. But instead of playing one character as the actor does, the novelist, in a sense, plays all the characters . . . in addition to being the script writer, director, set designer, location manager, producer—even the sound and lighting engineers. And let’s not forget that novels, like movies, transport the reader to other times and places.
And I’ve enjoyed some success: several literary awards and a top selling international title. Moreover, my novels have spent considerable time at number one in their respective Amazon genres while breaking into the overall Top 100 in the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, and Canada as recently as this past year. However, I’ve had no training in the art and science of novel writing. I’m self-taught. Therefore, I find it more than coincidental that author William Bast, in Surviving James Dean (Barricade Books, 2006), stated that Jimmy desired to be a successful writer almost as much as he wanted to be a great actor.
But what about acting? If this was Dean’s singular passion besides cars, why did I shun that profession? Even as a child I was a talented mimic (as was little Jimmy), and acting was something I knew I could do.
I just wasn’t interested. This was especially evident back in 1986, when I was at work (in Sherman Oaks!) and a friendly gentleman wearing glasses who was scouting merchandise for his home’s screening room introduced himself as “Johnny.” This man told me I was “cute” and had a good personality; then he added that he was in a position to help struggling young actors. “No, thanks,” I replied. He pressed on, suggesting that if I had some head shots, he could get them to the right people. I told him I had none to give him (I didn’t) and declined his offer with a sincere smile and words of thanks.
Two days later that man’s face was on the cover of the Los Angeles Times Calendar section, because he had a new movie coming out: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. I had unknowingly given famed director John Hughes the brush-off.
Past Life Memories
There’s more I’ll mention but won’t elaborate upon: spontaneous memories of parking on the sloping, hairpin-curved side street directly in back of the Chateau Marmont in Hollywood and then running up the stairs and under a high Gothic colonnade, late for a meeting (this is where the cast of Rebel Without a Cause read their lines at director Nicholas Ray’s bungalow); three hypnotic regressions where I transitioned back to Jimmy’s lifetime, as well as an earlier lifetime in southern Europe where Freddy and I had fallen deeply in love but, but our relationship met a tragic end; my first real estate purchase of a tiny 1930s cabin with a great room, river-rock fireplace, sleeping loft, and beamed ceilings that recalled Jimmy’s tiny 1930s cabin in Sherman Oaks (which also had a great room, river-rock fireplace, sleeping loft, and beamed ceilings, and which I only became aware of ten years after I had already bought mine); a psychic trance medium who had no foreknowledge of my past lives and said, “They’re telling me about two lifetimes, one in the Civil War when you fought for the Confederacy and lost a leg, and the other when you were a good-looking B-movie actor from the 1940s who died tragically in a car crash.”
Obviously, Jimmy wound up being an “A-movie” actor and he died in 1955, but I thought she was pretty darn close to what I’d already suspected—and this woman subsequently told me she had identified the era as the 1940’s from details she “saw” in her mind’s eye: fashions, cars, etc., much of which populated the visual landscape of the 1950’s.
And speaking of psychics, I’m not certain why my Rosicrucian schoolmate advised me the way she did, other than I’ve since learned that all mediums relay their information through their personal “filters,” and these gifted people, like us all, have “on” days and “off.” Or perhaps those entities who were guiding her from beyond knew I needed to experience a long stretch of years without thinking for a minute about Mr. Dean and the possibility of our being karmically linked. This hiatus, in a sense, allowed me to strive and flourish in a manner that was independent of any and all “Dean parallels,” and it also makes the synchronistic decisions I made during this fallow time even more significant.
My Volkswagen Beetle as the Reincarnation of Jimmy’s Porsche
Back to cars: That 1960 VW Beetle that I shopped for, inspected, and purchased for my sister and me at age sixteen? It was designed by Dr. Ferdinand Porsche, had an air-cooled four-cylinder rear engine, white Bakelite steering wheel and knobs, a metal dash with a passenger’s grab handle, and VDO gauges—just like Jimmy’s 1955 Porsche Spyder, which had been purchased at Competition Motors in Hollywood, one of the few dealership at the time that also sold VW Beetles. Place your cursor over the image of these car interiors to better appreciate the similarities in design.
Of course this could be mere coincidence; after all, plenty of people were buying used VW Beetles in the 1970’s. But it could also have been the closest thing to Dean’s movie-star Porsche 550 that the $550 my mother had borrowed from our grandparents could buy (I had really wanted a Karmann Ghia, which would have even more closely approximated the Spyder, but those carried too high a premium, even when well-worn).
What’s also interesting is the date the car was purchased, as documented in the journal I kept during high school: September 30th 1977, which was years before I knew anything of Dean, and somehow twenty-two years to the day after Dean died in his Porsche. It was also exactly ten years before Freddy and I moved in together. And just recently I had cause to look up my professional certification online, when I noticed the date the certification was issued: September 30 1996.
Reincarnation & Anniversary Phenomena
To recap: Dean’s fatal accident happened on September 30th 1955.
My first car, a Volkswagen similar in engineering to Dean’s Spyder, was purchased on September 30th 1977.
My first night together with my partner in our first home, less than a mile from Dean’s final residence: September 30th 1987.
My first day as a State certified professional? September 30th 1996.
Dr. Semkiw calls this “Anniversary Phenomena” when important dates from two or more lifetimes coincide, so my experience parallels patterns that others have observed.
But what about “Tinnie”? Looking back, perhaps my three-year-old sister—who as an adult acknowledges a somewhat vexing sixth sense for the paranormal—heard an inner voice that identified me as “Jimmie,” and “Tinnie” was as close as she could get. Unlike the t sound, the j sound is hard for three-year-olds to make. I should mention that her insistence on using Tinnie as my “real” name, as well as my early identification of automobile brands, coincides with what author and researcher Carol Bowman reports in her books about past-life evidence manifesting in children ages two to five (Children’s Past Lives: How Past Life Memories Affect Your Child [Bantam, 1998]).
Past Life as James Dean Affirmed in Session with Kevin Ryerson
About two weeks after I sent my e-mail to Dr. Semkiw, I received an answer.
Walter confirmed, with the assistance of trance medium Kevin Ryerson, my hunch along with the additional information that I share Jimmy’s prior incarnation with someone else in this lifetime. Semkiw calls it a soul split, and I’m still learning about this phenomenon.
So now that I’ve pieced all this together and had confirmation from one of the United States’, if not the world’s, foremost experts on reincarnation, as well as from more than one entity in the “spirit world,” do I think of myself as James Dean?
Young Mr. Dean is dead, and has been for nearly sixty years. And although I strongly believe my life, talents, and personality are linked to his, mine are also significantly different from his, just as each individual’s life is detached from all others.
Thus, I consider Jimmy’s incarnation to be a single, flickering candle atop my soul’s flaming birthday cake. He’s a sort of spiritual ancestor . . . a part of my soul who informs my life—a complete life, by the way, that includes a long career in the helping professions (the aforementioned graduate degree), a happy, decades-long relationship with my spouse, many treasured friends, financial security, and a second career as a writer.
Reflections on a Past Life as James Dean
Where a belief in reincarnation really makes a difference is in the resolution it can bring to strings dangling from a life cut short: In Jimmy’s case it was the storm and stress of his meteoric career, the early death of his mother from cancer, and the ensuing icy relationship with his father. From what I’ve read, his unresolved relationship with his dad—and the issues they struggled with—mirrors mine. But I can report now that the opposition we presented to each other has been relieved. In fact, just this year I finally told my father I loved him, and he told me for the very first time that he loved me.
Speaking of love, everything I’ve read about Mr. Dean suggests he didn’t have much of it in his life—at least in his Hollywood days—with the exception of true friendship coming from a few good folks, such as the aforementioned Bill Bast, Lew Bracker, and über-goddess Liz Taylor. But when it came to partnered intimacy, he was on his own. Yes, there had been his much ballyhooed relationship with the lovely Pier Angeli . . . but that ended badly, and some suggested the pair had been manufactured for the sake of an upcoming film (Somebody Up There Likes Me, which went on to star Ms. Angeli with Paul Newman after Dean’s death). Another friend turned biographer, actor John Gilmore, regaled readers in Live Fast—Die Young: Remembering the Short Life of James Dean (Thunder’s Mouth Press, 1998) with stories of Jimmy’s homosexual flings and tricks, but even Gilmore identified no one whom Jimmy might have caramelized onions for.
But I have Freddy, and we’ve spent more than half our lives together. We’re friends, we’re lovers, and we’re partners in the most egalitarian sense. He is my heart, and ever since our first date back in the late 1980s we’ve been hard at work building a wonderful life together. I appreciate him and our life every day—especially since surviving the AIDS crisis together, when we saw many of our friends die slow, painful deaths.
Other troublesome aspects of Jimmy’s persona were brought to light by biographer Donald Spoto in Rebel: The Life and Legend of James Dean (Harper Collins, 1996, p.235). While working on the set of Giant Jimmy was described as “. . . short, rude, sloppy, often anti-social and rarely cared about gratifying anyone but himself.” Mercedes McCambridge said, “. . . nobody had more problems with Jimmy than Jimmy. You could feel the loneliness beating out of him, and it hit you like a wave.” Jane Withers was “saddened” that he was “. . . so insecure, so afraid to get near anyone or attached to anyone.” Even author Edna Ferber suggested he “suffered from success poisoning . . .” He was “utterly winning one moment, obnoxious the next.” And so on. Almost every brush painted the same portrait of Dean as a lonely and confused young man with a boulder of angst as heavy as his talent.
Rogers Brackett & James Dean’s Dark Side
It has also been reported that Jimmy appeared to forget the assistance he’d required from loving family and generous friends along his trajectory to success, and he boasted afterward that he “did it all on his own.” He even refused to loan his ex-lover Rogers Brackett some cash after the man lost his high-profile job, ignoring the fact that, in addition to supporting Jimmy financially, Brackett had probably been the single most instrumental person to catapult the young actor’s career toward stardom.
Allegedly, Dean also barked at waiters. He flicked burning cigarettes onto other people’s carpeting. He drove like a madman with passengers in his car or on his motorcycle. He made promises he had no intention of keeping, and he toyed with the hearts of lovers.
Those who’d known “the old Jimmy” saw that he’d suddenly grown too big for his boots, and, as Edna Ferber pointed out, success had indeed poisoned him.
I like to think this arrogance died with him—which is not to suggest I’m without ego, faults, rough edges, and maddening idiosyncrasies (Freddy, my sister, and my closest friends can attest to this), or that I’m finished working out my karmic issues.
Which brings me, once again, back to that strained relationship with my father, à la Jimmy and his father Winton.
Reflections on my Father, Reincarnation & Psychotherapy
This sense of isolation and rejection from my father has gnawed at me all my life, so upon Freddy’s urging this past year I began seeing a very capable and dynamic therapist, a psychologist who holds an EdD and has decades of experience.
As it turned out, he is also a believer in reincarnation who advocated understanding and forgiveness as karmic hammers and chisels, respectively, to smash the barriers between my father and me.
One day I braced myself and told him about my Dean theory.
“You don’t have a personality disorder and you’re not delusional,” he flatly told me. In fact, it was under his care that I experienced my second and third regressions back to Jimmy’s lifetime.
Recently, this doctor and I discussed my coming forward. “If it’s to bring awareness to reincarnation, then it’s a good thing,” he said. “If it’s to dance within Jimmy’s fame, then I think you’re going backward.”
I told him I concur, but I was still considering telling my story anonymously.
“What’s your motivation?” he asked.
“Jimmy’s life was so well documented,” I said. “The movies, the photos of him, the biographies, even the whispers and the rumors. I feel like I was leaving bread crumbs for myself to follow back from my next life, because maybe this is what I’m supposed to do. There’s huge significance here for everyone . . . not just me. But other people aren’t as lucky as I am to have these puzzle pieces exist in books and on the Internet, so they might not ever take the time to search. And finally, maybe it’s my soul’s purpose to share my experience . . . that maybe this is all a big karmic ball that started rolling even back before Dean got famous and had his accident.”
But wouldn’t lifting my veil give my account more credence? If I did, you could examine my face, investigate my publishing chops, confirm my academic credentials, and discover I have no police record and I’ve never been institutionalized.
But I’m not willing to do that. Not yet. Maybe not ever. My lack of notoriety is something I cherish, and surrendering it would crack open the lid on a big Pandora’s box.
Because I realize that to some people this sounds more than a little crazy.
And I’m still not absolutely sure that I lived a prior life as James Byron Dean.
Why? For one thing, I’m still catching those puzzle pieces, which the universe pitches slowly. And to quote from Dean Spanley (Miramax, 2008), one of my favorite movies about reincarnation, “Only the closed mind is certain.”
Everything I’ve reported here, as well as the other parallels I’ve omitted in the interest of brevity, could be coincidences and/or wishful thinking.
After all, lots of kids get carsick and are afraid of water . . . and what guy wouldn’t want to be James Dean?
I’m only sharing my experiences with the hope of inspiring you to keep plodding and walking and skipping along your own spiritual journey, knowing you’ll discover something akin to what I’ve learned. Because if karma has shaped my soul’s development, it’s most assuredly molding yours . . . whether you realize it or not.
But why reincarnation? How does humankind benefit from coming back to re-experience both the sweet blessings and the bitter strife of life?
Evidence of Reincarnation Can Help Create a More Peaceful World
If we accept evolution as one of the “great truths” of life, then might it make sense that our consciousnesses (eight of them, if you subscribe to Buddhism), which are as alive as our physical bodies, should thrive more efficiently through the same principles of survival through adaptation? Just as whales are related to cows and hippos through environmental adaptation, I believe the intangible, invisible human spirit evolves through reincarnation. I also believe spirit evolution, in this same sense, dovetails beautifully with Dr. Semkiw’s assertion that we sometimes switch genders, nationalities, religions, and even sexual orientations upon our rebirth . . . which, in a sense, is like the cow becoming the whale so she comes to know the joys and dangers of the ocean.
Finally, this evolution-of-soul theory might also illuminate those perils we recognize as evil, disease, and discord as the counterforces (predators, in a sense) that accelerate and impel the soul’s evolution, in much the same way that cheetahs cull zebra packs and hawks snatch sparrows.
It’s an ugly part of life that we don’t question in the animal kingdom.
Or when one orders fried chicken.
It’s merely an accepted part of life . . . which I believe someday reincarnation will be.
But how will this happen?
Can DNA Analysis Prove Reincarnation?
Just as the ancient Romans—oblivious to the wobbling earth—believed Demeter’s grief caused the seasons, we likewise hold on to our various ideas about the afterlife because science hasn’t yet discovered a plausible explanation.
But science is looking.
Consider, for example, “junk DNA”—the mush of deoxyribonucleic acid that was previously considered to have little effect on our human characteristics. Now this junk DNA has been discovered to play a specific role in genetics and behavior. According to a recent scholarly work titled The Mind in Context (by Batja Mesquita, Lisa Feldman Barrett, and Eliot R. Smith; Guilford Press, 2010, p. 2), “only a small proportion of human DNA (estimated between 2 and 5%) was genes; the rest . . . (that does not directly produce proteins) was labeled ‘junk,’ on the assumption that it was largely irrelevant to the biological understanding of life. As it turns out, however, ‘junk DNA’ has some important functions, including regulation of gene expression (i.e., turning on and off protein production) in a contextually sensitive fashion. . . . [M]uch of what makes us human, and what makes one person different from another, lurks in this junk.”
Perhaps it’s also inside this junk DNA, which constitutes at least 95 percent of an animal’s genetic material, where instinct lies: instincts that compel birds to build sturdy nests, newborn pups to suckle greedily, and bees to build perfectly symmetrical honeycombs. Instincts that inspire talents in humans—those inexplicable abilities that make us exceptional at the piano or soccer or chemical engineering or stand-up comedy, just because it comes so easily. Not even science knows what causes instincts or sparks talents, but considering that “DNA is not an inert set of blueprints; it responds to life experiences” (Sharon Begley, “When DNA Is Not Destiny,” Newsweek, November 2008) and is malleable, as further evidenced by evolution, I’d wager that our genetic, innate talents are an extension of the abilities we’ve developed in our previous lives.
Put simply, science agrees that energy cannot be created or destroyed, so if we alter—by how hard or how little we strive—our physical, mental, and consciousness (soul) DNA in one lifetime, then according to the laws of energy and evolution, we will return in our next for better or for worse.
And science may now be on the cusp of discovering these correlations.
I’ll end with a quote of James Dean’s that I find especially apropos: “If a man can bridge the gap between life and death . . . if he can live on after he has died, then maybe he was a great man. To me the only success, the only greatness, is immortality.”
In this sense, I believe we are all great men and women.
Physical Resemblance in Reincarnation Cases: There is a physical resemblance between James Dean and the author of the narrative provided above.
The author noted that James Dean wanted to be a successful writer almost as much as he wanted to be an actor. The author also explained how in being a successful writer of fiction, he has to understand all the characters he creates, much like an actor becomes his character on stage.b
As a child, the author pretended that he was a race driver and he had an innate knowledge of makes of authomobiles. Similar behavior and innate knowledge is observed in the: Reincarnation Case of WW II Pilot James Huston, Jr. | James Leininger
Geographic Memory: As a child, when the author was driven close to the site of James Dean’s death in California Valley, he had a panic reaction, much like the reaction of Fire Chief Jeff Keene at the Antietam Battlefield.
Past Life Phobia: As a child, the author an irrational phobia of swimming pools. James Dean almost died by drowning at the UCLA pool as a result of a fraternity prank.
Past Life Birthmark: Since childhood, the author has had a birthmark which corresponds to the site of head trauma incurred by James Dean in his fatal automobile accident.
Split Incarnation or Parallel Lives: As noted in the Preface, another incarnation of the soul of James Dean has been identified as Jaden Smith, the son of actor Will Smith. Whereas the anonymous author of the narrative provided above is fulfilling Jimmy’s dream to be a successful writer, Jaden is pursuing Jimmy’s passion for acting, as well as his soul’s love for music. One reason a soul pursues split incarnation is to develop diverse talents. Another is to work on karmic relationships more efficiently.
Relationships Renewed through Reincarnation: Will Smith has been identified as the reincarnation of Rogers Brackett, the mentor of James Dean. When Dean became successful, he was less than kind to Brackett when Brackett needed help. If these reincarnation cases are accepted, then the relationship of Rogers Brackett and James Dean are being mended in the father and son relationship of Will and Jaden Smith.