Saturday, November 8, 2008


By Stephen Ellis


Nobody asked me, but please excuse this blog for being so long.…

As a further follow-up to my blog concerning the Foreign Accent Syndrome, back in 1952, a book was written by a businessman, Morey Bernstein, called “The Search for Bridey Murphy”. To date, it remains one of the most remarkable tales ever told about life-after death. It has been written about, numerous times. It has been “debunked” by a couple of newspaper reporters…who, incidentally, were quite badly “mistaken” as we will see.

Capsulizing the book, it told that the author, Morey Bernstein was an amateur hypnotist who hypnotized a friend, Virginia Tighe. As an experiment, he regressed her back to a time before she was born, and she suddenly started speaking with a heavy Irish brogue. Curiosity being what it is, he asked her who she was and where she was.

Virginia identified herself as a woman named Bridey Murphy who lived in a small village near Cork, Ireland. Bernstein asked her to describe where she lived, and, as Bridey Murphy, she described, in intricate detail, the small house in which she lived…going to the outside pump for water, she described her husband and her family, and she described the neighborhood…again in intricate detail. She described the Antrim coastline, the details of her journey, in later life, from Cork to Belfast and numerous other details that should be known by someone extremely familiar with the area and the lifestyle of a hundred years ago. Briefly, her story went like this:

She doesn’t remember much before her eighth birthday. She was born on December 20, 1798 in Cork, Ireland and she died in 1864. She said she was the daughter of Duncan Murphy, a barrister (lawyer) and his wife, Kathleen. At the age of seventeen, she married a lawyer named Sean Brian McCarthy and moved to Belfast. Bridey told of a fall that caused her death and of watching her own funeral including a description of her tombstone. Her description of life after death was much less detailed and, although she could not explain “why” or “how”, she said she was reborn in America in 1923 as Virginia Tighe

When awakened, Virginia said that she was born in 1923 in Madison, Wisconsin; she had never been to Ireland nor even thought of doing so; she had never looked at any Ireland travel brochures and certainly did not speak with an Irish dialect. Her parents were Midwestern who, like Virginia, had never visited Ireland nor had they ever planned to do so. Her parents backgrounds were Norwegian. Although she became somewhat of a celebrity in the 1950s, Virginia was too frightened to allow herself to be hypnotized by some medical professionals. She died in Madison, Wisconsin in 1995.

Needless to say, Bernstein’s book caused a flurry of excitement and a resurge of reincarnation claims. Numerous reporters went to Ireland to try and check on the details of the story told in Bernstein’s book. Interestingly, most of the details were verified, although no trace could be found of birth records for a Bridey Murphy in 1798 or a Sean Brian McCarthy, Bidey Murphy’s descriptions of life, the area, the people, they type of living (including a detailed description of her kitchen) and the old road from Cork to Belfast, were all verified. Of even greater interest was her description of the church her family went to. The original church was destroyed by fire and rebuilt in 1911.

It should be understood, that birth records, marriage records, etc. in the late 1700s, other than in the large cities, were kept in family Bibles, so it should not be surprising that birth and marriage records were not found. Yet, these are the kinds of things on which the skeptics base their skepticism.

One reporter (who received much publicity for his so-called “debunking” of the Bridey Murphy story) researched records and found that there was a Bridey (middle name “Murphy”) Corkes who lived “across the street” from Virginia when Virginia was two years old. Actually, a map of Madison, Wisconsin shows that the Corkes house was quite a ways from the Tighe house. The skeptics stated that, as a two-year-old, Virgina spent a lot of time with the Corkes family and gained her impressions of Ireland from them. Again, the skeptics were mistaken: The Corkes family never baby-sat Virginia, and were not close friends of the Tighe family. Even if the Corkes family was very close, it’s highly unlikely that they could give a two-year-old intricate details of the coastline near Belfast, or a description of a kitchen, a church and other details that Bridey Murphy spoke about. In fact, speaking in a practical manner, it’s even more likely that Bridey Murphy was reincarnated rather than that, as a two-year-old, she garnered all that information from neighbors her family hardly knew.

But Bridey Murphy was not the first publicized claim of reincarnation:

In 1824, a nine-year-old boy named Katsugoro, the son of a Japanese farmer, told his sister that he believed he had a past life. According to his story, which is one of the earliest cases of past life recall on record, the boy vividly recalled that he had been the son of another farmer in another village and had died from the effects of smallpox in 1810. Katsugoro could remember dozens of specific events about his past life, including details about his family and the village where they lived, even though Katsugoro had never been there. He even remembered the time of his death, his burial and the time he spent before being reborn. The facts he related were subsequently verified by an investigation.

In 1958, a woman who in this case was identified only as T.E., underwent hypnosis by her husband, a medical doctor and experimenter with past life regression. Once in a trance state, T.E.'s voice deepened to one that was distinctly male and she declared in broken English that she was a farmer named Jensen Jacoby who lived in the 17th century. T.E.'s speech was peppered with Swedish words, a language that she and her husband swore she did not know. After six hypnotic sessions, T.E. was talking exclusively in Swedish, even conversing fluently with several Swedish persons that her husband had brought in to witness the phenomenon. These native Swedes confirmed that she was speaking a somewhat archaic form of Swedish that would have been spoken at the time Jensen said he had lived.

There are, literally, hundreds of verified cases of past-lives. Can they be proven? Absolutely not! Does it give rise to some serious questions? Absolutely yes!

To me, the most interesting case is one that happened to me, personally: The first time I went to Paris, I stayed at the Intercontinental Hotel. The hotel is directly across the street from the Louvre. My first night there, as I slept, I kept hearing a waltz being played by a string quartet. I’m not a waltz expert, but I certainly am familiar with those written by Strauss. But this was a waltz that I had never heard. Yet, it was beautiful!, and I was almost in a semi-awake condition and I was saying to myself, “I’ve got to remember this music.” Suddenly, as if in a movie, I saw there was a string quartet in an alcove above a huge ballroom. The violinists were dressed in satin breeches, they were wearing white wigs and were playing this waltz….and I was there! Amazingly, I looked and felt different and I asked one of the girls near me for a “looking glass”. I don’t know where I got the term “looking glass” as I had never used that term to describe a mirror. I looked at myself and I was a red-haired woman! It was so disturbing that I woke-up, and the music and the ballroom were gone.

Two days later, I took a tour of the Louis XIV palace. When they showed us the ballroom, it looked very much like the one in my dream, but there was no musician’s alcove above the dance floor. I asked the guide if there was ever a musician’s alcove up there. He responded that there had been one but it was removed by German soldiers during the Nazi occupation in the 1940s.

If you’ve had similar experiences, I will really appreciate you writing to me at

As I said, nobody asked me.


Frieda said...

Interesting. I really enjoyed this blog. Where were you able to locate this research?

I don't believe I have ever had a "past life incident". However, the closest I can come to it is when I meet a person who I immediately have a very strong connection with.

Don Pepe said...

Why do you people who write about these issues spell names uncorrectly? You wrote Corkes (I met a gentleman named Corkes when I worked at a hotel in Acapulco, where I live)and the lady's name mentioned in your article is Corkell. And another gentleman wrote Bridley instead of Bridey. What's going on? this is not "pecatta minuta"