Reincarnation or transmigration is the belief that a being can start over in a new life and body after they have passed away. Spiritually, it represents a key part of the doctrine of cyclic existence that is central to major Indian religions like Buddhism, Hinduism, and Sikhism. As a result, people around the world believe that they will move on to another life after death – one whose quality will be based on their actions in the previous one. Proving this tenet can be quite difficult since there is no clear scientific basis for surviving death. However, certain examples – like the Pollock twins – can make the hardest sceptics question their judgement.
A Broken Family
In 1957, the Pollock family of the town of Hexam in Northumberland, England was living an ideal life. Then, one spring day, their two daughters and a mutual friend were tragically killed on the way to church when a driver lost control of his car and crashed into them. Although they all died instantly, mother and father Florence and John Pollock were stricken by the loss of 11-year-old Joanna and 6-year-old Jacqueline, and their picture-perfect, Catholic family was torn apart. After a year of hoping and praying for another child, Florence became pregnant. John, meanwhile, became convinced that they would have a pair of twins that would be Jacqueline and Joanna reincarnated. Even though their doctor said it could not be twins, Florence gave birth to Jennifer and Gillian on the 4th of October, 1958.
Right away, the Pollocks noticed that the younger Jennifer had a white line across her forehead where the late Jacqueline had a scar from a cycling injury. She also had the same birthmark on her leg that her dead sister had had. The family moved to Whitley Bay when they were three months old, and, a few years later, the twins began asking for their deceased sisters’ toys by name. Then, after returning to Hexam when they were 4, Jennifer and Gillian were able to name each doll, stuffed animal, and other toys that their sisters had owned. They also pointed out landmarks they could not possibly know. In particular, they believed that they had attended the school where their sisters had been going when they died.
The Dead Returned
Although their actions seemed strange, they were nothing compared to what was to come. Florence began noticing that Jennifer and Gillian would often play strange, dark games. One involved the younger sister lying on the floor with her head on Gillian’s lap while she explained that there was blood coming out of her eyes from the car killing them. A few months later, the girls began bursting into a frenzy whenever they walked past a parked car with a running engine. They would even scream that the car was coming to get them. So it was that they came to the attention of paranormal psychologist Dr. Ian Stevenson of the University of Virginia, who studied the Pollocks from 1964 to 1985. Based on the markings and memories, Stevenson concluded that the twins were indeed the sisters reincarnated. He specifically noted that they had even taken on the personalities of the deceased sisters, with Jennifer co-dependent upon her sister in the same way that Jacqueline had been on Joanna.
Despite Stevenson’s confidence in the girls, a few years later when they turned 5, the memories vanished. In the end, both girls went on to live perfectly ordinary lives. Stevenson went on to investigate over 2500 case studies in the next 40 years and to publish 12 books documenting cases of reincarnation. Even with all of his research, though, reincarnation remains a controversial topic, especially with cases like that of the Pollocks where the memories faded even if the scars did not.
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