Patience Worth and Reincarnation

Roy-CordierAccording to Walter Franklin Prince in his book The Case of Patience Worth, Patience Worth gave a discourse on reincarnation on September 3, 1923.   Apparently it came in response to questions from those who attended the sessions at the Ouija Board with Pearl Curran and Patience Worth.  It seems to me that the discourse on reincarnation was a somewhat rambling jumble of words and perhaps provides some evidence that Patience Worth (or Pearl Curran) really didn’t understand the depth of the question.  She stated:

How may it be that flesh created may become as flesh again in like exact?”  Nay I say me, flesh is recreated of the same material, builded of the same atoms, but the honey of God is ne’er the same—the trick of its hangin’ one ‘pon the other. 

The ‘honey of God” meaning the soul—and it is never the same even though the physical body is recreated of the same atoms that may have previously composed some other body.  In the rest of the discourse she continues off on a tangent talking about:

     “The trend o’ kennin’ may take frae this and that through kinship, but this hath naught for to do with flesh.  The bowl is and breaked may become a new bowl, fulfilling the same office; but the wine once drunk may not be drunk again.  The creatin’ o’ a bowl be the sign o’ office bestowed.  Aye, and man created be a root unto consciousness.  The incidents inscribe consciousness with wisdom or folly, yet man in his span through circumstance and incident becometh conscious of experience, aye, becometh ready that he may learn.
      He is touched of sorrow and thereby measures his joy.  He is filled of joy and thereby measures his sorrow.  He sees light and learns dark; tasteth sweet and becometh acquainted with the bitter; drinketh rich wine, sweet as lotus honey and sour like unto vinegar.  In all of this he is but a child learning to play a great game.
      Wisdom is conscious experience.  Folly is the disregard of experience.  Consciousness is the recpetivity of man to God; is the compliment of God unto His creation.
      That man who doubeth wisdom in its sober sense decries his God and proves himself unworthy of creation.  Experience, bein’ the rootin’ setteth man upon the roadway unto new wisdom and that wisdom is tenuous as moonlight, evasive as smoke, aye, or as mist, all encompassing as air, sustaining as bread, inexhaustible, ever-reaching, infinite.  Man may take this unto him according to his inclination.
      God neither demands no exacts.  Wisdom is manna for them who need and hungar.  Eternity is forever hungered and forever fed.  I may not set this in mere wordin’. Nay, as well dip moonlight wi’ a mug, for it may not be.  Look ye unto it; as indelibly writ as the sun is the soul of man.  No mouthing, no doubting, no wonderment, no folly, no cunning, no contrivance of word may efface this fact.  Man is and once uttered, through the lips of God, he is as certain as chaos, which unto man’s wisdom is a great riddle.

Well, I don’t know if this explains it or not!  Is there or is there not reincarnation?  I sometimes wonder if Patience Worth is thinking about resurrection of the body rather than reincarnation of a soul in another body. We’re really not talking about ‘flesh created becoming as flesh again in like exact’ ; at least that is not my understanding of reincarnation.  I always thought the flesh was different. (Remember, Patience Worth was a Puritan and may not have been allowed to entertain a belief in reincarnation.)

On another occasion on August 24, 1933 Patience Worth wrote a short poem which was titled “Reincarnation”

The revolving of the soul,
The up-shooting through experience;
The labor of perfection,
The supping of days that the soul be rich.
The re-reflection of God
Taking on the new imprints of his countenance;
Aye. and the re-offering of the spiriti
As a vessel that it receive Him.

I don’t think that is very good explanation either.  I think the quality of the poetry from Patience Worth or Pearl Curran seemed to wane as they moved into the 1930s from their heyday in the teens and twenties.  Perhaps like many writers and other creative people they reached a peak of excellence and slowly decended into mediocrity.  The above poem seems to just describe the concept of reincarnation rather than confirm or deny it.

Here’s another one delivered on January 3, 1920:


Who would become a child
If heaven were a rebirth to infancy?
What then the game? 
To become a child again
With no heritage of memory? 
Then life is vain.

It doesn’t sound to me that Patience understood the depth of the philosophy of reincarnation.  Better examples suggesting reincarnation may be found in some of her earlier poems.  The following is a good example.



Behold me, a composite of all atoms
The core of life is within me;
The elements of “Matter” remain with their kind.
The elements of “Spirit” flow forth
To rejoin their kind.
There is the parting of the way,
For spirit is but measured and dealt in matter
It hath no part with matter, neither doth it
Leave a stain of its substance upon the clay.

Clay is but clod, and droppeth awhither.
The cup is moulded and ground
And dispersed in dust before the winds!
While the “spirit’ encircles the universes!
And forgets the crumbling atoms, save to smile
Upon newer cups at their measuring.

I don’t know but I guess that one can read into this poem whatever resonates with ones beliefs.  Patience routinely refers to the body as a vessel, cup or container into which the spirit of man is poured. To me the last line suggests that the spirit released from the clay,  forgets about the old body which is “but clod and droppeth awhither” to be dispersed as dust before the winds and then smiles upon the newer cups (bodies) in which the spirit is to be measured or contained.  Then perhaps in the following poem titled IMMORTALITY of which I quote in part provides another perspective—maybe not!

I have watched my days slip
into the hopper of time and become ground
Unto the ages in dust.
I have watched men proceed to a certain height,
And then cut down, and their labors fall
As chaff upon days that knew them not;
Yet there is a certain something in that
Persistent essence which spurteth — Youth!
Who staggers beneath the mouldering decay,
And thrusts up his head, decrying defeat,
Urged to be on at existence!

Is yester’s dew then gone? Watch tomorrow coming!
Will the lotus bloom anew, and the dew pearl?
Is the song hushed?  Spring comes,
And in it winter shall forget to sleep,
And be tricked to dance.  Is wisdom done?
Nay, out from the dust of aged wisdoms
Are newer wisdoms tortured forth,
And the stuff, the witchery of this is Faith—
The soul of man’s soul!—
The flesh of his Immortality!

And here are a few more lines given by Patience Worth in response to the contents of a sealed envelop containing a short discourse between Socrates and Hermogenes about weaving and a shuttle as a metaphor for life and quoted by Irving Litvag in Singer in the Shadows. In it, Patience also uses the metaphor of weaving to explain man’s purpose in life and writes that what man makes of his life which is not perfect, he shall re-weave as the mercy of a just God..  Whether or not this is a reference to reincarnation, is for the reader decide.

Life is the garment of eternity
Which be the vestment of God Himself.
Each man be the keeper of a golden thread
Spun from the radiant Heart of God.
This he plies at will,
Making or marring the Perfect Pattern.
Yea, Man is a bobbin,
Slipping the woof of Hope
‘Twixt the warp of Faith
Upon the loom of Love. 
Despite his rebellions, he must lend him
Unto the weaving,
And that which is not perfect
He shall re-weave.
This is the Mercy of this Just God
Whose labors are perfect.
Man, in his fulfillment of this Perfection,
Having inherited the power of creation,
Createth Himself unto perfection.
This is the law of the Perfect.
Man is the bobbin at weaving the vestment of God
Wherein is reflected His own Countenance,
And Man’s kinship in full is declared.

Well, I don’t know what Patience really thought about reincarnation.  From her poems it seems that she returns again and again to the concept of reusing the old to make the new.  She implies that the soul goes on to new, greener fields with more work to be done.  At times one could interpret what she says as meaning that one continues on in the spirit world, that is, in heaven or, considering another interpretation that one returns to the physical world.   Some have suggested that Pearl Curran was the reincarnation of Patience Worth.  Maybe so.  But then again maybe not!  Personally I think that Patience Worth was but one of the personalities of an oversoul that contains not only Patience Worth but Pearl Curran, Hope Trueblood, Telka, Theia, and Samual Wheaton among other personalities

What do you think?


One thought on “Patience Worth and Reincarnation

  1. Joe Waldron

    I prefer to see Patience as a profoundly wise and creative woman who imparts her wisdom lyrically. In this context I suspect that she is dealing with an issue (reincarnation) for mortals who have very little understanding of this difficult topic. Some of her comments quoted above seem to provide information for “those who can hear.”

    Without going too far into metaphysics, perhaps there is an oversoul (see Christopher Bache’s, “Lifecycles: Reincarnation and the Web of Life (Paragon House, 1990) ) When we leave high school, in a sense, we are “dead” to that environment. When we attend college we do not “reincarnate” because we are all that we were and hopefully more (see stage development theories in developmental psychology). We think in terms of matriculating into college with all of our previous scars (as Ian Stevenson would have it). We never really “die,” we simply move on. Consider some of Patience’s comments as quoted above in this context. They may shed some light on this difficult question.

    The beauty of her words are appreciated by many. We should also consider her profundity especially on some of the more esoteric topics. Read her closely with attention to detail and with regard to her way of expressing herself. I find her ideas and the implications enchanting.


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