Introduction: The Osborn Family Legacy

My father did quite a bit of research into the genealogy of the Osborn family several years back, and he found quite a few interesting things in our family’s past.  The original spelling of the Osborn family name, as it appears in Burke’s Peerage, is with an “e” on the end, as in Osborne.  It turns out that one of our family ancestors was a Protestant living in Ireland, which was, and still is, predominantly Catholic.  Anyway, he fled Ireland and moved his family to England in order to escape religious persecution.   According to Burke’s Peerage, the motto on the Osborne family crest is Pax in Bello, or “Peace in War”.  Another interesting thing that my father found out was in connection with the American Civil War; it just so happens that an ancestor of ours was the last Union soldier to die in that conflict.  My father’s father was somewhat of an itinerant Presbyterian preacher, who was transferred many times and preached all over the South, even though my father was born in Indiana, a northern state – Bethlehem, Indiana to be exact, which is a quite fitting town name for a preacher’s son.

Pax in Bello – Peace in War.  According to my own natal astrology chart, read and interpreted in the light of karma and reincarnation, there is quite a karmic legacy of war and conflict in my own past, since I have Mars retrograde, which is often associated with a karmic past of war and conflict, conjunct my Scorpio Ascendant, on the Twelfth House side – and the Twelfth House is often associated with repressed factors and factors relating to previous lifetimes.  Furthermore, to heighten or emphasize the aspect of conflict, this retrograde Mars sitting right on my Scorpio Ascendant is in a fairly tight opposition to my Taurus Sun, which is sitting right on my Descendant, or the western horizon of my birth chart; in other words, I was born about ten minutes before sundown on May 3, 1952 in Tokyo, Japan.  My Japanese middle name is Kempo, which means “Constitution” in Japanese; you see, I was born on the very day that the American post-war military occupation of Japan ended, and the very day that the modern constitution of Japan went into effect.  And one of the ideals enshrined in the modern constitution of Japan is that of a renunciation of war and militarism.  As a Japanese language officer in the US navy in the closing years of World War II, my father was active in negotiating local truces with Japanese soldiers on certain islands in the Pacific – Peace in War.

I believe that there were two main therapeutic reasons that I chose to take birth when and where I did.  First of all, my father, as a career diplomat, was into making peace, not war, as well as promoting mutual goodwill and understanding between the nations of the world.  In other words, unlike so many other political figures these days, my father was into building bridges, not walls.  Secondly, I believe that I chose the international, cosmopolitan upbringing of a diplomat’s son as a great opportunity to broaden my horizons and learn about other lands and cultures, as well as other great religious and spiritual traditions of the world.  As the old Native American proverb states, “Do not judge another man until you have walked a mile in his moccasins.”  As my own natal astrology chart clearly shows, I have a lot of turbulent, restless tendencies and predispositions in my inner nature and temperament, and being born the son of a career diplomat or peacemaker acted as a kind of soothing, healing balm for me, I feel.  My sister once called my father “everybody’s favorite person”, and I was indeed blessed to have been born as his son.


A Childhood Past Life Flashback, and a Hands-on Reading

When I was a young child of about four to five years old, I was living in Arlington, Virginia, right outside of Washington, DC, where my father was stationed at the time.  One night I had what seemed to be a terrifying nightmare, but it was strangely much more real than a dream.  All of a sudden, I felt like I was stabbed in the back by a sword or lance, right at the level of the stomach, or solar plexus – what the yogis call the Manipura Chakra, the seat of the Fire element and the Jatharagni, the Fire that controls metabolism and digestion.  The next thing I knew, I was floating up above my body, which was face down in an autumn meadow, with the leaves of the surrounding trees changing colors from yellow, to orange, to red.  I immediately awoke from the shock, terrified.  It seems like I had been a soldier killed on the battlefield in one of the two great world wars preceding my birth – and from my locational astrology, I would guess that it was somewhere in Eastern Europe, in the Balkans.  As a result of that final past life trauma, I have had stomach and digestive problems all my life, with lots of colic, burping, belching, and hiccups, as well as a weak, slow and delicate digestion in general.

Many years later, as I began to study astrology seriously, it slowly dawned on me that my natal astrology chart had, encoded within it, the planetary signs and signatures connected with my traumatic death in my life immediately preceding this one.  The retrograde Mars sitting on my Scorpio Ascendant, on the Twelfth House side, as I mentioned in the beginning of this article, is associated with a past life legacy of wars and conflict.  The very proximity of my natal retrograde Mars to my Scorpio Ascendant, separating from it on the Twelfth House side, indicates that this past life trauma would have effects on my physical body in this current lifetime, as it definitely has had.  In addition, I have my natal Leo Moon, which is associated with the stomach in Medical Astrology, very closely conjunct my South Lunar Node in Leo, in an applying conjunction to it, with the conjunction being less than a degree away from exact; this, of course pinpoints the location of the fatal traumatic injury, the karma of which I have carried over into this present lifetime.  Since my natal Moon was applying to a trine with my Sixth House Venus in Aries at the moment of my birth as its last aspect before leaving the sign of Leo, I would guess that I was also betrothed or engaged to a would be bride before my tragic demise on the battlefield.

When I lived in San Diego way back in the late nineties, after my return from Romania, I met a local psychic and yoga teacher who did past life readings for people; she claimed to be able to read their past lives just by touching them on their bodies.  Determined to put her psychic abilities to the test, I kept totally silent about my past life flashback and didn’t breathe a word about it to her.  As I lay face up on her massage table, she immediately initiated the session by walking right over to me and placing her hand right over my stomach, right on my solar plexus; she proclaimed, “an explosion”, and I knew right then that I had not been stabbed, as I believed in my childhood, but rather, that I had been shot.  I was amazed at her psychic abilities, to say the least, and satisfied that I had received this spontaneous confirmation of my childhood flashback.  In addition to past life flashbacks such as this one, I have also had out of body experiences since my early childhood, as well as an innate ability for lucid dreaming.  This ability to leave the body, and to transcend death in bridging different lifetimes, it seems, is connected with my prominent Pluto on the Midheaven, which was not only in a tight, applying conjunction to my Midheaven at the moment of my birth, but was also stationary; I was born only a few days after a station of Pluto, with the volume and intensity of that planet’s influence turned way up.

Prophetic Foreboding: The Case History Unfolds

What has deeply troubled me to no end in recent years has been a terrible dread, a sense of prophetic foreboding, if you will, about our nation’s future.  As the seminal, watershed elections of 2022 and 2024 quickly draw nearer, what has occupied my mind more than anything else has been the following question:  Will my American compatriots be able to turn down the fascist Koolaid that is being offered them by certain unscrupulous politicians on the right wing of the political spectrum, and be able to soundly reject the demons of fascism, racism and autocracy at the ballot box?  Although many Americans, especially those of a more liberal persuasion like mine, have expressed similar sentiments in recent years, for me this sense of dread and prophetic foreboding seemed to be all-consuming, even to the point where it transcended all bounds of reason and logic.  What was going on here?

Haunted by this burning question, I started to ask myself:  What other American living in a similarly turbulent time in our nation’s past was haunted by a similar sense of prophetic foreboding?  One name seemed to stand out above all others, and immediately suggested itself:  the great American abolitionist John Brown.  Right before his execution for treason on December 2, 1859, John Brown summed up his own sense of prophetic foreboding by declaring that the terrible sin of slavery, which has often been called America’s original sin, could not be purged from this nation except through a terrible shedding of blood.  Indeed, many politicians had danced around the whole slavery issue, coming up with endless compromises, deals and appeasements that they hoped would resolve the problem, but nothing seemed to work.  From an astrological viewpoint, the American Civil War that followed the hanging of John Brown roughly coincided with America’s first Uranus return; to put it bluntly:  Could America actually live up to the ideals that our founding fathers enshrined in our founding document, declaring that all men are created equal?

On December 2nd, 1859, John Brown was sentenced to death by hanging for attempting to incite a widespread slave rebellion throughout the South; the military officer who presided over his execution was none other than Robert E. Lee, who was a United States general at the time, but who later became the Confederacy’s leading general after the southern states seceded from the Union a little over a year later, in the spring of 1861.  Robert E. Lee, who has often been depicted as a terrible villain and traitor by those on the political left, could be seen, from a more detached and neutral perspective, as simply being one who was out to advance his own career by accepting advantageous posts or positions that were offered to him at the time.  John Brown, who was executed at his hands, was, at the time of his execution, widely regarded as a terrible and misguided extremist, especially by those who regarded themselves as sensible centrists in their increasingly desperate efforts to resolve the whole slavery issue – and that was the official position of the US government until the Civil War broke out, and the South became the enemy.  Many regard John Brown’s execution as the one defining catalytic even that triggered the American Civil War, but in all probability another similarly galvanizing, catalytic event would have come along sooner or later to set things off.

Even though most American school children today are taught that the Civil War finally settled the whole problem of slavery by eliminating it and freeing the slaves, in truth, its haunting legacy lives on in the form of the demons of bigotry and racism.  Are all men really created equal, and has slavery really been eliminated?  A whole century after Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, Martin Luther King gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial, reminding this nation that it had not really achieved its guiding ideals of freedom and equality.  We may think that we finally got rid of slavery with the Civil War, but what about the wage slaves working as mere pawns in a big corporate machine today, in meaningless, dead end jobs, for pay that is next to nothing?  Racism and bigotry continue to raise their ugly heads even today, to be eagerly exploited by unscrupulous politicians on the right wing of our political spectrum, who are actually nothing but fascist demagogues and would-be autocrats and dictators.  So, in truth, the ghosts of the American Civil War live on even today, and are at the roots of our current political crisis as a nation.

I Take a Look at John Brown’s Natal Astrology Chart

One of the first things I did after I thought of John Brown as a figure from our nation’s past with a troubling sense of prophetic foreboding that was quite similar to my own was to take a look at John Brown’s natal astrology chart.  What I found there was quite remarkable; although John Brown’s natal astrology chart is not identical to my own, it contained a number of similar themes and planetary signatures – enough to suggest the strong possibility that there may be something going on between our charts that was more than just mere chance.  Let me sum up these points of similarity as clearly and succinctly as I can:

Both John Brown and I were born with our suns in Taurus.  John Brown was born on May 9, 1800, and I was born on May 3, 1952.

Both John Brown’s chart and my own center around a core opposition to our Taurus suns.  In my case, my retrograde Mars in Scorpio conjunct my Ascendant on the Twelfth House side suggests, as I said earlier, a karmic or past life legacy of wars and conflict; it is opposing my Taurus Sun that is conjunct my Descendant.  John Brown’s core opposition involves both his Scorpio Moon as well as his Neptune in Scorpio opposing his Taurus Sun.  This opposition is aligning along the Second House / Eighth House axis, which often involves loans, finances and debt; John Brown was always trying one business venture after another, and failing or going into debt on many of them.  It could be said that John Brown was never quite a success at anything until he found his true calling as an abolitionist.  The Sun is one’s sense of self identity, and the Moon / Neptune conjunction that opposed it denotes a lot of caring and compassion, as well as a belief in transcendent ideals that were way ahead of their time, which embodied the transformational power of Scorpio.  The core solar oppositions that define both my chart as well as that of John Brown align along the Taurus / Scorpio axis.

John Brown’s natal Ascendant was in the sign of Aries, whereas my natal Ascendant is in Scorpio; both signs are classically ruled by Mars.  John Brown had Mars, the ruler of his Aries Ascendant, conjunct Pluto, the planetary dispositor of his Scorpio Moon and Neptune; Pluto is the modern ruler of the sign Scorpio, the sign on my Ascendant, and is also the planet of radical change and transformation.  John Brown’s Aries Ascendant spurred him on to take action and fight, and when he did, he found himself being the agent of radical and irreversible change (Pluto).  I have both Mars and Pluto similarly prominent in my own natal chart; my retrograde Mars, the classical ruler of Scorpio, is conjunct my Scorpio Ascendant, and my Pluto, as the modern ruler of Scorpio, is tightly conjunct my Midheaven, the angle of career and life path.

In the First House of his Ascendant, John Brown had both Mercury and Venus in Aries, in a tight conjunction; this suggests that, far from being just a crazy, wild-eyed extremist, as he was popularly portrayed as being by the press of his day, he had considerable love and empathy for those black slaves he sought to liberate.  This heart of tremendous love and compassion is also backed up or emphasized by his Moon / Neptune conjunction in Scorpio.  And he was quite good at communicating this great love and compassion to others.  In my own natal chart, I also have both Mercury and Venus in Aries.

As a revolutionary and liberator, John Brown had the planet Uranus quite prominent in his natal chart; it was not only in a fairly tight, smooth, flowing trine aspect with his Taurus Sun, but it was also stationary at the time of his birth, with heightened power and influence.  Uranus is similarly prominently configured in my own natal chart, being in a smooth, flowing sextile aspect to my own Taurus Sun; it is also in a trine aspect to both my Mars and my Ascendant.  In my own life, I feel that this Uranian influence has made me very much the iconoclast and nonconformist.

The axis of the Lunar Nodes is an important part of the past life interpretation of a natal astrology chart.  John Brown had his North Lunar Node, the point of his optimum spiritual growth and fulfillment, in the First House of the Ascendant – the house of action.  John Brown felt spurred on to take decisive action by Mars, the ruler of his Aries Ascendant, and when he did so, he had his great date with his transformational Plutonian destiny (Mars conjunct Pluto), which was the final fulfillment of his life’s purpose.  John Brown’s North Lunar Node was at 26, almost 27 degrees of the Cardinal Fire sign Aries; my own South Lunar Node, or my point of past life karma as it applies to this life, is at 26, almost 27 degrees of the Fixed Fire sign of Leo – the next Fire sign on from Aries in zodiacal order.  My North Lunar Node opposes it at 26 / 27 degrees of Aquarius – a sign whose modern ruler is Uranus, the planet that was so prominent in the natal chart of John Brown as the great liberator of the slaves.

This pretty much sums up the major similarities between my own natal astrology chart and that of John Brown; there could be others lurking in the background as well.  Although I am fully aware that these similarities do not present ironclad proof that I was John Brown in a past life, the sheer number of the similarities seem to outweigh the differences, and suggest that there is a connection between us that may be more than just mere chance.

Although this is not astrological in nature, there is yet another interesting piece of evidence that suggests that I may have been John Brown in a previous lifetime.  When I was a little boy, I had a pathological fear of swallowing, and my father would often sit beside me at the table long after dinnertime was over, trying to get me to swallow my food.  If I had been John Brown in a previous lifetime, and had been executed by hanging, this would indeed make perfect sense.

Enter My Friend Sam

When I was on the last leg of a return trip back to Romania from studying yoga in India, I was assigned to the same sleeping compartment on the overnight train ride back to Bucharest from Sofia, Bulgaria as a Romanian gentleman who I will simply call Sam.  We spent most of the night talking about many things, and became fast friends.  Sam ran a small computer company in Bucharest, where he lived with his wife and two teenage sons.  Little did I know it on that long train ride back to Bucharest, but as things would unfold soon after my return, my whole life in Romania would come crashing down, leaving me virtually without a friend I could turn to – except Sam.  As things turned out, Sam would become my Rock of Gibraltar, and would help me rebuild my life in Romania from the ground up.  As I look back on my life, and how it has unfolded, it is clear to me now that I have had two great benefactors in my life – my dear, beloved father and my best friend in Romania, Sam.  It was Sam who would get me into the business of putting up websites, which has proven to be quite rewarding and fulfilling.

As I pondered the whole possibility of my being John Brown in a past life, it gradually dawned on me that Sam might be a key piece of the puzzle.  Most striking of all was Sam’s uncanny resemblance to Robert E. Lee – who was the United States general who presided over the execution of John Brown!  Not only did Sam physically resemble Robert E. Lee very closely, but he also has a very dignified, noble bearing, which is precisely what historians have said made Robert E. Lee’s soldiers so fiercely loyal and devoted to him.  My favorite photo of Robert E. Lee pictures him with the very same look in his eyes that Sam has often shown when he gazed at me.  Could it possibly be that Sam had been Robert E. Lee in a past life?  One often misses the evidence that is staring you right in the face, precisely because it is so blatant and direct.  But there was my friend Sam, plain as day!  Of course, I suppose that I could do a comparison of the natal astrology charts of Robert E. Lee and my friend Sam, but for me the sheer physical resemblance was so chilling and uncanny.  Bingo!

It seems like Sam stepped into my life at precisely the moment he did, and helped me to rebuild my life in Romania, to help rebalance the scales of karmic justice, and atone for the injustice of executing me in my life as John Brown.  Soul is immortal, and can neither kill nor be killed, but still, past wrongs can be righted and atoned for as a natural, spontaneous expression of undying spiritual love and compassion.  Robert E. Lee, who arguably switched sides to become the leading general for the Confederacy in the American Civil War, is often vilified by American liberals and progressives today as being a traitor to the nation he once served.  But he was a Virginian, and when Virginia seceded from the Union to join the Confederacy, Lee sided with his home state of Virginia.  From a more neutral and impartial perspective, you could say that he was merely accepting what he saw to be an advantageous offer of employment in the interests of his own career advancement.  My friend Sam had his own interests of career advancement persistently blocked and thwarted in his current lifetime because his father had been a political dissident against the communist regime.  His career ambitions thwarted, Sam took refuge in an interest in American popular music and culture.

Finding Past Lives in Your Own Natal Astrology Chart

A lot of you who are now reading this article may be piqued by an intense curiosity over what your own past lives may have been.  Beyond the trendy “come as you were” parties that are so often thrown by the metaphysically inclined at Halloween these days, everyone is curious to know who or what they might have been in a past life.  Is there any way to find your past lives in your natal astrology chart?  Although falling short of specifics, astrologers are able to interpret the natal astrology chart with a view towards past lives – in other words, in the light of karma and reincarnation.  The parts, or points, of the natal astrology chart that are the most directly related to reincarnation are generally the axis of the Lunar Nodes, with the South Lunar Node being the Point of Karma, or the lunar node that most directly relates to one’s karmic past as it applies to the current lifetime.  In addition, the mysterious and mystical Twelfth House, which could be seen as the basement or dungeon of the natal astrology chart, is related to subconscious or repressed psychological and spiritual factors that may be carryovers from previous lifetimes.  In addition, I feel that any good or credible past life interpretation of a natal astrology chart must also include key chart factors like the Sun, Moon and Ascendant; I believe that my analysis above fulfills all these conditions.

Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation

As the foregoing material has shown, I have high hopes that astrology may be used as a valuable tool in the field of reincarnation and past life studies.  Perhaps the most famous expert in the field is Dr. Ian Stevenson, MD, who has been active in collecting case studies of hundreds, even thousands, of young children who appear to remember their past lives.  With many of these cases, the parents of the remembering child have even been able to take them back to the homes where they lived in their previous lifetimes in order to objectively verify and confirm specific details that their children remembered – things like their pet names for their former spouses  (the former spouses reacted with shock and surprise); where secret stashes of money or other valuables were hidden – which were then unearthed – and so on.  Needless to say, it is direct, verifiable evidence like this that constitutes the gold standard of past life evidence in the field of reincarnation studies.  Dr. Stevenson has even documented cases of birthmarks and other physical signs that carried over from one lifetime to the next, often relating to the site of fatal trauma in the previous lifetime.  I suppose that my chronic stomach and digestive issues, as well as my pathological fear of swallowing, fall into this category of physiological, biological or psychosomatic evidence.

Dr. Stevenson has entitled one of his books Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation – a book that is his own personal compilation of some of his most amazing cases, filled with objectively verifiable information like that described in the previous paragraph.  If such a prominent figure as the world’s leading expert on reincarnation studies soft sells his best case studies as being merely suggestive of reincarnation, then who am I to sell my own cases any harder than these?  Philosophically speaking, the whole doctrine of reincarnation, and the pre-existence of the Soul, upon which it is based, falls into the abstruse domain of metaphysics – in other words, the ultimate realities of existence – which is, by its very nature, extremely hard to either prove or disprove.

Framing My Life within a Larger Context

In the earliest formative years of my childhood, I had a terrifying flashback from a previous lifetime, in which I had been a soldier who was fatally shot on an autumn battlefield, probably in Eastern Europe somewhere.  And recently, as I have been slowly getting ready to leave this world, I discovered, through yet another amazing set of improbable events and circumstances, connections to yet another past life.  I realize now that they have served to set my life within a larger and hopefully more meaningful context; at the very least, they lend a lot of credibility to the whole idea of the immortality of the Soul.  I remember that when I was only a young lad in junior high school, my father, who was then stationed in Washington, DC, took me on a short day trip to see the site of John Brown’s execution at Harper’s Ferry, in what is now the state of West Virginia (it was in Virginia at the time).  It left me with a rather somber impression, as if a long, dark shadow were hanging over the whole town, but honestly, I didn’t think much more about it than that.  Little could I have imagined that years later, in the twilight of my life, I would be revisiting the place as a student of reincarnation.

If I am indeed the reincarnation of John Brown, then what kind of spiritual legacy can I say that I have inherited from him?  In dedicating himself to the abolition of slavery, and to the ideal of our founding fathers that all men are created equal, John Brown was definitely a staunch believer in the inalienable rights of men – all men.  Although I am familiar with the concept that respect must be earned, I have never really been that comfortable with it; to me, all people inherently deserved respect just by virtue of their being human beings.  And the life stories of great martyrs and freedom fighters like Mahatma Gandhi or Martin Luther King Jr. still leave me with a tear in my eye, a lump in my throat, and a soft spot in my heart.  They provoke a catharsis of healing love and compassion in my soul.  This is probably something akin to the sense of spiritual catharsis and healing that a Christian mystic feels when he or she relives the passion of Jesus Christ.  And I have been prone to radical or extremist thinking at times in my zeal to spread a message or promote a cause I believe in.  Again, it could be argued that this also does not constitute ironclad proof that I was John Brown in a previous lifetime, but it does establish a kind of spiritual affinity between me and the great abolitionist, I feel.

The old Sufi mystics had a saying, I heard, that when the body weeps for what it has lost, the Soul rejoices in what it has found.  Perhaps this could apply to my own life and my placing it within a larger context spanning multiple lifetimes.  Most people, it seems to me, especially those who have been more successful in a worldly sense than I have been, have been too caught up and engrossed in the daily struggles to make a living, raise a family and advance one’s career, and have therefore not had the time or energy to invest in a search for their past life roots – or they are simply too materialistic or skeptical of such things to do so.  Perhaps it has been the power of Pluto on my Midheaven that has drawn me into such things; my first encounter with reincarnation came to me totally unsought, as a spontaneous past life flashback, and my second encounter came to me as an unexpected result of my pondering my deeper feelings about our current political crisis as a nation.  The gift or solace that these encounters have left me with has been a deeper conviction in the immortality of the Soul, and that, ultimately, death is an illusion.  Both he who kills and he who thinks he is killed, said Lord Krishna, are mistaken.