American theories of reincarnation have a long and complex history, dating from 1680s to the present. It is the purpose of this paper to highlight the main currents of reincarnation theory in the American context, giving a brief historical survey. Sources surveyed begin with Native American traditions, and then move to immigrant traditions based in Western Esotericism, Christianity, Judaism, missionary Hinduism and Buddhism, Spiritualism, Theosophy, Rosicrucianism, and concludes with more current theoretical influences, based in paranormal science research. The paper demonstrates that current theories of reincarnation are increasingly less dependent upon religious support and increasingly based in direct personal experience, paranormal research, and new therapeutic models. The paper concludes with some reflections on the complexity of reincarnation theory and raises questions concerning the future development of such theory.
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