A walk-in is a New Age concept of a person whose original soul has departed their body and has been replaced with a new, different, soul. Ruth Montgomery popularized the concept in her 1979 book Strangers Among Us.
Believers maintain that it is possible for the original soul of a human to leave a person's body and for another soul to "walk in". In Montgomery's work, souls are said to "walk in" during a period of intense personal problems on the part of the departing soul, or during or because of an accident or trauma. Some other walk-ins describe their entry as occurring based on prior agreement and when the previous soul was complete. The walk-in being/individual retains the memories of the original personality, but does not have emotions associated with the memories. As they integrate they bring their own mental, emotional, spiritual consciousness and evolve the life to resonate with their purpose and intentions. Incarnating into a fully grown body allows the walk-in soul to engage in embodiment without having to go through the two decades of maturation that humans need to reach adulthood. A walk-in soul also does not experience the conditioning of childhood and has a different relationship to life because they were not born.
In popular culture
The Hawkgirl comics, the K-PAX series of books and film, and the Twilight Zone episode "The Last Rites of Jeff Myrtlebank" have all featured situations similar or identical to walk-in experiences, although the term "walk-in" is not used.
In the Death of Superman story cycle, a handful of new superheroes appeared, among them John Henry Irons, who called himself the "Man of Steel". He never claimed to be the real Superman, but Lois Lane speculated that if Superman were really dead, perhaps his soul had moved into Irons' body as a walk-in, and she used that word.
The X-Files episode "Red Museum" discusses walk-ins, described by Mulder as enlightened spirits who have taken possession of the bodies of people who have lost hope and who want to leave their life. The concept is returned to in the episodes "Sein Und Zeit" and "Closure".
In the TV series Ghost Whisperer, the season 4 episode "Threshold" used the term "step-in" when the soul of one of the series' main characters, who had died in the previous episode, enters the body of a man who dies in an unrelated accident.
Stephen King speaks of "walk-ins" several times in books 6 and 7 of The Dark Tower novels, but King's walk-ins are usually physical travellers, or - when they possess another's body - are more guests, sharing the body with the original mind as strangers. John Callum mentions them in The Dark Tower VI: Song of Susannah. The term is also used in the CODA section of this book.
The main character Myne in "Ascendance of a Bookworm" is a walk-in. Originally a light novel, the story was released in anime format October 2019.
- Lewis, James R. The Encyclopedia of Cults, Sects, and New Religions. Prometheus Books, 2002. p. 382.
- Lewis, James R. Legitimating New Religions. Rutgers University Press, 2003. pp. 130–131.
- York, Michael. The Emerging Network: A Sociology of the New Age and Neo-pagan Movements. Rowman & Littlefield, 1995. p. 72.
- McClelland, Norman C. Encyclopedia of Reincarnation and Karma. McFarland, 2010. p. 276.
- Bjorling, Joel. Reincarnation: A Bibliography. Taylor & Francis, 1996. pp. 141–142.
- Partridge, Christopher. UFO Religions. Routledge, 2012. pp. 114–115.
- Stern, Roger. The Death and Life of Superman (novelization of the Death of Superman storyline). Random House Publishing Group, 1994. p. 365. "I knew all along that Superman would return, and now he has. Not necessarily in the form people might have expected, but it was him. Listen, have you ever heard of a walk-in spirit? When a body has been abandoned by one spirit but is not yet uninhabitable, then another spirit can move in. Anyway, whatever he is, the cards tell me for sure that the man who saved me today is definitely the Man of Steel. For sure."