I found another lead yesterday, and this will give you a good idea of how my research has proceeded. I was on Archive.org, looking up an old book, when I noticed that they had added a new search feature--you can now search for text within their books. So I began searching on variations of my past-life name, Mathew Franklin Whittier. I came up with his salary in the Boston Custom House in his later years, which was useful information. That he was listed as an "impost bookkeeper" in his second year there, was consistent with my memory of his job under hypnosis. I won't say it was anywhere near "proof," but it's nice to find a bit of historical data which fits with what I had remembered.
Then I found a reference, in a footnote, by the editor of a paper published in Portland, Maine, in the first half of the 1840's, that Mathew had been one of the regular contributors. That was a new one, to me. The paper is archived at a historical society--but I would have to hire a researcher to go in there, and he or she wouldn't know exactly what to look for. That's because Mathew typically used a variety of pseudonyms. Most writers used one or two--he used dozens of them. Although I opted not to send in a researcher, I was able to find one lone edition for sale. It appears to have one of Mathew's poems on the front page. I'll know when it arrives in the mail in a few days. This was sort of a "moral encouragement" literary newspaper--one writer said it was loosely after the fashion of Benjamin Franklin. You know, pithy advice and encouragement to young men, and that sort of thing. Mathew could write in this genre, sincerely, but his work had more depth to it. I also know his style; so I can usually discern his poems, even with this sort of benign subject-matter, from that of the other, shallower authors.*
All that is just a chatty introduction. What I want to do, this morning, is to give a very small example of how intuitive past-life memory can be used in research. This will seem oxymoronic on the face of it, to those of us who think that intuition is fantasy. Even fantasy could be used in research. If you want to assess various personality types, you could ask the subjects to dutifully record how many times each day they indulge in a fantasy. The reports would be data, even if the fantasies, themselves, were inherently insubstantial. So I don't know what else I can do to pierce through this bugaboo of my past-life intuitive reactions not being data. They are.
I am turning, now, to a poem by Mathew's famous elder brother, John Greenleaf Whittier. "Snow-Bound" was his big hit, which put him on the public map in 1866. It was an idyllic description of his family being "snow-bound" in a New England blizzard, gathered around the kitchen hearth. I knew immediately--whether by prejudice, or actual past-life intuitive memory--that it was a fairy-tale. That family was as dysfunctional as a host of other New England families within the Puritan culture, at the time (nevermind they were Quakers--as far as our cultural outlook is concerned, they were Puritans). I proved it, to the extent one can prove something which would have been very much hushed up and swept under the rug. It took a great deal of detective work, which I won't attempt to present, here. Let's just isolate one little section of the poem, and look at my reactions to it.
Keep in mind I am not trying to prove anything to skeptics, here. The evidence is presented in my book. My purpose, with this example, is to demonstrate the process to readers who are already at least open-minded about it. That is, present-day readers, or future readers.
So in this poem, there is a scene depicted in which the father tells the boys to shovel a path from the house to the barn. Today, one sees that there is a road between, but that road was built in 1832, long after these events. Here are the relevant stanzas:
A prompt, decisive man, no breath
Our father wasted: "Boys, a path!"
Well pleased, (for when did farmer boy
Count such a summons less than joy?)
Our buskins on our feet we drew;
With mittened hands, and caps drawn low,
To guard our necks and ears from snow,
We cut the solid whiteness through.
And, where the drift was deepest, made
A tunnel walled and overlaid
With dazzling crystal: we had read
Of rare Aladdin's wondrous cave,
And to our own his name we gave,
With many a wish the luck were ours
To test his lamp's supernal powers.
As near as I can piece it together, what had happened is that John Greenleaf Whittier had attempted to make his mark as a politician, riding the wave of Abolitionism, and had failed. Nevermind how calculating vs. idealistic that attempt was; but he still had ambition, and writing was his only way of making a living, being in fragile health. He was asked to write a children's poem, and he chose to write about a scene from his own childhood. But he cleaned it up, since his own family, as said, was quite dysfunctional. "Snow-Bound" was a hit, beyond his wildest dreams--probably because it was the idyllic childhood that everybody else hadn't had, either. (Admittedly, he was a brilliant balladier--but technical prowess alone is generally not enough to garner this kind of fame.) The catch was, for the remainder of his life, he had to pretend it was literal autobiography. He thus became a cult-figure, practically revered as an American saint.
At the time the poem was first published, 1866, there were only two people still alive who had been there: his younger brother, Mathew, and one Harriet Livermore, a fiery preacher and feminist. When she saw it, and herself depicted therein, rumor has it she angrily threw the book across the room, shouting that it was all lies!* But she has been marginalized through character assassination--justifiably, or otherwise. To make her seem like a fanatic, it is reported that she went to the Holy Land expecting the Second Coming of Christ. From my perspective, however, she was off by less than a hundred years, and about 2-1/2 thousand miles. But I don't want to scare everybody off, so we will proceed with the topic at hand.
Although each family member is described in turn, Mathew is only mentioned once in this poem. He is spoken to directly as the only living member:
Ah, brother! only I and thou
Are left of all that circle now,--
The excuse given by literary historians is precisely this, that he was still living and the poem is a retrospective. But I think Whittier could have figured out a way to bring him in, if he'd wanted to. The original plan was to dedicate it to Mathew; but it ended up being dedicated to the entire family, instead.
Now. Keep in mind, when you view the illustrations, above, that the boys were five years apart in age. So since John Greenleaf Whittier would have been about 14 when the events described transpired, Mathew would have been about nine. Both were tall, but Mathew was more physically robust.
It was my assumption (not having seen this illustrated version) that their father was not present. These were chores, and their father apparently believed in the idea of "toughening training" for boys. Elsewhere in the poem is a description of sleeping in the attic during a snowstorm, with flakes blowing in; but it is brushed aside, suggesting that the boys dreamt of warmer days!
But the most interesting impression I had--which I had very little evidence for at this time--was that it was Mathew who was generating these fun fantasies about Alladin's cave, etc. etc. The problem was, that this toughening training was far too tough for his older brother's fragile constitution. Mathew could take it, but he felt concerned for his brother. So he would cheer him up with these things, to keep his mind off the suffering. He did the same throughout his life, both for himself, and for others, including his wife. I have ample evidence of his "whistling in the face of danger" in this way. After his beloved first wife, Abby, died of consumption, he turned to studying the ancient Greek Stoic philosophers. John Greenleaf's approach was quite different--he would go into an idyllic fantasy world, as he has with this poem, i.e., it is he who would dream of warmer times while trying to fall asleep in a blizzard, in a drafty attic. (As Mathew, I also had the added impression that we had been sent to bed without supper.) But it is Mathew who would attempt to cheer his brother as they were made to shovel under these conditions, turning it into a game--without the aid of their father, given that fathers generally don't participate in boys' chores. Such a no-nonsense, taciturn father would never have brooked this sort of playfulness and frivolity, further suggesting he wasn't with them. And were the tunnels simply playful, were they requested by their father as part of the toughening training (like boot camp), or were they just plain necessary? I have never tried it, but I would guess that it is no easy matter for two boys to dig a tunnel big enough for them to pass through. Could they even finish one of them in under an hour? And I learned that in a really severe winter, these drifts around the Whittier farm could reach a depth of fifteen feet, which makes the tunnels sound distinctly dangerous. Meanwhile, regardless of how severe the weather conditions were, the animals in the barn had to be tended to. In these comments, I admit I grew up in Miami surburbia, and so speak from ignorance.
There was nothing in this poem to suggest that it was actually the younger brother, Mathew, who was encouraging the older, except that I knew that Mathew was the physically stronger one. Thus, I could have extrapolated it. But still lying ahead of me, at that time, were dozens and dozens of confirming discoveries. Normally, if one has a thought that is contrary to every (initial) appearance, one abandons it. But this impression doggedly stuck with me. Later, I found that even one of his wife, Abby's stories draws upon this theme of a boy whose father has bought into the idea of toughening boys by exposing them to harsh conditions and brusque treatment. As for their father, "Snow-Bound" paints him as a man of few words--but there are numerous references in Mathew's works to being beaten, and one suggesting he hardly knew his father. In this sketch--which was reproduced in-full by famous psychic Andrew Jackson Davis, when describing their meeting in 1854--Mathew, taking his ignorant character, "Ethan Spike," is lampooning both traditional religious doctrine, and materialistic science, inasmuch as the latter resorts to reductionism. But he has inserted a very brief backwards clue regarding his relationship with his father--so quick, that no-one would have caught it. This is a cameo, like Alfred Hitchcock appearing briefly in his films. Here, "Ethan Spike" is reporting on an astronomy lecture:
Jemes begun by obsarvin that ef anybody supposed that the stars want a heap bigger than they looked to be, they was almightely behind hand. Why, says he, there’s that ar leetle shiner called Satan, says he, don’t look bigger than a tetter, and yet accordin to Herkylis—who knows the heavingly bodies jist as easy as I know father—tis summat larger than the hull county of Oxford! An the leetlest star you can pick aout, is as big as a cart-wheel. At this pint Dea. Elderberry ris and said this was goin too fur, ‘twas reglar blastfeeme, contrary to scripter and agin common sense. Then he tuck his hat an cleared, fust spittin aout his terbacker cud as a testimony agin the doctrine.
There are even hints, in Mathew's works and in Abby's, that Mathew ran away to sea at age 14, perhaps ending up in Cuba for awhile before returning home. If this happened, it has been carefully expunged from the official myth. Note in the above quote, the phrase "heavingly bodies"--this was intentional, and one had to have a good relationship with one's editor to get such mischievous misspellings printed, especially in a family paper in the 1850's! (This appeared, not in the paper I have newly-discovered, the Portland "Tribune," but in one I have studied extensively for several years, the Portland "Transcript.")
Again, these things by themselves are not evidential, except when you put all the other evidence in line with them. When you see the entire picture, it is clear that I was vaguely remembering the actual situation, when presented with the fairy-land version of "Snow-Bound"--not simply out of assumed cynicism, but through an actual experience of intuitive past-life recall.
Incidentally, when I added the quote, above, I made a connection which had eluded me throughout the study. This is an example of something that did not strike me via past-life intuition--something one might think would have. The rules governing which things trigger this response, and which do not, is unclear to me at this time. In this case, through ordinary scholarship, I learned that throughout his life, Mathew's secret, consistent pseudonym was an asterisk. When I uncovered some of Abby's poetry, or what I believe to be her poetry, I learned that she--like at least some others of her time--thought of stars in the sky as souls, or, as symbols of souls in heaven. One would assign a star to oneself, and a star to one's lover (this, as I gather, so that when apart, they could look up at each other's stars). Thus, stars had a mystical meaning for her, and a personal meaning for them both. I also determined, from the date of one of his sketches and the time-frame indicated therein, that he and Abby must have attended this astronomy lecture together. And it must have upset her, or she must have derrided the materialistic assumptions on which it was based. Thus, this sketch, published 14 years after her death, was a sort of tribute to her.
I am only just realizing this, now. Mathew was basing his humor on the comments Abby had made, and on their discussion, when they had returned home from the lecture, as a secret tribute to their relationship. His secret pseudonym itself, which I thought of for a long time as an asterisk, was actually a star--the star that Abby had assigned to him. I had felt by intuitive past-life memory, that he often wrote in tribute to that relationship, as a way of honoring it and keeping it alive. This, from early-on in the study. But I had not quite made this connection as regards what stars meant to Abby, and this lampoon of the astronomy lecture.
I want to stress that the point is not to prove reincarnation with these tidbits. For that, one would have to read my entire book with an open mind. And I do think that someday, people will eagerly embrace it that way. The point here is to give an example of the process. With the poem, "Snow-Bound," I was able to take a snapshot, as it were, of past-life intuition operating, when theoretically, I should have accepted the events depicted in this poem as nearly everyone else has for 150 years--everyone, that is, except Mathew, who kept silent about it while apparently refusing to permit the poem to be dedicated to him, and Harriet Livermore, who threw it across the room!
I'm adding this a few days after posting...poking around the digital collection of the New York Public Library, I came across this excerpt of an article about John Greenleaf Whittier:
It accompanies a photograph of Whittier's childhood home. This particular page gives a fair sampling of the treatment to which Harriet Livermore is subjected in the Whittier lore--accurate or not, it's hard to say at this point. But I see one glaring mistake in the text that follows. It was not Whittier's younger sister, Elizabeth (whose name was actually spelled "Elisabeth") who sent that poem off to William Lloyd Garrison's paper--it was his older sister, Mary. Given this mistake, one wonders just how reliable the account of Ms. Livermore is. There are three historical portraits of her--none of which look like the same woman. Here are the concluding lines of a farewell poem she wrote for her journey to the Holy Land:
It is a Christian, Apostolic meed, When by the Spirit given, Yet none can ever farewell indeed, Who slight the Redeemer’s holy creed, “Seek first the Kingdom of Heaven.” Words are like wind I know, and ink will fade. But in my heart, as with iron pen is laid, Farewell in Christ --obey him, and be saved.
My theory “wild” I shall repeat, Thus named by some of you, That quickly the Shiloh’s sacred feet, Will stand upon Olivet’s mount elect; And his ancient tribes review, Yea, “Juda’s Lion is a thief” will come, And the earth’s disordered fabric overturn, Renew it, Eden to millenial bloom.”
My sense of it? The Whittier family's piety was of the put-on variety, except for Mathew (and his older sister Mary, who, perhaps, wanted none of it); while Livermore's was sincere, if tending toward the fanatical. But her fanaticism was not, actually, the primary cause of her friction with the Whittiers--rather, it was her sincerity, and more to the point, her perception of their insincerity, and her recognition that Mathew was the one who did not share it.
Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.
*Upon receiving the edition in the mail, I concluded that the unsigned poem was probably not written by Mathew. I did learn, however, that Caleb Cushing appears to have become part-owner of the paper as of that very issue; and I knew that in subsequent years, Mathew would scathingly lampoon Cushing for his involvement in the Mexican-American war, and for his reversal on the subject of slavery. So Mathew would likely have stopped submitting to the paper at that point.
**The historical record infers that she reacted this way to her own depiction in the book. But I have recorded the impression that she had taken on the role of advocate for Mathew, in a family where he was the only one with his eyes open. She was trying to help "demystify" him; and she knew quite well the psychological and physical abuse he was subject to, and how he was misunderstood in that family, being the "black sheep." So when she saw this fairy-tale depiction, which portrayed her in a poor light, and left Mathew out altogether, she was angry on that basis. Consistent with this scenario is my vague feeling that Mathew, as a boy, had a bit of a crush on her.
Music opening this page: "Sesame Street" performed by The Free Design,
from the album "Sing for Very Important People"