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Nine years ago today, I hired psychic medium Candace Zellner, who worked out of the Phoenix and Dragon bookstore in Atlanta, to contact Mathew Franklin Whittier's first wife, and true love, Abby Poyen Whittier. That story has been told elsewhere, and I have broken down that reading in my previous entry of Feb. 11. One can see Candace working with Jeff Keene in 1998, here. Keep in mind that in 1998, you didn't have zillions of videotaped readings on YouTube. There was no YouTube, and I had never seen anything like this done. Some of the Spiritualist churches in England were videotaping their services, I think, but I was unaware of it. (Clearly, if I don't toot my own horn, nobody else is going to.)

In my entry of the 11th, I mentioned that I had had a second reading done by another psychic, in December of that same year, 2010. That was Joseph Shiel, a psychic artist, who is certified by the Lily Dale psychic community. To celebrate my nine-year anniversary with Abby, let's go through that reading today, shall we?

I want to preface this, briefly, with a tip-of-the hat (and another self-toot, perhaps) to a Yale professor of music, whose videotaped classes I have been watching lately, on YouTube. This is (I have to look it up) Prof. Craig Wright, at Yale University, teaching in 2008. He's teaching the most basic concepts in music theory--so much so, that even with my limited knowledge, I know all the material--but sometimes when your background in a field has been sketchy, you benefit by going back and filling in your core concepts. He's an excellent teacher (I suppose they don't hire no amateurs at Yale); but it does occur to me, I could be as good a teacher in my chosen area of interest, were I taken seriously. Once I scheduled a meeting with Kitty Davy, a direct disciple of my Guru, Meher Baba, at the Meher Spiritual Center. Normally I didn't pester her for advice, but in this case I wanted advice on my career. At that time I was fascinated by photography, but she told me to keep that as a hobby, and not to go into it professionally. Kitty was psychic, but never put herself forward in that capacity--it was just understood. This was before the internet--maybe the 1980's? She got a far-away look in her eyes, and said, "I see you teaching--not in a classroom--I don't know what this is. Good--very good."

Now to our task.

I have to pull up my notes, taken in real time, from this session. First of all, Joseph was in a motel room at the Boston airport, speaking to me on a cell phone, and the call dropped about six times before we got it established. After the fifth time or so, he offered to give me my money back and cancel the session. I persisted (knowing that there might be interference from spirits who did not want Spiritualism used to prove a concept that Spiritualists have been against, since the movement was launched as an offshoot of traditional Christianity in the mid-19th-century), and finally we got it working. The call was only dropped once more after that.

Second, I want to mention Joseph's reaction when I first spoke with him. He said something to the effect, "Oh, you're the one with the unusual request." This speaks volumes, as regards whether he had prepared (i.e., with research) for the reading. He had not. He had forgotten about it, and now was remembering it. Keep this in mind, because it will answer the primary skeptical go-to normal explanation.

Now we begin...

If you feel like you're "not in Kansas" anymore, that's correct, you're not... This is the real stuff. Get ready.

Joseph begins by describing an "image of a woman and others." My notes say:

Image of woman and others.

First image 2 women.
1) curly hair, dark, pulled back but curl on face. Collar, young--the way she wants to look.

2) black woman, (?) dark, somewhat heavy, full in face, grey hair, pulled back, bun. Piercing eyes. Mamie, Mary.

3) man imposed on (image?).

All look from certain period. Tall, wearing baggy pants, thin, tall, jacket, frumpy, loose fit. Khaki, brown. Shirt buttoned, whiskers. Not on chin. Mustache and long side burns.

Eyebrows untamed. Hat(?). Not military, cap? He is standing with right leg against wall, other leg down. Next to him is dark woman sitting down, other woman is separate.

All know each other? Separation, but know each other.

Black woman proud.

* * *

She is fiesty--"fight the good fight". Raising her voice to state her mind. Screaming, yelling. See scene yelling at others. Rifle in picture. She knew how to use a rifle, not her nature to be violent. Could use to protect.

Other woman and man have something to do with it--part of the protected. Whether to take up arms to protect.

I'm skipping a bit, to stay with this one topic. Since Joseph is a psychic artist, while I don't like to give away images from my first book, we're going to have to do so in this instance. This is the drawing he subsequently sent me, which he presumably drew in real time while relating these impressions:

Now, I have a skeptical mind just like you do. I've told you that Mathew Franklin Whittier was a skeptic, when Abby began tutoring him and attempting to share with him the esoteric teachings she had learned from her mother. So the thought has come to me, "the woman looks a lot like the famous picture of Madam Blavadsky." But this is a very odd scenario for the medium to open up with. When the famous mediums like John Edward or Colin Fry come up with something like this on stage, they typically apologize, "I'm going to go way out on a limb with this one, but..."

So the question is, did I find anything in the historical record supporting this wild, implausible scenario? Remember that Shiel had no idea what historical person he was supposed to contact for me. I had told him only that I wished to contact my past-life wife from the 19th century. Period. And I was very, very careful not to give him any additional information during the reading, except where noted. So this could have been any woman of any type; conservative, religious, etc. One might say that he would want to create a flattering person for me, if he was making one up out of thin air. But he didn't know me, so he wouldn't have known what kind of woman I would admire; except, of course, that I obviously believed in reincarnation and psychics. So we will admit these normal explanations as far as they go. They give us some parameters in which a fraud might operate. But none of these caveats would anticipate a rifle-wielding woman defending a black couple.

In answer to the question, I never found evidence for this scenario. But I did find evidence that would tend to support it. Firstly, if I have correctly determined that Albert Pike stole Abby Poyen's poetry when she was 14 years old and taking his class in Newburyport, Mass. in 1830, then she had earlier gone through a period of public disgrace and humiliation a couple of years earlier, during which two people stood by her--perhaps, as I gather, her older sister, and Mathew. Mathew, at age 15, also addresses this situation in a three-part humorous sketch about a "Slander Club," apparently by way of supporting her. There are other clues in Mathew's sketches--it seems that Abby, as a young prodigy, was a loner, and spent a great deal of time wandering the woods and fields near her home, communing with Nature and writing poetry. But she was also strongly anti-slavery, and this we can prove. I have mentioned that she and Abby co-wrote a series of pro-Abolition responses to a pro-Colonization series in the Dover, NH "Enquirer," the year after their marriage (having eloped there in Aug. of 1836). Their antagonists had signed as "Alpha and Beta," so they responded, in the paper, as "Kappa, Lambda, & Mu," where "Kappa" means a Japanese water sprite (Abby); "Lambda" is the symbol that was used on Spartan shields (representing Mathew), and "Mu" was their unborn child, Joseph. (I have discussed all this in more detail, recently.) It was a clever pseudonym, but it was too easy to identify in a small town whose economy was based on a large cotton mill(!), and they were shunned (or worse). All of this, in my first book.

In the Feb. 16, 1838 edition of William Lloyd Garrison's paper, the "Liberator," appears Abby's poem entitled "I'd Have No Slave," signed "ARP," for Abigail Rochemont Poyen. When Albert Pike had plagiarized her youthful poetry, he had published under their shared initials, "A.P." Perhaps Abby wanted to add her family middle initial, to distinguish her work from Pike's (especially as Pike was a racist who went on to fight as a general for the South in the Civil War). Abby was born "Abigail Weld Poyen," but adopted the family name "Rochemont" by the time she married, for reasons I can only guess at, and which aren't relevant, here. The opening quote is from a poem by William Cowper, and simply acknowledges the debt to him. Abby was scrupulously ethical.

I can't prove that this is Abby's poem, nor do I know why she might have been in Danvers, Mass. at the time she penned it, but I found two with this signature. The other, an esoteric view of religion, is precisely consistent with her views, and her esoteric training, as well. I suppose I should share this one, also (on re-read), because it suggests she is defending herself against persecution for her spiritual beliefs, being an esoteric Christian who has also studied Eastern religion and philosophy. This was published in the Dec. 1, 1838 edition of the "Christian Register and Boston Observer," at a time when Mathew and Abby would have recently moved to Portland, Maine. Note that it is not exclusively Christian:

February, 1838 was when Mathew launched his own newspaper, the Salisbury "Monitor." At this time, they had (as I gather) fled Dover, NH, which they had earlier eloped to, and settled in Amesbury, Mass., near their hometown of Haverhill. Mathew had been clerking for the local "News and Courier," and I think launching his own paper was a snap decision inspired, in part, by the life of his namesake, Benjamin Franklin. Perhaps Abby had already submitted her poem to the "Liberator." One can learn about Mathew's "Monitor" from the Bonham's auction house website, where I discovered it. Just search online for "Salisbury Monitor, Whittier," and you should find the page. This was completely unknown in the official Whittier legacy. The authors of this legacy very much marginalized Mathew, while raising up their hero, John Greenleaf Whittier--so it was not even suspected that Mathew could have launched a paper of his own, until this lone copy surfaced--surfaced, and was purchased for some $7,000, only to be squirreled away in a private collector's vault somewhere, never to be seen again.

As said, I accessed it through the back door of reprints in other papers (chiefly, the "Liberator"), but that's another story. What's relevant, here, is a quote from the Bonham's website. The historian summarizing the discovery concludes:

Matthew Franklin Whittier has enjoyed a minor role in American Literature for his later efforts under the pseudonym "Ethan Spike," a satirical series of tracts designed to conjure the voice of an ignorant slave-owner from New England, published from 1846 through 1863. Unknown until this appearance was his earlier role as editor of the Salisbury Monitor, which is filled with original content along similar lines, some of which may be traced to his pen. For example, a hitherto unrecorded poem published in the February 22 issue, "The Slave," (and "Written for the Monitor,") records a tragic suicide of a slave on the island of Guadaloupe. Matthew Franklin Whittier had recently married Abbie Poyen, a native of Guadaloupe, in 1836 [Griffin, 647], who is presumably the source of the tale for M.F. Whittier's pen.

Altogether, an extraordinary find of New England miscellany, worthy of much further study.

Probably, that wasn't Mathew's poem, it was Abby's. In fact, it's almost certain, because the editor generally didn't sign his work in his own paper--that was reserved for contributors. But in any case, we can assume that Abby was anti-slavery. Incidentally, the closing comment is a supreme irony, inasmuch as nobody will ever be able to conduct "further study" on this discovery. But Mathew did not, actually, play a "minor role." He and Abby were the original co-authors of "A Christmas Carol," and after her death, Mathew was the real author of "The Raven." One does wonder why this collector would spend $7,000 on a volume created, presumably as a personal project, by a historical figure who played a "minor role."

Fortunately, I found Mathew's work in other sources from around this same period, and much earlier. Here, I should provide a sample of "Kappa, Lambda, and Mu." Their first letter to the editor of the Dover (NH) "Enquirer," published in the July 18, 1837 edition, provides a copy of the "Declaration of the Anti Slavery Convention, assembled at Philadelphia, December 4, 1833." Here, in two pages (one, and two), is the ninth letter (from my personal collection).

When I say that Mathew and Abby co-authored "A Christmas Carol," this will give you some idea of what they could do when they put their heads together.

When Mathew began writing for the newspapers, in the late 1820's and early 1830's, he was in favor of the opposite position, "Colonization," chiefly because, being a Quaker, he wanted to avoid bloodshed. He believed that the Abolitionists would stir up slave rebellions, which would backfire on them, and result in the deaths of innocent white people, as well. Later, he completely changed his view; so much so, that I believe he actually became an under cover liaison for Garrison. It must have been Abby who was chiefly responsible for changing his mind on this subject, as also on esoteric matters.

So we know Abby was strongly anti-slavery; and we know she came in for some kind of social shunning. Here's something else, which I've shared earlier, reprinted from the "Monitor," and responded to by the editor of a Southern paper:

This is found in the New Orleans "Picayune" of June 20, 1838. It indicates that while Mathew was at the office working on the "Monitor," young women were jeering outside the house, throwing rocks at (and perhaps through) the windows, while Abby huddled with their infant son, Joseph, inside. You may recall the earlier psychic reading with Candace Zellner, in which she had said, "Women shunned Abby as well. Many of them gossiped behind her back. 'Got the devil.'"

But as they say in the high-pressure TV ads, "Wait, there's more!"

This piece, called "Scene from an Unpublished Tragedy," is from the Oct. 18, 1851 Boston "Weekly Museum," which paper Mathew contributed to heavily, under a slew of pseyudonyms per usual. He had recently returned from Europe, writing a travelogue as "Quails" for this paper, which has been erroneously attributed to entertainer Ossian Dodge. Mathew has used this play-lampoon style, before--but he always embeds serious material in them, chiefly veiled autobiography about the period of his courtship with, and marriage to, Abby.

If I'm not mistaken--and it's very unlikely that I am--this is a story about an incident in their lives, during this period of early-to-mid 1838, when he was publishing and editing the Salisbury "Monitor." Incidentally, wouldn't the historian who wrote the description of that volume for Burnham's, love to have seen this additional information? You'd think so. But I'll bet if I could contact him, he wouldn't give me (the actual reincarnation of Mathew Franklin Whittier), the time of day, due to his materialistic assumptions.

It would, obviously, be his loss.

So, extrapolating, and bringing past-life intuitive memory to bear, what I think has happened is this. Mathew has been unavoidably detained at the printing office. Now whether it really was a "bore," or something more serious that he doesn't want to worry Abby about, we don't know. But she has had their meagre meal of tea and crackers ready for him; the tea has grown cold, and it is getting late. She is beside herself with worry, because she knows that Abolitionist Elijah Lovejoy was murdered by a mob at his Illinois printing office the year before.

So we don't have a historical account that specifically matches Shiel's rather bizarre opening scenario, but it's entirely consistent with what the deep historical record does tell us. My first psychic, Candace, gave a different scenario, which has Abby embroiled in a trial, having been accused of witchcraft, being yelled at by lawyers. But let's move on with the rest of the reading...

We'll go back to the material I excerpted, earlier, and pick up from there:

Black woman proud. Other woman's picture is a classic picture, taken on purpose, like a studio picture. Walking from left to right. Try to speak to her telepathically. In very long dress, light, not dark, flower dress with lace pulled in at waist. Hair falls to side but pulled back. Pull of hair (pulls?) to side, long. Gets an "R"--Randall. Last or first? Randall. Sweet. Intelligent. Woman before her time. Quick. Sass to her answers. Calls it like she sees it. Doesn't bowl people over, give them rope, then levels with logic and sense of humor. Very intelligent. Dry wit.

Holding hands, something in hand, stroll by, attractive.

In garden, warm summer day. Flowers. Would love flowers. Certain flower pointing to--honeysuckle. [At this point I think I mentioned our photography together, that she liked to photograph flowers]

Would have been good with animals. Knew how to shoe a horse, but would have someone do it for her. Wanted to know everything as a child. Animals important, good, patient with them [I remember the psychic said, "like a 'horse whisperer'"].

Liked animals more than people, who could be cruel and stupid, didn't deal well with ignorance. Intelligent, well before her time. Stroll over and over.

Somebody else--John around her life.

Now we must bring in the second drawing which Shiel send me after the reading; this one, of Abby, herself:

Well after the reading, but only a matter of two or three weeks before I discovered Abby's actual historical portrait, I had a visitation dream with her. That is recounted in my book, "Loving Abby in Truth and Spirit." It was quite vivid, and immediately after I woke up, I got online and searched on keywords, "woman, portrait." I downloaded thirteen portraits which looked most like the woman I had seen in my dream, in one feature or another. This is the one that, perhaps, looked most like her, though they are all clearly in the ballpark:

Below is Abby's historical portrait. It is an unidentified miniature attributed to Mathew's first cousin, Ruth Whittier Shute. I have determined that the subject is Abby, by triangulating perhaps 10 or 15 different clues. If I am correct, it was probably done at the funeral of the wife of another cousin in Dover, Moses Whittier, named Sarah Hacker Jones Whittier, in January of 1837. Abby would have been 20 years old.

Shiel's drawing is plausibly similar, but this comparison is really quite close (and so are one or two of the others). I guarantee you, on my honor, that I had the dream, then downloaded the photographs, and later found the miniature, in that order. (Actually a friend helped me find it, searching through Ruth Whittier Shute's paintings online.) This represents, by the way, a rare piece of objective validation for the phenomenon of spirit visitation dreams. And whereas one begins to suspect, when one sees the evidence for psychic artwork, that they worked it backwards, I can also guarantee you that Joseph Shiel could not possibly have worked this one backwards, either.

Returning to Shiel's statements, we can't verify "long hair pulled back to one side," because we have only the one formal portrait, with the hair done up in the typical style for 1836/37. The "last or first?" name of "Randall" could plausibly be a mis-hearing of "Rochemont."

Now we have a very clear description, a cluster of personality traits--sweet, intelligent, before her time, quick, sassy, direct, intelligent (again), and having a dry wit.

I could spend another three days showing you evidence, in Mathew and Abby's written works, corroborating this description. I wouldn't even know where to begin. In an earlier entry, I provided an example from one of Mathew's stories, in which her (semi-autobiographcial) character, Jane, neatly and politely out-debates her father. Shiel emphasizes Abby's intelligence four times in this reading. In fact, she was demonstrably far ahead of her time, and extremely intelligent--a prodigy in philosophy, poetry and music. You can see it in her portrait. But I'll bring back a quote from another of her short stories--one of her earliest, to demonstrate that this was her own self-perception, as well. To set the scene, a little Irish orphan girl named Mary Mahoney has walked into a school room, and requested an education. Not being refused, she studies hard, and we next see her at high school age. She is earning money by translating French books for a publisher; and then, she turns her attention to works of German metaphysics, which subject she is quite at ease in. When she meets with the publishers to discuss her translations, she is every bit their intellectual equal. The event is presented as part of a conversation between herself, and an Irish friend who is obviously not her intellectual equal. Clearly, she did not want these activities to be generally known. All of this is thinly-veiled autobiography. I'll give an extended excerpt, here, because it relates to the persecution theme, as well:

It was a fortnight before the great final day, and Mary was threading her solitary way with the old, abstracted look, telling of her day's work, when her footsteps were arrested by a ringing shout.

"Ah, Mary--Mary Mahony!" cried a wild boy's voice in high glee, and her hand was seized by a true descendant of old Ireland. "It's all right with you now, Mary, we've found out it's all right!"

"What? What, Michael?" asked the bewildered little girl, standing still in amazement. "What do you mean by all right?"

"Why, the books, Mary, to be sure, and the papers you're putting into the English tongue for them, and the honor yourself is gaining--isn't it all right? And haven't I come here bringing the news, Mary Mahony?"

"But, Michael," said the little girl, and her lips quivered, "was that kind? I never told you of these things, Mikey dear."

"Ah, but, Mary, did you think you could carry all this on, and I and my father and mother never dreaming of it? We saw it in your face at the very first, Mary; for it's easy enough for such as love you to know when there's trouble in your heart. God writes it there, Mary, and wouldn't it be sin in us not to read?--you, who are fatherless and motherless."

"But, Michael--"

"There was no other way, Mary dear. How could we but see how the scorn of these schoolgirls troubled you; or how could we rest in our beds, when you were toiling all night long at the work you did? No, no, Mary; we searched the papers out when you were away, and carried them to those that knew, and found out it was French you were changing into old English. I followed you when you took them to the publisher's and if ever human being prayed, I put up prayers for your success then, Mary. Little did you see of me when you came out, but I saw you, and oh, it does me good now only to remember it, you staid so long and came out at last looking so glad and happy; indeed, Mary, I could but whisper it to a few of our people, and now it's among them, from one end of Boston to the other."

The child burst into tears.

"Why, Mary, our people are all so proud of you, you know," apologized the boy, greatly disturbed. "I told how you was blasting your life over the book, through the long nights, too,--how money came in to you for all this, and how you forced pay upon us for keeping you, when it just made up the happiness of the house to have you in it, Mary. But now, wouldn't you like to know what I'm here to meet you for? Wasn't it German you carried out yesterday, Mary, or something from another language?"

"Yes, yes! Well, Michael--"

"Well, and well, Mary, I knew it had cost you more time and toil than all the rest. I followed you, of course, and I knew when you came out of the publisher's, you had no straightforward answer, and you know it goes to all our hearts to see you, that everybody should help to cherish, wearing away in trouble. So I've been loitering about the place ever since hoping to hear from it."

Mary approached closer to the speaker.

"Once I strolled in to look after a new picture book, and at another time I bought a slate; but not a word could I catch to bring to you, Mary, after all. Then I got impatient, and finally I grew desperate, and what do you think I did, Mary? Why, I hunted you up a friend to ask the question. It was a long while before I lit upon the right one; I watched for more than an hour, I'm sure. One looked surly, and another too smiling, and then another too grave; but at last, Mary, just as I was giving it up, there came one with the very look.--Isn't it strange that one knows such as will do one a kindness, by their faces? I drew his attention, as respectfully as I could, and when he looked down on me and began to notice me--forgive me, Mary, but I told him all. For I said, 'I am but a poor Irish boy, sir, and it might injure the whole for me to ask, but you, sir, will you please?"

"Oh, Michael, and that to a stranger!"

"But you don't know how he entered into it, Mary. He bustled about among the men there, and talked as though he had witnessed a miracle. Presently they began looking over your manuscript. I knew it, Mary, though you might think I'd never seen it; and then after a while they beckoned me in. I didn't feel low before them then, Mary, great people as they were, for when I began talking about you, they seemed to be only my own brothers that stood by listening, and surely, in God's sight, they are not always highest that we look farthest up to see."

"Well," gasped the auditor, in breathless eagerness.

"Oh, Mary, they went on talking and questioning about you, as though you had been an angel, and this night, they're coming, some of them, to see you, and that' is why I'm here to meet you."

Of all that transpired that night, it is impossible to obtain an exact record. An old wood sawyer tells us of seeing the child flit by, with such a look in her blue eyes, it filled his soul with dreams of heaven that night. The visitors, it is told, staid till far into the night, discussing with the strange being, themes her humble friends could nowise understand. Deep sciences, it is said, such as men alone converse upon, while the little creature was at home and clear in everything.

Mathew published about eight or nine of these stories for Abby posthumously, in the Boston "Weekly Museum" of 1849/50; but that's a long story which is covered quite thoroughly in my first book.

I could show you poetry that Abby wrote at age 14--plagiarized by her teacher, Albert Pike, and published under these same intials, "A.P." Perhaps I'll give you just one of them, "Ode to the Mocking Bird." This poem appears, as you see it, here, in the July edition of "The Essayist," a Boston-based young men's magazine to which Mathew was contributing under at least two signaures; a "star" or single asterisk, and "Franklin, Jr." Abby's poetry appears in this magazine signed as "A.P.," and also under the signature of the editor, George W. Light. Both Light and Pike plagiarized young Abby's poems, but that's also another story. To celebrate our ninth annivesary, I'm going to give you "Ode to the Mocking Bird" as photographed from the original publication--a book I purchased some years ago for $500. (It will be worth a lot more, someday, when people realize what's in it.)

My guess is, that the class assignment was to "write a poem in the style of "Ode to the Nightengale," but that Abby couldn't write in anybody else's style. You can clearly see the future co-author of "A Christmas Carol" in this poem, philosophically, if not by style. Albert Pike wrote to his biographer that he wrote "Ode to the Mocking Bird" "a couple of days" after his marriage. But he was married in 1834, whereas this poem first appeared in 1832. Looking more closely into the matter, one finds that the poem Pike claims to have written in 1834, was actually a drastic re-write of the original poem--but clearly the same poem. One could argue that Pike meant to say he re-wrote it (you know, like in a spelling bee, where the boy meant to spell the word "egregiously" instead of "egrejously"); but I doubt it. He stole it from Abby, then re-wrote it to impress his new bride with his supposed sensitivity. He seems to have imagined he improved it, inasmuch as her poem begins with a scathing critique of human society in large cities, from the spiritual perspective, whereas Pike's version stays more closely on-topic--but he took the spiritual juice out of it.

Let's return to the reading. I think Abby's exceptional intelligence has been established, though I could go on and on providing examples.

That Abby was attractive is self-evident. She was also described as "attractive" in the official Whittier legacy, though that is about all that was said of her. There is a mention that her mother, Sally Poyen, was both "handsome" and "brilliant."

Holding hands, something in hand, stroll by, attractive.

In garden, warm summer day. Flowers. Would love flowers. Certain flower pointing to--honeysuckle. [At this point I think I mentioned our photography together, that she liked to photograph flowers]

Would have been good with animals. Knew how to shoe a horse, but would have someone do it for her. Wanted to know everything as a child. Animals important, good, patient with them [I remember the psychic said, "like a 'horse whisperer'"].

Liked animals more than people, who could be cruel and stupid, didn't deal well with ignorance. Intelligent, well before her time. Stroll over and over.

There is evidence that Abby liked flowers, but this is so generic that we must pass by it. So is the reference to liking animals--arguably, Shiel could simply have been painting a picture of a girl he thought I--or anyone--might like. We are, you think, back in Kansas again. But look out the window--does what follows look like Kansas? This is what historian Sarah Smith Emery says about Abby's mother, Sally Elliot, and her father, Joseph Poyen, the marquis:

I well remember Sally Elliot; she made Rochemont de Poyen a most excellent wife; and I vividly recall the genial Frenchman; a lithe, active man, a great fancier of horse flesh, always ready for a trade; he and my grandsire Little frequently had dealings together.

Shiel has hit on two points--Abby's class, and the fact that her father loved horses and traded them. Next Shiel tells us "Somebody else--John around her life." Abby's brother, John, went on to be the businessman of the family, and to achieve some local prominence in Merrimac, Mass. in the carriage business. I had a memory-glimpse of him standing on the walk outside their family home, preventing me from seeing Abby. Here's an older historical portrait of John Poyen. You can get a sense of his personality:

Next comes the portion we have already visited, regarding the rifle, to which he added:

All people equal, get into some scraps. Educated. Willing to get dirty, do gardening, shoe the horse. Most women of her class not allowed to do it.

Bright, piercing eyes--green or blue? Not brown. Dress, as walked garden, like an old Renoir painting. (?)

Again, the mention of Abby being upper-class, and her rebellious nature. She did, indeed, see all people as being equal, and we have gotten a taste of that with her story of the little Irish orphan. (We see it also in Tiny Tim's famous line, "God bless us, every one!") There are several hints to Abby's eye color in Mathew's writing, and in hers. The gist of it appears to be that her eye color was actually indeterminate, but where Mathew is forced to make a choice, he calls them blue, or "azure." Looking it up, I found that this is actually true-to-life for a person of very light complexion, as Abby is also described as being (and as we see in her miniature portrait). Using a program called "What Color," and having increased the color saturation, I can find a hint of green in the eyes of the portrait, but no blue. One might speculate that artist Ruth Whittier Shute was trying to portray them as being green.

This is how Abby characterized the eyes of "Mary of the Valley," in a story which must have been written about the same time as "Mary Mahoney," being among her earliest efforts. "Mary of the Valley" appears in the Oct. 2, 1830 New York "Constellation," for which paper Mathew was the acting junior editor, when Abby was 14 years old. Like the first "Mary," this one has a strong element of autobiography:

Authors of fiction are fond if regulating the temper and disposition of their heroes by the color of their eyes; and with the mild and gentle disposition, they have agreed to associate the blue eye. But in real life it may be otherwise, and nature may take it into her head to connect the gentlest disposition with the most sparkling eye. But in relation to Mary of the Valley, an admirer of hers told me, that after several years' acquaintance, he positively could not pronounce with certainty whether her eyes were blue, black or hazel. Indeed, said he, one must have been dead to their expression, who could cooly bethink himself of ascertaining their color. But the color, if known, might easily fade from the recollection--the expression, never.

I'd never noticed this, before, but probably she's relating Mathew's own comments to her. The man Mary of the Valley marries, "Diffident Jim," has not yet been introduced when this description is given.

At this point in the reading, I ask Shiel for "something relating to our life together now," which he responds to briefly, and then goes back to his description. This, as said, from my notes. Where I wasn't able to read my own writing, when typing them up, I indicated it in brackets.

My creativity has blossomed since she has come into my life, I have come alive, am driven. Would push. [I had already mentioned our photography at this point] Bit of a chin. Nice features. [Smilt?] but nice cheeks, slender neck, lips thin, not bulbous.

Henry. Henry? She's serious about what she believes in but optimistic and joyful, very sure of herself.

Met her here?

30's, 40? Pretty. Kind of person he would like, strong-minded, independent, smart. Can be a challenge, lot of fun. Good partner to/for me.

You can testify to the part about me being "driven," as regards my own efforts. Again, we have her intelligence; and that she is strong-minded and independent--traits we can clearly see in her writing. That Shiel says "bit of a chin" for Abby suggests he is not simply flattering her, or making up an image to please me, though of course he is being polite. His description matches the historical portrait, as far as it goes--Ruth Whittier Shute has even given Abby a "bit of a chin." I wish I knew what "Smilt" was, but I can't even guess at it, as I write this, today.

The only "Henry" who came up in the study, that I can think of, was young Henry Moses Whittier, son of Mathew's cousin, whose miniature portrait seems to have appeared at auction along with Abby's portrait. It, too, would have been done by Ruth Whittier Shute at the funeral of his mother, in Jan. 1837, in Dover, NY. (Shute was also a resident of Dover, though she and her husband traveled as itinerant portrait painters. This was painted after he had passed on, which, ironically, accounts for its realism, as she must have actually been the superior artist.)

Abby never reached her 30's or 40's--perhaps she presented herself at that age, in the astral realm, as people are said to do. She died at age 24 of consumption, which is generally taken to mean tuberculosis. The first psychic, Candace, nailed this point, saying "tuberculosis." Here, Shiel seemingly goes off the mark, but then he closes the session with an outrageous "hit":

Got sick, went (passed) earlier than expected. Stomach pain in abdomen. Childbirth?

Children? Babies, she did have children. Carried on name. [this is incorrect for Abby according to the history] Boy? Son? Son lived and carried on name. Psychic says he may be putting in his own thoughts at this point.

"M". Keeping getting "M". Matthew, Massuen. [not clear on "Massuen," trailed off--not clear if this was a guess on the same name, or a second name. "Matthew", however, was definite. I told him at this point that that was my name in that lifetime.]

If by "went earlier than expected" is meant that she died young, then of course this is correct. It is possible for tuberculosis to migrate to other organs, creating abdominal pain, but she certainly didn't die in childbirth. Abby and Mathew had two children, but, as I noted in brackets, neither lived to see their first birthday. But we see that Shiel isn't sure about this, himself.

Now he nails Mathew's first name, and adds the name of a town directly adjacent to Mathew and Abby's hometown of Haverhill--Methuen. But because Shiel actually works out of nearby Swampscott, he must have thought he was imagining it. There is only one town named "Methuen" in the U.S. It then remained for me to determine whether Mathew and Abby had ever lived in Methuen.

They had--the story is given by Mathew, writing as "Quails," in the Nov. 16, 1850 edition of the Boston "Weekly Museum," and there is another reference, as well, which I've also shared earlier. Although historians identify the writer of the "Quails" travelogue as Ossian Dodge, this was a ruse, and Mathew was always the real author. I've gone over this in detail, and don't need to rehash it, here. Mathew and Abby would have spent some time living with his second cousin, Richard Whittier, at his stone farm-house in Methuen, after their first child, Joseph, died of scarlet fever in August of 1838--the same year that Mathew had been publishing the Salisbury "Monitor." That building now houses the local historial society, and I describe personally visiting it in my sequel, "Mathew Franklin Whittier in his own world."

Presumably, the reason we see these two names, "Mathew" and "Methuen" juxtaposed, is because Abby wanted to eliminate the skeptial objection of ESP. Neither Shiel, nor myself, knew that Mathew had ever lived in Methuen. This also separates it out from any other generic "Mathew" that Shiel could have named. Shiel was starting to lose the connection, apparently--and with one last valiant effort, Abby impressed on him something blazingly evidential.

My notes add the following:

In wrap-up, psychic mentioned that it was a unique dress with lace around the collar, that he didn't know the dress of the period. He said he was impressed to draw, that he drew what he was told to.

Upon my asking, he confirmed that he didn't do any internet research ahead of time, that he does 3-4 readings per day, doesn't have time to research them, and isn't good with computers.

Also, when I first got him on the phone, he had to remember who I was, saying, "Oh, you're the one with the special request." So despite the appointment having been set, he didn't remember at first about my case or what I had asked for, which strongly suggests he hadn't researched it. He was (presumably) drawing during most of the reading, which also strongly suggests he could not have been researching on the internet at the same time.

As a precaution, I took down the daguerreotype that I think is of Abby from my website, a couple of days after I ordered the reading, and have kept it down until I receive the drawing.

I took the further step of attempting to find out whether the certification process at Lily Dale contained any vetting on ethics. They probably took it as an insult, and myself as a skeptic, and wouldn't answer the question. But I did find a colleague who vouched for his integrity in the strongest terms; and the last I looked at Shiel's online feedback, it is all positive.

In hindsight, I wish I had asked Shiel to spell the second word as best he could, because I couldn't hear it. But, hindsight is always 20-20.

I have to remind myself, when I look at the record of this session, that Shiel didn't know who these historical characters were. So far as he knew, they could have been anybody, at all; and the only guidance he might have had, was to match a fictional woman with what he knew of me. Only if he had been looking at my information online, during the reading, could we have a plausible normal explanation--but even that doesn't account for "Messuen," nor for some of the rest of it, including Abby's physical description, the fact that her father kept and traded horses, etc. I think he would have been hard pressed, in Dec. 2010, to discover that she came from an upper-class family, or that she was an ardent Abolitionst. Had he been drawing from my website, he almost certainly would not have stuck his neck out with that absurd-sounding "rifle" scenario. Just let your intuition dwell on this thing, for a moment, with your a priori convictions suspended--it's obvious, from the gestalt of the thing, that this was a real reading, and that Lily Dale certified psychic artist Joseph Shiel is not a fake. That means he was not looking at my website during the reading.

If you watch video of the best mediums working, you will find that it is not unusual, at all, for them to get a name like this, without fishing. Typically, the best ones will get as many as three or four. I've seen them get a subject's first, middle and last name--again, without fishing or giving any that aren't recognized. Just nailing it. The only thing unusual, here, is that it's my past-life name. Shiel got this out of four names, in a one-hour session. Of those four, "John" was entirely plausible as Abby's officious, protective brother; "Randall" could plausibly have been "Rochemont,"* not heard distinctly; "Henry" could plausibly have been young Henry Moses Whittier.** Even counting these last two as misses, we still have Shiel nailing Mathew's first name out of four tries.

I'll drop you back off in Kansas, now...

Best regards,

Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.

*One gets the sense that Abby was trying to get "Rochemont" to him, which would have been unquestionably evidential; failing in this, at the last minute, she managed at least to to tie "Methuen" with "Mathew," although Shiel's lack of faith in his own abilities compromised this piece of evidence slightly, as well; and then my lack of assertiveness in pursuing it, left the "hit" somewhat weaker than it could have been. But there seems to be tremendous opposition to providing proof of this calibre; as one also sees with the dropped phone calls at the start of the session. I don't generally try to channel Abby in these entries, but I think her comment regarding Joseph Shiel would be, "Nice guy, but he's deaf as a post!"

**I got a fairly strong past-life "hit," as recorded in my first book, that Mathew and Abby "adopted" this little boy (i.e., to take him places around town), when they were a newly-married couple in Dover, and that they called him "Moses."


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from the film, "The Wizard of Oz"



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