It's about time for another Update, though I don't have much new to report in the past-life memory research line. Mostly, it's been a matter of adjusting to extreme and rapid changes in my life. In short, while trying to connect inwardly with the New England of my past, I also have to adapt to the New England of the 21st century. This is not like the PBS show, "Weekends With Yankee," which is all about what to do here as a visiting tourist with money to spare. This is about how to park on the street when there's snow, how to find a place to live in a safe neighborhood, how to drive in the snow, when and where they use snowplows, what to wear in the cold, how to get a job, etc.
I drove, without the GPS (which one can get overly dependent on), to Munjoy Observatory, on Munjoy Hill, yesterday. Munjoy Hill, on one end of Portland, has a distinctive shape--I think it reminded me, when I was Mathew in the 19th century, of a whale. Walking along Back Cove (or, what's left of it since about a third has been filled in since then), I definitely remember it...but so far as I know only one landmark, from a distance, remains, and that's the observatory, built in 1807. Past-life memory, for me, at least (since I am a subject of one), is very precise, and it is not fooled by imagination. This sounds like a patently false statement, but let me explain. It has to do with the nature of the interaction between the subconscious mind, and the conscious mind. Abby has explained to me that what is now our subconscious mind, becomes one's conscious mind in the life after death. It is vague, to us, because of the difficulty in accessing it--not because it, in itself, is vague.
With me so far? I'm struggling to learn this stuff, myself, so I'm probably not the best teacher (since a teacher should ideally master a subject, before attempting to teach it). That means, that the subconscious mind has precise recall of past-life events; only, the conscious mind's communication with it is so vague, that imagination can easily come into play, especially if you don't train yourself not to indulge in it. That, in turn, means that since hypnosis accesses the subconscious mind by putting the conscious mind temporarily in abeyance, that hypnotic subject who is trained not to indulge in imagination, won't "go there" during a session. Therefore, hypnosis is as good as the subject is trained. I tried my best to explain this to Dr. Jim Tucker, when we were speaking (by e-mail), without success. He's too prejudiced, seemingly, against hypnosis-based past-life research, and is of the blanket opinion that it is unreliable.
However, what I'm doing is a little different. I now have an established past-life match, but unlike the Stevensonian subjects, I don't have abnormally good past-life recall. Instead, I have the normal past-life amnesia. So what happens when I expose myself to places and objects associated with my (actual) past life? This is the research question I've been exploring, lately.
Emotions seem to largely bypass the amnesia barrier. Therefore, feelings come through first. These can range from curiosity and amusement, to powerful grief. The more powerful the emotion, the more likely that cognitive past-life memories will bleed through, as brief static glimpses, along with it. So far, since moving to Portland, this has happened twice, both times in Nature--once viewing a scene where the ocean comes into Casco Bay, at Portland Head Light; and once gazing out from the rocky coast, at Two Light Park. Both of these scenes are substantially as they were in the 1800's. Places where I might have expected to feel strong emotions, but where the scene was entirely changed, didn't seem to trigger much reaction, including the place where I, as Mathew Franklin Whittier, died. All this is recorded in my recent series of Updates, accessible by the Archives link at the bottom of the page.
I have been very honest in reporting which of my reactions did, or didn't, match up with the historical record. But I've noticed something interesting in my stats. These videos I've been uploading were too large, i.e., the files were too large. I've since learned how to cut them down, and have reposted low-res versions for those who don't want to wait so long. No-one has watched them so far, that I can see on my stats. But there is one interesting statistic...when I initially report a negative result, which seems to disprove past-life memory, people watch that video. But then, when I subsequently discover that I was right after all, people don't watch that one. Is it laziness, such that they don't feel the need to bother loading two videos? Just a casual interest, in other words? Or is it that they want to confirm what they already believe? If I am getting negative results, they want to watch that one, because they believe this is all hokum. But if I get positive results, they don't want to expose themselves to that!
I suppose I would be the same way, if I didn't discipline myself otherwise. That goes back to laziness--one must discipline oneself to be rigorous, so that, as Dr. Stevenson said, when the ball is out, you call it out--but if the ball is in, you call it in. These visitors to my website are only too happy to watch a video (including waiting 2-3 minutes for it to load), so long as I am honestly calling the ball "out." But they can't be bothered to wait for a second video to load, when I am honestly calling it "in."
What it means, is that I am more honest, and more rigorous, than my skeptics. Which is precisely backwards from what they would (blithely) claim.
In the case of Munjoy Hill, suddenly I found myself in a historic district where things didn't seem to be particularly well-preserved--they just hadn't been changed. In particular, I have a mental picture of an old period shack that's leaning perilously backwards at about a 45 degree angle. All the houses look old, though I don't have the expertise in period housing styles to say how old. As said, the Observatory goes back to 1807, the year Mathew's brother, poet John Greenleaf Whittier, was born. There's a little Methodist church directly next to it, which may go back pretty far, too, though it didn't spark any sense of recognition. For the heck of it, let me see, now, in real time as I write this, just how old that church is. It's called the "Free Methodist Church," and should be pretty easy to look up... But before I look it up, here's my impression--that there wasn't anything jammed up so close to the Observatory in my day. Okay, here goes...
Well, darn. I discovered that this is a national denomination; and there is only one brief article about this particular church, which doesn't go into its history. You may be able to do better--there's a contact phone number, but no website, if one wanted to pursue the matter. Again, my impression is that however far back the building goes, there wasn't anything jammed up right next to the Observatory when I was Mathew in the 19th century. In general, I don't think they put public buildings so close to each other, at a time when they had more room. Houses and shops in the core of the city, maybe, but not public buildings in a small town or suburb. That was my impression--"I don't recognize this, and it's way too close to the tower."
I videotaped the tower and made my comments in real time, as I have with the previous videos. But since hardly anyone's watching them, I won't go to the trouble of preparing it, and instead, will simply summarize my reactions. I felt I recognized the tower, itself, though there was no strong emotion connected with it. Presumably, Abby and I scaled it and kissed on the balcony, as I think we were wont to do as a private ritual on all sorts of towers. I have seen numerous photographs of this tower, so recognizing it isn't evidence of past-life memory. I did get one vague "hit," I think--I remembered the placement of the windows, which alternate as they go up its surface. Somehow, that struck me as being odd, when I was Mathew, as to why they would jog them off like that, going all the way up. I had a similar reaction, as a young man in this lifetime, seeing a building on US-1 in Miami where I grew up, which had a door leading to nowhere on each of its four stories. (Turns out, that was used by the fire department for practice.) I have had this sort of quizzical, slightly sarcastic feeling in my past-life memories, before--apparently Mathew would make jokes about such things. So it is entirely consistent that he would remark on these windows.
And that's all I got from Munjoy Observatory, except that I felt the color was wrong, or, I didn't recognize the painted exterior. More might seep through, if I spent more time around it, or there may be something inside, when they open it in May, that triggers an impression. Admittedly, this isn't very impressive. But I think there was nothing especially emotional about Munjoy Observatory. If I understand its history, it was a sort of entreprenurial venture; and Mathew would have looked at it askance. To give a current-life parallel, when I was a student at FSU, some alumnus donated a huge sum of money--something like $28,000, as I recall--stipulating that it be used for a giant lighted spear (in keeping with the "Seminoles" theme), which would light up fantastically at each FSU touchdown. Many people thought of it as a folly--and I do know that Mathew wrote about the Bunker Hill Monument in a similar vein. So it is entirely plausible that he might feel somewhat this way about the Munjoy Observatory project, and thus would question the odd placement of its windows. I have already reported something similar, as regards how he might perceive the fake half-pillars stuck onto the front of the Boston Custom House building, where he worked in his latter years.
You might not agree with me, but one thing I can say with some certainty, is that this impression of the configuration of the windows on the tower, did not come from my knowledge of Mathew's proclivities and sensibilities. It came directly from my subconscious mind, unbidden and unprocessed. I know that from long experience of observing the operation of my mind. I didn't manufacture it as something Mathew might have thought, based on my knowledge of his writing. It is, instead, independently consistent with his writing, even though I had been exposed to his writing, first. I say that not to be self-serving, but to be rigorously honest.
A few hours after posting this entry, I thought to look online for historical images of the Observatory, which would tell me what used to flank it on either side, if anything. Those photographs from the early 20th century show nothing on the right (facing, where the church is, today); but an even larger stone church (as I gather) sat to its left. However, the drawing above is by an artist who is sketching, from memory, what it looked like in the 1840's. Mathew and Abby lived in Portland from about fall of 1839, to spring of 1841, when she died of consumption. So this is what it would have looked like when they visited. Note that the windows were in the same configuration. One can't tell what was on its left, in this drawing--but presumably, since it was out in the middle of a large field, probably nothing was on that side, either. Now, the question becomes whether or not I had ever seen these historical images. Possibly, I had; and then, the question becomes whether my impression of it being "too crowded" was a lucky guess, "cryptomnisia" (false memory, from having seen this or other historical images before, and forgotten I'd seen them), or past-life memory. I can be fooled; but my guess is, in almost all cases where I feel I am getting a past-life impression, I really am getting one; but then my conscious mind can play tricks on me, as I interpret it. Certainly, it wasn't "crowded" in Mathew and Abby's day; and this would be the natural reaction if it was in a large, open field at that time. Notice I didn't say only that "the building is too close," or "I don't think that church was there." First and foremost, I had the feeling of it being cramped. (The drawing is from the collection of the Maine Historical Society.)
This also explains to me why, when I walk along Back Cove and see Munjoy Hill in the distance, the entire thing seems disgustedly encrusted with buildings, and the only thing I feel I recognize is the distinctive shape of the hill, and the tower. Indeed. Since Mathew lived in Portland until 1861, no doubt more was built upon it during that 20 years--but it wouldn't have been to his liking, even then.
Admittedly, trying to prove reincarnation with little impressions like this is difficult. To be convincing, one would have to have a lot of examples. Fortunately, I have more strongly-proven memories, and the case itself is proven beyond any reasonable doubt, in my opinion. This second phase is a matter of gathering data, to address the research question I've put forth, above.
Until some of these historical sites open in the spring, there isn't a lot else I can do. Then, I will be able to see the interior of the Observatory, as well as Mathew Franklin Whittier's birth home in Haverhill, Mass., and his brother's house in nearby Amesbury. In the meantime, I may be able to do some library research. For example, I have tentatively (not very tentatively) identified Mathew as the author of a series of lyceum talk reviews in Portland, given under the auspices of the Mercantile Library Association, and published in the Portland "Transcript." Mathew apparently kept up these reports even after he moved from Portland to Boston in 1861; but they dropped off in the 1870's, such that I think I only found two or three in year 1875. But I wasn't able to examine the volumes after 1875, until his death in January of 1883--and more crucially, I was never able to look through 1883/84, to see whether reports in the same style (the writing is distinctive) occur after Mathew's death. If so, this would throw the entire series into question, though of course it is quite possible for a good writer to adopt a previous style, if it has been popular. I say that--but I've rarely, if ever, seen a writer successfully adopt Mathew's style. Several tried, with varying degrees of success. Perhaps Charles Farrar Browne, who is sometimes called the first stand-up comedian, was the most successful (and I can prove that he got his start, as a young printer's apprentice, by reworking one of Mathew's pieces). Several of Mathew's imitators achieved some degree of fame, while he, himself, appears to have committed deliberate "legacy suicide."
I don't think I'm saying anything new, today, that regular readers haven't seen me write before. I could have written an entirely different entry on what's going on with my personal life. It's been one heck of an adjustment, and if I didn't think of it as a grand adventure, I'd get pretty nervous about it, at times. I've gone from being practically a hermit in a small Southern city, to living in a semi-communal house/complex in a large Northern one; I've gone from having a three-bedroom apartment, to living in a room; I'm learning how to negotiate snow, and drive in the snow; I'm struggling to keep my aging cat healthy. I'm starting a new job, trying to build my hours, and learning the difficult art of relating to people with severe dementia (my Mom also had it, but I knew her--this is trying to establish a new relationship with people you don't know, and whose children want you hovering around their mother or father, but who, themselves, don't necessarily want you there).
And that brings up a point I may close with, here (if anybody has read down this far). In every new situation, especially those available to you as a newcomer, there is something amiss; something that's not quite being told to you; some reason why it's available. In eldercare, the assumption is made that it is the elderly person who wants you there. Not necessarily so--it may be his or her children who want you there--to protect their parent, but also so they can continue to work and go about their lives, while you take on the responsibility. I took the other route--I gave up whatever chance at a career I might have had in my late 50's, and took care of Mom full-time. So, again, in this case, it is not always true that the elderly person wants you there. They may be tolerating you, making the best of an awkward situation, knowing it is either that, or "The Home." But if you are assigned to shadow someone who is already in a home, then there isn't that incentive to put up with you. That's reality. With luck and compability, you may be able to establish a relationship with the person, even so, but you may have the deck stacked against you at the outset.
Similarly, when looking for an apartment, there is some reason why it's available (i.e., at the price you can afford--one can throw money at any problem, and solve it). The designated parking spot may actually be something you'll have to fight over with the other tenants; it may be in a rough neighborhood; the roof may leak; the next-door neighbor may be loud or obnoxious.
So when you are the new kid on the block, and you don't have money to solve these things, there is no free lunch. Something is wrong with the picture. It's just a matter of figuring out what it is, and whether you can live with it.
This is worldly wisdom, which I have had to intentionally accumulate in this lifetime, not having been born with it. Mathew didn't have much of it, either. It is mentioned by his biographer that he was known to be naive, and to be frequently fooled. This, despite his best efforts to be savvy in these situations.
Abby is helping me with this. I do get the distinct feeling that she's backing off, to let me figure things out for myself, in many instances. It's very much like my GPS (whom I call "Gertrude"), which is very helpful (if inefficient in the routes it chooses, at times), but the goal, in a new city, is to become independent of her as quickly as possible. Abby doesn't want me to rely exclusively on her in these matters of street smarts. But she is still acting as my back-up.
We just passed our eighth anniversary, on the 10th. If you think I'm delusional where she is concerned, at least you must admit that I have perseverance in my delusions! We don't know just how long Elmer P. Dowd sustained his belief in "Harvey," but I think I have passed his record, at this point. The problem is, Society has been denied those portions of the historical record which might make this seem more plausible. Do you know that Benjamin Franklin believed in reincarnation? Do you know that President Lincoln was convinced to free the slaves, by directions given to him by spirits in a seance? Do you know that Gifford Pinchot, the 28th govenor of Pennsylvania and a leader in the Conservation movement, maintained a cross-dimensional relationship, as I am doing with Abby, with his fiance for about 15 years after she died? This is just the tip of the iceberg. No wonder people assume I'm deluded about my relationship with Abby. Did you know that a brilliant scientist at the University of Arizona, Dr. Gary Scwartz, who has verified that mediumship is a real phenomenon, has also experimented with collaborating with people in the astral world? Did you know that Thomas Edison was trying to build a machine to communicate with people who have crossed over?
If you didn't know any of these things, blame Society; but given that it is your responsibility to ferret out the truth of things, regardless of what you were spoon-fed in school, you also have yourself to blame for it. Educate yourself properly, then come back and see whether or not I look delusional.
Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.
Music opening this page: "Song for Lynette,"
by Eric Johnson, from the albun, "Venus Isle"