I just lost about half an hour's work, when my machine rebooted without warning at 20-to-5 in the morning. That will force me to succinctly summarize what I'd just written, which may be all for the best.
Yesterday, I visited the site where, in my past life as Mathew Franklin Whittier, I worked for the last 22 years of my life, the Boston Custom House. Today, it has been turned into a Marriott Hotel; in 1912, a huge tower was planted directly on top of it, and extensive renovations were done. However, it is my conclusion that the renovations kept with the original style, and, in fact, that it was as much of a restoration as a renovation. I have a report detailing the building's condition, and setting forth what was changed when, though I am not sure everything in that report is accurate (some, perhaps, being based on rumor and guesswork).
I also visited the site where I died in that lifetime. At that time, in January of 1833, it was the Sturdevant Hotel, formerly (and still at that time, called) the Maverick House Hotel. Now, a community health center, of roughly the same dimensions, sits on the same plot of ground.
My first stop was the Custom House. There, I did the obligatory video selfie (which I also did at the Maverick House, the site of my death), took a few stills, and kept up a running commentary with my audio recorder. As I always have done in my research, I stuck my neck out, suggesting that this or that felt familiar, even though I knew some of these things could be flatly disproven in the historical record. I want the truth of this as much--or perhaps more--than you do.
To summarize my results first, I think they confirm my suspicions that mere length of exposure to these past-life locations does not necessarily trigger cognitive memories when one is exposed to them. It requires intense emotion, as well. I did rather poorly, in stating what I thought was familiar, and hence what would have gone back to the 19th century. Some of this was difficult to prove, but there are two glaring mistakes I can immediately point to.
(And now I'm going to pause to save this file!)
Directly across the street from the Custom House, is what looks like a period building which has engraved on its front, "BOARD OF TRADE BVILDING." Consciously, I'm thinking, "The 'V' in "BUILDING" is a dead giveaway. This thing has got to be old!" So since I had the vague feeling that there had been something interesting across the street, I put two and two together, and opined--on tape--that this structure might have been there in Mathew's day. Except, that it wasn't. It was built in 1902.
As near as I can make out, the original Boston Custom House had a sub-basement, a basement, a street-level floor, and one more floor, above, under the dome. According to historical accounts, Mathew began working in 1861 in the basement, as an accounting clerk. He would, as I gather, log in goods and figure the tax on them. Then, he was promoted to the Naval Dept. This was housed, along with other departments, on the second floor.
Now, however--and I don't know when this change was accomplished, as I sit here, today--there are three floors in the old building, above the basement. An additional floor has been added under the dome. So when you walk up the stairs above the lobby, there is the original second floor where they have a small museum with glass display cases. If you walk up another flight, you are still under the dome, but now there are entranceways to staff rooms and suites (as I recall).
On the third floor, I felt drawn to an entranceway between two columns. I felt that I would walk out from the stairs, around the circular railing in the middle, and go through those two columns. In that small entranceway, I felt that I would then turn left into the door which now leads to employee offices. You can see how it struck me, in real time, in this video. (Patience, this will take awhile to load.) (click for low-res version)
The problem with this seemingly remembered scenario is that, as I later learned from a staff member, the columns on that floor were not original to the 1800's building. In fact, it appears that the entire floor may have been added in 1912.
Still, it is possible that Mathew used to have a routine somewhat like this--and that I was projecting it onto the scene before me, which I assumed to be original.
In other words, he may actually have come off the stairs, walked to his right, gone into a small entranceway, and opened a door on the left, to get to the Naval offices. So, seeing something similar, and with a very, very vague past-life impression of it, I may have simply assumed I was looking at the same thing I was remembering.
Or, admittedly, it could have been entirely imagination.
Other impressions included an exaggerated fear of heights, when I thought about approaching the round railing in the center, under the dome; as well as a feeling about a door off the stairs (I believe, on the floor above the lobby, which was definitely original), that there was something special--special and occasional--about it. Mathew, writing as "Quails" in London, referred humorously to his fear of heights when climbing into the uppermost "golden ball" atop St. Paul's Cathedral:
We again resume our ascent and after taking six hundred and sixteen steps (counting from the floor) reach the Golden Ball, weighing five thousand six hundred pounds, it being six feet in diameter and warranted to hold twelve persons as long as they wish to remain; which is usually about nine seconds, it being over three hundred feet from the street beneath, and on the slightest wind, waves in a manner that is not likely to operate as an opiate on a nervous temperament.
I wasn't consciously thinking of that quote, while in the Custom House, though of course I knew of it. I think I can confidently say I was not manufacturing a fake feeling to match a passage I'd read a couple of year ago and forgotten. I do have a somewhat less pronounced fear of heights, today. Mathew's, as does mine, seemed to have more to do with buildings than when in nature.
I should report, here, my subjective feelings, recorded on audio as I first approached and entered the building. First of all, under hypnosis in 2008, when asked what the building I worked in looked like, I said it was a long, two-story, plain, ugly building:
T: And so, how about you see yourself going into work, and tell me what that was like?
S: (big sigh) I think I'm seeing a picture of this thing, but I think it was a big, very ugly, very plain, long, two-story building. That's what I'm seeing. (laughs) It was ugly.
This was before I had ever seen a picture of the Boston Custom House, or--reasonably-speaking--before I could ever have seen it. (Now we are getting into past-life memories under hypnosis, rather than in normal consciousness, and you can immediately see there is a big difference in accuracy.) The building turned out to be long, have two stories (not counting basement and sub-basement), and it can justifably be called ugly, at least in comparison to the little Portland city hall which I feel Mathew and Abby loved. But the description of it being "plain" seemed entirely mistaken--that is, until I started thinking about it as it would appear close up. This would be the view Mathew would see every day, as he entered and exited the building. Indeed, my observation and subjective experience of seeing it first-hand, confirmed my earlier impression. On-site, and close-up, one sees plain granite with meat-and-potato windows, while a vain attempt has been made to fancy it up with fake, stuck-on, half columns that don't hold anything up. In other words, it is a plain, two-story, long, ugly government building which someone has attempted to "jazz up" with fake columns. That, at least, is what you see when you are right on top of it. The steps in front are a nice touch, admittedly (and, if I remember correctly, were added after the initial construction, and were there in Mathew's time). But all of this also struck me as being much smaller than it appears in the imposing photographs. It seemed almost quaint and homey to me, in person. The outside steps were smaller (so much so, that at first, I passed by them thinking they were on the side of the building); the lobby is smaller, the stairs were smaller (actually, the 1912 renovation did reduce their size, as I understand), and everything seemed more approachable, somehow--like an old friend, comfortable, normal.
I did not have the impression I had recorded, earlier, from past-life memory, that it had "seedy elegance." That's because the Marriott people have transformed it into actual elegance. But no-doubt it did seem that way, to Mathew, in the day, when there was (as you can see in photographs) dirt a foot or so up the granite walls, where they meet the faux marble floors, because they didn't bother to clean the sides when they waxed those floors. But it seemed smaller and less imposing than I had thought it would be.
One memory stands a better chance of having been genuine, and this one had emotion behind it. Underneath the stairs, one can see a curved panel of beautiful wood--clearly quite old--running up against the huge granite blocks. We know that the granite is original in this building--I don't know how far back the wood panel dates. It runs along the base of a stairwell, and is visible as you walk down. Again, I am told that these stairs date back only to the 1912 renovation. Obviously, there were stairs before then, which means they were, perhaps, reduced in size (which is also what I felt, intuitively, about them when I first saw them, that they seemed small). But a beautiful piece of wood like this would have been reused, if at all possible.
None of these analytical thoughts were going through my mind when I first noticed it. Instead, I had the impression: "That panel used to remind me of Abby's piano; while the cold granite blocks it runs into, made me think of her tombstone." If you are new here, Abby was Mathew's beloved first wife, who died in March of 1841, and who was a talented musician.
If the historical plausibility of this memory could be established, one would then have to find a mention of this reverie in Mathew's diary, in order to verify it. So here, once again, we have the primary dilemma in past-life research: it is the subjective memories, with strong attendant emotion, which are most likely to surface in conscious awareness. But it is precisely these highly personal memories which are the most difficult to prove.
On re-read some days after first writing this entry, I happened to find the following paragraph in the renovation report about the Custom House. This would suggest that the wood panel was installed in 1950--but it doesn't look like it's that recent, to my untutored eye, or of that era. And yet, how could the compilers of the report have overlooked it? For the matter of that, one would think they would have mentioned it, even if it was from 1950, if only by way of contrast, because as a piece of wooden architecture, it is so large, and so magnificent. Still, as they say, in terms of this memory being genuine, "it's not looking so good for the kid." It is, however, possible that they did not consider under the stairwell a "major space," or "of any significance," placing value, instead, on prominent areas like the doors.
On the other hand, I have a photograph which I purchased on Ebay, a rare shot of the Collections Department at the Custom House, from the 19th century but after Mathew retired in 1882. The seller listed it as 1893, so at any rate this was well before the 1912 renovation. It trues with my intuitive memory of the place, which is that it was full of wood. It was nothing but wood! Well, that may be an exaggeration, but there was plenty of wood. I mean, give me a break, this was the 1800's. Note that aside from the wooden furniture (which they obviously aren't worried about losing in a fire), there is a large built-in wooden frame, comprising what I take to be the customer window. In fact, it looks suspiciously like the piece I admired under the stairwell, in style. Because of discrepancies like this, which don't fit with my own memory-perceptions, I take the renovation report with a grain of salt. I suspect that in many instances, they are voicing opinion and speculation as though it was historical fact. Perhaps they were being paid to come up with an authoritative-sounding document, and they really wanted to get paid.
Here's a closeup--if it's not built into the structure, but rather is a free-standing piece of furniture, it certainly is massive! But to the right, you can clearly see the circular hole cut into the glass, as well as the hand pass-through hole, below, so I am calling it that this is indeed the customer window, and hence is part of the wall in 1893. That means that, allowing for interpretation, still, I would say that the report writer pulled that conclusion out of his butt. This is a good example of why you have to be very careful when dismissing past-life memory claims, based on blithely-accepted historical records.
On audio, I recorded that I definitely felt past-life emotions when I got close to the Custom House, and in the old part of Boston, generally. I didn't have time to explore--I needed to get back to my elderly cat, who I've been nursing back to health after the move, and I had one more place to visit, which was going to be a bit tricky to get to, relying entirely on my GPS. (So it proved to be, but that's another story.)
Once I reached Maverick Square in East Boston--a narrow run of land which now boasts of a number of trendy, modern shops, plus this four-story health center--I reported feeling a heaviness in the pit of my stomach. I had forgotten that, under hypnosis, I remembered having very sharp stomach pains, as I was dying, when I was Mathew at the Maverick House. This, of course, is not evidential per se, but it is at least consistent (thank God!).
Inside the building, however, this feeling vanished. In its place, the closest I could describe it, was a vague feeling of alarm, that I had tried everything, and nothing was working. This, too, could have been projected based on my knowledge of the history. I simply report it, here.
I brazenly took the elevator up to the third floor, but chickened out, there, when I saw it was the maternity ward. So I proceeded to the fourth floor, and explained to the receptionist that I was doing historical research. Fortunately, they actually had a small museum display to the left of the front desk, and I asked if I could photograph it.
There, and against another wall, were photographs and actual pieces of the original building. I was able to film myself, in real time, touching these relics; but no past-life memories were triggered. I simply felt the sandy texture of the clay brick material, and so on. You will note that this was not going the way you see on Youtube, with the psychics and mediums. I am not psychic, and I do not claim to have the ability to do psychometry, at least, not with any accuracy.
This is the photograph they had in the display case, and I've done just a cursory job of removing angle distortion and glass reflections in Photoshop Elements. But you can see where the cornice would have gone, underneath the roof around the edge.
Walking down to the end of the corridor, however, I saw another old building with a large dome out the window. This seemed familiar, and I felt I could almost remember looking out at it through my hotel window, when I was sick. You know, for something to do--a scene you would let your eyes play over, out of boredom. But I don't know what this building is called, nor how long it has actually been there. So once again, I am sticking my neck out. It may be that like the Board of Trade Building, it was built in 1902.
I don't know much about period architecture, but I do know that this looks rather like the Custom House--and I know that the triangular portico is probably a Greek Revival feature. Note what appears to be the same kind of half-columns that the Custom House has. This means that this time, I am probably right, that it could be seen out the window from the original Maverick House Hotel, in 1883. This might tell us that Mathew's room was on one of the upper floors, on the right side of the building as one faced it. This bit of information might possibly be in the historical record somewhere, again, most likely in a diary.
I will say that, subjectively, my tentative identification of the Board of Trade Building as something Mathew might have seen, went something like, "Oh, that's cool, with the statues, it looks really old, that was probably here in Mathew's day and he would have found it interesting. I seem to feel that there was something interesting to look at across the street." Whereas my subjective feeling when first seeing this domed structure out the window, was more full-bodied, with a deeper context. "Oh, I used to stare at that out the window when I was sick and had nothing to do."
In fact, I have had an earlier memory of Mathew at Abby's memorial service. He was fighting the urge to flee a reception with all his strength. The other people at the reception, for the most part, didn't know Abby, and were carrying on in a casual, social manner; while Mathew was screaming inside with raw grief. In order not to embarrass his host, who had gone to the trouble of setting up a separate reception for him to attend from Portland, he stared and stared at a little bronze figurine of a dancer, on a table in front of the sofa where he was sitting, which was housed under a bell jar. It was a very, very specific flashback memory, occurring in normal waking consciousness, presumably because of the intense emotions accompanying it. This one remains unverified. But from this, if we take it to be genuine, we know that Mathew had the habit of mastering his emotions by staring at something. So this memory of being sick--perhaps being in pain, and being afraid of dying--trues with the earlier memory, inasmuch as it would be his habit to do something like this.
Now, all of this may seem quite bland compared to Dr. Stevenson's children, who could easily remember details of their most-recent past life. But this is applicable to everybody. This is what you, also, experience when you meet people from your past lives, but don't realize that's what's happening. It's what you would experience, if you traveled through a little town in Illinois, and suddenly had a vivid, waking dream--as it seemed to you--of having lived there. You round the bend, and there is precisely the building you thought was going to be there. But, you dismiss it. It couldn't be. It's just a "bit of undigested beef," as Scrooge would say.
I wrote that, by the way. It was the second time I'd used that bit in my humorous writing. I found Mathew's first instance, in a cynical article about dream interpretation, which he had written many years before Charles Dickens published--and claimed the sole authorship for--"A Christmas Carol."
So that entitles me to use it, again. I had recently been watching videos of comedian Emo Phillips on YouTube. He's brilliant, and his comedic timing is impeccable. He's sort of like a magician--his weird mannerisms are like slight-of-hand, which disarm you so that the punchline catches you unawares. But he seems to have a limited repertoire, because I see him do the same gags over and over in these videos. Most comedians re-use their best material, of course. Well, Mathew, as a humorist, occasionally dusted off one of his old gags, also. He might typically re-use something a few years later. This is one way I was able to penetrate his plethora of pseudonyms. So when you see Scrooge protest that Marley's ghost might just be a bit of "undigested beef," this is actually Mathew rehashing one of his bits. Except that before, it was "undigested cheese," and here he has changed it to "beef." And this had a deeper, personal context, as Mathew suffered from dyspepsia. I have numerous examples of him writing on this subject, i.e., in this early period. This was December of 1830, well before Charles Dickens began publishing. The exact quote (since I've looked it up for the date) is:
"Happened to dream!" exclaimed the good woman, taking a large pinch of snuff. "Do you think that dreams come by chance? Impossible! they are ordained by heaven to forewarn us of what is to come."
"Just as much, ma'am, as you're ordained to eat a hearty supper of plum-cake and cheese just before going to bed."
"Plum-cake and cheese! O Lord, what a skiptick you are. Do you think all my dreams are owing to plum-cake and cheese?"
"Perhaps not, to those particular articles. Any thing which oppresses the stomach, is apt to disorder the brain, and produce unquiet sleep; and this kind of sleep it is that causes dreams. Affections originating in the mind produce a similar result. If you retire to rest with your mind ill at ease, from whatever cause, whether from anger, jealousy or remorse, you will probably experience unpleasant dreams. The body and the mind mutually affect each other. If both were in perfect health--the body exempt from all disease and the mind free from care, you would never dream."
This piece is unsigned, and comes from a period when, as I have determined, Mathew was acting as the junior editor for the New York "Constellation." Once again, there is an extensive back-story for it--Mathew was being tutored by his future wife, Abby, who was only 14 at this time. (He was a self-educated farm boy eager for an education, and she, coming from an upper-class home, had been privately tutored.) She is teaching him (when he is in town, directly, and when in New York, by correspondence) the classics, with a focus on Greek philosophy, as well as French language, and European history; but she is also attempting to teach him mystical and occult subjects, of which, at this time, he is profoundly skeptical. It also appears from many clues, especially in her own short stories, that she was psychic, and thus she probably did have prescient dreams (and almost certainly believed in them). There is a humorous poem written about half a year later, in which he thanks her for her birthday present--a nightcap embroidered with mystical symbols--which confirms her interest in the occult (the topic having first come in a psychic reading in 2010). This one Mathew has signed "P.P," a pseudonym (with variations) which I can strongly tie to him. The poem begins:
Addressed to a Lady, on being presented by her with a night-cap fantastically decorated.
I took a short nap,
Dear girl, in thy cap,
And dreamt of each hieroglyphic,
As black as the ace
Of spades was its face,
An omen to me quite terrific.
I feared that a frown
On that brow of thine own,
Might gather in anger or gloom,
And cloud the warm sky
That smiles in thine eye,
And destroy all my hopes in the bloom.
But thy pretty hand wove
An emblem of love,
A work of such exquisite art,
That sure even Cupid
Must be very stupid
To take it for aught but thy heart.
At this time, it appears from her poetry that she was deeply in love with him, while he was holding her off a bit, due to her age, waiting for her to reach 16. They became a couple when she was 15, but remained chaste--with parental permission to be alone together--until she was 16. They were, however, denied permission to marry (Mathew not being of the proper class, and her father being a marquis) until finally they eloped when she was 20, as I read the various clues. Meanwhile, Mathew, as said, makes frequent reference to having "dyspepsia." So the dialogue quoted in the excerpt, above, expresses both personal elements. As far as I know, there is no proferred personal back-story to Dickens' authorship of the Scrooge/Marley dialogue, except that he conceived of the entire thing as a "ghost story." Incidentally, where you see Marley preach, including any reference to accurate and genuine metaphysics, this was written by Abby.
You can see from this snippet, added on re-read, that I did my homework for my book, "Mathew Franklin Whittier in his own words." You should read it. But, I digress...As I was saying, all this tentative stuff I'm running into now, in New England, may not seem nearly as interesting as Stevenson's pyrotechnics. But this second phase of the research has its own significance, and will have its own applicability, including in past-life therapy. The time is simply not ripe for it, yet. As was Mathew, I am still too far ahead of my time for public recognition. Seemingly, being a sort of "Will Hunting" figure, I am even too far ahead of my time for my ostensible colleagues.
However, I will keep on sharing my results, for posterity if for nobody else. I will also keep on sharing "firsts," even though nobody acknowledges them. Here is my selfie video in front of the site of the former Maverick House where, on Jan. 7, 1883, I died as Mathew Franklin Whittier. This is undoubtedly the first selfie ever taken in front of the site of a past-life death. "Death, you bastard, give it up, I win." (click for low-res version)
Once again, this video will take awhile to load--my free video editing program crashes if you try to specify "For the Web," so I can only reduce the quality on "All Formats."
One more odd bit of evidence. I generally don't sleep very well. The only time I sleep deeply, is when I "crash" out of sheer exhaustion, and take a nap, usually sitting up. I have long felt a sort of comfort or safety when I sleep this way, which I attribute to fear of choking during my last illness, as Mathew. I was finally able to find, in a footnote, that he did have problems with his lungs during this period. But last night, I slept soundly for the first time in many years, i.e., in bed when I was supposed to be sleeping. This is even more remarkable, given that caffeine lingers for hours in my body, and I was hopped up on it to be sure I was safe to make the long drive. I have no theory to explain this, except perhaps simple desensitization or closure. On some deep level, perhaps my subconscious mind "got" that I survived death, and that I no-longer need to worry about that last illness, because I have literally grown a new body. But that's just speculation. I can only report it, along with everything else I'm experiencing.
I want to close with the point I was making before my computer rebooted, this morning. This phase of my research, and the results I report, are not for the purpose of convincing anyone that the case is genuine. My book, "Mathew Franklin Whittier in his own words," is for that. This phase assumes that the case has been verified, and asks the question, "Given this has been shown to be a real past-life match, what happens when I put myself in direct contact with the places associated with that past life? What are the preconditions which favor the triggering of a past-life experience (emotional, cognitive, or both) in waking consciousness, once a match has been identified, given the profundity of the past-life amnesia barrier?" This means that if you are using these presentations to decide whether you believe it all, or not, you are reading the wrong material. Drop $12 on my e-book, and if you have an open mind, I think you won't be disappointed. You will then appreciate what I'm doing now in far more depth, as well.
Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.
P.S. Further online research indicates, as best I can ferret it out, that the building I thought Mathew might have studied out the window, in 1883, is a bank complex which only dates back to 1913. That particular street, Meredian, did go back to Mathew's era--but many of the original structures have been destroyed, and in any case, it was that particular building which I thought seemed familiar. I conclude, once again, that in order to have a genuine past-life memory in normal waking consciousness, you need: 1) a stimulus which is almost precisely as it was in the past life; 2) a very strong emotional component, and 3) lots of luck. In the absence of these things, it is almost inevitable that you will resort to imagination, even if you think you aren't doing so, to produce the desired result. I find this quite depressing, since the only past-life memory I feel pretty sure was genuine, is something I can't historically verify (i.e., at the Portland Head Light). But if I really want to make of myself a Guinea pig for reincarnation research, I have to honestly report, and gracefully accept, the results.
Music opening this page, "Weightless," by Billy Goodrum,
from the album, "Weightless"