Today, I explored six different locations associated with my past life in the 19th century as author Mathew Franklin Whittier; and also associated with my past-life memories of same: the gravesite of my past-life first wife, Abby Poyen, and our children, Joseph and Sarah (11 mos. and 8 mos., respectively); the two halves of Abby's family home, in Rocks Village, Mass., plus where her home was before it was moved; Mathew's birthplace, which is preserved as the birthplace of famous New England poet, John Greenleaf Whittier, in Haverhill, Mass.; and Dover, New Hampshire, the town that Mathew and Abby eloped to in August of 1836.
All of these places are relatively near to one another, so by leaving early, I was able to make an easy 3/4-day of it.
As I have been doing during each of these excursions, I took stills and video, and made a running commentary of my subjective reactions during the videos, and also by audio recorder. This could obviously be a very long entry if I go into full depth on everything, so I will try to hit the highlights. I will say this much at the outset--I'm having better luck than I had been, at stirring up past-life feelings; and on one or two occasions, I got more than that.
My past-life feelings for Abby were fully awakened very early in this study--back in 2010. I subsequently began trying to communicate with her, feeling that she also wanted to communicate with me, and believing that she had not yet reincarnated since her death in 1841. Being reconnected through a medium, we resumed our marriage, across the Great Divide. Next March 10th will be our eighth anniversary. If you think you have an unconventional relationship, by gender, race or age, we have you beat. In a sense, however, it is like any other long-distance relationship. Nonetheless, seeing her grave for the first time was obviously going to be intensely poignant, whether it sparked any past-life impressions, or not.
But there is a wrinkle in all this. Before I ever found out where the grave was located, my researcher at the time (who lived in the area) asked me if I had any past-life memories of Abby's memorial service. I was writing her back an e-mail to say that I didn't, when it started to play out in my mind. I simply wrote it out as it came to me. But the significant part of it, for us, today, is that I remembered arriving with a group of men in a few carriages, and parking along a curve in a road out behind the cemetery (i.e., burial ground, as it was not yet officially a cemetery). I then remembered walking down a slight incline, over bumpy ground with patchy grass, for about 200 feet until I came to an area of trees and shrubbery, where Abby's gravestone was. We stood in a semi-circle, the men in coats and top-hats, the service was performed, and suddenly a wind blew, and a small fruit tree standing nearby showered star-shaped blossoms directly on the grave. I thought it must be a sign; but being skeptical, I then fought with myself about it, back and forth, back and forth, relentlessly. I similarly fought with myself, as I remembered, about her epitaph: "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord." Because, if they are dead, what possible good does it do them to be "blessed"?*
Then my researcher found Abby's grave in a neat row at the very front of Greenwood Cemetery, facing Broadway, the main thoroughfare. It seemed that my memory was disproven. But, wait--on Google Maps, there appears a road which can be faintly seen, circling from a farm on the left, around behind the back-most portion of the cemetery. Could this have been the road I remembered the carriages being parked along?
That much is in my book. But today, I got to the back of the cemetery, and beyond. There is a ridge about, what, 10 feet high, or six feet high--and beyond that is a steep drop of about 50 feet, down to what is left of that road I saw on Google Maps. It's impossible. That couldn't possibly be the road I remembered, as I admit in this short, real-time video clip. (click for low-res version) And here I want to say, that everything I saw first-hand, was a lot smaller, and a lot closer-together, than it seemed on maps and in photographs. I have no idea what causes that misperception, or change in perception, but it was true for me all day long.
I gloomily accepted that I would have to report yet another mistaken speculation in my book. But suddenly it occurred to me (and this video documents my "aha moment" in real time) that I might actually have been standing on that road. (click for low-res version) There is a path, about the width of a small road, which leads along that ridge. It is studded with fairly large trees, today, but it needn't have been in 1841, when Abby died. What if that was the road I remembered? I quickly recalculated, given the angle I saw myself walking down, and the distance.
It works. If Abby's grave was about 1/3 the way across from the left-hand side, in the back, it would be about a 150-200 foot walk down a gentle incline to get there.
Now, I had already discovered that this burial ground had been made into an official cemetery, with a name and an iron fence, around 1850 (as I recall). And for a nearby cemetery, created from a burial ground about the same time, the old bodies, which were scattered throughout (at any spot the family had chosen which they might like to revisit while grieving), had been dug up and placed, for efficiency's sake, in tight rows at the front. It is thus entirely plausible, if not inevitable, that the same thing was done for Greenwood Cemetery. Families did not bury their loved ones, in the Victorian Age, in neat, tight rows. Nor did they put them right up in front of the main drag like that. They chose a peaceful, secluded spot.
So my memory was actually far more plausible, for the 1841 burial ground, than the present location. Also, Abby's stone probably doesn't date back to 1841. Her brother's stone (he died three years earlier) looks even more recent. So this was not the original stone for Abby and her daughter Sarah (a double stone); nor was it, probably, the original location.
That said, I felt only what I might expect by my knowledge of Abby's history, and what she means to me now, seeing her present-day stone. But it was a different story, once I found the general area where her grave originally lay; and where that service must have been performed. Keep in mind that Mathew typically squelched his emotions; and I have that lingering habit, today. But even so, they started to rise, causing me to get choked up briefly during my video narration (where I say, "This, with its tangle of trees," and so-on). (click for low-res version) When you see this, keep in mind I am not a theatrical person, and I did not fake it. It came upon me as happens to all people relating a story, who suddenly get choked up. I'll create links to some of that media, here, and provide some photos. (Probably I will end up posting this tomorrow, but I want to key in the text while it is still fresh in my mind.)
The rest is personal, and we will leave it to my second book. Next, I visited each of the halves of Abby's family home. This is a long story, and this entry is already getting too long. Suffice it to say that when Abby's father died in 1850, her mother went to live with one of her children in a neighboring town. The house was sold to one of her relatives, who split it in half (the smaller, 1700's half, which had originally been a tavern, and the early 1800's half), and these were moved in opposite directions about half a mile and about a mile, respectively (by long teams of oxen). I visited the 1800's half first. My researcher had already located it, photographed it, and spoken with the owner briefly. Seeing it in person, it felt deeply and significantly familiar. No cognitive flashbacks were triggered, but the sense of recognition was profound. I knocked on the door of both houses, but while I had just seen the first owner enter his driveway, no-one came to the door (you had to knock on a porch door, and I didn't dare go inside the porch to knock on the back door--the front door, apparently, wasn't used). The second house's owners didn't appear to be at home, as they also weren't when my researcher had visited it.
But this older, smaller half triggered both emotional and cognitive memories. As I was describing it in audio, I began to free-associate. This is one of the methods that past-life therapy pioneer Roger Woolger used to use to awaken past-life memories, in lieu of hypnosis. As I did so, I began to remember a particular scene. I already had felt that this smaller half of the house was the girls' sleeping quarters. I felt that if I had to hazard a guess, Abby's bedroom was on the upper-left. I also felt that the six sisters in the Poyen family were like a separate family unto themselves, headed by their mother, Sally Poyen, who history tells us was "brilliant." I keep wanting to call them the "Poyen sisterhood." So as I free associated, I began to remember that it was the Christmas season. The girls, who were in high good spirits, snuck me in for some ginger snaps and spiced apple cider. They accepted me as one of their own, a sort of honorary member of the Sisterhood, because I was Abby's beau. That's what I remembered. I got a little more, but you can never trust what you obtain that way. More reliable is the initial flash, which has not been through the filter of intellect--this is the raw material. (And yes, I do see that the owner has left his or her Christmas wreath on the door, which admittedly could have suggested this train of thought--though that doesn't necessarily invalidate it.)
This memory cannot be verified unless it appears in a diary or correspondence. But as I believe I mentioned last entry, or the one before, these are the kinds of things that get remembered--the emotional bits. Not dates, names, places, and the other things that researchers love. Keep in mind that while this doesn't seem like much to our modern sensibilities, in 1841, in Victorian New England, it would have been quite daring--and hence, memorable--to sneak a young man into their family girls' dormitory for holiday refreshments.
Below, is the lot where Abby's home stood before it was split apart and moved. Some undefinable feelings did seem to arise, but primarily, this was a matter of seeing things I had researched for many years. The rise, with the stone wall at the bottom and the house on top, once must have been graced by a swing for two, perhaps in a gazebo. Mathew and Abby would "sit up" there, looking out over the nearby Merrimack River. On a clear evening, they could see the mist marking where the ocean met the shore. Their minds would range on any and every subject, and they would make up stories to tell one another; or make them up, taking turns, together. All of this I surmise from various stories and poems written by each of them. The swing came up in a psychic reading, our first, in 2010, before any of these things were discovered in the literature (from my notes):
Abby cries. Remembers sitting on a swing for two, under a tree by a river, romantic. Matthew reading black market book to her. Black market books hard to get. Metaphysical. Drew them together. Both knew they would come together again. Both understood reincarnation.
The part about Abby crying, I later figured out probably had to do with Mathew leaving to take a job in New York City, when she was only 14. She had been tutoring him, and had fallen in love with him; but he felt he had to pursue his career; and because of her age, he dared not get seriously romantically involved with her. In addition to teaching him the classics, and French, and European history, she was trying to teach him metaphysics. Candace interpreted what Abby was telling her incorrectly, on this particular point--she was trying to teach reincarnation and other such subjects to Mathew, but he was skeptical during this early phase of their relationship. Mathew did accept reincarnation many years later. Let me look up one of Abby's poems, written about this same experience:
Look on the broad, still-breasted Merrimac.
The stars are sleeping in its silent blue,
The Moon has wandered down, and now looks back
With fearful eye upon her former track,
A sky-throned ghost. Look, love, the moonlight through!
And lo! above the bounding of the sea
A bright mist wavers, of a beauteous hue—
Like pearl sublimed to vapour; and above,
A white sail sleeps. Look again with me,
Where farther up the river hides away,
With curving banks; and there, like pale-eyed love,
The moonlight sits upon the eddies' top
With tremulous motion, as thine eye doth play—
Which of its clear delight doth never stop.
At first I thought they would have to see the ocean waves "bounding," which might be difficult from 4-1/2 miles away. But the word "bounding" means the border, which means, they had to be able to see the demarcation of the sea and land, which should have been possible from that distance, if it was marked by fog, as described.
If you looked this up, you would probably see that it was claimed by Albert Pike. It took me a long time to piece this scenario together, but it appears that Abby was his student in 1830. He, having the same initials, must have stolen a number of poems out of her workbook, submitting them for publication as though he was the author, and claiming them in later life. I can prove that something was seriously amiss in this business, and do so in my book, but I don't have time or space to do it, here. The poem is signed from "Newburyport," where Pike was teaching his class--but I am convinced this was written by Abby, about sitting up on that rise behind her house, with Mathew. As said, the ocean was only about 4-1/2 miles distant, and they definitely would have been able to see the Merrimack River, which is only a couple blocks away. There is a major bend in the river just up from Rocks Village, which they would also have been able to see. Stars frequently are featured in Abby's poems (but not in Pike's). In general, Pike's attempts are grossly masculine, while the ones he stole from Abby are distinctly feminine. (Pike was a macho pro-slavery conservative and a hunter, who went on to fight for the South in the Civil War as a general.) Where he inserts his own lines into her poems, to lengthen them for publication, his stanzas, again, are grossly masculine, while hers remain delicately feminine. He was, in short, a brazen and inept plagiarist who did not even have the sensitivity or the temperament to write the poetry he claimed. He must have arrogantly assumed he could get away with stealing a 14-year-old girl's poetry, and none would be the wiser. And he did get away with it until now. There is a record of one unidentified "New York literary man" asserting that Pike was an outageous plagiarist, or something to that effect--I am pretty sure that was Mathew, during his newspaper career in New York City. In any case, I have researched the matter very carefully, and I am convinced that Abby wrote that poem about "sitting up" with Mathew, when she was only 14, and he, 18, on top of this rise behind her house:
I also visited Mathew's boyhood home, a farm which has become a musuem dedicated to his famous older brother, John Greenleaf Whittier. Unfortunately, they saw fit to spruce it up, so it is essentially unrecognizable as Mathew's poor family farmhouse, today. I got brief feelings of familiarity from the brook which runs at some distance from the front of the house, which the boys undoubtedly played in. One rock, in particular, juts out, and I could swear that, as a boy, I crouched on that rock setting leaf sailboats adrift, or looking for crawfish. I had the feeling that I explored every inch of that creek. Of course, this is generic material, not useful for proving anything. I did have a particular fascination with creeks as a boy in this life, but then, so do many boys.
I knew, or surmised, that Mathew helped build and/or maintain the stone wall in front of the house. I thought perhaps one or two particular stones my jog a memory, as being familiar. None did, until I got past the entrance to the house, and came to the opening in the wall which permitted access from the house to the barn, across the street. The barn is new, but that portion of the wall probably is original. I felt I remembered the large vertical stone on the far side of this opening (the vertical stone holds up the wall where it ends); and also, a little further down, there is a large stone at the base of the wall, which contains quartz and various colored minerals. I felt that stone was also familiar, having been one of Mathew's favorites.
Just as Greenwood Cemetery seemed small, the front yard of the Whittier farmhouse, and the distance to the main road beyond, seemed much smaller than in the photographs. Furthermore, in John Greenleaf Whittier's hit poem, "Snow-Bound," he describes the well "sweep" on the property. This is a long pole which acts as a lever for the well bucket, sitting up at an angle. This thing has never felt familiar to me. It has to go back to their childhood days, as John Greenleaf says it did; and it also shows up in an early painting, from about 1863 or so. But I have to remain honest, that it has never felt familiar in photographs or paintings. Nor did it, today, in person.
Otherwise I felt nothing in particular, that I would be tempted to call past-life memory. It is too gentrified, now. But I have not been inside. I won't be able to take a tour until next May.
Finally, on my way back to Portland, I drove to Dover, NH. As near as I can tell, Mathew and Abby, who had been friends, and then a couple, for many years, were denied permission to marry by her father, who wanted her to marry someone of her own class (he being a marquis, and very class conscious). They finally eloped from East Haverhill, Mass. to Dover, NH. And I will say that the distance of this trip is the one exception to the rule. It seemed quite long even by car. It had to have been a full overnight trip, in the dark. I don't know whether there was moonlight on August 2, 1836, but I am guessing perhaps there was not, as I seem to remember a nervewracking ride in the dark.** (The public records say Aug. 4--but one of Mathew's stories, which seems to be an allegory for their elopement, has them eloping on a Tuesday, as I recall--and this would have been Aug. 2, not Aug. 4.)
Looking at maps of Dover, and also on Google Street view, I had felt very strongly drawn to the street names of Silver Street, and Locust Street. Meanwhile, before I ever researched Dover, I had had a profound past-life glimpse. Abby and I are walking, hand-in-hand, down a tree-lined street. We are talking philosophy, and our minds are 100% simpatico. We are both soaring in high ideas. It is fall, the trees are bare, and no-one else is on the street. We are a world unto ourselves--it is as though we are a hundred years or more ahead of our time. There are lights on in the houses, warm cooking fires and candles or lights--they have no idea what we are talking about. They wouldn't understand. Abby, as she has told me, was also on "cloud nine" because someone had warned her that once the man marries you, he starts treating you differently. He takes you for granted and treats you like property--and the equal friendship that she enjoyed with Mathew, during their courtship, would dry up and disappear, being replaced by a sort of slavery relationship.
Well, this had really scared Abby; but walking hand-in-hand like this with Mathew, deep in philosophy as they had often enjoyed, she could see that nothing was going to change between them. And her joy and relief about this knew no bounds! Mathew was oblivious to all this. He was just enjoying her company as he always had.
The First Parish Church was pastored by an Abolitionist, Rev. David Root. Mathew and Abby were also Abolitionists. So no-doubt they would have attended his services and heard his sermons. I once had a very brief past-life glimpse about this: we are walking up the steps to that church, she is on my left, her white-gloved hand resting on my arm. She is nervous about going in; I am not.
We know, from Mathew's correspondence, where they lived (a boarding house) when they first moved to Dover, and where his business, a dry-goods store, was located. But I had remembered another house that they rented for themselves. I've found a little bit of evidence for this in the shape of an ad, in the newspaper of this time. But I wanted to put myself physically in the area, and walk around.
The church sits on what used to be called Tuttle Square. Just off the Square, is Silver Street, and it soon intersects Locust Street. So this had to be the area where that memory of walking in the evening took place. Would it seem familiar?
Remember that I have faithfully reported, here, when I thought I might experience some subjective reaction, only to find nothing, at all, internally. But this time it was strong. Stronger than on Google Street View; stronger than in postcards. There was no question in my mind--we lived somewhere near that church, on either Silver Street or Locust Street--more likely, on Silver Street, only a few houses down from the church.
When I had that walking memory, I swear, I didn't know that tree-lined streets were typical, in that era, in New England. I don't remember seeing pictures of them. I believe most of the streets had them, in Dover. Silver Street only has a few here and there; but Locust still has them in a row. Not the same ones as in 1836, obviously--these are far too small, if elms even live that long. But the custom is maintained.
The stretch of road I remember in my flashback was straight, and flat. The first part of Silver Street, proceeding from Tuttle Square and the church, rounds a bend. Then it straightens out and is also flat, where it joins Locust Street. So the memory could have been on either of these streets, at roughly that juncture--or an amalgamated impression of them both. But it sure did look like certain sections of each of them. The houses line the street just as I remembered (though no doubt many were different houses, in 1841). In short, if one can't quite claim that this past-life memory glimpse has been proven, it certainly has been shown to be 100% plausible. This video was taken on Locust Street. (click for low-res version)
Finally, I made it a point to shoot a video on the steps of the First Parish Church. (click for low-res version) These are different steps--they are concrete, while I believe that in Mathew and Abby's time, they were wooden. Otherwise, the church remains as it was. I stood there, filming first in selfie and then in regular mode, and as I gazed down Silver Street, I began remembering something. But what I remembered is a tad embarrassing. Remember that we were newly-weds, and that Abby was newly-pregnant. All during our courtship, she had been deathly afraid of pregnancy, and as a result, Mathew had to accommodate her by practicing the 19th-century version of birth control. We won't elaborate on that, unless you need me to spell "mutual masturbation." I remember a great deal about our sex life, because, naturally, sex is an intense experience with strong emotion mixed in. And this is the ticket to past-life memory. I just don't share most of these things. (One of these incidents, though, became the strongest proof in the study.)
So what I remembered is that we spent a lot of time making love and trying things out. We hurried to get our other business taken care of as quickly as possible, so we could jump in the sack! This came to me quite clearly, standing there on the church steps--but it is a bit awkward to narrate in that situation. I did my best and got out of there!
Don't judge us--we had only been married a few months, we had been separated for a month or two by her father, who seems to have kept her hostage for awhile when she went back home to make peace; and all during our courtship, I had dutifully held myself back from what I really wanted to do. Turns out she had been really wanting me to do that, too...
I have also had the impression that we had a private habit of scaling any type of tower--lighthouses, observation towers, church steeples--and stealing a kiss on the top. I would guess that, if it was accessible, the spire of the First Parish Church in Dover was no exception.
Is that enough to make this interesting? Just think what you would have missed if you hadn't read down this far...
Or maybe nobody has read down this far. So perhaps it will have to wait for my future readers.
That was the last leg of the trip. Tomorrow, I'll try to get some of the media, and some of the supporting images, into this entry, and post it.
Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.
*This is pretty strongly evidential, inasmuch as this flashback occurred many years before I found copious evidence that Mathew had, in fact, been very skeptical as a young man; and had only gradually come around to accepting paranormal phenomena as a result of Abby's influence. Thus, under pressure of grief and the shock of death, his faith would have wavered just as I remembered it. This is a good example of why people who are new here, and who might dismiss my case because of my "poor performance" this past week or two, might do better to read my book and see just how strong the case is, overall.
**I stand corrected (again), as an online historical moon phase calculator tells me the moon was roughly 63% full. Logically, Mathew would not even have attempted it with no moonlight, at all. But given that he was driving a carriage all night in country back roads with no street-lamps (and, perhaps, no lamps lit on the carriage, for fear of being spotted), fervently hoping that her father wasn't after them with his marquis' sword, Mathew was probably still sweating.
Music opening this page: "Staright," by The Free Design,
from the album, "Stars/Time/Bubbles/Love"