I hesitate to get into this, because I know that, right or wrong, one always comes out second-best in such situations. But I have protested about being marginalized by one of the foremost reincarnation researchers in the world; and then I have just given my jaded assessment of Dr. Walter Semkiw's work. So I have opened this can of worms, and I might as well explore it a bit.
A couple of years ago, now, I stopped my subscription to Victor Zammit's weekly online newsletter. He went public about the time I did, or a little earlier, with a challenge that (in answer to Randi the Magician's standing offer) he would offer one million dollars to anyone who could prove the evidence for the afterlife false. He is a retired attorney who applies legal logic to the question of survival after death, and finds the evidence for it overwhelming.
He's a bulldog for the cause, and one can't help but like and admire him. He knows who I am, and has on rare occasions praised my documentary, "In Another Life: Reincarnation in America." But like many people in the field, I suppose, when I claimed to have researched and proven a past life of my own; and when I claimed to have remarried my soul-mate from that lifetime, still in the spirit realm, across the Great Divide, he must have decided I had gone off the deep end.
Too bad. Poor Sakellarios. If only he had stuck to what he was good at, i.e., documenting the rest of us real paranormal researchers.
As I have done with a number of these leading figures, I waited, and waited, and waited for him to take notice of my more recent work; then, finally, I confronted him about it. He put me off; and several months later, when I broached the topic again, he put me off, again. "Too busy right now" is the go-to excuse for all of these people. But they are not too busy for people who are doing work far inferior to what I'm doing. And I mean that objectively. Carol Bowman was too busy to read my book; but then, a year or so later, I saw that she had reviewed a very amateurish work--as I recall, it wasn't even directly in her area of expertise, reincarnation.
Meanwhile, back to Victor, he not infrequently showcases prominent paranormal researchers who are married--and when either they, or their spouse dies, they remain in contact across the Great Divide. I occasionally access his newsletter through his Facebook notices, and I found that he presented such a case in this most-recent weekly newsletter, regarding the late Montague Keen, one of the researchers in the Scole experiments. Victor also advocates reincarnation (including sometimes showcasing the expert who rejected my work recently). So what is there, in what I'm doing, that isn't already in the work of the people he showcases? Nothing, except to put the two things together; reincarnation, and maintaining contact. I am maintaining contact with someone from a past life, not from my current one. That's the only difference. And in this, apparently, he has decided I have gone too far.
There is another little problem--Victor often cites, as an authority, the writings of one Silver Birch, who was purportedly channeled by Maurice Barbanell. But one of his quotes flew in the face of what I knew about reincarnation. As I recall, S.B. advocated the "big jug of souls" interpretation of reincarnation, rather than personal reincarnation, such as I have proven quite solidly in my own study. Meaning, that upon death, the souls rejoin a vast "vat" of amorphous souls in heaven, which then "extrude out" when they incarnate, again, to form another individual. This is classic damage control by the Spiritualists who, having come from a traditional Christian background, have long resisted reincarnation. Now, they are forced to accept it, but they make it more palatable with this interpretation. I've seen excellent medium Gordon Smith say the same thing, so it must be a Spiritualist party line. The reason this is logically problematic, however, is that Barbanell was a prominent Spiritualist. It means that with even the best-case scenario, he appears to have been projecting his own prejudiced views on what he was receiving from Silver Birch.
Worst-case scenario--the one that would scare the piss out of Victor--is that Barbanell was fooling himself, and wasn't really channeling, at all. (Note that at least I am channeling a real, historical figure, who you can easily look up the marriage and death dates for. We have no idea whether there actually was a Silver Birch--but we do know that it has been trendy to have Native American spiritual guides.)
When I saw this faux pas, I dared point out the problem with the "jug-o-souls" interpretation to Victor, and he has, perhaps, slammed the door on me ever since. Poke even the most rational person in their tender spot, and see them shut like a clam! I suppose we're all human. I try to keep an honest eye on my own blind spots, and be open to feedback. I was trained to do so, in my master's-level counseling program. But I forget that not everybody has been so-trained.
What's maddening is that such responses aren't logical--and these people (including the aforementioned researcher) claim to prize logic (i.e., scientific or legal) above all else.
Honestly, my intuitive feeling about this business, is that my work is more advanced. Not only that, but somehow it is of a "different dispensation." I know this sounds grandiose, but I can't help it. It's as though it's from the curriculum for the next grade, and it doesn't belong, here--so these people are somehow unable to perceive it, or made unable to perceive it. It looks like fanciful nonsense, to them.
Now, what's interesting to me, personally, is to see how these patterns repeat across lifetimes. Because when I was Mathew Franklin Whittier in the 19th century, I experienced something very similar with the prominent thinkers of that era. Which is to say, I knew them personally, at least at the level of acquaintance. I had met them, and they knew of me. But by-and-large, they didn't take me seriously, and they certainly didn't support my efforts.
Just this morning, while preserving the pages I had set aside from my recent study of the Dover "Enquirer," I noticed a very clever, unsigned humorous essay on the fickleness of umbrellas, i.e., the way they frequently change hands. It seemed familiar, and I wondered whether Mathew could have written it. Google is a powerful tool for these kinds of attribution questions, and with a few clicks I was able to determine that it came from a recently-published British magazine. Still, Mathew would have read it, and would no-doubt have much appreciated it. So I probably did recognize it.
I report this simply to admit that I am sometimes mistaken about attributing works to Mathew's pen. Not often, but occasionally I have been fooled. So in what follows, some of it is proven, while some of it is inferred from the evidence I have.
It appears that Mathew was personal friends with Oliver Wendell Holmes. He also appears to have taken a personal excursion with Henry David Thoreau to Cape Cod (when it was wild), and then reported on Thoreau's lyceum lecture about the experience. Over the course of his career, he reported on similar lectures by most, if not all, of the prominent intellectuals of the day, including Ralph Waldo Emerson. His joking preference for President, in 1852, when there were no good choices for a liberal like himself, was "R.W. Emerson for President, and N. Hawthorne for Vice President."
On the other hand, at a time when he seems to have been taken for a ride by a female intellectual, he mercilessly lampooned the late Margaret Fuller, who was, for a time, editor of the Transcendalist publication, "The Dial."
Reviewing a lecture by Horace Greeley, the liberal New York publisher, he quotes him as saying: "True, there are occasionally authors in advance of their time, like Wordsworth and Emerson, who are not recognized by the public. But these great souls never complain. They calmly await their time." This is in February of 1853. It certainly sounds strange to our ears, today.
I have quoted, in other Updates, Mathew's frustrated lampoon written in 1869, speaking here as his character, "Ethan Spike":
Gents:--Ef you'd a leetle livver than not I wish you would hed this thusly:--"From our inteligent and reliable Boston Correspondent." You can help me a good deal in this way. There are everywhere vulgar minds wich dont appreciate inteligence. Some of the Boston mootooal admiration society--would you bleve it?--dont seem to appreciate me in that character. Indeed, I dont think Boston ginrally is aware half the time when it entertains aingills, not that I would profanely class my umble self with hevingly bodies--far from it--but figgeratively speakin.
"Hevingly bodies" is mitigated--in an early sketch, he renders it "heavingly bodies." These off-color malapropisms were probably not original, I've learned--but few were able to get away with publishing them in family literary newspapers!
In the 1869 "Ethan Spike" letter, Mathew goes on to mock-threaten these elite with exposure, darkly insinuating that he is in a position to know just how tenuous their finances are. And, it turns out he was--I have evidence indicating that he was moonlighting as a bookkeeper for their publisher at the time! And he appears to have made good on his threat, some years later, at his brother's upscale birthday celebration, attended by all the important people. Although Mathew is not shown on the seating chart--at his own brother's birthday celebration!--he appears to have crashed the event. He had induced Samuel Clemens--who was, after all, of the generation after Mathew, and who was thus an upstart, to him--to read Mathew's own humorous sketch to the gathering, in his stead. It was nothing less than a scathing lampoon of the three guests of honor: Oliver Wendell Holmes, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and Ralph Waldo Emerson. It was taken in good humor by these worthies, but the press and the public got hold of it and made a scandal out of it. I feel that Mathew may have been personal friends with Longfellow in his later years, when both lived in Boston, though I have found only one small piece of evidence that they knew each other, personally. Not so, Emerson--I feel that Emerson moved in a different circle entirely. Anyway, where you see historical accounts of Samuel Clemens embarrassing himself by reading this sketch, it was Mathew's writing. I'm sure of it. Not only that, there is one brief account of the audience falling silent in embarrassment, while there was one unnamed person laughing hysterically. Guess who that was?
I look at the work of the famous persons of the past, and in my estimation, they became famous because they had watered down the work of even greater persons. Even Mathew was, in a sense, the "front man" for his first wife, Abby, who had died in 1841. It was she who was the greatest mystic, and the sharpest and deepest mind. As near as I can tell, she rarely if ever published any of her own work. That I have been able to find some of it, is because it was plagiarized, or, Mathew submitted it for her. She was so far in advance of the general public, that we have never heard of her; and Mathew, her protégé, was himself so far in advance, that we have barely heard of him. All we have heard of him is that he wrote some sarcastic social and political commentary, in Yankee dialect, as letters to the editor. Whereas, in fact, I have now found close to 700 of his published works, and perhaps 15-20 of Abby's.
Take Walt Whitman. Mathew's literary friend, John Townsend Trowbridge (who, himself, has a greater reputation than Mathew), wrote an autobiography essentially detailing his own contact with famous literary figures, and there is a chapter about visiting Walt Whitman. Mathew's prudish brother, John Greenleaf Whittier, was down on Whitman for his moral eccentricities, and didn't even want it publicly known he had contributed a token amount toward Whitman's relief fund. But I think Mathew simply didn't think he was a very good writer. I look at "Leaves of Grass," today, and what I see is that he has taken the Bhagavad Gita, and made of it the "Adventures of an Earthbound Spirit." "I," in the Gita, is Krishna, the Incarnation of Vishnu. (Emerson's personal copy of the Gita was making the rounds among the Transcendentalists.) Krishna, in the state of Christ Consciousness, sees himself as the True Self in each person. But whatever Whitman was able to comprehend of the "Gita," that's not what Whitman did with "Leaves of Grass." Mathew had been exquisitely trained, by Abby, in mysticism and the occult. He knew Vishnu from a wandering spirit. So he probably looked at the whole thing as a travesty.*
That Whitman eventually won the cosmic popularity contest, is a result of Society's woeful lack of discernment. The same thing has prevented people from seeing the absurdity of Charles Dickens' claim to have been the author of "A Christmas Carol."
Today, Abby stands behind me, just as she did when I was Mathew. We are working together, and we have built my book, "Mathew Franklin Whittier in his own words," together. The elite, today, treat me about as the Transcendentalists and others treated me, when I was Mathew. I have reconstructed Mathew's legacy--but Society isn't even ready for him, yet, no less for us, now.
As for "calmly awaiting my time," well, I sort of get in the zone, and then periodically lose it. You understand--or, you would, if you knew what we were doing, here.
Still, just once, I wish one of these experts would tell me:
Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.
*For those who must anchor a person's worth in their association with others, Abby was first cousin to Charles Poyen, who introduced Mesmerism to America via lecture/demonstration tours, was soundly ridiculed by the establishment for his trouble, and is almost forgotten, today. Charles stayed with the family for five months upon first arriving in America, in 1834, when Abby was 18. Her mother, Sally Poyen, who I believe was her primary teacher in these matters, is described by historians as "brilliant." I believe that Sally may have had a profound influence on Charles during that five months. Charles then influenced Phineas Quimby, when the latter attended one of his lectures; Quimby, in turn, treated Mary Baker Eddy. I had the intuition that Sally Poyen somehow influenced Christian Science before I ever discovered that chain of possible influence.
Music opening this page: "Galileo" by It's a Beautiful Day, from the album, "Marrying Maiden"