This is interesting--did you read my recent Update of 4/21? I had said:
Fame is a popularity contest; and society, as a whole, is abysmally ignorant. The only way to win a popularity contest with an overwhelmingly ignorant audience is to dumb it down somehow. So wherever you see something popular, one of two things is happening: 1) he or she has created something ignorant, that society can resonate with, or 2) he or she has stolen something of genius, and watered it down in such a way as to make it palatable to the masses. (The third way is time--but we're talking hundreds of years for something that's really advanced.)
I've been digitizing a few more of my past-life published works. Mathew Franklin Whittier wrote under dozens of pseudonyms, and I have had to use what I think is some pretty sophisticated detective logic to establish his authorship for them (especially when they are contested). In the excerpt below, he was publishing under the initials, "P.P." It's him, no question. All he has done, basically, is to continue a series of essays he had previously written for a defunct Boston paper, under "Peter Popkins," in the Portland (Maine) "Transcript," reducing it to just the initials.
While I was keying these in, today, I ran across the following statement. He is speaking, here, of politics in general and the 1852 presidential election in particular (not being especially enthusiastic about either candidate):
A candidate, no matter how large and brilliant his talents, could not hope to succeed in obtaining the votes of the sovereigns, unless his name and character had the odor of novelty about them. Our people cannot get up a hearty hurrah for a man of old and familiar reputation. Like the sometimes new risen sun, he must dawn upon them through the mist of obscurity. Unlike the sun, he need not be a very mighty orb even after fully ascended upon their unobstructed gaze, to have unbounded popularity. Great abilities cannot be appreciated by the mass--a man to be popular in the full sense of the term, in any department of life, must have an intellectual proximity to the populace. In selecting their candidates for the presidency, the political wire-movers themselves have little regard for the true greatness of their tool.--The question is with them, in making their selection, is the man shoutable, and therefore available?--knowing full well that if he be not the first he cannot be the last.
Now, when I share something here, I get the impression that skeptics are expecting me to confront them with knock-your-socks-off proof; something like Dr. Ian Stevenson might get with his exceptional children. And even so, they are poised and ready to bat it away. The one I have just shared, here, is all too easy to dismiss, as evidence for reincarnation. I must say, though, that Mathew totally called this most-recent election. As they say, "The more things change..."
But I'm not trying to force a skeptic to believe in my case with one great, overwhelming piece of evidence. I had the thought to try to explain what I am doing, again; because I think I can do a better job of it. Shall I try?
The "game" is to remember something, where there is no possible way I could have seen it before, by normal means; it has to be specific and idiosyncratic (unusual), to overcome an explanation of chance. That's the ideal; in real life, you aren't going to get "hits" like this very often. But after awhile, the evidence you do get begins to stack up; and not only do these pieces stack up, but they inform each other. However, there are two different levels to this game: proving reincarnation to oneself; and proving it to anybody elseI can prove to myself that I caught a fish three feet long by catching it--but it will take more than that to prove it to you. This is often confused with trying to proving it to close-minded cynic, against his will, which is totally different. That's because the cynic cheats. He or she will go into denial and use sophistry. Daniel Webster(1) would lose to a child in a debate, if the child goes into denial. All the child has to say is, "Is not!!!" And the child wins. The darndest people--with more letters after their names than the entire alphabet, and from the best schools--can go into denial. Best thing to do is just walk away.
Now, we have on the one side, the paranormal data; and on the other side, the historical data. Each side comes in different "flavors."
The paranormal data can come through psychics and mediums--I used two of them, and they got a lot of verified information they had no normal way of having known beforehand. You think I'm speaking in a general way, don't you? But if so, you haven't watched real mediums at work. My second one got the name "Mathew" with no normal way of having known it, coupled with the unique name of a town even I didn't know he had lived in, at the time of the reading. (It is the only town by that name in the world.)
It can also come through hypnotic regression. I had two sessions, during which I was in a mild trance state (because I couldn't go deeper). I also had a third one a few years later, strictly for the sake of exploration, to try to get some more details. At least one of my strongly verified memories was obtained this way.
Paranormal data can come from past-life memory in normal waking consciousness; and this, also, is of two types: intellectual memories, and feeling-memories, or emotional memories. Both types are amenable to research. This is a simple-enough concept, but I find that people balk at emotions and feelings as data. If a psychologist brings 20 students into his lab, sets them in front of a screen, and records their emotional reactions at seeing various photographs, this is objective, scientific data he is collecting. Got it, now? Emotions gained through paranormal means are also data which can be recorded and compared against the historical record for accuracy. Suppose your subject is shown a photograph of a man. He reacts with positive emotions, saying he feels like a very close friend. If the historical record indicates they were enemies, you probably have a "miss"; if, on the other hand, the historical record indicates they were, indeed, close friends, you have a "hit." That is, if you can establish that the subject had no normal way of knowing what that historical relationship actually had been, at the time he was first exposed to the photograph.
Intellectual memories, we know about. The child remembers living in the town of Nabhawala, and his family surname was Pratep. He had two brothers, and three sisters, and they owned a restaurant. But even Dr. Stevenson, who pioneered this method, insisted that when the child was brought to meet his past-life family, it was his emotional reactions to the various past-life family members which comprised the strongest evidence.
Emotional or feeling memories can be of several different types. They can involve recognition, or relationship; they can be positive or negative. Recognition can be of a portrait; but it can also be of a piece of literature one had written in the previous lifetime. This is everything you know by intuition--or, things you "just know." Typically, with past-life preferences, subjectively it feels like something you've "always known," or "always liked" (or disliked). It also has to do with motivation--you know what motivated you in the past life, what your reasons were for your behavior. You sense the back-story--and you get it right, when most other people would typically get it wrong.
Of course, these different types of paranormal data can come in combination. For example, in one of my most-strongly verified memories, experienced under a light hypnotic trance, there were both intellectual elements, and elements of feeling. I was in a crowd, in a large open area. The ground was wet. The crowd consisted of mostly men, dressed in black coats and top hats, at a density of about one man for every 3-4 feet, and they were milling about. There was a man in the far distance standing on a makeshift platform, perhaps a farm wagon, speaking with a megaphone. But my feelings were also distinct. I felt there was something serious occurring in distant states, which could affect us, there; and I felt skeptical, as in, "Well, we'll see." All the elements are significant in this memory; and if you take all of them into account, they precisely match an event I could not possibly have known of, the "Great Union Meeting" of Jan. 26, 1861 in Portland, Maine. At 2:00 p.m. in the afternoon, a meeting of all the voters of the city was called to discuss the Southern threat of secession. Voters, in 1861, meant only men. The town hall where the meeting was held had a seating capacity of 2,500, but it was overflowing. There were two town squares in Portland: Market Square, and Congress Square. Some years after I experienced the memory under hypnosis, I saw a photograph of Congress Square, and recognized the mostly two-story buildings in the background as the location where that memory took place. It was a year after that (as I recall--I have the exact dates of discovery recorded) that I stumbled upon a reference to the Great Union Meeting of Jan. 26th. Later still, I found that Mathew had written sarcastically about that meeting, which verifies the emotions I experienced. It seems that the prominent city conservatives had stacked the meeting with their own, so that the liberals and radicals were not in attendance; and thus, the meeting was reported in all the papers as being of one mind. That is, except for the most liberal literary paper, the one Mathew wrote for, where both the editor, Edward Elwell, and Mathew, writing in character as "Ethan Spike," lampooned it. It is a no-brainer that there would have been spontaneous opposition meetings in one or both town squares. I could not possibly have known of this historical event at the time of the regression. The memory isn't 100% clinched, but all that is needed is someone's first-hand description in a letter or a diary. Since hundreds of men must have been milling about in that town square, it is probably just a matter of time before such a description turns up.
If you think carefully about it, there are very few other situations which would exactly match this scenario. I haven't been able to think of any. It wasn't a civic event, because there were no women and children. It wasn't an official event of any kind, because people weren't paying close attention, and the speech, such as it was, was obviously a makeshift affair. The square was packed, but nobody was actually going anywhere, as they would have been on a normal business day. They were warmly dressed; the ground was still wet with either rain or snow, which puts it in the colder months. And in case you're wondering, Scout's honor, when I experienced that memory--which was so vivid, I can still call a bit of it to mind, as I sit here, writing, today--I had no thought at all of the Civil War. There was no Civil War at the time I experienced that memory. There was a sense of uneasiness about something occurring in distant states. I report it precisely as I felt it.
I want my readers to know that the foremost scientific expert on reincarnation in the world, blithely dismissed this memory as being (to paraphrase) "just a crowd of men milling around," and of no evidential value. And that when summarizing it back to me, he conveniently omitted the emotional component. Possibly he objected because it was gained through hypnosis, and he is supposed to be officially against hypnosis as a past-life memory research tool. I personally don't give a rat's ass what method was used to obtain it, so long as there is no normal explanation and I didn't cheat. The results speak for themselves.
Moving now to the objective side, historical data can be of several types. This is the breakdown of what I had to work with:
1) one large biography (a student thesis), and one small biography (in a book of 19th century humorists).
2) Twenty-six letters written by my past-life self; 15 letters written by others close to him (either to himself, or to someone else close to him).
3) A handful of scattered references to him in various historical texts, mostly in connection with his brother, poet John Greenleaf Whittier, including JGW's own published letters (very few of which were to Mathew). A few scattered references occur with regard to Mathew's humorous sketches, which feature his character, "Ethan Spike."
4) Over 650 published works.
My earliest exposure was to the "Life and Letters of John Greenleaf Whittier," and the biography/student thesis, both of which I obtained at a local library through interlibrary loan, in 2005, the year I discovered the historical figure of Mathew Franklin Whittier. The historical correspondence was obtained from various historical libraries in the months and years that followed, as I discovered them, with the dates of discovery recorded.
Of these sources, "Life and Letters" primarily reflects Mathew's childhood (i.e., John Greenleaf Whittier's childhood, where Mathew was also present). There are only a handful of letters relevant to Mathew in the entire two-volume set, as the brothers were not close. However, this was the original source for the etching of Mathew that I had first seen, online. It appears in one edition which has more illustrations; it was omitted from a concurrently-published edition which has fewer of them, and presumably was less expensive.
The historical correspondence in library collections appears to have been largely culled for anything deeply personal (though I got quite a bit out of them, reading between the lines, once I became thoroughly familiar with Mathew's personal history). The references in historical texts were often biased and misleading, if not factually inaccurate. The biography was wildly inaccurate, especially in its portrayal of his personality and his character. This is because the primary source of the biographer's information was actually an enemy of Mathew--his son-in-law, Samuel Pickard (also the author of "Life and Letters"). Long story. But he definitely gave him short-shrift. I'm not just being subjective, here--I mean, Pickard reported his birthday incorrectly, and he only gave him 13 years of service in the Boston Custom House, when he worked there for 20 years. But more importantly, he did the same thing to Mathew's literary accomplishments, and to his character. So naturally, the student thesis, relying primarily on Pickard, reflects these same biases and distortions.
I was thus left with the published works as my primary source; and there was a serious fly in the ointment, here, and also a hidden advantage. Mathew wrote under dozens and dozens of pseudonyms. He is the only writer of the period I know of who did this. It took me a full eight years to garner what I have, now. Many of these works were claimed by other authors; and I had to use traditional detective methods to prove them for Mathew's pen. I have done it--but the evidence is mostly circumstantial, and you would have to read a great deal of material in order to be convinced of it. This is what caused the book to be as long as it is.
Remember, the same principle holds true, whether trying to establish authorship, or trying to prove reincarnation: it is far easier to prove it to oneself, than it is to prove it to anyone else.
I could sit down, and in a couple months' time, re-write this book to be a standard 250 pages long, if I had a pact with the reader that he or she would simply believe me whenever I asserted something. If I have to prove it to you, I need a lot more ink. If, for example, I tell you that it was Mathew Franklin Whittier who wrote as "Trismegistus" in the "Carpet-Bag," rather than Benjamin Drew; and it was also he who wrote the "Quails" travelogue for the Boston "Weekly Museum," rather than singer Ossian Dodge, you might believe me. But a literary scholar probably wouldn't, unless I could prove it. Then there are attributions for a couple of more famous works, which no-one will believe me about, unless I throw every bit of evidence I can find at it. What I can eventually prove, is that Mathew was arguably a literary genius (having been thus-described by at least one of his editors); and that he had the talent to have written the famous pieces I ascribe to him.
I said there was a plus-side to Mathew's strange habit of using multiple pseudonyms--if I can establish that this is truly Mathew's work, there is no possible way I ever could have seen it, before. All of this work is in period literary newspapers, which are not easy to come by. The dailies are digitized and available online--but not so these literary newspapers. I had to buy physical volumes on Ebay, or obtain them on microfilm, or send in a researcher to go through them in the historical library. I obtained this material in "dribs and drabs." I kept careful note of what I received, when; and of what I discovered, when.
The other fortunate bit of luck, is that Mathew playfully embedded his life story, and his deepest personal secrets, in these published works. Sometimes they are poems, in which case his meaning is clear, but his pseudonym (if there is one at all) is impenetrable. Sometimes they are ostensibly humorous sketches, in which case my intuition came into play, as well as my increasing familiarity with his style, to ferret out the personal and autobiographical portions. Sometimes they are essays; and then there are the travelogues, which amount to published diaries. But once you establish one pseudonym, you can cross-check it with the others, both for style, and for itinerary. For example, Mathew was fond of using the colloquialism, "some pumpkins!" As in, "He was some pumpkins!" So if Pseudonym A is traveling in the White Mountains on the first of August, stopping at a particular inn, and Pseudonym B--which has been verified for Mathew--writes from the same inn at the end of that month (just about the time that Pseudonym A would have returned from the trip he has been describing); and if both of them just happen to use the phrase, "some pumpkins," I know I may have the same person. If, instead of these two clues, I have dozens of clues pointing to Mathew's authorship of Pseudonym A, I have him (i.e., it's enough to prove it to myself); and then, eventually, I can usually clinch it with something strong enough to convince others, as well.
The travelogues, in particular, would obviously be extremely valuable--but it was precisely these pseudonyms which were contested. I had to fight like the dickens to reclaim them for Mathew. Once this was accomplished, I now had reams of his own experiences and observations; and all of that could be compared with what I seemed to have remembered, before I discovered them. The poems were extremely good evidence for a different reason. These opened up Mathew's deep emotional life. For example, both psychics painted a picture of a soul-mate relationship between Mathew and his first wife, Abby, and one of them indicated spirit contact between them after her death. I, also, felt that it was an extremely close bond, and that Mathew remained in grief for her all his life. But there is nothing like this in the biography or the readily-available historical record. Even Mathew's personal letters, what we have of them, seem extremely casual on this point (that being his personality and upbringing, to hide his feelings with bravado).(2) But the poems tell a very different story. Not surprisingly, Mathew used his most obscure pseudonyms for these; or else, he left them unsigned altogether. However, once I had identified the pseudonym he used throughout his life--a single asterisk--I had the point of comparison I needed, because he wrote some of these poems under that signature (as well as under another one I can prove was his). Knowing his style, I could ferret out those written without a signature, or with signatures like "Anon." and "Incog."
So I had two tasks: the first was to discover all this material in these literary papers, and to prove that it was, in fact, his. The second task was to use that body of work to establish that what I had remembered, earlier, was plausible--and to what degree it was plausible.
I decided to work it that way, gauging it in terms of plausibility. Given that I couldn't always prove a memory outright, just how plausible was it? And how likely was it that I could ever have learned of it by normal means? My "Scorecard summary" does just that--it analyzes a little over 90 past-life impressions, rating how plausible they are, and how likely it is that I could have known them by normal means. The explanation of "chance" is also taken into account--how idiosyncratic or generic was the memory, on a continuum? To give you an idea, my having remembered that Mathew Franklin Whittier witnessed a slave auction in the South, and vowed to fight slavery, is relatively generic, given that I already knew he was an abolitionist; though this memory was definitely proven to be accurate. But I also remembered an odd architectural feature, in a memory involving Abby's house, only to find that this feature really exists--but only in the house across the street from where her house used to be, and in a house next-door to that one, which is said to have originally been on her property. That's on the top end of the idiosyncracy spectrum.
Overall, I scored very high. If you look at the skeptical literature on reincarnation, you will see that they make a big deal of cases where a person remembers, say, 10 facts (usually, under hypnosis), from a period in history, and perhaps five of them turn out to be impossible. They didn't wear helmets like that; they didn't march in that formation, men and women didn't do that in public, or whatever it is. For example, I didn't realize this, but street addresses are a relatively recent development. So if someone remembers a street address from the early 1800's, it's bogus. They didn't have them. You wrote to the town, and put the person's name on the envelope. The post-master made sure it got to them, or they picked it up at the post office. If you didn't pick it up, it would get printed in a list of dead letters in the paper.
I didn't remember things that were impossible. When you are tallying up 90 impressions, that's impressive. Again, it was on a continuum; from things that were just plausible but had no evidence in particular, to things that were solidly proven. Things no-one could have known.
Now, this shouldn't surprise anyone. Watch any session with medium John Edward, or Lisa Williams, or, or any of the other genuine ones. John Edward doesn't just get that the person had a ring. He knows that there is a Walt Disney World ring left on the bathroom counter (an actual example I vaguely recall from some years ago). Well, the same thing is possible with past-life memory; and I had a few of these. But mostly, they are in-between somewhere. Any one of them might not impress you--just like the fact that I defined popularity in this life, and then discovered I had defined it essentially the same way, in 1852, probably didn't impress you. But having done this 90 times might impress you--and actually, I stopped at 90, because these are the recorded memory impressions included in the first 10 chapters of my book, before I got in the bulk of my evidence. Those were the memories published in the book as it was first released in 2012.
There are dozens and dozens more I set down, and then verified, as I went along, which are included in the body of the 13th and 14th chapters where I present the bulk of the evidence.
Finally, a word about historical evidence. Much of the historical record is wrong. I could write a long Update on this topic, alone. But when cynics dig just deep enough into the historical record to debunk a past-life memory, you need to be careful how much weight you give that. Remember that they aren't after the truth--they are after the debunking, itself. So they stop when they get what they want. Had they gone on, they might have found that the memory impression was right, after all, and it was the historical record which was faulty. I wrote an Update, once, just giving examples of how many errors were in the shorter of Mathew's two biographies. And this was written by a well-known European scholar, whose primary area was 19th century American humorists.
Shall we just start out with this bio, and see how many errors we can find in the beginning? I'll try to be brief.
He begins with stats. Mathew's first name was spelled "Mathew" with one "T," not "Matthew." He married his second wife, Jane Vaughn (not "Vaughan"), in 1842, not 1841. (The 1841 date would have him remarrying as his first wife and child lay dying.) He married his third wife, Mary Waite Tolman, in 1858, not 1863.
We aren't even into the "Biography" section, yet.
Matthew Whittier's achievements as a humorist were overshadowed by the literary fame of his brother, John Greenleaf Whittier. Matthew expressed the outspoken, romantic, and funmaking potentialities of his family environment by a lack of respectability apparently incompatible with his Quaker background.
This is correct as far as it goes--but it is wildly off-the-mark in what it neglects to mention. This is not the biographer's fault, it is the fault of the information readily available to him. Mathew was not simply a humorist. He wrote poems (serious and humorous), essays (serious and humorous), travelogues, and worked as an undercover investigative reporter. He was an undercover agent for William Lloyd Garrison's abolitionist movement; and he also worked actively for the cause of Spiritualism, and for the anti-war/world peace movement. For many years, he reported on liberal and progressive lectures, as a way of extending the reach of those lecturers to the public. Mathew remained incognito in all of this work--the only reason he is known, today, for his "Ethan Spike" character (a predecessor of "Archie Bunker") is that he was "outed." Otherwise, we wouldn't even know to attribute this body of work to him. He was a philosopher who used humor; all of his stories were, in effect, philosophical teaching stories. He respected the original mysticism inherent in Quakerism, as well as its implicit human and family values; but he deplored the hypocrisy which had largely corrupted it by the time he was born into a Quaker family. He was as good a writer, in his way, as John Greenleaf Whittier, and was actually (given that his work was unattributed, or attributed to the wrong authors) enjoying as much literary success as his brother, until his brother published the "pot boiler," "Snow-Bound," which was essentially JGW's one-hit wonder.
Let's continue with a slice of the next paragraph, and then I'll let you go...
Born on July 18, 1812, at the ancestral farmhouse of the Whittiers in East Haverhill, Matthew Franklin grew up in rural surroundings. The younger son, he shared the limited schooling of his elder brother, John Greeleaf, and his sister, Elizabeth. When their father died in 1830, the two brothers tried to keep the farm. Already active in politics, John Greenleave served as memer of the Massachusetts legislature in 1835 and was often away from Haverhill. He decided to sell the property in 1836 and went to live with his mother and younger sister in a cottage at Amesbury, a neighboring village. In August 1836, Matthew married Abigail Poyen, born in 1817, the attractive daughter of a French refuge from the island of Guadeloupe. The young couple lived near Haverhill where Matthew conducted a writing school during the Depression of 1837. Already self-taught in English literature and an insatiable reader of the Arabian Nights, classical legends, and American history, he worked for some time on the staff of the Amesbury News and Courier.(3)
Where to start... "Elizabeth's" name was actually spelled "Elisabeth," although she may have acquiesced to the more popular form at some point in her life. Mathew didn't share JGW's schooling. JGW was permitted to attended higher school, against their father's wishes, when urged by a young William Lloyd Garrison--but it appears that when Mathew asked for the same privilege, he was refused. Mathew may have run away to sea, living for a time in Cuba, when he was 14, partly as a result of this argument. Abby, who was brilliant (and whose mother is said to have been brilliant), probably began tutoring him in 1830, when she was 14 and he was 18. Abby was born on June 2, 1816. Her father was a marquis. After Abby "came out" at age 16 they started courting; but they were separated by her father, with the compromise that he would go into the world and make his fortune, proving that he could support her in a manner befitting her station. In 1833, he began partnering in various businesses with his wealthier friends, and being naive, failed. He then returned to her in 1836, proposed, was refused parental permission, and the couple eloped across the state line to nearby Dover, NH, where he set up his own business. Since 1831, Mathew was submitting work to a Boston publication, and Abby's poetry was published, as well--some of it being claimed by two different men, who later achieved a certain amount of fame based on her young work. When Mathew married Abby, the Quakers "disowned" him. John Greenleaf sold the farm, because Mathew was the only one large and healthy enough to run it; and having married a non-Quaker, he couldn't live there with her (nor would she have wanted to, probably). He was paid for his portion of the proceeds. He probably clerked or freelanced for the Dover "Enquirer" after his business failed in Dover; he then parlayed that experience into a similar job at the "News and Courier" in Amesbury. Shortly afterward, however, in February of 1838, he launched his own newspaper, the Salisbury "Monitor," which ran until May. The couple were very idealistic, and were publicly championing the cause of Abolition, even in Dover (under a clever pseudonym which was too-easily traced to them). They were shunned and persecuted in both towns, even to the point that young women (perhaps, factory workers upset because Mathew was advocating shorter hours for them), stoned their windows.
That's enough, you get the idea. The readily-available record for Mathew is, sad to say, a joke. These two young people were idealistic and far ahead of their time. They created literature which made more than one plagiarist famous. But they, themselves, are almost entirely forgotten.
The worst part of this biographical sketch, is that when he begins analyzing Mathew's work--what he knows of it, that is--he concludes that Mathew was a "nihilist." Mathew was a deeply devotional Christian mystic, who had studied the philosophers of ancient Greece and just about every other wisdom teaching he could get his hands on, including, as it turns out, the Persian poets like Rumi (as I did, in my youth, in this lifetime). Mathew was the truly spiritual one of the family; his brother, being typecast as a religious Quaker of great humility, merely played the part all his life. Talk about blasphemy! I would be run out of any literary circle in New England. But it's the truth.
Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.
1) I originally used "Einstein" where I now have "Daniel Webster," but changed it because Webster was the famous orator and debater. Mathew met privately with Webster, presumably on behalf of William Lloyd Garrison, soon after Webster had been instrumental in the passing of the Fugitive Slave Law. Mathew's circumspect account of that meeting is included in my book. Mathew also lampooned Webster in character as "Ethan Spike" around the same time, but his authorship of that series wasn't publicly known, then. Mathew, himself, had been formally trained in debate in the Pnyxian Club, the premier debate club in Portland, Maine.
2) The one letter from Mathew to his brother which I have from three months after Abby's death sounds chatty and casual--but it briefly refers to another recent letter, the contents of which Mathew doesn't see fit to repeat. So it appears that the more deeply personal letter may have been destroyed, or withheld from the public collection.
3) "Matthew Franklin Whittier," by Daniel G. Royot, in "Encyclopedia of American Humorists," edited by Steven H. Gale, 1988, pp. 482-484.
Music opening this page: "Song For Lynette" by Eric Johnson, from the album, "Venus Isle"