I've just posted a photographic tour of my neighborhood. I'm going to leave that up while I work on something else, here...
Lately I've been watching quite a few YouTube videos of medium John Edward at work, and he mentioned wanting to keep the memory of your loved one alive, and the various ways people do that. His remark brought into sharper focus something I've understood about my past-life self, Mathew Franklin Whittier, for a long time. After his beloved wife, Abby, died at age 24 in March of 1841, a great deal of his creative writing was intended for just this purpose. He would take cherished memories, and embed them, in disguised form, into all sorts of outlandish tales. I felt it immediately, when I began discovering them; but this also provided a way to identify his work, almost all of which was written anonymously. He is the only 19th-century writer I know of who would adopt a new pseudonym, and a new character, at the drop of a hat. Some were one-offs; some were series, or spin-offs. Some were in response to recent events in the news; many were from his own past. But they are replete with personal references to Abby, and to their private life together.
I not only learned to recognize these by style, after exposure to so many of Mathew's works; I also recognized them emotionally and intuitively. So I had both normal methods, and paranormal methods, at my disposal for the purposes of triangulation.
Then, as I mentioned recently, there were the descriptions given by two mediums, who I asked to "contact my wife in the 19th century." Finally, I uncovered Abby's own writing--poetry and short stories. So leaving aside the issue of whether I was able to continue my relationship with her in real time, I had a great deal of informtion about her to go on. This, despite the fact that all you can find about her, in a casual perusal of the historical record, is her marriage and death. Look a little deeper and you will find that she was attractive, that her father was a marquis, that her mother was "brilliant," and that she had eight siblings and grew up in Rocks Village (East Haverhill), Mass. Dig still deeper, and you may discover that it was her first cousin, Charles Poyen, who introduced Mesmerism to America via lecture/demonstrations (though others had written about it before)--and that Poyen lived with Abby's family for a few months, when he first arrived in the country from Guadeloupe. The rest is buried in what I call the "deep historical record."
Perhaps you would like to see examples of Mathew keeping the memory of his relationship with Abby alive, in his fictional works. There are so many, I could fill a book--and, in fact, I did. Mathew made it easy, because when Abby was a teenager--she told me this via telepathy before I ever found evidence for it--she didn't like her name, "Abigail," and tried on some other names she liked better. Apparently two of her favorites were Adeline, and Juliana. The reason I say that, is not because I found a diary, but because when Mathew was creating a character who represented Abby in some way, he would often use variations on these names.
One example describes a spat they had when they lived here in Portland, Maine. Being from a wealthy background, Abby was bravely making do with Mathew's economizing measures. But it was getting to her, and for relief, she must have casually asked Mathew to purchase catfish for breakfast, instead of their usual, cheaper perch. Poor unsuspecting Mathew, he had no idea just how much was riding on that promise! Apparently he forgot, or catfish wasn't available that morning, because he came back with perch, and she hit the ceiling! In his parody, "Julia" actually dies on the spot:
“Take them, I implore thee, take them.”
Blythely the young wife rose on the morrow to a breakfast which she deemed would be happy. Augustus came; in his right hand he held a string of fish—but were they catfish? Stand aghast, ye heavens, when you hear it; they were perch! Julia caught one glance—her delicate system could not stand the shock. “Perch!” she wildly cried, and sank lifeless upon the ground.
But then he enters into scenes of her death, two of which figure in my own past-life memories (including a memory of how he almost committed suicide). Titled "The Perjured Husband," this story undoubtedly expresses Mathew's feelings of guilt, which tortured him even nine years after her passing. Little things he could have said, or done, differently.
I was thinking of another example, when I started this entry. I've gone over this before in more detail; but apparently, Mathew loved pumpkin pie (I love it today, as well, except that it gives me heartburn--as it also probably did Mathew, because he often complained of "dyspepsia"). Abby must have dubbed him, "Peter, Peter, pumpkin eater," which had a deeper meaning. It had to do with him falling in love with her, as she tutored him. Anyway, Mathew began signing some of his works "P.," or "P.P.," or variations like "Peter Pendergrass" and "Peter Pumple." He did this for years after Abby's death. He also seems to have loved the colloquial expression, "some pumpkins." He titled a story about how they first danced, in the fall of 1831, with that phrase.
His first "Quails" travelogue entry has him praising the "green corn pudding" where he had stopped in Nantucket. Soon after, his friends began a "Green Corn Pudding Society," though Mathew isn't mentioned by name. This was at a popular Boston restaurant named "Milliken's." The impression came to me, "All this is because Abby used to make green corn pudding for Mathew."
Another of Mathew's stories, written in a deliberately convoluted style, such that every other statement flatly contradicts the one before it, seems to have no plot at all. But if you examine it very carefully, it has a very simple plot. A man visits a woman, who offers him leftovers. It suddenly hit me what this was about. Mathew was remembering the first time he visited Abby for no particular reason, i.e., the first time he casually came courting. He surprised her at home, and she put something together for him out of leftovers. It was a very simple thing--but the memory of it was so painful, in his grief, even a decade after her death, that his mind was a terrible jumble of conflicting thoughts as he relived it (perhaps, as was often the case, it was an anniversary date). The character he wrote under for this piece was named the "Laughing Hyena." This was Mathew's response to emotional pain, using humor as a shield (as I have pointed out regarding "The Raven"). He would sometimes refer to this symbolically as a "phalanx." He and Abby knew this about him, even during her lifetime. When they wrote a series of piercing pro-Abolition essays for the Dover, NH "Enquirer," answering a pro-colonization writer signing "Alpha & Beta," they adopted a joint pseudonym in response: "Kappa, Lambda, & Mu." "Kappa" is a Japanese river sprite--and Mathew would tease Abby about being a river sprite, presumably because she loved to swim in the nearby Merrimack River when in their hometown of East Haverhill, Mass. There's a back-story to that I won't get into, here. "Lambda" is a Spartan shield. "Mu" was their son (unborn when they began the series).
Here's a snippet from "The Saracen's Grave: A Legend of the East," by The Laughing Hyena:
Why should we dwell upon this melancholy theme? It may move us to mirth, but it cannot deject us by more pleasing recollections. Are the incidents worthy to be transcribed by the pen of a piper, or is an ounce of tobacco to go for nothing? Perish the idea, before it leaps into existence. Peace to the unremembered dead, who survived the conflict, and can never more know rest.--Such were the thoughts of Canute, while he knocked at the wicket.
"Is anybody there?" inquired a feeble taper, brightly streaming through the impenetrable darkness.
"Yes," was the brief and tedious response of the silent stranger--"There is nobody here, and you need not be afraid."
"So I thought," said the aged girl, showing a beautiful set of absent teeth, as she smiled with delightful terror upon nothing at all. "Depart and enter. I did not expect you, and have been waiting with impatience. Have you been to supper?" added she, previously, as he sat, standing gloomily in the corner, gazing cheerfully into the fire, which had all gone out.
"Ay," repeated he, abruptly, after a long pause; "I have eat nothing for three weeks to come, and should like some roast porridge."
"I have nothing but a pickled eel's foot," said she.
"Then give me a lamb custard."
"At once," was the reply; and it was furnished him in the course of the next eight months. But these, though ordinary circumstances, are not to be trifled with. They occur but seldom, and serve daily to break the monotony of every moment. The fact was mentioned to the emperor, who ordered it to be ejected from the premises when it had once departed. This peremptory supplication was obligingly refused, and the hill-tops quivered at the sight of the gas-houses.
All of this, by the way, was in the context of a pseudo literary contest, which the paper was holding at the time it launched in mid-1848. Mathew had a very low opinion of such contests; and here, he is mocking them by creating several characters, each of whom has determined to enter. Ostensibly, he is lampooning the incompetence of the typical prize-winners. But then he turns his very lampoon into art; and, embeds a deeply private meaning in it. I would guess that very few readers penetrated to the second layer; and that none, excepting myself, have ever penetrated to the third.
If you have been following this blog lately, you may recall that Abby died in March of 1841; Mathew was pressured and guilted into an ill-advised arranged marriage by family, a year later, in March of 1842. Then, during the Christmas season of 1847, two of Abby's sisters were in Portland, and came to visit. They must have shared something extremely personal with Mathew, about Abby, such that the very rationale for remarrying was undermined at that point. Perhaps they told him that Abby secretly hoped he wouldn't remarry; perhaps they gave him some of her writing.* Whatever it was, his second marriage ended by fall of 1848. Both stories quoted, above, were published in November, 1848.
The back-story that emerges from these clues is of endless depth. It just goes on and on, because it is real--and real people's lives are like that. This is how I was able to write a novel on Mathew and Abby's romance, "Twin Stars Descending," basing almost the entire book on real events from their lives. Mathew had already embedded these anecdotes in hundreds of published works; I just had to recover them, and decode them.
Always, in my mind, I am fighting dismissive skeptics whom I imagine reading this blog (since nobody is convinced enough to buy my books). When I assert that Mathew left all of these autobiographical clues in his works, I am quite sure that these readers dismiss it as imagination. "He only thinks these are genuine clues." But nobody knows how specific these clues are, unless and until they have read my books with an open mind. (Reading a book with a closed mind is certainly a waste of time, because nothing will penetrate, whether it is legitimately there, or not.)
But it is not for me to convince skeptics, if by that one means closed-minded cynics. Perhaps that is the work of one or two very public mediums; occasionally you will see such cynics sobbing on camera, if a medium breaks through their shell by giving them information so specific that no-one could have possibly known it, and so emotionally charged that the floodgates open.
That's not my purpose, here. As Abby tells me, I am waiting for those people who resonate with what I'm presenting...
Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.
*My suspicion is that Mathew's mother, who is known to have attended seances during this period in the early 1840's, found a medium who would claim to have communicated with Abby. It was conveyed to Mathew that Abby, in spirit, wanted him to remarry this girl from Canada. Whether this was deliberate subterfuge on his mother's part, or fraudulent mediumship, or some combination thereof, I don't know--but when Abby's sisters came to visit Mathew, they set him straight on the matter, somehow. My feeling is that the only reason Mathew would have married a girl sight-unseen, urged upon him by his mother, a year after Abby's death when he was still in deep grief, is if he believed Abby had told him to do so. The instant he realized he had been duped, the second marriage would have been over. I do note that no children were conceived in that marriage after the Poyen sisters had visited over Christmas of 1847. Meanwhile, the impression one gets from the official Whittier legacy is that Abby was just a pretty face, and Mathew got over it relatively quickly and remarried a year later because the "Whittier boys were attractive to women." There is no hint whatsoever, in that readily-available history, of the kind of soul-mate relationship I claimed for Mathew and Abby from the very beginning. Even the letter to his brother, written three months after Abby's death, shows little sign of it, as Mathew hid his true feelings so expertly. However, the letter he alludes to having written just before, which appears to have touched on topics he didn't see fit to repeat, and which has been lost, very likely expressed it.
Music opening this page: Abby's first contact in year 2010,
and the first message I unknowingly channeled from her.
She is saying, "Don't you remember me? Don't you remember how we loved each other?"
Abby was French; I wasn't consciously trying to write a French tune
at the time, it just came to me like this, while creating a sampler for a project.
But when this was the sample the client wanted to use as background for her self-help CD,
I suddenly blurted out, "You can't use that one, it's a message
from my soul-mate on the other side!" I hadn't thought about it before then.