I am expecting an entire year of newspapers published in 1852/53 to arrive in the mail tomorrow. It is a paper that I published in, as Mathew Franklin Whittier, and I am hoping to find a clue or two therein. As I got things organized, in preparation, I ran across something I don't mention very often--out-and-out proof of my past-life being genuine.
Usually, I emphasize a "preponderance of the evidence," whereas skeptical people generally want you to "wow" them with a single, overwhelming hit. Or, at least, they say they do. What would happen if I did that?
Nothing. Because I have already done it--and I do not see hoards of former skeptics banging on the doors and making the phone ring off the hook for copies of my book, or for interviews.
Still, let's look at this for a minute. In October of 2003--I don't have the exact date, but this was a couple of years before I first learned of my past life as Mathew Franklin Whittier--I did a website interview with a young black woman named Sheri Divers, where I lived in Atlanta, for her website. I met with her to discuss it; then she gave me a list of questions, and I responded to them via e-mail. Of course, I was talking about my documentary, which had been aired on one PBS station that January, "In Another Life: Reincarnation in America." That, and this website, which was launched in 1998 (yes, it's that old) to support the film.
I was able to find the web page on Archive.org's "Wayback Machine" for Oct. 22, 2003:
One question she asked me was about my own past lives. I responded:
I do think that several of my past lives have been very influential in my work. I have, through intuition, glimpses, and educated guesswork, identified a few lives I feel pretty sure of, and a number of others I have hints of. I've been a writer, connected, I think, with the Romantic poets, for example. Not any of the famous ones as near as I can tell, but I think I knew some of them personally and ascribed to their overall philosophy (for better or worse).
My study of Mathew Franklin Whittier proves this statement in its entirety. I won't go into all the evidence, here; that is for those who choose to purchase my e-book. But, it is hands-down proven, to such a degree of specificity that there is no wiggle-room at all.
I think we can safely eliminate fraud as an explanation. I could not have worked this backwards, as my date of discovering Mathew Franklin Whittier is also a matter of record (in this blog) as recorded by the Wayback Machine. There would be one, and only one, normal explanation: and that is, that I went looking for what I believed, and found it. But if one is honest, and rigorous in one's thinking, one has to admit that this simply wasn't the case. I did not go looking for this, at all. I was looking, instead, for something that had been told to me in a psychic reading about a more recent female incarnation in the early 20th century, as a writer of serials on the West Coast. Looking for names of female writers, I happened upon one I felt I recognized; and that writer turned out to be a colleague of Mathew's, in the 19th century, in Boston. With the help of a friend (Jeff Keene), I found a list of this woman's social circle, embedded in which was a simple listing for Mathew Franklin Whittier, with his portrait. All the caption told me was that he was the brother of John Greenleaf Whittier (who I was just familiar enough with to know he was one of the Romantic poets), and that he was an author. The caption gave no clue as to what kind of author. I had never heard of him before, nor had I ever seen his image. But looking at the eyes in that etching, I knew immediately that I had once been this man. Keep in mind that when I stumbled upon this website for Sarah Orne Jewett, I had no intention of getting into this era, this part of the country, or this group of Romantic writers, at all.
In the interview, I mentioned knowing some of the Romantic poets personally. But if you go by the readily-available historical record, you would think that Mathew barely even had a connection to his own brother, no less any of the others. However, based on my seven-year investigation, I can say with confidence that he was personal friends with Oliver Wendell Holmes and John Townsend Trowbridge (look him up); met with Victor Hugo at the latter's home in Paris; and probably dined with William Makepeace Thackeray in London. I can assert with somewhat less confidence that he went on an excursion to Cape Cod (then, a wild locale) with Henry David Thoreau, and was personal friends with Abby May Alcott, wife of Bronson Alcott. He knew Longfellow at least well enough to know what newspapers he subscribed to; and there are a host of other, lesser lights (including, of course, Sarah Orne Jewett). He appears to not only have known, but to have worked as a liaison for, William Lloyd Garrison. And he reported on lyceum talks by many of the famous persons of the day, including Emerson and Clemens.
As for my characterization, in the interview, that "several of my past lives have been very influential in my work," I discovered that Mathew actually did much the same work. He was an officer in the Portland (Maine) Spiritualist Association; signed the Spiritualist petition to Congress in 1854; met with famous psychic Andrew Jackson Davis in that same year, and may have made arrangements for him to give a series of talks; probably ghost wrote a lengthy treatise defending Spiritualism against a Portland fundamentalist preacher, Rev. Dwight; published Spiritualist poetry, and wrote pro-Spiritualist humorous sketches in 1852.* If I have the attribution correct--which I almost certainly do--he even published an unsigned essay on "pre-existence" in 1850.** I had no idea of any of this when I first encountered his etching, online; and, of course, I didn't even know that Mathew existed when I made that statement in the interview, in 2003.
It's a precise match, which is far, far beyond mere chance; and the only possible normal explanation is defeated. I was not, in fact, looking for a historical figure who matched my 2003 statement. In fact, I wasn't even thinking about it. I had simply recognized his colleague's name, "Sarah Orne Jewett," a writer I am unlikely to have ever studied in college. I cannot say for sure that I hadn't seen her name in any of my college classes--but she is not typically featured in the required English Lit courses I took in community college. Regardless of whether I had ever heard her name or not, it simply acted as a trigger--the door through which I discovered my past-life identity.
Keep in mind there is a great deal more evidence, including two more solid "hits" like this. So it was not just a lucky guess. Jeff Keene sent me the link for Mathew's page, because he said "you look like him." And indeed, I do--almost identical, except for variations in the nose. (From studying several past-life matches, I conclude that for some reason if anything is going to change in the face from one life to another, it's the nose. Conversely, the eyes remain the most unchanged.)
Now, I know how the skepical mind works. I have the same impulses, myself. One searches frantically for an explanation; if there isn't a plausible explanation readily available, one goes out on a limb to manufacture one. In fact, in such a circumstance, when faced with essentially irrefutable evidence for the paranormal, one actually resorts to magical thinking to defeat it, so as to defend one's own world view. This is the height of irony, because it is skeptics who will accuse paranormal advocates of magical thinking--when they are resorting to it in their own denial.
How will you deny that I have proved, with this one "hit," that my case is genuine?
And why, in the world, would people not want to buy my book, since I clearly can prove that it's a real case? Why would my colleagues, involved in the same struggle to educate the public about the paranormal, not wish to present and reference my work (aside, that is, from professional envy)? And why would radio show hosts who were quite willing to interview me about my documentary, or about the topic of reincarnation, in general, show no interest when I successfully prove my own past-life case?
Very strange. But I'll tell you this much--I'm not going away. Eventually, some of these people are going to catch on, that I actually have something of value to contribute to the discussion.
Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.
*Q. 6. [A blank space.]
A. 6. [A blank space.]
“That, gentlemen,” said I, “is a remarkable, a most satisfactory test of the truthfulness of spirituous answers or replications. It was by the same process that Pyrrhus satisfied himself of the truthfulness of the Delphic oracle. He sent a sealed letter, directing that the oracle should transmit a correct reply, before opening his own missive. A blank sheet was returned; and on opening the letter of Pyrrhus, it was found to be blank!” “Don’t retail Rollin’s Ancient History to us!” exclaimed the Schwarzelbugs. “But,” said Mesdame La Bryot, “was the oracle true and reliable? If we admit from No. 6, the truthfulness of the rappings, we must admit, by parity of reasoning, the truthfulness of the oracle.” “There is nothing new under the sun,” I answered, “there were great men before Agamemnon, and small men, too. Spiritual rappings, communications from above humanity and beyond humanity, have always been delivered, wherever and whenever there were wise men to hear and transmit them, and wise men to put their truth in them, and rich men to give splendid offerings to Apollo, and poor men to devote a portion of their substance to the benefit of mediums.” “I must see you again on the subject,” said Miss Snibby; “I wish to inquire whose cat killed my canary.” “Next Thursday evening, Mesdame, I shall be at your service.” [Exeunt.]
E. Goethe Digg, U. G.
[Historians attribute the "Dr. Digg" character in "The Carpet-Bag" to Benjamin Drew; but I have established beyond a reasonable doubt that the character was originated, and primarily written, by Mathew Franklin Whittier. Here, Dr. Digg steps out of character to affirm the rational and historical basis for Spiritualist phenomena. (You may wish to compare the logic and style of writing to the anti-slavery tract I presented in the previous Update.)--SS]
Through what brain, in which a thought e'er found ledgment, has not sometimes floated a dim consciousness of a past existence? A flash of light, a momentary glance, a struggling reminiscence, and all was blank again? Sometimes it came to us in the strain of sweetest music; sometimes it was awakened by a look, a word, a thought. Mostly in the dim hour of twilight, when the inward eye sees more clearly than amid the bustle of the world, such glimpses of the past, such haunting, tantalizing visions have startled us. Visions quickly fading; and yet leaving a firm though unsatisifed impression.--Boatswain Chip was ready to swear that what he did to-day, he had done a thousand years before!--Most of us are not so sure. And yet the thought has risen that we have lived other lives than this, and left them far behind us. We do not care to philosophize about it; we will indulge the vision.--Other men have done so before us, and beautiful fancies have they fashioned therefrom. To the ancients, as to us, came such thoughts, and with their rich imaginations, they painted a glorious past in the history of man. Plato beautifully shadowed forth the doctrine of the soul's ante-natal life, and the Greeks imagined that they milky-way was the path down which our souls had descended in their earthward journey. At Crater, the starry cup between the constellations Leo and Cancer, the exiled spirits were compelled to take an oblivious draught that they might bear with them to earth no memory of the paradise behind. Yet, as the quaint old Macrobius says, the soul is not extinguished by its banishment, but occasionally awakens to glimpses of the past.
So too the Egyptians, in the secret recesses of their temples, were taught by their priests "that men were spirits fallen from a brighter sphere, and that the reason they brought with the no reminiscence of that pre-existence was, because one of the Genii stood at the gate of human life, with a leathean cup in his hand, from which each son! was compelled to take an oblivious draught, on recovering from which, there flitted before it but dim, broken, and fragmentary visions of the past." And amongst these broken visions music was the chief. Thus the Hindoo sage suggests that "the sadness of men on seeing beautiful forms and listening to sweet melody, arises from some faint remembrance of past joys, and the traces of connections in a former tate of existence." These were the fancies of the men of old. We live in an age which does not indulge in fancies, and yet there come to us still these glimpses of a better land, dim memories of an ante-natal life. Sage philosophy may assign them other than a celestial origin, but we care not to listen to it--We will cherish the visions until the mysteries of life are laid open to us.
Music opening this page: "Desert Rose,"
by Eric Johnson, from the album, "Ah Via Musicom"