Its 5:22 a.m. as I start this entry, and I am preparing to drive down to Haverhill, Mass. to visit my past-life childhood home, the birthplace of John Greenleaf Whittier.
I like to comment on these research expeditions, where I am exposing myself to past-life haunts, before I actually experience them. I would guess that some people have unrealistic expectations as to what might happen; and if I don't report such things, they dismiss the entire case as having now been disproven. These people expect me to have already known, for example, how to pronounce "Haverhill." I didn't. I called the Haverhill Public Library, when I first began my study of Mathew Franklin Whittier, thinking it was pronounced "Haver-hill." It's not--it's "Hayvrille." In order for me to have that kind of knowledge, from my 19th-century physical personality, I would have to stop being Stephen Sakellarios, with my 20th and 21st-century associations, and actually become my 19th-century personality, again. That can happen under deep hypnosis, and it can occasionally happen, briefly, with full-immersion "flashbacks" in normal waking consciousness. Usually, I think they occur primarily where there was very intense emotion associated with a memory. It can be either positive or negative, and there are examples of both in my documentary, "In Another Life: Reincarnation in America."
The other element usually required for a flashback--at least, according to my own observations, with a sample-size of one--is that the stimulus must be very much as it was, at the time the memory was created. Even a relatively small modification may, seemingly, block the triggering mechanism.
Now, this farmhouse is advertised as having been kept in its original condition; but it isn't, and this can be demonstrated with period photographs and artwork. It was originally an unpainted ordinary old farmhouse, and in the 1860's it was in rather poor repair. When it was turned into a Whittier museum, however, it was spruced up considerably, and given a coat of white paint. This, apparently, caused me to feel no particular recognition for the exterior, at all, during the early years of my study.
It went through several owners, since year 1836 when the Whittier family sold it. To what extent they have restored the interior to reflect its appearance when they lived there, is questionable. Various period photographs show that artwork and portraits have been moved around, for example. As to furniture, well, it was, I think (without looking it up) over 50 years from the time they sold the farm, to the point it was purchased as a museum. I wouldn't imagine very much of the furniture is original, except, perhaps, for things like built-in shelving.
So like many of these historical sites connected with my past life, it is the same place where Mathew Franklin Whittier grew up, and yet, it isn't. And that may be a key factor for potential flashback experiences.
Putting oneself in a location and hoping for flashbacks, is very much like fishing. One may catch a fish, but just because one doesn't, is no reason to conclude that there are no fish there.
Now, suppose you are taken back to your childhood home. This is fairly common, and I have seen several such accounts portrayed in television programs and films. It is seen, for example, in Bruce Joel Rubin's magnificent film, "My Life." The grown man knows exactly which brick to pull out, to find the army action figure with the parachute, which he had hidden there, as a boy.
This kind of thing would be the gold standard for a return to the scene of a past-life childhood. And such things were, as I recall, occasionally reported in Dr. Ian Stevenson's research, where the returning child knew the location where money had been buried, and so-on. (It wasn't there, but the family admitted they had already dug it up.)
On the other hand, if I don't have such a gold-standard experience, that in itself doesn't necessarily disprove the case. In fact, the case is already proven, so except for the die-hard skeptic who has not read my book, that isn't at issue. The only question is, if I don't have such an experience, what are the factors which have inhibited it?
I will, per usual, bring recording equipment, but very likely photographs aren't permitted inside the house. However, I will have my digital audio recorder, and I can dictate real-time notes as soon as I get outside.
It is my understanding that for many years, the caretaker has been an elderly gentleman who is very well-versed in the Whittier history, and the Whittier lore. But I have discovered that the Whittier lore is full of mistakes and omissions, especially where Mathew is concerned. It has grown into a sort of fond, glowing myth about the historical figure, John Greenleaf Whittier, and that process began in Whittier's own lifetime. Even his friend, author John Townsend Trowbridge, commented wryly on the fact that people were trying to turn JGW into a saint. So if this gentleman is still giving the tours, and holds forth in this vein, I will simply have to "nod and smile." There is no point engaging him on these things. I tried to write e-mails to him on three occasions, being completely open about my claims and my research, and never heard back. Perhaps he doesn't use e-mail; perhaps there was some technical reason. But I was very open and fair-minded in my letters; and as such, being a member of the public inquiring about a public museum and matters of history, I think they deserved a response.
Of course, the occult is nothing new in New England, where it has always been met with an ambivalent reception. John Greenleaf Whittier wrote about it, in a sort of anthropological vein, while Mathew was tutored in it extensively by his first wife, Abby Poyen. At first, Mathew was skeptical, but later he came to embrace at least certain aspects of it, including, perhaps, reincarnation.
So my own research, interests and claims should have a place there. If they are excluded, then, they are excluded to the detriment of the actual history of these people. Even Whittier's mother attended seances*; and his Aunt Mercy believed that her fiance came personally, as an apparition, to tell her that he had recently been killed. To exclude my claim to be the reincarnation of Mathew, is to exclude this entire aspect of the Whittier's own life from the historical presentation.
I also wanted to mention, briefly, that looking at this website's statistics for April, I note that people are visiting the best pages. By that I mean, that the pages they are looking at suggest a deep interest in the subject. An article about the "James the Submarine Man" case reached an astonishing 852 for the month; while my article about "Continuing Love," or continuing a soul-mate relationship across the Great Divide, came close with 656. This blog got 312 for the month of April, while Abby's journal was at 280. Interestingly, a page called "real_article" got a whopping 330! This is a little joke, a link at the bottom of an article I wrote entitled "The Futility of Reincarnation Education." I suggested that there was actually no point in writing such an article in the first place, and as a final irony, I provided a link to a page with just the title, and no text, suggesting that it was the "real article." But I embedded something in the HTML coding, for those few people to whom it might occur to display the background. I don't know whether someone caught on and is linking to it for that reason, or whether some cynic is linking to it thinking the blank page is "all I got."
I suspect that when I present material, the knee-jerk reaction of many cynics is, "That's all he's got." It's intrinsic to their habit of reductionism. But just as Mathew Franklin Whittier wrote in layers, what you see is rarely all I've got.
Perhaps more importantly, in the stats, I see that a few people are checking out crucial links, which indicate to me that they are thinking, and they are getting what I'm trying to do, here. They may or may not be convinced--that's fine. But they are looking into it. I see, for example, that one photograph of an editorial page from the New York "Constellation"--when Mathew was the acting junior editor of the paper--was seen 27 times in April. The blog entry discussing that page is long-buried in the frequent entries that I publish; but someone, apparently, is talking about it and linking to it. Similarly, a handful of people are taking the time to watch some of my more recent videos, taken on-site at Mathew's grave, and at Abby's gravesite. Someone is taking my work seriously enough to look at my evidence. And when I say "evidence," I mean it not in the sense of "proof," but in the scientific sense of data. I went, I saw, I shot--without expectations. It's like a date where you tell the girl the good and the bad. It may not be so impressive as the fellow who deliberately puts his best foot forward (or even embellishes); but when you do say something favorable about yourself, at least she knows it's probably true.
So if I put myself inside the Whittier farmhouse, today, and I experience a flashback, you'll know I didn't make that up.
Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.
*And note that this was in the early 1840's, roughly a decade before the supposed start of Spiritualism with the advent of the Fox sisters.
Music opening this page: Theme from the film, "Jurassic Park"