Ever since I was little, I had the nagging feeling that I was trying to remember something. A place, a memory that didn't belong to my childhood in New Jersey. I often dreamt of a white house. Sometimes I was a girl happily running around the side of the house to a rear porch. There was a window with square panes. It was always summery, flowery. I also dreamt of being scared and traumatized in a white house, in an upstairs bedroom with wood floors, sparse furniture, and two windows, at the front-right corner of the house.
I drew sketches of the white house, and a long barn that I "remembered." It's lucky I saved those sketches. Years later, they changed my life.
By 2018, I was in my forties and hadn't dreamt of the house in years. I was busy with a career and kids. Then something happened that led me to try a therapy I wasn't sure I believed in: past-life regression.
This wasn't just a "see your past lives, free meditation!" sort of thing. This was an intensive, hours-long experience with Lisa Alexander, a leader in the field of vibrational sound therapy.
The night before my appointment, I had a memory of the white house. I was surprised; it had been years since I'd thought of it. The next morning as I was driving to my session, the year "1836" popped into my head. Then I distinctly heard an angry man's voice say, "God I hate niggers."
I was appalled at myself. I'm not some racist creep... how could I even think such a thought? But it was a man's voice!?? So real, as if he were in the car with me! Embarrassed, I said nothing to Ms. Alexander about it upon my arrival. At the start of the session, I guessed that I might see a past life in Ireland. The white house had the stucco appearance that Irish houses commonly have.
As she eased me into a deeper state of consciousness with her tuning forks, I was feeling doubtful about the whole thing. Then she said, "I'm seeing the word Abolitionist." That caught my attention, because of the year 1836 and what the man's voice had said. She saw me in a sort of march or protest with women wearing Victorian clothing. She guessed, maybe the women's suffrage movement? She also saw a painting in a white wooden frame.
She asked me what I saw. My honest answer was, "nothing." She waited.
I said, "But last night I did see a white house that I used to dream about." She answered, "Let's look at it." She then proceeded with the past-life regression.
I soon saw the white house in my mind's eye. It looked so real; like I was in a virtual reality game. I walked into the house and went up to the second floor bedroom. I was a girl in rough, poor clothing. I could feel the cloth against my sweaty skin, and that my feet were bare. There was a baby in the bedroom for me to take care of. I hated this baby.
I felt intense bitterness and pain... I had a dark, despairing heart. I was also sly and devious. I didn't recognize myself; it was like inhabiting a body, looking out through the eyes of a stranger. I looked down and saw that my arms were dark-skinned. I said aloud to Lisa, "Am I black? I think I'm a slave! This isn't Ireland, it's the Caribbean!" I smelled sea air. The house had a typical island-style stucco exterior. I could see the layout of the room, including the window which I desperately wished to escape from, even if it meant jumping to my death.
The baby was crying and I was so sick of it all that I was trying to shut it up by putting something over its face. Maybe the parents caught me smothering the baby because the next thing I knew I was being beaten, so violently and realistically that I was crying and yelling on Lisa's treatment table. I felt my body shaking. (This is not uncommon. Trauma we are still carrying is often the first thing we see in past-life regression.) Lisa gently brought me out of it.
In the following days, I analyzed what I'd seen. Was it imagination? What about the things Lisa said? Abolitionist? Painting in a white frame? Me in Victorian dress with a group of women? What about 1836? What do Victorian ladies protesting have to do with a Caribbean slave girl?
I googled the key terms: Caribbean slave, abolitionist, 1836. Up popped the story of Mary Prince, a Bermudan slave born circa 1787, with this photo:
There are no authenticated photos of Mary Prince, but according to Wikipedia this photo is the historians' choice to depict her. It caught my attention, seeing the baby and the look on the girl's face. ("I hate this baby")
In 1828, Prince's owners brought her to London. She fled their home and sought help from The Anti-Slavery Society, leaders in the Abolitionist movement. They took her in, gave her proper clothing and a job, and used her testimony in their ongoing petitioning of Parliament to abolish slavery in the British colonies (remember the Victorian clothing and group of "protesting" women). Slavery was illegal in England, but legal in its foreign territories. The Society published Mary's memoir, The History of Mary Prince a West Indian Slave, in 1831. Slavery was abolished in the West Indes in 1834. The last known record of Mary Prince was in 1833 (remember I heard the year 1836).
I discovered that a PhD scholar, Dr. Margot Maddison-MacFadyen, was researching Mary Prince for her thesis and had created a website. I clicked on it, and got chills as I came face to face with a photo of the white house! This is the photo, followed by a sketch I drew of it in 2001:
It isn't an exact match of course, but you can see the two upstairs front windows at right corner of house, a line drawn beneath them to depict the division between stories, and the first-story doorway at center of house. An arrow pointing to that doorway notes greenhouse or airy, add-on room... open door, gardens. This is a house in Bermuda owned by the Inghams, who purchased Mary Prince at age 12. One of her duties was to care for their baby.
When it comes to past lives, we see what's important; the traumas we are still carrying with us in our energy field. I dreamt of, and drew, the important spots: the windows of the 2nd-story bedroom in which Mary Prince experienced trauma (I've confirmed with the Bermuda Historical Society that those windows were in the master bedroom), and the first-story "airy, add-on room, open door" at center. According to my dream journal notes, the circled word "here" near the doorway indicates that "something bad happened here."
As it turns out, that first-story doorway in center of the house is an open breezeway under the piazza that goes through to the backyard. Here is an excerpt from Prince's 1831 narrative, about the day she received 100 lashes from Mr. Ingham, which was immediately followed by an earthquake:
"I was so sore with the flogging, that I scarcely cared whether I lived or died. The earth was groaning and shaking, everything tumbling about... During the confusion I crawled away on my hands and knees, and laid myself down under the steps of the piazza, in front of the house.... I lay there til the morning, careless of what might happen.... and I wished more than ever to die."
When I sketched that first-story "airy, add-on room, open door" where "something bad happened here", was I remembering that traumatic moment in Mary Prince's life? When I sketched the two windows of the upstairs master bedroom, was I remembering another traumatic moment of trying to shut the baby up and getting caught? The Inghams would likely have occupied that master bedroom and kept the baby's crib in there, so it's probably the room where such an event would have occurred.
Below is a photo that Margot Maddison-MacFadyen took (circa 2008) of a building called "The Long Shed" on Grand Turk Island, where Prince lived after being sold by the Inghams. The Long Shed, as it is called by islanders, is where the slaves slept. Prince described it in her narrative: "We slept in a long shed, divided into narrow slips, like the stalls used for cattle." The photo is followed by a sketch I drew in 2001 of a place I called "The Long Barn."
See the similarities? A rectangular building, with two window spaces. I had drawn a few lines that I believe are the bars on the windows, though not in the right place. I drew the small square building that stands at the end of the long shed, which is partially visible in the photo. I drew a vertical lined structure that I labeled "stream," in the same spot as the tree in the photo (it's possible there is/was a stream there, I don't know). That tree, and maybe the small square building, would not have been there in Mary Prince's time. It's as if I were drawing the photo itself.
Here are my dream journal notes accompanying the "Long Barn" sketch:
8/3/2001: "women having sex or being raped, almost like in a line-up, in a grey cement walled place like a parking garage or unfinished building"
8/27/2001: "traveling with a ragtag bunch of people, stayed in a hotel with tiny rooms like stalls, open at the top so you could hear noises from the other stalls.
I was dirty, needed a change, upset a lot."
I drew one more sketch of "The Long Barn," from a frontal view. You can see again a faint depiction of vertical lines like bars on the windows, and my notes, "Barn-like, but not stables. Empty. Was once storage," (which it was when Dr. Maddison MacFadyen visited).
Here is the only other photo of The Long Shed on maryprince.org: also a frontal view. Two photos of The Long Shed: one at an angle, one a frontal view. Two sketches of The Long Barn: one at an angle, one a frontal view.
Something else: scroll up and look at my first sketch of "The Long Barn". See the stick figure? I asked myself... who is that supposed to be? Then I realized... that is where Dr. Maddison-MacFadyen would have stood to take this photo.
Here are her own words from her thesis, about the moment she felt that Mary Prince's spirit was summoning her at The Long Shed:
"Standing in the heat of the day, curling my hands around the iron bars covering the windows... I responded to Prince's summons, and it marked the beginning of my commitment to her, though over 200 years separate us. At that moment, I hatched a plan to further investigate and authenticate her story..."
Looking at my sketch of "The Long Barn" and that stick figure, I feel this is not a coincidence. I somehow sketched the moment when a woman picked up on my own spirit's energy, asking to be heard, unbeknownst to me.
So at this point, I'm comparing photos of Mary Prince's dwellings and 1831 narrative recollections with notes from my dream journal. I feel compelled by the similarities in my sketches/dreams of: 1) the long barn/the long shed, and 2) the Inghams' white house where traumatic things happened.
But what about the happy dreams I'd had of a white house? Being a young girl running around the side of the house to a back porch, a sort of greenhouse-place with a square-paned window, where flowering vines grew and it was always summer? Where did they fit into all this?
I soon learned that Mary Prince lived in more than one white house. She noted in her narrative that before being sold to the Inghams, she had a happy childhood at the home of the Williams family, who owned Mary, her mother, and her siblings. Dr. Maddison-MacFadyen's research led her to theorize that the Williams estate is what's now known as Palmetto House. Here is an artist's painting of the rear porch of Palmetto House in 1984:
When I found this painting for sale on Ebay, it was displayed in a white wooden frame. I thought of Lisa Alexander's words during my past-life regression: "I see a painting in a white wooden frame."
These are my sketches of "the happy white house" :
My notes indicate that one could hop down from the slanted roof onto the horizontal roof of the back porch area. In the painting, above that narrow backdoor you can see how mischievous children could indeed hop from the slanted roof to the horizontal back porch roof. The structure has likely changed between the late 1700s and the artist's painting of 1984, but some similarity is visible with that diagonal roof line and the 90 degree angle dropping to a horizontal roof line in the back of house.
I think the back porch "garden room" as noted in this sketch, was likely an open kitchen or vestibule where Prince's mother would have done her work; slaves typically worked in the rear of homes. The photo below shows a different view of Palmetto House. Underneath that is another "happy white house" sketch, which shows the square-paned window in its position diagonally above and to the right of a black rear door: even down to the detail of its dimensions: 3-panes horizontally, 4-panes vertically.
I believe these sketches show interesting correlations, taking into account the distortions that occur in accessing distant childhood memories. What about the distant memories of a childhood that took place in another incarnation? In another century, on another continent? Memories and sketches that correlate with historical evidence? It's something worth exploring. I've noticed since this happened, my nagging feeling of trying to remember something has vanished.
The last record of Mary Prince was in 1833. I often wonder why I heard "1836" and that man's terrible words when this all started. I saw a reference to a theory that Prince was murdered because her testimony with the Anti-Slavery Society led to the 1834 abolition of slavery in the West Indes, and many powerful men were not happy about that. Was one of those men the voice I heard? Did Mary Prince return to the West Indes in 1834, finally free?
We will probably never know. But one thing this journey has taught me, is that we are more than just our physical body.
We all have an energetic/spiritual body, and it remembers the experiences it has had in other physical bodies. Connecting with that spiritual body, and helping others to do the same, has become a focus of my life's work. I became certified as a vibrational sound therapist in order to perform past-life regressions myself and help others experience this transformative modality. While I am not yet trained in regression, in my work as a sound therapist I have already seen more evidence that our energetic/spiritual bodies do exist, and carry memories.
It's perfectly okay with me if my readers, friends, and family don't believe in reincarnation. Personally, I don't believe in anything unless I see it with my own eyes. But I have seen it, and now I encourage you to consider... could my experience possibly be evidence that reincarnation is real?
Let me know what you think!