Since childhood, I've had a nagging feeling of trying to remember something. A place, a memory that I couldn't quite put my finger on. I often dreamt of a white house. I was a girl happily running from its side yard to a rear porch. It felt like summer. I also dreamt of being traumatized in a white house, in an upstairs bedroom with a wood floor and sparse furnishings.
Over the years I drew sketches of the white house, and a long barn that I remembered. Years later, those sketches provided an answer for what I was remembering.
In 2017, I tried 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... it was an intense, 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, which surprised me because I hadn't thought of it in years. 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 a vicious racial slur right in my ear.
I was appalled... how could I 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 Lisa about it upon my arrival. At the start of the session, I guessed I might see a past life in Ireland. The white house had a stucco exterior common to Irish cottages.
As Lisa eased me into an altered 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 march or protest with women in Victorian clothes. 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," and proceeded with the regression.
I soon saw the white house in my mind's eye. It looked so real, as if I were in a virtual reality game. I walked into the house and up to the bedroom. I was a girl in poor clothing. I could feel rough cloth against my sweaty skin; my feet were bare. There was a baby in a crib for me to take care of. I hated this baby.
I felt intense bitterness... I had a dark, despairing heart. I was sly and devious. I didn't recognize myself; it was like looking out through a stranger's eyes. I looked down and saw 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. I could see the layout of the room, and a window 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 tried to shut it up by putting something over its face. Maybe the parents caught me because suddenly I was being beaten, so realistically that I was crying on Lisa's treatment table. I felt my body shaking. (This is not uncommon. Releasing trauma we are still carrying is a healing goal of past-life regression.) Lisa gently brought me out of it.
In the following days, I pondered it all. Was it imagination? What was 1836 about? And the things Lisa said? Abolitionist? Painting in a white frame? 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 and sought help from The Anti-Slavery Society, leaders in the Abolitionist movement. They took her in, gave her proper clothing, and used her testimony in their ongoing petition of Parliament to abolish slavery in the West Indes (remember the Victorian clothing and group of "protesting" women). Slavery was illegal in England, but legal in its territories. The Society published 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 learned 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. It was the Bermudan home of the Inghams, who purchased Prince at age 12. One of her duties was to care for their baby. This is the photo, taken in 2008, followed by a sketch I drew in 2001:
In my sketch, you can see the two upstairs windows at right corner of house, and a line beneath them to depict the division between stories. The first-story doorway at center of house is shown, with notes greenhouse or airy, add-on room... open door. As it turns out, that doorway is an open breezeway that goes through to the backyard. According to my journal notes, the circled word "here" near the doorway indicates that "something bad happened here."
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 "airy, add-on room, open door" where "something bad happened here", was I remembering that awful moment in Prince's life? When I sketched the two windows of the upstairs bedroom, was I remembering trying to shut the baby up and getting caught? The Inghams would likely have occupied that bedroom and kept the baby's crib there, so it's the room where such an event would have occurred.
Below is a photo Dr. Maddison-MacFadyen took in 2008 of The Long Shed on Grand Turk Island, where Prince worked after being sold by the Inghams. The Long Shed 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." Beneath the photo is a sketch I drew in 2001 titled "The Long Barn".
See the similarities? A rectangular building, with two window spaces. I drew a few lines that I believe are bars on the windows, though not in the right place (these sketches were done after waking from dreams). I drew the small square building at the end of the long shed, and wavy vertical lines labeled "stream," in the same spot as the tree. 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. And the stick figure?... that is where Dr. Maddison-MacFadyen would have stood to take this photo.
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
Here are Dr. Maddison-McFadyen's own words about the moment she felt 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 with notes from my dream journals. I feel compelled by the similarities in my recollections of: 1) the long barn/long shed, 2) the Inghams' white house where traumatic things happened.
But what about the happy memories I'd had of a white house? Being a girl running around to a back porch, a sort of greenhouse space with square-paned windows, where flowering vines grew and it was always summer?
I soon learned that Prince lived in more than one white house. 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 theorizes that the Williams estate is what's now known as Palmetto House. Below is a 1984 painting of the rear porch of Palmetto House. When I found this painting for sale on Ebay, it was shown in a white wooden frame. I thought of Lisa Alexander's words: I see a painting in a white wooden frame. The photo is followed by my 1999 sketch of "the happy white house."
The structure has changed between 1700s and the artist's depiction in 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" was likely an open kitchen or vestibule where Prince's mother did her work; slaves typically worked in the rear of homes. The memory that used to nag me seems almost clear to me now; playing with the other kids and running around back to see my mother.
This photo shows another view of Palmetto House. Underneath it is another "happy white house" sketch, which shows the square-paned window diagonally above and to the right of a rear door: similar even down to the detail of the window's 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. 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 in my ear. There is 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 some 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 experiences it has had in other physical bodies. Connecting with that energetic 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 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 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!