Marching Through Georgia
For some reason I went looking on the Internet to try to pin down Joseph Smallwood’s Civil War service in the Army, interrupting the work I thought I was doing. And one day I googled “Marching Through Georgia” lyrics and found a site that also played the tune. Neither tune nor words did I know. Why did I go looking for them? I found myself sitting at the computer singing the words, with tears in my eyes, not knowing why.
Hurrah! Hurrah! We bring the Jubilee
Hurrah! Hurrah! The flag that makes you free
So we sang the chorus, from Atlanta to the sea,
While we were marching through Georgia.
That song stayed in my head pretty continuously for days.
Meanwhile I kept trying to pin down Joseph’s service. There was a Joseph Smallwood in the 50th US colored, the 13th Maryland, the 44th Massachusetts (militia), and the 10th New Jersey infantry; and the third New Jersey and first Alabama cavalry; and the seventh Indiana light artillery. Was one of these my Joseph Smallwood? And if he was real and not a figment of my imagination, why wouldn’t I already know?
On the 18th, it occurred to me to do something different in talking to the guys. I asked to be put into direct touch with Joseph Smallwood, and sure enough, there he was. And then morning after morning, day after day, I sat at my kitchen counter with my pen and journal, and Joseph “talked” to me. But was it true? Was it part true and part imagination? Was it all imagination? And if it was imagination, was it fantasy, or was it imagination acting as a tool of perception?
Now, before we go any farther, we need to talk about how it is that I can think that I could talk to someone who is long dead.
The short answer is that “dead” doesn’t mean what our materialist culture thinks it means. Religious and mystical traditions are much closer to the truth about what we call the afterlife. (If people would look at Scripture not as a set of rules but as the record of people’s spiritual experience, they would see it as the invaluable guide that it is.)
We living here in material reality are aware of this world that we perceive through our senses. We live always (as Ram Dass said famously) Here and Now. There is no other place for us to live. Yet Here and Now are not what they appear to be.
It is not the case — although it seems to us here that it is — that the past ceases to exist, and the future is not yet created, and that all we have is this fleeting, ever-changing present moment. Within physical reality, this is how it seems to be. However, there is another part of us that lives outside of time and space, and that part of us cannot “die” in the sense of ceasing to exist.
We tend to think of “eternity” as meaning, in practice, a very, very long time. But that is not what eternity means. Eternity refers to what is outside of time and space.
I don’t want to go into all of this at this moment. I want merely to advance the idea that in fact after we cease to live in material reality, we continue to live outside of time and space in the eternal present. We inside material reality can easily contact those living outside of time and space. They, when in contact with us, seem to know everything we know, which in effect means that one spirit may come to you and talk with a second spirit, through the intermediary of your mind. I learned this firsthand, and so I feel that I can say it “of my own knowledge.”
As I say, this could become a pretty long thread.
Beginning with my next entry, I will reproduce the story of a life in nineteenth-century America as it was given to me over many days, beginning in mid-December, 2005. Morning after morning I would sit in my kitchen counter, drinking coffee and writing in my journal whatever came to me. Sessions usually seemed to last about an hour, an hour and a half at most. Many times I would have to stop after about an hour, as my energy would ebb. I found that I could do this no more than twice, or — exceptionally — three times in a day.
Was this channeling? Well, it certainly was not trance channeling. I knew where I was and what I was doing. Was it automatic writing? Not in the sense of the pen seeming to have a will of its own. For instance, sometimes I would question Joseph. Was it merely my imagination? If imagination were only what people think it is, I could clearly say no. The unconscious has no imagination. It doesn’t make things up. Yet when we create it often seems to us that something within us wells up, and we know very well that our part in the matter is to faithfully transcribe, and not much more.
I would ask you to remember, also, as we go along, that this entire process was clouded for me by doubt. There is a common perception, among people who do not do their own exploring, that anyone delving into these realms is credulous, self deceiving, or fraudulent. Well, some are. That’s true in any line of inquiry. However, I plead not guilty to the charge.
Onward. In my next posting, you will meet Joseph Smallwood, and you may decide for yourself who and what you think he is.