Chasing Smallwood — .15. A Session with a Psychic

[Wednesdays, I am posting pieces of Chasing Smallwood, an early book now out of print. This is a book about four interconnected themes:

  • how to communicate with the dead;
  • the life of a 19th-century American;
  • the massive task facing us today, and

the physical world’s place in the scheme of things.]

Following up on Joseph’s suggestion, on the night of December 29, 2005 I did a telephone consultation with Karen Storsteen, a talented psychic who I had met at the International New Age Trade Show (INATS) while working the show for Hampton Roads Publishing Co.

I took notes at the time, but didn’t reconstruct them into a narrative at the time, which I regret now. The fragmentary nature of my notes almost resemble the notes of a remote viewing – which, come to think of it, is more or less what they are. The difficulty in reconstructing is that I made no note of my questions, only her answers. So looking at them now, from this distance, I can no longer remember which of her answers came from my specific questions and which were just perceptions that came to her. Sometimes it is obvious, sometimes not.

As will soon become clear, much of the information that Karen got contradicted the story that I had gotten directly from Joseph. As the saying goes, I didn’t know where I was, but I did know that I didn’t have a paddle. All I could do was continue – “sojer on” – and hope that at some point things would clarify.

I think the best thing to do is to reproduce the notes and add any explanations within brackets. So here we go:

* * *

  • 1842 significant date. Little boy then, like eight years old
  • Born 1834
  • Didn’t go to college
  • Born in northwest Massachusetts
  • Image of dentist. Writing, trying to be influential. “Like pulling teeth.” [Later when I asked if he was a Transcendentalist, Karen said yes. That may have been part of that dentist image, a pun.]
  • Writing, trying to be influential. Writing and speaking. Opinions. Frustrated.
  • Trying to influence – politics, “fairness,” and liberty. Not an abolitionist.
  • Father called him Joseph, and he remained Joseph to his father and those older. Came to me as Joseph rather than as Dave because “Joseph sounds more prominent” and I might not have taken Dave as seriously.
  • Went in as volunteer. Lived in Virginia from 1853-1855 to separate from father, then moved back to Massachusetts at age 21.
  • Never went west
  • Dictatorial father
  • Enlisted in army
  • Had the idea in Virginia, knew he was going to enlist.
  • Regular army. Cavalry.
  • Look in old books [to find him]
  • Western army
  • [I named several generals and asked if he had served under them]
  • Sherman: yes
  • McPherson: no
  • Thomas: for a short time
  • [I named several battles and campaigns and asked if he had been there]
  • Chickamauga: no
  • Atlanta: yes
  • March to the sea: no; stayed with Thomas
  • Franklin: no
  • Shiloh: no
  • Against Mosby: no
  • Gettysburg: yes
  • Fredericksburg: yes (chills) [Karen got chills when I asked about Fredericksburg]
  • Serve in Army of Potomac: no
  • Army of Cumberland: no
  • Under Custer: no
  • Under Stoneman: yes
  • [Joseph would only have served under Stoneman if he were in the cavalry. Karen knew little about the Civil War, and had no idea that Stoneman commanded Union cavalry. Yet of course Stoneman was a part of the Army of the Potomac.]
  • Wounded in leg, area of left knee
  • Lower back, clubbed by rifle as I’d seen. Not at Gettysburg, at Fredericksburg.
  • Did experience me [I will explain this at some length in the proper place. In 1994, I had an experience of contact with Joseph after he had been wounded in battle.]
  • Went in before war began; up warrior ladder quickly
  • General – four stars on shoulder blades (2 on each shoulder)
  • Buttons of brushed gold
  • What’s with the story he told? (Image of him backed off in a corner, scared. Embellished) [That is, Karen got an image of Joseph feeling backed into a corner, having been caught embellishing his true story.]
  • Did he meet Emerson? No
  • Henry? No
  • Disabled by leg, wobbly. Senior in army. In army after war over. Retired from army.
  • Married? No – but a woman beside him. Married on a soul level. Formally married? No. In love with her. Blond. Married to someone else. No children but wanted to have children with her.
  • Died 1889, TB, age 55.
  • “Embellished. I was painting a story. Stories sell.”
  • Purpose is for me to tell the truth
  • Meaning behind it is, for me to show though example, we’re human, sometimes not right on. It’s ok to go back and say gained new info. Not special.
  • Scene with Emerson I saw in ’92? [I was asking about a vision I had had in Gateway, at TMI, of Joseph as a young man visiting Emerson’s house in Concord in 1842. I got no direct answer to this, but it seemed to suggest something to him, because it segued into a different scene in a different time.]
  • Desk in library, in a big argument. Scotch. Drinking. Heated debate.
  • Met John Muir? No [I can’t quite figure out how this fits in here but that’s where it was.]
  • Heated discussion. Too much alcohol. “It’s about the people” – the rights of the people. The other, his superior, was concerned with how it looked politically. Something about bloodbath. Rounder face, lots of hair, fair, pointy nose. Arguing with someone who was in army a step higher. Arguing against orders, “No, then kind of.”
  • Important argument
  • About Fredericksburg. Arguing about orders.
  • Michael Harkins – served with him
  • Argued with him, tall, dark head of hair
  • Harvard? No way, wouldn’t have lasted a minute
  • Transcendentalist
  • Knew Sampson Reed? No [Sampson Reed was an important transcendentalist figure.]
  • Tall hat on father’s head. White hat, tall almost like chef’s hat, ties around bottom of chin. “sailing, sailing”
  • Most important thing to ask
  • Dave
  • “I was a good guy, very humorous, still am. I’m funny; only closest friends know it about me.”
  • Be more lighthearted about it [I think this means, I should be more lighthearted in my psychic explorations, but I no longer remember for sure.]
  • His soul and my soul
  • “Fort” something. Fort dub- something [supposedly his body lies in a graveyard in Fort something or other that starts with the syllable “dub”]
  • He’s an open book but it’s a closed book [I have no idea what this meant, though I knew then]
  • Soul in two places at same time?
  • One was in afterlife dimension, one on earth, not two on earth at same time
  • His brother William went west.
  • Close in age. Close emotionally. Not in war except for short time
  • “My brother is part of me”
  • (I don’t know him in this life)
  • William lived with Indians. Yellow Slipper, children
  • Brother hear Lincoln? No
  • In Iowa, not in Oregon
  • Crossed country, could speak Indian
  • “Dictionary” exists, a book Joseph wrote, working with his brother
  • In a library in this country, not the only copy. Can’t find it using the internet. Under glass in a small museum in South Dakota (not on a reservation) near “corn palace.”
  • So look for Dave Joseph Smallwood in regular army listings

* * *

And so there I was. If this is not a good example of the problems you can get into in trying to verify psychically obtained information, I don’t know what else it is. Either Joseph’s story or Karen’s story might be right, but they could not both be right, and both could easily be wrong. Hoping that time and more information would sort it out, I could see nothing else to do but continue talking to Joseph. Or was it Dave? Nothing like having your feet on solid ground!

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