Sunday, November 22, 2009
Psychometry: Relics From Aspen Grove
I promised to write a post about some of the psychometry readings I got as a child on relics I dug up at my childhood home, Aspen Grove. I thought I’d finally sit down and recall the readings I had done. Most of the details are still very fresh in my mind, but some are gone. I admit that my mother humored my explanations for every item I dug up, but I don’t think she wanted to believe I actually was reading the history of these historic pieces. Still, I recall being excited on any boring day to pull out the metal detector and let my instincts tell me where to go. Sometimes, while playing in the gardens, I’d sense a place with history. I’d end up playing there, sitting there, hanging out there, until finally I dug up whatever was there “calling” to me. On rainy days, I’d go in the crawlspace under the kitchen in the basement and find amazing things. The kitchen was added on in the 1900s and there were a great deal of interesting items there.
Below, I recaptured a conversation pretty accurately. I’m one of those freakish people with memories back to my diaper days. It might be related to my spatial abilities, but for some reason, I have an astonishing memory for things that pique my interest at the time.
The very first psychometry I remember sharing with my mother was a bayonet from a Civil War rifle. I was about 7 years old at the time and I didn’t know that others didn’t read things about objects when they held them, so I offered my insights without censor.
I remember I rushed to my mother in the chair where she had the papers spread out, uncovering the history of the estate for the historical society. I set down the dirty bayonet, breathlessly excited. “Mom!”
“Hmm?” As usual, she didn’t glance up from her paperwork, but she must have smelled the earthy scent of the relic, because she lifted her head and frowned. “What is that?”
“It’s a knife!” I told her.
She pulled her glasses up and grabbed the dirty metal from my hands and studied it. “It looks like a bayonet.”
“What’s a bayonet?”
“It’s a sword-like device attached to the end of a rifle.”
I frowned. “If you have a gun, why would you use it to stab someone? Why not shoot them?” I pondered.
She laughed. “Well, it looks like you found a real relic. Probably over a hundred years old. Maybe older.”
“Really?” That didn’t excite me as much as what I had to say next.
“It was James FitzPatrick’s.”
”Hmm?” She looked up from her new distraction. “James Fitzpatrick? Where did you hear that?”
I shrugged. “I don’t know. He killed a man.” I said in a hushed confession.
“He did?” Now she had on her exaggerated mother face with raised eyebrows and dramatic expression to let me know my story was riveting. Even as a child, I sensed she thought this was pure entertainment, but to me it was very real.
“He killed him and then he threw up.” I confided as if it were a shocking secret.
“He did?” She sounded a bit aghast.
“Then, you know what he did?” I whispered confidentially.
“What did he do next?”
My voice lowered in hushed wonder. “He dropped to his knees and he prayed for the man’s soul, and his own.”
My mother blinked. She wasn’t always comfortable around children, even having 5 of them. She liked little adults much better. So, the game was over for her and she was ready to retreat to her paperwork. “We’ll clean this up later. It’s going to be very difficult to get this down to its original shape.”
I turned to skip away, when my mother called out.
“Very good find!”
In my child’s mind it wasn’t the physical find that was very good, it was what I gleaned of its history.
I’ve not thought about that experience very often over the years, although admittedly one Halloween I made fake headstones for the garden and when I was done with one of them, I realized I had named him “James Fitzpatrick.” It sort of jarred something in my memory and then all of a sudden I was recalling all the psychometries I had performed as a child before I tucked away the skill due to lack of nurturing and didn’t pick it up again until my 30s.
Now, I’m beginning to wonder if there was a James Fitzpatrick in Northern Virginia during the Civil War. I suppose it shouldn’t be too hard to find some listings of regiments. Whether he was in Fairfax specifically, I don’t know. I suppose I could now begin a study trying to find him. With the advent of home computer searches nowadays it’s much easier. One of the things lacking in psychometry is just how the item got there. It’s entirely possible someone kept the gun in the family or perhaps sold it off or left it somewhere to be found by another and it began trip that ended on our property. I can still in my mind picture him and the connection I felt with his life and emotions.
Another item that stuck with me was a porcelain doll. It’s odd because I usually read metal objects better, but this broken delicate baby doll had a mood about it that was hard to shake. I both loved her and hated her. I was a tomboy as a kid and nurturing baby dolls was completely not my gig. In fact, I never owned a baby doll. They creeped me out, quite honestly. I liked being the only baby in our family of five kids. I did, however, grab this doll away from my sister when she dug it up. I was about 8 at the time.
I rushed it to the house, cleaned it off (against orders, us kids weren’t supposed to try to clean them or disasters ensued and ruin soon followed). I set her on the counter in the sunlight from the kitchen window and studied her. She had high arching eyebrows, a broken off arm and foot, and sat about 4” tall. Her expression was so devoid of emotion that it might have been the very moment I decided baby dolls were evil (hence my last Halloween setup display).
Porcelain isn’t impossible to read, but not always as clear and visually bright. I did, however, get a sense that this doll had been part of a set of three dolls and the other two had long since been smashed to pieces. This one was kept well into a woman’s lifetime as the only physical memory of her childhood that remained. I got the distinct feeling it was someone who might have lived in the house when it was taken over by the soldiers to use as a field hospital and they had to vacate. The family did return and got money from the government to fix up the tattered house, but I suspect this woman had only one homely porcelain doll remaining of her prized possessions. I wonder sometimes if it’s one of the 7 women in the picture of the estate just when the Civil War ended and they removed back in (photo above). My eyes are always drawn to the girl with the crutch on the left….
I was perhaps 12 or so when I stopped reading objects. The reason is the object that I had read was so disturbing, I didn’t want to know people’s inner hells. I was rather naïve about the Civil War. Admittedly, the ghosts haunting our halls were guardian soldiers who missed their families and adopted my own. I felt protected by the beautiful boxwood gardens and orchards and forests that surrounded the estate. It was so lush and beautiful that I always envisioned The War as something brief and fleeting. Yet, the house was wrestled back and forth between North and South to be used as a hospital and having been built in the mid 1700s, had seen a great deal of families coming and going for generations and generations. The residual created lots of atmosphere and pockets of weird feelings in certain rooms, certain spots, and even the land seemed extraordinarily haunted as much as the house.
But, this one time as an adolescent, I used the metal detector to dig up a bullet. It was nothing more than a tiny blip on the metal detector, but I knew it wasn’t where the water lines ran or anything else. Normally we dug up so many bullets, we’d throw them back into the hole and cover them up, like catching tiny fish on a tossing them back in the water. How many bullets can a person showcase in their cabinets? This one, however, bothered me very much. I pocketed it and forgot about it until bedtime. I pulled it out of my pocket and held it for a time. A story seemed to unfold. A field doctor/soldier. I pictured him both healing and fighting. I didn’t get a sense of his name, but his age was rather older than the others in the building, in his 40s at least. He had a rather fatalist view of war and fighting and yet it was his career. I’d call him jaded. I felt as if he’d seen enough men die to be well and truly sick of trying to find ways to save people with limited resources and knowledge. So removed from his inner emotions, sort of able to block them off, he took his gun and shot a dying soldier in his head. He couldn’t provide him any comfort, so he made his death hasten. I caught a glimpse of the aftermath of two or three other people coming to the room. There was a conflict for a moment about what was to be done and then it was decided not to speak of it again. Whether the doctor/soldier went on to shoot others, I don’t know, but I got the sense of his other attendants were almost sympathetic and relieved someone else did it, as if they were avoiding the man since they couldn’t help him.
I’ve not let myself really look at these readings as an adult, but now I find myself wondering how much of it can be verified. It changed how I looked at the home and the people who had been there.
Everyone has a story, but so does every object.
at 3:55 PM