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Emily Dickinson
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Elizabeth (Emily) Dickinson
(December 10, 1830 – May 15, 1886) was an American poet. Born in Amherst, Massachusetts, she lived a mostly introverted and reclusive life. After she studied at the Amherst Academy for seven years in her youth, she spent a short time at Mount Holyoke Female Seminary before returning to her family's house in Amherst. Thought of as an eccentric by the locals, she became known for her penchant for white clothing and her reluctance to greet guests or, later in life, even leave her room. Most of her friendships were therefore carried out by correspondence.

Although Dickinson was a prolific private poet, fewer than a dozen of her nearly eighteen hundred poems were published during her lifetime. The work that was published during her lifetime was usually altered significantly by the publishers to fit the conventional poetic rules of the time. Dickinson's poems are unique for the era in which she wrote; they contain short lines, typically lack titles, and often use slant rhyme as well as unconventional capitalization and punctuation. Many of her poems deal with themes of death and immortality: two recurring topics in letters to her friends.

Although most of her acquaintances were probably aware of Dickinson's writing, it was not until after her death in 1886—when Lavinia, Emily's younger sister, discovered her cache of poems—that the breadth of Dickinson's work became apparent. Critics now consider Dickinson a major American poet.

Channeling about Dickinson

Q: Emily Dickinson was unknown to the Transcendentalists but followed their work closely. In fact, it was reflected in some of her poetry. Was she connected to the group on the astral, and what other insights can you reveal about her life?

Shepherd/MICHAEL: Yes, she was part of their working group, a quadrate. She was determined to advance and felt that to do so, she needed to shut out the world. In previous lives, she had been a social butterfly.

Emily's home

Analysis of Emily Dickinson's Overleaves

By David Gregg

Emily Dickinson was a 7th level old scholar with an artisan essence twin and king casting. With that combination she primarily focused on three areas during her life: knowledge, creation, and mastery.

Role (Scholar)

A typical scholar, she thrived during her classical education, demonstrating a king-cast mastery of Greek, Latin, and botany.
An original thinker at an early age, she dazzled her teachers:

"Her compositions," according to her brother, "were unlike anything ever heard--and always produced a sensation--both with the scholars and Teachers--her imagination sparkled--and she gave it free rein."

Emily also loved nature, especially her spacious private garden. Perhaps a bit inspired by Thoreau, she satisfied her Naturalist streak with a collection of pressed flowers that numbered over seventy specimens, each labeled using her knowledge of Latin nomenclature. Even her poems were meticulously transcribed onto cloth sheets stitched into manuscript books. Like most scholars, she was a vigilant observer, recorder, and chronicler of knowledge.

Not surprisingly, she was a voracious reader and lived in a household with a library of over 2000 books (a partial list of her collection can be found here). She loved the work of Shakespeare, Keats, the Bronte's, George Eliot, Charles Dickens, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Henry David Thoreau. And frequently shared her books with others -- another scholar trait -- hoping to spread the wisdom contained within.

Family members said that Emily had the most composure of anyone in the household, which further validates her assimilation axis role. But look no further than the natural neutrality in her eyes: the classic gaze of the scholar.

Essence Twin (Artisan: Incarnate)

Less bleedthrough occurs with an incarnate essence twin, but in Emily's case it apparently didn't matter: her creativity was inexhaustible.

Poetic gifts aside, she also had a musical mind, possessing a talent for improvisation that was well documented by friends and family. The story goes that after members of her household had retired for bed, she would steal down the stairs to the piano and improvise over popular hymns, eventually veering off into musical creations of her own. Her musical excursions were poignantly described by rapt eavesdroppers as, "haunting."

Casting (King)

With king casting she sought excellence and mastery in everything she did, introducing innovations to modern poetry that are still incalculable. Her secondary casting was artisan, with a tertiary of warrior. Coupled with her artisan ET, the creativity from this artisan flavoring was readily apparent. And the smattering of warrior energy gave enterprise to a prodigious effort that produced 1,775 poems.

Other Essence Qualities

Emily's male/female energy of 49/51, which is the ratio between focused and creative energy, was an excellent balance, not leaning too far in either direction. In other words, her faculties for left and right-brained thinking were both within reach.

Her frequency (or the vibration of her soul) of 62, was less solid than the average scholar and not as grounded. But this may have allowed greater poetic flights of fancy.

With a high number of 15 previous cycles (the average person in the United States only has 5) Emily was quite complex on a soul level.

Goal (Discrimination)

Emily's goal of discrimination was evident throughout her life. Her sophisticated eye for distinction and detail is a remarkable quality in her poetry, but she was equally discriminating in her personal and social activities, as well.

She rejected the accepted paths often prescribed for women of her intelligence, such as teaching; and marriage was, in her words, a "burial at sea," where the pearl of your soul lies fathoms below. Further, she often sneered at the efforts of suffragettes, viewing their efforts as artificially emulating roles created by men.

In person, Emily was effusive and witty, but when rattled, a prickly side emerged that bordered on a cultivated snobbishness. She did not suffer fools gladly.

Although she struggled throughout her life over matters of faith and a search for answers, Emily stopped going to church at age 30 and would no longer yield to the social demands of the Evangelical message, once writing:

"Christ is calling everyone here, all my companions have answered, even my darling Vinnie (sister) believes she loves, and trusts him, and I am standing alone in rebellion."

She did have a network of close friends, but was so intense and demanding that she drove some of them away. As she grew older she became pathologically reclusive, communicating through letters rather than personal visits. She would entertain neighborhood children in her garden, for example, but if approached by an adult would bolt for the house.

Speculation abounds regarding her psychological state, with some suggesting agoraphobia or bipolar disease, but there is evidence that her reclusion from society, and the vanity and oppression she felt it represented, was a palpable choice -- perhaps a choice of discrimination.

Commenting on companions, she once said:

"When a little girl, I had a friend who taught me immortality: but venturing too near, himself, he never returned...

My companions: hills, sir, and the sundown, and a dog as large as myself that my father bought me. They are better than beings, because they know, but do not tell."

Attitude (Pragmatist)

Emily embraced her attitude of pragmatist with a philosophy of simplicity that's apparent in the structure of her poems (despite the density of language) and the minimal level of existence she favored that reinforced her solitude. This reduction of self and need for an absence of complication is expressed as follows.

Deprived of other Banquet,
I entertained Myself --
At first -- a scant nutrition --
An insufficient Loaf --
But grown by slender addings
To so esteemed a size
'Tis sumptuous enough for me --
And almost to suffice ...


In another poem, she expresses both her scholarly love for books and her pragmatic nature:

There is no frigate like a book
To take us lands away,
Nor any coursers like a page
Of prancing poetry.
This traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of toll;
How frugal is the chariot
That bears a human soul!


Mode (Observation)

The observation mode was a continuation of Emily's scholarly leanings. Her ability to effortlessly assimilate knowledge was displayed in her poetic observations of nature, which showed a detailed grasp of flowers, birds, insects, and even the patterns of the seasons. Her keen eye illuminated the objects she observed with a clarity of perception that brought new perspectives.

The world around her frequently found its way into her poetry. The influence of friends and family that worked around legal systems, for instance, led to the inclusion of legal terms into her verse; similarly, living in a house where her bedroom once overlooked a cemetery, led to life-long observations about death and the after-life. Seemingly anything she observed was assimilated and used as fodder for future poems.

Physically, people in the observation mode frequently have large, perceptive eyes, and a close examination of Emily's picture reveals that she's no exception: there's a quality in her eyes that seems to absorb the light they receive. This is the assimilative process at work.

Center (Moving/Intellectual)

Given her formidable intelligence, one might assume that Emily was intellectually centered, but she was channeled as moving centered with the intellectual part. Perhaps she got insights while moving and intellectualized them?

Her daily routines and social interactions were much too vague to pinpoint this centering, but it's interesting that her poems often used her body as a focal point. She was keenly aware of her body and the physical sensations she experienced.

Shepherd Hoodwin remarked that being moving centered with a 100% active bodytype, yet a recluse, is an interesting self-karma.

Chief Obstacle (Impatience)

To quote Emerson, "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." And as mentioned earlier, Emily did not suffer fools gladly and had little tolerance for those whose imaginations set self-imposed barriers.

Her impatience with the inscrutable was another common theme in her poetry. She struggled all her life with the enigma of death and what she called the "horror of the unknown," once writing,

"The cemetery is filled with the dead and under 'every little knoll' there lies someone who was once a little child plying its tasks and pursuing its dreams; yet all are now equally dead, equally far from life's pleasures."

Over time, Emily transcended such foolish consistencies and explored concepts of infinity and the immortality of the soul, unanswered questions that she pursued relentlessly in her poems, perhaps fearing that one day she might miss the eventual reply from the universe.

Soul Age (7th Old)

Regarding Emily's soul age, that's not easily narrowed down. The images in her poetry could be intense and dramatic, and pain was a common bedfellow in her art. Considering the anguish inflicted by some of her relationships (all of them platonic, though), an argument could be made that she was a mature soul. On the other hand, old souls are not necessarily immune to the unsettling effects of a relationship gone sour; pain is pain at any soul age. And although Emily indeed suffered over relationships, it was the loss of them rather than their dramatic intensity that caused so much pain.

In a poem about the passing of two close friends, she beautifully wrote:

I never lost as much but twice,
And that was in the sod.
Twice have I stood a beggar
Before the door of God!

Angels -- twice descending
Reimbursed my store --
Burglar! Banker -- Father!
I am poor once more!

Beyond the suffering she attributed to her spiritual growth, the transcendent nature of her life perspective was more aligned with old soul beliefs. Even her poetry often unfolded from a specific observation about a flower or a bird, to a more transcendent vision that offered a birds-eye view of the world, and at times, the universe.

Although she wrote close to 2000 poems, she largely saw her work as "art for art's sake," a creative outpouring that was spiritually transformative versus a vehicle for fame or ego. Friends like Helen Hunt Jackson found this baffling and thought Emily's voice should be heard in the world, but indefatigable in her resolve, Emily rarely submitted her poems to publications,  and would not concede to the editorial standards of her day that required altering any idiosyncrasies in her verse. Consequently, only eleven of her poems were published during her lifetime.

While this artful ascension from ambition and recognition may not make the case that Emily was an old soul, it certainly shows a conscious choice to extract herself from the biddings of the material world. 

Accordingly, the reclusive tendencies that lured Emily away from society is typical among 7th level old souls preparing to cycle off the planet. Perhaps she was only responding to the gentle nudge of essence?

In conclusion, quite fittingly, Emily once described the remarkable breadth of her work -- her "letters to the world" --with the following verse:

This is my letter to the world,
That never wrote to me,-- 
The simple news that Nature told, 
With tender majesty. 
Her message is committed 
To hands I cannot see; 
For love of her, sweet countrymen,
Judge tenderly of me!



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