Ancestors

Ancestors have been prominent in my thoughts this week, not just mine but the ancestors of other people as well. This of course happens because I do so much family history research. But this week I was also thinking of those whose ancestors were transported to parts of Australia and Tasmania because they had fought for better conditions for their work and housing.

The Chartist riots occurred in the late 1830s and early 1840s. People had been rioting about having more food to eat, better wages and for the right to vote. Unfortunately, like many riots things got out of hand and property was damaged. By the end of 1842, fifty four men had been transported and over one hundred and fifty men and women sent to prison. Many of these had families who were left behind and who soon became destitute. How did they cope? Did they find an inner strength which has been passed down to the current generation? Or did they give up and die?

Our ancestors lives were greatly different from ours today but they fought the same hardships as many of us do now. We are much better off and as each generation has come along, they have tried to do better for themselves than their parents. To a certain extent this is good but can the idea that we can do better than our parents still be good today?

I know that my mother wanted me to have the education that she missed out on and that my grandmother wanted to do better than her mother had done. This seems to be a quest throughout our ancestors lives. But we also need to accept the bad things that happened to them sometimes through no fault of their own. This is when accepting our ancestors can be hard. What if one of them had committed a murder or been transported as a convict? Could you accept this? Could you learn to understand why this had happened and then accept it?

Were all your ancestors good, hard working and kind people or did you have some different ones? Think about them and how what they did affected your life today.

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Withdrawing

It is that time of year. It is cold, icy and with strong winds. I just want to curl up with a blanket to keep out the draughts and stay indoors. For me it is a time to actually do things as well. I find I can reflect on the previous months but also do some searching out of unwanted items. I know this is the wrong time of year for this but it helps me to retain a sense of homeliness if you like. By doing the sorting out I make my home tidier and better to live in during the winter months.I move things around to fit the season so that I feel this cosiness and warmth around me. I am sure I am meant to hibernate at this time of the year. It certainly feels that way.

This morning I decided to make what could be a Yule cake or Christmas cake. I love the smell of baking, bread, cakes and pies of some kind. It permeates the whole house and makes it feel warm. There is something about an open fire too but I don’t have that pleasure. Central heating does not give off the same vibes. I can’t watch the flames of a coal fire and look at the colours and shapes forming in them. That is something I miss. But I can light candles and watch their flames instead.

So I am withdrawing into my cocoon of cosiness. What will I do in my cocoon? I shall read and knit and continue with my research. I shall look through the windows at the sky and the trees. I shall watch the sunrise and the sunset and see the beautiful colours sin them. I shall listen to the wind howling through the chimneys and making the trees sway alarmingly. I shall not become a hermit though as I shall talk to friends and acquaintances by phone, email, text and in person. It is just that my home will feel different making my own feelings different as well.

And I shall look forward to the Spring!

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Alone or lonely?

This week there have been several articles in the national newspapers about dealing with loneliness. But there is a difference between being alone and being lonely. I have been with lots of other people, friends supposedly, yet I have felt quite lonely in that crowd. I live alone and have done for over twenty years now but I am alone not necessarily lonely. I do get out at times, not so much in the winter but in the summer I get out as much as I can despite the difficulties of getting on buses and moving around.

I enjoy being alone a lot of the time but there can be days when I would really love to chat to somebody, not on the phone or email, or texts but sitting together and chatting. If you are with someone then there is a difference in the way you react to the words that are said and you can read about groups of people having brain storming sessions where ideas are bounced around between all those taking part. Conversation works in the same way. Texts do not have the same reactions because of the time lag, likewise with emails. Phone calls can be good for conversation and for bouncing ideas around but they are not quite the same as being with someone. So if I ask for this type of contact does it mean I am lonely? No, it does not; it means I want to discuss something with someone face to face so that my thoughts can be made clearer or muddier as the case may be.

Older people living on their own can be lonely but just putting them together with others for a coffee morning is not always the answer. I have been to these kind of coffee mornings and barely spoken to anyone else. Meaningful conversation relies on having things in common to talk about. Many older people, those much older that I am, often spend a lot of time watching television and they can then talk about it with others at coffee mornings and when out shopping. I read and don’t really watch the television apart from specific programmes. This can make me seem boring when with older people who do watch the TV. Loneliness is not easily dealt with and there are organisations around that try to help. However just because you are over seventy doesn’t mean you will get on with all those others of the same age. We are all different and we all have different thoughts and ideas. Being a druid sets me apart from many people my age as my perspective on life is so different from theirs.

What are your thoughts on being alone and loneliness?

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November thoughts on our world

It is very cold outside, a howling wind, some sun but some heavy clouds which I recognise as possible snow clouds. Winter is on the way. The trees are almost bare now and there is a carpet of leaves on the ground making it golden in the sunshine. For me this is the time I start to stay inside as it is too cold for me out there. But I spend my time reflecting and writing mainly as well as knitting thick scarves for when I do go out.

But what I want to write about today is something different. As some of you will know I am an avid researcher and recently have been researching the local workhouse which was closed in the 1930s. Although this is nothing to do with druidry, it is to do with our approach to our lives, our compassion for others and our wish to make the world a better place.

During this research, I have read some terrible stories of hardship and cruelty especially towards the poor and the mentally ill who were soon put away in the workhouse or lunatic asylums. Some stories struck a chord within me. In 1912 there was a miners strike. Some miners belonged to a union so were unable to ask for poor relief to help them survive. Other miners did not belong to the union but could not work because of the others. However the Board of Guardians who were in charge of poor relief as well as the workhouse decided that those miners who did not belong to a union, sympathised with those who did, so were not eligible for help.

Food in the workhouse was set by the main Poor Law Board and was just enough to keep you alive. Later there were dietary changes so on Sundays you got meat and potatoes for lunch instead of rice and treacle. You had to wear what can only be called a uniform and you all went to church on Sunday in that uniform so everyone could see that you were poor and in the workhouse. What does this remind you of?

I found a case in 1915 where two young children born in Germany of a German father and an English mother. The mother had returned to England with the children who were born in Germany but she had died and the two children went into the workhouse. The Guardians thought that it should be possible to deport the young children back to Germany. 1915 was the time of the first world war and Germany was not the place to send young children. Did they have no compassion? All they thought about was the cost of providing for these young children.

As for those who were ‘mentally defective’, the words used by those in charge, they were sorted into different types or classes and kept to their own class. Many were sent to what became known as colonies where they lived separate¬†from the normal world.

Has our world changed? I look at what is going on around me and think that we are going backwards not forwards. What do you think?

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