Ancestral energy lives in the stars above us, the stones beneath us. Their memory gathers in oceans, rivers and seas. It hums its silent wisdom within the body of every tree.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Giving Thanks with Mindfulness

We give thanks for the food upon our table. For the roast chicken and mashed potatoes. For the green bean casserole and the butternut squash we eat.
We give thanks for the farmer who fed and tended the organic free-range chicken we put money aside to buy. We give thanks to the animal gave it’s life so that we could eat and nourish our bodies. I give a special thanks to the animal for the protein it gives me. We give thanks for the farmers who watered and weeded and picked the potatoes, green beans, and squash we mashed and casseroled to eat.
We give thanks for the wine and cider we enjoy with the meal. We take a moment and we think about the vineyards and the orchards that provided the fruit that made the drink we enjoy. We give thanks to the hands and lives that tended the fruit as it grew into maturity.
We give thanks for the hands that picked and processed and packed all of our food. For the drivers who brought the packages to our city. We give thanks for the employees who unpacked and set out the food in the grocery store, so that we might bring it home.
We give thanks to the families who run their farm stands where we bought some of our vegetables fresh. We give thanks for the car that brought us to the farm stand. We give thanks for the gas that feeds our car. We take a moment and think about all of the earth that has been ravaged and the lives that have been lost in the battle for natural resources. I don’t give thanks for this… but I thank the earth and the lives lost. And I send some hope out into the world for peace, love, kindness, and compassion.
We give thanks for the food on our table.       

We give thanks for the table in our kitchen. We think about the tree that gave its life and became the wood that became our table. For the loggers who felled the tree and the drivers who transported it. For the millers who cut it into planks. We give thanks for the craftsmen who made our table and chairs, for the set that survived multiple moves over the last twenty years.
We give thanks for this house that was built as someone’s home. We are grateful for this wooden structure that was sold by an old woman to a man who split it into three apartments. We give thanks for the apartment that was open when we needed one, that has been our home for over a decade now.
We give thanks for the jobs that give us the money we need to pay for this apartment and the utility bills. We give thanks for the electricity and gas that powers the kitchen that allows us to cook this meal. We are grateful for all of the employees and workers who maintain our utilities so that they don’t break down.
We give thanks to all the people and all the hands that had a part in the meal we make. We give thanks to the hands that took part in creating the meal. We give thanks for the crafters of the dishes and the silverware we use. We have gratitude for the hands clasped in thanks at the table. We give thanks for the day to disconnect and slow down and connect to the gratitude.
We take a moment to stretch our thoughts out to all of our friends and family, wherever they are, and thank them for being in our lives. We connect them into our gratitude. We give thanks for being able to count our blessings.
We give thanks for the food upon our table.   

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Thinking and Buying Local for the Holidays

In a holiday that has become largely commercial, we should all endeavor to support our own communities and artisans by buying local, especially at this time of year. How does this topic apply to Ancestor Work? It’s simple. We are the catalyst for the change we wish to see in the world. We make choices every day that shape the world we are leaving for our children and grandchildren, for our nieces and nephews. And that includes everything our dollars support. Every single dollar bill. Every cent.
Where do you spend your money? Independently owned businesses or chain corporations? Where do you shop? Where do you eat? If you spend your money on chain stores and franchises, do you know where *they* spend their money? What political causes do they fund? What humanitarian causes do they give money to? For all you know, you are spending all of your money in a store that funds everything you despise and disagree with.
When you buy food and gifts from local stores and artisans, you feed your hard-earned money into your own economy. Which is good for where you live, as it keeps that money circulating locally. It also keeps the carbon footprint of your dollar down with little to no expense for shipping and packaging. Peeling back another layer into this mindfulness, where do the products you buy come from? Why send money to China when there are artisans and craftsmen in your own city who need your support?
I know, I know. But this is *exactly* what I wanted. Sometimes, it shouldn’t be about getting exactly what you want or need. Sometimes, compromising on your vision due to money or geographic constraint is the lesson. And it’s usually where you start to work outside of the box and the magic happens. Anyone can buy a gift off a list or registry. But who else is going to get them that custom mug made just for them? Or that glass wind chime custom colored to match their house? The hand-forged kitchen knife with a handle made of wood from their favorite tree?
Do you want a mug poured in a mold that looks just like every other mug in the box? Or do you want a mug hand-thrown and glazed, with all of the artist’s energy and concentration poured into its creation? Which of the two do you think will feel better in your hands? In the hands of your loved ones?
Supporting artisans over corporate stores is first and foremost of importance to me. If you’re buying on-line, look into sites like the Etsy shops, where craftspeople sell their own items. I am blessed to have good friends who are jewelers, potters, bladesmiths, metalsmiths, candle makers, herbalists, visual artists, carpenters, seamstresses, poets, etc. I love giving them business and I love sending them business because I know where that money goes; it pays their rents and mortgages. It pays their utilities. It buys them more supplies to create more wonderful items. It means they can also have a good holiday with their spouses and children.
Being able to do that and/or buy items locally is of secondary importance to me. If I can’t find an artisan who can make the gift I need, I at least try to buy that gift from a smaller independently-owned store versus a chain. Take a drive around the yellow pages and see what little stores are tucked away in your community that you haven’t visited yet. Check them out and see what treasures they have to offer. If I have to buy from a chain store, I buy it from the one whose beliefs are most in accord with mine, based on what they do with their own money. We vote with every dollar we spend. I believe that.

This year, instead of trying to find gifts to appease people, buy them a unique item no one else would or could have (if you are capable of it, craft one for them). Find them that treasure that makes you think of them, so that they’ll see your heart in the gift of it. And if you are a potter, a toymaker, a dressmaker, a knitter, a felter, a jeweler, a carpenter, a bladesmith, a writer, a visual artist, a glassblower, a baker, etc… thank you for taking a risk. Thank you for sharing your gifts and your energy. Thank you for brightening my world.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Family Veterans

Great-Grandpa Royal.
[Revamped from a post written November 2011.] War is in our history. It’s in every rise and fall of culture. The ghosts of battlefields long forgotten are littered with the blood of our ancestors. On Veterans Day, I honor my ancestors who both waged war and stood defense, in service, so that I might be here.

Early Settlement
  • Capt. Roger Clapp (1609-1690), born in Salcombe Regis, England, sailed to Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1629 on the Mary and John. In 1665 Capt. Clapp took charge of the Dorchester Company stationed at Castle Island in Boston Harbor, the oldest fortified military site in North America. He held the post for 21 years and was given a nine gun salute upon retirement.
  • Sgt. William Pond (1622-1690) of Dedham, Massachusetts, of the colonial militia, was the first generation of his family born in the new colony.
  • Lt. Peter Wolfe (1606-1675), an immigrant from England, of Beverly, Massachusetts, served in the colonial militia in 1646, in defense of Salem, Massachusetts.
  • Sgt. Jeremiah Gillette (1650-1707), another immigrant from England, was the first generation born in America. He served in the colonial service of Connecticut.
  • Isaac-Etienne Paquet dit Lavallee (1636-1702) arrived in Canada, at 28, in the Compagnie de LaMotte, Regiment de Carignan-Salieres in 1665. These first French regular troops arrived to aid the colonists of New France in dealing with the Iroquois. They were responsible for construction of the forts of Saint-Louis and Saint-Therese, as well as the roads between them. In the spring of 1666, Isaac’s company built Fort Saint-Anne at Lake Champlain. They were dispatched into Iroquois country in September of 1667, but could not rouse the Indians into battle. The Iroquois brokered peace and LaMotte’s famous regiment was disbanded. Isaac was one of 400 soldiers who elected to stay in the colonies.

1754-1763 French & Indian War
  • Lemuel Lyon (1728-1781), of Stoughton, Massachusetts, served in Timothy Walker's company in 1755. He is on muster with Capt. John Carpenter’s regiment in August of 1757. He saw action in the 1758 Battle at Fort Ticonderoga, where he kept a 35 page journal, which has been published in, Narratives of the French and Indian War (2): the Diary of Sergeant David Holden, Captain Samuel Jenks, Lemuel Lyon, French Officer at the Siege of Quebec.

1775-1783 American Revolutionary War
  • Oliver Lozier, also Delozier, (born 1747) was a Bombardier, a noncommissioned officer, in Capt. John Doughty's company, in Col. John Lamb's regiment (2nd continental artillery). He was on the muster roll for April 1781 at West Point. Oliver enlisted for the duration of the war and was discharged April 4, 1783.
  • Capt. Freeborn Moulton (1717-1792) of Massachusetts, was charged a company of Minute-men of Monson. They were part of Col. Danielson’s regiment, which marched at the Lexington alarm of April 19, 1775 to Cambridge, where they remained until May 6, 1775.
  • Thomas Riddel (1739-1809), an Irish immigrant, was a Private in Capt. Issac Colton's company, Col. David Brewer's (9th) regiment, enlisting in 1775.
  • Joseph Riddle (1759-1847), son of Thomas Riddel and grandson of Capt. Freeborn Moulton, enlisted young and served almost the full duration of the war. He was a Private in Capt. Isaac Colton's company, Col. David Brewer's (9th) regiment enlisting in 1775. In 1776 he moved to Capt. Joseph Munger’s company, regiment of Col. Robert Woodbridge, the “Massachusetts Line.” By 1777 he shows as a Fifer in the 4th Massachusetts regiment under Capt. Caleb Keep and Col. William Shepherd, and later as a Drum-Major in Gen. Glover’s brigade. He was at the battle of Burgoyne, guarding the road to Albany, as well as the battle of Monmouth, NJ in 1778. A year later he served the Continental Army in the 9th company for Col. John Bliss’s 1st New Hampshire regiment. He was discharged from the Continental Army in June of 1780. Pension records list him as a cripple, so he was likely wounded.

1801-1805 The Barbary Wars
  • Peter De Lozier (1786-1849) was born in Connecticut. He joined the Navy and was on board the USS Philadelphia in 1803 when the government moved to end piracy on the Barbary Coast. Comm. Edward Preble commanded the Mediterranean Squadron into a blockade in October. On Halloween, the USS Philadelphia ran aground on a coral reef. The entire crew, with their Captain, William Bainbridge, was captured and the ship was used by the opposing Navy as a gun battery. Peter De Lozier and his crew spent 30 months in a Tripoli jail. When the conflict was over, he mustered out of service and claimed residence outside of Lockport, NY. He married, took up cabinetmaking and had a daughter, but eventually left his family to return to the sea. He died of cholera in Connecticut without ever seeing his family again.

1812-1814 War of 1812
  • Martin Dutcher (1796-1872) was a Private in Capt. Andrew A. VanDerzee’s “New Baltimore” company, Col. Barnabas Carver’s 61st regiment in the War of 1812. He fought in the Battle of Plattsburgh, 1814. After the war he retired to Somerset, NY.
  • Joseph Riddle (1759-1847), though older, served in the War of 1812, as well as the Revolutionary War.
  • Pliney Wicker (b.1781) was a Private in Sumner’s Regiment in the Vermont militia.
  • Elizur Lusk also served in the War of 1812, from Lockport, NY..

1861-1865 American Civil War
  • Adam Art (1836-1896) immigrated to New York from Hesse Darmstadt, Germany, and served in the Civil War under Capt. Levi Bowen, 29th Congressional district.
  • Thomas Burke (b.1835), of Lockport served under Capt. S.F. Bowen, 29th Congressional district.
  • Marquis DeLafayette Riddle (1825-1898), of Pendleton served under Capt. S.F. Bowen, 29th Congressional district.
  • Three of my 2x Great-Grandmother’s brothers, Daniel Raymond Whitcher (1831-1914), George Harrison Whitcher (1841-1863) and Orville Bailey Whitcher (1843-1864) served in the Civil War. Both George and Orville gave their lives in service to the Civil War. George died at Cemetery Ridge on the field of Gettysburg, fighting with the Michigan 7th. Orville was 21, and a painter before the war, who died of a gunshot wound to the left knee in battle at Alexandria, Virginia in June of 1864. Daniel served as full Sergeant in the Batty B company of the Michigan 1st.

1914-1918 World War I
  • Royal Levant Eaton (1873-1931), served in the National Guard during WWI. He later died in service as a New York state prison guard. 

Honoring Roots and Freedoms
I believe in peace and practices of non-violence. I know that I am able to believe in peace because I have known peace, and that I have known it because of the sacrifices men and women made to acquire it for our country. Soldiers are men of principle and purpose who believe that the side they are fighting for is a just cause, no matter what history will later decide.
My ancestors were farmers, ministers, soldiers, crusaders and Norman invaders. In all of our histories, our ancestors were defenders and colonizers, pawns and pillagers, and brave men and women facing uncertain futures. They faced those futures for us, whether they knew it or not and we can honor them today by learning from our own history. They are more than regiments and companies. The most important thing I can remember is that an army of fighters is made up of men and women who have names and families. They are men and women who are husbands, wives, mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters. They are people of flesh and blood, of dreams and desire.

I am,
that they were,
that they are,

that they will be.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

When Spirit Knocks

Dom-St-Maria, Augsburg, Germany; by Rebecca Kennison
The Spirit World wants to make contact with you, for we are part of it's world. When Spirit tries to connect, it will try anything to get through to you. You just have to be open to things that repeat that catch your attention. Maybe it’s the light you keep swearing you turn off only to find it on again. Imagination is a tool of the third eye, and the doorway exists at the line between being aware of the higher purpose of a pattern and forcing a connection between events.
Magic is always a hairs’ breath from madness. The fae are always slipping through awareness out of the corner of your eye. We pretend our dreams aren’t real because it gives us comfort. Spirits are standing beside you right now.
In circle with my community at Samhain this year, I heard spirit coming through. We were chanting to our ancestors, when I heard, clear as a bell, an organ playing “East Side, West Side” and I felt the brush of a waltz spinning around me. In my ear a deep female voice was singing breathily, all around the town… Spirit was with us.
I’m auditory. I always joke to my friends that I hear dead people. That moment during circle reminded me about my personal doorway to spirit. It’s such a part of my life now that I don’t think it’s weird anymore. I’m the kind of girl who is always singing in her head, so I shouldn’t have been surprised that spirit would use lyrics and melodies to catch my attention.
When I first started sensing spirit more strongly, I got this one song stuck in my head. It was awful, like it was on a timed loop. Or maybe what was really awful was the fact that it looped after the first two lines, over and over and over again. And I’m the kind of clueless that I didn’t even get it until my friends looked at me when I complained about the persistent melody and said, “Hello, ancestor girl. Spirit knocking.”
You could have pushed me over with a feather. I hadn’t thought about it. But I started paying attention. Every time I sense intuitively that spirit is near, the song track plays in the back of my head as a validator. I’ve peeled back another layer and my vision is deeper, wider. I can see more. This doorway of mine… it’s not the kind of song that would win awards. If I had a little more ego or pride I might be too embarrassed to be honest. Sometimes you don’t pick the magic, the magic picks you.

…come and knock on our door,
we’ll be waiting for you…

- Three’s Company television theme song
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