("On this site in 1623 a company of fishermen and and farmers from Dorchester England under the Direction of Rev. John White founded the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Here in 1625 Gov. Roger Conant by wise diplomacy averted bloodshed between contending factions: One led by Miles Standish of Pkymouth, the other by Capt. Hewes. A notable exemplication in the beginnings of New England. Placed by the citizens of Gloucester in 1907.)
When I arrived home last night, I checked my e-mails and found a short note from a cousin, a cousin I have never met personally, but have met through working on our family trees. That's been one of the benefits of keeping my tree public...meeting relatives I never knew existed. I've been in contact with relatives as far away as Britain. It's meant so much to me as I was an only child and am alone now. Our family was small, and I had never been allowed to meet my dad's family. Through genealogy I have not only been able to contact living relatives, but also learn about those who passed before me. I think that is so important for us. How can we possibly know who we are if we don't know where we came from? I finally have a legacy to leave my sons. Her message reminded me that I haven't checked my online tree for quite awhile...not since I started blogging. When I did check, I found a message waiting from a distant relation of one of my Massachusetts ancestors. That, and working on my Druid lesson got me to thinking.
Now, my dad's family are from Norfolk, England, Ireland, and Scotland. They actually didn't arrive here in the states until the late 1800's. Actually, my 2nd great grandmother was the first to arrive. A sad story there. My great-grandfather died of wasting disease in 1891. He was only 21 years old. My great grandmother was only 3 months old at the time. Now, in those days women remarried quickly. They had too. It wasn't like today when women can get out there and support themselves. So, within two years my second great grandmother, Harriet, had remarried, and a year later was the 'first' of her family to leave Norfolk. What a brave woman she was!!! And, if Harriet had not been so brave to pack up and leave her family, I wouldn't be sitting here typing this today. I wouldn't be here...because her daughter, Constance Mary, never would have met my great great grandfather.
Now, I never intended this to be a post on genealogy, but you can see how impassioned I am about it. What I REALLY wanted to talk about was about our own individual and collective fears, fears stemming from the persecutions from the past. My mom's family has been here in the states since the 1600's. I've traced them to the Massachusetts colonies. Many of them were Puritans who, to escape religious persecution, left the only home they ever knew to venture out across the vast ocean to settle in a strange and unfamiliar land. The key words here are to 'escape religious persecution.' Isn't that still happening today? Aren't we still so intolerant of each other that our fears drive a wedge between us that cannot be bridged?
Move forward a few years... to Salem, Massachusetts where a total of 141 people were arrested, 19 were hanged, and one was crushed to death...and all because of fear. One of those who died there was my ancestor, John Proctor of "The Crucible Fame." In general, this holocaust was perpetrated against women who were sought after for their healing, counseling, and midwifery skills....perfectly proper into days world. Embedded in our history are two messages: wisdom is punishable by death, and to be fully empowered is to be life-threateningly vulnerable. So, is it any wonder that we hesitate to tell the world of the path we are chosen? I know that most people here on my job don't know I am a Druid. Some do, yes, and I am most certainly not ashamed of it, but I really even those that know, do not understand...and so, to avoid any perceived persecution or the possibility of my co-workers shunning and not understanding me, I keep it private.
It is a shame that now, 500 some years later, there is still this intolerance. Pagans, witches are still thought of as dark, evil. What the executioners began with their witch trials, we have perpetrated through our unexamined personal and archetypal fears. This is changing, yes, but we still need to transform any ancient fears that continue to lurk in the shadows of our subconscious. Only then, by bringing these fears into the light, where they can be examined for their present day validity, will we be able to transform them.
Sorry, this sure turned to a rant...and I never meant it to be.