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What’s Your Name and Where Do You Come From?

Straight up, I’m a nosy bugger. Actually, I’m not nosy, I’m inquisitive, and that’s healthy (which is EXACTLY what I used to say when I was young and was called nosy, lol). In all seriousness though, I find people fascinating creatures; no two stories or experiences are the same, everyone’s perspective is different even if only slightly.

Discovering how we are who we are and why we do what we do is an unlimitless source of fodder for my curiosity. Do you think you are an interesting person with a unique story to tell? You are! And I want to know it, so will you share?

Come on, tell me: what’s your name and where do you come from and indulge my nosiness and imagination by sharing 7 things about yourself that others might not know about you.

If you are feeling shy, I’ll go first :

Hi, my name is Lissa and I’m from Falkirk! Woo hoo!

1. I used to play the violin…badly! I only took it up as the music teacher at my primary said that kids were joining some fancy pants orchestra and were travelling through Europe – how cool does that sound to 11 year old ears? (Actually it sounds really cool to 41 year old ears, but hey). My violin teacher was weird, I didn’t like him and now each time I watch Grease 2 (some say its a terrible film, but I say boo to that, its better than Grease! Where else do you get songs about reproduction and  the cool guys (despite not one of them being attractive) all smoke and ride motorbikes?), Mr Spears (the teacher that had the nervous breakdown) reminds me of him…..not good! I lasted one term of tuition before I left the violin in the music room with a note sellotaped to the case telling him I quit.

2. In 2002, I did a tandem 10,000ft parachute jump for charity. Loved the jump out the plane and the free fall, but could not wait to get my feet back on the ground and unharnessed from my instructor; his behaviour in the plane, under the guise of keeping me calm, was very much in the #metoo category. It did not keep me calm, just thoroughly pissed me off but kinda couldn’t do anything being as I was attached to him and about to jump 10,000ft. Total dirty bastard. I was about to launch myself out a plane as I had volunteered to do, I was pretty calm initially, but very excited about the experience and needed no interference, although it was clear he was more excited than me.

3. I have an irrational loathing for letters that are addressed/signed off incorrectly. When I say irrational, it actually makes angry. When I picked my subjects at school for my Highers, I was advised to take Secretarial Studies because “it is a really useful skill set to have and something you can always fall back on”.  I can honestly say hand on heart I would be an awful secretary, (pretty much because I am disoragnised and suck at paper work) however I came away with a B, and a major pet peeve which was something I had to work with, particularly over the 10 years I was employed in an HR office when staff members sent letters that did not meet my standards. The irk was real.

4. I am obsessed with homes, interiors and how other people live (it’s that inquisitive thing again). My ultimate dream home is either a canal narrowboat or a proper old school gypsy vardo (complete with outdoor tripod cooking pot) out in the wilderness. My fantasy of living my gypsy bohemian dream on a narrow boat or in a vardo, I think, stems from my need for independence and desire to travel when I was younger. I never did travel other than package holidays to the Med (always had a ‘secure’ job then a mortgage at a young age). I went to university close to home, where it never crossed my mind that I wouldn’t leave home to move into halls. As it happened I “wasn’t allowed to move out” and then it was too late to pick a uni outwith a reasonable commuting distance. I dropped out of university as hated course and didn’t know what I wanted to do so got a stop gap job in an insurance call centre. I was desperate to leave my comfortable family home to strike out on my own, so I got better jobs with good salaries, jobs bigger than my maturity level/capability, but allowed me to be financially independent and achieve my long yearned for flat.  Of course, not going to halls or living in student digs meant that I did all my daft-living-on-my-own stuff once I was an adult, and as such learned a very valuable lesson in finance. There is a very good reason why I am so frugal now. Actually there are thousands of good reasons why…
Until I can convince my husband that living in boat or caravan is a good idea, I live vicariously through Pinterest and reminiscing about the gorgeous wall papers I had and how I had styled our old home (think boho paradise – I had orange paisley patterned wall paper in the living room!). We can’t decorate our current home (other than our bedroom) so my actual obsession is on a bit of a back burner for the forseeable.

5. As a teenager I always thought it would be cool to be arrested – but for something good and worthy, like at an anti nuclear protest. (I have never been arrested). Growing up I was known as the ‘sensible one’ and my sister the ‘wilder one’ – this was not strictly true in reality, but we all have our parts to play in family dynamics. I don’t think getting arrested (regardless of cause) would be deemed very sensible… but you never know, it’s never too late and Extinct Rebellion have previous with their protests to arrests ratio….

6. When we got engaged, Hubby and I considered eloping – I think there is something very romantic about that. We considered it as an option because we wanted to get married, not for the big show. But as we all know weddings are rarely just about the couple…and are really for the family – neither of us would ever have been forgiven if we had indeed eloped . . Here’s that independent streak again – desire to fuck it and just do it. But alas, the parent pleaser in me maked me a wuss, and I didn’t dare.

7. I can wiggle my ears, and flare my nostrils, cross my eyes (skills, I know!) and kinda roll my tongue, but I absolutely cannot, but really really want to be able to, raise 1 eyebrow. One of my best friends at school could do it and it was an incredible thing. She needed no words to shut someone down or deliver a killer look; one eyebrow, arched. Boom! I spent a long time practicing and failing. I really wish I could do this. Life Skill Fail!

Ok, your turn – GO!

L x


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In Your Blood

Who are you and where do you come from?

Do you know?
Does it matter?

The world has become a melting pot of traditions and blended ways; a global village of sorts.  Or is it just the wash that’s been applied to cover cultural appropriation?

In the spiritual spheres, the cherry picking of “cool” rituals, tools and symbology is rife, but call it “eclectic” and all is well, right? Well, no actually. I don’t think it is.  Many cultures, including my own, have been through years of persecution and oppression, some to the point of being classed as criminal. But as fashions come and go, the current trend for spirituality and the blending of hippie/gypsy/bohemian/pagan (all of which are completely different and not at all synonymous with one another) looks like its here to stay for quite some time yet.  And it needs addressing.

The point of this post is not to lecture, preach, judge or dictate what anyone else should be or not be doing or how one ought to practice, or what and who to believe in, but more to invite you to question what you do, why you do it, where it comes from, what’s your connection?

This is a matter that I have been sitting with for a long time, trying to figure out why I believe what I do, where does that come from, why I am passionate about certain issues or lifestyle choices that seem to bear no connection to my upbringing, why I experience physical reactions or strong emotions to certain historical events. I want to know what truly sits with me and what it not mine to take but instead may appreciate and respect from the outside.

I want to know what and who runs through the blood in my veins. What memories am I holding at a cellular level? Who are my ancestors, where were they from? Who am I and where am I from? So many questions.

Earlier this year I started to trace my family tree. I knew very little to be honest, nothing further back than my grandparents, on either side of my family. As I stand today, I am one quarter English, three quarters Scottish, based on my grandparents. I know that from somewhere way back down my paternal line, some Welsh too (only because my birth name is Welsh). Tracing your ancestry is a rabbit hole I heartily recommend falling down! So far I have traced my Celtic roots back to the the 1700’s with branches reaching Ireland and the Gaelic speaking Highlands of Scotland on my Mother’s side, but have limited knowledge of my Father’s side other than my Granny was from Fife and my Papa from Liverpool.

My Mother line is the branch that I want to explore further. It is my life blood, passed down through the generations, Mother to daughter.  This branch is the one that shed light on so many of my questions and wonderings about myself. It is also where the blood line ends; both my sister and I have sons. There are a no daughters to carry the mother blood on (of my mum’s 2 sisters, 1 had 2 sons and the other, 2 daughters where, again, my cousin has a son which has ended the Mother line).

Let me introduce myself; I am Lissa, daughter of Florence, daughter of Margaret, daughter of Susan, daughter of Elizabeth, daughter of Margaret, daughter of Janet. Janet was born in the early – mid 1700’s in Ireland. At some point the family moved to the west coast of Scotland and over the following 200 years, they moved from Argyll to Perthshire then to Stirlingshire, where both my Mum and I were raised. I have not been able to trace further back yet, so no idea if my ancient ancestors were Celts, Picts, Vikings, Romans, Saxons or who, but with 200+ years of known ancestral blood in me, its safe to say I am of modern Celtic descent. A culture so rich in history and language and folklore.

It is of no surprise that my lineage is of the British Isles; I am proper peely-wally white and burn in the sun, with fair hair touched with red (ginger).  What did surprise me though, was finding out that my entire line from my maternal grandmother, back to Janet, were Travellers. Not Gypsies, but Travellers; tinkers and hawkers. The Romany Gypsies are a completely different race that need to be recognised as such. The Romany people and their culture are often romanticised for their colourful lives and beautiful wagons, completely ignoring the difficulties and hardships these people faced over the years; demonised and degraded.  I am no different in that idolisation of the Gypsy people and have had a life long love of the Gypsy life, ever since I went to the Glasgow Transport Museum as a 10 year old and saw the Gypsy Wagon (how many times can I say ‘Gypsy’ in one sentence!?)  Every year I went to the museum with my art class to draw and paint for a school competition and every year I went straight to the vardo and fell more in love with it each time.

3 years ago I took my family off on holiday to England where we camped in a vardo for 3 nights – a dream come true for me. I have a strong wanderlust pull and a craving to travel since I was little, a yearning for freedom and independence yet I am not well travelled, far from it infact. I looked into living in a narrow boat on the canal and am desperate for a Bell Tent to go off camping in (and holding circles in). That feeling or notion is in my blood. It is a part of me.  Discovering that my not so distant relations and for many a generation, were actually Travellers, makes so much sense and I felt a piece of my inner puzzle click into place.

My cousin has also been uncovering our past and has been in touch with our Grandmother’s sister’s son in New Zealand- he revealed that his Mother (my Great – Aunt) never lost her love of home, for story telling and reading the leaves.  As a reader of the Tarot for 22 years, it was a thrill to hear that my aunt was also a reader – I have started learning the leaves too, and revisiting palmistry which I have gotten rusty at.  I used to practice my arts in secret, for fear of ridicule or scorn – a feeling that runs deep. I have drookering* skills and now I know where they came from. Just need to get my tongue around the language – Travellers speak Cant, which I have been trying to pick up, through reading the many books by Jess Smith and Sheila Stewart on the lives of Travellers.

Knowing that another branch of my ancestral tree hails from the Gaelic speaking Highlands, I also want to learn the language.  I got a cd and book to learn it when I was pregnant – I was going to use my maternity leave to learn Gaelic – what was I thinking???I ended up using my maternity leave to learn how to live with and keep alive, a small human! So as it stands I can ask “how are you” (Ciamar a tha sibh?) and reply with a “good thank you” (Tha gu math, tapadh leibh), and there endeth my Gaelic, BUT it is on my list of things to learn, and I WILL learn the language of my people. I am fluent in Scots though. Scots-English that was drummed out of us in school, that parents would give you a telling off for using (despite them using it) as it was considered “slang”, “common”, “lower class”, “rough”, “uneducated”, “shameful”, “cringeworthy” and  all round “awful” from every angle! Because that is what generations upon generations had been told by our “betters”.  I’m sure any regular reader of my blog will have a fair idea of what I think of that then! It is a vibrant tongue, with a wheen of phrases and words that are descriptive in a way the Queen’s English could never deliver.

Much of Scotland’s traditions, language and ways of life were destroyed after the Jacobite Rising and the Battle of Culloden in 1746 – the defeat meant that the wearing of tartan and the use of Gaelic were outlawed and many people were displaced from their homes. The Highland Clearances also displaced people when the crofters were ruthlessly evicted in favour of grazing sheep. Many of these people became travellers, not through choice and tradition but through necessity. Travellers were seen to be illiterate, dirty and untrustworthy, living on the fringes of society and heavily persecuted. Even today the stigma is still firmly attached.

But now there is a recognised need for being proud of our culture and heritage. Primary school children are learning Scots words and children’s books such as The Gruffalo and even Harry Potter are being translated into Scots:

 Turnin the envelope ower, his haun tremmlin, Harry saw a purpie wax seal wi a coat o airms; a lion, an earn, a brock, and a snake surroondin a muckle letter ‘H’.

HARRY POTTER doesnae ken the first thing aboot Hogwarts when the LETTERS stert drappin ontae the doormat at nummer fower, Privet Loan. The letters, scrievit in GREEN ink on YELLA pairchment wi a PURPIE seal, are taen aff him by his AWFIE aunt and CRABBIT uncle. Then, on Harry’s eleeventh birthday, a muckle GIANT wi tousie hair cawed RUBEUS HAGRID breenges in tae his life wi some ASTOONDIN news: Harry Potter is a warlock, and he has a place at HOGWARTS SCHUIL O CARLINECRAFT AND WARLOCKRY.

Ahh, be still my beating heart. There was also an exhibition on in Stirling last week showcasing the lives of the Scottish Travellers – what an insight into the live and culture of a minority people.

When it comes to my path, my beliefs and practices, I have been Pagan for a long time; I’ve never connected with Christianity – yes I was christened as a baby, but that was my parent’s choice not mine, and yes I went to church at the end of school term or for weddings and funerals, but I am resolutely not Christain. Witches have been my love since a young girl. I have only fairly recently come to Goddess culture, having been a staunch athiest for the majority of my life,  and exploring who they are/were. There is a lot of love online for Kuan Yin and Kali Ma, Lakshmi and Durga, but for me there is no connection. I appreciate who they are and what they represent but I cannot claim them as my Goddesses as they are not mine, how can I possibly call a Hindu or Buddhist deity for my own when I don’t practice or follow those faiths? Its the same with Mary Magdalene or Lilith – I “get” the archetypes and their stories but they are of the Christian faith – again, not mine! I even struggle with Greek and Roman Goddesses. However, I do connect with deities; the Cailleach, Nicneven/ Gyre Carlin, Nematona, Elen of the Ways and Sulis – Celtic deities native to the British Isles , with each of whom there is resonance. Yes, I did deliberately seek out and explore Celtic Goddesses, many of whom were down graded to various incarnations of the  Faery Queen, in my quest to find, actually I don’t know what I initially hoped to find or for why, just something that made sense to me.

Asking myself who I am and where I come from has been enormously satisfying as well as eye opening. It has also given me a starting point from which to grow and learn about my own culture and heritage and to incorporate that into who I am today with who I want be and where I want to go.  I can now appreciate and respect other cultures without appropriating them for my own needs or to make my own experience more “authentic” or enlightened or which ever adjective is required.

In the past I have used or wanted to use other culture’s ritual or language, for example, smudging. I have “smudged” in the past. In reality, I haven’t smudged but merely cleansed. The use of smoke to cleanse is used world wide, but the act of smudging is actually a sacred ritual practiced by the indigenous people of America. Language is important. Cleansing is fine, smudging is not. My preferred Tarot deck and the one I have been using for 22 year is the Native American deck full of beautiful imagery and symbolism of the different tribes. Not my heritage, but I appreciate the beauty of the deck. However, a Native American person may feel that this is appropriation of their heritage – who I am to argue with that? I cant, nor should I.  The use of the word tribe and how “your vibe attracts your tribe” – is not indigenous to these lands, there weren’t tribes in Scotland, there were clans. The surnames of my ancestors are clan names (although in my research it seems that Ireland had tribes and clans, although I am prepared to be corrected in that).

The issue of cultural appropriate is huge and I am not in a position to cover it in depth or with any authority. I can however, recommend delving into our own unique histories and herstories to understand what is in our blood.

What ancient memories are you holding and remembering?

Lx

*Drookering – Traveller Cant word for fortune telling/reading, usually tea leaves or palms.
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Who are you?

Who are you?

The real deep down you.

Do you know or even remember?

The you, you are in your mind that’s your authentic you, rather than the you that’s projected (the one you’ve been told you should be).

Maybe you know who you are and are completely comfy in yourself.  Maybe you know who you are but keep certain bits hidden because of fear or shame or because that’s not the you you are supposed to be.

Who am I?  Well, that very much depends upon when you ask.  If you read my bio page there is a whole list of different labels identifying me, but that list is very 1 dimensional.  It doesn’t really mean anything, does it?

I could add to that list of labels and try to take it a bit deeper with additional info such as astrological details : Gemini, Leo rising with Libra moon sign, born in the year of the Horse (Chinese Zodiac) and am both an Oak and a Wren (Celtic Zodiac). If turn to the tarot, my birth card tells me that I am the High Priestess. So, any clearer as to who I am? Nope, thought not.

And that’s OK. We are not our labels and we don’t have to define ourselves to anyone.  Besides, the more we learn, be it about life or ourselves, the more we evolve and grow and I suppose, change. A good few years ago now, a friend said to me “You’ve changed.” I disagreed with the “change” part as I didn’t think I had actually changed as such, more remembered and then sought out more to learn to expand my knowledge and understanding. I was pleased she had noticed. However, the comment was not meant as a compliment.

I find myself returning to this “you’ve changed” comment (complete with the visual in my head of her facial expression) time and time again. I am not the same person I was 5/10/15/20 years ago, and I very much doubt that I will be the same person in 5 years time – and thank goodness for that. I don’t want to remain unchanged and stagnant. The only thing  growing in stagnation is toxicity.

Our blueprint of who we are lies unchanged underneath all the crap we have accumulated since childhood through our teens, twenties, thirties and beyond to today and, as we find out new things, try out new ideas, discover what we like/dislike, our journey to who we are really, gets both closer and further away from that blueprint.

Knowing who we are also requires knowing, embracing/ releasing and accepting our shadow self. The bits we don’t like, or cause us pain. It’s all part of our make up. For instance, I know I am too much for some people, I verbally overcompensate when I’m nervous, I am incredibly judgemental and have obnoxious tendencies,  a complete pain in the arse and a bit of a show off with a drink, yet confrontation averse and really hard on myself, to the point of hating myself, when situations come up, comments are made and I don’t so anything at the time.  It is an absolute truth that just because I didn’t react to a particular situation does not mean I didn’t notice. I may forgive, but I certainly don’t forget. I’m a fucking elephant! (can you hear the anger and bitterness there?)

It’s certainly an interesting journey, this thing we call life, unravelling who we are and who we have come to be.  It can be difficult to look at why we are the way we are and identifying the roots of certain characteristics or traits. Cringing and feeling shame or embarrassment at our previous actions or mistakes is part of this undertaking. We can’t change the past, it helped shape who we are today, but it doesn’t define us. Inorder to move on, we have to face the past, acknowledge it, feel the feels and let it go. Faaaar easier said than done. I know!  But it’s a vital step if knowing yourself wholly is important to you.

The part I struggle with the most, is being my authentic self with others. Depending on whose company I am in, will depend on which part of me is out in the open. I guess part of it is trust. Being honest and true – it’s the people/parent pleaser in me – regardless of the outcome. I worry about offending others or not being taken seriously or being misunderstood.  I am really trying to take on the advice that other people’s opinions of me are none of my business.  That is the challenge.  But I’m getting there.

So, do you know who you are? That’s none of my business.

Be true to you, not anyone else.

Lx