• Thank you to Carol and Steve Bowman, the forum owners, for our new upgrade!

Ailish's memories

Not open for further replies.
Artefacts - Cultural Expressions

As humans, we create and express ourselves in many different forms – and have since the beginning of time. Culturally, there are specific items which are unique to each country and/or region. Some of those have changed considerably as their creators migrated and brought their crafts with them to new lands. Some have remained within their country of origin – an important part of the country’s customs even today.

As a child – I had memories of being a girl named Yanna. I remembered the process of making bowls with my mother and aunt. Each bowl had very specific symbols inscribed inside. It was only recently that I learned that what I was making were called incantation bowls. The symbols were Jewish-Aramaic in origin.


This post and discussion is continued in the thread Artefacts
I remember being sick in my life as Elisha in the Monastery during the 1300's - I was dying and the Abbess was "letting my blood" - trying to rid my body of illness. It was not a very pleasant experience.

This post and discussion is continued in the thread Old time medicine
Scotland - memories of music and mother

In October of last year I started piecing together a Scottish life. My name was Caitlin (pronounced Kat-leen). I was the only child of a judge named Alasdair and his wife Caitriona (pronounced Ka-tree-na).

Recently during a meditation I asked to see my connection to violins – as I’ve always held a deep attraction to this beautiful, mystical, sorrowful instrument. My whole life I’ve felt like I should be able to just pick up and play. I finally bought one just before Christmas – and the first time I picked it up – I had perfect stance and created some lovely sounding notes. But something has been holding me back from picking it up again – despite my love for the instrument. The recent work I’ve done surrounding this lifetime has given me a greater understanding.

What I’ve learned so far has been a beautiful discovery – a life filled with love – with music – with dancing. Both of my parents were incredible people who fostered a love of music within me – something that remains with me even now. I had an especially close bond with my mother, Caitriona.

I admired her greatly – for the work she did for the neighbors, for the poor – and for the “coal children” that worked in the mines. She was funny and loving – and full of joy and life. Everything was an adventure with her – and there was always laughter.

My mother had a beautiful voice – and played the violin in the evenings. Many of my memories involve sitting in front of the big stone fireplace listening to her play and sing.

I am sitting at my mother's feet, my head on her knee. She is singing softly, humming in between words. She has a hand on my head, stroking and playing with my hair. I am holding a black kitten, cuddling him like a toy. It's peaceful, quiet. Just the crackling of the fire - the wind outside - and my mother singing. I feel safe and content.
I am playing with my kittens, watching the door to my father’s study, which is closed. My mother says, “Caitlin, come” and she winks at me, picking up her violin. She sits on a stool and begins to play. I am watching for my father. Sure enough, he comes from his study and sits beside me, pulling me and the kittens into his lap. I feel myself grinning at my mother – and she winks at me again. I know we do this all the time.

I am playing on the cold stone floor with my two little kittens – black and gray. They have a small tin pan of milk. My mother is sitting in a chair playing the violin. I pick up the kittens and carry them closer to the fireplace. They are both full and content to curl in my lap. I feel the heat of the flames on my face – the fire and music are hypnotic and mesmerizing.
There were many friendly gatherings where music and dance were the prominent activities. Our family was very well-off, and we attended many events. It was a truly charmed life.

At first we are having some sort of celebration – it is evening, outside. The stars are very bright and clear in the night sky. I can feel a chill in the air – smell the sea air. I am wearing a fancy greenish dress that has embroidery and soft leather shoes – not unlike ballet slippers. My mother is braiding my hair – weaving in a green ribbon. I know I am seven years old. I am with another girl – my cousin Brigid. She's a few years older than I am. She's showing off for anyone who will watch her. And then we are dancing for everyone – other kids are dancing, too, girls and boys. It’s strange – a cross between the disciplined Irish step dance and highland dance (arms overhead and out front in changing positions instead of by the sides). There are bagpipes and violins/fiddles – people are laughing and clapping. I feel very happy and carefree. The music changes and Brigid and I watch as the grown-ups dance together. I watch my mother and father weaving in and out of people, coming together – laughing.
My mother became ill – the smiling, sunshiny woman of my childhood became frail and wasted away – but she never lost the sparkle in her eye. Nor her love of music.

My mother is very sick. I am standing before her, holding her violin. She is very pale – her dark hair against the pillow. She is smiling at me – her eyes shining. She is telling me to play. And I do – I play and play, I feel like I am melting into the music, the notes strange, haunting. But I cannot take my eyes from my mother’s face. I feel tears on my cheeks.
She died not long after that – and it was within the memory that I understand now why I cannot pick up that violin…

Flashes of a stormy, gray sky. Trees – people around a pine (?) casket. I hear the melancholy sound of bagpipes, feel my father’s arms around me. I hear him say, “She’s still with us, Caitlin.” I feel sad – so sad – a deep pain inside.
It’s dark and cold. I am sitting at the table, pushing some type of stew around my plate. My father is looking out the front window. He tells me to play a song for him. One of Mammy’s songs. I can feel my whole heart constrict in pain as I think of Mammy playing her violin and singing. I want her so badly. I feel tears slipping down my cheek – silently. Daddy asks me again – but I shake me head at him and swipe away at the tears. I tell him – I will never touch it again and run from the table up the stairs to my room.
As far as I know – I have never touched it again in any life – until now. Thinking of that life brings me much joy – which at times is tinged with an element of sorrow – an ache in my heart and a twisting in my solar plexus. A child’s grief for her mother.


This post and discussion is continued in the thread Scotland
I’ll share a few memories of my father during my life on the American Frontier - my name was Hope.

My father was very peaceable man - he and my mother had come from England to settle some land. I was born after they had been in America a few years and had built a small cabin and established themselves; becoming close friends with the Indians. The white men who said they were his friends were trying to get him to run the Indians from their land – but he wouldn’t. He was my hero – and even though he was gruff at times, he was very gentle with me.

Here are a couple of snippets from my journal:

I am older - about 7. I am working with the Indian woman stringing beads on garments. She is humming a song as she works - and I feel very content. I am humming along with her as I work. I hear someone approaching and a man’s voice say, “Hope Isabelle!” – and I look up and see a man with a beard and long, scruffy dirty blonde hair, whom I know is my father. I drop the beads and run to him. He lifts me up and tells me to stop wandering away from the house or he is going to tie me up. He is laughing and I know he’s joking. I put one hand on either side of his face, rubbing my hands back and forth along his bristly hairs. He tells me I have worried my new mother. I make a face at him. I don’t like his wife.
I am about 5. My father and I are in the cabin having our dinner. We are seated at the table and I am chattering away to him. He is responding occasionally with a nod or a smile. I ask him why he named me ‘Hope.’ He says he called me Hope because when Momma died – he felt none. He says Momma died when I was born and he thought I was dead, too. But then I cried and he had hope. I tell him I wish I knew my Momma. Papa looks sad. I ask him what she looked like and he takes me to the window. I see my reflection - the white blonde hair in messy braids - the slightly sunburned skin - freckles on my nose and bright green eyes. He says, “See that girl? That’s your Momma. You look just like her.” Then he goes to a wooden chest. He pulls out something -a necklace. It’s a cross. He says, “It was your Momma’s, Hope. Now it’s yours.”

I am sitting on the floor playing with a doll – it is made from needles from a tree all bundled together. The doll is dressed in Indian clothing and has beads on it. It even has hair – which looks like real hair braided on top of its head. The priest from the township is here, talking to my father. There are other men with him. They are telling him we are in danger from the Indians. My Papa says we are not. They are our friends. One of the men grabs my doll and asks my Papa, “You let your daughter play with this?” I am crying for my doll. My father tells the man to give it back to me. The men are calling my father names. Telling him he is against his own people. My father tells the preacher we are all God’s people. He takes my doll from the man and hands it to me, picking me up. He tells them it’s time for them to go.
This post and discussion is continued in the thread Remembering "Father"
Epilepsy in the 19th Century

When my mom was here we did a couple of shared meditations. During one of them I saw a flash of a young girl with dark hair, laid out for a funeral. She was a beautiful child – beautifully dressed, long dark hair, pale skin. She looked about 9 or 10 – and my main emotion was relief. I was relieved she was dead. Looking at her made me sad and uncomfortable. At the time – I didn’t recognize her as being ME.

That one incident triggered dreams – of being a child locked in a room and having my hair cut off:

The other night I dreamed about being locked in a room – by a nurse in a long dark dress, covered by a long white apron. She had a little hat on her head – and she was cutting off my hair because it “took my strength.” I was upset – because my mother loved my hair – loved to brush it and I was proud of it. I felt deep despair - I fought her, trying to get away, but she was much bigger than me and very rough.
I later found validation from several sources online that hair ‘taking strength’ from a person was a common misconception in the Victorian era. ;)

It wasn’t until I went back through my journals that I realized this child – was the same girl I had been seeing as an epileptic in previous memories.

When I am experiencing these seizures - there is light - and then it is like I am falling headlong into myself, to a place no one can reach into. It’s dark - and isolated. I am aware of nothing around me. There is no fear - not then. Not until I start to awaken from this internal prison - everything is blurry. Sounds are muted. They are scaring me - the old lady, standing over me - devil, devil I hear again and again. I feel my mother’s hands on me, hear her saying my name, but she is trying to hold me and I don’t went to be held.

Shame - I feel shame to the depths of my being. I can feel her disdain - the old woman’s. She is telling my parents to send me away. I am not right in the head. I feel him beside me - James. My brother. Holding my hand. I feel tears on my cheeks - I’m scared. I don’t want to go. James is telling me something, but I can’t hear him clearly - everything is swirling - lights, colors and I am falling. And then I am out of that body watching - the child on the floor, one arm shaking and jerking back and forth, legs rigid. Boy bending over her, calling for help. Old woman with her crucifix. Parents leaning over the child. The little girl’s head is lolling funny - eyes rolling back in her head. Her mouth is open, she looks like she is trying to talk and gasping for air at the same time. Then I am back in her body - it’s blurry. I feel small twitches, see the crucifix, my mother is pinning my arms down, my father my legs. She is saying “Alissia, stop!”
Individuals with epilepsy were (and still are in certain cultures) considered to be "possessed by the devil," "mentally lacking" or "insane" and they were treated with no respect - no one understood, and so it was feared. It was a stigma that caused great embarrassment for families. Often when the family could not make a decision - a board was called in. They removed epileptics from their families and put them into medical facilites ranging from specific epileptic colonies to lunatic asylums.

Now those feelings of relief at seeing the dead girl make complete sense. As a little girl, she was taken from her family and placed in an asylum for being epileptic; death was a relief:

I am in a room on a bed with a thin mattress. Two women – nurses (?) wearing long, dark dresses with long white aprons over top and small white caps are wrapping a linen sheet around me. I am fighting them – screaming as they wrap it tighter and tighter. One takes me by the arms – the other by the feet and the put me in a tub of ice cold water. I am screaming for my mother.
That also led to another validation – in the late 1800’s, water therapy was used in asylums. I knew it was the late 1800’s, not just by the clothing styles I wore, but also by the nurse’s uniforms I had described (late 19th century England), and also by my description of what they made me drink and how it made me feel:

I am in a hospital. A woman (nurse) is mixing a spoonful of white powder in a glass of water. She hands it to me and tells me to drink it all. I sip at it – but it tastes terrible, like saltwater. I have no energy to fight her anymore. I feel numb – disconnected...it’s hard to concentrate on anything. I want my mother. I want to go home.
After some research and help from a friend, I discovered that Bromide was used in the treatment of epileptics in the late 1800’s. Because of the adverse effect it had on people, it was stopped and is now used to control animals’ seizures.

I went for about three weeks straight dreaming about Alissia's life - and I would wake up in the middle of her seizure to find my present body contorting into some very bizarre positions.

This post and discussion is continued in the thread Epilepsy in the 19th century
Noemi - Daughter of Freed Slaves

I did a meditation last weekend with my mom. I'd really been looking forward to it -it had been a while for both of us and unfortunately she got interrupted! Usually we have interesting experiences together - cross-overs and shared memories...but we haven't had a good one together for a very long time.

Near the end I gravitated towards my life as Noemi, the daughter of freed slaves. As Noemi, I never experienced slavery myself, but I saw the scars it left upon my mother and father - emotionally and physically. My mother never wanted me or my brother to know what it meant to be a slave; she tried to hide it from us, rarely speaking about her life before freedom. My sister Carrie knew, but she was much older than Teddy and I. She was close to our mother in a different way than us younger kids were.

Teddy and I may have been "born free," but that freedom was still limited at the time. The town was segregated - there was a definite white/black area. I remember walking through the trees along a path to the white side where my mother worked, and how the people treated her. She didn't let it bother her - at least not in front of me. But at some point, she stopped taking me to work with her when things got a little rough. I know she worried for us all.

I found great joy in the little things in life - and my great passion was singing. I was plenty fussed over by the little old ladies in the community that gathered around in the afternoons to chat and share their stories. My special friend was "Miss Ella," and to me she was a very wise old woman who knew a lot about music - and life!

Here's what I wrote in my journal from last weekend:

I went to Noemi's life and I was standing up in front of the church congregation singing about "the blood of the lamb." I felt so happy and carefree, standing up there singing - like it was what I was meant to do. It came from some place deep inside me - that soulful vibration. I looked over and saw my Momma and Daddy and my brother Teddy all smiling at me. My sister was there with her new husband, and I was feeling proud cuz she was so pretty.
I was getting random brief flashes of Noemi's life - carrying wood into the house. Momma telling me to sit still while she braided my hair. Playing with my sister's baby. Climbing up the little stairs to the attic room I shared with Teddy. Walking with Momma through the white part of town when she went to work. Sitting outside the white lady's house waiting for Momma. Skipping down the dirt road through the trees with Momma calling to me to slow down.
The next day I googled the "blood of the lamb and negro spirituals" and found reference in Questia to a song from 1764 called "Been wash'd in the blood of the Lamb." There is a similar reference in an 1800's hymnal - dunno if it's the same song, but I'm betting on an adaptation of the original. I looked on youtube and although there are similarities between the songs, the current versions lack the "soul" I remember experiencing during my meditation.

One thing that stays with me very strongly from Noemi's memories - is the joy of song. Worshiping in church was a whole different experience; it wasn't a bunch of people sitting all proper and quiet and reciting back things, and fire and brimstone sermons. It was joy - pure joy. Being thankful - and being together in Spirit. The preaching made people rise up together in joy - not be knocked down by fear of damnation. The congregation would sing back, hands clapping, feet stomping...it was beautiful!

I have many vivid memories of Noemi, her life and her family, recorded in journals, both old and new. Many of the validations have to do with music. Eventually I may share some more of her life here on the forum :)


This post and discussion is continued in the thread Noemi
There was no other family besides my parents, brother, sister and my sister's husband (and eventually their baby). I don't recall if my parents ever spoke of their own parents or siblings; perhaps they didn't know their origins. I don't feel that we missed out on not having grandparents or aunts and uncles, though. It was a very close, very loving community and there were always people around. They all felt like family to me - they were all I knew. :)

This post and discussion is continued in the thread Noemi

Deborah said:
I am curious about the spelling of the name you posted here. Noemi.
I was named for a friend of my mother's I never met. Momma wouldn't talk about her (that I remember), except to say she was "joy in a dark place." My name was pronounced No-emmy. My family called me No-no.

Deborah said:
I am interested in the knowing of being born "free" - and how you determined you were free.
My brother and I were raised knowing we were born free. I explained that my parents didn't talk much about the past, but my mother bore the scars of many whippings on her back. She tried desperately to hide the physical scars from us - it was not something she wanted us to see. Here's a memory from my journal I know some of you have read:

Momma's got scars on her back - deep, winding, twisting scars. I see her in the bath and she tries to cover them by slipping under the water. When I ask her about them she says, “Never you mind, now get!” I walk to the tub and put my little hands on her dark back with the white criss-crosses and say “Oh Momma, you hurt.” Momma tells me “It ain't a matter for lil girls.” I have tears in my eyes. Someone hurt my Momma. Momma looks at me and says, “Noemi, bad things they be happenin’ in this world. But we a free people. No one ain’t gonna hurt us no more, baby.” I hear myself ask her what the marks are and she tells me - they are freedom. I try asking more questions, but Momma’s done talking. She tells me to go and play.
Sometimes she talked about her friends and the old ways. Not often, but when she did Teddy and I were horrified and transfixed by her words. Sometimes, we'd catch all the ladies reminsicing over cold sweet tea (a treat!) and pick up some details here and there, until someone noticed us and shooed us away. We knew we were free but still living in difficult times. From my journal:

I am seven when IT happens. I hear Momma and Daddy talking’ about all the “upset” with the white folks lately. I hear Momma crying. She says sometimes she feels “we ain’t neva gonna be free.” Daddy’s telling her they have a good life now compared to “back then.” Momma’s next words scare me - she says “they hangin’ our kind fo no reason but hate. Our chillen is dyin’ and scares me somethin’ to think of my babies in this world.” They are talking in hushed tones now. I can’t hear them, so I creep a little farther down the ladder/stairs. They squeak and I see Daddy standing there when I look up. He tells me to go back to bed. But I am shaking. I feel cold. And scared. He picks me up and carries me up to my room and tucks me into my bed. He tells me to go to sleep and kisses my forehead.
Teddy and I knew we were different from the rest of our family - that we had opportunities they'd only dreamed of, such as education. Getting an education was important to my parents - and they were extremely proud of us when we learned to read and write so young. My sister knew the basics, but she was married young and had her own baby to care for. She wasn't much into learning anyway; she just wanted her own space and her own family to care for.

As far as I know - I only lived in one home. It was owned by my parents and they were so very proud of it. It was small, but cozy and well taken care of. Here's how I described it in my journal:

Our house is small – made of wood, which is white-washed and there are wooden shingles on the roof which are brown - and you can see where water has stained them. There is a little window at the point at the top, which is the attic where we kids sleep. There is a nice garden in the back that runs down the whole left side and a small front porch with chairs and a little table. There are no rails on the porch, but three steps up. There is a huge tree out front with an old rope swing my Daddy hung for us kids before I was born. I love to swing.
The front door is big and has a place where you put wood across that acts as a lock. There is a big room with a “kitchen” area off to one side. We have a black woodstove with a pipe that goes outside through the wall. There is a wooden table and chairs. There is a small room down toward the back with shelves. It’s like a big closet. Momma keeps it stocked with flour and sugar and glass jars. Then Momma and Daddy’s room is there. There is a small staircase that folds up to the ceiling - it’s almost like a ladder, and when you climb up you are in the attic. It’s the room I share with my brother and it’s divided by a cloth.
My Momma worked for the white people on "their side" and I actually loved helping her. I was fascinated by all of their "fine things" - and yes, a little ashamed of our tiny home at times and wishing to have their riches. I was pretty jealous of a white girl named Amelia...she was a brat, but oh how I envied her at times. From my journal:

I am staring into the mirror at my brown skin, curly hair and dark eyes. I hear Momma tell me to stop “lovin’ yourself” and come set the table. But I’m not lovin’ myself. I quietly put the dishes on the table. So quiet, Momma asks where the songs are. I shrug at her. She grabs me by the chin and asks me what’s wrong and I ask her if God can really do anything. She stares at me so long I feel myself shrink a little. “What you got cookin’ in that head of yours now, Miss No-no?” she asks me. I ask her if God can make my hair straight and my eyes blue like Amelia’s (Amelia is the white daughter of one of the people Momma works for). “Don’t be wishin for what you ain’t, chile. You a beautiful baby, jus like you is. ‘Melia ain’t beautiful inside and she don’t sing a note worth hearin’.” I feel myself smiling.
Deborah said:
I came across something today that caught my attention in my journals from 1992.
What's that? If you feel like sharing. :)

This post and discussion is continued in the thread Noemi
Hi Aili,

I came across this. Perhaps I have the spelling (pronunciation) wrong. Perhaps it was another girl. Who knows - but it did get my attention. ;)

I am in a very large white house in the kitchen. An eight year old girl was helping the older women make bread. Her name was Naomi, and she was singing. I smiled, cause boy! Could that girl sing. I appreciated that about her.
I didn’t work in the kitchen, I didn’t even know how to cook. I was a house attendant and housekeeper. Cleaning, always cleaning, ironing and bringing things to the Mrs. I had to be careful, careful all the time, to be perfect, to do it just right.
Thanks for sharing more! :)

This post and discussion is continued in the thread Noemi
Thank you for reading, and for your comments everyone! It was a happy, joyful life despite the hardships. There was so much love - it overshadowed everything else ;)

Mom - That's very interesting about the name Naomi and my Noemi. And the fact that they both sang. Perhaps we'll have to do a meditation soon ;) For those of you who haven't read Deborah's memories of her slave lifetime, please check out the following link in our Archives: Clara's Story


This post and discussion is continued in the thread Noemi
Not open for further replies.