Welcome to My Full-Time RV Living LifeStyle Blog!

I suppose I should mention that this is an RV blog. The picture of me standing beside a motorhome in the banner probably tipped you off to that fact already, but you know how it is with blogs, any body can put anything in the header.

Anyways, I was born, raised, and live in Maine, I have 12 cats, and some people would call me homeless. Nope, I have a home, I just don't have what people call a standard house. My house has wheels and her name is Rosebud. My backyard stretches on for thousands and thousands of miles all the way from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean.

Once upon a time I had a "regular home" but a flood came and took it away. Me and my cats spent the next 3 years living under a 8x6 tarp and survived through 3 blizzards and Maine's coldest winter on record when the temps hit -48F. After that me and the cats moved in a Volvo. As hard as it is to live in a tent with 12 cats, it's even harder to live in a Volvo with 12 cats, and a motorhome named No Hurry was the answer. No Hurry: my home, my office, my RV.

I plan to use this blog to share my thoughts, ideas, adventures, and advice on being self-employed, living and working a full-time RV LifeStyle with an army of cats, while boondocking in the wonderful (and sometimes sub-zero) state of Maine.

I hope to write a post a day featuring random thoughts as they pop into my head, and hopefully 2 or 3 posts per week will focus on something helpful to those seeking to live in an RV full time. If you've any thoughts, ideas, or suggestions on what sort of posts you'd like to see me write, please comment and let me know.

I hope you all have as much fun reading this blog as I know I'll have writing it.

~Wendy

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

What Is A Traveller? Are You a Gypsy?

What is a Traveller?

The short answer:

Scottish Gypsies are called Travellers. They are a separate race from "regular" Scottish. Travellers are the Natives of Scotland, descendants of the Picts, while "modern" Scots are descendants of the Celtic Invaders whom invaded Scotland in the 1400s.

The Celts drove the Picts from their homes, murdering the women and children of any family refusing to give up their land to the invaders. The Picts, fought back, but in the end were driven out of their native homeland and forced to wander the world in search of a new home. They decided that having their families alive and well was more important than having land of their own. Vowing to never again be forced out of their homes, while watching their women and children be slaughtered, they decided to never again settle down in any place long enough to allow invaders to rob them of their loved ones.

The Picts were known for their metal work and their psychic abilities. The men became traveling tinkers, tooling metal ware and peddling their wares from town to town, while their women helped out by telling fortunes and communicating with the Faeries. They lived in covered wagons, called vardos, towed by spotted horses.

The Picts became known as The Traveling Scottish Tinkers. Over the centuries they have also been known as: The Scottish Gypsies, Witches, Witch Doctors, Hoodoo Conjurors, Peddlers, Tinkers, and as they are most commonly known today: The Travellers.


The long answer:




A few days ago I was asked a question about belly dancing in connection to gypsies, and asked also who are the gypsies, and what about you as a Traveller, are Travellers gypsies? I'm bringing my answer to that question here, and here it is:

I would like to start out by saying I am one of the princesses of The Royal Highland Atwater Clan, I can trace every member of my family from multiple branches all the way back to the 1400's. Our history starts in Scotland, and as the name of our clan implies, back prior to the 1400's we were royalty, from the line TRUE natives of Scotland, The Picts. Unlike what most people think of stereotypical Scottish appearances, (fair skin, red hair, etc) we are much darker, resembling Native American Indians, and also Native Scottish did not wear tartans or kilts as became popular with the invaders now thought of as the Scottish today. The castle which our family lived in is still there and is today known by tourists as "The Atwater Castle". The history of the castle and our family, is that when the early Christians (St Patrick, etc) and the Celts invaded the area and drove out the "heathen pagans" who refused to convert to Christianity, the Atwater Clan held out and became warriors of the Highlands, rather than be forced out of the country with the rest of our people. At some point around the 1400's, however, the castle was taken by the invaders, and the Atwater Clan because the last of the Native Highlanders to be driven out of their native lands.

The Atwater Clan, refused to settle down, and thought only of retaking the castle and returning home, and became travelers across Scotland as a result. Over the generations however, plans of retaking the castle, turned to "fantasy tales" told to grandchildren, tales of "the old ways" and "how it used to be" and "why" we travel with no home of our own, but gone are the plans, hopes, and dreams, of ever "returning home". While much of what I know of my family's history comes from word of mouth and is open to speculation, but the dates and brief notes in the ancient Medieval family Bible which has been passed down for centuries, can confirm that there is at least some truth by which the stories were based, and after much research, I did find that The Atwater Castle does indeed exist and local stories around it do match the stories my grandparents told me. I do not know my family's history prior to the dates in the ancient Bible.

Our more recent history is easier to verify, with the help of diaries and photographs and government documents. In the late 1700's, the Atwater's joined up with great-great-grandson of Sir Francis Drake, when Capt John Drake married one of the Atwater girls. Our family has a tradition of, if you marry into the family from the outside, you join the clan. Capt Drake left Scotland, sailed across the Atlantic and took with him the entire Atwater Clan. The family went from land dwelling travelers to sea dwelling cut-throat "pirates". They settled down in what is now Nova Scotia, and Capt Drake and his Atwater Clan crew, became blueberry smugglers, invading blueberry farms and using ship sails to carry the loads of fruit. This resulted in his fleet of ships having purple-blue sails. Capt Drake meet a terrible end when he fell through the deck of his ship, got an infection and lost his leg to gangrene, than died a few months later from the same infection. His wooden leg, several sea chests, and some of the blue sails have been passed down through our family every since and today are owned by one of my uncles.

The death of Capt John Drake, brought an end to our family's brief life of piracy, and life on the ocean, and it also left a rather large group of Scottish Travelers stranded in Canada with no way back to Scotland. Their life with Drake however had brought a change to morals and most of them became criminals: murderers, thieves, prostitutes, drunks, and over all spent most of the 1800's doing everything in their power to give Travelers everywhere a bad name.

In the 1920's my grandfather joined the Kennedy family's "rum running" business and was their gun toting driver bringing whiskey into Maine, from Canada. His job was to bring the whiskey to Old Orchard Beach, Maine, and fill the carousal horses (their tails unscrew and they are hollow - next time you visit Old Orchard, look for these horses, they are still there.)

Old Orchard Beach, Maine was a crime district back than and most of the town was run by the Ricker family, another group of Scottish Travelers, whom had settled down in the 1820's and founded the Town of Old Orchard Beach.

After the Kennedy rum running business was broken up, my grandfather married a Native American girl and than moved the Atwater Clan from Canada to Old Orchard Beach, Maine, where the Atwaters and the Rickers joined forces, with members of each clan marrying members of the other clan, creating one big huge giant clan.

By the 1960's there were over 200 Atwaters (my grandfather had 12 children, each of them had no less than 8 children PER wife, and some had several wives) and the entire town had become over run with campers, trailers, tents, shanties, etc. The Rickers (who lived in houses and shunned the nomadic lifestyle, and tried very hard to be good upstanding citizens with regular jobs) and the Atwaters (houseless squatters, living in cars and campers without permission on other people's front lawns and who were still mostly criminals, and made a living out of breaking and entering and than selling stolen goods at flea markets) had started feuding. And when I say feuding, I mean gun fights and shoot outs, knife stabbings and sword fights. Very violent, very bloody, and required a lot of police and FBI to break up.

Ask the old people (senior citizens) of Old Orchard Beach today, and they will tell you horrendous stories of: "The Day the Gypsies Were Driven Out of Old Orchard". They'll tell you of the long parade of cars and vans and jeeps and trailers and campers, that stretched on for 10 or 12 miles, as they drove out of town and headed West for Utah, with police escorts. They will talk for hours of the violent crazy gypsies that tore up the town and almost destroyed Old Orchard Beach. I was a small child when this event occurred, but it instilled in me a life long fear of guns, as it had become a daily thing for me and my cousins to be dodging bullets and hide behind cars praying our parents and their parents wouldn't murder each other.

Today the Atwaters have turned on each other, several have gone to prison, one created a UFO cult called Heaven's Gate and than killed off his entire group with Kool-Aid, in the past 10 years there have been 5 different mass murder-suicides done by the Atwaters, one just last April. Several have now been diagnosed with severe metal illnesses, and genetic problems, both attributed to nearly 400 years of inbreeding between siblings.

There are many groups of Travellers and Gypsies who attribute the Royal Highland Atwater Clan with having single handedly created the stereotype that Gypsies are crazy criminals, and most Travellers and Gypsies will tell you that looking at one family and judging the entire race based on them alone is wrong, but the fact is, that is what has happened.

Those of us, in the younger generation of the Atwater Clan, look back on our parents and grandparents with shame, not because they were Travellers, not because they were Gypsies, but because they were arrogant people who acted like animals and did horrible things because they thought they could get away with it. For every criminal act they did, they always justified it by saying: "We are Atwaters. We are royalty. You should be glad I decided to let you live." They arrogance was their downfall.

For the most part Gypsies are just your average ordinary, hard working family, they just live in a house on wheels. The crime family stereotype is not the norm and only became a stereotype because what few crime families there are got themselves in enough trouble to get all over the media. The Gypsies that stay out of trouble don't get on TV, so are out of sight and out of mind, thus resulting in the only time people see any info about Gypsies it's on the news when one does some crime, in the end resulting in people thinking, every time they see a gypsy it's a bad news report therefor all gypsies must be bad. It's sad but true. And it's not just the gypsies - I know a guy who was in WWII and every time he sees an Asian person he starts ranting on about "these evil Japs" and the bombing of Pearl Harbor. I know another guy who lived in the "inner city" growing up, and now today he says "all blacks a no good gangsters".

Now you ask:

[QUOTE=Jane;182058]I keep reading references to "Gypsy dances" in connection with belly dance. What exactly are "Gypsies"? I thought they were a specific ethnic group. Besides the Roma influence on Turkish Oryantal, what do Gypsies have to do with the development of belly dance? I know they came in several migratory waves from India; that I have figured out. I'm becoming lost and confused as to who Gypsies actually are when people reference them. Why are they being credited with creating belly dance and why are Ghawazee and other marginalized ethnic groups being put under the Gypsy umbrella if they are not genetically related? I never thought of belly dance as a Gypsy dance: always a Middle Eastern social dance adapted for the stage. :think:[/QUOTE]

I can tell you this:

I am a gypsy. I was born a gypsy. I lived in a car with my family and our cats and our dogs, until I was 9 years old, when my parents left the Clan and settled down to live on a farm in Maine. We did not take to no-mobile life well and spent much of the year on road trips, for the next 30 years. Throughout that time we have had to deal with a steady stream of hate crimes and violence at the hands of several of Old Orchard Beach's locals, who remember the crimes of the Atwater Clan and though my father is a Ricker, his wife, my mother is an Atwater, disowned by the rest of the Clan, but still has Atwater blood and that's enough to cause great hatred from people who remember "The Gypsies of Old Orchard".

As an adult, I too had a house, once. It was burned down by anti-gypsy bigots in 2006 and I spent the next 3 years living on my land under a tarp, than in a Volvo, and now in a motorhome as I can not afford to re-build my house.

We are from Scotland. There is no Middle Eastern connection. We are a different culture than the Romani. Gypsy is the term used for ALL traveling cultures, NOT JUST the Romani, that is why they are more correctly called The Romani Gypsies or just The Roms. There are Irish Gypsies and Turkish Gypsies and Ethiopian Gypsies and Native American Gypsies and Mexican Gypsies and Mongolian Gypsies.... you get the idea now right?

A Gypsy is any person with a mobile home, be it a tent, car, trailer, vardo, wagon, RV, motorhome, sailboat, houseboat, or plane. If your house can move from one location to the next, than you are a gypsy. If you live in a trailer park, you are a gypsy. If you live in a campground, you are a gypsy. If you live in a Winnebago, you are a gypsy. You can deny it, but like it or not, if you do not live in a standard non-mobile building, you are a gypsy, because that is what the word gypsy means. The word "gypsy" when used CORRECTLY is the name of a TYPE OF LIFESTYLE. However the word is very rarely ever used correctly.

Most people when they say "Gypsy" they mean "Romani Gypsy", but using "gypsy" in this manner, as the name of a race, is considered a racial slur and the same as calling an African American a Nigar or a Latter Day Saint a Mormon or a Native American and Indian. Gypsy, Nigar, Mormon, Indian - these are all racial slurs used by people on the outside of the group in question. Just as no Latter Day Saint would ever refer to themselves as a Mormon, so too would no Rom ever refer to themselves as a Gypsy. Mormonism is a theology held and practiced by 64 different religions, the original of which being The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and members within these religions call themselves Later Day Saints and say they practice Mormonism, and while a few may call themselves Mormons, most do not and are deeply offended by the term. Likewise the Gypsy Lifestyle is held and practiced by over 300 different ethnic groups, and each group calls themselves by their race (Scottish, Navaho, Irish, Mongolian, Romani, etc), and while a few may refer to themselves as Gypsies, most do not and are deeply offended by the term.

Scottish Gypsies are called Travellers. They are a separate race from "regular" Scottish. Travellers are the Natives of Scotland, descendants of the Picts, while "modern" Scots are descendants of the Celtic Invaders whom invaded Scotland in the 1400s.

The Celts drove the Picts from their homes, murdering the women and children of any family refusing to give up their land to the invaders. The Picts, fought back, but in the end were driven out of their native homeland and forced to wander the world in search of a new home. They decided that having their families alive and well was more important than having land of their own. Vowing to never again be forced out of their homes, while watching their women and children be slaughtered, they decided to never again settle down in any place long enough to allow invaders to rob them of their loved ones.

The Picts were known for their metal work and their psychic abilities. The men became traveling tinkers, tooling metal ware and peddling their wares from town to town, while their women helped out by telling fortunes and communicating with the Faeries. They lived in covered wagons, called vardos, towed by spotted houses.

The Picts became known as The Traveling Scottish Tinkers. Over the centuries they have also been known as: The Scottish Gypsies, Witches, Witch Doctors, Hoodoo Conjurors, Peddlers, Tinkers, and as they are most commonly known today: The Travellers.

And your question:

[QUOTE=Jane;182058]what do Gypsies have to do with the development of belly dance?[/QUOTE]

The answer is: not a thing.

From what I (speaking as an insider) have personally seen of dancing in gypsy culture, gypsy dance has more in common with Voodoo dancing: big colorful skirts, scarfs on heads, swirling around, leaping, clapping, joining hands, holding long skirts up at the hips to expose the knees, with a big group of people laughing and whopping as they prance around a bon-fire. It's NOT belly dancing. Not even close!

From what I've seen of modern "gypsy belly dance", it appears that they take "gypsy" outfits and use them while belly dancing, and call it gypsy belly dance based on the costume not based of the style of dance, just like what is done with Gothic belly dance: dress in goth while belly dancing = gothic belly dance; dress like a gypsy while belly dancing = gypsy belly dancing.

You noticed as I was telling you the history of my family, I made no mention of belly dancing? Yeah, there's a reason for that, and it's because THERE IS NO HISTORY of belly dancing. No one in the long and colorful history of my family has ever been a belly dancer - I'm the first one, and when I took it up, I never once thought of it as being a "gypsy" dance. The first time I found out about belly dancing, I was about 8 years old, and I did not know what it was called, so for several years I called belly dancers "Egyptian Snake Charmers". I have no idea how I came up with the term "Egyptian Snake Charmers" or why I used it, but as a child there was a long time when I would tell people: "When I grow up I'm going to be an Egyptian Snake Charmer". What I meant when I was saying that, was I wanted to be a professional belly dancer.

But there you have it: I, as a gypsy, born in a gypsy culture, raised in a tradition-heavy multi-generational gypsy family (with 200+ members all living together), grew up associating belly dancing with Egypt and cobras. And I myself a gypsy, never associated belly dancing with my own culture, nor did I associate myself with Egyptians (as one popular myth does, when it says Gypsies are of Egyptian decent).

I am speaking as one who is a "Gypsy" and there is absolutely no history of belly dance in my culture, but I think I can help you find a reason why belly dancing is often associated with gypsies. Traveling around a lot, my ancestors did pick up things from each place they went. For example we are Scottish and not Japanese in any way, and yet wearing kimono became a tradition at some point after a brief visit by some of my ancestors, to Japan. Hula dancing, grass skirts, and wearing muu-muus, became a tradition in my family after my grandmother spent several years living in Hawaii. Can you see where this is going?

Psychic abilities, witchcraft, curses, contacting spirits, reading cards, yes. That sort of thing is HUGE in my personal family's history. Both my grandmothers were witches, as were their grandmothers, but this in not the norm for ALL Gypsies, because witchcraft was only passed down in certain "select family lines" and most families had no connection to the psychic arts at all. I think it is the same with dancing.

You see traditions and passing things from grandparent to grandchild is a BIG part of the Gypsy lifestyle. Think about it: "regular" folks pass on material things: the house, grannies best chine, etc. But when you live in a car, what do you have to pass to your children? Nothing, at east not any material thing. You pass along your traditions instead. If you weave cloth than you pass on a cloth weaving tradition, and end up with generations of cloth weavers in a single line. It's the same if you tool leather, make tin pots, shoe horses, read cards, and of course if you dance, than dancing is the tradition you pass on to your children. Do you see what I'm getting at?

While my own family has no connection with belly dancing, I have known other gypsy families who had several generations of belly dancing in their family line, and the dance was a tradition passed from grandmother to granddaughter.

So I am guessing, based on what I know of how my own family picks up things from other cultures, and how most gypsy families are heavy on the passing down traditions, tradition, I am guessing that at some point, some where in time, a gypsy family picked up belly dancing from one of the places they visited and passed it on to their children, and being professional traveling dancers they meet enough people to give the impression that belly dancing was a traditional gypsy dance, when in fact it was just something they picked up on their travels. It seems to be the most likely reason for the connection between gypsies and belly dancing.

The problem with romanticizing gypsy culture via the whole belly dancers and fortune tellers gig, is that it shows the world that gypsy live a life of endless fun and games, when in fact, most gypsies are short live, malnourished, half-starved, and often too sick or too tired to even think about dancing.

FACT: Gypsies are homeless. Many try to move into normal homes only to have "regular" folks burn them out and force them to be homeless all over again. Bigotry, war, and hatred made them homeless. Bigotry, vandalism, irrational fears, discrimination, and hatred keeps them homeless.

FACT: Gypsies are often uneducated. Discrimination against gypsies is high. Gypsy children rarely attend school and those that doe are often beaten and bullied until they are so terrified of school they don't dare go back. Yes, I'm talking about the United States of America. I was not allowed to go to school. I was 35 years old before I was allowed to get my GED.

FACT: Gypsies are often jobless. Many can not get jobs because they do not have a high school diploma and can not get a GED. Many are forced to do odd jobs such as mowing lawns, because "regular" people REFUSE to hire gypsies.

FACT: Gypsies can not get medical/health insurance.  Having a permanent address is required. Live in a car = no health insurance. Live in a car = no job. No job = no money. No money = no way to get medical care. No medical care = high rate of deaths in children and young adults and a race nearly devoid of senior citizens.

FACT: Most gypsies are hungry, many gypsy children starve to death before they reach 10 years old. Few gypsies live more than 30 years. Live in a car = no job. No job = no money. No money = no way to get food.

FACT: It is not a myth that the crime rate is higher among gypsies than other people. Not allowed the rights of other citizens = no schools, no house, no jobs, no medical care, no food = desperate measures need to be taken to keep your family alive = theft crimes in order to ensure your children get at least one meal PER WEEK (no, not per day - one meal PER WEEK is NOT uncommon in gypsy families.) As a child the longest I had ever gone without food was 12 days.

It is wrong, WRONG, WRONG to portray gypsies as happy go luck people with no cares in the world and days full of dancing, just as much as it is wrong to portray them as cut-throat thugs. They are people, just like you, with families, trying to get by, and working hard to get keep their families alive.

You want to know more about the gypsies? You don't have to travel to some far away land... just walk down to your local homeless shelter, or head to the nearest train station and look for the rows of houses built out of cardboard boxes. Those are gypsies. Take a good look at them, their clothes dirty rags, their bodies sticking from not bathing in months, their babies half dead from starvation- that's the REAL gypsy lifestyle. No dancing. There's no time for dancing when you are praying you 30 pound 10 year old lives long enough for you to find a job, and praying the tomorrow some one ANY ONE will hire you so you can at least buy a last meal for the child. That is the reality of gypsy life.

All that said...I've no problem with people using the term "gypsy belly dance". It's not being used as a derogatory slur, and while possibly stemming from misinformation, I consider it more "fantasy play" than "historical dance" so it doesn't bother me.








This post was written by Wendy C Allen aka EelKat, is copyrighted by The Twighlight Manor Press and was posted on Houseless Living @ http://houselessliving.blogspot.com and reposted at EK's Star Log @ http://eelkat.wordpress.com and parts of it may also be seen on http://www.squidoo.com/EelKat and http://laughinggnomehollow.proboards.com  If you are reading this from a different location than those listed above, please contact me Wendy C. Allen aka EelKat @ http://laughinggnomehollow.proboards.com/index.cgi?action=viewprofile and let me know where it is you found this post. Plagiarism is illegal and I DO actively pursue offenders. Unless copying a Blog Meme, you do not have permission to copy anything appearing on this blog, including words, art, or photos. This will be your only warning. Thank you and have a glorious day! ~ EelKat

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