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.


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The People of the Mists: A Short History of Scottish Traveller Gypsies, And How I Came to be Known as the Sea Witch of Old Orchard Beach Essay #1 for SMCC ENGL100 Spring 2012

Here is essay #1 for class:

Wendy C Allen                                                                                                          
Dan Clarke
ENGL 100-15
Essay #1
Inspired by Explorations #1 & #3
March 26, 2012

The People of the Mists:
A Short History of Scottish Traveller Gypsies,
And How I Came to be Known as the Sea Witch of Old Orchard Beach

*It is important to note that what is said here, is not a history of all Scottish Traveller Gypsies on a whole, but rather the history, simply of one Clan (family) within the race, as much as is known through family records, diaries, and verbal traditions. The accuracy of the words found within these documents and traditions is unknown. The documents were written between 1611 and 1948. The later events which take place in Old Orchard Beach from 1811 onward, are very well documented and are known from family records, newspaper clippings, court records, photographs, postcards, and documents found at both the Town Hall and the Old Orchard Beach Historical Society. Events taking place after 1975, are personal first hand witness accounts of my own life. This essay is written in response to reader comments of two prior articles I had written: “Dark Inspirations” and “Hidden in the Shadows”.  Specifically this essay seeks to answer the following questions: “Could you give the reader a bit more about who you are and how you ended up in Old Orchard Beach?” (in reference to “Dark Inspirations”) and “How might you bring yourself into this piece more, either as a character or narrator or both? Do you have any experiance with this group? If so, what is it?” (in reference to “Hidden in the Shadows”).

They are a strange people the Scottish Travelers. Their origins are a mystery, their history shaded and sketchy, and their customs seen as outlandish and other worldly. Ceàrdannan is their native name, spoken in their native tongue; it means “The Craftsmen” or “The Tinkers” in English translation, (a name they receive due to their many crafting traditions including tin smithing, weaving cloth, and carving bright colored wagons) though most folks tend to call them The Indigenous Highland Travellers of Scotland or The Scottish Traveller Gypsies. While many consider them to be Celtic, they were in fact discovered by the Celts. Nationalities between family groups (known as Clans) varies, with some clans claiming Romanian or Indian descent, and others claiming German or Egyptian descent. The common thread is that each clan makes the same claim of Pict descent. The theory thus being that the Travellers descended from the Picts, and picked up mixed nationality marriages along their travels. Unfortunately, these histories come to us after being passed down for centuries via word of mouth. Very little written documentation exists regarding Travellers, or rather, very little written by the Travellers themselves. Much of what exists is hate-filled propaganda written by Christian witch hunters of the 16th century and Nazi soldiers of the 20th century; these documents being of course written to promote hate and to document the massive, tens of thousands of Gypsies who were killed during these two devastating “racial cleansings”.

My own family is unique among Travellers, in that, detailed documents were written and passed down for generations. I am today, in possession of what Christians refer to as “the family Bible”, or what Pagans call “a Witch’s Grimoire”. The Bible itself it a rare item. Difficult to carry due to its massive size, this giant hand tooled, hand illustrated, leather bound volume contains testament books and scriptural verses not found in currently published editions of the Bible. Within its pages, however, lie more than curiosities for the Bible scholar. Careful turning of pages reveals herbs, flowers, feathers, and four-leaf clovers pressed between its brittle yellow pages, along with letters, notes, spells, prayers, recipes, and at the very heart of the book, written on its pages a list of names, dates, births, deaths, and marriages dating back for centuries.
Even with written documents, our family’s exact origins are sketchy. Older traditions come from 19th century writings, romanticizing the past, and are questionable as to their accuracy. Putting together the bits and pieces of both written and oral information I was able to assemble a timeline of sorts. While all 300+ living members of the Clan call themselves Scottish, tradition suggests that the earliest roots of our Clan, descended not from Scotland, but rather, from North Asian Russia, specifically to the Shaman of Siberia or perhaps Alaska which was still connected to Russia, all those many centuries ago. There is the suggestion that they may have migrated to Siberia from Mongolia, due to our current families physical appearance, as well as magical arts traditions which have a Mongolian “flair” to them. Both the Siberian and Mongolian connections, however, appear to be little more than romantic speculation.

While the exact place origin is a guess at best, the one fact which remains clear and consistent, regardless of time or place, is that our family has remained throughout the centuries within only one, single, solitary career: religion or rather a form of witchcraft. Often the words “priest” and “priestess”, are used to describe family members throughout the centuries, as well as the words: “holy woman”, “witch”, “witch doctor”, “weather witch”, “shaman”, and “healer”. In the earliest mentions, these titles seem to be exclusive to female members, but beginning in the 1920’s males are also seen with these titles. The earliest ones appeared to have been Shaman or Holy People, who wandered from village to village, performing sacred “magic” rites (blessings, curses, and communications with spirits), having no true home and simply living with whomever had requested their services that week. It is this wandering nature and the mention of place names from all reaches of the globe, from North America to Europe to China to Australia, which makes tracing my family’s exact place of origin, nearly impossible. The travelling tradition appears to run deep in our blood, dating at least as far back as the 7th century.

These Shaman eventually arrived in Scandinavia, though both the date of arrival and the exact country is unknown, where they seemed to have settled for a brief period and married into the local families. From here the Shaman tradition mixes with the Norse tradition, and was brought to, what is now, Scotland via the Viking voyages. In Scotland, the already mixed marriages mixed even farther, this time with the Picts. Though not native themselves, the Picts were there before the Roman Celts, and presumed to be natives, thus the current name: The Indigenous Highlanders, or just The Scottish Highlanders. Highlanders remain, to this day, a unique and somewhat mysterious part of Scotland’s cultural landscape. While in Scotland, Hoodoo and Witchcraft are picked up and become the grounding force of all following religious practices. My family’s history does not end here, however, because though Scotland remains their home for apparently 3 or 4 centuries, they do eventually take to the nomadic lifestyle once again.

Our history becomes clearer in the 1400’s, though still in scattered bits and pieces and heavy with speculation. What is known, is that they were landowners, lords, rulers, aristocrates, considered to be a form of royalty among the Scottish natives, and living in a vast stone fortress, the remains of which still stands today in what is now Kent, England. There was a war or invasion, caused by what, is unknown. What is known it that several families/Clans were forced out of their homes, off their land, and marched out of Scotland.

Vowing never again allow any man to steal their homes from them, they declared the entire world as their home, and refused to ever again settle down. They became known from that point on as The Tinkers or Scottish Travellers. Some set out on foot, others set out in wagons, a few took to the sea. In the early years, most wandered about in Germany, resulting in horrendous tales of terror of bands of brightly colored pipers using witchcraft and sorcery to enchant everything from rats to children. Countless stories abound through Germany, of ‘The People of the Mists” and their “Pied Pipers”, dressed in outlandish robes of bright colored striped cloth (they knew of no other way to describe kilts and plaids), marching through their streets while playing “magic pipes” (and likewise knew not what to call bagpipes). The most famous of these tales about the German “invasion” by the Scottish Travellers, was of course “The Pied Piper of Hamelin” and its tale of being sent a gypsy curse of a plague of rats, only to have a bright colored piper gypsy remove the curse, than bring a worse curse by kidnapping the children. Few people are aware of the fact that Robert Brownings poem was based on actual events.

By the late 1500’s the German witch hunts had started, and 20,000 “witches”, most of them Gypsies, were tortured to death, often ending with being drawn and quartered. The Scottish Travelers fled Germany and went into Romania (from where the common, yet inaccurate, title of “Rom”, “Romany”, or “Romi” comes). What happened between Romania in the 1500s and Canada in the 1800s, is unknown, with the only fact being that at some point the Scottish Travellers ended up in France and had a major falling out with the French, so bad, that the Travellers destroyed all “memory” of their connections to the French, and maintains a bitter feud with and hatred for, any French person whose paths they cross.

It is not until the 1700’s that the details of our family history, become clearly documented. The family today is a blending of several Clan, most predominantly the Rickers of Portland, Maine and the Atwaters of Nova Scotia, Canada. The Rickers married into the Googins and Lewis families in the early 1800s, and married into the Atwater Clan in 1973. It is in Maine and Canada, through connections to the Jacob Cochran and Joseph Smith Sr (father of the founder of Mormonism) of Saco, Maine, that the Travellers picked up Christianity or rather more specifically Cochranite worship, later renamed Mormonism by Smith’s son, in the early 1830s.

The Googins arrived in Saco Bay in 1648, where they settled a 300 acre plot of land on what is now 128 - 152 Portland Avenue in Old Orchard Beach, Maine. Over the years the land was sub-divided and given to children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. Today all that remains still owned by the original family is the quarter acre lot at 146 Portland Avenue, where lives the Clan’s current Shaman/Holy Woman, Miss Kitten the EelKat, Sea Witch of Old Orchard Beach and Queen of the Gypsies, also known as Maine’s infamous Crazy Homeless Cat Woman, with her ever growing army of rescued cats (84 cats at its height, though only 16 cats today.).

In about 1811 the Ricker Clan (owners of the ancient Bible) of Portland, Maine, married into the Googins, Lewis, and Allen Clans of Portland, then moved to a nearby bay. George Ricker, declared himself  “ruler” (as well as mayor, road commissioner, and fire chief) of this new land, which he named “The Orchard by the Sea”. In 1821, it was renamed The Town on the Old Orchard Beach, and the Travellers set out to do what they did best: set up a carnival, only this time a permanent one known as The Palace Playland. To celebrate the founding of his new Kingdom (town) he gave his wife Rose Ricker a rosebush, which, now, being at least 191 years old, is still alive and growing, standing at 13 feet tall.  Their daughter Helen Ricker went on to run the school board, the firefighters wives society, and founded nearly every women’s group active in Old Orchard between the 1920s through the 1980s. During that time she also maintained a hobby of collecting comic books, crocheting, obsessing over Liberace, and casting spells and curses on everyone in sight.

The Rickers ran the town, which some nicknamed “The Dynasty of Old Orchard Beach”, on every level. Every town official, public works officer, school board member, police officer, fireman, and business owner was a Ricker, a Googins, an Allen, a Lewis, or a cousin of one of the above. Tourists were the income and the fairgrounds were massive, spanning for nearly 5 miles along the beachfront. The Ricker Dynasty came to a horrific end during the Burning of the White Way or the Second Great Fire of Old Orchard Beach in 1963 (the first was in 1907) which took out every ride, shop, and motel along the shore. This event came on the heels of the arrival of a brutal, violent, scam artist, polygamist, extreme Fundamentalist Mormon crime family: The Royal Highland Atwater Clan. When one thinks of Gypsies, most think of Cher’s “Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves” along side of news reports of terrorist crime families. For most Travellers this image is far from the truth, but for the Atwater Clan, this was a perfect image of who they were. The Atwaters brought with them honky tonks, bar rooms, drug dealers, prostitutes, pickpockets, petty thieves, fist fights, knife fights, and gunfights in the town square.

In 1968, feed up with the Ricker Dynasty, appalled by the Atwater arrogance and lack of moral decency, and recovering from one of the largest fires in Maine history, the townspeople gathered together in arms, and with the help of several shotgun armed State Police officers, drove the Gypsies and Travellers out of Old Orchard Beach at gunpoint. Residents today, old enough to remember the march, are quick to retell the nightmare tale of “The day the Gypsies were run out of town”, with its parade of over 300 cars, trucks, vans, jeeps, buses, trailers, wagons, and motorhomes escorted by police officers from every town in York County. They were marched to the New Hampshire border, where they were met by New Hampshire police who in turn marched them straight through to Vermont. The march continued, from state to state, until they arrived in Utah, the first state to not greet them at the border with an army of rifle toting patrolmen. The Atwaters settled in Ogden Utah, where they remain to this day.

Back in Old Orchard, the Rickers resigned their offices, and most of the family relocated back to Portland, in fact only one remained in Old Orchard Beach: the now elderly daughter of George Ricker, Helen Ricker-Allen and her son Kenneth Ricker-Allen with his wife Jeannie Atwater and their daughter Wendy. Newcomer King Weinstein took possession of the abandoned lands, plowed under the apple orchards, and began building the dozens of condominiums which now dot the beachfront.

When Grammy Helen died in 1983, I inherited her land, her grandmother’s rosebush, her Liberace records, her comic books (which set a Guinness Book Record, for containing the largest and most complete run of Disney comic books), the family Bible/Grimoire, and her title: Queen of the Gypsies, Holy Woman, Witch Doctor, Fortune Teller, and caster of spells. The Travellers are a highly religious people, part Christian (predominantly Mormon), part Pagan (Welsh Faery Faith aka Traditional Witchcraft and Scottish Hoodoo aka European Voodoo); they take with them in their travels, portable shrines to Jesus and The Little People and devoutly seek the services of their clan’s Holy Woman, a Hoodoo Witch Doctor. The Gypsy Holy Woman is one of the most glamorized, yet least understood traditions, of the Scottish Traveller Clans (Gypsy Fortune Teller, being the derogatory slang term commonly used by outsiders). The Holy Woman, communicate with the "Little People" (Faeries, Goblins, Leprechauns, etc). She is the clan member seen most often by outsiders, often she is the only clan-member non-Gypsies will ever encounter, due to her setting up a shop in town to read cards, tell fortunes, heal the sick, cast out demons, and make amulets to protect homes from evil spirits. This was a sacred tradition passed down from grandmother to granddaughter and the secrets of the craft closely guarded, with no one else in the clan knowing how she does what she does. The clan’s Holy Woman is considered to be the messenger between the gods and the mortals; she would be picked for training at an early age (3 or 4) based on her natural ability to see the Little People. As an ordained minister, counsellor, advisor, exorcist, spellcaster, card reader, and officiant of weddings and funerals, she would be one of the few  clan members knowing how to read and write, a result of a strict education in a Bible Seminaries, but not in a school. Emphasis of the Holy Woman’s education lay in Bible Studies and Christian Theology, again as with the rest of the clan’s children, her education is also often devoid of mathematics and sciences.

Of the many hundreds of members in my family, only a handful have been to school, fewer have attended high school, less than a dozen graduated, I am the first and one of only 2 non-schooled members to receive a GED, and I am one of only 2 to attend college. Though I did not go to school, I did attend 12 years of Bible Seminary instead. I am an ordained minister, however, while my formal training was through a Calvinist Bible Seminary (no traditional schooling) and my informal training came from three grandparents: Grammy Helen, a Scottish Witch, Grammy Eva, a Native American/Kickapoo Shaman, and and Grandpa David Henry, a Nova Scotian/Scotch Seer, Revelator, Prophet, and Mormon High Priest Patriarch.

I am the current Spiritual Leader of the Scottish Travellers of Maine. I am a ChristoPagan. I believe in the teachings of Jesus as a way of life, yet question him as God himself or the son of God, and in fact question if God is God, or just one of many more intelligent beings who exist in a plane of existence we yet to understand. As a practitioner and minister of the Faerie Faith, I also believe in Faeries, Leprechauns, Fardarrigs, Red Caps, Pixies, Silkies, Merrows, Phookas, Boggles, etc. I am a professional Hedgewalker, also known as a Hedge Witch, or Hoodoo Witch Doctor. In other words, I'm a medium who channels spirits and walks through life standing on the hedge dividing the physical world from the spirit world. When someone wants to talk to god, angels, faeries, spirits, a dead loved one - they come to me and I carry the message across the hedge of the mortal plain into the spirit realm.  I also read cards, cast spells, read crystals, hang clooties, sew Hoodoo Dolls, remove hexes, cast out evil spirits, and perform exorcisms, blessings, weddings, and funerals. Because I do most of what I do during massive storms, blizzards, and hurricanes while standing on the beach, lashed by 70mph winds and 20’ tides, I am known to the locals as "The Sea Witch of Old Orchard Beach". Most of the local residents are terrified at my presence. when I walk too the beach, mothers grab their children, crying “Avert your eyes, don’t look at her, she’ll put a curse on you!”. There are some, so bold as to say it is my presence on the beach, which caused to storms. I simply laugh at them.

There are those who laugh at the thought of Faeries as a religious belief or that anyone in this day and age would take belief in Faeries seriously, or that Witches exist and Gypsy Magic is real, but Faerie Faith is in fact the ancient pre-Christian and pre-Celtic religion of the Pictish natives who inhabited the British Isles prior to the Celtic Invasion, and it, along with Witchcraft and Gypsy Black Magic Arts,  is the religion still practiced by my people. And, in spite of the laughter of many, thousands of people come to me, from all over the world, seeking my help, advice, and spiritual assistance. I am daily swamped with letters and emails from people in desperate situations, pleading for the removal of curses and the casting out of demons and evil spirits.

And that is the history, of my people, The Scottish Travellers, of my hometown, Old Orchard Beach, founded by my great-grandfather George Ricker, how I came to be a ChristoPagan Mormon, and how I came by the title of The Gypsy Sea Witch of Old Orchard Beach.


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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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