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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Richmond, VA

Merry meet Friends,

Michelle here bringing lots of light and love!


“When we illuminate the road back to our ancestors, they have a way of reaching out, of manifesting themselves…..sometimes even physically.– Raquel Cepeda

“I am the now of the then.  My body is the embodiment of all my ancestors who came before me.  They live on in me.” – Jarod Kintz, This Book is Not for Sale

“Return to the land of your fathers; blood calls to blood.” – Horton Deakins

“When we have passed a certain age, the soul of the child that we were and the souls of the dead from whom we sprang come and shower upon us their riches and their spells, asking to be allowed to contribute to the new emotions which we feel and in which, erasing their former image, we recast them in an original creation.” – Marcel Proust, The Captive & The Fugitive (In Search of Lost Time, #5-6)

“When our hearts turn to our ancestors, something changes inside us. We feel part of something greater than ourselves.” – Russell M. Nelson


Since hearing my ancestors calling me home in September, 2012, I have been trying to figure out what that really means for me.  I don’t know which ancestors are calling.  I know next to nothing of my father’s side of the family.  A Haitian man with the title of Godfather told me that the LaForest’s were communicators.  That holds true for me, of course.  I don’t know any of the family stories, however.  On my mother’s side of the family, we have traced our ancestry back to the slave ship. 

I know that my Great Grandmother and her Grandmother were both midwives.  My Great grandmother, Rebecca, delivered most of the babies in Buckingham County at the time. She delivered my sister and a cousin.  She lived off of the land in Buckingham County/Farmville VA.  She had an outhouse, raised chickens for eggs and meat, and grew her own vegetables.  I did not like visiting her as a child.  Now I wished that I had spent summers with her and learned the ancient ways.  My Grandmother, Mary, was not interested in those ways and therefore didn’t keep all of them.  The women on my maternal side have always been very independent and strong; physically, emotionally and spiritually.  My Great-Grandmother was not tall in stature; what she lacked in height, she made up for in feistiness.  She was “feared” by her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.  She died on my 13th birthday. 

Grandma Earley, (as she was called), grandmother’s name was Amanda.  She was called Mandy and born into slavery.  She was as tall as an Amazon.  Her daughter Ida, my Great Great- grandmother, was born into slavery as well.  It ended when she was six.  The story goes that Grandma Mandy was married to a very short man.  Apparently they had an argument and he said some unkind things.  She picked him up and threw him against the wall.  When he picked himself up, he ran from the house and no one ever saw him again.  There is a saying among the women in my maternal family.  The saying is that we are not mean, we are firm.  I’m not sure Mandy’s husband would agree.

Grandma Ida was married to a free Indian blacksmith named Charles Lewis.  He was 31 and she was 14 years of age.  He purchased her off the auction block.  She was being sold because Judge Meredith’s wife didn’t like Ida because she was the judge’s child.  This is the same “mistress of the house” who stuffed the dishrag down Ida’s throat.  She was definitely a survivor.  When seeing pictures of Grandma Ida, one would think she was a white woman.  Charles Lewis was dark with a white beard.  My own father had a head full of grey/white hair; I suppose it’s the genes on both sides that I can attribute mine.  Grandma Earley had blonde hair that she could sit on.  She kept a plait of it in a picture frame. 

I felt that the “call to return home” meant to return to my roots.  Did that mean midwifery?  Did it mean farming?  I wasn’t sure.  As a child, other than the rain and playing outside, I don’t recall loving or even liking nature.  I wasn’t afraid of bugs or climbing trees but I guess I didn’t give nature a conscious thought.  As I’ve grown older, I find that being in nature is what soothes me.  I love the touch, feel and smell of the earth.  My time at Medicine Wheel in Earthaven instilled in me a love for growing my own food.  I’ve always had a green thumb and love growing house plants but had never tried gardening. 

Birthing or creating something from nothing is a passion of mine.  I have looked into midwifery and though I could see myself assisting in a birth and cheering on the mother, I don’t believe that I am called to that noble profession.  So is it farming?, I asked myself.  I definitely wish to live off of the land and grow my own non GMO food, so I do believe that’s a part of the call.  I think returning to my roots means something different, perhaps even ancient.  My friend, Reverend Whitney Blackburn-Lynch, shared with me how to do a Shamanic journey to find out where my soul was created.  I did and it was enlightening. 

My soul was created with medicine, magic, motherhood, wisdom, love, sex, beauty, fertility, the moon, birthing and the hunt.  The Goddesses Isis, Venus and Diana were there.  Medusa, whose name means “guardian” or “protectress”, was the one who led me to them.  She had locs instead of snakes for hair.  They were tossing each of those qualities into the fire and reciting words as they did so.  It’s interesting that I am born under the fire sign of Sagittarius.  Whether one adheres to mythology or not, I found it fun and interesting. 

The earth is our mother, Gaia.  I wonder if being called home has to do with being called back to the earth, to the ancient ways of women.  After sensing that call is when I became more interested in the ancient ways. I don’t believe it’s a coincidence.  The ancient ways of women include but are not limited to, the healing arts, midwifery, blood wisdom, growing herbs and a “knowing,” better known as intuition.  These ways and being true to their inherent nature is what caused many women to be tortured, burned, and executed.  It caused many more to hide who they were for fear of the same punishment.  The wisdom of women still causes some to be isolated, shunned and misunderstood, even in our modern society.

I want to know about my ancestry and what gifts the women in my family shared.  If anything was passed down from generation to generation, it stopped somewhere before I was born.  My ancestors, as does everyone’s, go back to the beginning of time.  Whether one believes the biblical account of Adam and Eve or not, we still had to have originated from the same source.  We all share the same ancestors and bloodline.  So I guess my lineage is the same as all women.

What I do know is that my passion/ministry is toward women; helping women to remember who we are and were before patriarchy.  I am not advocating a world run by women.  I am advocating a balance of power, however.  Is it wrong to want to do the things that are inherent in women?  Everyone does not want to learn or live the ancient ways and I am fully aware of that.  But isn’t it good to know from whence we came; to understand yourself, children and grandchildren; to know why we may be interested in certain behaviors?  I believe that when we as women begin to know and honor ourselves, that men will do the same toward us and themselves.  As I embrace more of the Crone and becoming an Elder, I find that I am increasingly drawn to the cycles of the Earth, the Moon and the Holy-days on the Wheel of the Year. 

I have always been one to question.  I like knowing how things began and why.  We have become so accustomed, as a people, to accepting things blindly as truth and acting upon them.  To illustrate this, I will share a story that perhaps many of you have heard.  A woman was preparing a roast for dinner as her husband watched.  He noticed that she cut a portion of the roast off and placed it on the side.  He asked why she did that.  She said that she had always seen her mom do it.  The husband was an inquisitive chap and wanted to know, and so he called his mother-in-law to ask.  Her response was that she had seen her mother do it.  This led to a call to the grandmother.  When asked the question, she laughed and said that she had done it because her pan was too small for the roast.  How many generations would have done the same thing without someone questioning?

The Sankofa is a word in the Akan language of Ghana that translates in English to “reach back and get it (san-to return; ko-to go; fa- to look, to seek and take).  It is sometimes seen as the Asante Adinkra symbol of a bird with its head turned backwards taking an egg off its back.  Soren Kierkegaard said, “Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.”  This is why the Sankofa is moving forward in pictures.  We learn about the past to know our future.  In the story above, the husband “reached back” to get information which affected his future; (cooking all of the meat if nothing else).  It is my wish “to reach back and get it”, not only for myself but for all humanity.  “To know nothing of what happened before you were born is to remain forever a child” –Cicero.   My ancestors are crying to be heard.  They are saying, “Pick up the mantle.”   I am listening and obeying.

P.S. According to my cousin Debbie's comment, Grandma Earley delivered all of her daughter's children (her grandchildren) except one.  She also delivered one of her daughters, my grandmother, Mary aka Nana

Until next Sunday,

Merry part and merry meet again.

Blessed be!,

Gypsi Mama Michelle


  1. In the words of the late Joan Rivers,” Can we talk?” We know we shouldn’t drink and drive and the same could be said for drinking and writing because in reading over my last response, sans the sangria and with sober eyes, I am embarrassed about how disjointed my response was - sorry about that. Now in response to this week’s post.

    Our great grandmother delivered all of her daughters’ children except one - Marlene. She also delivered one of her own children - Nana. Also when Nana was in labor with the twins, some med students were there (I don’t know how or why) and they were angry because they wanted her to step aside and let them deliver the twins because they had never done so. Tough - Grandma Earley wasn’t having that but in the end the med students appreciated the knowledge they gleaned from her. That exemplifies what a truly remarkable woman Rebecca Lewis Earley was and that is the blood that runs through our veins. As for you, perhaps you should look into becoming a doula. A doula is a “nonmedical person who assists a woman before, during, or after childbirth, as well as her husband and/or family, by providing physical assistance, and emotional support.” Interestingly I was recanting to a friend last night how I was talking to you on the phone and mentioned that I was experiencing an unusually heavy discharge that was clear and you told me calmly that was my water leaking and that I should go to the hospital because I was in labor and sure enough, eight hours later, my son was born. (If I neglected to do so then - thank you Mouse) Perhaps being a doula is your calling.

    In terms of a world run by women, when I was in undergrad school, as a Women’s Studies major, we had to read a book titled, Herland, written in 1915 by a feminist - Charlotte Perkins Gilman - about a utopian society composed entirely of women. We as mothers of sons have the power to stamp out patriarchy. How? Because just as we potty train our sons, we can also train and instill in our sons the knowledge that women and men are equals and in many instances, women are superior to men.

    Remember - Eve was created to help Adam because he was stumbling around clueless and God, in his infinite wisdom, knew that without Eve Adam was not going to make it. Also, think of the day a mouse was spotted and what was Mack’s reaction? “Betty is never around when you need her.” Why did Nana need to be around? Why didn’t HE just kill the damn mouse?

    Let me close with this thought - “Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, except backwards AND in high heels.” Enough said.

    1. Thanks for the info about Grandma Early; had you picked up your phone yesterday, I would have known it and written it in. Lol. I looked into doulas some years ago, not my calling either I don't think but who knows. I'm listening patiently and still.