Severance

October 1, 2022
Nicola
88 Comments

Inherited ancestral trauma from forced migration

I live in Anglezarke in Lancashire, and my home overlooks the edge of the West Pennine Moors. Up on Anglezarke Moor, there are the ruins of about twenty farmsteads. Many of the houses are still visible. You can make out the rooms, look through the windows, walk through the doors and in some still see the fireplace mantlepiece.

I like to sit in amongst these ruins and let my mind take me back a few hundred years to imagine what it was like living out here. I gaze down to where the flames of the fire would have been, my eyes fixing on the same point families would huddle together night after night, generation after generation. I expect stories were told of Strider, the big black dog with one foot in this world and one foot in the Other. He would roam Anglezarke Moor at dusk. If you came across him, it meant one of two things: he would either guide you home to safety or devour you.

I can imagine the faces of the wide-eyed children listening to their grandparents tell all the old tales of the moorland. These were stories passed down from their grandparents that were, in turn, passed down from their grandparents, and so on, back to the first people who settled on this land.

These piles of stones and rotting wooden lintels are all that is left of what was called the Anglezarke Clearances of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Local farmers were cleared from the land during the time of the Industrial Revolution to make way for reservoirs to collect water for the city of Liverpool. There is a haunting beauty about these places. I wonder how these people felt about having to leave their homes and what they spoke about on the last evening around that fireside. I am curious as to whether they took a final glance over their shoulder as they made the long walk towards the black smoking chimneys of the mills on the horizon.

The first time I saw abandoned villages, I was trekking in the Scottish Highlands. I came across clutches of ruined homes every few miles or so and started to question why there was no one living in them. It awoke a curiosity within me. Sleeping overnight in one of these cleared villages, I felt a sadness entering my dreams. It was a haunting presence. This was someone’s home. I could still feel their presence and the distress they felt when they left. It stayed with me. Several years later, I was to find that my ancestors were cleared from the land, leaving homes just like these, not in Scotland but England and Ireland.

There is such sorrow carried in the Clearance stories. Here in Anglezarke there were cases of people taking their own lives rather than moving from the moor to work in the mills of the surrounding towns. In Scotland there are harrowing accounts of people choosing to remain and starve rather than emigrate on the ships to America.

It was many years after my time walking and sleeping in amongst the croft ruins of the Scottish Highlands that I discovered that many of my ancestors suffered the same fate. They migrated from rural areas into the cities of Industrial England during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. I started to write stories about them, drawing on social history research. The terribly hard conditions that they raised families in were hard to comprehend. They moved from the countryside into overcrowded slums and endured a life of extreme poverty. Parents were dying young and leaving young children without mothers and fathers. The elderly were dying alone in workhouses. These were tough times indeed.

Then I uncovered one story that claimed me: the story of my Irish great-great-great grandmother Catherine. She fled the Great Famine of 1845-52, more widely known as the Potato Famine, and came to England in her late twenties to carve out a life on the streets of Westminster.

I discovered Catherine’s story whilst researching my family history. Catherine was the last of my great-great-great parents’ names that I found, and it took me eight years to track down her records. Catherine’s story is just one story, one that has been pulled up to the light from the dusty pages of archival records laid hidden for one hundred and fifty years. It is heart-wrenchingly sad. She suffered huge trauma throughout her adult life, beyond what most people can comprehend in today's western world.

It got me asking questions. What happens to someone when they are removed from their land? What wound might they carry with them? Why is the life someone lived two hundred years ago relevant now? How can the life an ancestor lives many generations ago possibly impact descendants alive now?

Finding answers to these questions has been a fascinating journey and an important part of my spiritual path. It has led me to write my first book, The Path to Forgotten Freedom: Healing Unresolved Ancestral Trauma. I am launching my book at the end of this month, on 30th and 31st October 2022.

In this blog, I talk about how trauma experienced by an ancestor can get passed down the family line to future descendants. To do this, I use the example of the trauma that can be experienced when someone is forcibly removed from their land. I have chosen this as it is one of the key themes arising in my new book.

I believe the forced migration that occurred in the lead-up to and during the Industrial Revolution in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries is the root cause of many inherited traumas that people are still struggling with in today’s modern world.

‘Severance’ is the first of a trilogy of blogs. In the second, I share how this ancestral trauma has played out in my life. In the third blog, I offer several solutions I have drawn on to heal the trauma and re-write the story, so it no longer holds me back from what I want to achieve in life.

Inherited trauma & recoding our DNA

Relatively recently, scientists have discovered that trauma experienced by our ancestors can be passed down in the DNA to their descendants. In other words, it is possible to inherit ancestral trauma through our genes down multiple generations. This science is called epigenetics. I’ll just spend a few moments introducing epigenetics to anyone who hasn’t heard of it and likes to read about the science.

We humans inherit our physical characteristics from our parents through DNA, such as eye colour, hair type, facial expressions, and mannerisms. During genetic studies, scientists were surprised to find that physical characteristics contributed to only 2 per cent of a person’s DNA. It was assumed that the remaining 98 per cent was blank, and it was labelled ‘noncoding DNA’, or ‘junk DNA’. Recent scientific evidence has revealed that this is not the case. The junk DNA is now known to hold genetic memory about inherited emotions, behaviour and personality.

The types of things that affect this noncoding DNA are environmental conditions, such as exposure to toxins or poor nutrition, and stress. To me, this research makes sense as this is how animals can pass down information to help their offspring survive. Through this evolutionary process, an animal can teach offspring what is dangerous and a threat to their survival. With this in mind, if our ancestors experienced a traumatic incident and they hadn’t the opportunity to process this trauma, it was coded into their genes and passed on.

When I look at the stories of my ancestors, I can see there are all kinds of events that would have resulted in trauma. For example, the circumstances under which someone leaves behind a community and a way of life, the death of a child, the death of a husband leaving the family destitute, the withdrawal of a mother’s attention, and forbidden love. All of these experiences would have had the effect of diminishing support and restricting the flow of love in a family, resulting in trauma. There is the potential that some of these traumas were left unresolved.

However, it stands to reason that if this noncoding DNA can be altered in one way, it can be modified the other way too. Through the science of epigenetics, we now know that these inherited emotional traits that are in our DNA can be changed. We can literally recode our DNA. This means that we are born with the ability to heal ourselves and re-write that which we inherited. This is empowering, as once we have the origin of these traumas in view, we can finally lay long-standing family patterns to rest.

Trauma from forced migration

The period of the Industrial Revolution was a time of change arguably greater in scale and speed than has ever been experienced by humanity. It was a time of significant progress with incredible achievements and wealth. But, it was also a time of insurmountable difficulty for many. A change in access to common land known as the ‘Enclosures’ meant that here in England, for the first time ever, people did not have a right to land in order to feed themselves.

Enclosures aren’t often spoken of. If they are taught in history at school, they are presented as a great achievement of efficiency, productivity and wealth. At least that was my experience when I learnt about them at school. But this is one story, the story of those in power. What about the powerless, those who had no say? The landless.

The Enclosures left millions of people with no choice but to move to the cities to find work. They left their communities and all they had ever known, their rural traditions and social support structure. On arriving in the slums, these people provided the much-needed workforce for the growing industries, but the infrastructures of cities couldn’t cope. Housing was of very poor standard, and sanitation was virtually non-existent. The drinking water was dirty, and disease would spread quickly. The working hours were long, and the food was expensive. Life expectancy was short. In just one generation, people went from living a life in a close-knit rural community where their family had lived for generations sustaining themselves, to living in slum tenement housing with strangers in a city of hundreds of thousands of other migrants.

When I look into my genealogy and study the social history of this period in history, I find all kinds of stories that would mean that my ancestors suffered trauma as a result of being severed from their land. My ancestor Catherine’s story, is representative of many of my ancestors, albeit arguably, her story is perhaps the most harrowing.

The cities were already overcrowded when the Irish underwent mass migration into Britain in the middle of the nineteenth century. People from Ireland had been emigrating for many years before the Great Famine. But, between 1845 and 1852, the number doubled in just a few years.

The Irish migration during the Great Famine wasn’t a result of the ‘Enclosures’ like in England, in that common land wasn’t taken off the people. The reasons behind the Great Famine are complex and multi-layered, and I touch on some of them in my book.

To look at what caused the Great Famine, we need to go back in time, long before the first potatoes turned black. People foresaw death coming eight hundred years before when so-called nobility reached Ireland's shores, grasping their golden cups and fine clothes that stretched over their plump bellies. Red faces home to greedy eyes, conquering a land and people who were not theirs to conquer. It took some time, but over time the land was seized from the people, guarded by invisible walls, and fenced in with hedges and stone. The people had no say in what they grew, how they farmed, and what sustained them. This choice was taken from the people and given to the noble ones, five steps removed from the earth, many of whom had never crossed the Irish sea. Disaster would come, and death was inevitable. It was only a matter of time.

When the potato crop failed in successive years between 1845 and 1852, the English and Irish landlords saw their chance to change the structure of farming in Ireland. They were seeking ways to make their land more profitable, and the famine provided a useful means to clear the poorer farmers from their land. The cottiers, who were the poorest of the farmers, could no longer feed themselves, as the potato had been their predominant and, in some cases, only food source. The failure of the potato harvest led to widespread starvation and disease. Those who could afford to left for Britain and America. Many of the remaining, unable to pay their rent due to a downturn in the economy and lack of employment were evicted and left to their fate on the roadside. Many of them died.

I believe an ancestral memory of the Irish and the Great Famine, the English with the Enclosures and the Scottish with the Highland Clearances is one of the reasons why the plight of indigenous people today speaks to so many of us. One of the most recent of these conflicts that reached the mainstream media was Black Rock and the Native Americas. History is full of these stories where the native people have to fight for their land. Some have happy endings, but many don’t. In England, many of these stories have been forgotten. The Enclosures isn’t widely known, and yet they forced millions of people, our ancestors, into extreme poverty. History is written by the victorious, and the stories of the poor, the downtrodden, are not told. They get hidden, buried underground, but they are not gone forever, not necessarily. They are there waiting to be uncovered, revealed, for those who are called to seek them out.

Finding the stories of the forgotten ones

I wonder, as you are still with me reading this far down this blog, whether you are one of those people. Do you feel that there is an ancestor story waiting to be uncovered? It doesn’t need to go back as far as the Industrial Revolution, but it may well do. It doesn’t need to be related to the trauma someone might experience being severed from their land, but it might do.

Many people are drawn to finding their roots, finding the stories of their ancestors and learning about their lives. I believe they are drawn to it because there is healing to be had there.

Often the initial question that someone has is: ‘I want to trace my Irish roots’, I want to learn about my fathers fathers side, as we know nothing about them’ or, I have a sense that the healing I am working on goes back much further than me’. Often the question is driven by a family secret, something that isn’t spoken about or a fragmented story that has been passed down but with aspects omitted. I have found in this work, that it is the secrets that have the loudest voices.

Ancestral healing is taking a front seat now. Many people who have been working on their own healing for many years are reasoning that there is something deeper going on. They have been peeling away the layers, and finding that they aren’t getting to the root cause of their patterns. This is because the wound goes deeper than their lives: it is something they have inherited.

I am a firm believer that there is healing in the story that a person is seeking to uncover.

In my book, I talk about ways to uncover the story, beginning with gathering as much information as possible from any elderly relatives and then building up the family tree through online genealogy research. There are so many records available online now that it can be quite a simple exercise and one that can be done without leaving home. It might be like me, a person needs to explore other avenues if they come to a dead end or extend their genealogy skills so they can uncover other documents that lead them to where they want to be.

But what can be done when a story is found? How does someone go about healing an ancestral wound?

This is the focus of my next blog 'Non-stop: the inherited work ethic'. Here I  use the example of the key ancestral wound I have inherited through the trauma experienced by my great-great-great grandmother Catherine when she was forced to leave her homeland.

Post blog update

The launch event

Over the festival of Samhain we held an online event to launch my new book, The Path to Forgotten Freedom: Healing Unresolved Ancestral Trauma. Click here to watch the replay.


Order your copy 

Click here to read more about The Path to Forgotten Freedom: Healing Unresolved Ancestral Trauma and order your copy. 

About the Author

Nicola

Nicola Smalley is an edge-dweller, shamanic practitioner and writer living in the Arnside and Silverdale Area of Natural Beauty in north Lancashire, England.

Following a career in corporate sustainability, she now runs The Way of the Buzzard with her husband Jason. Her passion is anything connected to nature and the mysteries of the Earth.

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  1. Thank you for this. I was born in 1973 while my paternal great grandfather was still alive. I recall he used to get a bottle of old spice at christmas! If i remember correctly my great grandfather Patrick O’neill was one of those who came over from ireland during the famine … my grandfather Roger was with him along with his younger brother who died. I think they were in a pretty bad way when they got here. I remember something about not having decent shoes or no shoes. I was told my gt grandfather took the kings shilling.

    I became more interested in this subject of ancestral trauma recently. It’s something thicht nhat hanh has spoken about (stopping running) and I have bed. interested in learning more about the aboriginal ms connection to the land following the yes / NO ! referendum. All of my grandparents were migrators if not pre war because they were forced to through poverty then certainly after for the same reason.

    1. Gosh, how interesting Nadia, thank you for sharing this story. And really sad that his younger brother died. It must have been so tough for them all, to leave their homeland through poverty. I am excited for your explorations around this as you follow the threads from your interest in ancestral trauma. If you haven’t come across it, my book might well be of interest, The Path to Forgotten Freedom: Healing Ancestral Trauma. I share ideas on how to go about healing the trauma inherited.

  2. Thanks Nicola, this is all very interesting. I decided a number of years ago that l wanted to find the authentic me as I wanted to let go of learnt conditioning and issues from my past. In doing so l have also been healing ancestral trauma without knowing what or where its came from. Just that there is some.

    What l have found so amazing is that l have discovered that through my healing journey any ancestral trauma including my own can stop with me so l am also healing the past for my family and future generations.

  3. Wow absolutely love this, thanks for opening my eyes. I am going to try my best to get to the book launch in Manchester. Either way I’ll be getting the book and staying in touch. Wow just wow this could be as big as “The Industrial Revolution” itself x

  4. Hi, Nicola, I think your book is very well timed as people are asking themselves 'Who am I' a lot more. In a spiritual and psychological way, I would imagine this book will be greatly received, also I love the way you write. I would say throughout history, the witch hunts, land grabs, enclosure acts, the industrial revolution, and world wars to name a few would leave epigenetic scars of ancestral trauma. It seems evident that the whole of humanity has suffered inherited ancestral trauma. A possible reason why so many are facing their shadows today is to heal current and ancestral trauma

    The science of epigenetics makes it very clear we inherit trauma, I love the insights and research of the biologist Bruce Lipton, he is an amazing scientist.

    In brief, I have been interested the subject of ancestral healing for a long time and about 13 years ago I went over to Lithuania with the purpose of tracking my recent ancestors, who were Polish and Russian. They escaped oppression in 1905 by embarking on a ship to Manchester England with their 4 children. There is a lot to this including mythology and the revealing of the hidden.

    My Great grandfather Adam Yankowski was said to be 6 foot 7 and I bet this would have been seen as a problem by the Russians. Maybe one of the reasons why they took the very dramatic opportunity to get onto a ship and travel to England was because shortly after this time no one could get in or out of Lithuania until the early 1990s, there is more to this as my mother family originated from Ireland and are very resilient folk. I personally have consciously faced a lot of ancestral healing over the last 13 years and become a more balanced individual in doing so. Not just recent ancestors but delving into Neolithic times via research, travel, and creating artwork.

    For me, it was a good journey and lifted a lot from me, more so when reconnecting with the Yankowski family in the UK, lots more than I would hope for. There seem to be a lot of artists and poets in my family, that I did not know before, maybe creating is a good way to heal. Also, it seems the family I did not know or knew little of are all interested in collating the history of the Yankowski so more ancestral healing is possible.

    On a lighter note, we recently inherited a kitten, Tara is her name, she was just 6 weeks old. Watching her develop helps me further realize her play, hunting ability, and instincts are not taught but inherited. As she was a wild kitten possibly foraging for herself for a week before Edwina found her, Tara was undernourished and she would fit in the palm of my hand. I think that given a good environment and time to adapt anyone or any creature can find balance.

    1. I have loved reading your story here Pete. Thank you. How incredible that your great grandfather escaped and came to Manchester, and that his descendants are researching the family tree together and are creatives. I too found it amazing to watch my kittens, who were abandoned very young, instinctively know how to take care of themselves without being shown. I love you have a kitten 🙂

      It is interesting you say my book is well timed. I have noticed an upswell in interest in this topic recently and so it is great to hear you have too.

    2. Thank you, Nicola. I also love your title 'The Path to Forgotten Freedom' this ties into a lot of work I am doing with my artwork and a book I am working on right now 'Ancestors Awakening' The journey.
      As I said, I love how you translate your thoughts on this subject, and your research, so as soon as I can, I will be ordering your book…

  5. Hello Nicola, I was deeply moved by your narrative journey, exploring what life was really like, back in the pre as well as industrial revolution days. The choices confronting our ancestors, who experienced this, were very stark and bleak. There was no shred of mercy shown towards those who had lived sustainably, and loved and treasured the sacred land, they and their forebears had lived on, for centuries. The psychic wounds go very deep, and require in themselves, deep healing of the soul, which is profoundly necessary, but challenging at the same time. With regards to myself, though my family on my late father's side, who where Scottish crofters, as farmers, living a threadbare subsistence way of life just before the industrial revolution, really got started, will testify to just how hard and perilous it was, to feed upwards of 16 children, of varying ages. I honest to God just do n't know how my ancestors did it.Good luck with your new book, and I am certain, that we will all learn lessons, from reading it, if only to learn, at the very least, that the only way to rescue our planet, is to love and cherish her as one collective people.

    1. Thank you for your reflections here Alexander, I have found it fascinating to read about your Scottish crofter ancestors. I visited some of the old crofts that are now preserved as museums and I just couldn’t imagine how they all managed. Thank you for your note here and I am really pleased to hear you enjoyed my piece.

  6. Thank. You. I have loved reading your blog. I lived in the same village for almost 70 yrs being born there as where many of my ancestors and now having. To finish my time in a town

  7. This makes so much sense to me. I have always known I was not going to have children in this life, from as early as I can remember. I never had any desire for children. I was sexually abused, first at school and then, several years later, by my grandfather. When I started my own spiritual path as an adult, in my 20's, trying to understand why this had happened and begin trying to heal, I recieved a clear message that I had incarnated with the intention of breaking the cycles of abuse and had an image if it like chains going far into the past.

    1. Wow, what a story Susan. I am so sorry to hear of the abuse you suffered. How strong you have been to come to this place now. I am delighted my blog makes sense to you, thank you for sharing.

  8. I was very moved by your words. When i started researching my roots almost 30 yrs ago i was pleagued with a burning question " why did they leave and why did they stay here?"so i found myself digging into history for the each of the ancestors. And yes, the secrets, the skeletons in the closet. They lied, they lied and they lied but I came to understand that they had to so they could carve out a life for their descendants..for me

  9. Nicola, I loved reading your blogs and so looking forward to reading the next one. I will be purchasing your book. Reading your blog has made me realise that I know not a lot of my Father's side. He was brought up on a small holding near Skelmersdale, I still have deeds to that small holding although it is now a council estate to which I used to visit every year. They were really poor even then when I visited in the 60's. There are deep wounds on my maternal grandparents too, most of these stories I know, but a few are hazy. Your book will be inspirational in a journey I would love to take. Best Wishes and Love to you xx Bethan.

  10. Hi Nicola,
    Your writing is fantastic and I can't wait for the book.
    Your Shamanic workshops are also great.
    I wonder if you would consider starting a podcast with Jason as there are unending amounts of things you could talk about! I and many others are not in the right place in our lives to give up the rat race as you have done, but I find listening to podcasts about the right topics on my commute to/from work is enough to keep me sane. I would LOVE for you and Jason to do a regular podcast. Inherited trauma could be your first topic!
    Please consider it!

    1. Ah, thank you for your kind words about my writing style. I am so grateful to hear this and just delighted that you are looking forward to reading my book!

      What a great suggestion about a podcast. We decided against this several years ago, as really it is best just to focus on one medium and do it well. So we chose the videos and live events. Next on the list is the youtube channel. I am shying away from podcasts because of my form of dyslexia. Believe it or not, I find it hard to find my words when I speak. My brain knows what it wants to say but the words don’t come out. So a podcast would take so much preparation to do it justice. But, we won’t say never. Once we get our you tube channel up, who knows 🙂 Thank you so much for reigniting the idea.

  11. I so look forward to your book. You write vividly.
    My 3 x g/grand dad William moved from beautiful Cornwall in the 1820s to find work in London and died in the Southwark workhouse. For years when I was younger, I had this dream of looking with longing at some land across a narrow straight. In 1988 I visited Falmouth and looked from the harbour across the Carrick Roads at St Mawes, through the eyes of the man I later knew to be my ancestor.
    My Scottish family migration was a bit later but even sadder. My grandparents escaped poor harvests on the Isle of Lewis in 1900, divided the family croft and moved to Glasgow and work in the shipyards.
    You are providing valuable work tools here for people. Thank you.

    1. Thank you Jan, for your kind words. And sharing your ancestors story here. I am so sorry to hear of your ancestors fate. How interesting to hear you had the dream of your ancestors experience. Just incredible.

  12. Found this blog how interesting! I started my Tree over 30yrs ago ore computers when I had to go to a Mormon library in Liverpool and order the census microfiche ! How times have changed but still unable to locate a birth certificate for my great grandad. They moved up from rural Sussex to coal mining Lamcashire but cencus say born in middlesex london so this is very interesting and feel.its time for me to take another search 😀 so thank you xx

    1. Wow Bernie. I have often wondered how people managed without all the records being online. It is just so easy nowadays. I hope picking this up again will help solve that mystery. I found the Parish records to be so helpful, and I believe most of these are online now, although you have to shop around as different companies have transposed different records. It sounds like there is an interesting story there.

  13. Hi Nicola
    I found reading your blog touched something deep inside me. I’m interested in the concept of passing down much more than physical attributes through DNA. Why shouldn’t it be?
    Curiosity about my fathers side of the family lead me to compile a family tree. Although, Norfolk is not heavily industrialised, I discovered many ancestors were moving from rural countryside to the crowded city centre courts an yards of Norwich. I’d not considered the effect of the Enclosure Act but the timing would be about right. Will revisit!
    I’m looking forward to your next blog and your book.
    Fascinating and thought provoking reading 🙂🙂

    1. I am so delighted you found my blog helpful. I have synergies with you here. I found families from up my maternal and paternal line both came from Norfolk, up several lines. It was what got me first thinking ‘what was going on here’. The swing riots were big in Norfolk and and I found it fascinating to learn about those. You might find it interesting too if you haven’t come across them before.

      Really pleased you are looking forward to my next blog and my book too! Thank you.

  14. fascinating looking forward to reading next blogs. I started reasearching my family tree but shelved it as other things got in the way. I will have to continue this winter when spending more time at home.

    1. Thank you for your note here Diane and I am so pleased you enjoyed my blog. I set myself little targets with my family tree, and that helped. It is easy to put down and not pick up again otherwise. I am delighted it is back on the list 🙂

  15. Congratulations Nicola for all your hard work in getting your book published! The topic is very relevant as ancestral trauma is everywhere: from colonialism, slavery, capitalism, pandemics, natural disasters to our own relatively privileged lives.
    As well as your and Jason's authenticity, another reason I was drawn to Way of the Buzzard is that my ancestral history straddles your land at Anglezarke. My family surname comes from just down the valley to you and my ancestors then had to move from similar moors above Darwen to toil in the cotton industry in Blackburn, living in tiny, terraced houses with 10 people in them and young girls of 11 years old having to also work in the factory. I did a project for WEA course and found:
    the cotton industry in Lancashire declined after the American Civil War and with the appearance of cheaper labour in the southern States. There was a food famine for families in Lancashire called the Cotton Famine 1861-65 due to unemployment in the cotton industry. All parts of England contributed to the starving people and soup kitchens in Lancashire, even with support from freed slaves in America. There was a Cotton Slump in 1870 and Cotton Riots in 1878 where employers cut wages by 10%. The workers went on strike and rioted but were forced back to work with no improvement in conditions. It was hard work with one weaver operating 4-6 looms in noise and dust, 26 degrees C, 85% humidity, 12 hour 6 day week. Lung infections and cancers were common.
    So my DNA would have been affected by that and much more recent family history in the nuclear industry. Hence my new Home is on the edge of similar moors on Dartmoor. It feels like Devon heaven. Also linked to you and Jason!

    1. Incredible to read your ancestors story here Peter. I have been fascinated hearing about their lives. I had heard of the food famine due to the collapse of the cotton industry but had forgotten about it. I will look into them again. One thing I only recently found out about the area you are from and I live in is that there was a mass trespass here on Winter Hill that pre-dated the famous one in the Peak District. I loved learning that. Did you know Peter? https://www.theboltonnews.co.uk/news/18715631.winter-hill-battleground-right-roam/

      Love you have found your home now in Dartmoor.

      1. Thanks Nicola – you are so thoughtful in replying to everyone that comments here. We're all seeking reunion from severance.
        I love the link you sent to mass trespass; I hadn't heard of before Kinder Scout. So inspiring to hear of 12,000 people standing up against the landowner…….who eventually had his land taken over by Bolton council :). Not to mention honouring the 18 people killed in the Peterloo Massacre, Manchester, of 1819 when 60,000 people gathered to demand the reform of parliamentary representation.
        Winter Hill (Gwyn-Týr-Hield) may also be the start of a ley line originally of the local Setantii Tribe in pre-Roman times
        https://winterhilllancashire.blogspot.com/
        Now Way of the Buzzard virtual ley-line tribe re-uniting with land!

  16. This post resonates with me so much. I became aware of epigenetics a few years ago when reading about how famine affected people during the war years. It is something that interests me very much but I haven't got much further with it. I do have a scientific background which helps with the understanding. I have begun tracing my ancestors and will be very interested to read your book. Thank you so much for bringing this to light.

  17. A very interesting read Nicola, which has given me much to ponder … thank you so much, and I'm looking forward to reading your book.

  18. So interesting Nicola & I eagerly await your next blog & of course your book. My maternal grandmother was from Wales & ran away to London at the age of 14, something I struggle to comprehend. But I've always felt a sense of connection to Wales even though I've not spent much time there. I have some info on that side of my family but would like to investigate more – I'll put it on my project list.

    1. Running away to London aged 14, and in those days too. That is incredible. Researching just one generation back can be a little harder as we don’t have access to the recent census records. But, there is the 1948 Register, which is only available in some search databases but is great. It is the Register the government complied ahead of the second world war. So, I would recommend that is a good place to look along, of course, with chatting to your family. Super to hear this is on your project list Gaynor. I am excited for you.

  19. Fascinating and well presented Nicola. It resonates deeply with me, and I think of the pony and the horse that, in Reiki healing, have shown me their traumas stretching back through many generations. I have been blessed to work with their ancestors and release them from their trauma, which has led to a real and permanent shift in the behaviour and life quality of the pony and the horse. Now, I am looking forward to working with my own ancestors to heal all our paths. I am following your blogs with interest. Thank you. In light and love, Vanessa

    1. How interesting, Vanessa, that you have applied this work to animals and received results. That is just brilliant. I am so pleased you are following my blogs with interest. Thank you for your note 🙂 this is great for me to hear 🙂

  20. Thank you Nicola. This is very interesting. I have done my own genealogy and personal therapy and have healed a lot but I may need to take another look. I will be passing this onto a friend whose genealogy I have just researched for her and who is currently in therapy. I hope she will find it interesting and useful too. I look forward to your next blog.

    1. I am delighted you have enjoyed my blog Maggie, and found it interesting. I think genealogy and therapy is such a useful combination. I will look forward to sharing my next blog with you!

  21. Good morning Nicola

    I was intrigued by your blog, I often ask myself why? A simple example; why do I love potatoes so much? You might have answered that question especially if one of my descendants farmed potatoes. However, the scientific information we now have to enable us to grow potatoes and other crops successfully is part of the reason for the destruction and failed crops in those dark days of the potato famine, over working the land, crop rotation etc but mainly driven by greed, an opportunity seized by others not taking into consideration the up and coming consequences and not listening to the words of advice of the wise and knowing. Our lands are still owned and run by people who do not work the land and live in the cities and want profit over sustainability. However, there are more wildlife strips and conservation areas appearing but only because they see a profit in it.

    I see a pattern in my life and maybe you have now explained why I find myself solving problem after problem that have been caused by others lack of knowledge or just plain greed and impatience.

    However, how and where do you start to heal what has been passed down by DNA, trying to sift through the complexity of it, sadly can send one down a darker path.

    I thought your blog was really interesting and thank you for sharing.

    1. I have loved reading your reflections here, Bridget. Thank you for sharing. The discovery of epigenetics has given us the science behind that ‘deep inner knowing’ that we can’t explain. I am delighted you have enjoyed my blog 🙂

  22. Deeply resonating with my own inner knowings. Since deep healing of my wounds of this humans life I am drawn to ancestral ways. Standing stones feature large in these artworks and fill my being as connection within through and beyond. I have met in soul spirit the first human that this travelling soul first enspirited and have felt that which harmed her to be healed through my own feeling, hearing, acknowledging and acceptance that her pain too brings me to now.

  23. Reading your blog, I am aware of a huge heart opening…I have begun some of this work – and have reached a dead end with one very important person…my mother’s mother…she seems to have disappeared into thin air – and the records I have found throw up so many more questions than answers. My very curious mind cannot let it go and I’m hoping your new book with ignite the flames of my search once more…exciting x

    1. Hi Beverley. It can be so frustrating can’t it, reading a dead end. I hope your enquiries help to move past the brick wall. I went to a genealogy conference once, and I found that helped open up avenues of enquiries I hadn’t thought of before and there were so many helpful people there. The other place I have found a huge amount of support is by visiting the city archives. The staff and volunteers are really helpful too. if you haven’t tried that, maybe it is worth thinking about. I have also employed a genealogist to help, but they didn’t find anything I hadn’t already found. It was useful though just to draw a line under that path of enquiry and when I did, another idea / realisation opened up for me. Just a few thoughts that might (or might not) help

  24. Very interesting. I will definitely be reading your book. It reminds me if when I went to a hypnotherapist for past life regression out of curiosity. I ended up sobbing real tears about having to leave my small rural home, where we kept pigs amongst other things. It was fascinating. I assumed, if I wasnt just making it up, that it might mean I had lived in Scotland in a former life and been victim to the clearances. I had no idea that it happened in England too. I was aware of the common land being taken. Yes, I think the stories of indigenous people having their land and ways of life taken off them are heartbreaking and enraging . I'm sure they touch many people, just not always the right ones. My heart bleeds for the grief and trauma they face. I also feel that they are the closest people on earth from whom we have so much to learn, and often are prepared to teach and share their wisdom, despite the way they have been treated by the dominant humans. It has only slowly dawned on me that we have all had our culture, knowledge, land and wisdom taken from us. For those in the West it is just nowhere near in living memory. We are like zoo or farm animals many generations away from our wild roots. I dont know what went wrong and what damaged the small elites enough that they decimated their fellow humans' lives, be they at home or abroad, and their environment too. It seems strange and sad that ours is the only species that has strayed do far from what is right and sensible. And it only took a small few to go off the rails in this way and then inflict it on the many. Your words really speak to me and synchronise with my own thoughts on this, so I will be so interested to read further what you have to say and what you found out.

    1. I have loved reading your reflections here Julie. In my book I go back to the origins of what happened to change a small group of people in the Middle East thousands of years ago, which ultimately has brought us to this place today. It is a fascinating theory and has helped me make sense of why things are they way they are when it doesn’t make any sense. A great book to read about this (along with my book ;)), which I reference in my book is the Fall: The Insanity of the Ego in Human History and the Dawning of a New Era by Steve Taylor. I am delighted you are interested in reading further what I have to say. Thank you!

  25. Thank you for the invitation, I have signed up for the online presentation and look forward to reading your book.
    I an fascinated by epigenetics and have been tracing my DNA family and their stories for a few years. I can trace ancestors who were involved in the Flight of the Earls and others in the American Civil war. I have an NPE and have worked with others who have been badly traumatised by this.
    I must point out one thing, people in Ireland do not refer to the Great Famine. There was no famine in Ireland, there was a failure of the common potato plant but the country was still exporting vast quantities of grains and livestock. The Great Hunger was the result of people like my ancestors whose entitlement left no room for compassion.
    I am looking forward to your exploration both in your book and your blog.

    1. Thanks for your note Lesley, and the correction of my reference to the Great Famine. I am careful to not to call it the Potato Famine, and have seen many references to the Great Hunger. That makes sense. At the start of my book I explain how I am doing my best coming from an English person and am aware of the sensitive writing about this. I write about sheer volume of food that left Ireland at the same time as the people who emigrated. It is harrowing to think. I love that you have traced your ancestors to the Flight of the Earls and the American Civil War. Thank you so much for your note.

  26. Thank you for exploring this, Nicola, it is really speaking to me although I know nothing of my own ancestors and their histories. I do know they are close and have felt the presence of my maternal grandmother for most of my life. I never knew her but know she was a strong and capable woman who lived a tough and deprived life. I feel overwhelming sadness at how we were, and still are, manipulated by those 'in power'. I look forward to discovering how to turn this sadness into strength and courage.

    1. Ah, I feel that sadness too Barbra. And so much of the manipulation is unconscious to us. It is the spiritual work, isn’t it, to figure out what is the real us underneath all the control. I love you have the presence of your maternal grandmother with you. She sounds like a remarkable woman and a real strength for you.

  27. This is utterly fascinating and beautifully written. On my last shamanic journey I saw thousands of people pass by me. Men, women, young and old, and children holding hands. They walked slowly, carrying nothing. I stood and watched from the sidelines as they moved on foot across the land. I had no idea what that mean't or where it came from but now, reading this, I'm wondering if I was tapping into something. Regrettably, I am unable to know of my ancestors and tracing family records does assume fidelity. But, yes I believe you to be right, this trauma will have been handed down. Your work is incredibly valuable. Heal well.

    1. Thank you Lesley, I am touched by your words here. And what an image to see in your last shamanic journey. It does certainly sound aligned with what I write about in this blog. Amazing how all this works isn’t it. Thank you so much for your note.

  28. The topics of epigenetics and the impact of the Industrial Revolution resonate with many things I have seen and experienced in my life and with the direction my path is now taking. I found your blog informative yet easy to read and I can't wait to read your book.

  29. This was interesting and look forward to reading the book.
    I have been researching my ancestors I have managed to get right back to 1700 then I hit a wall.
    I will try to come along for the book launch but I need to be near Mum for the time being.
    I do wish you all the very best and I have a feeling the book will travel far and wide.
    Love to you both. ❤️ not forgetting Blue 💙

    1. Thank you for your kind note here Annkat. It will be lovely to see you at The Monastery if you can make it. Amazing you got back to 1700. I made it back a little further with one line when I went to the Leeds Archives. Its just brilliant we can research so far back isn’t it.

  30. Very thought-provoking blog. I have spent many years doing my family tree which has proved quite difficult with many of my grandmother's side being illegitimate. Nan used to love telling me fascinating stories and tales of her ancestors but there is no evidence to back them up that I can find. Some colourful characters for sure it seems! I have indeed never learned of our history and never cottoned on to the plight of our own ancestors, but instead being drawn to indigenous peoples from other cultures where the history is documented and passed down with pride and awareness. I would love to find a way to redress this imbalance and find my true roots, healing past traumas if it is available for me. Nice one Nicola. Thank you for helping me, and many others I'm sure, find our families.

    1. Oh it is a tough one, Marcia, as the paperwork usually ends with illegitimacy doesn’t it. I haven’t anything to suggest with this I am afraid. Although, what I have found is that the stories that were passed down are accurate – they were in my families case. I found the evidence in the records. A few minor facts were changed in the passing down, but these were insignificant. I love your Nan told you these 🙂

  31. Fascinating article, indeed! Thank you for sharing such interesting information. I'm not new to Ancestral Wounds or, as I know them, Generational Curses. This article has piqued my interest to investigate, further.

  32. I have been discovering my ancestry and have found details that I found upsetting. A Grt. Aunt and Uncle sent to Canada as Home Children. Their Mother widowed and falling pregnant while living with a violent drunk. He died early and I hope she had happy later years. I found the descendents on Facebook. Thank goodness for women's rights. I divorced a husband and remorgaged my home. I think she would smile and approve.

    1. I think so too. I just had a little wave of energy rush up my body reading your last sentence here. I feel that anything we do that is empowering, and something that our ancestors couldn’t do which impacted negatively on their lives, will make our ancestors smile. Thank you so much for sharing Carol

  33. Brilliant blog as ever, Nicola. It puts me in mind of the Silver Spoons Collective whom we met at the beginning of the year and their ancestral healing of the so-called "witches". I am so looking forward to the other blogs on this topic as well as to reading your book.

    1. Thank you Jill, I Am Witch was such an incredible exhibition and it was a delight to meet you there. I am so pleased to hear you are looking forward to reading my other blogs and my book!

  34. My great and great great grandparents were from ireland and came to England in the times of famine, and via scotland became travellers after the clearance. I have visited the famine mass graves in Roscommon and knew it was my home. I have always planted and grown as much of my food as possible, always at my most content outside and I love to travel and wander in all kinds of landscapes. I think embracing the life that was stolen from our ancestors is in some way a healing process and I look forward to reading your thoughts. Thank you, sending bright blessings and love Pat.

    1. What a story, Patricia. I am sorry your ancestors were forced from their homeland. Yes, I wholeheartedly agree that connecting with the land in the ways you describe help us to heal and find our way home. Thank you so much for your note here.

  35. I cannot tell you what this means to me reading this.
    On and off through my life I have dipped in and out of meditating, healing, learning other ways (this is where my soul is happiest). After a while I would conform again.
    At the age of three a Romany told my mum I had Romany blood running through my veins and new the old ways. I remember that moment & can still see her face. My mum told me it was nonsense.
    All of my life I have been settled outside with all of my animals but never fit in with people, school etc.
    6 months ago I met a lady who runs a holistic centre. I was interested in her drumming circles and I had just purchased my first stag skin drum. Since then I have been welcomed in to their sisterhood and supported on my journey.
    A few weeks ago I went on a past life meditation journey with Jo.
    I was Romany in the 1700's, being persecuted across Europe, moved on every time we set camp. I had beautiful pictures of my childhood, tickling fish to catch, playing in the fields and forests & round the campfire. Then as a young adult, the camp was in a forest, we were woken by the fire. I was terrified. On that night I made a conscious decision to conform to a "normal way of life". I walked away from my family, my culture and my traditions.
    This came together over a few nights and days, in dreams, intuitively & in voices.
    I have cried and grieved and now feel so much calmer and lighter.
    Now in my life I will honour my Romany and continue to practice as a Hedgewitch with my animals around me. I know I will not fall off this path now as I have support for my sisters. I feel between my ancestor & the generations between us, we have started a generational healing.
    This has been such an affirming read, thank you.
    I am looking forward to your books.

    1. I have loved reading your story here Ali, and your insights you have received. And of your Romany connections. You know, you may well be able to trace back to find them up if it was the 1700’s. I have found Jasons Romany ancestors when researching his family tree. What a fascinating story. I am so pleased this piece of the jigsaw has fallen into place. Just delighted you enjoyed my blog and that you are looking forward to reading my book! Thank you.

  36. This subject is something that has fascinated me for a long time. Over the last few years I have faced my own traumas head on which were buried from when I was a young girl. It has made me stop and look at my ancestral line, and can see a pattern in the same health issues going back at least 2-3 generations. I have made a start researching my family tree but it isn't easy to gather the information, I have been lucky that some of my family have already done some research. I seem to have loads on my mum's side but barely anything on my dad's side. I have also started writing a book to give people an insight into my family and it's trauma so that it will be a sort of self help book for others going through the same experience and like you every time I venture down to Kent where my family are from I also feel drawn to local areas and ruins of places I know my dad and grandad spent a lot of time. I am very interested in reading your book and will be attending your book launch at the Monastery, I can't wait to read what you have discovered, I love reading your blogs as you have a brilliant way of telling a story so elliquently which always draws me in.

    1. How interesting Sian, I have loved reading your reflections here. I also love you are writing a book alongside carrying out your research and working through what is coming up for you. And that you re drawn to places your dad and grandad went. Amazing. Where in Kent is this? I am interested only that I grew up in Kent, so I always love it when people tell me their Kent connections. I am so delighted you are coming to The Monastery! And thank you for your feedback about my blogs – this is so helpful for me to hear. Thank you!

    1. That is so good to hear the timing is good Lesley. Really interesting for me to hear this as I have wanted to launch my book for quite a while now but the timing hasn’t been right for Jason or I until now. Thank you.

  37. Genealogy, epigenetics and the power of intention are so fascinating. It all fits in perfectly with my own lived and familial experience and the work I do as a therapist. Thank you Nicola I loved reading this blog and am looking forward to reading more 😀

  38. How deep does this trauma go? Too deep sometimes. I have recently put down my ancestral search has I thought that it didn't matter, it didn't make any difference and its not going to change what is happening to me! but reading this blog has changed my thinking. Where do I come from? Why do I do the things I do? Is my trauma deeper than what I feel? Thank you Nicola for this new thinking. Can't wait to read the other blogs and of course to read your book.

    1. How interesting you put this down and have been inspired to pick it up again. Lots of questions here that I sense you will find the answers to as you continue your ancestral healing path. From my experience, if you have a question in your head, and / or a gut feeling, they are rarely wrong. I love that you are looking forward to reading my other blogs and book! Thank you.

  39. Dear Nicola how inviting these parGraphs are , such research you you have delivered .I am already written in my diary I am travelling to the Monastery to get my copy of your book .Having been a member of the Mystery schoòl previously it will be nice to see you in person Iam excited to read the book and its content Especially now you have given us these tasters .with love Susan Loftus

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