Puritans

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I am in the midst of writing a historical fiction novel in which I am striving for accuracy. Luckily for me I love history and research

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At any rate, my current work in progress (WIP) is titled Fall From Grace. It is a story of an accused witch’s survival during the Salem Witch Hangings.

 
The more I learn about the Puritan’s and their daily life, the more I realize how much the history books in school left out.

 
Normally when we think of the Puritan’s we think of all black clothes, highly religious, and down to earth. Not to mention reserved and dour. In my research (thank you Google), they were so much more than that. The Puritans took their religious beliefs from the Geneva bible which was written in 1658.

 
Let’s start with clothing and jewelry. Yes, jewelry was seen as adornments that weren’t to be worn for fear of you forgetting your place before God. Their clothing on the other matter was a whole different matter. Very rarely was black worn. As colorful as their clothing was it was simple in design so as not to forget one’s station in life. The Puritan’s wore every color they could derive from natural dyes. It being that cloth was expensive they would mend their clothes until the couldn’t any longer.

 
Those natural dyes were boiled down wood, berries, grasses, and vegetables. Woad was used for blue dye and madder root for red bases. Weld was used to produced the color yellow.

 
The colors in their wardrobe had meaning. Servants wore all blue which denoted servitude and heavenly grace. Black and brown stood for humility. Orange and red represented courage while yellow and green meant renewal.

 
Among the many laws that the Puritans had were sumptuary laws. These laws forbade poorer people to dress like ladies and gentlemen of means.

 
The reason that they puritans didn’t have grand celebratory feasts was that they believed that everyday was reason for a feast. History may have recorded the Puritans as a somber group, but their food was anything but. They tended to eat three meals a day.

 
They were a highly religious group of people who felt that one shouldn’t dress above their station in life less it lead to corruption of the immortal soul. Attendance at Church was mandatory twice a week. Anything less and you risked being excommunicated or worse – accusations of witchcraft were known to happen to those who abstained from attendance. For the Puritans their soul was the most important part of their lives. They believed that there were two groups of people, the Chosen and the Unchosen. It was the job of the Chosen to lead the others to God’s Grace.

 
Amongst the many reasons that the Puritans left England was that they didn’t agree with the Anglican/Catholic stances in the church. The Puritans felt that the earthly church was to decadent and heavy handed, they also despised Rome as it was the embodiment of the ecclesiastical church and therefore far too rich and bold for their tastes.

 
The church in England felt that the Puritans were to harsh in their thoughts and manners. The Church even had insults for the Puritans. One of these insults was the term “round-head”. They were called this due to the fact that the Puritan males shaved their heads bald. They shaved as a way to keep head lice under control.

 
Upon arrival in the “new world” the Puritans wished to found a “shining city on the hill” – a city that would be admired by all. While the Puritans wished to outlaw drinking it was realized that they couldn’t. This was due to the fact that the tavern was essential to their survival in this new land. In fact the first building to be raised in any new city was the tavern. On colder days when the church wouldn’t warm up enough the tavern often substituted as a place of worship.

 
On a side note all legal business was handled in the tavern until the capitol building of a city was built. After the capitol building went into use it was acceptable to put a jury summons on the door of the tavern for jury duty. It was thought that since everyone went to the tavern they would see the summons and appear.

 
Another side note is that Puritans tended to accept their fate if they went to jail and most often would not try to escape.

 
Though drinking was legal, drinking in excess was illegal and frowned upon. Alcohol and the tavern were considered a necessary evil. Then as now, the more money you had the more you can get away with.

 
Many researchers feel that the Witch Trials were used as a form of retribution on those who had too much money or were too far removed from the daily life of the church – the tavern owners. This is, in part, born out by the fact that one of the first accused witches was Sarah Bishop who owned “The Ship” tavern. Of the many side notes in this article, I should mention that the songs sang in the taverns were as raunchy as anything we could come up with today. *insert full body blush*

 
A member of her husband’s family married into the powerful Putnam family and felt that she was owed some of the profits of her late brother’s business. The Putnam family was a prominent member of the Puritan Church and was a main accuser in the Trials.

 
Another reason for the Trials was that the Pastor in Salem, Samuel Parris, was persecuting those that had voted against his becoming the leader of their church and were therefore not paying their portion of his salary.

 
Other researchers believe that what started the accusations was ergot of rye. Ergot is known to cause hallucinations and body contortions that the original accusers were noted as having.

 
These accusations also occurred in a particularly cold winter which is, historically, when most accusations of witch craft and trials happened. These trials were more than likely the darkest period in Puritan history.

 
When it came to education the Puritans were truly a society to marvel at. If a village had more than eighty residents they were to establish a school that was funded by the taxes collected. Both sexes were taught to read – primarily so they could read from the bible or help in the house hold, but at least they were all literate. This puts them ahead of many other societies at the time.

 
They were also the ones to print the first bible in the New World. The first was actually written in Algonquin by John Eliot. After taking the time to learn the language in hopes of converting the Natives, Mr. Eliot realized that certain words did not exist in the Algonquin language. This can be seen in the passages regarding the birth of Christ.

 
Though their clothes were bland and they were a reserved bunch of people one thing about them that was neither, was food. Much of what they ate would be on par with some of today’s top chefs. Food was prepared in the European or African styles and was enjoyed by all.

 
Meals were served three times a day with breakfast usually being stew and bread, lunch being a left over with some type of fruit and dinner was usually bread and cheese. All of this was accompanied with either cider or beer.

 
To get an idea of the type of foods they ate, the first “Thanksgiving” consisted of eel, mussels, lobster and other assorted meats. Squash, potatoes, corn, asparagus and other greens were also on the menu. And lest I forget the sweet aspect of nature strawberries, blackberries, and sweet grapes were also to be had. This type of meal would have been eaten on any day of the week as the Puritans didn’t need a particular reason to hold a feast since being alive was celebration enough.

 
On a side note I should mention something about lobster. It was considered cruel and inhumane to feed it to a prisoner – there are records of a jailer asking that it not be sent to the prisoners for this reason. This was because at the time lobster was piled up to two feet high on the beeches and could be picked up easily. When they did cook the lobster it was already dead. Therefor when it came out of the pot it was disgusting. The only reason they ate it at all is because it was so plentiful a food source. That is a massive change from what lobster is considered today.

 
Their beliefs on marriage came as the largest surprise to me. Puritans did not believed in arranged marriage. Men tended to marry by the age of twenty-six and women at twenty-three. A marriage was based on love. There were courtship rules and men would often by small gifts for the family of the girl he was courting. A woman was free to turn down an offer of courtship.

 
Obviously sex was reserved for marriage but it was not frowned upon. Puritans believed that sex was an act of love and a healthy part of a marriage.

 
Women were expected to be obedient and be able to be a help to the husband in his daily life. Women were expected to be what they are by nature, a help mate.

 
While frowned upon, a divorce was granted in certain circumstances. Those circumstances were abuse and neglect. A man convicted of either was often fined, imprisoned, or executed. Women were also allowed a divorce if a man proved impotent. In this last way, the views of Puritans seem extremely modern.

 
While children were a blessing, they were also essential to keeping a colony afloat. Aside from life older children were also able to contribute to the work force – a thought that makes many modern minds shudder.

 
All of this research leads me to wonder how far removed we are from the beliefs of our ancestors. In one way, I would say not very. In another, drastically so. If the only way to understand the modern world is through religion than maybe we should ask ourselves why we still believe that an institution has more sway over our lifestyles than we as humans do. I personally don’t believe that an institution of any sort should dictate what I, or you, can do. I do believe that we should all respect one another. But my beliefs are not what I am questioning; and that doesn’t make me different from anyone else.

 
In conclusion I would say that in one form or another the Puritan beliefs still exist to this day, what we see in reference to them is up to us. They have different names, but as a whole are generally classified as the Religious Right. They are often considered old-fashioned in their views and beliefs but they aren’t necessarily wrong. Just different and in my personal opinion, close minded.

Fall From Grace – Chapter 12

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Hi folks!

Aside from the deplorable review that had nothing to do with Chapter 1 of Fall From Grace, nothing much has happened in my own little world. On the other hand I have been diligently working on Fall From Grace. I’m currently at almost 34,000 words and I’ve got to say, my characters have a mind of their own! lol

At any rate, in honor of All Hallow’s Eve, I  thought I would share the rough draft of Chapter 12 with you. So without further ado, here is the next installment of Fall From Grace!

Happy Reading, and as always feel free to tell me what you think!

As Grace sat taking in the news that her father believed her, Abraham turned to Tituba and asked, “Tituba, I have no right to ask this of you, but will you continue to care for Grace until the day you are both released from the suburbs of hell?”

“You don’t have to ask that of the likes of me Mr. Bacon. Were I not a slave I would still care for thy sister. Though my state be lonely, Miss Bacon is one of the few that have always shown me kindness and mercy. It would be a disgrace to me and God were I not to help in any way I can. Specially with all the trouble I’ve caused,” Tituba answered sincerely.

“You’ve caused no grief, Tituba,” Grace gently rebuked.

“Miss Grace if I hadn’t asked for thee, you wouldn’t be sitting here with an open wound on your foot,” Tituba insisted.

“Tituba, you didn’t force them to use a whip, you weren’t even in the cell, when it happened. You did nothing except to call a witness to your character,” Grace reasoned.

“Had I left you out of my pleas, you wouldn’t be suffering in the suburbs of hell,” Tituba countered.

“Man has a choice as well, in the acts that he partakes of. The way of God does not include the atrocities that are being committed in his name,” Grace reasoned.

“We’ll not agree on this, Miss Grace,” Tituba stated with a grim smile.

Abraham snorted before interjecting, “Grace is as stubborn as the sun is hot, Tituba.”

Grace chuckled at the description that her brother had given. “The warmth of the sun feels like heaven on my skin. Especially in comparison to the hellishly frozen caverns of the dungeon,” Grace whispered.

“Truthfully it is,” Tituba quietly intoned.

Grace looked up from her seat and tentatively asked, “Has the Millson family said naught of this whole fiasco?”

Abraham shook his head, creased his brow and solemnly replied, “I would not hold thy breath for fear of turning blue when this ordeal is at an end. It seems they are as believing of these trumped up charges as God was in creating the earth in six days.”

Already tired shoulders sagged even further as moisture gathered in Graces’ eyes. Tituba reached over and pulled Grace tightly to her. “Twill be all right, Miss Grace. You’ll see. Let’s enjoy the sunshine that God has provided,” Tituba comforted.

The two women sat close for several minutes while Abraham shook his head at the quiet pleasure that the ladies took in breathing clean air. A man clearing his throat broke the quiet serenity in the exercise yard, “Time’s up. Back into your cell.”

“Sheriff, I see you’ve returned from your duties. Perhaps you could find it in your soul to allow the ladies to sit here for a bit longer,” Abraham dourly asked.

“That I have and with one less witch to feed. Those same duties also state that prisoners are only allowed a short stint in the courtyard at a time,” the sheriff retorted.

Abraham bit his lips while his face turned tomato red, a vein at his temple pulsed. Grace reached a hand up to rest on his forehead as she shook her head. “God will see us through,” she insisted.

“You shouldn’t have to rely solely on God. Man should know when they are crossing the line into hysteria and nonsense,” Abraham growled.

Grace sighed as she struggled to her feet, “Trust in God, Abraham. He is the only surety we have in this life and the next.”

The sheriff stood in front of Grace and Tituba and tied a heavy hemp rope to each of their waists, there were no shackles to bind their ankles. He then grabbed the rope between the two and pulled them forward, leaving Abraham to bring up the rear of the party with a scowl on his tan face.

The sheriff led the small party out of the afternoon sunshine into the dark, humid Dungeon and Jail. The air was thick enough that Grace could reach out and almost grab the air. The stones that made up the walls were warm enough to blister a carelessly placed hand. Grace slowly limped onto the wooden floor with Tituba’s support. The sheriff escorted both women to the tiny cell they occupied. Once the door was locked and the sheriff gone, Abraham promised, “I shall see you in the future, Grace.”

 

What is Wrong With You??

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As promised in the site description I tend to give the occasional rant. Keep in mind this has nothing to do with any of my works. This is a personal opinion piece. Happy Reading!

We all have people in life that will consistently come to us with their problems. They never seem to know what to do with themselves, and it’s often amazing that they can even feed and dress without guidance. I honestly have no general problem with these people, we all have our own issues from time to time. Unfortunately I cannot always help you with your life as I often have a life of my own to deal with.

Without trying to be unduly harsh, I have a few steps you might consider before hollering for help.

Do not bring your problems to me. I am not a witch from a fairy tale. I do not have a magic wand to wave that will make all of your issues disappear. Take responsibility for your own actions and watch how your life is better. You will find that stress will often disappear and arguments decrease. No one ever promised that everything would be fair, so accept it and move on, because whining doesn’t really help the situation.

If someone boils over like a volcano at you, ask yourself what YOU did to upset them. Think about what you may have said or done. Own whatever it was you may have said or done and strive to make sure it doesn’t happen again. I’m not saying that whomever is getting mad has a right to; I am just saying that you may have played more than a minor part in upsetting them.

Even superheroes screw up from time to time; no one is perfect. If you make a mistake acknowledge it. Afterwards strive to ensure it doesn’t reoccur. Life isn’t always without weeds, but you can help to control the weeds that you spread if you watch yourself.

The grass isn’t always greener on the other side, so quit always thinking it is. Just because your neighbor uses non-GMO products, doesn’t mean you have to. It’s not always a good thing to copy the monkeys. When you wonder why someone else’s life isn’t as difficult, find what you are doing wrong in your own life and see where YOU need to make changes. What YOU do makes the waves in your own life.

Oceans are exhausting to cross. When someone travels 4500 miles to do something for YOU, the only thing you should be is grateful. If you complain about something that person’s partner conceivably may or may not do, than the problem lies with you. If the only things you see are negative than you have an issue; not the rest of the world.

People are not ants in a colony. They have their own thoughts, emotions, and views. If you consistently tread on them and treat them like they don’t matter, resentment is the only thing that grows from it. Part of life is acknowledging other people are different and not sneering upon them because you don’t like it. Accepting these differences, is only going to enhance your own quality of life.

Just as plants need nurturing to grow, so do people. When YOU consistently degrade and humiliate another person, that tells them that they don’t matter to you. By dismissing other people you are doing yourself a grave injustice; and that travesty is allowing yourself to grow as a person. If you can’t grow how will you become the happy and capable person that you want to be?

The winners in life are the ones that are truly human. If you show true gratitude, own what you have done, and acknowledge your mistakes, I can almost guarantee you that your life will improve ten fold.