“Ancestor Work” is quite a popular discussion in New Age/ Metaphysical/ Mystical Arts Business circles these days. I’ve held off doing it for myself… without being able to verbalize exactly why.
I have a great relationship with my biologicals. As someone who’s become an Elder of sorts, I feel that I do have some wisdom born out of my 62 years navigating this reality. Certainly I get annoyed when I see folks unable or unwilling to see what benefit they might suss out of my stories.
Today the magic bell rang, and my brain circuits lit up like the proverbial lightbulb overhead as to my hesitations.
Start with a twitter thread about how European colonizers decimated the population of the North American buffalo- millions slaughtered. Far too many, too quickly, to be foraging for food. Killed only as an act of genocide. This was not news to me- I was aware of this and other atrocities committed on First Nations here and elsewhere. Today’s thread included thoughts on how current vandalism and looting (regardless of how much is committed by undercover instigators and bored rich white kids) can never compare to what has been stolen and denied First Nations/ People of Colour for centuries. Again, not a new realization for me.
Then someone commented on how modern-day descendants of those colonizers had the gall to compare their “Ancestor Work” with various First Nations traditions or rituals. Ding.
My parents were, in my eyes, decent people filled with love. Both my grandfathers passed at about age 70, when I was quite young. I have vague memories of meeting one. I had more time with my grandmothers. Mom’s mom lived with us for many years- Nanna seemed to feel that my being gay was a burden (mine or hers wasn’t clear). The family did visit Grandma at the house on the lake in North Bay ON frequently; but she was the only one I was asked not to come out to. As noted in my blog post about Grandma, I knew very little about the person behind the role. My loss. I’ve also written about not really knowing Jamie and Morna.
Dad’s father was a bigwig in the United Church of Canada (unrelated to UCC congregations in the USA). He was responsible for United Church missions and congregations across northern Ontario. Mining, logging and hunting were the main occupations of his flocks. His great pride, I’m told, was at establishing a new College in northern Ontario. He was an intelligent man who came to Canada from Ireland, and worked hard. Lots of heroic background, but nothing to indicate his awareness of, nor willingness to condemn the sexual abuse of minors that permeated some parts of the Church. Perhaps tainted by association, but no evidence. No word on his personal beliefs on race, ethnicity, gender parity, poverty, or so many other important issues.
And absolutely nothing about my maternal grandfather- other than divorced and absent from my childhood.
But my paternal line (hardly the most important spiritually, but the one that’s easiest to trace with some level of certainty) goes back through Ireland to Scottish border reivers- “raiders along the Anglo-Scottish border from the late 13th century to the beginning of the 17th century. Their ranks consisted of both Scottish and English people, and they raided the entire Border country without regard to their victims’ nationality” (Source: Wikipedia). The mythology being one of rebelliousness, freedom fighters, and independence. Traditionally property was divided equally between all sons, often resulting in very small farms without much good soil for crops. Easier to grow and rustle livestock.
Not exactly conducive to arguments that I should live my life based on the wisdom and advice that could be gained from my bloodline.
I have not given up on “Ancestor Work“, but clearly have no desire to engage in “Ancestor Worship“- and have not yet decided how to sort out how to gain wisdom from my genealogical ancestors. My focus continues on the writings and other works of my queer spirit ancestors.