Sunday, July 12, 2009

Ancestors - Part One

For some unknown reason the ancestors have been very much on my mind lately. My ancestors, but also THE ancestors. I realize it’s the wrong end of the year to be talking about ancestors—Samhain is the usual time—but here they are, making me look at them again, showing me things, so what can I do?

I did quite a bit of ancestor work in the mid to late 1990s’ and have, in fact, a half-written book on the subject gathering dust on my hard drive. The ancestors were really talking to a lot of us back then. In the late 90s a friend had an important dream which inspired her to create a major ancestral working. It turned out to be a very powerful working for me and all concerned, and the ancestral line I worked with in that ritual was pretty quiet after that. But recently I’ve begun hearing from some of the other parts of my lineage so I’m thinking it’s probably time for some work on those lines.

At any rate, it’s what’s been occupying me the last several days, so I thought I’d post of a bit of what I wrote several years ago on the subject, in case it might be helpful to someone else.

* * * * * * * * *

Ancestors are those who have walked the earth before us. They are uncountable in number, and they stretch, in a chain, back to the very beginnings of humanity on this planet. In every generation of them the entire general spectrum of humanity—the wise, the foolish, the ordinary, the extraordinary—is made manifest.

We are born into families. From our forebearers we inherit everything from physical characteristics, such as the color of our hair and eyes, to personality traits and talents. We inherit tendencies toward certain physical gestures and facial expressions. We inherit propensity to certain disease or physical imbalance patterns. We inherit blood types. The good, the bad, and the ugly—we inherit it all, or at least a potential for it all.

Quite obviously, it if weren’t for our ancestors we wouldn’t be here at all, and we most certainly wouldn’t be who we are.

But we are more than just the sum of our ancestral parts. We are each a unique combination of the genes passed on from our thousands of grandmothers and grandfathers; this is what makes us unique individuals. It’s what we get in the luck of the genetic draw that makes each of us different from the next person, and even from our siblings.

Recognizing the importance of the ancestors, most cultures and societies of the past have had some way of recognizing and honoring them even if it was as simple as keeping track of the genealogical lines. Many tribes committed their genealogies to memory. In particular, noble or royal genealogies were often memorized by tribal “rememberers” of some sort.’ Those of us familiar with the Bible will recall the seemingly endless lists of the “begats.”

There is another level to this. Early on, many tribal people considered themselves descended from a primal mythic ancestor or god/dess. Thus, there are tribal ancestors as well as simply personal ones, and people would refer to themselves as the “children of” or “clan of” a particular deity.

As time went on and civilizations and religions developed, people began to claim a spiritual ancestry that harkened back to particular spiritual traditions and lines of spiritual power. These, too, became “the ancestors.” Examples of these are found in the East, where some of the spiritual traditions have roots going back to various holy people or gurus of the past, as well as in the Kohanim of Judaism, whose male ancestral line traces back to the Biblical Aaron, brother of Moses. This is also found in our western world in the Catholic tradition of the priesthood wherein a priest is ordained “according to the order of Melchisedek,” as well as in Mormonism where both the Aaronic and Melchisedek priesthoods are to be found.

The ties that connect us to our mythic-tribal and spiritual ancestors are not usually bonds of blood, but rather, bonds of specific energetic patterns related to the particular traditions and lines of spiritual power, although the Judaic Kohan tradition has been found to also have a genetic link.


The Family as a Being

Although we tend to see ourselves as individual selves, we are, in truth, members of families. I tend to see the family as a “Being,” an entity with many parts—physical, spiritual, emotional, mental, karmic, psychic—and an awareness of itself, including a type of memory. As a Being, a family shares DNA, and transmits information throughout its structure. Similar to other beings, the Family Being, perhaps, has “organs” and parts (sub-beings) which perform various functions for the Being. What comes to mind when I think of this is an image of how all life forms are composed of bodily parts and of other life forms—right on down to the bacterial level. Each has its part, its function, and contributes to the overall health, well-being and functionality of the entire being.

There are certain themes that come to prominence in families, and are worked on by various family members in differing places and circumstances, so that the Family Being may learn, grow, stay healthy, and balance itself. Toward this purpose there are certain gifts, strengths, and weaknesses both physical and psychological that are passed on and manifested differently by different individuals.

And since we are, each of us, from several different families, the situation gets quite complex. From my own experiences I suspect that certain family lines may come through us as ‘dominant ‘ in the same way that some particular genes are dominant, and it is these we are most concerned with in any given lifetime.

Otherworldly Beings tend to see us not always as individuals, but as part of a family, or bloodline. Therefore, if there is some spiritual or healing work to be done with a family, anyone suitable in the family, rather than one specific individual, can do the job.

On meeting a distant cousin a few years ago, I had the distinct sense of how my family, which had started (on this continent) in Virginia, had moved itself across the entire continent, somewhat like how trees or plants “walk” their way across the land—their seeds carried far by the wind or dropped in bird droppings, and growing new little trees or plants further on from where the parent tree stands. When I hugged this new-found cousin for the first time, I had a strong sense of being the part of the family that had “walked” across the continent to the far western shore to work out our karma in interaction with this bit of the continent, while she was the part who had stayed in the place we'd been in earlier, working our karmic tasks in that place, and with that land and its spirits.

I felt that there was something important about this movement as related to Life (i.e. living beings exhibit movement as one of their characteristics), and that even though we all pride ourselves on our individuality, individual lives and karma—which are quite important—another aspect of our being is tied up with our "Family Ties." I think each of us choose (or end up with) pieces of family stuff to work out and on, and that our individual karma plays a role in what we choose.

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