ADF Dedicant Path: Ancestors (Essay Prep.)
First, a little update on my DP plans. When I started this work, I was still in graduate school. Because of my busy schedule, I postulated that I wouldn’t finish the DP within a year’s time. When I left graduate school, I thought I might be able to complete the DP by Lughnasadh. By this time, I had fallen off the track of Dangler’s Through the Wheel of the Year, though I referred to sections of it as they seemed relevant. Recently, I decided to look back through that guide book and weed out the weeks I either skipped or glossed over. I have now worked up a new weekly schedule that will have me giving my Dedicant Oath on Harvest Home. Even though completing by Lughnasadh is possible, I didn’t want to feel rushed. I also want time to engage more with the optional material in Dangler’s text.
Now that I am backtracking slightly, some of my posts will involve revisiting concepts rather than being introduced to them, such as this one on the ancestors.
The Dedicant Manual, Our Own Druidry includes helpful introductory kindred attunement work that I already did early on in my path, though I didn’t do a write up for the corresponding week in the guide book.
Before I started the DP I had almost no interest in my ancestors. I am ashamed to admit it, but it is what it is. When I thought of ancestors, I only thought a generation or two back. I thought of the early 20th century and how little interested I was in this time period. My disinterest in 20th century culture led me to a disinterest in my ancestors as well. I forgot to think of them as individuals, with their own hopes and dreams and personalities, some of which might match up with my own.
My mother is the genealogist in the family. She is and was always telling some family history story or another, and I used to pay little attention. My disinterest in the 20th century is only superseded by my disinterest in most of American history. When I heard my mother’s stories, all I heard was a generic version of an American history lesson.
I always felt bad for not paying attention. I knew it was wrong to pay no mind to my own family history. But I couldn’t, for the life of me, force myself to be interested. I can’t tell you exactly what has changed, but I am interested now. The DP and wishing to deepen my spiritual practice in general had something to do with it, but I was slowly opening up to my mother’s stories before I found ADF. Beginning the DP only motivated me to increase my focus on this new interest.
I will probably never be the genealogist that my mother is, but I have a new appreciation for my ancestors nonetheless. I still struggle with disconnect from time to time. Paying attention when the story is about an ancestor whose lifestyle is too unrelatable or undesirable to me takes some discipline. But that’s OK. I don’t need to feel a bond with every single ancestor. Some of them will feel closer to me than others. This is no different than our interactions with other humans in general, family or not.
My interest is definitely at it’s highest when my mother speaks of someone from the 18th or 19th century. Sometimes I wonder if my attraction to certain places or dates, when it transcends superficial curiosity, indicate a past life there. There are a select few places and time periods I feel so drawn to that I almost feel like I am in a dream currently and will wake up to return there. It’s not a desire, it’s a very uncomfortable feeling.
Since paying active attention to my mother, I have learned so many wonderful things about whom I am related to. I’ve always known that I am related to General Daniel Sickles, who donated his self-amputated leg to a museum, to the guy who invented the dishwasher but no one knows it because his company owned the idea, and to assorted Spanish and Italian pirates on my father’s side, but only because these were the stories repeated most often such that they had to stick in my head eventually.
Now, I actively seek out family history. I’ve learned that I do, in fact have an Icelandic ancestor. All along, I though I had absolutely no connections to the Nordic lands. I am the 37th great granddaughter of Gróa Þorsteinsdóttir, who married a Scottish Earl and thus ended my connection to Iceland. I am very very Scottish, from both my mothers and father’s sides. haha. I’m also related to the Polidori and Rosetti Families. In an old document from my great grandmother, it appears I am a direct descended of John Polidori, though I am aware he didn’t have children. The document isn’t so clear and some of the names don’t perfectly match the public records. I am descended from one of his nieces or nephews, most likely. For those of you who don’t know, John Polidori wrote The Vampyre and is credited with beginning the modern romanticized vampire genre.
In addition to learning the stories of my ancestors, I’m also beginning to collect their photographs, for those who have any. Here are a few of them:
Ireta is my maternal grandmother. She went by Lorraine, her middle name, which is also my middle name. I hardly knew her though. She had Alzheimers when I knew her and died when I was still very young.
My paternal great grandmother, Aurea. She used to make beautiful dolls, three of which I have.
My paternal grandmother Martha. She’s still with us, but this picture is too beautiful not to share. I spent much of my childhood with her and my grandfather. We are very close ❤
I am really happy to finally be forging connections with my ancestors and including them in my spiritual practice.