So if you touch the witchy, pagan, spiritualism community in any way you will see the discussion – or should I say non-discussion – about ancestry. In one breath people are telling you to find your roots, connect to Ancestors – and in the next they are screaming appropriation. This has sent a lot of mixed signals especially to newcomers. So I think it is time to have a blunt discussion on DNA / Ancestry in general and then what it means for us as a community.
Be forewarned – you may not like or agree with some of what I say. That’s ok, we are entitled to our own opinions and views. I am looking at this both from a logical scientific approach and a spiritual one.
Let’s Talk DNA
Before we can get into the spiritual aspects, first we must understand what we are talking about here. Ancestry – DNA – all the things that make up who we are genetically and physically (we will get to the soul but we aren’t there yet). We are all heinz 57 mutts in the genetic world. I don’t care where you were born, that does not make you 100% that genetically. People moved around, blended, and mixed. That’s just a fact. The farther back you are able to go the more you learn. I started tracking my genealogy way before DNA testing was commonly available, so I had a jump start on tracing. The DNA test gave me a bigger picture but more in the fact of another verification of my work.
The first BIG understanding of DNA tests, your standardized ones from places like ancestry.com give you genetic matches based on today’s population. That means those matches are based on the people who do the testing in those places now and how close you match them/ share genetic markers.
Then there are places like My True Ancestry that take those same test results and compare them to actual grave sites/ dig sites where DNA was recovered. These go all the way back to the BC era. This again gives you another snap shot or deeper dive. They show how close you were in relation to those people, places, at various times in history.
Your genetic makeup is not from all your ancestors. At least not in the sense people mean. We get certain genetic traits/ markers/ genes from both parents but not all of them. So two siblings can take the test and have variations and differences between them, sometimes even dramatically.
So now that we covered the basics of what DNA is, let’s get into some science about genetic memory. Yep, this is actually a thing in science that also crosses over into the spiritual. Genetic memory are things that are stored in the DNA, a part of the makeup of who we are, that we are born with. Animals are born with certain survival instincts – this is an example of genetic memory. Parts of the personality are genetic memory. Think about the personalities of parents, grandparents, and children. It’s not just looks here, but alo personality traits, talents, and more. This does not mean they are not shaped and changed by the choices we make and through living, but there is a base we start with. Gifts or talents, those things we are more naturally adept at – this is a form of genetic memory. A little down the path of spiritualism we run into things such as past lives – this could very well be genetic memory at play. Many cultures believed in something like the Ancestral Soul. A passing down of a soul through bloodlines (they don’t have to be direct), that is a part of the whole person’s soul living now. This could account for the things we are drawn to in life such as certain art styles, music, time periods, places, certain environments, and so forth. A quick example – If your ancestors were primarily mountain dwelling, even if the places vary, you will probably feel more at home in mountainous areas.
When looking at spirituality I think we need to also look at this genetic memory/ ancestral soul aspect. I learned some interesting things when talking about this specific topic with people. What their DNA is, where their people were from, seems to correlate a lot with what they are instinctively drawn to spiritually and culturally. It’s like the soul yearning for something it remembers. Some areas may be stronger than others. I was really surprised though that so many people had these same experiences when tracing their own history. I had to stop and really consider those implications. If our genetics carry memory – which they do – and our ancestors are where we get our genetics, it makes sense that many have found comfort and belonging through discovering their roots. These are not just names and places on a piece of paper – they are a part of who we are now, part of our soul.
Now, as with genetics, our ancestral soul isn’t made up of every ancestor we have ever had. We get certain ones. DNA can help identify the groups better and give us signposts for the things that we are drawn to and we feel calling to us.
Yep, some people are railing right now wanting to argue culture – we aren’t talking about culture though, we are talking about genetic memory that may be tied to a culture and place. Culture changes with every generation though. Each one builds upon the last – eliminating and adding as they go. The culture my soul knows is not the culture of that place now. Even the parts of the culture passed down in my immediate family have been changed due to movement and interaction with other cultures. So I won’t say I am Irish or Norman or any of the myriad of things that make up who I am genetically because I do not live there now and it is not the exact culture now that it was when my ancestors were there – but I am of them. My people were of them. I carry the memory of that and am drawn to it. I know it seems like a slight distinction but it isn’t to me.
Thus to grow and connect I have to learn – Learn about the culture and people, the history as well as the present. Understanding the stories of my Ancestors also helps me to understand myself. Understanding the world they lived in, the culture they participated in, helps me to connect and understand them better. Discovering why I am drawn to certain places, art, music, stories, spiritualism, and people. By learning about the present culture and people I can celebrate and honor how it has grown and evolved. What it has become now and where it is going. Reconnecting, learning, honoring, and carrying it forward.
So if we carry genetic memory, and if it is linked to Ancestral Soul, it makes sense that we want to learn and reconnect. I’ll be honest, in certain social media spaces is where I see people screaming appropriation, but the actual day to day people are encouraging others to learn and celebrate with them. They know a culture only survives if people carry it forward. If we are constantly closing everything off then it will die out. If we do not allow others to connect to their roots, what they are drawn to, and there are not enough people in that culture (having babies, actively participating in it, etc) it will die out or be swallowed by another. This has happened over and over in history so we know it to be true.
You may feel more pulled or connected to certain ancestors or spiritualities, even though you are made of many. Perhaps you had a lot of roots there. Perhaps that part of your Ancestral soul or genetic memory is speaking to you the loudest. I can’t tell you why, but you can find out as you move along the journey.
Connecting, honoring, and even worshiping Ancestors are practices older than any religion, tradition, or country. Knowing the story of your people and knowing that you carry them with you was commonplace knowledge for the people. Even as empires and religions rose, this connection to Ancestors was still highly regarded and held sacred. Fast forward to today – With one hand people are telling you to go back to your roots, discover your people, their stories, and the cultures they came from – With the other they are saying “No, this is mine, I was born here you were not so it is not part of you.” My questions here become – How long have your people been there? Have all of them always been in one spot? What makes it exclusively yours? Does everyone in your culture and country agree with your stance or are you trying to speak for a whole population with your personal feelings? Sadly, I see this kind of thing most when money is involved. A person trying to make themselves the only voice and authority. Sometimes it is about power, but I honestly have not seen it where money wasn’t a factor.
No Permission Needed – Just Respect
You do not need permission to embrace yourself or your Ancestors. You do not need permission to learn, honor, and celebrate a culture. You do not need to keep justifying yourself or your connections. You do not need to keep being silent because a few really loud people are trying to tell you who you are, what connections you have, and what is valid for you. You don’t need permission – your Ancestors already gave you that.
I highly recommend tracing your ancestry, or even the DNA test if you can’t get any information on your people. It isn’t the end all be all, but it can help you along your path, help you connect, and give clarity. Your Ancestors are your biggest allies because they are invested in your success – because they are a part of you.
Last little reminder: You do not have to have ancestry from a place, culture, Deity, or spirituality to be drawn to it. In reality, who is to say there is not a little part of you that has memory of it, and even if you don’t there is a reason your soul is drawn to it. DNA and Ancestry do not dictate the spiritual path we make for ourselves, but they are a part of us.
Below I am adding in my own Ancestry just because. One is from Ancestry.com the others from MyTrueAncestry.com Yes I also included my royal lines because I made this to share with someone else. If you listen to me at all you know having those ties is not rare or unique. Millions, if not all people have them, I was just lucky enough in my tracing to be able to find them and their stories.