What-Was, Now-Is, and What-Will-Come: A Few Thoughts on Ancestors

The ancestors…most people see the ancestors as those that populate their DNA ancestry tree. Not only is this an understandable perspective, it is also an admirable one. Just recently, I started trying to figure out the ancestry lineage of my own. I know of one ancestor that is in my path of the past – Arent Van Hoeck, who – apparently – was born in 1635 or thereabouts. Eventually, he made his way from Holland to the United States, where my family tree thus begins here in North America. My family moves from New York to Virginia to North Carolina into Tennessee then up into Kentucky and the Ohio. But honestly, DNA family is only part of the entire Ancestors equation for me.

Now before I continue, I am no scholar of any sort. I could not tell you the origins of any ceremonial aspect of celebrating the seasons. I could dig a few stories of myths out of books, but none of them do I have committed to memory. I don’t believe that there will ever be a time that I will be a cited source in any academic paper, nor do I rise to that ideal of writing or scholarship. If you wanted to really describe me in that fashion, I am just a blogger. But I do look at connections and patterns.

Recently, like in the past two days, I opened an account at Ancesrty.com so that I could start to trace my heritage. I’ve always had very rough sketches done by family members over who was what and where and when. Thus the reason I know of Arent. But there are so many other connections too. The branching out from other families that married into the Van Hook family lineage. And the families that married into those lineages as well. And so on, and so forth. And eventually the connections between families all over will show. And as those connections begin to arrive into the overall picture, I sincerely believe that we will find that we all connect somewhere, in some fashion, to one another.

Thus, the celebration of the ancestors – spending a moment to see the line of one’s people – back to the beginning – takes a slightly different meaning to me. The words “The earth does not belong to us, we belong to the earth” are widely attributed to Chief Seattle, but are more likely that of a screenwriter who penned them for a 1972 documentary called “Home”. Regardless of who really made the statement, it rings true – particularly in my view of the Ancestors.

We are all connected together. Our skin color does not define us, it is used as a barrier to separate us from one another. We are human beings. We are connected together as a species, as a people. When we work together to achieve a goal, we provide a strong connection with our environment – provided we insured that the rest of the circles of life are a part of what we set out to accomplish. When we ignore those circles, those connections, we begin to see ourselves apart from our own brothers and sisters on this Earth. The animals, the insects, the plants, the soil, the rocks, the sky…we are all connected to one another in this vast web of Life.

So where do I begin to answer the reverence of my ancestors? Where do I begin to pay homage to those that have gone before, those that have passed beyond the veil? Instead of choosing my DNA or my species – I remember the Past. Even the What-Was from before my remembering. It was from the What-Was that the Now-Is was built upon. And it is from both the What-Was and the Now-Is upon which the What-Will-Come is built upon. We stand on the bones and remains of the Past. And from our bones and remains of the Present, we will build upon for the Future.

My Ancestry Chart is an interesting strand to look over and contemplate upon. But it is only one strand of What-Was. There is so much more to remember when we look upon the ancestors. To remember where we came from, and how the future will be built going forward. Every motion we make, every thought we have – even while reading this, every action we take…sends ripples forward in time. We should be aware of our actions, of our words, our thoughts…for those will shape the future, even in the smallest of details.

We wage wars, as societies and governments, seeking equality or justice for the Now-Is without thoughts of how these battles may shape the What-Will-Come. We don’t look back at What-Was to see the consequences of the very same actions on the Now-Is. Perhaps it is true, the written and oral traditions of History will belong to the victors. But there can not be anything that removes aspects of What-Was. Our Now-Is is built upon it.

Nothing can change the fact that we were here when Now-Is becomes What-Was. Even if the future generations forget us, our web of Life will not. For we will be added to its foundation – our contributions a part of the sum of the whole. No matter how great or small.

Being Distracted From Connectivity….

One cloudy, misty afternoon, I decided to take my usual walk through the forest. Walking along the well-traveled dirt path, I eventually came upon a white fawn standing in the middle of the path. The fawn was barely discernible through the swirling mists, which masked the outline of the young deer quite well. “Follow the deer,” I hear a soft voice. I look around, slightly flustered at hearing a voice when I had been walking alone, but there was no one there but myself and the fawn. “Follow the deer,” I hear again. This time I lock eyes with the young deer, which seems to nod at me. Then the deer walks slowly off the Path, and I walk cautiously up to where the fawn had stood. Looking down the small break in the trees, my eyes follow the track of the deer along a slightly worn, very thin path – a “game trail” is what my hunter friends would have called this. “Follow the deer,” came the voice for a third time. I shrugged my shoulders and stepped onto the game trail, the fawn barely visible in my sight.

That’s a dream that I have had on multiple occasions. Sometimes, the time of day or the weather is a little different. On sunny days, the sun is brilliant enough to make seeing the fawn very difficult, and in the mornings, evenings, and night-time, there’s hardly enough light to see very much. Otherwise, the dream stays the same. And the dream always ends when I step off the forest path and on to the game trail.

What does it mean?  I am not really sure. Interpretation of dreams is not really my strength, plus the symbology can mean different things to me at different times. But its in my dream journal. As are many other dreams that I can recall shortly after waking. I learned the hard way to write the dreams down in as much detail as possible as soon as I awake. Almost every dream fades from my memory the longer that I am awake. And reading back over my entries, I can nearly get the same feeling as I had before – just by reading the words. Whether these are trigger-points for remembering what I had heard or seen or touched or smelled during my dream – I can’t really say. Psychology is not something I delve into very deeply. Its one of the sciences that holds very little interest for me. I prefer Sociology to Psychology any day of the week.

What I find more interesting is how words can evoke such sensations or the remembrance of sensations. Or even music for that fact. Bran Cerddorion, who I met for the first time at the OBOD Gulf Coast Gathering earlier this year, wrote a song about attending that event called “Awen Flows Free (Not in Kansas Anymore)“. When I listen to that particular song, all the feelings and emotions that I experienced during that event come welling up inside me all over again. Some may call that evocative magick, others may call it something else – I merely call it fascinating.

Touch is another of those moments. Someone that I know quite well, when we shake hands or hug, I can literally feel a transmission of emotions that pass between the two of us. And with that moment comes the flood of emotional memories that continue to provide the connection between the two of us – even when its been a long period of time between moments of being together. Some call that connectedness, some call it weird or strange – I call that fascinating.

As someone studying a Path of Druidry, I am constantly reminded by the lessons that I have completed, and the lessons I am working on – that finding those connections is a part of everyday living. And that feeling those connections is a part of everyday living. And that cultivating those connections is a part of everyday living. And that all that connectivity connects me to others – some of whom I have never met before, and may likely never met ever. And some of those people that I have distant connectivity to may dislike me simply because I do not follow their path of belief. Or because I support the concept of loving who you love. Or because I don’t dress the way that they do. Or I don’t talk the way that they do. Or because I simply live in a geographic location that they have developed some degree of anger or hatred towards. Whatever the case may be, somewhere along the line, there’s a connection between the two of us. No matter how thin or frail that thread of connectivity may be, its there whether they want to agree or not. Whether they like it or not. Whether I want to like it or not.

A particular quote that is often attributed to the Dkhw’Duw’Absh Chief Seattle goes like this:

Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.

Whether he truly said it or not, does not matter to me. I am not interested in such controversies. I am more interested in what meaning the statement has behind it. For me, this statement is a quintessential understanding of the connections that I am reminded of in my Druidry lessons. We can disagree with what others may say, or the actions that they commit to – but we cannot deny the connections that bind us together within the web. As one of my favorite characters on the Babylon 5 television show states:

In here you cannot hide from yourself. Everything out there has only one purpose. To distract ourselves from what is truly important.

At that time, G’kar was in solitary confinement in a jail cell. The Chief of Security had commented that he (G’kar) seemed to be more at peace within the jail cell than he was out in the general populace of the Babylon 5 station. For me, this quote is the perfect carriage in pointing out the meaningless nature of politics. Politics is only a manner of diving ourselves, allowing us to deny the connections between one another – particularly where we have differences of opinion in how governance is applied to a societal framework that we have chosen to live within. Indeed, at times it certainly seems that politics has only one goal – to distract ourselves from what is truly important… I would honestly rather continue to be aware of the connections that we seem to deny through politics. I would rather live in a world where I can see and experience that connectivity on a daily basis…and so I do. Or at least, I try my best to do so…