It’s been almost a full year since I said “yes” to an invitation from my ancestors and began to devote myself to exploring my lineage. (some back story)
Since then, I’ve been in deep learning and listening mode. I’ve been discovering things I never knew and remembering things that have always been a part of me but got forgotten along the way.
In a way, I’m fulfilling an inquiry that I recall asking my parents around the age of 8, sitting on the swingset, trying to make a family tree with crayon and drawing paper. I remember being so disappointed at how many names were lost - beyond my great grandparents, so much was a mystery.
But so much more is happening underneath knowing the names of those who came before me.
I’m recognizing my deep privilege to be able to have access to written records of my family. I am able to access certain information because in being white, my family’s story was centered in American record keeping.
I’m reclaiming the whole of myself. I’m finding such magic within the practices of my ancestors - in how they connected to nature and to the divine, in how they prayed through dance and song, in how they connected to the essence of plants and in how they held such reverence for their own personal holy allies.
Some of these practices I have been lucky enough to catch glimpses of in my own upbringing, and some I’ve learned in my own spiritual studies of the past - but some are completely new to me.
I’m recognizing that some of these practices got left behind as my great-grandparents shifted their practices to be “more American.” Or, more accurately, belonging to the United States.
Within that, I wasn’t able to see the magic of these practices clearly, and so I looked pretty much everywhere else besides my own culture’s traditions for connecting to the divine, since my teenage years.
But I’m also aware that a lot of these practices were always accessible to me. While some things I’ve always been aware of, always practiced, and always wanted to learn about...quite a lot of it *I* left behind.
It wasn’t only my great-grandparents leaving things behind - it was me.
I didn’t deem the practices as being worthy of being explored - turning against the whole of myself and my whole lineage. Instead, what ended up happening was perhaps at first an appreciation for other cultures and practices, but in the end, an appropriation. The more that I explore racism within our society and how I’ve played my part in that, the more I realize this.
I’ve been learning to shift from teacher to student. I am in deep inquiry, asking a million questions to others, to google, to my ancestors, and to my own DNA and blood.
In this place, I’ve been sort of grappling with how to/if I should share my journey in this space and how it applies to the focus of my work.
What is personal? What is just for me? Is it something I can talk about if it’s not a part of my work (here, being my job).
Do all of my passions and loves have to pour into my work? Can I talk about something that is my spiritual work but is not my work right now in this moment to teach to others?
As someone who has shared so much of my spiritual work with my community, this has been something I’ve been exploring inwardly.
When I ask this question to my bones and to the Tarot, I hear that this is mine to do for me.
That this is personal and deep.
That I am to immerse myself in it, even if it is not directly a part of my work (aka my “job”) in this moment.
I’ve found it curious that since this question felt so huge to me, that I haven’t written you all very much this year or shared much on Instagram. As I’ve been integrating and learning so much this year about not only my lineage but also different social justice issues, I haven’t been very good about putting all of that into words…and it’s honestly taken me awhile to explore the line between the personal and the public.
Am I an advocate for having your work be something you are deeply passionate about? 100%, absolutely, yes.
But what I’ve come to learn from this is that not *all* of my passions need to be what I do for a living. That works both ways - this means I can pour time into something and have it just be my passion. And that time is still valuable.
I find that I personally thrive with my work focused on one specific thing instead of being scattered in a handful of directions.
I realize that my confusion about this passion of mine was totally born from a place of capitalism. That it wasn’t worth talking about too much to my community because it wasn’t something that I am weaving into what earns me a living. It is my spiritual work, it is my deep work, it is what I fill my spare time with, it is how I pray and how I connect to the divine...but it’s not directly a part of what I’m doing with my community in this moment. Even though my work is very spiritually connected, it’s not 100% what I consider to be the entire whole of my spiritual practice.
Some of that is just for me.
If you are looking for others to support you on the path of exploring your own ancestry, just a few are Marybeth Bonfiglio, Leesa Renee Hall, Daniel Foor, Daria Antoine, and this current issue of Life as Ceremony magazine.
I am sending deep love to each of you for being here, for witnessing my spiritual journey, and for supporting my work with your presence.