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Once again I learn the hard way

Be forewarned. Ancestry work is real. Centuries of forgetting do add up. A recent ancestral download made me crabby, grumpy, and tight. All growth is physical. All learning is physical. Ancestry is physical. Forgetting has physical ramifications. So does waking up.

There is a reason people pray to ancestors and keep current with the energy and wisdom of the past. They draw from the well. They are the well. To draw with respect, humility and consciousness teaches wisdom and compassion.

What if one has to do this all at once without graveside practices, community offerings, flowers, or altars?

One of my family wells has a full-blown English-American narrative. Boston Pilgrims, English Castles, the whole deal. This is a body deal.

Reading Sarah Vowells The Wordy Shipmates written about the era that my own elder came over with Anne Hutchinson and friends, post Plymouth Rock, only to be banned for having theologies that didn’t jive with the powers that be, you know, too progressive, and way way way too serious, it leaves me disturbed.

As a sensitive bodyspirit, I get things somatically. I “know” them. This is a mystery to me, but it has always been this way.

In our work on racism and out of sheer hunger, many speak of ancestors today, but I imagine that as more and more people uncover their strange enmeshed lineages our deeper body may lead us to a real change. It may be mystical, coming from our collective inarticulate sense.

It would be best if we could come out to each other about our ancestral obsessions, compulsions, revelations, begatted visions. Something is going on here. I am pretty sure that in the past the elders knew the ways to work with these forces and powers. I for one, think that having ancestry is like having great wealth. It is a privilege and a power. But what to do with it?

Thank goodness for the artist, poet, mystic here and there who brings our history to the light. Thank goodness too for any help we can get as we try to figure out how to respond.


  1. Dyck says:

    There is such a lot of territory you open here Cynthia.
    I ‘ve been looking at a book of my Dutch heritage, apparently well-researched narrative and artful pictorial depictions. The year, 1566. It takes my being into it like a good movie. I’m fascinated, sympathetic, repulsed, angry, and more mainly by the social order, values, seemingly underdeveloped
    rationale for justice.

    Some strong thoughts that come up for me around this are related to Genetics, Affects of Compassion and Self-Centeredness on Natural Selection. Impressions (I call it experiential genetics), Soul, Reincarnation, and the Propulsion to connect with all this.

  2. Thank you Dyck! What a mystery it all is. Today I found an entier book written about William Wentworth, Pilgrim Preacher. The overlaps with my life are inescapable. What is this tree? Waht is the name of your book?

  3. Dyck says:

    “Daily Life In Holland in the Year 1566” subtitle “And the Story of My Ancestor’s Treasure Chest” by Rien Poortvliet, a famed Dutch artist and naturalist who came upon a 1566 letter that led him to the armoire of his distant ancestor, inspiring this book. Harry Abrams, Pub. A library should have it.

    It’s a large hard covered book ~ 16″ x 11″ that I got at a bargain table at Barnes & Noble or Costco or who knows.

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