The Draw of Family in the Heathen Context
My sister called me and told me that an unknown relative contacted her. Apparently the grandson of my deceased uncle was doing research into my mom’s side of the family and somehow tracked us down to find out what we knew.
Well, blood is apparently thicker than water. And much to my chagrin, I am not adopted. “Why?” you may ask. Because the grandson, whom I’ll call Thor for privacy sake, is just like me.
Poor kid. And he reproduced.
How it Happened
Thor received the call of the ancestors when his own kid started asking questions about his relatives. Seems Thor really didn’t have much to go on originally, having never been in touch with my mom’s relatives. I wasn’t particularly interested in staying in contact with my mom’s side since I had so little in common with them. My relatives always dismissed me as a loner and a weird intellectual with nothing in common with them. They were mainly into shopping and impressing people. I couldn’t give a damn about what people thought of me unless it got me beat up. (Yeah, I had a few scuffles when I was a kid.) So, when my sister told me that Thor was doing research and needed some info, I chatted with him over the Internet.
Shit. He did a similar career route as I did. He likes the same stuff I do. He even has the same sleep habits. He is a smart ass too. Thor confirmed some things my dad told me before he died (and I confirmed Thor’s research). I was able to tell him some stories, which probably thrilled him.
The Pull of the Ancestors
I’m always amazed when the Ancestors step into people’s lives. I figured mine wanted as much to do with me as I did with them. Many were rather unsavory characters whom most people wouldn’t be excited to boast about. My medieval ancestors were Vikings and Normans (troublemakers) who went as high as dukes on one side and knights on the other. Their descendants were sadly nowhere near as glamorous by the time the 19th century rolled around. So, I pretty much decided that I had little to do with them. Even when Tyr called me into Heathenry, I was generic in my veneration of ancestors with the secret hope that maybe I got switched at birth. No such luck. Thor proves I’m out of the same fucking lines.
So, I’m feeling the pull of the ancestors as well. I’ll be going through all the old notes my parents passed onto me and see if it puts together the pieces for Thor. Maybe Thor will be able to tell his child where he came from and what kind of people were his relatives — the good and the bad stories — ugly warts and all. And maybe the kid will be interested in those of us who are still around.
Where Did I Come From?
It seems that we all have a need to understand where we come from, whether from royalty or paupers, criminals or heroes, sinners or saints. It helps us understand who we are and what influenced us genetically. It used to be that we believed it was DNA and how we grew up determined our behavior and traits, but epigenetic inheritance has kind of thrown a monkey wrench into it. We know that certain stresses on people can cause epigenetic marks on RNA. By learning about our ancestors’ past, we can understand how their experiences might impact us. Of course, this is a relatively new field with new studies all the time.
So, if our ancestors’ experience modified our genes, we’re not only a product of their genes but also their experiences. It helps us understand ourselves much better. While not all experiences are going to leave an impact on our genes, certain some do. In which case, we’re not just a product of millions of years of combining DNA but also millions of years of hominid experiences. It may explain weird things like phobias or body types.
We Are All Stories in the End
It’s interesting, because even though many of my relatives are now dead, their stories seem to fascinate the younger relatives. As The Doctor said, “We are all stories in the end. Just make it a good one, eh?” As humans, we need to tell stories and to understand where we came from. Part of the draw to our ancestors is by asking “where did I come from?” we’re trying to answer the question: “who am I?”
Long after my ashes are scattered, the younger generations will ask “who am I?” and “where did I come from?” The only thing left on this planet will be stories, if they’re left at all. Hopefully, I’ll be making it a good one.