Spiralled Edges – Soul Ancestors and Pagan Practices
I’ve been thinking a lot recently about ancestors and past-life memories, and how that may be influencing my Pagan practise in this current life.
Humans place a great value on their cultural group. And well we should! This is our family, our home, our traditions, our rituals and celebrations. Of course we are going to get peeved when someone comes along and treats it all as a joke or picks up the pretty bits to wear like a necklace then tosses it aside when the next shiny comes along.
There is a lot of awareness in recent years of the ways in which people of European descent have wrongly appropriated the practices and beliefs of other cultures. Absolutely, this is something that needs to be addressed, and claiming to be a part of another culture when you have been neither reared nor adopted into that culture is always wrong.
What various Gods have told me a number of times, in different ways, is that They don’t just see our current life. They see our ancestral life as well, ancestors of the blood, through birth or adoption, and also of the ancestors of the soul. It may be that we find ourselves called to honour a Deity from a culture we have no blood connection because of this Soul Ancestry.
Through my own work, I have come to understand that Deities see our Soul ancestry (our past-lives) as well as our blood ancestry. In working with Deity I have on several occasions been tapped on the shoulder by a Deity outside of the Celtic pantheon. Each time the encounter has had to be dealt with in a way that both honoured and respected the Deity, and at the same time showed sensitivity and awareness of the human culture associated with that Deity, both in antiquity and today.
People though, people can only see your current life and blood ancestry line. This is the one we are meant to be focusing on in this life time. (They’re called past lives for a reason, they’re part of our past!)
In this lifetime, I am a Western European mutt born to two white parents, who in turn had two white parents, who each had two white parents, who each had…In other words, I claim not even the tiniest drop of African tribal, Afro-Caribbean, Indian (subcontinent India), ancient Mesopotamian, Anatolian, Persian, Russian, or pre-Inca South American blood. But Deities and spirits from each of these groupings have chosen to speak to me or through me to another person. Some have worked through or with me, not because I was expected to take up the mantle of that culture but because the knowledge had some bearing on my current life experience. Others have chosen to speak or work through me when I’ve been doing healing work for another person that they have claimed. They speak through me, or at least give me the message and I pass it on. Once I pass on the message, I don’t hear from that Deity again. That’s right – They used me as an answering service!
Others have come round when I am doing past-life healing work for myself. Right now I am working my way through some issues around food and diet that appear to be related to a past-life experience in ancient Peru and an even more ancient past-life experience in ancient Anatolia. I have Soul Ancestry connections to both times and places. I am not doing this work as someone who has a spurious claim to an ancient Chavin or Moche heritage, or an ancient Anatolian heritage though. I’m doing it as a Western European white woman who has a lot to learn.
Part of me questions why Western Europeans are so eager to claim a Soul Ancestry connection as part of their heritage today. I think it has to do with the ways Europeans have scattered themselves across the globe over the past 600 years.
In my own family line, I can trace my family back into 8 different countries. They were Puritans, Lutherans, and Huguenots, and at least one German multi-great grandfather trying to avoid being drafted to fight in a war, who travelled across the Atlantic to the New World between the 1500s and the 1800s. Where is my connection to a land? If I were to return to the land of my ancestors where would I go? On the other hand, at least all of my family lines can be traced back to the same continent. Some have branches that split into 2 or 3 or more different continents.
Ironically, my youngest son, born in England, tells people that he is half-American while I tell people I am part this, part that, a drop of the other.
What we don’t have, with our ancestral lines stretching back into half a dozen or more countries around the world, is that sense of connection to a people, to a community, to a land stretching back hundreds of generations that indigenous people can have. I think that some grow jealous of that connection and are trying to claim part of it for themselves.
As part of my training in shamanic healing methods I learned about Soul Loss, and Soul Retrieval, and Soul Stealing. The first two are fairly self-explanatory. The third can happen when someone deliberately or inadvertently steals a part of our soul from us, but also when we deliberately or inadvertently steal a part of someone else’s soul from them. This is what we are doing when we try to claim someone else’s culture as our own without benefit of having been born or adopted into that culture.
Like the soul piece taken from another, we can’t use it. It gives us no extra self-power. It gives us no real connection to the Earth.
I think as well, that many people have this idea that Europe has no ancient noble, indigenous culture. They are trying to validate and justify their own Pagan (or other) beliefs and instead of looking inwards to their own cultural history, try to give validity to their beliefs by assuming the cultural history of a “real” indigenous group. You see this today with people making tourist jaunts into South America in order to take part in plant healer ceremonies, and in people trying to claim they are Native American. 60 years ago, these same people would have been traipsing over to India and Nepal to live in an Ashram.
Always they look outside of themselves, outside of their culture, outside of their ancestry trying to find something that is right in front of their eyes and inside themselves.
Just because you think you were a Cherokee princess in a previous life, that doesn’t mean you get to claim to be a Cherokee in this lifetime. Not even if First Woman speaks in your ear. Not unless you have also been raised in the Cherokee culture in this lifetime or have been formally adopted into a family and are embracing the entire culture as your own. This does not mean that First Woman hasn’t spoken to you, and it does not mean that you cannot or should not do things in your personal practice to honour Her. Just don’t claim to be something you’re not at the same time.
Remember these words from Valiente’s Charge of the Goddess – If that which you seek to find you seek not within, you will never find it without.
What Pagan spiritual practices can you find within your own blood ancestry lines?