Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Finding my ancestors, finding myself

Who are my ancestors? This is a question I have struggled with on and off for such a long time, and in all honesty I suspect it will be one that I will continue to struggle with for years to come, though recently through ADF things have gotten significantly better.

I grew up in a small town in Oregon with my mother and father and one sister, and that’s it. No aunts or uncles, no cousins, no grandparents to speak of. See my parents were originally from Wisconsin and that is where my extended family still lived. What’s more, my parents did nothing to gap the distance other then the occasional phone call on a holiday. As a child I never thought to question it. As a young adult I began to feel the absence, and now that I am beginning my mid life I think I understand the reasons behind it. My father did not have a good relationship with his father. I think my father thought to protect my sister and I by keeping a distance between his children and his father. Nor do I think my father was close to his siblings. Thus I can count the number of times I have met my aunt and uncle and cousins on one hand. Nor does my father speak of his childhood much and not at all of his extended family. As for my mother’s side, well I suspect much of the same, though she has told me a few more stories then my father. Still I have no faces to put to the stories, nor much of a context for them. For many years I have pondered who my family line is, how I got this last name. Not much in the way of answers has been forth coming. Thus when it comes to honoring the ancestors of my blood, I always feel a disconnect. I feel at a loss compared to the connection my wife seems to have. I do honor them though, the best way I can. Since becoming a druid I have in fact called on one blood ancestor for help with my schooling. Great Grandpa McFarland. I am told he was a pharmacist on my mother’s side of the family. I knew I was going to have trouble understanding Chemistry. I feel that he did help me, and I finished the class with an A…barely, but still an A.

Since joining ADF my definition of ancestor has grown. Now I have other ancestors to honor. Ancestors whom I actually know and can call upon, tell stories about and honor. Hart-kin. Those whom we love but may not be blood. Hearth-kin, those to whom I share a spiritual path and connection. These two things have really helped me get a better sense of where I come from, who I am, my place in this world, and what I am doing here. I honor my hearth-kin and have felt them answer. Most my heart-kin are still living, but one in particular has died, and have honored him ever Samhain ever since. I have been honoring my heath-kin as well. This past Samhain, though I never met him, I publicly honored Boneawits. I have read one of his books, and I carry forward his teachings and beliefs by being a member of ADF.

Thus has ADF helped me find a better more fulfilling relationship with my ancestors.


  1. Thanks for this wonderful post. I too feel very disconnected from my Ancestors many days. Except for some distant cousins, most of my family of origin has passed away and my husband isn't at all close (for very good reasons) with his. We're a similar little nuclear family island, and must also build our "family" from beloved friends.

  2. Your father's story is so like my father's story, it's uncanny. I too have trouble connecting to ancestors to call by name, though I feel certain that someone back in my line somewhere is looking out for me. I like the term "hearth-kin," though. I always call on ancestors of heart and spirit, and I think your term is a good one.

    Incidentally, I'm a McFarland. We're kin of a sort. :)