Ancestry Matters

Delores as Family Tree

Delores as Family Tree

I was secretly ashamed of my ancestors. I had no idea who they were. Honor your elders? Respect the dead? What was there to respect?

Lineage is powerful and bodily. One might say “ancestry matters.” It’s who we are. Native Americans like Hunter Bear say ancestors, “dance from within the very essence of our own being.” The Maori in New Zealand claim ancestral energy as a fountain, a force supporting life. Mexican Dios de los Muertos altars and festivities foster grateful relationship with the deceased. African and Asian wisdom traditions rely on ancestral guidance.

Having restored connection to my ancestors, I can say that remembering my people affects prosperity, security, and community.

Masankho Banda and I began to make startling discoveries while dancing on behalf of each other’s ancestors. We witnessed disruptions in each other’s lineage and found ways to honor and repair relations with the past. Once, Masankho listened to my female ancestor who released me from “working on healing” the past. Oddly, the next thing I knew, my Mom’s partner, George, began to unravel her genealogy. We knew so little about them that it was a family joke. Astoundingly, George uncovered stories of pioneers, mayors, inmates, elites, and folks who had been “committed”. Then, he took Mom to visit every gravesite in North America. Vicariously, connection and pride grew in me. I was part of a tree that includes Wentworths, a name traced to the Magna Carta. I stem from Lutheran “Children of the Danube” immigrants.  The National Genome project confirms that my maternal DNA connects me to Ashkenazi Jews. In 2007 I traveled with Masankho back to his village in Malawi, the region of our first ancestors.

What is your family tree? Does it matter? Ra Ifagmewi Babalawo says Yes; they are “Hidden Hands, Healing Spirits.” How do we employ them? Tell their stories, sing their songs, dance with them, and give them a place of honor. Masankho and I will lead a special Untensive to do just that using the tools of InterPlay.

Honor your ancestors and the whole earth will be glad.

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