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For this post, I would like to step inside my own opinions and beliefs. I feel there are many different ways of thinking about the importance of ancestry. Some say it isn’t at all important and some say it is very important. I believe there is a lot of power in connecting to one’s own ancestry. I am not referring to being a hereditary witch or about specific traditions of witchcraft being passed down from one generation to the next as being important. I am referring to genetic lineage. Of course, I don’t believe that one ONLY receives power from one’s own ancestry but that there is a lot of power in the connection through genetics and family history that we can draw upon.
I will use myself as an example. I am of Irish/German/English descent (Northern European). My nationality is American. My family has been in America for several generations. My family primarily lived on the East Coast of North America, but I grew up on the West Coast. All of these factors have a direct effect on me, how I think, my personal cultural experiences, how I perceive the world around me and yes it even has an effect on how I am drawn to practice witchcraft. Even the spirits who have been my guides since I was a small child were directly related to those contributing factors I have previously mentioned. A family has a way of passing down traditions and beliefs through old wives tales or ways of preparing meals and even how we celebrate holidays and how we view the world.
My parents told me lots of stories about my grandparents and other family members who have passed away, they told stories of ghost experiences. My parents put a lot of emphasis on dreams. The idea that spirit speaks to us through our dreams started when I was a child listening to family tales based on beliefs influences by spiritualism. My mother passed on the idea that we can grab a glimpse of the future through dreams, visions, or premonitions with stories about my Great Grandmother, Mildred. There was a lot of importance on listening to intuition and discussing other ideas such as oppression. Even the foods I am familiar with are related to those contributing factors.
Because of these traditions, ideas, and beliefs being passed down from one generation to the next, it creates core beliefs deep within us. When I was in Church, I recall the pastor saying that parents should teach their children about God when they are young because they will not turn from what they are taught as children when they are old. There is some truth to this statement in the fact that we learn core beliefs as children and it is very difficult to change those beliefs.
That is not to say that because I am of European descent I won’t find power in the beliefs or ways of other cultures. Being an eclectic witch, I draw from a blend of various backgrounds, cultures, pantheons, and traditions. However, for me, I am more rooted in the Celtic traditions. I feel drawn to two distinct lines of ancestry. One is my own European ancestry and the other is Native American ancestry that is not my own but the ancestry of the indigenous people of this land where I was born and lived. For me, it is compelling to honor both. I get a calling from Gods and Goddesses from various cultures depending on what is going on in my life and what the main influence is but my root stays primarily with the Celtic traditions. So, as it is said, I lean more toward my ancestry, although I find power from others. I don’t believe that there is a more powerful or less powerful tradition from any specific culture of witchcraft, the Occult, Paganism or whatever label you may choose. The power exists in how you connect to the tradition you honor.
So, as I believe there is an importance of ancestry, I don’t believe it is the “end all” or an “absolute must”. I simply believe more people connect more with their own ancestry than they do with others. However, I have seen some very powerful witches draw from the ancestry of outside cultures and totally connect with great power.
What it all comes down to is this, how important is ancestry to you? What culture, tradition or pantheon do you connect with the most? For me, ancestry is very important. I recommend that you at least research traditions from your own ancestry to learn from as you explore your craft and yourself. Learn about who you are and where you came from. Learn about how your ancestors lived and what their community may have been like. Learn why certain traditions, superstitions or beliefs are passed down in your family. Witchcraft has a lot to do with self-discovery and learning about your ancestry helps you do that.