Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Need to Connect - Ancestors

I recently came across a wonderful group of bloggers participating in something called the "Pagan Blog Project." The idea is that they send out prompt suggestions for each letter of the alphabet and ask bloggers to write about something in their magickal life that starts with the corresponding letter (each letter is used two weeks in a row; 26 letters, 52 weeks) and share that blog with the group. It seems the perfect way to motivate me to focus more on my spirituality and post regularly. It is also my hope this will push me to step outside my safe little comfort zone and take a few risks. Okay, explanations over. On to my first post. :)

My mom (right) with her older sister and younger brother.
Though I don't have children of my own, family has always been important. But it never occurred to me while growing up to ask questions about the people who came before. I knew I was part English and part Italian on my mother's side, which I thought explained the love of Italian food and my preference for tea (with cream) over coffee. I never even though to ask my Gram's maiden name. It wasn't until I found an old photo album that thoughts of great grandparents ever entered my mind. My mom told me the pictures were of her grandparents and their relatives. I suddenly felt this connection, this need to know all I could find about these people; my family. Starting out, I made a list of all the names and began to grill my mother for information. Then I asked Gram as well. Though it would take me years to figure out the right questions to ask. I will always regret that my maternal grandfather passed away before I could talk to him too. So many of our old photos are of the Terni-Diekmann line, his Italian-German roots, and many of them don't have names. The most prominent figure in his family was his mother, a strong person despite many losses, including her husband and younger sister.
My new obsession began in earnest in 2001 when I posted my first tree on Ancestry, pitiful though it was. I would spend the next 12 years digging through death records, census records, and marriage licenses to track from Texas, back to Missouri, Louisiana, then England, Germany, France and Austria, going back 5 generations so far. Suddenly I was no longer just a Texan. It was no longer just my immediate family. I have a history. I am a part of history. And a recent DNA test showed that future generations will lead me back to two main regions; Southern Europe (specifically Spain and Italy) and Scandinavia (specifically Norway and Sweden). The more I search, the more I want to know. Do I have an affinity for the Greek pantheon from my Southern European roots? Is my long line of strong female figures from my Scandinavian roots? What in my blood pushes me to love nature, to seek it as my spiritual choice? Do I have any wise women in my past? My Samhain rituals are so much richer for all the family I can now celebrate as mine.