Friday, January 17, 2014

[Pagan Blog Project 2014] B is for Blood-Ancestry

Even before I narrowed my religion down to Gaelic Polytheism, I still was very interested in Celtic polytheism as a whole while eclectic. One of the first things I read was about honoring the Gods, Spirits, and Ancestors. Coming into Gaelic Polytheism, that three is called The Sacred Three (or Na TrĂ­ Naomh in Gaeilge) by Gaol Naofa: Gods, Spirits, and Ancestors.

As someone who is not close to my blood family, this poses an interesting problem... (tw under the cut: talks of abuse.)

First off, let me admit that what originally brought my interest to Irish mythology was that my dad's surname is Irish therefore my bloodline--at least in part--is from Ireland. Also truth be told, going with my mom's side of the family may have been easier since her grandparents were recent immigrants from Italy while my dad's family is several generations USAian. But when I met Lugh, the reasons for coming to the Irish spirituality was irrelevant. I wanted to stay for Him.

Secondly, I am not close to my extended family. I never have been. My mom is part of a large family of six sisters (including herself) and one brother. That's seven total. However, I can name my uncle and one of my aunts...the rest are a blur in my mind. I never really saw them growing up, nor did we ever go to family reunions once I was in elementary school. My mom was distant from her mother for personal reasons, so I never knew my grandma on that side of the family. All in all, it was a lot of family that I have no connections to. 

My dad's family is similar, though his is smaller. He had two older brothers. But, because of the 4+ age gaps, my dad wasn't that close with his brothers. We did end up seeing my grandma a lot (his mom), but I wouldn't say I'm that close to her. I just feel cold around her. 

That is what has been the case for years and years. I have had aunts add me on Facebook or cousins talk to me, and I have always be perplexed. I've been around for ages. Why did you suddenly think to talk to me? Then, they disappear again. Oh well.

For my nuclear family, things have escalated to the point that I have had to cut people out of my lives. Around the time of middle school, my older brother's sibling teasing turned into verbal and emotional abuse. That continued through middle and high school. He slowly became more and more violent as he could get away with it more and more. He never directly hit me, but he was reaching that point the year after I graduated high school and I ended up having to move out of the house for my own safety. (It's a whole debacle as to why I had to move and he didn't.) My therapist suggested that I got PTSD from the years and years of abuse from him, and I agree. I also contribute his abuse to my social anxiety. Therefore, I have cut him out of my life. I didn't go home for the holidays last winter because he would be around. I have made it a point to not talk to him nor see him best I can.

Even more recently, my mother has earned the same treatment. With my mental health, she constantly berates my progress while simultaneously not understanding why I can't "just get better." While seeing her has always been stressful, I have finally reached the limit where I know I need to put myself first. I warned her months ago, but with the recent outburst showing she hasn't learned, I told her that I wouldn't be speaking to her again. At least until I can recover to the point where she won't trigger me (which may be years if not decades.)

Thus, this leaves two people of blood relation: my younger brother and dad. 

All that backstory brings me to this: my blood-ancestry is none existent. To learn about my heritage, I would have to talk to people I don't know anything about and I really don't want. However, I still want to honor ancestors and family.

This is where it gets tricky. When I think of ancestors, I take a suggestion my friend Rai gave me, which was to think about the people who preserved the traditions I'm reading about. To thank the countless and nameless people who continued oral traditions, continued customs after Ireland was converted to Christianity, to thank the people who came before me to give me the knowledge and experiences I have now. That's who I thank, though I don't know if any of them are related by blood.

As for family, I still have people who I consider family. I have two great friends, one who feels like a big sister to me and another who is almost like a mom or an aunt (can someone "feel" like an aunt...? 'cause she does to me.)  I wrestled with this question almost two years ago with the idea of "home", and that I'm not sure if I have a place that feels like "home." Not a concrete place, anyway. So I made a jar that I call "Home" filled with belongings of those I consider family, since that is what home is to me: a place with family. The most recent addition is that of my boyfriend, who I hope someday will be my husband.

In short: I don't have blood ancestry that I pay mind to for various personal reasons. But, I do have people I thank. I thank the people who came before me, who laid out ground work, and would carried out traditions. 

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