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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Fathers' Day

My daddy died when I was 26. 

At the time, I thought I was so grown up, but now that I am in my mid-60s (how the hell did that happen) I realize how very young I was when he passed. Not like some of my friends who lost parents in their teens, not like the kids I babysat for whose dad died of cancer when they were barely out of nappies, but I was still young. My daddy never knew me as an adult.

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Honoring the Ancestors: It's a Minoan Thing

Here's a little something I wrote in honor of the Ancestors:

Step into the light
Wearing your ancestors
Like a cloak
Like a crown
Bearing their power
Into the future
Generations of love
Stand behind you
Upholding you
Hear their voices
Urging you on
Feel their wisdom
Guiding your thoughts
Their hands
Holding yours
Never fear
You are not alone

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

Winter solstice this year falls upon the 21st of December. The still point of the year, it has been marked and honoured around the world for thousands of years. In Britain and Ireland, we have several monuments dating to the neolithic period which are aligned to the winter solstice, either its sunrise or sunset.  Newgrange, or Sí an Bhrú as it is more correctly called, in Co. Meath, Ireland is a neolithic passage grave, and was built an astonishing 5000 years ago around 3200 BCE. It is aligned to the winter solstice sunrise, and each year a beam of light enters the passage and illuminates the chamber within. The symbolism of this simple act is astonishing, speaking to us today in much the same way as it must have so long ago. To bring light to the darkness, to bring life to death at the darkest time of the year- to find renewal once again.

Try this exercise to pull in the magic of this time. Outside just before the dawn is ideal but otherwise  you can do this indoors. Prepare a candle, unlit before you, and take some time to sit in stillness and darkness. Breathe deep and slow, let your body relax and sink into the earth. Be held by the rock and soil of the land that rests beneath you where ever you are- be it outside or in your home. Feel held by the land. Take some more breaths and send your inner vision deep into your heart… what do you find there? Sit with all you find within yourself, breathing slow and letting all sorrow or stress fall into the earth. Feel into the darkness for a while, surrendering all that needs to go. When you are ready, and you feel you have given it the time you need, imagine in this darkness, far ahead, that the sun is rising. Slowly it pours sunlight across the land before you, its rays touch your heart, bringing life and light back, bringing healing. Fill your heart with light and light the candle before you. Spend some breaths meditating on the light and all it brings.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

I'm always alert to names that look or sound like my name. I have an unusual name that many people find hard to spell, pronounce, or guess the gender. If I didn't answer to Eric Lao, Erica Lane, or Erwin Laley I'd miss my turn at the dr.'s office sometimes. So my immediate reaction on seeing the name Erinle scroll through my Twitter feed was, "Me?"

Not me, of course. But perhaps someone some of my ancestors may have known. It's been almost a year since I took a DNA test and discovered my African ancestors. I don't plan to actually follow any African religion, since I have plenty with my own religion, but I do want to learn about my ancestors' ways. I can only guess which traditions my ancestors may have followed, but I can take a more specific guess than I could have before the days when a DNA test can tell me the names of the countries my ancestors came from. One of those countries is Nigeria.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Thoughts About My Ancestor Mystery

I've been cogitating about my previous post, Solving an Ancestor Mystery with DNA, and what the new information means to me. Firstly let me state that the Cherokee Freedmen were culturally Cherokee regardless of DNA, so when I talk about the revelation that my supposed Cherokee ancestor was "really" African, I'm not implying that anyone else's Freedmen ancestors were not "real" tribespeople. I'm only talking about me, and my personal ancestors.

There must have been a good reason why my dad's family were not living in a Cherokee tribal community at the time of the earliest living memories to which I was exposed growing up, and the stories I've previously heard about why that was are now suspect. It seems likely that my Freedmen ancestors left because they could, because they were freed. My dad's early spiritual teachings to me were Native American in character, not African, referencing the corn spirit and other spirits native to this continent. His teachings set me on an animist spiritual path in harmony with the land spirits, which I continue as an Asatruar. He never specifically stated what tradition he was, though.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Erin Lale
    Erin Lale says #
    Oh, cool! Does Finland have a tradition about that?
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    When you mentioned that you call your drum Grandmother Elk I immediately thought of Finland.

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Solving an Ancestor Mystery with DNA

Asatru is one of the paths that includes ancestors among the beings we honor. That doesn't always have to be one's own personal literal biological ancestors, as explored in a prior post. However, many heathens go in for genealogy, and for those who have done so and hit a wall, or for adoptees and others who don't know anything about their ancestors, the corner where modern science and capitalism meet has provided home DNA tests.

My brother has extensively traced our family genealogy and uncovered some interesting things, but there was one mystery the paperwork could not answer for us. We had been told that we were part Cherokee. The summer after I graduated from college, which was about a year after my father died, I went looking for my Cherokee roots and drove across the country, all the way from California to the Qualla Boundary reservation in North Carolina. I utterly failed to connect to the land spirits, the people, or even the artifacts in the museum. I went camping nearby in the Great Smoky Mountains and did not connect to the land there either. I tried looking for records, and whether I approached via writing or in person, I hit a wall of silence everywhere I went. I tried to connect spiritually, and decided that was not the path for me. I had already been following a heathen path at that point, but that was about when I found a local California Asatru organization, and when I went there I felt right at home, welcome and connected, so I was affirmed on my path. But the unsolved mystery of the elusive Cherokee ancestors stayed in the back of my mind.

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We have all had times where the challenges that life brings to us feel overwhelming. For the most part, hopefully, these are brief times of illness or misfortune, but it is a fact that each of us will have to come to terms less often with times of real challenge and even with death. As we journey through our lives, we seldom find these things occur at convenient moments, when we feel strong and equipped to endure. At such times we realise that all our lives are constantly navigated through realms of unpredictability and the chaos of a multitude of lives and circumstances co-existing and intersecting with our own. How much power we have over our fate is often woefully small. Yet there is to be found, even at such times, a wellspring of resources within us and around us, if not to cure, then certainly to provide a balm for our distress.  

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