A Faerie Haven: Living in Myth, Being Magic

For some people, magic isn't something they do, it is what they are. This blog focuses less on theory and more on lyrical mysticism, applied spellcrafting, experiential awareness of Divinity, and related topics. A haven for you who long to become your myth and live your poem. Faerie tales do come true.

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DNA and Ancestral Ritual

Science and magic meet. I won't choose between mysticism and science. They can feed each other.

My ancestors are spiritually important to me. So I'm combining science and spirit in a deeply personal way: I ordered an AncestryDNA test kit

A mystic, I travel through the blood in my veins, back through time, to discover the ancient ways my family once practiced. Today, the logical rational side of me does the same by spitting into a vial. This test tube becomes a chalice that arrived by mail, enclosed in plastic. Two supposedly disparate halves of me come together to feed my spirit. 

I mailed my saliva, part of my sacred body, to scientists, who will analyze it to reveal my ethnic background. They'll go back through many generations, the same way my meditations have. Their work will expand my otherworldly travels. 

 The lab analysis will determine where my ancestors hail from, based on a science my layperson's mind can't understand, no matter how much experts explain it.

Many scientists would be equally puzzled by my ability to uncover historical information by meditating on my blood. I have my expertise, they have theirs. I get to draw on both.

A relationship with my ancestors, in ritual and daily life, is pivotal to me. They lovingly support me. And I tend them. Trance journeys give me a strong intuitive sense of my ancestors. The DNA results can help me know whether my intuitions are correct.

It would be fine to trust my intuition without the DNA results. (Check out my blog about that: Mysticism and Non-Academic Scholarship.) But corroboration is useful. 

Science can support my spirituality in other ways, too.

For one, I come from a European shamanic family tradition. Some of my family history has been lost. I'm hoping DNA will fill in gaps.

For example, I might see how major societal events impacted my family's past generations to shape the family's spirituality. That familial story could provide context to better understand my own path. 

Luck allowed me to gather a staggering amount of anecdotal evidence about my ancestors. Information from relatives, and from strangers I don't know but who have my last name, and from other sources, provided enormously convincing material, when looked at as a whole. I believe anecdotal evidence is part of folk culture and one source of the old wise ways. This fecund anecdotal evidence can be augmented with DNA science. 

For example, the DNA test might help me gather more anecdotal evidence, if it leads to relatives I hadn't learned about previously. They might know family history I don't. 

DNA results could also be a jumping off point for more ancestral rituals. I love the wisdom of ancient cultures, and appreciate reenactment whether based in textbooks' history or intuited history. I revere native and ancestral spiritual practices. These leanings feed my desire for DNA info about my ancestral roots.

I can best explain another reason for wanting a test by telling you a personal story.

A friend of mine was part of a DNA study. Before continuing the story, let me be clear: I'm not part of any study. My test kit is from AncestryDNA. They're not experimenting on me, and their tests results do not show an ancestral timeline such as you'll read about in my friend's tale. I checked out some companies, and AncestryDNA seems to give the most comprehensive results. If you're interested, their kit is also easy to use. 

Back to my story:  

My friend phoned me one day, and exclaimed rapturously, "I got the DNA results. My family originated in Egypt!"

Then she added, "My later ancestors migrated to Greece. Guess where else my ancestors migrated to?"

I responded, "Mongolia?"

There was a long pause. Then she said, in a stunned voice, "That's right! How did you know?"

"It was obvious. Your immense love for Egyptian religions motivated you to become an Egyptian scholar, devoted to reviving ancient Egyptian spiritual practices, which became part of your personal devotions. Later, you seriously worked with Greek Gods. Then, you channeled material that had no geographical basis, as far you knew, but later found out that the material resonated with documented Mongolian traditions."

I continued, "Your family only told you about your Caucasian Irish lineage. But your earlier ancestors influenced your mystical life. Your spiritual quest this lifetime follows the migration of your ancestors, step by step!"

 The point of my story: I want to know if my DNA matches my various spiritual leanings.

 There can be valid reasons we're drawn spiritually to cultures we were not raised in. Our DNA might be one of those reasons. I don't hold with the idea that you should only use the spiritual tools of your obvious ancestors. 

Mind you, I am not okaying co-option. I'm saying legitimate cross cultural shamanism exists. 

That legitimacy is hard to come by. It would take a whole book to explain how to pull it off ethically and otherwise, so I won't get into it here, except to say:

 By "cross-cultural shamanism," I don't mean "core shamanism," AKA the idea that shamanism is primarily the same in all cultures. I disagree with the modern standardization of shamanism.

My experience is that shamans individualize according to cultural differences, and way past that, individualizing family by family and person by person.

 My personal definition of legitimate cross-cultural shamanism is an ethical, thoughtful blend of earth based mysticism as it manifests in various cultures. 

Moving on:

I am a little worried. With adventure, comes fear of the unknown: am I going to like the DNA test results? 

 But mostly I'm excited about the DNA adventure I am embarking on.

And I feel gratitude for science and magic.

When the DNA results arrive, I'll post them here, and share how it impacts my mystical journey.

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Francesca De Grandis aka Outlaw Bunny is the bestselling author of "Be a Goddess!" Founder of The Third Road, a Faerie Shamanism tradition that she teaches through both text and oral tradition, De Grandis says, "I'm a trickster working for benevolent chaos Gods, so I don't play mean tricks." Bard, painter, mystical innovator, and busy elf who works part-time for Santa Claus, she blogs here and on her own sites, www.stardrenched.com and www.outlawbunny.com


  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham Wednesday, 13 May 2015

    Great post - I'm doing something similar right now with my great grandmas hanging out waiting for my attention.

  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis Wednesday, 13 May 2015

    Lizann, thank you so much! I'd love to know how it goes with your great-grandmothers, please let me know.

  • Wendy WIlson
    Wendy WIlson Wednesday, 13 May 2015

    I love this stuff. I had both the Ancestry and the 23-and-me tests done. 23-and-me informs me that I am 2.7 percent Neanderthal. Fascinating

  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis Wednesday, 13 May 2015

    Wendy, thanks for telling me that, wow, what a trip!

    I just received my results just a few minutes ago. I'm sitting here in shock, because they're so different from what my family told me. I'm not going to post them yet, though, in case i have misunderstood them. I want to spend a little more time looking over the results, to make sure I understand them. Of the two companies, which did you prefer?

  • Wendy WIlson
    Wendy WIlson Wednesday, 13 May 2015

    I thought 23-and-me was more detailed, but I had it done while they were still doing disease and other markers. They will still tell you stuff like eye color and ear wax.

  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis Wednesday, 13 May 2015

    Wendy, very interesting, thank you so much. In terms of finding out the ethnicity of your ancestors, did you think one company was more accurate or comprehensive than the other?

  • Wendy WIlson
    Wendy WIlson Thursday, 14 May 2015

    Well, they define ethnicity a little differently, so it's hard to compare. My ancestry includes both Welsh and Irish ancestry, which Ancestry lumps together. 23andme lumps those together with British, so 23andme is less precise on that side, but they do give you haplogroups and of course, Neanderthal ancestry. If you are a woman and you can convince a male relative to join, you can get both sides of your haplogroups analyzed. Also, 23andme sends you names of relatives, if they allow it. I've contacted an Irish 3rd cousin, for example.

  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis Thursday, 14 May 2015

    Wendy, cool. AncestryDNA also gives you the name of potential relatives. From your description, it sounds like both companies have their advantages. Thank you. Have a wonderful day!

  • Kin Roberts
    Kin Roberts Saturday, 16 May 2015

    I just received my DNA kit from Ancestry. Looking forward to the results.

  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis Saturday, 16 May 2015

    Kin, how cool! I received my results from the test a few days ago. It's blowing my mind. Let me know how it goes for you, this is such a fascinating adventure for me.

  • Arwen Lynch
    Arwen Lynch Sunday, 17 May 2015

    I did mine and it was as I expected. European to the very core with that 5% nod to the Sub-Saharan wanderers. :D

  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis Sunday, 17 May 2015

    Arwen, was it an interesting experience to have what you had always been told confirmed? My dad's side of the family turns out to be totally different from what he had told us. I'm pretty shocked. Mind you, I do know he is my biological dad, bc we look alike. But I want to know the true story of his life, the true story of my ancestors.

  • Arwen Lynch
    Arwen Lynch Sunday, 17 May 2015

    Honestly I was a bit bummed. :D My husband had a more interesting mix (and surprising to find out he has a significant amount of Native American DNA.)

  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis Sunday, 17 May 2015

    Arwen, I can see how that would be a bummer. But you're such a gorgeous woman, your ancestors must've been beautiful too.

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