Updated: Dec 7, 2020
"Secret Life of Trees" by Elspeth McLean
About a month ago I asked the world of facebook what they felt when they heard the word ancestor. The majority of people who responded were white and their answers spoke to people who were not of their own lineage. Native American culture was mentioned, Yogic tradition keepers were mentioned, qualities such as wisdom were mentioned, Mulan was mentioned. I gathered from this that for most white people, at least for those who answered my question, ancestors are thought of as something other than them; something from another culture that is not whiteness or something so far removed that it could only be captured from looking outward. For those who did mention their ancestors, those mentioned were the ones who came to the US as immigrants within the last couple of hundred years.
I thought of that post after a conversation with a friend this morning that made me think deeply about how disconnected most white people are from their own indigenous lineage and I wondered if perhaps that is at the core of so many of our world's current problems...we all have ancestors who were tribal and indigenous; we're humans. If we the white people look back far enough, we can see our ancestors living in relationship with the land and subscribing to Pagan ways. When Rome came to Europe, they conquered tribe after tribe and with that came the washing out of the indigenous ways in favor of the Roman ways. Raped, pillaged, enslaved and controlled, our white ancestors learned that in order to stay alive they must acquiesce and assimilate to the culture of the oppressor. Generations passed and this pattern became deeply ingrained. The oppressed eventually became the oppressor. Generational trauma. The cycles of abuse. It was done to us, we did it to the indigenous people in the lands we invaded and we continue to uphold the energy of the oppressor today. As a whole, our capitalist, patriarchal way of living rapes, pillages and abuses the Earth and Her people in the pursuit of power everyday.
What we are seeing playing out in our world won't shift until enough white people get curious about the ancestral trauma we hold within our DNA, until we get curious about our humanity and the parts of us that are deeply connected to the Earth we will continue to do damage.
How do you do this?
Reclaim your roots. Find out who your ancestors were; where did you come from? What spiritual practices did your ancestors take part in? What foods and herbs were sacred to them? What gods and goddesses did they worship? What songs did they sing? How did they celebrate the changing seasons?
It's time to get back to our roots and stop upholding the structures that keep so many oppressed. Get curious; who were your ancestors before they became the colonizers and the colonized; who were they when they were still living in connection with the Earth?