Today I received a package in the mail. Not expecting any deliveries, I glanced at the return address, it simply said, from your Ancestors.
Curious as to what it might contain, and more so, who sent it, I placed the box on my table, and studied it for some time. Wood carved, and hand worn, as if it had passed through many hands, over many years. I gently rubbed the skull carved upon its surface with my hands, closing my eyes to sense another place and time, where another may also have stood before this box, wondering of the mysteries it held. With anticipation and a little trepidation, we all know the story of Pandora after all, I held my breath, and I opened the box.
Inside I found letters, some old and worn, some with folds close to tearing, a sign that they were read over and over again… others new on pretty paper with childlike print and hearts over the “I”s. I grinned at that, for I did the same, once upon a time. Attached to each letter, was a photo, an ancestor from this and many lives past. Curiouser.. and curiouser.. I felt like I was invading someone’s privacy, holding intimate messages meant only for the owner’s eyes… until I read the first one… it said… Dear Kayla….
Shocked, as this letter was one of the more ancient in the box, I quickly opened a few more, and saw that they too were addressed to me!
I began to read the first one that came into my possession… it was from one of my Grandfathers in Time, his name was “Leadership”, and he was from the ancient lands of “No Return”. Within the first sentence I knew there was wisdom to be found within his words. I knew I wanted to invite this ancestor into my circle, with reverence and protection. Casting sacred space, I offered him tea, and time together.
As I read his story, (found in the video below) I felt a stirring within my heart. For you see, I knew his story well. I had seen it within my own family, and within myself, if I were to be honest. I decided to write him a response.
Dear Grandfather Leadership,
I feel for your experience. Being taken from your home, and then told that your heritage was not worthy, and your people so gravely disrespected is heartbreaking. Made to succumb to that environment, makes it worse. But I do understand the struggles you faced. Having a mixed background, my dominant genes come through in my appearance from my ancestors of both the Caribbean and the far East. I was mocked for my skin colour, and the most evident aspect of my heritage, India, was ridiculed. For years, I embraced my heritage with my family, learning my path from my Grandfather and Mama, and while I did not hide my path, I was painfully shy and withdrawn, attempting to hide the most impossible thing to hide… my skin colour.
As the years passed, I witnessed a revival of the teachings of India, Tibet, Nepal and China in the West, with respect to spiritual practices, cuisine and healing modalities. Yet, they still ridiculed and belittled the people who gave birth to these teachings… these gifts. I then made it my goal to embrace publicly these aspects of my heritage through social media, helping to lead by example, to show the truth behind the spiritual paths being dissected and bastardized in fitness clubs and spas. While it still prevails, for the most part, it has improved over the past several years… so much so that I now sit back, and quietly share my path and experiences with others of both the far East and my home in the West. I have also realized that many of my Western friends have much to teach me as well…. The paths of the Far East are so deep and varied, it has been a wonderful experience.
But your message made me realize that for a totally different reason, I was shunning the entire patriarchal side of my heritage. While there is Irish on my maternal side, and I love and wish to embrace it, there is a very recent Scottish link on my paternal side. For two reasons, I have kept my distance from these aspects of my lineage.
One: For serious reasons, I cut ties with my ‘father’, I use quotes, because I believe that title is earned, not assigned. And he never earned it. By cutting ties with him, I cut myself off from the ancestors of that lineage. I never invite them to my sacred table during my Ancestral Feast Season in September and October. I never call upon them to add to the beautiful mosaic of my spiritual and healing existence. And for this, I am ashamed. While I never need to invite him, nor plan to ever forgive his transgressions, he is one man, and does not speak for those who came before him… although he may have to answer to them in time!
The Second Reason: I had made a few attempts to embraced the Maternal Irish aspect of my heritage when I first entered the Toronto pagan community. As well as the call to the Druidic path, which does influence my daily/nightly rites. But the pagan community at the time (fifteen years ago) were predominantly Caucasian, and either from the British Isles or of European heritage. As a result, I often got strange looks, and was made to feel that I had no right to be there, or to call upon ‘their’ Gods and Goddesses. It was exhausting having to explain my lineage every time. And it should not have been necessary. For they called upon Ganesh, Lakshmi, Isis and more. In addition, all the Pagan events were Euro-centric, leaving out the larger pagan ancestry of the rest of the world, and all the beauty and teachings they offer. Tired of the hypocrisy, I retreated once more to a solitary practice.
It is time to let both of these anchors go. The vulnerability you showed in sharing your story has helped me face my shadows with respect to my heritage. I now feel safe to take the first steps out of these aspects of my Shadows and embrace my heritage in its totality. And I have already taken measures to do this.
This summer I will begin my studies with the Plant Spirit Medicines of my land of residence, and heritage. I will embrace and call upon the ancestors of the Isles, and allow the Spiritual Ancestors (Deities) who have been whispering in my ear, to come forth into my circle.
I welcome as well my spiritual ancestors (deities) of the Isles.
To stand with me and our sister Green Tara.
May these sisters stand with me together.
I welcome their energies, guidance, protection and love.
Namaste, and Blessed Be!
Your granddaughter, Kayla Alyssa