I think to understand part of my relationship with my ancestors I need to explain some things about my family.
WE DO NOT TALK
Ok we do talk, but rarely is it anything of consequence. We chit chat, we avoid most things controversial or any deep conversation because we are volatile. It really doesn't take much to start a conversation that will end in screaming and crying and that's if we're lucky. It's always a fine balancing act.
Anyway, this impacts with my relationship to my ancestors in a few ways.
Initially it has caused a complete block for me, I could not reach back because there were members of my family poisoning the tree. On TC
, a forum I frequent, this issue had come up for other people too. After a few people talked it over something helpful came out of it, if your tree is unhealthy it needs healing, sometimes it means you need to cut out the infected parts so it doesn't spread. In a sense that's what I did, now these infected parts are not gone forever, more sealed until I can deal with them.
After I got over that stumbling block, I came to another. It is very hard to get information about relatives if the only people who you can ask have mixed feelings about the relative. Thankfully this problem has mostly vanished.
On the rare occasion where we're not fighting, personal issues have been put aside, we have progress. I have learned stories of my great aunts sordid past(A wild child making friends with Madams, having flings with men in uniform, and a child that doesn't know that her aunt is her mother). There was my great grandmother rowing across a large bay to have a night out(I'd love to get a picture of her since we apparently look alike). My grandmother who despite having a bastard husband and a willfully missing son, was always a lavish entertainer taking great joy in the happiness of life.
My other grandmother's much sadder tale of war in Poland, smuggling her husband out twice, heading off the Germans before they found her family's role in the polish underground. More recently it was discovered that many relatives met their end in auschwitz.
I seem to come from a long line of many strong women who I admire greatly.
I don't often tell stories of my relatives, they're very personal to me. The older ones(the greats if you will) I know so little about, I almost want to hoard that small amount of knowing. I do talk about my grandmothers on occaision though.
My polish grandmother is harder for me to connect to, though my work into Slavic paganism is helping with that. I suppose because she was to my knowledge very christian(During WW2 she knew the man who would become Pope JP2), I never felt she would approve of my practice. I don't recall her going to church often though, so maybe I don't know something?
My other grandmother is however much much closer to me, she always was. When she was still here, we would chat fairly regularly about crafting or cooking or just bantering. I never knew her as the great entertainer(due to some feud it had stopped when I was old enough to notice such things), but there was always that lively spark about her. To hell with what others think she would do what she wanted and enjoy life, there were hardships but it was almost as though she would enjoy herself out of spite. Then she died. It happened only a few days before my highschool dance, infact the funeral was going to be the following day. It wasn't an easy thing for me, there was a lot of emotion, not to mention general teen dance drama. I knew that I had to go though, this would be my tribute to her, to go out and have a hell of a time. Ok so it was an ok time.
These days I often catch myself noting things she'd like, or what she'd say. It doesn't feel like she's been gone over 8 years.
Then again, she's not gone, not to me. I feel as though that same stubbornness of hers is why I connect with her still, why I know what items she wants for her shrine. I think she likes to be honoured, remembered at times of revelry and joy. I certainly try to oblige her.
I do feel like she watches out for me, though sometimes it may just be to laugh when I make that obviously stupid mistake.
I'd like to reach further back with my ancestors, but I think that will come with time.