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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To Find My Ancestors

One Pagan's DNA Research

My ancestors are important to my shamanic path. My previous post discusses that and why taking an AncestryDNA test is part of that path for me. 

Today's post discusses my feelings as I waited for the test results, my reactions to the results, and the adventure it put me on as a Pagan. 

An AncestryDNA test predicts ethnicity. Waiting for test results, I wondered if I'd like them. I felt excitement and a bit of trepidation.

I was empowered thinking about the benefits my friends' experienced. One friend learned which regions in Africa her ancestors hailed from. Prior to that, she did not know where in Africa she was from. Another friend uncovered secrets her family had hidden. This freed her from decades of lies.  

My excitement was not followed by a letdown or disappointment when I received test results. But they were not what I expected.

Minutes after learning my ancestral DNA, I wrote a friend, "I'm sitting here in shock. Dad's people are not the ethnicity he told me."

I won't post the DNA results of my father's family here. They're so complicated they'd take pages to explain, and you and I would never actually get to my immediate story. (I've spent hours researching the implications of these DNA results, trying to understand them.)

Suffice to say, as a child, I was told my father's English and possibly Native American.

My mom was Italian. When my siblings or I were asked what we are, we answered, "Italian," never "English." I did not identify with English. Apparently, there was good reason. 

There is not a drop of English blood in me. In fact, my DNA is light years from anything possibly British. Can you imagine my surprise? 

Mind you, I know Dad is my biological father, because we look a lot alike. But I want to know the true story of his life, the true story of my ancestors. 

Looking into my DNA is a metaphysical practice for me. But quests into otherworldly realms lead us in directions we hadn't intended. For example, perhaps someone does rituals to gain monetary wealth, but the rituals open a gate to her fears and angers that require a year of  vigorous inner transformative work, and then that internal change finally leads to financial bounty.

So it was with my DNA test results. As explained in the previous blog, I'd expected doors to open about my ancestors, so that I better understood my own spiritual journey.

Instead, a door opened to an enormous puzzle that benefited and delighted me in unexpected ways.  Yes, I am better understanding my spiritual journey and my ancestors, but it is by questing into a Mystery. 

A sacred Mystery might never be solved in every last detail. Surrendering to the Mystery and exploring it is what bears fruit: Each detail I gain about my ancestors holds a juicy cosmos.

Here's one cosmos: 

A sense of connection to the whole universe has been pivotal to my very essence, for a long time. Connectivity has been core to the mystic beauty that enchants me. A sense of union with all things has long fueled my personal magic.  

I've not just intellectually known that all humankind is one people. On a cellular level, I'd experienced universal kinship on a regular basis, both during ritual and in my normal daily life—all people are "my" people.

Despite the profound, gut-level connection I've long felt with all of humanity, there was yet another level—deep, subterranean, and subconscious—on which those in my father's tribe of origin were not "my" people. I did not realize this, until I discovered that half my bloodline is not "my" people.

And now they are mine. 

What's more, discovering that my DNA is radically different from what I'd thought opens me on a gut level to all people more than ever. The DNA test put that experience of universal tribe deeper into my cells, into each cell's core.

Finding half my ancestors to be a completely different ethnicity than I'd thought was such a moving experience that it also augmented my connection to the entire cosmos. This is really a case of science fueling mysticism. 

There's also fun in this: My particular DNA manifested in several markedly different cultures. When I see one of them during a TV show, it no longer feels foreign to me. I smile automatically, feeling possibly part of something being portrayed. There's so many different cultures I might be from that I feel more part of many different events.

I've done a fair amount of ancestral research since receiving test results, and expect to do a lot more. I'm drawings on records—e.g., old phone books and census records—on the AncestryDNA website. Also, AncestryDNA tests provide DNA matches with people throughout the world. They might be relatives I did not know existed previously. I'm contacting them, in case they have information about my family history.

I'd anticipated test results would mostly lead to researching my mother's side of the family. She comes from a shamanic family tradition, about which I want more info.

Instead, Dad's familial DNA opened my spirit to his ancestors' influence. This big shift in my perspective is a huge gift to me. (The DNA test does not say what you got from your mom and what you got from your dad. It's just obvious in my particular test results.)

My hope was that the DNA test would bring the realms of magic and science together to enlarge the otherworldly realms I explore. That happened, though in an unexpected manner. Isn't that the way of exploring and adventure, that we do manage to find the fabled treasure, but by a route we did not expect? And then we reach home by an equally unexpected trail?

I am both on an adventure and reaching ancestral home.

The puzzle's led to amazing places. New information—some of it deep, some of it fun, and some of it both–keeps blowing my mind. For example, my father's mother was an "actress." Dad grew up dirt poor, as far as I know, so I've always wondered if "actress" was her camouflage for being a hootchie cooche girl or stripper. However, good chance she was actually an actress! My DNA results led to excellent anecdotal evidence that one of her relatives—perhaps a sibling—was a famous actor in silent films: Charles Belcher. The dude is the spitting image of my dad and one of my brothers!

I went to Hulu and actually watched a man very likely my relative act across from Errol Flynn.

And, get this, he was portraying a holy man, LOL! Not that that means anything profound, but it's amusing for me as a shaman.

More research will determine whether I am related to him. But the journey of researching my lineage fascinates me. It compels me to keep researching, as I delve into obscure anthropological data, something I love doing.

I find one tantalizing tidbit after another helping me better understand past generations' impact on my spirituality. 

As I continue to develop my own style of ritual, I more than ever feel my ancestors helping me. Ancestral devotions are taking on new meaning.

For decades, and in past life memories, I have experienced all our ancestors —yours, mine, and everyone else's –as a migrating, intermingling, sharing dance of self-expression, commerce, romance, and joy. I experience it more strongly than ever, after learning my ancestors' DNA. And from that, an odd but wonderful paradox occurred: though I am passionately researching, it almost doesn't matter who my ancestors are, because everyone has an ancestor who danced with one of my ancestors at some point.

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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


  • aought
    aought Wednesday, 17 June 2015

    Yes, I look forward to having my DNA analyzed. Oh, the ancestry that is buried. Raised "English," (Grandma was an English immigrant, and the family originally came as Quakers with Penn.) but, the Irish and German were well hidden. Then the initial Nat Geo testing showed possible Jewish ancestry that no one had any clue about.
    Many might say "What does it matter?" It doesn't really "matter," but it can certainly cast some light on why you have affinities for certain things that don't really make sense without that link.

  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis Wednesday, 17 June 2015

    aought, thanks so much for your perspective on this. I am glad that you agree with me that 1) discovering one's ethnicity both does and doesn't matter, and that 2) DNA can shed light on one's spiritual leanings. It always feels good to be agreed with, eh?

    And yes, a lot gets buried. Time alone buries it: I'm having trouble going back very many generations, because the people in my family who are older than me have almost all died. But I am not giving up.

    I wish you the best on the amazing adventure of exploring ancestry.

  • Joyce ORourke
    Joyce ORourke Thursday, 18 June 2015

    I loved reading about your experience with the DNA testing and your results. Did you ever just know something about yourself since childhood only to find out years later that it may be true. When I was a child I always said that I was burned at the stake. I was never fan of being Catholic and always brought up their inconsistences. Then as a adult(30 years later) I got involved in ancestry and recently found out that their were witches in the family both an accused and a victim. No one talks about that. in the family. I married someone who was also accused of witchcraft in his family as my family was. If souls travel in packs would that coincidence be interesting. Not only that but one of the women that I do genealogy with has an ancestor living in the area my ancestor, at the same point and time and we are tiring to confirm if this woman was the accuser of my relative. This would validate reincarnation and souls traveling together. Thank you for writing this though provoking article.

  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis Thursday, 18 June 2015

    Joyce, Thanks for checking out the blog. I am delighted you liked it.

    And yes, I really hear you about knowing stuff despite any hard evidence. I really like your story about it. Quite a family history you have.

    If you haven't already, you might want to read my previous blog on my DNA research, because it talks about trusting yourself, despite lack of documentation. Here is the link: http://witchesandpagans.com/sagewoman-blogs/a-faerie-haven/dna-and-ancestral-ritual.html

    It was good to read your thoughts about souls traveling in packs, because somebody else mentioned that to me yesterday, so I think it's something that is particularly relevant to me right now. Will have to meditate on that.

    Thanks again for a great comment.

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