The Ancestors Within

Eventually, every inquisitive child asks the question, "Where did I come from?" Perhaps some, with that same innocence and curiosity, never stop asking this question all through life, all along their Spiritual path. Looking for the answer will help us find the Ancestors within.

Deep within us lies a vast fortune of information about who we are and where we came from. As Spirits incarnated into a physical body, we are the product of a chain of events going back farther than we could ever imagine. We can see examples of this chain in everyday life -- if we choose to look. Our bodies are each a product of unique genetic chemistry. Our entire family tree contributed to this mix over the years. Perhaps our eye and hair color, height and frame came from our recent Ancestors, like parents or grandparents. But some traits date back for generations, like gifts from Ancestors who were born centuries ago. We carry bits of these Ancestors within us and pass them on to our children, like precious heirlooms.

Perhaps the oldest gifts are the most basic. Deep within us lie instincts and primal memories that date back to prehistoric humans. For example, whether fashionable or not, many people still wear animal skins like leather or fur. This attraction to animal skins may stem from ancient memories buried deep within us from a time ages ago when cave-dwelling primitive humans, our Ancestors, wore animal skins as their daily wardrobe. Since humans evolved from other animals, perhaps these innate memories go even deeper, to the animals within all of us, to a time when we ourselves were furry, leathery-skinned creatures. On the evolutionary timeline, animals are our Ancestors and we are their descendants. What lessons can we learn by getting in contact with our inner animal selves? From mating rituals, to defending food and territory, to a mother protecting her young -- we are surrounded by the ways of our animal Ancestors.

Even more basic, while our own Spirit and Will may give us our burning desire for music, art or mechanics, Nature gave us the arms, legs and fingers with which to play, paint, use tools, climb mountains, build bridges, or just pick apples. These appendages are gifts from Ancestors even older than any animal; within each of us are gifts from plants. Our limbs are genetic descendants of the limbs of trees. What can we learn from these tree Ancestors? We branch because they did so long ago, the way any "family tree" branches outwards. This branching occurs similarly in the limbs above the ground, and the roots below the ground. So, a simple plant can teach us that what happens above can also happen below.

And even simpler than the exact tangible form of our bodies, is tangible form itself. We are incarnated in physical form for a reason; it is part of the lesson, an important step in Nature's curriculum. The laws of physics allow matter to exist. Every molecule, every atom, gravitates together to give form. What lessons can we learn from the Ancestors of physical form? Pick up a stone, watch it fall from your hands. Gravity pulls it toward all the other stones. Gravity makes things "want" to join together. Remember this the next time you long for a hug!

Many people still hold a special fondness for certain elements, like sitting around an open fire. Perhaps this dates back to the cave-dwellers, the primitive human Ancestors huddling around a flame merely to survive. Or perhaps, since the elements (especially fire) pre-date any of Earth's lifeforms, the memories of fire Elementals burn deep within us, feeling that special romance in the warmth and light of a campfire, a household fire place, or even a simple votive candle. Many people also have a special fondness for water, the ocean, from which all life on Earth arose. Water was the source, life's birthplace. Can we learn from the cycle of Earth's water supply? Water vapor rises from the ocean, crystallizes to form a raindrop, falls to the Earth, runs its course through life's rivers and streams, returning to the ocean, its source, to vaporize once again, perpetuating water's cycle. Are we any different? Even today, Pagans sing about a drop of rain flowing to the ocean, returning to its source, the source of all life. This song even tells where we come from, and reminds us that we shall return. Think about the words.

Searching for the "Ancestors within" can help us understand the linkage we have to age-old things, to all life and to all forces in Nature. The Ancestors within can teach us that many "modern" ideas may stem back to animal instincts, to laws of physics, or other principles which we can observe in Nature and use to enhance our daily lives. It is no accident that as wide-eyed children we ask where we came from. This is our first step in self-discovery.

By Link Farrar/Bone 1997