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Author Topic: Some thoughts on ancestry, reconstructionism, “feelings” and spiritual experience.  (Read 2804 times)

Mark C.

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I’ve been thinking about the role of ancestry a lot recently. In my pre-heathen days ancestry was not something I ever thought about. However, I have to say that a reverence for my ancestors is one of the most valuable things that heathenry has given me.

Let’s get this out of the way now before any of this is misconstrued or misinterpreted: I am white skinned and hence I feel one of the first things I need to say is that this is NOTHING to do with “white pride” or a pride in being of “pure blood” (not that there is such a thing).

As someone who is genetically “European” my earliest ancestors were African and hence I’m proud of that ancestry too (I’ve been genetically tested and I have the African M168 marker like all Europeans). So this is not a pride in “race” – which I personally feel is a ridiculous and very unscientific notion – but a reverence of all ancestry.

It’s not just my genetic ancestry either, but my cultural ancestry as well. My genetic ancestors have given me my body. My cultural ancestors, who I have no significant familial connection to, have shaped the culture in which I live. I live in an age and place where life is infinitely easier, better and longer due to all those who have contributed to the culture in which I live.

The combined actions and decisions of all my ancestors literally created my life as it began and they will also have a huge effect on how it will unfold (genetically and culturally). When I “count my blessings” it is not a god or gods that I feel I owe the biggest dept to, but my ancestors.

There is also the issue that there is no proof that god or gods exist, but I can prove my ancestors exists. I can logically and tangibly point to the deeds of my genetic and cultural ancestors and show the positive effects they have had. I literally owe them almost everything I have.

I can draw a basis for morality from my ancestry too. One day my body will be dead, but my name (hopefully) and my deeds (undeniably) will live on. I want to repay the dept to my ancestors. They selflessly passed so much onto me that I feel an obligation to follow their example. I want future generations to be pleased by the small contribution I made to preserve, pass on, and hopefully add a little to the Orlog they receive.

When I die I will be joining my ancestors; whether that is in some kind of afterlife or, as I suspect, personal oblivion matters little. I do however take solace in the thought that, one way or another, I will be “joining my ancestors” at death.

I know that not all my ancestry was good. Some were selfish and self-destructive, and as a result they passed on little of value. They had a negative effect on my Orlog and my ancestral heritage. When I honour my ancestors it is those who are worthy of honour that I think of.

I honour Thor, but I don’t honour Fenris. I revel in the beauty of a cool breeze, but I am appalled by the destruction reeked by tornados. In the same way I discriminate between the various “divine” beings, and the “divine manifestations” in the natural world, I also discriminate in ancestry. I make a moral choice, I “choose a side”, and I honour that which I deem worthy of honouring.

The fact I am alive, healthy, not in poverty, and live in a part of the world that values the precepts of freedom and equality is something I can directly attribute to my ancestors. I therefore have much to honour them for.

Heathery has put an end to me thinking only about me in the here and now (and if I were ever so inclined it would also have put an end to thinking only of me in the afterlife i.e. it’s not about “personal salvation”). Thanks to Heathenry, I now see myself as a link in a chain with all the privileges and responsibilities that go along with that.

I’m never alone because I am my ancestry. I am the “living element” of the no longer living and the yet to live. I am a part of something much greater than myself. The feeling that that invokes in me is one of great strength, power and love. It makes me feel empowered beyond anything I have experienced before.

The point of all of this is that it was Heathenry, with its emphasis on ancestry, which made me think that way. It also convinces me that the collective wisdom and experience of ancestors is far greater than my individual wisdom and experience.

It is for that reason why I defer to my ancestors when looking at Heathenry. What any given individual thinks and feels is a drop in the ocean compared to the collective knowledge of my ancestors. I therefore see the great logic of reconstructionism because that is essentially the same as saying “I believe the collective wisdom of our ancestors is greater than what any individual thinks today”. It also means that by following that reconstruction, as opposed to our own whims and muses, we are thinking like our ancestors and hence better able to “connect” with that chain of which we are part.

When I first started looking at Heathenry, I had the notion that it was pretty much like Christianity in that the gods were the first port of call and that an individual and personal relationship with them was the way to go. That “felt right” to me too.

I was lead away from that by the reconstructionists who told me that that not right; even if it felt right. They pointed out that the gods were honoured by the society at large and that the individual would primarily look to their ancestry.

As has been discussed in other threads recently, I could have taken “what felt right to me” over “what was historically right”, but I did not do that. I followed what the reconstructionists said and tried to think that way … and the result was I find something that feels SO RIGHT that it blows me away!

It is this experience, more than any other to date, that convinces me that what is historically right was right for my ancestors and hence is what is right for me. Far more right that anything I can dream up in my own mind.

It’s for this reason why I do my best to determine what is right based on sound historical sources and why what I initially “feel” is a complete irrelevance. This is not to deny feelings or spiritual experience, but to ensure that I have far deeper feelings and far greater spiritual experiences.

It’s when I am inline with my ancestry (and hence the historical sources they left behind) that I get the most profound experiences. It’s not “feelings” or “historical accuracy” for me, but “deeper feelings because of historical accuracy”.

Mark.
« Last Edit: July 31, 2011, 07:02:29 am by Mark C. »

Juniperberry

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Quote from: Mark C.;9654
I’ve been thinking about the role of ancestry a lot recently. In my pre-heathen days ancestry was not something I ever thought about. However, I have to say that a reverence for my ancestors is one of the most valuable things that heathenry has given me.


Agreed.  Realizing that we weren't souls plucked from the heavens and placed in this life for some meaning or lesson,  but that we are the results of our ancestors and their choices is incredibly moving. For a very long time I felt unattached from the past. I lived with the idea that anyone in my family was just living out their own plan and that our souls just needed body to connect to and family was just the biological way this occurred. Once I opened up to the idea that I'm just a thread of a huge familial tapestry it was like opening the door to a bond that I never experienced before. I don't know the grandmother who lived in 1215, but I feel a connection to her, she shaped my life.

I remember when I first started reading the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and the lists of men who had fought in battles and slew two thousand men and thinking how I could be related to anyone of those. And how their lives and deeds are living on. And, more importantly, the fought those wars for me. Not specifically, obviously, but they had that idea of family and they fought for the concept of me. They knew they were shaping the lives of their descendants. And here I am, fourteen hundred years later, reading it and thanking them.

A lot of recons tend to research their ancestry because of this. I started building my family tree and giving names to the people who shared this life- because as you said so beautifully- I am only the living element of a story shared. I found out one of my recent grandmothers immigrated to America from Sweden. That my father's side came from a small village in Germany several generations back. Researching my last name I even pin-pointed which of the three German tribes I must have come from. The history and my connection to it is amazing.

Quote
The combined actions and decisions of all my ancestors literally created my life as it began and they will also have a huge effect on how it will unfold (genetically and culturally). When I “count my blessings” it is not a god or gods that I feel I owe the biggest dept to, but my ancestors.


My son came to me the other night to tell me that if there's ever another war that he'll fight. Before heathenry I would have told him no, that I wanted him to do something else. That night we had a long talk about his responsibility to the future and to community. About how he is responsible right now for a little boy in the year 3,000 and how he needs to fight for that. He needs to fight for the right side and for the right ideas. How he needs to decide how he can be the best for people and not just himself. It was an awesome talk and we finally agreed that he should go to medical school and be an army medic if anything should occur. (Keeps him a bit safer but also gives him a cause. ;) )

It's a task knowing that how I raise my children influences how they raise their children and so on until hundreds of years from now a family will be living under a piece of my influence. Its amazing to know that I have them in mind and part of my work and sacrifice is for them.

Quote
I’m never alone because I am my ancestry. I am the “living element” of the no longer living and the yet to live. I am a part of something much greater than myself. The feeling that that invokes in me is one of great strength, power and love. It makes me feel empowered beyond anything I have experienced before.


I know this sounds silly, but even the fact that I gave blue eyes is sort of spiritual to me. It reminds me of my early ancestor who had that mutation and how it has been passed down through the centuries to me. Its a physical link to that grandfather. There's also the fact that all people with blue eyes are probably related, and that we are all his children. It's living history, its a physical family tree.

Quote
As has been discussed in other threads recently, I could have taken “what felt right to me” over “what was historically right”, but I did not do that. I followed what the reconstructionists said and tried to think that way … and the result was I find something that feels SO RIGHT that it blows me away!


Right? Lol.

I could never NOT be heathen now. Even if I stopped believing in the gods, which as you pointed out is only one small part of the greater worldview, my mind and perception has been so thoroughly challenged to look at the world differently that I couldn't go back to before.

There is a comfort in having an understanding between yourself, the gods and the ways of the world. It isn't being told what to do or what your place is, but its in knowing that everything is living up to its obligations and that there's just a logic to the world. As a heathen I don't have a personal relationship with the gods in that sense, but OMG how the gods tie us all together. It's a huge community, even if only a few are in my inneryard. I know that the Thor I understand is the Thor that Mark knows, that a heathen I've met for the fist time knows Thor, that my ancestors knew him. There may be slight variations, but its Thor. It makes him real, it makes him kin, it unifies us. The relationship becomes personal in this way, somehow. I'm not alone in my salvation or life plan or lesson with a god, I'm a part of his ultimate reality, I suppose. He's traveling the world touching us all, being Thor, and we all understand him. Living and dead, alike. This feels more 'right' than the separation of my emotions. I learn more and know it more through others, than through myself. And I say this as a fiercely independent, rebellious and guarded person.

Taking the time out to understand the history or how the world was viewed from a perspective different than that of the Christianity I experienced has been eye-opening. It infuses your world with so much meaning and connection, and maybe a part of that is because it's new and more noticeable. Either way, it's an exciting experience. You know, recon is like this phrase: you can't guess about something that doesn't exist yet. My emotions and my current worldview existed and I could imagine things within it. Recon is the undiscovered, that which didn't exist for me before, and I couldn't have imagined in my wildest dreams the concepts and the realities that the heathen worldview held, without stepping into recon.
The pace of progress in artificial intelligence (I’m not referring to narrow AI) is incredibly fast. [...] The risk of something seriously dangerous happening is in the five year timeframe. 10 years at most.--Elon Musk

I am in the camp that is concerned about super intelligence," [Bill] Gates wrote. "First the machines will do a lot of jobs for us and not be super intelligent. That should be positive if we manage it well. A few decades after that though the intelligence is strong enough to be a concern. I agree with Elon Musk and some others on this and don\'t understand why some people are not concerned."

Mark C.

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Quote from: Juniperberry;9743
Agreed. Realizing that we weren't souls plucked from the heavens and placed in this life for some meaning or lesson, but that we are the results of our ancestors and their choices is incredibly moving. For a very long time I felt unattached from the past. I lived with the idea that anyone in my family was just living out their own plan and that our souls just needed body to connect to and family was just the biological way this occurred. Once I opened up to the idea that I'm just a thread of a huge familial tapestry it was like opening the door to a bond that I never experienced before. I don't know the grandmother who lived in 1215, but I feel a connection to her, she shaped my life.


Great post that stuck cord with me in many ways. I love the above opening line and the phrase “familial tapestry” is fantastic.

Quote from: Juniperberry;9743
It's a task knowing that how I raise my children influences how they raise their children and so on until hundreds of years from now a family will be living under a piece of my influence. It’s amazing to know that I have them in mind and part of my work and sacrifice is for them.


Yes, I’ve had that too. My view of how I raise my daughter has changed. I no longer see it as raising her solely for her benefit, but for the all the generations yet to come. I have an obligation to all those who came before and to all those who come after.

Quote from: Juniperberry;9743
I know this sounds silly, but even the fact that I gave blue eyes is sort of spiritual to me. It reminds me of my early ancestor who had that mutation and how it has been passed down through the centuries to me.


Totally get that as well! I myself have green eyes, which according to wikipedia (so taken with more than a pinch of salt) is most common among Europeans with Celtic and Germanic ancestry. My grandfather – who died when I was very young – was also a big man and I share his build. In fact I look uncannily like him when I see pictures of him in his 40s. He gave me the body that I use to navigate the world.

Quote from: Juniperberry;9743
I could never NOT be heathen now. Even if I stopped believing in the gods, which as you pointed out is only one small part of the greater worldview, my mind and perception has been so thoroughly challenged to look at the world differently that I couldn't go back to before.


I agree completely and I think it makes a very important point. Heathery is not a religion of “plug and play” deities. The gods are important, but that are not the only thing of importance. It’s the wider worldview that has had the biggest impact for me and what I see as the biggest benefit.

Not that I have the worldview down of course, I know there are areas of my thinking that I need to re-examine, and there are sure to be things I don’t know that I don’t know at this point. However, what I have gained so far has convinced me that I want to walk further down this road and that I’m on the right road.

Quote from: Juniperberry;9743
Taking the time out to understand the history or how the world was viewed from a perspective different than that of the Christianity I experienced has been eye-opening. It infuses your world with so much meaning and connection, and maybe a part of that is because it's new and more noticeable. Either way, it's an exciting experience.


I can totally relate to that!

Quote from: Juniperberry;9743
You know, recon is like this phrase: you can't guess about something that doesn't exist yet. My emotions and my current worldview existed and I could imagine things within it. Recon is the undiscovered, that which didn't exist for me before, and I couldn't have imagined in my wildest dreams the concepts and the realities that the heathen worldview held, without stepping into recon.


I think that also raises a great point. In heathenry the historical information leads to a shift in worldview which leads to some pretty amazing things. Taking personal feelings to be more valid that historical information can, in my view, be counterproductive. The “feelings” you have will be the same while the worldview remains the same. You can substitute “Thor” for “Jehovah”, but if worldview remains the same, not much will change.

The “uber-recon” notion that personal feelings or “spiritual experience” (I don’t mean anything “otherworldly” by that) are things to be denied or ashamed of does not work for me. What is the point if it does not change the way one lives and experiences life?

The “UPG is all that matters and if it feels right it is right” notion also does not work for me either as it is a “free for all” that I would liken to trying to find a destination by tearing up the map and then running in whatever direction you felt like.

Using the historical sources as a means to experience a “living religion” and to help shift worldview is what I see as being the most effective way to go.

Enjoyed that Juniperberry!

Mark.

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