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Author Topic: Ancestors who don't deserve honoring?  (Read 5827 times)

wadjet

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Ancestors who don't deserve honoring?
« on: September 02, 2012, 08:43:16 pm »
I've been making plans to expand my ancestral altar; it currently is small and only represents general family lines, so I want to honor some of the individuals I know of, such as great-grandparents.

But then I realized: my maternal great-grandmother had 14 children. The first seven, including my grandfather, were by a man who simply got up and left her destitute. The next seven were by her next husband, who refused to raise my grandfather (the eldest) because it was a son that wasn't his. My father wandered between two fathers that didn't want him until he joined the army, underage.

The second husband, I am told, made a very heart-felt apology after my grandfather returned, and amends were somewhat made. He was apparently a very hard worker and a good person, and deeply regretted the mistake. This was from my grandmother, who obviously would know, and apparently felt he was honorable. I would be happy to offer him a place at my altar.

But my actual blood-relative? He was a dishonorable person.

I am sure, of course, that my ancestors are a myriad of good, bad, and ugly, but this has struck me profoundly. I don't ascribe to the Christian concept of forgiveness, but I tend to be a lenient person when I don't have all sides of a story, and I believe that sometimes doing bad things may be necessary. But leaving children destitute in the Depression? I have a hard time justifying that.

Ancestor worshipers: how do you deal with this? Opinions? Options?

Maps

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Re: Ancestors who don't deserve honoring?
« Reply #1 on: September 02, 2012, 09:32:35 pm »
Quote from: wadjet;72028
I've been making plans to expand my ancestral altar; it currently is small and only represents general family lines, so I want to honor some of the individuals I know of, such as great-grandparents.

But then I realized: my maternal great-grandmother had 14 children. The first seven, including my grandfather, were by a man who simply got up and left her destitute. The next seven were by her next husband, who refused to raise my grandfather (the eldest) because it was a son that wasn't his. My father wandered between two fathers that didn't want him until he joined the army, underage.

The second husband, I am told, made a very heart-felt apology after my grandfather returned, and amends were somewhat made. He was apparently a very hard worker and a good person, and deeply regretted the mistake. This was from my grandmother, who obviously would know, and apparently felt he was honorable. I would be happy to offer him a place at my altar.

But my actual blood-relative? He was a dishonorable person.

I am sure, of course, that my ancestors are a myriad of good, bad, and ugly, but this has struck me profoundly. I don't ascribe to the Christian concept of forgiveness, but I tend to be a lenient person when I don't have all sides of a story, and I believe that sometimes doing bad things may be necessary. But leaving children destitute in the Depression? I have a hard time justifying that.

Ancestor worshipers: how do you deal with this? Opinions? Options?

Yeah, both my grandfathers are gone, but one of them was a verbally abusive and absent father to my dad and his two siblings. While an extremely accomplished filmmaker and photographer who traveled to a bazillion countries and met world leaders, he was a selfish, egotistical, and very unkind man to those who were supposed to be close to him. I have little interest in building a relationship with him, even though I'm sure he lay in his deathbed with all sorts of regrets. I really, really don't want to invite his antics into my life, and quite frankly, I don't know if he'd even have my best interests at heart if I did.

A lot of my relatively recently deceased relatives (like greats and great-greats) have bad things going for them, and I'm only interested in getting to know more about them through stories, not first hand experience. If I'm going to go to my ancestors, I'm going to go to the nebulous collective of them from further back in time, where I'm sure sufficient time has passed to where they might have gotten over their egos and things.

My other Grandpa, though? Let's just say that I get the distinct feeling he gets a kick out of me cleaning his headstone with beer. ;)
« Last Edit: September 02, 2012, 09:33:51 pm by Maps »

monsnoleedra

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Re: Ancestors who don't deserve honoring?
« Reply #2 on: September 03, 2012, 12:48:16 am »
Quote from: wadjet;72028
I've been making plans to expand my ancestral altar; it currently is small and only represents general family lines, so I want to honor some of the individuals I know of, such as great-grandparents.
..


I just have one question, Where would you be without them?  

The fact they didn't live thier lives to your satisfaction really is a mute point. Had they not been present you would not be present here today to speak upon them or voice your discontent with the way they walked the life path laid out before them.  So regardless of anything else they may have done your existance is owed to them period.

For if they do not deserve being honored by you then by default how do you deserve to honor anyone?  One may not like the way the bridge to the future was built but you have to honor the fact it existed otherwise you'd not exist today.

wadjet

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Re: Ancestors who don't deserve honoring?
« Reply #3 on: September 03, 2012, 01:13:30 am »
Quote from: monsnoleedra;72061
I just have one question, Where would you be without them?  

The fact they didn't live thier lives to your satisfaction really is a mute point. Had they not been present you would not be present here today to speak upon them or voice your discontent with the way they walked the life path laid out before them.  So regardless of anything else they may have done your existance is owed to them period.

For if they do not deserve being honored by you then by default how do you deserve to honor anyone?  One may not like the way the bridge to the future was built but you have to honor the fact it existed otherwise you'd not exist today.

 
I completely disagree. Being able to put your penis into a vagina is not some honor-worthy act. They didn't do anything honorable by popping out kids - nobody did. All kinds of things reproduce; they do it simply because that is the nature of their existence. It has nothing to do with honor and respect.

And as far as "living to my satisfaction", my faith has a fairly strict code of honor. Some acts are honorable, some are not, period. There are times when one must choose the latter and accept the consequences, yes. But I think it is more than just my "opinion" of their choice. It it the opinion of my Gods as well.

I was going to add additional information, and apparently I should have, because you seem to be assuming some things about me that are untrue. I am not going to reject or banish this man's spirit. I don't know why he did what he did, I wasn't there, or perhaps his dues have been paid, or perhaps he wants to help his descendents to make up for it, or a million other possibilities. But I feel uncomfortable giving him a special place of honor amongst people I love and respect that he doesn't deserve, if in fact he does not. I was looking for opinions of other with similar practices to see how they deal with similar situations.

As a note, I will continue to honor his ancestors, of course.

Shine

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Re: Ancestors who don't deserve honoring?
« Reply #4 on: September 03, 2012, 01:21:05 am »
Quote from: monsnoleedra;72061
I just have one question, Where would you be without them?  

The fact they didn't live thier lives to your satisfaction really is a mute point. Had they not been present you would not be present here today to speak upon them or voice your discontent with the way they walked the life path laid out before them.  So regardless of anything else they may have done your existance is owed to them period.

For if they do not deserve being honored by you then by default how do you deserve to honor anyone?  One may not like the way the bridge to the future was built but you have to honor the fact it existed otherwise you'd not exist today.

 
I'm not the OP, but you raise a good point. Whether our ancestors did "good" for us or not, we're here because of them.

Though I think it really does depend on the particular situation. In cases of abuse and other nasties like that, might there be an option of a flavor of damnatio memoriae? The Romans practiced it, if Wikipedia isn't lying, and I know it's not unheard of in ancient Egypt. Not sure about other traditions. Then again, the practice was more about treason than anything else. . .

I have a few relatives who, when they one day become ancestors, will not get an honored place in my life. They left me neurotic, antisocial, depressed, and angry. Why wouldn't they try to do more of the same once they passed on?
Leave your darkness with me, and I will make you shine.

monsnoleedra

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Re: Ancestors who don't deserve honoring?
« Reply #5 on: September 03, 2012, 01:28:59 am »
Quote from: wadjet;72071
I completely disagree. Being able to put your penis into a vagina is not some honor-worthy act. They didn't do anything honorable by popping out kids - nobody did. All kinds of things reproduce; they do it simply because that is the nature of their existence. It has nothing to do with honor and respect.

..


Yet without it you would not be here period!  It is the gift of life that was bestowed upon your line down to you.  Remove him and there is no line of descent.  Change the conditions of how they lived it and you still may not exist.

With regard to honor its easy to look back and say they did or did not live up to your expectation of what honor is.  Almost as easy as your descendents will look back upon you and make the same determinations of whether you were honorable.  Not looking at your life or the pathway you walked but deciding based upon their perspective of how you should have lived your life in their opinion.

None of that even factoring in what they may discover about the times, the challenges or other events that are unknown to you now.  I had an uncle I used to despise for abandoing his family as they did.  That all changed because of a letter we found years later where his wife's family told him to leave or they would take all his children from him as he was not fit to marry thier daughter in their eyes.  Changed when parts of a will surfaced that said if he ever returned their inheritance was forfit.

But I admit I do find it a bit interesting you can't prove the gods / goddesses or his God abandoned him or accuse him yet your doing it in the name of your gods / goddesses.

But in the end I admit and acknowledge its all up to you as to what you shall do.  Myself I just tend not to toss stones when I know I live in my own glass house and to my descendents it will also contain many skeletons that they shall use to judge me.  A judgement i'll never have a chance to speak upon in my defense.

monsnoleedra

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Re: Ancestors who don't deserve honoring?
« Reply #6 on: September 03, 2012, 01:34:40 am »
Quote from: Shine;72073
.. I have a few relatives who, when they one day become ancestors, will not get an honored place in my life. They left me neurotic, antisocial, depressed, and angry. Why wouldn't they try to do more of the same once they passed on?


I do not know.  But the question I would assume then becomes one of did they do it from malice and intent?  Did they simply do it living thier lives and not knowing any better or different?

Of course that also begs the pondering of what shall you pass to your descendents?  Will they be harmed because you act in what you think is for thier benefit?  Will they be harmed because of your own admission of being neurotic, antisocial and depressed and the ripples that shall spread out because of that.

If you had an ancestor who acted like say Susan Smith and killed her children for a desired lover then I'd say perhaps they would.  But how many of us really have those type ancestors who injure and harm us with the knowing they are intentionally doing such samage?

Annie Roonie

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Re: Ancestors who don't deserve honoring?
« Reply #7 on: September 03, 2012, 01:57:32 am »
Quote from: Shine;72073
I'm not the OP, but you raise a good point. Whether our ancestors did "good" for us or not, we're here because of them.


I agree that we are here because of them regardless of how they behaved, and our existence is not a default blessing either IMO. It could be argued that some ancestors damned us with their part in our creation.

Wadjet, since you are so removed from this person, perhaps digging more would allow you to come across different perspectives that may help you. Reading local newspapers of the time, or stories that are similar. It was not uncommon for families to experience abandonments during the depression. Women, men and even children left for many reasons.

Not being able to meet the basic expectations of others or oneself during any time period can cause psychological breaks. Even more tragic outcomes than abandonment can result from lack of coping skills.   Some of the depression stories I have heard and read break my heart. With a kind of flawed logic a man left his family rather than commit suicide so that they could blame him fully instead of themselves. Of course it is flawed because they could blame themselves anyway, but when not thinking clearly, it might sound like a backwards honorable sacrifice. Not saying that is what happened, but looking more into people's stories of that time might give you more options about how to approach this distance blood relative's memory in order to see if you can include him without negative feelings. Mercy is one idea that is not forgiveness, but again, it is about how you feel in the end.

wadjet

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Re: Ancestors who don't deserve honoring?
« Reply #8 on: September 03, 2012, 02:17:06 am »
Quote from: monsnoleedra;72074
Yet without it you would not be here period!  It is the gift of life that was bestowed upon your line down to you.


I disagree that life is a "gift". So I am going to leave it at that, because I doubt we can agree further, if that is the basis of your argument.





Quote
But I admit I do find it a bit interesting you can't prove the gods / goddesses or his God abandoned him or accuse him yet your doing it in the name of your gods / goddesses.


So? I can't prove the Gods exist, either. My path - and many (most?) other Heathens too, from what I understand - uses the stories of the Gods as moral lessons for how to act. Honor, family, hard work, these things are valued. And, as I already said, I'm not "abandoning" him, nor kicking him out, nor rejecting him.

(I also want to note to everyone that I have no children and have not decided if I ever will, so "my descendents" and what they think of me are irrelevant.)

Annie Roonie

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Re: Ancestors who don't deserve honoring?
« Reply #9 on: September 03, 2012, 02:26:22 am »
Quote from: monsnoleedra;72074
Yet without it you would not be here period!  It is the gift of life that was bestowed upon your line down to you.  



I do not think it is appropriate to assume that every life is a gift bestowed for every person. And that word gift reminds me of when I spent two weeks pondering the rune Gebo. Gifts come with obligations and may not always be the shiny wonderful things people think of as gifts today. It made me think differently about obligations and how they can be an honor; however, part of me rebels at the idea that anyone should obligate me other than myself.

I am not grateful to be alive. I wish I were not born often and not with some dark depression but very frankly, most times, I do not like it here. I try to contribute while I am though. Why waste? I can use my faculties to make life more enjoyable for others, and by accepting that life isn't all it's cracked up to be, I can more easily see where I can be of use in that regard. And I don't diminish their problems by telling them they should be grateful for something they had no control over.

But I am totes committing suicide between the ages of 80-85 and that little concept makes living much easier for me. Light at the end of the tunnel and all. Suicides get happier in days after they've decided and before they act often. I get that happiness for the next 40, and if something takes me first, it only beat me to the punch and saved me a bullet or poison (I really have to make a solid plan).

I am grateful to my ancestors for allowing me to have wonderful parents who have treated me with love, but not for my conception. If anyone I think I may owe Johnny Mathis for that. Apparently, he set the tone for a very productive evening.

wadjet

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Re: Ancestors who don't deserve honoring?
« Reply #10 on: September 03, 2012, 02:39:43 am »
Quote from: Annie Roonie;72078
It was not uncommon for families to experience abandonments during the depression. Women, men and even children left for many reasons.

Not being able to meet the basic expectations of others or oneself during any time period can cause psychological breaks.


This all has occurred to me, and it one of the big reasons I hesitate. His reasoning certainly could have been that they would be better off without him.

Quote
Mercy is one idea that is not forgiveness, but again, it is about how you feel in the end.

 
This is well-said, and I thank you for it. This also occurred to me, and was the reason that I think it's foolish and hurtful to leap on outright rejection.

Waldhexe

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Re: Ancestors who don't deserve honoring?
« Reply #11 on: September 03, 2012, 05:10:52 am »
Quote from: wadjet;72028
Ancestor worshipers: how do you deal with this? Opinions? Options?

I don't feel any obligation to honor someone just for producing children when the same person didn't show any love or care for his/her 'products'.

I can be grateful for being alive, but that doesn't mean that I have to give love and respect to a person who didn't care for his/her descendants. A relationship is a two-way-thing, in life and in dealing with ancestors.

I have every right to be angry about the injustices and abuse some people handed down to their descendants, I frankly don't care if some abusive bigot or nazi in my ancestor line burns in his/her own version of hell. I can't open heartedly forgive them, I'm not obliged to do and I don't want to.

I don't say one has to ignore or damm them, but IMO nobody is obliged to honor somebody who didn't treat other people with the respect a human being deserves.

Couples seperate when there is no love between them anymore, why should I cling to an ancestor who doesn't have any love for his/her descendants? Of course one can never sever the biological bond like you can't give back your children if you don't any longer love the partner you created them with...but if there's really bad stuff between people I don't have to force the issue just because some pagans think honoring *all* ancestors was an obligation.

I think honoring the good roots and deal with the bad ones in a healthy way is the best some people can do. I don't think you can heal every fowl root by the power for forgiveness or honoring or whatever - at least not if you can't wholeheartedly give it because the injustices and pain handed down by this ancestor still affect you painfully. If you have the abilities to put some injustices in your ancestor line at peace, I'd say go for it, but IMO it's not healsome to sacrificing the soul peace of the living for it.

Waldhexe

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Re: Ancestors who don't deserve honoring?
« Reply #12 on: September 03, 2012, 05:17:08 am »
Quote from: monsnoleedra;72074
Yet without it you would not be here period!  It is the gift of life that was bestowed upon your line down to you.  Remove him and there is no line of descent.  Change the conditions of how they lived it and you still may not exist.

With regard to honor its easy to look back and say they did or did not live up to your expectation of what honor is.  Almost as easy as your descendents will look back upon you and make the same determinations of whether you were honorable.  Not looking at your life or the pathway you walked but deciding based upon their perspective of how you should have lived your life in their opinion.

None of that even factoring in what they may discover about the times, the challenges or other events that are unknown to you now.  I had an uncle I used to despise for abandoing his family as they did.  That all changed because of a letter we found years later where his wife's family told him to leave or they would take all his children from him as he was not fit to marry thier daughter in their eyes.  Changed when parts of a will surfaced that said if he ever returned their inheritance was forfit.

But I admit I do find it a bit interesting you can't prove the gods / goddesses or his God abandoned him or accuse him yet your doing it in the name of your gods / goddesses.

But in the end I admit and acknowledge its all up to you as to what you shall do.  Myself I just tend not to toss stones when I know I live in my own glass house and to my descendents it will also contain many skeletons that they shall use to judge me.  A judgement i'll never have a chance to speak upon in my defense.

People don't necessarily 'toss stones' just because they don't honor someone. A kemetic pagan doesn't 'toss stones' to celtic deities because he/she doesn't honor them.

I'd say it's better if people honor those they honor for a good reason and with honest respect and not just out of some blind obligation because they think it's a pagan requirement.

Nachtigall

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Re: Ancestors who don't deserve honoring?
« Reply #13 on: September 03, 2012, 05:47:56 am »
Quote from: wadjet;72028

Ancestor worshipers: how do you deal with this? Opinions? Options?

 
I agree with monsnoleedra here; if not for my ancestors, each one of them, I wouldn't be alive today - this is why they are honored today, on a very primal level, not because all of them did something praiseworthy. A part of them is within me, and will be in my children, whether I like it or not, and regardless of whether I forgive them for their misdeeds or not. It's just there, and it's something to be dealt with in case it's bothering me, not denied.

monsnoleedra

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Re: Ancestors who don't deserve honoring?
« Reply #14 on: September 03, 2012, 05:58:45 am »
Quote from: Waldhexe;72089
I don't feel any obligation to honor someone just for producing children when the same person didn't show any love or care for his/her 'products'.

I can be grateful for being alive, but that doesn't mean that I have to give love and respect to a person who didn't care for his/her descendants. A relationship is a two-way-thing, in life and in dealing with ancestors.

I have every right to be angry about the injustices and abuse some people handed down to their descendants, I frankly don't care if some abusive bigot or nazi in my ancestor line burns in his/her own version of hell. I can't open heartedly forgive them, I'm not obliged to do and I don't want to.

.


For me its not about any single individual along the line but the totality of the blood lines from which I descend.  It's about the complete package of my ancestry and all they projected down the line through their very existence.  I may not accept what any given individual did but I also do not dwell upon it as a break point for where they not there I would not be here today.

Ancestry is not about forgiving any individual for no single individual is your ancestry.  To me its not about placing my current values and morales upon their lives for it is no more proper to do that than it will be for my descendents at some future date to judge my life today against what ever their morales shall say then.

When I honor them I honor what they tried to do, What they succeeded in doing, what they put up with in living thier lives regardless of how today I think they lived them.  To do otherwise to me is to cry about water that has already crossed the dam of life and moved beyond ones reach.  

They lived, they died, they faught and they struggled as thier particular life paths played out beneath their feet.  Some succeeded, some failed and some simply became lost in the currents of life never to be seen again.  But had they not tried nothing would be present today to mark their passage.  To me that is what honoring ones ancestors is about not saying you didn't live how I think you should have.

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