I am in search of my origins.
Two months ago I left my life in Colorado behind me, jumped on an airplane, flew across the Atlantic Ocean and landed on the Mother Patria that birthed me.
I had not seen Italy in 11 years.
I am on a hero’s journey, following a deep call to reconnect with my ancestral heritage. A call to uncover my roots and receive a glimpse of what Martin Prechtel calls the “indigenous soul.”
“Some of us have buried our humanity deep inside, or medicated or anesthetized it, but every person alive today, tribal or modern, primal or domesticated, has a soul that is original, natural, and, above all, indigenous in one way or another. The indigenous soul of the modern person, though, either has been banished to the far reaches of the dream world or is under direct attack by the modern mind. The more you consciously remember your indigenous soul, the more you physically remember it”
~ Martin Prechtel
I have had a passion for indigenous people’s cultures, rituals and way of living for quite some time. Over and over in my research, I have read and heard many of them say, “Instead of stealing our spirituality and culture, find your own indigenous roots.”
“Everyone of us is the descendant of a tribe…We are made up of spirits —the reason for being was to keep the balance. Whatever happened to Indians here [in the U.S.] happened to the tribes of Europe…Go and study your tribal ancestry and see how they got civilized.”
~ John Trudell
Much of my journey has been inspired by the work of Martin Prechtel and Stephen Jenkinson and I want to credit them and thank them for their relentless unearthing of hope, for a time beyond our own, for the future generations.
For over a year I have been in the process of slowly uncovering my own indigenous soul, the one that sleeps in my bones, the one that remembers how to walk in right relation with the Earth and all the other-than-human beings.
I want to share with you what I have uncovered so far and gift you with some steps that you may take to begin your own hero/heroine’s journey. It can be confusing and hard at times but it is so fulfilling and needed.
Are you up for it?
Maybe you are a White Euro-American descendant from North-Western European folk?
Or maybe your people came from Turkey, Greece, Italy or Spain?
And what do you do when your ancestry is mixed in like a cake that has a recipe made up of percentages of multiple ancestral lines?
Here are a few suggestions:
I look at the ancestral research in two parts; first by exploring the direct line of your family’s ancestors, another by exploring the tribal history of your people and the place that surrounded them.
1. Begin with what you do know. Your Last Name. Follow the tracks that are already contained in your history. Ask questions to your Parents, Grannies, Aunties, etc.
Anything they may know about your ancestry is golden bread crumbs you want to find and store.
These are parts of your story and what made you who you are.
2. Search historical records, military records, birth records. This may require you to travel to the towns your great-grandparents grew up in and ask hospitals to open very old records. Think of it as an Indiana Jones adventure into your own personal treasures.
3. If you find yourself stuck (which is very likely and totally normal) and cannot go back into the past beyond your grandparents or great-grandparents, that’s okay. Move your research to the last names you do have, your mother’s and father’s. There are many books that speak to the history and meaning of your last name. You may discover your original clan name, or a family crest.
At this point you might have a grasp of who your people were and where their lives took place.
This is as important as place and the stories that surround the area are pregnant with meaning.
Note: If your ancestry is a mixed percentage of different lines, my suggestion is to trust your intuition and go explore the part of your ancestral line you are feeling most interested and connected about in this moment.
Here are the four areas I suggest you focus on.
And remember, this is a long journey and you won’t necessarily receive quick answers. Trust your process and collect pieces like golden shimmering shells on the beach.
1. Explore the legends, the myths and the folkloric stories of your people. These contain clues regarding the ancient, long-buried and dormant (but so ready to be awakened) Creation Stories, the origin and unique meaning for your people. These meanings and double meanings are often embedded in the language, so if you’d like to begin learning the ancient tongue of your people, the experience will be much richer.
(Most of us have been handed down an Adam and Eve Creation Story that, although beautiful in its own right and context, also is only a much smaller piece of who we are.)
2. Explore the history of your people and the geological history of the land. This is huge.
What was happening to the land? Were your people moving because of food scarcity?
What geo-political event caused your people to migrate to a new land?
What are the stories?
Can you feel the pain, the grief and the hope in your bones? Can you let yourself shed the tears that they could not ?
3. Now onto the third and most fascinating piece.
Like indigenous oral folk worldwide, your ancestors were likely animists. They believed that there was Life in all Things, and the World was animate and alive.
They likely had a totemic consciousness, and certain animals and plants were sacred to them. Find the animal people and the plant people that roamed in their area. Which ones did they pay particular offerings to? Life was seen as a reciprocal relationship and all of another animal or plant parts were honored and the debt paid back.
Which places were sacred to them? Which mountain, streams, lakes? Which trees? Which lands?
Blessings on your journey of ancestral recovery and connection.
The indigenous soul is waiting for you.
As my mentor and friend Christiane Pelmas says, “Do it like all Life depends on it.”
Because it does.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editorial Apprentice: Lauryn De Grado / Editor: Emily Bartran
Photo: Author’s Own