I’ve been thinking a lot about the ancestors lately. When people think of the ancestors, the first thing that comes to mind is blood relatives from the past. In Druidry, we honour our blood ancestors, but also those ancestors of tradition (those who have shared our worldviews) and of place (those who are a part of our land). Yet it is not ancestors of the past that currently occupy my thoughts – it is ancestors of the future, those yet to come, that are my main guiding force in life.
I am childless by choice. I will not have direct descendants, though I share my genetic makeup with the rest of my family, my nephews, cousins and more, which will be passed down through blood. However, I will become a future ancestors of tradition as well as having future ancestors of tradition, and the same can be said for being and having future ancestors of place. It is mostly to these ancestors yet to come, my future ancestors of all three groups, that direct the way in which I live my life.
Our ancestors of the past have helped to shape us, to make us what we are, though we are our own person and always have our own choices to make in life. We can repeat past mistakes or we can change – it is up to us. Our ancestors of the future do not have the luxury of choice – they are stuck with whatever it is that we provide them. With the world being in such a mess, alongside the moments of pure beauty, I worry about what I will leave for them.
Emma Restall Orr states on her website that she endeavours to live a life of which her ancestors would be proud. That is a beautiful and motivating sentiment – and is especially poignant for our future ancestors. We have the option of learning from our previous ancestors to make this world a better place, in however big or small a way, for our future ancestors. Apathy has no place in my worldview – everything we do matters.
I have made mistakes in my past. I have had glorious achievements. I can acknowledge all of these, and today be the best person I can be, for the sake of my future ancestors of blood, tradition and place. There is no time to wallow in guilt, or to rest on my laurels – every single deed, every single action right now will have an effect on the future. The past is there to teach us, the future is there to direct us, and the present moment exists to capture all that we can be in this moment in time.
Heathenry, or the Northern Tradition in paganism, has a beautiful saying – “We are our deeds”. We must live up to it. The past is gone, the future ungraspable – so make this very moment count. Live honourably, with awareness. To my future ancestors, know that you are honoured.
What a great point of view. I never really thought about future ancestors. Thank you for this post. I’ll do some more thinking on this.
It’s not all about rotting bones, or all about roundhouse homes…..
http://www.reverbnation.com/artist/artist_videos/1343656 (check out the videos…)
Yay, another childfree Druid! My wife and I are too, and sometimes the emphasis on fertility or on thinking about your descendents gets us a bit uncomfortable (and neither of us set on with our families all that well, so the ‘ancestors’ thing is a bit awkward too). I like your take on ancestors and descendents of tradition though.
I also like to think of ancestors on a long, evolutionary scale, where we share common ancestry with every living thing on earth. That’s quite beautiful!
Indeed – we have all sorts of ancestors within us, in our very bones, not just human ones! Everything that has lived is a part of us in some way. It’s a beautiful calming and holistic worldview that can give us a little sunshine when things seem dark. x
My husband and I are also childfree by choice. We choose to express fertility in writing, art and tending the Earth. The planet’s got more than enough people….we need to work with what’s here already!
Hear hear! x