I think of myself as being largely disconnected from my biologic family beyond the household I was raised in. On my mother’s side, I only have one living relative who I’m not close to. On my father’s side, both grandparents have since passed. After especially my grandmother’s death and a family crisis, that side of the family just… dissolved and went their separate ways. I have a single sibling, a single living grandparent, two cousins, two… whatever the children-of-my-cousins are, and that’s it.
When I think of my Ancestors, I tend to think of ancestors of spirit or kinship in some way other than by genetics. For example, as a genderqueer person I consider all other trans, nonbinary, and/or gender nonconforming folks to be my siblings, and among my Mighty Dead when they have died. There are some people I’ve never met but have influenced my life with their works, like Terry Pratchett and Carrie Fisher, who hold a special place in my heart.
I am also very uncertain about honoring any Ancestors who wouldn’t want to be honored in a pagan fashion, or a religious fashion at all. I can see how valuing those who have gone before, their stories and their deeds, is important to my own sense of self. But the idea of trying to reach out to my Presbyterian grandmother who passed away, is… distressing to consider. I’m also, honestly, pretty agnostic about the whole life after death thing. (And about most beliefs, to be honest – not that this stops me from collecting religious practices.) I think the best way to honor my Beloved Dead is to make the world a better place for those who are coming after us. I don’t really know about physical offerings, like ADF requires in ritual. That’s something I’ll need to continue thinking about as the Dedicant Path goes on.
Something I have been thinking about this week has been how my daily cocktail of various medications are dependent on the genetics passed down to me from the hundreds and hundreds of generations of people before me. How many of the people in my line have severe anxiety issues, fertility/hormone problems, or bad backs? I’ve inherited that from my blood Ancestors whatever my actual relationship with them is. And maybe that’s part of what the point of the Mighty Dead, or the Kindreds in general, is. We are already in relationship with all these beings just by existing in this world, so shouldn’t those relationships be the best we can make them?