Your Ancestors May Not Be What You Think They Were

Bartolomew Stanhope (or was it “Stanhope Bartholomew”?) Clifton, 1828–1884. Update his clothes, buy him a Ford F-250, and drop him right back into Perry County, Mo. — he would fit in.

A lot of us contemporary Pagans have a problem with our ancestors. We feel like there is a huge chasm of separation between them and us. I mean, look at Stan (as I think he was known) Clifton here. He was one of my great-great-grandfathers

Born in North Carolina, he lived mostly in rural Perry Co., Missouri, in or near Crosstown. Like a lot of my relatives on that side, he is buried in the Plesant Grove Cemetery in Crosstown, which is just a dot on the map.

Pleasant Grove is a Baptist cemetery — I have been there — so what could be more different? A 19-century Baptist rural Missouri farmer[1]Maybe he had another trade too, I don’t know, but it was common. versus . . .  me, the Pagan (now) rural Colorado journalist-professor-writer/editor.

I am not picking on Stan, may he rest in peace. He has not turned up in my dreams or anything like that. Our connection seems pretty distant, but, nevertheless, he is part of me — even though he seems so spiritually distant.

It’s easy to focus on the things that separate him and me though. But there is one fundamenal flaw in thinking that way.

Recently I listtened to an episode of the podcast What Magic Is This? called “Ancestors with Chiron Armand.” (His personal website is Impact Shamanism.) There is a lot of good stuff there, but this part stayed with me: Our ancestors are not frozen in amber, so to speak. Whever Great-great-grandfather is, he is not necessarily the same man who died in 1884 — that is the point.

If you want to complicate things, figure in reincarnation. You not only honored Great-Grandmother, you gave birth to . . . him.

While most people who accept the idea of reincarnation tend to think of lives as beads on a necklace, there are those esotericists who say, “No, it’s all happening at once, kind of sort of, if we could only see.”

Which loops back to the idea that we can “heal” our ancestors of their faults and traumas. Assuming we know what those are.

Your thoughts are welcome.

Notes

1 Maybe he had another trade too, I don’t know, but it was common.

Do the Living Outnumber the Dead?

Did you ever get into a discussion of the possibility of reincarnation only to have someone announce, “Reincarnation is impossible because there are more people alive now than have ever lived”?

And then they sit back smugly. Or perhaps they quote George Carlin, the favorite sage of the Barstool Philosopher.

Not so fast, bubba.

It is true that if you delve back into the mists of time, the population of Earth was tiny in comparison to today and logically it might seem plausible that the living outnumber the dead.

Picking the right starting point seems to be crucial, and there is a certain amount of hand-waving involved, but see for yourself.

Gallimaufry with Chariots

• Icelandic Pagans curse the nation’s economic rivals. See what happens when you mix polytheism and international banking? (Via Pagan Newswire Collective.)

• I do like what Iceland may do for freedom of the (online) press.

• We are the Empire, and we have the chariot-racing to prove it. Video no. 2 is the better one. Go Greens. (Via LawDog.)

• American pop culture is not keen on reincarnation as a plot device?

• Once again, Wicca as “the Other” gets tangled up with current political debate