How I Spent Samhain (Ancestors and Beloved Dead, UU, and a Spiral Dance)

I spent much of Samhain this year working on searching for and adding relatives to my family tree on (I am not an affiliate of theirs, nor in any way receiving recompense for mentioning them and using their site obviously does not mean they agree with my religious beliefs). I think this was incredibly appropriate. What is even more appropriate is that the relative I am emotionally closest to bought me an Ancestry DNA kit and the results arrived today. This was particularly impressive because the results weren’t due back until somewhere between the middle of November and the beginning of December. For all I know, Ancestry routinely overestimates how long it will take for DNA test results to be available, and it makes practical sense if they do, but I still it is very cool, very apt, and not at all subtle (which I love) that the results arrived specifically on Samhain (by the time I publish this it will be November 1st, but I’m still awake from yesterday). I didn’t even realize it at first, probably at least partially due to brain fog, but when I did, I though it was amazing and I’m incredibly appreciative. I called my relative as soon as I knew the results were available and we went over them together.

There were a few surprises, but nothing too dramatic, and most things weren’t a surprise. I expected the majority of my DNA to be Irish, but it is the second biggest chunk. The biggest chunk is England, Wales, and Northern (Norwestern) Europe, which I expected a decent amount of — particularly as I know I have a few English relatives and I know I have Scottish ones, but I didn’t expect it to be the majority. But it is worth noting that a lot of areas overlap in their results — including Ireland and England. I mostly expected more DNA from Eastern Europe and the Baltic States, though I wouldn’t have been very surprised with less, either. I definitely expected to have more Germanic in my DNA than I do. There is in the vicinity of 2% Swedish, which surprised me, though it’s a small enough margin that it could actually be anywhere from 0% to, I believe, about 4%. I am surprised that out of all the smaller regions that Ancestry can identify, they were only able to identify which regions I’m from in Ireland. Those regions were not a surprise to me.

The DNA results were directly responsible for me being able to find a bunch of relatives on my father’s side. My Ancestors were incredibly helpful. I found a bunch of relatives with their assistance. Two of my living relatives were also very helpful in that regard — one in urging me to look into my father’s family more, and another relative for giving me information about that side of the family. I am especially grateful to have more information on that side of the family because while there is a lot of information put together on my maternal grandmother’s family, the information I’ve accrued so far on my father’s side is very sparse. There also isn’t a lot on my maternal grandfather’s family so far, which I also want to fix. I accidentally created multiple entries for at least a couple of relatives, so I have to try to repair that tomorrow, if I can, or remember it later if I can’t. I may not be able to as I have a difficult and far away doctor’s appointment tomorrow.

Doing Ancestry today was bittersweet because I am going to have to cancel my subscription again for a while — and I have to do it in the next day. I am very grateful that they leave the trees up when you cancel, and you can come back to them again later. I have had to cancel I think one to three times in the past. Though to be perfectly honest, there were also times when I had a subscription and could have worked on it but didn’t. And because I tend to be hard on myself, I also need to acknowledge that there were times when I had a subscription and technically “could” work on it, but in actual reality, I couldn’t due to my health — even though my brain tells me I was always just lazy, etc. I’m going to be moving shortly and my life is undergoing dramatic seismic activity (as unpleasant as it can be, there are reasons for it — only some of which I know and understand — and my life needed a good upending). I am very, very hopeful that I will only need to cancel it for a month, but it’s very expensive, and my household’s expenses are about to go mostly up, while our combined income and other resources are about to go mostly down.

I am getting exhausted, so I have to wrap this post up soon, if I can.

My fiance and I attended the local UU church last Sunday, which we’ve wanted to do for at least a year, maybe longer. They had a beautiful Samhain service and I was able to put pictures of three of my relatives on the Ancestors altar they built, and brought a picture of two more relatives with me. At the Spiral Dance, I was able to stay in for one full rotation, though I strongly overexerted myself and am still paying for it now — but it was worth it. And during the dance, for the first time since I got sick, I ran for more than a few feet. It was amazing. I do have some conflicted feelings because there were things about both services that bothered me/made me uncomfortable, but there were also incredibly beautiful things and I am so, so glad we went. We were able to call out the names of many of our Ancestors and Beloved Dead, though not all because some we forgot and there also just wasn’t time. During the invocation to the Gods I (and it seemed like other people) quietly prayed to several of my Gods and my Ancestors to invite T/them and to ask T/hem to be there.

My Ancestors and Beloved Dead are with me and I am so, SO grateful and so, SO blessed.

The Gods and other Holy Powers are real and many of Them care about humans and I am SO grateful, and so, SO blessed.

I have more to write — for instance I want to note the experience of being herded/shepherded to move into a specific place. I want to talk about how I desperately want to attend the local ADF Grove, but how it is completely inaccessible to me. I want to mention my hopes and fears about the need to get more religious and ritual supplies. And I want to talk more about how I have felt my Ancestors so close this Samhain season (including some I am not intimately acquainted with and some as a group or groups), and how my grandfather’s music box, for instance, has repeatedly gone off on it’s own and from getting knocked by cats — often for several minutes at a time. I am acquainted with my grandfather and several of the other Ancestors and Beloved Dead I’ve felt nearby, though.

Blessed Samhain to all who celebrate it. May you feel the presence of your kind, beneficial, and helpful Ancestors nearby if you practice Ancestor veneration or communication. And for those who are theists, may you feel the presence of your Gods around you.