In honor of Samhain (sa’ win), the Celtic holiday that honors the ancestors, I decided to write about ancestral inheritance and how it relates to creating lifework you love.
To get started, I invite you to reflect on the following:
Who were your ancestors?
What did they stand for?
What did they do in their lifetime?
Are there any behavioral or vocational patterns that are carried from generation to generation?
These are interesting questions to contemplate, especially when viewed through the lens of someone who yearns to make their lifework more meaningful.
Because what if you and your calling are partly the culmination of the experiences of every single person who made you – your parents, grandparents, great grandparents, etc. – all the way back to the beginning of human history?
Or at the very least, what if your life has been deeply influenced by the stories and personalities of the generations that came before you? And by “stories” I mean tales of the “olden days” but also the simple day-to-day events that shape a family.
Add to this your personal experiences, your soul’s desires, your unique gifts and talents, and you might realize that you are the expression of something ancient and new, simultaneously.
In other words, we are all unique, yet filled with an unseen, unknown history that colors and informs our uniqueness.
Considering this, I invite you to contemplate the notion that you inherited more than eye coloring from your ancestors. You may have also inherited talents, patterns or compulsions that cannot be easily explained, but hold clues to your calling.
Let me give you an example from my own life:
I often feel a need to create something unique, or be on the cutting edge of new and exciting ventures. I can’t really explain it, other than to say it’s strong and constant.
I also have a very odd, deep seated feeling of being a warrior, even if the only war I ever fight is a spiritual battle within my Self. This feeling makes no logical sense, but it is there nonetheless.
Additionally, I have an obsession with spirituality and finding ways to connect more thoughtfully and more meaningfully with the Divine.
And even though I have been conscious of these feelings for decades, it wasn’t until I started reflecting on my ancestral lineage that I began to wonder if I’d actually inherited some of these traits from my ancestors.
Of course, if you want to get totally “woo-woo”, you might say my soul chose to incarnate into this lineage because it perfectly aligns with my soul’s desires.
Regardless, I am a true American “mutt” with ancestors who come from Norway, Scotland, England, Wales, Germany, France and Romania, of both Christian and Jewish lineages.
But it is my British Isles ancestors who interest me most. Perhaps because I can trace them back to the 14th century, thanks to my grandparents and others from the same lineage.
This particular line is filled with pioneers, warriors, and deeply religious people whose religious tradition went against the cultural norms of the day.
They were Normans, Celts, and Anglo-Saxons – invaders and the invaded.
They were pilgrims, traveling to a new world in search of religious freedom.
They were pioneers, frontiersmen who always lived on the edge of developed and undeveloped territories in the early days of this country.
Additionally, on the North American continent they fought in nearly every battle and war imaginable from the 1650’s to WWII.
What does this mean for me? I won’t go into details, but I will say that it perfectly parallels the deep seated feelings that drive me.
So the question today is:
Does your ancestral lineage hold keys that can help you grow somewhere great?
What does all of this mean for you?
If you don’t have access to ancestral research, reflect instead on your parents’, or even your grandparents’ lives.
What did/do they stand for?
What did they do, or what are they doing now?
These are questions I ask my clients when they have a Lifework Orientation session with me. After exploring the answers, my clients often make interesting and inspiring connections between their lives and the lives of those who walked before them. It’s a little bit like finding a puzzle piece for your life puzzle.
Of course, if you’re adopted you may know nothing about your blood relations. If this is the case, you can reflect on your adopted lineage. For many people, their adopted family feels more significant than their biological lineage.
Wherever you find information, there are clues you can investigate that may give you insight about who you are and how you can add more spice to your lifework.
You may find pathways or doors you didn’t know existed. Doors that can lead you on journeys of the soul, journeys into deeper expressions of your purpose for being.
Or you may be blessed with hindsight. You can reflect on the lives of those who walked before you, choose to infuse your life with the spirit of their intention, yet learn from their mistakes.
Also, if your ancestors were persecuted for their beliefs you may find that you have inherited a resistance to taking your work into the world for fear that you, too, may be persecuted. The thing is, you may be completely unaware of the persecution. Regardless, the emotions and experiences are passed down through your DNA. They are as much a part of you as your eye color. In situations like this there may be ancestral memories you need to heal before you can live fully and fluidly in this lifetime.
Furthermore, there may be great gifts you’ve inherited that are lying dormant in the depths of your being.
To find out what’s waiting for you, reflect on the past decade or so of your life and notice if there are any unnamable stirrings that weave their way throughout your days, weeks, or years. Look for a feeling or pull toward something, maybe even a vague notion that dwells in your heart.
Listen to your dreams. They often carry insight into ancestral memory.
You might even create an ancestral altar, a tradition that has roots in nearly every culture. This will help you remember and connect with your ancestors. You can put their photos on a table, light a candle in their memory, and imagine having conversations with them.
Whatever you do, remember that you are more than you. You are also the collective memories, stored in your DNA and shared in story, of all those who walked before you.
When you embark on an ancestral journey and use this information to your advantage, you may find that you have more impetus for growing somewhere great.
Who were your ancestors?
What have you inherited from them?
How can you use this in your lifework?