In the last 2 years I have been struggling, or just outright ignoring in some cases, anything related to my spiritual life. I had, by action and circumstance, been separated for quite some time from what I considered to be my spiritual leadership – those whom I was spending time with, learning from – by spending time with them if not actually in student/teacher relationships with. It became difficult to try to focus on my own spiritual growth and connections with the gods that I felt had called me without some form of group practice, however irregular and sporadic. That sporadic connection was enough to keep me motivated between visits.
In the last couple of months, this spring, as the world around me thawed out and sprang to life, I started feeling pushed to reconnect. Dust off the altars, pay attention. It started with a reading from Raven K… and I’m slowly but surely finding my way.
Inspiration yesterday came from needing to work on a craft exchange for a witchcrafting group I belong to. Today, a different group got to talking about Appalachian folk magic and practices – a region I am descended from, where my immediate ancestors hailed from – vs my far more ancient Norse by way of England by way of the American colonization…. One of the problems I’ve had, while I do feel connected to my Norse ancestors, it is a weak connection at best, I don’t feel their presence all that strongly and I have had much difficulty in trying to establish a closer relationship with them. I still pay them homage, as they deserve, but a relationship with them eludes me still.
But, upon thinking of my immediate ancestors – those from Appalachia – I already *have* a relationship with them. I *knew* them, in this life, and so, it seemed like a lightbulb went on – “aha! why not start by kindling the relationships that already existed”… my great-great grandmother was a Christian to be certain, as were my great-great-great aunts and uncles…but they were Appalachian Christians – and what’s more – they were only 1 generation from their roots as Muncee-Lennape Indians.
When the Walking Purchase forced many of the Muncee peoples west, some stayed behind. My great-great-grandfather was born in Cape May Courthouse New Jersey. My great-grandfather was born in Cape May Courthouse…. My grandfather was born there as well… And when he was a child, the family moved to Appalachia – specifically into westernmost North Carolina. And there they lived, and married, and passed on stories and “superstitions”.
It is funny, that in paganism, the association with wolves as totems or spirit animals is so overdone as to be a sarcastic cliche… No matter how truly I felt that affinity – no matter that it was that particular affinity that helped form my relationship with Odin, and foster my connection, however tenuous, with my Norse ancestors… it was still a cliche – one I occasionally questioned or occasionally felt bouts of secret guilt about… was I just being a cliched poser? was that why my connections felt so tenuous?
But you know, in spite of having, years before becoming pagan, an interest in my family history – of spending hours in ancestry.com and libraries, creating our family trees… there was much about my family I didn’t know. My great aunts and uncles had already done that side of our family tree – I had all of the dates and family connections and knew who are kin were (and where they all scattered to)… so I never looked very deeply at my Lenape family.
My surname, had my family continued the Lenape matrilineal tradition, would be Muncey (a variant of Muncee that was changed when my great grandfather moved from New Jersey to North Carolina)…. because we were originally of the Muncee clan of the Munsee tribe. 1/3 of the original Lenni Lenape tribe. The totem of the Munsee Tribe…. the wolf.
And now, I must be off… the next generation needs my attention… things to ponder… and perhaps tonight I shall sit with the Muncey’s and see what happens.