Updated: Dec 31, 2020
In the midst of #blacklivesmatter, during the quieter moments in between vigils, protests, research, and debates, I'm left to wonder about my ancestry, what it means, and my place in all of this. Ever since childhood, there has been an undeniable tug in me...the bard, the artisan, the creative force that whispers. Where did it come from?
The European ancestry was well documented. Farmers from Germany and Great Britain, and nomads and shoemakers from Romania-Ukraine. Some could be traced back to the 1700s, when they first landed in the United States in Virginia, working on tobacco farms. Others landed in Canada in the early 1900s, escaping the heavy hand of communist regimes and religious oppression. Yet, it was the vague chicken scratches, the rumors in the margins, that called to me the most: the Native and Indigenous ancestors.
Who were they? What tribe were they from? How did they wind up in the blood line only to be relegated to the footnotes like afterthoughts? My great grandma on my dad's side was adamant that she was half Cherokee. Her claims were nervously dismissed by other relatives. "Oh, there was an Indian in the woodpile," I remember grandpa saying. I was too young to know how denigrating that statement was when I was a child, yet I felt the sting anyway. I couldn't understand why that would be worthy of shame. As I grew older, I only became more incredulous.
The photo that haunted me the most was one of my mother's grandmas. It was black and white. She stood in several inches of snow, in boots and a short sleeve cotton dress, eyes black as night, long black hair twisted up into a bun. There were rumors about her, too. She was said to be Assiniboine, a band of Canadian Sioux, at least half blood. She shot bears, moose, and other large animals that wandered onto her property and canned the meat for the winter. When people spoke of her, there was a mix of admiration, awe, and intimidation. No one dared mess with Grandma. Grandma had been very protective of my mother as a little girl, watching her like a hawk when she visited the remote farmstead. Grandma had cautioned mom that the Indians lived not far from the homestead, and since my mom was platinum blonde as a little girl, there was a strange - perhaps even irrational fear - that the natives would kidnap her. I never understood why they would do such a thing, and the logic still escapes me to this day.
Yet, despite my contemporary elders discouraging me from digging into these rumors, I still felt that unmistakable tug, as though I had more in common with my forbidden ancestry than I did with the Europeans who seemed to dominate my family narrative. I wanted to tell their story, because I felt their history and repression stirring within me, begging to be expressed.
Throughout my life, I have felt this conflict between the white, European colonizers and the Indigenous spirit. The most authentic parts of my spirit were that of an artist and a bard that lived in harmony with the land, surrounded by trees, one with the Great Mother. The box I was expected to cram myself into, however, was that of the modern world of technology, finance, and talent for profit. My soul wanted to roam. My family urged me to settle. The expectations and pressures of those I loved the most won out, and I finally gave up the search for authenticity in my early 20s and climbed into the box, becoming a lawyer and amassing profit off my talents. It was uncomfortable. It never felt right. It didn't fit.
Sure, I could have had my DNA tested. But my legal training made me wary; I was selling my private information to the testing company, without any idea how it would be used. I couldn't do it. They say that everything we need to know resides within us. Did I need a DNA test to confirm what I already knew and felt? Would it make it any more or less real? I wasn't convinced the test would provide me with any solutions.
As I rose to the pinnacle of what the modern society would deem a success, my soul felt increasingly cramped in the tiny box I had shoved myself into to please others. I would take off my shoes at night and my feet became the perfect metaphor for the torture I had been putting myself through: aching, contorted, toes smashed together...exactly how I felt. Soon, all the repression became too much and my heart began to ache. My mother died, and when this happened, something inside of me broke. Suddenly, I was free and the expectation that I had never known the source of suddenly revealed itself in its absence. Yet, despite the cage cracking open, I remained a prisoner.
I never knew anything different. I never allowed myself anything different.
I grew very ill. The life I had chosen began to take its toll. Only when I was forced to consider the possibility of having to let go of the life I created to salvage my health did I turn to a shamanic path to find answers for my own resurrection. It was in those deep - and often painful - periods of meditation and self reflection that I realized this battle raging within me. The ancestral karma yearning for resolution came first as a whisper, and then as an undeniable roar.
As energy fields yawned open for what many would refer to as the Great Awakening, many disincarnate souls began freeing themselves from the third dimensional reality of this planet. Throughout 2019, prompted by the death of my mother and my obsession with ensuring her soul crossed over into the place of peace and resolution, I participated in numerous Soul Bridge Ceremonies, where local groups synchronized their efforts with other groups of spiritual workers world wide to create energetic soul bridges so that spirits who needed to cross over would have safe passage. The ceremonies were energetically intense. Mediums participated and recounted what they witnessed. Psychics passed on messages. The array of extrasensory talent was stunning.
I could feel the energy moving. I could hear indeterminate whispers in the winds. But it wasn't until I was forced to retire from the practice of law due to the rapid decline in my own health that I had an experience so profound that I would be forever changed. There are moments in life that define a person, milestones where once experienced, we reach an event horizon, a point of no return. That moment came for me on May 2, 2020.
During my sixth Soul Bridge Ceremony, I was an hour into the global meditation when it happened: I saw all my ancestors. The white ones formed a long line, as far as my eyes could see. The first in line was my grandpa's uncle Ben Tucker, a former judge from Richmond, Missouri. I had never met him, but I knew instantly who he was. Standing across from him, as though preparing for a tug-of-war match, was a tall, handsome, berry-skinned man with long black braids and feathers in his hair. Behind him, all my indigenous ancestors lined up, as far as my eyes could see. Ben Tucker put his hand up, as though he were about to high-five my indigenous ancestor, who did the same. But before their hands could touch, a blinding white light formed between their hands and together they ascended in a flash up into the heavens. This kept going, one pair after the other, and I bore witness, too stunned to speak, as my white ancestors released with my indigenous ancestors into realms beyond my comprehension.
It was no coincidence that on the heels of my medical retirement, the very morning I publicly announced my departure from the legal profession, this massive release occurred just hours later. The conflict had been resolved. Through my incarnation, my white ancestors bore witness to the struggle their choices had helped to create: a life of debt slavery, chasing dollars, and living within the confines of an oppressive and rigid system of "justice" and modern "civilization." They got to experience firsthand the crushing expectations and cramped living that was the byproduct of their ancestral colonization, supremacy, and complicity. My indigenous ancestors, through me, relived this suppression, conformity, and the full brunt of integration and assimilation. The white ancestors and indigenous ancestors felt everything I felt, and bore witness. But I was them, and they were me, and through this life, that karma was unified, released, and ultimately resolved in the bloodline.
As I watch #blacklivesmatter play out on the streets and in our hearts, I pray for resolution. I know it is possible that in opening our hearts to shared experiences, we are unified and have the power to heal together. We cannot be afraid of the unknown, just as we cannot be afraid to explore the darkest depths of each other's pains and desires.
When I created the Crocheted Wreath, I was working through these ancestral issues. The Wreath is a circle, which has no beginning and no end. It is oneness from which we are all born, and for which we will all return. The crocheted doily was made by my great grandmother. It is a web we all weave with our actions and emotions. The natural elements, like the pine cones and pieces of wood, represent the harmonious living that becomes possible when we stop to find the beauty and perfection that exists in nature, which sustains us all. Through uniting all these elements, healing is possible. I will never give up hope that with open minds and open hearts, we can heal the deep wounds within our souls, the fabric of our society, and the planet we share.