This week I wanted to talk about bloodkin. I’ve had something of a complicated relationship to bloodkin over the years. I was always drawn to Kemetic practices, so I never bought the argument I encountered frequently in neopagan circles that you should look to the Gods of your ancestors when you were looking for a path. I have pretty bog-standard white Anglo bloodkin, from England, Wales, Scotland, and some in Australia. I don’t have any Egyptian ancestors, or ancestors from any other ethnic groups in me. At least, not that I know of. I’m just a pretty basic Anglo-Australian, brought up with Protestant Christianity in a pretty decent family. Nothing special about me at all.
My mum and her family weren’t the first to come to Australia either, when they got here in the 60s. A couple of her Welsh relatives, husband and wife, came to Australia in the 1850s during the Gold Rush, and one of them was buried in Melbourne when they died, which we didn’t know until a few years back. I believe he owned a slate quarry in North Wales? One of my Welsh relatives did, at any rate. Some of them also worked on lifeboat crews off Anglesey. I’ve got shipbuilders, and merchant sailors, and missionaries, and teachers, and other people whose occupation I don’t even know in my ancestry. Part of the joy of watching the BBC series Coast with my parents is the stories I hear as they visit places we have ancestral connections to. (That, and Neil Oliver is dishy as fuck. <3)
So much of my ancestry is embedded in other places I have never seen before. Yes, there are more recent ancestors buried here in Australia, but they aren’t the majority. I also think it’s strange that, in spite of all the Christians, priests, and ministers in my family – my parents included, I’m the one who got claimed by other Gods. I don’t claim to understand how this happens or why. I can’t really change it now. Well, I could if I wanted to, but I’m not particularly inclined to change it, either. I’m happy with my religious practices as they are, and even if they’re not ancestral Gods – be they Welsh, British, or Christian – that’s all fine by me.
Honouring the ancestors is an important part of being Kemetic, but it wasn’t something I really ever did regularly until very recently. Part of it was discomfort with the idea of working with ~dead people~, thanks Western Society Cultural Hangups About Death(tm)! There was also the problem that, of all my bloodkin, I only ever knew a handful in real life at all. I could count them on one hand. The rest are unknown to me, strangers I only know as a name, and perhaps a photo. The idea I might be opening myself up to all these strangers was daunting, and it was another reason I put off doing any ancestral work at all. Got spooked by the ~omgdeadppl!~ thing.
But I’ve come round to make peace with that. I pour water to the ancestors twice during my daily rites, and while the connection is still very vague and tentative, it’s helped me get used to it being there at all. The strongest connection is coming from the Welsh and English mobs of ancestors, though in some ways, I’m not really surprised by this. I think it’s probably the largest group I’ve got, so they might just be the loudest thanks to sheer weight of numbers.
I have looked into Welsh polytheism before, long before I considered druidry. Not knowing the Welsh language very much, I was somewhat put off by the fact I didn’t really know how to speak the names of the Gods, and I felt like I’d just end up feeling embarrassed. I think it’s also because Welsh did nearly die out because it was suppressed, and I experienced some epic ancestral guilt about using English instead of Welsh when working with Welsh Gods. I have, sort of, mostly become alright with that, because learning another language does take along time and it’s not something I can fix any time soon, but it is something I want to do one day to honour them.
I’ve encountered more than enough pagans around the traps to know that Gods these days don’t seem all that concerned with bloodlines. I also know there are others for whom following the Gods of their ancestors is a hugely fulfilling practice, and that’s also fine. I don’t think one approach is necessarily better than another. Family can be incredibly complicated, and sometimes we don’t know who are bloodkin are, or we don’t wish to work with them or honour them for a variety of legitimate reasons. I think this is a question for each individual to answer for themselves, tbh, because you will never find an answer that everyone agrees with. Family and bloodlines, and our feelings regarding them, are far too complicated for that.
In some ways, I think I’d be content if my relationship with my ancestors didn’t go much further than it is now, with a light connection to the ancestral mobs and nothing more than that. I don’t have anything against ancestral work, but it’s not the primary focus of my religious work, and I don’t want it to be, either. I’m happy to pour water for them, and keep a list of their names. Given that no one has really come out and talked to me either, I feel like perhaps the feeling might be mutual. That, or I am just really spiritually dense to them, and they can’t really get through anyway. I don’t really know. But I’ll make sure their names are remembered and make sure they get libations and offerings, regardless of what else happens. I feel it’s the least I can do.