Ancestors

Withered Vine on a Concrete Wall
Withered Veins on a Concrete Wall

Imagine how we are woven bodily into this world, pulsing veins and sinew wrapped tightly around bone. Blood and marrow so intimate in the secret recesses of our structure.

This is what connects you to them. Your whole life presses forward. Like a single thread pulled taut until it aches, the spun-spiraled blood and body of your life pulls away from the past, yet anchored there by the fact of your birth, the stubborn persistence of your being. They had that too, and now here you are. What strange and unwieldy imperfections make up the beauty of your body, the lumpy joints and stringy tissue.

And the tension in you, it is theirs as well. The need for movement, dance, perhaps to somehow dance your way out of imperfection and into harmony, a music molded by the contours of the land. Maybe a land you don’t remember, maybe a place you’ve never been. But it is there in your body nonetheless, an echo of labor — the steady pace over half-familiar hills, the gentle lover’s way of knowing how the roots of every tree in the forest twist and twine beneath the soles of ancient feet. If your footing is now not so sure in the long, flat halls of the new millennium — if sometimes you stumble — it is their stumbling, too. We trip together over the ghosts of long-old roots.

So this is how you do it, then: Speak to them. Speak to them in dream. Sing to them the same lullabies you sing to your children to lull them to sleep. Toss them the rope of your longing. They are the beloved dead, the living memory that still gives shape and skin to your life. They want as much to be whole as you do. They want to move and dance through what new halls or hills your feet traverse.

Imagine how they are woven bodily into this world, pulsing in our veins, wrapped tightly like sinew around our bones. So intimate in blood and marrow we hardly know them from ourselves.

What dancing we must do, a foot in each world, between the ghosts of these roots and the shadows of the branches.


This post is part of the 30 Days of Druidry creative writing project.

This post is also part of the Pagan Blog Project 2012, organized by Rowan Pendragon.
Call it a two-for-one!

Alison Leigh Lilly
Alison Leigh Lilly nurtures the earth-rooted, sea-soaked, mist-and-mystic spiritual heritage of her Celtic ancestors, exploring themes of peace, poesis and wilderness through essays, articles, poetry and podcasting. You can learn more about her work here.

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