“The past is not dead; it’s not even past” William Faulkner
I started painting a series recently called Honoring the Ancestors. It was born from a prior series called Artifacts in which I was exploring the idea of how and why we are fascinated by what archaeologists find in their digs from long-ago civilizations and what they leave behind. I am intrigued by what it is that is important to us with regard to these ancients’ sites and relics.
I began to wonder if the people who lived in and at these ancient sites were our ancestors. Who were these people? How do they shape our lives and psyche today? These questions have seeded my imagination. I have been wondering how our ancestors inform who we are now? And, perhaps more importantly, how do we pay homage to them?
On a sacred journey one year to Egypt, I remember being greeted by the guide. He said, “Welcome home.” This became a familiar greeting all over Egypt. It is said that Africa is the cradle of all humanity, therefore the foundation of all our roots. Homo sapiens have been around for 3.2 million years and perhaps science will someday confirm that we all have roots from the ancient past in Africa.
Malidoma Some (pronounced Somay) wrote a wonderful book called Of Water and the Spirit. Some, a West African of the Dagara people and teacher, told how his elders are honored once they have died. He described a scene in his own household in which his family would set the table for ‘grandfather’, the most recent elder who had passed. They believe that the elders are not gone but, in fact, are even more available for counsel with daily family matters. Some said that Americans are lost because we have forgotten our ancestors; the very thread of who we are has been broken. We are, he says, bereft of the richness of our collective and cultural roots.
Along these lines, I have been reading a thought-provoking book called Jung and the Ancestors; Beyond Biography-Mending the Ancestral Web, by friend and colleague, Sandra Easter. She asks these same questions by exploring the foundation of who we are now by reaching back into our ancestry. It is not just our personal ancestry that is important but how our collective roots shape us as well. I love this book and highly recommend it if you are interested in this rich topic of how we are who we are because of those who lived before us.
My sister-in-law gifted a family member with a test to trace her ancestry. This niece was surprised to learn that her DNA showed an entirely different lineage than that which she was told. As a result she now knows herself better. I have also decided to trace my ancestry through ‘23 and Me’. I can’t wait to get the results!
Until next time,
New You tube Videos!
I have been making you tube videos called Tips and Techniques for Painting. Please go to my You tube channel and subscribe. It’s under Connie Rodriguez Art. Here is a link to one of them. Hope you enjoy it!