Friday, August 28, 2009

Ghosts of an Ancient Past


I'll be honest - I want to meet my ancestors.

I wonder who they were, what they looked like, how they lived, and what physical or personality traits (due to genetics, that is) we share.

And it is a funny thing...in addition to German, I have Scottish and Ukrainian ancestry, but I feel no affinity with those lines. Like, nothing. I feel as "Ukrainian" as I do Aztec, as Scottish as I do Maori. There is just nothing there, even when I try to make myself feel some resonance...

For some reason, I only feel German, and only ever have. Maybe it is because my grandpa - whose parents immigrated to Canada from the Magdeburg area - was a practical, sensible man; the world seemed to make sense when he would talk. But I have no clue.

What I do know is that - I don't know how to explain this exactly - I feel like I have glimpses inside of me, and they all seem to be set in northern Europe. They include fires at night, chilly temperatures, a certain kind of piny, smoky scent in the cool air, northern skies and constellations, Germanic sounding words, beautiful long songs, and stories, and hard decisions, and furs, and forests which look just like those I've seen in that part of the world...and the glimpses seem to come from a long, long time ago.

One part of the emotional content of those glimpses is the feeling that the world makes sense. For a fleeting moment, I can see and smell and feel something...feel that I loved and was loved; protected and was protected; respected, and was respected back; and the animals and forests and stars, and my people, all fit together. I understand it all...

Another part is a feeling of vigilance, a kind of enervating fear if you like - of predators, human or animals, who might harm those I am responsible for protecting. Another part is some sense of heroism or glory...And I have a woman, a wife, who is all mine, and I'd give my life for her...and we have children.

Do I sound mad? I am not worried if I do, for I feel that I have no control over those glimpses. They are just part of who I am, and who I have always been, and I cannot make them go away. So mad or not, it doesn't matter.

The truth is...I don't know what to make of these glimpses. They seem real, but I suppose, cannot be...They come to me far more often than I would ever wish to admit to; and the truth is, if I could, I would go to that place, and stay there. But I can't.

23 comments:

June said...

As part of learning to do hypnosis myself,I was hypnotized.The person who was working with me had me go back to my very early childhood and tell what I saw and felt.I had a very vivid feeling of being left alone for hours in my crib,day after day,and feeling bored and unloved.
It seemed very real at the time because I was looking for something to show up in my memory...had been specifically asked to zero in on that time period.
I have also seen a lot of false memories that our imagination gives us if we ask it to.Perhaps we do live many lives until we get it right.I don't know but it could very well be ,as "The course of the Lord is one eternal round".

rachael chatoor said...

Wow. I know exactly, exactly what you describe here. We (humans) almost seemed to have made more sense back in a simpler age.

It was such a rich and fascinating period that once in a while to motivate myself I will try to imagine I am living in pre-historic times. For instance when I am climing up a mountain and I feel like I can't go on, I'll imagine I am a medicine woman who must get to the top to save a child or loved one.

It is amazing how much energy can be generated internally when suddenly getting to the top becomes a matter of when not if you will make it.

Oh, I could really hijack this post and go on, but I will refrain today and just say about your glimpses, they sound normal to me.

Gretel Shuvzwichinstov said...

I experience similar feelings/thoughts/imaginings as well. There's no way I could identify with all of my ancestry, since I'm made up of many different cultures, but I've always identified with my Native American and German roots. I have no reason to identify with either, really, other than being born in Germany and leaving when I was still an infant. My family didn't keep any traditions, and never talks about our ancestors, so it's not like I'm falling back on family stories in my imagination.

Like you, I go back to one of those times in my mind, and feel more connected there than I do here. I feel like I belong, and have better friends, and am just at peace. If I could, I'd stay there forever. The more stressed I get, the more often it seems to happen.

Jewelz said...

Just curious Tal...(it's Julie N. from FB)...when you have these visions, are you still yourself? Do you make the same decisions that you would make now if faced with a conflict? I am so conservative in my "dreams" (translation: boring), but I wish that I could be wild and crazy....do things that I normally wouldn't do like jump off a cliff just for the rush of it. Or drink poison (see, I'm weird too!) or kiss someone I don't know. But I always stop myself...even in my sleep I'm practical. About your ancestors, I believe they can see us. Do you?

ginamarie said...

Some of us melancholics find posts of this nature comforting, if only because there are others out there that you sense can perhaps understand - it might not be quite the same experience but the essence of what you are are sayin'...I'm feeling ya.

I might have more to say on this later...

zalia said...

Yes. I so understand this. I'm half German and half Italian. I on the other hand, have always related with the Italian side. But, what is really weird is that I've also had an affinity toward Ireland. When I hear the melodic visceral sounds of a band like Clannad..I feel a real connection. I swear there is a hint of Irish there somewhere in my genetic code.

Kelly said...

I find this really fascinating... I am taken away by the very palpable feelings and sensory images you convey. I find the contributions in response to your post, to be equally engaging. It's somehow affirming isn't it to see that this is not a singular experience? There are others out there that share this type of 'memory', of a connection to a time and a people and heritage past. Do these glimpses, these "knowings" bring you comfort? Where do you suppose the origins of these things are rooted? Have you asked yourself that? Do you care? Again, I'm both fascinated and grateful you shared this. Somehow, just reading your words made me feel a strength and comfort... they carry a greater sense of belonging and connection. Nice. Thanks.

E said...

The description of your internal glimpses is so hauntingly beautiful, that I wish I shared those same sort of mystical visions. Like so many people, I am a mutt: A quarter this, a quarter that, an eighth, a sixteenth... and I know next to nothing about any of it. Though I tell myself that knowing where I came from bears no effect on who I am and how I act today; there exists this almost overwhelming curiosity and inexplicable feeling of connection to all the people and turns of events that resulted in my being. The emotion that this provokes nearly moves me to tears and yet I cannot explain why. This is especially heightened when I stand in the places my ancestors stood, when I stare at the stars on a clear night, or when I visit a spiritual place such as a church or graveyard. It's hard to say whether this connection is thousands of years of "memory" in our DNA having been passed down since a more primal existence, or if it's our "spirit"... but sometimes it definitely seems that there is something about us that transcends both space and time.

Tal said...

Jewelz

In response to your question, I am always me in these glimpses.

In response to another question, I am not so sure that I find *comfort* in these glimpses, really; they don't last long enough for that. They aren't "stories" - it's not like I imagine that I had to go perform a task, and then I slew a bear, or like, "I have been reincarnated; once I was a soldier in Charlemagne's army, and my name was Rudolf...". Nothing like that.

These are very quick, almost blurred glimpses, like you might find on a slightly double exposed film; they're there but I can barely make them out. It's like they were supposed to have been erased, but weren't completely.

Josh said...

Have you been tested for temporal lobe epilepsy?

Kelly said...

Tal,
I'm curious, in light of these very real glimpses you experience, what are your thoughts on the theories of genetic or cellular memory?

E said...

My apologies for writing more, but I've read and reread your post and am actually really sad. Do these glimpses and the emotions you sense stand in contrast to the feelings you have experienced in this lifetime? You talk of reciprocated love, respect, and protection, and of heroism and glory, almost as if they are absent from your current being. But you have a family, you have children - I have a feeling, wonderful children with whom you're bound by a mutual unconditional love- and you have loved deeply in the romantic sense, maybe still do, have you not? Your life might not always seem to make *perfect* sense but I hope you find yourself fortunate for the things you have had, keep yourself open to fulfillment in this lifetime, and discover that the place you most desire to stay is not in the recesses of a long forgotten, barely awaken memory, but is right here and now.

On a personal note, maybe I have no idea what I'm talking about. I have yet to experience the deepest emotions in adulthood - It's not for lack of wanting; I think my *mind* just gets in the way. But someday.....

Tal said...

E, my children and I are best buddies, literally, and I have a great time with them. Everything makes sense there. Other areas of life are not so clear.

No Josh, I've never been tested for frontal lobe epilepsy and would be shocked if I had it.

ginamarie said...

Tal - this is a pretty common question when one starts talking about anything even remotely "intangible" too much along the lines of the mysterious-mystical/spiritual/transpersonal etc... you get an MRI to rule out brain disorders and physical tests, and if those are all negative you are diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder! YEAH!

(sarcasm...)

DiY said...

Tal, The first dichotomy that comes to mind is your fulfillment described here and then comparing it w/"Estranged". Comments?
The next is about the valleys and peaks you feel -- emotional, cellular, physical, metaphysical -- do you fight them? Do you search for more times of revelation to this other time/place?
Yes, they're glimpses but impressions are coming through all your senses so even though they last briefly, their impact fills and follows you.
I note these occasions for myself and see them as what may or may not have existed because of an infinitesimal divergence in my choices, known and unknown. It's like String theory. How many realities are there and when does it get filmy between them? They've been important to me, these 'flashes', but I've also had advice not to let them be what I'm here for at present. Don't let me association of other times take over being present now. Good advice for me. Want to see how it works for you?
Now, the third thing, and none of my business but curled up and slyly getting loose: where's wife? I followed your writings before this blog and it ended when you left the US, pre-kids. Now, more emptiness.
d

Tal said...

DiY - Long story short, wife is on a "journey"

Jewelz said...

Just my opinion, but I think it's none of our business where your wife is. You owe no explanation here. :) Quit asking people!

DiY said...

Tal - Thank you for answering my question. Hope the journeys we have make us all the better because of them. d

Jewelz said...

With all due respect DiY, a journey "with" the love of your life is one thing and could make a person/couple better. Taking off on your own journey and leaving your life and love behind is selfish. I don't know what happened here in their situation, but we should be respectful and let him have his privacy. Between here and FB, I think he shares enough.

DiY said...

Tal – I think it’s interesting you answered one of three areas from my note above (the first two questions were around “Estranged” vs “Ghosts” and sensory flickers of your self). It was my last inquiry to which you remarked. Painful or not, you are more than capable of an exchange in your own words and I appreciate your consideration of that with a response.

I’ve been reading your writings for a bit, especially when you had just returned from your Mormon mission, trying to find a place and a human connection upon your return, I uncannily related to your words on the screen. I read your first ‘diary’ when my nephew was about to return from Costa Rica a month ago (he asked me to make sure he didn’t come home “weird” before he left … your blog gave insight). Also my niece had just become engaged at age 19 to an RM during her first year attending my alma mater. Your first blog carried those experiences, too.

I left religion/cults about 30 years ago. Being, if anything, pagan for nine months out of the year, w/ the exception of liking to sing Christmas carols for the other three, I’ve always liked hearing and discussing folks’ views and perceptions on different topics.

At 20 I was pissed off and at battle against religion, government and men. I lived in Utah, was in the beginning of a long-term lesbian relationship and had a questioning nature -- all things that don’t go over well in that locale. After that I went from choosing what I wanted to keep for beliefs, instead of thinking, “When I die, I’m dead and cold in the ground. The end.”

At 30 I went with a friend to a Quaker church while he was searching. While we sat, I wrote on the offering card, “I need to start my own religion and be its only believer and its only disbeliever.”

I believe I’m in this world to learn. Sometimes after an incredible episode of karma kick-back, I wonder, “Wow! Am I done now? Am I gonna die -- THAT was a HUGE lesson!” Like the Christmas my dad let go of guilt for his grown children’s misdeeds. That was beautiful – a heart that let the heavy weight of parental guilt go, for a moment. I know, quirky stuff, but it’s just part of what I’ve incorporated for me.


Now, at 45 I’m in the most different phase of my life than one I ever considered. After ten years of celibacy, I am married to an incredible man and we are indeed rich, but not in ways that can be tallied. With so many blessings and set-backs, I’m even more infantile in my understanding of things and mysteries. My journey continues – alone or not.

So, thanks for bringing up topics and questions, ideas and responses to be considered. I’m glad you’re finding pleasure along the way, and wish you the best with the challenges. Thanks for sharing your journey and creating an opportunity for levity and weight as we all move along.

Peace, DiY

Jewelz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DiY said...

Jewelz,
Acknowledged and appreciated.
Peace.

Anonymous said...

Have you guys ever been caught up in a day dream and the dream sudden takes a funny turn and you start laughing?

If you are hearing voices or not, it's another (and not so obvious) way to be in touch with your spirit guides. They play in your imagination with you. I just don't know why they don't 'fess up and admit to being there.

Audrey of Arcturus.