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How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love My Ancestry: One White American Woman’s Journey to Accepting Her DNA

Earlier in my life, I bemoaned having been born a white American. I’m more accepting of my incarnational situation now, but that’s because of my deepening self-acceptance and profound spiritual work, not because my attitude toward colonization or racial injustice has changed.

I’m going to be perfectly honest: as a white woman, I used to steer clear of ancestral work in my spiritual practice. “Who are they to be consulted or revered?” I’d think, shaking my head in shame. “They’re part of the reason we’re in this mess. Colonizing, slave-owning bastards.”

Now I know things to be different, and ancestral work is very much part of my practice. It took me a while to get from there to here, but this is the better place to be — not back there, cringing and pulling away from my embodied genetics. My body is a much happier dwelling place when I’m not fighting my DNA.

Who Am I?

A couple of years ago, I discovered through a DNA test that my ancestry is 98.7% from the part of the world that is currently the United Kingdom, and the rest is from what we now call North Africa.


As a student of ancient history, my immediate thought was likely the correct one — a Roman soldier, a colonized man himself who had become (or at least joined) the colonizer, had become my ancestor when he had a child with one of my foremothers 2000 years ago. They were part of the tapestry of my genetics.

And those are the ancestors with whom I primarily work now, those who lived pre-colonization, pre-monotheism. That’s the blood that still runs in my veins. It’s the blood and the DNA of the people who preceded those Romano-Brits, as well, stretching all the way back through the 98% of human history that predated what we now call “civilization.” All that time we spent in the proverbial Garden of Eden.


Getting to Know My “Pre-Historical Record” People

The Cover of Nancy Hendrickson’s Ancestral Grimoire

In my quest to become more spiritually conversant with my ancestors, Last month I began reading Nancy Hendrickson’s book “Ancestral Grimoire”.

It’s a book full of spiritual exercises, and it’s designed to be moved through over the course of a year, with each month dedicated to getting to know one ancestor with the help of tarot and other divination tools. I’ve worked through one month thus far, and am finding the process revelatory. I’m deepening my understanding of my ancestry (and thus myself) on a soul level.

The first month focused on “intergenerational magic” and the ancestor/card with whom I was working was the Princess of Wands.


I’ll pause here to say that I realize I must sound as if I’m a few bubbles off of level to some of you. That’s alright. I’m certainly not going to try to convince you of what I know to be true. You can read on in the spirit of antagonistic, mocking disgust or just wonder at my silliness. Or not. As you like.

For those of you who feel the resonance, who know that there are TRUE things that can never be proven, and who know that much of life’s value lies there…well, read on to learn about the magical realizations that came to light while working through the month with the Princess of Wands.





Battlefields are Part of the Tapestry, Too

Remember my North African ancestor? Through the course of some pretty intense meditations, my blood told me the truth: to my ancestor, he was an unwelcome intruder: both into her village and into her body.

She, my blood told me, the Princess of Wands in my DNA, was one of Boudica’s people. She and many other women in her village bore the children of invading Roman rapists. Those children would go on to have lives and families of their own. They couldn’t help who their fathers were.


And neither, Dear Reader, could I.

Now I move into the next month of the Ancestral Grimoire, eager to meet another ancestor, and to learn from them — no matter from whence they came, or what frightful lessons they bring.

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