Ancient Ancestry: 7 Clan Mothers of Europe, Tara, & Mitochondrial DNA
Our ancestors have a wealth of knowledge to teach us, if we only listen. In modern times, many people have no idea who their immediate ancestors were much less a whisper of their ancient ancestry. But technology has provided us with some very useful tools to dig into our ancestral past – DNA kits and family trees. In this article, I specifically talk about maternal haplogroups and mitochondria, the maternal haplogroup T (the clan of Tara), the Seven Daughters of Eve (Clan Mothers) and how to call upon our ancient maternal ancestors.
What is a Maternal Haplogroup?
DNA can be rather confusing when you really start digging into it. Trust me. I know from experience. However, a recent book has helped me understand genetics a bit further (though I am still no expert). So what is a maternal haplogroup? A maternal haplogroup is a specific gene found in the mitochondria of your cells. Mitochondria are small particles swimming around in your cell outside of the nucleus that is only passed to you through your mother. Your mother’s mother passed it to her, and her mother’s mother’s mother, and so on. It can only be passed through women to their children. So, over thousands of years, mitochondrial DNA has been passed through maternal lines and still exist in us today.
With new technology and extensive research done by Brian Sykes, Professor of Human Genetics of the University of Oxford, seven European maternal haplogroup DNA chains have been developed that connect us to our ancient clan mothers from Europe.
The Seven Daughters of Eve & European Ancient Ancestry
Recently I read an article written by Becca Piastrelli about how she found her 20,000 year old grandmother. It inspired me to look into my ancient ancestry and to read Brian Sykes’ work. Brian Sykes has traveled the world taking samples from live human beings and comparing to the dead for decades. His research is extensive and can be read in detail in his book The Seven Daughters of Eve: The Science that Reveals Our Genetic Ancestry.
7 Ancient European Clans
Let’s further expand on the 7 ancient European clans from Europe. Sykes has traced modern day European descendants via their mitochondrial DNA back to 7 women who lived in Europe circa ten thousand to forty five thousand years ago. Sykes based his “clan mother” names on the DNA Haplogroup letters, as well as the potential origins and region of each clan mother.
From Becca’s blog post: “Here’s a cool fact: Your mtDNA assists your cells in using oxygen. So every time you breathe, you are using the mtDNA of your clan mother.” WOW! Let that sink in.
The Seven Clan Mothers of Europe are:
Helena (Haplogroup H), Jasmine (J), Katrine (K), Tara (T), Ursula (U), Velda (V), and Xenia (X)
In his book, Sykes describes the settings and briefly develops the characters of each clan mother. This portion of his scholarly work was met with resistance, but in my opinion helped me to envision what my clan mother Tara might have actually looked like and how she experienced life in prehistoric times. It can do the same for you.
How to Find Out Your Maternal Haplogroup
To find out what maternal haplogroup you hail from, you have to do a DNA test. I know there’s a lot of controversy surrounding DNA tests and DNA overall, and I don’t know how to completely ease your fears because I am confused too. Some people say the DNA companies use your DNA to sell to medical insurance groups. I don’t know this to be true. I cannot find any real sources to confirm this. That being said, when I did my DNA through 23andMe, I opted out of the health DNA analysis.
I recommend getting your DNA done through 23andMe to determine your maternal haplogroup and therefore determining your “clan mother” from Europe. Once you’ve found your maternal haplogroup letter (H, J, K, etc), re-visit this article to compare your results to the the Seven Daughters of Eve (European clan mothers) to determine who your clan mother is.
Clan Mother Tara’s Widespread Children (AKA Maternal Haplogroup T)
I discovered through my 23andMe DNA test that I am maternal haplogroup T, which means my clan mother (according to Sykes) was Tara. Tara is thought to have lived in the prehistoric area of Northern Italy, at the end of the last Ice Age. Sykes paints a picture of clan mother Tara and her tribe being close to the coastline, fishing and eating marine animals, as well as living in the evergreen forests which most likely covered the land during this period of time. She and her tribe hunted game and fish and gathered herbs and fruits to survive.
Migration to Ireland and the West Coast
Eventually, the Clan of Tara migrated along the southern coastline of Europe up along the western coastline and made their way to the British Isles. Sykes named the mother of maternal haplogroup T – Tara, which is Gaelic for “Hill”. The Celts were known for their red-haired people, of which is a proven trait of the maternal haplogroup T descendants. I am inclined to assume many of the ancient Celts carried Tara’s genes.
Udmurts, Native Americans, and Egyptians
Further East from the British Isles, the Udmurt people in Russia are commonly known for their red hair and freckles and have one of the highest percentages of haplogroup T in the world. There’s also a large percentage of T in Egypt and Eastern Europe (in addition to the British Isles). In my humble opinion, this is all evidence to support the fact that ancient peoples traveled quite a bit. They moved from one place to another, settling at different spots along the way.
While maternal haplogroup T only makes up about ten percent of the total European descendant population, it is widespread throughout the world, including in some Native Americans today. Probably the most famous of people in the maternal haplogroup T is Nicholas II, Last Czar of Russia. If you are in the maternal haplogroup T, he would have been a far cousin of yours and mine!
Calling on Ancient Ancestors & Clan Mothers
In an upcoming post, I will lay out an entire ancient ancestry ritual to call upon your clan mother under the full moon. But for now – how do we call on ancient ancestors? How do we call upon our clan mothers of ancient times? I recommend lighting a red candle (red for bloodline – you have your clan mother’s blood in your veins), lighting some incense, and saying a simple prayer to your clan mother. Talk to her like she’s a real person, because she was a real person once. And she’s still alive in you. Let her know you come to her as her child and ask for her maternal protection and love. Come walk this path of ancient ancestry with me!