DNA Kits & Ancestor Work: Your Ethnicity AND Spirituality
If you ever wanted to know your ethnicity, modern technology has provided a simple way – DNA kits. Order a kit from Ancestry, 23andMe, etc. They send you a tube to spit in. You seal it and ship it back. Then in a few weeks’ time, a full ethnicity report is ready for you to review. It’s simple and fairly affordable to do. Interestingly, modern witches, pagans and spiritual individuals have found this process enlightening and helpful when working spiritually with ancestors. Here’s the downlow on DNA kits, ancestor work, your ethnicity and how it might influence your spiritual practice.
The DNA Kit Basics
There’s quite a few companies out there providing DNA kits including Ancestry, 23andMe, and MyHeritage. What exactly does a DNA kit do? A DNA kit is sent to you by one of these companies upon purchase, you’ll spit in a tube, then send it back for that company to analyze against their DNA database. Once they’ve analyzed your DNA sample, they send you a report or you log into their website to view your report on your ethnic matches. This means these companies will tell you if you share similar DNA to people in other countries and regions. For example, you might have DNA that’s 50% English, 30% Nigerian, 10% Native American and 10% Norwegian. 23andMe also offers a “health” DNA analysis which will tell you if you have DNA markers for particular diseases. You can opt in or out of this feature with 23andMe. I opted out, to be honest.
Which DNA Kit is Best?
I’ve purchased DNA kits from both Ancestry and 23andMe. I haven’t quite made up my mind which is better, and I’ll tell you why. Ancestry claims to have a larger database of DNA to compare yours to; however, 23andMe seems to be more accurate when comparing to my actual family tree. 23andMe also provides females with their mtDNA (mitochondrial DNA) haplogroup and males with their Y-DNA haplogroup. If you’re female, your mtDNA links you to an ancient clan mother. Learn more about the 7 clan mothers of Europe here. Ancestry updates your DNA results frequently, each time they receive new DNA or update their process, etc. 23andMe also updates your DNA results as they acquire new information, though it doesn’t seem to be as often as Ancestry.
Now, DNA doesn’t work in the way most people think. Many people have this idea that if their mom was mostly Irish and English and their dad was Scottish, then their DNA will come back as just that: 50% Scottish, 25% Irish and 25% English. It almost never comes back like that. Instead, you might find your DNA shows you are mostly Irish with a sprinkling of Scottish and English and maybe a few other things you didn’t know about. Then the person is confused or even upset – how can my Dad be full-blooded Scottish but mine only shows 10%? Because DNA doesn’t work that way. There are many scientific factors that I won’t go into here. But if you don’t understand how DNA works, I recommend researching it before ordering a DNA kit.
Once You Receive Your DNA Kit Results
You sent in your kit, and waited for weeks. Now you finally have your results! But what do you do with this new information about yourself? Take time to allow yourself to absorb and fully understand your results. Was it what you expected? Completely unexpected? Does it match your family tree or what your family’s claims to ethnicity are?
Finding Your ANCIENT Ancestors Through MyTrueAncestry
At this point, you have another option that many modern pagans are finding extremely helpful in connecting with their pagan roots: MyTrueAncestry. MyTrueAncestry is another DNA service, but it’s not like the others mentioned above. MyTrueAncestry takes your raw DNA results and compares it to their database of ancient to Medieval archaeological DNA samples. Then they tell you your closest ancient and Medieval ancestors’ cultures including Romans, Germanic tribes of many kinds, Celts and specific Celtic tribes, indigenous North and South American tribes and peoples, ancient Mediterranean peoples and many more! This particular DNA service has taken my pagan practice and ancestor work to the next level.
Your DNA and Your Spiritual Practice
What you do with your DNA results spiritually is inevitably up to you. Maybe you’re wondering how a person’s DNA relates to his or her spirituality. Your DNA is what makes up your very being here on this planet. And you acquired your DNA from your ancestors. In fact, millions of people before you have contributed to the making of you. You are a culmination of hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of years of human
DNA on this planet. Your DNA is the essence of who you are, physically, mentally, and spiritually. It is your physical road-map and your link to your ancestral roots.
The DNA Helix, Kundalini and Othala
The symbol of the Hindu concept of Kundalini (a snake-like coil of energy that rests at the base of the spine) looks an awful lot like the DNA helix. This is because DNA is the source of life energy, as is the Kundalini. And where does your DNA come from? Your ancestors. As I write this article, I’ve made a realization the rune Othala looks eerily similar to Kundalini and the DNA helix. The rune Othala means home and hearth, and more importantly – ancestral inheritance. What do you inherit from your ancestors? DNA!
How does a person go about analyzing and applying their DNA results to their spirituality? You will have a mixture of DNA from various places. One way to implement your ancestry into your spiritual practice is to first study the history and culture of your ancestors. This means if you find out your DNA is mostly from Eastern Europe, study the different countries there, the cultures, the ancient and
modern history, the religious practices, etc. If you find out you have mostly Iberian DNA, study Spanish history, culture, ancient religions, etc. This is how you begin to connect with your elevated ancestors.
Start with your majority DNA, then make your way through the smaller amounts of DNA down into the “trace regions”. For me, that meant diving into the history of England and Scotland, then studying my Irish, German, French and Norwegian roots. In addition, MyTrueAncestry connected me with my Danish Viking ancestors of whom I NEVER would have known about if it wasn’t for ancient archaeogenetics!
DNA Kits & Ancestor Work: Where to Start
Set up an ancestor altar in your house and tend it with candles, incense, and offerings. If this is too far out of your element of spirituality, dedicate a wall of photos to your ancestors. You can add old photographs of your ancestors: your parents, grandparents, great grandparents, etc. When you do your DNA on ancestry.com, often you are granted access to develop a family tree. Sometimes you’ll get lucky enough to find photographs other people have uploaded of your ancestors! Download, print, and hang these on your ancestor wall. Talk to your ancestors like you’d talk to family…they are family, after all.
An Ancestral Pilgrimage, Holy Days and Offerings
Another way to incorporate your learned-ethnicity with ancestor work is through travel. Pinpoint places your ancestors originated from and take an ancestral pilgrimage. Make a list of the places of your ancestors and mark them off as you visit each. Keep an album or scrapbook of your travels. This will be a trip you’ll never forget! Some people call this an ancestral pilgrimage.
If you’re of a specific ethnicity where your ancestors honored their ancestors on special days during the year, consider carrying on this tradition. For example, if you’re of Celtic descent, honor your ancestors on Samhain (Halloween) by setting an extra plate for them at the table or by performing something called a “dumb supper”.
Making foods in your ancestors’ honor is a lovely activity. For example, if your ancestors were from Ireland, make colcannon or Dublin coddle. If your ancestors were from Nigeria, make Nigerian beef stew. Have ancestors from Italy? You have the entire Italian cuisine at your disposal. Setting a place at the table for your ancestors honors their memory and feeds their energy. If you’re not a cook, try your ancestors’ music, dance, artwork, poetry, and more!
My DNA Kit Changed My Life
Working with my ancestors the past four years has been nothing short of amazing and enlightening. Doing a DNA Kit only further fueled my passion for learning about my ancestors…in particular the MyTrueAncestry service which linked me to my ancient-Medieval ancestors. Keep in mind, sometimes turning in your DNA wields unwanted results: you might learn you have family members out there you never knew about. You might even learn you were adopted or other such shocking news. When you do a DNA kit, you take the good with the bad.
Overall, I wouldn’t change my decision to have my DNA done. It’s helped me forge a great connection with my ancestors. My spirituality has grown. Through this process I’ve learned my ancestors are always there for me: for protection, healing, comfort and blessings of many kinds. Your ancestors are waiting for you to reach out to them. To learn more about their origins. To learn more about YOUR origins. If you decide to have your DNA analyzed, take it to the next level and incorporate this information into your spiritual practice.