Ancestral energy lives in the stars above us, the stones beneath us. Their memory gathers in oceans, rivers and seas. It hums its silent wisdom within the body of every tree.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Dumb Supper

“And in one house they could see an old grandfather mummy being taken out of a closet and put in the place of honor at the head of the table, with food set before him. And the members of the family sat down to their evening meal and lifted their glasses and drank to the dead one seated there, all dust and dry silence…”
~ Ray Bradbury, The Halloween Tree, 1972

Tonight is Halloween, All Hallows Evening, a holiday also known as Samhain. Like my ancient forebears, my family and I began to practice the ritual of the Dumb Supper seven years ago, which is a dinner set for both the living and the dead. It can be as simple or elaborate as your circumstances require, but it is a rewarding way to honor the dead and keep their memories alive. This formal supper can be done on any night between October thirty-first and November third.
For the simplest form you can add an extra place setting at dinner and feed that plate first, welcoming in the weary travelers from the other world and offering them the hospitality with a place to sit at your table. Allow them an evening of humanity on the night when the overlapping worlds bleed through. It’s called a Dumb Supper, which means Silent Supper. It is not a place to chit chat about the workday or chores that need to be done as such mundane life can keep the timid dead who no longer recognize the world-as-is away.
Hold supper sacred and keep all conversation minimal, and to the experience at hand. It does not have to be solemn or somber event. There was much giggling on our end last year when we felt an overwhelming cry of “Taters!” erupt from our invited ethereal guests as the food was placed out. Some readings will tell you the night must be silent, and that may have been true in a time when silence was possible but for the scraping of forks and howling of the wind. But in this day, when our homes are filled with the not-so-quiet hum and thrum of electronics, appliances, traffic and plumbing, I tend to worry that those noises will keep the dead at bay.
We switch things up every year, with some kind of music that might appeal to our invited guests. Last year we listened to the radio drama of Ray Bradbury’s The Halloween Tree, which we will continue this year. It was a special treat that brought in much more spirit energy than ever before. It seemed a familiar thing that pulled them in and the emotional sensation that filled our home was one of a joyous family reunion.
For our ritual, we set a chair at the head of the table called the Spirit Chair and we shroud it in black fabric and clothing. No human will sit in that chair tonight. The Spirit Chair is the setting for all spirits who wander the night and wish no harm, but wish a moment of hospitality.
Beyond that, there is a chair for each of us, and for the spirit we are personally inviting to the table. We write the name of the spirit who is our invited guest on a piece of paper and place it beneath their plate. If you do not have a particular name you wish to invoke, you may simply write the ancestors of your name, your bloodline, your spiritual heart, etc.
For my purposes, I place my guest’s chair across from me, so that I may gaze into the space there, like divination, during the meal. Ultimately, where you place them is not important. What is important is that you serve the Spirit Chair first, your invited guests next, and then yourself. It’s the intention of hospitality that matters most.
At this time of year, we use the dumb supper to open a space for the living and dead to dine together. I think of the table and meal like a reflection, a photo-negative image of your mundane life. To that end, the place setting is prepared the opposite of however you would normally set the table. Do you usually put forks on the left and water glass on the right? Reverse them.
Place a candle on the plate for the Spirit Chair and a tea light on the center of the plate for each invited guest. At the beginning of the meal, stand behind the Spirit Chair and invite your ancestors to come and dine with you. I even go so far as to open the front door and invite them into my home, literally. Light the candle on the Spirit plate. Pour a libation into the cup at the head of the table and call in the Ancestors:
To those who have gone before,
To those whose names live in our hearts and dance upon our lips,
To those whose names have been lost in the sea of time,
To those whose bones lie above and below the earth,
To those whose ashes have travelled on the winds,
We, the living, bid you welcome and entrance.
This is how you open the door for your personal guests to step in. Next, light the candles on your invited guests’ plates and call them in by name.
When you serve the meal, begin with the dessert course. The meal itself is also a reflected image of the meal the dead would remember. Start with the dessert course and sit down to enjoy it. Next, serve the main course, then the sides. Then serve the soup and salad, followed by any appetizers and pre-dinner cocktails. You should structure your meal in a way that seems appropriate to you, your heritage and your family traditions- just backwards from whatever that might be. What foods will you serve? I like to make items that were meaningful to my family as well as items I find that hearken to the cultural heritage I am slowly discovering in my genealogical research.
During each pause in courses, while we are eating, I focus on the space across from me and the multiple sensory impressions I receive. I always invite my Great-Grandma to dine with me and have been chastised for not salting her meatballs or being stingy on the chocolate cake. I have also heard the gentle trebling of her voice and felt the cool paper of her skin as our hands brushed while I was serving her. I have found myself responding to an unspoken request from her spirit for another napkin. On this night, they can allow themselves the human moments they had in life and we can be reminded of them; Elsie did often need an extra napkin.
When the meal is finished, we take a few moments and express our gratitude to those who came and supped with us. When the evening feels over, I thank my guest for coming and I open the front door, wishing them a safe journey for the rest of their evening. I tell them to leave as they will (in case they’re not done yet). I will let the ancestral tea lights burn out on their plates.
I thank the ancestors for dining with us and I snuff out the candle on the Spirit Chair. I carry the water from the Spirit cup and pour it on the ground outside:
To those who have gone before,
To those whose names live in our hearts and dance upon our lips,
To those whose names have been lost in the sea of time,
To those whose bones lie above and below the earth,
To those whose ashes have travelled on the winds,
We, the living, thank you for dining with us.
                        We, the living, wish you safe travels.
Ideally, the food would also be disposed of sacredly, either burned, buried or, traditionally, placed in running water. For me, it means leaving it out in the woods for critters, an offering of the bones of spirit-eaten food to other life in need. When I dispose of it, I do so with sacred intention.
            Many blessings to you and your family, both living and dead on this day. I have much gratitude to the Ancestors who lived, who opened the Way that we might walk this earth together. May we walk this earth softly, that those who come after us will speak our names in joy. May the peace and stillness of the season be with you. May the Ancestors walk with us, always.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Calling the Dead on All Hallow’s Eve

At this time of year, the air is cooling, the garden beds have been put to rest, cider is mulling and apples are transformed into a myriad of treats, whether candied, cobblered or sauced. Crisp autumn leaves fall and dry, skittering across sidewalks and pavements when the winds lift. In the Northeast, the green world is dying and we feel the approach of winter’s arrival. In this time of in-between our connection to the Dead is strongest.
My Ancestor Altar stays up year round as my ancestor work is every day of my life. They walk with me always. My altar lives on top of a bookshelf and holds a photo tree with pictures of my deceased grandparents and great-grandparents. I have a special glass I use to make oblations, liquid offerings, to the ancestors and a candle holder I light to act as a beacon. It is also decorated with pieces of petrified wood and fossils. I add items and take some away during the year but this altar is my working altar.
Samhain night, Halloween, is the time of year that you don’t have to be a sensitive to communicate with the dead. Just as in our world, it would be hard to call your friends without a phone, spirit work is no different. There are tools that help strengthen those connections: names, candles, personal objects, and offerings to entice them. I make another altar specifically for this holiday, decorated with items appropriate to the season, like petrified wood, bones, tree bark (I’m partial to birch), little pumpkins, festive candles, and autumn leaves. It pulls the energy of the outdoors inside my dwelling for those nights when the idea of being indoors feels stifling. It’s a means of opening our personal space; the spirit world does not take much notice of walls, but we do.
This time of year prompts many people to remember the loved ones no longer with them. The visual loss of leaves on the trees stirs an introspection from deep within and we emotionally feel each person we have known who no longer breathes reflected in the dying of the natural world around us. I refer to them as my Beloved Dead, and it is specifically this group I reach out to communicate with on Halloween. I place photos of them on my altar, though I do not include photos of anyone living, for superstitious reasons. I use post-its to cover the images of the living when I have no other photos, so as not to get them confused with the dead.
I have personal items that were passed down to me after loved ones died, as well as items gifted to me by them that I add to my altar. I strengthen the connection with objects the spirits are familiar with and might have a lingering attachment to. It also helps me focus my intent more strongly. I have a glass ring that my Great-Grandma Elsie gifted me when she began her decline into Alzheimer’s that I place on the altar every year. I also put out our cat Luna’s food bowl, with her collar and her favorite patchwork mouse toy, into which I’ll sprinkle some of her favored catnip treats, in hopes that she too will return for the night.
On Halloween, when the veil between worlds is thin, light a candle on the altar and call in your Beloved Dead by name. Invite them into your home. Pour a drink for them. I leave a glass of water for the wandering spirits to quench their thirst, an emotional memory from their living years. I also pour a cup of Blackberry Tea for Elsie, a cup of coffee for my Grandpa, and a shot of rum for my more spirited ancestors, as a treat. Our memories are made up of sights, sounds, tastes and smells. Our spirits can still access them even as the ability to touch fades.
Allow yourself to sit in the silence of the evening, interspersed with the giggling hordes of lively trick-or-treaters. Be open to the impressions that come from the balancing energies of life and death. Once the doorbell has stopped ringing, attend to your altar. If you sense that you are not alone, speak gently to the room about you.
This night is the time to say the things you need to say to those who are no longer physically with you. It’s important for our own lives, for the ones we live here in the world, that we not feel the weight of things left unsaid holding us back from moving forward from our grief. Just because a loved one dies, doesn’t mean we are silenced. This night is also the perfect time to honor those who came before you, to remember them and to keep their memories alive for your children and grandchildren. It’s the perfect night to reminisce and share some of your favorite stories of those who are gone. What is remembered lives.
I light a candle for my Beloved Dead, calling in their names individually, inviting them to my home for a visit. And then I put out tea lights, one for each person I know who passed since last Halloween. This year, I have five spirits to light candles for, five souls who have passed within the last twelve months, five Newly Dead. I will ask nothing of them but speak prayers for them to be at peace, and to reassure them that those left behind will be all right.
As part of my larger work, I will unroll the names of ancestors and dead I have gathered from the multiple shrines I’ve tended over the last year. I will read each one aloud and burn them in a Samhain fire, sending smoke out into the thinning veil, sending prayers from the living who remember them still. To Those Who Have Gone Before, be at peace and travel well. Until we meet again. Ase.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Experiencing Death VI: Alone with the Dead

This is the sixth installment in a monthly thread, where I am looking back at the early experiences I had with death and reflecting on how those moments shaped my views and fears of it. In order to change my relationship with the concept of death, I have to understand what shaped it to begin with. Our ideas and philosophies are meant to evolve and change, to grow as our own experiences do.

My Grandma Donna died on Mother’s Day of 2001. I was getting ready to leave for my hometown to see her when my dad called, even though he knew we were on our way. He wanted to make sure we were leaving soon. He didn’t think there was much time left. My Grandma took a sharp turn suddenly, after her battle with cancer. I had fooled myself into believing she would be all right. I was in denial. We all were. We were all sure that my Grandma, made of laughter and strength and no-bullshit, would survive. But death is seldom fair.
            In the car, I could feel a thread in the air, pulling at my chest, connected to that hospital room miles away. I was breathing into that thread, willing the hope to remain tangible. The moment I couldn’t feel it anymore was like a tethered kite string snapping. In the car I started to cry.
When I got home my dad was standing in the driveway, waiting for me, and I knew I was too late. My Grandma’s death was my first experience with telling family a loved one we both cared about was dead. It was my first experience going to the funeral home, of watching the people whose mundane day involves the practical ins and outs of death while we filled out the obituary. It was my first time picking out a casket and learning about the vault we also had to buy to seal the casket in; we chose oak for Donna.
All the while, I felt cold inside. One moment my Grandma was alive and the next she was gone. It didn’t make sense in my brain and my grief was muddier. Part of me understood that people die. She’d been sick for a long time. Cancer kills. And now she was gone and our lives carry on. Everyone dies some time. But… I wasn’t ready. I didn’t get to say goodbye. I could still remember the last time I hugged her. If I closed my eyes I could hear her laughter, her infectious, deep, giggling laughter. How can a thing so emotionally tangible be gone?
I was filled with a need to see her body. To touch the dead flesh and know, truly know in my heart, that she was gone. It seemed strange and irrational. I mean, she was gone. That was a fact. But it wasn’t real yet, and I could think of no other salve for my grief. So I went to the funeral home between viewings, when the room was closed. I told them I was family and that I didn’t get to say goodbye. They left me alone in the chilled room with her body, saying if there was anything they could do
It took me minutes to approach the thing that looked like her but did not feel like her. A part of me was sure it was simply a poor wax figure of Donna. That wasn’t her. It couldn’t be. It felt like one of my senses had been cut off and I couldn’t translate what I was seeing into a proper context. Whatever spirit it was that infused her limbs while alive, in death it was absent, at rest elsewhere. Still, before me was the body I knew, the arms that had held me all my life. The body is the temple and deserves the respect we show our churches, whatever that means to us.
When I touched her, for the first time I understood the dimensions of the difference between the words skin and flesh. I touched her flesh. Skin is a thing alive and yet when I touched her it was nothing but timber and molecules that built a structure. There was nothing of her there for me. She was wearing a suit the likes of which I had never seen her in and makeup that would never have crossed her face. The body before me was a respectful attempt at the Grandma I knew, transcribed by a stranger. I let the intention of sincere respect present in the display hold weight in my heart.
I still ache for the goodness of the person she was, for the times I would see her eyes narrow and knew she could see something about the room with the wisdom her years gave her that I couldn’t see yet. I ache for the time lost to us we could have had with her. I don’t think that’s unusual and it won’t be the last time I hold that feeling. She was a cornerstone of my childhood and a firm foundation in my life. The loss of her won’t be forgotten, but I have learned that the ache will lessen over time, as it already has, until there is nothing left but the smiles prompted by remembering time we shared together.

For Donna, 2001
In the highlands where blue and smoky mountain peaks meet,
a great white owl shared space with me
along a streambed of wild thyme and mimosa.
A rush of wind with unblinking dandelion-colored eyes,
she appeared as clouds crept the silent streets at twilight.

I held my breath against the fragrant green surrounding me,
far removed from the crumbling factory town of my childhood,
a small house along the Erie Canal offering little to children,
waiting for day trips to the field of golden-yellow blossoms
across from my grandma’s house.

Can spirits visit
they die?

In the split-ranch with Arizona white walls
a braided macramé owl,
orange bead beak,
met us at the door,
perched on a stick of stripped wood,
guarding the home
where chicken pox found me
in her bathtub, heavy
with the scent of baking soda,
her hands spooning cool water over my skin.

It didn’t matter she was not blood,
the only of three grandmothers to laugh with us,
pass time with us.
She stole kisses, holding
squirming and giggling grandchildren
against soft summer skin.

“you would not have wanted to see her
this way,” mom says, “sick and fading,” she says
to ease a wounded heart,
“i told her how much you loved her.”

but when
did i last
say those words?

we always think
there will be more

Her skin.
Bleached in the parlor-
driftwood too long in the light,
remnant of a living thing-
Cold like plaster-
plastered owl bookends
crafted by thirteen year-old hands
stood guardian on the mantle,
white spirits.
White skin.

The powder she wore lingers
above the colorful lacquer mask
my grandmother
of southwest fire and sunshine
would never wear.

I want to scrape rouge from her cheeks,
scrub gloss from her lips,
I want to scream
at her defacement
so I can pretend she
is only waiting,
suppressing an impish giggle.

That she is only playing at death,
until I arrive.

I am pulled back to the grass,
the thin air of that north Carolina peak where
the white owl stares, cold.
She blinks, gone in a great gust,
white ghost soaring above my face,
dissipating into ether while
 mountain clouds turn grey
and my heart softens in the magic.

Relevant Posts:
Experiencing Death: The Unborn Baby (published May 16, 2012)
Experiencing Death II: My Father’s Father (published June 13, 2012)
Experiencing Death III: Squirrel in the Road (published July 11, 2012)
Experiencing Death IV: The Body at Daggett Lake (published August 15, 2012)
Experiencing Death V: Suicide (published September 9, 2012)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Beauty in Decay

I believe in reincarnation, of varying beliefs and philosophies. I believe in it because I see the pattern of birth, life, death, and rebirth evident in all aspects of the natural world around me, but at this time of year, it is most visible to me in the woods, in the damp afternoons following a cool autumn rain. Life grows up through the decaying leaf litter and it grows on the tree trunks both dying and falling. Where death lives, it feeds and grows in unassumingly brilliant colors.
From the earth, fungus emerges, feeding off decomposition. Where it grows, beauty blooms. On a weekend walk through the woods in the Berkshire Mountains, I saw such colorful varieties of fungus. I offer you a photographic meditation on the beauty that can be born from death, if our eyes and spirit are open to see it.

My photos are not for public domain use, but I would be honored to share them if you wish to use them. Simply credit them to “Sarah Lyn” and include a link to this blog post.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Into the Labyrinth

In my earliest ancestor meditations, the visual image I received was the same. Flashes of faces all talking at me, talking to me, as if the sound was turned off. Then the scene opened and a woman or man stood at the edge of a body of water, whether an ocean, lake, canal or pond. The water was always grey, that deep slate blue-grey. Their faces were pleasant and happy to see me but tinged with sadness. They were pointing into the water, out to the unknown, and I knew that's where they were telling me I had to go. I dove into my ancestor work, trying to clear and sharpen the image.
For a while, everything was bigger. My support system expanded, as did my ancestral knowledge and my spiritual universe. Everything I experienced deepened, widened, and exposed its layers to me. The web split open, revealing itself, and my world blossomed, colored with dimension, like a crystal prism filling a room with light. In the shadows of that light the edge was exposed and a hidden doorway became visible. This is why I do the work I do.
It's strange to me, in that wyrd way, that my ancestors pointed to the water, the well of emotions and memory. And it felt each time like they were pointing to a specific point of going in where the emotions were deepest. I could feel the tug of it against my breastbone. I have always been afraid of jumping in the deep end, even feet first, and as a child my inner primate refused to dive head first into dark and deep water, so the visual has a double meaning for me. Go to where the fear lives and open the door.
I once jumped 70 feet into a mountain river, high in the Carolinas, after carefully watching over a dozen other people dive in, watching where they hit, being sure all dozen divers emerged unscathed. It was a moment that filled me with such fear I felt my heart might burst and I understood I was taking my life in my hands. One hand towards joy and one hand towards death. What a wonder it was to expose myself to my own mortality… then I took a breath, and I jumped.
For the last few years, my personal work had me finding my out of the labyrinth, weaving my own thread as I crawled out of darkness, winding it out behind me as I altered myself. It’s as if I were replacing the bulbs along the path from fluorescents to sunlight. If I came this way again, I would not carry fear of the unknown with me. If I know the way out, then I know the way in.
Now, in my dreams and meditations, an old woman and an old man lay naked on a stone table in the woods, a living ancestor altar. They are crying and telling me there is something I have to do. They glimmer like spirit in my dream world and I know they are faces from my family tree. They've given me a quest. I have a travelling bag and a weapon, and they are pointing out of the wood, their faces tinged with sadness. They are sending me out into the world, covering ground, seeking something unknown. This dream repeats, without alteration.
For the last year, I have been winding in, winding down, going into the recesses of this body and healing. In the twilight glow of autumn, I am both Inanna, going underground to know myself, and Ariadne, the keeper of the secrets of the labyrinth. I know the edge I'm walking towards is the scariest one for me. It's the wall that holds me back, the heavy anchor that holds me in place. So it's important to have your thread as you wind through the labyrinth doors. I know the door that lies at the center of the labyrinth.
I pull the earth energy up into my body and anchor myself to it. I pull the star energy of the ancestors down into me and anchor it in my heart. Where earth and sky meet in me, a door appears. I have only to touch it and it will open.

At the start of the labyrinth, before I step in and cross over, I honor my parents, still breathing in this world, still loving me from this plane. My sister and brother, my nieces and nephew, my great-nephew are my anchors. I carry them with me into the labyrinth.
At the first turn, moving inward, I honor my grandparents, my Beloved Dead, the four who have crossed over to other world, one of whom I never knew: Richard Riddle (factory worker) & Donna MacDonald (pediatric RN) ~ Mark Dutcher Eaton (bookkeeper) & Ruth Emma Ruston.
At the second turn, moving outward, I honor my great-grandparents, all deceased, those who lived and grew up at the turning of a century: Robert George Art (blacksmith) & Margaret Loretta Burke (glovemaker) of Lockport, NY ~ Harold Lafayette Riddle (factory worker) & Elsie Elizabeth Durant of Lockport ~ Frank William Ruston (insurance salesman) & Minnie Estelle Wicker (singer) of Lockport ~ Royal Levant Eaton (prison guard) & Hattie Eva Smith of Auburn, NY.
At the third turn, outward again, I honor my 2x great-grandparents, those who saw this country's Civil War and all the change that came after: George Art (gardener) & Katherine Pils (housekeeper) of Lockport; Frank Burke (lock tender) & Eliza Conners of Lockport ~ Lafayette Riddle (farmer and factory worker) & Frances Gillette of Royalton, NY; George Francis Durant (laborer) & Emma Louise Burnah (housekeeper) of Lockport, from VT ~ Charles Evan Ruston (laborer) & Ruth Ireland of Lockport, immigrants from England; Hiram King Wicker (grain and feed store owner and Mason) & Emma Angeline Whitcher of Lockport ~ Bennett Eaton (farmer) & Theresa Cordelia Tenney of Somerset, NY, from MI;  Silas Parker Smith (farmer) & Hattie Eva Dutcher of Wilson, NY.
At the fourth turn inward, I honor my 3x great-grandparents, the soldiers and farmers who helped villages become towns and towns become cities: Adam Art (soldier) & Katherine Maria Schmeelk of Pendleton, NY, immigrants from Germany; John F. Pils & Mary Burzee, of Pendleton, he an immigrant from Germany; David Conners (laborer) & Mary Dowd of Lockport, both Irish immigrants; Thomas Burke (hack stable owner) & wife Ellen of Lockport ~ Marquis DeLafayette Riddle (farmer) & Sarah Clickner of Royalton, NY; Levi H. Gillette (farmer) & Jane Berry of Royalton; Albert Durant (laborer) & Rosella LaValley of VT, immigrants from Quebec ~ Richard Ruston (wealthy farmer) & Anna Richardson of England; William Ireland & Phoebe Lenton of England; Thaddeus Rice Wicker (carpenter) & Cynthia Lusk of Lockport, from VT; Bailey Harrison Whitcher (shoemaker) & Ordelia DeLozier of Lockport, from VT ~ Solomon Gould Eaton (farmer) & Hannah Ann Treadwell of MI, from Lockport; Philitus Tenney & wife Malvina; Ammi Smith (farmer) & Sophia Sears of Hartland, NY; Reuben Feagles Dutcher (farmer) & Eliza Marsh Bird of Somerset.
At the fifth turn inward, just after, I honor my 4x great-grandparents, the soldiers and farmers who expanded west: Barney Dowd (farm laborer) of Lockport, immigrant from Ireland ~ Freeborn-Moulton Riddle (farmer) & Abigail Chaffee of Batavia, NY, from MA; Ezra Wheeler Gillette & Mary Ann Boots of Royalton, from VT; Francis Berry (farmer) & Elizabeth Hill of Mayfield, NY; Francois Xavier Lavalle & Rosella LaRoche of Dannemora, NY, from Quebec ~ Pliny Wicker (ferryman) & Chloe Morgan of New York, from VT; D.V. Lusk (farmer) & wife Mary of Lockport, from MA; Simeon Whittier & Dorcas Kittredge of VT, from MA; Peter DeLozier (P.O.W. and cabinet maker) & Lucy Raymond of Lockport, from CT ~ Joshua Eaton & Lucy Gould of NY, from CT; Herman Sears & Clarissa Dubois of NY, from CT; Martin Dutcher (soldier and farmer) & Cynthia Ann Feagles of Somerset; Manley Bird (broom maker) & Irene Pond Marsh of Somerset.
At the sixth turn, at the key, at the crossroads, I honor my 5x great-grandparents, the soldiers and farmers who began to move, settling into new territories: Joseph Riddle (soldier) & wife Mary of New York, from Monson, MA; Eliphal Gillette & Abigail Hannah of Royalton, from CT; Joseph Boots (farmer) & Harriet Gower of Royalton, immigrants from England; Thomas Berry & Gertrude Dixon of Mayfield, he immigrated from Ireland; Alexis Lavallee & Marie Amable Langevin of Quebec ~ William Wicker & Susannah Parker of VT, from MA; Abner Whittier, Jr. & Elizabeth Dow of VT, from MA; James Kittredge & Mary Bailey of MA; Oliver DeLozier (soldier) & Eleanor Erkells of NY ~ Benjamin Eaton & Hepsibah Skiff of NY, from CT; Willard Gould & Ann Arnold of NY, from CT; Isaac Sears & Abigail Andrews of NY, from CT; David Dutcher & Jane Palmer of NY; Edmund Bird & Mary Coleman of MA.
At the seventh turn, outwards, I honor my 6x great-grandparents, the immigrants, the children of immigrants, those whose families founded this country and those who came seeking better lives: Pierre Paquier Lavallee & Marie Agathe Charland of Quebec; Walter Dixon & Annatje Goedemoet of Mayfield; John Berry & Nancy Machet of Mayfield, immigrants from Ireland; Alexander Hannah & Mary Calhoun of CT; Wheeler Gillett & Julianna Merchant of CT; Thomas Bootes & Mary Glyde of England; Thomas Ridel & Rebekah Moulton of MA, from Ireland ~ Peter Lozier & Fytje Zabriskie of Hackensack, NJ; Isaac Dow & Martha Hanniford of MA; Jacob Wicker (soldier) & Abiah Washburn of MA; John Parker & Jane Pearson of MA; Abner Whittier & Jemima Davis of MA ~ Thomas Eaton & Elizabeth Parker of CT, from MA; Stephen Skiff & Elizabeth Hatch of CT, from MA; Jeremiah Brooks & Elizabeth Brooks of CT; Caleb Arnold & Tabitha Luther of MA; Knowles Sears & Susannah Townsend of CT, from MA; Henricus De Duyster & Helena Van Deusen of NY; Enoch Bird & Silence Lyon of MA.
At the eighth, outward, I honor my 7x great-grandparents, more who helped build this land, for good or for bad, with nothing but the hope for better lives for their children: Jean Francois Paquet dit Lavallee II & Marie Madeleine Coulon of Quebec; Baltus Goedemoet & Gertrude Michel of NY, from the Netherlands; David Calhoun & Catherine Coe of CT, he immigrated from Scotland; Hugh Hannah & wife Margaret of CT; Eliphal Gillett II & Mercy Smith of CT; Thomas Bootes & Mary Jennings of England; Solomon Glyde & Mary Hyland of England; Freeborn Moulton (captain, soldier) & Rebekah Walker of MA, from CT ~ Jacob Zabriskie & Antje Terhune of Hackensack, NJ; Nicholas Le Sueur & Tryntje Catherine Slote of NJ; William Wicker & wife Rebekah of MA, immigrated from England; Joseph Washburn & Hannah Johnson of MA; John Parker & Sarah Lillie of MA; James Pearson & Hepzibah Swain of MA; John Whittier & Mary Hoyt of MA; Joseph Davis & Jemima Eastman of MA ~ Thomas Eaton & Lydia Gay of CT, from MA; Thomas Gould & Eunice Brooks of MA; Jabez Brooks & Mary Bateman of CT, from MA; William Benedict Arnold & Ann Coggeshall of RI; Jacob Parker & Thankful Hemenway of MA; James Sears & Desire Tobey of CT, from MA; Direck De Duyster & Jannetje Hendrickse Bondt of NY; Abraham Van Deusen & Jacomyntje Van Schoonhoven; Lemuel Lyon (soldier) & Lydia Perry of MA; Samuel Bird & Anna Atherton of MA.
At the ninth turn, into center, I stop. I stand at center, at heart and home, I honor all those who stand behind the first seven generations and all those who will come after me. I honor them in my quest to be the best and strongest version of me I can be, making choices those who came before me were unable to make. I believe I am altering the larger ancestral pattern behind me and altering the one before me, to better ease the passage of those yet to come.
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