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, May 8, 2013

Meeting Great-Grandma Margaret

My hometown at the holidays.

I am Sarah, daughter of Margaret, daughter of Patricia, daughter of Margaret, daughter of Eliza, daughter of Mary, daughter of mother unknown. I never knew my Great-Grandma Margaret. Neither did my mom. Margaret Loretta Burke died when her youngest daughter, my Grandma, was eight years old.
The Burkes were Irish immigrants, who moved into Western New York to help carve the Erie Canal out of the bedrock. In doing my genealogy research, I discovered that the Burke family had lived on the same street since coming to the town, for multiple generations, mostly in the same house. That house was right around the corner from where I grew up. I realized that I must have passed it every day while visiting my childhood best friend. (I also learned that Margaret worked as a glove maker before she married in 1913.)
When I was home for the winter holidays I took a walk at dusk, amid the mounding snow, to see if the house was still standing. I had hoped it was. I had imagined that I would see it and say, oh, this house!, as if we had some previously unexplained bond. Or, at the least, that I would be able to touch the rail and say, my people lived here once. My Great-Grandmother dreamed here once.
But there was no house on the lot. Whatever had existed there, didn’t anymore. There was a newer house on a double lot set slightly back from the road, the only modern house in comparison to the other homes on the street. The lot my Great-Grandma’s house would have been on, sat at the extreme right side of the house (when facing it), and where the driveway is.
The funniest thing about that house, though, is that it’s only one of two houses on that block I have seen the inside of. One night when I was a kid, I was invited to a slumber party at that house for a girl I didn’t know very well yet. I remember sitting in her bedroom and talking. We played games and I won a Men Without Hats album. I realize now that when I slept that night, I was laying over the Burke family land. The girl’s bedroom was right where the lot would have been- 154 Washington Street.
In retrospect, that is pretty cool.
My spiritual work involves magic, which I consider to be the manifestation of our desires through action. The act of searching for my family and ancestral history has been helpful in creating doorways that have allowed me to better connect to the spirit world. When I took that cold winter walk around the corner to find my Great-Grandma’s home, I opened a doorway to that spiritual energy. 

Two months later, I met my Great-Grandma Margaret in the dream world.
I am at an event, like a wedding or a family reunion. There are a lot of people here. I am at a bar table, talking to a woman with a young face… about my age. She has short, curled bangs and her hair is curled up at the ends around her face. I cannot tell if it is short or if it is pinned up. In this room of people, she glows with a Technicolor hue (a sign for me it is spirit). Her hair is glowing a dark, deep chestnut.
I have a moment of clarity within the dream and I ask her pointedly, with a knowing, if she is Margaret. She says yes, staring into my eyes. She smiles at me. She says her name is Margaret. I tell her that she looks younger than I ever remember my Grandma being. She asks me how my Grandma is doing, squeezing my wrist warmly with her hand. She is very still in this room of movement, but I sense a nervousness beneath the exterior, as if I have called her here and she is not sure why.
I have a dream-memory of having seen my Grandmother earlier that night and I tell Great-Grandma Margaret how she seemed to me. In the dream I am worried about my Grandma and I think maybe this is why I have called her here. I say as much to Margaret and I thank her for coming to meet me. I tell her that my mother was also named Margaret. She thanks me and touches my face. She leaves to go and check on Patricia. The party continues, but the Technicolor edge is gone. The spirit has left the dream room.

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