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, August 27, 2014

Those Who Walk Behind You

I do a lot of work with my ancestors, those known and unknown to me. Knowing genealogy is not a requirement to Ancestor work but it’s helpful as it allows you to go deeper. But there are numerical facts that will aid your perspective of where you stand in the ancestral tide. I like the water metaphor, of being an ocean that thousands of thousands of rivers flood into. Each one of those rivers branches backwards like a web, like neurons in your brain, like tree branches.
            The most comforting part of the work I do is that I am never alone. The blood of all of those people lives within me. There are untold number of Those Who Came Before me and if a single one of them was removed from the equation, I would not be here. Every life matters, remarkable or not.
Everyone has two parents. It’s science. It’s biology. Every generation you walk backwards, that number doubles. Actually writing the numbers out was staggering to conceive. So here’s how I see it. Even if you don’t know names and dates, you can know that, at the very least you have:
  • 2 parents. I am still blessed to have both of mine.
  • 4 grandparents. In life I knew three of my biological ones, of whom one is still living. I was also blessed to have three step-grandparents, one of whom is still living.
  • 8 great-grandparents 1x. I knew one of mine for seventeen years and miss her still. I have all 8 names of these ancestors.
  • 16 great-grandparents 2x. I know all 16 names.
  • 32 great-grandparents 3x. I know 31 names.
  • 64 great-grandparents 4x. I know 32 names.
  • 128 great-grandparents 5x. I know 39 names.
  • 256 great-grandparents 6x. I know 55 names.
  • 512 great-grandparents 7x. I know 82 names.
  • 1,024 great-grandparents 8x. I know 120 names. I have discovered that one of my fantastic New England friends and I share ancestors in Thomas Whittier (1620-1696) and Ruth Green (1626-1710) at this tier [Ruston line].
  • 2,048 great-grandparents 9x. I know 143 names.
  • 4,096 great-grandparents 10x. I know 153 names. I recently discovered that another friend and I share ancestors in Thomas Canfield (1623-1689) and Phoebe Crane (1626-1690) [Riddle line].
  • 8,192 great-grandparents 11x. I know 153 names of my ancestors. My Mayflower ancestors are in this generation.
  • 16,384 great-grandparents 12x. I know 105 names.
  • 32,768 great-grandparents 13x. I know 69 names.
  • 65,536 great-grandparents 14x. I know 39 ancestral names.
  • 131,072 great-grandparents 15x. I know 35 ancestral names, including Frideswide Lovel, another favorite ancestress name.
  • 262,144 great-grandparents 16x. I know 27 names. This generation was born in the early to mid 1400s.
In case you can’t add that fast, in eighteen generations, at this point, there are a total of 521,586 people walking behind you. Amazing, right? Now I’m going to blow your mind.

  • 524,288 great-grandparents 17x. I know 23 names.
  • 1,048,576 great-grandparents 18x. I know 25 names.
  • 2,097,152 great-grandparents 19x. I know 30 names.
  • 4,194,304 great-grandparents 20x. I know 33 names, including one of my favorites, Millicent Ravenscroft.
  • 8,388,608 great-grandparents 21x. I know 32 ancestral names.
  • 16,777,216 great-grandparents 22x. I know 30 ancestral names.
  • 33,554,432 great-grandparents 23x. I know 27 ancestral names, including King Edward I “Longshanks”.
  • 67,108,864 great-grandparents 24x. I know 26 ancestral names.
  • 134,217,728 great-grandparents 25x. I know 27 ancestral names.
  • 268,435,456 great-grandparents 26x. I know 28 ancestral names.
  • 536,870,912 great-grandparents 27x. I know 30 ancestral names. It’s 1100 C.E.
  • 1,073,741,824 great-grandparents 28x. I know 36 ancestral names, including King Henry II, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa, Byzantine Emperor Isaac II Angelos, King Henry I, and Otes the Goldsmith.
            Just thirty generations back, the fact that I have one billion ancestors means that there are so many people walking this planet right now that I am related to, that you are related to. There are strangers on this earth who exist because some couple married and had children centuries ago. The patterns of life are amazing.
            At a total of 30 generations back from you, there are 2,147,480,946 ancestors behind you. That’s 2.1 billion. That’s approximate, as in my own research I have found the same ancestors showing up between multiple family lines, at differing generations. That’s two billion names, with many of them repeating. It’s impossible to think that wouldn’t happen, the further back you go.
I even have names that stretch back further, even to my 51x great-grandparent, Arnoaldus, a Bishop of Metz and a Roman Senator, who died in 611 CE. To which I include my disclaimer of, I can’t prove any of it is true but all of us amateur genealogists rely on what has been documented and what other people decided was true until we can prove it’s wrong.  In theory, at some point, things have to change direction, funneling down to the original ancestors, where the streams merge into fewer and fewer of those who spawned the first children we are all descended from, but I don't know where that tipping point is.  
All of these people were necessary to the creation of you. All of those people, lived their lives as we do, wondering what it was for, questioning what would become of the choices they made and the lives they were living. But in doing this work, the answer becomes clear.

The answer was you.

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