Thursday, February 7, 2013

Ancestors-In-Law

Marriage is a funny old thing, you (hopefully) get the guy/girl you love, a tasty cake, and years to figure out how it all goes together. However it isn't really like that, not for Heathens (or anyone else really), at least not when you think about it.

No, marriage isn't just about the couple involved in the marriage making their public declaration of union or whatever people say when they don't want to get married but live together anyway. It's not about a piece of paper that acts as a soopa doopa magickul doorway to tax breaks and being able to visit your loved ones in hospital.

You see, none of us really gets married for ourselves, but for our families and communities.

Yeah sure it's a big 'Hands off mah woman/man!' to everyone around you, that you're taking that step and formalising that commitment (something which should mean something), but you're also bringing two familial lines together and inheriting a whole new set of responsibilities.

Which can be unnerving, I mean we've all heard horror stories about those dreaded mother-in-laws, and I would be lying if there wasn't a period of adjustment that has to take place. It's all well and good that the couple are sympatico with each other, but (for the most part) your inlaws didn't pick you, and now they have to rearrange the family dynamic to accept the newcomer, or not.

The same goes for your spouse's ancestors. When you marry a person, you're becoming part of another entire line of people, stretching back to the beginning.

Lo do I see my father...

You're joining another tribe, you will be another entry in their genealogy (as well as your own). In years to come, people will look back on your name and include your story with those of your spouse's family (just as your spouse will with your family).

In Heathenry, we all talk about our ancestors, a lot of us have shrines to them and make offerings on a regular or semi-regular basis. A lot of us remember them in our prayers during every day activities, or call out their names in Sumbel. But how many of us do the same with our ancestral inlaws?

For a while I was reticent. I was always kind of convinced that my mother-in-law was pretty suspicious of me and didn't really like me much (a belief that was solidified by being 'attacked' by her old rocking chair a few times). However at some point, something changed. Without getting into the details, we seemed to come to an accord one day while I was sitting in her rocking chair, which left me with the strong impression that I should maybe offer apples to her and that those apples should be placed outside.

So I cut up the apples and took them out into the front garden, and stopped dead in my tracks.

Sitting there, in my front garden that goes onto the street, was a little wild rabbit. Quietly and carefully I walked to the tree where I wanted to leave the apples, placing the majority of them there, before scattering some nearer to the rabbit. The rabbit for its part, just stayed there. I left just as quietly as I came before coming back out to take a photo to show my husband when he got home.

Now a rabbit in the garden doesn't really seem much, or like an omen. After all, rabbits are everywhere, I mean, they breed like f****** rabbits! However, on our ancestor shrine, with the photo of my husband's mother, is a handmade felt rabbit that she stitched for my husband when he was a child. He's always had a soft spot for those furry little hoppers that goes beyond 'Aww they're so cute!' and has always resisted my attempts to buy rabbit meat and make rabbit curry. So, I took this to be an omen of sorts and now my offerings to her are chopped apples placed outside for the rabbit (or any other wildlife).

Since that day, she's felt very present to me, like she's keeping the things that lurk in our basement firmly down there and out of sight of her son. Not only that, but she's become something of a part of my more Seidr-related activities, the rocking chair that left me bleeding a few times, now my 'high seat'.

A year or so ago, I couldn't have imagined this, she was simply someone not to piss off, someone I wanted to reassure that I loved her son and would do my best to look after him. Now she's become a more immediate ally to a girl whose own ancestors lie far away over a vast ocean.





2 comments:

Johnthebarman said...

Liked that too. Bit worried. Last year my vegetables were being eaten in the garden by rats. I am fond of rats but now trap and move them.

Thunor Odinson said...

Thanks for sharing. I am very fond of your story telling. It has that nice almost fable-like quality mixed with some sharp humor and always making a poignant point.