Aug 26, 2012

Honoring Ancestors

I'll be frank: honoring the ancestors does not come so easily to me. My own childhood was anything but a Norman Rockwell painting. I suspect that this is something a lot of us struggle with.

When it comes to working with ancestors, I've enjoyed some progress over time. My maternal grandfather, who died long before I was born, has been willing to establish a connection. This fits in with what little I have heard of him: I gather that he was a very kind and supportive person in life.

You can also go much further back, to people who worshiped the same God(s) you do. You may or may not be biologically related. This can be a very powerful connection.

It is also worthwhile to learn what you can about your family history. I was pleasantly surprised when, right before starting law school, I found out that a great-uncle had actually been a title attorney (and an honest one at that). I also learned that this side was from Germany (Prussia) originally. I was able to find out more, mostly through photographs left from my grandmother, conversations with my father, and through research at the library, which has a free genealogy service. Apparently, some of them came to the U.S. from the Hanover region back in the mid-1800's, when things were in turmoil. One relative was from Alsace: the story goes that he moved to the U.S. to avoid the growing German influence in the area. He then ended up marrying a German. So much for making plans.

According to the census records, quite a few people on that side grew up speaking German. Here are some pictures:

The strong-looking lady in the white blouse is one of my great-great-grandmothers.

I also have a photo from the Civil War. It is on glass plate, and I keep it in a wooden box so the surface does not get damaged:

Joseph Levin Boerstler
Later on, I learned more about the maternal side. They appear to be mostly English. Some of them have been in the U.S. since the very beginning of the colonial period. I discovered that I am related to the Chew family twice over, as someone married someone else while having a great-great grandfather and great-great grandmother in common. That's something we don't think about nowadays. We tend to think of a family tree as having branches that each spread out in different directions, but people were living in the same areas for long periods of time. Parts of your family tree might look more like Celtic knotwork, with overlapping branches. In any case, what interested me was how many of the Chews were early justices and judges. One of them, Benjamin Chew, was pretty much legal counsel for the American Revolution. He was my third cousin many times removed, as it turns out.

The Honorable Benjamin Chew
I do not have more immediate family photos for this side like I do for the other. However, I did find pictures of a great-great grandmother and her family through the free trial offered at (they were very good about cancelling when requested to do so, by the way). I had never seen these photographs before, but someone else researched that line and was kind enough to share the images. is a good resource if you are looking for a place to begin, and the public trees can be very helpful. Some libraries also have genealogy services; the catch is that they might only give you so much time before you have to log off.

I'll finish up here by noting that I don't feel as "tuned in" to ancestor work as I do to, say, interacting with my Gods and Goddesses. Truth be told, I think that some people simply "resonate" more with the departed, regardless of whether those departed are their own. It seems to me that we all have different gifts and that we should not beat ourselves up or beat another person up for not connecting so strongly with their ancestors. I would like to emphasize that this post is the result of years of research and that I did get extremely lucky with the material that was available to me. Let us honor what we have, whatever that may be.

Aug 4, 2012

Forseti Photo Art

Forseti - God of Lawgiving And Justice

Photo art of Forseti. The two stock galleries I used are quite generous with their rights as long as they are given much-deserved credit. This piece is under the usual Creative Commons Copyright License: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike (CC BY-NC-SA). A larger version of this artwork is available here.

The figure was created out of separate stock photos from the excellent Mithgariel-stock and Mizzd-stock galleries. The forest and ax blade are likewise from Mithgariel-stock.

The edelweiss is from Wikimedia Commons and is in the public domain.

The text is a mix of various sections lifted from the Freeska Landriucht (Frisian Landlaw). Many of these paragraphs begin with the phrase Thit is riucht, or "This is the law...."