As a child, I took great pride in my Irish heritage. I loved St. Patrick’s day, and refused to use any soap other than Irish Spring. My father spoke of our family history of resistance to the “damn Limeys.” I heard the tale of my great-grandfather crossing the Atlantic, and regarded Cork County with kind of a religious awe. As I got older, it stopped being as important.
When I began my magical practice oh so many years ago, I didn’t concern myself with investigating the practices and beliefs of my ancestors. I immersed myself pretty early in Qabalistic ceremonial magic, and from there Chaos Magic, and didn’t really have an interest in my heritage or the magical traditions thereof. I recognized that I had Celtic heritage, but it meant nothing to me magically, and religiously I was really more agnostic than anything else.
Several years ago, I began questing for some gods to devote myself to. I looked at what I was doing in my life and what I thought I wanted to do at the time and started there. I ended up connecting with the gods of the Roman pantheon, which interestingly enough lined up with the other side of my family tree. My roots reach back through time and geography to Florence, which was founded as a retirement community for Roman soldiers. My lineage can be traced to Rome. And unlike the Celtic gods and culture, the Roman ones call to me.
So I have studied my Italian heritage, and found great comfort in it. The traditions — even the Christianized ones — have been a source of strength for me.
Now I don’t want to imply that magical or religious strength and inspiration can only come from following your genetic heritage. In fact, which that is partially the case for me, it is also partially not the case: my ties to the Celts are strong genetically but not spiritually or magically. What I found significant is that my identity was tied in one aspect of my heritage in my youth, and has now almost completely divorced itself from that aspect, and what I found was a part of my heritage I had neglected. (Deeper research into my family history has also suggested some Romani roots, which would provide an interesting tie to the Hindu gods.)
But magical, or even spiritual heritage, can be distinct from genetic heritage. The gods seek us out on their own terms, and we should not feel limited to where our biological roots are from, but where our hearts are called. The gods will connect to us as they are able. In my case, it was just easier to do so through my neglected family tree.
I’ve always liked Mediterranean food better anyway.