Pagan Blog Prompt: All in the Genes

Pagan Blog Prompts: All in the Genes:

Is it hereditary?
I had to think about my wording on this one… I had to leave it vague, because I wanted it to be as open to interpretation as possible.

What I’m referring to here can be magic, witchcraft, spirituality, the things you can do that others around you cannot, etc. Another way to put it might be “Do you come from a family of Witches?” but that only works if you see yourself as a witch. Get what I’m trying to say here?

What you do and who you are – did it come from your bloodline? Or is it something you discovered and nurtured on your own?

This is interesting. I’m not sure if there’s even really an answer. Because this is complicated on so many levels. It seems like there’s this whole attitude that people need to have some sort of history, or they’re lacking credibility as witches/pagans/whatever. And that just rubs me the wrong way. See, as I’ve already said – I’m the only pagan or witch in my whole family. My family is made up of lapsed Catholics and Protestants – now Agnostics or Atheists – or just plain Agnostics or Atheists who never had religion to begin with. I’m the only one who ever turned to magic, to witchcraft or to paganism. It definitely has been unusual, my family doesn’t always understand me and my beliefs, but they’ve come to at least accept that I’m going to believe this stuff and they might as well accept it.

And there’s nothing wrong with being without a history. Hell, my family has been Christian for so long…I don’t think I’ve ever heard tales of “strange” ones like me. That’s fine. I don’t think that there’s a whole bloodline thing going in witchcraft or paganism.

Witchcraft is, to me, a practice. You have to work at it. So there’s not really a bloodline consideration, not to my mind. So to me, it would be impossible to claim that I’m a better witch, just because (hypothetical here) I might have some great-great-grandma who was a “witch” way back when. Not that there aren’t people who have an aptitude for certain things, because I do believe some people have a bit of a “knack” for certain practices in witchcraft – just like some people have a knack for art or sports. It’s more just that I don’t think bloodline has a role in who decides to get into it, or to practice. And I think, for witchcraft, even the most talented person, from a long line (if they say so), without practice will be worse than a person like me with no history of witchcraft in my family if I devote the time and effort to work.

And I’ll admit – I have a certain level of skepticism towards people who claim they come from a long line of witches. The type who claim “I’m the latest in a line of 10 generations of witches”. Because honestly, most of the time the ones who claim that (at least online) seem to be the ones using “Witchcraft” and “Wicca” interchangeably, and usually they aren’t an initiated Wiccan, but neo-Wiccan. And Wicca was created during the last 60 years, so it’s not possible that it’s some ancient or centuries-old tradition. I’m not saying there aren’t lines from families who practiced some form of witchcraft, or hedge witchery, or were healers in generations past. I know there are. But, the abundance online of “10th generation” (or whatever) witches tells me that people are trying to force an history on themselves.

I think there’s a kind of push, that everyone must have an history. Which is to me asinine. I don’t need to be the latest witch in a line of X-many to be a witch. I can be the first ever in my family, without problem, and still be as valid a witch as the man/woman who was taught by their parents and grandparents. It’s just a big thing in the community, and so I think people feel pressured to create a long-standing family history to explain their craft.

As for the paganism part of my path. I’ve been called into different pantheons from what I first started. If it was hereditary that I was a pagan, I suspect I would have been called to the path I’m on now from the very beginning. I mean…if I had an hereditary, ingrained pull to this, as though it was totally destined for me to only follow X pantheon, I think I would have noted that years ago. But no, I’ve grown into this. I started off with Greek and Celtic pantheons. They were the easiest to find information on, and yes, that probably drew me to them. But…my recent tugs into Slavic and Norse mythology had to be pretty blunt for me to recognize it. I suspect that I grew into this. I’ve been learning, I still am learning.

I don’t think that my paganism is only related to my bloodline. Perhaps in part, yes, because I do feel drawn towards people that are my ancestors. But I think also, given all the learning and growing that I’ve done, that I had to nurture this on my own. I had to learn for myself, beyond just some vague tug towards certain pantheons. Because I could have cheerfully continued going on only looking into Greek and Celtic mythology, ignoring a whole chunk of my heritage and the stuff that I’ve learned really interests me, if I had not grown up and learned more about myself.

For me, paganism is a journey. Some people remain devoted to the same God, Goddess or a small group of them for their whole lives. Other people find calls to different deities in different times. What they need, what they want…what a particular deity may want from them…all of that is important. So to me, paganism is no more hereditary than any other religion. You hear a call, or you feel something, you answer or you ignore. I see religion and spirituality as choices. One could choose to constantly seek out the Christian God, or a Celtic deity, or Greek, etc, and have no success. Perhaps looking in the wrong place. Or, perhaps just asking/looking at the wrong thing or at the wrong time. I know for a fact that I’ve looked in the wrong places at the wrong times in my path. That’s just part of life. And sometimes people are so blinded to what they actually need, they focus on what they want, which is not always good.

So it’s a path. I’ve always seen hereditary things as more of a destination. Example: hereditary disposition in my family towards depression. That’s not something I chose or cultivated. It’s a fact of my life, hereditary from my family blood/genes. Choices are like journeys for me. Religion and spirituality (for me – paganism) are choices. I choose who to honor, who to call upon when I need help, how to act and deal with the gods and spirits. Yes, there’s outside influence, but to me religion and spirituality are not finite. They’re constantly changing in response to what a person needs, wants, feels…so I see paganism as far different than an hereditary inheritance.


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