In this time of Samhain celebrations, heritage and what it means to me weighs heavily on my mind. What is a heritage, and how is it passed on? What are the ways we express our heritage, consciously or not? In what ways does knowledge of heritage impact the psyche of the individual? How does it impact the choices we make about who we want to be? What purpose is there to be conscious of and honor one’s heritage?
Some have described heritage as a person’s “roots“, analogous to the structures by which most plants establish stability and a means of nourishment. There are many different ‘root systems’ essential to a person thriving, but, of the systems of roots heritage encompasses, the system under examination here is a more concrete sort: the roots extended by one’s family tree.
Images of waving flags, countries on maps, and black and white photographs of ‘oddly dressed’ and unsmiling people all flit across my mind when I think of family and heritage. Having recently been made aware of a genealogy in the possession of my maternal grandparents, who are still living, thankfully, I have pored over many such photographs with eagerness. To read the names and see the faces of dozens and dozens of people that are responsible for my existence on this earth today was somewhat surreal yet strangely settling.