In our ancestry

I know that when my maternal grandmother was young, there was an odd double standard in that her brother always got cream cakes, while my grandmother was given buns. My great uncle was, undoubtedly, the favourite. It’s possible the double standard is older – go back to my great grandmother’s mother and we’re back somewhere in the 1800s, where double standards around gender were much more normal. My grandmother would buy posh biscuits for my brother, who could eat a whole packet in a session, but would tend to offer me something plainer, cheaper, more in line with the bun.

It’s easy to talk about the food choices, but they represent something deeper, something about the way women in my family teach their children to think about gender, perhaps. The women of my family tend to prioritise the menfolk, and I grew up understanding that masculine validation was essential.

We pass beliefs and ideas down family lines alongside the genes. We hand down stories about who we are, and what we can expect, and the same flawed myths can mess up generations. Little phrases can encapsulate a world view. “Neither use nor ornament.” “If you were a horse, we’d shoot you.” “Getting too big for your boots.”

Our family background, whatever it is, forms our first impression of what ‘normal’ looks like. It’s our reference point for making sense of the rest of reality. It often isn’t helpful.

If you’d like some tools for unpicking what’s in your ancestry, do have a look at my Druidry and the Ancestors, and Jez Hughes’s The Heart of Life, which explores shamanic healing for family legacies.

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About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

2 responses to “In our ancestry

  • flrpwll

    Heh. You’ve reminded me of something. My mother used to sound a little resentful when she talked about how her grandparents paid to put her older brother through the private high school until the end of yr 12, but she ended up at the local parish school and was expected to finish at year 9 and go out to work. Yet when it came to my kids going to the private school she was all over my two boys starting in yr 6, but thought my daughter didn’t need to start until yr 8. I disagreed, and they all started in yr 6, but it always irritated me that she’d perpetuate those ideas.

    • Nimue Brown

      Yep, that’s irritating, and I guess the mechanics of how it happens are that if you pass it down, it’s somehow more tolerable to the person already done over. If this is what girls get, it somehow validates her experience… but, that won’t travel forward any further, which is a win. 🙂

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