Following in their Footsteps

Imbolc                                                    Valentine Moon

On Ancientrails I posted this woodcut of my many times removed grandfather, Dimmick biographicalsket1888elli_0006Ellis, born in Ashfield, Massachusetts in 1776. The woodcut appears on the frontispiece of a long work of genealogy compiled in the late 19th century.  The first story in the book concerns Richard Ellis, our common ancestor, who immigrated to the U.S. in 1717, having been born in Dublin, Ireland of Welsh parentage on August 16th, 1704.

I mention this again here because it was Richard’s story that first interested me in my Celtic heritage, specifically the Welsh ancestors about whom I know almost nothing.  Richard’s father was a Welsh military officer serving in Ireland and was from Denbigh in North Wales. How I know this fact has passed from my memory, but it has strong residence there anyhow.

The Great Wheel and the Celtic pantheon I discovered while grounding my fiction in the belief world of my lineage.  I have branched out to the Norse pantheon, linked to my other line of ancestry, northern European Teutons.  I have made one excursion to Aztec gods and goddesses but that was long ago.  Since then I’ve stayed within Celtic and northern European traditions.

At first I had a curiosity about the cultural and mythological roots of my own people. Second, related to the first, I wanted to avoid cultural exploitation by remaining within my Detail_of_antlered_figure_on_the_Gundestrup_Cauldronethnic and genetic lines.  Kate suggested very early on in my writing that I stick to one culture in my work.  I chose ancient Celtic religion brought into contemporary life, later expanding that to include the northern European material.  Even the Aztec story picks up a storyline about Vikings who made it to the lands of the Mexica.

(detail from the Gundestrup Cauldron)

Today, some 25 years after I began, I find myself guided by the wisdom of those ancestors, though admittedly in a loose and baggy fashion.  That’s why you’re reading this on ancientrails Great