Saturday, January 01, 2011

DNA Tribes and All My Relations

I finally broke down and decided to see what my DNA had to tell me, if anything, about my ancestry.

So I sent my spit to an organization called DNA tribes and they sent me back a chart with my DNA alleles as well as three lists that matched me with current global populations. The first list matched my DNA to "Native Populations" around the globe that have experienced little admixture with other peoples. Since I am pretty mixed up ancestrally, my scores that matched these 'pure blood' folks were pretty low. Some in the top twenty included the Russian Bashkir (#1), the Tatars (#2), the Russian Udmurts, the Scots, the Finns, the English, the Irish, the Italians of Umbria, and the Iranians.

I found only minimal matches to existing Native American tribes in their data base, the highest being the Inuit. Many tribes, like the Cherokee, are not included in the DNA Tribes data base. Also surprisingly low matching scores with Ashkenazi Jews, despite the fact that I am Ashkenazi Jewish through my mother's direct line.

The second list is the one that really broke open my conceptions of who my 'people' (or peoples) are. This matches your DNA with existing populations in the world who could be 'pure-blood' or mixed. These are my closest DNA 'relatives' in the world today.

#1 The Polish Tatars. I suppose with so many Northeast European and Central Asian Turkic people showing up (Tatars, Bashkirs, etc.) my mother's ancestral Jewish lineage must be heavily mixed with tribal peoples who ended up in Latvia, Poland, and elsewhere. Jewish Khazars? Conversions? Pogroms? Interbreeding? I may never know.

#2 European-Aboriginal Australians. Huh? I can't even begin to understand this one, though it certainly explains my unruly hair and why I love the didgeridoo. Did one of my "European" ancestors stop off in Australia and have a kid or two before he or she made their way to the United States? Or is DNA tribes just completely wacked out? Whatever. I have no problem embracing my Australian aboriginal cousins, mixed or not.

#3 Central Mexicans. Ja ja ja. Ahora entiendo porque he pasado tanto tiempo con los latinos. Yeah Spanish has come pretty easy to me and now I understand it's because so many latinos are my DNA cousins. Central Mexicans are basically European-American Indian mixed bloods, so this kind of fits in with the family tradition of Native ancestry, or at least fits in with the European-Asian mix that seems to be prevalent in my DNA. (Native American DNA apparantly shows up as "Asian" in the DNA ancestry world.)

#4. United States Caucasion. Well yeah, this is always what I THOUGHT i was when I was growing up as a little fair-skinned blue eyed white girl. And despite what everyone says about these people, I also accept them as my brothers and sisters in the human family. Some of my best friends are U.S. Caucasians, really.

#5. Canadian East Indians. Not East Indian East Indians mind you, but Canadian East Indians. I'm not sure why my DNA only matches highly with the immigrant Canadian East Indians and not with the East Indian East Indians. Is this because this is another bunch of immigrants who decided to mix their blood with the local people and produce some kind of mulatto mestizo mixed race mongrels who were then accepted back into their tribe? Why, how dare they? Dammit, if people would just stay within their borders and not have sex with foreigners life would be so much easier. And you wouldn't end up inflicting smart mouth mix-ups like me onto the world.

Again, my DNA matching so highly with East Indians is about as understandable as the match with Australians. All DNA tribes really told me was what I already knew--that I am an ancestral mutt, that no matter what tribal circle I am standing in I will always have one foot outside it. And that will be the foot that is looking for the larger circle.

Others in the top twenty were Maraicabo, Venezuela, Scotland, Italy, the Flemish, the Bashkirs and Udmurts again, more U.S. Caucasian groups and more European-Aboriginal Australian groups.

The third chart matches you with broader genetic groups called Regional Populations. Top Five Here were #1, Finno-Ugrian (Northeast Europe), #2 Northwest European, #3, Altaic (Central Asian Turkic people) #4 Mesopotamian (Iran, Iraq, etc.) #5 Eastern Europe. Seems to match the other charts. Other groups that showed up were Mestizo, Horn of Africa, Levantine, Mediteranean, and again, an uncharacteristically high match to Australian aboriginals for a US Caucasian person.

I shared all this info recently with a friend. "But it's too much!" He said. "Too many relatives!:

Indeed it is, I thought. One great big sprawling messy family of too many relatives.

We are the world.

Spirit of the Seventh Chakra

The chakra class I was teaching has ended, and the seventh chakra has been hanging over my head ever since.

Exactly where it belongs of course, since traditionally this is the chakra of the Crown, the chakra where spirit enters through the top of your head and ideally, fills you with its 'ineffable knowing.'

In traditions I've studied if this chakra is clear you walk with certainty and purpose and a sense of spirit within. Blocks and imbalances here might manifest as dysfunctional ideas about religion, attachments to gurus who really want your attachment more than your freedom, or a seventh chakra that is too wide open to all sorts of spiritual influences that cannot be practically grounded in your day to day life.

The Seventh Chakra has also been hanging over my head because although the class ended several weeks ago I have yet to post and write about it.

So here it is. Seems fitting to have waited until after the winter holidays, a time when many people throughout the world celebrate major religious holidays--Christmas, Hannukah, Winter Solstice. Interesting to me that in the northern hemisphere it is the darkest time of year when we are most drawn to celebrating spirit. (Actually in the south this is true too--the Incan honoring of the sun, Inti Raymi, is celebrated in June.)

The trap of any religion or spiritual 'system' seems to be its own dogma. So if you chance upon this blog and enjoy reading what I've posted about the chakras and the chakra class I've been teaching, be sure to print it out, read it carefully, then burn it and walk away.

Happy New Year.